04

2005-04 posts.

  1. Gmail First Anniversary [2005-04-01]. RE: Cyber Life.
  2. 2005-04-12t06:26:56Z. RE: Conservation. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Faith; Philosophy;. Flow. Food. Health. Martial. Math; Science; Technology;. Medium 2D+text. Medium 2D+time. Medium 3D. Medium 3D+time. Mind. Money. Obituaries. Play. Politics. Quirky [Possibly NSFW]. Rambling. Relations [NSFW]. Words.
  3. 2005-04-19t17:06:47Z. RE: Biology. Conservation. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Faith; Philosophy;. Flow. Health. Local. Martial. Math; Science; Technology;. Measurements. Medium 2D. Medium 3D. Medium Mixed. Money. Play. Quirky [Possibly NSFW]. Relations [SFW]. Words.
  4. Levels of Exercise. RE: Health. Martial.
  5. 2004-04-13 Art Institute field trip. RE: Local. Medium 2D.
  6. 2005-04-18 Tesseract House. RE: Faith; Philosophy;. Flow. Life. Mind. Quirky [Possibly NSFW]. Rambling.
  7. 2005-04-25 State of Money. RE: Martial. Money. Rambling.
  8. My weekly CSG rapier report. RE: Local. Martial.
  9. Measure and Height-Difference Matches. RE: Martial.
  10. Notes taken at a MS course on ASP.NET 2.0. RE: Cyber Tech.

2005-04-01t20:42:56Z | RE: Cyber Life.
Gmail First Anniversary [2005-04-01]

And Gmail has improved!

  • The impeding upgrade from 1 GB to 2 GB is trivial to me but it is nice in the sense that stuff like that is good for the free email market. After all Yahoo and hotmail were 4 MB but now they're 250 MB.
  • The best upgrade I like is now they have WYSIWYG composing, or rich text formatting. Compare and contrast: Yahoo's rtf needs ActiveX so it is only available on IE. Gmail's rtf doesn't use ActiveX so it can run on Mozilla, Firefox, etc.! Sweet!

Complaints:

  • Their search capability for mail seems OK, but their search capability for contacts is lacking. EG: I can't do a search for "NOT Relatives" or "-Relatives".
  • In Yahoo, I had some people entered as more than on contact for their different emails. In Gmail, you can enter many emails for one contact. This is nice but once I consolidated multiple contacts into one contact, the alternate emails would not list as you typed in the "To:" box when composing. That is they did not list until after I relogged.
  • Be careful: There is no confirmation popup when you delete a contact.

I've been letting my Gmail account sit there for months but, I've imported my contact from Yahoo and I'm switching to Gmail today! Gmail is still by "invitation only" but they will supposedly open Gmail to the public soon. If you can't wait, just contact some techie friend because each account gets invite 50 others.

I love their little April Fool's joke. *They had a script running to dynamically grow the MBs at a rate of roughly 0.01 MB per second.

A Google approach to math.

On the eve of Gmail's one-year birthday, our engineers were toiling away furiously. Notes scribbled all over the walls. Complex calculations on napkins and empty pizza boxes. Millions of M&Ms.

The result?... starting today, we're beginning the roll-out of our new and top secret Infinity+1 storage plan. The key features are:

  • Write, don't worry.
    You want to stop caring about storage. We want to keep giving you more. Today, and beyond.
  • The gift that keeps on giving.
    1460.970776* megabytes of storage (and counting) for every user.
  • No complicated equations. No tough algorithms.
    Just this one graph:
    [DRAWING: Gmail Infinity+1 storage plan]

2005-04-12t06:26:56Z | RE: Conservation. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Faith; Philosophy;. Flow. Food. Health. Martial. Math; Science; Technology;. Medium 2D+text. Medium 2D+time. Medium 3D. Medium 3D+time. Mind. Money. Obituaries. Play. Politics. Quirky [Possibly NSFW]. Rambling. Relations [NSFW]. Words.
2005-04-12t06:26:56Z

Conservation

  • No Joke: Animals Laugh, Too
    • The hypothesis is funny.
    • 'Studies by various groups suggest monkeys, dogs and even rats love a good laugh. People, meanwhile, have been laughing since before they could talk.'
    • 'Importantly, various recent studies on the topic suggest that laughter in animals typically involves similar play chasing. Could be that verbal jokes tickle ancient, playful circuits in our brains. More study is needed to figure out whether animals are really laughing. The results could explain why humans like to joke around. And Panksepp speculates it might even lead to the development of treatments for laughter's dark side: depression.'
  • 'In an effort to undermine California's vehicle global warming law, the auto industry has been running an ad claiming today's vehicles are virtually emission free. The Union of Concerned Scientists says "poppycock on that!" and is seeking a FTC false-advertising investigation. Fortunately, no matter who's bullshooting, you can help wipe away the problem. ' [MeFi]
    • Poppycock indeed.
    • [SCAN: Decptive ad][SCAN: Counter ad for the deceptive ad]
  • New Photovoltaics Made with Titanium Foil [/.]
    • There has been steady progress in solar and Titanium solar is not new but this is an improvement. I imagine solar tech will reach a critical state and accelerate. The oil and utility companies must surely be aware of this.
    • 'A company called Daystartech has released a new type of photovoltaic cell which, unlike almost all the cells currently in use, does not silicon. This is based on a thin titanium film. Given the current shortage of solar-grade silicon, and all-time high oil prices, maybe titanium solar panels are here at the right time. The questions are, will they release it as a consumer solar product, and what will be the price per kilowatt hour? '
    • The /. thread has a fair discussion on the topic plus some nice links in it:
      • NanoSolar.com. Bio-based solar!
      • LiquidMetal.com. After steel and plastic, the third modern material is "liquid metal" that is cheaply shapeable like plastic but stronger than steel!

Cyber Life

  • Wikipedia.Mozdev.org. I just stumbled upon this Firefox extension that helps making editing Wikipedia pages easier.
  • 'Illustrated Notes from Computer Science: Tom Murphy VII gets more bored in class than you. And thanks to his free fonts, your boredom can look just as snazzy. (Previous Tom7-related action here. This guy keeps busy. I blame the 80/20 rule.)' [MeFi]
  • Maps.Google.com now has satellite imagery. It's almost as if you have control over your own satellite.
  • 2005-04-08t22:40:38Z: My first Wikipedia article edit! In the article on Timeline of evolution, the arrival of Homo erectus was listed as "1.8 kYA" and I corrected it to "1.8 MYA". It's a minor edit, but I'm still very, very, happy about it.
  • Just Say No to Microsoft [Microsoft.ToddVerBeek.com]
    • Yes there's a lot of anti-MS rants out there but this has a large compilation of alternatives to MS software.
    • 'Microsoft isn't evil. But it is too powerful, and consumers are being harmed by it. They're limiting the available software, and charging us more and more for it. '
  • Geek Etiquette [GeekEtiquette.infotrope.net]. Some of it is for non-geeks (EG: "no big sigs" and "don't touch other people's monitors") but some of it is for geeks (EG: "Business casual does not mean jeans, T-shirts, or seakers").
  • An Interview with the OpenOffice.org Team
    • Timely since OpenOffice.org has OpenOffice 2.0 beta out.
    • The /. thread has one fellow saying that his company of 7000+ employees switched over to OO from MS Office just fine (after some initial grumbling).
    • Personally, I don't use either except for Excel on occasion. Excel opens up a few seconds faster than OO Calc but perhaps I should try using OO Calc more.
    • Since OO is no-cost and F/OSS, then it should be an obvious choice for many companies: new & old, domestic & foreign.
    • Note that OOv2 makes more use of Java so this version is less open than before.
  • Firefox Eats More Microsoft Market Share
    • Yay! Hurrah for no-cost and F/OSS!
    • 'Firefox continues to steal market share from Microsoft Internet Explorer, according to Net Applications, a maker of Web-monitoring software. According to the company's February figures, use of Firefox rose to 6.17% from 5.59% in January. Firefox's gain comes at the expense of Internet Explorer, which dropped to 89.04% market share, from 90.31% in December. Net Applications reports that other browsers maintained their user base.'
  • A Directory Of Programs Designed For USB Drives [/.]. I don't have a need for this but it could be good for "emergencies". Just have Linux, Portable Firefox, and OpenOffice and you're good to go.
  • Forbes Predicts 5% Desktop Share for Apple in 2005 [/. with 1000+ comments]
    • 5% seems to be the magic number these days.
    • Of course Mac is awesome: An OS with a powerful Unix (FreeBSD) backend and a beautiful Mac frontend. Plus all the software and hardware is strong and well designed. Even Linus Torvalds is on a Mac.
  • Students Do Better Without Computers [/.]. I think I posted about this before but the /. thread has some nice comments. I stick to my point that you can't blame computers, the Internet, TV, DVDs, video games, etc., etc.
  • The Apple Motion Sensor As A Human Interface Device [/.]. Interesting. It'll be good for playing marble mazes or remotely navigating a Segway, but they need to come up better uses.
  • Print.Google.com [/.]
  • Ask Slashdot: BitTorrent Inherently Illegal? [/.]
    • 'Today I received a letter from my university's network administration advising me that my network access would be terminated due to 'illegal P2P activity.' The P2P activity that the e-mail cited was BitTorrent and the file being transferred was an update to the Azureus BitTorrent client. The letter stated, 'Until the courts decide that student P2P activity is permitted we will continue to block this activity on our network,' implying that BitTorrent is inherently illegal. It seems such misunderstandings are common, but it is particularly frustrating when coming from people in the IT field. How can a student respond to such an accusation in order to defend the validity of BitTorrent and continue to benefit from its legitimate uses?'
    • The /. thread is good. The first response on the /. thread hit it right on the head:
      • 'I don't have any advice in particular. It's unfortunate because this really amounts to censorship and stifling academic freedom. Who's to say that the content you're accessing with a network tool - say, even a web browser - is appropriate? Sure, you can say that downloading pirated software or movies is inappropriate, but, in my opinion, academic institutions should have as hands-off an approach as possible. Illegal content can be accessed via the web, or email. Most would say it's absurd to suggest blocking port 80, or port 25. Why? Why is that any more absurd than blocking something such as BitTorrent, especially as BitTorrent's legitimate applications are increasing?'

Cyber Tech

  • Google and the Coming Search Wars, Revisited
    • 'On the one hand, my research on open source reconfirmed my view that standardization, platforms, and APIs and will prove just as important in the future, and in the search industry, as they have in traditional PC software and many other sectors. On the other hand, I also found strong reasons to think that the open source movement is changing the nature of standardization contests, and represents a powerful threat to Microsoft's control over mass market software. Consequently, as new standards emerge, Microsoft may not be the one to control them.

      Several people responding to my Google article argued that I had simply overestimated Microsoft, which, they said, was now at best mature and possibly in decline. I increasingly feel that they were correct. By relying too heavily on its monopoly control of Windows and Office, Microsoft has painted itself into a corner. Both Microsoft and its products are now large, aging, complex, and very expensive, rendering them vulnerable to attacks from below. Open source software, with its low cost, transparency, and decentralized development model, threatens the very foundations of Microsoft's power.'

