03

2005-03 posts.

  1. 2005-03-02t16:56:41Z. RE: Art 2D+time . Conservation . Cyber Life . Cyber Tech . Entertainment . Faith, Philosophy . Health . Local . Martial . Math, Science, Technology . Money . Obituaries . Politics . Quirky . Relations [SFW ] .
  2. Making aaBlog v2, Part 3. RE: Cyber Life . aaBlog .
  3. 2005-03-09t19:43:29Z. RE: Conservation. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Faith; Philosophy;. Health. Local. Martial. Math; Science; Technology;. Medium 2D. Medium 2D+text. Medium 2D+time. Medium 3D. Medium Audio. Money. Play. Politics. Quirky [Possibly NSFW]. Relations [SFW].
  4. 2005-03-11t23:17:29Z. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Education. Faith; Philosophy;. Flow. Health. Geography; History;. Local. Martial. Medium 2D. Medium 2D+text. Medium 2D+time. Medium 3D. Mind. Money. Play. Politics. Relations [SFW].
  5. Fairness and Freedom. RE: Faith; Philosophy;. Politics. Rambling.
  6. Objective and Subjective. RE: Faith; Philosophy;. Rambling.
  7. 2005-03-24t03:32:30Z. RE: Conservation. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Food. Local. Medium 2D+time. Play. Relations [NSFW].
  8. Terri Schiavo. RE: Faith; Philosophy;. Health. Politics.
  9. I am open source. RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Faith; Philosophy;. Martial. Money. Politics. Rambling.
  10. 2005-03-31t19:43:21Z. RE: Conservation. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Faith; Philosophy;. Food. Health. Life. Martial. Math; Science; Technology;. Medium 2D. Medium 2D+time. Medium 3D. Mind. Play. Politics. Quirky [Possibly NSFW]. Rambling. Relations [SFW].

2005-03-02t16:56:41Z | RE: Art 2D+time . Conservation . Cyber Life . Cyber Tech . Entertainment . Faith, Philosophy . Health . Local . Martial . Math, Science, Technology . Money . Obituaries . Politics . Quirky . Relations [SFW ] .
2005-03-02t16:56:41Z

Art 2D+time

Conservation

  • The Tangled Webs They Weave
    • 'After 15 years of research, Dr. Randy Lewis, a professor of molecular biology at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming, and his team say they have determined the sequence of genes underlying the spider silk protein. '
    • 'The silk is pound-for-pound five times stronger than steel and three times tougher than today's high-performance synthetic fibers used to make protective clothing. It's these and other properties unique to dragline silk -- the type of silk that spiders use to make the 'spokes' of their webs -- that makes it an ideal substance from which to make a host of lighter, stronger materials that are also tougher and have more stretch.'
    • 'That has researchers turning to alternative means of production, which includes combining silk-making DNA into plants and animals that can produce it en masse. Lewis, for example, has already been working to combine the spider genes with bacteria and alfalfa plants. After the plants have grown, the spider silk genes are extracted to produce a material that Lewis says is nearly 85 percent pure silk, and could be used to extract protein to spin fibers as soon as next month.'
  • TreeHugger.com
    • 'TreeHugger is the definitive, modern yet green lifestyle filter. It will help you improve your course, yet still maintain your aesthetic.'
    • Man, conservations has never looked so hip!
  • Dual Flush Toilet by Caroma
    • 'We've talked about the no-flush urinals, but what about toilets for the *other* waste us humans continually produce? The folks at Caroma have figured it out with the dual-flush toilet. But don't be fooled, this toilet doesn't flush two times it actually has two different buttons, one for, er, how do we say this, #1 and #2 and it uses 0.8 and 1.6 gallons of water, depending on the flush. This single innovation with its Half Flush and Full Flush technology can reduce water usage by up to 67% compared with the traditional toilet that uses 2.9 gallons in a single flush. Caroma guarantees that this toilet is reliable, simple to use and has proven itself through a decade of rigorous testing.'
    • Genius!

Cyber Life

  • InnerGeek.us. I think I've taken this geek test before. I scored 51.28205% - Super Geek. I could have scored higher if I had cheated AND avoided the trick questions which (I assume) would actually lower your score.  SPOILER: Counting exactly to 31 on one hand is easy: binary digits.
  • Wikipedia suffered a power failure so significant that it is publicly noticeable!
    • 'At about 14:15 PST some circuit breakers were tripped in the colocation facility where our servers are housed. Although the facility has a well-stocked generator, this took out power to places inside the facility, including the switch that connects us to the network and all our servers. (Yes, even the machines with dual power supplies -- both circuits got shut off.) What's wrong? After some minutes, the switch and most of our machines had rebooted. Some of our servers required additional work to get up, and a few may still be sitting there dead but can be worked around. The sticky point is the database servers, where all the important stuff is. Although we use MySQL's transactional InnoDB tables, they can still sometimes be left in an unrecoverable state. Attempting to bring up the master database and one of the slaves immediately after the downtime showed corruption in parts of the database. We're currently running full backups of the raw data on two other database slave servers prior to attempting recovery on them (recovery alters the data). Update 19:20 PST: We have at least one database server with intact data. When we have a second up and running, we'll be able to put the site back online in read-only mode as we continue.'
    • I noticed it at 2005-02-22t05:59:09Z. I felt as if the sun was being eclipsed.
    • That sure provides incentive for their fundraising efforts.
      • Wikimedia needs your help
        • 'You may have noticed recent slowdowns, and periods of downtime, for Wikipedia and her sister sites. We are working to make our system more efficient, but traffic on the Wikimedia servers is doubling every four months. Wikipedia.org is already one of the top 200 most popular websites on the Internet and will likely be in the top 100 before the end of the year.'
        • Right now they have $27,000 (USD) out of their goal of $75,000.
  • Hotmail, MSN Search. I tried them both again today (2005-02-22t21:02:09Z) using MSIE 6 instead of Firefox. They're both still buggy. How can a company as big as Microsoft be this bad?
  • A dynamic DHTML all text clock/calendar [view on MSIE only]. And I thought that we had seen the last of mouse trailing animations!
    [IMAGE: Sample of the DHTML clock and calendar]
  • Customizing Firefox. A collection of some nice Firefox extensions. I just installed the following:
  • IE drops below 90 percent market share
    • ' For most companies, 87.3 percent of a global market might seem just fine. But most companies are not Bill Gates' Microsoft. Founded by Earth's richest man, the firm still stands astride the world when it comes to browser usage; but the might of its Internet Explorer is just a little diminished. On Monday, two reports were released -- one American and one Continental -- that show IE's share of the browser market dropping below 90 percent. advertisement Click Here! The culprit? Last year, Mozilla Foundation launched Firefox version 1.0, an open source browser lauded as both faster and more secure against popups and other irritations of online life. Last month, Mozilla said that since the launch of version 1.0, there have been over 25 million Firefox downloads. '
    • 'Maybe that figure is nothing that ought to concern Gates' software leviathan--unless one compares it with IE's 95.5 percent market share in June 2004.'
    • Whee!
  • The world could really use Google Calendar
    • 'There's been a lot of speculation about Google Calendar recently. And you know what? I sure as hell hope they do it. There's been so little innovation in the world of on-line calendars these last few years. Perhaps Google getting into the act would finally change that. '
    • Dave Jung started the meme with "I know what Google's going to do next!" on 2005-02-22. By coincidence, I posted that Gmail needs a calendar on the same day.

Cyber Tech

  • SimpleCode.
    • 'Enter normal (X)HTML in the markup box below. Press "Process" and it will spit out entity-encoded markup suitable for <code> examples. Use spaces in increments of two for nesting indents.'
    • Nice and simple. Reminds me of my own Cheat Sheet.

Entertainment

  • Brad Bird on an Incredibles Sequel
    • The Incredibles was the obvious choice for the Best Animated Film Oscar in 2004.
    • The 2-disc DVD set coming out on 2005-03-15 looks sweet!
  • Fantastic Four. 2005-07-08 release. IMDB. Trailer. The effects looks good but I hope the story matches. Of course they have to have Dr. Doom as the super-villain!

Faith, Philosophy

  • Last night (2005-02-22) I went to another Landmark Education event.
    • To see my previous blog on my first LE event see 2004-12-17/21 My Landmark Education Experience.
    • The first event was the "Landmark Forum". The thing I went to was the "Landmark Seminar in Action". Here's the main differences between the two:
      • The LF focuses on introducing you to their "technology". The LSA focuses on having you practice their technology.
      • The LF is all day Friday, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, and several hours on Tue. The LSA is three hours a Tuesday for 10 Tuesdays.
      • You pay for the LF and it includes for free the optional LSA.
    • They gave us two options last night: (A) Attend all ten seminars. Or (B) Specify which seminars I'll miss and arrange to make them up. I created for myself a new possibility: (C) I will not attend any more seminars.
    • Their "technology" is fine. It's effective stuff. However:
      • There's a lot of stuff that's effective. Much of the Landmark technology is public knowledge. And of course there's nothing wrong with Landmark restating, repackaging, rephrasing, etc., etc.
        • Stilling the "Already always listening" or being present to the chatter that goes on in our heads is practiced by many people. EG: Japanese martial artists are familiar with mushin ("no mind"). Fighting occurs so fast that you cannot have that chatter, you have to reflect/respond like a mirror, but your training has to enable a good response.
        • The concept of making distinctions and using distinctions to free yourself is common. The aphorism of "Knowledge is power" encapsulates the idea that nuances in knowledge are important.
        • The fact that possibilities/dreams have to be kept alive over time is perseverance, patience, "Rome wasn't built in a day".
        • Honoring your word (over circumstances), integrity, authenticity, the power of your word, etc. There are many fine applications of this but it can also be used to manipulate. I feel that the LE focus on this crosses over to a fixation.
        • Breaking the vicious {cycle of "what happened" and "interpretation" leading to a false reality} is something to be present to, but can also be used to manipulate.
        • The idea of becoming present to chatter, assumptions, in-authenticities/rackets/stories, strong suits, etc. is all about an ongoing process of awareness, reinvention, and transformation. People do this naturally.
        • Being aware of opportunity costs, of possibilities of freedom, power, and expression are nice common ideas.
        • "Anything is possible" is an overstatement. Period.
      • Their constant repetition of "Landmark", "Landmark Forum", "Landmark Education", etc. is annoying. Their constant selling of Landmark is annoying. Their persistence on getting us to sell Landmark to others is annoying.
      • I understand that understanding their technology is not the same as vigorously practicing their technology, esp. in conjunction with others that are also actively practicing with the technology. However: I got it. I got it. I would be more inspired to attend if the sessions weren't so crassly commercialized.
  • Illness Perspective
    • Several days ago I was sick. It was no big deal: Just some laryngitis, congestion, muscular ache and headaches. I was just pondering how my my feelings or psychological being were colored during my illness. I was reviewing my weaknesses, the bad things in my past, etc. and dwelling on them. The best self-help was perspective: I kept drawing upon perspective to keep me aware that my outlook was a temporary condition due to illness, that my place in the universe was as it was, etc.
    • I imagine that people in really dire situations (long term illnesses, limb loss, parents of dying children, etc.) must have it much worse since the condition is not temporary. The issue I think is not that you or someone you love is dying, because in one sense we're all dying, we all die, and that everything is transitory. A larger issue then must be the quality of life.
    • Pain and suffering, the absence of pain and suffering, are certainly important factors that affect the quality of life. The proximity and awareness of quality of life also affects your quality of life. Each of us is unavoidably aware of our own QoL. We are also more keenly aware of the QoL of those who are close to us (or at least we should be). However there is so much pain and suffering in the world that trying to stay aware of it all is not pleasant and can be immobilizing, hence most people focus on their proximity.
    • While we have some control over our QoL by will power, determination, character, perseverance, etc., our QoL is also determined via genetics, stratus born into, circumstances, chance, etc. Plus even if you manage to maintain a high QoL and die painlessly in your sleep, a good human being should also be aware of the QoL of others. So no matter who you are, eventually you're going to run into QoL issues.
    • I have long felt that you should do what you can about the QoL for your self, for your loved ones, and for others. However I have also long thought that a larger issue than QoL is the issue of a meaningful life. Lately I have been thinking about how inescapable QoL issues are and acceptance of them. For example: I have to eat, I have to rear my young, I have to clean myself, I have to clean my environment, I have occasional illnesses and injuries.
    • This line of thought leads to hope, peace, patience, love, and meaning. If I have to do laundry, which many see as a meaningless, time consuming task, then I can improve my QoL and meaning in my life by doing it peacefully, calmly, and out of love for myself and my family. This concept can be applied to any aspect of life, from our best moments to our worst.
    • And that's what I got out of being sick.
  • "Martial Arts: The Truth Behind It". It reads like a joke but I think the Fundamentalist Christian writer is serious. How pathetic.
  • Christian Jugglers Association. I've always liked jugglers.
  • DigiBless.com.
    • 'At our site you can have all of your electronic documents blessed with a blessing of your own choice, using our Holy Server. ... By adding your url to our website, our blessing algorithm will visit your site and bless all of the files it finds there. The site will then be added to our list of Blessed Sites.'
    • He he he.
  • dltk-bible.com
    • With stuff like a recipe called "Jesus Walks on Water: Prepare blue Jello in indvidual plastic cups. When Jello sets place Sour Patch kids (since they are shaped like people) to stand on top of Jello."
    • I have much more appreciation for the peaceful, fun, I-just-want-to-be-happy Christians than the Fundies.

Health

  • For the Worst of Us, the Diagnosis May Be 'Evil'
    • I'm going to over-quote because it's a likely to go offline article and because I've always felt that we need to study evil in order to increase good.
    • 'Most psychiatrists assiduously avoid the word evil, contending that its use would precipitate a dangerous slide from clinical to moral judgment that could put people on death row unnecessarily and obscure the understanding of violent criminals. Still, many career forensic examiners say their work forces them to reflect on the concept of evil, and some acknowledge they can find no other term for certain individuals they have evaluated. In an effort to standardize what makes a crime particularly heinous, Dr. Michael Welner, an associate professor of psychiatry at New York University, has been developing what he calls a depravity scale, which rates the horror of an act by the sum of its grim details. And a prominent personality expert at Columbia University has published a 22-level hierarchy of evil behavior, derived from detailed biographies of more than 500 violent criminals.'
    • ' "Evil is endemic, it's constant, it is a potential in all of us. Just about everyone has committed evil acts," said Dr. Robert I. Simon, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School and the author of "Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream." Dr. Simon considers the notion of evil to be of no use to forensic psychiatry, in part because evil is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, shaped by political and cultural as well as religious values. The terrorists on Sept. 11 thought that they were serving God, he argues; those who kill people at abortion clinics also claim to be doing so. If the issue is history's most transcendent savages, on the other hand, most people agree that Hitler and Pol Pot would qualify. "When you start talking about evil, psychiatrists don't know anything more about it than anyone else," Dr. Simon said. "Our opinions might carry more weight, under the patina or authority of the profession, but the point is, you can call someone evil and so can I. So what? What does it add?" '
    • ' As part of an extensive, in-depth interview, a trained examiner rates the offender on a 20-item personality test. The items include glibness and superficial charm, grandiose self-worth, pathological lying, proneness to boredom and emotional vacuity. The subjects earn zero points if the description is not applicable, two points if it is highly applicable, and one if it is somewhat or sometimes true. The psychologist who devised the checklist, Dr. Robert Hare, a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said that average total scores varied from below five in the general population to the low 20's in prison populations, to a range of 30 to 40 - highly psychopathic - in predatory killers. In a series of studies, criminologists have found that people who score in the high range are two to four times as likely as other prisoners to commit another crime when released. More than 90 percent of the men and a few women at the top of Dr. Stone's hierarchy qualify as psychopaths.'
    • 'Checklists, scales, and other psychological exams are not blood tests, however, and their use in support of a concept as loaded as evil could backfire, many psychiatrists say. Not all violent predators are psychopaths, for one thing, nor are most psychopaths violent criminals. And to suggest that psychopathy or some other profile is a reliable measure of evil, they say, would be irresponsible and ultimately jeopardize the credibility of the profession.'
    • ' "I think the main reason it's better to avoid the term evil, at least in the courtroom, is that for many it evokes a personalized Satan, the idea that there is supernatural causation for misconduct," said Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist in Newport Beach, Calif., who examined the convicted serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, as well as Lyle and Erik Menendez, who were convicted of murdering their parents in Beverly Hills. "This could only conceal a subtle important truth about many of these people, such as the high rate of personality disorders," Dr. Dietz said. He added: "The fact is that there aren't many in whom I couldn't find some redeeming attributes and some humanity. As far as we can tell, the causes of their behavior are biological, psychological and social, and do not so far demonstrably include the work of Lucifer." '

Local

Martial

  • Rules? In A Knife Fight?: Redrafting The Rules Of Engagement In The First Terrorist War
    • What a lovely slippery slope. Next thing you know we'll be torturing them... o wait, we already did. OK, next thing you know we'll nuke them.
    • 'It is ritualistic for most Americans to assert that they "Support our troops," but the truth of the matter is that far too many Americans are becoming far too interested in making sure our troops are behaving correctly than actually supporting and sustaining them. Knowing well that nice guys finish last, it is past time for Americans to ask themselves how 'nice' they want to be in fighting the Terrorist War.'
    • 'Democracy and freedom for others cannot be the goals of war. They can only be the fruits of something more primary -- victory. Absent the goal of victory, this will indeed become "The Forever War," and America cannot sustain such an effort. In historic terms, the American will to wage war suffers a serious fall-off after three years unless victory can be see as a clear end state, and only then if progress toward victory is repeatedly demonstrated . We are already beyond the three year limit, and it is unlikely that Americans can be made to care much longer, in the face of trickle-down casualty rates, whether or not Iraqis ever become free and democratic.'
    • 'Regardless of the ostensible goal of our actions in Iraq -- the establishment of a functioning democracy -- the more compelling goal for America's national-interest must remain the military domination and control of the Middle East by any means necessary. Failure to achieve this will place the fate of United States and the developed world in the hands of rogue regimes able to achieve nuclear weapons, and ready to employ them. If the world is to cross the dangerous divide of the next decade, this cannot be allowed to occur.'

