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Tech News, Blogging Tips, Wordpress, And Other Assorted Randomness. (2)

September 19th, 2007

:-) Digital Smiley Face Turns 25


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Smiley Face Professor

Everyone has used the smiley face at one point or another, but do you know how its use started?

Twenty-five years ago a Carnegie Mellon University professor named Scott E. Fahlman sent a message proposing the use of a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis as a joke marker. It is the earliest recorded use of the smiley face, which has since become ubiquitous with online communication.

Love them or hate them, emoticons do provide a quick and easy way to show emotion in an otherwise detached medium.

Fahlman posted the emoticon in a message to an online electronic bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humor and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly.

“I propose the following character sequence for joke markers: :-),” wrote Fahlman. “Read it sideways.”

The suggestion gave computer users a way to convey humor or positive feelings with a smile — or the opposite sentiments by reversing the parenthesis to form a frown.

Carnegie Mellon said Fahlman’s smileys spread from its campus to other universities, then businesses and eventually around the world as the Internet gained popularity. (source)

September 14th, 2007

Google Gets Behind New Moon Landing


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In news that will no doubt get NASA folk sweating a little, Google has announced they are offering a $20 million prize to the first private group to land an unmanned rover on the moon.

For a company that posted a first quarter profit of $3.66 billion, $20 million is a drop in the water, but it’s still nice to see that there is corporate interest in space exploration.

Nearly 40 years after the USA beat the Soviets to the moon Internet giant Google said Thursday it will give $20 million to the first private group to land a roving robot on the lunar surface — a prize likely to start a 21st-century space race.

The giant purse is being offered by the X-Prize Foundation, which awarded $10 million in 2005 to the first privately funded group to launch a human into space. (source)

With any luck we’ll see another person step foot on the moon in our lifetime.

Link: Google Lunar X-Prize

Google Moon Landing

August 30th, 2007

The 20 Most Bizarre Science Experiments Of All Time


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The Museum of Hoaxes has a list of the 20 most bizarre science experiments ever conducted. Despite the name of the website the author assures us that all the experiments listed are 100% real. And true to the title they are pretty damn bizarre and in many cases quite barbaric.

Some of the experiments on the list include giving LSD to elephants, the surgical creation of a two-headed dog, and the infamous Stanford prison experiment.

To research my new book, Elephants on Acid, I scoured scientific archives searching for the most bizarre experiments of all time — the kind that are mind-twistingly, jaw-droppingly strange… the kind that make you wonder, “How did anyone ever conceive of doing such a thing?”

Link: The Museum of Hoaxes

August 21st, 2007

SuprNova.org Returns: BitTorrent Fans Rejoice


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Suprnova.org

After being shut down back in 2004 it looked unlikely that Suprnova.org would return. But thanks to the guys from The Pirate Bay it has finally been relaunched and not surprisingly has a lot of people excited.

It’s a bittorrent site, so you know what to expect, but the design is clean and easy to navigate which is often not the case with similar sites. There is also a new sister site called Suprbay which is a joint forum for both The Pirate Bay and Suprnova.

At the moment they claim to be tracking over 1 million torrents on close to 27 thousand trackers. Expect the big media rhetoric to begin shortly.

The official word on the relaunch:

Suprnova has been down for some years due to some heavy pressure from the copyright lobby. The former owner sloncek donated suprnova to The Pirate Bay - and as you know, we like to kick ass and bow for noone!

We were going to keep this site a secret until we had finished it, but of course it leaked, that’s how internet works. So now that the word is out, we’re releasing it!

[...]

Finally, some words for non-internet loving companies: This is how it works. Whatever you sink, we build back up. Whomever you sue, ten new pirates are recruited. Wherever you go, we are already ahead of you. You are the past and the forgotten, we are the internet and the future.

August 20th, 2007

Skype Blames Microsoft For Outage


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Skype Outage

I haven’t got much love for Microsoft but they do seem to get the finger pointed at them a lot these days. Has anyone accused Microsoft of being the cause of global warming yet?

