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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

PS3 super computing

Link above goes to: The Washington Post

Quote from the source:

Nothing Escapes the Pull of a PlayStation 3, Not Even a Black Hole
Scientists scrimp on supercomputer costs but still manage to solve a cosmic quandary with a little help from Sony's PS3.
Matt Peckham
PC World
Monday, December 22, 2008; 8:19 PM

How did Sony's PlayStation 3 solve an astrophysics puzzler? Easy: With a pallet full of sleek sable doppelgangers crunching the interstellar math in tandem....


The stories about people doing super computing work with PS3 clusters to me are remarkable.

It is an amazing machine, built originally for games?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

iPhone apps making developers lots of money

Link above goes to: Newsweek

Quote from the source:

TECHTONIC SHIFTS
There’s Gold In Them iPhones
Some kid in his bedroom can make a million bucks just by writing a little application for the Apple phone.
By Daniel Lyons | NEWSWEEK
Published Dec 13, 2008
From the magazine issue dated Dec 22, 2008


Looks to me like Apple figured out some things that no one else did (and maybe even surprised themselves) as one reason I liked open source was the easy entry, so I could put out software without hiring a law firm and worrying about returns or getting sued. Or the other reasons for high start-up costs.

Apple figured out how to give developers low start-up, low hassle, with money.

How are they so smart?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Flat panels more affordable

Link above goes to: The New York Times

Quote from the source:

Technology / Technology
Flat-Panel TV Prices Plummet
By ERIC A. TAUB
Published: December 2, 2008
Thanks to increasing worldwide sales and economies of scale, a wide range of large-screen HDTVs are now available for three-figure prices.


The article starts out about price but then goes into more detail about picking the best value.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mini HD Camcorder

Link above goes to: The New York Times

Quote from source:
State of the Art
HD Video Made Sleek and Simple
By DAVID POGUE
Published: November 20, 2008
Pure Digital has added high definition to its Flip Mino, which is already called the least-expensive, smallest and fastest camcorder on the market.


Sounds like super tech: super usability at the cutting edge of technology.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Big bonus, bad thinking?

Link above goes to: The New York Times

Quote from the page:
Op-Ed Contributor
What’s the Value of a Big Bonus?
By DAN ARIELY
Published: November 20, 2008
If our tests mimic the real world, then higher bonuses may not only cost employers more but also discourage executives from working to the best of their ability.


Interesting research indicating that big bonuses actually impair cognitive function despite the motivation they provide. People want to do well for the big bonus but just having it out there, if I'm interpreting this article correctly, can impair mental function which is a counter-intuitive result which if true could explain a lot.

So remarkably, companies handing out big bonuses may be paying their people to do worse.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fewer women developers

Link above goes to: The New York Times

Digital Domain
What Has Driven Women Out of Computer Science?
By RANDALL STROSS
Published: November 16, 2008
Many computer science departments report that women now make up less than 10 percent of the newest undergraduates.


I think it's an excellent subject to ponder as it seems clear that something is driving down the rate of participation in the field by women.

The question is then, what is that something?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Easy open packaging

Link above goes to: The New York Times

Quote from the source:
Packages You Won’t Need a Saw to Open
By BRAD STONE and MATT RICHTEL
Published: November 15, 2008
Retailers are creating alternatives to infuriating “clamshell” packages and cruelly complex twist ties.


Yeah!!! It has amazed me how hard it is to get packages for electronic items open, and now I see how much I was not alone. Here's another quote from the article:

Impregnable packaging has incited such frustration among consumers that an industry term has been coined for it — “wrap rage.”


Glad to know that the problem is being worked on and I'm serious. It feels kind of strange to spend several minutes trying to get to something you just bought as you fight it out of its packaging.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Eww, Saratoga", drunken Web 2.0

Link above goes to: The New York Times

Quote:
Fashion & Style
Drunk, and Dangerous, at the Keyboard
By ALEX WILLIAMS
Published: October 19, 2008
Mail Goggles, a new feature on Google’s Gmail program, is intended to help stamp out a scourge that few knew existed: late-night drunken e-mailing.


