Python, a tutorial introducing Python to beginners
packages Python programs as standalone executables. A more recent link. A showmedo
video of how to use PyInstaller.
for the Boost Graph
easyBay, a Python
interface to EBay
pyfo, a module for
quickly generating XML representations of Python objects.
a simple attempt to add parallel processing to Python
Python Lover's Evolutionary
a package to algorithmically group items into clusters within a list
based on some sort of "nearness" metric
PyNGL is a Python module
for visualizing scientific data
- escript, a
python based environment for implementing mathematical models, in
particular partial differential equations. Now here on PyPI.
memcached, is a
distributed memory object caching system aimed at speeding up dynamic
web applications by reducing database load. This looks like it might be
useful if you have a model that generates data and a number of users
that needs to see portions of that data (perhaps with overlapping
views). One reference to using this is here (3-Oct-06).
a simple comparison of a Python BaseHTTPServer
to a .NET HttpListener. An https
server built on Medusa's
Pythomnic, a system for
building reliable network services in Python, including addressing
redundancy and the need to be able to ugrade modules without downtime. Discussed here
bluetooth extension module for Python
is a plotting / data-visualization package written in Python but
requiring the Qt library
map, filter, reduce and extract functions on a list of tuples.
of what to use the reduce function for
It looks like at least some
direct exposure to the sun might be a good thing after all - turns
out that the vitamin D produced by this might be very effective in
reducing cancer. There's also a bunch of controversy surrounding this,
as some of the related results may be that blacks have higher cancer
rates than whites due to reduced vitamin D production and also since
vitamin D gets trapped in fat, the obese end up with more cancer.
Dogs may hold the key to a life-saving suspended animation
animation of pigs has reached 2 hours now.
Do it your self ultrasound?
Possibly the start of a new trend, by splitting medical diagnostic
equipment into a sensor and software, and then connecting the sensor to
a standard computer through a safe wireless interface (especially one
based on a recognized standard like BlueTooth or WiFi) the cost of
diagnostic equipment could be greatly reduced. So what's next?
Home ECG/EKG? What about automated chemical analysis? Or maybe a
small MRI solution - actually one that was small enough to just take a
knee joint would be a good seller to doctors and sports medicine
Causes of fainting,
and after exercise.
Athletes passing out after rowing.
Why people can faint after strenuous
Master returns in Java! Now I can loose another month of my life...
And now there is FreeCiv too, an
implementation of Civilization II.
the new windows
XP hash system to reduce piracy
GCC the GNU C++ compiler,
the C++ FAQ
the C FAQ, Boost a site for C++ libraries, Standard C Library
documentation, The GNU
C Library documentation, strmode(3)
returns archive flag state, see also chflags.
Real Quick C++
guide. C++ in Action,
a book by Bartosz Milewski is available on-line at Reliable Software, along with a tutorial on Win32
approaches to spam filtering, Markovan and Dobly (a noise reduction
is a website caching system (aimed at large files - greater than 5MB)
intended to help reduce the load on small capacity sites
(for foreign languages)
is a new transport layer protocol (like UDP and TCP) but with
advantages over both (including support for multi-homed devices and
redundancy and failover), discussed here
the cure for the joke
that is CSS , the DVD copyright/encryption scheme. And a
number that amounts to the same thing.
on Slashdot, are not a toy, but might make building devices to control
the real world a lot of fun
- Boogie Bass Hack
Looks like a renaissance in hacking products and building
your own from scratch is
changing, glow light
How to add radio remote
control capability (using RF transmitter and receiver modules made
by Laipac Technologies) to microcontroller
projects, also mentions manchester
encoding to reduce the error rate.
A really good little USB to general
analogue/digital IO project based on the PIC18F4550
Vulcan has sort
of announced (its not clear at this time if they are ever going to
actually sell this unit, as it is described as a concept) a
mini-PC. Essentially its a very reduced size laptop design that's not much
bigger than a pocket-PC unit, yet it has a an 800x480 display, 20GB of disk,
256MB RAM, WiFi, USB2.0 ... Still this is just about the thing to push me
over the edge of the purchase decision cliff, but the suggested price of
US$1999 is a bit steep - but its comparable to the true pad-PCs (which are
quite over priced in my opinion).
NEC introduces the first full laptop with no hard drive,
instead it packs 3GB of flash RAM. This results in a reduction in
weight and power, plus should also make the unit more durable. Now we
just need a good web pad built along the same lines.
Intel is going to try to make an inexpensive
flash-drive based laptop, for use in education primarily, but maybe
one of these might work well as a webpad?
, and how they work
simple ? "A Century of Controversy Over the Foundations of Mathematics"
and the Omega
number (a Pi for the new century)
matter propulsion system being developed
with chemistry, or maybe just pyromania, and movies
of more fun.
high speed photography site
of Florida's Lightning Research Group, uses rockets to direct lightning.
converters, still need a pretty hot heat source but they are now down to the 200C to 450C range
Are we on the brink of a new
for all ages
High frequency electrical fields used to melt
snow and ice have a number of interesting applications, including
through the universe, to the earth, and then to an atom in a tree
testing the Starship
Enterprise in a window tunnel, at Mach 5 no less!
text books, plus MIT's OpenCourseWare, and CMU's Open Learning
Fun with really
large Fresnel lenses
An MIT Engineering text on Heat
Transfer has been made
available for free download. It's called A Heat Transfer Textbook, by John H.
Now the first real use of stem-cells is at hand: growing
relacement teeth. Once this procedure
starts happening in public the politics of stem cell research are going
to change dramatically as there will be the very real possibility of
growing replacement organs and even limbs.
Powering a glider
via a laser, the objective would be to make a permanently airborne
platform possible. Of course if this could be done with a
commercial aircraft then the cost of flying could be reduced by not
needing to carry such a large fuel payload for thousands of miles.
A better process
for extracting titanium may reduce the price of this material by a
factor of 10.
Using nanotech to reduce the cost of water
Future ships could float
on bubbles to reduce their drag
- HD VMD is due to ship its first high definition DVD player and movies in Oct'07. This is a late to the table competitor to HD and Blueray, but given their much reduced pricing (at introduction about 1/2 of HD DVD's price for a player) this may stand a chance of gaining a foot hold this Christmas. Even if it is a flop, it could cause the prices of HD and Blueray to drop dramatically. 
