Saturday, June 26, 2010


Hooray!  My Nexus One told me this morning it had downloaded Froyo (Android 2.2) and was ready to reboot and install it when I was.

The only thing that doesn't work so far is Advanced Task Manager, which is made a bit obsolete since the OS itself how supports killing off any task.  ATM would kill any task, actually, but seemed to have trouble killing itself.

The only visible change on the screen is that the app menu is now joined by an icon for the web browser to the right and an icon for making a call to the left.  That's a bit redundant since I have those two icons on my center screen anyway.  I suppose I can replace them with something else now.

I'm most looking forward to trying out the wifi hotspot feature that lets my phone be a wifi hotspot for any nearby devices while it's using it's 3G connection.  That means that, e.g., while on a trip, everyone in the vehicle can log onto and use my phone as their wifi source for their laptops, phones, ipads, whatever.  Then they can all browse the Internet, watch video, etc., at will.  I've heard that you really want to have it plugged in to extra power for this, but that's not a problem in the car.  Currently T-Mobile doesn't charge any extra for this.

My enthusiasm is a little lower for support for Flash on web sites.  I'm sure there will be many times when I'm glad it's there.  It's supposed to be pretty CPU-intensive and thus battery-draining.

A nice video about Froyo features.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Monitor Died

I was using my desktop workstation yesterday and suddenly the monitor slowly faded to black.  It's almost like the power-saving mode involuntarily kicked in.  Alas, it seems to be dead.

This is kind of sad.  It's the last glass CRT in the house, at least on a computer.  I'm sure there's a replacement out in the garage.  However, now that everyone is using Macbooks nearly all the time, they are lobbying to get rid of the last computer workstation downstairs.

I think it would be a good idea to keep it around for quick lookups.  Well, okay, most of us use our phones for things like that.  What about visitors who want to check their Facebook account and such?  I think it would be good for that.  And if nothing else, I think the LCD monitor, keyboard and mouse should stand by for a laptop to be connected when more screen space is wanted.

In any event, it's pretty clear that the desktop computer is on the way out at our house.  This is certainly a sign of the times and the day that we knew was imminent.    The desktop computer is disappearing.  They'll never be gone.  There are many applications where a big screen, keyboard and mouse (well, I think) are needed.  They might just be connected to your laptop or who knows what.

Ah well, in any event, I'll be replacing the old, gigantic CRT on my desk with an LCD panel which is long overdue anyway.

Email Quiet

Hmm.  My inbox on Gmail is strangely silent this morning.  All my messages are read.  Granted, I've been thinking a lot more about GTD in the past 24 hours, which includes the concept of inbox zero, but I didn't expect just thinking about it would produce such dramatic results.  Are all of the spammy commercial vendors (which I basically expect to get email from, i.e., it's of some relevance or from vendors I use) are tired after the Father's day barrage?

I checked my domain names.  None have expired or expire any time soon.  I checked whois and I still own them all.  I used dig to check MX records and they are all in order.  I tried to connect to MX servers and couldn't but that's (I'm sure) due to ISP restrictions on directly originating email, a good tactic to discourage spam-generating viruses.

I tried an email message from Yahoo mail to my domain address and it worked.  Looking at the original message and the headers, there was a seven-minute delay as the message was relayed on internal Google servers.

But the quiet is weird.

I look in my spam folder, which I usually *never* look at.  It's probably been months or years since I actually opened up the spam folder.  Well, probably.  There are surprisingly few messages in there and nothing that looks interesting.  In fact there is only a grand total of 14 messages for all of June so far.


I tried another message to an address on another one of my domains.  This one relayed through with only a small delay, 39 seconds from start at Yahoo to finish at Gmail.

Still, it's quiet.   Too quiet....

Happy Summer Solstice

on Monday 21 June 2010 7:28 EDT (11:28 UT).


Sunday, June 20, 2010

In the Shadow of the Moon

Whether or not it was one of the defining motifs of your teenage years, but especially if it was “before your time,” everyone should watch this amazing and beautiful film, In the Shadow of the Moon.

Main web site: with trailer.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What is a ton of AC?

This explanation by coldfuse on the web site looks quite good.

Re: Ton of air conditioning
by coldfuse on 02/06/02 at 20:53:16

Just wanted to provide background on the derivation for tons of refrigeration, and provide information on the similar SI standard.

