Archive for category Information Technology

So THAT’S Why I Talk With My Hands!

Posted by on Saturday, 8 January, 2011



The guy in the green Toyota? I guess he’s on his car phone or something. Either that or he fergot to take his meds.

Anyway, he’s chattering away like crazy. And his hands are waving in the air. First one hand steers, then the other. Meanwhile, he’s grabbing air and talking.

Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Is he driving with his knee and waving BOTH hands?

Oh boy.

You know what he’s doing?

Same thing YOU do when you’re blabbin’. Talking with his hands.

You’ve heard that Italians do it. Or Greeks. Or New Yorkers? Or.. It really doesn’t matter. EVERYBODY seems to wave his.her silly digits around in the air when talking.


Which is the funny part. What’s THAT about? Why wave yer hands around to make a point when you’re all by yourself?

Two studies looked at this ” gesture” stuff. One was in Psychological Science and another was in Perspectives in Psychological Science. Conclusion? According to Beilock and Goldin-Meadow (authors), all that waving around? It’s as much for you as it is for the other guy. It helps the brain figure out what it wants to remember and how to remember it.

You learn better if you use your hands to describe things. You learn worse if you don’t. Isn’t that funny?

Teachers and others who specialize in learning may not be grabbing air but they’re certainly scratching their heads about this.


Great science? Change the world? Important?

Probably not.

But if scientists weren’t so quirky, if they didn’t investigate silly crap like what makes the particles in a fluid jigger around, we might have missed out on a few things.

Like atomic theory.

I dunno how to rate this one precisely. A hand waver? I’ll say ScienceAintSoBadRating = 6.


No credits for the drawing. Just the author doodling.

Droid X. Android Ambushes IPad.

Posted by on Friday, 16 July, 2010



Mister ScienceAintSoBad tried out the Droid X, Verizon’s very latest Android phone.

Which isn’t easy. They’re gone.

Sold out.


Cause customers got the idea right away.

Terrific app phone.

ALMOST too large.


Makes yer pocket look funny.

It’s so large (and fast and easy to see) that you can pretty much do all that stuff you wanna do WITHOUT having to cart around a “computer”.

Which, keyboard or no, the IPad is.

You want funny looking pockets, put an IPAD into your pocket.


At 4.3 inches, the “X” pushes the size of an app phone right up to the envelope. But it’s still pocketable. It’s still a phone.

LITTLE awkward.

So is love. So is parasailing. So is paying yer phone bill.

It’s a compromise. A MUCH better one than a tablet computer. The soft  keyboard’s big enough to make for near touch typing (in landscape mode). Videos engulf you.  Enough room to stuff in plenty of battery.  Plenty of speaker. This isn’t resonant, wall pounding base but, for a phone? Wow!

There’s even room for a functional (and hand insensitive) antenna. (Insensitive to hands as far as I could tell.  Look for testing lab results on reception, not reviewer impressions, OK?)

I’m keeping a point on ice. I may need it for Samsung’s Galaxy S .

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 9.


Posted by on Sunday, 25 April, 2010

Don't Let This Happen To YOUR Earth!


The year is 2015.  Discarded cell phones cover everything.   The “layer”  varies in thickness from a few inches to as much as three feet. Mostly, it consists of iPhones, IPads, ITouches, and IPods.

Newer layers have Android stuff.

Apple cultists fight  against calling it the ICrap layer. Too disrespectful. Look what Apple’s DONE for the human race. Why not call it gCrap? What’s GOOGLE ever done?

Looking Out

People crunch around looking for edible plants which seem to thrive on the crumbled carcasses of  HTC products while a defeated looking MISTERScienceAintSoBad, stands, looking out at the ocean, and listening to the waves clank together.


Is this our destiny? Can we duck it?

A new web site, calling itself, Ifixit, says it’s bad to “landfill” our devices when they become unreliable. Devices are getting more and more capable. Toss our smartphones when they fail and what do you suppose THEY will do to US when THEY’RE in charge?

IFixit offers, humbly, to “fix the planet”. It wants to be THE place for free repair manuals as well as parts and info that can keep your devices out of the junk yard for longer.


Besides. The world’s gone nuts.