- The Starship estimation method for the generalized lambda distribution. There's not a lot on the web about the generalized lambda distribution and this is about the only code I've been able to find (apart from some written for use in the "R" environment).  
- zfec sounds like it might be a program to allow files to be reconstructed from redundant auxiliary information. 
Microsoft is now
claiming that various free software systems violate 235 patents
that they hold. Covered on Slashdot
Still, there's probably not much of a business case to be made by
trying to extract payment from free software over this - its more a
matter of generation of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about open
source software to try and reduce its acceptance in areas that
Microsoft could provide solutions in. Linus Torvalds has
responded to this. And now Microsoft says it has no immediate
plans to sue anyone.
The SANS Institute runs incidents.org
which tracks the progress of some worms and things (including the Code
Red Worm). Caida.org has some dynamic
graphs of the code red worm's progress. And in the end even Microsoft (hotmail) got hit by the worm. A script that can be used to notify
the victim of code red that their system is infested. Another
script, this one will shut down
the infested system to prevent it from further abuse. Another script,
this one is in python and it just
parses your web server's access log to find the sites to notify (the way it
notifies them is to start a browser on them pointed to a web
page about code red). Some thoughts on what the next
generation (Warhol Worms) of worms might be like.
Wireless lans are becoming more popular, they are a bit much
home in 2001, but the pricing will probably drop significantly by 2002.
However, their security
has some major
flaws as shown in this
paper... NetStumbler has
quite a lot on this issue. Some more on free access at www.free2air.org.
Some suggestions on how
to secure a wireless LAN by using PPPoE or PPTP. Looks like the
next generation of wireless, 802.1x, may also be insecure.
And now your favourite geek store may be using these to broadcast
your credit card numbers.
as part of an analysis of TCP/IP sequence number attacks.
are using search engines to reduce their work load.
Adding a reverse
firewall to the home network access point could reduce the value of
home PCs as spambots and DDOS units.
What's on your
network? This article
on tracking down and removing unwanted devices looks quite good.
- A module for the Fibonacci search for minima of functions, which is apparently a bit faster than the Golden search, which is a bit faster than a binary search.
- SUMMON, a module for rapid prototyping of 2D visualizations. Also can be found here.  
- The Hubble
through space using the gravity highways
materials on orbital mechanics and rocket systems
- Flash Evaporation, a process by which a liquid is turned into vapour by reducing its pressure suddenly. 
- Hydrodynamics of Pumps, by Christopher Brennen, all sorts of information on fluid flow in pumps. 
Noiseware, from Imagenomic,
looks like a good noise reduction package for high ISO shooting. This
is quite impressive at what it can do with ISO 800 shots from a Minolta
A2 (which are quite noisy). Have a look at this gallery for
some examples that have been processed by it. Also have a look at these
images I processed with it. It gets reviewed
PhotoFiltre is an
processing/manipulation program that is available in a reduced feature
free version and a commercial version. It is reviewed here.
A new algorithm to reduce camera motion
(ST62K) from Shuttle further reduces the SFF size.
Turion 64 (another processor targeted at the laptop market) can
also be used in a desktop application, particularly when the goal is to
reduce power consumption (it uses about 1/3 the power of the equivalent
Athlon 64). This artical also contains quite a bit of information about
using the Pentium-M chip in a desktop application.
on reducing PC noise discussed
Intel's hyperthreading system may actually reduce
the performance of heavily threaded applications
conventional batteries, this appears to be one of these cases where
the overall savings will be due to the reduction in the cost of energy
being used to manufacture the devices.
to produce bio-diesel,
into this is underway. Apparently some alge could yield 5000-20000
gallons per acre per year (that's 75-300K BBL per square mile per year,
which is pretty impressive).
This is probably not as good as claimed, but if it was
very significant, the H2N-Gen
takes water, uses electricity from the cars battery to create some
hydrogen and oxygen, then injects these into the fuel that the car
burns. The claim is in doing this overall fuel consumption is reduced
by 10 - 40% and emissions are also reduced. Apparently someone else who
has a patent for something similar is already suing...
A new advance
in the internal combustion engine may increase fuel efficiency of
gasoline engines by 15 to 20% and greatly reduce nitrous oxide
insulating material, a blend of PVDF and CTFE could increase the
energy storage density of super capacitors by a factor of 7 times. This
gets mentioned here too.
Large 5MW wind
turbines that will float in the sea are being developed for Norsk
Hydro, a working wind farm is scheduled for 2013.
A123 Systems claims to have created a new Lithium Ion battery
that can be recharged
much faster than current batteries. This would allow one to quickly
recharge while on a trip (instead of overnight), which would also allow
vehicles to be built with smaller batteries (greatly reducing the cost
of the vehicle) since the reduced range would not be such an issue.
The effect of megapixel counts and print sizes, this
article demonstrates that 5Meg (or more) can produce apparantly
identical results at a 16x20 print size. In my experience with printing
8MP images (all shot in JPEG) from my Minolta A2 at 13x19" size (on a
Canon i9900 printer), its pretty much impossible to see any evidence of
their digital origins - about the only chance is if you can pick out a
sharp edge between a light and a dark object, then you might be able to
make out a narrow band of lighter area intruding onto the dark region
(which is probably a JPEG artifact). I have done a 13x19 print from the
Minolta A2 of trees in autumn standing in a field of long dry grass,
and even on the grass I cannot make out stair casing. I did some
test prints once from my 3MP Canon G1 and printed a 16x20 as a tiled
8x10 set (which means that the printed pixels were about 100 pixels per
inch) and in those you could see pixelization on the edges of things,
but if you viewed from a reasonable distance you could not see them. My
conclusion is that 5MP should be good enough for most people,
especially if you get a camera with a larger sensor to reduce the
sensor noise. Of course if one is purchasing a camera with less than
about a 5x optical zoom then more pixels might well be useful to allow
for additional cropping before printing.
- Here's how to take pictures
from a toy balloon for about $50.
on image noise reduction software.
Reducing the length
of Amazon.com URLs
- The HTTP1.0
draft discusses basic
authentication, and RFC2617 discusses digest authentication,
with some copies of the actual headers involved. RFC 1738 discusses
the syntax of Uniform Resource Locators (i.e. URLs). This article discusses
Another follow up to the issue
of logout. This article has a very good
discussion of the issues involved in implementing authentication.
