29th Aug2011

LHC experiments still not supporting simple supersymmetry theory

by Skibs

Data from the Large Hadron Collider Beauty experiment  were presented during the recent Lepton Photon science meeting in Mumbai. The results failed to support the simple super-symmetry theory, which is causing super-symmetry advocates to investigate new, more complex versions of the theory- or to reject it outright.

Professor Jordan Nash, who is working on one of the LHC experiments, said “The fact that we haven’t seen any evidence of it tells us that either our understanding of it is incomplete, or it’s a little different to what we thought – or maybe it doesn’t exist at all.”

[Source: BBC]

23rd Aug2011

3.4 Billion Year-Old Fossils Found in Australia

by Skibs

A joint team of researchers from the University of WA and Oxford claim to have discovered the world’s oldest fossil’s, preserved from 3.4 billion years ago.These microscopic fossils of sulfer-based bacteria were found at Strelley Pool near Port Headland.

“At last we have good solid evidence for life over 3.4 billion years ago. It confirms there were bacteria at this time, living without oxygen.[…] Such bacteria are still common today. Sulphur bacteria are found in smelly ditches, soil, hot springs, hydrothermal vents — anywhere where there’s little free oxygen and they can live off organic matter,” said Professor Martin Brasier from Oxford University.

[Source: News.com.au]

21st Aug2011

The First Winners of the Dota 2 Championship

by Skibs

Valve Software’s new Defense Of The Ancients game made its international debut this week at GamesCom, in the German city of  Cologne. The stakes of the competition were raised once Valve announced the 1  million dollar grand prize- the highest ever in e-sports’ short history.

Sixteen teams from around the world competed, all picked from their reputated prowess with the original Dota. In the end, EHOME (China) squared off against Na’Vi (Ukraine) in a best-of-five match, leaving Na’Vi victorious.

Considering the popular Dota-clone League of Legends has announced a 5 million dollar prize pool for its second season, it will be interesting to see how the e-sports movement reacts to its increased financial success and  international recognition.

19th Aug2011

Engagement Session with a Twist

by Skibs

Juliana and Ben needed a photographer for their engagement session and who better to take the photos than their good friend, Amanda Ryan? Ben wanted to make sure his manliness was well capture during the shoot so he devised an interesting narrative for the whole event.

[Sources: #1, #2, #3]

18th Aug2011

Canadian ISPs to divulge Online Identites Without Warrants

by Skibs

Bill-C52 (“Investigating Criminal Electronic Communications Act”) was recently introduced to the Canadian parliament. This piece of legislation is the amalgamation of several previous bills, and is getting attention from Canada’s privacy advocates.

This bill would require any canadian ISP to provide law enforcement with “any information in the service provider’s possession or control respecting the name, address, telephone number, and electronic mail address of any subscriber to any of the service provider’s telecommunications services and the Internet protocol address, mobile identification number, electronic serial number, local service provider identifier, international mobile equipment identity number, international mobile subscriber identity number and subscriber identity module card [SIM card] number that are associated with the subscriber’s service and equipment.”

ISPs would be required to deliver this information to specially assigned members of a law-enforcement agency, without a warrant- up to 5% of that agency’s total employees.

[Source #1: Bill C-52]
[Source #2: Pushing the Limits of State Surveillance]
[Source #3: Need a warrant to unmask Internet users. Not if Canada gets its way]

16th Aug2011

Fast Banded Rows for Google Spreadsheets

by Skibs

I couldn’t find any other scripts for formatting a Google spreadsheet with banded rows, so here’s some quick code I wrote that gets the job done. Hopefully, this is useful to someone else out there.

Banded rows script:

//Method gives odd rows one background colour and even rows another background color
function addBandedRowColor() {
   //Hex Code for white color, used of even rows
   var colorRowEven = '#CCCCCC';
   //Hex code for light grey color, used for odd rows
   var colorRowOdd = '#FFFFFF';
   //Get the current work area from the current spreadsheet
   var range = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet().getDataRange();

   //Iterate accross each row of the work area
   for (var i = range.getRow(); i < range.getLastRow(); i++) {
      if (i % 2 == 0){ //if even row
         //Set row background to a one color
         range.offset(i, range.getColumn()-1, 1, range.getNumColumns()).setBackgroundColor(colorRowEven);
      } else { //if odd row
         //set row background to another color
         range.offset(i, range.getColumn()-1, 1, range.getNumColumns()).setBackgroundColor(colorRowOdd);

And for the sake of balance, here’s a script that gets rid of the banded rows:

//Method gives each row in the spreadsheet a flat background color
function removeBandedRowColor() {
   //Hex code for white color
   var colorRow = '#FFFFFF';
   //Get the current work area from the current spreadsheet
   var range = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet().getDataRange();

   //Give the area a single background color

15th Aug2011

2011: High-Frequency Trading makes up 53% of Wall Street Trading

by Skibs

Larry Tabb, President of the Tabb Group market research firm, says that 53% of all the buying and selling in US stock markets is automated through computer programmed trading. This figure is up from 2005, when it only made up 21% of the trading.

[Source: http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/12/markets/high_frequency_trading/index.htm]

15th Aug2011

Proposed Battery-less Computing with Spintronics and Straintronics

by Skibs

Researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University detailed a circuit design whose energy requirements were so low, no battery would be required. This new scheme combines spintronics and straintronics to achieve a processor which could operate on environmental energy alone.

Spintronics are used to store binary information with electrons, where an electron spinning one way constitutes as ‘0’ and the opposite direction a ‘1’. From here, straintronics are used to flip the direction of an electron’s spin with a miniscule amount of dissipated energy. Each switch could be performed with as little as 0.4 attojoules (4E-19 joules).

[Source: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-08-strain-enable-ultra-low-energy.html]

14th Aug2011

“Samarai”; The Maple Leaf Inspired Flying Drone

by Skibs

Lockheed Martin’s New Jersey laboratories revealed “Samarai”, the single-propeller flying drone. Originally commisioned by DARPA five years ago, Samarai was designed to be thrown like a boomerang, light-weight and agile enough for a vertical take-off.


Test Flight:

[Source: Engadget]

14th Aug2011

30th Anniversary of the PC

by Skibs

In August 1981, IBM released model 5150; the first personal computer. Back then, $1,565 would get you an Intel8088 processor, 16K of memory, a 160K floppy disk drive and a 11.5′ B&W monitor. Thirty years later, many fortunes have been made improving upon this model.

PCMAG.com has created a nice section to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the personal computer including a 30-year timeline and some reflections from tech icons.