Archive for the ‘Science & Technology’ Category

Just in case

In 10 hours, I’m trusting the fine folks at the Northwestern Laser Vision Center to shoot lasers into my eyes, on purpose. I only mention this in case I never post anything ever again here, you’ll know it was because of the lasers burning a hole through my head or something. Damn robots.

Google Maps slightly more useful

Google Maps

Google Maps has quietly added CTA and Metra stations to their maps (and building outlines — thanks, Cec). Still no overlays of the El, nor any indication of which line any station belongs to (you’ll want to use the tastypopsicle mashup for that, still).

And why the little Ms? Is that the international symbol for subway, or does Google think the MTA covers the whole US?

(Tangentially, let me note that if you have a Treo or other internet-capable Palm then Google Maps Mobile is the most awesomeist mobile mapping I’ve ever used. Ever. Mapquest Mobile can suck it.)

UFO in Chicago


Originally uploaded by Skilled.

I can handle weather-based delays, air-traffic jams and mechanical issues delaying my return to Chicago, but a UFO? This is why I prefer midway.

A note about the video: I didn’t get it to work, even though I have windows media player for OS X installed.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Spacestorm continues tonight and tomorrow

There’s a small chance tonight and tomorrow night that you might see an aurora (i.e. “The Northern Lights“) here in Chicago. Clear skies would help, of course, and after that it’s up to timing and, literally, the alignment of the planets…

However, one crucial component to the storm is unknown: its magnetic orientation. If it lines up a certain way with Earth’s magnetic field, then the storm essentially pours into our upper atmosphere. If the alignment is otherwise, the storm can pass by the planet with fewer consequences. […] Now that sunspot number 930 has flared so significantly—after several days of being quiet—the forecast calls for a “reasonble chance” of more major flares in coming days, Kunches said.

Watch, as they say, the skies.
(via Making Light)

Well, we’re top 20 anyway.

Forbes has posted there list of America’s Top Wired Cities and while I suppose I should be happy that we’re in the Top 20, the geek in me still wants us to be Top 10. I mean, tied with Sacramento? Surely, we can do better. I mean, we’re home to 37 Signals!

“Give”: Not quite free

I was totally surprised to read this headline on Information Week:

Chicago High School Will Give Every Student A Tablet PC This Fall

Pretty cool, right? But then I read further down: “the tablets (which students lease for $56 a month over 46 months)”. So by give, they mean sell. And not cheaply, either… that works out to a total cost of $2,576 – which isn’t cheap, even by retail standards.

Wait, it gets better!

“It’s offering a computer network class in which students can obtain A+ certification, after which they will work in the school’s computer repair center. “We are building a workforce of IT students,” Peña says.”

So they charge the students for the computers they use in the network class, charge them tuition (De La Salle is a private school), and then put them to work in the repair center (which, presumably repairs the tablets they were “given”).

I like the idea of integrating technology in the classroom, but this seems more hassle and expense than necessary – especially to the pockets of the parents.

Damn the High Speed Man

We here at Metroblogging Chicago really really really dislike SBC and Comcast. So when BoingBoing posted a link this morning to a way to screw the both of them simultaneously for free service, I was totally intruiged. It looks like quite a bit of work, but hey… it’ll save you money!

And elephant ears, I guess

obesity.jpgMSN has this animated map using CDC data to show the rise of obesity in America between 1985 and 2004. And you can see the obesity roll into Illinois from Wisconsin and Michigan (by way of Indiana) between 1993 and 1994. Damn you, tasty fried cheese curds, damn you to hell.

(via BoingBoing)

Powers of Ten

Powers of Ten is a classic short film which zooms out by multiples of 10 every 10 seconds until the whole universe is in frame and then zooms back in to the atomic level. What I had forgotten since the last time I saw it was that the pivot point of the whole movie is the hand of a man lying on a picnic blanket along Lake Michigan in Chicago, which gives me the excuse to post it here:


We’re #21! Oh wait, that’s not that good.

Crain’s has published rankings of the 25 most wired states and Illinois is #21 in broadband-per-capita. Ironically, there’s better coverage in Illinois for residences than small businesses:

For now, Mr. Zaransky must share a T-1 line with 12 other tenants of his building at 4055 W. Peterson Ave. The line provides access at speeds barely faster than dial-up. He sends large files from his home in suburban Forest Park, where he has full broadband access. “It’s a productivity cost,” he says. “It takes a lot of time. I have to take them home, unload them from home.”


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