Apparently this add-on
for Firefox adds the ability to logout (which is present in
versus Obscurity, a discussion on the use of salt. RFC 1867 talks about
the file upload ability that was added to html forms. RFC 2616 is a more
up to date HTTP specification.
(ISO8859-1) character set and the HTML 4.0 specification
- A study now shows that a recent reduction in violent crime in the USA is well correlated with the phasing out of leaded gasoline that started in 1973. The question is, will this be repeated for the UK and Australia who did not switch to unleaded until the 1980s? Is leaded gas still used else where, Africa perhaps? 
- The SMART
for IDE drives, can providetemperaturemonitoring
of the drives. Some more information on understanding the various attributes that SMART can report.
Hard Drives will combine flash memory and conventional hard disks
to reduce power consumption and perhaps improve drive performance. In
June'06 Seagate announced
its first laptop hybrid drive with a 256Meg flash buffer.
Using a 2.5in
laptop drive in a desktop computer, this will reduce power
consumption a bit (perhaps 10W less for the whole system) but will
impact performance noticably. Probably only of interest if you are
trying to build very small computers.
Hitachi is promising
4TB drives by 2011 (just 4 years away...) due to further reductions
in head sizes.
is going to produce a small NAS unit
with capability to take 2 IDE drives internally and also combine them
with either RAID-0 (to increase the size) or RAID-1 (for redundancy),
on Tom's Networking. It also includes a built-in USB print server.
- InPhase Technologies has announced
their 300GB Tapestry holographic drives will ship in 2006. Now InPhase
is saying they will be shipping a 600GB write-once system in the
fall of 2007, while the disks are not cheap at $180/each the drives are
insanely expensive at $18,000. Looks like a big flop to me. They have kind of missed their shipping date, they have shown the 300GB drive at NAB in April'08 and claim that it will ship in May'08 (about 2 years late). But it's still the ridiculous $18K for a drive and $180 for a 300GB cartridge, so that's not price competitive with a 3.5 inch 300GB hard drive in an external USB enclosure. Even if you were to write copies to a few drives for redundancy it is just not competitive. And in Aug 2008 we started hearing about layoffs at InPhase. InPhase delays their 300GB holographic drive until late 2009, by which time it will be beyond obsolete - however, the article also mentions that GE is developing something that might compete in the 300GB disk field. In Feb'10 the InPhase saga came to an end.
Sony's Blue-ray technology is going to pack 25GB per side,
and now they are talking about further reducing the blank media's cost by
making the disks largely
An article that looks at slave
flashes and how to trigger them
coding may given lenses much more depth of field some day. Of
course the reverse is sometimes more desirable - giving the
photographer a means to reduce the depth of field to blur out
In Jan 2006 Sony announced a new
CMOS sensor that they claim will increase the pixel count without
reducing image quality
- Using Win32 to schedule tasks from Python. 
Brown University actually runs a course, CS148:
Building Intelligent Robots, using Lego Robotics. What fun! USC
also has a course that
uses Lego Robotics in their lab.
- fibra (home page here) is a package that provides cooperative concurrency using Python generators. This article describes it as a task scheduling module. A benchmark comparison (graph here) of Stackless, Kamaelia and Fibra. Improving the handling of exceptions in fibra. Some thoughts on generator co-routines and Kamaelia components. 
- Engadget asks: How would you change Windows Home Server?, from the comments it appears that this cannot act as a domain controller (though some of the betas might have been able to) and it does not use RAID - rather it has some sort of file based redundancy. 
- AllMyData is a project to make a redundant distributed storage grid. The general goal is that you can put some data into the grid and still retrieve it even if a significant part of the grid is not functioning. Another site for this is here. 
- Hyperion plans to build a factory to manufacture small nuclear power modules (they call them batteries). These would be hot tub sized devices capable of producing about 27MW. These have a uranium hydride core surrounded by a hydrogen atmosphere and need to be connected to a steam powered generator. It is supposed to be self regulating with no moving parts. They now claim to have a backlog of $2G worth of orders for more than 100 devices (discussed on Slashdot) and one potential application is in providing power to tar sands oil extraction (which could also reduce green house gas emissions by replacing the natural gas that is used for this today). 
I got Debian from
a distro aimed at 5-12 year olds.
Step by step installation
procedures for Debian 3.0
sounds like a nice, fast, Linux install (I got good download speeds
The documentation is available at knoppix.net.
There are even specialized
versions of Knoppix for particular applications such as bioknoppix and clusterknoppix. And KnoppMyth for MythTV. And Quantian which
focuses on numerical analysis tools. And KnoppiXMAME for
arcade game emulation. June 2004 and another
Knoppix release is due soon. March 2005 and Knoppix 3.8 is almost
ready to appear. Looks like Knoppix 3.8 has
been released and could even run within Windows.
from HD or CF without actually installing it
- cassowarypy is a Python wrapper for a linear constraint solver called cassowary.  
- Nanosolar (partially backed by Google) is beginning production of cost reduced solar panels (discussed here on Slashdot) that are made by "printing on to aluminum plate", they claim that these will sell for less that $1/W. If true, this changes the economics of the entire solar (and even other alternate power sources) industry by making raw solar power less expensive than grid electricity at $0.12/kWh. Consider the following calculation:
You take $1000 and use it to purchase a panel capable of 1000W. You take out a loan at 10% to do this, so you are paying $100/yr in interest.
You live in an area where you can get 6hr/day of good light over 200 days of the day, so your 1kW panel produces 6*200*1 = 1200kWh in each year.
The cost of this (to you, is $100) so the cost of this electricity is $100/1200 = $0.083/kWh,
which is competitive with grid electricity.
Granted I've oversimplified things a bit (no installation cost, no DC to AC converter and grid adapter) but I'm also quoting a higher interest rate than you would be paying and I'm pretty conservative on the sunlight hours per year, and in a lot of areas you can get a credit from your utility company for the energy that you push back into their grid - and this credit can be at a much higher than normal grid rate. As well, there can be some tax savings for doing this.
The important point is that before Nanosolar came along the cost per watt was at least $5 for solar power - so the drop to $1/W is an industry-changing event and suddenly makes solar attractive to a whole new market place.  
Links to the Hubble
Rent a telescope
and use it over the internet, what a way to make your obsession tax deductable...
