John Gruber: “Independent Days”. An excellent look at the economics of independent web sites, why Google’s AdSense program is the best of the advertising/affiliate programs available, and why many men’s hairpieces look so awful. Certainly, the ads Google places are less obnoxious and generally more interesting than the ones you see at commercial sites (no animation, no sound, no pop-ups, no “You may already be a winner!” crap).
I’ve thought about trying the system out here, but I’m hesitant for two reasons. First, my readership is pretty miniscule (so far as I am aware), so any ad-driven income is likely to be in the sub-dollar range. Second, I don’t really have any costs associated with ZedneWeb to defray: Eagle graciously hosts ZedneWeb for free, asking only that I not screw things up for everybody. I do put a lot of time into ZedneWeb, and time is money, but it’s time I enjoy spending. Some people garden; I maintain a web site.
Wired: “Being Invisible”. How practical are those therm-optic camouflage suits from Ghost in the Shell? More so than I would have guessed, although still beyond our present ability to make one. This article looks into what would be needed to practically make one, and concludes that the biggest stumbling block is the immense amount of data the suit would need to process. (The article estimates that such a device would “need a stack of a hundred 2-GHz Pentium motherboards.”)
Interestingly, the setup pictured in the diagram has one major flaw: since it’s based around a cloak, the area directly below the user is in shadow. Someone using the system would be given away by a seemingly-inexplicable circle of darkness. (Another interesting question: What about glare? You could probably detect an invisibility cloak by pointing a flashlight at it.)
- Wired: “The Antigravity Underground”. I recall reading about “lifters”, high-voltage hovering devices, some time ago. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, since there didn’t seem to be any good theories about how they worked—in fact, some of the sites played up this mystery. Anyway, this article is a pretty good look into what lifters are, where they came from, and how they work.
Wired: “Euro Scheme Makes Money Talk”. The European Union is apparently considering inserting RFIDs, small transponders that broadcast an ID string when powered by a query signal, in its cash. This would make it harder to counterfeit and would allow banks to quickly determine how much money is in a given pile of cash. Naturally, this raises all sorts of concerns about privacy, since cash is one of the few anonymous means of payment today (actually, there are protocols for digital cash which would be more anonymous and harder to counterfeit, but for various reasons they haven’t caught on). However, all cash today has serial numbers on it, so it isn’t clear to me how RFIDs threaten privacy. The examples are things like law enforcement checking on which books I buy, but convenient ways to identify money still don’t let them know who I am.
This is still a potential threat: transponder technology still isn’t small enough to embed in currency, although barrier won’t stand for long. But until they invent a waterproof one, the phrase “laundering money” will take on new meaning.
- ACM Queue: “A conversation with Jim Gray”. Disk size is increasing far faster than access speeds. Even today, there are cases when it’s faster and cheaper to mail a hard drive than to transmit the information it contains. What will things be like when our computers have truly massive storage, but it takes a day just to read the entire drive? What sort of architecture do we use when the limiting factor is time, not space? (via Tim Bray)