- CDR-Info is all
technologies and software. 
firewalls, NAT and various threat related articals. 
In late 2006 another attempt to get a Python port working on PalmOS was
This is a good thing, it would be nice to be able to write little bits
of code and run them right on the Palm.
is an imaging library based on GraphicsMagick, this provides 16bit
colour depth. As of May'06 most of the links to this seem to be broken,
need to review later.
in Python, also the sparkplot
module. Sparklines are described in the book: Beautiful Evidence, ISBN:
by Edward Tuftle, this is reviewed here.
Ideas for an extenstion
module boilerplate generator.
- The Twisted networking
framework, has a book: Twisted:
Network Programming Essentials, available in Oct'05.
There are a number of projects
implemented with Twisted, these include Twisted Web (an HTTP
server), Twisted Mail (SMTP, POP and IMAP clients and servers),
Twisted News (an NNTP client/server), Twisted Lore (a documentation
generator with HTML and LaTeX support), Twisted Runner
(for process management and inetd replacement). Allegra is an
alternative to Twisted, here are some comments on Twisted vs.
Allegra. An article
that introduces some client-side programming using Twisted. Another comparison
of Allegra and Twisted. Another mail server based on Twisted. A series of articles on using the Twisted Web in 60 seconds.
- Jinja, a simple
pythonic template engine. This has been updated to jinja2.
JSON data from within Python
- The dateutil module
provides extensions to the datetime module that is introduced in Python
2.3, including knowing how to calculate the date of Easter and world
timezone information based on Olson's database.
combines Emacs and Python to create a sophisticated
writing environment for screenplay and fiction writers. Emacs'
modes are used to create .sp or .fc files. Spirit, a Python
application, then archives these files, converts them to text,
HTML or LaTeX, or prints them in a variety of ways.
- Doxygen, a
cross-platform, JavaDoc-like documentation system for C++, C,
Objective-C, C#, Java, IDL, Python, and PHP. Doxygen can be used to
generate an on-line class browser (in HTML) and/or an off-line
reference manual (in LaTeX or RTF) from a set of source files. Doxygen
can also be configured to extract the code-structure from undocumented
source files. This includes dependency graphs, class diagrams and
hyperlinked source code. This type of information can be very useful to
quickly find your way in large source distributions.
doxypy is an input filter for Doxygen.
- People are
to figure out how to manipulate Google
attempts to provide you with a way of annotating a map with your own
content, and Google
Maps Hacking is figuring out and documenting how to do these
Maps Standalone is also looking into these issues, and has a more
detailed how to here.
Here is an application that lists houses for
sale and rent. Here's one that implements a form of traceroute.
An O'Reilly article on Google
Map Hacking with some informal Google statements on the issue. A
wiki on Google mapping,
and some samples.
Here's a general
explanation of how this works. As of July 1, 2005 Google has started to publish
their maps API, its still not final, and they expect to make
significant changes to it in the future months. Feeding GPS coordinates to
Google Maps. How
to build a Google Maps based service, this is an interactive bus
route map and is described
here, along with the source code.
has released Tesseract as open source,
this is a optical character recognition program developed at HP Labs in
the late 1980's
search system went to public beta sometime in late 2006.
NASA is going to be releasing
Landsat 7 data on the web, will this help or hinder Google Earth? I
would think it will help as Google likes to assimilate all the data it
circle distance formula used in computing distances between zip
codes. Here is another
example, using this to calculate the distance between zip codes.
This recipe emulates
the defaultdict class from Python 2.5 in Python 2.3
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.
calculated from a race result. Performance evaluation tests.
Scientists Regrow Teeth, and bones
too apparently. Works by applying low-intensity, pulsed ultra sound
to the tooth root - so perhaps would not work when the root is damaged.
The FDA has approved the Exogen
4000+ from Smith & Nephew for use at home to stimulate bone
- The Toxoplasma
Gondii parasite (which can be spread to humans from cats, and cats
get it by eating mice) is known to be of some risk to pregnant women,
but it might also be a much larger issue than previously thought as it appears
to change behavior of infected individuals (including making them more
risk tolerant). More on this as a neuro-scientist has observed a correlation between success in the World Cup and incidence of infection.
