Archive for June, 2009

More Gtalk bugs

Wow, stalkers rejoice?!

Now if you want to fool the people and know about their online status even when they have logged in with invisible feature activated, then this is possible. Poor Gtalk!

Check If Someone is Invisible, Offline Or Blocked You On GTalk

Fighting words and their consequences

Somebody is in the news recently for allegedly getting assaulted after uttering fighting words. It turns out fighting words are commonly excepted from protected free speech. Contrary to the elementary folklore, free speech appears not to be universal, but is thought to be based on the libertarian principles argued by Mill, that speech which does not do harm to others should not be proscribed. All right, so far this is all common knowledge. But is that all? Is free speech (harm or not) a flawed idea to begin with? There is an old and generally discursive article by Kendall called The “Open Society” and Its Fallacies, which challenges the tenets of Mill’s libertarian stance on speech at its core.
(Read the article)

falling elevator

Saw some advice on what to do in case your elevator loses power and starts to freefall. Things like pushing all the buttons, standing against the wall, etc. I’d like to ask an even more basic question: Why would this scenario even happen? Has it ever happened? If so, it must have been an elevator with incredibly bad engineering.

I don’t know how elevators actually are designed, but I know they have counterweights and brakes. So if I were to design them, I’d be sure the brakes are always engaged mechanically by default, and only could be released under power. I would then make sure the shaft is long and there is an emergency spring-loaded bungee cord to make sure the elevator never hits bottom. I’d even add enough padding at the bottom and make sure the shaft below first floor (where the elevator is not supposed to go) are entirely made of braking material. How could anybody die by falling in such a design?

Detecting true perfect pitch

This article (also this) proposes that there are two types of perfect pitch, “ability to perceptually encode” and “heightened tonal memory”. And these groups perform differently on a tonal matching test. I take the first to mean the ability to match any tone whatsoever precisely, while the second one to mean the ability to have long-term memory of certain heard tones.
(Read the article)