Math, Science, Technology

  • Engineers devise invisibility shield
    • ' The key to the concept is to reduce light scattering. We see objects because light bounces off them; if this scattering of light could be prevented (and if the objects didn't absorb any light) they would become invisible. Alù and Engheta's plasmonic screen suppresses scattering by resonating in tune with the illuminating light.

      Plasmons are waves of electron density, caused when the electrons on the surface of a metallic material move in rhythm. The researchers say that a shell of plasmonic material will scatter light negligibly if the light's frequency is close to the resonant frequency of the plasmons. The scattering from the shell effectively cancels out the scattering from the object. '

    • Sounds good but then the article proceeds with a lot of catches.

Money

  • Buyer has been bold about name changes
    • 'Will the name Marshall Field's become a footnote in Chicago retailing history? Federated Department Stores Inc., which on Monday finalized its proposal to purchase Field's parent May Department Stores Co., is not shy about changing the names of the regional retailers it buys. If the deal is approved, Federated is expected to accelerate its rollout of the Macy's and Bloomingdale's names into national brands. Federated's chief executive said Monday that the retailer would convert most of May Department Stores Co.'s holdings--which also include Filene's, Famous-Barr and Kaufmann's--into Macy's.'
    • I think the "Field" name will be a footnote. If I travel around the country and I want to go to a "Macy's" style department store, then I'd want it to have a nationally familiar name. Calling the stores in Chicago "Macy's-Field's" would be a good compromise but I wouldn't expect it.
  • Honey, I shrunk the dollar
    • ' As a former Clinton Commerce Department official, David Rothkopf, notes, despite all the talk about Social Security, many Americans are not really depending on it alone for their retirement. What many Americans are counting on is having their homes retain and increase their value. And what's been fueling the home-building boom and bubble has been low interest rates for a long time. If you see a continuing slide of the dollar - some analysts believe it needs to fall another 20 percent before it stabilizes - you could see a substantial, and painful, rise in interest rates.

      "Given the number of people who have refinanced their homes with floating-rate mortgages, the falling dollar is a kind of sword of Damocles, getting closer and closer to their heads," Mr. Rothkopf said. "And with any kind of sudden market disruption - caused by anything from a terror attack to signs that a big country has gotten queasy about buying dollars - the bubble could burst in a very unpleasant way." '

    • ' Why is that sword getting closer? Because global markets are realizing that we have two major vulnerabilities that this administration doesn't want to address: We are importing too much oil, so the dollar's strength is being sapped as oil prices continue to rise. And we are importing too much capital, because we are saving too little and spending too much, as both a society and a government.

      "When people ask what we are doing about these twin vulnerabilities, they have a hard time coming up with an answer," noted Robert Hormats, the vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. "There is no energy policy and no real effort to reduce our voracious demand of foreign capital. The U.S. pulled in 80 percent of total world savings last year [largely to finance our consumption]." That's a big reason why some "43 percent of all U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds are now held by foreigners," Mr. Hormats said. '

  • Getting Back To Work: A Personal Productivity Toolkit
    • 'Now I know that procrastination is a habit, and so is productivity. You can disrupt your negative behaviors, and reinforce your productive ones. It takes some work to implement this system, but by doing so, you'll learn what to avoid and what to do to be more productive.'
    • Such a promising topic but it sort of fizzled.

Obituaries

  • Jef Raskin (1943-03-09/2005-02-26)
    • ' Viridian writes "Jef Raskin, GUI pioneer, interface expert, Apple employee #31, and the man most credited with the creation of the Apple Macintosh, died of cancer on Saturday February 26, 2005. It was Raskin who named it after his favorite fruit, the McIntosh apple, although he said that he changed the spelling to "Macintosh" to avoid potential copyright conflicts with McIntosh, the audio equipment manufacturer." ' [/.]
    • Odd that even after Jef's died, Steve Jobs will not speak of him. The rest of us, however, say thank you Jef for your work on GUI.

Politics

  • Dinner with my Right-leaning friends
    • I had dinner with my Right-leaning friends several days ago* and one of the topics my friends touched upon was exploitation. The topic aimed at me was whether it was "exploitation" to have goods made by foreign labor while paying them a wage so low that they couldn't afford the goods they were making. I basically said that it wasn't exploitation if they paid a fair wage. After all I, like many other workers, make a product that I personally couldn't afford. They responded by saying that companies like Wal-Mart pay more than local companies so the locals flock to Wal-mart for work. And this proves that it wasn't exploitation but that Wal-Mart was actually a benevolent company.
      *2005-02-18: The evening, by the way, was not mainly about politics. It was about gathering as friends. We ate a ridiculous amount of food, reminisced, yakked, and drank. It was a fine evening and we discussed many other things. My only regret was that we spent too much money. Food and drinks at Fogo de Chão [FogoDeChao.com] was $100 per person. However, we have been having a tough time getting our schedules coordinated and it seems that to get a bunch of people to commit to something, sometimes you have to get them to put money down in advance.

      The biggest news was that one of my dear friends announced that he will probably move to Las Vegas in several weeks. He will be severely missed but it's a good reason to visit Las Vegas!

    • The conversation sort of ended there. They were happy and content with their analysis, plus I could barely hear half the things being said on the far side of the table all evening, so I let it slide. It was an odd topic to bring up since I have stopped discussing Right v Left politics with them since a month before the 2004 Presidential election. Most of the evening when we discussed politics, we talked more objectively about what we think is happening, will happen, or should happen.
    • Privately, though my original sentiment still stands: It is only unfair exploitation if they pay an unfair wage or demand unreasonable labor. It doesn't matter whether it's foreign or domestic labor. EGs:
      • Child labor should be unacceptable in any country. The only place I consider child labor reasonable is if the child is your own child helping out with your own home, business, property, farm, etc. It should be very rare to have families where the parents cannot make money but the children can. If families like that are common place in a country, then that country has too many exploiters. American companies should not condone, copy, or be blind to such practices.
      • Harsh labor should be unacceptable in any country. Jobs that demand harsh labor should come with benefits to make up for the risk and suffering.
      • Every country should have a minimum wage. Even a sub-cost-of-living minimum wage is better than no minimum wage at all. If America is so dependent upon undocumented, illegal labor here in the U.S., then I imagine that there must be even more latitude on foreign soil, esp. in less developed countries.
    • No one doubts that Wal-Mart is exploitative in the sense that they are very efficient. Whether Wal-Mart unfairly and illegally exploitive is up to investigation. Who will do that? Who has the power to investigate such a profitable company? Whether Wal-Mart is unfairly but legally exploitive is a matter of conscience. It is likely that Wal-Mart is better than local employers and are following local laws, but as such a wealthy country we should have higher standards than that. Just because human beings are far away, doesn't make them less human. Wal-Mart could break the cycle of poverty for thousands and still have ridiculous profits --but they don't.
    • Speaking of high standards, I personally am willing to pay more for companies that are more ethical. I personally buy eggs that are raised cage free. I personally do not shop or invest in Wal-Mart.
    • Related:

Quirky

  • Girl Basketball [video]. A bunch of guys toss a girl through a basketball hoop. The bums are too busy celebrating to notice that she bumped her head.
  • How to destroy the Earth
    • 'Mission statement: For the purposes of what I hope to be a technically and scientifically accurate document, I will define our goal thus: by any means necessary, to render the Earth into a form in which it may no longer be considered a planet. Such forms include, but are most definitely not limited to: two or more planets; any number of smaller asteroids; a quantum singularity; a dust cloud.'
    • Sweet, sweet. This should be a foot note on the classic Evil Overlord list [EvilOverlord.com/lists/overlord.html].

Relations [SFW]

  • The smile that says where you're from
    • : )
    • ' While we British smile by pulling our lips back and upwards and exposing our lower teeth, Americans are more likely simply to part their lips and stretch the corners of their mouths. So distinct is the difference that the scientist behind the research was able last week to pick out Britons from Americans from close-cropped pictures of their smiles alone, with an accuracy of more than 90%. '
    • ' Infants use the Pan-Am smile when unknown adults enter a room as a gesture of appeasement and, Keltner says, so does the actress Julia Roberts. "She has a wonderful smile, but it does not often reach her eyes in public. By contrast, Angelina Jolie not only smiles broadly, and twinkles, but also tilts her head a little, which pushes the pleasurable body language into a higher gear. That is a smile which is impossible to resist." '
    • ' The power behind the smile may also be more potent than anybody has previously realised: Keltner recently released a study of photographs of women in college yearbooks dating back to the 1960s in which he separated the Duchenne smilers from the artfully posed. Researchers then tracked the women down and found that those who had smiled most happily at college overwhelmingly tended to have had the happiest lives since they had graduated. "It's a virtuous circle," Keltner concluded. "Happy smiley people cheer others up around them, which in turn makes them more stable and less prone to depression or divorce than those who faked it in their yearbooks." '

2005-03-04t23:34:07Z | RE: Cyber Life . aaBlog .
Making aaBlog v2, Part 3

Six months ago, I had blogged about upgrading my blogging system (Part 1 and Part 2). I haven't had time to work on it until this week, but I think I've finished version 2!

As mentioned before, the big change is that a permalink to a post will bring up an individual post instead of a whole month's worth of posts. This should help folks with smaller bandwidths. Of course, my archives will still be accessible by the month.

I'm too lazy to put in "next/previous post/month" options. However I think I still deserve a little "I did it! I did it! It works! It works!" dance.

2005-03-09t19:43:29Z | RE: Conservation. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Faith; Philosophy;. Health. Local. Martial. Math; Science; Technology;. Medium 2D. Medium 2D+text. Medium 2D+time. Medium 3D. Medium Audio. Money. Play. Politics. Quirky [Possibly NSFW]. Relations [SFW].
2005-03-09t19:43:29Z

Conservation

  • Germany shines a beam on the future of energy Nation gambles on amped-up push for renewable power
    • ' Muhlhausen, Germany -- A solar-power project built by a Berkeley company may point Germany toward a pollution-free future. Set in the heart of Bavarian farmland, the 30-acre facility went online earlier this month, becoming the biggest solar energy plant in the world.'
    • 'PowerLight's three Bavarian solar parks, consisting of 57,600 silicon-and- aluminum panels, will generate 10 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power 9,000 German homes. The amount of electricity produced is much less than power plants fueled by coal or natural gas, but with very low operating costs, the solar project is expected quickly to turn a profit while emitting zero pollution. Schroeder's left-of-center Social Democrat-Green coalition has turned Germany into the world leader in renewable energy since it took office in 1998. Billions of dollars have been spent on wind and solar projects, and Schroeder, in a politically risky move, has sharply increased taxes on petroleum products in an attempt to reduce consumption of conventional fuels.'
    • 'The campaign accelerated a year ago when Germany enacted a law forcing electric utility companies -- and, ultimately, all electricity users -- to pay higher rates to businesses or individuals who generate solar or wind energy and feed it back into the grid. With this guarantee of revenue, solar panels have become commonplace on new German houses and huge new windmills are a typical sight in rural areas, especially in the more windy north.

      "This is part of our commitment as a government, to make Germany the world leader in alternative energy and in taking action against global warming, " said Juergen Trittin, Germany's environment minister. "We are willing to do what is necessary."

      The country is now the No. 1 world producer of wind energy, with more than 16,000 windmills generating 39 percent of the world total, and it is fast closing in on Japan for the lead in solar power. Wind and solar energy together provide more than 10 percent of the nation's electricity, a rate that is expected to double by 2020.

      It has become a profitable business, too, with about 60,000 people employed in the design and manufacture of wind and solar energy equipment. '

  • 'The lion shall lay down with the lamb. But first, it shall lay down with the tiger, the leopard, and the jaguar. And then smaller cats will lay down with different smaller cats, and then there are those gazelles and bears that were always hard enough to tell apart anyway, well, now we can't seem to keep them apart. Long live the anomalous felids!
    posted by breezeway' [MeFi ]
  • Poor Bubba the 22 pound lobster died. However the funny thing is that on 03-02, BoingBoing made a post called "Massive lobster" which talks about the wonderful live lobster, then the very next day they come out with "Bubba the Lobster (RIP)" and "Lobsters bigger than Bubba".

Cyber Life

  • The Most Hated Advertising Techniques
    • Design Element Users Answering
      "Very Negatively"
      or "Negatively"
      Pops-up in front of your window 95%
      Loads slowly 94%
      Tries to trick you into clicking on it 94%
      Does not have a "Close" button 93%
      Covers what you are trying to see 93%
      Doesn't say what it is for 92%
      Moves content around 92%
      Occupies most of the page 90%
      Blinks on and off 87%
      Floats across the screen 79%
      Automatically plays sound 79%
    • The key concept is that people hate that stuff, not just dislike but hate.
    • And some of the good techniques:
      • 'indicate what will happen if people click on them,
      • relate to what people are doing online,
      • identify themselves as advertisements,
      • present information about what they are advertising, and
      • provide additional information without having to leave the page'
  • Open Office 2.0 Beta Candidate Released [/.]. ' "The OpenOffice.org 2.0 beta candidate has been released. You can find the feature guide that covers the wide array of improvements over the current 1.1 release. There are a bunch of problematic UI quirks in 1.1 that have been fixed in 2.0." Feature categories include increased interoperability with Microsoft Office, Asian Language Features, Developer-Specific Features, and new Internet based features. Commentary and an interview with Colm Smyth available at NewsForge.com. '
  • The New York Public Library Digital Gallery. 'NYPL Digital Gallery provides access to over 275,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more. '
  • Ghosts in the Machines: What Happens to Your Online Self When You Die? [MeFi]
  • 'Uncyclopedia. Why put up with Wikipedia boring or questionable entries? Uncyclopedia has the straight dope on Life, Universe, and Everything.
    posted by MiltonRandKalman' [MeFi]
  • The Book Stops Here
    • 'Jimmy Wales wanted to build a free encyclopedia on the Internet. So he raised an army of amateurs and created the self-organizing, self-repairing, hyperaddictive library of the future called Wikipedia.'
    • 'Now Wales has brought forth a third model - call it One for All. Instead of one really smart guy, Wikipedia draws on thousands of fairly smart guys and gals - because in the metamathematics of encyclopedias, 500 Kvarans equals one Pliny the Elder. Instead of clearly delineated lines of authority, Wikipedia depends on radical decentralization and self-organization - open source in its purest form. Most encyclopedias start to fossilize the moment they're printed on a page. But add Wiki software and some helping hands and you get something self-repairing and almost alive. A different production model creates a product that's fluid, fast, fixable, and free.'
    • I love Wikipedia so much that it is pleasant to hear people talk about it.
  • The new Gmail features (Picassa integration and basic HTML viewer) are no big deal.
    • I'm still not switching from Yahoo Mail for several reasons:
      • No WYSIWYG or raw HTML composing.
      • You can have contacts but you can't make contact lists.
      • There is no calendar.
      • You can't make folders for your inbox.
      • Spell check is nicely implemented but slow.
      • And a bunch of other stuff that make it clear that Gmail is still a beta service.
    • On the other hand, they have some nice stuff:
      • 1 GB of storage but the 250 MG at Yahoo is enough for now.
      • No advertising.
      • The auto complete is nice but Yahoo has something similar.

