Top 4 Reasons The Moon Landings Were A Hoax

Okay, tin-foil hat time! I have heard quite often that (at least some of) the moon landings were a clever hoax, in order to prove the USA's supremacy in space exploration. It sounds like paranoid malarkey, and yet when you review some of these claims - well, they don't seem quite as readily dismissed as you might first think. I'm not minimizing the brainpower and raw heroism that went into the manned moon landings, but these are fun to think about and are the most commonly cited reasons...


Stan Lee's 90th Birthday!

Stan Lee, creator or co-creator of many Marvel comic book characters, celebrated his 90th birthday this weekend. An enterprising soul put together a series of clips showing Mr. Lee's beloved cameos in marvel movies over the last dozen years or so. Happy Birthday and Excelsior!

Global Trends 2030 Report

Although the Global Trends 2030 report sounds like science fiction at times, we should realizes that sometimes game-changing technology just pops out of left field - and I suspect many of the contributors to this site and the report have spent quite a bit of time in left field...
The National Intelligence Council (NIC) is a U.S. Government entity, operating as part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).  The NIC is sponsoring this website to provide a forum where guest bloggers can discuss selected topics to be raised in the NIC’s upcoming Global Trends 2030 (GT2030) publication. These guest bloggers – government officials; NIC IC Associates; academicians; or experts from independent think tanks or other consultancies – will author and run this blog through September 2012.


Tricky Model TARDIS

As you may know, Dr. Who's primary means of transportation through space and time (and many TV adventures) is the TARDIS. It's a sentient time machine, disguised to look like a 1950s UK police call box - but of course it's infinitely more than it's appearance. One aspect that comes up a lot is that the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is much bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside - or maybe it's just much smaller on the outside? In either case it seems reasonable that if you made a model TARDIS, you would aspire to find a way to show off that feature - and thats just what Greg Kumparak did!


iPhone 5 Cycloramic App

It never fails to amaze me the leaps in logic that creative people make. Most smartphones have the capability to vibrate, and the iPhone 5 has a flat base so that it can be stood up on it's end - not something you would typically do, but it's possible. How about using those two things to allow you to produce a hands free video 360 degree "cyclorama" with an iPhone 5? You know what I'm going to say next - all together now - there's an app for that. Cycloramic does just that - no idea how exactly, but it seems to work, from the video below (I am wondering why the video from the phone does not appear shaky with all that vibrating going one, but I guess they figured that out too). Nice party piece for 99 cents!


Here Comes Roboy!

Roboy, a new humanoid service robot, should be making "his" debut at Robots On Tour in March 2013 in Zurich. It's anticipated that Roboy will be covered in a soft skin, an important consideration if the robot is to potentially work among people.

Service robots are already used in a wide variety of areas today, including for household chores, surveillance work and cleaning, and in hospitals and care homes. Our aging population is making it necessary to keep older people as autonomous as possible for as long as possible, which means caring for aged people is likely to be an important area for the deployment of service robots, roboticists say.
A little creepy, but...


RIP Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson was a big part of my childhood in the UK, in the 1960's and early 70's - he was the creative mind behind a series of Sci-Fi puppet shows (yes, puppet shows) such as Supercar, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet, and of course Thunderbirds! The shows are pretty groan-worthy these days, of course, but at the time they really caught my imagination, and those of probably millions of other kids. 

I think my favorite was actually Fireball XL5, which has aged particularly badly, but was great when I was six or seven years old! The thing that set the shows apart was some nifty concepts, and even though the marionettes were generally caricatures with big heads and so on, they were made more "realistic" by motorized, synchronized mouth movements through Anderson's "Supermarionation" process. It also had a groovy theme song!

Dang, Now There Might Be A "Mutuant Gap"

With the buzz about the possibilities of biologically enhancing human beings for longer life, better health, strength, cognition, etc. - thoughts must turn to the military, where the BIG bucks are really spent, and where the envelop is really pushed. Ah, but what if the US is not the leader in the race to God-knows-what? Potential mutated human soldiers may lead to a Mutant Gap!
According to the futurists at the U.S. National Intelligence Council, by 2030, “neuro-enhancements could provide superior memory recall or speed of thought. Brain-machine interfaces could provide ‘superhuman‘ abilities, enhancing strength and speed, as well as providing functions not previously available.
These modifications could give rise to new breeds of biologically enhanced troops possessing what one expert in the field calls “mutant powers.” But those troops may not American. So far, the U.S. military has been extremely reluctant to embrace human biological modification, or “biomods.”


