Archive for the ‘sci, tech and gizmos’ Category

Apparently there is something called World Homoeopathy day.

A function was held in [Kanpur] to observe the World Homeopathy Day. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Anil Katiyar, a noted homeopath said, “The good aspect is that homeopathy is capable of curing a person completely and there are no side-effects from this mode of treatment.”

I posted on homoeopathy previously here.

But the most brilliant demolition of irrationality ever is the poem below. Enjoy:

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Check this out.

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Apple comes out with a laptop without a keyboard. Check out this video!

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Set aside 30 minutes today to watch this wonderful presentation by Bjorn Lomborg on global warming.

Lomborg is no libertarian — he is a liberal who favours a welfare state and strong redistribution through taxation — and  indeed, there is no mention of any intrinsic value of freedom and property rights in his presentation. His arguments are basically value-neutral and only rely on maximising efficiency. However, including an assignment of intrinsic value to liberty into our analysis (one corollary of that is, if the outcomes of two actions are similar, we should favor the less-coercive one) only strengthens Lomborg’s conclusions about a sane, scientific and non-reactionary approach to the problem of global warming.

It’s a great video and I am not saying that just because I agree with almost everything he says. And thanks Reason, for hosting this event and producing this video. I am glad I donate to you folks.

[Edit: Looking around the web, I find some who accuse Lomborg of cherry-picking, or at least under-stating facts to suit his views. I am a mathematician, not an expert on global warming, but I did go through those objections in detail and followed through to many of the cited papers. My opinion stated above about the essential correctness of Lomborg’s position is unchanged.]

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There is still no cure for AIDS, but science has come a long way towards controlling it. Antiretroviral therapy has progressed so much in the last two decades that, according to current reports, a person who started taking the drugs at age 20 will on average live another 43 years.

And we can expect the science to keep getting better. Thus, a man in his 20’s who gets infected with HIV today can probably expect to live — by a conservative estimate — to his 70’s. That’s a remarkable state of affairs for a disease that only a decade ago was equated with a death sentence.

Of course, I still recommend that you use condoms when there is no intent to procreate!

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The singularity is far, says Scott.

In this post, I wish to propose for the reader’s favorable consideration a doctrine that will strike many in the nerd community as strange, bizarre, and paradoxical, but that I hope will at least be given a hearing.  The doctrine in question is this: while it is possible that, a century hence, humans will have built molecular nanobots and superintelligent AIs, uploaded their brains to computers, and achieved eternal life, these possibilities are not quite so likely as commonly supposed, nor do they obviate the need to address mundane matters such as war, poverty, disease, climate change, and helping Democrats win elections.

Read the whole thing.

(Hat Tip: Sudeep Kamath)

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In inquisition-era Europe, you could be imprisoned, tortured or worse, burned to death for scientific enquiry.

These days, you merely receive death threats.

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• The total download and install time is less than a minute.

• Browsing is lightning fast.

• It is minimal, in a good way.

• It has no add-on compatibility, no RSS handling capability and limited configurability.

It is mainly on account of the last point that I will not be using it as my primary browser. I mean, RSS and the Google toolbar are fundamental to my browsing experience. However, if you have an old machine, and do not need all that fancy stuff, go for the Chrome!

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“Once upon a time, there was a man who was convinced that he possessed a Great Idea.  Indeed, as the man thought upon the Great Idea more and more, he realized that it was not just a great idea, but the most wonderful idea ever. The Great Idea would unravel the mysteries of the universe, supersede the authority of the corrupt and error-ridden Establishment, confer nigh-magical powers upon its wielders, feed the hungry, heal the sick, make the whole world a better place, etc. etc. etc.

The man was Francis Bacon, his Great Idea was the scientific method, and he was the only crackpot in all history to claim that level of benefit to humanity and turn out to be completely right.”

Eliezer Yudkowsky

(Hat Tip: Sudeep Kamath)

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In this post on anti-Windows-Vista-bias, I wrote

Now, there’s nothing wrong with not liking a product- but the strange thing is that Vista loathing seems to be strongest among those who have never used the software (or barely used it).

