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Researchers Develop Remote-Controlled Cyber-Roaches

handy_vandal Yesterday's Science Fiction, Today's Fact (35 comments)

I am reminded of a passage from Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light (1967):

He did not move his head, but reached out to crush a beetle that stood near his hand. The tip of a small crystal and two tiny wires protruded through the broken chitin of its back.

An excellent novel, one of my favorites.

Sadly, the Avon edition that I used to own was the absolute worst example of typographical errors I have ever seen: at least a dozen cases of misplaced or duplicated lines. Bad enough that I could no longer enjoy re-reading a book so grievously mangled by the publisher.

Don't say it -- stop -- I'll say it myself: the book was full of bugs.

about three weeks ago

Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon To Local Law Enforcement?

handy_vandal Evolutionary pressure (152 comments)

Evolutionary pressure will tend to select for individuals who can survive and resist these agents.

Five generations, maybe ten, and we'll have a sub-population of insurgents who drink incapacitant agents from breakfast.

about a month ago

IBM Pays GlobalFoundries $1.5 Billion To Shed Its Chip Division

handy_vandal Mod Parent +Malt Vinegar Services (84 comments)

Made me laugh! One more time:

They'll drop their famous fish division next and try to make up all their revenue in malt vinegar services.

about a month ago

'Why Banana Skins Are Slippery' Wins IgNobel

handy_vandal Magnetic poo (127 comments)

Dogs only poop magnetic fields if you feed the dogs magnetized shavings. Which I do.

about 2 months ago

New Study Projects World Population of 11B by 2100

handy_vandal Mod Parent Up (326 comments)

Hell, we can't even get food to people going hungry in the US without a political shit storm happening from people who think it's the same thing as communism.

Too true. We could be the heroes of mankind, or at least heroes of a proud and healthy nation: so doable, yet so not done. It hurts.

about 2 months ago

Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

handy_vandal Cold War Joke (531 comments)

Under Capitalism, Man exploits Man.

Under Communism, it's the other way around.

about 3 months ago

California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

handy_vandal California, the Gateway Drug of States (233 comments)

... the inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the U.S. and around the world.

First they tempt you with California legislation.

Next thing you know, you're hooked on NAFTA, ACTA, and God knows what other Profit-Seeking Acronyms (PSA's).

I suppose we should feel lucky that Amazon is not using United Nations Black Drones to deliver tracking devices (such as your new phone) to your door ... or wherever they know you are ....

about 3 months ago

Chinese Researchers' 'Terror Cam' Could Scan Crowds, Looking for Stress

handy_vandal Face Recognition in Casinos (146 comments)

"One of the most important advances in casino technology comes from facial recognition systems, where guests entering the gambling area are photographed and their visages are compared with an ever-growing database of known cheaters and suspicious people."

- Link

about 3 months ago

Researchers Make Fruit Flies Perform Aerobatics Like Spitfire Pilots

handy_vandal Pliny the Elder: bees use pebbles to stabilize (51 comments)

"Carrier bees wait for favourable breezes. If a storm arises, they steady themselves with the weight of a little pebble held in their feet; some authorities say that it is placed on their shoulders ...."

- Pliny the Elder: Naturalis Historia

about 4 months ago

Extracting Audio From Visual Information

handy_vandal We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients (142 comments)

"We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can't scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me."

- Jack Handey

about 4 months ago

Hotel Chain Plans Phone-Based Check-in and Room Access

handy_vandal Risk versus Opportunity (120 comments)

"Security risks" from people self-subscribing to hotel door access?

Some would call this a "Profitable vulnerabilities" situation.

about 4 months ago

Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

handy_vandal Re:staunchy (213 comments)

I was thinking that "staunchy" is a good word for "tending to staunch" -- for example, a bandage is staunchy when it staunches a wound.

But I was mistaking "staunch" for "stanch" -- ones stanches (not staunches) a wound.

So then I think, "staunchy", from "staunch" -- thus "tending to be loyal or devoted".

Now I find out that "staunchy" means "stinky".

Which kind of fits both ways ... bloody wounds are stinky ... tendencies to loyalty are stinky (by comparison with real, true, full loyalty, as opposed to mere tendencies) ... it all fits together.

about 4 months ago

Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

handy_vandal staunchy (213 comments)

"Staunchy" should be a word. I like the sound of it.

about 4 months ago

Researchers Test Developer Biometrics To Predict Buggy Code

handy_vandal Developers as novelists (89 comments)

... really good developers are more a cross between engineers and artists.


When talking with non-developers about developers, I use the simile that developers are like novelists, who work out stories in their heads, and commit those stories to paper.

A novel contains a set of symbols which, taken collectively, and written correctly, form an impressive body of knowledge that can change the world. (Tolstoy's "War and Peace" is my usual example.)

But if the symbols are faulty -- if the book is badly written, if the grammar and spelling are faulty -- then the book will fail to sell, fail to make its point, fail to change the world.

about 4 months ago

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

handy_vandal Re:health.amazon.com (186 comments)

Thank you.

about 5 months ago

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

handy_vandal Re:More creepiness (186 comments)

The idea of a back-talking robot cigar reminds me of this passage from Ubik:

Back in the kitchen he fished in his various pockets for a dime, and with it started up the coffeepot. Sniffing the—to him—very unusual smell, he again consulted his watch, saw that fifteen minutes had passed; he therefore vigorously strode to the apt door, turned the knob and pulled on the release bolt. The door refused to open. It said, “Five cents, please.”

He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. “I’ll pay you tomorrow,” he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. “What I pay you,” he informed it, “is in the nature of a gratuity; I don’t have to pay you.”

“I think otherwise,” the door said. “Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.”

In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.

“You discover I’m right,” the door said. It sounded smug.

From the drawer beside the sink Joe Chip got a stainless-steel knife; with it he began systematically to unscrew the bolt assembly of his apt’s money-gulping door.

“I’ll sue you,” the door said as the first screw fell out.

Joe Chip said, “I’ve never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it.”

-- Ubik by Philip K. Dick

about 5 months ago

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

handy_vandal "Rectum" and "detonate on contact" (186 comments)

"Rectum" and "detonate on contact" ... your answer may serve Justice -- but who will clean up the mess?

about 5 months ago

Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

handy_vandal health.amazon.com (186 comments)

"Customers who suffered this disease also purchased diagnostic tests for ..."

about 5 months ago


handy_vandal hasn't submitted any stories.



handy_vandal handy_vandal writes  |  about 11 years ago
I'm some guy who's liked -- loved, adored -- computers since he was a kid. I was a teenager in the early-mid seventies ... writing BASIC on a 300 baud TTY, playing Dogfight over PLATO, reading Computer Lib and The Network Nation ... that should place me.

Roundabout the mid-nineties, when email was becoming a commonplace and the World Wide Web was taking off, I thought:

Finally -- it's about time ...!

Well, the Golden Age of the Nineties had to end. With the coming of twenty-first century globalization, my former lucrative career as a freelance programmer has seriously dried up. I still manage to make part of my living as a coder -- which is a good thing, I love coding for it's own sake, love it like a novelist loves writing novels. But it looks like the party is mostly over, chances are if I want to stay in the IT game, I'll end up writing specs and outsource the work to India.

I like irony, really I do. It's much better than a world without irony. Irony is funny plus sad in one pill. Only problem is, I forget whether it's the blue pill or the red pill ....


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