Category Archives: Technology

The Tricorder – fiction now close to fact

Two recent developments in biological sciences and technology have lead me to believe the Tricorder of Star Trek fame is not so distant.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0002075

The first is a hand held medical scanner/communication device. Granot, Ivorra and Rubinsky published their creation through the online PLoS ONE journal on April 30th of this year. The technology uses a very similar setup to the newer cellular phones, and detects voltage differences to produce images. From the pictures you can see it is pretty much a modified cell phone, connected to an electrode setup.

http://www.barcoding.si.edu/BackgroundPublications/Hebert_et_al_2003_DNABarcodes.pdf

The second article was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London in 2003. Hebert et al provide a complete system to taxonomic identification through the Cytochrome Oxidase I gene of mitochondrial DNA. This gene is found in all animals, and varies quite a bit between species, however, its intraspecific variation is low. The mutation rate of the gene is just right for acting as a species barcode, whereas the DNA sequence identifies the species by its closeness to a record of known gene sequences. The aim is to sequence this gene in all animal species and use it as a universal identifier. There are several worldwide barcoding initiatives going on for most of the major taxonomic groupings. I really don’t see it as that far off before we have a good record for all described vertebrate species, although it will probably take much longer for the invertebrates. The practical uses for this is immense. Already, barcoding has been used to uncover fish market fraud. http://amphidrome.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/fishmonger-fraud/

Now, wouldn’t it be cool if you could combine the two of these? You would have a cell phone that could do biological scanning, as well as sequence COI genes and compare them to the online database. You would have a combination communicator, biological scanner, and species identification device, in essence, a tricorder.

Its not that far off.

http://www.barcodinglife.org/views/login.php – The heart of the barcoding initiative. Note the search engine of over 160 thousand barcodes. You can simply type your sequence in and it will give you the closest matches.

Potentially creepy tech, part 1,492

From AppleInsider:

We’ve already seen the iSight indicator light “disappear” behind the bezel of Apple’s MacBook and iMac computers. A recently published patent application could make the iSight itself not only disappear, but move to the middle of the screen. MacBooks, iMacs, and even iPhones and iPod touches could take advantage of the new technology.

Time to don my tinfoil hat again, I think.  A far too frequent reaction to news nowadays.  H/t to Triple Zero for the link.

Why Discordia is more relevant in 2008 – Discussion

Ripped this discussion, built on Cram’s earlier post and musings, from the forum.  Enjoy.

LMNO:  Because so far, nothing else seems to be working.  Because Discordia is about models, not absolutes.

Baron von Hoopla:  Bingo.

Cramulus: [to LMNO] that’s a great angle.  Could you expand on that a bit?

GA:  I don’t know about more relevant, because I wasn’t around 50 years ago.  It seems to me that the Cold War was in pretty dire need of some lightheartedness, even more than our current War on Terror.

It just seems relevant to me because I personally had (have?) a problem with taking things far to seriously.  And because many of the people around me have concepts like ‘mandatory’ and ‘forbidden’ and apply them to things that are really optional.

I makes me sad when people tell me that things like religion are to important to joke about, or old propaganda posters too offensive.  It bothers me when I get suspended from school or hauled before Loss Prevention for reasons like “I know that this is just a misunderstanding, but we must follow procedure.”  It hurts when I look around my infosphere and see nothing but advertisements, especially when those ads are meant to make people feel bad about themselves.

The world is ruled by an endless morass of strictures and convention, and no one wants to take responsibility for them.  People are perfectly content to let the train follow its own momentum down the tracks, even though they don’t like where it is or where it is going, because this is Policy, it’s what Everyone (the everyone in “everyone knows that…”) has Decided.  Rules and traditions might be annoying, but it’s Not In Our Power to do anything about them.

