The Null Device
The Nokia 770 looks nifty. It's not a mobile phone, but rather a thin client, with a touch screen, web browsing/RSS reading/VoIP facilities; it can connect to the internet via WiFi, or by Bluetooth through a mobile phone. Even more interestingly, the system software is entirely open-source, based on Debian Linux and GNOME with a Symbian-esque GTK-based UI named Hildon. Full developer tools are available for downloading.
Of course, the 770 has its downsides, such as the lack of storage facilities more substantial than a MMC slot; though even with these shortcomings, it looks extremely hackable. (You could try playing cat and mouse with Sony on getting user code running on a PSP, or you could get a 770 and run what you want on it with Nokia's blessing.) MusicThing already lists one application for it, as a control surface for music performance.
Meanwhile, Nokia have committed to allowing use of all their patents in the Linux kernel.
Music Thing has a feature on how various tiny, ubiquitous sounds and pieces of music were created. The Mac startup sound, for example, was a C Major chord played on a Korg Wavestation, whereas Brian Eno created the Microsoft sound during a creative dry spell.
A survey of the similarities between love and various pathological conditions:
The initial drive - lust - is brought on by surges of sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. These induce an indiscriminate scramble for physical gratification. Attraction transpires once a more-or-less appropriate object is found (with the right body language and speed and tone of voice) and is tied to a panoply of sleep and eating disorders.
Obsessive thoughts regarding the Loved One and compulsive acts are also common. Perception is distorted as is cognition. "Love is blind" and the lover easily fails the reality test. Falling in love involves the enhanced secretion of b-Phenylethylamine (PEA, or the "love chemical") in the first 2 to 4 years of the relationship. This natural drug creates an euphoric high and helps obscure the failings and shortcomings of the potential mate. Such oblivion - perceiving only the spouse's good sides while discarding her bad ones - is a pathology akin to the primitive psychological defense mechanism known as "splitting". Narcissists - patients suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder - also Idealize romantic or intimate partners. A similar cognitive-emotional impairment is common in many mental health conditions.
Love, in all its phases and manifestations, is an addiction, probably to the various forms of internally secreted norepinephrine, such as the aforementioned amphetamine-like PEA. Love, in other words, is a form of substance abuse. The withdrawal of romantic love has serious mental health repercussions.
Also via Mind Hacks, studies of the neurology of sarcasm, which turns out to be a good subject for exploring subjects' theory of mind, being carried out at the fantastically-named Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel.
More claims of the impending age of immortality, this time from the head of BT's futurology unit.
'If you draw the timelines, realistically by 2050 we would expect to be able to download your mind into a machine, so when you die it's not a major career problem,' Pearson told The Observer. 'If you're rich enough then by 2050 it's feasible. If you're poor you'll probably have to wait until 2075 or 2080 when it's routine. We are very serious about it. That's how fast this technology is moving: 45 years is a hell of a long time in IT.'
That may be too late for many people alive today, unless Aubrey de Grey is right and the whole growing-old-and-dying problem is solved within a decade. If he's only slightly right, they may solve it well enough that the nonagenerians of the late 21st century have minds still sufficiently undecrepit to be worth uploading. It would suck to die a few years short of becoming immortal.
Photogenic Australian drug smuggler convicted in Indonesia, sentenced to 20 years. This is a somewhat more lenient sentence than many were expecting; initially she was facing the death penalty, though presumably the economic pressure of a potential Australian boycott of Bali prevailed. If she wasn't a photogenic young woman with the tabloid media on her side, she'd probably be facing a firing squad (much as nine other less fortunate Australians are set to do).
Meanwhile, the government is quick to make political hay with a populist gesture of donating two QCs to work on her appeal, paid for by your taxes, and working on a prisoner-transfer agreement to save her the indignity of a barbaric Indonesian jail (expect the Schapelle Corby Act 2005 to show up in Hansard soon); you'd think there was an election coming up or something. An much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensues online:
"I am devestated with the verdict of the Indonesian Courts for Schapelle Corby. When the verdict was given, I fell into a bit of a heap, but Schapelles strength made me gain my composure pretty quickly.
"strength"? Looks like Australia has now found its Princess Di. Look for discount mobile-phone baron Ron Bakir, who owns the trademark on "Schapelle Corby", to make a mint in the commemorative-mug trade.
Some sought to tie Australia's tsunami aid to the issue. Bryan Griffin wrote: "I am sure that all people, not just Australians will also feel sick. "Maybe some of the donations made by us for the disaster should be returned to pay her fine. It's like a double wammy for Indonesia and their finances.Note the subtexts there: the life of an Australian convicted of drug trafficking is worth more than those of Indonesians affected by the tsunami. And the fact that she was convicted of drug trafficking is irrelevant, because we all know that Indonesian courts are corrupt. The fact that the "evidence" for the defence consisted of prison hearsay that no Australian court would have accepted seems to have gotten conveniently lost along the way.
And, of course, the Australian media's content-free, sensationalist beat-up hasn't helped things.
I wonder whether Indonesian restaurants across Australia are hanging up prominent "Schapelle is Innocent" signs (which, I imagine, the Herald-Sun will provide) in their windows to avoid being summarily boycotted or worse, much as Afghan restaurants proclaimed their opposition to terrorism after 9/11.
Update: And here is a properly AJAX version of TiddlyWiki, which uses a PHP back-end to store entries.
The Australian Tory government has revealed its workplace reforms today. They're not quite as bad as they could be; Australians get to keep 4 weeks of annual leave as a basic entitlement, for example, rather than going to a US-style one-week-if-your-employer-likes-you system, and working weeks remain at 35 to 40 hours (as opposed to the EU's 48, or the UK's unlimited length). Though the right to appeal unfair dismissals has been abolished, and niceties like leave loading and long-service leave could be subject to how much your employer wants your services when your contract is signed.