The Null Device


The latest in extreme sports out of Las Vegas: hunting naked women with paintball guns:

Men pay anywhere from $5000 to $10,000 for the chance to come to the middle of the desert to shoot what they call "Bambi's" with a paint ball gun. Burdick says men have come from as far away as Germany. The men get a video tape of their hunt to take home and show their friends. Burdick says safety is a concern, but the women are not allowed to wear protective gear -- only tennis shoes. Today while the Eyewitness News cameras were rolling, one woman chose to wear bikini bottoms but normally all they wear is their birthday suits.
The paint balls that come out of the guns travel at about 200 miles per hour. Getting hit with one stings even with clothes on, and when they hit bare flesh, they are powerful enough to draw blood. Evanthes shot one of the women and says, "I got the one with the biggest rack."


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One of the speakers at the Cognitive Science Conference in Sydney claims that religious belief and delusion are related phenomena, and studying the former could help understand the latter:

Many religious beliefs were triggered by a bizarre or unexplained "religious experience", often produced by changes in brain activity. For example, it had been shown that when Buddhist monks went into deep mediation and had a sense of "being at one with the world", they also had decreased blood flow to the part of the brain responsible for concepts of the "self".

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Dutch PC manufacturer buys the Commodore 64 trademark, makes ominous noises about "not allowing unauthorised use of the brand" and releasing an emulator, the only licensed official one. Does this mean takedown notices for VICE, the C-One and the CBM archive, or just that they'll go after the people selling Commodore 64 T-shirts at Camden Market? (via Slashdot)

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Today, the Computer Market rolled into Collingwood Town Hall. (That's sort of like a travelling carnival, only with fewer bearded ladies and knife-throwers and more computer-related gizmos being sold at prices somewhat lower than in the shops). So I went along and bought:

  • An external 5.25" USB 2.0/FireWire enclosure (one of the cheaper, rounded silver-grey ones), to put one of those removable hard disk racks into. I had already done this with a USB box, but wanted a FireWire one for backing up my PowerBook to.
  • An 80Gb hard disk for backing up to. I wanted a 60, but the 80s were only $5 dearer, so I got one.
  • Five 5cm blank CDs, "Melody" brand, "Platinum" quality (which is meant to be like gold only even more worthy of your money). The CD stalls were selling those, so I thought I'd get a few. I have no illusions of them lasting decades, but they'd be good for burning files/works in progress to give to people. And they look cute too.
  • A PlayStation to USB HID gamepad converter (no brand on the box, though the chipset identifies itself as "GreenAsia Electronics" brand)

When I got home, I found that the FireWire enclosure was a centimetre or two too short for the hard disk rack, and as such it juts out slightly awkwardly. But it works quite nicely, and is cheaper per gigabyte than dedicated removable disks. (My previous Mac was backed up to an Orb drive; though given the lack of SCSI ports on the newer machines, I can't use that anymore. If anyone wants to buy an Orb drive (external SCSI) and a few disks, make me an offer.)

Meanwhile, the PSX->USB converter box works quite nicely with Linux' USB drivers, allowing me to dust off my old PlayStation controller and use it with Mame and a Commodore 64 emulator. It makes a world of difference over a PC keyboard when it comes to games.