The latent heat of fusion for ice is 144 BTU/lb. For one ton, that is 2000 lb x 144 BTU/lb, or 288,000 BTU. Refrigeration's roots are in the ice making industry, and the ice guys wanted to convert this into ice production. If 288,000 BTU are required to make one ton of ice, divide this by 24 hours to get 12,000 BTU/Hr required to make one ton of ice in one day.

This is simply the requirement for the phase change from liquid to solid -- to convert +32 deg F water into +32 deg F ice. As a practical matter, additional refrigeration is required to take city water and turn it into ice.

One BTU is the heat removal required to lower the temperature of one pound of water by one degree F. In SI units, kilocaries are used. One kilocalorie is the heat removal required to lower the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree C. One ton of refrigeration is equal to 3024 kilocaries per hour. It is basically the 12,000 BTU/Hr divided by pounds per kilogram divided by 1.8 (to get from degrees F to degrees C).

I hope this explanation hasn't been too cumbersome and will be helpful for someone out there! I'll :-X now!

Friday, June 18, 2010

About Cousins

In case you find cousin relationships confusing, here are the basics.

All grand children are first cousins.  All first cousins have the same grand parents.  (Except some are sibllings).

All great-grand children are second cousins.  All second cousins have the same great-grand parents.  (Except some are first cousins and siblings).

If your grand parents are someone's great-grand parents, then they are your first cousin once-removed.  They are your kids' second cousin.

If your grandparents are someone's great-great-grand parents, then they are your first cousin twice-removed.

It keeps going but that's probably enough to get the idea.


I thought the vuvuzela were insects and that they were just really bad at the soccer games.  There's no question about the fact that they are equally annoying.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Android (particularly Froyo) Advantage Explained

And the resulting threat to the iPhone. Sam Pullara on his Java Rants blog discusses how Android's Java implementation is much improved with Froyo (Android 2.2) and the advantages it has over iPhone's Objective-C.

I'm also coming to understand more how much the garbage collector (GC in the quote below) and over-allocating data from the heap or failing to de-allocate (memory leaks) affects Android performance.  Chances are, if your Android phone seems slow or choppy, you're waiting for garbage collection.

Up until Android 2.2 (Froyo) the JVM (really a Dalvik JVM for licensing reasons) on the Android platform was playing with one hand tied behind its back. Different from desktop/server Java, the JVM was still an interpreter, like the original JVM back in the Java 1.0 days. It was very efficient interpreter but an interpreter none-the-less and was not creating native code from the Dalvik bytecodes that it uses. As of Android 2.2 they have added a JIT, a just-in-time compiler, to the stack that translates the Dalvik bytecode into much more efficient machine code much like a C/C++ compiler. You can see the results of this in the benchmarks of Froyo which show a 2-5x improvement. As they add more and more JIT and GC features that have appeared in HotSpot, JRockit, etc, you will likely see even more improvements over time — without having to change or recompile the 3rd party developed software.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Sky and Telescope article on CHARA

Tony Flanders writes about Georgia State's observatory on historic Mt. Wilson in Sky and Telescope.

Almost 80 years after Michelson's experiment, Georgia State University's Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) arrray became operational atop Mount Wilson. It consists of six one-meter telescopes scattered across the mountaintop. The light from the separate telescopes is brought to an optical laboratory where it is mixed together with exceeding precision and care.

The CHARA array claims a resolution of 200 microarcseconds, 250 times better than the Hubble's theoretical limit of 50 milliarcseconds.

Andy Ihnatko on the iPad One Month Later

As usual, his review is well-balanced and well-said.  I finally got around to reading Andy Ihnatko's column in the Chicago Sun-Times on the iPad after one month of use.  It's quite good.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Bruce Artwick, Creator of Flight Simulator

Robert Scoble interviews Bruce Artwick, the creator of Flight Simulator which we mostly know as the MS Flight Simulator.

I own and enjoyed the first version on the Amiga 1000, before MS bought it.  I've always been a huge fan of FS.

Watch for Comet C/2009 R1 (McNaught)

It should be visible in the pre-dawn sky.  Details are here at Sky and Telescope in their Observing Highlights section.

Note that this comet should not be confused with “Comet McNaughts is C/2006 P1, also known as the Great Comet of 2007” or any of McNaught's 52 other comet discoveries!