10 december 2004: anything, anywhere, any time
flipsockgrrl @ gmail .com
West Front of St Paul's Cathedral has been restored to its Christopher Wren-designed glory. Features include a delicious new minty fragrance, 18 new ringtones...
"Many people spend their entire careers waiting for a chance to work on a version 1.0 project... The terms ground breaking, breakthrough, radical and innovative are thrown around enough that many are convinced this project is different from all others." Think again.
Wellesley College researchers found that fewer than 2 per cent of students in one computer science class bothered to use non-Internet sources to answer six test questions; asked to list Microsoft's top innovations, 63 per cent of students visited only that company's web site in search of the answer. "Skepticism... is part of their lives, yet they tend to believe things fairly readily because it appears on the Internet."
The Internet was a wild frontier ten years ago, and the World Wide Web had only just been born. A trawl through the Usenet archives (now Google Groups) shows some pundits were remarkably prescient about how the online world would look in 2004.
Most librarians have probably been asked, why do you need all that shelf space when you could go digital and outsource the IT to India? Books are "how we speak to one another across generations, and one of the ways we can subvert the limitations of culture, class, gender, and personality... People will continue to write books, people will continue to read books, and the academic-publishing process needs to be reformed so that we can continue to meet our goal of scholarly communication in an economically sustainable way."
Canadian teens spend almost one-third (27.8 percent) less time online than their adult counterparts, with their Internet behavior largely confined to social activities.
The revenue growth rate for US job sites Careerbuilder, Monster, and HotJobs outstripped their newspaper classified counterparts by three to one in the third quarter of 2004.
10 December 2004 | top of page
American veteran soldiers from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era.
Neologisms for bloggers: blogjob, flogulation, self-flogulation, fellablogio, webflog, webflogging.
How embarrassment: delegates at the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP10) have awarded the Fossil of the Day prize to Australia, for "trying to mislead the world about its abysmal record of rising greenhouse gas emissions." (thanks, Peter)
American company Costco has about 440 no-frills warehouse shops worldwide. It's a US$23 billion company "with no public relations department. Costco makes a sport out of figuring out how to maintain gross margins while selling merchandise as inexpensively as possible."
Dude, you've got to read this: linguist Scott Kiesling reckons the word 'dude' conveys a precise meaning about the depth of one person's relationship with another, and it's mostly used by men.
The story is that US Army Ranger Pat Tillman was killed accidentally in Afghanistan. The Washington Post digs deeper:
Visiting the renovated Museum of Modern Art in New York, "you might run out of synonyms for ‘grand’, yet you never feel overwhelmed by the space... ‘Transcendent aesthetic experience’ in its privileged form today of immaculate spatial effect sure does cost a lot (‘less is more’ like never before). And that is the definitive quality of the new MoMA: a sublimation that is at once aesthetic, architectural and financial. It’s heady air, and almost everyone seems happy just to catch a breath of it."
Secrets of building a successful intranet: "A Government department pulled hundreds of people together by understanding their needs and helping them get to know each other. What mattered: photos of people's faces. What didn't matter: the technology."
After nearly six years of growing demand for university places, which resulted in thousands of students failing to secure their preferred course, applications are down in New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.
After steering the University of Melbourne through one of its most difficult years and convincing a largely distrustful university community to agree to the Howard Government's higher education reforms that he supported, Kwong Lee Dow will retire in January. He plans to re-read Proust.
The trebuchet was a medieval siege engine that used a counterweight to swing a huge lever and launch a rock or other heavy lump at a castle wall. This Shockwave/Flash trebuchet game lets you adjust launch angle, counterweight height and mass, wind speed and other factors to improve your aim.
The seven basic plots: "Storytelling's golden age is not, of course, the 19th century. Storytelling has no golden age. It has stirred us since the first creation myths, and continues to do so in the guise of modern cosmology: what else is big bang theory but a story?"
Science is "a process rather than a product; it is creative, rather than foundational. Its inventions/discoveries introduce novelty into the world; they make a difference."
Goodies! Goody, goody, yum yum!! The Goodies are coming to town in March 2005. Accept no substitutes, and do the Funky Gibbon in your own time. Tickets to The Goodies Live go on sale 13 December, through Ticketek. (thanks, Tink)
IBM is selling its computer-manufacturing business to Lenovo, China's biggest PC maker.
Holographic photography was invented in 1947. Red Dwarf's Rimmer, the Star Trek holodeck, Minority Report's family photos and Princess Leia's message to Obi-Wan Kenobi all look really cool, but real-world hologram videos are still a few years away.
How high can a fire hose squirt? Is it a good idea to aim high when fighting a fire in a multi-storey building?
One of Douglas Adams' lasting legacies is the software that runs the collaborative "Hitch Hiker's Guide to Earth site, H2G2. The BBC acquired the software in 2001, when it took over hosting the site. Now the software, named DNA, is being used to run other BBC discussion forums.
The theory of relativity is explained, in words of four letters or less. (thanks, Iza and Claire)
History of the universe, in 200 words or less, and in many languages including Klingon, DNA, Elmer Fudd and Swedish Chef (and English).
Whether it's satellite photos of weapons caches or mammogram images of possible breast tumors, "the human task of interpretation is often a bigger obstacle than the technical task of picture-taking." Given the degree of uncertainty, why do mammograms? Because they do not have to be infallible to save lives. Can we say the same about long-distance photos of weapons?
William Hurlbut has proposed a "brilliantly, grotesquely unconventional" solution to American conservatives' opposition to embryonic stem cell research: switch off one of the genes that guide embryo formation. The resulting "biological artifacts" would have "no claim on the moral status due to a developing human life," and so could be ethically used in stem cell research.
Sherlock Holmes scholar Richard Lancelyn Green discovered in March that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's lost papers, which he believed were supposed to be bequeathed to the British Library, were up for sale at Christie's. In May, Green was found garrotted in his apartment. Did he stage the perfect puzzle-mystery, or was it really murder?
The BBC will sack 10 per cent of its worldwide staff over the next three years. About 2500 of the job cuts will come from professional services such as human resources and marketing, and 400 will come from the factual department that makes the popular nature documentary "Blue Planet". Other parts of the organisation are expected to find 15 per cent budget savings.
9 December 2004 | top of page
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