Saturday, May 31, 2003
Posted By Allen at 10:20 AM
If you are a regular reader of the site, then you know I just recently finished my college degree. I did the degree while working full-time, and so it took me almost eight years to complete. Now that it’s finished I’ve been wondering what to do with the time that I used to spend studying and attending class. The first thought that struck me was that I would spend some of my spare time every week doing some volunteer work. I think it’s important for people to support non-profit agencies, and I have always been able to set aside a portion of my income for charitable giving. This year, I thought that I would do more. If I’m not spending all of my free time in class and doing homework, then maybe I could spend some of that time volunteering. It was finally time I did more than just write a check, or so I thought. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking to friends and others online, looking for an opportunity to volunteer. My criteria were very simple; I wanted to work for some kind of local group. I live in Sunnyvale, California so in this case local means anywhere in the south bay or on the peninsula. I was also hoping to find someplace that could use my computing skills, but that is not a requirement. So, when I started this search I thought it would be simple. That hasn’t been the case. The more non-profits I talk to the more I realize that they just don’t seem to be setup to work with volunteers. This has really taken my by surprise. Most of the organizations I’ve talked with tell me that they don’t really have any need for volunteers, but they would love a monetary contribution. So, is this the way it is in non-profits today, or is my experience unique somehow? I’ve heard that there has been an upswing in volunteerism because of the bad economy. That doesn’t seem to explain what I’m seeing though. Maybe this lack of volunteer opportunities exists because Americans don’t tend to do volunteer work anymore. I don’t know, but I would love to hear your theories. This has been a humbling experience for me. I’ve been working since I was 14, but I’ve never really had to look for work. Usually a friend or a headhunter will call me and say, “Are you interested in doing X”. Then, depending on how I feel about my current job, I either say yes or no. Normally, I’m in a situation where I could change jobs with a phone call. Because of this history, I didn’t think I would have to spend time looking for a volunteer opportunity, but that is how it’s shaping up. So, if you work with a non-profit, and you can use someone with my skills, please send me an email. You can see my resume here, and I’m thinking of something I can do for 5 to 10 hours a week. I’m especially interested in helping non-profits use technology to complete their mission more easily. I can setup www pages, email infrastructure, or other computing infrastructure. I can do networking and desktop support. I’d also be happy to write custom programs to help your organization. I do want to be clear here, I’m not looking for a paying job, I’m looking for a volunteer opportunity. Also, if you have had a similar experience, you know of a group that needs help, or you know of a good resource I could use to find a volunteer opportunity please email me. I’ll collate the responses I get for another article later on.
Thursday, May 29, 2003
Posted By Allen at 11:26 AM
PalmInfocenter.com has a story about WiFinder, which is a new WiFi application for the Palm Tungsten C. This software allows the user to find any WiFi networks in range. It sounds to me very much like Netstumbler which allows you to do the same thing on Windows XP and Windows CE. You can find the WiFinder software at http://www.bitsnbolts.com/wifinder.html
Posted By Allen at 10:24 AM
Gizmodo has a short piece on a wearable WiFi detector. Basically it's a bunch of LEDs that glow based on signal strength of any WiFi network in range. It can indicate whether the network is open or closed and how strong the signal is. More information can be found about the project here. Here is a quote from the article:
WiFisense is more of an art project at the moment, but the idea is that you could embed this into laptop bags, jackets, belts, or all sorts of clothing and accessories. Not that we'd be caught dead walking around town wearing something this garish.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Posted By Allen at 10:58 PM
PCWorld.com, did a short interview with Jack Valenti. I think this interview more than any other I've read convinces me that Valenti and the MPAA don't get it. Just like RIAA, but they have a little more time on their hands. The interview ranges over several topics, and to me it sounds like PC World was really going out of their way to be fair with Valenti. The point that most profoundly struck me, however, is an exchange about making a backup copy of a DVD. The quote is below, but basically Valenti is saying that if he buys a lawn mower he doesn't get a backup. He goes on to say that if he breaks his lawnmower he would have to buy a new one. This just doesn't work for me, though. If I buy a lawnmower I'm allowed to take it apart. I'm allowed to turn it into a drag-racing lawnmower. I can modify the original lawnmower with parts from another lawnmower. If I wanted to I could take the lawnmower apart, copy the pieces and build myself a backup lawnmower. So, does Jack Valenti really want to compare DVDs with regular purchased goods? If so, then I don't see any reason why they should have special protection with laws like the DMCA. If I can take apart my lawnmower, why can't I rip and remaster my DVD? Isn't that basically the same activity? Here is a quote from the interview:
