GeekSpeak for 2010-10-16

Voting by Tractor Beams

Voting machines, tractor beams, Google power… oh my! Miles, Al, and Lindsey go over geek news and take your calls.

Tractor beams are now real

Tractor beams, the sort of thing that large spaceships use to pull in smaller spaceships in sci-fi movies, are no longer in the realm of fantasy. Yes, researchers at the Australian National University have created a device that can move small particles multiple feet using only light. Wow.

Here’s how it works:

The device works by shining a hollow laser beam around tiny glass particles. The air surrounding the particle heats up, while the dark center of the beam stays cool. When the particle starts to drift out of the middle and into the bright laser beam, the force of heated air molecules bouncing around and hitting the particle’s surface is enough to nudge it back to the center.
Sure, it’s not powerful enough to, say, lift your neighbor’s car into the air and then drop it in their pool. But someday!

Tractor beams come to life

Researchers from the Australian National University have announced that they have built a device that can move small particles a meter and a half using only the power of light.
Physicists have been able to manipulate tiny particles over miniscule distances by using lasers for years. Optical tweezers that can move particles a few millimeters are common.
Andrei Rhode, a researcher involved with the project, said that existing optical tweezers are able to move particles the size of a bacterium a few millimeters in a liquid. Their new technique can move objects one hundred times that size over a distance of a meter or more.

Updated Yahoo Messenger app now live in App Store

Not stoked on Skype or FaceTime? Looks like you’ve got another option, bub. That overhauled Yahoo Messenger app we told you about 48 hours ago is now live in the App Store, offering multitasking on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, 3G / WiFi video calling … Your can read the rest of this story here.

Yahoo's Bartz: most overpaid CEO

Bartz (right) sports the biggest paycheck on the list of 25 overindulged big companies compiled by proxy adviser Glass-Lewis.

She took home $39 million last year, including a $10 million make-whole payment for options relinquished when she left Autodesk (ADSK), her previous employer. All this as Yahoo was pushed to the brink of irrelevance by the likes of Google (GOOG).

Bartz was hired at the start of 2009 to take over for co-founder Jerry Yang, and was initially lauded for her no-nonsense manner.

The USB Absinthe Spoon - Gearlog

To truly understand how wacky and cool the USB Absinthe Spoon is, you have to know two things: what absinthe is, and what absinthe spoons are. First, absinthe is a highly alcoholic drink, traditionally made with wormwood, anise, and other herbs. The drink was popular with artists in the late 19th century (although it saw a resurgence in the 1990s), and some versions are hallucinogenic. It tastes vaguely licorice-like. Absinthe originated as a medicinal elixir, but because of its high alcohol content it was usually diluted with cold water in order to make it easier to drink and to mute the strong taste. That’s where absinthe spoons come in.

The spoons are usually slotted; a cube or lump of sugar is placed on the spoon and water poured over it. The ritual preparation of the drink is key to enjoying it, and the spoons themselves can be incredibly elaborate and are often hand-crafted.

The delightfully absurd USB Absinthe Spoon functions no real purpose when it’s connected to a computer, but it’s made quite a splash anyway. Its creators have invited comments on their site from anyone who wants one, and the person (or people, now that they’ve had such a tremendous response) who makes the best case for owning it will win it. So far, 454 people want the spoon enough to provide a reason; a larger run of the already popular spoons is in the making.

The FBI is Tracking Whom?

They’re tracking a college student in Silicon Valley. He’s 20, partially Egyptian, and studying marketing at Mission College. He found the tracking device attached to his car. Near as he could tell, what he did to warrant the FBI’s attention is be the friend of someone who did something to warrant the FBI’s attention.

Google funds power backbone for major wind farm

Google said today it’s invested in a project called the Atlantic Wind Connection, an effort to create a 350-mile power transmission backbone linking wind turbines several miles offshore with sites along the East Coast.

Voting Machine Errors Highlight Urgent Need for U.S. Database

A report released Wednesday by the Brennan Center for Justice, calls on Congress to provide authority for the federal Election Assistance Commission, or EAC, or some other federal agency to establish and maintain a publicly searchable database and to require voting machine vendors to report problems to the database so election officials can take steps to prevent failures from repeating.

Man Claims Rabbits at Denver Airport Damaged His Car

“One air traveler says rabbits took a chunk out of his car while it was parked at Denver International Airport.”


! Additional Links and Information for Caller Questions

Here’s a link regarding [Facebook’s advertising terminology|http://www.facebook-log.com/facebook-ads.htm]

Here’s an summary from article on [Printing from an old Mac|http://harvey.nu/lpr_on_mac_osx.html]:

Go to the OS9 Machine and find the “Desktop Printer Utility” which might be in Applications (Mac OS 9) > Utilities and open it. You should get a window entitled “New Desktop Printer” and a popup menu “With” which should be set to “LaserWriter 8” under which you should see the “Create Desktop…” options, of which you should choose “Printer (LPR)” then hit OK

You should get a window entitled “New Desktop Printer” and a popup menu “With” which should be set to “LaserWriter 8” under which you should see the “Create Desktop…” options, of which you should choose “Printer (LPR)” then hit OK