Wednesday, August 30, 2006 

fathers suck! especially mine...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 

Are you part-Neanderthal?

People of European descent may be 5% Neanderthal, according to a DNA study that questions whether modern humans left Africa and replaced all other existing hominids.

The same study, published in the latest issue of the journal PloS Genetics, also says West Africans could be related to an archaic human population.

As both groups spread, the findings suggest we all have a bit of archaic DNA in our genes.

"Instead of a population that left Africa 100,000 years ago and replaced all other archaic human groups, we propose that this population interacted with another population that had been in Europe for much longer, maybe 400,000 years," says Vincent Plagnol. >> more

Monday, August 07, 2006 

Microsoft Drops The Ball on Internet Explorer 7 Standards Compliance

Microsoft often says it's pro-standards - but typically, they'd rather own a proprietary interface or protocol than build a compatible system.

As I relaunched the new design of my site, NewsCloud, with very straightforward/simple CSS, I expected it would work in all browsers. Instead we discovered, it worked terribly in Internet Explorer. IE 6 and IE 7 failed to render even basic columnar layouts in CSS. What was going on?

At first, we put up a No Internet Explorer page. IE users would come to our site and be redirected to a page telling them why we recommend Firefox. This pissed a lot of people off (according to this study IE still represents 60% of Web market share).

This post made me reconsider:

"So the first thing that 98% of the people who might visit your site see is a message telling them they are WRONG in the browser they use? You aren't even showing them any reason why they should upgrade their browser in order to see YOUR site. You aren't boycotting Microsoft here - you are boycotting your own audience. Why not let people using IE see what your site can do, albeit not perfectly, and let them know that they would have a better experience if they used Firefox? After all, your site depends on audience/editors, and if you immediately drive most of them away..."

So, now IE users see a small banner at the top of NewsCloud. We've been able to get the columns to layout with a short additional IE-only CSS file, but a number of features look weird (our primary navigation for one) ... and many buttons don't respond still.

What is going on? This Firefox user shared a statistical analysis with me:

CSS 2.1 standard support:
IE 6: 52%
IE 7: 54%
Firefox 1.5: 93%
Opera 8.5: 93%
Opera 9: 96%

>> more

Thursday, August 03, 2006 

Artwork morphs to match viewer's mood

Artwork that undergoes metamorphosis to suit its audience's mood has been developed by a team of computer scientists.

A video artwork display, dubbed an "empathic painting", was created by Maria Shugrina and Margrit Betke from Boston University, US, and John Collomosse from Bath University, UK. It can display any kind of image, which will rapidly morph in response to the expressions worn by the person looking on.

For example, if the viewer looks angry it will apply a red hue and blurring. If, on the other hand, they have a cheerful expression, it will introduce increase the brightness and colour of the image.

A video of the empathic painting shows it responding to different expressions (3.4MG .avi). >> more


Miscarriage Significantly Associated With Increasing Paternal Age

In a study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the New York Psychiatric Institute researchers found that increasing paternal age is significantly associated with increased rates of spontaneous abortion, a pregnancy loss occurring before twenty weeks of gestation. Results indicate that as the male partner ages there is a steady increase in rate of miscarriage. Women with partners aged 35 or older had nearly three times as many miscarriages as compared with women conceiving with men younger than 25 years of age. This finding is independent of the woman's age and not explained by other factors such as diabetes, smoking, or previous spontaneous abortions, and adds to the growing realization of the importance of paternal characteristics for successful reproductive outcome. >> more