    • 'There seem to be three reasons for this [Microsoft having lost its edge].
      • First, Microsoft has gotten addicted to the money derived from repeated forced upgrades. As a result, it is now a high-priced incumbent with large, aging products -- an inherently poor position when faced with a less expensive, newer competitor such as Linux.
      • Second, Microsoft has become a large, politicized, often complacent company. Many of its senior employees are now so wealthy that they don't have to work hard, take orders, or worry. The CEO is a former Procter & Gamble brand manager, not a technologist, and the company is so large and complex that politics inevitably distorts information flows.
      • Third, in growth markets such as the Web, Microsoft cannot afford to be as leisurely as it was in the 1980s when it faced slow-moving competitors with flawed business models such as IBM, Lotus, Novell, Apple, and Sun. Now it is chasing Google and Yahoo, who are growing much faster than Microsoft, and whose combined revenues in 2005 will exceed $10 billion.'
  • Tiny drives set for space boost
    • 'Hard drives for mobiles and other portable gadgets could store up to a terabyte of data in the next few years, using a century-old recording process. Hitachi has said it can fit 230 gigabits of data per square inch on a disk using "perpendicular recording". The storage industry currently makes hard drives using longitudinal recording, which is reaching its limit. Hitachi's work means we could see one-inch hard drives holding 60GB instead of up to 10GB currently.'
    • 'Hitachi said it would start using perpendicular recording in the next generation of its products, in 2007, but it said its true potential would be realised in the 200 plus gigabit per square inch range. Over the next five to seven years, it said, perpendicular recording could mean a 10-fold increase in data densities over longitudinal recording. ... Hitachi expects to ship its first perpendicular recording product in 2005 on a 2.5-inch hard drive, used in notebook computers and handheld devices. '
    • Related: Perpendicular Recording
      [ILLUSTRATION: Difference between Longitudinal and Perpendicular recording]
  • JavaScript: DHTML API, Drag & Drop for Images and Layers [MeFi]. I love the stuff people can do with JS and DHTML.
  • Regular Expression Recipes [/.]
  • A History of Icons [/.]
    • 'The GUIdebook has a great page illustrating the history of icons. Of course, they have the Lisa/Mac/OS X paths, but there's the Windows progressions, along with entries for NeXT, OS/2, BeOS, and yes, Linux. Would you call it progress? '
    • The link is a lot of fun and the /. thread has nice info about making icons. It's been a long time since I've bothered to make my own icons.
  • Comprehensive Guide to the Windows Paging File [/.]
    • This may come in handy but the bottom line is the same as I've always said: real memory is much better than virtual memory.
    • 'Adrian's Rojak Pot has a nice article about the internals of the Windows paging file. It explains what a paging file is and lists the differences between a swapfile and a paging file. But first and foremost, a large part of the article deals with the various methods of optimizing the Windows paging file, thus yielding a notable performance gain for people who are not overly blessed with RAM. '
  • Java Fallout: OO.o 2.0 and the FOSS Community [/., 700+ comments]
    • Here come the complaints about making OpenOffice more Java reliant because while OO is still free-cost, Java itself isn't open source. C++ is open source and nice but too low level and hence too complicated for many jobs. Java is uses a cross platform virtual machine (VM) but it's closed source and too slow for some. .NET has a great class library but it's high-cost, closed source, and is does not have a cross platform VM.
    • So why doesn't the F/OSS community just make a new, fast, free-cost, open-source language with an awesome library, that can run with or without a cross platform virtual machine, that can make apps rapidly or with greater granularity, and is very popular? It's not the same question as "Why don't people speak Esperanto?", because all programming languages are "artificial" and none are centuries old.
    • I like the suggestion in the /. thread: 'Fork OO.o. The source is out there. Create a Free Software-correct fork of OO.o, call it "Free And Open Office" and go to town. Replace the database module with MySQL or PostgreSQL or whatever database you want. Hack out anything and everything that you don't like. F/OSS sees proprietariness as damage and routes around it.'
      • This follow up was cute: 'Heheh - I love that the acronym would become FOO.org. That ought to win over the geek crowd at least.'
  • Hardware: How Long Do You Want Digital Media To Last?
  • 'Most Important Ever' MySQL Reaches Beta [/.]
    • Excellent news!
    • ' The open source database company says it is 'fixing 10 years of critcism in one release', and is aiming at boosting enterprise take-up." Stored procedures. Triggers. Views. It's like it'll be a real DB!'
    • 'MySQL is the most widely used open source database, according to a Evans Data Corporation survey released in January. It accounted for 40 percent of open source database deployments, while Firebird and PostgreSQL accounted for 39 percent and 11 percent of deployments respectively. Axmark believes this number will increase when the final version of MySQL 5.0 is released this summer.'
    • The /. thread has a lot of whining along the lines of "well MySQL should have had this stuff gradually all along just like PostgreSQL". I appreciate that and I understand that data is gold and must be reliable. Transactions, foreign key constraints, etc. are important, but it is fair to "cut corners" for speed. DBAs and developers you should try these systems out and design solutions as needed.
  • High School Kids Beat MIT at Robotics Competition [/.]
    • Way to go dudes! The young are supposed to keep us old folks on our toes.

Faith; Philosophy;

  • Wikipedia:Neutral point of view [W]
    • This is a great read. I love it whenever philosophical ideas slam right into reality. Beyond basic architecture and finances, math was thought to be entirely theoretical with no practical applications, but once science kicked in, it turns out that almost every kind of math had unforeseen practical applications.
    • 'There's no such thing as objectivity. Everybody with any philosophical sophistication knows that. So how can we take the "neutrality" policy seriously? Neutrality, lack of bias, isn't possible. This is probably the most common objection to the neutrality policy. It also reflects the most common misunderstanding of the policy. The misunderstanding is that the policy says something about the possibility of objectivity. It simply does not. In particular, the policy does not say that there even is such a thing as objectivity, a "view from nowhere" (in Thomas Nagel's phrase)--such that articles written from that point of view are consequently objectively true. That isn't the policy and it is not our aim! Rather, we employ a different understanding of "neutral" and "unbiased" than many might be used to. The policy is simply that we should characterize disputes rather than engage in them. To say this is not to say anything contentious, from a philosophical point of view; indeed, this is something that philosophers are doing all the time. Sophisticated relativists will immediately recognize that the policy is perfectly consistent with their relativism.'
      • This is particularly relevant to me since recently I have been thinking about objectivism and subjectivism. Although I would like to think of myself as objective, the more I explored it, the more I realized that there is much more subjectivism in myself and in others. It's embarrassing because this concept is so glaringly obvious.
        • The Scientific Method is based upon everything as hypothesis (and subject to peer testing and review of course). It is very important to distinguish between statements of fact (EG: "I dropped a feather and a lead balls from a height of 10 m") versus statements of opinion (EG: "Lighter objects fall more  slowly.).
        • "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing." -The Apology of Socrates, paragraph 10. This is often paraphrased as "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing".
        • It seems contrary, but it is actually more objective to be subjective. And yet when it comes to style, it becomes cumbersome to constantly use phrases such as "I believe", "my interpretation", "in my humble opinion", etc.
      • I believe that this issue of people realizing their subjectivism is a key issue. The details and validity of the subjectivism of any entities are moot in comparison to an entity acknowledging that they are subjective and that others have their own subjective views. Once this acknowledged, then entities that do not resort to brute force (physical, financial, social, religious, military, etc.) can then work to find ways that their systems overlap or find some objective means of discourse.
      • I prefer the term "subjectivists" over "relativists" because the latter term has a connotation of belittling objectivism or any common ground.
  • 'The End Of Faith. A belief is a lever that, once pulled, moves almost everything else in a person's life. Are you a scientist? A liberal? A racist? These are merely species of belief in action. Your beliefs define your vision of the world; they dictate your behavior; they determine your emotional responses to other human beings. If you doubt this, consider how your experience would suddenly change if you came to believe one of the following propositions: 1. You have only two weeks to live. 2. You've just won a lottery prize of one hundred million dollars. 3. Aliens have implanted a receiver in your skull and are manipulating your thoughts.' [MeFi]
    • The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason [Amazon] is a book by Sam Harris.
    • Excerpts of chapter one
    • 'Harris argues that in the presence of weapons of mass destruction, we can no longer expect to survive our religious differences indefinitely. Most controversially, he maintains that "moderation" in religion poses considerable dangers of its own: as the accommodation we have made to religious faith in our society now blinds us to the role that faith plays in perpetuating human conflict. While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris draws on insights from neuroscience, philosophy, and Eastern mysticism in an attempt to provide a truly modern foundation for our ethics and our search for spiritual experience. '
    • The title is too sensationalist for my taste. I'm still very wary of Subjective v Objective --the two need to work together instead of fighting.

Flow

  • Marker Board Walls. Dry erase, magnets, tape. Cool! And it's really cheap! I'm sure they have stuff like this at Pixar, Google, NASA, etc. I am going to make this happen.
    [PHOTO: Wall sized whiteboard]
  • Inside Look at Pixar HQ
    • You get glimpses at Pixar HQ from the DVDs but it's fun to read about an actual tour. A Pixar tour would be even more fun than the tour I had of Playboy HQ.
    • 'Aintitcool's moriarty has taken a tour of Pixar's Headquarters in Emeryville, California and it just looks astounding. It instantly makes you wanna work there, or at least pimp up your cubicle... Which they don't have at Pixar, no they have cottages! Looks like Pixar created the optimal work condition for such a creative company, which leaves you no choice but to enjoy your job at Pixar every damn minute you work there. '
    • [PHOTO: The Incredibles in the common room at Pixar]

Food

  • Thoroughly Modern Millet: How to eat whole grains
    • An excellent article: It reads well and is well researched. Plus how could I resist an article that mentions Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai?
    • 'Although whole grains like millet have had a certain recherché chic for a while now, we don't eat very much of them: According to the Whole Grains Council, a bran-friendly lobbying group, whole grains represent only about 10 percent of grains sold in supermarkets. But the USDA's recent suggestion that at least half of the grains we eat each day should be whole ones, and the cereal industry's parallel scramble to cash in on a possible health-food boom, mean that whole grains--millet, whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, and the rest of the gang--are in for a very good year. Which makes you wonder: If whole grains are so tasty, hip, and good for us, how come they occupy such a tiny sliver of our diet?

      For centuries, practically since people have been writing about food, refined grains have been preferred to their heavy brown counterparts. Go-to food-science writer Harold McGee quotes Archestratus, a foodie contemporary of Aristotle's, kvelling over "bread so white that it outdoes the ethereal snow in purity." Back then, white grains were more expensive than brown, because it took more labor to produce a smaller yield. Scarcity, of course, made refined grains more desirable. "White bread has always been higher status than dark bread," says food historian Harvey Levenstein. "As soon as [people] could afford it, they switched." In late 19th century, roller mills that isolated the endosperm with amazing speed and thoroughness suddenly made white flour, rice, and cornmeal cheap and plentiful. By the turn of the 20th century, when heebie-jeebies about germs started driving American food purchases, flour, bread, and crackers that were sanitarily packaged and snow-white seemed like a much safer bet than anything flecked and brown.

      There are practical reasons, too, why refined grains were valued over history. With less fat to go rancid, white flour has a much longer shelf life than wheat flour, which must be more carefully stored. The particles of germ and bran that circulate in whole grain flours also mess with the magic of gluten, which allows baked goods to rise and pasta to stretch. Gluten provides what's known in the hairspray industry as "elastic hold": It lets dough stretch around, but capture, carbon dioxide bubbles generated by yeast or other leaveners. (Which helps explain the sodden whole-grain muffins and doorstop loaves of bread I've occasionally had the misfortune to encounter.)'

  • Fried Doughs from Around the World [MeFi]. Praise be the donut!

     

Health

  • Hospital Compare [HospitalCompare.hhs.gov]
    • The government just announced this site on 2005-04-02. I happen to work in data analysis in health care so it's good to see such a public usage of the healthcare data. This is just the tip of the iceburg.
    • 'This website was created through the efforts of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) along with the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA). The HQA is a public-private collaboration established to promote reporting on hospital quality of care. The HQA consists of organizations that represent consumers, hospitals, doctors, employers, accrediting organizations, and Federal agencies. The information on this website can be used by any adult needing hospital care. Hospital Compare has quality measures on how often hospitals provide some of the recommended care to get the best results for most patients. You will see some of the recommended care that an adult should get if being treated for a heart attack, heart failure, or pneumonia. '
    • Related: Site reports hospitals' quality
  • 'Female X chromosome 'cracked' - "The discovery, by an international consortium of scientists, shows that females are far more variable than previously thought and, when it comes to genes, more complex than men." Nature reports two new studies; one on the complete sequencing of the X chromosome for humans, which sheds some light on how sex evolved and how women differ from men, and another on how women express many genes from X chromosomes previously thought dormant. ' [MeFi]
    • Clearly men are just second-rate rejects.

Martial

  • 'Ramadi Madness. Unfiltered video of the Bush war in Iraq, shot by a soldier with a digital minicam.' [MeFi]
  • How Has War Changed Since the End of the Cold War?
    • 'With the arguable exception of the strategically outstanding al Qaeda, since the Berlin Wall came down all of America's enemies have been belligerents of the third-rate or less. And, as enumerated above, strategic success has by no means been achieved elegantly and definitively. Every exercise of American arms since 1989, with the exception of the war against al Qaeda, was an example of warfare that the country could not lose. Nonetheless, defeat somehow was contrived in Somalia, as the newly installed Clinton Administration failed to take a proper grip on the poisoned chalice bequeathed by President Bush the elder.'
    • 'Where Is the Balance of Power? The short answer is that the United States is the balance of power. Militarily, though not economically or culturally, America is the hegemon by default. It is the last great power still standing, at least for a while. This is strictly a temporary condition. ... Let there be no illusions. America's guardianship role, its performance as global sheriff, rests solely on its unbalanced power.'
    • 'The Strategic Potency of a Transforming Military Will Be Disappointing. "The Big Story" about US defense policy of recent years, a story that is certain to run on for a long time to come, is of course the drive to "transform." The process is unstoppable. It is driven by cultural impulse, by technological opportunity, and by a narrow, but understandable and praiseworthy, determination to perform more efficiently. Whether it is inspired by strategic need is another matter. American strategic and military culture is incapable of offering much resistance to the seductive promise of a way of war that seeks maximum leverage from the exploitation of information technologies. This is a trend that will continue. Indeed, it would be amazing if it did not, given the long history of American machine-mindedness. Foreign observers, the most acute of whom at present are the Chinese, long have noticed America's love affair with technology. ... We can predict that although the transformation push may well succeed and be highly impressive in its military-technical accomplishments, it is likely to miss the most vital marks.'
    • 'The British historian Jeremy Black provides food for thought for those among us who are in danger of becoming overexcited about the military, and just possibly, the strategic, benefits of transformation. Black writes:

      In its fundamentals, war changes far less frequently and significantly than most people appreciate. This is not simply because it involves a constant--the willingness of organized groups to kill and, in particular, to risk death--but also because the material culture of war, which tends to be the focus of attention, is less important than its social, cultural and political contexts and enablers. These contexts explain the purposes of military action, the nature of the relationship between the military and the rest of society, and the internal structures and ethos of the military. Having "high-tech," the focus of much discussion about the future of war, is not the same as winning particular wars, and, anyway does not delimit the nature of conflict.

