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Internet No Good, We’re Starting Over

The Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) project is a research project that investigates alternative network infrastructure designs.

This is not Internet2. This is a more radical departure from established network designs, a bold experiment in seeing what is possible.

Some people might wonder what the point is. Sure, we’re about to run out of IP addresses, but IPv6 will solve that problem for us. We’ve been using TCP/IP for almost 40 years. It’s established technology. Why start over?

Because they have the technology. They can rebuild it. Better than it was before. Better, stronger, faster. And this time they’ve got $12 million to do it with.

Steampunk from 150BC: The Antikythera Mechanism

Antikythera Mechanism

The mechanism was salvaged off the coast of the island of Antikythera in 1900. Ever since then, people have been wondering what the heck it was for. I mean, here’s a device made in 150 BC, of a complexity that wouldn’t be seen again for a thousand years.

Early speculation on the device’s nature thought it might be an astrology device, but after the inscriptions were deciphered, this idea turned out to be false. The Antikythera Mechanism is actually an astronomy device, meant to keep track of celestial bodies, and the Olympic games.

Will this inspire a new genre of ancient steampunk novels?

Learn A Foreign Language

If you have a desire to learn an exotic language like Twi, or even a less than exotic language like French, then look no further! The FSI Language Courses website is dedicated to making the American taxpayer’s dollar work for YOU, a citizen of the world. Apparently, since these courses were developed by the US government, that means that it’s all in the public domain. Major winnage!

Languages currently available include: Amharic, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cambodian, Cantonese, Chinese, Chinyanja, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hausa, Hindi, Hebrew, Hungarian, Igbo, Italian, Kituba, Korean, Lao, Luganda, Moré, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Sinhala, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Twi, Vietnamese, and Yoruba.

Brazil’s Technobrega Scene Driven By Music “Piracy”

I’ve just spotted another case where free information = profit. The Brazillian technobrega scene is driven mostly by artists encouraging their music to be copied freely. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, RIAA!

Colossus Mark II

 Rebuilt Colossus Mark II

The Colossus Mark II was one of the first modern computers ever built, way back in 1944, and used to break cryptographic codes intercepted by the allies. When the war was over, Winston Churchill ordered the machines to be destroyed.

Now, through the efforts of a man named Tony Sale, a working copy of the Colossus is being rebuilt in it’s historical location at Bletchley Park, which has now been turned into a museum.

Cymon Wants You To Program!

Yes you!

Remember the good old days when you’d spend an hour after school typing in a game on your Sharp MZ-80A or Commodore 64, because you didn’t have any blank tapes left? I do.

If you long for those days, or if you never experienced them, then Cymon’s Games is for you. Filled with tiny games for you to grok, it teaches the hacker approach to programming:

The best way to do it is to read some stuff written by masters of the form, write some things yourself, read a lot more, write a little more, read a lot more, write some more … and repeat until your writing begins to develop the kind of strength and economy you see in your models.

Just watch out for the goto statements. Nya!

Is The XO-2 The Ideal Electronic Book?


Ever since reading Ben Bova’s Cyberbooks, I’ve been waiting for electronic books to take over the world. The Amazon Kindle didn’t much impress impress me, but I just love the design for the new OLPC XO-2. If the design stays the same, then I’m definitely getting one for reading ebooks.

On a related note, what are they teaching kids these days?

Free downloads = profit

In 2000, Baen Books created a free internet library as an experiment in publishing. The “First Librarian“, author Eric Flint, kept a proto-blog of the experience. I found it educational. Of particular interest is the intro, #1, #6, #10, and #11, as these all confirm that free downloads boost sales, both for books and music.

Cory Doctorow famously makes almost all his books available for download. As he says in the intro to Someone comes to town, someone leaves town:

I’m giving these books away to sell more books [...] Not because I’m some patchouli-scented, fuzzy-headed, “information wants to be free” info-hippie. I’m at it because I want to fill my bathtub with money and rub my hands and laugh and laugh and laugh.

British hard scifi author Charles Stross has managed to make the full text of Scratch Monkey and Accelerando available online. While Scratch Monkey hasn’t been published (and now probably never will be), Accelerando has been published, and quite recently. Stross agrees with Flint and Doctorow that free downloads boost sales, and admits that he would like to make all his novels available in this way, but publishers refuse to let him keep the electronic rights to his books. I’ve read most of his books, and judging by the high quality of his writing, maybe it won’t be long before he has some pull with publishers.

The situation is tragic. New authors, who could really use the exposure that free downloads would provide, are most likely to be refused by publishers with outdated electronic rights policies.

There is a tendency to dismiss the idea that information should be free as idealistic. The reality is that there is growing evidence that it actually makes economic sense. The information economy is turning out to be stranger than we could imagine.

Watch Out For Little Brother (In Stores Near You)


Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is a novel for young adults, so I said to myself: “Myself, you’re an adult, you’re young, you should read this”. I was right.

Little Brother is awesome. It’s 1984 combined with Steal This Book combined with Hackers - upgraded and updated for today. It’s about America’s war on terror, and how that war is terrorizing American citizens. It’s about freedom, and the pursuit of happiness, love, and friendship. It’s about technology, and especially about how technology can be turned against us. It’s a book that every freedom-loving American (and every other nationality too) teen (and older) should read.

Read it, online or offline. Then buy copies for all your nieces and nephews, for the local school library, for the local municipal library, and post the link to the book download on your blog. I’m going to.

Hack The Planet!

Improve Your IQ With Dual N-Back Task Training

There’s recently been quite a buzz about the recent research that suggests that fluid intelligence can be improved by training working memory.

If the original article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (or PotNAoSotUSoA as it’s more affectionately known) is too technical for you, try the articles in the New York Times, New Scientist or

Not simply content with bringing you the news, I scoured the nets for actual implementations of the very (dual n-back task) game they used to train the study participants. I found a site dedicated to the game itself, and I found a site dedicated to all kinds of cognitive games.

No luck on finding an open source implementation yet, but I suspect it won’t be too long until someone makes one.