- Perhaps the DCMA and the RIAA have pushed the youth of today too far, this article claims only 2 in 500 believe in IP, which could have significant impact in 10-20 years time - remember intellectual property is only protected by laws and laws can be changed quite easily once the population decides to have them changed. I will predict that by 2028 the standard copyright term will have been reduced to 25 years and patent protection will only be granted for 10 years. 
- Some people are starting to think that it is time for copyright protection times to be reduced rather than further increased. 
- By super-heating cobalt ferrite to 2600F one can force it to release trapped oxygen, then by cooling it to 2000F it will capture an oxygen molecule from CO2 or steam. This can be used to make CO (carbon monoxide, which can be used as an organic chemistry building block) or hydrogen gas. This is being proposed as a way of reducing CO2 emissions from power plants (discussed here on Slashdot) by obtaining the necessary power to heat the cobalt ferrite from concentrated sunlight. However, much of the captured energy is not needed for this process due to the high value of the lower process temperature (i.e. 2000F) so the ultimate efficiency will be quite low and one probably would be better just using the solar power to generate steam to drive turbines to generate electricity and by doing so just reduce the amount of fossil fuel that must be burnt in the first place. 
- ACER is expected to enter the ultra portable laptop arena to compete with the ASUS Eee in the second quarter 2008. At CeBIT in Mar'08 they claimed to be on target for a Q2/Q3 release, though that's pretty vague sounding! ACER is claiming that its first 8.9 inch laptop will be priced in the $350-400 range, making it up to $150 less than the $500 ASUS is intending to charge. More information on this is leaking out. Pictures of the Aspire One appeared at the end of May-08. Engadget got their hands on one of these at Computex in June'08, talk is US$399 pricing and available in Sept'08. Acer has provided official specifications for this. Acer talks a bit about the role Linux is going to play in this market place and mentions a $379 version of the Aspire. The Tech Digest got their mitts on one. Laptop Mag reviews the Acer Aspire One. The Aspire One gets hacked to add an internal Bluetooth adapter. In late Aug'08 Acer announced price cuts to the Aspire One making it the lowest priced of the 9 inch display models (and even reduced the price of the model with the extended battery. 
An article that examines a number of free memory
Intelligence a new approach to solving scheduling problems
an MIT study
of the software development process
Kids, never do this at home: how to
implement a decimal
adder in DOS batch files
a project management system written in Python. Includes version
control, documentation system, scheduling and bug tracking integrated
into a wiki environment. More on using
Switching to subversion
to reduce project maintenance effort.
Windows Theory, one man's view of why Vista is behind schedule, discussed here
Project Management, techniques for coping with short schedules. Discussed here
Quake3's fast InvSqrt() function
is one strange piece of C code. Discussed here
on Slashdot. Its even made it to a paper.
page on PL/SQL (Procedural Language/Structured Query Language)
- The RIAA wants songwriter royalties to be reduced.
- While not NAS in the traditional sense, the idea of distributing a file system across spare space on a number of PCs on a LAN has been implemented in a number of ways:
The main problems with such system are what to do about nodes that are off-line, fail or are frequently unavailable. Clearly a useful system must include redundancy, perhaps multi-way, to compensate for this, even if you are using a relatively reliable set of machines (like a number of servers that have had an extra IDE drive installed for spare storage). Such systems would be quite useful for applications like a backup storage pool.
- GNU's Gluster package includes GluserFS a clustered file store.
- OpenAFS has some Windows support.
- The Network Block Device for Linux could be used to do this, though for redundancy you would have to make a RAID array out of a number of NBD devices.
- dCache is a system that has been used in the nuclear physics labs to help store their large data sets.
- Wuala appears to be a commercial service that is building a distributed storage grid out of space on individual participating PCs.
- Slashdot discusses DKIM - Domain Key Identified Mail - an attempt to reduce email fraud. 
- The IDC is finding that IT departments that build projects around open-source solutions are much more successful in successfully completing them. Perhaps this is a case of just reducing the work from a full design and programming effort to a much simpler implement and tweak type task? For example, an IT department might want to build an issue-tracking system, if it designed and built this from scratch this might consume a few man years of effort and result in an unusable monstrosity that, while completed, never gets used. However, there are lots of free, open source, issue trackers that can be configured and put into use in a matter of hours to days (or weeks if the department works hard at it). 
- 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. 
- munkres.py is an implementation of the Munkres algorithm (also known as Kuhn-Munkres or the Hungarian algorithm) which is used to solve the Assignment Problem. The assignment problem is used to determine the best way to use n workers to do n jobs at least cost when the cost to complete a particular job depends on which worker does it. pyLAPJV is another approach to this problem, this implements the Jonker-Volgenant algorithm.  
- This article proposes a new automatic focusing mode setting be added to digital cameras which would put the lens in hyperfocal distance mode. When active the camera would not auto focus on elements of the scene, rather it would check its current f-stop and focal length and then adjust the focus setting so that infinity is always just in focus (at one end of the depth of field). This means that the distance to the nearest point of focus will vary (getting shorter) as the f-stop gets bigger and the focal length gets shorter (lens gets wider). This ability is most useful for the wide to short telephoto ranges, but can also be used to good effect on distant telephoto shots where you are "shooting through" obstructions (such as a wire fence, some foreground branches or the bars in a cage at the zoo) which you do not want to attract the focus. This mode can also be used to improve focus speed, since it only depends on the current aperture and focal lengths, which can be measured directly.
An additional feature that could be used with this would be for the camera's normal autofocus system to pick its typical targets and identify those of them that will be in the hyperfocus zone with circle outlines and those of them that will be out of focus (because they are too close) with X's. This way the photographer can see if the hyperfocus coverage includes the significant features, and if not he can either increase the f-stop, reduce the zoom or switch over to one of the conventional modes.
Another variation on this is for you to enter the maximum and minimum focus distances and then allow the camera to control the f-stop to meet your requirements as you zoom the lens. In this mode the camera would control the exposure by adjusting the shutter speed. The point of this is for fast point and shoot candid work (say high school year book photography) as it eliminates the shutter lag due to focusing. 
- Geohash is an algorithm used to encode into a simple string a latitude and longitude coordinate pair to arbitrary precision. It is intended for single URL encoding of lat/long data. The key to this is treating the coordinates as binary numbers and then interleaving their bits so that the odd bits are the latitude and the even bits are the longitude. In this way the encoded string can be simply truncated to reduce the precision. Another system for doing this is the 10:10 code. 
- 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. 
- 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. 
