The Null Device
The Indian Ocean earthquake may not only have killed a lot of people and wiped out entire towns, it may have also permanently taken a fraction of a second off each day, by accelerating the Earth's rotation.
Meanwhile, some experts say it's only a matter of time before a landslide in the Canary Islands causes a mega-tsunami in the Atlantic, with unimaginably devastating effects; places like Ireland and south-west England will get off lightly, with only waves similar to those that battered Sri Lanka and Thailand; meanwhile, the east coast of the US will be wiped out with 20-50-metre waves obliterating cities including New York and Washington DC, and the Caribbean and northeastern Brazil would suffer similar devastation. And since it would be impossible to evacuate the entire eastern seaboard in a few hours and impractical to do so preventively for an indefinite period, nobody wants to hear about an early-warning system:
No national leader wants to evacuate the entire coast for an indefinite period of time, causing an economic and refugee crisis on the scale of a world war, for what might be a false alarm. But nobody wants to ignore a warning, and perhaps be responsible for tens of millions of deaths. From a political standpoint, it's better not to have the warning at all.
Mind you, that's only one opinion; some dude on Slashdot said that the depth profile of the Atlantic would cause such tsunamis to dissipate more rapidly, so perhaps things will turn out OK.
Anyway, back to the spin-acceleration thing; this means that there'll be, theoretically, even less time in a day to do things. I, for one, wouldn't mind if someone devised a way of slowing Earth's rotation down, giving its inhabitants a 25- or 26-hour period to go about their day in; those of us with longer-than-24-hour biological clocks, who otherwise tend to retire and rise later each day, would be grateful.
It looks like, after years of positioning themselves as the BMW of the computer world, Apple are about to release a cheap, bare-bones Mac. The new Mac, codenamed Q88, will come with no monitor, a CDRW/DVD-ROM drive and 40 to 80Gb of disk space, and will come in a flat enclosure that can be either vertical or horizontal. Which suggests that it'll look like a shiny white PlayStation 2 and/or an oversized screenless iPod.
The reason for Apple's change of heart is said to be the success of the iPod; the new Mac, which will eschew Apple's focus on performance, and be aimed at Windows users who liked the iPod and would buy a Mac if they were cheaper.
And The Reg speculates that Apple could position these units as home-entertainment PCs.
French underground artist Invader, who's responsible for putting up those space-invader tiles in cities around the world (there's one in Covent Garden in London, and I believe I saw some in Melbourne as well), has now released an exclusive line of sneakers. €103 gets you a pair which leave a footprint with a space-invader graphic. The sneakers are a limited edition of 1,500 pairs. No word on whether or not they are made by children in sweatshops.
Maybe next we'll see Heavy Product Blundstone boots with a motif of a man struggling with a bucket on the sole.
The recent cataclysm in the Indian Ocean hasn't escaped my attention; when capricious Nature kills at least 60,000 people in countries thousands of kilometres apart within a few hours, it's hard not to be awed. Mind you, that figure could double if epidemics of disease spread in the affected areas.
Anyway, Wikipedia has a good page on the disaster as information comes in; BBC News has a special page as well, and bOING bOING links to first-person accounts by bloggers. And if you want to help, you can do so by donating to UNICEF or Oxfam (Australia, UK, USA).