This just in:
Virtual fungus is the new threat to computers
Scientists confirmed the existence of a new type of virtual plague, which is neither a virus nor a Trojan Horse. U. S. Computer Science researchers are calling their discovery a “computer fungus”. The lead researcher is Antonio de Marco, associate professor at West California University.
Just like fungi and mold, which attack photos and cassette tapes from past century, the virtual fungus degrades image, sound, and video files stored on computers. “The problem occurs even with backup files that are rarely accessed”, says de Marco. Scientists found out an average quality loss of about 7% a year for JPEG images, 15% a year for TIFF images and 4% a year for MP3 files. Other infected files are QuickTime videos, followed by AVI files, with 9% a year.
Arjun Radhakrishnan, Ph.D. in Applied Computer Science at Stanford, explains that this virtual fungus has not yet been detected because its effects are gradual and insidious. “The typical PC user never thinks about this, because performance loss of the operating system itself is trivial”. According to him, people consider it understandable that pirated music from Napster in 2000 sounds a little bit degraded with time, as well as porn images downloaded from the web get smaller and fuzzy. Photoshop files are opened with unexplainable wrong colors, get dark and fade. Movies open in progressively tinier windows. Even texts may deteriorate, having their accented characters mixed up.
These would be some symptoms of the digital fungus. The effects are visible when comparing a digital photo to its printed copy from when it was brand new. “There was a progressive degradation of almost all these materials, and many may not resist until the next decade”, says Radhakrishnan.
Transmission of the disease does not appear to be caused by hackers. Environmental factors may be involved. Houses with more than one computer also have more chances. Using cell phones or having plasma TVs and air conditioning may also be risk factors.
While there is no commercial software solution to it, the researchers recommend making daily backups of your files and keeping them on older and durable medias, like CD-R or floppy disks; transcribe ripped videos from DVD to VHS; send all photos to a lab to be printed on paper. “This is the only way to ensure longevity of your digital data”, points out de Marco.
Update: original text was translated from Portuguese by Julio Cesar Silva Santos (firstname.lastname@example.org), at first I thought it was a group effort. Thanks Julio!
This twitter thing can be a serious time sink if you’re not careful, but so far I like it. I’m even getting linkback from stuff I posted only there! (Thanks, Jeff.) But in retrospect, this is worth linking to directly: On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study. Jeff’s found the crucial quote, too:
The helmets amplify frequency bands that coincide with those allocated to the US government between 1.2 Ghz and 1.4 Ghz. According to the FCC, These bands are supposedly reserved for ”radio location” (ie, GPS), and other communications with satellites… The 2.6 Ghz band coincides with mobile phone technology. Though not affiliated by government, these bands are at the hands of multinational corporations.
It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the Government, possibly with the involvement of the FCC. We hope this report will encourage the paranoid community to develop improved helmet designs to avoid falling prey to these shortcomings.
It’s been about 38 years since I first saw a somewhat simpler version of this:
Update: many more details about the drawing. Its origins still appear to be obscure.
Just noticed I was utterly remiss in not linking to Miss Cellania on Schrödinger’s Cat as soon as I found it. So there. Please empty your mouth of all fluids before clicking on that link.
Periodically, one goes through periods of deep metaphysical malaise. You look around at the world, wondering how such evil could flourish and such suffering could endure. You descend deeper into darkness, your faith in humanity waning, wondering why we were ever born into this cruel world. Then, suddenly, you realize that somebody has written a programming language based off of the dialect of Lolcats/Cat Macros, and your faith in humanity’s inherent good is completely restored.
More at lolcode.com:
HAI CAN HAS STDIO? VISIBLE "HAI WORLD!" KTHXBYE
Can gcc support be far off…? Maybe in Mac OS X 10.6 (LolBigCat)!!!1!1
Thanks to the Language Log for the link. kthxbye.
Update#2: head for the hills, the lolsingularity is nigh.
So The Onion said:
Hallmark Scientists Identify 3 New Human Emotions
…In 2002, McMurrough monitored the MRI activity of nearly 10,000 test subjects between the ages of 25 and 40 as they described all emotions they had experienced in the past six months and rated each for its intensity, duration, and whether it would be conveyable to others by mail…
The first emotion the project successfully isolated was “requiapathy,” the combination of relief and guilt that comes with the sudden realization that you no longer miss a dead loved one. That discovery quickly led to the uncovering of “seprudity,” the feeling of appreciating a coworker’s dedication without fully understanding his or her job function, and “trepatiousness,” a synthesis of rage and jealousy, though more muted and often accompanied by a sensation of weight-lessness.
Of course Hallmark was interested only in emotions that might be “[interpreted] in warm, concise verse; inoffensive, ingratiating humor; and reassuring pastel watercolors” to quote further from the article. What they neglected to say was that several other emotions were also identified, and I present a few of them for your edification.
Debloggery: the combination of guilt and panic felt when you realize you haven’t blogged anything for at least two weeks, and may have even forgot the password to do so.
Backupenia: the first stage of what you feel when your hard drive was wiped out and your only backup disk refuses to mount properly. The following stages are “disconnecticity” (blaming it on the cable and rushing out to buy a handful of new ones) and “declaimitance” (pretending to everybody that you actually wanted to initialize your drive anyway and the lost data were of no significance).
Retradelessness: the sinking feeling you get when you discover, upon returning from the store with your new Mac, that the Apple Store web page is offline in preparation for new products.
Fartusity: the rapid succession of superiority and that “uh-oh” feeling when you whip out your trusty 10″ slide rule at a job interview and the interviewer asks if it runs Linux.
Applemunity: the smugness you, as a Mac user, feel when you overhear two Windows users complaining about viruses.