GeekSpeak for 2014-08-16

Post-Singularity, Comcast Will Harasses Itself

Robin Williams was a Geek. One of us! One of us! Plus gleanings from Defcon — reasons to be freaked out/encouraged by the efforts of hackers — The Singularity, Comcast as a synonym for misery, and more geeky news.

Twitter tweaks policies to “better handle tragic situations”

Twitter has pledged to update its policies regarding abuse and user safety, following a series of distressing incidents that caused Zelda Williams, daughter of the late comedian and actor Robin Williams, to leave the social network.

Collaborative blocking on Twitter

Glen Fleishman talks about apps that help Twitter users ban together to block trolls. (Post Zelda WIlliams’ harassment, Twitter’s inclusion of an ‘abuse’ button make this even simpler.)

World's fastest camera captures 4.4 trillion frames a second to watch chemical reactions

Researchers in Japan have developed a camera that can record 4.4 trillion frames in a single second, allowing scientists to capture new images of some of nature’s most fascinating and blink-and-you-miss-‘em processes, from intense chemical reactions to plasma dynamics.

Human, Soul & Machine: The Coming Singularity!

AVAM’s newest exhibition takes on its most complex subject yet: examining the rapid and ever-increasing impact of artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, genetics, 3D printing and Big Data on nearly every aspect of terran life. This thought-provoking exhibit investigates technology’s influence on issues of privacy and surveillance, employment and manufacturing, longevity and health, defense and warfare, farming and food, access to global and personal information, creative invention, and entertainment. This is high stakes, new territory never before negotiated by any prior civilization. Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired Magazine, well-defined the unprecedented nature of our times: “Singularity is the point at which all the change in the last million years will be superseded by the change in the next five minutes.”

Maryam Mirzakhani Wins the Field Medal

As an 8-year-old, Maryam Mirzakhani used to tell herself stories about the exploits of a remarkable girl. Every night at bedtime, her heroine would become mayor, travel the world or fulfill some other grand destiny.

Today, Mirzakhani — a 37-year-old mathematics professor at Stanford University — still writes elaborate stories in her mind. The high ambitions haven’t changed, but the protagonists have: They are hyperbolic surfaces, moduli spaces and dynamical systems. In a way, she said, mathematics research feels like writing a novel. “There are different characters, and you are getting to know them better,” she said. “Things evolve, and then you look back at a character, and it’s completely different from your first impression.”

Correction: Pluto and Charon Barycenter Outside Either Body

…because Charon is so massive, that barycenter is located above Pluto’s surface. Picture two kids of different sizes facing each other, holding each other’s hands, and then swinging around; the big kid makes a little circle, and the little kid makes a big circle. In this case, Pluto is the big kid.

Mind Reading with EEG

Canadian company started via Indiegogo, Interaxon that created the device Alex was talking about.

OpenEEG Project

BrainBay , Open source software to perform experiments and analysis of biometric data.

Building Mind-Controlled Gadgets Just Got Easier

Hemp fibres 'better than graphene'

The waste fibres from hemp crops can be transformed into high-performance energy storage devices, scientists say.

They “cooked” cannabis bark into carbon nanosheets and built supercapacitors “on a par with or better than graphene” – the industry gold standard.

Electric cars and power tools could harness this hemp technology, the US researchers say.

Comcast put me on hold until they closed

I’ve had a lot of people ask why I would stay on hold so long: I’m not the first person I’ve heard have this happen to. I refused to hang up as I was going to give them any reason to keep my service active. There would be no “well you did hang up before we could get to you,” nonsense.

The Plan to Make Drones 'A Tool the FBI Cannot Do Without'

The FBI has had an eager eye on surveillance drones since first experimenting with remote control airplanes in 1995. But budget cuts nearly ended the Bureau’s unmanned machinations in 2010, and it took a dedicated push aimed at making drones “a tool the FBI cannot do without” to cement their place in the FBI’s surveillance toolkit.

House Members Try to Tie Up SpaceX in Red Tape

Three members of Congress from Alabama and Colorado have asked NASA to provide information on what they perceive to be an “epidemic of anomalies” on missions performed by SpaceX.

Password Security Satire Piece

This is a fun read by Bonnie’s friend, Martin Azevedo.