- Genetically engineered cells have been implanted in mice that have been previously sickened with Alzheimer's disease related plaque, these engineered cells have reversed the plaque build up. 
some software development support tools (like Great
Circle) that look for memory leaks and such. We recently had very
good success with this package at work, in fact we turned to it when Purify
consistently failed to work. If you are writing complex software that
is programmed in multiple languages (ours uses C++, FORTRAN and JAVA) and
interacts with an object database (such as ObjectStore) this might be
worth a try. I have used a similar tool from Rational
Software called Purify,
though over the years this has got harder and harder to run (probably
because the program we are running it on has got bigger and bigger). GlowCode
also makes a package for code profiling and leak detection that sounds
promising, and it is a lot more reasonably priced than Purify and
GreatCircle. If you are doing development with Java, then OptimizeIt
is an excellent tool to have. This was written by VMGear
and later picked up by Borland.
This Slashdot article also includes some freeware
memory leak references, such as this
page which has further references.
A list of programs that can be run directly from a USB
AVSMedia sells video format
conversion software, as well as a pretty decent video editing
package (which includes the ability to include still images and do
simulated pans and zooms within them). They have a fully functional
try-before-buy version that just puts a logo in the middle of the
output, so its easy to test to see if it will work for you.
- ImageMagick, is
a free image manipulation program it is described in: The
Definitive Guide to ImageMagick, by Michael Still, ISBN 1590595904. Some resources related to ImageMagick:
Momento, is a
package for making DVD movies out of still photographs, it includes the
ability to add audio tracks, transitions between slides and simulate
BitPim is a program that allows you
to view and manipulate data on many CDMA phones
integrates a time shift recording hard drive with a DVD burner so now
you can capture and off-load shows without needing a full computer system
the NexConcepts Mobile
Note Taker, which is reviewed
here. Also reviewed on Popular
Mechanics and PC Mag.
Also discussed here.
This tracks your pen as you write and stores the result for later
download over USB to a computer. Unlike some other similar products, it
does not require special paper. They also have a version that must be permanently
attached to a PC, to facilitate hand written input.
Put a PC
in your wall, well into a typical electrical wall box - make that a
"fat" electrical box, looks like this
may become real later in 2006
music player, connects via WiFi and has a built in microphone and
speaker so it can act (currently) as a walkie talkie (perhaps it will
grow up and do VOIP later?)
Zoom H2 SD from Samson, is a rather high-end voice recorder that
used SD flash cards. And a couple of years later the Zoom H1 Handy Recorder is due to be released for about $99.
- The Archos
TV+, announced in June'07 might make a good replacement for a
PVR, it looks
like it does not have a cable tuner built in and that, while it has
an HDMI output, it does not go beyond 720p. This became available in Jan'08, starting at $229. FutureShop carries it at a rather inflated price.
the Linksys WRT54G, Cringely takes a
look at it. More followup on this here.
In late 2005 it looked like Linksys had discontinued this model, but according
to this they have just changed the product name slightly
- Another product that is intended to be hacked: the Chumby "clock
radio" replacement. The main web page is here. An Aug'07 the Chumby was
getting ready to ship to customers. An initial look at one is here
from Engadget. Ross Rubin writes out Chumby. LinuxDevices.com has more information on this. A new version of the Chumby, perhaps with a $100 price tag, may appear in late '09. This was added to their web store in Nov'09 at $99.95, it is called the Chumby One (I guess the first version must have been the Chumby Zero), progress is being made but you still cannot buy one in Canada. The Chumby One gets reviewed by Engadget. A kit of Chumby's guts is now available so you can build it into your own projects. The Chumby One gets taken to pieces in this ifixit teardown.
has shown the Aqua 3400 unit, it
is the subject
of a Slashdot article, and is reviewed here
now. AnandTech reviews the FIC
SlateVision tablet PC. As of July-03 the SlateVision is available
for sale at Computer
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).
770 has been released in Europe and is due for a North America
release on 10 Nov 2005. This has a 4.1" 800x480 display and WiFi and
Bluetooth for networking. It is reviewed here.
Expected price is under US$500. Some pictures
comparing the Nokia 770 to other small devices. This is due
to be released in North America on Nov 17th, for US$359. A review
of the 770 by Ars
Technica, discussed on Slashdot.
