This is about writing applications in Excel.
suggestions from decks of cards to help think through difficult
problems (implemented in Python)
the black arts of management
Nokia has a web
site for all their Open Source projects
worst software bugs, discussed
Construction of high
integrity code, discussed in the article: Correctness by Construction: A Manifesto
for High-Integrity Software
some computer science
students are out-sourcing
their homework, using sites such as Rent-A-Coder
The hidden cost of outsourcing might be loss
of customer satisfaction and then loss of customers, discussed
on Slashdot. After spending more than 2 hours on the phone one Saturday
with Norton's support centre (obviously based in India) trying to fix
my Norton Antivirus 2005 I gave up and removed it from all my computers
and switched to a competitor.
Maps, outlining and brainstorming meet.
Slashdot book review of: SQL
Cookbook, by Anthony Molinaro, ISBN: 0596009763.
its decision to outsource some jobs to India.
Windows Theory, one man's view of why Vista is behind schedule, discussed here
The theory of the "free
electron" programmer. I fully agree with this article, these people
exist, they are pretty rare and they can be difficult to direct and
apply to specific tasks, but once they are engaged on something you
will get more out of them in a few days than you can get from most
programmers in a month. When interviewing new candidates you should try
to see if any of these get caught in your net, look for evidence of
self-motivation in computer projects at an early age, look for people
who've written their own libraries, engines or toolkits. Once you have
one on staff your problem will be keeping them amused and preventing
other project managers from press-ganging them and putting them to
"good use" just fixing bugs.
Quake3's fast InvSqrt() function
is one strange piece of C code. Discussed here
on Slashdot. Its even made it to a paper.
A Slashdot book review of: MySQL
Cookbook, by Paul DuBois, ISBN: 059652708X.
Design by contract gets discussed
Summer of Code project for 2007 will be to develop a better
packaging (download, install, remove, update) mechamism for use in free
software on the Windows platform
by Michael Loop, ISBN: 978-1590598443,
sounds like it might be worth a read.
can ruin your life, or how to understand a programmer
There appears to be too
many solutions to choose from when it comes to parallel
programming. Perhaps one should ask: why?
may be bad for those workers who don't. This makes some sense as
they may end up feeling left out and carrying the bag.  The possibility of using ray tracing for interactive game graphics is discussed here. This is something I have been expecting for some time, it appears that once computer speeds get to the 100G flops point this should be achievable (for scenes of some degree of complexity).  The seam carving technology that appeared in 2007 has been commercialized and should be available for purchase in early 2008. This is now (almost - April'08) available. The VSO Seam Carving software was released Oct'09.   If you don't have your DVD collection list loaded on your PDA then maybe one of these Groqit bar code scanner devices might be the solution to your memory problems while shopping for more DVDs.   The LifeBook P1620 from Fujitsu would make a great web pad, pity about the price though.
More rumors about the next generation of ASUS Eee PCs.
 An advanced lead-acid battery is being developed that could increase the battery pack life span by 4 times and the power capacity by 2 times, this would keep lead-acid in the game.  The FON Google map based locater application works well, hidden in it is the ability to download POIS (points of interest) files which can then be loaded into your GPS. These contain the current list of fonspots for a single country which you select. The official way to get at this data is from the FON maps page, then go to the "Tools" link in the "Menu" box on the left side of the page. Under "Tools" you will find "download to navigation gizmo", click on this and you get to a small form that allows you to pick the country of interest and the file format you want. This only worked for me from the Mozilla Seamonkey browser, both Firefox and MSIE failed to download the file.
You can get this to work by directly entering a URL like this one for Canada. It has a format that looks like: The FCC is going to do a second test of prototypes that transmit wireless internet in the unused portions of the television spectrum. The first round of tests failed due to interference with the neighboring TV signals. Discussed here on Engadget with more links to the previous failed trial. Google claims the FCC rigged the tests to make sure they would fail.  In Eating My Own Dogfood Christopher Lenz talks about his custom blogging software that he's writing in Python.  Slashdot discusses the CIA's claims that cyber attacks have blacked out cities, including one in the US. While this sounds pretty far-fetched, the claimed approach of attacking the SCADA system (which is the brain and nerves of the whole system) is plausible, especially when coupled with lax security practices (like installing WiFi on the internal LAN). Additional coverage on Engadget too.   Here is an Eee PC that has been extensively hacked to include GPS, Bluetooth, 802.11n, an FM transmitter, modem and SDHC card reading.   Using Python's new documentation tool (Sphinx) for other things.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the hashlib module that combines the original md5 and sha modules and extends them with other hashing algorithms provided by OpenSSL.    A new genome mapping project has started to try to map 1000 different people, the aim of this is to help identify and study genetic diseases.  The HP Photosmart Pro B8850 gets reviewed here, it is capable of printing 13 inch wide media in panoramic lengths (i.e. exceeding the 19 inch maximum of the Canon 9900 printer).  The SPOT Satellite Messenger is a GPS device crossed with emergency satellite communications. This looks like the first product version has some serious flaws, but could still be useful to a number of wilderness trekker types.  Could Python have been the cause of the failure of the Chandler project? From some of the other stories about Chandler it seems more likely that it suffered in a major way from the lack of constraints and control at the project/product architecture level. This gets further discussed by Phillip Eby in this article. Chandler finally reached version 1.0 in Aug'08. Chandler provides a combination of note taking, calendar and task management in a shared environment.  Lumiram makes the ECOLUME full-spectrum fluorescent lights. These have a 5000K colour temperature, which is in the natural daylight range (these might be available at some Canadian Tire Stores). GE makes a similar product which has a 6500K temperature (unfortunately GE's web site is not well suited to linking, so this will not work, instead you'll need to search their products for "GE Daylight Energy Smart" or a product number like 85394 or 89095)which I have found at both Canadian Tire and Walmart in Calgary.  Denon's DHT-FS5 X-Space soundbar is a new competitor to Yamaha's soundbar speaker systems.  Let the law suits begin: a company has patented the idea of combining mobile entertainment and communications into one device. How hard can it be for the patent office to look in their pockets and say - hey that covers my cell phone.  Travel Photographer of the Year offer photography courses which can include travel to foreign locations.  The Seattle Flickr Strobists get to use an aircraft hanger as a makeshift studio to practice flash strobe light photography. Apparently they have been known to use underground parking garages as cheap studio space too.  Some odd limitations on the Java Generics.  The Maha MH-C9000 WizardOne is an intelligent AA/AAA battery charger. This has four independent charging circuits, so different sizes and capacities can be charged at the same time. It also has a number of special cycles, including a discharge, a refresh (combined top-up, discharge, recharge) and a break-in cycle (for batteries that have lost their full capacity). It is reviewed here and here. In Calgary it is available at MemoryExpress.   The Windows XP retail cut off date is currently 30-June-2008, beyond that point in time the only way a consumer can get a new license would be to buy a new PC with Vista from a major vendor (probably Dell) who offers a downgrade option.  This PMP/Game handheld from Chinavision has a built in solar charger that is quite nicely done. Personally I would have thought it would make more sense to put the controls and screen on the inside (like a Nintendo DS) and put the solar cells on the outside (i.e. on the top and bottom surfaces) then the cells would be capturing energy all the time, even when you are using the device.  MSI is getting set to enter the Eee PC market, probably in Q3 2008.  Implementation of some .NET libraries for CPython.  Fabric a remote deployment tool designed to upload files to and run shell commands on a number of servers in parallel. Some notes on using this.  The ICANN has voted to eliminate the free trial (domain tasting) period that many scams are being built on. The have also discussed Network Solutions' front running practice (registering domain names automatically under their name whenever someone does a whois search for the name), but have not taken any action on it. An ICANN committee has determined that domain name tasting may be causing problems (probably because of Google's pressure) but that there is nothing wrong with the practice of front running.  A short article on Google Sitemaps and the Google Webmaster Tools.   Sony is going to be producing some photo frames (DPF-V900 and DPF-V700) that have HDMI outputs. This means that you could hook up a photo frame to your large screen HDTV and have a classic slide show evening.  The Digi Connect WAN 3G is a router that will allow a local network to share an HSDPA or EV-DO wireless link for internet connectivity. Now if only cell phone data plans would get sensible data rates in North America...  MonkeyPatching a Python program can be done by adding extra code to the __init__.py file. More discussion of this can be found here.  How to implement truly transparent text (useful for watermarks) with PIL.  Sony's GPS-CS1KASP device (picture on Engadget) can log GPS coordinates every 15 seconds for geo-tagging purposes.   The nuvifone from Garmin combines GPS navigator, phone, PMP, web browser, WiFi and BlueTooth into one sleek touch screen controlled device. Start saving now for a Q3 2008 release. Since it does WiFi one would presume that when a WiFi link is available you can browse the web through it. Does this have any PDA functionality? If it did then it might be a reason for Palm owners to switch. Is the platform open enough to allow 3rd party developers to write applications for it?  The HumanCar, for $15K you can have a bicycle built for four. From the description it sounds like it includes additional power assisted drive for when your kids refuse to pedal anymore.  The E-Lead Noahpad is taking some innovative steps (but probably not popular) in the keyboard and mouse controller design area. They have combined the two functions by enlarging the touchpad and then placing "keys" on it. It looks like the surface of the touchpad is still smooth, so this could be a problem for touch typing. They have also revived the idea of a larger virtual display (1024x768) that the user pans the physical display (800x480) across. Since the act of panning has always been problematic they have set up a second touch pad (which has the left half of the keyboard on it) which is dedicated to moving the display. I'm still thinking a better solution would have been to have installed a 10 inch (1024x768) display instead of the little 7 inch display. It looks like the Noahpad might be getting revised, it was shown at Computex in June'08 with a somewhat larger keyboard.  Thomas Guest's Python suggested reading list and some additional suggestions from Jesse Noller. One really good book that is missing from these lists is "Learning Python" by Mark Lutz and David Ascher, see my Python Books page for this and a few more.  Some articles comparing Python to Scheme.  Using nano-antennas to convert infra-red radiation to electricity. Essentially this is just the logical extension of how all radio antennas work as infra-red (and indeed other wave lengths of light) are just (much, much) higher frequency radio waves.  In Finland stem cells have been used to create a replacement jaw for a patient, discussed here on Slashdot.  Using a USB interface to drive traditional analog dial gauges from a PC.   The PyMOTW takes a look at the string module.  
For some reason Microsoft is spreading misinformation about the Canadian Copyright system.  NVIDIA is going to buy AGEIA (who make the PhysX accelerator engines), could this mean the NVIDIA is getting more serious about using graphics engines to accelerate general purpose computing?  The SmartParts SP8PRT is a photoframe with a built in printer.  While not a CPU, the Curta was probably the first hand-held calculating devices capable of long multiplication. It was also a pretty neat device that had a wonderful feeling to it, rather like using a Nikon F1.  Podcasts from PyCon2007.  The ultimate, monster, super-sized webpad, or just a hoax? I'm guessing a hoax.
Some videos of the new Garmin nuvifone in action, including one showing the email and web browsers.  Ian Bicking writes about what he would like to see in a simple content management system (CMS).  The trade off between coding time and testing time.  Panasonic is working on a sensor that will facilitate high dynamic range (HDR) photography, they do this by getting the sensor to take a sequence of three photographs with three greatly different exposure times and then combining the data. They have been able to expand the dynamic range from 60dB to 140dB with this technique, note that dB scales are logarithmic so this is not a simple factor of 2.3 increase, with each 3dB the linear range is doubled (i.e. an f-stop or factor of 2 change in shutter speed) so that's an exposure range increase of 26 f-stops (or changing from , with this you could probably set up a manual shutter speed and f-stop indoors and then go outside into sunlight and shoot without changing anything and still get a usable photograph. If you hold your f-stop fixed this range is equivalent to changing your shutter speed from 1/8000th of a second to over 8000 seconds. Of course their test sensor is only 177x144 pixels, but there's no reason this sort of technique could not be applied to a modern sensor pretty soon.  Build your own motion activated home event recorder camera.  Congratulations ASUS, you know you've made the big time when hackers have found a vulnerability in your product, in this case the Eee.  The DreamBook is another hopeful contender to the ASUS Eee, but it looks like it has the same limitations and is bigger and costs more.  The PF-D240 digifram from Mustek combines a number of functions (clock radio and photo frame) in a useful way but skimps on the size of the display. A redesign with a 5 to 7 inch display size would make this much better.  Enumerating Trees to examine postfix expressions.  A fancy wxPython exception handler that can be used to catch unhandled exceptions, package them up with diagnostic data and send the package to a support site.   Using simulated annealing to solve a problem in vocabulary learning. The idea is to learn the more common words first to maximize the number of sentences that can be understood at an earlier time. An additional presentation on this approach.   The PyMOTW takes a look at the tempfile module.   While not a true photo frame the Cowon A3 PMP has slide show capabilities as well as component video output so it could be used as a portable presentation tool for showing slides on a large screen TV instead of using a laptop computer.   Python's BaseHTTPServer class makes it pretty trivial to build little custom web servers to perform dedicated functions, here is an example to add a web interface to command line tools or scripts.  The utimate 56-inch LCD display, with 4K x 2K resolution, one of these days this will be affordable.  Geocaching takes a turn for the scary, and the bomb squad responds.  Some thoughts on how to document functions and classes. The Linux kernel coding style guide.  Texas Instruments will be shipping an Android development platform this spring. Talk about the ultimate geek cell phone (though not exactly pocket sized)!  Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the waters, the SCO patent zombie has been resurrected by The Carlyle Group with a $100M business plan to pursue SCO's legal claims.  Using CompactFlash in an SATA adapter as a replacement for a regular laptop hard drive instead of using a dedicated SSD device. This article gives some speed comparisons based on running Windows XP off a few different compact flash cards, and found that by using a faster compact flash card one could out perform a low end SSD drive.  Now there's a kid-ridable triceratops, when does the backyard play-raptor make an appearance?  The Chumby is now available for the general public to purchase. But it is still only for sale to addresses in the USA.  NVIDEA is looking at using a physics engine to CUDA port to allow any GeForce 8 GPU to provide PhysX support.  The Insignia photo frame virus is much worse than originally thought.  Google has been researching web site based malware distribution techniques. They are finding that 1.3% of Google searches return at least one link to a malware site and that most of these are hosted in China. Web adverts are now being used to deliver malware.   Solar cell technology that directly produces from hydrogen (without first producing electricity) is being developed.  The $200 laptop returns, this time from Elonex in England. This is thought to be the Chinese "Simple PC". Just for fun it moves all the heavy electronics and batteries from under the keyboard to behind the display, which makes it look rather unbalanced. The Register has a press release and says it should ship June'08, they also say it's going to be based on a 300MHz processor with 128MB of RAM (so should be slower than the Eee) and only has a 1GB SSD and has a removable keyboard. Pretty much the same info from The Inquirer. Here is a video of it in action - this shows the removable keyboard function, by removing the keyboard you turn the device into a webpad tablet (though not touch screen) which you control using a couple of mouse buttons and a thumb stick that are built into the back of the screen unit. This tablet conversion idea looks like it might work. In the video you can also see that the "unbalanced" nature of the device (when in keyboard attached mode) is addressed by a little pop-out stand behind the display. Now lets hope they make a version with a larger display and a faster CPU and more RAM... ITWire looks at this here and Slashdot discusses here.  Rumors of the HP UMPC 2133 look pretty good, it is roughtly the same size as the ASUS Eee but it corrects the greatest problem with the Eee, the screen size. The HP has an 8.9 inch display running at 1366x766 resolution. Unknown price and availability at this point, but maybe this will stir ASUS into bringing out a 9 or 10 inch version of the Eee at a reasonable price. According to Engadget this is to go on sale 7-Apr-08 for prices from $549 to $749. The lowest price model comes with Linux, while for $600 and up versions of Vista are included. This might put some more downwards pressure on the new ASUS Eee 9 inch model's price. The Mini-Note has now been released, the HP press release is here and Engadget has a collection of reviews here. Discussed here on Slashdot.  UQDS, Ultimate Quality Development System might be too heavy weight for some, so an alternative, XQDS, Xtremely Quick Development System is proposed. One suggestion I would make would be to switch from using Subversion to using a more modern distributed version control system (such as Mercurial) to support this type of work flow.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the pkgutil module, this contains a function that is used to modify the search path for modules.   Some detailed notes about how finalizers are called and work in Python.  Microsoft has released documentation on their binary file formats for Office. Joel On Software has a good discussion of how the complexity of these formats developed and what one might do to work around it.  The Software Freedom Law Center's (SFLC) Legal Issues Primer for Open Source and Free Software Projects gets discussed on Slashdot.  A gravity driven floor lamp, this is so much like an old grandfather clock that one wonders how it could possibly get patented.
http://maps.fon.com/main/downloadPois?country_code=ca&format=csv, you can select the different file formats by changing the "csv" at the end (I picked CSV because I wanted to search for all the fonspots in one city) and you can change the country by replacing the "ca" with the country code you are interested in. A note of interest, as of 20-Jan-2008 Canada now has 850 FONspots listed and Calgary has 27. 
Of course there is just the slight problem that this light must be violating the laws of physics. Consider the claim that it provides about 4W of light via the LEDs for 4 hours per "charge up". This means that the energy used would be 4W * 4 hr * 3600s/hr = 57600J. Now since the formula for potential energy is just mass*gravity*height, and the height of the device is roughly 1m this means 57600 = mass * 9.81 * 1m so the mass required is 5871kg. Of course, the mass will need to be larger than this to overcome conversion efficiencies, friction etc. Looking at the design pictures it appears that the mass they are intending to use is probably in the range of about 25kg (it cannot be much larger for practical health reasons - not to mention the risk of tipping the light over when the mass is near the top), so someone has made a serious error as a mass of that size would only produce 4W of power for about 60 seconds.
