January 18th, 2008

ronin

When gigantic bugs attack!




Japanese Giant Hornet (vespa mandarinia japonica)

It's the size of your thumb and it can spray flesh-melting poison. We really wish we were making that up. For, you know, dramatic effect. Because goddamn, what a terrible thing a three inch acid-shooting hornet would be, you know? Oh, hey, did we mention it shoots it into your eyes? Or that the poison also has a pheromone cocktail in it that'll call every hornet in the hive to come over and sting you until you are no longer alive?


http://www.cracked.com/article_15816_5-most-horrifying-bugs-in-world.html
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    Pink Floyd - Run Like Hell
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ronin

Robo-pult demands tribute! More bowling balls, mortal!!




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Every hacker wants a budget to do bigger, cooler hacks. Well, we got our budget, all $1000 of it, and decided to turn a borrowed industrial robot into a catapult, a hack we'd been hoping to do for a long, long time. We'd been joking about throwing heavy objects with one of these robots ever since we saw the payload specs and an anvil in the shop.

We wanted to make a catapult that could destroy a car with bowling balls from at least 80 feet away, throw fireballs, and be controlled through a computer vision system so it could be aimed from a laptop. Result? Success.

[...]

Disclaimer: Harcos, Inc. is not affiliated with Kuka Robotics, in fact, we're not really sure what they're going to think about one of their robots being used for a catapult. Harcos, Inc. is also not affiliated with Pabst Blue Ribbon, it just happened to be cheap and we wanted to throw beer cans with a catapult.


http://www.manapotions.com/robopult.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAtdsDTt__s


I, for one, will be staying several hundred meters away from our RV-smashing ballistic overlords...
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ronin

Neural Networks and Crypto Voting.


Neural Networks in plain English - It delivers on the title. This is a really simple, 5th grade explanation of the bare basics of neural networks. You won't walk away with a heavy math-theoretical understanding of ANN, you won't even know what backprop is. But you'll understand the basics.

Verifying Elections with Cryptography, a Google TechTalk. I haven't seen this one yet, it's loading right now. I'm curious to see if they've worked around the "web of trust" issues that often plague crypto authentication systems. Frankly, I still can't figure out why we don't just make all districts small enough so that all votes can be publicly hand-counted. Exactly that system has worked amazingly well in Canada for a long, long time. That would also make it much harder for politicians to jerrymander. Come to think of it, THAT'S probably the exact reason why we don't do it here...
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