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Hugh Wimberly
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Hugh Wimberly

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When we launched Google+ over three years ago, we had a lot of restrictions on what name you could use on your profile. This helped create a community made up of real people, but it also excluded a number of people who wanted to be part of it without using their real names. 

Over the years, as Google+ grew and its community became established, we steadily opened up this policy, from allowing +Page owners to use any name of their choosing to letting YouTube users bring their usernames into Google+. Today, we are taking the last step: there are no more restrictions on what name you can use. 

We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be. Thank you for expressing your opinions so passionately, and thanks for continuing to make Google+ the thoughtful community that it is.
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Google+ policy of accepting any name stands in sharp contrast to Facebook's effort to restrict names to those on legal IDs. After Zukerberg announced that Facebook will begin charging a user's fee on November 1, 2014, I wonder if we will see a mass exodus towards Google+?
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Hugh Wimberly

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It offends me that we might need to sign a petition to get the president to seriously consider not violating the civil liberties of ~every American citizen. But, maybe that's the world we live in. It's still something we need to show our support for, so sign this if you care about digital privacy.
 
Doesn’t the stuff you keep online deserve the same protection as the stuff you keep offline? Under a law called ECPA, government agencies in the U.S. can see what you’ve written and stored online without a warrant. Sign this petition to the White House and tell the government to get a warrant!
http://goo.gl/ecAjrS 
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I think it's sad that anyone still thinks petitions work.  I'd like more angry mobs in the street.
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We just updated our Transparency Report, showing how many requests Google gets for information about its users. But we're not allowed to give the full story because the U.S. government says that requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) must be kept secret. We can tell you this: Requests have more than doubled around the world since 2009, and more than tripled in the U.S.: http://g.co/u5sp

Share this if you believe you have a right to know what our governments are up to. 
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Hugh Wimberly

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I don't usually come into the office before dawn, but when I do my first coffee break coincides with my favorite part of morning.
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Hugh Wimberly

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If you haven't seen the original, you'll probably want to go watch it first, but I won't link to it here. This parody/commentary was exceptionally well done. Thanks, Auckland law students!
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Nicely done. And on the Robin Thicke original I have to say I am surprised. I thought that kind of song and thematic material would not have survived in our present age, but possibly like a pendulum our morals and ethics swing back and forth from generation to generation.
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Hugh Wimberly

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With some ingenuity, I think a contraption could be made that would repeatedly lift the fallen end of a very long circular chain and keep this going indefinitely. It would make for a great movement sculpture, a metal fountain.
 
This video is definitely worth five minutes of your time. Steve Mould does something really simple -- takes a really long beaded chain in a beaker, and drops the chain over the side. And what happens is pretty magical, so he films it in slow motion and explains, very clearly, why it happens.

What are you seeing here? Part of it is simply gravity: the weight of the chain that's hanging over the side is pulling the rest of the chain over. Part of it is waves in the motion of the chain. Part of it is the fact that the chain can't change direction infinitely quickly. And all of it will, as io9 puts it (http://io9.com/this-is-the-bead-chain-experiment-its-about-to-melt-y-602029455), melt your brain.

via +Jennifer Ouellette, who finds the coolest damned stuff on the Internet. If you're not following her, you should be.
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It was driven by an electric motor, as I recall, and there were various objects one might use to make waves in the chain. One could also adjust the speed of the motor. 
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Hugh Wimberly

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This is such a cool investigation. Who turns static in the audio of a YouTube video into a GPS trace of a helicopter? Only Oona!
 
Mystery signal from a helicopter
Last night, YouTube suggested a video for me. It was a raw clip from a news helicopter filming a police chase in Kansas City, Missouri. I quickly noticed a weird interference in the audio, especially the left channel, and thought it must be caused by the ch...
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Hugh Wimberly

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This is impossible. Or at least mindbogglingly impressive. I can't believe that he's not holding the interest of the other jugglers; apparently for Ravi this is such a mundane performance that it's not even worth paying attention. Jeez.
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C'mon +Thom Wall , get on it!
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I don't have a problem with heights. I like rock climbing, cliff diving, and working on scaffolding and catwalks. But this is a little frightening. Free climbing 1700 feet up: because ropes would just slow you down.
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Probably they don't do base jumping parachutes because their insurance won't cover it.  And if they fall rather than jumping, they'll probably bounce off the tower the whole way down instead of getting far enough away for a chute to be effective.  Maybe if they also wore squirrel suits...
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OP is so much grittier, earthier than RP. I'd love to see one of these---I've heard that sometimes videos of OP Globe performances are shown at movie theaters.
 
Friend of mine posted this over on Facebook from the Open University. Ignore the weirds cuts and it's actually an interesting watch over coffee this morning.
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I completely agree. There are good reasons why Scottish English would have diverged less than British English from OP, and I imagine that's the case, but also, I suspect that it's really hard to recreate an accent, and Scottish English is the closest and so ends up being the fallback. I suspect that listening to actual speech from the period would be more different than this clip manages. Among other things, I think their prosody is off; too slow, and perhaps too low.
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Wise
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What's this nonsense about the new NSA datacenter in Utah holding 5 zettabytes? 

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/04/12/nsa-data-center-front-and-center-in-debate-over-liberty-security-and-privacy/

Even-the-NSA-is-implying-that-this-is-true: http://nsa.gov1.info/utah-data-center/
(edit: the site is a spoof that I inexcusably fell for) 

Let's assume this is true:
* At the reported $1.7 billion cost of the facility, they're paying $0.31/TB. That's 1/2000th the cost of each year of storage in Amazon S3. The NSA should get into the Cloud storage business!
* Just those hard drives should cost 100x the reported DC cost (tape is cheaper, but not by much).
* Reported worldwide hard drive sales are under 600 million units (public), so there would have to be a "covert" HD industry 10x larger than the public HD industry to build one of these data centers a year.
* A conservative estimate on the power consumption of those drives would require the data center be supplied with 10^10 Watts, more power than the largest nuclear plant in the world can provide---just the drives, mind you, at idle.

So if these numbers are so obviously false, why have they been repeated ad nauseum?
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By no means am I arguing that the NSA isn't capturing all sorts of information. Even if they were recording every single domestic phone call, that could be stored in one millionth the amount of space they're claimed to have.
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