    • 'Four arguments will serve to conclude this brief exploration into what about war is changing and what is not.

      • First, the "objective" nature of war, as Clausewitz put it, is not changing at all. His theory of war will apply to all modes of armed conflict in the future. An understanding of that theory is vastly more important than is a grasp of the latest military possibilities enabled by technological, organizational, and doctrinal change.

      • Second, it is essential to appreciate the significance of the several contexts of war additional to the military. Above all else, the leading driver toward, and in, war, is the political context. Military performance in the conduct of warfare frequently is affected by the cultural context.
      • Third, war is about the peace that will follow; it is not a self-validating occurrence. A heavy focus on military transformation tends to obscure the enduring fact that war is about a lot more than warfare. Preeminently, warfare always should be waged with as much regard to the character of the subsequent peace as immediate military necessity allows.
      • Fourth and finally, one should never forget that over time all trends decline and eventually expire. More accurately, perhaps, trends influence each other and, particularly when under the shock influence of some great surprise, they change their character radically, indeed in an apparently nonlinear fashion. The challenge to the defense planner is not to spot the trends of this era, but rather to make an educated guess what their consequences may be. As if that were not difficult enough, history suggests that a major source of trouble lurks beyond the power of prediction in Secretary Rumsfeld's concept of the "unknown unknowns." Certainly the task is daunting.'

Math; Science; Technology;

  • ' "A theory that can't predict anything is not a scientific theory," Woit says. That would be string theory, which was going to be the theory of everything, but apparently can't even agree how many dimensions there are. "Those who dabble in alternate-universe speculations might be just modern versions of '16th century theologians (who) speculated that spirits and angels emerge from the extra-dimensional universe,' says Krauss, who is also an outspoken foe of creationist teaching in schools." ' [MeFi]
    • People shouldn't give up on string theory and people shouldn't explore other options either. Theoretical physics and math should be pushed as far as it can. Whether theory ever runs into practice and experimentation is moot although we seem to expect the collision.
  • ' A team of scientists at UW-Madison has successfully used single bacterial cells to make tiny bio-electronic circuits. Slipping between the electrodes, the microbes, in effect, become electrical "junctions," giving researchers the ability to capture, interrogate and release bacterial cells one by one. Built into a sensor, such a capability would enable real-time detection of dangerous biological agents, including anthrax and other microbial pathogens. Two mpegs -- 11MB and 35MB -- available here. Related by scale and buzzwords: physorg.com reports scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a way to sneak nano-sized probes inside cell nuclei, where they can track life's fundamental processes, such as DNA repair, for hours on end. Related cool pictures and strange font choices on Nano-Bio Interface Center." ' [/.]
    • The route of using nano-sized biological devices is a "short cut". The "long cut" of building nano-devices ourselves from scratch is harder but less dangerous.
    • This is so Borg-like for Trekkies.
  • Classic Math Puzzle Cracked [/.]
  • Startling Scientists, Plant Fixes Its Flawed Gene [NYTImes] [/.]
    • Amusingly, it is always startling to discover that we know less than we thought! The suspicions that the backup is in the RNA sounds good.
    • 'In a startling discovery, geneticists at Purdue University say they have found plants that possess a corrected version of a defective gene inherited from both their parents, as if some handy backup copy with the right version had been made in the grandparents' generation or earlier. The finding implies that some organisms may contain a cryptic backup copy of their genome that bypasses the usual mechanisms of heredity. If confirmed, it would represent an unprecedented exception to the laws of inheritance discovered by Gregor Mendel in the 19th century. Equally surprising, the cryptic genome appears not to be made of DNA, the standard hereditary material.'
    • ' The result, reported online yesterday in the journal Nature by Dr. Robert E. Pruitt, Dr. Susan J. Lolle and colleagues at Purdue, has been found in a single species, the mustardlike plant called arabidopsis that is the standard laboratory organism of plant geneticists. But there are hints that the same mechanism may occur in people, according to a commentary by Dr. Detlef Weigel of the Max-Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany. Dr. Weigel describes the Purdue work as "a spectacular discovery." '
    • 'But up to 10 percent of the plants' offspring kept reverting to normal. Various rare events can make this happen, but none involve altering the actual sequence of DNA units in the gene. Yet when the researchers analyzed the mutated gene, known as hothead, they found it had changed, with the mutated DNA units being changed back to normal form.'
  • Italian, US cosmologists present alternate explanation for accelerating expansion of the universe: Was Einstein right when he said he was wrong?
    • 'When in 1929 Edwin Hubble proved that the universe is in fact expanding, Einstein repudiated his cosmological constant, calling it "the greatest blunder of my life." Then, almost a century later, physicists resurrected the cosmological constant in a variant called dark energy. In 1998, observations of very distant supernovae demonstrated that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. This accelerating expansion seemed to be explicable only by the presence of a new component of the universe, a "dark energy," representing some 70 percent of the total mass of the universe. Of the rest, about 25 percent appears to be in the form of another mysterious component, dark matter; while only about 5 percent comprises ordinary matter, those quarks, protons, neutrons and electrons that we and the galaxies are made of.'
    • 'The requisite amount of dark energy is so difficult to reconcile with the known laws of nature that physicists have proposed all manner of exotic explanations, including new forces, new dimensions of spacetime, and new ultralight elementary particles. However, the new report proposes no new ingredient for the universe, only a realization that the present acceleration of the universe is a consequence of the standard cosmological model for the early universe: inflation. "Our solution to the paradox posed by the accelerating universe," Riotto says, "relies on the so-called inflationary theory, born in 1981. According to this theory, within a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang, the universe experienced an incredibly rapid expansion. This explains why our universe seems to be very homogeneous. Recently, the Boomerang and WMAP experiments, which measured the small fluctuations in the background radiation originating with the Big Bang, confirmed inflationary theory. '
      • Ha ha! It would be so awesome if they "simply" forgot to take inflation into account! They need accountants to work with the scientists.
    • ' "We realized that you simply need to add this new key ingredient, the ripples of spacetime generated during the epoch of inflation, to Einstein's General Relativity to explain why the universe is accelerating today," Riotto says. "It seems that the solution to the puzzle of acceleration involves the universe beyond our cosmic horizon. No mysterious dark energy is required." '
      • If this is true then it would be great to get rid of the ugly "fudge factors" of dark energy and dark matter.
  • Bang But No Splash [/.]
    • Fascinating. Dude, this could be used to get, like, a perfect finish on your Camaro man! Seriously.
    • 'When a drop of ethanol is dropped on a surface at low pressures (1/5 atmosphere or less), it makes no splash. Science offers a brief synopsis and fascinating pictures of the phenomenon. The results seem to confirm the (perhaps counterintuitive) prediction that more viscous liquids are more likely to splash, not less likely . Links to the researchers' home page at U of Chicago (as of now, the site is timing out) and pdf version of the article on arxiv can be found on the Science page also. '
    • 'It seems obvious and inevitable that a fast-moving droplet will splatter when it hits a hard surface. Researchers have studied the distribution of droplet sizes and energies in such splashes, and physicists Lei Xu, Sidney Nagel, and colleagues at the University of Chicago were searching for ways to control those sizes and energies when they discovered something unexpected: By pumping away some of the surrounding air they could eliminate the splatter entirely. Within a tall vacuum chamber, the researchers released droplets of alcohol onto a dry glass plate from heights ranging from 20 centimeters to 3 meters. They recorded the resulting splashes with a high speed video camera as they varied the pressure in their apparatus, sucking it down as low as one hundredth of atmospheric pressure. The droplets struck the surface with speeds ranging from 2 to 7 meters per second, and for a given speed, the researchers found they could eliminate the splash by lowering the pressure beyond a specific threshold.'
    • [PHOTOS: Time lapse shows no splash at low pressure]

Medium 2D+text

Medium 2D+time

  • Sin City
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • 'Delivery a short film by Till Nowak, is a dystopian, Escheresque daydream, digitally animated.' [MeFi]
    • Beautiful.
  • How to hypnotize a man [activity, NSFW] [MeFi]
    • Yes a wagging woman's bottom is eye catching. I think they could have achieved a similar effect even with a clothed bottom.
    • The MeFi thread wags wonderfully as well.
  • 'Remember Lejo? He's got the funk now. From the guys who brought you Shitty Bum (and who are now probably living it up with #1 down in Austin for SXSW), here is C-Mon & Kypski vs. Lejo (Flash). [via] ' [MeFi]
    • Sweet music videos: Fresh creative stuff made without a big budget.

Medium 3D

  • New Sharp 3D Notebook Available with Linux [/.]
    • Ignoring the Linux and laptop factor, the 3D technology itself is totally cool! From my understanding, it doesn't need special glasses (it's autostereoscopic) and it can display 3D in full color. The only thing is that your eyes would have to be at just the right spot in relation to the device so each eye would get the right image.
    • I think that the /. folks got distracted by the Linux/laptop and didn't pick up on the potential of this 3D technology.
    • 'Earlier this month, Sharp released the Actius AL3DU, the second generation laptop in its line of autostereo display products. EmperorLinux, Inc. is distributing it with Linux pre-installed, dubbing it the Molecule. '
    • [DIAGRAM: How Sharp 3D technology works]

Medium 3D+time

  • Sand Animation [video]. Obviously thoroughly practiced to appear spontaneous and fluid. A little cheesy but fascinating to watch anyway. FYI: SICAF is the Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival.

Mind

  • Messing with the mind
    • Our current brain model is crude (on the level of butchery) but it's a work in progress. I have no doubt that we should study the brain, but whether people will abuse or use our building knowledge is a larger ethical problem that comes with progress. It is in areas like this where "religion" will give us "feelings" on how to act but we will need secular tools to work this out between the different perspectives.
    • 'First there is the issue of whether we will ever actually know enough about something as complex as the brain to be able to control it in any practical sense. As Rose reports, research has been stepped up to an industrial scale in recent years. With the market for drugs such as Prozac and Ritalin hitting nearly $50bn a year, experimenters are flush with funds. Good grief, even car companies such as DaimlerChrysler are buying multimillion-pound brain scanners so their marketing teams can discover what turns on the grey matter of customers! And yet, says Rose, all this clever neuro research is being done using almost laughably crude models of the brain.'
    • 'The brain is commonly treated as some kind of computer or information processing system - a bit of machinery that can be tinkered with once we have the blueprint of its circuits. However, Rose argues that the brain is something organic, holistic, a living system. So it needs to be explained in terms of theories that deal explicitly in meaning and mindfulness, such as, for example, the "autopoietic" or self-making approach advanced by the Chilean pair of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. An autopoietic system is one organised to respond to the world. Prod it and it will react homeostatically, striving to reach a new accommodation that preserves its integrity. There is a global cohesion - a memory of what the system wants to be - that reaches down to organise the parts even while those parts may be adding up to produce the functioning whole.'
    • 'So the brain is too complex to control. Yet Rose is then faced with the uncomfortable paradox that crude measures often do in fact work. As an autopoietic system, the brain may be unpredictable in its responses, but it still does react somehow, even when prodded with a remarkably blunt instrument like a massive jolt of electricity or a kick of toxic molecules.'

