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Links October 2011

Ron has written an interesting blog post about the US as a “lottery economy” [1]. Most people won’t win the lottery (literally or metaphorically) so they remain destined for poverty.

Tim Connors wrote an informative summary of the issues relating to traffic light timing and pedestrians/cyclists [2]. I have walked between Southgate and the Crown Casino area many times and have experienced the problem he describes many times.

Scientific American has an interesting article about a new global marketplace for scientific research [3]. The concept is that instead of buying a wide range of research equipment (and hiring people to run it) you can outsource non-core research for a lower cost.

Svante Pääbo gave an interesting TED talk about his work analysing human DNA to determine prehistoric human migration patterns [4]. Among other things he determined that 2.5% of the DNA from modern people outside Africa came from the Neandertals.

Lisa wrote an informative article about Emotional Support Animals (as opposed to Service Animals such as guide dogs) for disabled people [5]. It seems that the US law is quite similar to Australian law in that “reasonable accommodations” have to be made for disabled people which includes allowing pets in rental properties – even if such pets aren’t officially ESAs.

Beyond Zero Emissions has an interesting article about electricity prices which explains how wind power forces prices down [6]. This should offset the new “carbon tax”.

Problogger has an article listing some of the ways that infographics can be used on the web [7]. This can be for blog posts or just for your personal understanding.

Petter Reinholdtsen wrote a handy post about ripping DVDs which also explains how to do it when the DVD has errors [8], I haven’t yet ripped a DVD but this one is worth noting for when I do.

Miriam has written about the “Fantastic Park” ICT training for 8-12yo kids [9]. It’s run in Spain (and all the links are in Spanish – but Google Translation works well) and is a camp to teach children about computers and robotics using Lego Wedo among other things. We need to have more of these things in other countries.

The Atlantic Cities has an interesting article comparing grid and cul-de-sac based urban designs [10]. Apparently the cul-de-sac design forces an increase in car use and therefore an increase in fatal accidents while also decreasing the health benefits of walking. Having lived in both grid and cul-de-sac based urban areas I have personally experienced the benefits of the grid based layout.

Sarah Chayes wrote an interesting LA Times article about governments being taken over by corruption [11]. She argues that arbitrary criminal government leads to an increase in religious fundamentelism.

Michael Lewis has an insightful article in Vanity Fair about the bankruptcy of US states and cities [12].

Ben Goldacre gave an interesting TED talk about bad medical science [13]. He starts with the quackery that is published in tabloid newspapers and then moves on to deliberate scientific fraud by medical companies.

Geoff Mulgan gave an interesting TED talk about the Studio Schools in the UK which are based around group project work [14]. The main thing I took from this is that the best method of teaching varies by subject and by student. So instead of having a monolithic education department controlling everything we should have schools aimed at particular career paths and learning methods.

Sophos has an interesting article about the motion sensors of smart phones being used to transcribe keyboard input based on vibration [15]. This attack could be launched by convincing a target to install a trojan application on their phone. It’s probably best to regard your phone with suspicion nowadays.

Simon Josefsson wrote a good article explaining how to use a GPG smart-card to authenticate ssh sessions with particular reference to running backups over ssh [16].

Cùran wrote a good article explaining how to use all the screen space when playing DVDs on a wide screen display with mplayer [17].

Charles Stross has an informative blog post about Wall St Journal circulation fraud [18]. Apparently the WSJ was faking readership numbers to get more money from advertisers, this should lead to law suits and more problems for Rupert Murdoch. Is everything associated with Wall St corrupt?

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