1. The results are in for the Hackerspaces In Space Competition.

    05 October 2010

    Official word has just come down the wire about HacDC's entry for the Hackerspaces In Space competition. The HacDC Spaceblimp unfortunately didn't place in the top five. The weight of the near-space probe was 1.81 pounds (well under the limit) and was retrieved the day of the judged launch in just 93 minutes. However, the project went over budget by $70us, which kept the Spaceblimp out of the winner's circle by scoring only 70 points.

    We're not done yet, though. There will likely be another competition next year, and there are plans afoot for launching a new Spaceblimp …

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  2. So, what exactly should you do?

    04 October 2010

    Earlier today while prowling around in my RSS feed reader I came across this thread on Reddit, and I've been pondering what I would do were I in a similar situation. The original poster brought to Reddit a tale of a strange device found in the undercarriage of his friend's car, near the exhaust system but farther toward the center of the vehicle (if I interpret his description correctly). The mechanic didn't know what to make of it but some research showed that it was a GPS tracking device manufactured for federal law enforcement agencies by a company called Cobham …

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  3. Restaurant review: Mad Fox Brewing Company

    04 October 2010

    After Lyssa and I got her eyeglasses repaired this afternoon we wandered for a bit around Fairfax in Northern Virginia. It's been way too long since we'd gone wandering on a fall afternoon (and a surprisingly early one, at that) so after picking up some staple spices at Penzey's we decided to stop in for dinner at a restaurant that we'd last seen while under construction called the Mad Fox Brewing Company (444 West Broad Street; Falls Church, VA; 22046; phone 703-942-6840; fax 703-942-6916). Our first impression was that it seemed like a right nice place to kick back for …

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  4. Photographs from the William Gibson book signing, 26 September 2010.

    02 October 2010

    I realize that this post is nearly a week overdue, and it does not behoove me to neglect mentioning it. Last Sunday was the book signing for William Gibson's latest novel, Zero History. Rather than one of the bookstores a bit closer to home, it was held at Politics and Prose, a small-ish bookstore square in the heart of northwestern Washington, DC. It's reasonably easy to get to by Metro, though you should keep in mind that you'll have a bit of a hike ahead of you. From the Metro station it was about five blocks uphill, not so …

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  5. Proposed bill will require wiretapping, cryptographic insecurity of services operating within the USA.

    28 September 2010

    Once upon a time, monitoring someone's communications was a relatively simple matter for law enforcement: they sent someone out to the pole or the side of the house with a hex driver and patched a transmitter into the pair of wires leading into the building that would kick on and send both ends of any conversations to a listening post some distance away. Since then, technology's changed just a bit (consider this my entry for the Understatement of the Year Award) but the powers that be are finding themselves hard pressed to keep up. In the year 1994 a law …

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  6. Vagaries of bone conduction.

    24 September 2010

    While sitting in the dentist's chair this morning I discovered something very interesting.

    Granted, I only went in for a checkup and cleaning so it wasn't as bad as it usually is. Given that about a third of my teeth are artificial in some way - usually cored, packed with plastic and capped with surgical steel and porcelain - it should have been obvious in hindsight. It appears that the physics of sound propagation through modified teeth are markedly different than those customary to un-altered dentition. To put it simply, I've never felt the cavitron hurt quite so much because the sound …

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  7. Lying in the media: they're not even trying to hide it, anymore.

    19 September 2010

    Patrick Moynihan once said that "We are each entitled to our opinion, but no one is entitled to his own facts." This is no longer the case, and as if that wasn't a hard enough kick in the yarbles it's officially permissible to do so.

    Once, the news media was our eye upon what was happening in the world, the people who stood outside of politics and raked the muck to keep everyone informed of both the good and the bad. The people who kept everyone honest. Reporters left no stone unturned and kept some segment of the population acting …

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  8. Stalking the wild Toynbee tile.

    18 September 2010

    Last Saturday was 9/11, a day of infamy that went down in United States history as the day in 2001 when everything started going off the rails. In a strange sort of way, the year 2001 also figures into the history of science fiction thanks to the novel of the same name by Arthur C. Clarke, and the history of culture jamming and art hacking by way of license plate-sized wodges of linoleum and adhesive called Toynbee tiles. I've been fascinated by them for years, those cryptic messages which read TOYNBEE IDEA IN MOVIE 2001 RESURRECT DEAD ON PLANET …

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