David Noble's Blog

Monday, March 27, 2006

Is this to be the future of computer chips? Nanotube circuit could boost chip speeds.

The single-molecule logic circuit uses a carbon nanotube instead of silicon and could one day take integrated circuits to blistering processing speeds

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I blogged about this recently, and now it's come to pass. French MPs vote to open up iTunes. As Tom pointed out, it remains to be seen how legal this is, pbreaking as it may do international treaties and such like. Not that that usually bothers the French. Still, i wish them all the best, and i hope it does stick.

The French parliament has backed plans to give consumers more choice over music downloads.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Good News Everyone! Slashdot are reporting a new series of Futurama is about to be made. Their source is none-other than Billy 'Fry' West, so it seems pretty reasonable! 26 new episodes to be made for broadcast, rather than straight to DVD!

Futurama Returns

[via Slashdot]

Poor Ruth Kelly, trouble seems to be stalking her at the moment. I had no sympathy for the kicking she took over the appaling education bill, but i've a bit more sympathy for this story. It does sound like another one of those sleazy Labour stories that are going around at the moment, and maybe there is something fishy about it, but Greg Hands is an nasty, odious man, and i hope on day he gets his come-uppance. Worryingly though, i think this story might catapault him further up the Tory heirarchy's attention.

Kelly - Hands-on investigation


Kelly's £72,000 expenses claims are queried
By Marie Woolf
Published: 19 March 2006

Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, was facing questions last night about a £72,000 expenses claim on her second home.
Ms Kelly has claimed £72,000 on her home over the past four years. But mortgage payments should have totalled only around £20,000 during that time.
Greg Hands, the Tory MP for Hammersmith and Fulham, asked what the cash was spent on: "There should be a full investigation into this apparent black hole - £72,000 over four years seems like a lot of money to claim from the taxpayer when there is such as a small mortgage."
When she bought the four-bedroom detached house in 2001 the minister borrowed £101,148. Interest payments for that sum should total around £5,000 a year. But by the end of next year, Ms Kelly could have claimed the entire £109,000 she paid for the house, according to the Mail on Sunday. Ms Kelly also has a home in London east end where she lives with her husband and four young children.
The Department for Education and Skills said the money claimed was "in strict accordance with rules set out by the Fees office".

This is a very intersting story from New Scientist about a theory that life on other planets in teh solar system could be initiated by rocks from Earth (containing microbes and such like) flying into space after a meteorite hit, similar to the one believed to have killed off the dinosaurs. It also re-raises the theory (and it really is only a theory as far as i know ) that life on Earth may have been seeded in a similar way by a meteorite from somewhere else.

Earth rocks could have taken life to Titan

New computer simulations show that a major asteroid impact on Earth could send dozens of boulders to Saturn's moon – with a relatively soft landing too

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Well, let's see if this develops at all. Wollas isn't anyone i've even heard of to be honest, and this may well end up being his only brush with fame. It's just as well it wasn't a debate on anything many MPs gave a toss about, otherwise he might have got called to account there and then. Labour Watch: Woolas "pissed at the dispatch box"

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Oh, this is very sad. I sometimes get depressed reading stories like this one; there's not many places on this planet that we haven't explored yet (on the surface at least), so when we run the risk of losing another one because we can't stop expanding; well, like i said, it makes me sad. We're approaching/in a critical time for this planet and our existance on it and events like this just highlight that, and how fragile it all is.

