GeekSpeak for 2008-06-28

Mars Ice and Portable Bikes

There are pictures of water ice on Mars, Ben has a new bike, breach notification laws are not so effective, and maybe we can stop telecom immunity.

Mars Needs Water

While not liquid water, the NASA Phoenix Lander has found [water ice|http://spaceweather.com/archive.php?view=1&day=22&month=06&year=2008] (as opposed to dry ice, frozen CO2) on the planet Mars. [NASA has an animation|http://spaceweather.com/swpod2008/22jun08/ice_gone_blink1.gif] showing the ice [sublimating|http://tinyurl.com/49wnss], and there is conjecture that [the Mars soil could support life|http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSN2634952620080626], i.e., Earth plant life.

Snail Mail (literally!)

An art installation called “Real Snail Mail” at Bournemouth University in the UK introduces a new node into your message sending. When a message is sent through their service, it travels through traditional means to a tank containing three snails fitted with RFID tags. When the snails pass by the first reader, the message is attached to the snail’s RFID. When it passes the second reader, the message zips off to its final destination. The fastest of the three snails is averaging a delivery time of 1.96 days per message.

Telecom Immunity Delayed But Not Gone

Telecom immunity, a part of [[FISA|Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act]|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Intelligence_Surveillance_Act] that seeks to retroactively prevent prosecution of US telecom companies for domestic surveillance, [has been delayed|http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/26/AR2008062603317.html] but is still on course to pass the US Senate soon. [Contact your senators|http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm] and let them know your thoughts on the matter.

*! For California:
  • Barbara Boxer (202) 224-3553
  • Dianne Feinstein (202) 224-3841

As an aside, [Democrats who have changed their vote to support telecom immunity have received 40% more in campaign contributions from telecom interests|http://www.maplight.org/FISA_June08] compared to their counterparts who maintained their opposition. Coincidence?

There was a time not too long ago when we used to ridicule and criticize Soviet Russia for similar tactics. Oh, how the times change.

Firefox 3 Adoption is UP

Firefox 3’s adoption rate as measured by www.pcpro.co.uk/ is far above IE 7’s adoption rate. (FF3 has been out 10 days, and IE 7 has been out for over a year and a half).

Super fast H.264 video encoding on Nvidia GPUs

Using Elemental’s H.264 video encoding software on a newer Nvidia GPU promises to be one of the most useful non-gaming applications of CUDA, allowing significantly faster than CPU based encoding speeds for compressing video files size, without sacrificing quality.

California to enforce hands-free only cell phone use for drivers

Beginning July 1, California will be enforcing a new law that restricts drivers from talking on their cell phones unless using a “hands free” device, such as a headset or speakerphone. Initial fines will be $20 and additional fines jumping up to $50. Check out the Q&A from the [California DMV|http://www.dmv.ca.gov/cellularphonelaws/index.htm] for more details.


! Ben has a new Bike

[2008_06_28_ben_bike.jpg|Ben has a new folding bike, and a goofy smile. The model is the Dahon D7 (the aluminum version)].

! Try using to remotely display computer desktops

! Free Credit Reports too
Alex mentioned that he gets a credit report every once in a while to make sure no one is using his identity.

Listener Fallon writes:

“Alex had mentioned getting a credit report annually, and that it could cost $30. I wanted listeners to know you can obtain a free credit report from each of the reporting agencies annually, per a relatively new law. I believe https://www.annualcreditreport.com/ will get ’ya there.”