Saturday, September 30, 2006

Holy Hand Grenade

Dano's newsletter quotes are always entertaining. From Monty Python and the Holy Grail...

Arthur: [holding the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch] How does it, um-- how does it work?

Launcelot: I know not, my liege.

Arthur: Consult the Book of Armaments!

Brother Maynard: Armaments, chapter two, verses nine to twenty-one.

Cleric: And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, 'O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that, with it, Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits in Thy mercy.'

And the Lord did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and large chu--

Brother Maynard: Skip a bit, Brother.

Cleric: And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once at the number three, being the third number be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.'

Brother Maynard: Amen.

Knights: Amen.

Arthur: Right! One!... Two!... Five!

Galahad: Three, sir!

Arthur: Three!

History of Apple, NeXT and OS X

I'm almost surprised at how many folks have never heard of NeXT and how many (particularly Mac fans) are oblivious to the exsistance of NeXTSTEP roots in OS X. To us old-timers, logging into a modern Mac is just like being right there back in 1991 on a NeXT machine.

Here's a nicely written, brief history of the evolution of Apple, NeXT, and OS X and how they all tie together. One minor warning: This is really a commercial for a book. Since I was a witness (as a user) to all of this, it's good to see it explained reasonably well. This is just an overview, not a deep exploration of history.

Google Word Processor

I found the Google word processor. It's called Writely and is at (Actually it's another product purchased by Google).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Wireless Hacking Computer


A small security firm has made a portable computer that is capable of scanning 300 networks simultaneously. Dubbed the "Janus Project", the computer also has a unique "Instant Off" switch that renders the captured data inaccessible.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

3-D Wiggle Pictures

After seeing a cool 3-D picture of a dinosaur made with a “wiggle effect”, and talking to Mike about it, I tried it with my cell phone and The Gimp on my office cube. Well, everthing takes practice I guess.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Lost Windows Admin Password?

If you lose the Windows admin password, here's one way to fix it (there are others) by making this bootable disk.

I think this works with XP (but I admit I haven't tried it).

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Autumnal Equinox

The autumnal equinox this year will be Saturday 23 Sep at 0:03 EDT.

History of Java

Hearing Gosling speak last night at Atlantic Station Regal Cinema inspired me to go back and read some of the history of how Java came to be. I think I've read much of this before, but parts of the story are still fascinating.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the last one on the birth of the Green project…
Thus, McNealy was more than ready to listen when a well-regarded 25-year-old programmer with only three years at the company told him he was quitting. Patrick Naughton played on McNealy's ice hockey team. Over beers, Naughton told McNealy that he was quitting to join NeXT Computer Inc., where, he said, “they're doing it right.” McNealy paused for a second then shrewdly asked Naughton a favor. “Before you go, write up what you think Sun is doing wrong. Don't just lay out the problem. Give me a solution. Tell me what you would do if you were God.”
Also this one on the development of their hand held prototype…

The team wanted a working box, small enough to hold, with batteries included. To build one, the members trotted out what they call “hammer technology”; as Naughton describes it, this involved finding “something that has a real cool ‘mumble’ (a neat piece of hardware). Then you hit it with a hammer, take the mumble off, and use it. We got a consumer-grade Sharp minitelevision, hit it with a hammer, and got an active-matrix color LCD. We put a resistive touch screen on the front, making sure there'd be no moving parts on the system, no buttons, no power switches, nothing,” Naughton explains. The team then wanted to add stereo speakers inside, but couldn't find any to fit the case. “We went to Fry's and bought a dozen Game Boys, played like mad for about three hours, then broke them open—that's where the speakers came from.”

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Gosling on Solaris as Blunder

I found this to be an interesting excerpt from an interview of James Gosling by Eweek, in answer to the question “What would you say has been Sun's biggest blunder in terms of software?”.

As for blunders, boy, one of the ones that has always gotten under my skin is the whole BSD [Berkeley Software Distribution] versus [UNIX] System V Release 4 merge that we did. That marked the transition from SunOS to Solaris. That set our whole OS [operating system] story back like two or three years.

That was a really tough one to do. There were a variety of business reasons why we wanted to do it, but it was really hard for me to believe that the two or three years that it cost us were worthwhile.

But it's the kind of thing that at the time just felt really dumb. Now that we have a bunch of new perspective on that transition, it's worked out reasonably well. But also it sort of worked out to be somewhat pointless because the BSD side of the universe has survived pretty well, and the whole System V universe has pretty much died. And we were trying to make peace between those competing camps.

At some level what we didn't know was one of those sides was going to die, and it was pretty hard to predict which side was going to die. So we tried to do this other grand, unique thing. And we mostly succeeded at that. But in retrospect technologically it was somewhat pointless, and we would probably have been ahead of where we are now. But interestingly we're still pretty far ahead. We lost a bunch of ground, but we gained a lot of ground.


I wasn't sure what a CAPE was, but I could tell from the units it was energy per unit mass of air. Here's a definition from typing “define:cape” into Google.
Convective available potential energy (CAPE) is the amount of energy a parcel of air would have if lifted a certain distance vertically through the atmosphere. CAPE is measured in joules per kilogram of air (J/kg). Any value greater than 0J/kg indicates instability, and the possibility of thunderstorms.

From today's weather forecast discussion:

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Analyzing 20k Passwords

This was an interesting article called Analyzing 20,000 MySpace Passwords where the author takes passwords from a site that collected them by phishing MySpace users. The author then analyzed the passwords and email hosts.

An interesting side effect of this was seeing what email service people used which resulted in the above plot.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Zoho Word Processor

In a recent review (which, alas, I can't find the reference to, but I read it via Digg) of AJAX office applications, Google's Gmail, Notebook and Spreadsheets received the highest marks.

However, the best of breed word processor was Zoho Writer. Try it out, it's amazingly capable! The main thing I noticed so far, is that it seems to be geared toward producing HTML more than printed pages. Maybe I haven't tried it enough.

The Steves

Jobs and Wozniak in 1976. This is from Silver Mac.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Quote for the Day

From today's AWAD:

The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.

—Andrew Tannenbaum,
computer science professor (1944– )