7/29/2010 11:17:39 AM
Do you hate subwoofers like I hate subwoofers? Does the low-fi din of an earth-shaking, bumper-rattling car stereo, detectable from a quarter-mile away and meant to broadcast the owner’s flagrant and rebellious love of bass-heavy hip-hop, make you want to just shut the thing off? If so, I think Make magazine can help us out.
You see, a couple of months ago Make, the do-it-yourself magazine for techno-geeks and home tinkerers, featured plans for the TV-B-Gone hoodie. The TV-B-Gone is a small device that will shut off any TV within range, and the hoodie is meant to conceal this sometimes controversial act by executing it with a mere shift of the zipper.
Now, in its most recent issue, Make features a different DIY creation, the solar car subwoofer, in which the author shares his plans for mounting solar panels on his car to drive his booming speakers. “What’s a road trip without awesome tuneage?” writes the enthusiastic but misguided lad, who’s employing green technology to practice dark arts.
You see where I’m going with this, right? The Subwoofer-B-Gone hoodie. For its next issue, I challenge Make to create a device that will allow me to silence subwoofers—solar powered or not—with my “modded” hoodie. I’m not interested in hearing why it won’t work: I’m leaving it to these genius tinkerers to find a way. Then, the next time some inconsiderate punk is disrupting my day by getting crunk, or hyphy, or grimy, or whatever the hell that horrible sound is, I won’t have to stand for it.
The only problem, perhaps, is that I’d have to wear a hoodie. And do you want to hear how I hate hoodies?
Image by Josef Rousek, licensed under Creative Commons.
7/21/2010 12:52:37 PM
Your wallet is empty. You pat down the pockets of your bulky winter parka—nothing. You’re stuck in Antarctica for the next 10 months. Things are not going well for you. Luckily, Wells Fargo can help you out and they won’t even charge a service fee.
Antarctica’s McMurdo Station, which is where the scientists conduct their frigid research, is the site of a Wells Fargo ATM, the only such machine operated on the continent. Most of the ATM’s minor repairs and preventative maintenance are done by trained Antarcticans—servicing the ATM is a ten-month process of planning and physical preparation for Wells Fargo employees. “Anybody that goes to Antarctica has to be cleared with a physical, a dental, and a psychological evaluation,” Wells Fargo’s vice president of ATM banking David Parker told Need Coffee. “Because if for some reason the plane can't get out, you're trapped down there until the next season.”
As we continue to scrutinize the commercial practices of large banking companies, let’s remember that when companies are allowed to make boatloads of money some benefits are passed on to consumers. Universal ATM service, for example, even at the ends of the Earth.
Source: Need Coffee
Image by TheTruthAbout..., licensed under Creative Commons.
7/20/2010 3:56:29 PM
If you've ever dabbled in the world of BitTorrent file sharing, you know the deal: You find the file you're looking for on some BitTorrent file tracking site and no matter what that file is it is surrounded by naked or half-naked women.
"I just want to file share without being bombarded by naked women and offers to meet ladies in my neighborhood," says Anita Sarkeesian in the latest offering from Bitch magazine's Mad World Virtual Symposium. "I also don't want to download a virtual stripper who takes her clothes off on my desktop!"
Sarkeesian's sharp video commentary makes it plain:
Women are systematically left out of techno-geek culture. It's a boys club that's reinforced socially and culturally ... just look at the fact that less than three percent of open source programmers are women. Or how about the fact that only 13 percent of Wikipedia contributors are women.
Here's the video. It's definately NSFW, which conflicts with my instinct to tell you to hit play now and crank it.
7/14/2010 10:55:07 AM
Which version of the apocalypse best suits your personality, your love of cats, and your taste for obeying mutant-fascist overlords? If you take Flavorwire’s quiz Which Dystopian Future is Right for You?, you won’t have to worry about the answer ever again.
(Thanks, The Millions.)
Image by Coso Blues, licensed under Creative Commons.
7/8/2010 1:04:03 PM
If Toy Story 3 wasn’t poignant enough for you, perhaps you’d be interested in the work of some researchers from the University of Hawai´i at Mānoa. At the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, some fine folks have crafted one of the saddest animations you will see this summer—simply by illustrating a possible ocean drift scenario for all that shiny oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico this spring.
Source: University of Hawai´i at Mānoa
7/7/2010 4:59:26 PM
Most computer users have experienced their share of malware and spyware. Now there is a worm with characteristics that have computer whizzes scratching their heads. It’s called Conficker. “No one knows who created it. No one knows how to stop it or kill it. And no one even knows for sure why it exists,” writes Mark Bowden in The Atlantic.
In a fast-paced cat-and-mouse narrative, Bowden tracks the rise of Conficker, which has invaded 6 to 7 million machines worldwide since its arrival in late 2008.
The struggle against this remarkable worm is a sort of chess match pitting the cleverest attackers in the world against the cleverest defenders in the world, many of whom are volunteers. The good guys—who have been dubbed the “Conficker Cabal”—have gone to unprecedented lengths in this battle, and have had successes beyond anything they would have thought possible when they started.