Money

  • 'Bush nominates Wolfowitz for World Bank post. "Willingness to accept a long-term American occupation force" is now set to become a condition for future bailouts. ' [MeFi]
    • Of course they're howling about this on the MeFi thread:
      • 'Nothing says good financial judgement like thinking that the Iraq war was "going to pay for itself".'
      • 'Is it just me.... Or is anyone else getting the feeling that the "real" agenda for this administration is the complete dismantling of everything that everyone else has been working towards for the past 100 years? Un-freaking-believable!'
  • Firefox explorers [/.]
    • It is good to see that some companies are starting to see that free-cost, F/OSS, and standards-compliant software is the obvious way to go.
    • 'When Bill Robertson decided last year to switch 450 workers and 100 desktops at De Bortoli Wines to the open source Firefox web browser, he had the company's future in mind. In moving to the free Firefox, he did more than just install a web browser that rivals Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which comes for free with every PC running the Windows operating system. The CIO defined a radically new desktop interface for the company and forced his software suppliers to comply with his technology direction, which had a heavy emphasis on open standards so he would no longer be locked into any one vendor's products.'
  • Identity Theft Victim Gets Last Laugh [/.]
    • Ha ha! Ovid's post reads like a detective story happening live.
    • ' Being a bit of a hypocrite, I sometimes whine about privacy in my blog. I do, however, try to be careful about not letting anyone get information about me they shouldn't and I rarely, if ever, use a credit card online. This is why I was surprised to find out one morning that identity thieves had racked up thousands of dollars one two of my credit cards. By early afternoon, I caught them and the police arrested them." '

Obituaries

  • John Paul II (1920-05-18/2005-04-02). Born Karol Józef Wojtyła. Pope of the Roman Catholic Church (1978-10-16/2005-04-02).
    • So much has been written and spoken about him already. He has had political, religious, and spiritual impact --even with his death. His passing has been a remarkable global news event. It is good to have issues of the Church, churches, religion, and spirituality brought to the forefront.
    • I remember when he visited Chicago in 1979-10-05. There were huge crowds and my folks were very excited. I saw him briefly as he passed by in his motorcade.
    • I may have disagreements with the Catholic Church but I believe that Pope John Paul II was a sincere and spiritual man.
    • Related: Pope John Paul II [W]
    • [PHOTO: Pope John Paul II]
  • Dale Messick (1906-04-11/2005-04-05). Born Dalia Messick. The first woman syndicated comic strip artist. Best known for Brenda Starr.
    • A pioneer in comics. The fabulous red-headed Brenda Starr is one of my favorite comic strip characters: a strong, beautiful, working, exciting, sexy, compassionate, and mysterious woman. The strip has been consistently readable over the years.
    •  ' Dale Messick, whose long-running comic strip Brenda Starr, Reporter gave her entry into the male world of the funny pages, died Tuesday, April 5, 2005, in Penngrove, Calif. She was 98. At its peak in the 1950s, her comic strip ran in 250 newspapers. Mixing hot copy with high fashion, Brenda plunged from one thrilling adventure to another, sassing her tough-talking editor, Mr. Livwright, and sometimes filing her copy with the only person left in the newsroom, the cleaning woman. As World War II raged she parachuted into action -- with every red hair in place. The love of Brenda's life was the mysterious Basil St. John, a man with an eyepatch and a mysterious illness that could be cured only with a serum taken from rare black orchids grown only in the Amazon jungle. At 96, frail but still formidable, Messick, shown here in 1982, told The AP that she never watched ''soap operas and stuff like that because I used to write them. In fact,'' she added, ''I started them.''  '
      [PHOTO: Dale Messick] [Chicago Tribune]
    • [COMIC: Brenda Starr drawn and created by Dale Messick]Lambiek.com/messick_d.htm
    • Dale Messick, 98 Creator of 'Brenda Starr' cartoon
    • Dale Messick [W]
  • George Frost Kennan (1904-02-16/2005-03-17). Aka X. American authority on the Cold War. Famous for his "Long Telegram" memo.
    • It is amazing how his policy of containment affects us even now, especially when misunderstood and abused by the clumsy and over powered Neo-Conservatives.
    • 101 year old is pretty awesome too!
    • "all came down to one sentence in the "X" Article where I said that wherever these people, meaning the Soviet leadership, confronted us with dangerous hostility anywhere in the world, we should do everything possible to contain it and not let them expand any further. I should have explained that I didn't suspect them of any desire to launch an attack on us. This was right after the war, and it was absurd to suppose that they were going to turn around and attack the United States. I didn't think I needed to explain that, but I obviously should have done it"
    • 'The Wise Man. George Frost Kennan, (Feb. 16, 1904 -- Mar. 17, 2005). Architect of the Cold War, father of the Marshall Plan and the doctrine of containment in the "Kennan Century". In February 1946, as the second-ranking diplomat in the American Embassy in Moscow, he dispatched his famous "Long Telegram" to Washington. Widely circulated, it made Kennan famous and evolved into an even better-known work, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," which Mr. Kennan published under the anonymous byline "X" in the July 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs. More inside. ' [MeFi]
    • George F. Kennan [W]

Play

  • 'The Most Ambitious Game Ever? At this year's Game Developers Conference, Sims creator Will Wright's upcoming game Spore drew standing ovations. Not to be outdone, Peter Molyneux (of Populous and Black & White fame) revealed his own ambitious game-like project The Room. While the top game designers have freedom to play, independents rail (read Greg Costikyan's amazing bit in the middle) at the restrictions of the publisher system. For those who doubt games can be art.' [MeFi]
    • Yes, yes.
    • Games are about interesting choices so cooperative games can be just as fun as competitive games.
    • Real life is the best game ever.
    • I have concerns about games that are too much like work.
  • DIY Laser Tag Game System [LaserTagParts.com/mtdesign.htm]
    • Wicked! The great thing about making it yourself is that you can totally customize it.
    • 'our ongoing efforts to design and build a high-quality, full-featured "laser tag" gaming system that is comparable to the best commercial systems on the market (honestly, we think it already surpasses most of those systems in both capability and flexibility) and can be built for a fraction of the cost of a commercial system.'
    • [PHOTO: Do It Yourself laser tag rifle]
  • SolarDeathRay.com [/.] Ah the fun things you can do with a solar parabolic reflector. Everyone has a little pyro in them. Once it's built, it's 1500 W powered for free by the sun. The free energy that's around us is amazing.
    [PHOTO: Beware The Solar Death Ray!]
  • Strategists Learn Non-Violent Warfare Tactics
    • Awesome stuff!
    • 'A pro-democracy group has sponsored a free video game designed to teach political activists how to plan and execute strategic non-violent warfare.'
    • 'Sponsored by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, the game, called "A Force More Powerful," resembles a cross between a political science model and one of the popular city-builder games. The player represents the chief of staff of a non-violent resistance movement. He gives orders to various characters within the movement, who will attempt to carry out actions such as making speeches and organizing demonstrations.'

Politics

  • Living will is the best revenge
    • This has a somewhat dark sense of humor.
    • 'In the event I lapse into a persistent vegetative state, I want medical authorities to resort to extraordinary means to prolong my hellish semiexistence. Fifteen years wouldn't be long enough for me.'
    • 'I want my wife to ruin the rest of her life by maintaining an interminable vigil at my bedside. I'd be really jealous if she waited less than a decade to start dating again or otherwise rebuilding a semblance of a normal life.'
    • 'I want to be placed in a hospice where protesters can gather to bring further grief and disruption to the lives of dozens of dying patients and families whose stories are sadder than my own.'
    • 'I want total strangers - oily politicians, maudlin news anchors, ersatz friars and all other hangers-on - to start calling me "Bobby," as if they had known me since childhood.'

Quirky [Possibly NSFW]

  • 'Inside the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic. Memorize the keywords with which the lizards of the stage world will attempt to distort your reality. Can you accept your own vampirism? Are you familiar with the most common reality fishing techniques and horse movements? This is the painstaking record of a man for whom delusions have completely overtaken reality. Spend some time with it - the detail is mind-numbing and the reality he has created is utterly insane... and occasionally convincing. Mirror in case Geocities croaks. ' [MeFi]
    • But then aren't we all a little crazy sometimes?
  • PotatoBugs.com [MeFi]. Gacckk! That's one nasty bug. It's like a roach and a cricket with a giant head.
    [PHOTO: Ewww! It's a Potato Bug!]

Rambling

  • 2005-04-01t19:22:20Z: It is so easy to lose perspective. Time is limited so I want to choose to focus on certain things such as relating with people, making money, and exploring things like martial arts, faith & philosophy. However, it is so easy to have stuff like games, surfing, and blogging eat up a disproportionately large amount of time.

Relations [NSFW]

  • Teens view oral sex as safer choice: study
    • I wonder when this transition happened? I think previous generations have perceived oral sex as kinkier or more taboo than vaginal sex.
    • 'About one in five ninth-graders in the U.S. say they've had oral sex, a finding that adults should keep in mind when counselling teens about sex, researchers say. The study, which appears in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics, was designed to gauge teen perceptions of oral sex versus vaginal sex. To find out, researchers surveyed 580 ethically diverse ninth-graders with an average age of 15½ in California. Of the respondents, 20 per cent said they had engaged in oral sex, compared to 14 per cent who said they had had sexual intercourse. One-third also said they intended to have oral six within the next six months.'
  • 'The 30 least hot things you can say to a naked woman. Based on The 30 hottest things you can say to a naked woman. via the always hilarious defective yeti. ' [MeFi]
    • Hilarious and only R-rated. It certainly makes the original seem so lame.

Words

2005-04-19t17:06:47Z | RE: Biology. Conservation. Cyber Life. Cyber Tech. Faith; Philosophy;. Flow. Health. Local. Martial. Math; Science; Technology;. Measurements. Medium 2D. Medium 3D. Medium Mixed. Money. Play. Quirky [Possibly NSFW]. Relations [SFW]. Words.
2005-04-19t17:06:47Z

Biology

  • Top 10 Evolutionary Adaptations [/.]
    • The list in brief: Mulitcellularity. The eye. The brain. Language. Photosynthesis. Sex. Death. Parasitism. Superorganisms. Symbiosis.
    • 'The New Scientist has an interesting article up listing the Top 10 most amazing things to have evolved, including sex, death, the eye, language and parasites!" From the article:"Sponges are a key example of multicellular life, an innovation that transformed living things from solitary cells into fantastically complex bodies. It was such a great move, it evolved at least 16 different times. Animals, land plants, fungi and algae all joined in. '
    • The eye is one of the "hang ups" that anti-Evolution have, so here's that section:
      • [DIAGRAMS: Variations of the eye]'They appeared in an evolutionary blink and changed the rules of life forever. Before eyes, life was gentler and tamer, dominated by sluggish soft-bodied worms lolling around in the sea. The invention of the eye ushered in a more brutal and competitive world. Vision made it possible for animals to become active hunters, and sparked an evolutionary arms race that transformed the planet.

        The first eyes appeared about 543 million years ago - the very beginning of the Cambrian period - in a group of trilobites called the Redlichia. Their eyes were compound, similar to those of modern insects, and probably evolved from light-sensitive pits. And their appearance in the fossil record is strikingly sudden - trilobite ancestors from 544 million years ago don't have eyes.

        So what happened in that magic million years? Surely eyes are just too complex to appear all of a sudden? Not so, according to Dan-Eric Nilsson of Lund University in Sweden. He has calculated that it would take only half a million years for a patch of light-sensitive cells to evolve into a compound eye.

        That's not to say the difference was trivial. Patches of photosensitive cells were probably common long before the Cambrian, allowing early animals to detect light and sense what direction it was coming from. Such rudimentary sense organs are still used by jellyfish, flatworms and other obscure and primitive groups, and are clearly better than nothing. But they are not eyes. A true eye needs something extra - a lens that can focus light to form an image. "If you suddenly obtain a lens, the effectiveness goes from about 1 per cent to 100 per cent," says Andrew Parker, a zoologist at the University of Oxford.

        Trilobites weren't the only animals to stumble across this invention. Biologists believe that eyes could have evolved independently on many occasions, though genetic evidence suggests one ancestor for all eyes. But either way, trilobites were the first.

        And what a difference it made. In the sightless world of the early Cambrian, vision was tantamount to a super-power. Trilobites' eyes allowed them to become the first active predators, able to seek out and chase down food like no animal before them. And, unsurprisingly, their prey counter-evolved. Just a few million years later, eyes were commonplace and animals were more active, bristling with defensive armour. This burst of evolutionary innovation is what we now know as the Cambrian explosion.

        However, sight is not universal. Of 37 phyla of multicellular animals, only six have evolved it, so it might not look like such a great invention after all - until you stop to think. The six phyla that have vision (including our own, chordates, plus arthropods and molluscs) are the most abundant, widespread and successful animals on the planet.'

      • It makes me appreciative to have sight, but then our species doesn't know what life is like without it.