Verizon: 3 Million Accounts Compromised

The latest ride on the merry-go-round of hacks and data breaches accrues to Verizon, where apparently some three million accounts were accessed earlier this Summer. Why are we just finding out about this now?
A report surfaced today that Verizon Wireless, a premier mobile carrier in the United States has been breached, with a result of three million customers being compromised. The good news is that the compromise does not seem to be malicious. The bad news is that, as proof of this, 300,000 users' data was released.


Kobo Mini eReader For $50

If you are looking for a deal on a compact eReader, the Kobo Mini is on sale for $50 between December 21st and 23rd. While it's a smaller screen device (not much bigger than a large smartphone), it does have the pleasing e-ink display and most of the things you would expect like Wi-Fi connectivity. It also handles many popular e-Book formats, including EPUB, PDF, and MOBI. 
Starting on December 21st, the Kobo Mini promotion will be available at Best Buy, select IndieBound independent bookstores (store locator: and Family Christian bookstores (store locator:

“We wanted to give our customers an early holiday gift by offering them this fantastic deal on the Kobo Mini eReader so that they can dive into the next great book,” said Wayne White, EVP and GM of Devices, Kobo. “We know that readers will love all the options that the Mini has to offer and the device’s ease of use will have them building their digital libraries right away.”


Instagram Kerfuffle

Instagram, the popular photo sharing and social networking service, is trying to tamp down a bit of a firestorm regarding proposed changes to it's Terms and Conditions. It's always interesting to see just how far web companies can push things before the peeps start to push back...

Instagram has responded to the storm of protests from its users over proposed changes to its terms and conditions by promising to alter the language it uses and guaranteeing that it won't sell user's photos.
"Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed," said Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom cofounder in a statement.
"We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period."


A Wee Dog Helps Out - By Smelling Poop

This one of those stories that, at first, sounds ridiculous - but then the significance dawns on you. A Beagle named Cliff, working in a University Medical Center in Amsterdam, has a strange job; trying to sniff out infected human feces. The reason is a particularly nasty strain of diarrhea that can spread quickly in a hospital setting. Normal testing can take days to confirm a the infection, but time is of the essence in this sort of situation - and Cliff can do what dogs do and reach a diagnosis immediately, and with around 90% accuracy. Hot dog!


Dr Who Nerd Alert!

You like Doctor Who, and you like computers. So, how about a computer that looks like Dr Who's Tardis time machine/spacecraft? Yep, you can now get one of those...


More Apple Maps Whinging

The Apple Map fiasco still has a little life left; this time, some hapless Aussies found themselves in a bit of a pickle after following some wonky directions on their iPhones, and landed up in an inhospitable wilderness. I think driving on the wrong side of the road while upside down has something to do with it, but I digress. The whole thing about Apple Maps, at least as far as I'm concerned, is that Apple had a working map app before releasing this new version. The new app was obviously rushed out before it was ready (and please don't try to argue that is wasn't), but I guess Apple assumed - or hoped - they could tweak it up before anyone noticed, Apparently not.
TheRegister - has an uncharacteristically charitable take on the tale

Crikey! Look at that big feller!


Stack O' Macs

If you ever feel the need to harness the horsepower of 160 Mac Mini's (that's 640 real cores) and shelve them in one rack, you can refer to this article on Hackaday.
An array of 160 computers is going to throw a lot of heat. To provide sufficient airflow, [the builder] built a custom cooling door out of four car radiators fans, connected to a 40A DC motor controller. This was all integrated into the door of the rack.


Android In The Enterprise

Notwithstanding the current seeming infatuation with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), there are real concerns over using mobile devices in an Enterprise setting - particularly Android powered devices. The RIM Blackberry devices have a history of being embraced in such environments, because they can be centrally managed, and even remotely wiped if they are stolen or mislaid - an important consideration if sensitive corporate information is at stake. A start-up company based in Boston, MA - Optio Labs - has produced a customized version of Android that provides an interesting way of controlling access to sensitive data.
The technology’s most unusual trick is its room-specific security and access settings: the phone would only show you sensitive company data—or conversely, block things like e-mail, camera, or texting functions—when in range of a Bluetooth beacon sending a cryptographic tether.


Truthful Movie Posters

Ah, if only I had the talent. Talent and imagination. Well, talent and imagination and a sense of humor. Anyway, this fine collection of "truthful" movie posters is delightful snarky. If you are not familiar with UK culture around the holidays, you may not get the Snow White reference to the "Panto", but there are plenty more on the site below to chuckle over.


