Interesting, Cool and Useful – Apr 07

Cool by on April 2, 2007 at 10:32 pm


  • Spacecraft that surf magnetic fields. A spacecraft could use a radioactive isotope to propel itself using the magnetic fields of planets (much smaller than previously discussed solar sails).
  • The color red reduces achievement. They make no mention of the size of the difference, but the researchers claim that the color red reduces performance on tests.
  • Solids, Liquids, Gases & String-net liquids? Researchers discover a material that doesn’t fit into one of the three known states of matter. They then go onto propose a new unifying theory of light and matter: string nets. String theory has pretty much been put to bed, but this might have legs.
  • The Glove. A DARPA project that provides additional endurance by cooling the blood through a chilled sphere in a glove. I’m curious if these affects can be found in a pool. The entire article provides a great look at some of DARPA’s soldier enhancement programs, including one looking at ‘de-animation’ of wounded soldiers.


  • Planet Earth television series. Rahul pointed me towards this incredible mini-series on the Discovery Channel. Set your Tivo to record it - it is really well done.
  • Wikipedia search traffic. A continually updating chart of which Wikipedia articles are viewed the most (largely driven by search trends IMHO). Fascinating zeitgeist - the Battle of Thermopylae is currently #1.
  • Microdrone. The carbon fiber body clearly indicates this isn’t for consumers, and it doesn’t look military grade - I’m curious who would use this.


  • Ads that hack your computer (from Mathew Johnson). Ads which use ActiveX and other Windows exploits to install spyware. Yet another reason to be careful where you surf (or run Microsoft Instant Messenger).
  • Getting Firefox to work on Vista. Kurt found the solution to my Firefox on Vista problem - as it turns out, the issue was really with our linksys router, not my Firefox/Vista install. Anyway, Firefox works consistently now.
  • Paint.Net. I had hoped that this could be a MSPaint replacement, but it is already too bloated (or my system is too slow). It does make a great photoshop alternative for the average user.


  1. sa — April 3, 2007 @ 7:50 am

    why do you not like mspaint? it is one of the few NON-bloated programs in the typical windows install (unless of course they ‘improved’ in Vista and made it bloated).

  2. davenaff — April 3, 2007 @ 8:40 am

    MSPaint is SO close to being a useful lightweight app. But it does several simple things horribly. The most obvious of those is cropping.

  3. mathew — April 4, 2007 @ 9:27 pm

    thanks for the anchor text!

  4. Bob — April 7, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

    >but it is already too bloated (or my system is too slow).
    Just wondering, what’s your system specs?

  5. davenaff — April 8, 2007 @ 8:44 am

    1.6GHz Pentium M, 1 GB RAM, running Vista. According to Windows, my Vista Experience Index is a 1.0, due to poor graphics performance.

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