Cyber Tech

  • SOAP is boring, wake up Big Vendors or get niched
    • 'Evidence continues to mount that developers can' t be bothered with SOAP and the learning requirements associated with use of the standard for information interchange. It is often described as "lightweight", but its RPC roots keep showing. Developers are turning their backs on the standard. Folks that is, building interesting information splicing apps--semantically rich platforms like flickr and Amazon are being accessed by RESTful methods, not IBM/MS defined "XML Web Services" calls. Now it seems the Creative Commons is responding to RESTful demand. Or more pertinently-not responding to SOAP demand because there isn't any.'
    • Related:
  • I think that Microsoft has been in one of its ugliest technical lulls in years.
    • MS is lagging but they persist and will continue to dominate because they have such a large base.
    • MS is betting a lot on .NET and their next version of Windows and SQL Server. It's simply taking too long. People are forking off in different directions because we can't wait for Microsoft which may be working on some fork that no one wants anymore. Google and others are already working on searching your own laptop and network (besides MSN and MSDN searching has no "intelligence").
    • One of the foundations of .NET is XML and Web Services. Their XML is fine but Web Services has been stumbling as this REST issue shows.
    • One of the foundations of Visual Studio .NET is the "multiple languages" capability. Do they think they're fooling anyone? The differences between VB .NET, C#, J .NET, etc. is just syntax, since they are all translated into CIL (Common Intermediate Language) bytecode, hence the difference is trivial. The class library is nice, but the CLR (Common Language Runtime) virtual machine only runs on versions of Windows, whereas the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) runs on different operating systems.
    • MSIE v Mozilla/Firefox browser. Firefox is better and yet because of the prevalence Windows, there are many sites that do things that are not standard and MSIE specific. EG: Yahoo, Google, and (of course) MSDN.
    • MS does manage to get some things right. EG: I work with MDX (related to OLAP, data mining, business intelligence, MDX, multidimensional analysis, etc.) and MS is busy setting up trans-industry standards for this field while the competitors are closed and proprietary.
  • AMD jockeys with Intel in multi-OS race
    • 'Advanced Micro Devices will detail its "Pacifica" virtualization technology by the end of this month, enabling software companies to start working with the feature, which makes it easier for a computer to run several operating systems simultaneously. The Pacifica technology is scheduled to arrive in processors in 2006, later than the comparable Vanderpool technology--now officially called Intel Virtualization Technology--that is promised to appear this year in Intel chips. What's not clear is whether the two technologies will be compatible, raising the prospect of complications for some software makers. '
    • Screw a dual boot, I want to run multiple OSes concurrently. I hope it runs fast. I remember running virtual Window OS on a Mac OS and it was too slow.
  • Intel's Dual-core strategy, 75% by end 2006 [/.]
    • "Intel is moving ahead rapidly with their dual core chips, anticipating 75% of their chip sales to be dual core chips by the end of 2006. With AMD also starting to push their dual core solutions, how long until applications make full use of this. Some applications already make good use of multiple cpu's and of course multiple applications running at the same time instantly benifit. Yet the most cpu intensive applications for the average home machine, games, still mostly do not take advantage of this. When game manufacturers start to release games designed to take advantage of this, are we going to see a huge increase in game complexity/detail or is this benifit going to be less than Intel and AMD would have you believe?"
    • Yes, I'll delay replacing my laptop so that I'll have dual core and dual OSes!
    • Related: AMD Plans Simultaneous Desktop and Mobile Chip Releases [/.]
  • The Code is The Design [/.]
    • ' "In 1992 C++ Journal published an essay by Jack W. Reeves called 'What Is Software Design?' Many credit this essay as being the first published instance of assertions such as 'programming is not about building software; programming is about designing software' and 'it is cheaper and simpler to just build the design and test it than to do anything else'. developer.* Magazine has republished this groundbreaking essay, plus two previously unpublished essays, under the title Code as Design: Three Essays by Jack W. Reeves." '
    • UML, pseudo-code, English, whatever. It's all about communicating --otherwise you're talking to empty air. Whether your app works once is another story.
  • Magnetic Stripe Snooping at Home [/.]
    • "Have you ever wondered what information is actually stored on all those cards you have in your wallet? Well, it turns out you can find out yourself! An excellent project, Stripe Snoop started by Billy Hoffman, a Georgia Tech computer science student, contains schematics, source code and a wide variety of information about the standards used to store all sorts of information on your magnetic cards."
    • I've had to do work with magnetic striping before but I can think of funner things to do when I'm not working.
  • Microsoft Loses Key Engineer to Google [/.]
    • ' "Microsoft Watch reports Marc Lucovsky, one of Microsoft's key Windows architects has defected to Google. His confidence in Microsoft's ability to ship software seems to have waned, too. Some hypothesize Google working on an OS but in the wake of Google's inroads into Ajax tech applications (GMail, Suggest, Maps), I think Google may have other plans for the chief software architect for Microsoft's .Net My Services ("Hailstorm")" CT Many users are reporting 404s on the Microsoft Watch article, but its working fine for others. Hopefully they'll fix their server soon. '
  • Intel 6xx Series Reviewed and Benchmarked [/.]. Whee! It's 64-bit and it's not a Pentium.
  • A Linux Nemesis on the Rocks
    • 'SCO's lawsuit is floundering -- and now the struggling software company faces regulators' scrutiny and questions about its management'
    • Hopefully SCO will disappear from our radar so we can focus on positive change.
  • The Newly Inspired Bushy Tree [MeFi]. 'A re-visiting and revising the famous Bushy Tree diagram of the lineage of visual interactive computing systems '

Faith; Philosophy;

Health

Martial

  • Two killed in Wheeling shooting
    • 'When officers arrived, they found the bodies of Roman A. Drobetskiy, 34, of Wheeling and Arkadi Stepankovski, 29, of Des Plaines. They found a third man alive at the scene and covered with blood. He was taken to police headquarters for questioning.'
    • This would be just another crime to me except that Arkadiy Stepankovski is the head of System-Chicago.com, the local branch of a Russian martial art called Systema. I belong to the ChicagoSwordplayGuild.com and several of our members take Systema and we were even going to have a Systema seminar in April.
    • Condolences to the family.
    • Violence happens. However, unless you are a professional combatant (EGs: soldier, police, security) or you live in a violent environment or seek violence, you will never do real combat regularly.

Math; Science; Technology;

Medium 2D

  • MakingRoom.com. 'MakingRoom is a magazine about the process, intention and results of image-making.'

Medium 2D+text

Medium 2D+time

  • 'Soviet Animation On the heels of the post on Soviet music, here's a link to 10 short video clips of well-known Soviet-era cartoons. (Set your browsers to cyrillic KOI8-R encoding.)
    posted by gregb1007 ' [MeFi]
  • Watch it shred [videos]. Oddly fascinating to see videos of different things being shredded.
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith trailer. I've seen most of the footage before. Lucas CGI still looks unrealistic. (The automatic and needless resizing was annoying.)
  • 'Superfriends/Office Space mashup. This video-mash of footage from Superfriends cartoons combined with the audio track from Office Space is stupendous. It's not just that the creator managed to get the lips to synch up really well, but there's also the hilarious choice of clips and shots, and the judicious use of original Superfriends sound effects. This thing is about the funnies thing I've seen all week. Month. Link [This Place Sucks video]' [BoingBoing]

Medium 3D

Medium 3D+time

  • Suite Vollard: the only revolving building in the world. I'm dizzy already.
    [PHOTO: A revolving building]
  • 10-minute motor spinning for hours [BoingBoing]
    • 'This morning I spent ten minutes making the motor from the Howtoons cartoon in Make. It consists of one AA battery, two safety pins, a magnet, some Scotch tape, a piece of telephone extension cable wire, a pad of Post-It notes, and a little nail polish. It's been spinning for four hours so far. I like the clickety clickety sound is makes. I shot a little movie of it in action. (It's an MP4, so you might have to download it to watch it.)
      Link '
    • That's so cute. If a kid does stuff like this on his or her own, then it can really install a sense of "ownership" or identity about engineering.

Medium Audio

Money

Play

Politics

  • 'Frank Luntz GOP Playbook Now Online: No Downloads, Searchable Text I can't stress enough the importance of reading this document. It is absolutely amazing how politicos co-opted so much of our language and led us down the path to THEIR agenda. Unfortunately, the monstrous PDF file previously available for download made that a 'challenging' endeavor. Thus, I thought it was very important to bring to everybody's attention the existence of an online, readable, searchable, text version of Frank Luntz's Playbook. It is a masterpiece of manipulation and an historic political document.
    posted by jb_thms' [MeFi]
  • Going Nowhere: The DLC Sputters to a Halt [MeFi]
  • 'What Bush got Right. Recent events: Syrian withdrawl. Palestinian reform. Egyptian Elections. Libyan disarmament. Iraqi elections. The Domino Theory in action.
    posted by dios' [200 comments at MeFi]
    • Like I've said all along, it was the right war but done the wrong way at the wrong time. There were no WMDs in Iraq (just in Iran and North Korea), no real U.N. support, no Muslim support (like his dad did). Torture is still wrong. However, that's all in the past and it would be good for us to focus on the future.
  • Missile Counter-Attack Axworthy fires back at U.S. -- and Canadian -- critics of our BMD decision in An Open Letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
    • 'I know it seems improbable to your divinely guided master in the White House that mere mortals might disagree with participating in a missile-defence system that has failed in its last three tests, even though the tests themselves were carefully rigged to show results. But, gosh, we folks above the 49th parallel are somewhat cautious types who can't quite see laying down billions of dollars in a three-dud poker game.'
    • 'As our erstwhile Prairie-born and bred (and therefore prudent) finance minister pointed out in presenting his recent budget, we've had eight years of balanced or surplus financial accounts. If we're going to spend money, Mr. Goodale added, it will be on day-care and health programs, and even on more foreign aid and improved defence. Sure, that doesn't match the gargantuan, multi-billion-dollar deficits that your government blithely runs up fighting a "liberation war" in Iraq, laying out more than half of all weapons expenditures in the world, and giving massive tax breaks to the top one per cent of your population while cutting food programs for poor children.'
    • 'Lloyd Axworthy is president of the University of Winnipeg and a former Canadian foreign minister.'
    • I love Canada. Too bad it's so cold up there.
  • U.N. landmine commercial won't air in US [BoingBoing]
    • I'm going to post the whole BoingBoing post here. I hope they don't mind for the sake of the cause. I will however store the image locally.
    • It's a sad case of people burying their heads in the sand. Tip O'Neil said that "All politics is local" and this is a case of trying to raise empathy for the landmine cause by making people imagine that it were local.
      A U.N. commercial depicts American girls playing in a soccer match. A girl steps on a landmine and there's a big explosion. Kids get blown apart. CNN and other networks don't want to air the ad.
      [PHOTO: What if young American were getting hit by landmines?]The explosion appears to kill and injure some girls, sparking panic and chaos among parents and other children. Shrieks of horror are heard through much of the spot, and a father is shown cradling his daughter's lifeless body, moments after celebrating a goal she had scored.

      It closes with a tag line reading: "If there were landmines here, would you stand for them anywhere? Help the U.N. eradicate landmines everywhere."


      You can view the ad here. (Here's a torrent file). Link and another Link
    • StopLandmines.org

Quirky [Possibly NSFW]

Relations [SFW]

  • Infants, Children Prefer Sounds Over Pictures And Only Slowly Become Visually Oriented, Studies Find
    • ' "We found that sounds are dominant over visuals from infancy, and only slowly through childhood do visuals become more important," said Vladimir Sloutsky, professor in the Center for Cognitive Science at Ohio State University. "The younger the children are, the more dominant their auditory system seems to be." '
    • 'For infants, sounds are preferred almost exclusively. Older children tested at 4 years of age generally preferred sounds over visuals, with the exception of familiar objects -- they paid more attention to a familiar visual when it is paired with an unknown sound.'
    • 'Overall, the new research showed children seem to be able to process only one type of stimuli at a time -- usually sounds, but sometimes visuals. Adults, on the other hand, can process both sounds and visuals together, but prefer visual information.'
    • I guess I need to come up with even more variations of "goo-goo gah-gah"!
  • Finger length predicts physically aggressive personalities, study shows
    • '[Dr. Peter] Hurd and his graduate student Allison Bailey have shown that a man's index finger length relative to ring finger length can predict how inclined that man is to be physically aggressive. Women do not show a similar effect.'
    • 'researchers have found a direct correlation between finger lengths and the amount of testosterone that a fetus is exposed to in the womb. The shorter the index finger relative to the ring finger, the higher the amount of prenatal testosterone, and--as Hurd and Bailey have now shown--the more likely he will be physically aggressive throughout his life.'
    • Hmm. I wonder if giving someone the bird is subliminally correlated to this.
  • Rhesus monkeys can assess the visual perspective of others when competing for food
    • 'Researchers Jonathan Flombaum and Dr. Laurie Santos, both from Yale University, have found that rhesus monkeys consider whether a competitor can or cannot see them when trying to steal food.'
    • 'These latest results, however, suggest that rhesus monkeys can do much more than just follow the gaze of others; they can also deduce what others see and know, based only on their perception of where others are looking. These data potentially push back the time during which our own abilities to "read the minds of others" must have evolved. Moreover, they suggest strongly a reason why these abilities may have evolved in the first place, namely for competitive interactions with others. Finally, these results lay the groundwork for investigating the neural basis for this kind of social reasoning in a readily available laboratory animal -- an urgent endeavor for developing a better neural understanding of diseases such as autism, in which this kind of social reasoning appears impaired.'
    • Why those shifty eyed thieves!

Words

  • Word of mouth 'winner for books'
    • 'John Bond, manager of HarperCollins' literary division said the findings were "fascinating". "Publishers often stand accused of becoming ever more sophisticated and cynical in their pursuit of creating instant author brands, when ultimately it is as likely to be good old-fashioned personal recommendation that really sells," he said.'

2005-03-11t23:17:29Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Education. Faith; Philosophy;. Flow. Health. Geography; History;. Local. Martial. Medium 2D. Medium 2D+text. Medium 2D+time. Medium 3D. Mind. Money. Play. Politics. Relations [SFW].
2005-03-11t23:17:29Z

Cyber Life

  • American kids gorging on a diet of media, report finds
    • ' That multimedia juggling act has been mastered by many American children and teenagers, according to a study released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, an independent health-care philanthropy. The report shows that youths are increasing the time they spend with "new media" (computers, Internet and video games) without shedding the old (TV, print and music). Consequently, students are stuffing an increasing amount of media content into their lives, using more than one medium at a time and packing 8 1/2 hours of media content into just under 6 1/2 hours each day. '
    • ' Those 8 1/2 total hours--which do not include exposure at school or as part of schoolwork--are up an hour from five years ago, with the biggest increase coming from video games (now at 49 minutes a day) and computer use (slightly more than an hour). The study also found that children's bedrooms are plugged-in places, with two-thirds having a TV in their bedroom. The percent of kids with VCR or DVD players in their rooms rose to 54 percent from 36 percent over the last five years, and 37 percent have cable or satellite television. '
      • Why when I was 7, all we had in the house was a small black-and-white TV that required a pair of pliers to change the channel!
    • 'Titled "Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 year-olds," the study involved more than 2,000 participants who completed questionnaires and kept media diaries.'
    • ' Dr. Miriam Bar-on, a pediatrician at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, said in an interview that the sheer amount of time spent tethered to TV and videos (nearly 4 hours a day), music (1 hour, 44 minutes), computers (1 hour, 2 minutes) and video games (49 minutes) is cause for concern. Kids spent an average of 43 minutes reading. '
      • Of course don't blame the devices. It's all still a matter of house rules.
  • 'Ever need to make a really long or convoluted URL shorter? Or need to hide some bit of web naming from someone? You'll want to use something like TinyURL, BabyURL , URL123, and Make A Shorter Link. All that shortening can't be good. Fun ways to play with your enemies! HugeURL and my favorite - EvilURL (Evil - NSFW)' [MeFi]
    • Old but it's good to post stuff like this on ocassion. 
  • The Wikipedians Who Make it Happen [/.]
    • 'Many of us might have wondered who these crazy people are, spending lot of time at wikipedia and presenting us with such an invaluable information. Wired has decided to give some credits to the most active wikipedians, in their article titled Wiki becomes a way of life '
    • Yep, I just love Wikipedia, our modern Encyclopedia Galactica. These guys make me feel so at home.
    • It's as if editing is a game. #1 has 131,521 edits. #1000 has 1,019 edits. They should make a separate list for robot editors.
  • Mutual online calendar
    • My wife and I both have Yahoo and Hotmail accounts but we primarily use our Yahoo accounts. We haven't liked the shared calendar feature, so what we're trying out this plan:
      • Keep using our Yahoo email and IM as usual.
      • Create a new hotmail account just for our shared calendar and IM alerts.
    • Yahoo and Hotmail each has its own pros and cons.
    • UPDATE 2005-03-14t16:03:31Z: I quickly found out that the Hotmail calendar is inferior to Yahoo's calendar. Sure the Hotmail calendar has some nice DHTML and ActiveX features, but given that Microsoft is so big and that Hotmail has been around for so long, I was surprised to find the Hotmail calendar lacking in simple things that you notice right away when you use the product.
      • EG: The events list. If you are entering a bunch of birthdays or whatever, then at some point you'll want to see them as a list instead of just from the calendar views (day, week, month, year). However Hotmail has no event list. The closest thing you get is a reminders list. And even then you are limited to 10 to a page and then there is no one-click to the next page --you have to open a drop down then select a page. That's just too many clicks.
      • EG: The year view should bold the individual dates that have events.
      As a result, Julia and I have opted to form a private Yahoo Groups and we're entering our common calendar there. We won't get IM reminders for common events, but we rarely use that anyway and we can enter an IM reminder via our personal Yahoo accounts if we want to.
  • Google Adds News Personalization [/.]
    • 'ZDNet is reporting that the Google News home page is now customizable, allowing you to add or delete main news categories (such as business, sports and so on), as well as increasing or decreasing the number of headlines within a section. They've also introduced a feature that lets you create your own section using keywords for a topic that interests you. '
    • Sweet! I just removed the sports section and added a "Teletubbies" section!
  • Madrid: Terrorism, the Internet and Democracy
    • Besides the content, the feeling behind the content is good.
    • 'The Internet is a foundation of democratic society in the 21st century, because the core values of the Internet and democracy are so closely aligned.
      1. The Internet is fundamentally about openness, participation, and freedom of expression for all -- increasing the diversity and reach of information and ideas.
      2. The Internet allows people to communicate and collaborate across borders and belief systems.
      3. The Internet unites families and cultures in diaspora; it connects people, helping them to form civil societies.
      4. The Internet can foster economic development by connecting people to information and markets.
      5. The Internet introduces new ideas and views to those who may be isolated and prone to political violence.
      6. The Internet is neither above nor below the law. The same legal principles that apply in the physical world also apply to human activities conducted over the Internet.'
  • Tips for Mastering E-mail Overload.
    • This topic is a must read for all the idiot emailers out there. Here are the bullets for you lazy bastards!
      • 'Use a subject line to summarize, not describe.
      • Give your reader full context at the start of your message.
      • When you copy lots of people (a heinous practice that should be used sparingly), mark out why each person should care.
      • Use separate messages rather than bcc (blind carbon copy).
      • Make action requests clear.
      • Separate topics into separate e-mails … up to a point.
      • Combine separate points into one message.
      • Edit forwarded messages.
      • When scheduling a call or conference, include the topic in the invitation. It helps people prioritize and manage their calendar more effectively.
      • Make your e-mail one page or less.
      • Understand how people prefer to be reached, and how quickly they respond.
      • Check e-mail at defined times each day.
      • Use a paper "response list" to triage messages before you do any follow-up.
      • Charge people for sending you messages.
      • Train people to be relevant.
      • Answer briefly.
      • Send out delayed responses.
      • Ignore it.'

