Saturday, December 31, 2011

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Peter, Paul and Mary.  Wow!

In the Early Morning Rain (1966)



Peter, Paul and Mary.  I don't approve of all the lyrics, but this is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Haskell Authors

Simon Peyton-Jones and John Hughes interviewed at Channel 9.

The interview looks amateur but it gets more and more interesting as it progresses.  Try to ignore the picture taking extravaganza that goes on in the background at one point.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top 10 Data Center Stories

for 2011 from Datacenter Knowledge.

Earth's Rotation Measured!

Actually it's easier to think of this in terms of the wandering of the poles being measured.  Story at Physorg.com.

Happy Winter Solstice!

At 0:30 EST last night  (5:30 UTC).

Thu 2011-12-22 00:30:00 -0500
Thu 2011-12-22 05:30:00 +0000

These times are rounded to the minute, the seconds aren't really zeroes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Android vs. iPhone

Which looks better?  This article in Business Insider says these 11 screen shots prove that “Android apps are uglier Than iOS apps.”  I looked at them and I just don't see it.  The Android apps don't look worse to me and I generally don't see what the captions of the various images assert.

I do see that the iOS apps look more consistent in some ways.

To me, many of the Android apps look cleaner.  In one example the iOS app has a search box at top (taking up a lot of space) but I know Android has a search button  that works in all apps (that I've experienced and that have search), so you don't need a search box always on screen.

In another case, the iOS app has letter-of-alphabet dividers for a list but I know on Android if you grab such a list and scroll a little tab appears.  That tab has the current letter of the alphabet and you can quickly move it to the letter you're interested in, the list will scroll quickly as you move through the alphabet.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dawn Approaches Vesta

“Unveiling [a] spectacular alien world.” by Ken Kremer at Universe Today.

Building the Universe Inside a Supercomputer

by Ian O'Neill at Discovery News.

In an arXiv preprint publication submitted on Dec. 8, Juhan Kim and colleagues from the Korea Institute for Advanced Study in Seoul have completed the largest simulation of the universe ever attempted.

The simulation calculates the evolution of 374 billion cold dark matter particles in a box some 10 gigaparsecs across—this represents approximately two thirds the size of the observable Universe. This virtual universe is 8,800 times larger than the previous record holder.

Images of Jupiter and Moons

Here are 10 sets of remarkable images of Jupiter's moons, provided by observers in recent months. Many of them resolve surface details. (South is up in all images. Click on the thumbnail images below for full size versions.) From britastro.org.

Higgs vs. Hype

A mini guide from MSNBC.

Higgs Boson

Five one-page explanations.  Well done!


“In 1993, the UK Science Minister, William Waldegrave, challenged physicists to produce an answer that would fit on one page to the question ‘What is the Higgs boson, and why do we want to find it?’”

Tweetdeck

Well, there goes the destruction of Tweetdeck by Twitter.  Thanks.

WW2 Tweets from 1939

This is Outstanding! @RealTimeWWII - Livetweeting the Second World War, as it happens on this date and time in 1939, and for 6 years to come.

Meet the Internet's Newest Boy Genius

by @gigaom.

Third Rock Radio

from NASA?

BrowserID

An interesting authentication scheme.  This looks pretty good.  It's based simply on your email address.

At Mozilla

Browserid.org.

On Security Now.  (YouTube)

Nano-Optic Technology for Enhanced Security

“Nanotech Security [has] created an atoms-thick display that can be read by humans or machines and that shines with the brightness of a typical LED despite using nothing but reflected light.” via @FastCompany.


NOtES exploits an obscure area of physics to accomplish its bright and sharp display, known as plasmonics. Light waves interact with the array of nano-scale holes on a NOtES display—which are typically 100–200 nanometers in diameter—in a way that creates what are called “surface plasmons.” In the words of the company, this means light “[collects] on the films surface and creates higher than expected optical outputs by creating an electromagnetic field, called surface plasmonic resonance.”

Friday, December 09, 2011

Caught Up

Okay, I think that catches me up on some reading I'd saved up to repost.

Game On!

The beta episode of a new show on gaming at Twit.tv.

Will Cultural Pushback Kill Private Clouds

at GigaOM.

Video Editing in Youtube

from GigaOM.

Car, Table, Counter or TakHomaSak



by Roger Ebert.  A must-read tribute to Steak 'n Shake.

Graphics Rendering on Android

True facts from Diane Hackborn.

Zero Email

Finally, a company implements a no email policy!  For a long time, I've thought email should go!

Observations on Ten Years of Blogging

by @GigaOM.

Engulfed Cathedral

by Claude Debussy is one of my favorite pieces of music.

This electronic version performed by Isao Tomita on Snowflakes Are Dancing (1974) was used in the first planetarium show I ever did.  The show was a live lecture for some 50 minutes (too long, but these were the old days of longer attention spans) and the show (created by Mike Hood) ended in a beautiful sun rise with this music.   We only used the piece up to the 3m35s mark or so, fading it out there.

Piano

Wind ensemble arrangement

CarrierIQ

Interview in The @Verge by Sean Hollister is a good attempt to begin sorting out what's going on here.  This story is still developing.

It was discussed on This Week in Tech 330.

Lance Ulanoff at Mashable.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

BSD VM

I'm reasonably familiar with the virtual memory systems on classic UNIX, Solaris and current Linux.  However, now that I'm even more a Mac user and (back) in the BSD world, I find myself trying to recall the specific details of memory states, active, inactive, free, wired.

Here's a good reference.  It's not the most lucid discussion but it's accurate.

Chapter 7.  Virtual Memory System, from the FreeBSD Architecture Handbook, The FreeBSD Documentation Project at freebsd.org.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Astroid 2005 YU55 Fly By



from Sky and Telescope.

Faster Than Light Neutrinos?



Nope.  From @Endgadget.

Gemini 12



was launched on 1966-11-11.  Story from Universe Today.

Amazon Kindle Fire

reviewed at The @Verge by Joshua Topolsky.


Knocks aside, I do like the general aesthetic and feel of the Fire. After using this device and then going back to the iPad 2, I was struck at how big and bulky Apple's tablet feels. This size and shape might very well be the sweet spot for many users, and since most people have never seen or used a PlayBook, the Fire should be a relatively new experience for them from a design standpoint too.
Minor complaints aside, my main takeaway from the Fire on the process of finding and purchasing content is this: Amazon has done it better and more elegantly than anyone else in the space right now, and I hope the competition follows suit.
There are some bright spots, like the use of tabs, but overall I was underwhelmed with browser performance.
Furthermore, because the Fire is on Android 2.3, many of the applications offered feel like glorified phone apps. That works sometimes, but often it feels clunky and cheap.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Scenes from Autumn

Standing in the checkout line at Burt's Pumkin Farm hoping the price of the pumpkin I have is $8 and not infinity.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Reengineering of Facebook Messages

From IEEE Spectrum.

Robot Riding Bicycle

In @TechCrunch.  [VIDEO]

Oh great, not only do we have to worry about these things chasing us through the woods on foot, but now they have bicycles!