LMNO:  In today’s so-called “Information Age”, most of us are constantly bombarded with stuff.  Perhaps not with ideas, so much as pure input.  While for the most part this input is pretty much bias-neutral, an increasing amount of it is being supplied by people who have an angle.  What’s more, to get through to the growing population of Jaded Couch-Dwelling Fuckheads, there has been a new approach of making the stuff more-or-less self referential, as in, “we know you know we’re trying to manipulate you.  See how cool that makes us?”

So, what do you do when you are flooded by 50,000 points of view?  The old way was to have Rules and Tradition and Procedure and Black and White. To take that stuff and cram it into a narrow worldview, distorting what little information you actually notice.  Which only serves to hold you back, slow you down, and shut you up.

Our way, the Discordian way, is to make Temporary Models, make new Game Rules, to grab hold of the stuff and ride it out, making connections as you see them.  You do your best not to have your views manipulated by stuff, and you do your best not to manipulate stuff to fit your views.  Which serves to keep you on the Edge of What’s Going On.

At least, that’s the general idea.

Continue reading Why Discordia is more relevant in 2008 – Discussion

Trolls on the internet, oh my!

I suppose I better mention it, since people will be wondering why I didn’t if I don’t.

Yes, I have read the New York Times article on internet trolling. And firstly, is it just me, or is really fucking embarassing when you have someone writing an article when:

a) they really don’t have a clue what they are talking about, and
b) the topic is removed entirely from its natural environment and dissected in the sterile lab of the mainstream media?

Its not just me, I hope.

So anyway, yes, I was alerted to this article by a compatriot troll, Ten Ton Mantis. And now I have finally read through it. The above quibbles above, I’d just like to make some minor points:

  • Trolls existed before /b/. The first paragraph implies otherwise.
  • /b/ is not the be all and end all of trolling. In fact, in the last couple of years, it has been downright embarassing.
  • At least you mentioned Usenet. Thank fucking god. However, the naive-noob tactic was just one of many used back in the day, and really only an entry level tactic. alt.syntax.tactical, for example, favour the longer term, infiltration and sockpuppet approach.
  • Lulz is not how trolls “keep score”. Its an abstract concept, and a massively overused word, when considered against actual instances of lulz. It can be excuse, justification or result, as well.
  • The troll got it dead on. Article over, amirite?
  • Um…Anonymous and the trolls were one and the same, at least originally. I understand there was a something of a split between the /i/nsurgents and moralfags, but lets be honest, for the most part, its the same people who took part in both.
  • The fact that anonymous communications allow for people to be more sociopathic is not new nor interesting. Learn2sociology, plz.
  • Jason Fortuny is a fun guy, but he doesn’t speak for me.
  • You probably got suckered by one troll or another in the course of your research. Live with it son.
  • Not all trolls are emotional fuckups. Some of the most extreme ones probably are, but I wouldn’t generalize, or imply in the way you did.
  • Sometimes trolls are social hackers, its true. And literal ones as well. Anyway, the point is, sometimes they illustrate things people tend to overlook, either in their social interactions online, how they present themselves, the amount of information they give out. Something like that. Better to get burned for it by a jerk with an inappropriate sense of humour than by the next Ted Bundy. Its not always a perfect justification, and sometimes a line should be drawn, yes, but thats a very grey area and another debate.
  • Don’t take it all so seriously is pretty much the message I try to relate as well. Sometimes the internet is useful for important stuff, but 99% of it is going to leave a very poor and shallow cultural legacy. I like to think I am doing my bit for people who think “OMFG MY MOM WONT BUY ME A FURSUIT FOR MY BIRTHDAY” or having their “artwork” criticized is a crime against humanity. Twits with no perspective and big mouths are far too numerous.
  • Weev was trolling you dude. He does have a point though, about certain bloggers. Those few suckup artists who the media like to go crawling to in order to pretend that they are keeping up with the new internet culture and soliciting feedback from voices that would normally be excluded. Like Iain Dale for example. Real fucking excluded, isn’t he? Lets try a single mother blogger who is working while trying to raise her three kids. Oh, thats right, people like that don’t have time to blog. And even when some people in some part of the world where dangerous and interesting things are happening (such as Iraq) people would rather get their views from the likes of Charles fucking Johnson than someone who actually lives there. Because, God forbid, they may contradict the media narrative.
  • I like this Kate chick. She has style. Kate, if you’re reading…well, you know how to get in touch, I’m sure.
  • Hatred? I wouldn’t go that far…of course, I would expect a MSM hack from somewhere like the NYT to give that line. But I wouldn’t try to look too deeply into a troll’s motivation. Mine, for example, the above aside, comes from my trickster and showy personality. I like to be the centre of the attention, and yet at the same time, display certain ambiguity. There are also certain people I like to upset, and if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you can probably guess what type they are.
  • I would say trolls are the internet. The interesting parts at least. Just as pirates where the ones who innovated much of our modern world, economy and culture (where would commercial radio be without pirate stations? What about the US government, who stole patented technologies throughout the 18th century?) trolls push the boundaries and in doing so create new online realities. The internet may not be so much the Wild West as a number of armed enclaves among a sea of anarchy. Sure, if you stick to places like Myspace or Facebook or your politically chosen network of blogs you’ll be mostly safe…aside from the occasional raider. But in other areas, the only things that exist, from your identity upwards, are those you choose to invent. That anarchy, while terrifying to some, is also a lab for inventing, tampering with and altering all number of social events and processes.
  • Those state legislators are idiots. You can’t police the net, at least not in the way you hope to. Hell, people cant even stop copyright infringement, and “Spartacus actions” among legally threatened bloggers are frequent. Try it with people who know how to conceal their identity and enjoy games where the roles and characters are not as substansial as they may appear, and you’re entering a policing nightmare.
  • Precisely. The law is not your hug-box. I am not responsible for your hurt feelings. I’m sure you could do something more productive with money spent on trying to police jerks on the net, such as nearly catching Bin Laden and then letting him go in order to justify the invasion of Iraq Iran.
  • Fortuny is right. OpenID and similar schemes for multiple site IDs are doomed to failure because so long as you can get more than one account, you are back where you started. So you either charge for everything, and create a gated community (urgh), or you don’t take everything so seriously. Pretty simple, really.
  • Fortuny’s morals are not everyones. Again, there are different motivations.
  • What a delightfully hopeful note to end your article on. It still doesnt change the 99% of the net which is different, however.