In early Jan'06 Nokia announced
on Slashdot) there was a 2 week waiting period to get a 770. It gets reviewed
here on InfoWorld. Some more
info on the USB port here, it appears to be client-mode but can be
tricked into being host mode. Here's a review of it by
Mark Davis. In late Oct'06 information about a successor device started
to appear, such
as this from the FCC site. Here are some photos of the new Nokia
870, the successor to the 770. In Jan'07 the Nokia
N800 started appearing on store shelves, it looks like it might be
replacing the N770. The N800 gets discussed
on Slashdot. A round up of various
N800 reviews. The N800 is reviewed on the CoolTechZone.com
with discussion on Slashdot.
may get a WiMAX version in 2008.
In Mar'06 many rumors of the "Origami" device from Microsoft
started to circulate. This appears to overlap with Intel's UMPC prototype.
Intel is talking about the first production versions of this in 2006
costing about $1000 (with 3 hour battery life) and in 2007 delivering a
version in the $500 range with all-day (probably 8 hour) battery life.
of this from Samsung is to be shown in March at CeBIT.
Panasonic may release an ebook reader with a colour display
called the Words
Gear. Here's a more detailed
look. In late
Nov'06 this was given an official launch date of 20-Dec (in Japan)
and a price of only $355 which makes it quite interesting.
Quanta is planning
to produce a model of the OLPC for developed countries to target
the $200 price point. Such a beastie might make for a good webpad. In
late Apr'07 there was talk that the OLPC might
also be sold to schools in the USA.
- The Everun
UMPC from Rayon has a thumb pad style keyboard on only one side of
the screen, with the keys lettered at an angle so it can be read in
either portrait or landscape orientations. In late June'07 a preview
video of this appeared, should be available in July'07. A year later it looks like this might finally become available in Sept'08. They now want $879 for these, good luck with that. The Everun Note gets a positive review here, it is quite a bit smaller than the alternative netbooks, but it also has a more powerful CPU and graphics processor which allow it to perform a wider range of tasks. So the extra $300-400 this costs may well be worth it to some people. It looks like Raon Digital has closed up shop for good.
In June'07 Asus announced the Eee
PC 701 which is a compact mini-laptop (more full-featured than the
Palm Foleo) and claimed to be targeting an entry level price of $200!
Wow! There is a Wikipedia article here. Even if
these really cost $400 by the time you've added a few
options they will sell like hot cakes. From the comments in this article
it appears the screen might be quite low resolution (and certainly is
smaller than the available case size suggests), still this might only
be the case for the lowest price version. Later comments on this
indicate that there may be two screen sizes offered (for the same case)
a smaller 7 inch and a 10 inch size. It gets another look at here
Review, since this is a full (but very small) notebook with 8GB (or
16GB in a more expensive model) of flash drive, and a bigger screen and
a keyboard for less than the Nokia N800 it will be giving the Nokia a
stiff battle. HotHardware looks at it here.
discusses traffic jams, in particular the self-sustaining, standing
wave type that will spontaneously form on freeways for no apparent
reason. In a later article researchers in Japan set up an experiment where they reproduced this sort of effect on a test track with real cars and drivers.
- 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. 
is trying to prevent "unauthorized links" to its site. Of course the only way
they can really enforce this is to remove their web site from the
internet... There is also some
information on related case law in the US where this idea was
tested on the basis of being a copyright infringement, but was thrown out
since the Judge found that it was "akin to a card cataglogue index system in
a library". Here is a similar
decison based on a lawsuit that Ford brought against 2600. This article
talks about the legality (US Law) of thumbnails and linking to images
on other sites.
- I wonder if anyone tried to copyright the classic Nigerian
419 scam? Here's a few more sites that exploit
the scammers for some fun. Here's another attempt at scammer
baiting, and another.
is home to an updated unclaimed lottery winnings form of this
scam. Finally someone's been arrested
garbage, oddly enough this happend in Australia. A Canadian nearly got
arrested for doing this to an American, but the charges were
dropped. Here's a site dedicated to baiting
these scammers. Sometimes someone gets
taken by these scammers. Now it looks like you don't even need to
travel to Nigeria to collect,
just head on over to Scottland... In July '04 the scammers
decided to switch to a form of extortion (almost sounds like
something from Thieves'
World). Some 419 scammers have finally be brought to justice. The state of Utah got taken for $2.5M on a classic Nigerian scam. It looks like the UK justice secretary may have been phished. After many years late 2009 saw some progress in actual attempts at shutting down some scammers.
Looks like Toyota may have violated
some patents when building their Prius, then again, you would think
that there would be plenty of prior art in this area.
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.
