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Around the web XXXVIII

Back again. Aside from the Apple landmarks gushed over in my previous post, today marks the deaths of Ira Hayes (one of the Marines photographed raising that flag on Iwo Jima) and Winston Churchill (whose father also passed away on the same date 70 years before, incidentally).

Sci/tech;

  • A British project to drill into an ancient and pristine lake hidden two miles under the Antarctic ice sheet is well under way, as the BBC report.
  • The folks at Twitter have a blog, Twitter Stories, where they post various stories of folks whose lives have been affected by Twitter in one way or another. Some interesting bits and pieces in there.
  • The Royal Society recently made its historical journal available online, all 60,000 papers of it. The BBC round up a few of the more bizarre bits of science to be found in the collection - death by lightning, early attempts at blood transfusions, etc.
  • A cure for the common cold may some day be possible, thanks to advances in antiviral research, as the BBC reports. An antiviral is a drug that can deal with many different viruses at once, instead of the current highly (and laboriously) targeted types. A broad-based antiviral is a holy grail of virus treatment, needless to say.
  • Against all the odds, physics legend Stephen Hawking recently celebrated his 70th birthday. To mark the occasion, he answered some reader questions for the BBC; see here.
  • If Segways are too bulky or not eccentric enough for you, you could try these motorised shoes; see BBC report.

Dev;

  • Why was SQL Server never ported to Linux/Unix server platforms? This blog post from a former Microsoft engineer goes into some detail on the historical and technical reasons.
  • Speaking of Microsoft, they’re planning a new file system (an improved version of NTFS) for Windows 8 server versions. PC Pro have some details.
  • In this interesting blog post, the folks behind Fog Creek’s very impressive new task management web app discuss the technology stack that powers Trello.

Business;

Gaming;

  • Great news; aside from the shooter spin-off, a new version of XCOM has just been announced - a real XCOM strategy game. PC Gamer have some more info and screenshots. Also a story from GameInformer describing how the original XCOM project came to be.

GameDev;

  • From the AMD website, an interview discussing some of the tech behind the Battlefield 3 engine, FrostBite 2.

Misc;

  • Near Beijing, there’s a giant abandoned theme park, a half-finished casualty of China’s rapid growth. The Reuters blog has some photos.
  • A rare blast from the past; this video records a drive through Dublin city centre in 1976.
  • In this BBC piece, a North Korean poet who defected to the South describes some of his sometimes surreal experiences in the Communist state.
  • If you haven’t seen Deadwood, it’s a very impressive western series from HBO which doesn’t exactly go easy on the language and the violence. The writing and acting is some of the best I’ve ever seen, and in this MIT lecture, you can hear the thoughts of the show’s creator, David Milch.
  • An association of explosives experts celebrate their trade in this montage video. Some pretty amazing feats of precise building demolition going on there, complete with improbable pan pipe soundtrack.
  • Clothes made entirely of spider silk? The BBC have some photos of just such a thing, produced over seven years with the aid of eighty people and over a million spiders. Amazing.

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