Conservation

  • Burn Grass, Get Green Biofuel [/.]
    • As long as they aren't smoking it :).
    • 'Do you want to use an economical and environmentally friendly biofuel? Just grow grass. Burning grass pellets will produce an energy-efficient biofuel, according to Jerry Cherney, a professor of agriculture at Cornell University. In this news release, 'Grass as Fuel,' he says "Burning grass pellets makes sense; after all, it takes 70 days to grow a crop of grass for pellets, but it takes 70 million years to make fossil fuels." Unfortunately, there is nothing like a grass political lobby in Washington, so he might not be heard. But with current oil prices, more and more people will be tempted to use cheaper -- and cleaner -- sources of energy. This overview contains many more details and references about this environmentally friendly biofuel made from grass. '
  • Modified Prius gets up to 180 Miles Per Gallon [/.]
    • " 'The NY Times (free reg. required) reports in that some folks are not content with the no-plug-in rule that both Honda and Toyota endorse. By modifying a Prius so that it can be plugged in, Ron Gremban of CalCars states 'I've gotten anywhere from 65 to over 100 miles per gallon'. The article also reports that 'EnergyCS, a small company that has collaborated with CalCars, has modified another Prius with more sophisticated batteries; they claim their Prius gets up to 180 mpg, and can travel more than 30 miles on battery power.' "

Cyber Life

  • Sony to Make an "iTunes for Movies" [/.]
    • Aww it's just for the PSP. I'm still waiting for full-size, DVD or HDTV like movies to be available over the Internet.
    • 'After years of complaining that the RIAA and MPAA were missing the boat, and should have embraced things like Napster instead of supressing them, we got iTunes and the like. Now, Sony has announced it will 'make its top 500 films available digitally in the next year' according to a report on the BBC, with Sony's iPod replacement being the PSP. '
  • 95% of IT Projects Not Delivered On Time [/.]
  • 'Geek Speak' Confuses Net Users [/.]
    • "BBC News is running the following story 'The average home computer user is bamboozled by technology jargon which is used to warn people about the most serious security threats online.' "
    • I wasn't going to post this one but I there were some nice comments in the /. thread:
      • 'As programmers, we have to consider communicating with our users better. For instance, Apple has the right idea when it comes to dialog boxes: always make the options for each button a verb. Yes/No/Cancel buttons require users to read a usually convoluted sentence and then interpret what they're agreeing to. This causes all sorts of usability problems.

        To run with the parent poster's dialog, a more usable dialog would read:

        Oil Levels are low. Would you like to:
        Change Oil | Do Not Change Oil

        Just by reading the button text a user will know precisely what each option will do.

        This is something that programmers both open-source and closed can do right now to enhance usability. Apple has the right idea, and there's no reason why we should have software that confuses our users with unclear dialogs.'

      • 'No, users are just really goddamn stupid. I (very unfortunately) currently work in tech support. The same people call like clockwork with the same problems all the time. ... Techs know users don't know about computers. This doesn't bother 95%+ of techs. What does bother us is users who don't listen, who don't learn, who don't read, and who don't take responsibility. If you ask a question, LISTEN to the answer. Take and write notes that you refer to. Why do you think Techs write stuff down; we're not smarter or better, we just use the advantages of evolution and technology to help us make things happen correctly.'
  • EFF Guide To Blogging Anonymously [/.]
    • Nice even though I follow almost none of its suggestions.
    • 'Annalee Newitz and Kurt Opsahl just published a great how-to on blogging anonymously. How To Blog Safely About Work (Or Anything Else), covering both the legal and technical aspects of blogging about your job and staying truly anonymous. A must read for those blogging from or about their office. '
  • Yahoo! Search Providing Support to Wikipedia
    • Sweet! So now both Yahoo and Google are donating bandwidth and servers to Wikiopedia with no strings attached! Both companies get a lot of brownie and karma points for this. Thank you very much!
    • 'Yahoo! Search will also be providing support for Wikipedia. Discussions, started at the same time as the aforementioned Google announcement, have been ongoing with both Yahoo! and Google but only the Google news leaked. It's now more clear why Wikipedia said there was no need to worry about undue influence from any single sponsor. '
  • Microsoft Encarta Adopting Wikiesque Process
    • My reaction is to laugh but MS gets away with stuff like this.
    • ' "The MSN Encarta program manager announced that readers of Microsoft's encyclopedia articles can now edit articles in a Wikipedia-like fashion. Once submitted, edits are reviewed by Encarta staff members for accuracy, readability, and proofreading before being incorporated into the article." From the post: "To support this program, we've hired some new research editors. Their job will be to help you out with things like fact-checking, syntax, and editorial style. Every writer can use a good editor, and we see no reason that community contributors deserve any less." J adds: This won't be a big surprise, but "Your submissions to Encarta must be your own work" and "you grant Microsoft permission to use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, translate and reformat your Submission." '
  • ICANN Officially Approves .jobs and .travel TLD's [./]
    • But .com still rules.
    • 'As reported on News.com, ICANN has approved the .jobs and .travel domains, and is pending decision on .asia, .mail, .tel, and .xxx. One has to ask 'Will these new domains actually prove useful, or is ICANN just avoiding the real issues confronting them in regards to regulating domain registration?'" We've covered both of these domains before, but it would seem they are even more-approved now, or at least the process is important enough to warrant an official announcement from ICANN '
    • 'ICANN has already entered into commercial and technical negotiations with the following additional candidate registries, .CAT, .POST & .MOBI. Discussions continue among ICANN Board and Staff regarding the evaluation of five additional proposed sponsored Top Level Domains (sTLDs): .ASIA, .MAIL, .TEL, .TEL, & .XXX.'
  • IBM on the hunt for Firefox programmers. So now IBM, Red Hat Linux, SuSe Linux, and Google are backing Mozilla Firefox fairly heavily.

Cyber Tech

  • Apple pins April 29 date on Tiger's tail
    • Everybody is coming out with next versions while Microsoft stands still. Spotlight is OS-enabled searching (like the WinFS in Longhorn, the next Windows OS). Dashboard are mini-add-on apps for the Mac OS (like Extensions for Firefox).
    • 'The company on Tuesday said that the desktop and server versions of its new operating system, code-named Tiger, will be available on April 29. Until now, Apple had said only that the operating system upgrade, officially called Mac OS X 10.4, would be ready in the first half of this year.'
    • ' "Tiger's groundbreaking new features, like Spotlight and Dashboard, will change the way people use their computers, and drive our competitors nuts trying to copy them," Jobs said in the statement. Apple also detailed the planned features for the Unix-based server edition of Tiger, including support for 64-bit processors and the iChat Server for instant messaging. The server edition, which will bundle about 200 open-source software components, will include a Web log program as well as grid software for high-end computing, Apple said. '
  • Python Moving into the Enterprise [/.]
  • Gigapixel Tapestries & Gigadecimal Pi [/.]
    • I like their choice of projects.
    • 'The new New Yorker magazine has posted two long non-technical articles about the Chudnovsky brothers and their homebrew supercomputers. One is a 1992 article about how they calculated pi to over two billion decimal places using a $70,000 cluster with 16 nodes. The other is a brandnew piece about how they spent months creating a seamless multi-gigabyte image of a fifteenth century tapestry for New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tapestries are essentially pixel-art on a non-rigid (cloth) matrix, so the manual labor of photographing it inch by inch had introduced many tiny deformations in the images, which they had to mathematically iron out. Old lo-res pix of the tapestries are on the Met's site, pix of the brothers are in the world brain." '
  • Forty Years of Moore's Law [/.]
    • It just keeps on chugging along. I think the law was accurate for a while by coincidence but then the industry has been inspired by the law into believing that they can improve to stay inline with the law. "So let it be written --so let it be done!"
    • 'CNET is running a great article on how the past 40 years of integrated chip design and growth has followed [Gordon] Moore's law. The article also discusses how long Moore's law may remain pertinent, as well as new technologies like carbon nanotube transistors, silicon nanowire transistors, molecular crossbars, phase change materials and spintronics. My favorite data point has to be this: in 1965, chips contained about 60 distinct devices; Intel's latest Itanium chip has 1.7 billion transistors! '
  • Midsize Businesses Not Considering Linux? [/.]
    • I don't buy the line that there isn't support for Linux.
    • ' eWeek is running a piece about a research report which concludes that Linux is not even on the radar screen for midsize businesses. The survey involved over 1,400 executives of companies with annual revenue around $250 to $500 million. It seems that, while smaller companies may see the licensing savings as being significant, and larger companies have the expertise to manage it, bringing Linux into a midsize Windows shop creates a multiplatform organization which is prohibitively complicated and expensive to manage. Unfortunately, companies of this size comprise the bulk of American business. Quote: "Linux is free, but the support for it is not." '
    • 'Koelsch's study and my own observations suggest that Linux has two major markets: the large Unix consolidators and smaller, cash-strapped companies. Both groups save money thanks to Linux. For everyone else, Linux is barely on the radar. My conclusion: In most of American business, the supposed competition between Microsoft and Linux just doesn't exist. And with good reason. '
  • Commercial Exoskeletons [/.]
    • Cheaper than I thought.
    • 'For those of you with superhuman aspirations, your dream may be a step closer; New Scientist (recently) and the Japan Times (last year) covered Yoshiyuki Sankai's work at the University of Tsukuba in Japan developing powered exoskeletons with commercial versions expected soon costing between $14,000 and $19,000 (£7,500-£10,000). Other work with exoskeletons previously covered here(1), here(2) and here(3)." '
  • In Apple, Microsoft OSes, search is on.
    • Apple with Tiger and Microsoft with Longhorn are both searching your own hard drive instead of the Web. I wonder if Google will be able to do it better than either?
    • If they do preview icons there should be the option to not do them as well. EG: Right now in windows picture files can be seen as the same icon or viewed as thumbnails. Preview of icons of text is silly, but it would be good in detailed view (sort of like search result summaries).

Faith; Philosophy;

  • White Smoke! [2005-04-19t16:50:18Z]
    • I almost forgot to mention that the German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI, the 256th pontiff.
    • The bells rang with the white smoke at 6:04 p.m. Vatican City time (16:04 Z or 11:04 CST) although the smoke came out 14 minute earlier and the ballots were actually burned 6 hours earlier.
    • He sounds like a traditionalist.
    • [PHOTO: New German Pope Benedict XVI]

Flow

Health

  • Ophthalmologists, Physicists Design Bionic Eye [/.]
    • I wonder if it comes with sound effects?
    • 'For the first time ever, those who have been blind since birth will have a chance to see the world. It's still in the early stages, but this is a giant leap forward in medical science." From the linked BBC article: "U.S scientists have designed a bionic eye to allow blind people to see again. It comprises a computer chip that sits in the back of the individual's eye, linked up to a mini video camera built into glasses that they wear. Images captured by the camera are beamed to the chip, which translates them into impulses that the brain can interpret. '

Local

  • City schools brace for cuts: 800 teaching jobs, programs targeted
    • This doesn't sound good at all. It sounds like Gov. Blagojevich isn't doing enough.
    • 'Facing a $175 million deficit next year, Chicago schools expect to slash an estimated 800 teaching jobs, cuts that could save the district about $50 million but force most of the system's schools to raise class size and trim programs. District officials said Monday that the cuts only hint at the pain to come if the state doesn't come up with tens of millions of dollars more than what Gov. Rod Blagojevich has proposed in his education budget. Principals first learned of the cuts during building-by-building budget reviews last month; a final count is expected at the end of April.'
    • 'The job cuts represent 3 percent of the district's teaching staff of 26,000. But school advocates argue that Chicago's 600 schools already suffer from stripped-down academic programs and crowded classrooms.'
    • ' Some of the money saved by staff cuts will flow to 18 new schools opening next year under Renaissance 2010, the district's sweeping reform plan. These new schools will have more flexibility over staffing because they will receive a pot of money based on a per-pupil rate, rather than staffing formulas set up by the district. "How can we afford to create new schools under Renaissance 2010 while we decimate our regular schools?" asked Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. "We are cutting these other programs to the bone." '
    • ' Elementary schools face staff cuts because their enrollment is expected to drop by 4,000 pupils citywide, although this doesn't include the nearly 2,000 children expected to flow into city schools from the 17 Chicago Catholic schools slated to close next year, budget director Pedro Martinez said. "They say it's about enrollment. But what they are doing is balancing the budget on the backs of children," said Ted Dallas, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union. "It's scary, and I believe it will get worse. They have a lot of extra programs, and if the extras are cut, you're going to hurt the kids." '
  • CTA in for bumpy ride
    • Why do one bad thing when you can do three? Service cuts, fare raises, and employees laid off.
    • 'Most CTA express bus routes and the Purple Line Evanston Express "L" trains would be scuttled, and some fares would rise to $2. Fifty-four bus routes that don't run on Sundays would be eliminated from weekday service, resulting in severe overcrowding and up to hourlong waits for buses. Another 35 bus routes would be cut on Saturdays. Officials said the plan, which also includes laying off about 2,000 CTA employees, will take effect July 17 unless state lawmakers boost transit funding to close a $55 million deficit in the agency's more than $1 billion 2005 budget.'
    • This will also affect those that don't use the CTA because some of the former CTA riders will drive and thus create more traffic congestion.

