Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Goshen College - University of Hawaii connection

The chancellor of the Manoa UH campus got her undergrad degree at Goshen College. She was in a one-hour live chat today hosted by the Honolulu Advertiser, and I was able to get in a question about how attending a Mennonite liberal arts college influences her approach to UH. Her answer is toward the end. Most people were asking about boring things like parking and dorm space :)

Here's more Goshen College trivia. Henry D. Weaver, professor emeritus of Chemistry, former provost, and former interim president, was hired by the University of California system to direct the study abroad programs for the system. He was able to do this from an office at UC Santa Barbara, which is where I met him.

What does this have to do with today's chat? The connection is in her answer to my question.

Bonus points: As you might suspect, Henry is an amateur radio operator (W9BHX). The radio world was recently rocked by what FCC action? Hint: /-. ---/-- --- .-. ./-.-. --- -.. . / You can figure that out by looking here (left is . and right is -), and you might want to ponder why the letters ETIAN are near the root (top) of the tree.

Further hint: It's the same reason that simple substitution ciphers are so easy to crack.

Here is the answer.

Monday, December 25, 2006

One less thing to worry about: getting squished in a library

From today's LA Times article about libraries:

But not everyone likes such automation. Michael Gorman, the soon-to-retire dean of library services at Cal State Fresno, said his campus steered away from it in a library expansion under construction.

Fresno's project instead will include more compact shelving, the kind that usually lacks aisles until someone pushes a button to open up one. Such movable shelves may seem odd at first to some, but "it's really very easy once you get used to it. It doesn't kill people," said Gorman, past president of the American Library Assn.

Here's a link to a news release about a recent gift for the new library.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Copyright? Copyright? What's that?

You can watch 101 "classic" holiday videos -- Rudolf, Charlie Brown, The Office season two Christmas episode -- here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Trader Joe's, a hookah bar, a PF Chang's, Dave & Busters

Yeah, that's what Merced needs to keep those students happy. Sheesh :)

Who needs those diversions when you can watch a debate about "Creativity: The Mind, Machines, and Mathematics" between David Gelernter and Ray Kurzweil, courtesy of MIT.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A aircraft-like black box for your car?

I am really tempted to get a CarChip and log the data about use of my car. I'm surprised that the system is under $200 and plugs in to the standard diagnostic port on post-1996 cars.

Another one of Simson's Technology Review columns got me thinking about it. He installed a CarChip on his wife's car, and also points out that a lot of cars already record data, but drivers are not aware of it:

For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 64 percent of the model 2005 cars sold in the United States were equipped with event data recorders (EDRs). Similar to the so-called black boxes in airplanes, these systems continuously monitor a variety of statistics and preserve their most recent readings if the vehicle crashes. According to the NHTSA, EDRs typically record "pre-crash vehicle dynamics and system status" (such as the car's speed), "driver inputs" (the position of the steering wheel and throttle and whether the brake is engaged), the "vehicle crash signature" (the car's change in velocity during a crash), and "restraint usage/deployment status" (how quickly the air bags were released). Consumers typically don't get access to this information. Its purpose, instead, is to help industry and the government make cars and roads safer. Increasingly, it is being used in the courtroom as well.

Finally, I am too lazy to make this a separate blog post: More UC Merced news -- trouble filling the dorms.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

From a strange comic blog

The word "pwned" is showing up everywhere, even in geeky comics.

The same artist does an amusing comic about a famous mathematician/computer scientist.