Author Archive

Hold on, let me Google that for you

March 19, 2013

One of my pet peeves is when people online ask stupid questions…but let me qualify what a stupid question is:  A stupid question is any question!  Come on people!  We have something called Google now, so if you want the correct answer to something just Google it!  Then if you still can’t find the answer it  means one of two things: you are either are totally useless at using Google or you have a legitimate question.

If anyone shares my intolerance for stupid questions, here is a funny response for the next person you come across posting one:

Visit http://lmgtfy.com/, type the stupid question into the search bar and hit enter or click search, then copy the link and reply to the stupid question using the link provided.

When the person clicks on the link it will take them to http://lmgtfy.com/ a search engine designed to look and act exactly like Google, except it types in their stupid question for them and asks them “was that so hard?” before pulling up their Google results.

I guess you need to be a little sarcastic to enjoy this trick.

Now here’s a funny video of a stupid fat kid stuck in a baby car seat:

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Ones & Twos – Deep House Mixtape – Xmas 2012

December 18, 2012

Sacred Geometry & Fractals in Nature

June 15, 2012

You’ve heard of the Golden Mean Ratio, depicted by Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man?  The Golden Mean Ratio is defined by the Fibonacci sequence, a set of numbers found in nature characterised by the spiral found in uncurling fern fronds, a ram’s horns, and sea shells etc…BUT have you heard about the Mandelbrot set?  The Mandelbrot Set or M-set is a mathematical set of complex numbers that define the boundary of a two-dimensional fractal shape.   The set was first visualised by Benoit Mandelbrot and is expressed in the equation zn+1 = zn2 + c.  The letters in the M-set equation represent number coordinates on a plane that define the location of a point.  But the numbers flow in different directions constantly feeding back on themselves like the ouroborus (serpent eating its own tail), the output of one operation is the input of the other.

This constant looping is called an iteration.  When the M-set is given a number representing a point and the number is iterated through the equation, one of two things happen: either the number gets bigger and bigger and shoots off to infinity or it shrinks to zero. Depending of which happens the fractal program that generates the zoom then knows where to draw a boundary line.  It’s kinda like a map dividing a plane into two distinct territories.  For the points that go to zero you assign the colour black and any point that goes off to infinity you assign a range of colours relative to the rate of speed that it goes off.  So the weird Buddha shape in the centre of the zoom are the points that went to zero…you get it?

The patterns that are generated cannot help but remind you of nature… and it’s pure coincidence that the set, named after Mandelbrot bears a striking resemblance to the word mandala, the best term available to describe the patterns produced by the m-set fractal zoom.

Now here is a video of the Mandelbrot Zoom:

Another Brick in the Wall

May 31, 2012

In ancient Greek city-states the agora bustled with activity and people gathered to discuss sport, art, religion, politics, and philosophy… then along came the classroom where youth assembled to hear learned-men lecture, notes were taken with graphite, and knowledge was transmitted orally and recorded in books.

Enter the World Wide Web – accumulated knowledge at our fingertips!

Professor Frink from the SimpsonsI recall Alvin Toffler’s doom and gloom predictions of widespread stress and disorientation resulting from information overload as the super-accelerated technological age wreaked havoc on our collective psychology.   But the age of information with the advent of the Internet has, for the most part, made life (…and I speak for myself) less stressful, especially for students.  Don’t you remember the stress of missing the library, or not having the right notes the night before a test?

In the 1980’s I can remember being too shy to ask for help in maths and subsequently falling behind only to be euphemistically labeled “right-brained” later by my step-dad.   Nowadays this binary way of thinking that divides the population into right- and left-brained types is being challenged (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15619393).  With myriad web-resources at our fingertips, the students of today can afford to be globally-brained.

