Open Source Mania

This time it's a car for tourist which software is open source. It's a great little electric car with no doors in a beautiful spanish city. But I have the feeling that the open sourcing of the code (a program for tourists when they visit the city) is mostly for makreting reasons. After all, to develop you need the hardware...

That may seem like typical government talk. But Cordoba's city government is controlled by the Communist party. When I point out that funding entrepreneurial projects does not sound very communist, Mr Tejada is amused.

"Well, it's the communism of the future," he says laughing. "It's a communism that moves logically toward something that is very different than what it used to be."


Google, the new Microsoft ?

Same subject I was talking about a few days ago. But this time by Orlowski. As always, a very well thought article with background articles and ideas... But this time I was first (to react to that NYC article he mentions) ;)

Revolt using pr0n

Technology is often the vector, tool and drive of revolts. In our modern times this still happens. This time it's a rebel group using pornography to get more for their war.

We know the insurgents are behind these films. When we process their raw stock, we can see boys standing around with automatic rifles and revolvers pulling in girls but we are supposed to cut all that out and just concentrate on the sex,

Could Matroska be used for that ? I remember some years back thinking about an open-source license that would prevent use in certain conditions (like violating human rights), but it's against the open-source philosphy or "free whatever it takes"...

The films were found to be dubbed in Burmese, Bengali, Thai and Hindi, suggesting they were being marketed to many countries in the region


Cell phones in Africa

You may not realise it, but the biggest cell phone progression this year is in Africa. Apparently the cost of communications is very high compared to their daily spendings. But they do use it in some weird and unpredicted ways.

One problem remains even in the age of cutting-edge cellular technology: How does an African family in a hut lighted by candles charge a mobile phone? A bicycle-driven charger is said to be on the horizon. But that would require a bicycle, a rare possession in much of rural Africa.

In Yanguye, as in other regions, the solution is often a car battery owned by someone who does not have a prayer of acquiring a car. Ntombenhle Nsele keeps one in her home a few miles down the road from Ms. Skhakhane's. She takes it by bus 20 miles to the nearest town to recharge it in a gas station.

Anyway, it's a good way to get Africa joining the digital world too. They just get the technology we use now a few years later...

Google Open Source ?

These days there are many article on how Google is slowly becoming a threat to Microsoft. Even Bill Gates himself acknowledges that and say that Google is close enough to Microsoft in terms of strategy that it has to be taken seriously. There are also some growing concers on what Google knows about you and how they could use that.

The strange thing is that everyone thought the biggest threat to MS would be Open Source. Something radically different enough that MS could hardly fight it back (it does by lower the costs or offering products for free). But that's not really the case. It probably only impacts MS's growth.

So only a company being as "evil" as Microsoft can fight it ? How come Google never publishes valuable source code (they do have a website with some free Open Source code, MS has that too) ? Wouldn't we trust it better and love it more ? Wouldn't they gain from input from more people in the world ? Or is it just that they think that giving source to their competitors would kill them ? Only if they use a license like BSD/MIT, not the more common GPL or LGPL.


Placebo effect proved

So that's it. When you persuade your mind that something is going to happen in your body, it does. That could be another explanation for homepathy...

The brain activity was proportional to the expectations the subjects had about how effective the painkillers would be. The researchers say this is the first direct evidence that endorphins can help explain how the placebo effect works.


Improved Body

The most visible part of our body could soon be replaced by something more efficient and more functionalities: the skin. As explained in Hawkins book, the brain will just do fine with it. The same way blind people can see with a camera plugged on their tongues...

"Thus, it will be possible in the near future to make an electronic skin that has functions that human skin lacks by integrating various sensors not only for pressure and temperature, but also for light, humidity, strain, or ultrasonic," they wrote.


Hawkins projects

In this interview he covers his past, present and future on computing. For those who don't know him, he created the Palm Pilot, Handspring and while working on that he also studied the brain. His last book "On intelligence" proposes a general model on how the brains work.

We can understand language and we can type on a computer and move about. This is all done using this memory system that's in the brain and we can now build this memory system in software or in hardware. Our products are a set of tools that allow you to configure these memory systems, which we call HTM, hierarchical temporal memory. You can interface them with a thing like a camera or a microphone or sonar and it learns about its environment in the same way you learned about your environment when you were a child. It can model the environment, recognize things in it and make predictions about the future.


Singularity @ Microsoft

It seems that Kurzweil and similar futurologist haven't been unheard. They are developping new technologies based on this predictions, including a new OS called Singularity.

There are links to interresting articles too. But nothing to download :(


"Intelligent" Design might be taught in USA schools

The best quote I've heard so far on the subject (teaching how God or something equivalent is only capable of creating something as complex as humans).

''Intelligent design" boils down to the claim sarcastically summed up by aerospace engineer and science consultant Rand Simberg on his blog, Transterrestrial Musings: ''I'm not smart enough to figure out how this structure could evolve, therefore there must have been a designer." Simberg, a political conservative, concludes that this argument ''doesn't belong in a science classroom, except as an example of what's not science."


Brain Fitness

The brain is not a muscle, but it needs to be trained and fitted as well. It could prevent Alzeihmer and other kinds of mental problems due to aging. I guess it could even help any adult or child too.


Put Scientists in Hollywood

It may seem like a joke, but apparently the US government is trying to get some scientists to write screenplays for Hollywood. An attempt to get more students into science (the number is decreasing).

I already thought about something like that, but rather in a SciFi vision. To prepare or make people aware of the possible coming future and how fast it's going to come here, how it could change our lives...