Cyber Tech

  • Learn UNIX in 10 minutes. Wham, bam, thank you  ma' am!
  • Torvalds switches to Apple
    • The title is misleading. He switched to from PC to Mac HW but his OS is still Linux.
    • ' "My main machine these days is a dual 2GHz G5 (aka PowerPC 970) - it's physically a regular Apple Mac, although it obviously only runs Linux, so I don't think you can call it a Mac any more ;)" he said.  '
    • ' "As to the why ... Part of it is simply that I wanted to try something else, and I felt like there were enough people testing the x86 side that it certainly didn't need me. Part of it is that I personally believe there are two main architectures out there: Power and x86-64 are what _I_ think are the two most relevant ones, and I decided that I had to at least check the other side of it out seriously if I really believed that," said Torvalds. '
    • ' "Oh, and part of it is that I got the machine for free," said Torvalds, "I'm really a technology whore." '
  • HOW-TO: Make your own annotated multimedia Google map.
    • Bwah-ha-ha! Let the Google map-hacking begin!
    • 'One of the great things about Google maps is it has its roots in XML. To translate for the non-web developers out there, it basically means Google maps are user hackable. This how-to will show you how to make your own annotated Google map from your own GPS data. Plus, you'll be able to tie in images and video to create an interactive multimedia map. We'll walk you through the steps we took to generate an annotated map of a walk we took recently through our hometown, now that it's actually starting to get warm enough to want to walk about!'

Education

  • Chiropractic school angers FSU professors
    • Old story but I just had to post the hilarious fake campus map.
    • 'A growing number of professors in the Florida State University College of Medicine are saying they will resign if FSU administrators continue to pursue a proposed chiropractic school.'
      [MAP: FSU map with fake bad schools]

Faith; Philosophy

Flow

  • "10 Things I Have Learned" by Milton Glaser
    • Very nice list. It's almost frightening in its simplicity and truth. He's obviously a fellow who loves to shake up clichés like I do.
    • Here's the list without the details.
      • 'You Can Only Work For People That You Like.
      • If You Have A Choice Never Have A Job.
      • Some People Are Toxic Avoid Them.
      • Professionalism Is Not Enough or The Good Is The Enemy Of The Great.
      • Less Is Not Necessarily More.
      • Style Is Not To Be Trusted.
      • How You Live Changes Your Brain.
      • Doubt Is Better Than Certainty.
      • Solving The Problem Is More Important Than Being Right.
      • Tell The Truth.'

Geography; History;

Health

Local

  • Citywide 'Wi-Fi' network pondered
    • 'Chicago officials took the first tentative steps Tuesday toward installation of a citywide wireless network that would allow residents to connect to the Internet from easy chairs, school desks and office break rooms--and provide City Hall with a major source of new revenue.'
    • 'Service probably could be provided more cheaply than what people now pay for wired Internet service, and "instead of going to Starbucks or another upscale coffee or sandwich shop to get wireless access for your laptop, it could be available throughout the entire city," Burke said.'
    • 'Aside from scattered businesses that may charge a fee, the biggest provider of Wi-Fi service in Chicago is the city's public library system. People with laptops can connect for free at 78 library locations where installations "provide high speed data into communities and bring people into the libraries," said Christopher O'Brien, the city's chief information officer.'
      • I did not know that.
    • 'Citywide Wi-Fi installation would entail placing about 7,500 small antennas on street light poles "every block and a half or two blocks" citywide, O'Brien told aldermen attending a joint meeting of the City Council's Finance and Economic Development Committees. He estimated the cost at $18.5 million. Possible service options range from offering the connectivity for free to creating a public utility that would provide the service for a fee, O'Brien said.'
    • I just noticed that it got slashdotted!
      • 'Chicago Indymedia reports on developments pertaining to community internet in Chicago. A press release from the Center for Neighborhood Technology reports that the city's Finance Committee has commissioned a study to explore the possibility of low-cost wireless internet across the city of Chicago, and reserve Chicago's right to establish a citywide Wi-Fi network. It could run into efforts underway now in the state capital by Big Telecom to shut out muni Internet in Illinois." Several readers also pointed to the Chicago Tribune's story on this possibility, including efforts to head off regulation which would make municipal Wi-Fi difficult.' [/.]

Martial

  • Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction.
    • 'A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

      Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

      "I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.

      "We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.

      He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: "You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting."

      "Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.'

    • O well.
  • Army frowns on Dungeons and Dragons
    • 'Does the Israel Defense Forces believe incoming recruits and soldiers who play Dungeons and Dragons are unfit for elite units? Ynet has learned that 18-year-olds who tell recruiters they play the popular fantasy game are automatically given low security clearance.

      "They're detached from reality and suscepitble to influence," the army says.'

    • He he.
  • ' My coming My going, Two simple happenings that got entangled... Japanese Death Poems. Small beautiful simple poems written before death. I just discovered them and thought I would share. A few more here ' [MeFi]
  • Martial measurements
    • If we go by the standardized length of the kanejaku (1 shaku = 10/33 m = 10 sun = 100 bu), use the exact length SI to IS for length (0.0254 m = 1 inch), and dump it into a spreadsheet, then we get numbers like this:

      • Maximum length for a tanto blade =
        1 shaku = 0.3030 m = 11.930 inches

      • Minimum length for a daito blade =
        2 shaku = 0.6061 m = 23.861 inches

      • A hanbo or sanshaku bo =
        3 shaku = 0.9091 m = 35.791 inches

      • A 37 shinai =
        3 shaku, 7 sun = 1.1212 m = 44.142 inches

      • A 38 shinai =
        3 shaku, 8 sun = 1.1515 m = 45.335 inches

      • A 39 shinai =
        3 shaku, 9 sun = 1.1818 m = 46.528 inches

      • A yonshaku bo =
        4 shaku = 1.2121 m = 47.721 inches

      • A jo =
        4 shaku, 2 sun, 1 bu = 1.2758 m = 50.227 inches

      • A goshaku bo =
        5 shaku = 1.5151 m = 59.651 inches

      • A rokushaku bo or cho bo =
        6 shaku = 1.8182 m = 71.582 inches

    • I think people like nice round integers, thus things of 1,2,3,4,5,6 length (whether in shaku or feet or multiples of 30 cm) are pleasing. However, the length of weapons is not simply some sort of numerology. 30 cm, a shaku (30.3 cm), and a foot (30.48 cm) are all approximately the length from my elbow to my wrist. These convenient lengths are ratios of the human body. And of course the length of weapons has many other factors such as length of draw, single or double handedness, blade design/use, tradition, etc.

    • It's cute that the shaku is a tad shorter than the foot, since the Japanese are also shorter than Westerners on average.

Medium 2D

  • Babes in Space. A tiny collection of old science fiction mags with women on the cover. Pretty funny considering that I've been re-reading some Isaac Asimov lately.
  • Drawn! [Drawn.ca]. 'a multi-author blog devoted to illustration, art, cartooning and drawing. Its purpose is to inspire creativity by sharing links and resources.'

Medium 2D+text

  • The Case for Comics Journalism
    • Yes, yes! Comics are so underestimated, underused.
    • ' The independence of the words and the pictures allows for an overlay of subjective and objective storytelling. Tensions between the written word and the image can be used to highlight uncertainties, ambiguities, and ironies that other media might inadvertently play down or deliberately ignore. All of this suggests, simply, that comics open possibilities for journalists that are less available in other media. And perhaps more importantly, they add to the options available to readers, who have lately demonstrated a hunger for voice and meaning in news coverage. Witness the proliferation of blogs and the continued popularity of zines. Like zines and blogs, comics drop the pretense of detachment and emphasize perspective. Furthermore, comics are visually engaging and famously easy to understand. They are, as Sacco says, "inviting. It looks like an easy read." After all, as everyone knows, even kids read comic books. '

Medium 2D+time

  • The Best Simpsons "Couch Gag" Ever.
    • I've seen this before but it's still good.
    • The server got overloaded but the video is available via BitTorrent.
    • BTW: If you haven't used BitTorrent yet, it's free, very easy, and it won't leave you feeling dirty like Kazaa.
      • Download the BitTorrent app at BitTorrent.com and install it.
      • When you run into a site that has a big file to download via BitTorrent, you click on their link and it downloads a tiny little .torrent file.
      • Clicking on the .torrent file runs the BitTorrent app to download chunks the file from other people who've downloaded the file before.

Medium 3D

  • Igloo Builders Guide.
    • Just good to know. The last steps are crucial.
    • 'If everything is done right, the dome will not collapse because the blocks are supporting each other. But in some critical situations, you might want to use a stick inside to support the topmost blocks until the dome is closed. The last few blocks are moved into the igloo through the entrance and lifted up. There might be need of two persons inside at this stage. '
      [PHOTO: Making an igloo]

Mind

Money

  • "How to Start a Startup" by Paul Graham
    • 'You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.'
    • Uh oh. ;)

Play

Politics

Relations [SFW]

2005-03-15t19:52:19Z | RE: Faith; Philosophy;. Politics. Rambling.
Fairness and Freedom

Consider two external nodes on the idea of "Fairness & Freedom":

  • Declaration of Independence, second paragraph, first sentence [Ref]: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
    • Here is a clear case of a statement of "equality" paired with "liberty".
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, About page [2005-01-15]: "The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is building upon the unprecedented opportunities of the 21st century to improve equity in global health and learning."
    • I happened to catch Bill Gates on CSPAN talking about the goals of his foundation. I got the sense that goal was to help "equity" on a global and national scale. The globe needs  a leveling of health and America needs a leveling of education.

I think almost everyone has a sense of F&F. Children in particular are very focused upon F&F. However it seems fair to say that a child's conception of F&F is very self-centric: Children desire F&F for themselves but sometimes have a hard time applying it when it conflicts with their own desires. F&F seems to deal with inventing universal rules.

Consider these things which I will assume to be facts:

  1. Individuals are genetically wired with an instinct of self-preservation (self-promotion, self-care, etc.).
  2. Parents are genetically wired with the instinct to help their own children.
  3. Community animals are genetically wired to help the group, tribe, nation, etc.
  4. Communities have a natural sense of self-preservation.

It is easy to see the parental instinct overriding the individual instinct. It is also conceivable but less likely that the communal instinct would override the individual and parental instinct (EG: soldiers). More generally, one can also see that individualism increases personal freedom, but can sacrifice fairness. Conversely one can see that communism increases fairness, but can sacrifice freedom. However, that does not have to be the case. EGs:

  • Economically:
    • Community >> Individual: Ms. Gail Generous may be irked that her tax dollars are inefficiently spent (say on the military), when she would prefer the freedom to spend her excess money on philanthropic causes of her choice. (One possible solution: Give her big deductibles.)
    • Community = Individual: Ms. Beth Balanced pays a fair share of taxes but she also appreciates that the government pays for her roads, national defense, health care, housing stipend, etc., plus she feels that she was relatively represented when the government made its budget.
    • Community << Individual: Ms. Grace Greedy lives in a country with a flat sales tax and since her living expenses are meager, she pays very little taxes in proportion to her large income. Meanwhile the poor huddled masses are paying a high proportion of their incomes as taxes. In addition, Ms. Greedy profits come largely from sodas that sells to the huddled masses.
  • Socially:
    • Community >> Individual: Mr. Bob Buddha is marginalized or even endangered for his beliefs while living in a fundamentalist country.
    • Community = Individual: Mr. Sam Secular can speak freely where the government favors not particular religions.
    • Community << Individual: Mr. Herman Hater is allowed to form rallies that meet for the purpose of fostering hate.

I could go on and make all sorts of examples that support or counter almost any kind of political agenda, but let me ask a question: "Should the strong help the weak?". Based upon my assumptions (about individuals, parents, etc.), then obviously the answer is "yes". However, the answer still needs qualifications.

  • Some argue that by allowing individuals (or corporations) the freedom to become as strong as possible, then they can provide more help. This is usually the argument that the rich create jobs, the rich spend and there's a trickle down effect. The rich can get very rich, the middle class can help themselves, and the lower class might get jobs.
  • Some argue that by enforcing more social help by a representative government, then the some of the poor will have greater chances of breaking the vicious cycle of poverty. The rich can still get richer off of the others, the middle class will increase, and the lower class will decrease and live better.

I believe in a balance of both. A community should pool some of its resources and should decide, as a community, what to do with those resources. However, given such a community, people should still have the freedom to become wealthy and self-expressed.

2005-03-16t19:24:16Z | RE: Faith; Philosophy;. Rambling.
Objective and Subjective

Consider the duality of Objective and Subjective in this context:

  • Objective: Logical Positivism; Rationalism; Naturalism; Analytical Philosophy; Physics;.
  • Subjective: Belief; Faith; Spiritualism; Supernaturalism; Mysticism; Metaphysics;.

I've been thinking about this lately because I have been admiring my children. I know that I am genetically wired to believe that my children are absolutely beautiful, wonderful, and lovable. This is true because I believe it. Of course other parents also believe it for their own children. One could do studies to explain and quantify this phenomena by studying symmetry, ratios, etc. and see how people react to different faces or bodies. EG: Beauty Check. However, most people would probably consider the scientific study trivial in comparison to enjoying the beauty, and thus the topic is largely one of aesthetics and hence falls in the field of metaphysics.

Validity is context dependent. EGs:

  • Some things are true or not true because you believe or disbelieve.
  • Some believe or disbelieve X because X is compatible or incompatible with things they believe or think.
  • Some are inclined to believe or disbelieve X because of studies via the scientific method, whether inductive or deductive.

People can be entirely authentic and true in context. EGs: Within a piece of literature or a video game. However when people try to overextend, they become inauthentic. EGs:

  • Creationism v evolution.
  • When people try to explain miracles via science. If so, then its not a miracle is it?
  • Jews v Muslims; Protestants v Catholics.

People persist on pitching physics against metaphysics often because they perceive an impossible paradox. A lot of people would be a lot happier if they operated within context. Scientists/Objectivists have no need to argue against those of faith/subjectivists, rather it is those of faith who frequently have problems with those of science.

We do and think things because we are objects in a larger system of objects, but it is more satisfying to consider why we do things from a metaphysical perspective. EG: A mathematician studies math because of its beauty.

Beauty and truth is where I find it. My children are beautiful and good; All babies are good. My family is good; All families are good. My tribe is good; all tribes are good.

2005-03-24t03:32:30Z | RE: Conservation. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Food. Local. Medium 2D+time. Play. Relations [NSFW].
2005-03-24t03:32:30Z

Conservation

  • 2005-03-20: Happy Earth Day [W] and Happy Vernal Equinox [W]!
    • International Earth Day is celebrated annually on the vernal equinox, which this year is .
      Θ.
    • FYI:
      • A solstice occurs when the "sun stills". Soltices happen annually:
        • ca. 06-21 (northernmost, at the Tropic of Cancer, summer begins in the northern hemisphere). School ends!
        • ca. 12-21 (southernmost, at the Tropic of Capricorn, winter begins in the northern hemisphere). Happy Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanza, etc!
      • An equinox occurs when the earth has "equal night". Equinoxes happen annually:
        • ca. 03-20 (spring begins in the northern hemisphere). Earth Day! My son York born!
        • ca. 09-22 (autumn begins in the southern hemisphere). School starts! My daughter Connie born!
      • An apsis occurs when the earth is closest or furthest from the sun. Apsides happen annually:
        •  ca. 01-03 (closest, periapsis, perigee, perihelion). Happy New Year!
        • ca. 07-04 (furthest, apoapsis, apogee, aphelion). Happy Independence Day!

