Jesus saves …

In a story worthy of front-page treatment in the Weekly World News (motto: “Finally! PROOF our motto exists!”), scientists have discovered an image of Jesus amidst the silicone of a Samsung Flash memory chip, our friends at U.K. tech news site The Register report.

The haloed, bearded image was revealed through transmission electron microscopy, a technology for looking at Very Small Things. According to a source, it’s a pattern of dark fringe lines in the silicone producing the image.

Normally, these things are reported by members of the trailer demographic, so it’s interesting to hear it from Real Scientists using Real Scientific Equipment for Real Scientific Purposes.

Insert your own joke, at risk to your mortal soul, here.

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With noodles or rice?
“If you ever need a Wi-Fi Guy,” confides a fellow editor, “I’ve got one for you. My Wi-Fi Guy. So try my Wi-Fi Guy.” Which, you must confess, sounds like something you’d order at a dim sum restaurant.

Yes, it’s Friday. We’re a little punchy.

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However, they’re not so hot at chess
Efforts to model the operations of a mouse brain using IBM Deep Blue/L have run up against a wall, reports The Guardian. The 4,096-processor super computer could only model the eight-million neuron, 64-billion synapse mouse brain at about one-tenth mouse speed, and only for about 10 seconds.

Consider, now, that the human version has 100 BILLION neurons. Deep Blue would sit in the corner and have a good cry after trying to emulate that. Doesn’t that make you feel better? Look your computer square in the monitor and repeat after me: I’m Smarter Than You. So There.

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Irish educators blame SMS for poor language skillz
Something of a stickler for grammar, spelling and punctuation am I. I fight with grammar and spell-check programs; insist that any written item of more significance than a shopping list be duly punctuated; and never accept the they’ll-know-what-I-mean defence when demanding a rewrite of a particularly egregious passage. This is all handy stuff, when you’re in the editorial business.

There is a battlefront on which I am losing, though, and it is that of the SMS message. The abbreviations, contractions, acronyms and cutesy phoneticisms used to make me nuts, but the tiny cell phone keypad makes giving in to SMS-speak almost inevitable. (BTW, SMS is not an acronym. Nor is BTW. It’s only an acronym if you pronounce is as a word (hence, “nym.”) TLA is not a TLA. End of lecture.)

But there’s more at stake here than proprietary aggravation of sticklers. Irish educators fear texting is causing the deterioration of writing skills among the youth of the country that gave us Wilde, Joyce and Yeats (or was that Keats?). The report says students taking examinations are “unduly reliant on short sentences, simple tenses and a limited vocabulary.” And here we thought it was just because they’re teenagers.

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Tiny “next big thing”

They’re expensive. They have tiny keyboards. They have limited functionality. Why aren’t people going out in droves to buy ultra-mobile PCs? No matter. Intel’s pushing the UMPC again, and industry-watchers say it’ll come down in price to under $400 in two years, and a proper WiMax rollout would also make them more useful. First, though, we must decide what it’s actually called. Is it UMPC or MID (mobile Internet device)? I’ll go with the acronym.

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Which came first: the chicken or the spreadsheet?

In the trade magazine publishing business, you learn very quickly that there is a magazine for pretty much everything. Chemical coatings? Got one. Waste management? Check. I have a friend who’s been on the cover of Canadian Pizza – he was a big cheese at one of the chains (like I could resist that joke). Specialization is a key to survival.

Increasingly, it seems it is so in the software world as well. Point solutions are cheaper to develop than be-all-end-all packages, can fit into a best-of-breed strategy, and allow users to pay for only the functionality they need. In the spirit of which we introduce FlockIT, a poultry management package from Down Under.

Brisbane farmer David Gray has led an intriguing double life for about 25 years: Broiler farmer by day, software developer by, well, probably by day also. He offers a 120-day free trial of FlockIT on his Web site to help farmers track and compare poultry performance, shed management, feed use and the myriad other factors that can make or break a broiler operation.

