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Posts by Robert Quigley

Robert Quigley

According to eldritch lore, Geekosystem was formed from a single tear shed by Robert while passing through the Dale of Sorrow before the Gates of Time. This belief has periodically led scholar-mystics to postulate the existence of other, similar "websites," much like Geekosystem in character, but differing in content and appearance.

  1. Geekolinks

    Geekolinks: 6/7

    What sugar actually does to your brain and body (Lifehacker)

    Groupon founders fund an online pawn shop (AllThingsD) 10 physical gestures that have been patented (Steve Cheney) Kickstarter project: Building an open-source Bussard fusion reactor (Kickstarter) Some concerns about X-Men: First Classs (The Mary Sue) Settlers of Catan: How a German board game went mainstream (The Atlantic) The best behind-the-scenes filmset photos (Angus R Shamal) (title pic is a goose wearing shoes. via Cute Overload via Neatorama.)

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  2. Weird

    Terrifying Clown Is Terrifying

    Artist Dave Kendall painted this disturbing portrait for the cover of a Stephen King fanzine some years ago. Fun for trypophobes and coulrophobes alike. In the interest of not terrifying all of our readers, full pic after the jump:

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  3. Gaming

    Watch Nintendo’s E3 Presentation [Live Video]

    Nintendo's E3 presentation is live and underway right now; though they've led off with small things, the two big questions on people's mind are 1. what Project Cafe, Nintendo's next-gen console, will be like, and 2. if there's any new magic in store for the 3DS, which lacked strong launch titles. We'll have a full recap later. Check it out postjump:

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  4. Tech

    Report: One Out of Four U.S. “Hackers” Is an FBI Informant

    According to a report issued by The Guardian and backed by the publisher of hacker quarterly 2600, a whopping 25% of U.S.-based 'hackers' "may have been recruited by the federal authorities to be their eyes and ears." The reason is as old as crime movies: When a cybercriminal is busted, the feds have a lot of leverage in asking him or her to go turncoat, as the alternative may be a harsh legal sentence. The Guardian:

    "Owing to the harsh penalties involved and the relative inexperience with the law that many hackers have, they are rather susceptible to intimidation," [2600 publisher Eric] Corley told the Guardian. "It makes for very tense relationships," said John Young, who runs Cryptome, a website depository for secret documents along the lines of WikiLeaks. "There are dozens and dozens of hackers who have been shopped by people they thought they trusted."
    A quibble with this report, which may well be true with respect to cybercriminals, is the use of the word 'hacker' as synonymous with credit card thief or Sony breacher, when the more constructive sort of folks who hang around places like Hacker News who self-identify with the word see it quite differently. In the words of Eric S. Raymond, "Real hackers mostly think crackers are lazy, irresponsible, and not very bright, and object that being able to break security doesn't make you a hacker any more than being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer. Unfortunately, many journalists and writers have been fooled into using the word "hacker" to describe crackers; this irritates real hackers no end." (via The Guardian)

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  5. Tech

    British Teen Invents Doorbell That Calls Homeowner’s Cell Phone, Spooks Burglars

    According to the Daily Mail, a 13-year-old by the name of Laurence Rook is in for a £250,000 payday thanks to a clever bit of engineering. When competing in a mock product design competition for school, Rook came up with the Smart Bell, a doorbell with a twist: When it's pressed, it calls up the homeowner's mobile phone and routes it over the intercom, allowing him or her to talk to whoever is outside the door. Rook: "At first I designed the idea because my mum was fed up going to the Post Office to collect deliveries made when we were not at home." But convenience isn't the only thing going for Rook's design: It also deters burglars.