PCW: Why can't people who legally purchase DVDs make one backup copy? How come the same fair use rights that let you make a backup copy of other media do not extend to DVDs? Valenti: That question has nothing to do with fair use because a DVD is encrypted and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act says to circumvent an encryption violates that law. Keep in mind how the DVD came into effect. The DVD was a result of voluntary agreements by the hardware people and by the copyright people. And everybody decided they were going to make machines that only took encrypted DVDs and then they would be decrypted in the machine--all done. And guess what? It's proven to be a bonanza for the DVD machine manufacturers and for the copyright owners. That was done the right way. Do you know anything else in the country that if something is abused for any reason they'll give you a backup? If I go down to the hardware store and buy an electric lawn mower and I take it home, and three weeks later my wife runs over it in the driveway, I can't take it back and get a new one. I can't get a backup.
Posted By Allen at 10:44 PM
First Nvidia is accused of fudging performance tests, and now they apparently had a porn star / stripper at their private party during E3. All of this negative publicity is starting to rile up the shareholders on the Yahoo! message board. Many people say that she was not invited by Nvidia, and she was asked to leave once she started taking her clothes and dancing on tables. Here is another description of the evening (not work safe). So, I guess the real question, is this all a new ploy by Nvidia to catch some free press?
Posted By Allen at 9:14 AM
PalmInfocenter.com has a scoop on two new Sony Clie models which were introduced today in Japan. The two new clies, the NX80V and the NX73V are both in the same line as Sony's other clamshell models. I really wish Sony would produce one of these as just a tablet. I love the screen on the NX form factor, and I really like the virtual graffiti. If they would only drop the keyboard half of the product I would be very excited about the product. As it is though, there is a bump in the digital camera, and a sleeker design for the CF card slot, so not too bad. InfoSync, also has some good coverage of the new handhelds, along with thier trademark hires pictures. Here is a quote from the article:
Sony Japan has announced two new Clie handhelds, the NX80V and NX73V. The NX80V features a 1.3 Mega pixel camera with a Flash, Palm OS 5, 200mhz processor, 32MB of RAM, backlit keyboard and a CF card slot. The NX73V has similar features with a lower resolution camera.
Monday, May 26, 2003
Posted By Allen at 10:08 AM
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. Today is the first day of the summer driving season in the United States. Today is the first day of Summer for many in the United States. Many of us have lost the meaning of Memorial Day. The day was first observed in 1868 as Decoration Day. It was a day to remember the dead from the US Civil War. Over the years more and more people began to celebrate Memorial Day, and the US Congress in 1971 to honor those who have died in all American Wars (Further Reading). So, that is what Memorial Day was meant for, but what does it mean today? Many Americans take a vacation over Memorial Day weekend. They pack up the family car and head out for a couple of days of relaxation. Others decorate the graves of the dead, and some march in parades. Today, I decided to pick up a history book. I think there is no better way to honor our dead than to learn from the event that killed them. To me Memorial Day is more than a day to honor war dead. It is a day to remember the war itself. George Santayana once said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So, on Memorial Day I think of the many soldiers who have given their lives, and I think of the conflicts that killed them. Memorial Day must be about remembering the past. The best way to honor those who have died for us is to make sure that they did not die in vain. We need to learn from our history, and learn from it. I’m 26 years old. I live in a time that is unique in this country. I have never fought in a war. I have never served my country in uniform. I have never seen a burial for a loved one killed in a war. Yet this day affects me profoundly. In my insulated world, I force myself to think of the feelings I would experience if my Father were killed in action. I force myself to try to understand the horrible pain that comes to a family, as a car full of strangers in dress uniform winds it’s way up the driveway. The pain a family feels when the worst news possible is delivered, along with the words that a nation is thankful for your sacrifice. Yes, Memorial Day should be about remembering those tragic, painful moments in time where the very foundations of our families are tested. However, it is also a day to give thanks. I am thankful to every man and woman who has died in the service of our nation. Their ultimate sacrifice has allowed me to live in comfort. It is the sacrifice of those people that allows me to speak freely, to gather with my friends, to worship how I choose. It is that sacrifice that allows me to sleep at night without the fearing the dawn, or more importantly without fearing the night before it. We have much to remember today, and we have much to be thankful for. I hope that people take the time on this Memorial Day to think about that.
