Saturday, December 18, 2004

Geek toys: Swiss army USB drive

Any true geek will want this gadget in their stocking: a Swiss army knife with a USB flash drive. Whether you're roughing it in the real jungle or just the server room, this blend of low and high tech is they key. The LED light is cool too. I want one...

Best diet for your heart

Researchers report in the British Medical Journal that the Polymeal can decrease risk of heart disease by 75%.

So what's in a Polymeal? It is a daily intake of wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruits, vegetables, garlic, and almonds. Based on existing research, these ingredients has the greatest benefits in preventing heart disease.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Top 10 science discoveries of 2004

From Science Magazine

1. The Mars rovers' discovery that the planet was once wet enough to possibly harbour life. Inanimate, wheeled, one-armed boxes roaming another planet have done something no human has ever managed. They have discovered another place in the universe where life could once have existed.

2. "The Littlest Human," the discovery of the Flores man on an Indonesian island. Fossils show the tiny folks once stood less than one metre tall and had brains less than a third the size of ours.

3. "Clone Wars," the cloning of human embryos by South Korean researcher Woo San Hwang and his colleagues. The team aimed to show cloning techniques could work to make human embryonic stem cells for research purpose, not to copy humans.

4. Deja Condensates – U.S. and Austrian scientists created a new form of condensate, an ultracold gas in which a group of atoms can act like a superatom. The discovery may shed light on how electrons act in complex materials.

5. Hidden DNA Treasures – Biologists discover "junk DNA" between known genes play an important role in causing genes to turn at at the right time and right place.

6. Prized Pulsar Pair – Astrophysicsts find spinning neutron stars locked in each other's orbit, spewing radiation. The superstrong gravity of a neutron star or black hole could reveal any potential glitches in Einstein's general theory or relativity.

7. Documenting Diversity Declines – Conservationists report about 30 per cent of the world's amphibians are at risk of extinction. Likewise, many butterflies, plants and birds in the United Kingdom are disappearing.

8. Splish, splash – New discoveries about how water molecules bind together and how electrons and protons dissolve in the liquid.

9. Healthy Partnerships – "Public-private partnerships" are changing the way drugs are developed, tested and distributed to the world's poorest people. The partnerships are tackling diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.

10. Genes, Genes Everywhere – Researchers find a way to identify genes in ocean water or specimens from deep underground.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Amazon continues to exceed expectations

In business, one key to customer satisfaction is to exceed expectations by "under promise, over deliver". Amazon certainly does that very well in terms of their order fulfillment.

I ordered the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Extended DVD on Wednesday night, Dec 8. Amazon said the product will be available on Dec 14. Free shipping will take 2-6 business days plus an additional 1-3 days before shipping. Thus the expected ship date is Dec 16 and the my delivery date is Dec 20-24.

I got an email on the Friday the 10th saying the order has been shipped, and I receieved the package today. This totally exceeded my expectations which Amazon wisely under promoised during the holiday season. I'm impressed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Scientific American annual index?

Some magazines provide an annual index to their articles, and I find that very useful. Scientific American, up until 2003, included their annual index in their December issues. In fact they provide two indexes, one by author and one by "title keyword".

This title keyword approach is an interesting compromise between a strictly alphabetical title index and a keyword index. Essentially the title is listed by its most significant keyword. For example, the article "Building a new gateway to China" is listed as "China, Building a new gateway to". This way all the articles related to a particular topic are group together, which is great when looking up related information. For articles without a strong keyword in the title, one is added, for example "Ants: slave-making queens".

Based on their 1993-2003 annual indexes, I was able to compile my own cumulative article index for the issues for those years. You can see it at This cumulative index is a manual effort of cut and paste, and some strategic search and replace with regular expressions.

For 2004, however, Scientific American did not include an annual index in their December issue. Thinking they may be delaying it a month, I waited until the January 2005 issue, but alas still no index. So I had to manually copy in the article titles from the monthly table of contents, choose my keywords, re-format etc.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Zome for hands-on geometry

Zome is an excellent construction set with a strong geometric foundation. Check out Mindspark for more information as well as for purchasing Zome in Vancouver.

10 print "Hello world"

OK, so that's not the most original title for my first blog entry, but as a computer geek it does have special meaning. All home computer enthusiasts who worked with BASIC will recognize the title.

So, welcome!