And this won second prize in a contest and they (a university by the looks of it) are patenting it! So much for peer review.   Some background on hash functions and the behavior of Python's built in hash function.  The Linutop 2 mini PC is another entry into the small Linux based green computing platform - though its more expensive than some of the competition like the Koolu.  Microsoft has announced a new strategy to embrace the open source world - and smother it to death under 30000 pages of useful documentation! Plus they are going to let people use their patents for reasonable fees (or even nil if its being used in a non-commercial way). One response to this calls it: don't compete and Microsoft won't sue and points out that it is unclear what is meant by "non-commercial distribution".   Modern DRAM chips can actually hold their data for a long time, and if they have been cooled this could even be in the range of minutes. This represents a potential security threat. One of the main reasons this attack works as well as it does is that current operating systems do not clear memory that is no longer in use (though Windows 2000 and up appear to clear it before allocating it to another process for use). Because of this it also is possible to boot a system from another drive (such as a USB drive) and then read the contents of memory left over from the last run.  Panasonic is getting into the electric bicycle business, their Titanium Flat Road EB looks pretty close to a normal bike (though the electric range is rather small).  A startup company Solazyme is working on developing a process to use algae to produce fuel, this is discussed here on Engadget. The interesting thing about their approach is that they are growing algae in the dark, having found that this gets the algae to produce more oils. They can feed the algae with sugars and even cellulose which has the potential to improve the overall yield of the biofuel synthesis cycle by reducing the amount of wasted plant material.  The Popcorn hour networked media player is now shipping in limited quantities at $179. This supports up to 1080p (both component and HDMI) as well as composite and S-video. It also has two USB ports for adding devices as well it supports an IDE internal drive for more storage. It supports a pretty wide set of CODECS. There's more information on this on the Networked Media Tank support wiki. In May'08 this started to ship in volume, comments from early adopters are pretty positive. A very good review of the Popcorn Hour with some internal pictures, this review has been updated a number of times as the author has worked with different firmware versions. Engadget asks its readers how they would change the Popcorn Hour. The next generation of this (the A-110) went on pre-order in Aug'08 and they are also making a mini-ITX motherboard called the B-110 for home theater applications. CNet takes a look at the A-110.   Green Freedom is a project to extract CO2 from the air and turn it back into fuel. They don't say where they are getting the energy from that will be needed to turn the CO2 (along with water) back into hydrocarbons, but as their press release is liberally sprinkled with the word "nuclear" and this is a team that is headed by Los Alamos National Laboratory it's a safe bet they are planning to use electricity from nuclear power plants - so this is really no different from the typical "hydrogen economy" babble.  Simple infra red head lamps could foil common security camera systems. Or at least mark the wearer as a person of significance (and quickly lead to a close encounter with a tac team).   Samsung talks about flash reliability in SSD drives, they figure that due to the wear leveling technology a 100K write cycle flash will make it virtually impossible to wear out an SSD drive. For a rough approximation consider that your computer writes continually at a 1MB/s rate, then with an 32GB drive it would take 32K seconds to write once to all the cells. This would then need repeating 100K times, so its 32K x 100K or 3200M seconds, which is about 106 years. If you drop the drive size to only 4GB then you are still looking at 13 years (which is more than a mechanical drive is going to last). Increasing the write rate will also decrease the time, so if you bring it up to the maximum speed that such a drive can sustain, which is around 32MB/s then the ultimate life of a 32GB drive would drop by a factor of 32 to about 3.3 years. So you're not going to be able to wear out one of these drives within a 3 year warranty!
This sort of calculation also means that if a device like a compact flash drive is used in a computer as a system disk (so it's getting log files updated and the swap partition is on the drive) then so long as the device is large enough and the average write rate is acceptable then it will have a long life - and the easiest way to assure this is to just oversize the drive a bit. So instead of using a 512MB drive for your disk-less server, installing a 2GB unit will make it last 4 times as long.  The Palm has been emulated on an iPhone, what a way to upgrade your Palm. This sort of approach might make sense for the Palm company - just sell a Palm OS emulation package that runs on different hardware packages, leaving the low-margin high-risk hardware development and manufacturing to other companies.  The haptic input device, this is a "braille-like" touch pad that is located on the back of a hand-held device (like a PDA). You can then use it to operate the device one-handed by touching this pad with a finger from the hand that is holding it. A rather interesting idea, I've always found the few direct access buttons that Palm devices have to be a quick way of doing a few things, and by virtue of them being near the edge of the device they can be used one-handed (though it is a bit awkward). The Sony Clie Palm devices had a scroll wheel and a button that were situated on the side at the top left allowing one to control some functions with the thumb if you were holding it in the left hand. This worked quite well, except support for the scroll wheel was rather limited. I would think that a row of small buttons down one side would also work well.   The PyMOTW visits the imp module which is used for working with Python's import mechanism.   Phun is a 2D physics simulator, it gets some mention here including some YouTube references.   A new version of the Compact Flash memory card format is being worked on, for introduction in late 2009 to 2010 time frame. This is to replace the IDE conection with an SATA type connection allowing data rates to hit 375MB/s. The specification (see the CompactFlash Association)for this is due to be published in May'08.  Ars Technica looks at building a green PC, discussed here on Slashdot. They build a lower power (say under 150W) box for game playing and then try to build an extreme green box which uses something in the range of 20-30W. On the extreme box they went overboard on the hard drive and used a 32GB SSD unit which cost $725, they would have done better to have selected a 2.5 inch laptop drive for about $100 (which would have used almost the same power) or found a way to use a 1.8 inch drive (or the kind intended for PMP devices), or use a 16GB CF card mounted in an IDE adapter (they talk about doing this later).  Arizona is going to get a 280MW solar power plant.  USB flash drives built into basic Lego-style bricks.   Various Python based solvers for mathematical problems such as linear equations and optimization.   The Celrun is a networked media player and recorder with HDMI and component output.  One Eee user has hacked it by upgrading the processor to a Pentium-M.   In Feb'08 MediaGate announced their MG-450HD media player, which updates the MG-350HD to add HDMI output, should be available for $249. This started shipping in late April'08, along with a price drop to $229.  Hacking the Everex CloudBook has started, the first steps are to dissect and inspect one.   A look at the various Python GUI programming platforms for Windows is worth a read, it gives you a brief code snippit for each along with a summary of their various strengths and weaknesses.   A project to build your own geotagger for a Nikon D200, this is based on a SiRF Star III GPS module. This is a seemingly simple project because the Nikon's firmware already includes the ability to read GPS NMEA formatted data from the camera's external interface port and embed it into the EXIF data area of the photos.   Google has finally done something with the JotSpot system they bought at the end of 2006, their new system is called Google Sites and it is discussed here and here on Slashdot.  Discussion of the enter key and how to override its
default functionality (of OK-ing the dialog) as well this
mentions that the tab key order is the same as z-order for a dialog
and has discussion of PreTranslateMessage() which can be used to
implement accelerator keys in a dialog.
Setting focus to controls in a dialog can be troublesome
This patent, for a handheld device with sliding keyboard, proves that the patent examiners are kept on a prison island and denied all access to modern technology and news.  Mitsubishi's corrosion-resistant DVD-R disks promise about twice the lifespan of conventional DVD-R disks.  excrement to energy, a biogas producing digester for the third world (or maybe your Manhattan roof-top loft).  A preview of the new WorldWideTelescope that one of Microsoft's research labs has been working on. This project takes images from telescopes all over the world and stitches them together to produce a full view of the night sky that can be explored interactively. Discussed here on Slashdot. Now this will be a great way to use a home theater system driven by a good sized PC. This has now been launched. In March'09 a web interface to this (see it here) was added.  This recipe allows you to create a restricted python function from a string, the intent being to allow an application to be safely scripted by user written functions in a controlled fashion. A cautionary follow-up to this which mentions that the rexec function is known to have security issues and is being removed from Python.   Wired Science picks the 10 best chemistry videos from YouTube.  Microsoft's StartKey (which might appear in late 2008) is an attempt to allow users to carry their Windows environment with them from computer to computer on a flash device. Perhaps a better approach would be to boot and run the whole thing from the flash device?   So you're happily coding away on some dialogs and have some special need to use SetFocus() and TABSTOP to get the tab key sequencing through the controls in exactly the right fashion. But sometimes you notice that the focus rectangle is not getting drawn on the control that has the keyboard focus and you think this is a problem in your code and you start to tear out the few remaining hairs on your head.
If you are using Windows XP or Vista this might not be a problem with your code, it appears that some UI designer (who's brain was obviously too big and has a full head of hair) at Microsoft decided that the keyboard focus indicator was too distracting and ordered it turned off by default. But to make life more confusing the focus box will get drawn when signs of keyboard activity are sensed (such as when you press an ALT key or perhaps the left or right arrow keys - but NOT the TAB key). Then, just to make matters even worse, the Vista team rearranged the way this option is hidden in the Windows preferences system, so even if you found the instructions on how to re-enable this behavior under XP you'll never find the control for it under Vista - this article has a good guide to where to find the setting under both Vista and XP. In short for Vista you need to:
for Windows XP you need to:
- right click on the desktop,
- select the "Personalize" menu item,
- then click on the "Ease of access" link,
- then click on "Make keyboard easier to use",
- then check the "Underline keyboard shortcuts and access keys" option
- and (finally!) hit the "Save" button.
 There will be a 9 inch version of the ASUS Eee PC, full details are to be release 5-Mar-08. This new screen will have a 1024x600 resolution which will make using the Eee a bit easier. It looks like there will be a Windows XP version of the 9-inch Eee, perhaps because Vista would be too slow. More details on this from the ASUS CEO, it will have an SSD drive (rather than straight flash) and be using the newer Intel Atom chip set, priced at US$499 at launch (in May).  While not really a webpad size device, the VA1500V laptop from Everex is the same price as an ASUS Eee and brings you a 15 inch screen at the cost of about 3 pounds more weight. Clearly the $399 price point is becoming significant.  The Mobile Digital Scribe from IOGEAR is another digital note taker, an alternative to just scanning your pages of freehand notes. The Switched On column takes a look at this here.  Iomega's Rev Disk system is finally getting a capacity boost (from 70GB to 120GB). But given that the price of the individual cartridges are currently about $1/GB while a normal bare IDE hard drive is $0.25/GB and a 120GB laptop drive in a USB-powered case can be had for $0.83/GB, one really has to ask why are they still selling these?. In Apr'08 the 120GB drives and cartridges started shipping, the external USB interfaced drive (including a cartridge) costs $499 and a 5-pack of cartridges costs $325. So for the cartridges alone the price is $0.54/GB. At this time I can buy a 500GB IDE drive and an external USB case for less than $160 at our local computer shop which works out at $0.32/GB, so I still have to ask why anyone would bother with this REV stuff?  The Altos easyStore NAS from Acer, is a 4 drive RAID unit that can currently hold up to 3GB. Engadget spots one at CeBIT'09.  Konarka Technologies have developed a solar cell that can be manufactured by inkjet printing techniques all without the expensive requirement for a clean room. As they don't ever mention efficiency one must presume that these are rather low efficiency devices, but if they are inexpensive enough then that's often not a problem.  Beautiful Code, by Andy Oram, Greg Wilson, ISBN: 978-0596510046. is a book on software development.  AppLogic the next level beyond a VPS?  The ECS GIL10IL is an 11-inch sub notebook (additional pictures) that might compete against the Eee, but because the specs are somewhat higher I'd expect a higher price too. This update says it will come in 8.2 or 10.2 inch versions. This got a hands-on review at Computex in June'08. This is now expected to be available in Sept'08 and starting at $399. Here is a brief look at one.  The Wizplat NAS-20 is a 2-drive, gigabit NAS box from Sarotech. It has built in iTunes, NitTorrent and print servers and its case looks like one of the OLPC designers paid them a visit - perhaps this would get some attention at a LAN party?  GE is investing in the electric car maker Think and the A123Systems battery maker.  Metakit is a structured database for Python (and other languages). This gets referenced here.  The MSI Wind is another competitor to the ASUS Eee - this will have a 10 inch display at 1024x768 resolution and sell in the UKP299 to UKP699 range. Now MSI is talking about June'08 for first shipment of the 8.9 and 10 inch Wind devices, for prices in the range of $470-1099. MSI has posted its official specifications for the Wind, the 8.9 and 10 inch displays will be 1024x600 and be LED-backlit, so battery life may be better than a similar sized Eee. Engadget reports that this is to be $610 for a 10-inch screen, 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1GB RAM and XP. MSI has finally announced that the price for the 10 inch version will be $399 (with Linux) and $549 (with Windows XP). At $399 it really under cuts the 9-inch Eee and provides more features than the 7 inch Eee (which is also about $399) so ASUS will have to rethink their pricing a bit - isn't competition great! A Chilean gets to review an early version of the Wind and quite likes it. The UK site Mobile Computer reviews the Wind and Slashdot discusses it here. CNET takes a hands-on look here with followup on Engadget here. Another pre-release preview here. LaptopMag reviews the MSI Wind, and likes it. More reviews of the Wind and questions about why the Advent 4211 (which is the same machine under a different label) is less expensive.  The PyMOTW visits the time module.   the EB-100 and EB-300 from Netronix (who also manufacture e-ink displays) are a 6-inch and a 10-inch pair of new e-books.  Some notes on using the eval() function.  How do you go about writing and testing the code that is part of a modern technical book?  How to build The Electronic Post-It Note out of a microcontroller, trackpad and an LCD module. Though for abut 30% more one could buy a Nokia N800 instead, put that wouldn't give you as many experience points.  Some thoughts on how to use SQLObject.  CNet compares the Eee to its new competitors. Now if Dell were to downsize their Vostro 1400 a bit, say drop the optical drive and give it a 12" screen, and cut the weight a pound or two, then the Eee (and the others) would be in serious trouble.  The Logitech diNovo Mini Bluetooth keyboard and mouse emulator is finally shipping, a cute but rather expensive small wireless keyboard for a home theater PC system. There are a number of less expensive alternatives including: a wireless RF keyboard with joystick and this Adesso WKB-4000US   The KORG DS-10 synth meets the Nintendo DS - result: cool music device.   The FRLN from Frontier is a 12.1 inch ultra portable laptop that weighs in at 2.7 pounds (only about half a pound more than an Eee). At $1260 it's a lot more than an Eee, but that's also a lot less than other similar laptops. One flaw is that it's using an 800MHz A110 processor, so it will not be super fast - however this probably helps reduce its power requirements, and so probably helps keep its battery weight down.  Virgin Mobile, inexpensive cell phones and sassy adverts pay tribute to the Spitzer scandal.  At last, a photo frame that crosses over into TV and other spaces from Pandigital. I wonder if they include the under the cabinet mounting hardware in the $399 proce - or is that a $99 option? For this sort of functionality the thing must have a computer embedded in it, I wonder when it will get hacked?  This study confirms my own experiences that productivity increases with monitor space. Of course as this is a paid-for-by-industry type study you should take it with a grain of salt, but consider what happens if you are using Microsoft's Visual Studio to do some C++ work. It likes to do everything in one window broken up into a number of panels (for organizational and navigational purposes). This often leaves me with a coding window of about 1000x600 pixels out of a 1680x1050 (20 inch wide screen) resolution monitor. If I need to look at two files side by side, that drops to 500x600 for each, which is pretty small. With a second monitor this is much easier to do. Also, when you start running the application in debug mode (especially when working on a GUI problem) you have to fight with the two applications to get them to share the screen space and yet still have enough room to see your local variables, call stack and source code windows. If you have a second monitor, or one wider than 1680 pixels (though I doubt 1920 is really that much wider) then you can give each application (Visual Studio and the one being debugged) its own monitor and work in a much easier fashion.   A look at some of the tools (and processes) that Google uses internally.   RFID based access control cards may be very insecure.  The Reg Developer site takes a look at scripting for .NET with IronPython.  Notes on agile web testing in Python from the 2008 PyCon. This also includes a discussion of the hierarchy of tests and the kinds of tests one might do.  Engadget asks: How would you change Chumby?"  The ASUS EP20 could be a new low-cost small form factor PC for the home. It seems to be Linux based and possibly priced at about $300.  NorhTech is planning a sub $300 laptop to join the competition with the Eee. This first laptop was not a success, too expensive for what you got, they are looking at a second attempt with a 8.9-inch screen and a $200 price point, which if realized would be a good seller. They appear to have achieved this with their Gecko EduBook which is $199 F.O.B. Thailand. This uses the Xcore86 CPU at 1GHz (only using 1.2W, so it has no fan), has an 8.9 inch 1024x600 screen, has a replaceable CPU module and is also powered by eight AA batteries (either NiMH or lithium) for 4-6 hours. It also has an internal USB socket intended to be used by OEMs to customize the Gecko for particular applications (allowing telcos to add a particular radio system). Here is a look at one showing the AA based battery pack, the SD card boot disk and the CPU module.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the datetime module which provides functions for doing date and time parsing and arithmetic.   A presentation from the 2008 PyCon titled: Unicode in Python, Completely Demystified.  A new wheat fungus has spread from Uganda in 1999 to Iran in 2007, as it affects 80% of wheat varieties it could prove a serious hunger problem. Now why is wheat being grown in Uganda, sounds like a good way of making new diseases?  The CloudBook (made by FIC branded as Everex) has made it to Japan. Curious thing is that with exactly the same model number as the US version it now has touchscreen, 802.11a and Bluetooth. And has increased in price to $600 (though that might just be for the Japanese market). Whether this will ever show up in the first world has become doubtful as Everex has been acquired by NewMarket.  