The Mac App Sand Box

This posting on Naming Things bemoans the new required sandbox for App Store apps on Mac OS.  They may be right but I think this is a move in the right direction.

I don't know about you, but it's become clear to me that putting user data into files on systems and putting system data into the same types of files on systems has led to many of the troubles we have with system security today.  User data should never have been allowed to mix with system data.

In general, sand boxing in various forms works to prevent this problem.

In the article, the author complains about not being able to grab screen shots or not being allowed to communicate with another process.  In fact, a better model than shared files is for the system to provide a service which apps can access.  The system could provide a screenshot service that can take a screen grab from the display system and offer it to a client app.  Interprocess communication services have been there all along.

There's a long rant in the article about plugins.  I'm not sure how important plugins are, but I can see a service that registers and stores plugins if a plugin needs to be shared by multiple apps.  If it doesn't, if a plugin is app-specific, then there should be a service that allows each app to register and store it's own plugins.  They don't need to go into files.  No data does.  Files just contain data and the data can just as easily be stored other ways.

An architecture like this is actually better all around and doesn't preclude functional software.   In fact, a service-based architecture like this provides for more easily moving parts of the architecture to other machines, if the communication can occur over a network.

I, for one, welcome our new service-oriented architectures.  If there's a down side, it isn't clear to me yet.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Television

Here’s why Apple’s TV needs to be an actual television, and not just a cheap add-on box from Dan Frommer, @SplatF.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Citrix claims it will make virtual desktops cheaper than real ones

by Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica.

I think a lot about cloud computing and I'm ready to go (pretty much) all in.  Actually, I'm already there to a large degree.  However, when I think of possibly needing to run Windows (I don't expect to), I usually think of needing to get some VM software, a Windows license, and software to boot up at least a virtual Windows machine.

It hadn't occurred to me, really, that a service could provide Windows machines on demand.  You could have a fully running, personal, persistent desktop, or an ephemeral Windows machine on-demand, or even just a virtual app that runs, popping up a virtual Windows VM underneath it, again on-demand.

Confessions of an iPhone User Who Recently Switched to Android

by Cullen Roche at Business Insider.

Yes! HAL from ThinkGeek (for iPhone 4S)



From Mike Elgan.



Does Anyone Use Twitter Any More?

Brian asks.

I use Twitter a lot, mainly for reading.  I essentially abandoned RSS for Twitter some time ago (> 1 yr but I forget how long), so essentially all news I read is  via Twitter.

Because tweets act like they're ephemeral and seem to act even more so over time (they aren't really but it can be hard to dig up your old  tweets), I've backed off to blogging for any message I really care about, and even some that I don't.  All of my blog posts go to Twitter via Feedburner.

In the past, I thought Twitter was extremely powerful since it provided an instant communication infrastructure for almost anything you wanted to do on the Internet.  The buzz over that seems to have died down.  I don't know if it's really old news but I'm sure there are so many examples on either side of that question, it's probably not worth debating.

So, I use blogs and Twitter for almost anything I want to say to groups of people or in public.  If you read those two sources, you can see almost anything I've said.  For other places like Facebook, Google Plus, I forward the blog and Twitter posts on to them.

On rare occasions, I do post or reply in other places.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ice Cream Sandwich on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus



Announced yesterday.  Google.com/nexus.

Ice Cream Sandwich is the name of version 4.0 of the Android operating system.

Movie Being Shot on Marietta Square Today

The stars are reported to be Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller but they won't be there today. See the AJC.com.

Siri Security Flaw

from Business Insider, SAI: Tools by Dylan Love.


Even if you have a passcode set to keep your phone inaccessible to other people, Siri's default setting is to ignore this. By holding the home button to activate Siri, anyone can bypass whatever preventative measures you have in place.
Don't despair—it's a simple fix. Start up Settings and navigate to General/Passcode Lock. Make sure that the “Siri” option is set to “Off.” That's all it takes to disable Siri while a passcode is in place.

Your Next Camper

Via @GuyKawasaki from The Designer Pad:  A Suite on Wheels for all of the campers in our family.

These other posts there are also interesting.

Size Does Not Matter

Living in 500 sq ft. The Bedroom

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

dmr::7:3::/usr/dmr


wget http://simh.trailing-edge.com/sources/simhv38-1.zip

unzip *
mkdir BIN
make pdp11
cd BIN

wget http://simh.trailing-edge.com/kits/uv7swre.zip
unzip uv7swre.zip

./pdp11

PDP-11 simulator V3.8-1
sim> set cpu u18
Disabling XQ
sim> set rl0 RL02
sim> att rl0 unix_v7_rl.dsk
sim> boot rl0
@boot
New Boot, known devices are hp ht rk rl rp tm vt
: rl(0,0)rl2unix
mem = 177856

# cat /etc/passwd
root:VwL97VCAx1Qhs:0:1::/:
daemon:x:1:1::/:
sys::2:2::/usr/sys:
bin::3:3::/bin:
uucp::4:4::/usr/lib/uucp:/usr/lib/uucico
dmr::7:3::/usr/dmr:

# ^E
Simulation stopped, PC: 002306 (MOV (SP)+,177776)
sim> exit
Goodbye

So Long, Dennis Ritchie

Inventor of UNIX.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NGINX

How is it that I've never heard of, or noticed, NGINX until now?

The Mythical Man Month

by Dhanji R. Prasanna at Rethrick Construction.


I vividly recall my first week at Google. It was in Google's old office in Sydney, high up on the 18th floor of a triangular skyscraper. The views from virtually everywhere in the office were breathtaking. And inside, the walls beamed the warm glow of those wonderful colors so familiar from a childhood playing with Lego--Yellow, Red, Blue and Green.
Fast-forward six months and Google was in a lavish, new office with Walkabout fully underway and around 35 strong. The trouble, I am sure, began a lot earlier but this is when I started to really feel it. First, there was the dreaded endless meeting--they lasted for hours with very little being decided. Then, you started having to push people to provide APIs or code changes that you desperately needed for your feature but that they had little to no interest in beyond the academic.
Of course I enjoyed my time on Wave like no other time in my career. It was equal parts frustration, joy, defeat and passion. I don't regret a single moment of being associated with it. It remains a wonderful attempt at creating something unique, exciting and incomparably bold. Nor do I want to ascribe blame to anyone on the team or Google at large. I just want to point that even the smartest, most motivated and talented people in the world--with a track record of delivering success--are alone not sufficient to overcome complexity that creeps up on you. Maybe we should have known better, but we didn't.

In the end, the man-month as a scalable unit of work is hubris worthy of a Greek tragedy.

The iPhone 4S

by John Gruber, Daring Fireball.

No, Facebook Is Not Ruining Your Grades [STUDY]

by Sarah Kessler at Mashable.

All Facebook activities do not have the same relationship with grades. Posting status updates and using Facebook chat generally mean a lower GPA, while checking to see what friends are up to and sharing links suggest a higher GPA. In other words, social Facebook activities were correlated with lower grades and information-related Facebook activities were correlated with higher grades.

This doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing Facebook status updates and chat is likely to improve a student’s grades. Nothing in the study implies cause and effect. Instead, it seems that what’s important about Facebook in an educational context has very little to do with how much time you spend on it.

Watch Large Hadron Collider Collisions with an Android App

Open Source Matters By Rikki Kite. The Department of Physics at the University of Oxford releases super-cool, free Large Hadron Collider Google Android app.
The app downloaded quickly to my HTC Incredible, and nine buttons on the first screen display the app options: Explore the LHC, What is ATLAS?, ATLAS in 3D, Hunt the Higgs Boson, Stream 2-D Events, Stream 3-D Events, Web links, Credits, and Feedback.
The coolest options are probably the stream 2-D and 3-D event buttons. If the detector is currently taking data, events collected in real time at the ATLAS detector are streamed live to your phone. How cool is that?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dart: a language for structured web programming

From Google Code.

Today we are introducing an early preview of Dart, a class-based optionally typed programming language for building web applications. Dart’s design goals are:
  • Create a structured yet flexible language for web programming.
  • Make Dart feel familiar and natural to programmers and thus easy to learn.
  • Ensure that Dart delivers high performance on all modern web browsers and environments ranging from small handheld devices to server-side execution.

Dart targets a wide range of development scenarios: from a one-person project without much structure to a large-scale project needing formal types in the code to state programmer intent.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Snapshots of Life in a World with Steve Jobs

In 1977, I drove up Peachtree Street to Datamart on Pharr Road in Buckhead.  At the time it may have been the only computer store in Atlanta.  If it wasn't, there weren't many.  I clearly remember, not long after, when only three were listed in the Yellow Pages.  The IMSAI and North Star computers there were wonderful to see, but the star of the store I came for was the Apple II.

I remember seeing a lunar lander game, probably the first time I'd seen computer graphics on a screen and certainly the first time for color graphics.   I also recall a screen filled with BASIC code.  At some point I probably keyed in and ran a bit.

A few years later, my wife and I went to another computer store to see the Apple Lisa.  This was the first time I'd experienced a mouse and windows.  The simple icons on a black and white screen, with a menu at the top, were compelling.

When I started work at Emory University in 1985 we had two Macintosh computers in a computer lab that was two doors down the hall from my office.  In an handful of days we were unboxing a new LaserWriter.  The big three-ring binder, “Inside the LaserWriter,”  filled with loose leaf pages, and Adobe PostScript were a joy.

Just a few years later, my boss' boss had come from serving on the committee representing 25 universities that helped design the NeXT machine.  We received two of first NeXTcubes produced and kept one in our office.  My team named it Rubick.  Not long after that, I had a NeXTslab on my desk.  I was very fortunate to be able to put a NeXTslab, along with a PC and Mac, on the desktop of each of the five full-time professionals in my group.



The NeXT machines and NeXTSTEP were among the most delightful experiences I've ever had using and programming a computer.

Today, the Macbook Pro 13-in is one of the most beautiful computers ever made.  That's the portable system I use now.

I'll miss the moments like these.


Photo by Marie Matthews.

So Long, Steve Jobs

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Understanding Virtual Memory

An excellent web page.

“Our context for this discussion is the AICT Linux Cluster, which runs 64-bit GNU/Linux on AMD Opteron hardware. If you have a comment or question about the material presented, please send a note to research.support@ualberta.ca.”

Security Checklist for Twitter

From dev.twitter.com.
Some best practices have nothing to do with your Tweets. The security of your Twitter account is crucial, especially when you have thousands of followers relying on you for trustworthy information. Please review this Security Checklist and bookmark the relevant Support pages.

Facebook's ticker privacy scare, and what you should do about it

by Clare Washbrook in Naked Security.

Remember, check your Facebook privacy settings early and often.  —KG

A Look Back at a 1966 Scientific American Article on Systems Analysis

by Peter Norvig.

As a teenager in the early 1970s, I enjoyed going up to the attic and looking through old stacks of Scientific American magazines. …the issue that had the biggest effect on me was the September 1966 on Information (which I read about 40 years ago).
In this essay I’ll concentrate on one article from the issue: Christopher Strachey‘s contribution on “System Analysis and Programming.” At the time I had seen only a few snippets of BASIC code—nothing more than a few lines. This short article by Strachey was my first introduction to a high-level programming language and the first non-trivial program I’d ever read: a checkers-playing program. When I rediscovered this article recently, I was surprised to find two things: (1) the programming language and programming style are thoroughly modern, and (2) there is a serious mismatch between the design and the implementation, or the systems analysis and programming as Strachey calls it.

Star Shells Show Sun's Fate

By Dr. Emma Rigby, Astronomy Now. “Giant dust shells around CW Leonis, an elderly giant star in the constellation of Leo studied by the Herschel Space Telescope, are providing clues on how our own Sun will behave when it nears the end of its life, around five billion years from now.”

How to Stay Safer and More Secure Online

From Google.

The Knowledge Navigator was set in 2011

@arnoldkim RT.  [VIDEO]    I was quite taken with this Apple video that came out in 1987.  At Emory, Jim will remember, we used to show it to freshmen during their computer technology orientation.

(An article is cited from 2006 as “five years ago.”)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

OS X Lion



Here are two of the best reviews of Apple OS X Lion.


Apple OS X 10.7 Lion roars with futuristic, and maddening, upgrades by Andy Ihnatko (Chicago Sun-Times)

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica reviewBy John Siracusa


Skeuomorphic!

Now I've discovered a word to describe my more than small dislike of page-turning animation:  Skeuomorph.

In John Siracusa's extraordinary, voluminous review of Mac OS Lion at Ars Technica, he pulls out the definition of skeuomorph from Wikipedia.

A skeuomorph is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original. Skeuomorphs may be deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar, such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with circular town name and cancellation lines. An alternative definition is “an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material.

The bold emphasis is his.

Perfect!

I'm a Mac?

I'm trying an experiment.  For the first time in longer than I can remember (probably the first time since the Mac II (series) in the very early 90s,  I'm trying switching to a Macintosh as my main desktop system at home.

I've had a Macbook Pro of some flavor or another from work for five years now, so the Mac OS X environment is no stranger.  Also, everyone else in the household has a Macbook.

But, for almost 10 years, when I sit down at my desk to do something serious, it's been the old Dell running Windows XP.  Now, mainly pushed by the growing Gmail app, I'm faced with needing to add more memory to the old Dell but I'm tempted to make the jump to a more modern OS.

Around 2007 I made a solid decision.  I'd never move to Windows Vista.  In the same way that Windows 95 was a clear win and I abandoned the Mac interface, thinking it was for good (note that I had been a Windows user simultaneously all along and was using various UNIX workstations as well), it was just as clear that Vista was as horrible a mistake.

To be fair, Windows 7 seems to have redeemed the design and Windows 8 looks very interesting but the jury is still out.  However, for now, I still have no intention of using a Windows machine, at least as my main workspace, every again.  I still reserve the right to later change my mind, just like I did with the return to the Mac world, when a new boss suggested I really use a Macbook.