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Microsoft flashes Silverlight

Adobe’s Flash may be the app for interactive content on the Net, but Microsoft is pushing its new Silverlight technology hard on developers. And to be fair, if reports like this one from Webware are anything to judge by, it’s not just another useless “standard” to be tacked on to the list. Synchronize video with other users so you can watch the same movie at the same time, send video clips you’re watching to friends, mash up functionality from the Windows Live stable … this could get interesting.

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You, Robot
Admit it. You want a robot. Everybody does. And now, thanks to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and a processor from Charmed labs in Austin, Tex., <a anybody can build one.

The Telepresence Robot Kit, or Terk, was developed by Mellonheads at the uni’s Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab, which is the sort of thing we never had when we were at school. Though Google, Microsoft and Intel financially supported the project, it’s all open source and public domain.

Terk takes the form not of kits but of “recipes” – instructions for assembly from parts available at your friendly neighbourhood hardware store. (Though in my neighbourhood, it’s more like surly than friendly.) The companion piece, Charmed Labs’ Qwerk computer, is the only mandatory hardware. A wireless connection allows people to control their robots from any internet connection. has a photo gallery of Terk projects here.

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Good news for chatty apiarists

Beekeepers may now sigh a collective sigh of relief into their cell phones. Researchers had earlier fingered wireless phone radiation as a possible cause of a Colony Collapse Disorder epidemic decimating honeybee populations in Europe and the U.S. New evidence suggests a fungus might actually be at the root of the hive collapse. Apiarists may now resume texting.

Why MySpace isn’t the place to be

I just can’t seem to get caught up. I’m not even on MySpace yet, and apparently, it’s already so 2003. Here, an ex-community member explains why MySpace is not the place to be.

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Why YouTube isn’t the place to be

Two young thug-types were busted for thefts from an Austrian computer store after the owner posted surveillance footage on YouTube. Alec Baldwin’s voice mail tirade got public airing on YouTube (prompting these follow-ups). An atheist who posted a criticism of the Koran had his accounts deleted. Thailand went nuts when a video mocking its king appeared. I could go on …

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Grind while you grill
“Knock out the tunes and knock out the fat!” promises an ad for the latest George Forman grill. The latest iteration of the Forman will not only prepare delicious burgers but also play your MP3s. I can’t help but feel that this is a joke, but Foreman is such a masterful entrepreneur, anything is possible. Some suggestions for what to listen to as you’re flipping patties:

I fought the pork and the pork won
Born to bun
I want to hold your hamburger

If you have any other suggestions, Insider would love to hear them.

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Sick of Vista? ME II!

Insider will give credit where credit’s due. As much as I’d like to suggestion that I came up with the idea that Vista should be dubbed Millennium Edition 2, the authors are those wacky guys at the Inquirer. You’ll to admit, it’s apt. Vista, whatever Microsoft is saying through official channels, hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations. Calling it ME II at this stage may be a little premature, but it’s certainly starting to look that way. ME, as you’ll probably remember, was a consumer version of the Windows operating system released in 2000. The thing was so full of bugs it practically had to be fumigated. I remember when one of’s diligent reporters brought a copy into the office. The IT staff treated it like a live grenade.

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Mainframes: now preloaded with Splinter Cell

You’ve probably read a dozen articles about why mainframes are here to stay, why clunky technology that takes up an entire room is never quite outmoded and why you’ll still need to wear cloth booties whenever you walk into a data centre. The old answer is: mainframes still work just fine. Thanks for asking. A new one might be: you can play video games on them! According to IBM, the next-gen of mainframes will include PS3 functionality in order to run complex online games. There’s probably a reason this is a bad idea, but I’m having a hard time coming up with one.

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Lightning fast porn
Insider can’t be sure if the intention of these University of Tokyo researchers was to download Pam Anderson home movies at double speed, but 9.08 Gbps would no doubt help. Oddly enough, news of the speed record was slow in coming. Apparently, the grande vitesse was achieved last year.

I’m pretty sure I could get close to 9 Gbps on my Rogers highspeed if every person in the Greater Toronto Area decided to sleep in for 24 hours, or else switched to Bell.