I think that is all I really have to say. I probably shouldn’t have had a couple of beers while writing this either, but oh well, too late to worry about that now.

Chronotopic Anamorphosis

Chronotopic Anamorphosis from Marginalia Project on Vimeo.

This video shows the test of a software developed as a programming exercise.

The image is digitally manipulated by fragmenting it into horizontal lines and then combining lines from different frames in the display. The result is a distorsion of the figures caused by their motion in time, or, as Brazilian researcher Arlindo Machado calls it: chronotopic anamorphosis.

Japan first country to ban filesharing

Japan has decided to beat France and the United Kingdom (both who have similar proposals) to become the first country to ban file sharers from the internet.

Oddly the agreement to do so has not come from the Japanese Government, but from Japan’s four internet service provider organizations after pressure (not surprisingly) from the record and movie industries. According to Torrent Freak, the agreement would see copyright holders tracking down file-sharers on the Internet using “special detection software” and then notifying ISPs of alleged infringers. File sharers will initially receive a warning for a first offense, then be disconnected for subsequent offenses, eventually be disconnected from the internet permanently (it wasn’t clear whether the agreement is a three strikes proposal).

The process will formally commence in April and will primarily target users of Winny, the most popular file sharing network in Japan.

(via Techcrunch)

Needless to say, I’m not impressed, and I very much doubt this “special detection software” can tell the difference between a legitimately downloaded file from a P2P network, and an illegal one. Consider for example the latest NIN’s album, available for free download. Not to mention it puts copyright holders in charge of investigating infringements. I can’t see that going wrong at all, oh no….

On a related topic, Matt Mason, the author of The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism has an interiew which you can download here (mp3).