Want to give yourself an epileptic fit?

Well look no further (literally perhaps) then the Seizure Robots site.Killer japanese seizure robots with cheesy 70s soundtrack, wow!. Just what the doctor ordered first thing on a monday morning…


Art imitates life (for e-voting anyway)

E-voting is a very sensitive issue in Ireland. It was due to be introduced for local and MEP (Member of the European parliament) elections in may of this year but real concerns about the reliability and security of the proposed system caused it to be abandoned to the embarassment of the current government. Many computer science academics, myself included, were distinctly worried about the proposed system based on disclosed implementation details, it’s closed nature and many glaring flaws in both hardware and software that would have mandated the use of a Voter-Verified Audit Trail (VVAT). So we created petitions and discussed the pertinent issues with politicians across the media. As happens, this was often portrayed as academics having a left-ish political agenda. It seemed like we weren’t allowed to disapprove of the system on purely technical grounds. Perhaps a degree of intellectual hubris is desirable when a politician explains to a computer scientist that “the system can’t be hacked as it’s not on the internet”…. No kidding!

In the US, Diebold elections produces a similiar system. It’s equally flawed and controversial. Basically the Diebold offerings General Election Management System (GEMS) produces two tables for vote counts and precinct summaries which may not match. They should but the hack to falsify results is quite trivial. Not very comforting.

Well the creators of the popular computer game The SIMS have seized on the debate by introducing e-voting into their hugely popular life simulation game. Their ‘Dumbold’ system:

is programmed with cheats, bugs and easter eggs, which you can discover and read about by playing around with it. It demonstrates and simulates some alarming problems with real world electronic voting machines, with many surprising effects and subtle interactions

I particularly like the feature where Baxter the Chimp (catchy name, I’d vote for him) erases election votes. So if you’re planning to run for office in a major western democracy you could do far worse than practive your electioneering skills with Baxter.


Rodrigo Y Gabriela

Rodrigo Y Gabriela are two young 20-something (I think, no time to check at the moment!) guitarists that form a two-piece specialising in classical/jazz/rock fusion. With blistering solo runs, intriguing harmonies, innovative use of harmonics and a wonderful percussive style on heavier numbers they prove that classical guitar really can rock. I recommend going to their website and downloading some of the sample tracks here. I met these two in small theatre in my home town of Waterford, Ireland and I think they’re both pretty damn fantastic. Check it out.