- Possible wireless keyboards for a DVR include these units from BTC: BTC 9019URF and BTC 9029 (specs here). The remote keyboard from Microsoft is also a possibility, but it's even larger! This is a product niche that manufacturers seem to have missed. The point of a media center keyboard is that it is primarily a pointer control device (so needs a trackball or touch pad integrated with it), secondarily a remote control replacement (so it needs some dedicated keys for volume, mute, play, pause, channel up/down) and a distant third a text entry device. You're not going to compose novels on this thing, just edit program titles for videos burnt to disk and enter URLs to search the web and do YouTube, so a full sized keyboard is not important. A small thumb board like design (such as on a PDA) might well be just the ticket, then the whole think could be a 3x6 inch device instead of taking up half the couch! Brando has introduced (late 2008) a hand-sized, back-lit, wireless, mini-keyboard which would be perfect for an HTPC application - except it does not include a pointer control. Brando does sell this keyboard which is a bit larger and includes a trackball, but does not have illumination. Engadget asks its readers What's the best wireless keyboard for the living room? The Fly Mouse is a small keyboard (exactly how small is difficult to say) that includes a built in gyroscope so it can also be waved in the air as a mouse pointer controller. The iPazzPort is a small keyboard with an integrated multi-touch control pad. IOGEAR will be selling some wireless keyboards with integrated trackballs that should be good for HTPC applications. 
Gibson Research Corp. has a
security related tools, Patchwork tests Windows NT and 2000 systems for
certain known issues and ShieldsUp is a test of your net visable ports.
- TOR, The Onion Router, is an
project that seeks to prevent web traffic analysis. There is a FAQ on it
here. The authors warn that a possible exploit of TOR (since the
final connection from the exit node to the site you are trying to reach
is not encrypted) would be for the owner of an exit node to sniff all
the outbound traffic looking for passwords etc., well someone did
this and collected embassy-related passwords. There is more concern about abuse of TOR exit sites.
the Linksys WRT54G, Cringely takes a
look at it. More follow
up on this and also on hacking the Hauppage Media
Seagate is due to ship wireless
USB hard drives in early 2006. This got revised a day later to say
that Seagate were still just showing a proof of concenpt with no firm
plans to ship in 2006.
- The Paulin Research Group has a number of pipeline related software packages, including BOS Fluids for steady state and transient flow. 
- A couple of Show Me Do videos by Jeff Rush on configuring your browser to subscribe to Python related RSS feeds and searching various areas of the python.org web site. 
- In this Show Me Do video Jeff Rush walks through the code of a simple web server built on the twisted platform. This demonstrates Nevow, STAN (for the template language) and an RSS feedparser. 
- The Asus Eee PC 701 gets its first review a translation is here. 
- Why most attempts at municipal WiFi have failed. One success story, St. Cloud in Florida, is mentioned here. 
Some Windows networking related tweaks can be found here,
including preventing the loading of system policies when logging on to
2004 MN4 may hit the earth in 2029 or later.
is a Python script program to dump the EXIF information, this would be
of use if you were writing some (python) scripts to manipulate a number
of photographs, perhaps you wanted to extract this information and
place it in a database...
The Shuttle SV24
is a very compact PC case, designed to hold a few drives and a very
small form factor motherboard, such as the Shuttle
FV24. Shuttle has produced a few more of these compact designs now,
the latest is the SS51, reviewed
here on AnandTech and here on Legion
Hardware. The Shuttle SS40G
is that same concept, except supporting an AMD Athlon motherboard. I
would like to get one of these with two 5.25" front accessible bays...
Shuttle now has some competition
in this small case style, almost looks like a direct copy, except it is
based on a different motherboard.
Tom's Hardware reviews the JadeTec
micro PC, this is smaller than the Shuttle mini PC units but
a similar set of built in features, there is a good set of pictures
the various sizes of cases and how the micro PC is assembled. The IWill
XP4-G reviewed on the JEM
Report sounds like another interesting possibility (but is lacking
firewire). The Shuttle XPC
SB81P, reviewed here,
(July 2004) improves greatly (it has PCI-Express) on the earlier XPC
AOpen one of my clients
uses a number of AOpen's highly integrated motherboards for management and
secretarial machines, seems to be a good solution unless you need to push the video
beyond 1280x1024 resolution. They had some problems installing the NT
drivers, but that's pretty common. In late 2004 AOpen introduced a motherboard
that uses the Pentium-M (mobile) chip, this allows one to build a much
more power-efficient workstation as one of these chips uses between 3W
and 20W when running instead of the more typical 100W of the current
Pentium-4 and Athlon processors.
