Fingertip Bacteria A New Forensic Clue?

Apparently just the bacteria on your body can be used to uniquely identify you. Interesting forensic technique that I am sure could be abused in for other purposes.

Let’s say you wanted to find who has been using a particular office computer. Here’s how it would work:
“We could swab a keyboard key, for example, pull the bacterial DNA off that swab, and then identify all or nearly all of the bacteria that make up that community,” says Fierer.
So that’s what he did. He and his colleagues swabbed the individual keys from three personal computer keyboards, “and then matched those keys to the bacteria on the fingertips of the owners of the keyboard. And we showed that we could basically identify whose keyboard it was pretty well.”
Fierer then tried a similar experiment with people’s computer mice, and he could match a mouse to its owner. The findings appear in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In one final experiment, Fierer and his colleagues found that they could still perform an analysis of bacterial DNA two weeks after it had been left on a surface.
Fierer says he’s already had some informal discussions with law-enforcement agencies about his bacterial ID techniques, and there’s been interest in this approach. But Fierer’s the first to say it’s not ready for the courtroom. At least not yet.
“There’s a lot of work we need to do to figure out how accurate it is and what are the limitations and so forth, but, yeah, it’s encouraging. It does seem like we can actually take advantage of that uniqueness of our bacterial communities,” he says.

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Airline Uniform Fetish?

Failing airline JAL, in addition to its obvious financial woes is experiencing another that it probably never anticipated: stewardesses uniforms are highly prized by fetishist and are being stolen and resold for enormous sums.

The outfits, early versions of which were designed by Hanae Mori, are incredibly popular among fans with a uniform fetish and can command exorbitant prices on on-line auction sites.

A jacket alone can fetch several hundred pounds, while one site is presently advertising a full set for more than £2,000. JAL’s domestic rival, All Nippon Airways, has a similar problem and an ANA stewardesses’ uniform is also on sale on-line for £3,745. Items that have been worn command higher prices.

“We have very strict rules on our uniforms and when people leave the company they are required to return them,” a spokeswoman for JAL told The Daily Telegraph.

“It’s a question of security, as anyone wearing a JAL uniform at an airport could quite easily access restricted areas, but we also do not want people misrepresenting the company or damaging our image in any way,” she added.

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New Google Phone Name Has Blade Runner Tie?

This kind of attitude from the estate of Phillip K. Dick is a bit theatrical and somewhat stupid.

As many bloggers have noted, the name Nexus One seems to be a reference to the cyborgs in the dystopian movie “Blade Runner,” which in turn was based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by the late Philip K. Dick. Both the film and the book feature a bounty hunter tracking down several rogue Nexus-6 cyborgs, the sixth generation in the line of Nexus robots.

This sort of reminds me of Carl Sagan finding out that the code name for what became the Apple Power Mac 7100 was ‘Sagan’ and threaten legal action even though Apple wasn’t publicly using that name. When contacted about the legal threat, Apple made a somewhat public announcement that they were in fact using the code name ‘butt-head astronomer‘ for the product.

Post created at 32,000 feet in route to LAX using in-flight wifi free trial.

Nokia N97 vs iPhone 3GS

From the Nokia97Forum:

Some of the pluses of N97 over iPhone are:

– Full Qwerty keyboard (iPhone doesn’t have)
– 5MP fully functional digital camera with Carl Zeiss optics and several editing options(iPhone has 3MP basic camera)
– Camera dual LED Flash to take pictures in dark (iPhone useless in dark)
– FM Transmitter (iPhone doesn’t have)
– Stereo bluetooth 2.0 (A2DP) (iPhone doesn’t have A2DP)
– TV out, (iPhone doesn’t have)
– expandable memory with 16gb microSD card (takes total memory to 48GB!) – iPhone has only 16 or 32mb max with no expansion.
– Unlocked so will work on any carrier (locked to AT&T in US and in most countries, where not prohibited by law)
– Widgets so you don’t have to opens most used apps like Calendar, email etc., (no widgets in iPhone)
– Flexibility to self sign a lot of free applications and install (iPhone doesn’t provide this flexibility)
– Resistive touch screen so you can use it with your gloves on or with stylus in winter (you’ll have to use your fingers only with iPhone)
– better screen resolution at 640×360 (iPhone has 480×320)
– Removable battery so you can carry one extra or replace on easily(iPhone does builtin battery)

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Beghilos

I never knew that this actually had a name but certainly did partake of it when I was in elementary school at the time that affordable digital calculators began to appear on the scene. Beghilos is the term for creating ‘words’ using a digital calculator.

Kids have been playing with the word-creating possibilities of calculators since they started to appear in the 1970s. It didn’t take long to discover that 0.7734 upside down made hEllO. One of the earliest attested examples from this period is 5318008, which when turned over spells boobies. If your display is big enough, you can enter 53177187714, which makes hillbillies; mine has only ten digits so I get illbillies (sick goats?) and the longest word I can make is 378193771 (appropriately, illegible).

And, in my case, there is no denying the conclusion of the post:

To be 37819173 to play this game in the 1970s, you had to be young, geekish and slightly bored.

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Bagelheads

I guess with tattoos and piercings becoming increasingly common, you have to look elsewhere for a new way to disfigure yourself. In Japan, this can be achieved through saline injections. Warning: the photos can be quite disturbing to some.