Friday, May 23, 2003
Posted By Allen at 11:00 AM
Wired News has a story talking about the new patent policy from the W3C. Yesterday Tim Berners-Lee gave a talk in Hungary, where he outlined the new patent policy of the W3C. Other outlets have talked about the new policy, but in brief it states that members must reveal any patent interests during the standards process, and that the W3C will favor unpatented technology in it's standards. This is really a great thing for the web and the internet in general. Over the last several years we have seen huge companies claiming to own large parts of the basic infrastructure of the web. In almost every case these patents are absurd. The most they do is grab some headlines for the patent holder, make techies roll their eyes, and cause trouble for people who are trying to publish information on the internet. So, I'm really happy that the W3C is taking this approach. It will stop the tactic commonly used by large companies, where they try to ram a patented process through a standards committee and then try to charge royalties for anyone who wants to build a standards-based application. There are ways to make money on the internet, and people will find them eventually. However, patenting and charging for the basic infrastructure will just block the development of more profitable ventures. I applaud the W3C for this decision. Here's a quote from the article:
In that role, he's fighting to keep the Web free from what he sees as segregationist and innovation-stifling commercial interests, while also providing opportunities to profit from Web development. It's a delicate balancing act, and the problems inherent in juggling those sometimes-opposing interests were evident in Berners-Lee's speech, which stressed that for the Web to flourish it needs to remain open, nonproprietary, innovative, free and inclusive. "Oh my God, the entire world is inside my laptop," Berners-Lee shrieked in pretend shock toward the end of his speech while pointing to the need to develop new ways to organize and access data.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
Posted By Allen at 1:50 PM
I went to see the Cupertino Symphonic Band play a concert last weekend. It was excellent, as always. I took some pictures for the band, and have posted them in my photo gallery. If you live in the Bay Area, you should check out the band, and stop by one of their free concerts sometime.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Posted By Allen at 12:57 PM
Wired News has a story about the implementation of a metro Wi-Fi network in downtown Half Moon Bay, CA. I might have to drive over there to check it out. Here's a quote from the story:
The service, offered by a local ISP called Coastside Net, is a network of Wi-Fi coverage that blankets five blocks of downtown's Main Street. Anyone in the area who wants Internet access can pull out a Wi-Fi-enabled computer and immediately connect -- for a fee ranging from $3 for 15 minutes of access to $15 for three hours of Web surfing.