So, I finally decided to take the plunge that I've been considering for a while.  I'm using my daughter's abandoned white 2007 Macbook as a desktop machine, plugged into my LCD monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers.

Parents of college students and high school seniors take note.  I wondered if the Macbooks would last a full four years, including the battery remaining functional enough, etc.  The answer for us is Yes!  The Macbooks can easily hold solid for a full four years of use.  I think the aluminum Macbooks even more so.  


This is in contrast to my observations of other laptops.  Their batteries seem to barely work for more than a year or two and I usually see the whole laptop being replaced in from one to three years, i.e., you'll be buying two traditional Windows laptops for a four+ year undergraduate degree run.  Factor that into the price/cost/value comparisons:  A Macbook for school is worth two non-Mac laptops.

I should also point out that I always have an Ubuntu Linux workstation nearby including on my desk and I still find them extremely functional and sometimes even delightful to use.   If I had to use Ubuntu for my daily environment, I think I could.

Also, rest assured, the old XP machine is still humming away right here, still plugged into the same monitor.  I still miss the nicer looking, more pleasing fonts of the Windows XP GUI compared to the slightly too-weighty sans serif fonts of the Mac.  But, I'm making that compromise to move on.

Next on the radar:  Upgrading from Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard to 10.7 OS Lion.  Do I make that plunge?  I'm intrigued by this new OS.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Brian Brushwood Teaches a Card Trick

[VIDEO]

WISE mission captures black hole's wildly flaring jet



Article from Physorg.com.

Galactic Cannabilism



by Matt Williams in Universe Today.

A Campus Champion for Women in Computer Science

They've switched from Java to Python.  Article by Ari Levy in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

A bit belated, it was 5:05 EDT this morning .

Fri 2011-09-23 05:05:00 -0400
Fri 2011-09-23 09:05:00 +0000

Faster Than Light Neutrinos?

It sounds like crazy talk to me.  We'll see.

An article

Commentary

The paper.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scariest Face

This is one of the scariest faces I've ever seen!

http://www.discovernewengland.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Huntington-SC179578.jpg

Sigh. Things Today's Babies Will Never Know

by Stacy Johnson at Yahoo Finance Things babies born in 2011 will never know.

Computer CPUs 1000x Faster

At Mashable by Charlie White.

“…3M and IBM have unlocked a secret low-tech shortcut.”

 “It’s an adhesive that dissipates heat so efficiently that layer upon layer of chips can be stacked on top of each other into silicon ‘towers’ up to 100 layers high, glued together with this special adhesive that keeps things cool. The result? Faster chips for computers, laptops, smartphones and anything else that uses microprocessors.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Nine Years Ago



Yesterday was this blog's ninth anniversary.  I started out using Blogger, but Blogger was configured to FTP the files to my desktop computer, a NeXT machine which also acted as a server on the Internet.  (We had no firewalls at all in those days.  Every computer was literally a peer on the Internet).  .  This was before Google bought Blogger.  Later on I moved the blog, called Monolith Daily,  to Blosxom (pronounced like blossom) software which ran off of my desktop computer at workBloxom provided for blog entries as simple text files.

Later down the road, as I left behind hosting my own services on the Internet, I moved Bloxom back to Blogger.  This time it was fully hosted on Blogger with none of my own machines involved.

The name Monolith Daily came from the fact that my desktop computer's name was Monolith, taken from the main character of the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey.  The Next computer was a flat, black slab, so it sort of looked the part.

Here's the very first post on the blog.


Mon 16 Sep 2002

This is the first entry. This is just a blog to check out and experiment with the template and other such stuff.

I don't plan to keep it---it should be deleted soon.

00:29

This is the first post of substance.  Initially most of the blog consisted of snippets about work activity at the time.  The blog itself was mainly aimed at folks at work.


Wed 18 Sep 2002


Today, I printed out the PeopleSoft copy of the config file for the Emulex card driver. I am comparing it to the document that Chip left of me that recommends settings in the config file. For example, it has a column with my software listed. There are some differences between the PS version and the recommendation in the document. I'll come back at some point and list them.

Once I have the lpfc.conf configured correctly, I'll either try the disks, drvconfig, etc., plan.

 Tomorrow the plan is to be able to see the LUNs, install Veritas Volume Manager and File System. Then build the filesystems. I also need to remember to copy the binaries and support files over from the current.

23:51

The first non-work-related entry I could find is this one.  Morph a celebrity was a web site that let you distort images of celebrities, apparently it's not around any more, at least at that site.


Fri 27 Sep 2002

Okay, for hours of fun try this: Morph-a-celebrity.

21:40

This is the next non-work related post, slightly more substantial.


Fri 04 Oct 2002

Astronomy and Distance

I will be making some presentations to fifth graders at Magill Elementary on Thursday 10 Oct so I'll be out some that day but working the rest of the time.

A Micro Essay: Thinking some about that presentation has me thinking that humans like to boil all measurements (of anything, any physical quantity) down to one of three things: distance, time or a quantity (just a number). Distance seems to be our favorite. Almost everything we measure we eventually do with some sort of ``meter'' which is just some needle or indicator moving a distance.

In these latter digital days, our meters read out numbers (ultimately integers, even if we pretend there's a decimal point in there). I've heard over the years that we really don't comprehend numbers larger than seven to 10. So, when numbers get really large (1000, million, billion), guess what we are interested in then? Not the actual number, but the magnitude of the number, i.e., how many digits it has. But the number of digits is just the answer to the question, how long is the number?, which is back to length again.

We sometimes count the digits (by using a logarithmic scale) but, for most of our experience, those quantities fit nicely back into our zero to 10 range.

13:07

It was Sat 2006-06-24 when I moved the blog from Blosxom and back to Blogger and Blogspot.  Here's the last entry from the Blosxom version.


Sat 24 Jun 2006

Moved Blogging

I've moved my blogging to… http://monolith149daily.blogspot.com/

…at least for now. This is an experiment of sorts. I'm sort of caught in transition on blogging at the moment and I haven't quite decided what to do. So, for now, I've gone back to Blogger and Blogspot.

I'm working on a more long-term solution (permanent would be the wrong word) for the next edition of my public blogging.

My main motivation is to move my blog to another site. A secondary motivation is that Blosxom is getting slower due to dynamically generating the views. There are a lot of files now since each posting is a file.

I can generate static pages but then the searching feature (which is really useful, at least to me) doesn't work for those pages.

My current idea is to generate a static copy of this version Monolith Daily to this posting and put it up on a site that is linked such that Google can crawl and index it. Maybe that's the way to handle blogs. After some point, freeze them and publish them as a final, static archive of some type. A set of HTML pages perhaps.

I've also changed the look and feel. I really like the old look of Monolith Daily but thought I'd try something new.

I have to say, though, I really, really like Blosxom and miss using it!

