Talk like a pirate day for bots? Just as plenty of alternative uses have been found for formerly mil-only spy sats, so the applications for robots keep expanding. Here a report that a US Navy underwater droid trial resulted in finding new artifacts near a Revolutionary era ship wreck. Development budget hurting? Try turning your AUV loose in certain Caribbean and Florida waters, maybe.
Tick. Reports of an inaugural meeting of would-be hobbyist biological engineers. Today Cambridge, MA - tomorrow, ?
Tick. Biologist Richard Lenski at my alma mater, Michigan State has a long-running experiment to follow evolutionary trends in thousands of generations of fast-reproducing E. coli. Seems he's now made the first observation of a two-step mutational change that gave his bacteria the ability to utilize a different nutrient. If you don't know enough to engineer what you want, get nature to do it for you.
GOOG + Open Office = LUV? Should Google embrace Open Office? It's hard to see what they'd have to lose by doing so. My own experiments with Google Docs showed it can hit scaling limits due to bandwidth and/or server scheduling pretty quickly. Sometimes you just need a locally-hosted interface or computational engine. Microsoft has long been engaged in gilding the --- something nastier than a lily --- on Office. Each generation has a little more feature creep, cuts off more backward compatibility, and fails to address long-standing usability problems. Apple's shown there's a need for a light and usable alternative. Google could simply exploit this opportunity in a more mainstream fashion than Jobs & Co. ever will, and could create a smooth transition from/back to their SaaS offering. I'd say go for it!
The land of negative ROI. In what world does every dollar sunk into capex guarantee you will lose more operationally? That would be government-run mass transit in the US. Long viewed as a combination of make-work spoils program and welfare for the riders, every buck 'invested' means a larger system that can't cover its opex, let along depreciation and additional capex. Out here in the Bay Area, we have a heavy rail system running at near capacity due to the gas price rise, and it still can't cover its costs. Something smells rotten.
Fleecing NYC of a half billion bucks. That's apparently the amount of unfunded public pension liability covered up by an actuary who just happened to be an employee of the city, and therefore a beneficiary of the programs he was supposed to be vetting. Someone who did this in private industry would be in jail for fraud. Why isn't he? And people are running for office based on the idea of government controlling more of the economy.