Martial

  • 'Girls With Guns In Cinema And Television is acollection of images of women in film and on television holding firearms, sorted by film/show title, weapon, IMDB ranking (needs some updating...Sticks got a 9.9?), and more. Scroll down past the lengthy news updates to get to the actual archives. (The site itself SFW but some of the images linked aren't. Beware!) ' [MeFi]
    • Obviously this sort of thing sounds like a fetish.
  • How many 5 year-olds.....
    • 'Pop Quiz Hotshot: You're in the middle of an arena. You're being attacked by 5 year olds who will stop at nothing to kill you. How many can you take on before they overcome you? (from twobytwo forums) ' [MeFi]
    • The original forum has 460+ comments while the MeFi thread has 120+ comments.
    • If you've ever dealt with these ferocious beasts then you'll appreciate the question. You could change the parameters from 5 year olds to aliens of the same size.
    • I have a 4 and 6 year old so I have a clear idea of the mass at this age. I don't think I'd be able to run around and wear them out. It only takes 3-5 to immobilize your legs. If they come at you from all sides at once and smother you legs, then you'll go down fast. Then they can just smother your body and arms. Head stomping can ensue although the weight of many kids would leave you unable to breath. So even if I manage to evade them for a while and knock out some, I'm guessing that my max would be: 5 (legs) + 8 (body and arms) + 2 (head) + 10 (knocked out) = 25.
  • 'My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable Monkey-style defeats Tiger-style {embedded vid}' [MeFi]
    • What the heck is that cocky ape thinking!

Math; Science; Technology;

  • Black Holes 'Do Not Exist,' Contends Physicist [/.]
    • Great claims need great proof.
    • 'Nature reports that, according to a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, 'It's a near certainty that black holes don't exist.' George Chapline argues that the collapse of massive stars is more likely to lead to dark energy stars. These dark energy stars behave somewhat like a black hole outside of the surface, but the negative gravity inside could cause matter to 'bounce back out again. '
  • The End of Mathematical Proofs by Humans? [/.]
    • Clearly the answer is "no". Not yet at least. Interesting stuff in the /. thread.
    • 'I recall how I did a bunch of Mathematical Proofs when I was in high school. In fact, proofs were an important part of Math according to the CBSE curriculum in Indian Schools. We were taught how to analyze complex problems and then break them down into simple (atomic) steps. It is similar to the derivation of a Physics formula. Proofs form a significant part of what Mathematicians do. However, according to this article from the Economist, it seems that the use of computers to generate proofs is causing mathematicians to 're-examine the foundations of their discipline.' However, critics of computer-aided proofs say that the proofs are hard to verify due to the large number of steps and hence, may be inherently flawed. Defenders of the same point out that there are non computer-aided proofs that are also rather large and unverifiable, like the Classification of Simple Finite Groups. Computer-aided proofs have been instrumental in solving some vexing problems like the Four Color Theorem. '
  • Space Elevator Update [/.]
    • Earliest possible availability: 15 years.
    • 'The 2005 edition of the Space Exploration Conference in Albuquerque, NM came to a conclusion earlier this week. A large fraction of the conference was devoted to the Space Elevator. Surprisingly, there hasn't been much news coverage of this conference, perhaps because it doesn't have Space Elevator in its name. The most interesting fact I got from the conference is that money is really starting to exist in the space elevator world mainly thanks to the work of Dr. Bradley Edwards at ISR and at Carbon Designs, Inc. The strong nanotube talk was also more promising than last year. '
  • Early Earth Atmosphere Favourable to Life [/.]
    • Still a wondrous event though.
    • 'A study by researchers at the University of Waterloo indicates that Earth in its infancy probably had substantial quantities of hydrogen in its atmosphere, a surprising finding that may alter the way many scientists think about how life began on the planet. The new study indicates that up to 40 percent of the early atmosphere was hydrogen, implying a more favourable climate for the production of pre-biotic organic compounds like amino acids, and ultimately, life. The paper was authored by doctoral student Feng Tian, Prof. Owen Toon and Research Associate Alexander Pavlov of CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, and by Prof. Hans De Sterk of University of Waterloo's Applied Mathematics department. The paper was published in the April 7 issue of Science Express, the online edition of Science Magazine '
  • The Top Three Reasons for Humans in Space [/.]
    • To work, to live, and to survive are nice reasons but I still like reasons such as "because it's cool" or "because it's there".
    • 'hy humans in space? The Space Review has the top three reasons: 3. To work. 2. To live. 1. To survive. 'To work' means doing stuff in space: research, explore, visit, etc. 'To live' means to have humans/life beyond Earth in colonies/settlements. 'To survive' means that putting humans/life beyond Earth is a very Good Thing in case a very Bad Thing happens to humans/life on Earth." '

Measurements

  • Scientists Weigh Smallest Mass Ever [/.]
    • That's on the scale of 10e-21 grams. The /. post was 04-01, but the BBC article was 03-30 so it's not a joke.
    • 'From the article, 'US scientists have managed to measure the mass of a cluster of xenon atoms at just a few billionths of a trillionth of a gram - or a few zeptograms. The record measurement is in the mass range of individual protein molecules, and the detection was made using sensitive scales developed at Caltech.' Another big leap forward for nanotechnology. '
    • 'George Chapline thinks that the collapse of the massive stars, which was long believed to generate black holes, actually leads to the formation of stars that contain dark energy. "It's a near certainty that black holes don't exist," he claims. '

Media 2D

  • 'Logos. Lots of Logos. EPS vector art of Logo's from around the world, just waiting for you to generate parodies and a flood of cease and desist letters. Although some of the images aren't logos you would expect to find.' [MeFi].
    • Might be useful.
    • The MeFi thread has other logo-related links.

Media 3D

  • The House Building Machine [/.]
    • Given that the road building machines work so well in Chicago, I think these house building machines should work nicely too.
    • 'With 400,000 American construction workers injured each year, and a typical American house takeing at least six months to complete, house building had been the same tiring gritty job for 20,000 years. For this problem, Behrokh Khoshnevis has a solution: A Robotic House Builder. An eight feet tall and six feet wide phototype house building machine, with ceramic mixing ability/computer control back-end, is currently building solid walls inside University of Southern California. To add to the excitement, even NASA is evaluating the machine as a builder on Moon using moondust- Who said moondust is useless? '
    • 'To prove automated troweling could work, he invented a small-scale machine for making objects no more than 20 inches across. Guided by input from a computer-assisted-design program, the little contour crafter has a nozzle that navigates on three axes and squeezes out ceramic clay like toothpaste from a tube. A pair of trowel-like fins smooth the top and side surfaces as the layers stack up, yielding cubes, boxes, bowls, domes, cones, or other shapes specified by the software. The device is similar to rapid prototype machines, which have been used for about 15 years to print out three-dimensional plastic models, but the trowels "allowed a new degree of control on the exterior surfaces," says Khoshnevis. '
    • [PHOTO: Prototyp of house making machine]
  • 'The world's most impressive skylines. If Hong Kong is #1, and Mandaluyong, the Phillipines, is #100, where's your city? (via Bostonia, based in city #43) ' [MeFi]
    • Asia has 6 of the top 10 while Europe doesn't even show on the list until #23 with London.
      • 1. Hong Kong
      • 2. New York City
      • 3. Seoul
      • 4. Chicago. Go Chicago!
      • 5. Singapore
      • 6. Bankok
      • 7. Tokyo
      • 8. Shanghai
      • 9. Sao Paulo
      • 10. Toronto
    • The only city from the Philippines isn't even Manila, Quezon City, or Makati --it's Mandaluyong City.

Media Mixed

  • 'PIANOGRAPHIQUE [activity] the graphics piano is a multimedia instrument, each letter on the keyboard sets off a sound and an animation. audio-visual-collage (flash) ' [MeFi]. The kids might like this.

Money

  • Why Logic Often Takes A Backseat The study of neuroeconomics may topple the notion of rational decision-making
    • Yep, it's not a very rational world.
    • 'According to the new science of neuroeconomics, the explanation might lie inside the brains of the negotiators. Not in the prefrontal cortex, where people rationally weigh pros and cons, but deep inside, where powerful emotions arise. Brain scans show that when people feel they're being treated unfairly, a small area called the anterior insula lights up, engendering the same disgust that people get from, say, smelling a skunk. That overwhelms the deliberations of the prefrontal cortex. With primitive brain functions so powerful, it's no wonder that economic transactions often go awry. "In some ways, modern economic life for humans is like a monkey driving a car," says Colin F. Camerer, an economist at California Institute of Technology.'

Play

  • Games That Shoot Back
    • Masochistic gaming. They should make a hand-to
    • 'A shooting game that shoots back, delivering electric shocks through the player's hips when they're shot, is being used for recruitment (Hey shooting people is fun) and training by the U.S. military. There's talk of developing it into a PC game. Here's a quote from the article: 'It has the same power as a stun gun. It knocks you down. You have to continue to work through the pain and keep on fighting, as that is what you need to do - to keep on fighting even when wounded.' I guess in Soviet America, games shoot you. How many law suits would this cause based on unknown heart conditions? I also hope there's some sort of built-in safety in case the thing starts to zap you repeatedly. (Deadly endless loop, anyone?) '
  • ShockHaber.com/zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.htm [activity]. Addictive and oddly satisfying. The kids will love this.
  • 'RollerCycle! Just $450 with a signed insurance waiver. [via]' [MeFi]
    • Ha ha! There are always more expensive ways to have fun or get exercise. Playing chase is cheaper and more fun.
    • It looks like he's pushed by his butt!
      [PHOTO: Roller cycle pushing you around]

Quirky [Possibly NSFW]

  • 'The luckiest hunter on Earth--- The unluckiest hiker on earth'
    • I got this story via email. I don't know if the photos were Photoshopped but the photos seem sincere. The details of the penis on the human corpse seem real.
    • 'Gruesome
      The guy in the photo was hunting in Alaska , he walked upon a Grizzly that had just attacked and killed a hiker and was eating the hiker , The hunter & Grizzly were both surprised, the grizzly charged the hunter who got off one shot " he said the luckiest shot he ever made" the Grizzly fell dead less than 6 feet from him , and before he could get another round even chambered.---look at the size of this Grizzly, you can also see the Police examining the hikers body. I believe the weapon was a 7 mm?----he should play the lottery.'
    • [PHOTO: Survivor with bear] [PHOTO: Survivor with bear paw] [PHOTO: Non-survivor corpse]

Relations [SFW]

  • 'An evolutionary basis for altruism. These findings suggest that true altruism, far from being a maladaptation, may be the key to our species' success by providing the social glue that allowed our ancestors to form strong, resilient groups. Sharing isn't just caring, it's surviving. ' [MeFi]
    • Not surprising since so much more can be accomplished with many than one.

Words

  • 'What does all of Unicode look like? At once, as a poster? Ian Albert decided to find out... No full image of the whole thing, sadly (but understandably, given its 22,017x42,807 resolution).' [MeFi] Very nice.

2005-04-20t18:12:04Z | RE: Health. Martial.
Levels of Exercise

This is an email I just sent as part of a thread at the Chicago Swordplay Guild.

There are of course different levels of training programs for different purposes. Here are a few examples:

*Level 1 may be rehabilitative physical training or exercises for the very elderly.
*Level 3 may be mild health maintenance like walking or yoga.
*Level 5 may be medium health maintenance. I like the idea of 5-20 minute chunks daily or any time, rather than trying to squeeze in one hour chunks into a busy week (usually people just skip it most weeks).
*Level 7 may be robust training like fairly competitive sports training or serious aerobics classes.
*Level 10 may intense training for special ops or world class competitive events.

Sadly a lot of America is barely at level 3. I'm so busy I can barely hold onto my level 5. All of you young kids should be pushing level 7 while you can (physically and time-wise). There is nothing magical about training: It's a matter of choice, time, and commitment.

My dad was always a health nut and he encouraged us to squeeze in a workout before showering. My level 5 pre-shower training only takes 15-20 minutes. I work on different areas of my body working down from the top, with no rest in between. I use a mix speeds (fast, medium, slow, static) and try to work muscles to "failure".

