The Plaint Of The Office Worker
Prospective News Of Late Filing

Technobriefs

by Craig Reynolds

Late breaking news: Jose and Clara have chicks! My kids and I have been watching the San Jose (CA) City Hall peregrine falcons on their nest. When we tuned in today, the eggs had hatched and we got to see one of the parents feeding the chicks.

User generated content: YouTube’s Favorite Clips ("On YouTube, copyrighted video clips of movies and TV shows are far less popular compared with noncopyrighted material than previously thought, according to a new study..." via YouTube biggest hits may not be infringers). This was essentially what I said a month ago regarding the planned NBC/News Corp "YouTube killer" website for TV shows: "few think this will cut deeply into YouTube's popularity which is based on its Web 2.0 nature: user-created content, and collective filtering of user-selected TV clips." Anyway, everything should be be OK now that Viacom Promises To Be More Mindful Of Fair Use On YouTube. Even media executives, seemingly among the last to recognize such obvious trends, are starting to understand the value of user-generated content: User Content Provides Opportunities (via Media Bigwigs Pick for User Content Impact: Video Shorts).

3D printers: Tom Lasusa, who surfs the web so you don't have to, recently linked to a product video calling it The Great Great Great Grandfather of the Star Trek Replicator. This process, known as stereolithography or just "3d printers" has been around in some form since the 1980s and continues to improve its capabilities.  Current systems are still rather crude and are aimed at creating 3D shapes but not functional devices. It is assumed that eventually nanotech versions will allow atom by atom construction of objects from arbitrary materials. So not just plastic but metal bearings and wires, ceramic elements, semiconductors, etc.). 3D printer technology would enable many novel types of devices, and bring profound changes to the manufacturing industry. The effects on society of unbiqutious 3d functional printers are a central theme in Neal Stephenson's novel The Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, which I really enjoyed (and mentioned here previously: see this and that). For a darker view of this see Cory Doctorow's Printcrime. I was pleased to hear about RepRap, an open source 3D printer, via this interesting video: RepRap wasn't built in a day "Adrian built a RepRap and filmed a time lapse video of the construction".

Bee gone: I have been really freaking out about the whole disappearing honey bee mystery dubbed "Colony Collapse Disorder" (previously mentioned here and here). I assumed it had something to do with aliens, somewhere between So long and thanks for all the fish and that whole X-Files bee/alien connection. Of course some people think its all about electrical fields: Cellphones Wiping Out Bees? Perhaps there is now an answer to the mystery, via the military's Integrated Virus Detection System: Scientists Identify Pathogens That May Be Causing Global Honey-Bee Deaths.

Sony news: Ken Kutaragi, who created the PlayStation concept and lead Sony Computer Entertainment ever since, is stepping down. He will be replace by Kaz Hirai, who ran the American part of the company for many years: Sony says sayonara to father of PlayStation. New video camera for PS3: Sony Launches PlayStation Eye; Call It EyeToy 2? and Think 'Star Wars' Chess Is Cool? PS3 Has A Game For You ... This time its over-reaching for DVD copy protection: Sony's Latest DRM Backfire.

Wet exoplanet: it is certainly is cool that an "Earth-like" exoplanet was found with a mass and temperature similar to Earth: New Planet Could Be Earthlike, Scientists Say and Potentially habitable planet found. Gliese 518c is a mere 20 light-years (120 trillion miles) away, so a robot probe could be sent to check it out, although such a mission would take at least 40 years to return data. However, allow me to rant about the idea that water, let alone liquid water, is a prerequisite for life. Certainly water is crucial for Earth-life, but with only one example how could we even begin to say whether that is fundamental or coincidental? Simulation studies of artificial life, autocatalytic sets and other abstract models suggest that the potential for self-organization is strong in any sufficiently complex media. I feel quite confident that life can arise in the absence of water. Other earth and space news: why are plants green?  Early Earth Was Purple, Study Suggests, fossils in a coal mine: Earth's First Rainforest Unearthed, huge composite image of the Carina Nebula: NASA nebula image captures violent birth of stars, and great images from STEREO: Spacecraft return 3D Sun pictures and NASA Releases Stunning New 3-D Views of the Sun.

Genetic news: there seemed to be a slew of news this week about genome studies: 'Junk' DNA Now Looks Like Powerful Regulator, Scientists Find, Scientists identify new genes linked to diabetes, Researchers pinpoint gene linked to obesity risk, Daily pill to beat genetic diseases about PTC124,  Studies line up on Parkinson's and pesticides link (from paraquat to alpha-synuclein to same brain damage as with Parkinson's) and finally Good Behavior, Religiousness May Be Genetic (the key point here is that "good behavior" seems to come from the genes, NOT from "religiousness".  In fact a predisposition toward "religiousness" may be caused by the same genes.)

Technobits: Ohio Audit Says Diebold Vote Database May Have Been Corrupted (via) --- Security experts not surprised the Mac was hacked --- Royal Society 2007 Prize for Science Books --- Map of maps, timeline of timelines --- Slate's special issue on the brain --- Research opens way for bionic eye --- Digital Camera Vs. Camera Phone --- U.S. schools may join inexpensive laptop project --- Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait --- as soon as I saw this I thought of the scene in Wrong Trousers, then noticed that he refers to that scene in his description: LEGO self tracker.