From the official Skype blog:

On Thursday, 16th August 2007, the Skype peer-to-peer network became unstable and suffered a critical disruption. The disruption was triggered by a massive restart of our users’ computers across the globe within a very short timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches through Windows Update.

The high number of restarts affected Skype’s network resources. This caused a flood of log-in requests, which, combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction that had a critical impact.

I’m not looking forward to the day when Windows starts getting widespread deployment in cars. Can you imagine driving down a highway and having your car re-boot to install the latest update? Scary.

August 20th, 2007

Why Do Girls Like The Color Pink?


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Pink Girl

Have you ever wondered why girls are attracted to the color pink?

According to a Time article it may be due to biological programming. Now maybe scientists can move onto the more pressing issue of explaining why some guys choose to embarrass themselves by wearing pink clothes.

According to a new study in the Aug. 21 issue of Current Biology women may be biologically programmed to prefer the color pink — or, at least, redder shades of blue — more than men.

On average, the study found, all people generally prefer blue, something researchers have long known. The study also found that while both men and women liked blue, women tended to pick redder shades of blue — reddish-purple hues — while men preferred blue-green.

August 16th, 2007

WordPress Plugin: Control Who Sees Your Ads


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Who Sees Ads? is a brilliant plugin for controlling when and how your ads are displayed. Using the following predefined rules you are able to specify whether ads should be displayed or not.

  • If a visitor comes from a search engine.
  • If a visitor is a regular reader.
  • If the post is older than a certain number of days.

If the default rules aren’t enough, you are also able to set your own advanced rules using PHP functions. This is really the best part about this plugin. The amount of customization you can do is virtually limitless.

Who See Ads?

Some other useful features include:

  • Admin click safety.
  • Compatibility with Adsense Deluxe and Adsense Manager.
  • Google Adsense and Yahoo Publisher compliance.
  • Posting help within the Post/Edit interface.
  • Can be used inline or within Wordpress templates.

Who Sees Ads? is easily the most powerful and fully featured advertising plugin for WordPress. If you want complete control over your ads I suggest you check it out.

Link: Who Sees Ads?

August 11th, 2007

Facebook Source Code Exposed By Faulty Web Server


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Techcrunch has a story linking to a blog containing the source code to the Facebook index page. They are speculating that the source code was leaked but after doing a little digging it appears that a faulty web server may have been responsible.

The source code for profile.php was posted at NerdLife and was taken down soon after when they received a cease and desist email from the Facebook legal department. In the same post a commenter is claiming to have the code for photo.php as well. It’s anyones guess as to how much source code has been exposed but it’s clear that it wasn’t limited to the index page.

Not a great day for Facebook.

  • It was only a matter of time till someone cracked the Netflix “Watch Now” DRM. For a step by step guide check out this thread on the Rorta forums. There’s a bit of work involved but it doesn’t look too difficult. (0)

August 11th, 2007

SCO Is Done: Court Rules Novell Owns UNIX And UnixWare Copyrights


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It seems like such a long time ago that this whole mess started, and checking the date it was. SCO filed their lawsuit back in March of 2003. It’s taken over 4 years and millions of dollars in legal fees to reach a conclusion most people thought was pretty clear from the outset - Novell owns the Unix and UnixWare copyrights.

From Groklaw:

Hot off the presses: Judge Dale Kimball has issued a 102-page ruling [PDF] on the numerous summary judgment motions in SCO v. Novell. Here it is as text. Here is what matters most:

“[T]he court concludes that Novell is the owner of the UNIX and UnixWare Copyrights.”

That’s Aaaaall, Folks! The court also ruled that “SCO is obligated to recognize Novell’s waiver of SCO’s claims against IBM and Sequent”. That’s the ball game. There are a couple of loose ends, but the big picture is, SCO lost. Oh, and it owes Novell a lot of money from the Microsoft and Sun licenses.

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