Cyber Life

  • MIT backs Brazil's choice of Linux over Microsoft
    • ' "We advocate using high-quality free software as opposed to scaled-down versions of more costly proprietary software," Walter Bender, director of the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a letter to the Brazilian government. "Free software is far better on the dimensions of cost, power and quality." '
    • 'President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and several ministers may decide as early as this week whether free software or a simplified version of Microsoft's Windows will be installed on computers for a new effort called PC Conectado, or the Connected PC. The effort aims to sell up to 1 million computers, with costs partially subsidized by the government, to lower-middle-income Brazilians this year.'
    • ' "Since sustainable economic growth lies in contributions to the creative and knowledge-based economy, it is obvious to us that the best path is providing the greatest possible saturation," Bender and the co-author of the letter, Research Scientist David Cavallo, said. "It is also obvious that the most powerful technology at the lowest cost provides the greatest penetration." '
  • GreaseMonkey.mozdev.org

Cyber Tech

  • Programming Language Popularity.
    • This article is from 2004-09, but I still like it.
    • The crude list from #1 and down is as follows:
      c, vb, php, java, perl, c++, python, c#, tcl/tk, ruby, fortran, cobol.
    • I am shocked that fortran and cobol are on the list.
  • Developers Report on Power, Productivity and Extensibility of New Visual FoxPro 9.0. Gaackk. I knew that FoxPro was still clinging to life, but by coming out with a new version, perhaps FoxPro is more alive than I suspected.
  • Apple Backs Blu-ray [/.]
    • 'The New York Times is reporting that Apple has joined the Blu-ray Disc Association, and will use Blu-ray in upcoming versions of iMovie and Final Cut. The move puts Apple among Sony, Matsushita, Dell, HP and Walt Disney in supporting Blu-ray; companies including Toshiba, NEC, Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema, Universal and Paramount are pledged to adopt the competing HD-DVD format. Apple's support confirms Blu-ray's future dominance on the desktop, but the division in Hollywood and notebook manufacturers between the two HD videodiscs will ensure the bona fide format war we were all secretly pining for. '
    • My intuition tells me that a new HD-DVD format will be out well before the movie industry will allow hard drive movies.
  • Open-source programmer alleges Linux misuse
    • Wow! It would be so cool to see the GPL enforced. I find it hard to believe that these large companies "just don't get it".
    • ' An open-source programmer stopped by the CeBit trade show in Hannover, Germany, this week to tell Motorola and 12 other companies he believes they're using Linux in violation of the license that governs the software. Harald Welte said the companies have embedded Linux in their products but haven't released the underlying source code, as required by the General Public License, or GPL, that governs the operating system. He tried to notify 13 companies of his complaint at the sprawling trade show, but three companies refused to accept it, he said in an e-mail interview.'
    • ' Open-source software, which introduces somewhat alien concepts such as sharing and cooperation, has at times been hard for the largely proprietary computing industry to swallow. Although the success of projects such as Linux, Apache and Firefox have made open-source software more mainstream, Welte believes much more education still is ahead. "The ultimate goal is to raise awareness that the GPL is not public domain, but a copyright license," Welte said. "Instead of paying license fees, you provide a copy of the source code and pass the license to your users." '
  • SQL Server 2005 BI Deep Dive seminar [2005-03-18]
    • I went to an all day seminar held by Microsoft on SQL Server 2005 and its BI (Business Intelligence) offerings. BI is the latest lingo for the field of OLAP (On Line Analytical Processing), MDX (Multi-Dimensional Expressions), data mining, analysis services, etc.
    • The seminar covered roughly six areas:
      1. Design.
        • SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 should both come out in late fall 2005. The guy felt pretty sure for several reasons, but the one reason that I found most convincing was that he's seen the T-shirts.
        • The releases have to be synched because the three studios are now more closely tied. The changes are sufficient that they did some renaming:
          • SQL Enterprise Manager becomes SQL Management Studio
          • SQL Server Analysis Manager becomes SQL BI Studio.
          • Visual Studio will still be called Visual Studio. Thank goodness!
        • Better scripting including IDEs for MDX (Multi-Dimensional Expressions), DMX (Data Mining Extensions), and XMLA (Extensible Markup Language for Analysis) scripts. I've mentioned before that XMLA is an XML encapsulated spec created by MS but let loose as an open spec.
      2. Synthesis. DTS (Data Transformation and Synthesis or something like that) is beefed up so they had to rename it SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services or something like that). DTS/SSIS is pseudo-programming of DBA activities but SSIS is more upfront about the programming possibilities.
      3. Storage. Microsoft continues to work on data connectivity. Microsoft's concept of UDA (Universal Data Access) still includes the MDAC (Microsoft Data Access Components) of good old ODBC, OLE DB , and ADO (and ADO MD). However now they're introducing the UDM (Unified Dimensional Model) which can connect to all sorts of MD-like sources (MOLAPs, datamarts, data warehouses, etc.) via an XML encapsulated connection string.
      4. Analysis.
        1. There will be seven data mining models instead of just two they've had since 2000. Pretty sweet stuff! Data mining does not need cubes, i.e. it can be done against raw data.
        2. Excel got some nice BI boosts.
      5. Delivery.
        • Reporting is beefed up and will used RDL (Report Definition Language), an XML encapsulated spec created by MS but let loose as an open spec.
        • Odd that reporting exports as stuff like rdl, html, pdf, excel, csv, tiff, but not Word or RTF.
        • Client access to MD stuff is still via the Office/Excel 2000+ with Office Web Component (ActiveX). (Look at ms.com for Exel add-ins for OLAP).
      6. Management. The studios stuff.
    • I appreciate what SQL Server can do but while I sat through all this, I couldn't help but compare WISP (Window, IIS, SQL Server, Programming language of choice) and LAMP (Linux/GNU OS, Apache web server, MySQL database, PHP/Python/PERL programming language). LAMP is cheaper, open source, and very powerful. SQL Server is $20,000 and closed-source, while MySQL is no-cost and open-source, and yet MySQL is so powerful that it rungs many great websites including the fantastic site Wikipedia with its 170 GB database (as of 2004-10-09).
    • Related:
  • How to Create Pop-Up Windows
    • Nice little tip. As a side, I like how they have line numbers in their example code by using a two column table. I've copied it here without any of the css.
      1  
      2  
      3  
      4  
      5  
      6  
      7  
      8  
      9  
      10  
      11  
      12
      <a 
        href="http://google.com/" 
        onclick="window.open(this.href, 'popupwindow', 
        'width=400,height=300,scrollbars,resizable'); 
        return false;"
      >
        Click me any way you desire, now or later, bookmarked or not. 
        I will not attempt to control you, nor punish you, for I am a 
        simple hyperlink; eager to do your bidding, while remaining ever 
        helpful. I anticipating desires, but never trample possibilities. 
        This is the way of the Link.
      </a>

Food

Local

  • St. Patrick's Day [2005-03-17]
    • 07:30. I've had some congestion recently but more importantly since Monday I've been feeling blue and negative. I also didn't get to bed until 3 AM because I was playing Medieval: Total War on the computer [hmm... Are video game italicized or quoted or what?]. When I woke up to NPR this morning I was still congested, and yet I felt energized and positive. I cannot tell if I had a good sort of sleep, or if I just got over a subtle bug not related to my congestion, or my biorhythms synched, or what.
    • 08:45. This morning my six year old daughter Connie spent a little more time deciding what to wear since today is St. Patrick's Day and she wanted to make sure she and our whole family wore green today. In the end she settled on this green summer dress. Later in the car she mentioned that she missed the Philippines since we bought that dress there. She said she liked how we could go swimming. I asked her if she remembered that we spent all day at the beach and ended up getting sun burned. She then turned to me with sharp eyes and said that it wasn't funny because her skin was peeling. I then went on to explain how there's an expression "we'll laugh about this later", but it was a lost cause.
    • 09:10. This morning my nearly four year old York had a hard time waking up and it was running late, so I pulled out the good old trick of "let's hurry up so we can get breakfast at Dunkin Donuts!". As usual, it worked like a charm. So after I dropped Connie off in her green dress, I brought York to his school. As expected, he had not finished his donut and milk. I thought I'd be clever so I had him hand me the donut and milk from the backseat --that way he wouldn't dump it after he got unbuckled. I then got out of my door and went around to the rear passenger door where York was seated. Recently York and I have been doing this little game/ritual where I open his door only to be "surprised" that he has climbed into the front seat; then I open the front passenger door to be "surprised" that he has climbed into the driver's seat; then I open the drivers door and then we go to school. So by the time I go the rear passenger seat, he had climbed into the front passenger's seat. As I start shifting to open the front passenger's door, I'm yelling out "Stop York! Watch out for the milk....". But, alas, it is too late, too late. He had dived for the driver's seat, smashed the donut, and had managed to spill all the milk onto the driver's seat. I admonished him briefly and asked him if he remembered handing me the donut and milk. In hindsight he did remember but in the heat of the moment he had clearly forgotten. I couldn't really blame him or get mad at him, so I told him it was OK and we did our usual hug and kisses at the drop off.

Medium 2D+time

  • New Star Wars trailer.
    • You can download the trailer (aka "The O.C. Trailer") or just see it the Trailer at StarWars.com.
    • I agree that I won't get my hopes up but whoo-whee!, it is one sweet trailer. Plus all this talk about this movie coming out as PG 13 rating (a first for the series), is very promising.
  • Kung Fu Hustle
    • ' Roger Ebert says: "Imagine a film in which Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton meet Quentin Tarantino and Bugs Bunny" '
    • This looks like a total blast!
    • U.S. release date: 2005-04-22. Trailer. IMDB.
  • Banana Man [video]. Sweet simple office escapism.
  • Fuccon.com.
    • 'The story of a three-mannequin American family who has moved to Japan, welcome to the bizarre world of OH! Mikey. First shown on late-night Japanese television called "Vermillion Pleasure Night", this show has spawned a complete DVD collection of its own. Fashionably hip and gut-splitting funny, the Fuccon Family and their circle of friends and acquaintances won't fail to entertain. Once you see The Fuccon Family, you'll love them. Incredibly, this bizarre Japanese TV show is available on DVD with English subtitles; a great treat for those in love with Japan yet don't necessarily speak Japanese.'
    • Late night TV? Check! Bizarre? Check!
  • A New Bunny [animation]. More profanity than I care for but some people might be in the mood for swearing.
  • It puts the lotion on it's skin [video]. A chilling portion of The Silence of the Lambs done as a music video.

Play

  • Game Day [2005-03-13 ].
    • A group of us gathered at Terry's house again for Game Day #3. (I missed #2).
    • This time I played three games that I've never played before:
      • Reiner Knizia's Samurai. This turn-based strategy game is a surrounding board game slightly reminiscent of Go. Very easy to learn and it went fast (0.5 hour). The choices were interesting without being overwhelming. Klear.com/samurai/.
      • Settlers of Catan. A turn-based resource and geography board game reminescent of Civilization. It looks bizarre but it the rules weren't that hard. It's a longer game (1-2 hours) but the choices and the roll of the dice kept me on the edge of my seat. Lots of room for social interaction. This was probably the most popular game of these game days. BoardgameGeek.com/game/13.
      • Puerto Rico. A turn-based resource game where your role changes every turn. The game is very hard to understand without playing it. It's a long game (3-4 hours) but there are many interesting and competing choices as you go along. GamesInABox.com/PuertoRico.html.
  • Debate On Violent Video Games
    • Ha ha ha! The potholes of censorship. Kids will get their games one way or another.
    • 'Under the bill, retailers would be forbidden from selling or renting to teenagers video games that are sexually explicit or that depict images of human-on-human violence. Does that mean games that merely blast space creatures are OK? asked Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago).

      "Killing an alien wouldn't fall under the bill," said Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), the sponsor.

      Would that apply to all aliens or only those who "just look like humans?" Molaro then asked.

      "If it's an alien that looks like a human, which is an alien, yes," Chapa LaVia responded.

      Later, she refined her interpretation this way: "If it was an alien that pretended to be a human, I guess then it's human. Then it would fall under this bill because it's human against human. ... How would we know he was an alien?"
      '
    • ' Some wondered aloud whether a game based on something seemingly as innocent as a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, with more sedate mayhem practiced by witches and ogres and other odd beings, would run afoul of the new rules.

      One lawmaker pondered whether a James Bond video could no longer be sold to minors if it portrayed 007's suave and sophisticated approach to rubbing out villains.

      Even many who voted for Blagojevich's measure suggested it might not pass constitutional muster. Some acknowledged the political realities of feeling obliged to back a bill they felt uncomfortable with because to oppose it would leave them open to charges that they favored gore and mayhem.

      Among those voting for the bill was Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who said he was doing so because "these are disgusting, violent and horrible games."

      Yet, Lang said, "The truth of the matter is [the bill] is unconstitutional as drafted." '

    • ' One was Rep. Bill Black, a Republican from Danville who raised questions that sounded like they could have been scripted by the liberal American Civil Liberties Union.

      "Ladies and gentlemen of the House, where do you stop? If you go down this road, where do you stop?" Black implored, arguing that it should be up to parents and not the state to decide whether children can buy violent videos.

      "I grew up when comic books faced the same kind of scrutiny, and there was a federal government action that rated comic books," Black said. "And my mother and father would look at those comic books and determine which ones that they thought would be suitable for me to read." '

  • Orienteering at Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL [2005-03-20]
    • Our family just participated in our first orienteering event (sponsored by Chicago-Orienteering.org). Orienteering is an outdoor game where you're given a time frame, a map, and a list of possible objectives. We started at Ranalli's (on Clark & Belden) and roved around Lincoln Park Zoo for 60 minutes at a casual pace instead of a competitive pace. We came in with 40 seconds to spare.
    • Orienteering is definitely a good way to add variety for runners. We had such a good time (especially since we love the outdoors) that we intend to do more orienteering. Orienteering falls in line with my theory of exercising while you're focusing on something else. EGs: Getting exercise while doing martial arts, construction work, moving, travelling, rearranging furniture, chasing kids, tantric sex, etc.
    • The next orienteering event is at Waterfall Glen East [2005-04-10], near Argonne National Laboratory. This even will be in a more heavily forested area than the Lincoln Park event.

Relations [NSFW]

2005-03-24t23:03:28Z | RE: Faith; Philosophy;. Health. Politics.
Terri Schiavo

My take:

  • I am a strong believer in giving voices to the voiceless. But I also believe in death is natural and that sometimes one must take actions to make a dignified and graceful death possible.
  • I believe that cases like this should be determined by legal documents (in this case we have no Living Will), legal processes (which this case may help define), those who have legal and physical responsibility over the person (usually the guardian), and medical staff. It is a tough case that should have been kept private and quiet.
  • A fetus can progress, but Schiavo cannot. This is not a case of mere disability. There is no spirit or mind left: she is now just a biological machine that is externally maintained. She has no voice, no Living Will. The main decision, a hard decision, should have been deferred to the husband.
  • I dislike how the politicians have been fighting so hard to make this a splitting issue, a pseudo-pro-life issue.  I strongly dislike how Governor Jeb Bush has been meddling in this case for months. I did not think we needed the Governor, the President, the Congress, and the press making a circus of this.

Key facts in the Schiavo life-support controversy

  • 'Terri Schiavo, now 41, collapsed in her home in 1990. ... Schiavo is locked in what some doctors say is a persistent vegetative state.'
  • 'Michael Schiavo, guardian for his wife. Before her collapse, he says, she had expressed the wish not to be kept alive artificially if the situation ever arose.'
  • 'Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who don't believe Michael Schiavo's statements about his wife's wishes. They say their daughter, a Roman Catholic, would not disobey church teachings on the matter.'

Fla., U.S. Courts Won't Hear Schiavo Case

  • 'A state judge and the U.S. Supreme Court refused Thursday to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, leaving the brain-damaged woman's parents with only the slimmest hopes in their fight to keep her alive. '
  • 'Gov. Jeb Bush's request seeking custody cited new allegations of neglect and challenges the diagnoses that Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, but Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer wasn't convinced and declined to hear Bush's arguments.'
  • ' "Theresa Marie Schiavo cannot live without a nutrition and hydration tube and Dr. Cheshire does not suggest otherwise. By clear and convincing evidence, it was determined she did not want to live under such burdensome conditions and that she would refuse such medical treatment/assistance," Greer wrote. '
  • 'Lawyers for Michael Schiavo said in their Supreme Court filing that Congress violated the Constitution when it passed a bill allowing federal court review of her case, because that tried to overturn state court rulings.'
  • 'Her parents and their doctors argue that she could get better and that she would never have wanted to be cut off from food and water. But Ronald Cranford of the University of Minnesota, a neurologist who was among those who made a previous diagnosis of Schiavo, said "there isn't a reputable, credible neurologist in the world who won't find her in a vegetative state." '

[DIAGRAMS: Analyzing Terri Schiavo's brain]  [ref]

Here is a pro-Euthanasia view for Schiavo:

  • In the Schiavo case, hard to tell support from opportunism
    • Basically as follows:
      • Conservatives OK capital punishment but no euthanasia.
      • Conservatives against health care for the living but not for the dying.
      • Others contrast this case with the concern for life and dignity in the Iraq War and torture. It is easy to see how even a less public case liek this could drive one to bankruptcy, and yet the Right pushed that bankruptcy bill through. It is also easy to see how this was case of malpractice, and yet the Right push tort reform so much that it threatens even just lawsuits. The Right claims to be small government and yet you see that they interfere with: acquiring Canadian drugs, gay marriages, family planning, medical marijuana, freedom of speech, etc.
    • 'And ironic that a family dispute has elevated a very common occurrence--the suspension of life-support measures for a patient who is never going to be meaningfully conscious again--into another one of our national morality plays.'
    • 'I feel there's more to life than "LIFE." There is no greater way to honor to humanity than to acknowledge that it's more than mere biological existence; no greater way to show life due respect than to let it end with dignity, not desperation. All these feelings lead me to yet another thought: Terri Schiavo's real supporters are those who wish for her a swift and quiet end.'

