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#TECHNOLOGY

GETTING LAID  A ‘Tiger-Stone’ machine paved a road in IJmuiden, Netherlands, Tuesday. The Dutch-made machine uses gravity and an electric motor to lay stone and brick roads and is capable of laying 300 square meters (about 360 square yards) of road a day. (Photo: Erik Van ‘t Woud / EPA via The Wall Street Journal) 

GETTING LAID  A ‘Tiger-Stone’ machine paved a road in IJmuiden, Netherlands, Tuesday. The Dutch-made machine uses gravity and an electric motor to lay stone and brick roads and is capable of laying 300 square meters (about 360 square yards) of road a day. (Photo: Erik Van ‘t Woud / EPA via The Wall Street Journal) 

An automated stock-trading program accidentally flooded the market with millions of trades Wednesday morning, spreading turmoil across Wall Street and drawing renewed attention to the fragility and instability of the nation’s stock markets.

While the markets quickly recovered, it was the latest black eye for the financial markets and suggests that regulators have not been able to curb the market disruptions that have led to frequent halts in trading and wild swings in shares.

Wednesday’s debacle follows the botched Facebook initial public offering on Nasdaq in May and the aborted effort by another exchange, BATS Global Markets, to bring its own stock public on its own exchange. The episodes have further rattled the confidence of investors and stoked suspicions that markets are unsafe for savings.

“The machines have taken over, right?” said Patrick Healy, the chief executive of the Issuer Advisory Group, a capital-markets consulting firm. “When events like this happen they just reaffirm that these aren’t investors, these are traders.”

In the latest incident, the errant trades began hitting exchanges almost as soon as the opening bell rang and came from a single New Jersey broker that specializes in computer-driven trading, the Knight Capital Group. More than 100 companies, including big names like Alcoa, Citigroup and Ford, saw the prices of their shares suddenly spike up or down. The New York Stock Exchange later said that it would cancel the trading in six stocks that saw especially extreme movements.

The trades placed by Knight may have left the firm with millions of shares of overpriced stock, but the company did not comment on its potential losses. The firm’s own shares ended the day down almost 25 percent. Knight is one of many companies that have seen their fortunes rise as regulators made a series of changes over the last 15 years that have opened up the markets to new exchanges and trading firms that use computer programs to execute thousands of trades a second.

But the regulatory changes have also introduced instability, first exposed to the public during the so-called “flash crash” of 2010 when hundreds of stock unexpectedly plunged in value for no apparent reason. After that event, regulators set out to add safety valves to the system, but the turbulence on Wednesday reinforced the belief that regulators have not been able to keep up with growing sophistication and speed of the market they are overseeing.

The New York Times, “Flood of Errant Trades Is A Black Eye for Wall Street.”

Yes, let’s rely more and more on Wall Street to police itself.


CHURCH OF SMALL SAINTS   An electron microscope photograph shows a scale model of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral created by a newly developed 3D printing technique for nano structures.  Researchers from the Vienna University of Technology have set a new world speed record for creating objects about the size of grains of sand. Making complex large 3D structures in the past would take hours or even days but with the newly developed 3D laser printer, the scientists can speed that up by a factor of up to 1,000 times.  The process, called “two-photon lithography,” involves using a focused laser beam to harden liquid resin in order to create micro objects of solid polymer.  (Photo: Vienna University of Technology / Reuters via MSNBC.com)

CHURCH OF SMALL SAINTS   An electron microscope photograph shows a scale model of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral created by a newly developed 3D printing technique for nano structures.  Researchers from the Vienna University of Technology have set a new world speed record for creating objects about the size of grains of sand. Making complex large 3D structures in the past would take hours or even days but with the newly developed 3D laser printer, the scientists can speed that up by a factor of up to 1,000 times.  The process, called “two-photon lithography,” involves using a focused laser beam to harden liquid resin in order to create micro objects of solid polymer.  (Photo: Vienna University of Technology / Reuters via MSNBC.com)

"I’m truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs’ death. Melinda and I extend  our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone Steve  has touched through his work. Steve and I first met nearly 30 years  ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course  of more than half our lives. The world rarely sees someone who has had  the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for  many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work  with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely."

— BILL GATES

(Photo of Jobs and Gates at a media interview in 1984 by Andy Freeberg / Getty Images via the New York Daily News)

"I’m truly saddened to learn of Steve Jobs’ death. Melinda and I extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone Steve has touched through his work. Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives. The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely."

— BILL GATES

(Photo of Jobs and Gates at a media interview in 1984 by Andy Freeberg / Getty Images via the New York Daily News)

LA TIMES: "This fall, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the research-and-development arm of the U.S. military) intends to award up to $500,000 in seed money to a group that proves it would do the best job of developing the necessary technologies — whatever they may be — for interstellar travel. The proposals had better be good — if none of them are up to snuff, the agency won't hand out the money. To stimulate discussion on the research possibilities, DARPA officials will hold a symposium that brings together astrophysicists, engineers and even sci-fi writers so they can brainstorm what it would take to make this starship enterprise a success." »

"…this starship enterprise" is bloody brilliant.  Trekkies love you, LA Times writer Amina Khan.  Or should we say “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!!!”?

This is incredible: a Silicon Valley startup, Lytro, has developed a new kind of photographic technology that allows user to adjust the focal point of a picture AFTER it’s taken.
That’s AFTER.
How does it work?  According to the New York Times:

The Lytro camera captures far more light data, from many angles, than is  possible with a conventional camera. It accomplishes that with a  special sensor called a microlens array, which puts the equivalent of  many lenses into a small space.

The camera goes to market later this year.  Sign me up for one, please!

This is incredible: a Silicon Valley startup, Lytro, has developed a new kind of photographic technology that allows user to adjust the focal point of a picture AFTER it’s taken.

That’s AFTER.

How does it work?  According to the New York Times:

The Lytro camera captures far more light data, from many angles, than is possible with a conventional camera. It accomplishes that with a special sensor called a microlens array, which puts the equivalent of many lenses into a small space.

The camera goes to market later this year.  Sign me up for one, please!

BORGWAGENS    New Volkswagen car models were stored at the Autostadt visitors’ attraction next to the auto maker’s plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, Wednesday. (Photo: Christian Charisius / Reuters via the Wall St. Journal)

BORGWAGENS    New Volkswagen car models were stored at the Autostadt visitors’ attraction next to the auto maker’s plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, Wednesday. (Photo: Christian Charisius / Reuters via the Wall St. Journal)

It’s funny / sad that the last thing is still an option on our DVR’s.

It’s funny / sad that the last thing is still an option on our DVR’s.