Posted By Allen at 12:06 PM
According to CNET News.com, Dell is going to be reducing the number of stock options given to employees. They say that because the job market has declined it is less important to entice new employees with stock options. While I agree with that statement, I also have to say that this really surprises me. I think it's the stock options that incent high-tech workers to put in 80 hour weeks for long stretches of time. It's the possibility of getting rich that allows these working to continue to perform at such demanding levels. If you take away the stock options, then what is the incentive? I know that for some people just having a job is incentive, but what do you do when the economy heats up again? You can't just expect to jerk people around, and then think they are going to be loyal when a better opportunity comes along. Over the long run, I'm sure the number of stock options are going to come down, but I think that we will also see high-tech jobs come more inline with the traditional workforce. Without stock options, I think companies are going to have a hard time getting people to work nights, weekends, and holidays. That's probably a good thing too. Here's a quote from the article:
Dell Computer is cutting the number of stock options it grants to employees, but does not expect to have to offer staff members more cash compensation as a result, Chief Executive Michael Dell said Monday. Dell is not the only company that has cut back on using stock options, and it is that change in the job market that makes it unnecessary to sweeten compensation for employees in other ways, Dell said in an interview with Reuters. The issue is potentially crucial for Dell, a company that is famous for running a leaner cost structure than its competitors and that has also pledged to continue to drive down expenses as a share of sales. "The use of stock options at a lot of companies rose very, very quickly during the whole dot-com era, and now it's coming down," Dell said. "We're reducing ours and others are reducing theirs."
CNET News.com, has a story that shows us SBC is jumping on the Wi-Fi bandwagon. Just like Verizon and others SBC wants to provide Wi-Fi services in coffee shops and other places. I know that the T-Mobile/Starbucks Wi-Fi deal is probably the best known, but have you ever looked around in a Starbucks and seen many people using the wireless network? I look, when I walk into a store with Wi-Fi, to see if anyone is using it. Generally no one is using Wi-Fi, or even a laptop. I think usage will pick up, but there are several things that need to take place first. 1. Wi-Fi services need to be ubiquitous. 2. People need a bundled service 3. Roaming agreements need to be in place Eventually, I think Wi-Fi will be like air-conditioning or electricity; people will expect a store to provide it. If a store or restaurant doesn't provide Wi-Fi then they will lose business to a competitor who does provide the service. Before Wi-Fi becomes ubiquitous, however, we need to solve parts 2 and 3 from the list above. The good news is that companies like T-Mobile, are starting to provide bundled service, and I'm sure that more companies will follow that trend, especially phone companies. Point 3 seems lacking to me, though. I don't think there is enough emphasis on creating a nationwide Wi-Fi network. People don't want to have accounts with 16 different Wi-Fi vendors, but because there is no general roaming between vendors, a person is out of luck if they try to stick with just one. Well, let's hope that the service providers come around. I'd love to have just one account with nationwide reach, and I'd probably use it a lot more then too.
Posted By Allen at 9:23 AM
infoSync World, has a new story about a study done by a company called Visant. Basically they are saying that 802.16a is poised to take off like 802.11b has, and that manufacturers need to jump on the bandwagon and start making products if they don't want to be left behind. I'm not so sure I'm convinced. Personally, I feel there is still quite a bit of ground in 802.11 technologies. There is quite a bit of new innovation, and I'd be surprised to see companies jump to a new technology when 802.11 is just starting to pick up. Here's a quote from the story on infoSync:
A more robust standard for high-speed broadband wireless delivery to laptops and desktops will augment the burgeoning WiFi market beginning in late 2004, says a new study from Visant Strategies. According to its author, 802.16 a is poised to in the very near future achieve the same kind of important price and performance points reached by WLAN technology in the late 1990's, when WLAN converted from being a niche technology to mass market due to the 802.11 or WiFi standard.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Posted By Allen at 7:39 AM
Imagineering Way is a forthcoming collection of essays by Disney Imagineers recounting the process by which various Imagineering innovations were arrived at, refined and implemented. I just read a bunch of excerpts in Disney Magazine (sorry, no link) and it's gripping stuff. Link [via Boing Boing]
Monday, May 19, 2003
Posted By Allen at 1:42 PM
An interesting story from Dave Farber's IP list. The poster relates his experience in Washington DC where he was told by a police officer that it is now illegal to take pictures of federal buildings.