1. Pushups to failure, roughly 50 reps straight.
2. Crunches (roughly 80 reps), then my current core exercise is "iron bridge" (lie flat, then lift legs and upper body just barely off the ground and hold) to failure (1-5 minutes).
3. Bridges (back and neck variations) to failure.
4. Butt lifts (100 reps) while squeezing and pressing down on my hips. I haven't found a quick way to get to failure with my glutes.
5. A variety of squats (roughly 100 reps), then static horse stances for a few minutes. I multi-task by doing grip squeezes during this.
6. Calf raises (roughly 100 reps). I do an equal mix of toes straight, in, and out.
7. Stretch.

-George Hernandez

PS: Some of you know this already but awesome free Farmer Burns stuff can be found at http://sandowplus.co.uk/Competition/Burns/lessons/lesson01.htm.
 

2005-04-20t18:43:48Z | RE: Local. Medium 2D.
2004-04-13 Art Institute field trip

I was at the Art Institute of Chicago as a chaperone for my son York's class. Overall the visit was far too brief --I think even the preschoolers would have enjoyed spending more time there. It was also disappointing that Millennium Park was mostly closed for construction. However, I did enjoy the field trip.

I really enjoyed Marc Chagall's America Windows, a painting done in stained glass. I enjoyed how broadly the piece can be interpreted but what I really liked was the display of the medium. I've seen stained glass at churches and houses before. I've also seen the fine pieces at the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows at Navy Pier in Chicago. However, the stained glass I've seen before had static light behind it, whether natural or artificial. This was the first time I've seen stained glass with tree-and-wind dappled sunlight behind it. The piece was living luminosity. I do not think the same effect can be achieved on a computer screen.
[PHOTO: America Windows by Marc Chagall, stained glass, 1977]

2005-04-20t20:14:44Z | RE: Faith; Philosophy;. Flow. Life. Mind. Quirky [Possibly NSFW]. Rambling.
2005-04-18 Tesseract House

On Monday I woke up with this dream:

I was driving around with some people in a hilly area when I noticed this house with a satellite dish on top of it that was nearly the same size as the house itself. I was about to point it out when I noticed that we were going to the house.

As we went into the house it became evident that the house was much bigger on the inside than the outside --there were huge halls, sweeping staircases, endless rooms and workshops. The house was filled with all sorts of things that I did not specifically recognize but were all generally familiar. It was very creative but not showy --as if this was how things should be. It seemed that everything was possible in this house.

Who did the house belonged to? It was evident it belonged to those in the house.

I was going to ask "How was it possible that the house was so much more inside than outside?", but then I realized that if I couldn't find the answer, if I didn't believe that it was possible, then I didn't belong in the house or the community, and that the house would disappear.

By then I was waking up. I don't usually pay attention to my dreams but when I have a vivid one, especially a dream close to waking, I try to feel it out.

The house has resemblances to stuff like inner spaces, Hogswart Academy of Harry Potter, The Matrix, the Web, and how there is often more than meets the eye, but more personally, the dream is related to my recent thoughts about open source, freedom, openness, possibility, and hope. There are two twists in the dream:

  • Open source etc. applies not just to ideas but to everything --even things you can touch like houses and works --even to people and communities.
  • Open source etc. is already here --we merely have to see it and trust it. You must hope instead of despair. You must add value instead of poison wells.

There are other metaphors in the dream (EG: The satellite), but I'm fine with leaving the dream as a metaphor.

2005-04-25t18:42:22Z | RE: Martial. Money. Rambling.
2005-04-25 State of Money

This is my first "State of Money" post. I don't intend to do a deep and comprehensive review of economic indicators. Heck I'm probably not even qualified to write anything along those lines. However, I thought it would be cool to do a periodic review of my feelings and thoughts on money --mine and that of everyone else. Plus why play a game like Sid Meier's Civilization, when you can look at real life stats?

Money: U.S.

Given the weak dollar, the enlarging trade balance, and the U.S. debt at 4.3 T$ (and rising), I would not be surprised if foreign investors would want to sell U.S. bonds in order to buy euros. The worst case scenarios is if this happened suddenly enough to be a rush on the dollar. However, like Microsoft, the U.S. is so big that I think that investors will hang on to U.S. bonds.

  • The U.S. dollar is weak in comparison to money around the world the E.U. euro. Here is the USD in EUR for the past few Marches. The data indicates that the decline may be decreasing.
    year  EUR       Dif        Dif %
    2002  1.14076		
    2003  0.926369	-0.214391  -18.79
    2004  0.815652	-0.110717  -11.95
    2005  0.758583	-0.057069  -07.00
    
    2002 to 2005:   -0.382177  -33.50
    [x-rates.com]
  • The U.S. trade balance is a deficit is -$61 billion (G$). The data indicates that the gap may be increasing.
    [GRAPH: U.S. trade balance 2003/2005][census.gov/briefrm/esbr/www/esbr042.html]
  • The U.S. budget balance is a debt at -$4.3 trillion (T$). The table below is in billions of dollars (G$).
    Year  Revenues  Outlays   Surplus  Debt     Debt Dif  Dif %
    2000  2,025.2   1,789.1   236.2    3,409.8
    2001  1,991.2   1,863.0   128.2    3,319.6  -90.2     -2.65
    2002  1,853.2   2,011.0  -157.8    3,540.4  220.8      6.65
    2003  1,782.3   2,159.9  -377.6    3,913.4  373.0     10.54
    2004  1,880.1   2,292.2  -412.1    4,295.5  382.1      9.76
    [cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=1821&sequence=0]
  • The U.S. military budget (USMB)
    • On one hand:
      • 'Relative to the total GDP of the United States, however, the total spending on the military was only 3.7% in 2003. This spending rate has been in a slow decline since peaking in 1944 at 37.8% of GDP. Even during the peak of the Vietnam War the percentage only reached a high of 9.4% in 1968. As a percentage of discretionary spending, the US outlays for defense are also at a relatively low level. In 1972, for example, the percentage was 72.9%.' [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_in_the_United_States]
    • On the other hand:
    • Overall, in spite of how much I love the martial, I think the USMB is too large.
      • Our armies should be well equipped, trained, cared for, etc. but I think we need smaller armies and fewer wars. The way the Neo-Cons responded to 9/11 was too expensive.
      • While we could outspend Communists in the Cold War, we cannot outspend terrorists because terrorism is so inexpensive. Since war "is merely the continuation of policy by other means" [Clausewitz], then obviously we must step back to policy and determine the cause of the creation of terrorists.
      • The ridiculously huge U.S. military is a weird false market. It's an entrenched industry of war profiteers.
      • 'Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes...known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. ... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.' -James Madison, Political Observations, 1795.

Money: U.S. Citizen

It's every man for himself out there.

  • Unemployment is down (after the recession) and benefits are up, but wages are down.
  • Bankruptcy is now largely not available, personal debts are up, credit interest rates are way, way up. We need caps on credit card insurance.
  • Labor laws are now heavily pro-employer --it is very difficult to strike these days.
  • Healthcare is way, way up. The healthcare industry is dangerously broken and a weird false market. People should not be forced into vicious cycles of poverty because of healthcare. Socialized healthcare is the way to go.

Personally, I like the progress that I've made in cutting down my personal debt. I have a timetable for when my only personal debts will be for house and car.

Gold

Who doesn't like gold? I have a particular interest in gold since I accurately predicted on 2001-09-11, that post 9/11 would be a good time to buy gold. See how gold was flattening but then it shot up right at 2001?

2004  409.72
2003  363.38
2002  309.23
2001  271.04
2000  279.11
1999  278.98
1998  294.21

[GRAPH: Price of gold since 1998] [NMA.org/enumerate/gold/gold.htm]

Today the current price of gold is $434.80 per Troy ounce [Bloomberg.com/markets/commodities/cfutures.html] and rising!

Oil

I doubt that industries and people are finally admitting that oil is running out [HubbertPeak.com]. However I believe that it will happen and that at some point the price of oil will just continually go up. I just hope that Hubbert's Peak is acknowledge before oil prices spike ridiculously and throw the world economy into some freaky spin.

It's so simple: invest in sustainable oil alternatives now!

[GRAPH: Price of crude oil since 1947] [wtrg.com/oil_graphs/oilprice1947.gif]

Today the price of crude oil is $53.25 per barrel [Bloomberg.com/markets/commodities/energyprices.html] and rising!

Here's the national price of regular grad gasoline in the past few years --even though we all know this intuitively.

1997-04-21  1.199
1998-04-20  1.028
1999-04-19  1.135
2000-04-17  1.444
2001-04-16  1.571
2002-04-22  1.404
2003-04-21  1.574
2004-04-19  1.813
2005-04-18  2.237
[eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/wrgp/mogas_history.html]

Today the price of regular grade gasoline per gallon is $2.19 to $2.65 per gallon in Chicago [ChicagoGasPrices.com/...] and rising!

Housing

There does not seem to be any doubt that there has been a housing "boom" --even though the word "bubble" is too strong for most folks. The question is how soft or hard the landing will be. Things have to catch up sometime. The housing landing will be soft if interest rates do not spike and jobs do not suffer.

  • Roughly 25% of homes were purchased for the purpose of investing instead of living in. This means that the housing market is becoming more speculative than real. This is of course what happened with other bubbles such as the tulips, the dot com of the 90s, and comic books.
  • The ratio of mortgages to annual income is much higher than ever --depending on where you live.
  • The Housing Price Index is rising faster than the rate of inflation.
  • We're in an economic but jobless recovery from a recession, and yet housing has had uninterrupted growth.

However a housing bubble is different from other bubbles for several reasons:

  • Housing costs are very dependent on geography. It will vary in scope from neighborhood, city, metropolitan area, region, nation wide, etc.
  • Housing is not as liquid as other "investments". Thus a deflationary adjustment will occur more slowly because homeowners, even the speculative owners, are more willing to hang onto property and wait it out.

I'm drawing from various references over a fair period of time, but to see these refs:

Personally, I'm planning to get a house either this summer or next. It would be cool if the bubble popped before I bought, but it doesn't make sense to wait if you need a house now. If the bubble pops after I buy, then I'll just have to roll with it.

Investing

Iclops.com, a company that a handful of us started up in 2002, made its first sale last year. We hope to get some more sales and then some venture capital. We do help healthcare companies increase profits and improve patient care. We are also moving to expand our BI know-how to other industries.

Watching; Investing;

  • Open source; Wikipedia
  • NASA; space; Space Elevator;
  • Nanotechnology
  • Artificial Intelligence (as in sentience not BI)
  • Pixar (their next move Cars may bomb)
  • Sustainable energy and economics

Charities I contribute to:

  • PBS and Chicago's WTTW
  • NPR and CPR
  • Red Cross
  • Field Museum
  • Wikipedia

The transition from physical to electronic trading that has been going on for years is very interesting to watch. The recent possible merges of the NYSE with Archipelago or NASDAQ with Instinet is a natural trend. We are on an economic transition. Markets should be popularly and globally traded 24 hours a day, very quickly, and very cheaply.

2005-04-29t17:14:47Z | RE: Local. Martial.
My weekly CSG rapier report

Here is the weekly report that I just finished (2005-04-28t03:57:26Z) for the Chicago Swordplay Guild. The weekly reports are publicly available at ChicagoSwordplayGuild.com/reports.html.

Rapier class on 2005-04-23 was taught by John O'Meara and I was the
only student. (Presumably all the other rapier students were out
celebrating Earth Day ;)

Part 1. Checked footwork and lunges, including the following: The
orientation of the knee during the lunge. Whether the hand was
sufficiently inside in quarta or outside in seconda. Whether the hand
moved first then the foot. John's tip was hitting my hilt straight on
more than usual and this led to a discussion of the necessity of
imbroccota (thrusts made over the sword) and brocotta (under) in order
to get clearance of an opponent's hilt.

Part 2. Seizing the tempo. The agent move backwards irregularly while
the patient agent followed and kept measure. At any point the agent
could attack and the patient agent had to seize that tempo to attack.
Of course rapier emphasizes stesso tempo over dui tempi or mezzo
tempo. Two basic problems were worked on:

2A. Simply being awake, prepared, and relaxed both mentally and
physically in order to respond to the attack as patient agent.
Admittedly there were a few times where it seemed that I was merely
there to receive blows.

2B. Minimizing lateral movement during the counterattack. This was the
greater problem for me. I was regularly over-blocking during my
counter attack which resulted in a weaker attack. While my head knew
that I only needed a small block (especially if the cone of my sword
was moving forward), my body told me it felt safer by pushing out the
hilt.

