Wednesday, August 29, 2007

As summer finally ends...

Back from vacation, I'm so behind in everything it's amazing...starting with the news....
  • What's cooler than printing 3-D objects? Maybe printing human organs? This is only a little bit far-out...and even modest success would be hugely interesting, not necessarily to clinicians, but to developmental biologists and others that study how cells interact in tissues.
  • Some useful warnings about the "cult of FireFox" and the evil of Ad Block Plus. Remember, not reading ads is theft. And not citing my papers - that causes uncontrollable weight gain.
  • Hal Daume promises to automate the construction of LDA-like statistical models. Well, at least partly. A fascinating idea, although a challenging one...for whatever reason the ML community doesn't seem to take to these sort of high-level tools. AutoBayes and WinBUGS are prior efforts along these lines.
  • The scary privacy-infringement stories of the week: from Ars Technica, we learn that China is to begin web monitoring with Clippy-style animated police and, if that's not horrifying enough, a confessed movie pirate has been ordered to switch to Windows by the court, so his parole officer can install the appropriate monitoring software. (However, the rumors that the court also ordered a switch from Emacs to Notepad are apparently false.)
  • In related news, the EFF's suit against AT&T may have gotten stronger: even though National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has said before that "the disclosure of any information that would tend to confirm or deny... an alleged classified intelligence relationship between the NSA and MCI/Verizon, would cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security" he, oops, confirmed that AT&T was assisting in surveillance: "under ... the terrorist surveillance program, the private sector had assisted us...and they were being sued". And the DoD's official web sites are more than 100x more likely to leak sensitive information than milbloggers.