Hidden Garden of Eden wilts as Earth warms

A paradise world of undiscovered species and tropical glaciers in the mountains of New Guinea is disappearing faster than it can be explored

Service helps you save streaming videos

Cory Doctorow: KeepVid helps you save streaming video to your hard drive. Just paste in a URL from one of the sites below (or several others) and it gives you a direct-download link:

Angry Alien, ArtistDirect, Blastro, Blennus, Blip.tv, Bofunk, Bolt, Break.com, Castpost, Dailymotion, DevilDucky, FindVideos, Free Video Blog, Google Video, Grinvi, Grouper, iFilm, LuluTV, Metacafe, Midis.biz, Music.com, MusicVideoCodes.info, MySpace Video Code, PcPlanets, Pixparty, Putfile, REVVER, Sharkle, StreetFire, That Video Site, The One Network, VideoCodes4U, VideoCodesWorld, VideoCodeZone, vidiLife, VIDNET.com, Vimeo, Web62.com, YouTube and ZippyVideos.
Link (via Futurismic)

Now here's a story to follow. Frnace MPs are planning to introduce a bill will allow people to legally use software to convert music formats, driving a coach and horses through iTunes' and record companies' restrictive DRM. Here's hoping that this will finally start to truly open up the online music market.

France To Force iTunes to Open to Other Players?

[via Slashdot]

Monday, March 13, 2006

Now, that's an excellent use of government time! If only British civil servants had so much wit!

Chavez revamps "imperialist" horse on coat of arms

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela's Congress, dominated by allies of socialist President Hugo Chavez, has approved a revamp of the national coat of arms to ensure its white horse gallops left instead of right.

Pope declares himself to be Catholic as bear defacates in nearby wood.

Long-term marijuana use may fog the brain

Over 20 years of cannabis smoking, users become worse at learning and remembering things than short-term users, a small study suggests

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I don't know how widely this has been reported in the UK (I can't find it on the Guardian or BBC), but there's an intersting, small, interview in the New York Times with Wafa Sultan, a former Muslim doctor who went on Al-Jazeera recently to criticise, in Arabic, how Islam had allowed itself to be hijacked by terrorists, and how it had caused her to denounce her faith. She also compared Islam, unfavourably, to Judaism, and how Islam seems to be the only religion that reacts to criticism of it with violence.

Worth a read.

The Saturday Profile: Muslim's Blunt Criticism of Islam Draws Threats

An interview on Al Jazeera has turned Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-American psychiatrist, into an international sensation.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Video Demonstration: Peel a potato in one step

Not a fan of peeling potatoes? No worries, YouTube member akekure has posted this video from a Japanese television show that turns peeling potatoes it into an easy, one-step process. Whether...

I just love this Watching the Oscars... ([via plasticbag.org] )review of last night. I haven't stayed up to watch the oscars since i was at uni, and it always seemed incredibly long even then, when i was young and vibrant! :p

(ps, the new David Gilmour album is fab!)


Watching the Oscars in the Manchester Grand Hyatt with assorted fun people is a very different experience from trying to stay awake in the UK as it stretches into the wee hours. It's actually fun for a start. And Jon Stewart is really funny. So far we've had a couple of neat skits, a full on Clooney charismathon (plus Supporting Actor win) and Kong's got Best Special Effects. Wallace & Gromit have got best Animated Feature, which doesn't suck too much. I was a bit disappointed about Jake not getting Best Supporting Actor - apparently the rumours are that Crash is building up a head of steam and may depose Brokeback, and this could be the first sign of that collapse. But I've watched enough episodes of the West Wing to know a bit about expectations management, and I'm trying to work out if the Crash rumours are part of a campaign to remind the Academy that Brokeback is not a done-deal. Get the vote out, if you know what I mean...

A little bit later and we've had a couple of shorts, a few really creepy adverts, a great Scientology line from Stewart that won't win him any favours in his later career and ooh... ooh... Jennifer Aniston. Wow. She looked really grouchy. Almost as grouchy as she looked in the pre-Oscar show when you could tell that in the back of her mind she was reciting to herself, "never gonna get an Oscar, never gonna get an Oscar".

