Edward Tufte has pointed out that PowerPoint and other presentational software reduce rather than enhance knowledge transfer from experts to audiences. His solution is technical documents—distributed before a presentation—explicit in their methodology and outcomes. Continue reading »

Two foes… Drivers cracked and brought together for great justice!

Amidst the myriad reports of today’s newspapers being done in by the Internet, here’s a magazine that turned profitable by going online. To do so required its editors to think way outside the box–in fact, to aim to attack its former incarnation.


The Atlantic is on track to turn a tidy profit of $1.8 million this year. That would be the first time in at least a decade that it had not lost money….

“We imagined ourselves as a venture-capital-backed start-up in Silicon Valley whose mission was to attack and disrupt The Atlantic,” said Justin B. Smith, president of the Atlantic Media Company, who arrived at the magazine’s offices in the Watergate complex in 2007 with a mission to stanch the red ink.

Just in case you were wondering…

Researchers are sure that they can put lab-grown meat on the menu — if they can just get cultured muscle cells to bulk up.

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What do a 15th century mural, performance art documentation photo, and Google Maps screengrab have in common? Continue reading »

The Entertainment Software Association inserts a pirated video game into the console of an Xbox modder. The recording industry is marketing music on a peer-to-peer network it also happens to be suing. Tandberg patents open source code. There are just too many candidates for this week’s Worst Misuse of Copyright award.

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Feel guilty about stuffing all that giftwrapping in the trash? Stuff it in the garden instead, thanks to these examples of growable packaging.

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Kinect eye-viewFacebook quietly rolled out face recognition in its photo service earlier this year, prompting some to speculate that Facebook users might soon get ads correlated to what they look like or where their pictures appear. But Facebook may not be the only one targeting ads according to what the lens sees. Last month Microsoft’s Chief Financial Officer for interactive entertainment let slip that Kinect’s camera feed offered his company “a bunch of new business opportunities.”

What sort of business opportunities? Well, once their system is trained on actual faces thanks to tags from its own users, Microsoft or Facebook could sell Haar classifiers to other companies for ad targeting (think X-box ads for acne cream) or the government for surveillance (think a “Total Information Awareness” database of every person ever caught on a security camera).

Of course, as new media artist and innovator Mark Daggett pointed out to me, this face-harvesting could have productive applications, such as an iPhone app that scans a crowd and displays each person’s Facebook profile above their heads. Then again, it could have detrimental applications, such as an iPhone app that scans a crowd and displays each person’s Facebook profile above their heads.

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Move over, silicon—E. coli’s gunning for your job. Researchers prove that bacteria can store data and solve sodoku. Oh, it can repair highways too.

That’s all well and good, but what if you catch a cold, er, an app, from your PC? “Sorry I couldn’t come earlier, but my gut was up all night rendering a big animated movie…”


“A research team out of the Chinese University of Hong Kong has found a way to do data encryption and storage with bacteria. The project is called ‘Bioencryption,’ and their presentation (as a PDF file) is here.”

“Problem Solving Bacteria Crack Sudoku”


“A strain of Escherichia coli bacteria can now solve the logic puzzles – with some help from a group of students at the University of Tokyo, Japan, reports New Scientist. The team begin with 16 types of E. coli, each colony assigned a distinct genetic identity depending on which square it occupied within a four-by-four sudoku grid.The bacteria can also express one of four colours to represent the numerical value of their square. As with any sudoku puzzle, a small number of the grid squares are given a value from the beginning by encouraging the bacteria in these squares to differentiate and take on one of the four colours.The Tokyo team’s sudoku-solving bacteria competed in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week.”

“Bacteria Used To Fix Cracked Concrete”

http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/11/17/182244/Bacteria-Used-To-Fix-Cracked-Concrete “Researchers at the U.K’s University of Newcastle have created a new type of bacteria that generates glue to hold together cracks in concrete structures – that means everything from concrete sidewalks to buildings that have been damaged by earthquakes. When the cells have been germinated, they burrow deep into the concrete until they reach the bottom. At this point, the concrete repair process is activated, and the cells split into three types that produce calcium carbonate crystals, act as reinforcing fibers, and produce glue which acts as a binding agent to fill concrete gaps.”

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