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PlayStation 3: Good for your health
No, this isn’t another one of those stories about how the new generation of video game consoles are suitable replacements for genuine exercise. But that isn’t to say the PS3 isn’t saving lives in other ways. Stanford University’s Folding@Home distributed computing project has vastly increased its capacity by allowing unused cycles from PlayStation 3 into the fold. According this article on, “Total computing power of the system is now at around 700T Flops (floating point operations per second), with nearly 400T Flops of that coming from roughly 250,000 PlayStation 3 consoles.”
Surely, Sony should be exploiting this somehow. So far, the PS3 has been completely outclassed by Nintendo’s Wii not only in terms of publicity and media coverage but in actual sales. Perhaps Sony isn’t crying in its Sapporo yet. The PlayStation 2, introduced way the heck back in 2000, is outselling everything.

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Web 2.0: Who cares?
If you’re like Insider, you’re probably sick of hearing about this so-called Web 2.0 phenomenon. It could be because I’m not a) stalking my ex-girlfriend, b) unemployed or c) a 14-year-old girl, or it could be that the phenomenon is sooooo over-hyped (and over-invested) that it’s got dot-com crash written all over it. Nonetheless, Time magazine has the following report on who’s actually participating in the 2.0 boom. Click if you care. If you don’t, buy a PS3 and help some folks already.

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That’s a PC?
It’s long been a moan of PC users that the beige box – or black, or grey, as the case may be (no pun intended) – isn’t much to look at. And when you spend all day in front of one, that makes it just a little more dreary a prospect. The notable exceptions are generally Apple machines; the new all-in-one iMac, for example, is a knockout, and enough to make PC owners consider going bi-platform just on the basis of its sleek lines.

But there could be relief in the form of serious eye candy if any of the PC Design 2007 contest winners prove practical to produce. The contest, sponsored by Samsung and Intel Korea, drew entries from a variety of disciplines aside from tech, including fashion designers (PCs that look like handbags from Sang-Bong Lee) and architecture (a PC incorporated into a dresser designed by architect Won-Chul Kim).

Our faves: the not-at-all practical B-Membrain, a pylon-shaped contrivance with built-in projector; and AnyTop’s wireless model, whose keyboard also serves as a display when the user is away from the station. Check them out in this photo essay.

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Next up: The International Thumb-Wrestling Championship

Meet our new stenographer. Thirteen-year-old Morgan Pozgar of Claysburg, Penn., defeated a field of 250 East Coast competitors for the right to challenge West Coast texting champ Eli Tirosh, 21, in an LG-sponsored U.S. texting championship. The teen best Tirosh, correctly thumb-typing: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidoucious! Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious. If you say it loud enough you’ll always sound precocious,” in 15 seconds.

(For perspective, after numerous, time-consuming efforts to correctly input the phrase on a full-size computer keyboard, a certain “journalist” had to resort to cutting and pasting.)

Pozgar trained for the event by sending an average of 8,000 text messages a month to friends who, let’s face it, have got to be tired of hearing from her by now. Her unlimited texting account costs her US$10 a month.

And she’s not a one-dimensional gear-head type. She plans to spend her $25,000 in prize money on clothes.

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Don’t call us. No, seriously
Cell phones are in many ways wonderful. Convenient? They’ve changed the way we live. Our lives can be more spontaneous – no need to define meeting places and times so specifically when we can reach each other on the way. We’re safer, doubtless. New features added almost daily help us find where we want to go, track our children, buy gifts . . .

But a new line is being crossed and it’s up to all right-thinking citizens to stand up to this coming innovation: push ring tones. The technology will allow callers to force their ring tones down the throats (ears, surely? – Editor) of other phone users, overriding the tone programmed on the handset. This raises the spectre of the possibility that someone might call me and my phone might start playing Hit Me Baby One More Time, which is just inviting the worst.

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‘Course, it can’t just be that they’re incorrigible yobbos

A British teacher’s association is demanding an immediate investigation into the health effects of Wi-Fi transmissions, claiming that the radio waves are making the students misbehave. Wish we had that excuse when we were young.

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My wrist is flaring up again, dude

Coders are susceptible to the pain of RSI – repetitive stress injuries – because of the long hours at a keyboard, often not under optimal ergonomic conditions. The thought probably never crosses their minds that it could be treated with medical marijuana.

You’re welcome.

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