You gotta have two Phd’s to set yer alarm clock. Complexity INSIDE’S sposed to result in simplicity outside. Maybe that’ll happen eventually. But, for now, if you DO wanna set your alarm clock, you do need some good resources to turn to.

MISTERScienceAintSoBad wishes Ifixit all the luck in the world with its overarching ambitions. We hope it succeeds.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 7 for Ifixit’s early efforts. Watch our rating needle climb as Ifixit proves itself. :)

attribution for the top photo:

Teen Angst: Cure For Acne? Cure For Backpacks?

Posted by on Saturday, 17 April, 2010



We were once beautiful. Even Fink. Once, we were healthy. supple and unblemished.

Except for the nasty zits which would lie dormant until a few days before something important like a first date, a prom, or a bar mitzvah when they would BURST into glorious Technicolor blotches, humiliating and depressing us.

And obliterating our dreams of becoming ex-virgins.


Well thank YOU, Dissaya “Nu” Pornpattananangkul, for coming up with a zit-killer DECADES too late.  I don’t believe ther’re any virgins left  in high school to benefit from this work  but Pornpattananangkul  (am I pronouncing that right?) has developed a drug delivery system based on gold nanoparticles which deliver  lauric acid directly to the (very) offending lesions.


Pornpa.. Pornpatt.. WHATEVER! .. is gonna be a terrific engineer. But there’s some science yet to be done. Will it REALLY work? Side effects? Cost?

A great first step and the article says human testing may follow soon.

ScienceAintSoBadEngineeringRating = 10

ScienceAintSoBadScienceRating? Let’s hope we hear more.


I can ONLY ride the Nostalgia Dunebuggy so far. MISERABLE and PATHETIC  as our young lives were, we didn’t walk to school leaning forward.

School books have gotten so heavy in the last five years, that obesity’s become the only REMEDY for the struggling future generations that we call kids or (sometimes) just annoying. In fact, their parents are EGGING THEM ON to gain a few pounds. “Hey. EAT that! You wanna get pulled over backwards by your books and lie there like a DOPE with yer arms and legs wavin’ around?”


Eric v.d. Luft, PhD (Syracuse) did a little research on WHY the books are so engorged.


Fat margins, fat paper, and lots of jazzy color illustrations.

You know fer SURE some kid’s gonna be too loaded up to dodge a runaway foreign car.

Too much backpack mass. This is all just a GIFT to pediatric orthopedic surgeons.

‘course the ultimate solution is a digital child. Did I say “child?”. I MEANT, of course, BOOK.  An eBook.

Not a specially  original thought.  Electronic book readers are catching on among adults.  There’re a LOT of choices. Kindle, Sony’s E-reader, The Nook (Barnes and Noble), ALL kinda smart phones, netbooks,  the Ipad (and it’s soon-to-be competitors), and so on. There’re way more “initiatives” then MisterScienceAintSoBad is in the mood to discuss. (Example).

The technology’s there. It’s even affordable. Text book publishing, parents, and teaching institutions are trying to catch up with  it.


According to the IEEE Spectrum, the world’s robot population’s about 8.6 million souls.

Well. Not souls, exactly.

You know what I mean.

A Phone App That Steals Your Soul?

Posted by on Thursday, 4 March, 2010

The End Of Anonymity?

Phone Apps: A Scary App That Matches Your ID To Your Photo


ShyGuy1 writes:

Mister ScienceAintSoBad: I am smart and I am nice. I bet I would be a great boyfriend.

If I had a girlfriend.

But I’ll probably die a male old maid because when I see a girl who has the “right look”, I freeze.

Instead of telling her how much I love her slobbering Doberman or giving her my “Get lucky with me” calling card (I still have every single one of them after 14 months), I respectfully lower my eyes and try not to be obvious. Which, apparently, works pretty well.

So, Mister SASB, my question is this. Is there some kind of technology that lets guys who just aren’t suave, bridge the introduction gap? Maybe a small robot that he could pull out of his valise which would stride confidently toward his future fiance and make the introductions?

Please answer because this is important to my future kids.