In fact, the future of academia may be just a right-click away.  Stanford University offers an introductory course in Artificial Intelligence entirely online and entirely open to anyone with access to the web.  The online class is practically identical to the one offered on-campus for paying-registered students except for one thing:  instead of receiving course credit, non-registered global students are awarded an official statement of accomplishment.  Otherwise, lectures, assignments, midterms and finals are the same.   In 2011, only 200 Stanford students enrolled in the on-campus course compared to 160,000 students from 190 different countries that took the course online!  The implication this has for the future of education is astounding.  Imagine if higher education was made available to everyone for free; they’re calling it University 2.0.

New virtual learning environments are cropping up everywhere in a new global access approach to education.  Some names to keep an eye out for are Udacity.com, Codeacademy.com, Open.edu/openlearn, Education.ted.com and my absolute favorite Khanacademy.org.

Salman Khan launched Khan Academy in 2006 so he could distance-tutor his 13-year old cousin in maths.  The Khan Academy website offers over 3,200 You Tube videos on everything from arithmetics, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, economics, art history… and the list goes on.  He breaks it down into short easy-to-understand videos that sketch out example after example from the very basic fundamentals to complex problems.  Bill Gates has referred to Khan Academy as “the future of education”.  If university 2.0 represents the first fledgling steps on the path towards the democratization of education then the future looks bright.

Now I leave you with Pink Floyd:

Big Brother is Like Totally Watching You

May 13, 2012

Government surveillance, perpetual war…are we living in Orwell’s dystopian society and just don’t know it?  It turns out Big Brother is not just watching you he is listening to you, reading your emails and collating your personal data.  

In Bluffdale Utah a data center is being built for the US National Security Agency or NSA to collect, store, decipher and analyse the world’s communications.  The state-of-the-art facility is being touted as a defense against terrorist hackers to ensure cybersecurity but suspiciously the man who first introduced the the data centre in Salt Lake City in 2009 was not someone from the Department of Homeland Security, in fact he was the head of the intelligence collection mission for the CIA, Directorate of Science and Technology, Glenn A. Gaffney.

According to a 2007 Department of Defense report the Pentagon is trying to expand the Global Information Grid to handle yottabytes of data.  For those of you who don’t know – a yottabyte is 10 to the power of 24 bytes of information.  According to Wikipedia, as of 2011 no storage system or network has ever achieved one thousandth of a yottabyte.  A yottabyte is so big that there isn’t even a term coined yet to define the unit of measurement above it!   To give you an idea; Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt once estimated that if all human knowledge from the dawn of time until 2003 was measured it would be equal to around 5 exabytes (a million exabytes is equal to one yottabyte).

Plans for the centre include a security system with a fence designed to stop a heavy vehicle travelling at 80kph, closed-circuit cameras, a biometric identification system, a vehicle-inspection facility and a visitor-control centre.  There will be 83,600 square-metres of space for technical support and administration personnel, and four 2,300 square-metre data halls to house rows upon rows of servers.  The centre will also be equipped with fuel tanks to power back-up generators, water storage capable of supplying 6.4 million litres a day to cool the servers, and a substation to power the 65-megawatt electricity demands.

But if you think the NSA is interested in your webpages you are wrong, they are after what is called deep web or deepnet content.   Deep web data is not indexable by standard search engines, it can represent unlinked content (content that is not linked to other pages), password-protected data, or information stored in file-formats not handled by search engines.  The deep web is said to be several orders in magnitude larger than the surface web.

Our private digital data and personal information is currently protected by AES: Advanced Encryption Standard – an algorithmic specification for the encryption of electronic data.  AES comes in three different strengths 128-bit, 192-bit and 256-bit ciphers.  For the weakest 128-bit algorithm, it would take 10 to the power of 36 attempts in a brute-force attack of trying one combination after another in a trial-and-error offensive to unlock the encryption.

This kind of code-breaking requires a super-fast computer. In 2004 the US launched a programme to create a super-computer that could carry out a quadrillion operations per second – that’s 10 to the power of 15 or a petaflop.  The venue for this programme was called the “secret city” located in Oak Ridge, Tennesse.  Under the programme there are two research facilities: the unclassified facility for multiple research agencies to come together and work publicly to create a super-computer; and the classified facility where NSA scientists work covertly on secret cryptanalitic applications.