A talk from PyCon 2008 by Alex Martelli called Callback Patterns and Idioms in Python is a good read on the sort of things that can be done with callbacks.  This lightning talk: Python Concurrency from PyCon 2008 by Jesse Noller gives an overview of the four major packages that are currently available for multi-processing from within Python.  Consistent hashing is a method to use a hash function to distribute load across a group of non-uniform servers. This can be very useful in combination with a memory caching system. This idea can also be used for other sorts of problems too. hash-ring is a Python module that implements consistent hashing.   There has been some talk that Intel might enter the Eee competition with something called the Netbook, here are some possible pictures of this. And some more views of it, where it's being called the Eco PC. It has appeared in Malaysia where it will be called the SmartBook and is made by FTEC and there is about a $40 difference in price between the 7 and 9 inch screens. It is also going to be made by CTL and will be called the 2go PC.  Sony is introducing two stand alone photo printers with built in displays and HDMI output ports so they can be used for showing slide shows on large screen TVs.   This article reviews four of the current electric energy usage monitors for the home.  This set of links to resources from the PyCon 2008 talks has a fair bit of information about distributed computing topics.  A build it yourself kit electric (battery/solar panel) car, reminds me a bit of very old ice cream carts...  A little USB gadget that gives you an additional 2 inch colour LCD display to unburden your primary desktop.  The ASUS NOVA LITE Mini 2L is a low-end small form factor PC, there are several models, the lowest has a DVI output and one has an HDMI output as well, so these might be a good choice for a low end media display unit.  The MYKA TorrentTV is a small media player with built in hard drive that it fills via BitTorrent downloading. It supports HDMI, Component, S-Video and composite video for play back. Prices start at $299 depending on how much hard drive space you put in it. This has reached production, so possibly shipping around the start of March 2009.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the collections module.   Sphinx (here at the cheeseshop) is a Python tool to build documentation, typically from source code. A screencast that demonstrates using Sphinx and Doctests. Here is a note on it with some samples. Here is another example of how this is being put to use (including with Latex). Another recommendation for sphinx with sample of the setup.  Clone Digger is a tool that finds code duplications within a set of source code files. This helps point the way to places to refactor.  The timeline for the remainder of Windows XP's life.  The eLite LED kits from Lifelites add LED lighting to Lego models.  The (Lack of) Testing Death Spiral discusses reasons why you should have some form of automated testing in your software development process. This is based on a talk given at PyCon 2008 on testing and the OLPC project  The ASUS 8.9 inch Eee PC will include a touchscreen system.  The ASUS 9 inch Eee makes an appearance on the FCC website.  Starting with twill, nosetests and easy_install a few ShowMeDo screen casts.  Kodak adds Quick Touch borders to its photo frames, allowing for easier interactive use.  1366 Technologies is looking to commercialize a process for high efficiency multicrystalline silicon solar cells that should initially cost about $2.10/watt and drop to $1.30/watt with some planned improvements. Their eventual target is to hit the $1/watt price point.  Adobe has put a free version of Photoshop Express on the web. This allows you to do some photo editing and sharing through your browser and get enticed into buying more from Adobe. It's probably also a way for Adobe to test the waters of software rentals and see what features are really used. The first version of the license agreement for this granted Adobe rights to your photos, because of complaints this may be revised. The license agreement has been revised, the new terms start 10-April-2008.   CNet's list of 10 most obsolete computer interface ports. It includes a reference to the Red Dwarf robot Kryton too. Most of this makes sense except, perhaps, for the inclusion of FireWire. Discussed here on Slashdot.  Nokia has let slip that a new version of their N810 is just around the corner (which would explain the recent price drop of the current N810) and this will include WiMax. The N810 WiMAX Edition gets official.  A short article discussing approaches to project hosting. And the final outcome was to use Google code and groups behind a small web site front end.  Odd Things 2008 additions.  Ned Batchelder's Aptus is a Mandelbrot set graphics creator written in Python. He ran into problems with display redraw flickering on Windows (but not on the Mac) and discusses a solution using double buffering for wxPython here. It is written in Python with a C extension for speed and uses the wxPython, Numpy and PIL packages.  HotHardware takes a look at the Windows XP equipped version of the ASUS Eee PC which starts shipping about April 9th. Discussed here on Slashdot.  ControlThink is in the Z-Wave business, and have USB adapters that are firmware upgradeable.  Using GStreamer to write a video player in wxPython. Another article talking about implementing a video player for wxPython with Gstreamer.   Looking at the performance of various HTML parsers for Python (lxml, BeautifulSoup, html5lib, ElementTree, cElementTree, HTMLParser, htmlfill, Genshi, xml.dom.minidom).   The PyMOTW takes a look at the urllib which is used for the client side of access to HTTP resources.   The Sony HDR-SR12 is a hard-drive based hi-def camcorder (reviewed here) with a 5M pixel CMOS sensor which is supposed to bring a significant improvement to low-light noise levels.  How to save images as PNG from older versions of PyGame by using PIL.  Buffalo's LinkTheater HD is an hi-def media streamer for use with a wired ethernet, supposed to be about $199 and had HDMI and component video outputs.  Google's Android could be appearing on the W.E. Phone from Koolu.  The PanTouch series of photo frames by Pandigital will feature touch sensitive screen mattes for control. This is like these Kodak QuickTouch screens, so should help to keep the display free of finger prints.  A JSON RPC client and server pair. Ian Bicking thinks that doing this with WebOb makes more sense and provides a tutorial here.   Loose weight and gain speed, perhaps on a 10km distance you can get about 12 seconds faster for every pound you loose.  The SONY HDR-TG1 Handycam (which will be the HDR-TG3E in Europe) is a very compact full 1920x1080 HD camcorder that writes to memory stick flash media (needing about 4Gig/hour in LP mode). It can also act as a 4M pixel still camera. Discussed here on Engadget. An unboxing and quick look at it in video form are here. Engadget starts to take a look at one.  The ASUS R50 UMPC is a 5.6 inch handheld device, that's supposed to sell for something over $500 starting in June'08.  One s3fs to rule them all a quick note on interfaces to the Amazon S3 storage service, two of which are implemented in Python.  Odd Things 2007 additions. 
lost ... and found
Big brother may not be watching, but he's giving
away a cut of the spoils to those who do
book machine , combines both printing and binding of books into one
machine, bits in books out. If the speed and cost are right this could
be the end of the publishing industry.
it yourself DSL connections (for less) and wireless bridges
Build your own 100Mbps
fibre network for your neighborhood. Here's a do
it yourself optical link based on LEDs that can do 10Mbps over
distances as great as 1km.
signal processing or compression scheme? More information to be
small-car public transport system in Wales
Is your new HDTV
set already obsolete? What about your DVD player?
of the World is now on-line
an implementation of the ECMA Common Language Infrastructure proposed
in DSL via a COOP
Internet Success Story, and how
not to make money on the net.
data over visible light
cancer scanner looks a lot like it uses one of the scanning wands
used in airport security checks. It may offer a fast, inexpensive, way of
screening for presence of any cancer in your doctor's office. If this is fast,
cheap and efficient it'll never be welcomed by the medical community, they'll
claim something like "it has too many false-negatives to be safe to
- right click on the desktop,
- select the "Properties" menu item,
- then click on the "Appearance" tab,
- then click on "Effects..." button,
- remove the check from the "Hide underlined letters for keyboard navigation until I press the Alt key" option
- and (finally!) hit the "OK" button.
Of course the cancer scanning that is currently carried out on all
patients on their regular doctors visits is running about 100% false negatives
right now... That is to say practically everyone who visits a doctor for an
annual medical leaves his office with a false feeling that they are healthy
(i.e. cancer free).
up nuclear waste with bacteria
Slashdot discusses electrical
power blackouts, and also here,
the past and present (Aug 2003 in North America)
Mono-wheeled vehicles, the RIOT
wheel design puts the rider outside the wheel, the designer's home
page is here
The Spanish embrace
big brother, allowing them to drink and leave their money at home.
The Japanese are about to track
their children with RFID implants.
Now the UK is about
to launch police spy drones, Blader Runner or Dark Angel here we come.
flow simulations, including the rather scarey "reservation mode"
intersection, which allows streams of traffic to interweave through an
intersection without the aid of traffic lights.
Poker Bots becoming a problem? The referenced article
mentions a more "real" threat: that of players working as a team, which
even if you were to insist that all participants computers were somehow
isolated from the rest of the net would just be defeated by a simple
In the USA a database of DNA fingerprints is steadily
growing (discussed here)
and is being used in some interesting ways. For example if a
"near-match" to crime scene DNA is found, then the police start to
suspect relatives of the person who had the close match DNA.
camera snooping device
 CTL's 2go PC is an implementation of the Intel Classmate PC, this will be available through Amazon and priced in the $300-500 range. There is a review of it here. CTL also makes the IL1PC which is a direct competitor to the ASUS 7-inch Eee, discussed here on Engadget.  Buffalo's DriveStation Combo4 external hard drive will have USB, Firewire (400 and 800) and eSATA interfaces. 
The annual electronics
recycling (E-cycle) event in Calgary. The 2004 event was very well
organized and handled the long stream of cars at a remarkable rate.
much multitasking on the job hurts productivity
 Microsoft is now going to keep supplying Windows XP (sounds like the Home version) until at least 2010 for devices like the ASUS Eee.   So far the e-book market is very small, perhaps about 0.1% of the publishing market, but it appears to be growing now.   Hacking an old Minolta SLR lens to work with modern Sony Alpha series cameras, pretty amazing.  The development of Windows
The world's first man-made
synthetic virus, when will it escape?
TVs made of glowing plastic. I wonder why all the emphasis on
making these things roll up (before releasing the technology in to the
market)? Sounds like a smoke screen to hide the fact that there
still something else that needs addressing before these can be
Otherwise why not mount them behind a conventional rigid protective
(such as glass) and then sell them as "hand on the wall" flat screen
(which there is a demand for right now, if the price is right).
Alton Brown (the Good
Eats guy) has written "I'm Just Here for the Food", which is reviewed
channels in space
that the speed of light (in a vacuum) may have changed over time
Flugtag, the human
competition will be in San Francisco in Oct 2002
lawnmower, but more significantly this team's next project will be
phones and stupidity,
is there a link?
reach RadioShack, more fun for the Holidays (or the office)
networking, exchanging data through a handshake (what would the Red
Dwarf team make of this?)
 The Datto Backup NAS is a NAS that includes software to pipe a copy of the data to an offsite storage service (which you need to pay an additional annual fee to use). An interesting concept, but perhaps a better idea would be to sell a simple remote backup server in-a-box that could be placed at another site (say in the CFO or CTO's basement) and that would be the destination for the offsite storage. But then the vendor won't have a nice recurring revenue stream in his business plan...  According to Bill Gates, Windows 7 should arrive next year (2009). Of course that will probably turn out to be the first beta, but this will probably convince a lot of people to stay out of the Windows Vista murky waters. But Microsoft says that Windows 7 is still slated for 2010.  Slashdot discusses the end of life date for Windows XP, it's still June 30, 2008. The question is, since Microsoft will allow "system builders, the small shops that assemble machines for customers" to put XP on the PCs they sell until 31-Jan-2009 will you be able to pick up a copy of the OEM XP Pro at your local computer store (who builds machines) until then?  A discussion of selecting the right web framework for the job. And another, more detailed, look at this.  The Everex MyMiniPC is a small (Mac Mini like) PC with a 1.86GHz Pentium and DVI output, running the gOS flavor of Linux.  A European answer to the Eee? Van Der Led is going to produce the Jisus laptop for about €299 which will incude an 8.9 inch display (though only 800x480 resolution).  The 7-inch ASUS Eee is now available at Best Buy with Windows XP pre-installed for $399. Given this, shouldn't the Linux versions take a drop in price?  Using Bazaar to hack on Twisted, talks about using a DVCS (distributed version control system) to coordinate work in an off-line environment for a project that is normally tracked by a conventional centralized version control system. The discussion here is for using Bazaar to work on a project in Subversion, but the same approach could be used with other DVCS systems like Mercurial.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the operator module. This module contains functions that provide the same functions as many built in operators, allowing you to use this operators in places that call for a function object.  
Different types of voting
systems for national elections, of course in Canada if you live in
the West, your vote never elects the national government. This is
because about 70% of the population lives in the East and the polls
close at the same local time across the country. So by the time the
polls have closed in the East the ruling party has been selected - without a
single vote from the West being counted. We should really have the
polls close across the country simultaneously to eliminate this odd fact.
supposedly this will trick the dialing computers that telemarketers use
into thinking your phone is disconnected, but does it really work? I
must admit the idea of paying one fee, only once, to get rid of these calls
is appealing (it sure beats having to pay "protection money" to the
phone companies on a monthly basis for caller ID, a service that costs them
absolutely nothing to provide and on 90% of my telemarketers identifies them as
Mr. "Out of Area" because they are calling from another province) but I
can't help thinking that a few software tweaks to the computers that do this
calling and they will no longer be fooled, and you'll have to buy a new
zapper. 27-Feb-03: it looks like the telezapper may actually have been
for-real; however, its days are numbered by software
from Castel that will allow call centers to ignore the tones the
zapper produces. And best yet, Castel's software will allow the call
center to transmit any caller ID information they care to choose - you can bet
they'll be choosing some misleading names like "visa" or just taking
your last name and putting a different, random, initial in front of it.
Drinking Vodka from the Freezer, does
anyone remember Simon
F's "Gun" album? In fact does anyone sell it any more?
How about a tornado
in a can?
Later in 2003 Sharp
expects to have a true-3D LCD computer monitor on the market (they
have just released one for phones - Dec 02), this is based on the
"parallax viewer principle" (which is how old stereo photographs work) and so
does not need any special glasses. The restriction is that you need to view
the monitor from one distance (about 40cm in the current design) and
moving nearer or further will cause the two images to appear. I would
guess that off-angle viewing would also not work. Apparently they have a two
LCD sandwich along with a mask of some type that causes the two images
to be projected separately to the viewer's eyes.
reports on the industry's recent grief, sounds like it might just be
self-inflicted due to miss-management
sensors and locators
people by their cell phones, big brother is watching (in the UK)
Blackjack, a look at some of the devices used in the past
Aquadisplay, rendering images in a water fall
PC World's 20 Things
They Don't Want You to Know, (discussed here)
includes unlocking cell phones
A cross platform 3d scanning
solution, called Splinescan,
its now being reimplemented in Python
How about a hydrofoil
weeding device, this sort of thing could be a great way of reducing
the amount of chemicals used in modern farming, plus it should be
possible to make a robotic insect hunter to keep some pests under
Part car, part motorcycle, this 3 wheeled
vehicle allows the passenger compartment to tilt in the curves
project now has 10,000
sounds on line
vehicles (discussion on engadget)
could become popular tools of terrorists. Given that these can also be
hard for radar to detect, and that they will often fly at very low
altitudes, could they become popular with smugglers? Heck, with a
payload of 110 pounds some of these could already smuggle people.
is Big Brother's first name, in Sept'06 it was announced that
Disney World will soon be taking finger prints of all patrons. Big
steps for the the land of the ACLU.
The European Space Agency
is putting current
satellite pictures on the web, the MODIS
Rapid Response System from NASA is a similar thing
In Dec'06 the complete
works of Mozart were finally published
on the web in free form
makes your mountain bike into a half-track,
it puts a ski on the front and a short caterpillar tread extension on
the back. Obviously this does not give enough floatation to ride on
unpacked snow, but it appears to work on something like a ski slope.
In 2007 a vending
machine that can print and bind books on demand will be installed
in a number of US libraries, when with Amazon.com start using this to
print books on demand, if they thought about this they could offer you
a choice of a used book, a new (from the publisher) book or a
printed-on-demand book. In fact many low volume titles (like technical
books) would be best done entirely with the print on demand
system. The print on demand system has another potential benefit
for an Amazon, they could set up offices with these machines in major
centres (perhaps partnering with some local retailler) and print and
ship them from a location close to the person who is placing the order,
thus further reducing (or even eliminating - if the purchaser just picks
it up) the shipping costs.
to build houses out of a mix of concrete and gypsum. The
technique is roughly to erect a massive frame at the site and then run
a robotic concrete delivery system on it and "spray" the house into
existence. The plan is to build a house this way in the spring of 2007
in about a day. More on this including a video of a small
has started watching license plates in Sprindale Ohio. Patrol
cars are fitted with and automatic scanner that can read 900 license
plates an hour and as it does so it automatically checks to see if the
plate is associated with any bad act. The same system has also appeared
in British Columbia.
A self-stabilizing electric
tornado at the Mercedes museum.
 More on micro
radio controlled cars
the bedside computer, a WiFi equipped alarm clock on steroids.
 The ASUS 8.9 inch Eee may not wait for the Intel Atom to ship.  The Ray Flash Ring Flash Adapter attaches to a regular flash unit (currently only supports the Canon 580EX and Nikon SB800 units) to convert it into a ring flash. At $299 its not a cheap accessory - and the question is why is this so expensive when all it is is a light guide (it contains no electronics and all the light is produced by the flash it is attached to). It should also be possible to do this sort of thing with other source flash units.  On 8-Apr-08 Google started to preview their Google App Engine, discussed here on Slashdot.
Their overall design goals:
- make it easy to use
- make it easy to scale
- free to start (small apps)
What Google will do for you:
- Run the web applications
- provide the full life cycle, logs, status, updating, database...
- provide access to Google's scalable infrastructure, google accounts, big table, Google FS
To do this the application stack they provide has:
- Scalable serving infrastructure
- Python runtime
- Web based administration console
- Datastore (based on big Table)
Their environment does allow you to run a local test server, so you can do your application development on your own private machine.