But a year and a half into the battle, here’s the bottom line: The worm is winning.
A substantially trimmed version of the piece also appeared in The Week, which less tech-savvy readers may find more digestible than the tangential meanderings of the full piece.
Source: The Week, The Atlantic
, licensed under
7/1/2010 3:12:38 PM
Let’s admit it—we’re all jealous of Japan’s lightning-fast bullet-trains. So, for the sake of regional connectivity, increased use of public transportation and technological awesomeness, what we need in the U.S. are some amped up rail lines. While the Penn Design Group has pitched a $100 billion, federally-funded high-speed rail update in New England that would reduce the time between Boston and Washington, D.C. to a mere three hours, General Electric has developed new logistical software for the freight industry that offers a cost-effective, private-sector solution to an impending rail-capacity crisis.
In a way, high-speed trains are the charismatic megafauna of public transportation policy—they’re more fun to ride than a bus, provide hundreds of local jobs, and look sleekly European. They are also—expectedly—lambasted for their high price tags. At $100 billion, the Penn Design Group’s proposal is one such prohibitively expensive project. The plan, which envisions a bypass around Wilmington, Delaware, and a 20-mile tunnel under Long Island Sound, would potentially increase train speeds to 155 mph and triple the Northeast Corridor’s ridership. The Transport Politic points out other massive setbacks for such an ambitious overhaul: The existing transportation infrastructure needs some serious repair and the federal government has to fairly disperse funds around the country.
If an expanded, country-wide network of high-speed rail is at the forefront of the American conversation about train infrastructure, then upgrades to our heavy freight lines are dangling from the caboose. Despite being the weathered face of the rail industry, freight trains and their infrastructure have a ready capacity to save time, money, and resources. Progressive Railroading reports that General Electric recently implemented traffic-control software called RailEdge on a 200-mile stretch of the Norfolk Southern Railway in Georgia. So far it has increased rail efficiency and capacity and raised the speed of the trains by two to four mph. I know what you're thinking: A paltry two to four miles per hour? What an mediocre triumph. However, Norfolk Southern has found that even “a one-mile-per-hour increase in train speed potentially can save about $200 million annually in capital and expenses.” GE’s transportation president and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli says new software like RailEdge can globally boost rail capacity “without laying a single new track.”
The Transport Politic
Image by cliff1066™, licensed under Creative Commons.
7/1/2010 12:33:10 PM
These days, the business world is up to its nostrils in fragrance. BusinessWeek reports on the trend of using “branded scents” in every corner of industry—including retail, real estate and hospitality. The idea is to elicit some unconscious behavior from the customer, like buying lingerie in Victoria’s Secret or feeling extra-cozy at a Marriott Hotel, by pumping a carefully chosen smell into a space. Having long mastered sight and sound, marketing experts are now manipulating our least-understood sense to gain an edge with consumers.
Neuromarketing argues that first-time smells—the olfactory system’s virginal whiffs—“merit a unique status in our brains” and form much stronger neural associations. In other words, we remember strange or never-before-encountered smells better than everyday odors. Thus, they conclude, “a scent intended for branding use should be unique to be memorable.”
An interesting experiment, and an exception to Neuromarketing’s above rule, is using the familiar backyard smell of grilled steak to lure commuters to the supermarket. United Press International reports that a Charlotte company called ScentAir created a billboard with high-powered fans that waft a savory aroma along River Highway during morning and evening rush-hour. "It's basically a blend of black pepper and kind of a charcoal grilling smell," the company's marketing director told UPI. "It smells like grilled meat with a nice pepper rub on it."
Good’s Siobahn O’Connor is intrigued and worried about companies hacking our sniffers: "For one, the fragrance industry is secretive and trades largely in toxic chemicals that are known allergens and likely hormone disruptors . . . Second, the chemicals used in fragrance are anything but environmentally safe . . . Third, subjecting people (often without their knowledge) to fragrances that affect their emotions and behaviors strikes me as a slippery slope."
And too bad for you: We won’t tell you what the Utne Reader’s branded scent is. It’s a trade secret.
BusinessWeek, Good, Neuromarketing, UPI
Image by Evil Erin, licensed under Creative Commons.
7/1/2010 11:46:32 AM
Is a machine alive if it lives on compressed air? No, but a breathing motorcycle could significantly reduce emissions in developing nations like India. The concept is simple: A tank introduces compressed air into a turbine, where the air expands and thus turns the engine. As LiveScience reports, the engine "could be available to consumers within a year, said Bharat Raj Singh, a researcher at the SMS Institute of Technology in Lucknow, India and one of the developers of the engine. A prototype, modeled in a paper published in May in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, is capable of running a motorcycle at speeds of up to 50 mph (80 kph) for 30 minutes."
In a country like India, where many people use small motorbikes, it could be the kind of environmental boon you are always reading about on the internet. (Wait…)
Image by f650biker, licensed under Creative Commons.
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