At the unclassified centre scientists developed a warehouse-sized XT5 1.75 petaflop supercomputer called the Jaguar. By late 2011 they had upgraded the Jaguar to 2.33 petaflops ranked third behind Japan’s 10.51 petaflop K-Computer, and China’s Tianne-1A 2.57 petaflop system.  They expect to upgrade the Jaguar to XK6 at 20 petaflops by 2013.

The AES encryption system which was first launched in 2001 is expected to hold-up against the unclassified supercomputers for at least another decade but covert NSA supercomputers might break AES encryption algorithms before then.  If the NSA reaches their goal to develop an exaflop computer by 2018 then Big Brother will know you better than you know yourself.

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

For more information and sources refer to WIRED-05-12

Now here’s a video of George Orwell in the last interview before his death:

Zombies!!! Run!!!

May 1, 2012

I’ve had the same New Year’s resolution for the past 20 years: start exercising.  I should clarify that my only desire to exercise is to firm up, it has absolutely nothing to do with being healthy.  I hate people who exercise to be healthy.  Theoretically I love the idea of running, but as a praxis I find it exceedingly boring and painful.  I once ran for an entire summer but I literally had to force myself out the door and deliberately ran through Canada’s worst ghetto (Downtown Winnipeg) to prevent myself from quitting.  

I don’t know if you need to love zombie movies to be as excited about this new app as I am, but you should definitely hate exercise. Zombies Run is an iPhone/Android running game.  It’s not like other running apps that just record distance, time, pace, and number of calories burned.  In the game you are Runner 5 and the world is depending on.  You will need to build your base to unlock new missions and collect critical supplies like medicine, batteries and ammo while under constant threat of impending zombie attacks.  Another great feature of the app is that it allows you to import your own playlists.  Mission updates, tasks, and storyline clues unfold between music tracks like radio transmissions.

Here’s a video explaining more about it:

The Holy Trinity of Online Video Watching

April 18, 2012

In this post I am going to breakdown how Torrents work and introduce you to three sites that will revolutionise your online entertainment experience. Theoretically I use Torrentz, Project Free TV, and Veetle to access the shows and movies I want to watch.

Torrents or BitTorrents are files shared with the BitTorrent  p2p (peer-to-peer) network, or a file-sharing protocol.  In simpler terms, BitTorrents are files shared by a group of individual computers on the network rather than stored on one central server.  BitTorrent p2p sharing breaks the download into chunks ranging in size between 64KB and 4MB and distributes it across several different computers as opposed to just one. The person who first creates a torrent for any file is called an initial seeder.  People who have all the chunks are seeders, the more seeds the quicker the download will be. Once you finish downloading the file then you become a seed. People who do not have the whole file yet are called peers.  Peers are not seeders but the more peers the faster the download because peers can share the chunks of the file that has so-far been downloaded.  This is especially important if the number of seeds is low or decreasing because peers can piece together the file with the chunks they have between them.

In order to download a movie you first need to search for the file on a BitTorrent search engine, theoretically I use Torrentz.  One simply enters the title of the movie they want and a list of BitTorrents will appear.  There are two columns of numerical values to pay attention to: the green numbers represent the seeders and the blue represent the number of peers. High numbers of each are best for download speed.

 

Once the torrent file has been downloaded it must be run using a BitTorrent client.  You cannot download BitTorrents without a BitTorrent client; for example: uTorrent for Windows, Vuze formerly (Azureus) for Mac, and BitTorrent for Linux.  BitTorrent Clients keep track of what chunks of the file you have and which parts you still need to download.

*It should be noted that using BitTorrent is legal but downloading copyrighted material is not.

BitTorrents are not the only way to watch films and TV shows.  You can stream TV on a great site called Project Free TV. I love this site however it takes some getting used to because of the buffering and advertising.  If you don’t have a strong internet-connection it can take ages to buffer.  The other drawback is the ads.  Sometimes you click on a link for a program and you inadvertently trigger two or three pop-ups.  Some of the ads are over-laid and you need to close them before the play button becomes accessible.  Also, if you are streaming a film you may have to close a pop-up every 20 mins or so.  In any case, project Free TV is a great option because it streams quite fast and they have an extensive selection of programs and films.

