February 27, 2009
February 26, 2009
"The thesis is . . . that the source of most modern social changes today is the material culture. The material-culture changes force changes in other parts of culture such as social organization and customs, but these latter parts of culture do not change as quickly. They lag behind the material-culture changes, hence we are living in a period of maladjustment."
William F. Ogburn
Front Door Software's Retriever application helps missing laptop find their way home by displaying the owner's contact info. However, if nobody out there's good enough to return it to you, Retriever lets you get a little more aggressive. You can remotely command the system to display accusatory pop-ups, demand extra passwords, or just yell and scream at the thief. You can also use it to track the computer's location.
February 25, 2009
The quality of this video isnt great, and it only spans through 2007, but when I first saw this, it was the closest to the weepy eyed nostalgia that video game memories evoke within me. I make fun of myself for misty eyed Golden Eye musings, or fond reveries of Super Mario 3. But I am a child of technology, and my sensory triggers include video games.
Please list any video games that give you that old tingly feeling of the days o' yore. I'll start.
Turok for the N64.
oh, and Q-bert for the Colecovision.
Joe Gross writes:
"You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like — static."
— Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone magazine
The ranting of a cranky old man? Perhaps.
One man's opinion? Hardly.
In August, an open letter from a music industry executive on the state of commercial compact disc mastering and manufacturing was sent to an industry tip sheet/e-mail list run by a music pundit named Bob Lefsetz.
The letter was written by Angelo Montrone, a vice president for A&R (the folks who scout and sign music acts) for One Haven Music, a Sony Music company.
"There's something . . . sinister in audio that is causing our listeners fatigue and even pain while trying to enjoy their favorite music. It has been propagated by A&R departments for the last eight years: The complete abuse of compression in mastering (forced on the mastering engineers against their will and better judgment)."
More from Joe Gross
Here's what killed your 401(k) David X. Li's Gaussian copula function as first published in 2000. Investors exploited it as a quick—and fatally flawed—way to assess risk. A shorter version appears on this month's cover of Wired.
ProbabilitySpecifically, this is a joint default probability—the likelihood that any two members of the pool (A and B) will both default. It's what investors are looking for, and the rest of the formula provides the answer.
The amount of time between now and when A and B can be expected to default. Li took the idea from a concept in actuarial science that charts what happens to someone's life expectancy when their spouse dies.
A dangerously precise concept, since it leaves no room for error. Clean equations help both quants and their managers forget that the real world contains a surprising amount of uncertainty, fuzziness, and precariousness.
This couples (hence the Latinate term copula) the individual probabilities associated with A and B to come up with a single number. Errors here massively increase the risk of the whole equation blowing up.
The probabilities of how long A and B are likely to survive. Since these are not certainties, they can be dangerous: Small miscalculations may leave you facing much more risk than the formula indicates.
The all-powerful correlation parameter, which reduces correlation to a single constant—something that should be highly improbable, if not impossible. This is the magic number that made Li's copula function irresistible.
More over at Wired
February 24, 2009
More at Keremeos Review
As the founder of Lares, a Colorado-based security consultancy, social-engineering expert Chris Nickerson is often asked by clients to conduct penetration testing of their on-sight security. Nickerson leads a team which conducts security risk assessments in a method he refers to as Red Team Testing. Watch Nickerson and his team pull off a diamond heist in this video.
Nickerson and crew recently took on such an exercise for a client he describes as "a retail company with a large call center." With some prep work, Nickerson says the team was able gain access to the company's network and database quite easily. Read on to find out how they did it, and what lessons you can take away for shoring up your organization's defenses. (To learn more about social engineering techniques, also see Social Engineering: Eight Common Tactics.)
More from Joan Goodchild
February 23, 2009
Great strides have been made in recent years in the development of combat robots. The US military has deployed ground robots, aerial robots, marine robots, stationary robots, and (reportedly) space robots. The robots are used for both reconnaissance and fighting, and further rapid advances in their design and capabilities can be expected in the years ahead. One consequence of these advances is that robots will gain more autonomy, which means they will have to act in uncertain situations without direct human instruction. That raises a large and thorny challenge: how do you program a robot to be an ethical warrior?
More from Nicholas Carr
Why is the Internet the place where civil discussion goes to die? It must be something in the tubes. Before there even was a mainstream Internet, in 1990, Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Mike Godwin coined Godwin's Law: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." If you put a group of slightly asocial, opinionated people behind usernames, the conversation descends into flame wars and miscellaneous insanity.