13:43

It continued here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

TL;DR

I finally looked up tl;dr.  It's not a mistyped or misinterpreted bit of HTML markup as I first thought.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Star Trek 45th Anniversary

I celebrated Star Trek's 45th anniversary last night by watching “Charlie X,” which I'm pretty sure was the first episode I saw in 1966.  I found it by accident while flipping channels.  Note that in 1966 our town only had one channel and, because we lived on a hill, we could get three to five out of town channels.  There were only three networks anyway so flipping channels wasn't what you might think.

Of course I was a fan during it's original run though 1969.  The first season was on Tuesday nights, the second on Thursday nights, and the last year it was on fairly late on Friday night, either 21:00 or 22:00 as I recall.

However, I became an even bigger fan when they started the reruns in 1970 or 71, when it was on every afternoon after school.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Xoom Part 2

Okay, since my first comments regarding the Xoom, I've played with it on a handful more occasions.

I've tried it both as just a user-less machine with no particular account attached and also by syncing in much of my Google account so that everything worked as designed.  I tried Gmail, Google searching, various sites via browsing, Amazon Cloud Player (the app), the Kindle App, Angry Birds (of course!), Youtube, Google Maps,  and looked for the Netflix app (apparently there isn't one for this device, and it's not supported in the browser).

Basically my opinion hasn't changed.  I don't really like it.  It's heavy.  Yeah, I know that I could eventually find a perfect holder/case/cover that would make it easy to hold, prop up and even add a keyboard.  However, out of the box it was never comfortable to use.  The most comfortable was when I just laid the thing down on the desk.  At that point it became a really big glass touchpad that happened to have moving color displayed items on it.  (Hey, this might not be a bad thing.  See all versions of Star Trek after the original series).

A Few Good Points

I'll admit that I was impressed by a few features.  It's Android and I consider that a plus.  Honeycomb was quite impressive though I don't like the visual appearance for some reason.  It seems to have borrowed the theme of the latter day Tron movie, interesting and slick, but tiring and even annoying after a while.  It was slick and sort of responsive though there's a noticeable delay when you try to do things sometimes.   You tap or drag and it seems to take just a moment to catch up with what you're trying to do.  The operation and design of the menus was okay and fairly functional.  It didn't take too long to get used to them.

HD Youtube video on the display looked pretty good so maybe I was wrong about my first impression of the resolution, i.e., that it looked “soft.”  The Youtube feature where you see the big scrolling wall of videos is impressive.  It's not clear that it has any practical value at all.  I can hardly think of any video I've watched by browsing, I watch a video either because someone sent it to me or I searched for something.

The battery life was good.  Again, I didn't use it much but I've had the thing over a week now and have never plugged it in.

It wasn't too difficult to find the MAC address when needed to set up wireless.

The Gmail app redesign for Honeycomb is quite slick.  Once again, I don't know if I'd prefer it to the more standard layout, but it is functional.

The Biggest Problem

Here's the biggest problem with this tablet and, I think, with all current pad devices.  When you sync your Google accounts with it (which is pretty much just like you would with your Android phone) it becomes your device.  If anyone else uses it, they'll be authenticated to Google as you with all of your authorization.  This makes it extremely un-useful as a device that's just laying around for any family member or visitor to use.

In fact, this is where the ChromeOS notebook is a big win and, IMHO, a much more useful device than the tablet.  Anyone can pick it up and log on.  If their Google accounts are set up to sync, then it becomes their device until they log off.   Their whole world is just automatically available  and present with no noticeable syncing or downloading.  Then they can log off and another person can come on, type in their userid and password and the same is true for them.

I could probably learn to get faster but, at this point, I can literally type just as fast on my Android Nexus S phone screen as on the 10-in tablet.

Summary

Okay, you should probably take into consideration that I thought voice mail was useless and opted out of taking part in an early trial.  I also thought the web was just for marked-up documents and would not be appropriate for applications and software.   I don't like the Xoom tablet and am still happy to put it back in the box.

My phone does what I need and, for me, does it better and more conveniently.

For a tablet-sized device, I think the 11-inch Macbook Air is the most wonderful solution out there.

I've been evaluating a ChromeOS notebook for months now and I'd take it over the Xoom anytime, even with it's faults.  The ChromeOS device was immediately useful, including for real work, and I was able to use it for a couple of weeks as my only machine at work.  The Xoom didn't even begin to be useful for any sort of real work.

I'll be interested to see the next devices to come out.  Maybe they'll capture my heart and mind.

Postscripts

P.S.   Yes, I've played with the iPad's 1 and 2 briefly and my reaction was bascially the same.  I don't remember the sensation of them being uncomfortably heavy though.

P.P.S.  You might say the Xoom weighs less than a lot of books.  I thought about this and wondered why books don't seem so bothersome.   Maybe it's because the book really is more pleasant and comfortable to hold when reading than a flat slab.  When I think about it, I've used a clip board for taking notes and checking things off, but never really as a platform for reading.  For reading I'd probably staple the sheets together and hold them, folding and rolling them up in various ways that made them easier to hold.

See Also

My earlier comments on the iPad in 2010-01-30.


Friday, September 02, 2011

Hubble ST Movies of Stellar Jets

[VIDEOPosted by David Ruth-Rice at Futurity.org. Time lapse movies made from Hubble Space Telescope images, spanning 14 years, show motions inside stellar jets of gas.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Stupidest Idea of 2010

While I am at the zenith of my curmodgeonliness, I'm reminded I never got around to awarding the Stupidest Idea of 2010:  Animating e-book pages to look like real pages turning.

Yes, it looks really neat, but it's dumb.  I hope the programmers remembered to add code to make the pages slowly turn yellow and then randomly delete themselves from the e-book as years go by.  Maybe they never got around to that because they're off re-programming terminal apps to scroll text by at 300 baud.

Again, I appreciate the artistry, but having seen it, it's then about the most annoying thing I've experienced in a user interface.  Please, at least provide a way to turn this animation off.

This effect should be one of those little novelty apps your friends download and say “Ha Ha, Look at This.”  You look at it and reply,  “Neat.”  Then you never have to see it again.


I don't like Tablets and Pads

Okay, I have a Motorola Xoom for a week and so far, after spending maybe 20 minutes with it, I don't like it.  I don't like it at all.  Basically it's a device that does what my phone does, but it weighs about a million times more.  Holding it makes me physically uncomfortable.  I can operate my phone just fine with one hand but this thing always requires two.

I tried watching a Youtube video but there I was holding this thing.  I tried laying it down on my desk but then it was flat and at the wrong angle.  All I could see was a reflection of an overhead light.  It didn't seem like it would stand up when I tried to lean it against something.  So there I was, awkwardly holding the thing I couldn't wait to put down.  I probably watched less than a minute of the video.

Basically, it's like using a computer that has no legs.  Now I know what Chewbacca felt like when he was carrying the blown-apart C3P0 around on his back.

I tried it again last night.  So far, I've only used it for 20 minutes because that was about all I could stand and probably half of that time has been spent factory-resetting the device to erase my personal data.  The happiest moment was turning it off, putting it down and taking my phone out of my pocket.

How to Network Your Way to World-Class Mentors

The Thiel Fellowship Lecture, Part 2 by Michael Ellsberg on Forbes.com.