Picture the scene: five people, each with hideously distorted heads, tubes sticking into their faces. Reminiscent of a medical experiment gone hideously wrong, you’d be forgiven for thinking they had a gross infection or disease. They look like alien abductees, fresh from invasive research by their interplanetary masters. But these are Japanese club kids, otherwise known as bagelheads, deliberately disfiguring themselves by experimenting with saline inflations.

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The World Through Twitcaps

Twitcaps is one of a growing number of sites that have glommed onto the Twitter rocket. In this case, twitcaps allows you to view photos that people on twitter are uploading/sharing. The fascinating thing is the variety of crap stuff that is being generated.

Sure you have plenty of shots of plates of food or beers with the predictable ‘I am about to eat this/drink this’ captions, shots of bands performing, shots of people mugging for the camera, pictures of pets. But its the shots of ‘here is my daughter born 4 weeks premature…’ or ‘this is the window that my grandma used to look out of all day before she died’ that really grab you. The captions also remind you how much of the content is generated outside of the US (or at least in languages other than English).

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Nokia N97, iPhone 3GS and Palm Pre

June is proving to be the hot month for new mobile phone introductions. Apple have announced the availability of a new iPhone model (the 3GS) as well as a 3.0 firmware upgrade on the 19th. Palm released the Pre earlier in the month, and Nokia a releasing the new flagship model N97 in the US on June 25th (though you can buy it now if you can get to one of the two Nokia retail stores in Chicago or New York City).

The Palm is a non-starter for me, just because their past products have always disappointed and the Treo was more of a PDA than a phone. I flirted briefly with the idea of jumping on the Jesus phone bandwagon, but my poor experience with an iPod Touch that I bought for my in-home music upgrade frustrated me enough to throw me that much further in favor of the Nokia N97.

I think it is going to be sweet to have the option of both touch interface and a full QWERTY keyboard in addition to being able to keep most all of the phone apps that I already have. The other bonus was I was able to pre-order the N97 from Amazon for a significant discount early in June — I now note that they are back to charging full price and the N97 is on backorder.

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Sidebar Tweets

As I find myself using Twitter more for quick posts I have added a sidebar widget to display the last handful of devastatingly witty tweets that I have bestowed upon the world. If you’re in for the full punishment, you can follow me as (not surprisingly) rcampoamor on twitter.

Some of the tweets can tend to be a little more ‘raw’ that the blog postings, but I am sure you will figure that out if you have a look.

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Military iPod Touch

Proving once again that the street will find its own uses for technology, the US military has adopted the iPod Touch as a war theatre handheld device.

The iPod isn’t the only multifunction handheld on the market, but among soldiers it’s the most popular. Since most recruits have used one—and many already own one—it’s that much easier to train them to prepare and upload new content. Users can add phrases to language software, annotate maps and link text or voice recordings to photos (“Have you seen this man?”). Apple devices make it easy to shoot, store and play video. Consider the impact of showing villagers a video message of a relaxed and respected local leader encouraging them to help root out insurgents.

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The Tempting 11%

The title of this posting is a reference to a statistic in an article called That Muslim in the White House. It relates to a statistic that is tempting to apply to poll results:

Here is another fact: About 11 percent of adult Americans have an IQ score of 81 or below. This is the region of the IQ distribution curve traditionally labeled “dull” at the top and “defective” or “idiot” at the bottom, with various and variously colorful tabs in between.

What conclusion shall we draw? Some of you are tempted, aren’t you? The proper answer is, None; but in practice how people interpret facts depends heavily on their preexisting attitudes toward and opinions on sundry matters.

There is probably an easier answer: the considerably more than 11% that think that Fox News is news and parrot the right wing hatred coming from Fox and ‘shout radio’ broadcasts. I am confident that the tempting 11% is well represented in there as well.

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Techno Anniversaries

Today is the 20th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web (not to be confused with the Internet). Apparently, today is also the 15th anniversary of Linux. I wonder how pervasive Linux would be had the WWW not preceded it. It seemed it was the world wide interest, adoption and coding that made Linux what it is today. Well, I suppose the same could be said for the Interwebs as well.

In any case, raise your glass for two of technologies finest. And note that Microsuck ‘innovation’ had nothing to do with either of them.

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Right Wing ‘Outrage’ = Crocodile Tears

Dear Republicans: stuff a sock in all of the phony ‘outrage’ over the economy and the stimulus package. Seriously. Your time for outrage was when 2.3 Trillion dollars went missing from the Pentagon or when $9 or was it 50 BILLION (no one knows for sure) went missing from Iraq or the illegal no-bid contracts to Cheney’s henchmen let alone the cost of the war in Iraq itself. Why didn’t we hear a peep then? Was it because it was the Republicans who were benefiting at the taxpayers expense?

Once we stop handing out money to the banks so they can pocket it rather than make the loans they committed, we should at least this time around we’ll have something to show for the money spent.

If we had a serious press corp in the US they would be asking these follow up questions every time one of the right wing mouthpieces started spouting forth their talking points. I want to hear them answer. They won’t because they won’t be asked. Oh, an someone please remind the right that saying anything bad about the President is ‘treason’.

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Google Task List

Finally, Google have delivered a (task) list that is basic but usable and includes the option for mobile access and annotation. If you have an existing gmail account, you just need to go into the ‘labs’ options to enable it.

While on the go, you can reference your list (and add to it) by going to http://gmail.com/tasks . And most importantly of all, it gets two thumbs up from my wife who has been wanting a usable mobile list for some time now. It fact, the new google task list was declared the best thing since fish grew legs!

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