It seems the Microsoft marketing team noticed this too, for there is now an entire website built around this concept! Or maybe they visited my blog and took my observations too seriously? ;-)

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I confess that I am split on the issue of domestic US drilling for oil in areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife refuge. Currently there is a moratorium on drilling in such regions out of environmental and wildlife conservation concerns, which I strongly sympathize with. Nonetheless, as this article points out, the net effect on the environment due to the ban on such domestic drilling might well be negative.

I’d love to see a more extensive study of the matter.

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Check this out!

(Link via Andrew Sullivan)

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The Indian government wants to be able to read all emails and messages sent by citizens. (Privacy, you say? Don’t be silly. We live in an age of terrorism. Hehe, those naive libertarian notions.)

However it discovers it is unable to decrypt the ones sent by Blackberry devices.

Pissed, it asks the parent company, RIM, to help it snoop. Hard luck, says RIM, even we don’t have a master key to decrypt the messages.

The Indian government moves towards a complete ban on usage of Blackberry devices in India.

(Just curious, does the government realise that one can always send encrypted messages over the internet? How will it stop that?)

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An excerpt from the 1954 Albert Einstein letter that was recently sold at auction for £170,000.

The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.

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(None of what follows is intended to be of any use to geeks, experts, macboys or linux fans. All I have attempted is to lump together some advice that might help a typical windows user. )

1. BACKUP, backup, backup! I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do so. Not only do you get the insurance of never losing critical files, you can also, by making a full system backup, get back to all your painfully installed programs and optimized settings in a heartbeat. (Let’s face it, all hard-drives die one day.) I recommend backing up important files to an external hard drive or USB stick every week, and backing up your whole hard drive onto an external drive every few months. The former can be done manually or via several free programs, for the latter you will probably need to get a program for the purpose. If you are a user of Vista Business or Ultimate, you already have such a program built into the OS.

2. Do the research, read the reviews. But also keep your bias detector on. Notwithstanding the criticisms you may have heard from friends, Windows Vista has some excellent features (search, backup, security, organization and lots more) which make it the best Windows version yet. If your computer has a dual core processor and over 1.5 GHz of RAM, and you are still stuck with XP, upgrade! But don’t fall for Microsoft’s bs about ‘in-place upgrades’: always do a clean upgrade when you can.

3. Hack your browsers to become faster! Follow this tip (works with any version of IE or Firefox). And yes, if you are using IE 7, do disable the phishing filter. Warning: In changing the registry value as described in the linked tip, you will be violating internet standards. Proceed at your own risk.

4. Want a one-click DVD ripping software that just works? Try DVDFab. It is shareware (you can use it for free for a month, after which you will need to buy it). But there is no program that matches it in quality of output, configurability or ease of use. Highly recommended! Warning: Ripping copy-protected DVDs is illegal in most jurisdictions. While DVDFab removes copy protection from commercial DVDs, this post in no way encourages or endorses such illegal activity. Proceed at your own risk.

5. Use VLC media player for playing video. Nothing, simply nothing, works better. Anything that plays, can be played on VLC. No silly codec messages, no freezes. Of course, VLC can play music too, but you’d probably prefer a good music organizing program for that. I use Windows Media Player 11 for hearing and organizing my music.

6. If you have Windows Vista, make sure you are using the sidebar to its full potential.

7. Annoyed by the prompts by Vista’s User Account control? Prefer that such messages disappear when your are logged in as an administrator? Follow these steps. They get rid of the annoying prompts, moreover, IE and programs continue to run in standard user mode, keeping your computer secure. 

8. This is a simple feature of Windows but many people seem to be unaware of it. When you want to view two program windows simutaneously on your screen, select them both on the taskbar (by selecting one, holding down ‘ctrl’ and selecting the other) and then right-click. You will see options like “show windows side-by-side”.

9. Another Vista tip: use the search feature for opening programs and files. Much faster than navigating the start menu or going to the individual folder.

10. If you mess up anything while using a text editor, or press the wrong key, just right click and select ‘undo’ (or simply press Control+z). This tip works in loads of programs and can be a real time-saver.

11. Do you have stuff on your computer you dont want others to access? If you want to encrypt files, folders, or entire partitions into password-protected entities unviewable (and indeed undiscoverable) by anyone but yourself, use the amazing program called Truecrypt.

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