How to sell $20 million in art? Rock, paper, scissors competition

When faced with deciding who should handle the auction of $20 million of art, Takashi Hashiyama, president of the Japanese electronics company Maspro Denkoh Corporation, turned to the age old game of rock, paper, scissors. Both Christie’s and Sotheby’s seemed equally qualified to handle the sale, so he told them to compete, and suggested the game.

In Japan, resorting to such games of chance is not unusual. “I sometimes use such methods when I cannot make a decision,” Mr. Hashiyama said in a telephone interview. “As both companies were equally good and I just could not choose one, I asked them to please decide between themselves and suggested to use such methods as rock, paper, scissors.”

. . .

“The client was very serious about this,” said Jonathan Rendell, a deputy chairman of Christie’s in America who was involved with the transaction. “So we were very serious about it, too.”

Kanae Ishibashi, the president of Christie’s in Japan, declined to discuss her preparations for the meeting. But her colleagues in New York said she spent the weekend researching the psychology of the game online and talking to friends, including Nicholas Maclean, the international director of Christie’s Impressionist and modern art department.

Mr. Maclean’s 11-year-old twins, Flora and Alice, turned out to be the experts Ms. Ishibashi was looking for. They play the game at school, Alice said, “practically every day.”

So who won? Well, naturally, it was the company who’s representative chose the better move. But since you probably want to know who that was, you’ll have to read the full article at the New York Times web site. (via DubiousQuality)

[tags]Game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine handler for $20 million art sale[/tags]

Mythbusters defeat “Never been beaten” digital lock

(via Engadget)

I love watching Mythbusters. My favorite myth to date is probably the chicken gun myth (which they confirmed to be true), although there are so many other good ones that are close. This video of a recent Mythbusters shows the guys defeating a digital fingerprint lock with a latex copy of a fingerprint, a ballistics gel copy, and finally a photocopy with a little water on it. This doesn’t mean defeating this types of locks is trivial, but it does show that these types of locks aren’t as foolproof safe as many people believe them to be.

Of course, this type of testing has been done before. It’s just more fun watching the Mythbusters do it.

[tags]Mythbusters defeat undefeatable lock, Mythbusters break biometric lock[/tags]

Hurd (HP’s new CEO) plays the “I don’t remember” Reaganesque card

I like Reagan and think he was a fine President – don’t take that headline the wrong way. However, much like Reagan during the whole Iran Contra debacle, Hurd played the “I don’t remember” and “I didn’t know about that” game in a completely unconvincing manner. In a press conference (in which, oddly enough, the press were not allowed to do anything but listen, kinda making is a press-listening event, which in its own right is unusual I suppose) Hurd said he authorized a fake email to help track down the source of a news leak at HP, but that he didn’t recall if he had authorized sending spyware with the email.

He acknowledged approving a plot earlier this year to trick a CNet reporter into revealing her sources by having an investigator e-mail her, posing as a disgruntled HP employee. But he said he didn’t recall approving another gambit: e-mailing the reporter a purported HP document containing hidden spyware to trace her sources.

And he admitted he was given a report in March detailing the methods used by investigators, as well as the results. “I understand there is also a written report of the investigation addressed to me and others, but I did not read it. I could have, and I should have,” he said.

Ahhhhh, the whole ignorance is bliss defense. Of course, we all know that lack of knowledge does not excuse one from a crime – just ask my wife about the ticket she got for turning right at a no-right-turn intersection where the sign was completely covered by a tree (we had pictures at the time – the sign was indeed not visible but the judge still made her pay because “you should have known” about the sign). He had the necessary information to know what was being done. And seeing how important the high level executives seemed to believe this matter was, I would expect he should have read the report to know what was going on.

Hurd said the “trigger for me” that something was wrong came in the form of an e-mail he received after a May board meeting. At that point, he retained the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius to do “a more comprehensive investigation,” he said.

I’m just curious on this – if he retained a law firm in May (or June, if it took a while to react or the board meeting was late in the month), why did we not find out about HP’s illegal activities until August? I mean, if this was really important to handle properly, which Hurd seems to claim in his statements if you read the full article, why wasn’t it important to let people know of HP’s illegal activities before that information escaped somehow last month?

Elsewhere in the article is this quote from former HP chairwoman Dunn:

Dunn issued a statement saying she was resigning “in the best interests” of HP and blaming the fiasco on the investigators the company used, saying she didn’t select them. She said she “followed the proper processes” but that the investigators “let me and the company down.”

Again – “It’s not my fault. I played by the rules. Someone else screwed up.” In other words, she’s really an innocent victim of someone else’s mistake. I almost shed a tear for her. (via Dan Gillmor’s blog)

[tags]More on the HP illegal spying case, HP execs play “Pass the buck” on blame for spy fiasco[/tags]

Batteries with built-in USB charger

(via TechEBlog)

When you carry around rechargeable batteries, you typically have to carry around a recharger, too. And none of us ever really want to carry the charger. So someone came up with the perfect battery for those of us who always seem to travel with a laptop – batteries with a built-in USB plug for recharging.

aa_usb_cell.jpg

These AA batteries are currently set to ship in the next few days in the UK. In the future, AAA, C, D, phone charger cells, and 9 volt sizes should be available.

[tags]Rechargeable batteries with built in USB plug[/tags]

Checked baggage security – take your gun

What’s the best way to be certain your checked baggage won’t be tampered with? Apparently, the answer is to travel with a gun in your checked baggage. Matt Brandon tells his unfortunate tale of losing some expensive camera equipment while traveling, due to the camera being in checked baggage instead of hand carried. The interesting part comes in the comments to his post.

