Wired 15.12 comes in at two pounds, half the weight of a September Vogue. Most of it's the water weight of ads and a shopping guide, and I've summarized the meat of the issue in 1,200 words, so now you don't need to pick it up and risk ergonomic injury.
- Superpowers fighting to claim the melting, oil-rich Arctic will want the moon next; we need the rule of law.
- New unsticky "Clean Gum" won't mar sidewalks.
- Satellite photos caught an empty Burma during a communications blackout.
- Faceslam: Facebook snub. Crowd farming: Stadium foot traffic as power plant.
- Forty rocketeers made an X-Wing, but it exploded.
- Chipuya Town is a Japanese mobile MMORPG.
- Matter/antimatter mix powers superlaser.
- Athlete's foot medicine contains no surprises.
- Mr. Know-it-all: Surgical masks do little against Chinese pollution. eBay bidding just for good feedback violates TOS. Shark cartilage doesn't fight cancer.
- Russia's covering Chernobyl with a steel shelter.
- Fire hoses spray mist on ignitable gases.
- Lace running shoes more comfortably: One normal cross, then up to the next eyelet, then cross again.
- Memorize numbers by giving each digit a mnemonic, then think of those mnemonics appearing along a walk around your block.
- Google buys companies that dominate, are first to a space, or could be a threat if Microsoft buys them.
- Self-absorbed geeks = "microcelebrities."
- Preteens are the best competitive texters.
- If The Golden Compass makes bank we'll see two sequels.
- Scotsmen have reinvented ancient Scottish ale.
- Infoporn: Silly Santa math.
- Stripper-blogger Diablo Cody wrote the sweet new comedy Juno.
- Comic book Persepolis became a 9-out-of-10 film.
- F4CC motorcycle could go over 200 mph but the tires would melt.
The Angry Mogul
- CD sales fell 10 percent in 2006. The future is digital.
- Universal Music CEO Doug Morris made Yahoo and YouTube pay to run music videos. He made Microsoft pay UMG a dollar per Zune. He's pissed at piracy. But he's letting Amazon sell DRM-free MP3s.
- Why DRM-free? To break Apple's monopoly. iTunes represents 20 percent of all U.S. music sales.
- UMG's digital revenue comes from iTunes and cell companies (ringtones).
- UMG will sell a subscription service (with DRM) called Total Music, urging Microsoft to add it to Zunes.
- The secret behind future "supertall" buildings is the buttressed core, a Y-shaped floor plan with a strong central support.
- Structural engineer Bill Baker is the go-to man for supertalls.
- Baker designed the butressed core to maximize window access and usable space in skyscrapers like the over-2600-foot Burj Dubai; it makes buildings taller, faster to build, and potentially more profitable.
Ode to Joystick
- Video Games Live directs live orchestra and choir videogame music performances.
- Creator Tommy Tallarico and conductor Jack Wall arrange the score and direct local musicians at symphony halls.
- VGL and competitor Play! are barely profitable, but they bring a new 20s/30s crowd to symphony halls.
Getting a Grip
- Making robots interact with a human environment, even finding and picking up a stapler, is tough.
- Solution: Make them learn. AI, for real this time, honest!
- RoboCub is a humanoid bot being taught to mimic and learn from human motions it sees.
What Went Wrong
- Iraq went wrong because we concentrated on the hardware, not the social landscape.
- Since the '90s, everyone (including Wired) got excited about war in the information age.
- Under Bush, Rumsfeld made an Office of Force Transformation to give the armed forces a $230-billion networked makeover.
- That hasn't helped against our tech-primitive enemies in Iraq.
- Oh, our technology worked great for invasion, but it's rubbish at securing peace. For that, we actually need troops.
- For example, 150 troops are in charge of security for the 50,000-person Iraqi city of Tarmiyah.
- Their leading officer recruits local watchmen to help.
- US forces have sophisticated command centers on a network (CPOF), but the system was designed for "short, decisive battles" against armies, not extended missions against insurgents.
- Many forces can't get online enough to make CPOF useful.
- Meanwhile, insurgents just use the Internet and TV, and they already know the local culture.
- Psyops agent Joe Colabuno wins over informants by knowing the culture, name-dropping sheikhs and debating using the Koran. He makes posters spoofing insurgents to sway public perception.
- General Patraeus still believes in network-centric warfare, but as the man behind the surge, he believes in adequate troops too.
- The co-conceiver of networked warfare says: Combat operations are like football; stability operations are like soccer. The network model needs to adapt.
- The Army is adapting, spending $41 million on "Human Terrain Teams" of "150 social scientists, software geeks, and experts on local culture." They're credited for more local support and less combat in certain areas.
- HTTs will become more integral, but we don't know if they'll be armed or given command authority.
Back to the Futurama
- Five years after Fox canceled it, David Cohen and Matt Groening's Futurama returns on Comedy Central.
- The new shows — four features split into 16 22-minute episodes — are also being released on four DVDs starting November 27.
- Fox shuffled the show during its four seasons, and ratings dropped.
- Added to those four years, reruns and DVD sales earned over $100 million, estimates a writer.
- Creators are David X. Cohen and Matt Groening.
- Groening, Simpsons creator, still draws a weekly comic strip called Life in Hell. He has never seen any Star Trek.
- Cohen is a Trekkie, invented "Worst. Episode. Ever," and loves sci-fi.
- Futurama is about pandering to the elite audience. Cohen checks the web to see fans discover hidden jokes; then he makes the jokes harder.
Your DNA Decoded
- A thousand-dollar test tells you what diseases your genes predispose you to, as well as other factors.
- In the future, we'll use genetic information to plan our lives, and we could live an extra ten years.
- 23andMe, founded by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google cofounder Sergey Brin, will give people their genetic info and build a database for research. Google invested $3.9 million.
- FedEx 23andMe a ten-minute wad of spit, and view your results online in under a month.
- There's still much to learn about which combinations of genes cause what conditions.
- It cost the Human Genome Project $3 billion to map an entire genome in 2003; it's about $250,000 now.
- Disease isn't solved yet; half of heart disease cases aren't explained by known risk factors.
Chat: Rich Barton, Zillow
- The housing crunch makes Zillow's algorithmic house appraisal more useful.
- Selling houses is no longer binary: homeowners can name a "make me move" price.
The Bone Factory
- Many medical skeletons are illegally shipped overseas. India has long been the biggest exporter.
- The country banned exporting human remains in 1985, but the black market thrives.
- India banned exports after a bone trader with 1500 child skeletons was suspected of kidnapping and killing the children.
- Skeletons are vital for medical schools.
- Example process: Corpses are taken from funeral pyres or graves, anchored in a river where they're eaten to mush and bone, scrubbed, sunbleached, and sanitized.
The Secrets of Silicon Valley
- "Ted," founder of TheFunded.com (where startuppers rate venture capital firms), is Adeo Ressi.
- Ressi, a self-promoter, made millions with 90s dot-coms, then started an online gaming platform Game Trust, which was taken over by investors.
- Ressi started TheFunded in response, getting friends like Weblogs Inc. founder Jason Calacanis to tell stories.
- When firms started invading TheFunded, Ressi banned shills to keep ratings real.
- Angel investments are surpassing VC money; hedge funds offer a low-maintenance alternative. VCs have to emphasize "customer service."