Interesting.

Beautiful! Dione and Saturn



(RT @PTTU) http://bit.ly/nRlz68

My Next Camera?

Samsung Introduces A Trio Of New Cameras as reported on TechCrunch by Jordan Crook.

I really like using my Nexus S as a camera but it lacks a good zoom lens. So, what I really need is something like a smart phone with a bigger lens stuck on it. The Samsung MV800 really looks a lot like this! The other two models in this article also look intriguing.

Could this be enough to make me give up my infatuation with the Olympus PEN series, which is probably too expensive anyway?

My main motivation is the growing need to replace my aging DV tape video camera.


***

Mon 2012-04-02 03:58:19 -0400


Updated.  Here are the cameras I'm referring to above, for reference.


Samsung MV800
Samsung NX200
Samsung WB750

AT&T and T-Mobile: Is the deal dead?


No one knows by David Goldman @CNNMoneyTech.

The graphic tells a lot of the story.

Image credit:  The image was in the original CNN Money article.

It's Time To Upgrade My RAM

It looks like I'm going to have to add memory to my nine-year-old Dell 4550 Windows XP desktop which I'm using here and which is my usual desktop machine at home.  Right now it has 768 MB but watching Task Manager it seems lately that I need from 800 MB to 900 MB with the number of Chrome tabs I have open for Gmail, documents, etc.  Amazon Cloud player is currently running.   In spite of a growing RAM appetite, I haven't seen my old machine cross 1-GB yet (knock on wood).

It has a 256-MB DIMM and a 512-MB DIMM so I'll probably just replace the 256 with a 1-GB which seem to be available for $15 to <~ $20 or so.  That will bring the total to 1.5 GB, over twice what I currently need.

I think Gmail and other Google apps are slowly using more and more memory.  But maybe it's just Chrome.

It's worth noting that, even with 930 MB of memory usage (commit charge), which is what it is at this very moment as I type this, I don't really notice the paging or much slowness.  Typing this entry is going fine and the Cloud Player music is playing nicely.  However, I'd definitely notice it if switching to another tab that hadn't been used in a while or, worst of all, trying to fire up something else that's big like Acrobat Reader.

Hm, I don't think it was that long ago that I upped the RAM from 384 MB by replacing a 128-MB DIMM with  the 512-MB.  Memory usage seems to be accelerating.

In case anyone is curious, the only thing running down in my system tray is AVG and something from Nvidia for the video interface.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On this 6th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

(RT @jamiedupree) I can't get this video out of my head http://youtu.be/oZi1Mk2Njtg

Astrophysicists report first simulation to create a Milky Way-like galaxy

by Tim Stephens at UCSC.

According to coauthor Piero Madau, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, the project required a large investment of supercomputer time, including 1.4 million processor-hours on NASA's state-of-the-art Pleiades supercomputer, plus additional supporting simulations on supercomputers at UCSC and the Swiss National Supercomputing Center.

“The simulation follows the interactions of more than 60 million particles of dark matter and gas. A lot of physics goes into the code--gravity and hydrodynamics, star formation and supernova explosions--and this is the highest resolution cosmological simulation ever done this way,” said Guedes…

The paper.


OpenDNS, Google and Verisign team to speed up the web

By Stacey Higginbotham at Gigaom.

A few million Americans may find their YouTube requests get delivered faster on Tuesday as Google, OpenDNS, VeriSign and several content delivery networks announce the Global Internet Speed Up effort.

At the center of the partnership between DNS providers and participating CDNs is the creation of a standard that attached location data to a DNS request so a user’s request for content goes to server nearby. Typically, a CDN or content provider routes a user based on the address of the DNS server, as opposed to the user’s location, but they aren’t always in the same region.

For now, only users of Google’s Public DNS service, OpenDNS and Verisign will send out DNS information with a snippet of information gleaned from the user’s IP address. That will help the domain name servers that direct traffic around the web to send that traffic the closest provider. As for privacy concerns about attaching IP addresses to a DNS request, Ulevitch says the information only goes to companies that would see the IP address in a typical HTTP web request, so it’s not sharing any more information than is typical.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Moving an Elephant

Large Scale Hadoop Data Migration at Facebook. Paul Yang describes moving Facebooks 30-PB data via replication across datacenters.  (Previous Post)

As the majority of the analytics is performed with Hive, we store the data on HDFS — the Hadoop distributed file system. In 2010, Facebook had the largest Hadoop cluster in the world, with over 20 PB of storage. By March 2011, the cluster had grown to 30 PB — that’s 3,000 times the size of the Library of Congress! At that point, we had run out of power and space to add more nodes, necessitating the move to a larger data center.

Hubble STIS data on the M101 supernova is great!

(RT @d_a_howell) Mark Sullivan: “If the theorists can't do something with this, then I give up.”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yesterday's Headline

Vita Food Products recalls smoked salmon:  “Yes, I remember smoked salmon…”

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Fashion?

Okay, I just tuned in Hurricane Irene on Google+ Sparks to compare it to Twitter.  The fourth headline/story down from the top is:  “Hurricane Irene:  Fashion report” from cbsnews.com.

Why Software is Eating the World

An essay by Marc Andreesen in the WSJ sent to me by Blake.

My Steve Jobs Memories

by Shannon Clark.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

NASA's Chandra Observatory Images Gas Flowing Toward Black Hole



The flow of hot gas toward a black hole has been clearly imaged for the first time in X-rays.


The black hole is at the center of a large galaxy known as NGC 3115, which is located about 32 million light years from Earth. A large amount of previous data has shown material falling toward and onto black holes, but none with this clear a signature of hot gas.

By imaging the hot gas at different distances from this supermassive black hole, astronomers have observed a critical threshold where the motion of gas first becomes dominated by the black hole's gravity and falls inward. This distance from the black hole is known as the “Bondi radius.”

Trojan asteroid discovered in Earth orbit


by Stuart Gary at ABC Science.


“WISE looked at the infrared light coming from all over the sky and was particularly good at detecting asteroids, finding about 150,000 of them, including 500 which come near the Earth.”

By examining the orbits of these objects in the WISE data, Connors and colleagues identified a small asteroid called 2010 TK7 as a probable Earth Trojan. The researchers then used ground-based telescopes to confirm the sighting, calculating that it's been in a stable orbit with Earth for more than 10,000 years.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Living On the Web With Chromebook

Good for Battery Life by Louis Gray.

3D printing: The world's first printed plane

by Paul Marks at New Scientist.

How Facebook Moved 30 GB of Hadoop Data

Post by @DerrickHarris at @Gigaom.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Byte is Back

Byte magazine is back at byte.com, under the new editorship of Gina Smith.  And it even features the return of Jerry Pournelle and his Chaos Manor column!

She reposted the original editor, Carl Helmers', introductory letter.

I first discovered Byte when I bought my first issue at the Georgia Tech Bookstore.  I'm pretty sure it was volume one but I'm not clear on which issue it was.  I think I still have it around here somewhere.  I need to dig it out and check.  I thought it was issue #2, but looking up issues online, I'm now in doubt.

