Archive for January, 2011

What a beautiful statement. I love that way of looking at algorithms. I love the idea that algorithms are the heart and soul of programs. They're the core - constant despite language, location, and hardware. I've never heard of algorithms described this way. All of a sudden, constructing algorithms stops being this boring way to solve problems in a textbook and becomes a process of discovering theAlife force of a computer program.

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Posted: January 23rd, 2011
at 2:53pm by Koookiecrumbles


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Symposium on Freedom of Expression

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An International Symposium on Freedom of Expression, sponsored by the Swedish National Commission, will be organized by UNESCO at its Headquarters on 26 January 2011.

Based on the premises that freedom of expression is a cornerstone of the human rights edifice, and that open and participatory communication is vital for successful development, the debates will focus on the status of press freedom worldwide, the safety of media professionals as well as the changes of the media landscape in the digital age.

This one-day event is aligned with UNESCO's mission to foster the free flow of ideas by word and image, and its promotion of the value of information and communication for "advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples". UNESCO has long highlighted the links between the free flow of ideas and the broader objective of preventing wars and constructing the defences of peace.

.:unesco.org->

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Posted: January 23rd, 2011
at 2:32pm by Koookiecrumbles


Categories: development,events,education

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".. almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." - Steve Jobs

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Posted: January 23rd, 2011
at 2:26pm by Koookiecrumbles


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IBM Centennial Film

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Posted: January 22nd, 2011
at 1:50pm by Koookiecrumbles


Categories: computers,film

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8 Week Mindfulness Meditation

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Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associatedwith memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. In a study that will appear in the January 30 issue ofAPsychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s grey matter. "Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day," says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study’s senior author. "This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing."

Previous studies from Lazar’s group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced mediation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation.

For the current study, MR images were take of the brain structure of 16 study participants two weeks before and after they took part in the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. In addition to weekly meetings that included practice of mindfulness meditation - which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind - participants received audio recordings for guided meditation practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they practiced each day. A set of MR brain images were also taken of a control group of non-meditators over a similar time interval.

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Posted: January 22nd, 2011
at 1:48pm by Koookiecrumbles


Categories: science,health

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There's always a tendency to stop improving things once they've started to work. I've experienced this on manyAoccasionsAwhere we released software as soon as it just started working. Then there is this over-celebrated QA team, that does some quality check and boom.. the customer has it in his hands. And it breaks (well, not always.. practically only 99% of the times) . We find ourselves spending pretty much the same time as we took to write the code, fixing it. Well.. we don't learn. We follow the same cycle as above. It just has to work. isn't it?

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Posted: January 22nd, 2011
at 1:45pm by Koookiecrumbles


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Outer Space Exposure

In scores of science fiction stories, hapless adventurers find themselves unwittingly introduced to the vacuum of space without proper protection. There is often an alarming cacophony of screams and gasps as the increasingly bloated humans writhe and spasm. Their exposed veins and eyeballs soon bulge in what is clearly a disagreeable manner. The ill-fated adventurers rapidly swell like over-inflated balloons, ultimately bursting in a gruesome spray of blood.

As is true with many subjects, this representation in popular culture does not reflect the reality of exposure to outer space. Ever since humanity first began to probe outside of our protective atmosphere, a number of live organisms have been exposed to vacuum, both deliberately and otherwise. By combining these experiences with our knowledge of outer space, scientists have a pretty clear idea of what would happen if an unprotected human slipped into the cold, airless void.

In the 1960s, as technology was bringing the prospect of manned spaceflight into reality, engineers recognized the importance of determining the amount of time astronauts would have to react to integrity breaches such as a damaged spacecraft or punctured space-suits. To that end, NASA constructed an assortment of large altitude chambers to mimic the hostile environments found at varying distances above the Earth, accounting for factors such as air pressure, temperature, and radiation. Adventurous volunteers were subjected to simulations of the conditions found several miles up, and a handful of animal tests were conducted with even lower pressures.

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Posted: January 21st, 2011
at 2:33pm by Koookiecrumbles


Categories: space

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History of the Oregon Trail

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Don Rawitsch rolled out a four-foot-long piece of white butcher paper on the living room floor of his Crystal apartment. He glanced at an open map of the United States frontier from the 1800s. Then he traced a squiggly line from the right side of the paper to the left.

By the time his roommates Bill Heinemann and Paul Dillenberger returned home, the line had become a series of squares leading across a map of the western U.S. Rawitsch was scratching out words on a stack of cards. "Broken wagon wheel," said one. "Snakebite," said another.

Heinemann, Rawitsch, and Dillenberger were student teachers finishing their degrees at Carleton College and living together in the sparsely furnished apartment. Dillenberger and Heinemann taught math in south Minneapolis, and Rawitsch taught American history in north Minneapolis. At home, the three shared teaching strategies over communal dinners of varying successaDillenberger had only recently taught Rawitsch how to scramble eggs.

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Posted: January 21st, 2011
at 2:26pm by Koookiecrumbles


Categories: games

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Neverware

There is something odd about the computer Jonathan Hefter keeps at his desk in theADogpatch Labs tech incubator just off of Union Square. The space is filled with employees from some of New York’s most promising startups, most of whom are coding away on top-of-the-line-machines or fiddling with their cherished iPads. But Hefter sits me down at his workstation in front of a Dell GX150, considered state of the art in 2000, now available for $70 from a second-hand dealer online.

Hefter boots up the computer and in a flash I’m logged into Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 7. I open up a document and type a few paragraphs, then pop into MS Paint and create a quick image. I log on to the internet, check my email and stream a video. Microsoft recommends a machine with at least 1 gigahertz processor and 1 gigabyte of RAM in order to work in Windows 7, but this computer seems to handle it just fine.

"Most people are surprised when I show them how well an old machine can handle a new operating system," says Hefter, cracking a grin. "Especially when I tell them I also took out the hard drive."

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Posted: January 21st, 2011
at 12:43pm by Koookiecrumbles


Categories: computers,too good to be true,development

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