- Erasure Codes can be used to transform N blocks of data into N+M blocks of data for redundancy purposes allowing the original N blocks to be recreated from some of the N+M blocks in the event of data corruption or loss. zfec is an implementation of a fast erasure codec that can be used with Python (it is part of the AllMyData project).   
- 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 
- A software engineering course has student teams build a project in stages, at the end of the first stage they review the work of the other teams and then must select one of the other team's work to continue. An interesting idea, perhaps this could be used in a company which can afford to take a "multiple implementation, select the best of breed" approach to software development. While this sounds wasteful it might be a good way to get higher quality and/or meet tighter schedules. 
signal processing or compression scheme? More information to be
of snow flakes
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.
software project schedules be estimated, a paper on the subject by J.P. Lewis
plays the ukulele
- The SpyFly,
micromechanical flying insect project.
from disposible cameras to power a gauss gun
Got a spare decade? Watch
The return of the Rubik's Cube, and how to solve
Nautical Solar Racing
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
project now has 10,000
sounds on line
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.
the world must be running scared.
- 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:
- 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. 
- Why programs are like pastas - not just the famed spaghetti code. But what about the sauce? And does this mean all good software should only take 10 minutes to cook up?  
to the Java version of Dungeon Master has been released
- Knuth's The
Art of Computer Programming, notes and errata
- 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. 
In Canada options and futures trading is done on the Montreal
Exchange, they also have an educational site
- The article Options Pricing: A Simplified Approach presents a pretty clear description of the binomial model approach to options valuation. 
- 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. 
- Using secure authentication cookies with Django, this implements part of a paper on secure cookie protocols. 
- 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. 
- Deep Packet Inspection and Injection is going to become a contentious issue on the web, one that legislators are probably going to have to face soon. I suspect that at least in those countries that have the common carrier liability exemptions this problem may not develop very far, because for a carrier to start inspecting the contents of packets passing through its networks in order to slip in advertisements that earn it some money, it would be demonstrating that it is capable of reviewing the contents of the data and thus could be liable for the transmission of illegal or copyright controlled data. This common carrier exemption greatly simplifies (and reduces the operating costs) of these companies so it is a status they will seek to maintain at practically any cost. 
- 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. 
- RawSolar is a new start-up who are entering the concentrating solar collector market. 
- Schedules Direct is a non-profit organization that provides US and Canadian TV listings in XML form for about $20/year. They have a listing of DVR media player type packages that can use their schedule data. 
- The GejBox has been renamed the "Connected". This is a network media player unit. 
- Adeona is an open source project (GPLv2 license) to develop a system for tracking the location of a lost or stolen laptop to assist in its return. This system uses a public distributed storage server to receive the location updates, but the location updates are encrypted so that only the true owner can access their contents (protecting his privacy). Discussed here on Slashdot.  
- 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. 
- Slashdot discusses solar panels for the home and a look at how much one person was able to reduce their power bill by. 
- Window panes with built in solar cells, reduce the sunlight entering the house while generating a few watts and emptying your pocket book. 
- A technique that uses microwaves to help form lithium iron for use in lithium batteries could result in reduced manufacturing costs. 
- 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. 
- 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. 
- 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... 
- Now the much maligned Newark is embracing big brother in the hope of reducing crime. 
- 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 Drools Solver can be used to solve some types of constraint-based problems such as planning problems like lesson and exam scheduling. 
- phprpc a project to implement a Perfect High Performance Remote Procedure Call client and server for use over the internet. 
Questrade allows you to hold US dollars in you Canadian RSP (RRSP) which allows you to reduce trading costs on US stocks (with ETrade there is about a 1.5% foreign exchange charge each time you buy or sell US stocks). They do still charge a flat $5 fee on any day that you make a US dollar trade, but if you are trading $1000 that amounts to 0.5% which is already less than ETrade will charge. 
- In Why RAID 5 Stops Working in 2009 the author argues that with the arrival of 2TB drives RAID arrays will have got large enough that the unrecoverable read error rate will put a RAID rebuild at significant risk. While this seems possible it would appear to be a rather poor software design if a RAID system completely fails a rebuild if a single read error happens, I would have thought that the logical thing to have done would have been to pause the rebuild and ask the operator if he wanted to stop or continue and accept the consequences (which would probably be a corrupted file). A comment on this issue that addresses some of the concerns. An article that looks at the causes of some of the drive errors. How the UNRAID system handles this issue gets discussed here, with UNRAID the data is not striped so a failure of this kind will not affect the whole array and, according to the developers, an error of this kind during an array rebuild will not stop the rebuild (though a file may be corrupted as a result). CERN took some time to research the silent data corruption problem. Slashdot has another discussion of the issue of RAID arrays becoming more likely to fully fail during a rebuild. Adaptec goes through some of the reliability calculations for RAID arrays here and here. A graduate student takes a look at RAID system reliability through simulations. Another article on the unrecoverable read error problem. There is a research project looking at read errors in Microsoft, an interim progress report is here. This article examines the probability of encountering a read error while rebuilding a RAID array and explains the math fairly well. The paper: An Analysis of Data Corruption in the Storage Stack takes a look at all sorts of error sources, incuding the UREs. Are there really differences between the SATA and more expensive SCSI and Fibre Channel drives? The importance of disk scrubbing as a way of keeping the UREs at bay. A white paper from Hitachi on the URE issue and why RAID6 makes sense (though it looks like their math might be off). Wikipedia's article on S.M.A.R.T. explains a lot of the SMART counters. Hard Disk MTBF: Flap or Farse calls into question the reliability of MTBF ratings, as does this paper. 
- Geoengineering to cool the Earth, if we cannot reduce global warming by cutting back can we control it by more active means? Seems to me that building large solar power plants would achieve a lot of cooling by capturing solar energy and converting it to electricity rather than letting that sunlight warm the planet. If some of the electricity were used to facilitate processes that need energy input (such as CO2 extraction from the atmosphere) then there should be an overall net reduction in the heating of the Earth. 
- The German Foreign Ministry is migrating its desktops to OSS. By doing this they figure on reducing their maintenance costs from about 3000 euros per desktop to 1000 euros per year. 