    'Most opportunist burglars ring the doorbell first to see if anyone is at home, but Smart Bell has the perfect way to counteract this. 'If you are out and a burglar comes up to your door and rings the doorbell, after ten seconds Smart Bell will ring through to your mobile phone and you will be able to answer. 'There is a small amount of white noise so it will sound like an intercom and the burglar will never know that you're not actually inside the house.'
    20,000 units have already been purchased by British telco Commtel Innovate, and the Daily Mail reports that Rook is in negotiations to make 25,000 more for an unspecified other company. (Daily Mail via Slashdot)

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  6. Tech

    Follow Apple’s WWDC 2011 Announcement Live

    Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference is upon us, and while the event lasts until the end of this week, Apple has mercifully spared us the anticipation by kicking WWDC 2011 off with a keynote about which a lot of people are pretty excited. Though the word on the street is that there almost certainly will not be an iPhone 5/iPhone 4GS reveal today, we do know that Apple will be talking about iOS5, Mac OS X Lion (this is, after all, a developers' conference, and developers need to know about the operating systems they're working with), and, most intriguingly for many, iCloud. Everything is speculative at this point, but the great hope for iCloud, as elucidated by John Gruber, is that it won't be the new MobileMe, but rather the new iTunes: That is, that with iCloud, the previous model of PC-as-central-media-hub for Apple users will shift to "should shift to the cloud. iTunes, the desktop app, currently syncs the following things with iOS devices: audio, movies and TV shows, iBooks e-books, App Store apps, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes, and any sort of files shared between iOS apps. All of these things would be better served syncing over-the-air via the so-called cloud." Will it live up to that? Well, it's silly at this point to write more speculative blog posts about it; just tune into the keynote at 1pm ET/10am PT to find out. As for that: As of posting, Apple has not yet made a live video stream available for the event, and it's very possible that it won't at all. But that doesn't mean that you can't follow WWDC 2011 as it happens:

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  7. Tech

    Sarah Palin Fans Accused of Editing Wikipedia to Right Her Wrongs About Paul Revere’s Ride

    This past week, former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin attempted to explain Paul Revere's historic midnight ride in a manner that many history buffs took issue with. Specifically, speaking to an audience at a church visited by Revere, Palin described Revere thusly: "He who warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells, and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free." While it sounds from Palin's account as though Revere was warning the British, according to the New York Times, "In fact, on the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode out from Boston to warn the American patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching from Boston to Lexington to arrest them." Palin has since claimed that she "know[s] her American history," knows the details of Revere's ride, and is the victim of a "gotcha" media. But several political bloggers report that Palin supporters have taken a rather more creative approach to defending her from criticism: Going straight to the Wikipedia article on Paul Revere and editing it to make history sound more in line with Palin's recollection of events.

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  8. Entertainment

    “I Don’t Wanna Be a Crappy Housewife”; Or, Norway Gets Its Own Rebecca Black [Video]

    Blogs blogging about things just because they're "going viral" is always a little echo chambery, but in the case of Norwegian artist Tonje Langeteig, it is totally justified. Her song "I Don't Wanna Be a Crappy Housewife" has exploded on YouTube over the course of the past week, with over 1,500 "dislikes" versus 133 "likes" as of posting, drawing comparisons to stateside phenomenon Rebecca Black. The real question is: Which song has the better rap solo? (via BuzzFeed)

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  9. Entertainment

    Pixar Artist Explains Why Pixar Has Made So Few Feature Films

    I'm not going to bother to do it right here and now, but I'm sure someone could write a compelling essay about how Pixar, Valve, and Apple have all created success and considerable goodwill by bringing similar approaches on animation, gaming, and consumer tech, respectively: Rather than chasing trends or spamming the market with new products every 3 months, they focus and execute with laserlike precision. In a recent Quora thread, Pixar camera artist Craig L. Good provides an inkling as to how this process works when he explains to a questioner why Pixar "makes so few feature films":

    The way we make movies is just really, really hard. It takes years just to get the story right. Animation is a very labor-intensive process. It takes a large crew a long time just to produce the film. There's a limit to how many people and, more importantly, how many production crews can effectively be managed and still retain the quality. There's a very limited number of directors capable of conceiving, writing, and directing one of these productions. So I think the answer is that we're both time and resource limited, and that there's a limit to how many resources can even practically be applied. Nine women cannot make a baby in a month. In other words: Dude, we're pedaling as fast as we can
    See also: Wired's revealing 2010 article on Pixar's creative process. (via Quora.)

