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Friday, October 1, 2010

Google Open-sources Liquid Galaxies

The engineers at Google put together a great traveling road show that they dubbed Liquid Galaxies. It's a series of 8 55" LCDs that are synchronized to display a field of vision type immersible experience with Google Earth. The panels are arranged around the user to encircle them and cover their entire field of vision. A 3D joystick allows the user to navigate from outer space to under the oceans and through cities and countryside alike. Knowing that only a select few would be able to visit Liquid Galaxies at trade shows or in the Google complex, the company has "decided to put the features that make Liquid Galaxy possible into the latest release of Google Earth, and open-source all the supporting work, from our Ubuntu sysadmin scripts to the mechanical design of our custom frames."

It will still require some technical know how, but if you are so inclined (and have 8 55" lcd's kicking around) you too can bring Liquid Galaxies to life! I'm salivating just thinking of it... but then again that's just me. If only I had 7 more tv's...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gliese 581g - There's Life Out There

An Earth sized planet circling a near by star is said to have the proper conditions for sustaining life, and according to at least one expert it's almost certain that it does. 

Gliese 581g is said to have a surface and has enough gravity to hold an atmosphere. "Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent,"  Prof Steven Vogt said during a press briefing. "I have almost no doubt about it." Vogt led the team of scientist who discovered the planet.

Gliese 581g is located 20 light years away from Earth in the constellation Libra and is said to have an estimated average surface temperature of between -24 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-31 to -12 degrees Celsius). So, it's no vacation hot spot.

All of a sudden I'm not so skeptical about the UN's Alien Ambassador appointment :) 


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On The Lighter Side - Total Distraction Video

I find this video simply mesmerizing and thought I'd share it out of pure enjoyment. Created by Mike Winkelmann, aka beeple, Instrument Video Nine is one of the finalists in the upcoming Vimeo Festival and Awards event. Scan it for total sweetness :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Company Alleges CIA Knowingly Bought Flawed Software For Use In Drones

Two Massachusetts companies are at the center of a debate over whether or not the CIA willingly purchased flawed software to run in tandum with illegally re-engineered hardware for use in predator drones. The combination is said to impact the accuracy of missiles fired from the drones, by up to 39 feet. 

A lawsuit has been filed by Massachusetts-based Intelligent Integration Systems (IISI) and involves Netezza, a data warehousing company who's software is said to be incompatible with current versions of IISI's code. According to the allegations Netezza  "illegally and hastily reverse-engineered" IISI's code and the CIA knowingly purchased the offering.

"My reaction was one of stun, amazement that they want to kill people with my software that doesn't work," IISI Chief Technology Officer Richard Zimmerman is quoted as saying in a deposition.

In it's defense Netezza CEO Jim Baum is quoted as writing "We believe that the claims made against Netezza by IISI are without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against those claims in court," a statement said. "We did not rely on IISI's trade secrets or confidential information in developing our own geospatial product."

The CIA obviously considers 39 feet an acceptable margin of error when it comes to lobbing explosives at important targets, that's about the distance between my house and my neighbours. Yikes!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Personal Computers Of Iranian Nuclear Plant Employees Infected By Stuxnet Worm

"An electronic war has been launched against Iran", Mahmoud Liayi, head of the information technology council at the ministry of industries, told the state-run Iran Daily newspaper. This, in response to reports that a sophisticated computer worm had infected the personal computers of staff at the country's first nuclear power station, the Bushehr plant, due to come on line in the coming weeks. Officials claim that the operating system at the plant has been unaffected by the Stuxnet worm, so sophisticated that it is believed to be the work of "a nation state".

Stuxnet targets systems made by the German company Siemens, these systems are typically used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other utilities. The Iranians claim that computers operating on some 30,000 IP addresses within the country have been infected.

Western nations fears Iran's goal is to build nuclear weapons while Iranian officials says its programme is aimed solely at peaceful energy use.

Source: BBC