Archive for January, 2010:

Skribit: Cure Writer’s Block

{ Posted on Jan 22 2010 by }
Categories : Tech

Skribit LogoSkribit is an Atlanta-based startup for bloggers that need help coming up with interesting topics to write about. Trying to start a community around your writing is hard, but asking for feedback and input is often one of the best ways to get the ball rolling. Skribit’s founders always ran into the problem of finding topics to blog about. They wanted to keep a regular blogging schedule to keep their readers happy but didn’t want to write about the same old stale news and such floating around on every other blog.

All you have to do is sign up for a Skribit account and then set up a simple widget that you can easily paste into your blog or website. Skribit then allows your readers to give a suggestion on a topic they want to read about, and vote on other suggestions that your readers have left. All of your suggestions are stored in unique interface that allows you to easily view all of your suggestions.

But what happens after your readers leave a suggestion? Once you see a suggestion you like, you can choose to link it with your blog post on the subject, and then any Skribit users interested in seeing a post based on that suggestion will be informed of your entry. You can also share suggestions through Facebook and Twitter to provide inspiration for your followers on those services.

Skribit has two types of accounts available for its users. A free account allows you to use Skribit with one blog and get up to 15 active suggestions at once. Skribit Pro accounts let you use the service on an unlimited number of blogs, take in unlimited suggestions and give you the ability to customize your widget or suggestions tab. Skribit Pro is $24 for a year of service, but if you use the promo code ackbar42 by January 27, 2010, you can get Skribit Pro for 50% off. Try Skribit out today!

Pi buster: French software whiz claims record

{ Posted on Jan 10 2010 by }
Categories : Tech

A French software engineer said on Friday he was claiming a world record for calculating Pi, the constant that has fascinated mathematicians for millennia.

Fabrice Bellard told AFP he used an inexpensive desktop computer — and not a supercomputer used in past records — to calculate Pi to nearly 2.7 trillion decimal places.

That is around 123 billion digits more than the previous record set last August by Japanese professor Daisuke Takahashi, he said.

Takahashi, using a T2K Open Supercomputer, took 29 hours to crunch Pi to 2.577 billion digits.

Bellard took 131 days, comprising 103 for the computation in binary digits, 13 days for verification, 12 days to convert the binary digits to a base of 10 and three final days to check the conversion.

The gear cost “a bit less than 2,000 euros” (3,000 dollars), Bellard, who earns a living as a software consultant in digital television in Paris, said in an email exchange.

“It is a completely standard PC. The only unusual thing is that it has five 1.5-teraoctet hard disks. Mainstream PCs generally have only one 1-teraoctet disk.”

Bellard has placed on his website details of the achievement, including the use of a high-powered mathematical engine called the Chudnovsky algorithm that chewed through the computation.

Extracts of the 2,699,999,990,000-digit outcome have been published so that they can be compared to preceding records in order to gain independent verification, Bellard told AFP.

Files containing the digits are also being offered to any outside organism keen on hosting the record, he said.

Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, kicks off with 3.14159… in a string whose digits are believed never to repeat or end.

Bellard said he was “not especially interested” in Pi’s digits but more in taking up the gauntlet of writing the software to carry out the arithmetic.

“Optimising these algorithms to get good performance is a difficult programming challenge,” he wrote.

Science Laughs: Science Comedian Brian Malow

{ Posted on Jan 07 2010 by }
Categories : Random, Videos

If you like science and comedy, this is the guy for you.

Joan Rivers Stranded!

{ Posted on Jan 05 2010 by }
Categories : Random, Television

I don’t know if you have heard yet, but Joan Rivers got stranded in Costa Rica recently. The woman at the desk wouldn’t let her board the plane because she had two different names in her passport. Her passport reads, Joan Rosenberg AKA Joan Rivers, Rosenberg was her late husbands name. She was stranded, could not use her credit card, and only had $100. Luckily there was another worker that felt sorry for her and drove her to the main airport.

With stories like this popping up all over the place, it is a wonder as many people fly as they do. Ever since this latest terrorist attempt, airport security has gotten stricter. Many people are being patted down, and do you know who they are? They are just average day Americans with kids that are flying to Disney World, the beach, or to see their families. I don’t mean to be racist, but why must security be as tight for people that check a bag per person, have 5 people traveling, including kids, and heading toward Orlando. In case they haven’t noticed, the latest terrorist attack was suspicious from the beginning. It was one foreign man, traveling by himself, he didn’t check any bags, and barely had any carry-on luggage if any at all, besides the bomb. That is the kind of person that needs to be checked more thoroughly.

When I travel, I carry a laptop, video camera, DSLR camera, and various equipment to go along. When I was going through the San Antonio airport, they had to check my backpack because they thought I had a weapon. I was pulled over to the side and the woman unzipped my bag. She said, “will anything cut me if I stick my hand in there.” What kind of question is that? It turns out they were wondering what my monopod was. They thought it was a bicycle pump. My question was, what the heck would I do with a bicycle pump to blow up a plane?

The point is that born Americans are being treated like terrorists, and yet the terrorists still get through the search. Something needs to change, and it needs to be done now.