- Netbooks have hurt Windows profits, Microsoft is finding it hard to monopolize the low-end market because the cost of their Windows license is a significant part of the overall machine cost. This is something that anyone who has tried to build a low-cost "appliance" type machine (like a NAS device) based on Windows knows quite well. Typically you can buy all the new hardware you need for a few hundred dollars, and then the $140 or so for an XP license is close to half the cost of the hardware making you think strongly about using Linux instead. It looks like the netbook manufacturers are getting their XP licenses for something like $50, which means that on a $250 machine Microsoft is still 20% of the total, leaving little room for profit. The sudden development of the netbook market has taken Microsoft by surprise, its increasing size and popularity due to the typically lower price point is seen as threatening to erode the sales of traditional laptops and desktop systems and thus reduce Microsoft's profits. What Microsoft is not considering is that many of these netbook sales are going to people who are adding a second or third computing device, and who are only doing so because of the tempting price, so it is likely this new market is not eroding the traditional markets to the degree that Microsoft fears. In fact, if Microsoft were to extend its reduced price XP license some more it might find XP showing up in other low-cost devices like NAS boxes and set-top media players where Linux (thankfully) has a near total monopoly. 
- Seagate has a problem with its new 1.5TB drive freezing for 30 seconds at a time. More on this from Seagate. If you have one of these drives you can call Seagate's 1-800 number and they will check to see if you can get a firmware update (if you file a service request they will just ignore you - you need to phone them). There are also reports that some of their 1TB drives may be failing too. Slashdot discusses this here and there are links to some of the information (potentially affected model numbers) but no list of affected firmware versions. The 0GB (or BSY mode) bug gets discussed here (after the thread was deleted from Seagate's support forum - it appears the thread is still here), some people appear to be attempting to use the drive's serial diagnostic port to probe this issue further. This page contains the first results of connecting to the serial port. Seagate released a firmware update on about 20-Jan-09 only to find it caused more problems so the update has been recalled. Here is a possible unbricking procedure which uses the diagnostic serial port, it needs a bit more work to fill in some of the details (like which pins are TX and RX on the 4 pin connector - in this article it looks like they are the two pins closest to the SATA data connector, and RX is the one beside the SATA data connector). Seagate is offering free data recovery for those affected. This appears to have most of the details. This is another version, it shows the trick of using a small insulating strip to isolate the drive's power connector from the control PCB. The serial mode commands are listed here.
I encountered the "busy drive" bug while checking to see if any of my Seagate drives might be affected. Quite ironic, you shutdown the system to check the serial numbers and drive labels; and then, when you power up the system again one of the drives is no longer responding to the BIOS. Seagate now has a few online tools that you can use to find out if you need new firmware - the best is to get the drive's serial number and enter it. If your drive is one that is known to be at risk they will send you to a page from which you can download a small ISO image that you can burn to CD and then boot from to flash the drive.
Seagate's firmware upgrade procedure is described here, if you have an X86 PC which can boot from CD then it is pretty simple to flash the drives (just detach all your other drives first to be on the safe side).
I was able to unbrick my drive that had entered the busy state by following this procedure. If you just unscrew the screw near the drive power connector a few turns, then you can slide some insulating material (say the corner of a business card) between the connector and the controller board quite easily. I used one of these RS-232 to TTL level shifters (here from www.robotcraft.ca) and used a pair of AA batteries to power it at 3 volts. For the connector to the RX/TX pins I used a piece of cable from an old computer case, one of the two pin headers that is used to connect the front panel (lights or switches) to the motherboard. This had the correct pin spacing but was slightly too thick to insert into the drive's socket, so I used sand paper to thin it down a bit. Once I had found a serial cable (which I have not used for many years) I was able to connect the drive to the computer and verify that it did have the "busy error" symptoms (the drive will keep sending, about once a minute, a string like "LED:000000CC FAddr:0025BF67" to the terminal). At this point things worked up to issuing the "Z" command to spin down the drive. For me as soon as I issued that command the drive would enter the busy error state. The command sequence looked like:
In the end I reviewed the various drive commands (a list is listed here) and noted that the "Z" command was also available at other "levels", so I gave level 8 a try and this worked. The output from my command session looked like:
Spin Down Complete
Elapsed Time 0.161 msecs
Spin Up Complete
Elapsed Time 9.250 secs
Max Wr Retries = 00, Max Rd Retries = 00, Max ECC T-Level = 14, Max Certify Rewr
ite Retries = 00C8
User Partition Format 5% complete, Zone 00, Pass 00, LBA 00004339, ErrCode 000
User Partition Format 5% complete, Zone 00, Pass 00, LBA 00008DED, ErrCode 000
00080, Elapsed Time 0 mins 10 secs
User Partition Format Successful - Elapsed Time 0 mins 10 secs
After I had done this I was able to remove the drive, test it and confirm that it was working fine. I then did a firmware update which took it from SD15 to SD1A.
And one more thing, my drives were "made in China" so this problem was not just with the drives from Thailand.
- OpenWrt.org is a Linux distribution for embedded devices (a simpler, prepackaged version called X-Wrt is also available), in particular a large number of small wireless routers. If you need a small, low-power, always-on computing device this might be an approach to take. It might even be possible to run a Windows Primary Domain Controller (PDC) on one of these using SAMBA 3, see the following:
The procedure for getting a PDC working has been figured out for the somewhat similar NSLU2 device (the LINKSYS Network Storage Link), see the HowToSetUpPDCWithSamba page.  
- It is thought that the recent Bilski decision may have rendered many software and business process type patents invalid. This decision appears to have invalidated a set of pharmaceutical patents related to improving the safety of immunization schedules. In July'09 it was used to invalidate a patent on a credit application processing system. 
- Slashdot discusses a study that compares forms of alternative energy. Of all forms examined, wind power was found to be the best current choice. 
- United Keys is producing a lower cost OLED display keyboard and keypad, at $200 it is still rather pricey but it is a significant reduction in cost from the previous attempt at this (the Optimus).  