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  10. Weird

    Geek Meditation [Comic]

    At first Joy of Tech's rendition of geek meditiation is just funny, then you realize that this may actually be the best way to explain meditation to notoriously empirical-minded people. (JoT via Digital Inspiration)

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  11. Space

    Watch the Copenhagen Suborbitals Launch Live

    Earlier this week, we wrote about Copenhagen Suborbitals, the group with an open-source, private approach to space travel; today, at 10am 10:15am ET, if all goes according to plan, they're launching an unmanned space craft. Two livestreams of the launch below:

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  12. Entertainment

    Three-Foot-Long Sandcrawler Built with 10,000 Lego Pieces [Video]

    Lego enthusiast Marshal Banana built a faithful model of the Sandcrawler from Star Wars using 10,000 Lego bricks, taking 9 months for building and planning. It's motorized, can be operated by remote, and has the following radio-controled functions: Driving in forward and reverse, stearing, a main ramp that goes up and down, a crane that can move up and down, in and out, and a conveyor band that operates in forward and reverse modes. Of course there's a fully furnished interior. (Marshal Banana via Brothers Brick)

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  13. Tech

    MI6 Hacks Al-Qaeda Website, Replaces Bomb Recipe with Cupcake Recipe

    Covert intelligence services aren't particularly well-known for their sense of humor, but UK-based agency MI6 reportedly flashed a bit of the old British wit in a counterterrorism effort aimed at an Al-Qaeda web magazine. MI6 agents replaced a section on how to make a deadly sugar-based pipe bomb with a set of Ellen DeGeneres cupcake recipes.

    The code, which had been inserted into the original magazine by the British intelligence hackers, was actually a web page of recipes for “The Best Cupcakes in America” published by the Ellen DeGeneres chat show. Written by Dulcy Israel and produced by Main Street Cupcakes in Hudson, Ohio, it said “the little cupcake is big again” adding: “Self-contained and satisfying, it summons memories of childhood even as it's updated for today’s sweet-toothed hipsters.” It included a recipe for the Mojito Cupcake – “made of white rum cake and draped in vanilla buttercream”- and the Rocky Road Cupcake – “warning: sugar rush ahead!”
    Though this particular MI6 hack was humorous, the intelligence communities on both sides of the pond take seriously this particular Al-Qaeda web magazine, which is published by the influential radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki: A former CIA analyst told the Telegraph that it was "clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the US or UK who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber." (Telegraph via Fark. title pic via Wikipedia.)

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  14. Geekolinks

    Geekolinks: 6/2

    First look at Windows 8 (This Is My Next) Gruber: Windows 8 looks great, but it's strategically flawed (Daring Fireball) North Korea is the world's second-happiest nation, says North Korea (Global Post) The Deep Web: Terrifying, fascinating (Reddit) The social media revolution will not be monetized (IEEE Spectrum) Superhero pictograms (Unreality) New entertainment suggestions for adult nerds (MetaFilter) (title pic via Reddit)

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  15. Tech

    Groupon Files for IPO: Huge Revenue Growth, Still No Profit

    In a development that's sure to add further froth to the "is this a tech bubble" debate, e-couponing business Groupon has filed for an IPO, setting out to raise as much as $750 million in an offering which could value the company as a whole at $20 billion or more. Groupon's growth to this point has been remarkable. In 2009, it had revenues of $30.47 million; in 2010, it had revenues of $713.4 million; and in the first quarter of 2011, it has already had revenues of $644.7 million, almost as much as it made over the course of all of last year. As of 1Q 2011, Groupon has 56,781 merchants, as compared to 212 in 2Q 2009. Yet the company has yet to make a profit. Spend a billion dollars to buy $700 million and your revenues may look impressive, but your profits, well, not so much at all; in fact, Groupon essentially did this and then some in 2010, showing losses of $389.6 million. In the first quarter of this year, it has lost $102.7 million. Groupon's true believers are counting on the company's extremely aggressive sales and marketing bearing more fruit than they eat up in the future, and if it succeeds in its ambition of becoming the go-to e-commerce site for consumers who are hungry or bored, then it will have quite a Buffettesque moat. But as Michael Arrington recently pointed out, the 2000 bubble and subsequent burst were typified by "Everything [being] valued at a multiple of revenue. It didn’t really matter how unprofitable you were." On the flip side, it took Amazon.com years to turn its first profit, and it's a pillar of the industry now. It's too early to say which path Groupon will follow, but this time around, a lot of people will certainly be monitoring its progress. (WSJ via Hacker News, TBI)

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