To understand the title of my post read the article through to the end and have a laugh.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Clover Machine

Source: Wired

The Coffee Fix: Can the $11,000 Clover Machine Save Starbucks?
By Mathew Honan 07.21.08

...The Clover coffeemaker debuted in a handful of caf├ęs in 2006 and was promptly hailed as the best thing to happen to coffee lovers since the car cup holder. With an $11,000 asking price, the Clover has become a fetish object among the coffee-obsessed. Long queues signal its arrival in new cities, and self-described "Cloveristas" post videos on YouTube demonstrating the machine's flashy brewing process. There are more photos on Flickr paying homage to this shiny gadget (700 and counting) than actual Clovers in existence (roughly 250 worldwide)....


Good coffee. They have them at my local Starbucks.


James

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Growth and learning mindset

Source: NY Times

Unboxed
If You’re Open to Growth, You Tend to Grow
By JANET RAE-DUPREE
Published: July 6, 2008
Adopting either a fixed or growth attitude toward talent can profoundly affect all aspects of a person’s life, a researcher found.


Good article for perspective which actually reminds me of something I read years ago (sorry do not have a reference or link) about how US Seal units, military special forces, have a problem with figuring out which recruits are most likely to get through their extremely rigorous and difficult training.

And if I remember correctly, an expensive study found that those who tended to succeed were those who did not give up, which to me sounds rather circular, but also interesting in what I read was the experience that natural talents did tend to give up.

So people who were stars in high school or college or in some other way, who had a tremendous amount of ability to tap also turned out to be less interested in accepting the painful ordeal of the training.

Hope I remember that ok, but I put the warning about going from memory, and the linked to article kind of has a different tack anyway.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Windows is a legacy system

Source: NY Times

Digital Domain
Windows Could Use a Rush of Fresh Air
By RANDALL STROSS
Published: June 29, 2008
Microsoft’s flagship software, Windows, built upon the same core architecture as preceding versions, seems to move an inch when its competitors take a lap.


Here's a telling quote:

...Windows seems to move an inch for every time that Mac OS X or Linux laps it.

The best solution to the multiple woes of Windows is starting over. Completely. Now.


I don't think there is much reason to look for growth or innovation with Microsoft Windows. So I'm saying, what we have today is the best that there will be, as Windows is a legacy system with no further significant innovation to be had.

What frustrates me when I boot up my machines which both have Windows Vista is that even though they are booting up faster they are still too slow, even if from hibernation, when I realize that I'm waiting on things that I do not need.

One of the issues in the past with the idea of starting over is dying as the web takes over for everyday use, so the OS can become a black box and conceivably in the future most users will not even know what their operating system is.

That's the future, when the browser is boss and who cares what the OS is as long as you have full browser functionality, as cloud computing takes off, so then the OS is a commodity which I think Microsoft fears.

So did Microsoft sit on Internet Explorer for so many years, after crushing Netscape so that it could eke out a few more years of dominance? I'd say, no, as the evolving web simply wasn't ready to move things forward and as readiness enters the system, rapidly products are being developed so even if they did (wild speculation, not saying they did), it would have been a pointless exercise in futility, as they say.

The browser wars are really about the move of the underlying operating system from center stage to under the hood. As the hood closes on Microsoft Windows, other engines can drive the vehicle, and take all of us far faster and far further than we've ever gone before...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Glass studies

Source: MSNBC

Scientists reveal why glass is glass
Despite solid appearance, glass is actually in a "jammed" state of matter
By Robin Lloyd
updated 1:37 p.m. PT, Mon., June. 23, 2008

Scientists have made a breakthrough discovery in the bizarre properties of glass, which behaves at times like both a solid and a liquid.


Interesting article especially the part about metallic glass. Here's one more quote:

...An icosahedron is like a 3-D pentagon, and just as you cannot tile a floor with pentagons, you cannot fill 3-D space with icosahedrons, Royall explained. That is, you can't make a lattice out of pentagons.

When it comes to glass, Frank thought, there is a competition between crystal formation and pentagons that prevents the construction of a crystal. If you cool a liquid down and it makes a lot of pentagons and the pentagons survive, the crystal cannot form....