Posted By Allen at 1:39 PM
CBS News did a piece on a scam called ATM Skimming. Basically it is a practice where people put up a fake ATM and then use it to steal people's bank card numbers and PINs. These are then used to suck all of the money out of the victims account. Read the story for more detail if you are interested, however the best quote from the article is the following:
Said Secret Service Special Agent Thomas Kasza: " I would tell people -- trust your suspicions. If you're looking at something and thinking it's not right, you probably have a good reason for that thought."
Posted By Allen at 1:22 PM
The Embassy of France in the US has posted a letter from the French Ambassador addressed to Congressmen, Administration Officials, and Media representatives. The Ambassador is upset about the way France has been portrayed in the media lately, especially that many of the disparaging remarks seem to come from "anonymous administration officials." So, is the White House participating in a smear campaign against France? If so, how coordinated is it, and why are my tax dollars being used to fund it?
For more than two hundred years, the United States and France have been friends and allies. But for several months, some members of the American media have issued false accusations against France.
Friday, May 16, 2003
Posted By Allen at 1:49 PM
Wired News has a very interesting story about how search engines are increasingly returning blogs in the top positions for search results. I've seen this plenty of times, most recently was when I posted a review of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, all of a sudden I was getting several hits to the page by people who were referred to it from Google. When I did a search for The DaVinci Code, I found that my site was listed first, even though no one links to it and it was very new.
Commercial websites believe scoring high placements in search-engine results is so crucial for generating traffic that many are willing to pay top dollar to sponsor keywords or hire "positioning" consultants to secure a good ranking. Then there are bloggers. With no deliberate effort, many dedicated weblog publishers are finding their blogs rank high on search results for topics that, oftentimes, they claim to know practically nothing about.
Posted By Allen at 8:43 AM
SecurityFocus has a story that talks about some of the hacker elements in the new Matrix movie. The article says that this movie doesn't go down the road of fake, stupid looking graphical pseudo-haks, and instead uses real-life tools. Apparently Nmap is featured in the movie.
The average American moviegoer taking in the Matrix Reloaded this weekend will likely be wowed by the elaborate action sequences and dazzling special effects. But hackers who've seen the blockbuster are crediting it with a more subtle cinematic milestone: it's the first major motion picture to accurately portray a hack. That's right: Trinity uses a 'sploit. A scene about two thirds of the way through the film finds Carrie-Anne Moss's leather-clad superhacker setting her sights on a power grid computer, for plot reasons better left unrevealed. But at exactly the point where audiences would normally be treated to a brightly-colored graphical cartoon of a computer intrusion, ala the 2001 Travolta vehicle Swordfish, or cheer as the protagonist skillfully summons a Web browser and fights valiantly through "404 Errors," like the malnourished cyberpunk in this year's "The Core," something completely different happens: Trinity runs "Nmap."
Thursday, May 15, 2003
Posted By Allen at 9:46 AM
I added a blog roll to the site this morning. This is basically a list of the links I try and visit every day. Feel free to take a look if you interested, it's on the right under the amazon.com block. Also, I would love to hear about sites that you think I would be interested in. Please feel free to email me.
Posted By Allen at 8:07 AM
Commondreams.org has a story about the use of the Homeland security department to locate Texas law-makers who had fled the state to kill a bill in the statehouse. Commondreams.org seems pretty partisan to me, so here is a link to another article at the Star-Telegram. It looks like they have halted the efforts to arrest the fleeing Democrats, but isn't it amazing how fast the Homeland Security Department has turned into a tool for partisan politics?
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Posted By Allen at 5:13 PM
WorldNetDaily, a traditionally conservative publication has an article that really makes you sit back and think. Is the United States a police state? Well this article shows that according to the dictionary definition it would seem so. However, this article also leans very heavily on examples of legislation that was not passed. Those examples, to me at least, are not valid in this discussion. I do feel, though, that we are moving more and more towards a police state. I hope more people see articles like this one, and start to move forward with real reform of our Government. Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing." Maybe it's been too long since the last American rebellion.
