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Things That Make Me Happy

• Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon is available, in its entirety, online, at both the Internet Archive and Google Video. As either MPEG or Flash video, of course, so it's not as good as a DVD version, but still. This is one of the best movies ever made, and has become a fundamental piece of cultural knowledge: it's the story of a truth told four ways. (Via WMMNA)

• The $100 Laptop will use a new -- and very clever -- form of security to prevent virus and malware attacks. Rather than the traditional (and not very effective) firewall and "are you sure you want to do this?" security method, the designers have gone with a system that gives each application its own "virtual machine." A virus that infects a web connection, for example, would only ever be able to affect the web software, and would never be able to infect other programs, including the file system. The emergence of new system security models rock, both because it means we're not stuck with failing paradigms, and because it could have very interesting implications for biological immune systems.

• 17-Year-Old Madhavi Gavini, a student at the Mississippi Institute of Science and Mathematics, has figured out a novel cure for Pseudomonas bacteria, an opportunistic bacteria that ravages people with suppressed immune systems (such as Cystic Fibrosis and AIDS). What's more, it's based on common plants and herbs. Best of all, she's made it open source.

While Madhavi could become a millionaire by patenting her work, she has something else in mind: making it openly available. She points out, "If I were going to patent this, the rights would have to be sold to a pharmaceutical company, and that would greatly increase the cost of the drug once it's developed. So to prevent that from happening, by publishing it, the information becomes readily available and any company that wants to manufacture it, would be able to. So the price would be much lower due to competition and the people who need it most will have access to it."

(Via open...)

• About a decade ago, I helped a television producer named Rick Okie imagine the world of 2010 for a science fiction show called "Earth: Final Conflict." The show had its ups and downs, but did have some very cool future artifacts, most notably the GlobalLink -- a handheld wireless communication device with a scroll-out screen. It was a design that struck me as being eminently plausible, only needing a few more tech advances to make real.

It looks like tech has advanced, as the Luxembourg company Polymer Vision has teamed up with Telecom Italia to produce the "Cellular-Book" (aka the "READIUS"), a handheld wireless communication device with a scroll-out screen.

Here's a side-by-side of the GlobalLink (left) and Cellular-Book (right):


Just needs the built-in camera. (Via Smart Mobs)

• Finally, according to the British Medical Journal, learning to play the Didgeridoo is an effective treatment for sleep apnea. Swiss researchers found that eight weeks of didgeridoo instruction sufficiently strengthened throat muscles to reduce snoring and daytime sleepiness at least as well as the conventional treatment for sleep apnea, a "positive airway pressure" mask worn over the nose and mouth all night. Considering that sleep apnea can be a precursor to pulmonary and cardiac problems, even death, this is a clever treatment of a serious problem. Janice wants to know (a) does it work on non-apnea snoring, and (b) where I could start getting didgeridoo lessons.


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