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Monthly Archives: April 2008

This isn’t an overly skeptical story, but it’s about tech and tech is cool.

Today I was browsing ye ol’ Interwebz and I came across a really cool story. Swinburne University in Melbourne are developing a new network administration tool that is bound to make their industry a whole lot more fun!

They are using the Quake 3 open source engine to create a visualization of network usage and activity! The project, named L3DGEWorld, will allow the user to walk through their network interacting with specific computers and files. They will be able to enforce firewall quarantines by shooting certain files and computers as well as, through bouncing objects and varying colours, tell how a node is operating.

I think one of the coolest things about this program is the virus scan functions. When a virus scan is made a ripple of energy can be seen traveling through the 3D world and washing over files like a shock wave. Imagine quietly tinkering away on a particular PC only to turn around and be faced by a huge slovenly worm virus, then having to blast it into oblivion. Sounds like some fun for a usually boring job filled with changing numbers, letters and black DOS screens.

Chicky check it out.

http://caia.swin.edu.au/urp/l3dge/tools/l3dgeworld_2.3/

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Human culture holds many old traditions that we have entertained for thousands of years. While some of these cause no harm at all, others have become out dated and some are just dangerous to begin with.

Lets just say that everyday for thousands of years my ancestors went hunting in the forest to catch a deer, boar or some other tasty looking critter or to forage for some vegetation. Back then this practice would have been considered necessary to survive and prosper. Many of these traditions still stand today as something that we continue, and with good reason. For example, agriculture is a tradition that advanced the human race a huge amount. Hunting is another skill and tradition that benefited our ancestors. While it is important that we remember tradition and record it we shouldn’t always keep practicing a tradition.

Some traditions are so outdated they actually do harm. I could point out religion for this quite easily but instead I wanted to bring up the topic of “Scientific research”.

I’m not talking about legitimate research. I’m talking about the slaughter of innocent creatures under the guise of tradition and an outright lie distorting the scientific method. I am talking about the Japanese whalers.

Today the whalers returned back to port in Japan after continued harassment by the activists that lurk around their hunting grounds in the Antarctic. While they slaughtered many innocent animals (551 Minke Whales) their efforts were severely hampered by the men and women who braved the freezing oceans to stop the massacre.

These magnificent creatures are like humans, victims of tradition. Only they aren’t the ones who practice it. They are just on the receiving end. Just because Japanese culture has been killing whales for a few hundred years they think they can just continue it due to tradition even with no real necessity?

Tradition can be a dangerous thing when left unchecked. Maybe it’s time we started re-evaluating our ancient ways.

RIP to all the whales killed in the name of tradition.

Skelliot.

Computers are cool

It’s Friday afternoon 6:30pm, and on a piss stained seat on a bustling locamotive sits a young boy. His feet swing slowly back and forth as he peruses a newspaper. His innocent and youthful eyes flit over the articles of the paper until he finds something that catches his interest. His vibrant blue saucers widen with horror as he locks onto a frightening article. It reads –

“Gaming’s autism link.”

Shocked, the boy reads on.

“Obsessive computer game playing has been linked to a rare form of autism.”

The young boy snaps out of his shock and puts on his skeptical hat and examines the article more closely.

Ok, so as you have guessed the young boy is me. I wasn’t really shocked and awed when I saw the article but I was angry. As I read on it was apparent that the news paper had obviously either blown a study out of proportion or reported on a scientific study that is flawed. The article goes on –

“Doctors say hours spent on your console could give you the same negative character traits associated with Asperger’s syndrome.”

Right, so first the article says that gaming is linked to a rare form of autism now its referencing “doctors” who say that it can cause character traits similar to Asperger’s syndrome. Firstly, just because something is like something doesn’t mean it is that same thing. A cold is caused by a virus, but when you get a cold you don’t say, “Hory shit mang! I got a minor case of the AIDs!”. No, you don’t. That would be silly.

The kicker of the article was that it stated that –

“according to Dr John Charlton…In total, 3 per cent of those questioned (out of 400 gamers) during the study had signs of being addicted to game playing.”

3 per cent. Wow. So basically this study detected noise and if it did detect anything it detected that video game playing is very very mildly addictive to some people…like pretty much everything else. (Smoking, alcohol, drugs, sex etc.).

It is obvious that it was a slow news day in the MX news room on Friday so they had to fabricate a story that would seem scary in order to shock the mindless masses coming home from work at the end of the week.

This is exactly what we need (SARCASM DETECTOR ACTIVATED!). Not only do vaccinations seem to cause autism, now our beloved video games cause it to! RUN FOR THE HILLS! Heres hoping that this little gem flies under the radar and isn’t picked up by the autism/vaccination proponents who seem to latch onto any little thing that comes their way.

So basically what I want to say is, Go die in a fire MX news paper. They know their target market and they continue to push brain dead anti-science at them.

Cpt Dis

A lot of the time when people think about the personalities assosiated with skepticism and the skeptical community they think of cynical bearded old men stewing away grumpy at the world. While this is obviously a stereotype some of the most notable skeptics are in fact, bearded old men. For example, the venerable James Randi fits the description well (how ever I don’t think he is cynical).

Many skeptical minds are young and fresh and looking for a younger image to follow so I think it’s about time we broke that old sterotype and kicked it out on its arse. A new image is what we need and someone who is helping to change the mold is Cpt Disillusion.

Basically, Cpt Disillusion makes debunk videos and posts them on youtube. But in a modern twist, he uses this chance, of a large young audience, to debunk other youtube videos that are in the spotlight. So far he has debunked things such as the penguin slap, the Haiti UFO and the “man on Mars”. He dedicates each episode to one topic and then, through the use of video manipulation and CGI know how, debunks each video!

What is great about this guy is how he uses special effects and technology to make the skeptic world more attractive to younger viewers. Not only does the show look great, it’s actually very funny too!

Please check out his videos on youtube and see for yourself.

(Thanks to the Swift newsletter and James Randi for bringing this guy to my attention.)

Skelliot.