They provide a basic Django template module.
Seems to follow the Python wsgiref module.
An initial presentation of this is in these videos.
One of the things this does is to get you to build things using Google tools which may result in an implementation that is difficult to move to some other service provider without doing a complete rewrite. Whereas if you were using Amazon's EC2 you are writing for a more standard LAMP style environment so you should be able to take whatever you develop and run it somewhere else. Of course, if you keep this all in mind it might not be a big issue, use the Google tools to develop a prototype and test the waters before investing in a full scale project.
With Google's use of Python as the first application language to be supported by this system it has caused an unprecedented stir in the Python community, see:
  IOGEAR is introducing a new Portable Media Player which comes with a remote and various TV outputs (no built-in display) including component video to 720p. Although at $350 they are up against a number of less expensive, similar, solutions.  Using SQLAlchemy with Grok with some mention of Storm.  What a DVCS gives me discusses the benefits of using a distributed version control system.  The Twisted web server modules (web, nevow and web2) are going to be combined into an updated version of the twisted.web module.  Thought for the day: Flexible software is error-enabling software, the more features you have the more loaded guns you are giving your users to shoot themselves in the foot with.  Google's Android has been made to run on the Nokia N810 web tablet.  Dell may be entering the 9 inch laptop market. With HP (Compaq) already there and Dell entering the waters in June (along with several other smaller fish) ASUS is going to either have to innovate or reduce prices to keep its market.  The Pico USB drives from Super-Talent will be pretty small (only 31.3mm from end to end and 12.4mm wide and 3.4mm thick) flash drives. They look to be a bit smaller than the OCZ mini-Kart drives were (which actually were a rather nice size). Imation have also announced some similar-sized thumb drives.  The Yamaha Tenori-on could be described as Lite Brite meets a music synthesizer. I'm sure kids of all ages will love it. These finally went on sale in the US in June'08 for $1200, guess I'll wait for someone to do this in software on a PSP or dual screen.   Viewsonic announces a new set of 7, 8 and 10 inch digital photo frames for spring 2008.  The structure of .pyc files talks about what is in compiled Python bytecode files.  The Iomega ScreenPlay HD 500GB multimedia drive has HDMI output (as well as composite and component video) and run at 720p or 1080i resolutions for $219.  A Chumby hack to give it a VGA screen. Yikes, a lot of work! Even to soldering under a microscope. This includes a section on making a nice fancy bezel out of clear acrylic plastic.  A Micro SD Card video projector, at $99 it'll probably not be much good, but maybe a more serious manufacturer will do this sort of thing with better quality parts.  At about $1500 the Kohjinsha SR8KPO6S is a UMPC mini-laptop with a 7 inch display and a built in DVD burner - which makes it pretty unique for this form factor. Still a $1000 premium for the DVD drive is pretty steep, so this is hardly a threat to the ASUS Eee.  The ASUS Essentio CS5110 is a small form factor box with plenty of capability, it would make an excellent PVR box if it had room for a TV tuner card - you could probably use a USB attached tuner instead.  The AgfaPhoto DV-5000Z 720P HD flash video camera looks a lot like some of the Sanyo models.  Delving into the Python bytecode could be useful in testing code coverage. It makes sense for the capabilities to support this to be in place already becasue they would be required by the Python debugger.  What is the business case for the App Engine? Could this be a massive recruitment system - build a pool of developers who know some of your APIs, collect all there work in one central (easy to review) place and then set your recruiter team to work skimming the cream off the pot?  The App Engine takes some heat for not responding to issues fast enough.  Niall Kennedy takes a first look at the App Engine, this mentions some of the unknowns about what Google will charge for scaling up the service once this goes commercial.
Chad Whitacre really likes App Engine.  Ultra is suing a number of power supply manufactures over making power supplies with detachable cables. This is a good example of a patent that should never have been granted because it was "obvious to a practitioner of the art". The only reason people were not building "modular" supplies would have been cost - the cost of two extra connectors per cable would have made the supplies more expensive and thus less competitive in a very cut-throat market. In fact, for many years all power supplies did already have one such "modular" cable: the AC power cable. This has been detachable for pretty much the whole history of the modern personal computer to allow a single power supply to be used in different countries by changing the AC cable. Thus, the "prior art" that should invalidate this patent is even built into the device, and even a blind patent examiner should have spotted that art.  The Datacask from Fukato looks like an attempt to compete with the original Eee, but at a higher price. Why bother?  wibree the next version of Bluetooth with ultra low power use will be changing its name to ULP (Ultra Low Power) Bluetooth and should start to appear in 2008. This could use 1/50th of the current Bluetooth's power while transferring data, so should make for some very long battery life equipment.  Pylot is a testing system for web applications, it has a test case recorder that can log HTML requests made by your browser as you navigate a site.  More praise for a test driven development methodology with examples drawn from the Resolver One project's experience.  Using the Google Datastore from the App Engine. You will need to think a bit outside of the typical RDBMS box.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the < ahref="http://blog.doughellmann.com/2008/04/pymotw-fnmatch.html">fnmatch module, which is used to emulate the way the UNIX shells do filename pattern (glob) matches. This sounds a lot like the glob module.   In App Engine and Pylons Ian Bicking talks about various Python modules that don't work on App Engine and why. He also talks about trying to monkeypatch around some of the issues.  Using high power lasers to trigger the formation of lightning strikes within clouds.  New electric bicycles from OHM.  Slashdot discusses solar thermal power, described in The technology that will save humanity. This is a rather good summary article on the history and economics of concentrating solar power stations (i.e. things like the power tower) where sunlight is concentrated through mirrors to heat steam to turn conventional steam turbine powered electric generators. It appears that this sort of solar plant could soon be built to produce electricity at a cost of about $0.08-$0.10/kWh, which makes them quite competitive.  The Indian company HCL is going to make a Windows XP based small laptop similar to the ASUS Eee, and are targeting $429 for it. One nice feature is that it will have a screen that converts to tablet mode.  Seagate is starting to sue other SSD makers, so we're going to find out if Seagates patent claims are valid.  For a science project a German schoolboy, Nico Marquardt, has revised NASA's Apophis asteroid orbit figures to follow what changes might happen if the asteroid hits a satellite when it pases near earth in 2029. This might make the chances of an earth-impact in 2036 much higher, up to 1 in 450.   The DataTraveler BlackBox drive from Kingston features a 256-bit hardware AES encryption processor and has been inspected by NIST in the US and the Communications Security Establishment in Canada. I wonder how long it will be before hackers open one up and find there's a trivial way to defeat this drive's security, like so many of the competing products. At $424 for an 8GB drive it would probably make more sense to buy a conventional drive and an ASUS Eee to run TrueCrypt> on it.   For those who need privacy while working on their laptops in public places, or who like to surf the web in a park at -20C, or who view life as performance art, how about this knitted privacy screen?   The launch of the ASUS 9-inch Eee 900 starts now (in Hong Kong and the UK). Looks like being about $500 for both the Linux and Win XP versions, but you get 8GB more SSD in the Linux version for the same price. The US release of this is to be on May 12th for $549. There are reports that the first batch of Eee 900 machines to be sold in hong Kong have included a 4400mHh battery pack rather than the 5800mAh unit that was in the reviewers' units. ASUS is going to be replacing the 4400mHh batteries with 5800mAh units.  Windows XP SP3 (service pack 3) is due to be released starting April 21/2008 (for special customers) and April 29 for the rest.  The first reviews of the ASUS Eee PC 900, a collection can be found here on Engadget and more discussion here on Slashdot.
The HP 2133 Mini-Note will be getting a Windows XP option.  gheat a Python heatmap for Google Maps, this creates and superimposes a thermal layer on top of a Google Map. Some of this is done using PIL. In a later version Pygame was used to accelerate the rendering process.  Some thoughts on web page design along with pointers to some interesting examples.  Thoughts on a script to archive critical files.   A fluorescent putty-like substance promises to make lights that are more efficient than conventional fluorescent lights.  Some suggestions on how to start learning about GUI programming with IronPython.  The Sanyo Xacti DMX-CA8 is a waterproof (up to 1.5m depth), SD flash video recorder, it gets reviewed here.
The Panasonic HDC-SD9 HD is a SDHC flash card hidef camcorder with a 3 CCD sensor. The individual sensors each have an effective resolution of only 520,000 pixels which seems way to small for a camera that is supposed to record at 1920x1080 (which is 2M pixel) so either the review is wrong, or there is some serious extrapolation going on (effectively they are doing a 2x digital zoom to go from 520K to 2M: since each sensor will record one RGB colour channel you put the three sensors together to get the equivalent of a single 520K pixel RGB sensor to start with and then you need to expand that 4 times which is twice in width and twice in height - hence a 2x digital zoom) and this is really not much better than S-video.  Rumors are circulating that the next step in the ASUS Eee dance will be taken in June'08 with the introduction of an Intel Atom-based Eee. This would improve performance while also increasing battery life, both of which are weak spots for the current 7 and 9 inch Eees. 
an embedded web server for control purposes, packaged in a 10/100baseT
some handy addons for Windows desktops. They have a nice demo-maker called
HyperCam that captures what you are doing on your screen and saves it as an AVI
file, I tried their demo and it worked first time on both Windows NT
4.0 and Windows 2000 (which is more than I can say for the other three
packages I tried - two of which did not even install successfully).
Their FileBox Extender adds a cute push-pin control to your Windows which
allows you to make a window always stay on top.
replacement parts, just in tadpoles for the moment though.
Using stem cells to build a working thymus
and Gromit, some fine, funny animation. A Matter of Loaf and Death will be airing on BBC One around Christmas 2008.
 Ultra Wide Band - UWB
- radio communications
 Problems using VNC
with WindowsXP fast user switching.
 18-Aug-02 will bring asteroid
2002 NY40 near enough to earth to see with binoculars.
DVD players, also Nerd-Out
about the APEX-1500.
 Here is a nice calories
burned calculator that you give your weight and duration of
to and then it calculates how many calories you would have burnt for a
variety of exercises.
 Wireless network bridging.
A 802.11b wireless
link over 72 miles long.
The bacterium Caulobacter crescentus may make the world's
strongest glue, and it works on wet surfaces.
 Make your own liquid magnets,
and make a ferro-fluid
 Python has become the system integration language of choice in Pardus Linux, they cite a code reduction from 10K to 1.5K lines for one function.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the filecmp module. This is useful for comparing files and directories.   The ASUS Eee PC 900 gets dissected.
ASUS has revealed there will be an Intel Atom processor version of the Eee PC that will launch in the summer of 2008 (it is expected this will improve battery life) and that there will be a 10-inch screen size later this year.  Some scientists are using wikis to publish or pre-publish and review papers.  Plat'Home makes some small Linux server boxes, including their (new in 2008) OpenBlockS. They get mentioned by The Register here with further discussion on Slashdot here.  In early 2008 Microsoft began publishing information about its various protocols, as well it started to identify what features are patented. Centrify has done some investigation of this data to come up with a preliminary map of what patents apply to what protocols and finds that about 80% of the protocols have no patent coverage. There is some more analysis of this here and further discussion here on Slashdot.  Slashdot discusses storing data for the next 1000 years using a hard drive based approach.   An SATA adapter from Century that will convert up to 3 CompactFlash cards into an SSD hard drive. A nice idea, but at $192 without any CF cards it seems a bit expensive - though using this may still be less expensive than buying an off the shelf SSD drive. A video review of this is here. This adapter will do RAID 0 or 1 when two flash cards are installed and will do RAID 5 if three are installed.  The Akoya Mini from Medion is another potential competitor to the ASUS Eee 900.  A summary review of all the current and announced low-cost ultra portable laptops.  Will Microsoft wake up smarter and extend the retail lifetime of Windows XP beyond 30-June-2008? Dell has announced they will provide copies of XP Pro past the cut off date, this is being done under the Windows Vista for Business downgrade license program, so you need to buy a Dell machine with a Vista for Business license and they will supply an install image CD for XP Pro (in case you want to downgrade to XP) or on some models Dell will even pre-install the downgrade at the factory. Microsoft says that XP will still stop selling in June. There are some on-line petitions to save XP and there has been an attempt to demonstrate that people still want XP by calling in to Microsoft's support lines en-masse. More on Dell's XP Pro downgrade offering, looks like it will only be available on a few of their machines, and it may cost you $50. Microsoft said in late June that there would be no reprieve for XP, but that local OEMs may still continue to buy XP through to 31-Jan-2009, they also say that support for XP will last until 2014. This article claims that Microsoft's software license allows customers who purchase a copy of Windows to install and run a previous version of the OS at no additional cost, I wonder what really happens when you enter a Vista license key into an XP install...  Here is a testimony to the importance of jelled teams. The idea being that a close knit team of people can work together more (sometimes much more) effectively than a newly formed or modified team. Part of the reason for this is more effective communications within the team.  Some companies are starting to think that Google's Android may be a market changing force that could dramatically change the stale cellular phone market (especially in North America).  The Uno Electric Unicycle, I can't wait to see these in a modern movie about urban jousting.  An electric bicycle where the motors and maybe the batteries are built into the wheel hubs. At $3500 quite pricey, but it makes for a very clean looking bike, maybe a few competitors will enter the field and drive the prices down a bit.  Experiments are being made (discussed here on Slashdot) with adding good old kaolin clay (think kaopectate) to bandage gauze to greatly increase the speed of blood clotting.  The US Congress is considering reform on orphaned works. I bet some of the book publishing and film studios would like this to go through so that they can remake old titles easier. Looks like the Stock Artists Alliance, who represent photographers who shoot stock photographs that get resold don't like this.  A startup called E-Fuel is promising to ship a home-brew ethanol fuel plant in 2008.  The Triac, a three-wheeled electric car that is claimed to be highway-capable may appear soon. Though it would probably be more at home on the streets of Rome. Some more information about this is here.  The WR-100 radio controlled shutter release, at about $100 its not too outrageously priced, but really, isn't it time in this age of Bluetooth and WiFi cameras started including built-in radio-based remote control systems? Heck, with a WiFi based system one would have the bandwidth to even support a remote-view capability allowing one to look through the view finder from a display on the remote control.  Some simple ways of generating GUIDs, including two from within Python. Such as this snippit:
from uuid import uuid4
 Some introductory articles on using XAML with IronPython for Windows Presentation Foundation user interfaces.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the functools module which provides tools for wrapping functions and other callable objects.   One Californian has built his own electric car, he converted a eight seat bicycle to be driven by an electric motor and fitted three solar panels to the roof.  Slashdot discusses an article about how after market inkjet inks hold up with time. Turns out some fade a lot in only a year. There also seems to be some dependence on the type of paper that is used. My only experience with using third party inks was in an Epson printer, I tried them once and found the colours to be quite poor so returned to Epson inks. These days I use a Canon i9900 printer and am quite pleased with the quality of output and so far have noticed no problems with fading of prints over about a 2 year period (though I do not hang any where they would be exposed to direct sunlight).  The i-station UDC from Digital Cube is another Korea-only cross between an electronic dictionary and a PMP, but this one gets pretty close to a webpad, including a 4.3 inch display and 30GB drive.
The Aris Kira 740 is another ASUS Eee clone, this one has a bit bigger case.  The US patent system is being challenged on a constitutional basis.  The NYTime.com site hand codes their HTML for more efficient delivery.  EverNote is thought tracking and organization software with both a desktop and a web component to allow you to get at your "extra brain" from anywhere. Here is a review of it. It has a rather neat feature of being able to scan your photographs for included text and then being able to search on this text.  Some thoughts on why colour correction controls only have two sliders.  The Tile64, a 64 processor CPU appeared in 2008, along with a PCIExpress development board and a Linux-based development kit. They claim one of these chips can outperform a dual-core Xeon by a factor of 10. Might be just the thing for some fast ray tracing. Though with the development cards hosting a pair of 10Gbit ethernet ports the initial applications are probably going to be in the internet packet sniffing and routing fields.  Joel on Software exounds on architecture astronauts, those who build grandiose solutions to non-existent problems.  The MV-2500U HD multimedia drive from Mvix lets you turn a 2.5 inch hard drive and TV set/monitor into a media player.  The WALL-E robot toy looks pretty neat, I wonder how many home robotics projects will start with one of these? Perhaps it can be taught to weed the garden? A short video clip that demonstrates a lot of what it can do is here, unless you want to have a few of these around the house, best to not let your kids see this movie!