Explains a lot.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Web pushing honesty

Source: TechNewsWorld

INSIGHTS
Getting Found Out, Web 2.0 Style
By Sarah Lacy
Business Week Online
06/22/08 4:00 AM PT

Web 2.0 technologies and trends are threatening the tiny, white lies woven so tightly into our social fabric, writes Sarah Lacey. Want to call in sick to work after a night of partying? Better hope nobody posted a photo of that night on Facebook or Twittered about it.


A fun read that emphasizes to me that the Web is pushing honesty by making it easier to find out truth. But I think it goes beyond that as the Internet seems to be more interested in finding out lies than in pushing straightforward information.

It's almost like a real force within the network that craves contradictory information.

That force likes finding out dishonesty better than it likes finding consistency which probably means we're in for a completely different world than has ever been seen before with the most powerful force for ferreting out the truth ever known, fully unleashed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Go Firefox, go!!! Firefox 3.0 unleashed

Of course I've joined the download flood. And I like Firefox 3.0 so far.

The browser is the killer app of the 21st century.

The BOS is the next quantum leap, as when the browser operating system turns OS into a black box the way it's supposed to be, then it's anybody's game....

Go, please download.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Researcher who thinks fluids and gases

Source: NY Times

Slipstream
Nature Gave Him a Blueprint, but Not Overnight Success
By JOHN MARKOFF
Published: June 8, 2008
A scientist whose discoveries promised great increases in efficiency for a number of technologies found companies showed little interest in redesigning their products.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Blocking the open source flow

Source: The Register

Google defends open source from 'poisonous people'
The Case of the Self-Centered Date Parser
By Cade Metz in San Francisco
Published Friday 30th May 2008 23:16 GMT

Google I/O Once upon a time, there was an open source project called Subversion, and it needed a new date parser....


Wow, good article and sobering for me as one thing I did want way back when I got approval for my project on SourceForge was to have other people working on it, but that hasn't happened as I've ended up writing every line of code, and a lot of the comments have my name on them, which is actually a habit I picked up at companies where I worked as that's how they did it.

Hmmm...might it help if I went back through and deleted all of the signature type comments out?

Well, I know I'm not going to do an update just to do that so it's a moot question.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Netflix million dollar prize, an idea

I finally heard about a million dollar prize that Netflix is offering to improve its prediction of what movies people will like based on what they've said they like so Netflix can recommend movies to them. And they only want a 10% improvement on what their system does to get the million dollars.

Well, I'm not going to join, and I just started thinking about this a few minutes ago when I stumbled across it by reading another article, but it seems to me that most people don't have much of a clue about why they like something, but they are fairly good at what they don't like.

So just brainstorming and tossing something out there as I like doing such things and I'm not going to put in much effort here, I'd consider all the ways people do not like a movie, like it's too long, or the musical score is horrible, or it leans toward celebrities versus great actors, and figure out how to see dislikes in the recommendations.

Then I'd associate dislikes with things like subject, director, actor and use that to eliminate movies in a category that the person likes, which is the only place I'd go with what they've watched in the past.

So, like if they like drama, but their preferences show a dislike for the director Cameron, I'd have the system not suggest his movies, and I'd have it work opposite to what most people would do, and suggest the movies not eliminated by dislikes.

It just seems to me that dislikes can be more powerful than likes, as people avoid nasty things more than they seek things out.

And that's it for brainstorming on this issue.

If you think that idea can be tried and you want to do a lot of database heavy programming, feel free to take it! Go, have fun!

You can even keep all the money. I'd just want to be known as the source of the idea.


James Harris

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

In praise of prevention

In general, it's easier to handle the problems that are solved ahead of time.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The BOS

Not like it's a new idea I think but clearly now we live in a browser centric world, so as has been said by so many others many times before, the next best thing is a browser operating system, which of course, gives you BOS.

Before the DOS was the start of the computer revolution, the disk operating system, but many are the times I'd love to cut my computer on, and simply have my browser--Firefox--come up and go browsing with an instant on, as lately I do almost nothing else from Windows.

We were fishing around in the dark before, but clearly now it is the Internet that brings in the true Information Age, and with so much centered around the web, it just makes sense that you can build from the browser itself.