Here are two pro-Life views for Schiavo

  • Don't sugarcoat what's happening to Terri Schiavo.
    • 'In Schiavo's case, the phrase I keep hearing is "pulling the plug." But there is no plug to pull. She is not on a respirator in the hospital. If a respirator was the only thing keeping someone alive, I could understand pulling the plug, since it means that there would be a real plug, and electric power and a machine.'
    • 'I wouldn't want to live that way. And I'm writing something down to inform my wife that if I am ever like that, they should let me die. But there was nothing in writing for Terri. And her parents want to care for her. Still, she's being killed.

      So let's not cheapen this by avoiding what is happening to Terri Schiavo. Let's use a real word, the kind of word that repels the bureaucrat in each of us, not some insect's word, but an ugly word that stands on two feet, a word of consequence, a word with some real blood to it:

      Murder.
      '
    • I've put animals to sleep as a Veterinary Assistant. My wife is a Respiratory Therapist and she has seen babies, children, and adults die regularly for years. This is not murder. This is an act of rationality, compassion, grace, and dignity.
  • Not Dead at All
    • This one article by Harriet McBryde Johnson, a disability-rights lawyer is very good.
    • '1. Ms. Schiavo is not terminally ill. She has lived in her current condition for 15 years. This is not about end-of-life decision-making. The question is whether she should be killed by starvation and dehydration.

      2. Ms. Schiavo is not dependent on life support. Her lungs, kidneys, heart, and digestive systems work fine. Just as she uses a wheelchair for mobility, she uses a tube for eating and drinking. Feeding Ms. Schiavo is not difficult, painful, or in any way heroic. Feeding tubes are a very simple piece of adaptive equipment, and the fact that Ms. Schiavo eats through a tube should have nothing to do with whether she should live or die.

      3. This is not a case about a patient's right to refuse treatment. I don't see eating and drinking as "treatment," but even if they are, everyone agrees that Ms. Schiavo is presently incapable of articulating a decision to refuse treatment. The question is who should make the decision for her, and whether that substitute decision-maker should be authorized to kill her by starvation and dehydration.

      4. There is a genuine dispute as to Ms. Schiavo's awareness and consciousness. But if we assume that those who would authorize her death are correct, Ms. Schiavo is completely unaware of her situation and therefore incapable of suffering physically or emotionally. Her death thus can't be justified for relieving her suffering.

      5. There is a genuine dispute as to what Ms. Schiavo believed and expressed about life with severe disability before she herself became incapacitated; certainly, she never stated her preferences in an advance directive like a living will. If we assume that Ms. Schiavo is aware and conscious, it is possible that, like most people who live with severe disability for as long as she has, she has abandoned her preconceived fears of the life she is now living. We have no idea whether she wishes to be bound by things she might have said when she was living a very different life. If we assume she is unaware and unconscious, we can't justify her death as her preference. She has no preference.

      6. Ms. Schiavo, like all people, incapacitated or not, has a federal constitutional right not to be deprived of her life without due process of law.

      7. In addition to the rights all people enjoy, Ms. Schiavo has a statutory right under the Americans With Disabilities Act not to be treated differently because of her disability. Obviously, Florida law would not allow a husband to kill a nondisabled wife by starvation and dehydration; killing is not ordinarily considered a private family concern or a matter of choice. It is Ms. Schiavo's disability that makes her killing different in the eyes of the Florida courts. Because the state is overtly drawing lines based on disability, it has the burden under the ADA of justifying those lines.

      8. In other contexts, federal courts are available to make sure state courts respect federally protected rights. This review is critical not only to the parties directly involved, but to the integrity of our legal system. Although review will very often be a futile last-ditch effort--as with most death-penalty habeas petitions--federalism requires that the federal government, not the states, have the last word. When the issue is the scope of a guardian's authority, it is necessary to allow other people, in this case other family members, standing to file a legal challenge.

      9. The whole society has a stake in making sure state courts are not tainted by prejudices, myths, and unfounded fears--like the unthinking horror in mainstream society that transforms feeding tubes into fetish objects, emblematic of broader, deeper fears of disability that sometimes slide from fear to disgust and from disgust to hatred. While we should not assume that disability prejudice tainted the Florida courts, we cannot reasonably assume that it did not.

      10. Despite the unseemly Palm Sunday pontificating in Congress, the legislation enabling Ms. Schiavo's parents to sue did not take sides in the so-called culture wars. It did not dictate that Ms. Schiavo be fed. It simply created a procedure whereby the federal courts could decide whether Ms. Schiavo's federally protected rights have been violated.'

2005-03-30t21:10:23Z | RE: Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Faith; Philosophy;. Martial. Money. Politics. Rambling.
I am open source

A common question is "What is your favorite color?" When I was younger I never had a favorite color, but in college it was I had this realization that my favorite color was maroon. Maroon was suddenly part of my identity --as if I suddenly noticed one of my limbs. Since then I have come up with "reasons" for the affinity, but the reasons pale in comparison to the semi-mystical revelation. I have retained and accepted that affinity for maroon ever since. (Although lately I've been liking green too :)

While I was at a seminar (SQL Server 2005 BI Deep Dive, 2005-03-18), I found myself writing these words down on my notepad: "I am open source". As I wrote it down and as I played with the idea, I had a feeling of revelation that was oddly similar to the maroon revelation. I've known about open source for a while but for some reason my thoughts about it were starting to coalesce on that day. I've always been amused by hunches, intuition, educated guesses, instincts, experience-based gut reactions, leaps of thought, etc. These hunches are surprisingly often correct so I think hunches should be followed but they should also be subjected to objective analysis.

When I wrote "I am open source", I was not referring just to open source as it pertains to software, rather, I was referring to a concept of generosity, of public domain, of free ideas, of copyleft, of intellectual property, etc. It is this general concept of open source that I want to discuss in this post

People create. People create stuff like knowledge, creative works, objects, food, and other people. People draw upon their own talent, their own sources to create, but people also draw upon external sources. Incorporating previous creations when deriving new creations is an essential part of the creative process. Even Isaac Newton had the humility and perspective to say "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.". Drawing upon the past is one of the reasons that ancestor appreciation is a prevalent notion across most cultures. Clearly it would server humanity and ourselves to have more sources to draw upon. The greater the breadth and depth sources that people can draw upon, the greater the potential of their creations.

Computer and Internet technology has reduced physical and financial limitations on creativity. Dispersing knowledge via books and live instruction presented physical problems but a lot of knowledge and creative works can now be digitized, shared, and modified broadly and cheaply.

Open source is about reducing social, financial, and legal limitations on creativity. The "public domain" of knowledge and creative works are part of our human heritage but also as building blocks for the future. The problem is not with the public domain. The problem is that creativity is limited by the "proprietary domain", i.e. things that are copyrighted or patented. Works become trapped or static in the proprietary domain. Works take too long to get from the proprietary domain to the public domain. And yet the creators need to eat too.

The solution is to create an "open domain". People are free to make money off of works but the work remains alive to the creative process in a public way. Richard Stallman, the creator of the open source concept (although he called it "free software"), put it this way: ' "free'' as in "free speech,'' not as in "free beer." ' [Ref]. In the F/OSS (Free/Open Source Software) realm, the benefit has been that the public tests, improves, and maintains products more rapidly than in a proprietary realm. A worthy parent does not need to be concerned about forks in the product because he or she should evaluate each modification as it comes in.

Open source is not anti-profit or anti-corporation, but it is pro-creativity. Open source apps do not have to be no-cost (although some very successful ones were). People are willing to pay for a good product especially if they know that their money is going towards developing the product or towards new creations. EG: If I buy only pirated songs, then the corporation and the artist will no longer be able to make songs that I like.

Entities may temporarily gain an advantage through created works and knowledge, but the gain is ephemeral unless the public gains from the works too. Eventually all works and knowledge should return to the source, to the public domain lest the works or knowledge fade away. It is the continuation of knowledge between generations that frees the next generation from having to reinvent something; It is the continuation of works from generation to generation that make them immortal.

I believe that the progression is "Competition --> Cooperation --> Consolidation". Capitalism and socialism will merge. Many of our current financial and physical limitations will go away but political, social, and personal issues will remain.

My belief is that the core of what we really want and want to do is free --as in "The best things in life are free". The key is to have a core that is authentic, beautiful, meaningful, moving, etc. And then have the faith and determination that the details (the technology, the money, the logistics, the additional expertise, the very possibility) will somehow get resolved--as in "Build it and they will come". The stuff surrounding the core (executing, teaching, etc.) currently are not free. EG: I believe that there should be no "secrets" in martial arts, but making equipment, providing workout space, teaching, traveling, eating, researching, coordinating people and their schedules, etc. currently costs money and needs to be funded. After all, "you can do anything as long as you can pay for it".

Related:

  • Wikipedia
    • WikimediaFoundation.org: ' Imagine a world in which every single person is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing. ... The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is an international non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge.'
    • public domain : 'The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge--writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others--in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. (Proprietary interest is typically represented by a copyright or patent.) Such works and inventions are considered part of the public's cultural heritage, and anyone can use and build upon them without restriction (not taking into account laws concerning safety, export, etc.).'
    • copyleft: 'Copyleft describes a group of licenses applied to works such as software, documents, and art. Where copyright law is seen by the original proponents of copyleft as a way to restrict the right to make and redistribute copies of a particular work, a copyleft license uses copyright law in order to ensure that every person who receives a copy or derived version of a work, can use, modify, and also redistribute both the work, and derived versions of the work. Thus, in a non-legal sense, copyleft is the opposite of copyright.'
  • Patents for profit: dystopian visions of the new economy
    • ' These fifteen years (a shorter timespan than the average patent) have seen the birth and maturing of the World Wide Web, all thanks to a protocol known as Hypertext Transfer (http). Tim Berners-Lee, the man who conceived the code that embodies this protocol, did not patent it. Thus it became an open standard: anybody could use it to contribute new programmes designed to run on the web. And use it they did. To the extent that the multiplying, democratising life-forms of the web now challenge the dominance of corporate media and orthodox models of economic activity.

      Software programming has a relatively low financial barrier to entry. It relies on the manipulation of mathematical algorithms between one man and his machine. Progress in the sector takes place in swift but discrete steps. Each step contributes something to the art of programming: each software programme builds on the last. It is this environment -- accretive, open-ended and egalitarian -- that has allowed rapid progress in the software industry to enhance the utility and connectivity of the computers people use in their daily lives.

      In the patent-free environment, contributions to the common pool of programming knowledge come from all corners of the world, from the amateur hacker working until 4am in his bedroom to corporations leasing the most expensive real estate in Silicon Valley. Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, likens reading a piece of software code to walking around a city -- the expert eye will recognise "architectural periods", little stylistic ticks that identify a piece of recycled code with a particular time, even place.

      Software patents take chunks of code out of this vast pool of shared knowledge and lock them down using IP law. United States case law already shows how companies can use such patents to claim ownership of code that had previously been regarded as an open standard. The effect is not simply to appropriate and centralise a shared knowledge resource, but to make it impossible to create a new programme without infringing the patent. Where software is concerned, patents obliterate progress. '

    • ' Some leading architects of the software sector are quite explicit about this. Bill Gates set his stall out as early as 1991:
      "The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose... Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors."

      Companies who have followed Gates's advice and established a forceful patent portfolio gain another benefit: by subjecting software code to strong-IP protection, they can get around the problem of infringing rival patents by licensing patents to competitors -- often generating significant revenues in the process. Already, IBM earns considerable royalties from its patent portfolio in the US. Other major IT companies there have started cross-licensing patented code with rivals.

      The logic is as clear as it is chilling. In effect, corporations use software patenting to secure a monopoly and discourage the entrepreneurial activity of start-ups. The result is to freeze, not foster, innovation -- the very opposite of patent law's original intention.

      Moreover, as intellectual property law combines with the global shift towards a "knowledge economy", the regressive effect of such lockdowns acquires a more explicitly political dimension. The application of strong IP law is a game only the big boys, with their dedicated legal teams, can play. Knowledge, once viewed as a commons, becomes a commodity -- just like land or labour in an agricultural or industrial economy -- whose owners ordain themselves the new economy's ruling class.

      This process is taking place in all areas of the economy. At the moment we still baulk at the idea of knowledge as someone's out-and-out possession: witness the public disgust when patents prevent life-saving drugs from reaching the dying in Africa. With a little imagination, this reaction can be understood as a contemporary example of resistance to changes in economic reality.

      If the shift towards knowledge as commodity is as inevitable as many -- including, it would appear, the European Commission -- believe, then the future looks bleak. We can look forward to an age of monopolies, where innovation is choked by vested interest and the dynamic economies that software and other innovators have helped create fall to rot. '

    • ' The success of Open Source underlines the fact that knowledge is a different sort of resource to labour or land. While these are finite resources, knowledge can be infinitely replicated, and never more easily than in the age of the internet. The only tragedy of this commons, it seems, would be to censor it using strong-IP law. Because, as Open Source has shown, a solid commons of knowledge fosters a solid knowledge economy around its edges.

      Open Source software is providing an attractive metaphor for others in the knowledge industries faced with increasingly obtrusive patent and copyright law, although technologists themselves, wary of being labelled romantic, often shy away from this. The economic success of Open Source programming relies in part on the nature of the programming task itself, but it can provide a model of understanding the world, as more and more of everyday life is becoming reducible to data.

      Following the success of the Sanger Institute's open funding model in the race to annotate the human genome, question marks are beginning to appear over the direct linking of medical r&d to the balance sheets of Big-Pharma. Arguments are also rippling through the creative industries over the use and misuse of copyright law on the internet. And libraries, academies and archives are finally finding their voice over open access to knowledge. '

  • "Why Free Software's Long Run TCO must be lower"
  • "Working Without Copyleft"
    • 'It's possible to be an ardent supporter of open source development and not be a fan of copyleft and the General Public License. In this article the authors -- software developers -- relate how they came to embrace copyleft, became disillusioned with its limitations, and consequently turned away from it.'
  • "Copyleft vs. Copyright: A Marxist critique" by Johan Söderberg

2005-03-31t19:43:21Z | RE: Conservation. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Faith; Philosophy;. Food. Health. Life. Martial. Math; Science; Technology;. Medium 2D. Medium 2D+time. Medium 3D. Mind. Play. Politics. Quirky [Possibly NSFW]. Rambling. Relations [SFW].
2005-03-31t19:43:21Z

Conservation

  • World's First Fuel-Cell Motorcycle [/.]
    • Beware the ninjas on their silent fuel-cell motorcycles! Too bad there aren't a lot of hydrogen and oxygen refueling stations... yet.
    • ' Rubber Magazine reports that the British company Intelligent Energy has unveiled today the first purpose-built, fuel-cell motorbike. The bike has a 6kW (8 hp) electric motor, top speed of 50 mph (80kph), a range of 100 miles (160km). The engine is completely silent, which might not go well with many motorcycle lovers. In addition it could also possibly pose an interesting safety issue, since a pedestrian or motorist would not hear it coming. '
    • [PHOTO: The ENV motorcycle with zero emissions]
  • Vampires Run: Bats on treadmills show high-speed gait & video
    • That's just so funny!
    • 'Vampire bats have evolved their own form of running, the first test of these creatures on a treadmill shows. As the treadmill pace picks up, they switch to a run, with all limbs airborne at one point in each stride.'
    • ' "Because vampire bats evolved the ability to run independently of other runners, they're a separate group for people to test their hypotheses on," Riskin says. The news comes as a surprise, comments John Hutchinson of the Royal Veterinary College in London. "It's one of the few--or only--examples I can think of in which a lineage has re-evolved running." '
    • [PHOTOS: A bat running in freeze frame]
  • 'Green roofs "are living, vegetative roofing alternatives designed in stark contrast to the many standard non-porous roof choices." ' [MeFi]
    • Hurrah! Chicago's green roof by Mayor Daley's on the list. It would be cool if my own house had a green roof.
    • Some good stuff in the MeFi thread too, including an "upcycling" alternative to the usual "reduce, reuse, recycle".
    • [PHOTO: Green roof in Chicago]