Hm. Rachel Weisz won Best Supporting Actress for the Constant Gardener which is a bit of a funny thing to happen. I mean I watched the film and she was okay in it, but there were a great many times when I couldn't decide whether the character was just really objectionable or whether it was the actress. Seeing her on stage makes me think it's more likely that I just don't like her very much. On the basis of the clip alone, I think I'd have gone for Amy Adams. In other news, what the fuck is up with Narnia?! It was a bloody terrible movie and the effects were a complete rip-off of Lord of the Rings - visually there was no creativity there whatsoever. What is wrong with people that it wins anything!? More troubling even than Narnia was Lauren Bacall, who looked far from well when she came on-stage, and then proceeded to stumble over most of her introduction to her section on Film Noir.

First notable comedy moment - the awesome Best Actress campaign skits, as voiced by Rob Cordry from the Daily Show including those that declared Judy Dench to be a bad Dame and Reese Witherspoon to have a good proper American name. Second notable comedy moment - the unintentional WTF interpretive dance thing with the burned out car and the mist and the racial tensions represented by people moving. really. slowly that accompanied the best song nomination from Crash. Jon Stewart on the latter, "My suggestion if you're trying to escape from a burning car... Don't move in slow motion..."

Only an hour and a bit to go and... well... wow, this is long. Every year you forget. So some guys have won sound design for King Kong, Jennifer Garner nearly fell over, there was some stuff that happened. The best song went to a song about a pimp which was interesting. Lots of people died. They used that terrible font from Keynote for the 'In Memoriam' slide. Jon Stewart is uniformly a good host so far, mainly because he's been quite understated. Some highlights - Robert Altman's honorary Oscar and tremendous speech and Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep's performative introduction. We're nearly out of snacks but SMS's are coming in from various other nerds who are gradually arriving at the hotel, so there's a concern that we might not have enough to eat. Simon's sitting in the corner of the room by the loo working on his presentation because he thinks that's the only place he can get a good wifi signal. Even though I've got a perfectly good one and I'm sitting on the comfy comfy bed. Silly boy.

Best Actor has gone to Philip Seymour Hoffman, which is not a shock and probably isn't even a disappointment given how great an actor he is and what an extraordinary performance he gives in Capote, but godammit Heath Ledger did an astonishing job and it was a destroying film and Brokeback has to win something substantial. It's hard to begrudge Hoffman though, particularly after his wonderful and affecting speech to his mother. And Ledger reacted really well to the whole thing. But I need some Brokeback action. Crash simply doesn't deserve the recognition it's got, and Brokeback is ... astonishing.

This is a seriously weird ceremony - Reese Witherspoon's got Best Actress? Wow, that's a bit random and unexpected. Most embarrassing moment - her speech, "I'm just trying to matter"?! References to every major relative on the matrilineal line since Eve?! I rather think that one's going to stick in her memory for the wrong reasons. Twenty pence on that being significantly mocked across the media over the next twenty-four hours...

Crap! We're up to Best Adapted Screenplay and yes! Brokeback Mountain has won something decent at last! Yes! About bloody time and it's a bloody great one! I'm pretty delighted about that one, although can I just say at this point that Simon and Yoz are being really annoying and talking to each other too loudly about Django and I might have to kill em! Ack! Now Crash has won Best Original Screenplay. It's all going to come to the wire on this one. Fingers crossed. Crash sucks!

Ang Lee wins Best Director and that bodes really really really well. Apparently Director and Film tend to go together. I'm so happy about this one. Come on you bastards!


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Jupiter's New Red Spot

Backyard astronomers, grab your telescopes. Jupiter is growing a new red spot.

Friday, March 03, 2006

OK, so the video "If Microsoft marketed the iPod" is an uncannily accurate view of Microsoft's advertising and marketing division, and it's well done, and it's funny.

Yet i can't help but think if Microsoft actually did have the iPod, would it be any less ubiquitous and genre straddling as Apple's marketing actually is? And the 'Apple with Halo' sticks in my throat. Apple seem to have achieved some god-like state of coolness that Microsoft can only dream at, yet are just as happy to trample over markets in the search of a profit. I can't blame them for that, they're a corporate entity afterall, but I constantly wonder why so many people seem to think that makes them cool.