A mini wireless video camera that can be easily added to your toys (or pets) to get a different perspective on life.  pixie dust derived from the lining of a pig's bladder helped to regrow a finger tip. This may be a hoax, or strange luck but it's certainly the direction most people want this stuff to go. A talk about why we can't grow new body parts.  A mobile DJ MP3 mixing station, lots of buttons, knobs and sliders, looks like great fun. And only $99.   A power bar with built in power consumption monitoring.  Fresnel lens-based concentrating solar cell modules may become commercially available at a cost of about $0.07/kWh. Other researchers are pursuing a system that uses some of the core components of biological photosynthesis, and potentially could be much cheaper to produce.  Where does Microsoft Outlook keep its data files? Something you need to know if configuring a backup system or if you are moving from one computer to another and want to move your email collection too.  Microsoft is abandoning its "plays for sure" customers, this article points out that if Microsoft cannot afford to keep the DRM servers going then who could? Microsoft has extended the demise of its DRM servers for MSN Music, until 2011.  The ultimate multi-monitor setup, a 3 high by 10 wide display system.  The STARAY S from Radion is a 2.5 inch, USB drive enclosure with integrated security (and a keypad to allow entry of the pass code). Like a lot of these products the details on the actual cryptographic methods used are missing (they just say "proprietary 64-bit" which is usually a bad sign), so probably best avoided until more is known. This is now available.   DViCO's PCIe FusionHGTV7 is a dual HDTV tuner card with support for regular video too, priced at $140.  Factoring out common args to zipped generators gives some examples of generator usage (taken from a project on additive waveform synthesis).  The PyMOTW takes a look at the cmd module, which is used for creating command interpreters. cmd2 provides additional features for the cmd module.   High-strength magnetic ball bearings (from TheNeoCube.com) could make for a fascinating toy.   Concurrency with Python, Twisted and Flex. Sounds like an interesting approach to distributing work across processors.  It has been obvious to geeks and some Wall Street types that the mini-notebook format popularized by the ASUS Eee is becoming significant in the world PC market, and now others are taking note. The Christian Science Monitor takes a look at this in the light of a potential billion customers (discussed here on Slashdot).  The data on a 400GB Seagate drive survived the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, this goes to how how tough it is to erase a modern drive.  EVGA is introducing two new USB graphics adapters at an under $100 price.   Google is starting to fight to make sure Verizon does not violate the open-access stipulation on the 700MHz band. Verizon says they are going to be good.   From the when pigs fly department: the MARS floating wind turbine (which floats about a thousand feet above the ground) has got off the ground in an early test. These things are going to be big, but its hard to see how something that must be constructed with very lightweight materials is going to produce so much power or be durable enough.  Ian Bicking talks about some of the various open source licenses, including the GPL and LGPL.  The SAP DI Commander IronPython starts to manipulate SAP databases.  Jesse Noller asks for suggestions on useful Python video manipulation libraries.  The USA now has one town that is 100% wind powered. Its only 1300 people, but it's a start.  Slashdot discusses hacking Canon point-and-shoot cameras, there is now software (called CHDK) that can do this without having to re-flash the camera allowing for safe experimentation. There is now a project to improve the firmware of the Canon 5D Mark II DSLR. There is now a book called The Canon Camera Hackers Manual (ISBN: 9781933952581) for those who would like to read about this.   Super Talent is adding a few new SSD drives, in the 2.5 inch laptop drive form factor, for as low as $299 for a 30GB drive (which is finally a bit less than CompactFlash cards on a $/GB basis).  The ASUS Eee 900 is now available for pre-order in the US with delivery set to start on May 12. Apparently Costco will be carrying it.  The Yinlips Micro PC YDP-G77 is another Eee competitor.  Switched On talks about the opportunity Linux has due to the growing market for low cost ultra-portable laptops started by the ASUS Eee.   One cautionary tale about getting hit by first the Digg effect and then later being Slashdotted, and why not to use TotalChoice Hosting. Ned introduces a new meaning for DDOS: Distributed Desirability of Stuff.  Guido is part of the App Engine team and has implemented a source code review system with it called Rietveld.  How to use Apache with SSL and trusted clients, where the clients also need certificates to authenticate.  The Sony PS3 could become a good DVR machine. Their dual tuner add-on called PlayTV is due for release in Europe in Sept'08 for $160. You'll need a PS3 ($399) and also need to upgrade the hard drive to something in the 200GB plus range for another $150 or so for a total of about $700.  The Poulsen Hybrid car conversion kit (discussed here on Engadget) could be a smart way to make the commute more efficient. It would be interesting to see how well one of these does when attached to a diesel powered Smart car.  MSI's Titan 700 mini-PC is a mini-ITX based PC that uses a 2GHz VIA processor and has a 2.5 inch hard drive and DVD burner for $458. It looks like it has VGA, DVI and TV outputs; if so, this might make for a good media player computer, though it probably would not be up to full HiDef decoding.  More pricing information on the HP 2133 Windows XP configurations.  The HP DF300A1 digital photo frame (here at FutureShop) is a 3.5 inch unit designed to be easy to slip into a pocket or purse.  VW is planning a 2-seater high mileage car for 2010, this is supposed to achieve 100km/L fuel economy. For some strange reason they think this will not be a best seller and are only intending to produce limited quantities. Unless they are intending to price it at an outrageous price (which I can't see happening given that it does not have an expensive hybrid drive system) this really is going to be a roaring success. Now VW is planning to build a limited number of these in 2010.  How default arguments to functions get their values is rather interesting. Take a look at the spam() example to see how strange this can get.  The rather inconsistent world of date objects in the land of the database.  How to use Visual Studio to debug IronPython code. Another look at debugging IronPython in Visual Studio  A home ethanol fuel brewing station.  Windows XP Service Pack 3 has been released and there are reports of it causing problems for some users. More information on these issues can be found here.  Get a view from the cockpit of your remote controlled plane or helicopter.  
to dispense venture capital
Numerical Recipes in C++, byt Bernt Arne Odegaard. Bits of this
have been implemented in Python in the pyFinancials package, announced here.
 While replacing the battery of my Tungsten T3 (following these instructions) I noticed a screen that allows you to enter the rules for which days daylight saving time changes on. After completing the installation and reloading my Palm I could not find the screen this is entered on. I did the usual Google search and while this turned up Palm's official update for the new (2007) rules for DST in North America I thought it was odd that no one was mentioning that the Palm actually has a way of entering this information - somewhere! So I did a bit more poking about and eventually found it, here is how to do it:
Kind of twisted, and this explains why Palm's people had forgotten their software already supported this feature and so released a tool to fix a problem that did not exist.
- Go to the Preferences application
- Select Date & Time
- At this point you see the set date and time entry fields, and a Location, select the Location drop list
- Select Edit List...
- Now you see the short list of locations, select the location you want to fix and hit the Edit button.
- Now you are in the Edit Location display, and here (at last) are the two buttons that allow you to enter the rules for starting and ending daylight saving time.
The above procedure also works for the TX.  Microsoft is starting to wake up to the threat that Linux poses in the new developing low cost PC and laptop market. They are now looking at a program (discussed here on Slashdot) that would sell XP Home licenses at $26 (emerging markets) or $32 (for developed markets) a copy. With the caveat that the machines it is sold for cannot have more than a 10-inch display, 1GB RAM, 80GB disk and 1GHz processor (though there will be some exceptions on the processor speed). Also these machines cannot have a touch screen - they can't seriously think that the vastly over priced UMPC and Tablet PC concepts are still viable, can they? One question about this is: will these limits be enforced after the machine is sold, or can the user toss the 80GB drive and install something larger, or go into the BIOS and set the processor to a fake overclock speed?   Finally a use for old floppy disks, the Data Storm (discussed here on Slashdot) would be right at home on Junkyard Wars.   Another product based on nano-tech aimed at rapid blood clotting. Now all they need to do is package it in an aerosol spray for rapid application.  Lumeta's stick-on solar panel system is aimed at speeding the installation process.  The StorX PX-NAS500L and PX-NAS1000L NAS drives from Plextor have lots of LED status lights.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the heapq module which implements a min-heap sort algorithm.   Object oriented Bayesian Inference in Python.   Slashdot discusses an article on the hard drive recovery process.  3K Computer's RazorBook was the Longitude 400, it is supposed to compete in the 7-inch Eee market segment, but currently appears to have a slower CPU and less RAM than its competition at the same price. Well maybe that will give it better battery life? A brief initial look is here, thee unit currently is pretty limited in expansion, just 3 USB ports and no VGA or DVI ports (and no WiFi on the review unit, though there might be on the final units).  The ASUS Eee Box B202 is another small form factor PC from ASUS. Here are some photos of it. An early pre-production version gets reviewed here and discussed here on Engadget, it appears that the 1.6GHz Atom cpu does not have enough power to do more than 720P so you are not going to be using this as a HD media display device. This is supposed to be available in July'08 for a price of $299 with 1GB RAM, 80GB hard drive and Windows XP (probably Home). A review of it can be found here. Another review here clearly shows it running 720P video but not being up to the task of 1080P.  A bug in SSH key generation introduced by Debian's package maintainers in 2006 was not fixed until May'08. A more detailed write up on this is here.  Some performance tips for users of MySQL.  A small wind turbine that combines multiple blades on a single shaft to achieve much greater power output.  The EPIA PX5000EG is a fan-less Pico-ITX board.  The Triac from Green Vehicles will launch in July - finally an affordable electric car.  The Astak Mentor e-book reader series has a 5-inch model that will sell for under $200. Will that be enough to wake up the sleeping e-book market?  The Movie Cowboy is a 2.5 inch drive enclosure and media player docking station with video (HDMI, component and composite) outputs. This can do up to 1080i resolution.  A patent troll has won a judgment from Nintendo.  The ASUS Eee 901 will be based on the Atom processor, some initial pictures here. This is going to be available 3-June-08 for $650 and will include built-in Bluetooth. For me the Bluetooth is not an essential, but there are some nice wireless headphones that use it, so if it supports the advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP) it would be a nice feature. ASUS released some pricing and specification of these in June'08 along with the 1000 series, look for the 901 to be $550 and the 1000 to be $650. The official pricing for this is now US$599 (a bunch of reviews are here too), though I would expect this to drop quickly as soon as the competing MSI Wind and ACER Aspire One reach the market as these are claiming $499 and $399 prices which makes ASUS's price hard to justify.  Bruce Schneier writes about choosing secure passwords and taking your laptop through US customs. Discussed here on Slashdot.  Using secure authentication cookies with Django, this implements part of a paper on secure cookie protocols.  The ASUS Eee has some subtle differences in the keyboards between the white and black models - the black keyboards are reported to have more travel.  The OLPC will be getting a Windows XP version.  Chicago's big brother CCTV network is getting software from IBM that will allow the computers to monitor the cameras for specific activities or objects (like unattended back packs).  Encrypting a Linux root partition with LUKS and DM-Crypt.  A new generation of GPS satellites are starting development in 2008 which will feature higher transmission power, the most recent generation in use may have an accuracy of 3-5m.  The G2 portable fuel cell power source from Angstrom power, still made from unobtainium - maybe available in 2010. This sort of thing would be handy for running electronic gizmos on long trips.   An excellent alligator skin Xbox 360 case mod. A bit like the Monster book of Monsters in the Harry Potter movies. I wonder if there are teeth in the drive tray?  Intel has added an Atom chip to the D945GCLF mini-ITX motherboard, this should improve the CPU performance of the board, perhaps to the point it can play hidef video? It is available here and gets mentioned here along with some other boards (the DG45FC) that might support DVI and HDMI outputs and also here. Discussed here on Slashdot.  The Arduino Nano is a small 16MHz embedded micro controller, for when you need some brains in a project. Getting Started with Arduino by Massimo Banzi ISBN: 9780596155513, is a short book on the Arduino platform. An open source BlackBerry built out of various Arduino parts, including wireless connection via XBee.  The Iriver D5 multimedia e-dictionary is a very compact clam shell type device with a small keyboard. It could perhaps function as a PDA, MP3 player and e-book reader but it does not seem to have any WiFi capability.  The Linux based OS replacement for the Palm might be available in Summer 2009.  Mike's Flying Bike, a project to turn bicycle into simulated airplane control system to control the Google Earth flight simulator.  Oilman T. Boone Pickens has seen the way the wind is blowing and is starting to invest in wind power generation. More information and discussion about this and Picken's push to get a wind power generating corridor built that would provide about 20% of the USA's electric needs. This project ran into a snag in July'09, after placing an order for $2 billion worth of wind turbines they came to realize that getting the power to the grid was going to be too difficult, so are now looking for other places to place the wind turbines when they arrive. So if you want a 400 foot tower in your back yard, give him a call!  Ultra Large Systems, the first of these are just starting to emerge. An example of ultra large systems.  A short guide to compiling Python 2.5 with SSL support  The PyMOTW takes a look at the traceback module which is used to produce detailed error messages with program stack traces. A very handy thing to have in server log files.   A simple function to create image colour gradients in PNG files. Another solution to this problem using PyGame that can generate more complex gradients.  Green Plug is an attempt to create a universal charging standard for electronic devices. They have signed up Westinghouse as the first potential producer of products using this. Slashdot's coverage of this has a good discussion of the limitations of doing this sort of thing using USB (including that USB devices must negotiate for more than 100mA to a maximum of 500mA). After a year this universal power adapter initiative is struggling for support.  Intel's Atom processor may not be offering a big performance boost to the low-power market.  The gdium EM-PC mini-laptop from Emtec is set to compete with the ASUS Eee 900, but with a price closer to $400.  The Alpha 400 from Bestlink is targeting the low end of the mini-laptop market segment with a price of $250. But to meet that price you must drop the CPU to a 400MHz unit, drop the RAM to only 128MB and the flash RAM to 1 or 2GB and add on WiFi support externally, so it really does not seem such a good deal when compared to the ASUS Eee 2G Surf model which sells for $299 and has 512MB ram, a faster processor, 2G of flash and built in WiFi. Engadget's Switched On column takes a look at this unit. The main problem seems to be that the 400MHz processor is just too slow.  The EVOLUX LED light bulb from EarthLED is an LED based light designed to provide the same light output as a 100W incandescent bulb, but only requiring 13W. It's expensive and appears rather large, but it might still be a good choice for some applications. Discussed here on Engadget.  The Inventec V10 is a 10 inch display laptop that claims to be about $230 in China.  Talk of a successful cold fusion experiment by Yoshiaki Arata in Japan. A bit more here on Engadget. The source article includes some comments, one of which links back to this video (which though sensationalist, might be worth a watch).  Life in the fast lane, the Wrightspeed SR-71 electric car.  A short guide to using Amazon S3 for incremental backup storage with help from boto, GnuPGInterface, librsync and duplicity.  Amazingly bad APIs argues that APIs should be built based on intended use so they are actually easy to do common tasks with.  The ASUS Eee 900 is being delivered with the lower capacity 4400mAh battery in the UK. This may also be the case in Canada. A UK review of the Eee 900 mentions this. Now ASUS is offering an upgrade to the larger battery in the UK for £10 and also a BIOS update that should add some run time to the current systems.  The CS1T and CR2T adapters from Sans Digital turn CF cards into 2.5 inch hard drives and can do RAID 1.   Norway's StatoilHydro is building its first full scale floating wind turbine. The design of this is inspired by their experience with off-shore oil platforms, particularly the spar buoy, and it should be usable in water from 120 to 700 meters deep. The first of these got installed in July'09 by Siemens and StatoilHydro.  The PyMOTW visits the contextlib module which is used with the new with statement from Python 2.6.   A solar powered speed boat.  Via has issued a new reference design for mini-notebooks called the OpenBook, this design looks very similar to the Eee machines and replaces Via's previous NanoBook design attempt (which the Eee's crushed). Engadget has a hands-on here. Sony may be making one of these.  More internal details of the MSI Wind laptops and desktops. Apparently the Atom chipset will be enough to do 720P video but not 1080P - it was using 50% CPU to push out 720P. One nice thing about the Wind desktop board is that it is cooled by a passive heatsink - no more CPU/Chipset fan noise (though there may still need to be a case fan)!   The pysvn package provides a Python interface to the subversion revision control system. This article discusses using pysvn to interact with the GoogleCode system.   How to get multiple installations of Firefox and Thunderbird (and probably Mozilla/Seamonkey too) to share the same configuration and data files. The need to do this can happen if you have multiple boot environments on a single computer and you want to be able to get at all your email information from any of the different environments. This might also work on network drives, but then you also have the potential problem of what happens if you run several copies of Thunderbird at the same time on different machines.  A look at the past, present and a guess at the future of web hosting from the perspective of what a startup company needs to spend on infrastructure just to get going. This is worth a read as it does a good job of pointing out that while the cost of the basic infrastructure (servers and software) has dramatically dropped in the last decade (for the entry-level portion of the market) it is still not easy to get the show on the road and while some progress is being made in addressing the scalability issues with things like Amazon's EC2 and Google's AppServer there is still much to be done.
Currently I think a virtual private server (VPS) solution is the best bet for those who need to start small, and while EC2 has some advantages its pricing is currently a lot higher. Going the VPS route has some scalability, some vendors (such as linode.com) offer about a 10:1 scaling ratio in features across their offered services.