- Slashdot discusses options for long term data storage. This comment lists some of the previous related discussions that have happened on Slashdot. The consensus seems to favor multiple copies on hard drives with periodic testing and migration to new drives before failure takes place. This article gives a formula for calculation of the Mean Time To Data Loss (MTTDL) for multi-drive arrays based on the number of drives, their expected mean time to failure, the degree of redundancy (one or two independent parity channels) and the time to replace a failed drive and rebuild (which can be measured in days if you don't notice a failure right away). With this approach, using the Seagate 1.5TB drive with a quoted annual failure rate of 0.34% less than 2% of these drives should fail in 5 years (the warranty period) so taking 5 years as the mean time between failures should be very, very conservative. Then, if you have a RAID array with 3 data and 1 parity disk (or a 4 drive RAID 5 system) and it takes you a week to detect and replace a failed drive then the MTTDL would be (working in days):
(5*365)*(5*365)/(4*(4-1)*7) = 39650 days
or about 108 years before you had 2 drives die within the 1 week replacement window and lost your data. Alternatively you might use each drive as a simple redundant copy of some data, so if you have 3 drives you put the same data on each, then once a month you check each to see if it is still fine (perhaps you put more data on it at that time as well), then using the same conservative 5 year MTBF you would have:
(5*365)**3/(3*(3-1)*(3-2)*(31)**2) = 1,054,178 days
or 2888 years before you had all three drives die within the same 1 month window and lost your data. So it looks like just putting your important data on two or three external hard drives which you periodically test and refresh should be safe enough, and the more copies you have then safer you will be. Of course, with multiple copies you can place some of them in off site storage which will help protect against fire, theft, flood and other catastrophes.
- Cygnus has patented file preview with an iconic representation. This was filed for in 2001 which is rather late, as many applications did some form of this long before that. In fact my own VBBS TERM (later called IceTERM) had a preview function that allowed users to preview reduced size images of photos to help them decide on spending the time to download the full image. That function was in use before May 1992 and at the time it was not new (though this might have been the first BBS-Terminal system to support it). 
- Coffee has been found to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. I wonder if anyone has compared the rate of Alzheimer's between the general population and the Mormons? 
- Alzheimer's may be reduced by a component of marijuana. 
- The CIA once booby trapped pipeline control software that the Russians were illegally purchasing, this lead to a large pipeline explosion in 1982. I wonder what the SAT procedures for this feature were. 
- Slashdot discusses How Do You Document Technical Procedures? 
- RPyC is a package that provides "remote Python calls", a form of remote procedure calls between Python processes for distributed computing. 
- Convex Optimization a book by Stephen Boyd and Lieven Vandenberghe. 
- A new design for lithium battery electrodes could greatly increase charge and discharge rates (perhaps by more than a factor of 10). This change does not require any new materials, it is just improving the way the materials are physically structured to allow for faster flow of ions. Discussed here on Slashdot, here on Engadget, announced here by MIT and discussed here on Technology Review. 
- Research is underway on a pace-maker like device for muscles that have been left without proper nerve control due to injury or stroke. 
- The mintpad from Mintpass (which is part of iRiver) is a small PMP type device that includes WiFi and web browsing (even with Flash support). This is available in Korea for about $150 and will be entering the US market soon. It uses a touch screen (probably resistive as it is operated with a stylus) for input and has a number of built in functions (camera, scheduler, paint, chat, ...). In Sept'09 this went on sale in the UK. 
- The Thecus N0204 miniNAS is a NAS device that takes a pair of 2.5 inch hard drives instead of the more normal 3.5 inch drives. This makes it physically smaller and probably reduces its power consumption. 
- The PeaPod is a neighborhood electric vehicle with about a 30 mile range, a short video clip of it is here and a photo gallery is here. They are talking about a $12K price for this which might produce a lot of demand as most of the other electric car solutions are much more expensive currently. While some might call this a golf-cart, it really shows a lot of thought about providing a fresh solution to short-trip driving (which is what the majority of miles probably are). Some of the steps they have taken to reducing weight (and increasing usable space) like the "thin seats" are quite clever and very appropriate. I'm not thrilled about the massive sunroof though, that's going to get quite hot in the summer - to the point of needing air conditioning. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the new multiprocessing (part 1) module. And in part 2 looks at communication between processes with multiprocessing. And also takes a shot at implementing MapReduce with multiprocessing.  
- The British Bee.One electric car, which is scheduled for 2011 production, looks like it gets a few things right. It has a substantial 200 mile range and an 80MPH top speed (so I could actually take one on ski trips) and it has a reasonable $18K price tag and has four doors, so should seat at least 4 people. 
- disco is a framework for Map-Reduce distributed application processing written in Erlang, it has the ability to run jobs written in Python. 
- pyron is a tool to auto-create most of the material needed for setup.py scripts. The aim is to eliminate all the redundant information entry and cut and paste boiler plate that is currently needed. 
- The next wave of netbooks might be powered by ARM processors as this would allow their power consumption to be greatly reduced, but this would also force manufacturers to stick with Linux as the operating system. There are some hints that Microsoft (in a strange echo of Windows NT's distant past when it could also run on the DEC Alpha and PowerPC chips) might make a version of Windows 7 that would run on ARM to address this. I find it more plausible that Microsoft would just try to push Windows CE into that role instead. 
- Slashdot discusses the recent announcements at Computex'09 about ARM-powered netbooks. These promise to greatly extend battery life (or allow the size and weight of netbooks to be reduced still further by reducing battery size). 
- Money for education, perhaps some of it should go to bribing (rewarding) kids to do better? 
- The Palm Pre might be off to a good start with independent developers, with the root image of webOS leaking out, also here on Engadget. Apparently flashing new firmware onto the Pre is quite simple. A NES emulator and Doom have been ported to the Pre. Unfortunately Palm says the webOS SDK will not be available until the end of Summer - this reminds me of the early Amiga days when the ROM Kernel Manuals were a long time coming. Despite the lack of an SDK some developers have figured out how to install applications on normal Pre phones. Installing small apps can apparently be done through email. 
- The Science of Composting is a good introduction to what is happening in your compost pile and who its inhabitants are likely to be. 
- Weather Modification inc. is seeding storm clouds in the Calgary to Red Deer region of Alberta to reduce the damage caused by summer hail storms. They have some current radar information about what the recent conditions are and what they are doing about it. 
- A DIY video camera stabilizer (steadycam) mount, this one includes a gimbal in the hand grip to further reduce unwanted sway. I wonder when someone is going to put a couple of spinning discs on these to further stabilize things. 
- Slashdot discusses why OpenBSD's approach to scheduling a release every 6 months works. 
- A new procedure that uses sound waves to cook brain tissue is being tested. This could allow for non-invasive treatment of deep-seated tissues in the brain without tricky (or impossible) invasive techniques. It might even be useful for replacing the use of radiation. 