Which is why I am so impressed with Ask MetaFilter, a question-and-answer site that grew out of the MetaFilter community in 2003. It's one of the few places on the Internet where you can find sensible, accommodating, actually helpful discussion. For example, last October, the user "Hands of Manos" posed the following query: "How can I be less cynical?" He went on to explain, "I hate most movies, I lost faith in the God I was raised to believe in as a child and I find very little joy in most things now a days" and noted, "My wife is pissed because I'm so negative and doubtful of everything."
More from Micahel Agger
The sorry predicament of the newspaper industry has given rise to a testy argument about journalism's future. In one corner are current and former editors who believe news organizations committed a fatal mistake by giving their content away for free on the Internet. These people think that a successful digital business model demands revenue from users as well as from advertisers, through subscription fees or micropayments.
Another camp favors philanthropic support. Newspapers, these establishment-types think, should be more like universities, with their independence underwritten by charitable endowments. Some suggest that newspapers should even be owned by universities and foundations.
A third faction, which includes most of the Web journalists I know, doubts both those models and looks to the growth of advertising revenues on the Web to support the Fourth Estate: Despite all the gloom, the New York Times now draws around $200 million in annual revenue from Internet advertising—not far short of the cost of its editorial operations around the globe. Without a print edition, the Times would be a smaller business but quite possibly a better one.
More from Jacob Weisberg
"It's often hard to take Keith Vaz seriously, as the member of British Parliament seems happy to assume the role of the video game industry's major antagonist in the UK. However, his complaint about Amazon selling a "rape simulator" has turned out to be more truth than not, and the online retailer has taken the game off its site.
Vaz lambasted Amazon for selling the hentai rape-simulator, Rapelay, on its site, telling the Belfast Telegraph that, "It is intolerable that anyone would purchase a game that simulates the criminal offence of rape. To know that this widely available through a major online retailer is utterly shocking, I do not see how this can be allowed." Because the game was actually offered on Amazon via a third party reseller known as "Hentaiguy," it seems likely that Amazon didn't actually know about the game until it made the news. As a result, the game was yanked from Amazon shortly afterwards.
That Rapelay raised public ire isn't surprising, as a detailed review of the game makes its content sound incredibly objectionable. Aside from the fact that the game has been pulled off Amazon's website, seller Hentaiguy's store seems to have been eliminated, as well."
"New Zealand P2P disconnection plan delayed after outcry
* Pirate Bay: survey says that 80% of our torrents are legal
* Kiwi "three strikes" law countered with "Internet blackout"
* Pirate Bay: we don't know nothin' about org charts, contracts
* Getting your geek on: a review of The BBook of Geek
As an Internet blackout hit blogs across New Zealand today, the government announced that it would postpone the implementation of its hugely controversial "graduated response" law for dealing with (and eventually disconnecting) repeat P2P copyright infringers.
New Zealand's 1984 Copyright Act was last year amended in numerous ways, but the most controversial has certainly been new section 92A. "An Internet service provider must adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for termination, in appropriate circumstances, of the account with that Internet service provider of a repeat infringer," it says."
More from Ars Technica
"ISPs in Ireland are being asked by the Irish Record Music Association (IRMA) to begin blocking access to filesharing sites, and at least one is already going along with the request. Ireland's largest ISP, Eircom, has entered into an agreement with IRMA, saying that it will begin blocking access to sites that allow users to swap files and that it will not oppose any court action mandating that such action must be taken.
Eircom entered into the agreement with the recording industry due to a recently-settled lawsuit over filesharing. The suit originated when the Irish branches of EMI, Warner, Universal, and Sony charged Eircom with aiding and abetting piracy by doing things like advertising its services on The Pirate Bay. As part of the settlement, Eircom agreed to implement a full "graduated response" program (also known as the "three strikes" rule that disconnects repeat file sharers after their third offense)."
More from Ars Technica
February 22, 2009
"There are so many questions and issues jostling, tumbling and colliding in my mind that I can barely list them. Is language the father of thought? There’s one. Somebody once said, “How can I tell you what I think until I’ve heard what I’m going to say?” Is language being degraded, is it not what it was? Is there a right way to express yourself and a wrong? Grammar, does that exist, or is it a pedantic imposition, a kind of unnatural mixture of strangulation and straightening, like pleaching, pollarding and training pear-trees against a wall? Can we translate from one tongue into another without irreparable loss? And many, many more.
“Language is the universal whore that I must make into a virgin,” wrote Karl Kraus or somebody so like him that it makes no odds. One of my favourite remarks. T. S. Eliot said much the same thing in a different way: “to purify the dialect of the tribe”. But is there a “higher language”, a purer language, a proper language, a right language? Is language a whore, used, bruised and abused by every john in the street … is the idea of purifying the dialect of the tribe a poetic ideal or nonsensical snobbery?"
You can read the rest of the article here, but I suggest going here and downloading the podcast. Hearing him "perform" the essay is a better way to experience it.