Geek stuff

Whenever the many problems with nuclear power are raised, there are people who suggest that everything could be fixed with a substantial technical change: moving to generation IV reactors, for instance, or the ever-elusive fusion possibility. Another common suggestion is that using thorium for reactor fuel could limit concerns about proliferation, as well as (modest) […]


Many websites rely on SSL / TLS to encrypt communication: everything from passwords to credit card numbers to emails. OpenSSL is a very widely used implementation of these encryption protocols. Right now, the internet is abuzz with the news of the ‘hearbleed’ bug. Because of a flaw in OpenSSL, attackers can extract 64 kilobytes of […]


But that’s how the civil service works, in practice. Each department is controlled by the people who it’s supposed to be controlling… Why, for instance, do we have comprehensive education? Who wanted it? The pupils, the parents? The National Union of Teachers wanted it. They’re the chief client of the Department of Education, so the […]


Apparently, cutting one kilogram from the weight of a commercial airliner saves about $2,200 in lifetime fuel costs. By contrast, putting a single kilogram of cargo into space costs $25,000 (a bit of a drag for those with aspirations of asteroid mining).

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This website is highly entertaining. Here are a few Quite Interesting nuggets: “A famous 18th century courtesan named Kitty Fisher used to distribute pictures of herself small enough to be concealed in the lid of a snuffbox… Fisher led a sensationally dissolute life; Casanova relates that she once ate a thousand-guinea bank note on bread-and-butter.” […]


The category ‘Geek stuff‘ doesn’t begin to cover this one. At the same time, I am grateful when ‘Bombs and rockets‘ isn’t about killing real people. I used to take breaks from academic work by playing Starcraft II, but I haven’t loaded that game once since I got the demo and eventually the full version […]


Agenda-setting – identification and definition of problems and advocacy of action, Policy formulation – specification of goals and choice of means for achieving them, Policy legitimation – mobilization of support and enactment, Policy implementation – mobilization of resources and application to goal achievement, Policy evaluation – measurement of results and redefinition of goals or agenda, […]


This looks really useful: Magic Lantern, open-source extra control features for Canon’s dSLR cameras. I am going to give it a try on my 5D Mk II when I have time to spare from school and climate work. For a long time there has been a utility called CHDK that works on some of Canon’s […]


I have a ‘Pending’ folder in which I keep all emails where I need to take some sort of action in response. The further breakdown of those emails is somewhat revealing:


The policy analyst is a producer of policy arguments, more similar to a lawyer – a specialist in legal arguments – than to an engineer or scientist. His basic skills are not algorithmical but argumentative: the ability to probe assumptions critically, to produce and evaluate evidence, to keep many threads in hand, to draw for […]