Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rise Against - The Good Left Undone

I'm really digging this song right now. It's got pretty nice lyrics about picking a flower and ruining it. I can definitely relate to ruining things. =(

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Only Showing Your E-mail Address To Humans

This is pretty neat, reCAPTCHA offers a service so you can force people to solve a CAPTCHA before they can see your e-mail address. This way, programs that scour the internet for e-mail addresses to spam can't get it nearly as easily. On top of that, every time, somebody solves the CAPTCHA, they're helping to digitize old books!

For example, mine is:

Using Spammers To Advance Artificial Intelligence

CAPTCHAs are a ubiquitous feature of the internet. Many websites use then to distinguish between real human beings and software attempting to add content to the site. Usually the real human beings are the ones you want to permit, while the software is attempting to add spam to the site, so it's a useful problem to solve. Essentially, a CAPTCHA is a mini Turing Test to try to distinguish between humans and machines.

I came across an article pointing out that we could harness spammers to help solve artificial intelligence problems to advance the field of research. Essentially, spammers have a lot of financial incentive to solve the problems. When they solve these problems, we simply present them with new unsolved problems.

This situation is hilariously clever. It's also the natural progression of the CAPTCHA arms race. So, the next time you get annoyed by spammers on websites that are protected by CAPTCHAs, think about the spammer's contribution to computer science!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Coding In English

Programming nowadays occurs predominantly in English. Why is this?

I hadn't really given this question very much thought, but I came across a blog that argues that programming languages transcend regular cultural boundaries. I suppose this is true in a lot of senses.

The programming community tends to be a bunch of people who are adept at learning languages (in the programming sense) and probably view having to learn a new language (in the regular sense) as a way to gain access to more tools and resources. Since the vast majority of documentation and existing code right now is in English, there is a lot of inertia and it's easier for people to learn English than to hope for some (often poorly) translated version of the English documents and code.

Additionally, the current common programming languages fundamentally tend to use English keywords and such so programmers already have to learn a few words here and there in English.

I don't think anybody really planned things to happen this way, but it's just a case of pragmatism. Programmers tend to think about what's most efficient and practical a lot, so English is probably gonna stay as the de facto programming language for a while.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This Is Why Science Is Fun

We all know bacon has a lot of fat in it and that fat has a lot of energy. Would you believe that burning bacon has enough energy in it to melt steel? I also really appreciated the vegetarian options they provided.

I honestly believe that kids these days need more wacky fun science like this to get them more interested in physics, chemistry, or other sciences. I still want to teach physics in school some day.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Obama And Wiretapping

I'm a huge fan of Barack Obama. However, I do not like how he has adopted and potentially gone a step farther than even the Bush administration did with the federal government's right to wiretap. This is a very major cause for concern and I hope he rethinks this position.

TED: Bacterial Communication

Life is amazing. Bonnie Bassler has been doing research on how bacteria communicate with one another to accomplish group goals. Her team's research can potentially lead to a new approach to antibiotics, so this is really great news, since we've been gradually breeding antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria over the years.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Brute

My friend linked me to this silly little website where you make little characters and can have them fight each other (automatically). Try fighting me! When you refer people, your character gets experience, so it's got a viral element to it. haha.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Little Red Riding Hood

A clever guy named Tomas Nilsson made a new take on Little Red Riding Hood. Actually, I recommend the HD version to get all the details in the little pop ups, but here's the low res version.

SlagsmÄlsklubben - Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.