Saturday, January 17, 2015

Things I learned lately - 17 Jan

  • Silicon Valley was born of the dean of engineering at Stanford University's desire for graduates to start their own companies in the area as early as the 1940s.
  • The calorie amounts on food labels are useless, because processed food is almost fully digested, whereas raw, real food only processes the nutrients, proteins and sugars.
  • In the 17th century, beach goers used bathing machines to protect their modesty. Swimmers would step fully dressed into a horse-drawn cart topped with a hut. As the horse plodded out into the surf, the swimmer would change into his long-sleeved bathing suit. Only when the cart had reached a suitable distance from the shore would the swimmer emerge to frolic. When finished, he'd climb back into the cart and raise a flag to indicate he was ready to head in. The swimmer would change back into street clothes and emerge on the sand looking dapper.
  • Aerospace engineer Clayton Anderson was rejected from NASA's astronaut training program 15 times. He was accepted on the 16th application. He has spent 167 days in space and 38 hours on space walks.
  • Travellers going to the UK could have their cell phones seized by police, without grounds, and their data downloaded without their consent as part of the country's anti-terrorism laws. This applies to anyone arriving in the UK via rail, sea or air. Should border police confiscate your phone, they can download your photos, contact lists and call logs and hold onto them for as long as necessary. The contents of texts and emails are safe from prying eyes, though any contact information gleaned from messages are fair game.
  • Soon, your voice may be the only password you'll ever need. A voice biometrics platform is on its way from the makers of Siri.
  • The most famous example of a Google service that came out of a '20% project', is GMail. 20% projects are where Google gives its engineers 20% of their work week to focus on personal projects.
  • 10 things that exist because of Linux: Android OS; TiVo; NYSE; CERN; air traffic control; Google, Amazon and Facebook; nuclear subs; robotic milking systems; Japanese high speed train system; Toyota's info-tainment and comms system.
  • To know when to mate, a male giraffe will continuously headbutt the female in the bladder until she urinates. The male then tastes the pee and that helps it determine whether the female is ovulating.
  • It's becoming more commonplace for physical retailers to track you from the moment you enter the store. Physical retail stores still account for 90% of all purchases. Some retailers are gathering customer data from smart phones and using video surveillance to determine optimal store layouts and customized coupons offerings. Using Wi-Fi signals from your smart phone, retailers can learn how much time you spend in the store and each section, as well as how long it takes you to browse before making a purchase.
  • Comic-Con in San Diego has been going for 43 years.

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