Funny you should ask, ShyGuy1, I’m just finishing up my Intro1 Robot which does exactly what you want.  I can offer it to you for $19.95. PLUS you will get this roof trimming attachment ABSOLUTELY free. BOTH products, a combined value of $39.95 for ONLY $19.95.

Except the shipping and handling charge is $43,000,012.85 .


if you’re looking for a more cost effective solution (no WONDER you never meet anyone you lousy CHEAPSKATE!), you may be interested in TAT’s new Recognizr app for Android phones.

With Recognizr loaded, you snap a picture of your future bride and then you let the app go figure out who she is from her online presence on sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, and GetLostNerdyOne.

Recognizr’s intriguing integration of existing technologies to achieve a new result is a nice example of the “unexpected consequences” phenom .

It’s also a little troubling.

Is it really OK to snap someone’s photo and find his.her identity that way? Is it an invasion of privacy to use photo based matching?

TAT’s approach was to make sure the info can only get assembled for other users of Recognizr. Which seems fair enough to MISTER ScienceAintSoBad since, I guess, there’s a kinda “OK With Me” built into joining the club.

But it also limits the usefulness of the product unless Recognizr takes off. And, why does Mister ScienceAintSoBad think the women ShyGuy1’ll REALLY want to meet’ll be the last to join Recognizr?

Maybe we’ll be lucky though and terrorists will register with Recognizr.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 6 (which is an average of 10 for a technological tour-de-force and 2 for software that won’t change any lives)

Airport Body Scanners: Good For Your Health

Posted by on Tuesday, 5 January, 2010

A Spur For Fitness?

Technology: The un-girdle.

After the attempted attack on flight 523, “body scanners” are finally getting some respect. Heathrow Airport will be using them and several hundred of them have been purchased for use in airports in and out of the US.

Good, right? Nobody want’s to get blown up.

Except for the radiation and the nudity. Overexposure on two fronts.

Let’s start with the nudity.

It doesn’t exactly make sense to say that photos like the one at the top of this article are obscene.

Proof? They’ve been run on the front pages of major newspapers and on family television stations in prime time. If you search for “body scanner” this photo shows up in Google with “strict search” on. So where’s the obscenity? Why the discomfort?

Well check out those love handles! Check out that saggy butt! No WONDER they’re throwing rocks at the scanners. I would be too.

This is the single greatest counterstrike against obesity since MacDonald’s decided against staying open all night.

I’m serious!

WEEKS before scheduled trips, travelers will be taking time off from work for exhausting river runs and torturous gym workouts. Lettuce and Tomato will be the new Big Mac.

THANK you L3 for saving our figures. And our hearts.


What about the radiation then?

According to Cnet News, there are two technologies in use. One of them uses low intensity radio waves. The other one uses backscatter radiation, an x-ray technology. And, yeah, the health benefits of x-rays are sometimes overstated.

But, according to Wikipedia, the backscatter technology amounts to .005 millirem of radiation. Since average background radiation is about 300 mrem per year, you would have to get exposed about 60,000 times by one of those backscatter doobies to get the equivalent of what you get in a year at the library. A traveler would have to make about 200 trips a day or about one departure every 3 minutes (assuming a 10 hour travel day) to achieve even that.

Imagine the air mile rewards.

So, weighing costs and benefits, for the price of some institutional indignity (and if you plan to do much flying, you might as well get over THAT), you’re gonna lose the flab and get there in one piece. But you will get enough radiation exposure to die .00003 seconds early.

Seems reasonable to MISTER ScienceAintSoBad. ScienceAintSoBadRating = 8 .

(Image above from From the Rapiscan Secure 1000(tm) Body Scanner manufactured by OSI Systems, Inc.)

Bin Laden. Let’s Google Him

Posted by on Saturday, 12 December, 2009
The Ever Elusive Osama

The Ever Elusive Osama

GoogleStuff: Anti-terrorism For Dummies.

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad was watching the President of the United States announce his new Afghanistan policy – the one where he decided not to lose right away.

And I thought to myself, “Why not help? Those young cadets are going to fight the Taliban and what am I doing about the situation? Writing about Physics and Phrenology?