In empty hand fighting you may "over-block" with the left hand in
order to control the offending limb while countering with your right
hand. In contrast, in single rapier there is no other limb thus there
is no need to over-block --it only weakens your attack. On the other
hand, over-blocking while attacking in empty hand fighting can also
create an opening for your opponent to take advantage of mezzo tempo.
However you get the biofeedback of getting hit as you do it, thus you
quickly learn not to do it. In contrast, in single rapier there is no
biofeedback because over-blocking while counter attacking usually
results in a successful defense albeit weaker counterattack.

I was trying to convey these ideas to John but I must not have
succeeded because after my stesso tempo, he would continue on to dui
tempi and just hit me with a second attack. I like getting hit but
that biofeedback was well after my stesso tempo and thus did not
improve my stesso tempo technique.

Part 3. Working on planned defense. The agent would advance and attack
naturally. The patient agent could move about and try to set things up
so as to funnel the agent towards a particular action, thus enabling
the patient agent to apply a pre-planned defense and counterattack.
The main lesson here is that if you can funnel or manipulate your
opponent to do what you want, then you can know how to counter before
the action thus giving you a larger tempo than if you were just merely
reacting to an attack. Conversely, knowledge of this allows you to
avoid or counter traps.

I had great problems with this initially: Several times in a row I was
skewered like a kebob while I was trying to think of a planned
defense. I was immobilized because I was too busy coming up with
options while the action was unfolding in real time. Obviously in a
fight there is very little time to perceive, analyze, and act. Thus
you have to practice sufficiently and correctly such that you can
intuitively act properly in a dynamic situation. If you are thinking
too much, then your thoughts interfere with proper action, hence the
emphasis on "mushin" --no mind -- the stilling of the noise in your
head.

Eventually I achieved more success when I cleared my mind and limited
my options to a few scenarios. (Most of them involved forcing a
cavatione and counter attacking. I had to _close_ his line because
merely _covering_ the line was insufficient to force a cavatione.)
Clearly I have not had enough rapier practice because the number of
rapier tools that I have intuitively available is puny.

Part 4. Free fencing. 3 bouts, round robin between John O'Meara, John
Woodall (fresh from long sword class), and myself. All three bouts
were interesting and spirited. The bouts with Woodall seemed to
involve more cuts and points out of presence than usual but were quite
invigorating.

-George Hernandez

2005-04-29t18:29:11Z | RE: Martial.
Measure and Height-Difference Matches

A fight is about controlling distance, maintaining defense, and seeking an opening --preferably a tempo (a period of time occupied by an action) as well as a physical defensive opening-- in which to attack. For this post I want to focus on measure (a distance from which you can strike in one tempo. Aka maai in Japanese) for the scenario of a shorter  person v a taller person.

Let us say there are two opponents, a taller person (TP) and a shorter person (SP). Ignore for now the factors of flanking, angling, positions, etc. and focus on simple linear measure. There are only three possible measure combinations: "NiM": Neither is in measure. "TiM": The TP is in measure but the SP is not. "BiM": Both are in measure. When the distance is NiM nothing must necessarily happen. When the distance is TiM, something might happen. When the distance is BiM, the situation is untenable and something must happen.

Of the three distances, clearly the TP would want to achieve TiM most of all. The TP can move into and maintain TiM with relative safety while seeking an opening. Alternatively, a TP can wait in NiM and if the SP tries to move into BiM, then the TP can try to get the SP as the SP passes through the distance of TiM. It seems that a TP should generally fight in this fashion: Without engaging (maintain NiM or TiM) and with engaging (TiM or BiM).

Complimentary, of the three distances, clearly the SP would want to avoid TiM most of all. If the TP tries to move into TiM, then the SP could retreat to NiM, but then the TP could very easily advance and thus regain TiM. Alternatively, when the TP tries to move into TiM, the SP could simultaneously advance thus making the distance BiM. By either advancing or retreating in tempo, the height disadvantage can be minimized by the shorter person unless the height difference is so great that the TP can strike before the SP can achieve either NiM or BiM. This latter scenario is one of overbearing measure dominance (such as shotgun v empty hand from 5 m away) and not to be discussed here. Perpetual retreat is not a true option. It seems that a SP should generally fight in this fashion: Without engaging (maintain NiM) and with engaging (BiM or move into BiM whenever the TP tries to achieve TiM).

My experience of fighting taller people --as well as watching matches between high-level competitors with significant height differences-- says that careful matches with a significant height difference are just like careful matches without height differences except that the SP will fly in.

In careful matches (height difference or no) where each "score" is understood as serious injury or death, the fight will consist mostly quiet periods NiM interrupted by violent periods of one or BiM (think of the master matches in samurai movies). [Grappling opponents are in obviously usually in continuous contact, and there is also measure for grappling techniques, but that's a whole other discussion.] In less careful striking matches or in matches where "scores" are merely sport or inconsequential, the fight may very well consist of a lot of action with one or BiM (think of clashing double-death matches or video games). It is theoretically possible that highly-skilled opponents can spend a long period performing fancy techniques with BiM but it's not likely (think of the master matches in fantastical kung fu movies).

2005-04-29t18:57:40Z | RE: Cyber Tech.
Notes taken at a MS course on ASP.NET 2.0

Here are my notes as typed into my laptop while at a two day, official Microsoft course on ASP.NET 2.0.

  • Location: Microsoft Office - Downers Grove; 3025 Highland parkway; Downers Grove, IL, 60515.
  • Instructor: Marc Gusmano. [metadata]
  • Accompanying books:
    • Dino Esposito. Introducing Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 2005. ISBN: 0-7356-2024-5.
    • Microsoft Official Course 3201A: What's New in Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 for Existing ASP.NET 1.0/1.1 Developers.

2005-04-27t14:20:30Z Day 1

Module 1: Creating an ASP.NET 2.0 App

  • VS 2003 was code, compile, implement. Now VS 2005 skips compile step because of assemblies. No need to bounce servers. You can modify granularly: individual files; each file can have its own language. This is due to Compile-on-Demand.
  • You can build websites without IIS, i.e. just make it out of a folder instead. Because VS has a built in web server that will only run localhost in a random port, EG: http://localhost:2308/DGDemo.
  • New "Partial Class" you can work on a class from separate files without having to merge them. Hence "code beside" is improved because you don't have to make variables for each control on the .aspx file for your .aspx.vb file.
  • Instead of separate files with Code-beside, you can make .aspx into single files with Code-behind, i.e. just like old ASP instead of ASP.NET 1.0. The server code will just be in a server side script on the same page.
  • Shared Classes. "Code" folder in VS are different from regular folders. You can pop your own classes into code folders. Each code folder has to have one language used. Makes XXX__code.dll. Use ILDASM to look into dlls.
  • The Page class. Now incorporate Request(), Response(), SetFocus(), etc.

Module 2: Using Master Pages

  • Goal is to have common areas that developers do not have to make each time. Example common areas: toolbar, header, footer.
  • xxx.master files are Master Pages.
  • Each folder can have its own Master Page, esp. with web.config. You can also have nested Master Pages.
  • C# casting: ((MyMaster)Master).SubTitle = "Welcome". VB casting: CType(Master, MyMaster.SubTitle = "Welcome".
  • Master Pages v Content Pages.

Module 3: Manipulating Data

  • Can connect to XML. Stuff like using XPath like SQL. TreeView control to access XML docs.
  • Web.config frequently held site wide connection strings before but now web.config is accessible as an object.
  • The data controls (DataGrid, DataSource, ObjectDataSource, GridView, DetailsView, FormView, etc.) generally only need 1. Connection string. 2. SQL statement, stored procedures, parameters, etc.
  • The datagrid does sorting, paging, delete, insert, select, update, etc. very easily.
  • DataSource controls are generally either tabular (EG: SQL) or hierarchical (EG: XML).
  • ASP.NET 2.0 has absorbed some stuff from Commerce Server such as the AdRotator control.
  • Composite Data-Bound controls can be custom made.
  • GridView is souped up Datagrid so you might as well use it. FormView is like souped up DetailsView.
  • ObjectDataSource can interact with classes made in /code.

Module 4: Application Services

  • The Wizard control let's you make your own wizards. The wizard will all stay on the same page.
  • DynamicImage class is not the same as the Image control. DynamicImage control makes bitmaps. This may have greatly changed in 2005 b2.
  • Site Navigation API. It points to a specific XML file with your site structure in there.
  • Site Counter API. Tracks click-thrus, impressions, etc.

Module 5: State Management

  • Web pages are stateless by default.
  • 2 forms of state management: client & server.
  • Client State
    • Client state tracked via __VIEWSTATE. Can be set from control to page (via @Page) level.
    • Control state is new in ASP.NET 2.0.
  • Server Session State
    • Old ASP did data pairs via cookies.
    • Cookie-less was new via ASP.NET. But still limited to IIS limitations.
    • ASP.NET 2.0: Local memory,  session server, . cookieless=false by default.
  • c:\Windows\Microsoft\  \framework ... \config\machine.config.com. Bunch of config files here in XML here.
  • Caching. Cache Dependency. Make your own cache dependencies via SQL Server, Web Services, etc. The CacheDependency object is no longer sealed but is now inheritable. SqlCacheDependency class: works naturally with SQL Server 2005 but can be made with older versions of SQL Server. See p26. Stores data in cache unless SQL Server has changed in which case flush and refresh.

2005-04-28t13:43:00Z Day 2

Module 6: Managing Web Parts

  • Similar idea to SharePoint.
  • Web Parts are a rectangle on a web page that has independent info. EGs: MyYahoo, Google News. Allows modular & customizable web sites.
  • Web Zones are where 1+ Web Parts are on a page.
  • Web Parts consist of 3 components:
    • Web Parts
    • Editor. Allow user to modify web parts.
    • Catalog. Show user which web parts are available.
  • Web Parts framework consists of 3 classes.
  • Web Parts are fully stylable. Web Parts inherit style of its Web Zone but it can override too.
  • Web Part Verbs are things like Close and Restore.
  • Web Parts can also be assemblies (EG: /bing/MyWebParts.dll) but they must be registered with the Web Part.
  • Web Part Connection model. Provider part (EG: Search) connects to Consumer part (E: Search results detail).

Module 7: Personalizing Applications with User Profiles and Themes

  • Profiles
    • Personalization is implemented with Profile (EG: Profile.BackColor = "1").
    • web.config file will have <Profile><properties> that you can configure.
    • Anonymous Personalization is off by default, thus <anonymousIdentification enabled="true" />.
    • Values can be stored in a provider such as SQL Server table as either string/XML or binary. You can choose different providers.
    • ASP.NET Web Application Administration is available from the IDE and can be used to manage Profile metadata.
  • Themes
    • A Theme is a collection of files in in /themes that can be applied on the site, a page, or individual controls.
      • CSS files
      • Skin files
      • Image files
    • Themes can be changed by the user. Themes can be assigned to Profiles too.

Module 8: Implementing ASP.NET 2.0 Security

  • Allow access only to registered users.
  • Similar to ASP.NET 1.x Forms Authentication (v Basic Authentication v Windows Authentication). FA does not honor WA.
  • Membership and Roles are analogous to Profiles but separate because you may do none, either, or both.
  • The login, password, remember me, forgot login, etc. has been done a zillion times before thus Login controls.
  • Controls can enforce stronger logins and passwords.
  • Cookieless, stores data in the URL like a query string.
  • LoginView does loginstate & loginname.
  • Membership class. Uniquely identifies connected users. Also managed by the Web Site Administration Tool available via the IDE (in the Website drop down menu).
  • Membership Role class. Roles can be applied on site, file, control level.

Module 9: ASP.NET Configuration and Instrumentation

  • Configuration is concerned with the web.config & machine.config files, both of which now have an object model on top of them.
  • You can also do some additional config via IIS. BTW: Installing ASP.NET 2.0 will modify the IIS Manager.
  • Health Monitoring API. Does instrumentation, i.e. creating operating efficiency metadata on the system: SQL Server, OS, IIS, your app. There is sw already out there to analyze this metadata (EG: MOM).
  • Turn on in web.config.

General Notes

  • "VS .NET 2005" is now "VS 2005" for goofy marketing reasons.
  • This seminar is looking at VS 2005 beta 1.
  • You can make everything in ASP.NET 1.0 style too.
  • Any tag can be made to server side with runat="server", including HTML tags.
  • The ASP.NET toolbar has nice stuff like calendar controls.
  • VS2005 minimizes. New app doesn't make all sorts of crap, i.e. it starts out empty.
  • Switching between Design and Source view does not modify source code.
  • Older was Access, SQL Server, ODBC, OLE DB, but newer replaces Access with SQL Express.
  • Almost all controls have a expanding menu on the upper right which reveals common tasks... sort of like Intellisense.
  • Many of the controls and objects have a schema so VS Intellisense will put squiggly lines under tags if they are put in the wrong context.
Exploring odd subjects including myself. GeorgeHernandez.com
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