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ZZZ Online | Home - Issue 211

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Poll:

-> What kind of present did you buy to your family or yourself fover the Holiday Season?

High Tech stufff, bought on the internet: too cold/lazy/crowdy to go outside!
High Tech stuff, but bought directly in the shop: I was too late to order...
More traditional stuff because my family is not that nerdy, but ordered on the internet because damn I am a nerd!
More traditional stuff, and in shops... I am a nerd but I am late... And Damn all those crowds!
I don't buy presents. I don't have family nor friends. I am the only one here who can really pretend to be a Nerd...

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Issue 211

released on : 26 August, 2005

zzz news

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PhoneSecure

On 12 January, 2005, by se99jmk

I'm not generally an insecure person. I'm perfectly happy with carrying in excess of ?1000 in electronics on my person... well, maybe I should get some protection after all, and I've found it, in the form of PhoneSecure.

Click here to read more...

Phraselator

On 12 January, 2005, by se99jmk

One step closer to the babelfish from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Click here to read more...

Epson fabricates 20-layer PCB using InkJet tec

On 05 November, 2004, by Dreadnought

Epson has fabricated a 200micron thick 20 layer using their own InkJet technology with a conductive ink containing silver micro-particles measuring from several nanometers to several tens of nanometers in diameter, and a newly developed insulator ink.

Click here to read more...

PetaPixel displays, 100TB storage and more...

On 05 November, 2004, by Dreadnought

Colossal Storage is developing 14M dpi or 200Tpixels per square inch of near-non-volatile display. It is based on a ferroelectric material which gives each pixel a state retension of up to 12 hours. Display resolutions of up to 4Petapixel will be possible with this technology.
Colossal Storage is also developing a holographic media which can store 10TB on a single 3?" disc. The theory behind it can go up to 1.5Exabytes (1.5x10^1.
They are currently looking for companies who are interresting in licensing the products.

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No more sleep, no more dreams?

article written by : jyby

released on : 27 August, 2005

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Ever wished you wouldn't have to spend 5 to 10 hours sleeping a day, ever wondered how much more things you could do if you were not enslaved by Morpheus (not the Morpheus from the matrix, the other one, from Greece)?

You might find the (beginning of an) answer to your prayers in an issue of the journal of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), with the title of "Facilitation of Task Performance and Removal of the Effects of Sleep Deprivation by an Ampakine (CX717) in Nonhuman Primate" (here). As it is a bit too technical, you might prefer to read the related article from www.betterhumans.com.





Basically, monkeys were asked to play a computer game where they have to find some image among several others in four different states: normal, normal with drug, sleep deprived, sleep deprived with drug, while taking positron emission tomography (PET: cute acronym!) images of their brain. And the drug increased the performance of the monkeys in both cases, with the best increase in the poor sleep-deprived primates. Studying the PET images showed that when the monkeys were performing the task while sleep-deprived, activity in the frontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with higher mental processing, decreased and activity in the temporal lobe, associated with memory for recent events, increased. The researchers suspect that this might be the brain's way of compensating for the effects of sleep deprivation. After the drug was administered, the brain patterns in these regions returned to normal.<\QUOTE>





Being used to sleep 8 to 10 hours a night, I could have a use for such a drug, but I would rather be worried about secondary effects, an dependances. Googling the name of the authors show that several of them have been studying drugs with a strong reputation of dependance: James B. Daunais studies "the neurobiological and behavioral consequences of exposure to abused substances, in particular cocaine", and Linda J. Porrino studies the "long-term consequences of prolonged exposure to drugs", using brain imaging methods.
What about the supposedly "necessary dream time" for the organisation of memory?

The authors cite aplications for "individuals subjected to extended work hours or night shifts", but as killdashnine already hilighted in a previous issue, I am sure that military people would love such a magic potion for their super-soldiers, whatever the secondary effects.

Blokus, the game to draw mosaiques!

article written by : jyby

released on : 26 August, 2005

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A few weeks ago happened a very serious scientific meeting at the university where I teach, called "Workshop on Algorithms and Data Structures", WADS for short. We discussed about very important things such as how to analyze the complexity of algorithms, and new algorithms for many problems. We had two parallel sessions, talks of some 30mns and regular breaks to get the coffees without which even the most dedicated scientist cannot maintain his attention for the whole day.

This kind of meeting is always an occasion to socialize with many people from around the world, and to see again some old friends. People chat, eat together, discuss some very serious research problem, sometime even work on a new publication, and sometime just... play. This time Anna Lubiw brought a board game named "blokus", which was a blast: scientists of all ages played during the breaks, and I even saw some skipping the sessions to play more. I brought the game to the restaurant where was hold the social even of the workshop, and people started a tournament after the dessert: I had to evacuate the game because the waiter waited for us to leave to close the restaurant!







Blokus is a very simple geometic game: you get a set of tetris-like colored pieces (one color per player), that you can place on the board when your turn comes. You start by placing one piece in the corner of the board assigned to your color, and later on you place your pieces so that it touches the corner of one of your piece already on the board and no edge. The goal is to cover the largest surface of the board (i.e. to get rid of the maximum amount of surface of your pieces). We played the game with four players, there are some specific rules to play at three or at four players.

I observed that the folks from the conference with an afinity for geometric problems didn't play much better than the others, so I don't think that there is an obvious winning strategy. Some decide to block as much as they can their adversary, by covering the corners of their pieces. Some extends their pieces as far as they can so that to maximize their possibilities to play later. Obviously, everybody tries to get rid of the largest pieces first.

But you should find your own strategy: you could buy it (I recommand it, it is a great party animation) from various websites, for instance from gamesinabox.com. But you can play it online too, on www.blokus.com (if you can use java applets). You can create an account and join (or eventually create) a game. The interface is not the greatest, but once you are started playing you don't notice anymore. Have fun!!!



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