Tag Archives: international

Strange social norms

This post was a while back, but I juts now have gotten to it. A fellow PhD student, in an attempt to help us brainstorm more creative ways to recruit new information science students, sent us the following advertisement for reference:

As he explained, it’s a puzzle meant to draw you in:

In this poster, everything is hidden in the binary code (please ignore the girl at the background).

The decipher process can be found at http://xrl.us/bnx5jc (in Chinese). Here are the steps to get the material in natural language (I skip some trial and reasoning steps):

  1. OCR the binary code from the image.
  2. Save it as a binary file and name it bin.gz (you can get the name of the file by interpreting the binary code).
  3. Unzip the file and get a file called bin. This is a java class (again, tell from the binary code).
  4. Save the file as a java class and run it. You can get the correct name of the class (i.class) from the java error message.
  5. Run the class again and finally you will get an url: www.i.u-tokyo.ac.jp/fun/hikari-loveletter

What puzzles me about it is not actually the number cipher, which I imagine is pretty neato, but the the relevance of the woman in the background. Is she supposed to be just a pretty background, like a flower pattern? Are they assuming only heterosexual men apply and that this woman will get their attention? Is this like insurance companies that put naked ladies on billboards, but a subdued version? I’m not yet ready to label it sexist, simply because I don’t understand Japanese culture enough to comprehend the context. Right now I can’t help but see it as comically non-sequitur!

Livraria Lello e Irmão, Wikipedia & Public Computing

Livraria Lello e Irmão is a totally badass looking bookstore, but at first glance many people mistake it for a library.

I discovered that the English Wikipedia has a considerably less detailed entry on it, which was a little surprising to me, considering there’s approximately 5 times more English content out there than Portuguese. I think it’s easy to forget the wealth of knowledge on the web that is strengthened by localities, even in countries where internet access and use  may be less prevalent. My own cultural insensitivity aside, it led me to a fun design question: if this place were a library, how could we best integrate public computing into the space?

4 minute history of Saudi Arabia

This is the intro to the “Peter Berg”:http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000916/ movie “The Kingdom”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0431197/ which is a great summary of Saudi history.

I got this video from “this site here”:http://goodexperience.com/blog/archives/010204.php which I think I picked up from “BoingBoing”:http://boingboing.net a while back. It’s worth watching.

Real Life Spider-man

I don’t know where I’ve been all these years to have not heard about a real-life, rebellious, epileptic, and most interestingly, French Spider-man that suffers from permanent vertigo. After having checked over “Yahoo’s Week in Photos”:http://duenos.net/article/215/YahoosWeekinPhotos, I came across the picture and caption you see above detailed in “this article”:http://www.enjoyfrance.com/content/view/153/36/. Upon further investigation, this urban arachnid does this thing all the time and not only has “an official site”:http://www.alainrobert.com/ but he’s got a “wiki”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alain_Robert, too. Well there go my dreams of becoming the world’s first non-mutant Spider-man. Shucks. Then again, if you’re a traditionalist that’s into the old-school Spider-man, kick back and relax while listening to “this website”:http://friends.cgnet.com/hhhh/misc/spidermansong.html.

Powdered Alcohol

Dutch students over at “Helicon Vocational Institute”:http://www.helicon.nl/content.jsp?objectid=12290 have invented a powdered alcoholic drink mix for a final school project. Since it’s in powdered form, it circumvents prohibitive tax and age-limit laws and therefore can be lawfully sold to minors. These Dutch students are quite the entrepreneurs, I guess. In case you’re curious, this powered mix is most likely an “anhydrous”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anhydrous mix with a touch of lime. Yummy! I found this article through the “oddly enough blog”:http://blogs.reuters.com/category/themes/oddly-enough/ through “Reuters.com”:http://www.reuters.com. Read “this article”:http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSPAR64994620070606 for more specific information.

Chinese green policy

One of the first articles to run on duenos.net was “this story”:http://duenos.net/article/43/a-different-approach-to-greening-the-countryside-in-china about officials in Fumin, China who went about greening the countryside by spray-painting a bare rock cliff with green paint. At the time the news was so recent that there were no pictures to be found, but here I was combing the “Treehugger”:http://treehugger.com pages and I found one. I just thought I’d post it in the interest of all things funny (in a sad, destructive kind of way).

¿Quieres Música Latina?

I recently returned a mi casa de México and was introduced to a bunch of songs that I wanted to listen to. Unfortunately, the local “P2P”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P2p network for “Lime Wire”:http://www.limewire.com/ doesn’t work all that well if nobody nearby is sharing these songs on their computer. So if you’re cravin’ for latino (or other international) music, try either “E-mule”:http://www.emule-project.net/home/perl/general.cgi?l=1 or “Ares”:http://aresgalaxy.sourceforge.net/. Both programs are fairly straightforward and completely gringo if downloaded on English speaking soil. ¿No te gusta música latina? Try the Spanish reggae song “Mis Ojos Lloran Por Ti”:http://big_boy.letras.hostgold.com.br/hospedagemsites/musicas_songs/32506-Mis_Ojos_Lloran_Por_Ti.html by Big Boys. It may start out slow, but it’s popular for a reason.

Piracy is down (the real kind)

As opposed to the bullish media-downloading market, naval piracy is way down compared to normal. In the last quarter, there were only 41 incidents of pirate activity compared to last year’s 61. The numbers itself are not that interesting but the way in which the international community analyzes and manages piracy is really cool. The pirate-control group is the “International Maritime Bureau”:http://www.icc-ccs.org/imb/overview.php part of “International Chamber of Commerce”:http://www.iccwbo.org/. View the IMB’s latest piracy report “here”:http://www.icc-ccs.org/main/news.php?newsid=83.

Russians plan Bering Tunnel

Russian engineering seems to be thinking pretty highly of itself these days. First it was the “floating power plant”:http://duenos.net/article/173/FloatingnuclearreactorbuiltbyRussians and now this, a 64 mile tunnel connecting Asia and North America across the International Date Line. The tunnel could revolutionize international trade, lowering the price of freight, passenger, and fiber-optic traffic between the world’s largest producer countries in east Asia and the largest consumer base, the United States.

The plan calls for two separate lengths of tunnel to meet halfway on the Diomede Islands pictured above. Of course this isn’t the first time a Bering Tunnel has been proposed. Before World War I, Czar Nicholas II had the idea to connect the two land masses and the “TKM-World Link tunnel”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TKM-World_Link has been on the table for over 5 years. Still, there are a lot of hurdles to jump before this idea becomes reality. In the meantime we should all consider how great it would be to take a train through Arctic waters in the world’s most active volcanic/earthquake zone.

The “Times article”:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article1680121.ece that reported the most recent moves towards tunneling. The picture is from “Wikipedia”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diomede_Islands.

Watching from the skies

Caracas law enforcement officials, hoping to lower their world’s worst crime rates, have bought 3 mini-airships equipped with cameras to look down on the city. The 50-ft long (15 m) vessels will be operated by remote control from a brand-new zeppelin command center in downtown Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. Apparently to further to deter crime, the floating camera platforms will be painted with phrases like “We watch over you for your security” in red letters. Big Brother references aside (it’s just too easy) maybe this will actually help the city to overcome its horrendous public safety records. The murder rates were so high that the government apparently stopped publishing the records last year.

More about the zeppelins at “the BBC”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6576413.stm. The picture is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.