It's hard to classify oneself as a true nerd without doing some dabbling with Linux. For my first foray with the penguin, I decided to take things up a notch and install Linux on my iPod. Nerds more hardcore than I seem to be able to get Linux running on pretty much anything with a printed circuit board and a screen, often just to prove that it's possible, but with iPod Linux there are some exciting ends to the painfully geeky means.
For me, motivation number one was to have the entire Wikipedia on my iPod. Although I was initially skeptical of the anyone-can-change-anything concept, Wikipedia has since proved to be a regularly mind-blowing source for information on, well, anything. Where else could I find out that Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector during the English Interregnum on my birthday, or that Nintendo's Mario might be from Brooklyn?
Since I almost always have my iPod with me, I'm now packing all those interesting facts and more at all times—just this weekend I was able to become an expert on the George Washington statue in New York's Union Square while waiting to meet some friends there. The articles translate surprisingly well to the black-and-white screen of my older iPod, and all the embedded links to other articles (how many have you clicked on here?) work just as they do on the Web. And the whole thing, surprisingly enough, fits into only an 800-megabyte file.
Check out the Encyclopodia project, as well as ipodlinux.org, for more information on how to get started, and stay tuned to the blog for more updates as I continue to geek out with iPod Linux. —John Mahoney
Even though my Gmail spam filter seems to get smarter every day, my inbox is still occasionally graced with tempting ads for discount pharmaceuticals and hot mortgage deals. But now Ive got a second line of defense: the good people at spamrecycling.com. The site will take unwanted spam (or an unwanted e-mail from anyone, for that matter) and randomly transform it into a nice fractal-like graphic (click the image to see mine)
, all in real time. Simply forward a piece of spam to email@example.com and then check your inbox for directions on how to watch your spam art being created and how to sign up for the sites hourly newsletter (just kidding). —John Mahoney
Maybe movie theaters are just being too polite. No matter how many times the friendly animated popcorn tells the audience to turn off its cellphones and pagers, few movies can go their entire length without someones Big Pimpin ringtone blowing up in everyones face.
Instead of depending on the chides of talking concessions, theaters can now gain full control over the usage of cellphones with nothing more than a quick nanotech paint job. Taking sub-microscopic pipes called nanotubes and filling them with copper, a company called NaturalNano has developed a paint that is able to passively block specific radio frequencies. When teamed with a special filtering device that monitors RF signals from the outside world and transmits some or all of them into the blocked area, the paint provides a cost-effective way to fully control the radio traffic coming in and out of any room.
The possibilities are endless. Concert halls could choose to allow cellphone usage only during intermissions, schools could prevent students from cheating using text messages—all the while allowing emergency signals to pass through unaffected—and movies could be enjoyed sans Jay-Z interludes.
Guess the talking popcorn should start looking for a new gig. —John Mahoney