Once you have maxed out a typical VPS vendor's offerings you are in the price range of a single dedicated server so the migration path could be continued by switching to a dedicated server or by getting your own hardware and perhaps co-locating it. Doing this could add about a factor of 5 to the scaling curve, so in total, the virtual and dedicated private server approaches should allow you to scale your application about 50 times without having to rework the architecture or selected technology. Once you have grown to encounter those limits you are probably leaving the domain of the startup, so its probably time for a rethink anyway.   A light review of a number of lightweight Linux distros in an attempt by the author to get something to run on a P3 600MHz laptop.  ASUS is gearing up for war against its challengers like MSI's Wind. Now it looks like the ASUS 10 inch laptop (Eee PC 1001) could become real. While ASUS will be launching this at Computex in early June, it sounds like they do not plan to ship it until Nov-08, which means that MSI's Wind will have that section of the market to itself for a long time.  Mantissa: and Alternative to LAMP describes the new Mantissa web stack for the Python Twisted environment. A quick set up guide for Mantissa is here.  A very small Bluetooth keyboard from I-O Data. Too bad it does not have a built-in mouse substitute (such as a touch pad) because if it did it might make a good PVR input device.  Call/Recall claims it is going to build a 1TB optical drive based on their blue-violet laser diodes (which are used in Blu-Ray drives) and a 200-layer optical disk. Discussed here on Slashdot.  The Corkboard Mac, a Mac laptop that suffered case damage, so got dissected and reassembled on a cork board. If used as something like a digital photo frame this would classify as a product hack, but if the components and wires were arranged with a bit more thought this could be viewed as art. One wonders how much RF interference something like this causes.   Dell is entering the mini-notebook market with their mini-Inspiron competition is sure to get fierce now. It also makes an appearance here. Some more details about this laptop are here, sounds like it will be shipping in time for school to start in the fall of 2008. Engadget has a bunch of info on this, including that Dell intends to price the entry level version (which has an 8.9 inch display) at only $299 - this should put a stop to the price increases that ASUS has been pushing and should require that the Eee 700's price be lowered substantially (or else just dropped from the market). In early 2009 the Mini-9 price dropped as low as $249.  From time to time you hear of disputes over trademarks, but T-Mobile's claim to exclusive use of the colour magenta is particularly bad. Luckily this dispute has been settled in court and the judge found it to be unfounded and T-Mobile ended up paying all costs.  From time to time you hear of disputes over trademarks, but T-Mobile's claim to exclusive use of the colour magenta is particularly bad. Luckily this dispute has been settled in court and the judge found it to be unfounded and T-Mobile ended up paying all costs.  AnandTech looks at building a home theatre PC in 2008. One goal for this is to be controlled via a web browser from some other wireless device (like an iPhone).  Using an Ikea Helmer filing cabinet as a massive computer case.  ystockquote.py is a module for gathering stock quotes from Yahoo, example is here.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the cookie module which provides tools for working with HTTP cookies on a server.   rrdtool provides some support scripts for working with Round Robin Databases from Python. There is also python-rrdtool. Graphite is a similar sort of data trending and graphing tool. PyRRD is a Python wrapper for rrdtool.  The Gigabyte M912 could add some new features to the low cost mini-laptop market with its twist and flip touch sensitive display. Here's a hands-on from Engadget, this also looks at the 7-inch M724 version (which is supposed to be only available to the education market). The M912 is expected to cost $656 while the M724 is to be $556 - which is probably a factor of 3 less than anything else that's ever had "tablet" in its name. In July'08 this got unboxed, so its shipping somewhere. It gets reviewed here and is priced at $699.  The UFOTO UF735 digiframe from ASUS may also act and a secondary display when connected to a computer. Now if someone would just wise up and add a photo display hardware module into a series of regular LCD computer monitors we could have nice large photo frames for only a little more than a standard LCD monitor.  The Green Machine from ElectraTherm converts waste heat (for example 200F water) into electricity. With a current minimum size of 30KW its a lot larger than a typical home could use, but if they were to produce a smaller module in the 1-5KW range then it is conceivable that one could use conventional solar hot water collector panels to supply the "waste" heat and maybe this would be less expensive than a photo-voltaic solar system. They are claiming a 30KW output from 200F liquid at an input flow rate of 100 gallons per minute, so a smaller module (say 3KW) might have a 10 gpm flow rate which sounds plausible.  Hitachi Maxell is working on a nano-tech lithium ion battery that might be able to store 20 times the energy of current Li-ion cells.  Common design patterns in Python, references this article which gives examples of iterators, decorators, factories, states and templates. There is also a link to a video of a Google talk on the subject.  Starbucks and AT&T are collaborating to bring free WiFi to the coffee drinking hordes (up to 2 hours per day) in exchange for some email spam.  Microsoft has become more official about their new program to extend the life of XP for low-power machines (and prevent Linux from owning that marketplace).  People do sneaky tricks in the Windows registry, such as hiding data behind NUL characters, which makes this data inaccessible though the usual regedit program.  AMD has entered the mini-notebook arena, their design saves space by not using a trackpad, rather some sort of optical touch sensor is used. This (which is actually 5 stores) in Portland Oregon that might be worth a side trip.  A new media (and web) player from Verismo Networks has been announced here, it is supposed to have HDMI output and sell for $99.  Big Brother wants to know who is looking at his billboards.  In June'08 Via announced the mini-ITX 2.0 platform, this increases the specification to the point where HiDef home theatre PCs could be built with mini-ITX components. Discussed here on Slashdot.  100K cell phone users were secretly tracked (for academic purposes) in space and time by their cell phones.  Using Python to generate sparkline graphs for stock pricing. Sparklines can also be generated with CSS code.   The Sanyo Xacti HD1010 is another full 1920x1080 hi-def digital camcorder, this adds a 300fps slow-motion mode and a 7 frame per second rapid still mode to its 4MPixel digital camera mode.  The Flip Video Mino is a very small camcorder designed for those who want to be able to carry something in a pocket all the time. As it only has a 2x digital zoom it will be pretty limited, so maybe a compact digicam that has a video mode would be better? Creative's Vado is competition for this.  How to develop in Django without projects.  Big brother wants to see your underwear, the millimeter wave full body scanner system went live in June'08. Discussed here on Slashdot.  A wireless input pen from SMK that communicates with Bluetooth and does not need special paper.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the dircache module which caches directory listings and refreshes them when the time stamp on the directory changes.   A discussion of Photoshop's blending math can be found here with more details here.    The US Supreme Court has finally ruled against patent royalty double dipping. Further discussion of this is on Slashdot.  A new process that keeps the fibers in paper small can result in it having a tensile strength greater than cast iron.  Django is used in a number of mash-up sites, perhaps this is to be the future of journalism.  While the video quality probably won't match a Canon the Aiptek HDV21X is breaking ground by bringing 1080p HD video to Wal-Mart for $199.  Engadget gets to play with the Samsung SC-HMX20C full 1080p flash camcorder. Engadget HD has a short review and sample clips here.  The ethanol-induced changes in agriculture are likely to be with us for some time, Cringely writes (discussed here on Slashdot) about a a new engine fuel called SwiftFuel that is made from ethanol and is currently intended for light aircraft use, but could be readily used in automobiles. This fuel has a slightly higher octane that regular gasoline and does not exhibit the seal corrosion problems that regular ethanol blended gasolines can do.  The Grab'n GO media streamer from Conceptronic is a media player device with support for 1080p HDMI and component video output. Looks like this might be about 200 euros.  pyephem is a package for performing astronomical calculations. This is now on Launchpad.    Pinax is a project to create an out-of-the-box Django-based website, ready for you to add content too. The main website for this is pinaxproject.com.  A review of five of the current (2008) sound bar speaker systems.  Slashdot discusses office chairs and their suitability for long computing sessions. Some of the suggestionsL
 not all USB flash drives are the same (discussed here on Slashdot. If you are looking for a speedy drive, especially if you need to write a lot of small files, then there can be large differences in performance and probably the only way t ofind a fast one is through tests. Kingston has some documentation about what sort of NAND flash RAM technology it uses in its products, which may be significant if you use a flash drive for something that does a lot of writes (like running an operating system off one). They also mention that flash drives can store data for up to 10 years under normal conditions - something that does not receive much attention. This is particularly troubling as prices for SD cards (the most common format for digital cameras) have dropped to the point (in mid-2008, some are going on sale for $10 for a 2GB card) that one could consider just using them on a shoot once and then file in an album basis and not bothering to transfer the contents to hard disk or DVD media.  The RF4CE consortium is attempting to develop an RF standard for entertainment center controls based on IEEE 802.15.4.   Hunting memory leaks in Python talks about tracking down a memory leak caused by unintended global references keeping things alive (this sort of issue is really easy to hit in Java). This article uses the Graphviz utility to make a graph of all the objects currently being tracked by the Python garbage collector and then visual inspection can be used to find unexpected references that are causing problems. The author follows this up with another article that talks about how he used the gc and inspect modules to obtain the information from the garbage collector - a rather helpful discussion of this rather esoteric topic. Further discussion of object graphs using graphviz. Another problem is finding leaks in extension modules called from Python, for this something like Valgrind can be used.  Wordle is a neat approach to the tag cloud idea.  There is a now ShowMeDo for the App Engine.  Pure Electric Vehicles is trying to build an electric car for $10K, looks rather like it's carved out of a block of styrofoam.  The Korg nanoSeries are a few small, USB-attached and powered, input and control devices for working with music on a laptop. Really cute and if reasonably priced are bound to be very popular. Would go great with an ASUS Eee... The UK prices for these are in the £49 to £59 range, which probably means US$99 and they are expected in Oct'08. I wonder if you can add multiple keyboards to the same PC so that you can build the organ of your dreams? A preview of these appeared in late Sept'08.   Genetic building blocks have been found in meteorites which, because of the isotopes of carbon used in them, must have an extraterrestrial origin.  Some comments on using Pylint.  PyCon 2009 will be from about 25-Mar-09 to 2-Apr-09. Yes, you can spend April Fool's Day at PyCon.  The Eee 901 gets reviewed by TrustedReviews.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the platform module which is used to get access to system hardware and operating system version information.   An inclined floor cushion for using your lap top while lying on your belly, a much better idea than Engadget thinks.  The ZvBox from ZeeVee takes an alternative approach to the problem of streaming media from your PC to you HD TV for viewing. This box connects to your VGA port (with a pass through so your monitor still works) and it then makes a HiDef RF signal which can be sent through regular cable coax to your TV(s) for viewing. At $499 it sounds rather expensive for what it's doing, but who nows what the market will think? Engadget HD gets their hands on one.  The Eee 901 gets dismantled, in case you're curious.  The Panasonic HDC-SD100 and HDC-HS100 are HiDef camcorders which use a three CMOS sensor design to achieve greater low-light sensitivity and reduced noise levels. The SD100 unit records to SDHC flash cards, while the HS100 unit has a 60GB hard drive built in. The HDC-SD100 gets a review here.  Engadget discusses a multi-function USB hard drive docking device, this one only supports 2.5 inch (IDE and SATA) hard drives, so it is more compact than the usual designs. It also includes a Compact Flash socket.  A note on using git-svn to cherry pick selected work from a branch.  Some notes on security testing.  Wrapping import calls in a supervisory function can be useful if you have certain dependencies and versions to check for.  The Abstract Cheetos Attack, social engineering takes a culinary twist. If your target doesn't go for the cheetos bait then there's always powdered doughnuts or perhaps cinnamon buns.   CherryPal has announced a very small computer that runs debian and only consumes 2 watts. Might be just the sort of thing to drive a PhotoFrame that also serves as a simple document/web portal.  Nanosolar is making progress to their goal of a $1/watt solar panel, they have their first cell printing press working.  RawSolar is a new start-up who are entering the concentrating solar collector market.  The AeroCam windmill from Broadstar Windsystem is claimed to hit the $1/watt price point for a 250kW system. These could be mounted along the roof ridge line of a house to provide power. I did some lab work in the early 1980's on a similar system, except it was mounted vertically.  Has Taser been lying about the safety of their Taser Guns? A Canadian news study of the Taser usage reports that the RCMP keeps, is showing about a third of their victims needed medical attention, while Taser's study claimed few trips to the hospital were needed.  The Chevy Volt climbs in price to $40K and has a 2010 expected release date.  How to nap explains why the siesta might be because we are hard wired to want a mid-day snooze and how this might make us more productive. This guide has reappeared here.  Dell is going to be introducing a SFF PC with HDMI, DVI and S/PDIF output, which could make for a good media center PC.  The Zope Object DataBase (ZODB, the package is here) can be used without the rest of the Zope environment to give Python programs a transactional object database. A brief introduction to using it is here (and discusses a bit of how object references are maintained persistently. An IBM DeveloperWorks discussion of it with some simple use example code. The ZODB/ZEO Programming Guide is online here, a stand-alone PDF copy can be obtained here.
tempstorage provides a RAM based storage implementation for ZODB.
Introduction to the Zope Object Database provides a good summary of what the ZODB is, how it behaves and how to use it. FileStorageBackup talks about the design of the FileStorage type of storage system for ZODB, as well as the repozo tool for backing it up and some other integrity related tools. This article includes a list of tools that can inspect or analyze ZODB databases.
How to Love ZODB and Forget RDBMS.
CouchDB for ZODB Users takes a look at CouchDB and how it compares to ZODB.  Experiences in writing a build system.  Async Batching with Twisted: A Walkthrough, contains a number of simple examples.  The Onada VX777+ touch screen PMP has a TV ouput. 
A discussion on arstechnica about wiring LAN jacks with some useful tips.  An almost fully enclosed electric motorcycle, it won't get you a date but it might keep the rain off. A recumbent seating design would look a lot neater.  The ASUS Eee PC 1000H gets torn down by TweakTown with discussion on Engadget here. It is also getting a $100 price drop to $549 only a week after becoming available in the US.  Sun's Java is going to be fully open source by the end of 2008. As of June 2008 there are two remaining closed sub-systems (the raster and 2D graphics system and part of the sound system) and Sun is working to change the license or build replacements for these.  The Midify board adds a MIDI port to the Nintendo DS hand-held game machine.   The PyMOTW takes a look at the warnings module that is used to deliver/control non-fatal alerts to the user of a program.   Extending the pdb to give it syntax colour highlighting and tab completion.  A short look at the good and the bad sides of that ASUS 900 Eee. 
Typhoon Touch Technologies has some patents in the area of touch screens and are now embarking on a program to sue everyone in sight, should be interesting.  It appears that the MacBook Air SuperDrive can be hacked to allow it to work with anything by replacing its IDE to USB bridge.  yml2tex is a Python script that can generate a LaTeX Beamer presentation out of a YAML file. Yet another way of making slide show like presentations.  An offshore wind park project for the state of Delaware. Though at a cost of $1.6G to supply 50000 homes, that's an average cost of $32K/home which seems rather high. Slashdot discusses this here. Note that the 50000 homes is actually what will be powered by one half of the wind park's output, so the price per home is about $16K, which is more reasonable.  Some interesting statistics on how busy the WikiPedia site is.  PopPhoto runs a comparison of AA batteries (both regular and rechargeable). They perform a rather screwy cost comparison: they base the cost of the rechargeables on a single use (rather than say 100 recharges) - even with this handicap rechargeables are almost the same price as disposables (though they should be about a factor of 100 less!). It is interesting to see that for digital photography the NiMH rechargeable battery always has more capacity than the one-use battery (with the exception of the more expensive one use lithium batteries). As well, their test shows that the claimed mAh capacity ratings of rechargeable batteries are not a very accurate guide, for example the Polaroid 1800mAh was the lowest claimed capacity, but it solidly out performed the Kodak 2400mAh battery.  Sharp will be providing the panels for two new Japanese solar power plants, claimed cost to be about $1.6/W which is very low.  The Spore Creature Creator program embeds the meta information about the creature (the DNA for it) inside the PNG image of the creature it saves. However this information is no included as a text record within the PNG, rather it appears to be saved (the article takes a look inside the PNG file using PIL) using steganography. Quite a neat idea, except if you modify the image you destroy the DNA embedded within (though that could be viewed as a feature).   Facebook now stores about 6.5 billion photos, consuming about 540TB and at peak loads serving 475000 images per second, discussed here on Slashdot.  The Image Fulgurator, projects graffiti onto other peoples photos as they take them.  A home electric motorcycle conversion project (discussed here on Engadget), achieving a 20 mile range off four lead acid batteries and a reasonable 45MPH top speed. With lithium cells this could probably get something in the 50+ miles range.  Are egg files still useful?  TinEye searches the web for images of similar content.   Turning the internet into TV feeds, take the web and broadcast it. One even wonders if this might be useful within one's own home for taking digital information and presenting it on remote displays in a limited way.  The ZAP Alias electric car is starting to be assembled - at least a prototype of it.  Unitek's SATA hard drive dock includes a flash card reader and USB hub functions too. It supports both 2.5 and 3.5 inch drives. But why no floppy disk reader?  Aging 2008 a conference to explore regenerative (anti-aging) medicine will be in Los Angeles.  Canada goes asteroid hunting: the NEOSSat is a mini satellite is being designed (total of 65kg) that will house a 6 inch telescope dedicated to searching out near Earth asteroids.  VW plans to get into the electric car game with a hybrid based on the Golf, this will feature an electric system as the primary drive with a gas or diesel backup power plant. They are targeting the first working road tests in 2010 but some time after that for production.  A discussion of how one would go about writing asynchronous code with Twisted.  Netgear are embracing the open source model more directly with their WGR614L router.   Mercedes-Benz is hoping to stop shipping petroleum fueled cards by about 2015.  The A-Pad (from Aware Electronics) is a tablet-convertible style mini notebook that is targeting the $300 price point. This is still on its way to release.  ASUS is planning to release at least three more Eee PC 900 series models.  A micro-hydro power turbine built out of PVC pipe, looks like a pelton wheel design.  Discussion of Twisted, including some of the difficulties of testing.  The Truth About Unicode in Python talks a bit about the limitations of UNICODE support in Python and some of the other things it might be desirable to have access to.  Hitachi expects to have a 5TB hard drive by 2010. Better start your downloading now... They have now achieved a recording density of 610Gb / sq. in. which is 2.5 times the current amount (mid-2008) so achieving their claim of 5TB seems pretty likely.  The Roku Netflix Player is starting to receive some attention, a portion of its code is available as open source.  A current review (July'08) has found that most SSDs are not saving power when compared to the mechanical drives they replace. Tom's has redone this review and are now finding that some SSD drives are going to save you power. The Tech Report has also done a similar power consumption review.  A number of large companies are pooling their patents through a new organization called Allied Security Trust to help prevent patent trolling.  Tube-based wave power generation, called the Anaconda. The Pelamis wave power generator sounds similar and is being tested in Portugal.  The Wind and Aspire get ripped apart.  The PyMOTW looks at xmlrpclib and the SimpleXMLRPCServer modules.   The Acer Aspire X1200 is a small box that is suitable for home theater PC use.  The second generation Drobo box is now (July'08) appearing. It still needs an extra NAS hosting module to turn it into a proper NAS device.  Google's Protocol Buffers are intended to provide an object serialization system without the overhead of XML. Some comments on them here.   If you need really fast parsing of XML you might want to take a look at AsmXml, which claims to be able to parse XML at about 200MB/s on an Athlon XP 1800+ type chip. Despite this being an assembly language implementation there are versions for a number of operating systems (presumably all running on X86 chips).  Is Cloud Computing greatly over-hyped?  The Aurora open source DJ mixer includes both audio and lighting controls.  The GejBox has been renamed the "Connected". This is a network media player unit.  Seagate announced the first 1.5TB hard drive in July'08 and expects them to be available in Aug'08. So will we see the first 2TB drives in 2008 or have to wait until 2009?  The AOC 2230Fm HD3 is a computer monitor with an integrated media player that could also function as a 22-inch digital photo frame. About time! About the only thing it could do with adding are a few video inputs (it has DVI-D and HDMI but no analog inputs) or a LAN port. Engadget has already spotted one flaw, the built in media player did not play back HD video they tried to test it with. Discussed here on Slashdot. It gets reviewed here.   Engadget discusses how to archive DVDs, with to many means ripping them to a large hard drive and compressing them to a more space efficient format (like H.264).  Kodak's new (Sept'08) Theatre HD Player is a disk-less media player with HDMI and component video outputs for playing media from your LAN, flash cards and USB devices. Looks pretty nice, but at $300 might be a bit pricey. It also might only do 720p and be more limited in the range of media file formats it supports. This gets reviewed here, the remote for it is very nice - perhaps better than the Wiimote.  Elonex has released a second mini-note, their One T netbook will be about $255 and has a 7-inch 800x480 display and a 400MHz processor.  BMW is planning to offer 490 electric Minis for sale in California, looks like they'll need a lottery.  MIT has developed a dye-augmented concentrating solar cell system, in it light hits a flat glass sheet that has been coated with a dye. The dye accepts part of the light and re-emits it sideways towards the edge of the glass. The solar cells are mounted along the edge of the glass to receive the re-emitted light, thus receiving a concentrated stream. Engadget has a picture of what this looks like.  The AccuNAS AN2L is a two-bay NAS from Sans Digital, it has media server and BitTorrent client capabilities too.  Fujitsu is going to get into the netbook game, this has taken them a long time, especially considering some of their other small laptops.  A simple example of implementing a COM server in Python.  Extracting data from old computer cassette tapes, in this case containing the 4K BASIC of the original Apple I, by digitizing the "audio" signal and then examining the width of the tone pulses. There's hope for that old box of Commodore PET tapes in my basement.  Don't buy a mininote until later this summer, it looks like Dell is going to try for the $299 price point on its Dell E laptop. If they do this they will be forcing ASUS to slash their recent prices in half and will cause MSI to drop their Wind price by 25%.  If you have a spare Windows Server 2008 license you could turn it into a Workstation 2008 to get an alternative to Vista.  Add stick on knobs to your LCD panel to give it controls with a "real" feel.  The Neo FreeRunner is a Linux-based smart phone from OpenMoko. As of Aug'08 it is now possible to run Debian's ARM port on this phone. More news on this. OpenMoko is also working on an Android-based handset.  Simulating user input (such as mouse clicks and key presses) to the Win32 GUI from IronPython using an external DLL to access the appropriate Win32 functions.   Newton's method can be used to implement a faster division algorithm.   Handy Python one-liners for sya-admin type tasks.  The 2008 Solar Car Challenge is underway, it is a 2400 mile drive from Dallas to Calgary.  Shelby is going to try to build the world's fastest electric car.  Texas wants to blow away all other states in the development of wind power. Slashdot discusses the new green and windy outlook of Texas.
