Science Friction
David Stewart's Weblog of SF, Macintosh and other interesting stuff



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  Thursday 1 January 2004

As announced earlier I am no longer posting to this 'blog. I have transferred Science Friction to Typepad. My new URL is:

11:16:17 AM    comment []  Google It!

  Wednesday 31 December 2003

Deep Prose Software LLC has released Booxter 1.0, a utility for Mac OS X that helps users manage their book collections. I've only just downloaded it myself so I haven't had it long but it appears to be quite good. I've dabbled with library management applications before, the last was Bookbin which was based on Filemaker Pro. However, the company behind it went to a Web model (with subscription). While Bookbin had the advantage of being available for Mac and Windows - remember it was based on Filemaker - Booxter is Mac only. However, it is quite good. Simply enter the ISBN number of a book and the software goes and searches Amazone for the details such as author, title and length and downloads an image of the cover. The shareware fee is US$14.99 and I might just be keeping this one.
1:15:26 AM    comment []  Google It!

Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the World Wide Web has been honoured with a Knighthood in the UK New Years Honours List. Well deserved. [BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]
12:58:20 AM    comment []  Google It!

  Tuesday 30 December 2003

Just back from seeing Return of the King. In a word: fantastic. This is a triumphant conclusion to the trilogy and my advice to Peter Jackson is to retire now because whatever else he does will be judged in comparison to Lord of the Rings and will inevitably be found wanting. I won't summarise the movie here. That's not my job. But I will say that Jackson remained true to the bittersweet ending of Tolkien's books. I also watched the extended edition of The Two Towers a few nights ago so the events of the previous episode were fresh in my mind. At three hours and twenty minutes, the Return of the King is the longest of the trilogy and begs the question, how long is the extended edition going to be?
1:35:58 AM    comment []  Google It!

  Monday 29 December 2003

According to a story in ZDNET UK an American Website has chosen 'Embedded' as Word of the Year for 2003. chose the word as "the best word to distil the events of an extraordinary year into eight simple letters" according to Paul J.J. Payack, President of Other words that typified the year include Blog and SARS. The full list of Top Ten Words of 2003 can be found here.
2:28:48 PM    comment []  Google It!

The BBC reports that Bob Monkhouse has died at the age of 75. My earliest memories of Bob Monkhouse date, I think, from the late 1960s when he hosted the Golden Shot. We were living in the Republic of Ireland at the time but we regularly went to Enniskillen to visit my mother's family and I saw a few episodes of that program and I loved it. Later, with the advent of alternative comedy I tended to sneer at his jokes but a few years ago he turned up as a guest on Have I Got News For You and I saw that he was a very funny guy. The world has become a slightly less funny place with his passing. [BBC News | News Front Page | UK Edition]
2:15:24 PM    comment []  Google It!

  Sunday 28 December 2003

If you haven't already visited Gizmodo, then you really should give it a look. In among the new mobile phones and PDAs are some really unusual items. Who can forget the USB toothbrush for instance. This little device, however, sounds really useful. [Gizmodo]
12:59:53 AM    comment []  Google It!

  Friday 26 December 2003

According to this BBC story, Microsoft researchers have come up with a way to slow down spammers and make them 'pay' for e-mails. The idea is that each time someone wants to send message they have to 'pay' by solving a cryptographic puzzle. For individual mail senders that's not a problem as it only adds 10 or 20 seconds to the time needed to send a message but to people sending bulk it limits their ability to send messages. There is no mention, however, about how this affects genuine mass mailers such as newsletter publishers. [BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]
9:03:36 PM    comment []  Google It!

It's early on St Stephen's Day but as of yet there is no word from Beagle 2, the European Space Agency Martian lander. The probe was due to establish contact early on Christmas morning but Nasa's Mars Odyssey orbiter failed to detect a signal. While the lack of a signal means the probe could have been destroyed on impact, scientists are optimistic that the failure to establish communications could be due to other factors such as a mis-aligned antenna or the probe landing outside the expected area. Unfortunately, it's not just a question of listening continuously. There are only certain windows of opportunity to listen for the signal. The second of these was yesterday afternoon however the Jodrell Bank radio telescope failed to pick up the signal. The next opportunity is later today when Odyssey will again try to establish contact. Meanwhile, the Mars Express orbiter appears to have successfully entered Martian orbit. It is currently in an inclined elliptical orbit but will fire its engines again next week to manoeuvre into a polar orbit.
12:16:51 AM    comment []  Google It!

  Thursday 25 December 2003

According to The Register, Germany's Mobilcom has returned the 3G licence it purchased three years ago for €8.5bn to the German Federal Regulator. The company had already begun building the infrastructure for its network but has now sold it to its rival e-plus. [The Register]
2:14:32 AM    comment []  Google It!

Scientific American ends the year with a look back at the top science stories of 2003. In a year that began with the destruction of the Columbia space shuttle and is about to end with three - count 'em, three - probes arriving on Mars it's been quite a year for science. The magazine has identified 25 stories including the launch of China's first astronaut or taikonaut, the outbrakek of SARS, the development of a new adhesive based on the same principle a gecko uses to stick to walls and the discovery of skulls of the oldest homo sapiens. [Scientific American]
2:14:10 AM    comment []  Google It!

From Boing Boing Blog

Click thumbnail for full-size image. The RSA's David Calkins shares this snapshot of Santarchy mayhem afoot on the ice continent (left), and says:

"Santacon comes to Antarctica! Yeah! There will be a 36-Santa rampage tomorrow and Thursday. I know... Because me 'n' Rob (who founded Santarchy) bought those 36 suits and shipped 'em to my friend Allie, who works at McMurdo (!)."

[Boing Boing Blog]
2:13:55 AM    comment []  Google It!

What? Are the members of the Royal Family so bored they have resorted to this?
One of the Queen's corgis is put down after being bitten by a dog belonging to Princess Anne, it is reported.
[BBC News | News Front Page | UK Edition]
2:13:34 AM    comment []  Google It!

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