Category: Technology

The Dormouse-Fattening Jars of Ancient Rome

From Atlas Obscura — Written by Carly Silver — Image courtesy of Heather Kelley/Perfect Plum

A glirarium on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Chiusi.

The ancient Romans consumed some strange foods, ranging from sow’s womb to dormice, which were known as glires in Latin. Astute Italians got their rodents mouth-ready by sticking them in a special container called a glirarium or vivarium in doliis (enclosed animal habitats in jars); it was designed to be a temporary home—a rodent Airbnb—where the animal could pig out. Humans would then cook up the dormouse once they judged it to be at prime plumpness.

Just a note: Romans didn’t eat the kind of mice that gnaw your wires. Instead, they chowed down on “edible dormice,” which were a lot bigger and substantive than their modern house-mouse counterparts. These were long considered extravagances; in 115 BC, consul Marcus Aemilius Scaurus passed a law that prohibited serving exotic avians, mollusks, and dormice, according to Pliny the Elder. But it’s likely that nobody listened to Scaurus’ legislation—the rodents were too tasty.

On their country estates, prominent Romans reared some animals just for consumption. In his On Agriculture, Roman scholar Varro noted that country gentlemen raised tiny critters like snails to eat, bees for honey, and dormice inside their villas. Ancient gourmand Fluvius Hirpinus (whose name was probably a misspelling) popularized eating snails and started the practice of fattening dormice for the table in the mid-first century BC.

How climate change and air pollution can affect your health

From ABC News — Written by Gillian Mohney

President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the landmark Paris climate agreement could have far reaching consequences on climate and fossil fuel emissions in the future.

While climate change and pollution are often discussed in terms of environmental damage, they can also greatly impact public health.

Under the Paris agreement, the U.S. said it would cut carbon emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 and parties agree to try to hold global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above temperatures in the late 1800s.

Jeffrey Shaman, director of the Climate and Health Program at the Mailman School of Public Health, pointed out that a changing climate may mean fundamental changes to human health.

Acquiring and using fossil fuels “has led to the disruption of the [climate] system that we have come to rely on,” said Shaman pointing out civilization developed during the 11,000 year period of climate stability. “That disruption is a fundamental stressor on our system.”

Without that climate stability, Shaman and other public health officials have found that there are risks to public health from multiple factors including extreme weather, spreading populations of insects and irritating airborne pollutants.

How to fix five Windows 10 headaches

From Computerworld and written by Preston Gralla —

Microsoft Windows 10 has gone a long way towards fixing the problems that were endemic with earlier versions of Windows — notably Windows 8. But it’s still far from a perfect operating system and has its share of headaches.

Looking through various user discussions (and tapping their own experiences) the staff at Computerworld have identified five problems that a lot of people are complaining about: forced Windows 10 updates; the Cortana digital assistant (which some users want to get rid of and can’t); lost disk space; sluggish boot times; and problems with the Start menu.

But don’t worry — help is on the way. They have researched ways to take care of these issues (or at least make them a little less irritating). Here are some solutions that will make Windows 10 more pleasant to use.

The quiet power of Android’s custom launchers

From Computerworld and written by JR Raphael —

If you are the usual Android user, you probably don’t make many changes to your device aside from loading your favorite apps.

But some people love tinkering with their device to find out what it can really do,

The first thing most “tinkerers” do to their Android device is to change the launcher. The launcher is the framework of any home screen — and the home screen, as our iPhone-toting pals are slowly but surely learning, is so much more than a mere grid for icons.

A launcher can change the way you interact with your device. It can make your life simpler. It can make it easier for you to access the items you need — making pertinent info available at a glance or with a quick tap, swipe, or pinch in just the right spot. That’s valuable if you’re using your device for business, using it for pleasure, or using it for some combination of the two. And you sure as heck don’t have to be a power user to appreciate it.

Find out how a new launcher for your Android device can let you get more from that device.

Malware, described in leaked NSA documents, cripples computers worldwide

From The Washington Post and reported by Craig Timberg, Griff Witte, and Ellen Nakashima — image courtesy of sudok1, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hackers unleashed an attack that disabled computers in dozens of nations Friday using a software flaw that once was part of the National Security Agency’s surveillance tool kit.

The resulting wave of online chaos affected tens of thousands of machines worldwide, snarling operations at the Russian Interior Ministry, Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica and Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), where hospitals were hobbled and medical procedures interrupted.

Europe, Latin America and parts of Asia were hit particularly hard, although in the United States, FedEx also reported falling prey to the malware. The attack was the latest in a growing menace of “ransomware,” in which hackers deliver files to computers that automatically encrypt their data, making it unusable — until a ransom is paid.

“This is not targeted at the NHS,” British Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters. “It’s an international attack, and a number of countries and organizations have been affected.”

The hack renewed a long-running debate about the dangers of intelligence agencies such as the NSA collecting and using software flaws for espionage, rather than quickly alerting companies to vulnerabilities so they can fix them.