Passing a law that requires companies to build devices with digital keyholes which only good-guys can use, is the same as passing a law that says the value of π (pi) must be exactly 3.
Here's an excellent short video about the literal impossibility of such laws, and the enormous risks of going ahead anyway. Because unlike real-world keyholes where the bad-guy must be physically present at each keyhole they want to break through, in the digital world each bad-guy can simultaneously attack millions of digital keyholes from the other side of the world. The end of the video says it best: "Anyone who says otherwise [that digital keyholes can be built which allow only angel good-guys while blocking demon bad-guys] is either ignorant of the mathematics, or less of an angel then they appear."
There's no math in the video, just really good explanation.
I had a bunch of .mp4 and .3gpp video files whose file "create" and "last modified" filesystem dates did not match the meta data inside of the file, and this was causing problems because many apps use the filesystem dates when sorting video files (rather than using the metadata inside the video files).
I found ExifTool could fix this. ExifTool is a cmd-line tool, so you need to be comfortable with the cmd-line. The biggest challenge was that most of the documentation was on how to modify the internal meta data, but I wanted to "copy" from the meta data to the filesystem timestamps.
The first trick is to figure out what the "tags" are for the internal metadata and the file system. I found the ExifTool FAQ #24 which shows how to query for the times:
In the video below, a team built two computers out of dominoes. The first was capable of adding any two numbers between 0 (zero) and 7 (seven). The second computer they built was capable of adding any two numbers between 0 (zero) and 15 (fifteen).
Google, Facebook, and others are trying to be helpful, and show content that is customized just for you. But this can trap you in a "filter bubble". Information used to be filtered by mass-media gatekeepers like newspapers & television, and was also filtered by where you lived. Is the automatic personalization and customization by Google, Facebook, and others any better than the old filtering?
LED traffic lights have an overlooked problem in the snow, compared to traditional incandescent bulbs — they don't melt the snow. This has led to some accidents where snow piled up against the traffic lights. Old-school incandescent bulbs are inefficient and produce heat which melts the snow. But new LED lights produce very little heat, and so the snow blocks the lights.
The ever more realistic graphics in game consoles and PC's are based on approximations. Over the years, graphics card makers have improved the approximations, but there are still lot's of short-cuts.
Ray tracing, on the other hand, is the way to accurately render computer graphics. The process "traces" simulated rays of light as the bounce around a scene. Unfortunately, ray tracing uses so much CPU that it's only used for still-frames, or else as the final phase of movie making. An individual image (or frame in a film) takes from several seconds up to several minutes to render.
Caustic Graphics recently announced they plan to ship specialized hardware in mid 2010 that can ray trace scenes 200 times faster then the best current solutions. If they actually deliver on their promises, and it's not too expensive, this could lead to real-time ray traced graphics on game consoles and PCs equipped with their hardware.
If you need another reason to hate annoying animated banner ads, a paper published on Monday shows that that the worst sites require your computer to use an additional 11 watts of power handling the animated ads. So these banner ads contribute to global warming!
The study was not exactly rigorous, but the animated banner ads, based on technologies like Flash, clearly use an additional amount of power.