Cyber Life

  • Women Leaving I.T. [/. with over 1000 comments]
    • ' NewsFactor is running a story on the exodus of women from the I.T. field. According to the article, women made up 41% of the I.T workforce in 1996. That number dropped to 35% by 2002 and that "the downward spiral is gaining momentum." While this is certainly a concern, what are the overall effects of such a mass departure?'
    • The women are smarter and they're leaving the ruins of IT!
    • Computer science and IT (information technologies) fall in the category of math and engineering which tends to be male. I'm guessing that it has to do with the "left-brained" thing. The other factor is that these kinds of jobs have a tendency to have less human-to-human interfacing. I think women only got into these sorts of fields for the money, not the love.  I'm not sure about cultural factors such as East v West.
    • On the other hand, since there are so few women in CS/IT/math/engineering, they are definitely treated as goddesses and are always warmly welcomed.  As far as the pickings that women will have in this field, I like this comment from the /. thread "The odds are good, but the goods are odd."
    • The other good meme on this is what about the genders in other fields such as nursing, teaching, carpentry, management?
  • Wikipedia Publishes 500,000th English Article [2005-03-18]
    • Hurrah for the beloved Wikipedia! I don't have much money but I do have a short list of entities that I give donations to and this list includes:
    • 'The total of 500,000 articles far exceeds any other encyclopedia project. At the average of 2,500 characters per article, this is 1.25 gigabytes of raw text, which if printed double-sided would form a stack about 66 feet or 20 meters, which is over 6 stories tall. Other recent additions to its English-language edition include hundreds of full-length songs, almost a gigabyte of new images, and subject-specific portals.'
    • 'Daniel Pink, author and WIRED Magazine columnist, recently described Wikipedia as "the self-organizing, self-repairing, hyperaddictive library of the future." BBC News calls it "One of the most reliably useful sources of information around, on or off-line," and Tim Berners-Lee, father of the Web, has called it "The Font of All Knowledge." '
  • Google Goes to Answers.com [/.]
    • 'Google has changed its definitions link from dictionary.com to answers.com. A google search for juxtaposition shows the effect. What is interesting is that answers.com pulls information from wikipedia.org, which was provided bandwidth by google.com [and now Google is providing a service that will be used worldwide to pull information off Wikipedia]. Aside from having both a dictionary.com and a wikipedia.org search box in FireFox (as well as Google) the definition link on Google is still useful and I regularly check it for obscure uses or exact definitions of words. Now it uses answers.com we do not get all the different forms of the word, but we do get any medical or wikipedic information. '
    • I use Dictionary.com  a lot but I'll have to check out Answers.com.
  • IE7 Details Emerge
    • I'm more interested in IE finally getting tabbed browsing than security.
    • 'Microsoft Watch has a story about new features we can expect in IE7 (code named 'Rincon') which they gathered through Microsoft's key partners. Apparently we can expect 32 bit PNG support, native IDN support, new functionality that will simplify printing from inside IE and, of course, tabbed browsing. The new browser also will likely include a built-in news aggregator. Apparently an important factor is security.'
  • I've been fiddling with Gmail more since I hear they may be going public with it soon.
    • My previous complaints:
      • No WYSIWYG or raw HTML composing. --> I rarely use this. I can always do it via Yahoo, etc.
      • You can have contacts but you can't make contact lists. --> You can achieve a superior effect by making notes (EG: "Category: Relatives") since it's all filterable and searchable.
      • There is no calendar. --> I'm primarily using a Yahoo Groups calendar shared by my wife and I. I can have all the reminders forwarded to my Gmail account.
      • You can't make folders for your inbox. --> You can achieve a superior effect by attaching as many labels you want to messages (EG: "work") since it's all filterable and searchable.
      • Spell check is nicely implemented but slow. --> Fine. Maybe they'll fix this.
      • And a bunch of other stuff that make it clear that Gmail is still a beta service. --> Fine. Maybe they'll fix this.
    • I think I'm ready to make a switch but I'll wait until after 2005-04-01, because last time Google did anything with Gmail, they did it around April Fool's Day.
  • "Which search engine should I use?" [MeFi]. Surprisingly the answer isn't always Google.
  • ' "You waive any right to privacy." AOL has just updated the terms of service for Instant Messanger, which include agreeing to the new requirement that AOL owns everything you write, has the right to reproduce it at will, and that you waive all requirements for prior approval to do so.' [MeFi]. Not that I use AOL.

Cyber Tech

  • Japanese Firms Claim 170Mb/s Service Via Powerline
    • 'Sony, Mitsubishi, and Panasonic have created and launched a new technology to transport Internet and media signals around the home via the electricity network at speeds 3x that of Wi-Fi. It's even fast enough for HDTV. The introduction is only dependent on government authorization. '
    • O goodie. I still think that Internet over power lines is a great idea.
    • 'They have developed a system to transfer 170 Megabits per second of data through the power lines of a home, Panasonic researcher Ingo Chmielewski told journalists at the electronics trade fair CeBIT.'
  • 'Millipede' Prototype Shown at CeBIT [/.]
    • Some of us have known about millipede and MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems) for a while but it's good to see the current state of development.
    • ' It was a subject of much controversy for last 5 - 7 years, but it's finally got protyped. At CeBIT, IBM for the first time shows the prototype of "Millipede" - nanomechanical data storage device. Using revolutionary nanotechnology, scientists at the IBM Zurich R&D Lab, Switzerland, have made it to the millionths of a millimeter range, achieving data storage densities of more than one terabit per square inch, equivalent to storing the content of 25 DVDs on an area the size of a postage stamp. The principle of operation is comparable with the old punch cards, but now with structural dimensions in the nanometer scale and the ability to erase data and rewrite the medium.  '
      • I love it: The return of the punch card! I would feel better knowing stuff was archived in solid state.
    • 'At the heart of the "millipede" technology is a two-dimensional array of V-shaped silicon cantilevers, each 70 micrometers (thousandths of a millimeter) long. At the end of each cantilever there is apart from the tip a micrometer-sized sensor for reading as well as a heating resistor above the tip, which is needed for writing. The cone shaped tip is just under one micrometer in length and has a radius of a few nanometers at its apex. The cantilever cells are arranged in the form of an array on a 10 mm x 10 mm chip. One of the recent array designs comprises a total of 4,096 (64 x 64) cantilevers. The MEMS elements are etched out of a silicon single crystal using existing technologies. The actual data medium is a thin polymer film coated on a silicon substrate. The tips can independently read, write or erase the bits. '
  • Microsoft Remains Firm On Ending VB6 Support [/., 600+ c0mments]
    • ' CNet reports that Microsoft is remaining firm an ending support for VB6, despite a petition and many requests from its developer community. If only VB were a F/OSS project instead of a proprietary customers could be assured of continued support as long as there was demand. Are there any good F/OSS implementations of VB out there for customers to migrate to? One can only hope that enlightened groups like the Agility Alliance would warn about the risks of using such software that can be end-of-lifed even while they're in heavy use. '
    • Brazen forced obsolescence. Even the non-VB programmers must feel the pain. Older languages are still supported. Languages never really die. Apps should work almost forever.
  • Google and Their Server Farm [/., 400+ comments]
    • She covers the issues of storage, security, bandwidth, and cost only very briefly. There are some hardware issues such as printers, video cards, etc.
    • Lots of complaints in the /. thread.
    • 'CNet has a very interesting story about Google, operating systems, and where Google may be going. The upshot is that they may make OS issues totally irrelevant by supplying everything anyone needs over the web from their mega-server-farm. '
    • Quotations from the CNET article:
      • 'I think Google's going to build a Web-based thin client-type hosted environment-slash-operating system replacement. Or at least, they should, and that's only if Microsoft doesn't beat them to it. '
      • 'Mark Lucovsky, our aforementioned Microsoft defector, was also the chief software architect for the now-dormant .Net My Services (code-named Hailstorm) project, which intended to deliver personal Web services and applications hosted at Microsoft. Meanwhile, Google has been working with a combination of Web application development technologies that have recently been dubbed Ajax. Ajax, which is short for Asynchronous JavaScript + XML, combines JavaScript, dynamic HTML, and XMLHTTP to, in essence, let you build Web-based applications that run as quickly and seamlessly as local software. (Please read Adaptive Path's essay on the subject, since they're the ones who coined the Ajax name, and they have charts and Q&As and things.) '
      • 'Now, think about Gmail, which, in a broadband situation (I'll deal with that in a couple of paragraphs), is probably more responsive than Outlook; and Google Maps, which doesn't show any signs of redrawing as you drag the image all over your screen. That's the power of Ajax, which removes most of the server communication, almost making you forget you're using the Web. Now think about what would happen if you had a word processor, a spreadsheet app, a photo editor, an instant messenger, a browser, a music jukebox, and any other "software application" running inside a Web framework that's as fast and responsive as any desktop you've ever used. Now imagine being able to access that environment from any Web-enabled computer (or device), anywhere. Remember Bill Gates saying, 10 years ago, that traditional software was dead and that all software would eventually be delivered over the Internet? Well, I think Google was listening.'
  • Apple Developing Two-Button Mouse [/.]. After all this time?! Ha ha ha!
  • Return of the Mac [/.]
    • Of course. Mac with Beauty, had 1 of 6 before. With Unix it got up to 2 of 6. Now it needs to get 3 (games), 4 (Windows), 5 (F/OSS), and 6 (servers).
    • 'Paul Graham has posted a new essay on the Return of the Mac which begins with: 'All the best hackers I know are gradually switching to Macs.' Tim O'Reilly said some similar things in Watching Alpha Geeks. From the article: "My friend Robert said his whole research group at MIT recently bought themselves Powerbooks. These guys are not the graphic designers and grandmas who were buying Macs at Apple's low point in the mid 1990s. They're about as hardcore OS hackers as you can get. '
  • South Korean Gov't. Advocates Linux [/.]
    • Yet another country choosing Linux over Windows. At some point, these conversions should start adding up.
    • 'Korea has now taken the plunge on the Linux operating system, and is now starting to advocate Linux for use in government and public sector applications. South Korea's Ministry of Information and Communications announced the move today, which will result in decreased Microsoft market share in the region." According to the article, Korea's Ministry of Information and Communication "will provide a total of 3 billion won (US$2.95 million) for government agencies which want to use the Linux and other open-source computer programs this year. '
  • Door to Java source code opens a crack wider [/.]
    • Shared source may not be open source but it's a step up from closed source.
    • 'CNet report that Sun Microsystems wants to send Java closer to the open-source world, yet keep it safe from harm. "Project Peabody" adds two licenses that make it easier for outsiders to see the code. But Sun stops short of embracing open-source. Sun's licensing practices for Java are closely watched. Proponents of making Java open-source argue that a different license and development process will help accelerate usage of Java, which faces ongoing competition from Web open-source scripting tools, such as PHP, and Microsoft's .Net line of tools. '
  • The Birth of the Notebook [BB]
    • Not all old school was good school.
    • 'Osborne shipped its first machine in July 1981 and was bankrupt by the end of 1983. Computing pioneer Adam Osborne, operating under the mantra "Adequacy is sufficient; everything else is irrelevant," sought to produce not just a truly portable computer, but one that the masses could afford. Inspired by the IBM 5100 and Xerox's Notetaker -- a 48-pound machine with a keyboard that folded over the display -- Osborne's eponymous computer was cobbled together from the cheapest parts he could find. The Osborne 1 hit the market at $1,795, with dual floppy drives and a 5-inch CRT. Flip the keyboard over the front, latch it on, and your 24.5-pound computer was ready to go wherever you needed it. Osborne had amazing success with the product, but it was fatally crushed by the birth of Compaq in 1983, which copied the Osborne carefully while adding one killer feature: IBM compatibility. '
    • [PHOTO: The 48 pound Osbourne laptop]

Faith; Philosophy;

  • Court rejects use of Bible by jurors
    • Whether the defendant is innocent or guilty is not the issue. Whether you believe in the Bible or not is not the issue. The crime is not the issue. The issue is whether the jurors followed rule of law in coming up with their decision.
    • 'Colorado's highest court, in a sharply divided ruling Monday, upheld a lower court's decision that threw out a death-penalty sentence after jurors consulted their Bibles in reaching a verdict.'
    • ' "This is a very important case because it demonstrated that in the U.S., unlike Iran, we do not turn religious law into civil law and just apply it," said Lynn, a lawyer and minister for the United Church of Christ. '
  • I see that The-Brights.net has finally came out with an icon or log.
    [ILLUSTRATION: The Brights logo]

Food

Health

  • It's adieu to allergies!
    • 'A molecule designed to block cat allergies has been successfully tested in laboratory mice, as well as in human cells in a test tube in University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The researchers at ULCA and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) claim, these results could lead to a new therapy not only for human cat allergies, but also possibly for severe food allergies such as those to peanuts. '
    • 'The injectable treatment works by stopping the release of a key chemical from cells involved in cat allergy reactions. That chemical, histamine, brings on allergy symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing, itching, watery eyes and sometimes asthma. When a cat-allergic person touches or inhales a protein found in cat saliva or dander (small scales from skin or hair), key immune system cells respond by spewing out histamine. Allergy experts estimate that 14 percent of children 6 to 19 years old are allergic to cats. '

Life

  • English, Pt. III
    • 'This ad for the Gaba language school asks Japanese people to fill in the blank: "If I could speak English, I would..." Ads with quotes from "real people" in Japan are often written by copywriters, but even if these aren't actual answers, the responses provide a glimpse into the process of a Japanese company selling English to possible customers.'
    • Here are some of my favorites:
      • 'I would lecture the loud foreigners on the train.'
      • 'I would live in a house where I could wake up and dive right into the pool.'
      • 'I would look for a job in California that would end in the evening and I could go to in shorts. '
      • 'I would become a wife of a foreigner and raise kids in California.'
      • 'I would watch DVDs without subtitles.'
    • 'Seeing that most of these answers have little to do with English itself, for a certain segment of the population, English language ability appears to become a psychological barrier to dream fulfillment.'

Martial

  • Automatic Shotguns [with videos]
    • 'The [Mid-America] AA12 is an 12G automatic Shotgun able to fire 360 rounds per minute. Weight: 10.5 lbs. (unloaded). Weight w/ loaded 8 round magazine: 11.25 lbs. Weight w/ loaded 20 round magazine: 13 lbs.'
    • That's one heavy beast.
    • 'Main advantages of shotguns are their versatility and short-range firepower. Shotguns can fire multiple projectiles of various sizes, creating a lethal pattern, which will increase chances of hitting target, or single large projectile, powerful enough to drop down a large brown bear, or incapacitate a human being protected in all but the heaviest body armour. Shotguns also can fire special purpose ammunition, such as door buster slugs, and even a high explosive and incendiary rounds, as well as the less lethal ammunition, useful for riot control and other police operations. Most, if not all modern combat shotguns are magazine fed repeaters, with the underbarrel tubular magazines being the most common type. Those magazines offer a sleek, slim profile of the gun, but are slow to reload. Some recently developed combat shotguns featured a detachable, box-type magazines, which can be replaced very quickly. Few combat shotguns were developed with rotary, revolver-like magazines or drum-type magazines of relatively large capacity (10-12, and up to 28 rounds), but those magazines are extremely bulky, heavy, expensive and sometimes slow to reload.

      The disadvantages of the combat shotguns are the limited effective range of fire (about 50-70 meters with standard buckshot, up to 100-150 meters with specially designed subcaliber or fleschette loadings). Shotguns also are sometimes relatively large (especially when compared to modern submachine guns), and can have a heavy recoil with the most powerful loadings. The size and weight of the shotgun ammunition effectively limits both the magazine capacity and the amount of ammunition a soldier can carry in the mission.

      Semi-automatic shotguns Semi-automatic shotguns can use several different actions - inertia recoil (Benelli), gas (Russian AK-47-derived Saiga-12 and Italian Franchi SPAS-15), barrel recoil (Browning designed Auto-5 and Remington 11). Semi-autos usually have less recoil (especially gas-operated ones), and higher rate of fire, but somewhat more sensitive to the loads selection. The greater firepower, offered by semi-automatic shotguns, is especially useful for military applications, where short-range encounters are usually very rapid, and the amount of firepower used in a short period of time is essential to win the scenario and save one's life.

      To use advantages of both pump and semi-auto designs, some manufacturers designed select-action shotguns, where user may select the action style with just turn of the lever or so. Such shotguns are Franchi SPAS15, or Benelli M3S90, for example. The disadvantages of those selective systems are somewhat increased weight and greater unit price.

      Most of the modern shotguns use a tubular magazine under the barrel, which can hold 6 or 7 rounds. A tubular clip is possible, with the whole tube magazine being unfastened and a new full one being locked into place, but not on a normal pump action model. Tilting barrels which take slide in plastic tube clips also allow fast reloading. Twin Tube magazine weapons do exist, usually pump / gas automatic. These feeding shells alternately from each magazine (with a selector switch allowing one magazine to be fired first)

      Military auto-shotguns (CAWS) use 10 round box magazines like rifles, but the size of the shotgun shell keep the amount of ammo a box can hold down. At the most 20 round drums are possible Belt feed is possible (the Rolling Thunder automatic shotguns).'