TWIT Moves to the New Studio

[VIDEO] Leo Laporte shuts down the old cottage and walks down the street to the new brick house studio.  Jason Cartwright posts about the move on TechAU.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Instantwatcher for Netflix

For keeping with with movies coming and going on Netflix, Instantwatcher is quite good.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Dark Energy and Zombie Stars


by Tammy Plotner from Universe Today.

Image credit: Supernova 1994D. The supernova is the bright point in the lower-left. It is a type Ia thermonuclear supernova like those described by Howell. The supernova is on the edge of galaxy NGC 4526, depicted in the center of the image. Credit: NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Outer Limits Influence on Star Trek


I must have read it before but I didn't realize or remember the ties from The Outer Limits to Star Trek.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Google Fixes Privacy Flaw? (Part 2)

Okay, when you write a post (or even after) there's a little drop down menu (triangle, arrow thing) at it's upper right.  One of the options is to disallow re-sharing.  You have to do it manually every time I think—I don't see a way to make that the default setting.

That's better than not having that option at all, better than email, and also annoying to have to do.

(Part 1)

Google+ Solves the Social Privacy Problem

By Making Friending Very Complicated by @LizGannes at All Things D.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Google Fixes Privacy Flaw?

(SAI Business Insider)  Oh no.  I thought G+ didn't allow a reader to reshare a post to a wider audience than the original post.

Google+ and Twitter

So I just reposted a story about the halo seen in Hawaii.  I found that story by reading my sparks (spark?) on Google+ where I've entered astronomy as an interest.  The question is, would I have seen it reading my Twitter feed?

I scanned back through my main Twitter stream for about an hour, which is a typical short reading session for me.  A long session might involve reading back through two or three hours.

Then I went to my astronomy Twitter list and read back through those messages, well into yesterday.

The story wasn't there, or at least I didn't catch it.  (Granted I did a quick skim and didn't actually read the Twitter posts).  Hm.

Weird Expanding Halo Seen from Hawaii

Explained by the Bad Astronomer.


Another idea posted by board member neufer was that this was from a detonation charge in the missile’s third stage. There are ports, openings in the sides of the third stage. Those ports are sealed for the flight until the right time, when they’re blown open by explosive charges. This allows the fuel to escape very rapidly, extinguishing the thrust at a precise time to allow for accurate targeting of the warhead.

At this point, the missile is above most of the Earth’s atmosphere, essentially in space. So when that gas is suddenly released from the stage expands, it blows away from the missile in a sphere. Not only that, the release is so rapid it would expand like a spherical shell — which would look like a ring from the ground (the same way a soap bubble looks like a ring). And not only that, but the expanding gas would be moving very rapidly relative to the ground since the missile would’ve been moving rapidly at this point in the flight.
Image credit:  Frame processed by Phil Plait from the video by Kanoa Withington/CFHT.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hands on with Google+

from Macworld by Megan Geuss and Mark Sullivan.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Inside Google+ by Steven Levy

From Wired Magazine @stevenjayl (author of In the Plex) writes about Google+ as he witnessed things from his inside view.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Summer Solstice

Happy summer solstice today at Tuesday at 13:16 EDT  (17:16 UTC).

Tue 2011-06-21 13:16:00 -0400
Tue 2011-06-21 17:16:00 +0000

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ihnatko Writes for Television

Hah!  If Ihnatko was a TV writer 25 years ago, as he ponders in his blog post N-B-SEEEEE us.

Friday, June 10, 2011

API Design Matters

from ACM Queue by Michi Henning  (2007-06-07).

After more than 25 years as a software engineer, I still find myself underestimating the time it will take to complete a particular programming task. Sometimes, the resulting schedule slip is caused by my own shortcomings: as I dig into a problem, I simply discover that it is a lot harder than I initially thought, so the problem takes longer to solve—such is life as a programmer. Just as often I know exactly what I want to achieve and how to achieve it, but it still takes far longer than anticipated. When that happens, it is usually because I am struggling with an API that seems to do its level best to throw rocks in my path and make my life difficult. What I find telling is that, after 25 years of progress in software engineering, this still happens. Worse, recent APIs implemented in modern programming languages make the same mistakes as their two-decade-old counterparts written in C. There seems to be something elusive about API design that, despite many years of progress, we have yet to master.

New iGoogle Email Client

The new Gmail client in iGoogle is actually pretty neat.  It's essentially the same as the web-based client on, e.g., the Android phone.

VLT Survey Telescope 268-megapixel camera


(PhysOrg.com) -- The VLT Survey Telescope (VST), the latest addition to ESO’s Paranal Observatory, has made its first release of impressive images of the southern sky. The VST is a state-of-the-art 2.6-meter telescope, with the huge 268-megapixel camera OmegaCAM at its heart, which is designed to map the sky both quickly and with very fine image quality. It is a visible-light telescope that perfectly complements ESO’s VISTA infrared survey telescope. New images of the Omega Nebula and the globular cluster Omega Centauri demonstrate the VST’s power.

Read more….

Image credit: ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM. Acknowledgement: OmegaCen/Astro-WISE/Kapteyn Institute

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Post-Mortems at HubSpot

What I Learned From 250 Whys by Dan Milstein at HubSpot. This is quite good and worth reading!

I've learned about how HubSpot's systems work, why they sometimes break, and what we can do to make them more resilient. Beyond that, I've learned a lot about complex systems and failure in general. Which, in case you're wondering, is a fascinating topic. I highly, highly recommend Richard Cook's essay “How Complex Systems Fail” in O'Reilly's Web Operations. Or Atul Gawande's Complications and Better. Or basically anything John Allspaw writes.

If you'd like to build resilient systems, here's some of what I've learned from the fifty-plus 5 Whys I’ve been a part of. (And by &rlquo;systems,” I mean systems of people + machines, and by “resilient,” I mean I'm stealing from Allspaw.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Weighted Random Selection in Python

This morning I was looking for a Python implementation of weighted random selection, i.e., I have a set of weighted items and I want to randomly select one where the probability of selecting each item is proportional to its weight.  I found this blog post by Eli Bendersky which exposes a set of approaches nicely.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Redshift Record of 9.4



Gamma ray observations of the gamma ray burst object GRB 090429B supplemented by infrared observations from the Gemini North telescope and United Kingdom Infra Red Telescope, both on Mauna Kea, place the object at a redshift of z=9.4, as reported by Emily Baldwin at Astronomy Now.  (Also at Cosmos by Miles Gough).

In the cosmological model, that would mean the scale of the universe was 9.6% of it's current size at the time the gamma rays and IR were emitted.    (1 / z + 1).

Also, see:  Cosmological Distances and Gains of Salt

Image credit: Gemini Observatory / AURA / Levan, Tanvir, Cucchiara.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Google Social Puzzle Pieces

By David Goldman at CNN Money.

Change Your Facebook Password

Access to your account may have leaked.  This discovered problem means it's been possible for others to access your account since 2007 via third-party applications.

The best thing to do is change your password as soon as possible.  That will invalidate any leaked tokens if they were in the possession of any evil doers.