So the future of OS belongs to the group, company or group of companies that build the BOS.

What's remarkable about building an operating system built around the browser is that you can make it fully parallel, pulling in the best from multi-core systems, and you can use, I think it's virtualization? To connect it back to the old, like to Windows operating system.

And you can then get a true sandbox, where the Internet is isolated to one piece of what happens on your computer, while for other stuff you can use the old, and run Windows.

The BOS could even start Windows or Linux or whatever else operating system you wanted--if you needed.

And in the case of Windows you could, after an instant on as the BOS would load faster than your mind could notice so that cutting on your computer would be an immediate experience--as it should be--when you did something needing Windows you could sit there for minutes as it loaded and understand why the future is immediacy.

I am sick and tired of losing minutes from my life waiting for a lot of crap to load that I will never need!

Why do we pay with our lives for nothing?

The BOS is the future. The people that produce it, are the ones who usher in the true Information Age, and in doing so, save so many of us, so much time.


James Harris

Saturday, May 03, 2008

AI Woman

Source: NY Times

Technology
Pursuing the Next Level of Artificial Intelligence
By JOHN MARKOFF
Published: May 3, 2008
Daphne Koller’s work has led to advances in artificial intelligence that can be used to predict traffic jams, improve machine vision and understand the way cancer spreads....

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Musing about the project

Just downloaded Class Viewer again, which I do at times for various reasons, started it up, did a few things and thought to myself that it's a nice little tool, especially for getting to javadocs.

I've thought at times that it might help to have an installer program for downloading as I guess that'd look more professional. And it'd let me have a single download versus one for Windows and Unix, where, um, I should mention that I've never tested fully if the Unix download actually works right.

I've also thought about letting users add packages and locations for javadocs through an interface versus opening up the xml configuration file--packagedirectory.xml--and adding it in there, but that's just so easy to do.

It's nothing to open the xml file with a text editor and just toss in the javadocs location or add packages, so why make some additional interface? Seems like a waste of time to me.

It's like there are these window-dressing ideas I have which I can't quite motivate myself to do.

One substantive idea I have is to give the option of opening source files at a desired method, which would make Class Viewer even more of a development tool, which might happen if I start doing a lot of programming again and need that convenience.

But then again, I'm not sure if that's actually all that useful.

Mostly when I think about the project I just can't really see anything else that it really needs.


James Harris

Friday, April 11, 2008

Internet black holes

Source: MSNBC

‘Black holes’ charted on the Internet
Messages throughout the world are constantly lost to cyber black holes

By Clara Moskowitz
updated 8:59 a.m. PT, Fri., April. 11, 2008

...At any given moment, messages throughout the world are lost to cyber black holes, according to new computer science research.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Companies scouting for technology

Source: NY Times

Ping
Thinking Outside the Company’s Box
By G. PASCAL ZACHARY
Published: March 30, 2008
More businesses are learning how to buy the great ideas of others.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

People and processes

Your company is only as good as its people and processes. You can have the best people with crappy processes and they'll be frustrated, or great processes with inept people and you will be frustrated.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Self-assembling and chip making innovation

Source: NY Times

Prototype
Trying to Put New Zip Into Moore’s Law
By MICHAEL FITZGERALD
Published: February 24, 2008
If innovation has a heart, it’s probably a semiconductor, beating to the pace of Moore’s Law.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Solar power redux

Source: NY Times

Ping
Silicon Valley Starts to Turn Its Face to the Sun
By G. PASCAL ZACHARY
Published: February 17, 2008
Some of the region’s best minds are captivated by the challenge of solar power and hope to put the development of solar technologies on a faster track.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Grass makes better ethanol

Source: Scientific American

Grass Makes Better Ethanol than Corn Does
Midwestern farms prove switchgrass could be the right crop for producing ethanol to replace gasoline

By David Biello

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Open source video recorder

Source: NY Times

Novelties
What This Gadget Can Do Is Up to You
By ANNE EISENBERG
Published: January 6, 2008
The creator of a new video recorder has invited skilled users to customize or “hack” its device and share the improvements with others.