First, a definition: The Internet's dictionary.com website defines "police state" as: "A state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the people, especially by means of a secret police force." Simple enough! All we have to do now is discern whether or not our beloved country exercises what might be called "rigid and oppressive controls" over our "social, economic and political life." I'm certainly not here to argue that America has become a police state in the image of any number of communist, fascist or theocratic regimes you could name. Let's just say that we need to look at this picture a bit more closely.
Posted By Allen at 8:08 AM
SF Indymedia has another story on the actions of the Oakland teacher who called the SS in to interrogate her students.
KRON has a piece about two students who apparently made some kind of remark about the President during a classroom discussion. Their teacher thought that the remarks went beyond criticism and called the Secret Service. The students were then interrogated by the SS. They were denied legal counsel, and they were not even given access to their parents, even after asking. The part I find most disturbing is when the students asked if they could stay silent, which the last time I checked was a basic constitutional right of all people in the US. They also asked about legal representation at that point.
OAKLAND (KRON) -- Some teachers in Oakland are rallying behind two students who were interrogated by the Secret Service. That followed remarks the teenagers made about the President during a class discussion. The incident has many people angry. For years the classroom has been the setting for the free expression of ideas, but two weeks ago certain ideas led to two students being taken out of class and grilled by the United States Secret Service. [SNIP] Even worse, they say, is the fact that the students were grilled by federal agents without legal counsel or their parents present, just the principal. "When one of the students asked, 'do we have to talk now? Can we be silent? Can we get legal council?' they were told, 'we own you, you don't have any legal rights,'" Felson says.
Monday, May 12, 2003
Posted By Allen at 8:00 AM
CNET News.com has a story about T-Mobiles latest announcement to start a plan which bundles Wi-Fi services with GPRS. I already have accounts for both, so it will be interesting to see if this ends up to be worth it. I think what I would really like to see is a flat-rate system that allowed unlimited usage of GPRS and Wi-Fi on the same account. That way I can use Wi-Fi when I'm at starbucks and GPRS everywhere else. That would really be great.
The Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless phone company announced that customers can now consolidate charges for its HotSpot Wi-Fi service on their monthly cellular phone service bills. The company will do the same for subscribers using its new General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) cell phone network in the next few months, it announced. T-Mobile said customers can add a monthly $19.99 unlimited access Wi-Fi service to their monthly wireless bill. The charge is at a 50 percent discount over the company's regular HotSpot rate plans. The service also will continue as a stand-alone offering by subscription or on a pay-for-use basis.
Posted By Allen at 7:56 AM
The Register has a story which reports that Google is going to take blogs out of the regular search results and put them in their own tab in it's interface. My question is how they will determine what is a blog and what isn't? I mean, if the only rule is that content is regularly updated then that would cover just about any news source. Meanwhile, if they look at just highly linked systems, that could do away with some very pertinent results to a search as well. I'm excited to see what this ends up looking like.
Google is to create a search tool specifically for weblogs, most likely giving material generated by the self-publishing tools its own tab. CEO Eric Schmidt made the announcement on Monday, at the JP Morgan Technology and Telecom conference. 'Soon the company will also offer a service for searching Web logs, known as "blogs,"' reported Reuters. It isn't clear if weblogs will be removed from the main search results, but precedent suggests they will be. After Google acquired Usenet groups from Deja.com, it developed a unique user interface and a refined search engine, and removed the groups from the main index. After a sticky start, Usenet veterans welcomed the new interface. Google recently acquired Blogger, and sources suggest this is the most likely option.
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Posted By Allen at 11:09 PM
I was busy tonight and managed to get my review for Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code done. This book was really great, and I highly suggest it.
Wow! This was a great book. I've found lately that the books I enjoyed the most are the ones that educate as well as entertain. The DaVinci Code is one of those rare books. In fact, my biggest complaint about the book is that the author did not include a bibliography or a selected reading section at the end. In this book, Dan Brown takes us on a journey through the legends and symbology of the holy grail. He brings to light several interesting ideas, and insights into historical figures. This book combines elements of code breaking, symbology, art history, and the story of Jesus. While all of these ideas are in play, Brown also manages to squeeze in a fast-paced story that will have you up reading all night. I started this one on Saturday morning, and couldn't put it down until I was done on Sunday afternoon.