So I decide to undertake my own search for Osama Bin Laden, using the resources that are available to me as a man or woman (OK if I say just man here?) of technology and I naturally turn to Google maps.

Although it’s still early in the 21st century, Google has already revised every conceivable part of the life experience from how we comb our hair (Google Part) to how we practice looking impressive in the mirror (Google HamItUp) so it is only natural that I turn to Google for help in finding the arch demon of all time.

I notice immediately that if you go to Google maps and type in “Pakistan” you get a picture of something brown.

View Larger Map

Is this his infamous place of refuge?

Then I think, “Why don’t I…It couldn’t be THAT easy!”

I type in “Bin Laden”.

At the top of the search it says “Osama Bin Laden, Possible sightings”.

Oh my!

I look but I can’t make him out at all so maybe he’s moved. But it is definitely a powerful feeling to be looking down on the dusty mountains and rocky deserts of the most mysterious place in the world.

I’m not counting the space under our deck where that rabbit lives.

I zoom in as close as the map allows and start sliding around. (The military’s probably got much better resolution , but it spends more.)

I can’t find “Street Views”. No tricycles with cameras driving around this popular tourist area?

I do see quite a few “walled compounds”. Easy to make them out. But I would be lying if I said this is an easy job.

Do you think, maybe, the pros already thought to look carefully over every square inch of this ground and with better and more up-to-date photos?

That’s the kind of negative thinking that keeps you from winning the lottery. This is the People’s Tool. Go get ’em!

I will do this again. I hope you will too.

I’m not gonna find him, of course. But it’s awfully good practice just in case I get drafted. And if YOU find him, I hope you’ll mention which blog put you up to it.

App Phones NEED Physical Keyboards

Posted by on Saturday, 7 November, 2009


Verizon’s new Droid app phone

First of all, thanks for dropping by at the new place.

I appreciate Google’s free and easy blogger but, comes a time when it’s nice to drop the “blogspot” moniker.

More control over how things look this way too.

WirelessTech: App Phones

App phones (“smartphones”, like the IPhone and the new Droid, which have access to an open marketplace of applications) are taking us somewhere.

I’m trying to figure out where.

An article in PC World which describes 10 nice apps for the  Droid  is instructive.

According to the article, you can capture the cards you carry around in your wallet with your Droid and then you get to leave them home. The Droid’ll be glad to display their readable bar codes at the food store and the library and the gas station. Where they can be scanned by the clerk.

Another of the “apps” lets the phone configure its features when you walk into your office. Or return to your  home. Why not? It knows its location.

And, of course, turn-by-turn GPS software. For free.

You’re not catching on yet? This is ANOTHER earthquake. Just when you think you can’t endure another one.

How? And how much?

That’s another article. This one’s on a topic  that I’ve managed to wander away from – keyboards

Verizon’s introduction of the Droid stirred up a lotta word dust. What’ll this mean for the IPhone? Are traditional “dumb” phones out? Is Motorola undead?

All that stuff.

And there have been numerous reviews of the new guy including some disappointment about its keyboard. Some feel a virtual (on screen) keyboard would have been better. Others like the idea of a “real” keyboard.

This is where I saw my opening; I am now pouncing.

This may seem a little too narrow and techie to you. And if so, I apologize. I know I usually keep an eye out for  possible solutions to the ravages of arthritis or for indications of a new and likely mass extinction but I don’t HAVE another soapbox for my rants and I can’t STAND the fact that nobody in the world but MisterScienceAin’tSoBad seems to have noticed the fact that WHEN YOU HAVE A VIRTUAL KEYBOARD ON A PHONE, YOU USE UP MOST OF THE SCREEN AREA FOR THE KEYBOARD.

I feel better.

And this is why I do appreciate the achievement of Motorola here. At the cost of a very small increase in size and weight, the Droid has managed to preserve the screen area for useful stuff. And, having tried it out, yesterday, I was surprised to see how well the compromises were managed. Not such a bad little keyboard at that.

My hands are small.

Anyway. That’s that. I’ll get back to more traditional (for me) articles now.

Oh. ScienceAintSoBadRating = 5 (I get to rate myself). Not the most gripping article in the world, but, being the Blogger-In-Chief, I do cut myself considerable slack.