Watching live streaming channels in high resolution is also an option which brings me to Veetle.  You just need to download the plugin (65 MB) and then you can watch live streamed TV in HD, high-definition.  They use the latest codecs for the best video quality and there is no buffering required.  Obviously it’s live so you can’t pause or fast-forward but it’s free and not frequently interrupted by ads.

Veetle has a few extra features worth mentioning: you can download the app and live stream TV on your iPad, iPhone & Android phones, and you can broadcast live video in HD.   Veetle has over 10 million viewers a month, which is not bad for the little Sillicon Vally start-up.

Now here’s an impressive UFO video:

I *Heart* Facebook!

March 26, 2012

I *heart* you so much that I wasted 45mins of my day coming up with this cute heart design made out of hearts.  You would be surprised how hard it is to make, or maybe you wouldn’t because after 5 mins you would probably realise it was a waste of time and quit, nevertheless I give you….

...........................
.....<3<3<3......<3<3<3
...<3<3<3<3<3..<3<3<3<3<3
...<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3
...<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3
....<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3
......<3<3<3<3<3<3<3
........<3<3<3<3<3
..........<3<3<3
...........<3<3
............<3

I defy anyone to accomplish this in less than 45mins!

After you cut & paste this into your Facebook comments or status bar it should look like this:

Now I leave you with an elaborate Russian dance flash mob with a marriage and some army dudes set to Putting on the Ritz…to be fair they should have called it Putin on the Ritz…nevermind

Chrome Users Only!

March 26, 2012

What I am about to show you is going to revolutionize your Google Chrome experience.  There is a little known extension called Speed Dial that allows you to access the websites you visit much more easily – It’s called Speed Dial.

It has a lot of features that the old interface doesn’t.  For instance you can customise your thumbnails.  It has an exhaustive list of icons to choose from for popular social media platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter etc.

It also allows you to customise how many thumnails you see.  I have mine set up at 5 columns wide but you can have as many as nine columns by nine rows.

Now depending whether you work on a Macbook or a PC it is very easy to add/remove/edit dials (as they are called).  On a PC you just right click to edit or remove a dial, and on a Mac hold Command + click.  To add a dial just hover over the + sign and click!

The options menu is located at the righthand top of the screen beside the address bar, click the little lightening bolt and select options from the drop down menu.  Here is an sample preview:

The Speed Dial Google Chrome extension is completely free just type Google Chrome extensions into your browser and click on their web store, then scroll down until you find Speed Dial.  Here is a link: SpeedDial

Also here is a very funny video of a cat:

Urban eXperiment

March 14, 2012

I recently read an article about a group known only as UX (Urban eXperiment) that operate in Paris and break into centuries-old buildings across Paris, not to loot or steal but to restore. They claim responsibility for 15 capers in which they conducted covert restorations by accessing the city’s city-wide network of tunnels. It sounds like something out of a movie but this group really exists. Their most extraordinary feat took place in 2006 when eight UX members infiltrated the Pantheon in Paris. They not only entered the building but they actually set-up a secret workshop which they wired for electricity and internet access. For one year the group performed repairs on the building’s 19th century clock. When they finished, the clock once again kept time and chimed every quarter hour as it had done decades earlier.
The 100+/- member group operates like an artists collective, they have no manifesto and membership is by invitation only. They have a cellular structure with sub-groups specialising in cartography, infiltration, tunnelling, masonry, internal communications, archiving, cultural programming, and restoration. They carry out their mission via a network of hundreds of kilometers of secret underground passageways including sewers, electricity and water tunnels, subways,catacombs and centuries-old quarries.
The only mandate of this group is to keep its secrecy. It is in this way that it differs from other groups that have emerged over the years, GuerrillaGardening.org springs to mind.

Now here is a video for your viewing pleasure:


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