    • [PHOTO: The AA12 with clip instead of drum]
    • They make such things just to see if it can be done at all. Personally if I wanted to go around blasting as many people as I can, then I'd prefer semi-auto instead of wasting too many rounds on 1 target with full auto. Or perhaps I'd like a mag-fed combo shotgun and rifle with a bayonet so I can switch from 3 different ranges very quickly while going on my murderous rampage. Don't forget to have a few grenades, a sword, and a big knife. Put all of this under your trench coat but don't unveil yourself until just after you've exploded you're bombs in a very crowded area. Accuracy is important (don't be a newbie and get a low kill to round ratio) but don't forget about style and having fun.
    • Related:
  • Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon
    • It's a variation of the scifi neurowhip or agonizer!
    • 'The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. Intended for use against rioters, it is meant to leave victims unharmed. But pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon. And they fear that the technology will be used for torture.'
    • 'One document, a research contract between the Office of Naval Research and the University of Florida in Gainesville, US, is entitled "Sensory consequences of electromagnetic pulses emitted by laser induced plasmas". It concerns so-called Pulsed Energy Projectiles (PEPs), which fire a laser pulse that generates a burst of expanding plasma when it hits something solid, like a person (New Scientist print edition, 12 October 2002). The weapon, destined for use in 2007, could literally knock rioters off their feet. '
    • Related: Military Contract for Pulsed Energy Projectile (PEP) Pain Study

Math; Science; Technology;

  • Soft Tissues Recovered from Ancient Dinosaur
    • Astounding!! I wonder if it tastes like chicken?
    • 'A dinosaur bone recently discovered in Montana appears to contain some of the animal's blood vessels and other soft tissues. The bone came from a T. Rex that died some 70 million years ago, and its tissues should be long gone by now. The technique used in this discovery might help find more ancient tissue from long-extinct animals.'
    • [PHOTO: T. Rex flesh] 'Demineralized fragments of tissues line the marrow cavity of a Tyrannosaurus rex femur. Regions of demineralized bone show a fibrous character (indicated by the arrows) that is not normally seen in fossil bone.'
  • 13 Things That Do Not Make Sense [/.]
    • A fair list, but the /. threads seem to be a bit lackluster recently.
    • ' New Scientist is reporting on 13 things which do not make sense. It's an interesting article about 13 areas in which observations do not line up with current theory. From the placebo effect to dark matter, it's a list of areas in need of additional research. Explanations could lead to significant breakthroughs... or at least new and different errors in scientific observations. Now there are 20 interesting problems for Slashdotters to work on, once you combine these with the seven Millennium Problems! '
  • The chronicles of a futile battle: Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD [/.]
    • If not Blu-Ray, then I vote for the other options: HVDs (Holographic Versatile Disc) or just hard drives.
    • ' Blu-Ray promises 25 GB for single-layer and 50 GB for dual-layer, compared to HD-DVD's 15 GB for single-layer and 30 GB for dual-layer, and it's backed by the most important audio-video entertainment and IT companies, so we have a winner... Then why is there a battle, and, most importantly, is it really necessary? '
    • 'Anyway, Blu-Ray is presently supported by its inventor, Sony, and Dell, Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung and other IT equipment producers. But, as the format will have a big word to say in the movie industry, the movie studios supporting it are also important. So far, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Walt Disney declared their support for Blu-Ray. The format had also two of the major game companies announcing their support: Electronic Arts and Vivendi'
    • 'Blu-Ray's direct competitor, HD-DVD (High-Density Digital Versatile Disc) didn't gather in its corner so many IT producers: only Toshiba, the inventor and main supporter, and NEC, but, on the other hand, it's backed by more movie studios: Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros and New Line Cinema.'
    • 'While Blu-Ray and HD-DVD use the same laser, other producers thought of combining the two lasers (red and blue), in a single ray and thanks to Optware , on a disc the size of a CD or DVD, 1 TB of data could be stored (20 times more than on a Blu-Ray disc), with a transfer rate of 1 Gbit/s. The format is developed by the Japanese company Optware, in collaboration with Fuji Photo and CMC Magnetics. The three companies allied with Nippon Paint, Pulstec Industrial and Toagosei and "HVD Alliance" was born.'
  • Why Scientific American is Awesome
    • This is sweet. An April Fool's editorial by Scientific American.
    • 'Okay, We Give Up

      There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.

      In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of socalled evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.

      Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

      Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that's a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn't get bogged down in details.

      Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.

      Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can't work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars and imperil national security, you won't hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration's antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that's not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either --so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools' Day.

      Okay, We Give Up

      MATT COLLINS THE EDITORS editors@sciam.com COPYRIGHT 2005 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, INC.'

Media 2D

Media 2D+time

  • Kingdom of Heaven. Release date: 2005-05-06. Directed by Ridley Scott, the director of Gladiator. Cast includes: Orlando Bloom (he's playing a blacksmith again), Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons. IMDB. Trailer.
  • Napoleon Dynamite. This was released in 2004 and is available on DVD. I just saw this and it was absolutely hilarious! One of the funniest movies I've seen in a while. I find it bizarre that I get the humor, but obviously other people must get the humor too. Amazon. IMDB.
  • The 3rd Court "Contraption" [/.]
    • ' "A few friends and I got bored one weekend and decided to build a contraption. Remember the Honda advert? We think ours is better." This took dedication. '
    • Sweet! The original Honda contraption was more beautiful. Who care if these things don't have a practical applications, as long as they're interesting. The "machine" video is better than the "thecontraption" video because the former is one continuous shot.
  • The Hobbit three years away: Jackson
    • I knew that there could be fights over rights but this is the first time that I've heard Jackson himself say that he would do The Hobbit.
    • 'A slimmed-down Jackson, who arrived in Sydney on Friday, was asked how long it would be before he started production on The Hobbit.

      "Three or four years would be accurate, I would say," Jackson said.

      The rights to J R R Tolkien's novel, The Hobbit, are split between two major Hollywood studios, MGM and New Line Cinema.

      Jackson said he was keen to return to Middle Earth for The Hobbit but that MGM's sale to Sony Corporation made the project's future unclear.

      "I think there is probably a will and a desire to try and get it made," he said.

      "But I think it's gonna be a lot of lawyers sitting in a room trying to thrash out a deal before it will ever happen." '

  • Lucas To Redo Star Wars In 3-D [/.]. Arrrgh! The /. thread is much funnier than the article.
  • The Brady Bunch in the land of the clones... [video]. What to do with technology. Pretty funny!
  • Rock'em Sock'em Robots [video]. An old B&W TV commercial for the toy. Makes you wish you were a young boy lusting after the toy.
  • An Interview with Brad Bird [MeFi]
    • I have a lot of respect for this guy. He focuses on the positive and he really understands his medium. On the DVD I was so happy to hear him making distinctions about how animation is a medium, not a "genre" the way Westerns are a genre.
    • BTW, if you haven't seen Iron Giant or The Incredibles, they are great movies and they're not just for kids.
    • The MeFi thread had me saying: "Oh for crying out loud."
    • BB: 'Again, we're doing unrealistic stuff all the way through the film, but we're trying to pay attention to real physics when we do the unreal stuff so you believe it. We had a number of people come up to us and say "Five minutes into the movie I forgot I was watching an animated film." I don't think the film looks realistic, I don't think it looks remotely realistic. But it feels realistic.'
    • BB: 'My kids love anime, but I don't show them the really graphic stuff. Look, I think if you talk down to a kid or aim specifically at a kid, most kids aren't gonna like it, really, because most kids can feel when you are being patronizing. And if you are making entertainment that you yourself wouldn't watch, I think there's something insulting about that. People have gone the other way and asked, not only to me but about Pixar in general, "How do you guys do just the right balance," as though there's some really complex equation that we follow. It's really, really simple. We make films that we ourselves would want to see and then hope that other people would want to see it. If you try to analyze audiences or think there's some sophisticated recipe for success, then I think you are doomed. You're making it too complicated. '
    • Related: Brad Bird: An Interview by Michael Barrier
      • BB: 'I've heard of Watchmen. Other people have mentioned that aspects of it are similar to Incredibles, I think something about the superheroes being retired. I know it's very highly regarded; if you're going to be compared to something, it's nice if it's something good.'
        • Wow! So he actually has not read Watchmen.
      • BB: ' Another thing: Walt Disney has cast such a long shadow over animation, and Disney itself was more of a producer's studio than a director's studio. That has helped [encourage] the idea that [animation] is a process, rather than an art that's guided by a vision. Walt Disney was in effect the director of those great films. He wasn't a good director when he was [literally] directing, as a viewing of any of the few short films he's credited as director make clear, but he was an excellent director in terms of directing his directors. But I think that notion, that it's a system that creates an animated film, and not a person, has been kind of bound up in how people perceive animation. The John Lasseters and the Miyazakis of the world are in the minority. For the most part, we have films that are directed by two or three guys, and which one is the author?'
      • BB: 'Before Iron Giant, I spent years on projects that were too big a leap for investment people to make. I developed "The Spirit" for years. I had a project with Turner Animation called Ray Gunn, which was an animated film-noir science-fiction thing. It was funny and action-packed, but it was a little darker than most mainstream animated films, so it never got cleared for takeoff. I feel like Iron Giant was a step in the direction I wanted to go, in that it brought things like the Cold War in, and it didn't have songs, but it had a boy protagonist. Studio people could understand that, and there was the appeal of a giant robot. I feel like Incredibles was a little further step. I do think quality adult animation is going to happen, but I don't know how far you can push it. The further you want to push the stories, the lower your budget is going to have to be. If you accept that, in animation it means you have to give up certain the quality of the movement itself. It's not like a live-action film where you have to scale down the number of locations (although that can be affected, too). It's more about compromising how much your character actually moves and expresses itself. More expressivity--in hand-drawn, especially--means more drawings, means more money. '
      • 'I could absolutely do a hand-drawn film. That said, there are certain things about working in CG that I do truly prefer. I love the minute control over facial animation, whereas in hand-drawn, once you get down to the width of a pencil line between drawings it's very difficult to control, because the line itself becomes more active than any movement it's supposed to represent. And I love being able to move the camera in space. That said, there is a look, and a tactile feel, to hand-drawn that computer just can't replicate--computer has its own thing, and it's a wonderful medium, and I would love to do other things with that medium, but hand-drawn is also something that you can't get any other way'
  • Play [animation]. Like Blue Man Group.
  • 'Star Wars Revelations (13 MB QT file) A new, lush looking Star Wars fan movie. The CG looks (I think) close to the real deal. The production Web site is hammered at the moment. But here's an article with background on the production [via slashdot] ' [MeFi]. Effects: Good. Acting: Cheesey.
  • Bridge the gap [8 animated GIFs]. Poor stick figure.

Media 3D

Mind

Play

  • Digital Map Projection [/.]
    • 'I scan in adventure maps and Photoshop out all for the DM-only information (room numbers, secret doors, traps, etc.) and create a mask layer. We then suspend a digital projector (connected to my laptop) from the ceiling, pointing directly at the game table. I project the edited map onto the game table and scale it to match our miniatures. As the players explore the map, I erase portions of the mask layer, revealing the map beneath.'
    • I'm not surprised at the lengths people will go for gaming.
  • Blokus.com [online game]. Looks like a mix between Tetris and Go. I'll give it a shot.
  • ExperimentalGameplay.com [MeFi]. 'The Experimental Gameplay Project: create 50 to 100 games in 1 semester. New games every week'

Politics

  • Terri Schiavo
    • "The case is full of great ironies. A large part of Terri's hospice costs are paid by Medicaid, a program that the administration and conservatives in Congress would sharply reduce. Some of her other expenses have been covered by the million-dollar proceeds of a malpractice suit - the kind of suit that President Bush has fought to scale back." -Schiavo Case Tied to Politics and Morality". All Things Considered. National Public Radio, 2005-03-21. NPR commentator Daniel Schorr. [NPR.org]
    • The division between artificial and natural support is blurry. It is easy to see respiratory support as "artificial" because a person who requires it dies very quickly without it. However food and water administered by tubes are also "artificial" even though the person would take a much longer time to die. What would "natural" be? A person who can breathe, eat, and feed himself? What about voiding (peeing and pooping) by him or herself? What about sheltering him or herself? What about clothing and grooming him or herself? What is "intervention"?
    • If people protest against euthanasia via the lethal injection (the fastest, cleanest, and most painless method), then it seems that people turn to lesser methods such as suffocation by pulling respiratory support, starvation by pulling feeding tubes), and dehydration by cutting off water.
    • The Religious Right are disproportionately noisy. (It only took a few of them to waste our time with the Janet Jackson boob thing.) The Easter timing is brazen and manipulative.
    • I hope the public reaction (most polls show 75% of Americans for letting Schiavo die), in spite of the Religious Right, will make the Right politicians see that they've gone a little too far. I hope this is an opportunity for the Right to shift more center.
    • I listened to Michael Schiavo's brother, Scott, talk on MSNBC the other night on Scarborough Country.
      • Apparently Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler have testified that they would continue life support for Terri even if it meant amputating her arms and legs --such actions are often necessary for severely bed ridden patients since the limbs will be prone to gangrene-- or if it meant they had to do open heart surgery. People please! She is not a slab of meat. This has become psychotic, almost necrophiliac. Let her go.
      • I have now heard from several sources that the husband, Michael Schiavo, is not the only testimony about Terri's verbal living will. Apparently Scott and his husband were also good friends of Terri and they also testified about Terri's verbal living will.
    • Related
      • Living will [W]
      • Legaldocs Living Wills
      • EndOfLifeChoices.org
      • Man Tries to Steal Gun to 'Rescue Schiavo'
        • 'Michael W. Mitchell, of Rockford, Ill., entered Randall's Firearms Inc. in Seminole just before 6 p.m. Thursday with a box cutter and tried to steal a gun, said Marianne Pasha, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.'
        • 'Randy McKenzie, the owner of Randall's Firearms, said Mitchell pulled out the box cutter and broke the glass on a couple of display cases. "He told me if I wasn't on Terri's side then I wasn't on God's side, either," McKenzie told The Associated Press. McKenzie said he then pointed his own gun at Mitchell and ordered him to lie on the ground. But Mitchell fled out the store's back door before police arrived, he said. Mitchell was later arrested in a parking lot and was scheduled to appear in court Friday. He was being held on $125,000 bond on charges of attempted armed robbery, aggravated assault and criminal mischief, officials said.'
        • How utterly foolish it would have been if Mitchell had killed in order to "save" Schiavo.
      • Schiavo Parents Won't Fight U.S. Ruling
        • 'Terri Schiavo's parents will not ask a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision that left their brain-damaged daughter without her feeding tube, leaving one of their last hopes with a state judge who has ruled against them before, one of their lawyers said Saturday.'
        • ' In their motion, the Schindlers claim their daughter said "AHHHHH" and "WAAAAAAA" when asked to repeat the phrase "I want to live." '
          • Oh my. These poor parents need some acceptance, distance, and closure on their daughter.
      • Terri Schiavo dies amid legal, ethical battle [CNN], Schiavo dies 13 days after tube removed [Chicago Trib]
        • Terri Shiavo died 2005-03-31 09:05 PST at the age of 41.
        • Autopsy then cremation. RIP Terri Schiavo, but alas I'm afraid we're going to hear more about you yet because this is more Reality TV.
  • ' "He told me his brother was there with him, but he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother. He was crying." --thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU has received documents detailing detention, abuse, and death, of many, including children, at Abu Ghraib. Mostly PDFs, but summaries available on most pages: ... Investigation closed because furtherance "would be of little or no value" ... --statements of that sort are common throughout.' [MeFi]
    • This isn't Left v Right. This is about doing the right thing.

Quirky  [Possibly NSFW]

  • Onyanko Club: '80s Japan-pop with weird sexual references [BB] [mildly NSFW]. Chikan!
    [PHOTO: Album cover for The Onyanko Club]
  • Pediatric center's bad logo [BB]. The logo really sucks.
    [ILLUSTRATION: How did anyone not notice?]
  • Catfish Basketball
    • Other folks might have eaten the unlucky fish.
    • 'This was a pretty interesting story from The Sunday Wichita Eagle Newspaper a couple of weeks ago. A resident in the area saw a ball bouncing around strangely in a nearby pond and went to investigate. It turned out to be a flathead catfish who had obviously tried to swallow a child's basketball which became stuck in its mouth!! The fish was totally exhausted from trying to dive, but unable to because the ball would always bring him back up to the surface. The resident tried numerous times to get the ball out, but was unsuccessful. He finally had his wife cut the ball in order to deflate it and release the hungry catfish. You wouldn't believe it if you didn't see the attached photos.'
    • [PHOTO: Big catfish choking on a basketball]
  • ' Best Job safety video ever! It seems that Sam Raimi is doing work safety videos now. FYI you don't need to know german. ' [MeFi]. Don't be afraid --you will be safe from where you are. May not be suitable for younger viewers.

Rambling

  • 2005-03-29t15:47:14Z. Sometimes I am bedazzled by beauty. There are so many wonderful and good things that I am astonished that I spend any more time than necessary on anything that is not beautiful, meaningful, or positive. Math. Martial Arts. Music. Science. Literature. Art. Public Domain. Children. Education.

Relations [SFW]

  • Pay up, you are being watched
    • 'Would you donate more to charity if you were being watched, even by a bug-eyed robot called Kismet? Surprisingly perhaps, Kismet's quirky visage is enough to bring out the best in us, a discovery which could help us understand human generosity's roots.'
    • 'He [Terry Burnham at Harvard University] and Brian Hare pitted 96 volunteers against each other anonymously in games where they donate money or withhold it. Donating into a communal pot would yield the most money, but only if others donated too. The researchers split the group into two. Half made their choices undisturbed at a computer screen, while the others were faced with a photo of Kismet - ostensibly not part of the experiment. The players who gazed at the cute robot gave 30 per cent more to the pot than the others. Burnham and Hare believe that at some subconscious level they were aware of being watched. Being seen to be generous might mean an increased chance of receiving gifts in future or less chance of punishment, they will report in Human Nature.'
Exploring odd subjects including myself. GeorgeHernandez.com
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