Wednesday, 28 January 2009

"The estrogen hormone oestradiol is associated with just about every aspect of female beauty. As well as serving as a growth hormone for female reproductive organs, it's associated with having a symmetrical face, large breasts and a low waist-to-hip ratio. Now, the hormone is credited with one more association: it makes women serial monogamists."

""Are birth control pills changing modern women's mating strategies?"

Research into the Major Histocompatibility Complex has demonstrated that women tend to be attracted to men with substantially different genes in that region. This helps insure that offspring have a more efficient immune system. During pregnancy, the attraction is reversed. Women tend to prefer intimacy with people with like MHC, probably because their families will be supportive and protective of them during pregnancy and it is preparation for bonding with the offspring.

But when women are on the contraceptive pill, the hormonal effects mimic pregnancy. Thus, when on the pill, you're more likely to be attracted to men with a similar MHC. So if you meet your partner while you're on the pill, then go off the pill when you've decided you want a family, serious trouble can brew. Indeed, there is research supporting the notion that it is at exactly this point that a substantial number of marriages fall apart.

It also raises the issue of those offspring in relationships which started when the woman was on the pill. Is a substantial proportion of the subsequent generation going to have less effective immune systems?

Sounds like this should be linked up with
Paul Ekman's work I think - on microslicing video, and predicting the strength of a relationship.

R resources

Just a self-made to do
Coding regrets - i've had a few. Already

That would be:

CWE-20: Improper Input Validation

#1 killer of healthy software, apparently (the article is a shill for SANS remember)

CWE-116: Improper Encoding or Escaping of Output

Computers have a strange habit of doing what you say, not what you mean. Insufficient output encoding is the often-ignored sibling to poor input validation, but it is at the root of most injection-based attacks, which are all the rage these days.

CWE-89: Failure to Preserve SQL Query Structure (aka 'SQL Injection')

CWE-79: Failure to Preserve Web Page Structure (aka 'Cross-site Scripting')

Cross-site scripting (XSS)

CWE-78: Failure to Preserve OS Command Structure (aka 'OS Command Injection')

When you invoke another program on the operating system, but you allow untrusted inputs to be fed into the command string that you generate for executing the program, then you are inviting attackers...MORE >>

CWE-319: Cleartext Transmission of Sensitive Information

If your software sends sensitive information across a network, such as private data or authentication credentials, that information crosses many

CWE-362: Race Condition

Attackers will consciously look to exploit race conditions to cause chaos or get your application to cough up something valuable...MORE >>

CWE-209: Error Message Information Leak

If you use chatty error messages, then they could disclose secrets to any attacker who dares to misuse your software. The secrets could cover a wide range of valuable data...MORE >>

CWE-119: Failure to Constrain Operations within the Bounds of a Memory Buffer

Buffer overflows are Mother Nature's little reminder of that law of physics that says if you try to put more stuff into a container than it can hold, you're...MORE >>

CWE-73: External Control of File Name or Path

When you use an outsider's input while constructing a filename, you're taking a chance. If you're not careful, an attacker could... MORE >>

CWE-94: Failure to Control Generation of Code (aka 'Code Injection')

For ease of development, sometimes you can't beat using a couple lines of code to employ lots of functionality. It's even cooler when...MORE >>

CWE-285: Improper Access Control (Authorization)

If you don't ensure that your software's users are only doing what they're allowed to, then attackers will try to exploit your improper authorization and...MORE >>

CWE-259: Hard-Coded Password

Hard-coding a secret account and password into your software's authentication module is...MORE >>/


Another round of twitter checking, and far too much link browsing.

Brings some lovely links - Reactable at
It's a "collaborative electronic music instrument with a tabletop tangible multi-touch interface"

Who came first? Not sure, but it's an interesting area. Multiple people can be involved - "share complete control over the instrument by moving and rotating physical objects on a luminous round table surface. By moving and relating these objects, representing components of a classic modular synthesizer, users can create complex and dynamic sonic topologies, with generators, filters and modulators, in a kind of tangible modular synthesizer or graspable flow-controlled programming language."

It was developed by folk from the Music Technology Group within the Audiovisual Institute at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona Spain. It has already got them the "Ars Electronica Golden Nica" and 2 "D&AD Yellow Pencils", with Björk having successfully used the reactable during her last "Volta" world tour.

It uses a cam beneath the table surface, and analyses the surface, with a projector underneath there also. The reacTIVision software reads the video in & tracks the position (& rotation) of special blobs called “fiducial markers”. So it knows where these objects are and there angle. Kind of a 2Dimensional zcam.

Augmented reality meets fun hacking. reacTIVision is the software behind reactable - and is apparently "incredibly fun and ridiculously easy"!

All spills from

Showing you could have an *amazing* way of showing compounds, creating stuff, learning about nomenclature in a more interactive way (IUPAC) - Race games for kids to display certain compounds - try and work out a compound through the name etc.

The tangible user interface, is probably now nearly most well known through the iPhone.
Amazingly knocking something up in a day or two:

Initial Reactivision setup

The source code is available here, runs in Processing, once you've got the TUIO library from REactable.

Lay the atoms down, they appear on the screen/projector. "Move them closer to each other and, if they can, they form a bond to each other."

Modded to make a glass table, and it was closer still to Surface.

Carbonyl sulphide:


Click a link, and get a page off PubChem substructure search page, with the structure search results:


Built for his time, and ~£30 resources.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Unlikely Salsero - Seeing the Dance in Your Head article

Interesting to have a read of this - having had my first ballroom dance lesson recently (Social Foxtrot, Chachacha, some salsa to end). Whilst the best may yet be to come (Rumba, Argentian tango...) it was interesting to be throw into it - learning a start of a new pattern prior to even knowing the basic steps of the social Foxtrot.