One note on using TSA rules to your advantage.

Weapons that travel MUST be in a hard case, must be declared upon check-in, and MUST BE LOCKED by a TSA official.

A “weapons” is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols – those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets – are considered weapons…and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States.

I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare…I’m given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me.

That’s the procedure. The case is extra-tracked…TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero.

It’s a great way to travel with camera gear…I’ve been doing this since Dec 2001 and have had no problems whatsoever.

Hope it works for you…
John

(via Bruce Schneier’s security blog via boingboing)

PlayStation 1 emulator for the PSP

(via Engadget)

What’s a hacker going to do with a new gadget? The thing to do now-a-days seems to be either try to get Linux to run on it or get an emulator to run on it. In the case of the PSP, a hacker going by the name Yoshihiro has released a beta of PSX-P, a PlayStation 1 emulator for the PSP. There’s even a YouTube video showing off the emulator. So the hacking community has apparently beaten Sony to the punch on releasing a PS1 emulator for the PSP.

Now for the bad news on this. Some research on the released binary have shown that PSX-P is based on the PCSX emulator, which has been released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). While this means the software can be used for a derivative work like PSX-P, it also means that PSX-P cannot legally be released without also making the source code available as well. Furthermore, PSX-P also contains code from P.E.Op.S. and SDL, two other GPLed software packages. This means that you might have trouble finding the PSX-P binary until source is released, as many people in the emulator community believe strongly in the GPL and will not provide software based on GPL code until the source for the derivative software is also provided.

Additionally, the emulator currently only runs about 10 frames per second. So more tuning and tweaking will be necessary to get this to at least 30 FPS, with even higher framerates desireable to allow for more complex games which might otherwise slow down too much to be playable. And finally, you’ll need to track down SCPH1001.BIN, the PS1 BIOS, in order to use the emulator. To actually play a game, once you have the BIOS you will need to rip your PS1 CD to an ISO image to put on a memory stick.

So there are some obstacles to using this emulator, assuming you can track it down. But if you get it, you can be the first geek on your block playing all the cool PS1 titles on your PSP.

[tags]PlayStation 1 emulator for PSP, Play your PS1 games on your PSP[/tags]

What I’m working on

Since things have been slow around here lately, I thought I’d put up a
little bit about things I’m working on now. Posting-wise, I’ve got some
information on the recently released PlayStation 1 emulator for the PSP,
plus a travel security tip that I think is rather handy. I’m now trying
to standardize on a different posting style which I hope will lead to
faster page loads and more content available in a brief format while
still making it easy to see full stories on things that interest you.

I’m still trying to catch up on all the recent techie and gaming news
that I want to pass along. After being in a time crunch that forced me
to drop site updates for a few days, I find myself with still over 1000
web articles I want to review to see if there are more interesting
things I want to post. I expect to be mostly caught up within the next
week, but I’ve been wrong about that before.

I’m using some new site tools to help me better see what visitors are
doing on the site, as far as reading articles and following links. I
must admit I was surprised at how few people are following links away
from my site. Perhaps I’m putting too much detail in my stories? I
welcome feedback on what I can do to improve posts here or the site
overall.

As I get new things working over the next few days, please feel free to
leave comments here or in any other post with your suggestions.
Hopefully most of what I do won’t change the front-end function of the
site. But let me know anything you see or want to see.

US travelers will be allowed to carry liquids on planes again

This is a small step forward away from security theater ploys that don’t do anything to actually make us safer. I’ve already written a lot about how improbable the original liquids on a plane attack was, but many people don’t believe what I’ve written or what I’ve linked to that others have written. Apparently someone in the government has taken some time to find out the feasability of actually bringing down an airplane via liquid explosives and found it’s probably not that easy and that even if it were attempted, it would take a bit more liquid than people typically carry on board.

Because of these findings, the government has relaxed the no-liquids ban to instead be a limited liquids rule with the allowance of small amounts of brought-from-home liquids as well as beverages purchased inside airport screening from “trusted” shops.

The new rules were announced during a late-morning news conference at Reagan National Airport. The previous, stricter ban was instituted last month after a plot to bomb jets flying into the United States was foiled.

Continue reading US travelers will be allowed to carry liquids on planes again

1000 page per minute printer

(via Engadget)

I am always skeptical of extreme claims such as this recent announcement from 2 Israeli researchers, but I am also hopeful that this will come about.

The innovative printer head created by engineers Moshe Einat and Nissim Einat works in a similar way as a liquid crystal display (LCD). But while an LCD emits tiny pixels of light, collectively forming the picture on your laptop or television, their print head emits pixels of ink. Their basic design is small, but it can be reproduced and the copies combined into one large printer head.

“Unlike traditional printer heads that are small and have to move back and forth across the page, our print head can be enlarged into one that is the size of a sheet of paper or larger. One can think of it as an ‘ink-emitting screen’,” Moshe Einat told PhysOrg.com. “This means it could print one page almost instantly, and hundreds of pages in just seconds.”

Traditional disclaimers apply here. The printer is not expected to be commercially available for another 2 years. In 2 years, we’ll hear that the technology is turning out to be harder to develope than originally expected, and it will be another 2 years before super high speed printers are available. A couple years after that, we’ll start seeing shipping products, but while fast, they will run at 1/10th the predicted speeds. At least, that’s what the skeptic in me sees.

It really is neat technology. It’s just now a question of can this be made and shipped anytime soon? I just know that most big breakthroughs in tech tend to be harder to deliver than originally expected.

[tags]1000 page per minute printer, Super high speed home printers on the horizon[/tags]