- Wooden legs may be a thing of the future soon, wood has been reduced to pure carbon and then used as a matrix to receive a calcium deposit and then implanted to replace bone in sheep. Some more work on this idea, using rattan as the supporting matrix. 
- So IKEA is owned by a charity and uses this to effectively reduce its take rate to about 3.5%, sounds a bit like the game of shell companies that Commodore used bake in the 1980's. 
- gasp is a simple procedural graphics API for Python. 
- StraighterLine is attempting to offer college education by the course for $99 a course and has taken some steps to ensure that other colleges will recognize their courses for credit. 
- Liposuction may be a good source for stem cells and may have an advantage over other sources in reduced processing time to make them useful. 
- Google is developing some new mirrors aimed at reducing the cost of building solar power stations.  
- Gravitational currents can be used to reduce fuel requirements for interplanetary space travel. The downside of this is that travel times get much longer, though this technique could be used for freight shipments instead of human travel. 
- Carbon monoxide could be useful as a medical treatment in some diseases (like malaria), controlling inflammation and in reducing organ transplant rejection rates. 
- So who's flying the plane these days? The case of a Northwest Airlines pilot and his copilot so lost in discussion of "scheduling software" that they went 150 miles off course. 
- ASUS is thinking of launching a $180 ARM-based smartbook in Q1 of 2010. This could be $30-50 cheaper than any current netbook just by dumping the Windows tax, and it can probably be another $30-50 cheaper by reducing the size of the battery pack since an ARM chip uses less power than an Atom. So the sub-$200 price is feasible without a quality sacrifice. If they stick with the $199 price point they are going to sell a LOT of these. 
- Researchers at MIT are working on a high temperature battery system that uses liquid metals. This is described as rather like the process used to make aluminum, except in reverse. This system would be most suitable for large installations, like off-peak grid power storage, but there is also interest in developing a version suitable for the power requirements of a solar home. 
- It is now possible to run Chrome OS in a virtual machine to have a play with it. Discussed here on Slashdot too. A version of this that boots and runs from a USB key has been prepared and appears to be well-received. A reduced size version that will fit on a 1GB USB key. 
- While not a backup technology, SUN's ZFS is getting block-based file content deduplication to make more efficient use of storage media. 
- The "__slots__" mechanism can be used to reduce memory usage in Python programs. 
- Some researchers have been thinking that calorie reduced diets extend lifespans, but perhaps the real reason is reduced levels of the amino acid methionine. 
- The ARM processors could bring us smaller (lighter and thinner) netbooks (or smartbooks) with good battery life and at reduced prices. 
- The Bloom Box is a fuel cell system (discussed here on Slashdot) that is being put to test by a number of companies in the US. Current prices are rather high so it does not make much economic sense, the hope is that its cost can be significantly reduced in the future. The Bloom Box compared to solar. 
- A new type of solar panel made from silicon wires embedded in plastic has been developed. Initial reports claimed a very high conversion efficiency, but a later article corrects this back to the 15-20% range. Further discussion here on Slashdot. Still these panels may be much less expensive than current designs as they only require 1% of the silicon that a conventional cell would use and as they are flexible could be manufactured in a high-volume roll-to-roll process. 
- Marvell (the chip maker) is looking at building a $99 Moby Tablet that would have a 10 inch screen and be capable of running 1080p video. Of course they are following the ridiculous idea of the OLPC people of only selling this into education, while they could sell tons of them if they sold to the general public. The Hanvon Touchpad BC10C sounds pretty similar to this except its running a 1.3GHz Celeron and they are looking at $877 for it (but it does have an HDMI port). Marvell is getting closer and will be showing off a 10-inch Android tablet soon, some photos of it are here. 
- Opendedup is an open-source project to make a deduplicating file system. 
- Slashdot discusses the cost of digital hearing aids, perhaps this is a good example of the distortion of the market by health insurance companies? When you think about it these devices must have a huge yearly volume and over the last decade advances in DSP chips (driven by things like the MP3 player market) must have helped reduce their costs and power consumption while at the same time increasing their capabilities, so why have prices remained so high? 
- A good review of the Canon 8800F flat bed scanner focusing on using it to scan slides. This one looks at some unusual things like weighing down the scanner to reduce vibrations, mounting the slides differently to adjust focus and even scanning a wet piece of film. The author uses Hamrick's VueScan for most of the work. 
- My Solar System is an orbit simulation which you can use to model your own ideas about the solar system. 
- Audi and BMW are looking into improving traffic flow by communicating light change times to the drivers - essentially encouraging drivers to speed up or slow down a bit so they run in sync with the traffic lights. Of course the problem with this is that only a few drivers, out of many, are capable of following instructions... 
- The Pan-STARRS panoramic survey telescope is now running, this uses a 1.4 Giga pixel sensor to search the sky for asteroid and comet threats to earth. 
- A new development board for a TI MSP430 controller chip called the Launchpad is being sold by TI for the very low price of $4.30 a piece. Looks like you can order up to three of these at this price. A nice idea, pity they didn't put a small Veroboard prototyping area on these for wiring up a few discrete components. My first units arrived the other day, looks pretty nice TI. I could see these being quite useful in education circles. I'm thinking of making a camera time lapse shutter trigger for my old Minolta A2 and a fan controller for my RAID array. The official wiki is here. 
- A hormone gel is being developed that could stimulate tooth regrowth. 
- Scott McNealy the co-founder of SUN is looking into the problem of expensive math text books. 
- A good source of delayed options quotes, which include The Greeks, is here at the OIC - Options Industry Council. 
- The so-called human powered car is more likely a very light weight electric vehicle with the capability of getting a boost from the passengers. When you look at the video bear in mind that the handle bar crank system is unlikely to be providing a significant portion of the power (I would be amazed if it provides more than 5%) as there is no way that driver could even go half as fast on a light weight bicycle let alone a much heavier vehicle with rather poor air drag (look at the wind on his shirt). Also the hand crank system is a very poor choice for human power, a recumbent pedal system would be far better as the legs can produce much more power and for longer periods of time than the back and arms (not to mention it would be safer as this would not interfere with the steering control). So while it's cute I don't think it makes a significant contribution to "human propulsion", though it might point the way to ultra-light electric vehicles. I do like the idea of a four-seat human-propelled vehicle that has an electric booster system (to assist when loaded, or accelerating or climbing hills), but this is not a reasonable implementation. Also, such a vehicle needs a cover to reduce air drag and keep the occupants dry.