Posted By Allen at 11:07 PM
I just posted my review for R.A. Salvatore's Ascendance. I have to say that it was not one of the better books I have read lately. Strangly there was really nothing wrong with the writing, I think I'm just bored with the series.
In Ascendance R.A.Salvatore continues his never-ending demon wars series of books. I've been putting off writing this review for about a week now. I just can't think of good things to say. Mostly this is because I feel the demon wars saga of books should have stopped at the end of the third book, this one is the fifth. At this point I'm not really sure why I'm still reading the series. It seems that since the first book, Salvatore has managed to kill off my favorite character from each book. You would think that after reading five of these, I would have stopped. Reading these books is like scratching a mosquito bite. It feels good at first, but then you just end up raw. I'm sure I'll probably read the next salvo in this series, but I honestly can't tell you why.
Posted By Allen at 7:45 AM
The New York Times has a story today which mentions my SpamKu site. If you haven't seen the site, SpamKu is a little perl script that generates Haiku from my spam. There is a new one posted every hour or so on the site. Here is an excerpt from the NYT article:
At spamletters .com, Jonathan Land of Kingston, N.Y., publishes the e-mail he sends to spammers asking about their products, and their often surreal replies. "It's a coping mechanism," he said. Allen Hutchison of Sunnyvale, Calif., generates haiku from newly arrived spam every 15 minutes at his site, www.hutchison.org /allen/spamku/.
Friday, May 9, 2003
Posted By Allen at 4:49 PM
ThrillRide! Ride Reviews I want to rid this!
Hard to believe it was just three years ago... three years since Cedar Point broke through the 300-foot height barrier with Millennium Force, the world's first "giga-coaster." At that time, I was certain that many, many years would pass before the next major height barrier–400 feet–would be surpassed, if ever. But here we are today, in 2003, with what the Point calls the world's first "strata-coaster," a 420-footer. Also happens to be the world's first coaster to hit 120 miles per hour. Which it does in four seconds. I don't know about you, but since Top Thrill Dragster was officially announced, I've been having dreams about riding it. (That may not be something I should admit to, but there it is.) I was lucky enough to do so on May 1st, the media preview day.
Posted By Allen at 4:37 PM
The New York Times has an article that talks about Verizon putting Wi-Fi in their pay phone locations across New York City. That would be really interesting.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Communications wants to provide a new purpose for a declining business by using street corner pay telephones to wirelessly link its broadband customers to the Internet, President Larry Babbio said. At a Stevens Institute of Technology conference in New York on Friday, Babbio told attendees that Verizon (VZ.N) would begin to put gear around pay phones that would allow laptop computer users to connect to the Internet via a wireless technology popularly known as Wi-Fi.
Thursday, May 8, 2003
Posted By Allen at 12:09 PM
As you may know last night was the final night of my final class at UoP. I just got off the phone with my academic counselor and she verified that I have completed all of the necessary requirements. All I'm waiting on now is for my grade to be posted for last nights class, and then it's up to 60 days before I receive my diploma. I started classes in the Fall of 1994 at Indiana University, and have taken classes almost continuously since then. I had almost 300 credits at IU due to my proclivity for changing majors and the fact that I almost always took summer sessions. I've earned another 126 credits at UoP. So after 8 years and 8 months I have finally finished my BS degree. Right now I'm feeling a great sense of accomplishment, but also a sense of loss. I started my career just after I started college, and I have almost always worked full time while going to school. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with my free time, now.
Ananova has a new article on the ultra-thin screens that are in development at various companies. The one listed to the right was developed at E Ink. The screens could someday be used as an electronic paper, but still have a ways to go. I think for them to be truely effective they need to be very foldable, not just bendable.
