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Chaos Computer Club have given Apple one in the eye by undermining their fingerprint biometric security feature within 48 hours of the handset being in the publics hands. This makes the NYPD pavement pounding exhortations of the merits of the 5S security ring a little more hollow. Rest assured that Apple including such a feature is probably the thin wedge of biometrics featuring more in consumer devices. For one Valve, the online gaming colossus, have plans to include biometrics in their forthcoming console Steambox. That's a concerning trend, given the amount of countries already deploying the technology within organs of the state. So what else other biometrics can we expect to see in the gadgets of the near future?

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As unmanned aerial vehicles continue to populate the skies above battlefields and college campuses faster than anyone can count them, the US government has taken a keen interest in equipping them with an increasing number of state-of-the-art surveillance technologies. The latest to be revealed is DARPA’s frightening ARGUS-IS, a record-setting 1.8 gigapixel sensor array which can observe and record an area half the size of Manhattan. The newest in the family of "wide area persistent surveillance" tools, the system can detect and track moving objects as small as six inches from 20,000 feet in the air.

But what’s most terrifying about ARGUS (fittingly named after Argus Panoptes, the 100-eyed giant of Greek myth) is what happens...

Continue reading…

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IBM's integrated silicon nanophotonics transceiver on a chip; optical waveguides are highlighted here in blue, and the copper conductors of the electronic components in yellow.

IBM Research

IBM has developed a technology that integrates optical communications and electronics in silicon, allowing optical interconnects to be integrated directly with integrated circuits in a chip. That technology, called silicon nanophotonics, is now moving out of the labs and is ready to become a product. It could potentially revolutionize how processors, memory, and storage in supercomputers and data centers interconnect.

Silicon nanophotonics were first demonstrated by IBM in 2010 as part of IBM Research's efforts to build Blue Waters, the NCSA supercomputer project that the company withdrew from in 2011. But IBM Research continued to develop the technology, and today announced that it was ready for mass production. For the first time, the technology "has been verified and manufactured in a 90-nanometer CMOS commercial foundry," Dr. Solomon Assefa, Nanophotonics Scientist for IBM Research, told Ars.

A single CMOS-based nanophotonic transceiver is capable of converting data between electric and optical with virtually no latency, handling a data connection of more than 25 gigabits per second. Depending on the application, hundreds of transceivers could be integrated into a single CMOS chip, pushing terabits of data over fiber-optic connections between processors, memory, and storage systems optically over distances ranging from two centimeters to two kilometers.

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If you've studied design at all, you've probably encountered Lorem Ipsum placeholder text at some point. Anywhere there is text, but the meaning of that text isn't particularly important, you might see Lorem Ipsum.


Most people recognize it as Latin. And it is. But it is arbitrarily rearranged and not quite coherent Latin, extracted from a book Cicero wrote in 45 BC. Here's the complete quote, with the bits and pieces that make up Lorem Ipsum highlighted.

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem, quia voluptas sit, aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos, qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt, neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum, quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci[ng] velit, sed quia non numquam [do] eius modi tempora inci[di]dunt, ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit, qui in ea voluptate velit esse, quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum, qui dolorem eum fugiat, quo voluptas nulla pariatur?

At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint, obcaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa, qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga.

But what does it all mean? Here's an English translation with the same parts highlighted.

Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?

On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain.

Of course the whole point of Lorem Ipsum is that the words aren't supposed to mean anything, so attempting to divine its meaning is somewhat … unsatisfying, perhaps by design. Lorem Ipsum is a specific form of what is generally referred to somewhat cheekily as "Greeking":

Greeking is a style of displaying or rendering text or symbols, not always from the Greek alphabet. Greeking obscures portions of a work for the purpose of either emphasizing form over details or displaying placeholders for unavailable content. The name is a reference to the phrase "Greek to me", meaning something that one cannot understand, so that it might as well be in a foreign language.

So when you need filler or placeholder text, you naturally reach for Lorem Ipsum as the standard. The theory is that, since it's unintelligible, nobody will attempt to read it, but instead focus on other aspects of the design. If you put readable text in the design, people might think the text is important to the design, that the text represents the sort of content you expect to see, or that the text somehow itself needs to be copyedited and updated and critiqued.

(Regular readers of this blog may remember that I am fond of using Alice in Wonderland in this manner, when I need a bit of text to demonstrate something in a post.)


However, not everyone agrees that relying on a standard boilerplate greeked placeholder text is appropriate, even going so far as to call for the death of Lorem Ipsum. I think it depends what you're trying to accomplish. I once noted that it's better to use real content to avoid Blank Page Syndrome, for example.

There are quite a few websites that helpfully offer up the classic Lorem Ipsum text in various eminently copy-and-pastable forms.

Classic Lorem Ipsum

Beyond that, if you just want a bunch of, uh, interesting text to fill an area, there a lot – and I mean a lot – of websites to choose from. So many in fact that I was a little overwhelmed trying to index them all. I've tried to broadly categorize the ones I did find, below. If you know of more, feel free to leave a comment and I'll update the list.


Clever English Tricks



Social Networks

TV, Movies and Media

Possibly NSFW


This is a lot to go through. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd say Fillerati because it's all dignified and stuff. But I think truer to the spirit of Lorem Ipsum are definitely the homophonic transformations, which consistently blow my mind every time I attempt to read them. Isn't that the implied goal of any properly greeked text? You were one deliciously perverse professor of romance languages, Howard L. Chace.

In today's Pinteresting world, images are arguably more important than text. But what is the Lorem Ipsum of images? Is there even one? I guess you could just slap some Lorem Ipsum text in an image, but where is the fun in that? Anyway, there are also plenty of websites offering up placeholder images of various types to go along with your Lorum Ipsum placeholder text.


I'm not sure the world needs any more Lorem Ipsum-alikes than we already have at this point. Like the market for ironic t-shirts, the Internet has ensured that our placeholder greeked text needs have not merely been met but vastly exceeded for the forseeable future. But after discovering all the creative things people have done with Lorem Ipsum, and text placeholders in general, it's sure tempting to dream yet another one up, isn't it?

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