Office Fish Tank

If you’re a hiring manager and the talent pool is pretty weak maybe you could fall back on this guy? 😀

Seriously, here’s a cubicle in a fish tank which makes the perfect office mate for you until it’s time to clean the tank. The US$24 cost gets you the chair, lamp, potted plant, table and monitor in the tank, basically everything but the fish.
Office Fish Tank

[Found on Neatorama]

All Bodies In The Solar System Larger Than 200 Miles In Diameter

Kokogiak put together a graphic of all the bodies in the solar system greater than 200 miles in diameter. On one end of the spectrum you have the sun, on the other is an asteroid ‘Davida’ about 203 mi (326 km).

Here’s the article explaining the details of how and why the graphic was created, click the pic for the bigger view, it’s comprised of 170 layers in Photoshop. And here’s the metric version of the pic.

Bodies in the Solar System

**You’ve Been DENIED**

Oh noes!  A single broken link can bring down even the most hardy of websites.  Yep, we’ve all seen it more times than you would care to recall – the dreaded 404.

404 Error

I encounter a number of these knuckle-banging frustrations on a daily basis while fishing for the latest news.  I’ve popped more than a few aspirins jockeying my way around these obstacles!  So, here’s your chance to peruse the mystery and myths that surround this unwanted phenomena…a website full of info on 404, where it began, how to circumvent it, and even a humorous updated gallery of custom 404 pages.

The 404 Research Lab is a fun way to kill some time if anything else.  Check it out!

Identity Theft Would Be An Understatement In This Case!

The United States has used the Social Security Number (SSN) to uniquely identify its citizens since 1936.

The most misused Social Security Number of all time began to occur in 1938 when wallet manufacturer EH Ferree started promoting its products by inserting a fake SSN card into the wallet. The braniacs in the company thought it would be cute to use the SSN of one of their secretaries on this fake card!

Her name was Hilda Whitcher, and to protect her, the wallet maker at least tried to ensure it was obviously a fake card by altering the card’s color, shrinking it in size by half and embossing the word ‘Specimen’ across its face. Yeah, great job at protection, right?

So the wallet goes on the shelves in Woolworth department stores across the country where many happy customers thought these cards were intended for use by the purchaser and adopted the SSN as their own. In 1943 its usage reached its peak when 5,755 people were using Hilda’s SSN.

To help stave off its use the government issued her a new SSN, voided her old number and started publicizing that it was incorrect to use it. However, as the years wound on, upwards of 40,000 people were still claiming her number as their own and in fact as late as 1972 (34 years later!) 12 people were found to still be using this number ‘issued by Woolworth’!

Although Hilda Whitcher found it to mostly be a nuisance, the FBI once showed up at her door inquiring about the widespread use of her SSN.

Refer to the Social Security History site for more interesting tidbits on this program.

Here’s A Link List

I’m lazy and tired tonight so i’m falling back on a link list.

No, not the data structure type, but just a list of links to interesting articles for the day. BTW, if you haven’t seen the Stanford Blinky Pointer animation that explains pointers, check it out, if nothing else you’ll enjoy the ‘magic wand of dereferencing’. Anyway, the wife kept me up most of the night and now I can hardly think straight, so before I hit the hay, here’s a few links to articles I found interesting today:

Medical Geek:

Vanderbilt University scientists say you’re brain isn’t wired to multi-task two decision making tasks simultaneously. You can thank the region of the brain for its ‘dual task interference’ phenomenon that postpones one cognitive task until another is completed. [Links to]

Just Geeky: informs us that while barnacles can slow down ships, which costs you and the transporter money, a graduate student from Cornell has a solution. It’s a polymer that can be sprayed to a surface exposed to water and will prevent growth or sundry creatures from attaching themselves. Other products were produced before to do this but proved so toxic to the environment they were banned. This one looks promising and the Brine Shrimp are simply raving about it.


From is an article on a new brake light system for cars. Some (or perhaps a lot) of rear end car collisions may be preventable using technology instead of keeping to the 2 second rule. During a braking scenario, drivers perceive the time separation between themselves and a vehicle they’re following based on the size of the image of the leading vehicle on the driver’s retina. They hypothesized that if it were possible to exaggerate how quickly the retinal image expanded, drivers might brake sooner in potential crash situations. A preliminary study using a driving simulator confirmed that they did. The next challenge was to find an application for this knowledge.