An ultra-thin screen that can display electronic text while being bent, twisted or even rolled up has been developed by scientists. The material stops short of being a true electronic newspaper since it cannot be folded in half. But it is the most significant step yet towards practical e-papers and wearable computer screens. The screen is only as thick as three human hairs and displays black text on a whitish-grey background, with a resolution similar to that of a typical laptop.
Wednesday, May 7, 2003
Posted By Allen at 11:30 AM
politechbot.com has an interesting post from Eric Lerner, a research physicist, who has been doing some statistical analysis of the SARS infection and death rates.
I would like to call attention to evidence that, it seems to me, points strongly to the existence of a secondary infectious agent being responsible for the deaths from SARS. I am researching a feature article on the search for the cause of SARS and did a statistical analysis of SARS cases and deaths. As I am also a research physicist, I am experienced in analyzing time series data. The point I raise may be obvious, but I have not seen it mentioned in the press or on the web, so I pass it along in the chance that it has been overlooked. I was struck by the fact that both the number of SARS cases and the number of SARS deaths lie extremely close to a simple exponential growth rate curve. But the exponential rate of growth of the deaths is VERY different than that for the cases. Using WHO data for the last month, the rate of growth of the caseload is 40% per 10 days, while the rate of growth of the number of deaths is 78% per ten days. The death curve lies remarkably close to an exponential curve, with most points within 5% of the curve. Extrapolating the curve backwards, the Feb. 11 report by the Chinese authorities of 5 deaths on that date also lies on the curve. In addition to the very different growth rates, the case curve and the death curve do not intersect the axis at the same date, indicating different index cases. For the case load, the first case, extrapolating backwards, would be Aug.1 ,2002, but for the deaths, the first case would be Jan. 1, 2003 (assuming the first death to come 14 days after that case started.)
Tuesday, May 6, 2003
Posted By Allen at 9:12 AM
IHT: Paris, the wireless wonder?
PARIS An experiment is under way in Paris that aims to turn the city into one huge Wi-Fi hot spot, making it what could be the first large wireless city in the world. . A dozen Wi-Fi antennas have been set up outside subway stations along a major north-south bus route, providing Internet access to anyone near them who has a laptop computer or personal desk assistant equipped to receive the signals. The access is free until June 30 but will require paid subscriptions afterward..
Monday, May 5, 2003
Posted By Allen at 2:01 PM
SpybotSD is an excellent little application that will scan your windows computers for spyware. I just ran it on my laptop, and it found about 30 different issues (most were cookies). Best of all it's free.
Wired News has a story about a new medical device that you would swallow to help people who are overweight to safely reduce their weight. This could be really big, no pun intended, in the US. This company might be one to watch.
Burnett's invention, currently in the testing phase of development, would not require surgery. The patient would simply have to swallow a pill the size of a large vitamin. Within 15 minutes to a half-hour, the capsule expands in the stomach. Since there is a small chance the capsule might stick someplace it shouldn't, like in the esophagus or intestine, Burnett engineered the pill to expand to only about an inch in diameter.
Posted By Allen at 7:48 AM
MacSlash has a story which states that Apple's new iTunes Music Store has sold over a million songs in the first week. I'm not overly surprised. It goes on to state that Apple has either sold or received orders for 110,000 new iPods. I'm not really surprised by this. I bought two albums from the Apple store last week, and two of the new 30 Gig iPods. Both the store and the iPods are excellent. The store has a bit of a limited collection right now, and I'm hoping that they start to expand that collection soon, however eMusic makes an excellent compliment to the iTunes Music Store, so I'm pretty happy with the state of online music right now.
Posted By Allen at 7:36 AM
infoSync World has a story that says the SD Card had overtaken the Sony Memory Stick. I'm not surprised, Sony seems to be the only company really supporting the Memory Stick, and for a long time it had a capacity limit that made it less appealing than the SD card. I'm always surprised at Sony's ability to steadfastly stand by a technology that no one wants.