Cisco Online Course $99

From Leah Collins at Groovypost, news of a super cheap entry into Cisco Networking Certifications by way of Groupon and IT University Online, something that would normally cost several thousand dollars.
The Complete Cisco Network Training Bundle includes five training courses designed to provide the skills needed for the CCNA and CCNP suite of certifications. Each bundle includes instructor-led training, hands-on exercises, multimedia presentations, and exam simulators.


Video Bill From AT&T

This is a little confusing; it's not a bill for video services, it's your actual monthly AT&T service bill, but delivered as a video. No, I don't know why either. I guess someone thought it was a good idea - so does the bandwidth required to view the bill count against your monthly cap...?
"This video bill is not a generic overview," John Donovan, AT&T senior executive vice president, said in a Dec. 4 blog post, "but a line-by-line visual and audio tour of your individual charges, emailed directly to you and also available when you log into your myAT&T account online." 


EarthPorn Is Not Dirty!

EarthPorn is not anything dirty, it's actually a section of the very popular Reddit website devoted to images many of which are suitable for spiffy desktop wallpaper. The main area is EarthPorn (technically, it's referred to as a "sub-reddit"), which is dedicated to landscapes, and if you look near the top of the page there are more areas - Elemental, Synthetic, Organic, etc.

Here's an example - the Isle of Skye, off the coast of Scotland (a smaller version of the image on Reddit).

Older People And Scams, Scientifically Speaking

Apparently, after living so long us codgers simply have a worn-out bullsh*t detector - scientifically speaking.
Despite long experience with the ways of the world, older people are especially vulnerable to fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), up to 80% of scam victims are over 65. One explanation may lie in a brain region that serves as a built-in crook detector. Called the anterior insula, this structure—which fires up in response to the face of an unsavory character—is less active in older people, possibly making them less cagey than younger folks, a new study finds.

Tumblr Trojan Trouble

The Tumblr microblogging platform was the victim of a worm that reblogs unpleasant messages from the writer(s) of the malware. While the initial outbreak has since been tamped down, allegedly the underlying issue allowing the outbreak has not yet been addressed.
The code would direct users to a login page if they were not logged into Tumblr at the time, but if they were logged in, it would reblog the message in the user's account. As the message contained the malicious code, the worm was spread through the reblogging. As an extra factor for confusion, on leaving the page, it was possible that the malicious code would display a dialog claiming Tumblr would be down for maintenance for several hours. 


Aussie Credit Card Cock-Up

Australia is a huge country geographically, but has a pretty small population; around 23 million, almost twice that of the US state of Pennsylvania. So when you learn that Romanian hackers recently got a hold of half a million Aussie credit card numbers, you can see that's a pretty significant number when put in context.  The baddies also already racked up about $1,000 of each of 30,000 of the card accounts. They apparently got these card numbers via poorly configured or controlled RDP instances. The Remote Desktop Protocol is a widely-used tool that allows Windows users to connect to remote Windows computers using the built-in RDP utility.
Once you've got an RDP connection to the inside of a network, you can run pretty much any software you like, even GUI-only applications that weren't built with remote control in mind.
It seems that's what the crooks did, running up the retailers' Point of Sale (PoS) software and retrieving credit card numbers already collected by the retailers' own payment devices.
Aussie Credit Card - get it?


5 x 5 x 5 = Better Batteries

The new Joint Center for Energy Storage Research is intended to harken back to the kind of intense development environment used in WWII to produce the US atomic bomb. The goal is to produce battery and energy storage technology that is five times more powerful and five times cheaper than present, within five years time - a pretty aggressive agenda.

The Battery and Energy Storage Hub project will involve six national labs, five universities -- Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and University of Michigan -- and four private firms, Dow Chemical, Applied Materials, Johnson Controls, and Clean Energy Trust.

NASA Assures Us World Will NOT End Dec 21

Hmm, more NASA stuff - they must have a budget review coming up or something. Anyway, I guess this would fall under the "Public Service" category; they have taken time away from looking for water on Mercury and whatever-it-was-they-thought-they-had-found recently on Mars, to come up with a sort of FAQ about the non-end of our planet on or around December 21st, 2012. The section on the NASA website is titled "Beyond 2012: Why The World Won't End", which is a bit of a sweeping statement, as I would venture the world will end at some point - but I'm nit-picking. Anyhoo, wouldn't it be funny if the planet did give it up on 12/21/2012? Actually, no, I guess it would not be funny...