The Fresno-Yosemite airport is now about 40% solar powered.  Engadget readers discuss what is the best under $400 LCD monitor.  Someone has gone to the effort of getting Windows 3.1 to run on the Nokia N810.  First impressions of Git.  The Photo Safe II from Digital Foci can download photos from flash cards to a hard drive in the field. The full press release is here. Of course with current flash prices being roughly $10/GB the typical consumer probably does not need this for still photography, but if you are shooting with a HiDef flash-based video camera this device might still be quite useful.  Voidspace discusses catching Python string exceptions which are a bit different from all other exceptions.  The SC3 from Kohjinsha is a tablet convertible UMPC.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the base64 module.   The CherryPal, a small PC based on a 400MHz processor and 256MB RAM. Slashdot discusses this very low power (2W consumption) device, apparently it is a minimized Linux to reduce local storage needs and will download additional applications and includes 50GB of storage on the Net.  Now TechCrunch wants to create an open source web tablet, they are hoping to hit $200.  Slashdot asks is anyone using the Google Web Toolkit? The GWT has been available for about a year and a half now and it does not seem to have been used by many sites outside of Google.  Using HMAC to control which Google accounts get access to an App Engine service.  Window panes with built in solar cells, reduce the sunlight entering the house while generating a few watts and emptying your pocket book.  LG wants MSI to build their X110 netbook, and wants to sell it in the $625-790 range. With prices like that LG better include a docking refrigerator.  The Twist Freedom DX from Giant is an electric bicycle with up to a 75 mile range (depending on sweat input).  The Mini Chocolate from Ripple is a small, low power computer based on the Atom processor.  The Ultimate Quality Development System (UQDS) is a ticket-based agile approach to software development. This gets discussed here.  Following Microsoft's lead the Yahoo! Music service will be closing for good in Sept'08, another DRM controlled music service that is about to leave its customers with junk bits instead of tunes. Discussed here on Engadget. It looks like Yahoo intends to compensate those who purchased songs through this system in some way.  A new thermoelectric material may double the output of the current best thermoelectric devices. This material is also capable of working at relatively high temperatures (405F-950F). This is discussed here on Slashdot.  A short Python for Executives note that comments on some practical experience with IronPython.  Many ways to count items in a list.  Google is now indexing 1 Trillion URLs, a factor of a thousand increase over just 8 years ago, so their view of the web is a little more than doubling every year.  Sandberg has a rather large wireless (2.4GHz radio) keyboard with integrated touch pad . They also make this rather odd looking PC Remote which is an infrared connected mouse.  The Amilo Mini from Fujitsu Siemens, is another mininote device, this is supposed to be in the $475 - $634 range. Engadget poked one in the flesh and found it to be too weakly built. Here are the specs on this unit.  Engadget asks its readers how they would change the MSI Wind.  pdfminer can be used to extract text and data from PDF documents.  If it ever ships at the promised price of $99 the JL1000 mini laptop from J-PRO (discussed here on Engadget) might actually prove to be a popular webpad device. There is some talk that Linux might be possible on it too. Heck, at that price it's competitive with many digital photo frames... This Slashdot article discusses some similar products.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the uuid module which implements the RFC 4122 system for making universally unique IDs.   Mercurial Woes contains some observations about difficulties encountered when trying to use Mercurial. Mercurial Basics has some suggestions on how to avoid getting into trouble with Mercurial on a large project. Rebase is not the only way to deliver clean code talks about the popular but probably misguided use of rebase in distributed version control based projects.  Matsushita is aiming to sell a 40-inch OLED TV by 2011, perhaps the long wait for large screen OLEDs is almost over?  ASUS is planning up to 23 more versions of the Eee PC, possibly with two new form factors.  Dell's Studio Hybrid PCs are quite small desktop units.  Brando's SATA HDD Multimedia Dock adds a card reader and a media player (with composite and s-video outputs) to a SATA hard drive docking device. After a year Brando added an HDMI output to this dock.   Dutch researchers have used RFID pills to monitor the core body temperature of people on a long distance walk.  SUN's VirtualBox is an x86 virtual machine system capable of hosting 32 or 64 Linux, Windows XP, Vista, 98, OpenSolaris or even DOS. It gets discussed here on Slashdot. I ran into problems with installing Windows 2000 Pro in VirtualBox 2.1.4, what would happen is that the installation would work up to the point you are asked if the machine should be in a workgroup or domain, at this point pressing "Next" should take you to the setting up windows phase, instead the machine just rebooted and that part of the install would just repeat. After reading the manual (imagine that!) for a bit I found section "11.2.2 Windows 2000 installation failures", which suggests issuing the command:
VBoxManage setextradata VMNAME "VBoxInternal/Devices/piix3ide/0/Config/IRQDelay" 1
I shut down VirtualBox, opened a DOS window, changed directory to "C:\Program Files\Sun\xVM VirtualBox" and then issued the command replacing "VMNAME" with the name of my virtual machine. Then I restarted VirtualBox and continued the installation. This time the install completed properly.  A technique that uses microwaves to help form lithium iron for use in lithium batteries could result in reduced manufacturing costs.  Saturn's large moon Titan has lakes of liquid hydrocarbons.  Some thoughts on what a test case/regression tracking tool should include.  Sylvania is rebranding a Cloudbook and targeting a price of $299 for an 8.9 inch (1024x600) screen driven by a 1.6GHz Atom processor. Here is a little more information on the G Netbook Meso 8.9-inch model. Here is another short review. It looks like Sylvania's g netbook MAGNI (which is a 10-inch model) will be a rebranded MSI Wind.  Slashdot discusses a new catalyst that makes electrolysis more efficient and safer. This appears to be done by dissolving cobalt phosphate into the water and using an otherwise conventional platinum electrode electrolysis apparatus. Reuters has another reference to it here. More discussion of this on Hack A Day.  The Sanyo DMX-HD800 is a new entry in their Xacti line. This is a combined 720P video and 8MP still camera which stores recordings on SD/SDHC flash cards.  The USA's DHS has finally given public details on its policies for border searches of laptops and other electronic devices and documents. In short they can take anything you have, for any (or no) reason and keep it for any length of time. Discussed here on Slashdot.   One attempt at building your own 9-cell super capacity battery pack for the MSI Wind.  The Fuji FinePix S2000HD is a 10MP digicam with a 15x zoom (with image stabilization) that also has HiDef (720P MPEG-4) movie capability, for $299. It also has some high speed still modes, which operate at a lower resolution (up to 13.5 frames/sec at 3M pixels).  An electric tricycle based on a recumbent bike design looks a bit like the return of the Reliant Robin.  Lenovo is entering the netbook market with their IdeaPad S10 which will have a 10-inch screen and are talking about a $399 starting price. CNet Taiwan gets their hands on one, just views of the exterior since the device would not boot. A 45 minute long hands-on session left this reviewer happy with the S10. There will also be a smaller version called the S9, priced around $370 (in Dec'08 this became available in the US for about $350). The S10 gets reviewed here. Another review of it is here. Another version of this is the IdeaPad S10-3t that converts into a tablet.  An article that is critical (and justly so) about recent changes to the SSL certificate warnings in Firefox 3. This is discussed here on Slashdot. The approach I would favor would be to have two indicators: one to indicate that you are using SSL encryption to protect the communications with the web server and the second to indicate that you are talking to an authenticated web site. In this way if one was talking to a self-signed site (or one that is signed by an unrecognized authority) only the encrypted status would be shown. Of course this makes things a bit more complicated for the user, but it would be less intrusive than the current solution. More criticism of it here and here (with good screen captures) and further discussion on Slashdot here.  The infamous RIAA versus Jammie Thomas trial that resulted in a $222K award may be going into mistrial. In late Sept'08 a District Court Judge dismissed this verdict. So what's next in this saga?  In Aug'08 Olympus and Panasonic announced the Micro FourThirds lens system. The objective of this is to bring the larger 4/3rds sensor size and interchangeable lenses into a small (perhaps point and shoot sized) body by eliminating the optical view finder and mirror box. Since the sensor remains the same size existing 4/3rds lenses will be able to be used on these new cameras by an extension tube style adapter. This design will also result in a reduction in size of the lenses, since the rear optics can be much closer to the sensor. About a month later Samsung announced plans for a similar system called Samsung Hybrid based on the larger APS-C sized sensor. I wonder when Canon or Nikon will try the same thing, perhaps introducing a sensor that is smaller than APS-C (yet larger than the typical digicam sensor to reduce noise), this way they can introduce a new line of smaller lenses to sell to a new consumer group. This way your initial $200 digicam purchase gradually builds to $1000 as you buy a few lenses and, when you replace the camera in a few years, you stick with the same company because of the set of lenses you now own.
The Panasonic Lumix G1 (also here on PhotographyBLOG) will be the first of the micro 4/3rds cameras, it will have a flip out 3 inch display (it looks like it is fully articulated and can be turned face in to protect it, yeay! this was a feature I really loved on my Canon G1) with a 460K pixel resolution (which still might not be enough for manual focusing). It has a very high 1.44 million pixel resolution viewfinder (so that might be enough to do manual focusing on, but I found that the 900K pixel view finder on the Minolta A2 was not enough for this so I am expecting this will will not be enough, however Panasonic is using a different technology which effectively stacks the RGB pixels so it might be a much sharper display than the traditional pixel count implies.). It got HDMI output too, so you can inflict painful hours of slide shows on your friends and relatives. Digital Photography Review has a preview of it here.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 started shipping at the end of Oct'08 (actually a little ahead of schedule) and the first full review of a production model is here.  Pioneer has found that a 20 layer version of the Blu-ray disc (yielding 500GB) is feasible. They are targeting something in the 2010-2012 time frame to head off competition by holographic storage systems.  The Python MOTW takes a look at the webbrowser module which is handy if you want to pop up some web pages from a script for the user to review.   The Dutch are working on a kite power system, one test generated 10kW.  The Iomega ScreenPlay TV Link is a small media player that does HDMI, component and composite video output at up to 1080i. The press release makes it sound like it might not actually play HiDef media as it talks about achieving 720p and 1080i output through upscaling.  An example of using the COM automation interface to control PhotoShop from Python.  The first virophage (a small virus that attacks larger viruses) has been discovered.  A new loop in the carbon cycle has been uncovered, turns out the deserts of the world have a significant role in reclaiming carbon from the atmosphere. Perhaps there is some catalytic system like the air purifying concrete or pollution-cutting asphalt taking place here?  The TASCAM GT-R1 is a nice little flash-memory portable audio recorder aimed at musicians.  Addonics Portable Dual Drive enclosure is a USB or eSATA attached drive housing that can hold up to two 2.5 inch drives and run them in either RAID-0 or RAID-1 modes. Given this is a portable setup the most likely cause for failures would presumably be physical damage (dropping it) which would probably put both drives at equal risk of failure, so perhaps this is really a gimmick?  Canon updates its HiDef camcorders, including the flash-based HF11 which also gets reviewed here.  Snarl by TCP is a tool for displaying notifications from applications, like Growl.  Cheap binary Windows eggs describes how to set up the MingW compiler to build eggs for Python 2.4.  A rather impressive black tower case built out of Lego (that's a lot of bricks). Now only if there were some standard Lego bricks that offered USB, FireWire, eSATA and 3.5mm audio jack connectors.   First Solar is targeting solar panels with a cost of about $1/watt. These are made from cadmium telluride deposited on glass sheets. Their expected production for 2009 is 1GW worth of panels, which is about 1/6th of the total world production. Discussed here on Slashdot.  Someone asks Slashdot: Google has all my data - How do I back it up?. As virtual cloud services become more common this will become a greater concern, keep your eyes open for ways to export your data and limitations on their use. Of course, since you have no control over the applications you are using there is also the possibility that an export feature may disappear one day without your noticing it... Vendor lock-in at its finest. There is also the risk that your cloud service may disappear completely as happened to the Linkup on 8-Aug-2008.  A discussion of The Invisible Cost of IP Law. Where progress stalls in certain fields because of key patents acting as road blocks. This happened to some extent with the RSA cryptography patent, though its effect was largely restricted to the USA and it was further diminished because the patent was granted too early - before computer technology and applications were really ready for it. Another example is probably the touch screen display issue, not a lot happened with touch screen displays until the Apple iPhone popularized them in 2007, but I recall reading something that suggested that a key patent on touch screen technology had expired around then and with this expiry an economic obstacle to implementing touch screen based systems was lifted. This topic might well be worth a thesis in Economics.  A DIY SSD adapter that takes 6 SDHC cards and combines them into a 2.5 inch SATA drive.  How to Understand AppEngine Datastore Under the Hood a two part article, Part 1 - An Overview of the Underview and Part 2 - The Raw Datastore API  The Harbor Wing AUSV is a catamaran sail boat that is propelled by a vertical wing that can be rotated to get the best wind power. They are also planning to make this use hydrofoils to increase the top speed. While this is being developed for autonomous or remote control missions the basics of the wing, hydrofoils and wing control should be applicable to make a rather nice pleasure craft.  Could your LinkedIn contacts list become a problem when changing jobs?  The measures being put into place in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics to improve air quality may be the subject of some interesting future research around global warming.  NVIDIA has released some free PhysX and CUDA software for users of GeForce 8, 9 and 200 series graphics cards. This also includes some CUDA applications like a Folding@Home client and a trial version of the Badaboom video transcoder. There is a discussion of Badaboom here. When I tried this on a 5 minute MPEG2 clip of some recorded TV I found Badaboom taking 338 seconds while a StaxRip run took 240 seconds, this was on a Q6600 machine with a GeForce 8600 GT card, so not much use for me (except that it off loads the CPU during the encode). Perhaps they will speed things up by the time it is commercially released. MaximumPC takes a look at Badaboom and compares it to Handbrake. Tom's takes a look at five applications that use the CUDA engine to speed up processing.  The SLIMstage40 is a surround sound bar from soundmatters.  NVIDIA's Quadro Plex D CUDA desktop systems bring supercomputer powers (up to 480 CUDA cores) into the $10K price range.  The nanoantenna is small enough to capture infrared radiation and turn it into electricity.  Some thoughts on software requirements discussed in Your requirements are stupid which draws heavily on Business Requirements are Bullshit. Add to this a side order of twisted agile development and you will see there is no chance of escape from the Valley of the Doomed Software Projects.  Looking a bit like Snap Circuits these littleBits are little circuit fragments that can be easily snapped together to prototype electronic circuits.  HackMii has developed a DVD player for the Wii.  The COlorRight is another "filter-type" aid for custom white balance.  The A2B electric bike from Ultra Motor has the batteries built into the frame and looks like it has the motor in a wheel drum. It should have a 20 mile range. This is now available and Engadget took one for a spin.  A little balancing robot (micro-Segway) that you can build.  The AMD Athlon 64 2000+ appears to outperform the Intel Atom and consumes less power. This also has the advantage that it can be run on any AM2 or AM2+ socket motherboard. It also appears that the AMD solution may have a more efficient supporting chip set, giving it a significantly lower system power consumption (not to mention more features). The Celeron 220 is apparently about 29% faster than the Atom, which also makes it faster than the 2000+ chip - but it consumes more power.  The XR3 is a hybrid car kit that is claiming 225 MPG with availability in 2008 (maybe - it's slipped already).  California is planning to get two photovoltaic power plants that will add up to 800MW of power to their grid.  The Powabyte X-6 is an electric-assist commuter bike.  The PyMOTW looks at the signal module.   The Truth About Unicode in Python.  Palm OS 2 appears to have slipped again, this time to the first half of 2009.  MSI is making a small bare-bones desktop, this uses an Atom chip set and for $139 you get everything except the drives, RAM and OS.  FLARE is a fluorescent marking dye that can be tagged so that it is ingested by cancer cells, this causes the cancerous cells to glow allowing surgeons to see exactly what they need to remove.  The Fujutsu U2010 (also known as the U820) should be able to get 5 hours run time from its standard battery and 11 hours from its extended battery.  