I know that my partner commented that I kept on looking blank, and staring down at the floor -
A sign sometimes of heavy concentration and trying to visualise/go over the steps.

My thoughts also go back to getting Jules of LightStage fame hooked on salsa, so we could get some salsa done in one.
It would be a great visualisation tool.
Movement sensors, ultrasound emitters - all possible to be used:

Can't find the information.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Ultimate boys toys 2009

2008 list from Gizmodo:

Sony BDV-IT1000ES Bravia Theater System
Acoustic research FPS 10 Subwoofer
Nissan GT-R
Serious Materials EcoRock
Livescribe Pulse
Any camera that can do fast fps still shooting. Maybe RED will get there soon. (Not in the league of a Vision Research V12 or Phantom HD).

Complexity of a smartphone, and usage

New phone features "baffle users" is the article from BBC News.

Apple's App Store: Has it peaked? No! is the article from Fortune.

Just got to find the usage stats for the iPhone. Sure it's around the net somewhere....
Bugs in iPhone:

Allow multiple pictures to attach for an email.
Reinforce the case at the very obvious fracture point (headphone jack)

Saves to truly save SMS. So you don't lose all your valued emails and text messages. Like when you change country and back (e.g. using the Eurostar, visiting Bruge, coming back). Microsoft's response is SkyBox.

New York Times:
"Music Industry Imitates Digital Pirates to Turn a Profit"

Only took a few years... Clay Shirky would be chuckling I imagine.

Those links for when you meet an infected Windows PC...

A recent ComputerWorld article made it obvious i'm a bit behind the battle
tool wise:
Suggested tools:


This utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting
locations of any startup monitor, shows you what programs are configured to
run during system bootup or login, and shows you the entries in the order
Windows processes them.


F Secure
Standalone or online scanner



Online scanners:

Some free anti-virus:

Still doesn't help with stuff like this: - A js phish, finding what sites you're logged into, then make a pop up that imitates those sites to get your user details...

Friday, 9 January 2009

Deep Brain stimulation

Thought experiment. If they got accurate Deep Brain Stimulation to work - would you use it? (Syndicate style?)

I always pondered - would there be a way to stimulate specific parts of the brain if you had orthogonal stimulators? One one side, another 90 degrees to it?

And if you could successfully do implants, why not? Or go through the nasal cavity, or the ears?

I remember the Royal Society had a small spot on one of theire open science days. There is a fair bit out there, of what happens when you stimulate neurons, and to behonest, it sounds like if you could do it accurately, it'd be bloody good fun, and highly addictive.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

MWSF 2009

Interesting to see the keynote iLife has got a big boost from Apple.
Faces, Places are strong things, set in context with how they can link together. With Google's relationship with Apple, the move towards the cloud, and the beta for iLife, it'll be very interesting. A lot of metadata -
The where - geotagging
The who - Faces - face recognition, tagging via Facebook
The what - Events
The linking with Facebook is BIG potentially.

I know a lot of friends that use Facebook as a primary photo store, but it's bint to try and actually get those photos for archiving, or local access. By basically being bigger than Facebook - it means they'll get a fair few people using iPhoto as a photo sink - store them in it, do all the data - locking people in (Picasa got of a day, right?)
You can get those photos out from iPhoto. Very useful.
You can upload them to Facebook - so sharing them more easily, and letting people help you with tagging too!

(On another tack, this will potentially be a boon for anyone who collects photos in large quantities. Innocent or otherwise.
By being able to sift through a dump of photos, and be able to make predicted events, tag people, places - be a strong way to manage photos that haven't yet got a lot of metadata, or are just a mess.

With the ability to do slideshows too - is very friendly to show people, make quickly.
I'm liking the 3D theme - that can show on an iPhone via iTunes - the exact same slideshow.

The ability to move this through to showing travel plans, events - this could in a way take a bite from Flickr and Facebook, and a lot of the travel sites.

With video stabilisation, they're pushing towards helping the Flip etc. Or maybe an iPhone in 6 months.
At 22:50 - shows you the usefulness of GPS. With a lot of photos taken, you could see where you most take photos, places you've been, events you've had...

Apple's made steady progress here, and the rumors only really hit about this a week before the keynote. Making video editing pretty darn accessible to with iMovie 2009. (It's great to see the way the program was developed too - making things easier, more powerful at the same time)
Or learn to play - bringing video to show how to play (piano, guitar). HD resolution. It's clean, smooth.
No ropey wobbly cameras. Whether they could get some of the key players to do styles - like Boogie Woogie, or Latin, we wait to see who will create some depth to this
They didn't push a Mac mini - but that might be another event (it's definitely worthy of one (something for Jobs when he's feeling better perhaps).
(I've been thinking about getitng some boogie woogie piano lessons via DVD - it'll be interesting to see what happens - whether they'll open it up to get amateurs, normal folk to make these, or do guest spots.)

They do a few things rather well. Hopefully the naysayers about batteries are going to be shut up too :) What is the lead time on all the kit to make these bespoke things? The unibody design? Or the batteries? Or the chipsets and boards?
Also - the iTunes Plus - a nice move. DRM free. Shareable to lots of other devices. Opening up. No DRM fiasco, as seen in other places (Microsoft's Plays for Sure etc).

Quiet revenue streams emerging from iLife, MobileMe, iWork.
Chip chip chip - something like iTunes on your iPhone 256kbps AAC, DRM free, over wifi, 3G - so it is sooooo easy to get the tune. Wham bam thank you ma'am.

One final thing. Googling "Dan Lyons is a royal asshole" is worth a laugh. The old ones... are the old ones...