More information is in this article at Symantec.

This is also explained in this installment of Security Now.  Skip ahead to the 58-minute mark.

P.S.  Note that you will have to enter your new password to third party apps you're using after doing this.  For example, on my Android phone I cleared the data and entered my email address and new password into the Facebook app.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cicadas Attack!




Well, I've experienced the 13-year cicadas that I've heard so much about. In Middle Georgia yesterday as soon as I opened the car door I was greeted by an almost deafening, hard to describe sound coming from the trees. It sounded like the summer cicadas I've always known, but louder and sharper.

They also filled the air. You could look up and see them constantly criss crossing the sky. Two or three flew into my face and hair.

It seemed like they'd taken up residence in every tree and bush in sight, but the rumors of the bugs eating every bit of vegetation in sight turned out to be unfounded.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dark Energy Is Driving Universe Apart

NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer Finds Dark Energy Repulsive from Science Daily.

The findings offer new support for the favored theory of how dark energy works -- as a constant force, uniformly affecting the universe and propelling its runaway expansion. They contradict an alternate theory, where gravity, not dark energy, is the force pushing space apart. According to this alternate theory, with which the new survey results are not consistent, Albert Einstein's concept of gravity is wrong, and gravity becomes repulsive instead of attractive when acting at great distances.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The First Hour or Two with the Cr-48

So, I've been using this ChromeOS notebook for a couple or three hours now.  Most things work fine.  I've done the usual email and documents work in Gmail, made a couple of phone calls using Google Voice in Gmail, and played a couple of screens of Angry Birds.

Right now I'm listing to music on Amazon Cloud Player.

Connecting to wifi was very simple.

Mouse motion, famously problematic on this hardware, was a little flaky when trying to play Angry Birds, but otherwise I don't notice much problem.  I finally found the check box to enable tap to click, so that is all better now.

I found the terminal with ssh via Ctl-Alt-T and tried it out.  It works but, again, wide-screen insanity prevails.  Also the font and colors need to be fixed in the terminal.   It's a limited set of commands but ssh is really all I'd need.

Right now it's on the charger and has charged up to 78%.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Using a Cr-48

This is my first blog post and my first user session with a Cr-48 running ChromeOS.

Everything is great so far except for one thing:   The windows are all full screen.  That's about the most annoying thing I could think of.

Otherwise, everything is working pretty well with almost no problems.  I like the size, form factor, weight and even the keyboard so far.

Oh: A Shell Written in Go

By Michael Macinnis.  README at Github.

Tidal Energy In the UK

Fascinating.  They have tidal energy generators in the UK as reported by this article by Chris Goodall in The Guardian.  I find it amusing that they call the energy “renewable” when it's really depleating the angular momentum of the earth's rotation and the moon's orbit.

Still, as far as I can tell, renewable always means a big enough supply that we can't imagine when we'll run out. That's the way new energy supplies often start out.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Projection on 26-Story Coca-Cola Building

For it's 125th anniversary, Obscura Digital arranged to turn Coca-Cola's 26-story headquarters building in Atlanta into a giant, four-way projection screen.

The show
About the show
Article from The Street
Obscura Digital

From The Street:
The entire Coca-Cola North Ave. tower in Atlanta—26 stories high and 402 feet (122.8 m) high—is canvassed in scrim.

The projection covers an area 339 feet high and 157 feet wide per side of the building.  The projection surface area from all four sides of the building totals more than 210,000 square feet, making it the world’s largest single building illumination. 
This display uses 45 projectors that are 20,000 lumens each, for a total of nearly 1 million lumens of light simultaneously projected onto the building.  The overall projection resolution is more than 7,000 pixels wide (7040 x 3800).

Friday, May 06, 2011

Paper Computers

I remember an interview with someone from Xerox PARC, probably almost 30 years ago, where they were talking about ubiquitous computers that were like paper.   I remember a quote that went something like, You'd just tear a new computer off a pad when you needed one.  They'd just be laying around your office in piles.

Well, they seem to be here, as reported in this article in The Economic Times.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Saturday 2011-05-07 Is National Astronomy Day

There are events planned at Fernbank and Tellus.

Cloud Computing

Seth asked about our sightings of and thoughts on cool, emerging technologies.

I continue to hold that the technology that promises one of the most significant impacts is cloud computing.  It's been coming for a long time but cloud computing has recently turned one of those corners and it's influence is rapidly accelerating.

Basically, cloud computing means that your data and your applications are out on the Internet, “in the cloud” as we say.

I've been moving my own work into the cloud and I'm probably following that acceleration curve pretty closely.  Here's my current score card.

I've been a user of web-based email since Rocketmail and Yahoo's re-branding and evolution of the same when they both took off around 1997.  For years I merely echoed email into the cloud, keeping my own personal copies on an email server at home.  Sometime around the introduction of Gmail, I stopped keeping my own copy and  switched wholesale to Gmail.

I've been using Google Documents in earnest since 2006.  Since then, probably 99% or more of every document or spreadsheet I've created, including home and work, have been in the cloud.  I added slide presentations to that in 2007, and drawings most recently.  (Note that I've still not found a replacement for Windows Paint, though).

In 2006 I moved my blogging off of my own server and back to Blogger and Blogspot.

For the past several years I've been putting more and more pictures in Picasa, though it's not my sole storage medium in that category.

In the fall of 2009 I became a user of GTD and moved my next action lists and projects to Gmail Tasks.

Over this past year, my move into the cloud has gone mad.

I've used Piknic solely for photo editing.

I've migrated all of my note-taking into Google Documents.  Many folks will remember the blue notebooks I used years ago, inspired by my old friend Leonard's use of them for journals when we were at Georgia Tech.  For a number of intervening years I moved most of my note-taking into on-line text documents edited with Emacs.  Over this past year I've migrated almost 100% of my note-taking on-line into Google  Documents.  I create several new documents every day.

Also this year I made the conscious decision to start migrating all of my media consumption into the cloud and at the same time, decided to get a Roku box instead of a Blueray player.  I use Netflix and Amazon, and occasionally Dish on Demand, for movies, Kindle for books, and Amazon, Pandora and Slacker for music.  My thought is to never again purchase physical media.

I've moved most of my own little command-line utilities into AppEngine equivalents.

I've also become a recent user of Dropbox for file sharing.

The personal Linux “main machine” that I use at work for programming has been a virtual machine for the recent few months.  The next (final?) frontier, for which I'm waiting with poised fascination, is a browser-based integrated development environment for writing, testing and running the computer programs I write daily.  A lot of work is underway and there are some initial results out there now.

I'm late to this ballgame, but I'm also getting ready to move my backups to Carbonite.  That will probably be another case of just putting a copy there, while maintaining other current schemes.

I'm already at the point that I can do almost any thing of significance I do on a computer from any computer that I truly trust.

Dark Matter Valliantly Holds On


In it's flight to remain dark but Jennifer Ouellette says the debate is heating up in this analysis at Discovery News.

Image credit: Computer simulation of large scale structure from Science Magazine.