Viliv showed the S5 MID and S7 UMPC at the IDF, these are small form factor devices that would be nice as webpads if priced reasonably. There is something strange about the picture of the S7, the keyboard is missing the "P" key. The S7 got shown at CES'09 and it is compared to the new SONY VAIO P here (oh, and they have put the "P" key back on the keyboard). Viliv has added a larger version of the S5 called the X70. The S5 will be available for pre-order on May 8th at $599. It gets reviewed here apparently it has a video output jack that can provide VGA, component and S-Video and it can be used with Bluetooth mice and keyboards - might make a good replacement for my aging Palm PDA. The X70 device gets a short demonstration on video here. The X70 is going to be imported to the US for about $599. The X70EX is now (Sept'09) available at NewEgg, pricing starts at $599. Their S10 Blade is a netvertible (netbook that converts to a tablet) that should launch in Nov'09 starting at $570 which is pretty inexpensive for a tablet. This is now available through Best Buy and gets a review here, price is now around $889. Their N5 UMPC looks rather nice.  In Aug'08 Intel started showing the third generation of its Classmate PC. This can be used tablet-style and has a nice resistive touch screen system. An unofficial review of the prototype that Intel was showing at IDF in Aug'08 is here. This made an appearance at CES-09, here is a hands-on video. The CTL 2go Convertible is a version of this design, priced around $499.  Shuttle's X27 mini PC is a small Atom-powered desktop unit. This should be priced at $189.  An analysis of the stages a bug report goes through from arrival to resolution (or disposal). This cites the triage guidelines for Django too which has a nice illustration of their process.  Kodak may be bringing OLED technology to photoframes. In Sept'08 Kodak announced their first OLED picture frame, its going to be expensive at $999 and it's got a bit of an odd base.  2008 is the coldest year yet this century.  Certain forms of skin cancer could emit scents that could be detected by some form of sniffer.  ZPower claims its Silver-Zinc batteries have 40% more capacity than lithium-ion.  The ASUS N10 is another 10 inch screen netbook, this looks like it is using a larger case so may have a better keyboard. ASUS is pricing this at $849, so it looks like they are trying to reverse the downwards trend on netbook pricing by raising prices... guess that will leave lots of room for Dell to introduce a 10" netbook.  The Tee PC from Albatron is a mini-tablet PC powered by a 400MHz ARM processor running WinCE 6.0 and hosting a 7-inch 800x480 touchscreen.  Engadget looks at  Profiling Python code can be done with the profile or hotshot modules, this article combines the hotshot module with nose tests and gprof2dot to make tree diagrams that show where the time is being spent in your program.  A new photoframe from picwing is based on Linux, this is at the public prototype stage.  Some discussion on pylint, pyflakes and using the compile module to attempt to check object types in Python.  Engadget asks the question: what is the best portable internet device?  The Sony DPF-D100 and DPF-D80 photo frames will have 800x600 resolution in 10 and 8 inch sizes and become available in Oct'08.  The Peek is a remote email device that does nothing but email and requires a $20/month T-Mobile service fee. This device has been recognized as being quite innovative, but can it survive with a $20/month service fee? Peek has been performing an experiment, they have been selling two versions of this, the "cheap" $44 (plus monthly fees) version and a $399 (lifetime subscription) version at Costco and have found the lifetime version was outselling the cheap version. This is rather like what Tivo found with the popularity of their lifetime subscriptions too. Now if only they could add some web browsing to the device they would really sell a lot.  Windows XP SP3 has caused some grief for AMD based computers, often resulting in failure to boot after being installed.  A comparison of the speed of hg and bzr, looks like hg has a considerable advantage.  Diva is a light weight web framework for Python.  The SiRF GPS chip which seems to be used in every modern GPS device has been found to be violating patents held by Broadcom.  In late Aug'08 more news about the Android phones started to appear, the Android Market application store and the winners of the Android Developer Challenge.  A home RFID reader from Nabaztag Violet.  Sometimes politics, health and market place special interests don't mix well. When Alberta had its mad cow scare (starting in May 2003)the government and majority players in the industry only wanted to tighten procedures somewhat and make sure the appropriate standards were being complied to. A minority voice in the industry argued that 100% of cows should be tested for BSE, regardless of the international or US criteria, and that doing so would help rebuild trust in the product. As the cost of doing this probably was less than $100 per animal it would not have raised prices of the beef greatly. This idea was ignored and it took something like 4 years to get Alberta beef fully shipping back into the US and during this time the industry suffered greatly. Now one American company is wanting to test 100% of their beef that is targeted at some particular markets (such as Japan) and their competitors are using the USDA to stop them from doing this - for fear that other consumers will start to demand the same standards. Beats me why they are worried, all they would have to do is to pass on the increased costs of testing to the consumers who would be willing to pay for the better meat (probably less than $0.50/pound, if the tests were $100/animal and you get 200 pounds of meat from one animal). Of course the conspiracy theory for this is that the producers know they have a problem with BSE and by inspecting 100% of the animals this will soon become obvious...  The MSI Wind U90 will be the the 8.9 inch display version of the MSI Wind. This is to ship in Europe around the beginning of Oct'08 for about 339 Euros.  The French have used lasers to burn out brain cell tumors on 6 patients - with apparent success in 5 of them.  The Toshiba Multi Tool contains two 3.5 inch LCDs, one of which can be configured as the keyboard. They have also show their SD Photo Editor which is a 5-inch display based unit designed to do on-the-go photo editing. Both are supposed to cost around $300.  Hi-Tec (who make some good light hiking shoes) have done a deal that gives them access to ion-mask water proofing technology that is supposed to be better than Gore-Tex. Let's just hopes its not as expensive.  The 2go nettop is a small form PC that uses the Atom processor and has a case that is large enough to hold an optical drive for $149 to $299.  Now the much maligned Newark is embracing big brother in the hope of reducing crime.  Running the Acorn Archimedes emulator from disk images.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the profile, cProfile and pstats modules, which are used for profiling code.  How to manipulate the read only (and other) file attribute from within Python.  The Jobo X7 is a 7-inch photo frame designed to be passed around. Though its rather on the expensive side at about $300.  Commodore has shown some prototypes of new portable devices at IFA in Sept'08. Including two that are Pocket PC designs that include keypads, so might actually make for good, small, webpad devices.  The Sanyo Xacti E2 (and here on Engadget)is the second waterproof standard definition camcorder from Sanyo. This records to H.264 MPEG4 on SDHC cards, so can fit 8 hours on one 8G card.
The Sanyo Xacti 1010 will shoot 1920x1080 (30fps progressive) onto SDHC cards. It also has a 300fps slow motion mode.  Dell has let loose its Mini 9 (also discussed here on Slashdot), with pricing that start at $349 and climbs to about $499. Time for most of the recent netbooks to get repriced (though the Acer Aspire One and MSI Wind are pretty competitive with this). Engadget has a collection of early reviews of the Mini 9. The Dell service manual for the Mini-9 has been posted online, let the modding being. An unboxing of it here includes some good comparisons with other laptop and small devices to give you a feel of its size. Engadget asks its readers how they would change the Mini 9. The Mini 9 has been hacked to run Apple's OS X, so if you want a mini Mac notebook this might be a route to take.  A tale of how a robot tried to attack one blogging site.  Firefox blocks access to certain ports by default, how to turn this off is here further information about this is here.  Abit may be leaving the motherboard market at the end of 2008.  The Sony VAIO CP1 seems rather pricy at $299 for a 7 inch photo frame, but it has some additional features (networking, music playing, RSS feeds) that may make it worth the extra cost. Engadget gets a look at one in the flesh. If only it had a web browser.  The French are thinking of building a big brother database to record information about anyone who is active in politics, unions or likely to breach public order...  The HiVision miniNote is a $99 mini-laptop that runs Linux on a MIPS processor. There is a video review of one here. Slashdot discusses this here. It looks pretty much like a $100 version of the original $299 ASUS Eee.  A rather odd looking ball-shaped wind turbine from Sweden. This article has a better view of the blade shape.  Engadget asks its readers how they would change the Acer Aspire One.  The Braun Multimag Slide Scanner 4000 (here at Adorama) is a bit expensive at $1700 but it can scan trays of slides at a time and has DICE, DROC and DGEM software. This works out at the same price as a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000-ED with the optional SF-210 auto slide feeder attachment.  Baby steps with the Google App Engine talks about starting to deploy a web site under GAE.  E Ink makes it to the cover of Esquire magazine. One man opens up his Esquire to see how this was done and intends to hack this further. More information about this here.  Plastic Logic is finally getting ready to launch an e-book reader based on its flexible E Ink device. But don't hold your breath, this has just reached the "first half of 2009" stage. This has now slipped into 2010.  It looks like prions (much like any other disease organism) are capable of crossing the species barrier.  Perhaps Dell's recent entry into the netbook market has caused a drop in ASUS's Eee sales already, as by Sept. 8th ASUS had repriced two machines already, the Eee PC 901 dropped to $500 and for some reason the 6-cell Eee PC 1000H dropped to $449. I rather bet the original 7-inch devices will be hitting $199 for Christmas.  Samsung intends to enter the netbook market with an 8.9 inch model. There might also be a 10-inch model. The Samsung NC10 gets reviewed here and is showing a battery life in the range of 5 to 7 hours, which if confirmed would be the best of all the netbooks.  Tikitag is producing an RFID tag system for the home. Though they don't seem to be small enough to implant in Barbie Dolls or Lego bricks. They should have a key-fob tag so that you could at least sweep your house for missing keys.  Some lessons learned while programming C++.  Some SATA RAID controller card solutions.
Tom's Hardware takes a look at a number of SAS and SATA RAID controller cards.
The HighPoint RocketRAID 3520 SATA RAID controller card.
The Areca ARC-1231ML controller, this review compares it to the Promise SuperTrack STEX6850 and the ICH9R (Intel chipset solution that is often found on motherboards) controllers. Unfortunately they only examined RAID-0 and RAID-1 performance so did not find much in the way of differences. A comparison of nine Serial ATA RAID 5 adapters dates from 2005 but goes into a lot of details, including looking at differences between the CPU-hosted and on-board processor approaches.
 Plastic Logic is building an e-book reader based on a plastic display system. They have selected an 8.5x11 screen size to match standard North American paper and appear to be targeting business users (which probably means their device will initially be quite expensive). Still, it looks quite nice.  The LP 2 FLASH from ION is a LP turntable that records music from vinyl directly to flash cards.  In Sept'08 Buffalo introduced the FTD-HD2232HSR/BK which appears to be the first 22-inch LCD monitor with a 1920x1200 resolution. Hopefully this will appear at a real price of under $300 soon.  On 8-Sept-2008 Google's automatic news crawler dredged up an old article about United Airlines going bankrupt, this caused UAL's stock (UAUA) to drop from $12 to $3 and then rebound later to $10. Presumably these swings were in part caused by automatic trading systems.   windmill is a testing framework for AJAX Web UI systems. It gets recommended here.  Engadget asks: which digicam takes the best video, which is an interesting question since some of the flash-based camcorders are more expensive than most digicams and combining the two devices into one might be a good way to cut some clutter and weight when traveling.  keas.kmi implements a NIST SP 800-57 compliant Key Management Infrastructure (KMI).  The PicoLCD SideShow display adds a few lines of text to your computer. This only has Windows Vista and Linux drivers (no XP support), no why can't someone just configure one of these things to look like a small USB drive and then applications could just write "files" to it, which would be displayed and paged through by the user. Then each time you need the display to update, the application just updates the file. That way a user could even just drag and drop a file onto it for display. This idea would work really well for a device that can display photos. The Slashdot discussion of this includes links to other similar solutions and instructions for working with character based LCDs. A Python interface to this is here.  Now you can read your morning news paper and eat it afterwards, just burn the headlines onto scrumpy hot buttered toast. Beats a Talky Toaster any day. I really cannot see a USB port actually powering the toasting element.  The Toshiba NB105 adds another netbook to the crowd. This might actually be the NB100. 
The EasyPC E760 attempts to sell a 480x272 display plus keyboard running Windows CE for $89, if this is real, how much are they paying for the WinCE license?
The Joybook Lite U101 is a netbook from BenQ, this is a 10 inch unit and a 8.9 inch unit is also planed. Let the price avalanche begin!  Magnetic field refrigeration (here on Slashdot and here on Engadget) uses a fero-polymer that becomes ordered when a magnetic field is applied (thus releasing heat) and getting cooler, then when the field is released the polymer can pick up more heat from its surroundings, cooling them. The same sort of thing should be possible with polar molecules that align in an electric field, like those found in LCDs.  Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) is a new attempt at creating a copy protection system that would allow a purchaser of DECE protected media to use the media on any equipment that he owns, or remotely via a browser. Engadget has more information here.  HotHardware reviews four of the current (Sept'08) SSD hard drives from OCZ, Super Talent and Mtron. With prices now reaching $200 for a 64GB unit (for the lower performance drives) these are becoming more relevant to the regular consumer.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the built in exceptions module and now that Python 2.5 deprecates string exceptions it is probably time to convert any lingering string exceptions over.   Google has announced some changes to it search data retention policy, these changes may not actually be very meaningful. Further discussion on Slashdot.  The PyMOTW takes a look at the anydbm module which provides access to DBM-style databases.    One user's thoughts on the App Engine after using it for a while. And his App Engine 101 slides.  Some GPS navigation devices can be unlocked to reveal functions of the PDAs they are built on.  Casio is adding the EX-FH20 (also here on Engadget) to complement their EX-F1 high-speed camera. The new model will have a wider zoom range and reduced size and weight.  The df1000 and df300a1 are a pair of new photo frames from HP, the df1000 is a 10 inch unti and the df300a1 is an update to their 3.5 inch portable unit.  Android is getting closer to reality, in Sept'08 Google did a live demo of a real phone running Android. Video of it can be found here.  The Kaliho KU860 is a UMPC convertible between laptop and tablet formats, it will probably made available under other brand names.  The Ruby Cipher hard drive kit from Addonics seems to provide on-the-fly full disk encryption (AES 256 bit) through a hardware engine and stores the key in a removable keyfob. At last it looks like someone has done this correctly, now if only some independent security team would take a look to make sure the device is really encrypting the disk blocks properly and not just faking it with a simple XOR against some content in the keyfob...  Neuros is releasing a new version of their OSD device, this adds support for HD video encoding (including recording 720p from component inputs) and is built around a mini-ITX sized motherboard and enclosure. For the $250 price its actually pretty good value just for the case, power supply and motherboard alone. Note, this is not a general purpose motherboard, but does have a processor with 256MB or RAM and flash built in along with 100MHz LAN and hard disk interface so could well be used for other sorts of computer appliances. A good look at the inside of the device is here. The Neuros OSD 2.0 wiki has more information.    The Canon SX1 IS will offer a 20x zoom, 10M pixel sensor and the ability to shoot true 1080p video.  The cost of (not) testing software breaks out the various phases (or levels) at which testing can be applied in a project and tries to identify their relative costs.  Using a Nintendo DS to control a Canon DSLR.   This article: Benchmarking hardware RAID vs. Linux kernel software RAID, shows that a high end RAID card can outperform a software implementation of RAID5 by about a factor of two (from about 150MB/s to 300MB/s write speeds with 6 disks) using an AMD X2 2.2GHz CPU. They also mention that XFS has some performance advantages over ext3 when used on a RAID disk set.  Ion Audio's SLIDES 2 PC is a small slide scanner. While at $100 its going to be no match for a Nikon scanner, it may prove to be better than the typical flat bed scanner with slide scanning capabilities.  In Use Mercurial, you Git! the argument is made that Git is too complex. A rebuttal to this argues that for the most part, if you stick to simple use cases the two systems are very similar and the added complexity only appears if you need to do something exotic in Git (which you might not be able to do in Mercurial at all). For me the biggest deciding factor in choosing Mercurial over Git was that Git really did not work well on Windows machines while Mercurial worked well on both Windows and Linux. Another, short, note on choosing between Git, Mercurial and SVN. Smashing Magazine has a fast overview article: 7 Open Source Version Control Systems Reviewed.  Using GAE to provide authentication to a desktop application.  Some thoughts on cross-platform GUI tool kits for Python and the idea that perhaps the way to do it m