July 10th, 2010

Odd Lots

  • Before GPS, there was...rolled paper. I'm not sure how useful a one-dimensional scrollable map is, but it was a good start. (And now, all you steampunkers, figure out how to do the same thing in two dimensions.)
  • Shortwave radio and one-time pads are still being used, as we discovered in the recent Russian spy foofaraw. Slate's done a decent overview of number-station covert communication. The late Harry Helms wrote a lot about these, and most of what I know came from his books. Some technologies just don't get better over time. They were optimal from just about the beginning.
  • This Lifehacker tutorial tells you in agonizing detail how to install OS X Snow Leopard in a VirtualBox VM. Cool enough--but when did that become legal? (My guess: It didn't.)
  • From Pete Albrecht comes a pointer to an item describing a proposed copyright law in Brazil that provides penalties for attempting to limit use of public-domain material, or fair use of copyrighted material via DRM. That is a remarkably good idea. (Maybe we'll see the Viagens someday after all.)
  • This looks real (i.e., not Photoshopped) but as at least one commenter has pointed out, there seems to be no way to get inside. Maybe it's the ultimate RC car.
  • Speaking of cars, in reading the comments for this Wired Blog article (titled "What's the Fastest You've Driven?") I felt old and frumpy. The fastest I've ever driven in my life was 95 or 96 MPH: in 1971, in my mom's battered teal-green 1965 six-banger Chevy Biscayne, northbound on the Edens Expressway just before the I-290 junction...in the rain. Why? I no longer remember. And that's probably just as well.
  • And yet more about cars: Buss Ford Lincoln Mercury in McHenry, Illinois posts YouTube video endorsements from their happy customers. Buy a Merc before they're gone...and be famous! (It worked for Carol's sister and her husband.)
  • And now, for quite enough about cars: Pete Albrecht reminds us that in 1973 somebody glued the rear portion of a Cessna Skymaster to a Ford Pinto, and it flew...for awhile. (What do people say? "Don't fly 70s cars?" Uh, yeah.)
  • DARPA wants a flying submarine. They should ask Irwin Allen. Or Tom Swift, Jr. (Thanks to Frank Glover for the link.)