Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • A chemical found in red wine may slow aging in mammals. Reservatrol is a hot item these days, and whereas there probably isn't enough in wine to have measurable effects on health or longevity, Big Pharma firm GlaxoSmithKlein paid $720M for Sirtris, a biotech firm doing research on the reservatrol family of chemicals. Thanks to Frank Glover for the link.
  • Larry Steckler, who had worked for the Gernsback organization from 1957 until its bitter end in 2003, has published a 700-page biography of Hugo Gernsback. We've been waiting for a decent biography of our man Hugo for a long time, and I'll post my reaction here once I've read it.
  • Bruce Baker sent me a link to photos of a (more or less) scale model of the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman built entirely in Lego. The story has been written up (in English) on the Make Blog, with more photos here. My big question with Lego (having grown up on Meccano, in which everything is bolted together with real bolts) is how such monumental Lego sculptures stay intact. Is it all friction? I've built small things with Lego, but models that come apart in your hands don't seem to me to be anything near as good as the (admittedly holey) things you make with Meccano/Erector and their ilk.
  • From Don Doerres comes a link to a software defined radio (SDR) on the Web, covering a portion of the 80, 20, and 40 meter ham bands. The “waterfall” visualization is fascinating, and something that “real” radios just can't do. We're good at matching patterns, and I was able to see when a new signal appeared anywhere on the covered band out of the corner of my eye. Contesters must love SDRs!
  • Michael Covington suggested that unnecessary animations are a far bigger distraction and degradation of the computing experience than windowing, and I have to agree. This is one reason I continue to use older software: Its moving parts don't move unless they have to.
  • Also from Michael comes a story from the UK about the fact that 2% of the 1£ coins in circulation are counterfeit. This boggles the mind: 1£ won't even buy lunch, and making enough coins to be worthwhile must take a lot of time and work, considering that you can and probably will do time if they catch you. (Does anybody remember Bernard Wolfe's wry short story “The Never-Ending Penny”?)

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