There solution is to make the brake lights *appear* to grow in size, fooling the brain since the retinal image increases in size. In tests, this got people to brake 100-300 msec sooner!

So does this mean the tailgaters can get closer now?

Just Geeky:

The folks at Evil Mad Scientists take you through the teardown process of a nixie tube. My gawd, it’s been about 15 years since I last played with electron tubes. They were so much easier to work with than software, it’s software that has added more gray to my head than even the wife.

Binary For Teh Win!

01001000 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111 00100000 01100110 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111 01110111 00100000 01100111 01100101 01100101 01101011 01110011 00100001 00100000 00100000 01001001 00100000 01110011 01100001 01110111 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01101010 01110101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01101000 01100001 01100100 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110100 01100101 01100001 01110011 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01110111 01101001 01110100 01101000 00100000 01100100 01101001 01100111 01101001 01110100 01100001 01101100 00100000 01100111 01101111 01101111 01100100 01101110 01100101 01110011 01110011 00101110 00100000 00100000 01001001 00100000 01101011 01101110 01101111 01110111 00100000 01100001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100010 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110010 01111001 00100000 01100110 01110010 01100101 01100001 01101011 01110011 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100100 01110010 01101111 01101111 01101100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01100010 01111001 00100000 01101110 01101111 01110111 00100000 00111010 00101001


Binary is our friend. 

Barcode Scanning For The Masses

AURA: Advanced User Resource Annotation. Their motto appears to be ‘Annotate the Planet’.

It’s a Microsoft Research prototype feature designed for Windows Mobile devices to resolve barcodes for the purposes of description lookup (what is the item), actioning (what to do with the item), and batch uploading (how to persist items on a web site). These 3 types of item resolution are collectively called Resolution Services. MSR has a developer doc here (word format) that defines the resolver schema and explains how to implement the resolver service.

A.U.R.A. requires close, focused pictures of barcodes to convert the image into a decoded string. Many Windows Mobile devices have cameras that cannot focus at the close distances required by A.U.R.A. To work around this you can apply an A.U.R.A. Lens Kit to your phone and MSR will send a lens kit to anyone who sends a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Project A.U.R.A. Lens Kit Request
Microsoft Research, Community Technologies Group
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
United States of America

For more details:

Inner Life Of A Cell

I actually caught this a few weeks ago, and lost track of it until last night.  This is a fantastic and educational view to the internal workings of a single cell.  Running at about eight minutes, the animation will be sure to spur your imagination and keep you mesmerized, as it did me when I first watched it.  Even my 12yr old son sat fixed on this (and he’s a perpetual busybody).  If only there were more interesting movies like this available back when I was in school, I just might have gotten better grades in biology 😉

Cell Stuff

Created by XVIVO, a scientific animation company near Hartford, CT, the animation illustrates unseen molecular mechanisms and the ones they trigger, specifically how white blood cells sense and respond to their surroundings and external stimuli.   Now there’s a mouthful!

EDIT:  Haha!  Even writers have brainfarts.  I forgot to add the link to the animation after writing about it 🙂  It just goes to show that we’re human here at Geeknews!  Stab here for the animation.

How Bad Is It, Doc?

Zephyr Tech is a NZ based company that specializes in ‘Smart Fabric Technology’. They combine patented Smart Fabric sensor technology with novel algorithms and system design. Flexible and formable sensors detect and measure displacement, distance, force and pressure, strain, impact events and bio data.
Their latest product ‘Impact SF‘ holds promise for soldiers in the battlefield, or rather it will greatly assist the battlefield medics. Impact SF is a new solution for measuring impact – from slow collisions to ballistic impact. Using sensors and wireless connectivity, Impact SF is robust enough to withstand extreme environments.

Graphical diagnostic tools quantify an impact’s severity, direction and type, providing instant status updates and allowing evidence-based trauma diagnosis. Information is available in real time or can be stored for later use.

Impact SF Capabilities:

  • Measures position of impact and energy
  • Allows quantitative analysis of an impact’s severity, type and direction
  • Enables blunt force human trauma diagnosis
  • No restrictions to wearer of Impact SF garment
  • Technology can be integrated into existing composite structures
  • Real time and trend analysis via graphical display
  • Wireless connectivity to other user interfaces

You can read their brochure (pdf) for a few more details and pretty pictures.

[Found via DefenseTech]