Later in 2005 we should see the first dual-core
processors from AMD
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.
is a expensive superinsulator. From this Times artical:
make this strange material, scientists start with a liquid alcohol
like ethanol and mix it with silicon dioxide to form a gel. Then,
through a process called supercritical drying, the alcohol is forced
out of the gel, typically with high-pressure carbon dioxide. With this
drying process, the gel does not collapse or lose its volume. It
appears holographic because the silicon dioxide scatters shorter
wavelengths of light much like air in the daytime sky.
This stuff insulates so well you
probably would have to cool you house in winter if you could afford it.
So my question is, if the raw materials for making this stuff are so
cheap and abundant, and its been known about for over 70 years, why is
this not commercially available? Referenced on Slashdot here
The material was not new. In 1931,
Steven S. Kistler was a pioneer in
making the substance at the College of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.,
now the University of the Pacific. But, Dr. Tsou said, the material was
not used much, except in powdered form as a nontoxic anti-caking agent
Construction of ITER,
the latest round of fusion reactors, will begin soon
a windmill built out of high altitude kites - position this in the jet
stream and you'll get oodles of power
- The world's largest Solar
Tower may be built in Australia, will it also be destroyed a short
time later by the world's largest tornado? In 2010 plans for another solar updraft tower to be built in Arizona appeared, this called for a 2400 foot tower fed by a 4 square mile green house to produce 200MW. The stated power does not seem reasonable for such a large project, as 4 square miles is just over 10 square km, and each square km has about 1GW of solar radiation (1000W/m2 x 1000m x 1000m = 1GW), so 200MW/10GW = 0.02 or only a 2% collection efficiency which seems rather low.
Wind Power in Cold Stores, this is really a case of intelligent
load averaging, and thus, swapping some conventional power requirements
for wind generated power. For one to really make the claim of "storing
power" one should be able to place energy into the storage device and
then return some of that energy back to its original form for later
use. That said, this is a good example of "low-hanging fruit", there
are probably plenty of power users that could be tailored to make use
of alternative power sources when those are abundant (for example
commercial green houses, swimming pool heating, ice rink cooling...).
for Dummies, Steve Holzner, ISBN: 0-471-78597-0.
At about 350 pages this is not your typical massive web tome, but its
quite good and is fairly self-contained. It has a reasonable review of
the browser DOM and highlights the key points. It talks about XML,
initially this is kept brief enough to get you formatting the data to
be returned from the server and parsing it in the browser, later it is
discussed at some length. It spends about a quarter of the book
reviewing some of the available client and server frameworks, so if you
are thinking of taking that road it might be worth getting just for
Breaking the gigapixel
barrier, using a 6MP camera and stitching a large number of images
together. The result is quite amazing. This also has some (simulated)
comparison between this resolution and other real resolutions. This
sort of resolution is not really so far away as one might think,
consider that the current resolution size is about 10MP, so multiply
this by just 100 and you have 1GP. Now a factor of a hundred sounds a
lot, but since sensors are not lines, they cover an area, so all that
needs to be done is to multiply the number of sensors in each dimension
by a factor of 10. This could be done today by making the sensor
larger, roughly 4 to 8 inches across would do it (but then you're
looking at a pretty big camera - but such large format cameras have
been used before), or else if the sensor was made more dense we would
have to wait about 6 to 9 years (circuits shrink by about a factor of 2
every 2 to 3 years). Sensor noise might be one limiting factor here,
but I would think we would hit some sort of optical limit before this
has quite a bit of digicam related stuff, and very good prices on
BP-511 replacement batteries
Recognition software in use, reported by the Register
, and here
too, now in use in Florida
too, and now in Tampa
too. And the first case of mistaken
identity . Now the RAND
think tank is in favour of its use on a broad scale. Now Borders
is going to use it in their stores to identify known shoplifters. And a
few days later Borders
has decided not to invoke Big Brother. Now the Register
reports that these systems are nearly useless. The ACLU has finally
spoken on this subject. And this report
states that it has not proven to be reliable at the Palm
Beach International airport. But the Statue
of Liberty is going to give it a try next.
MPEG-7 standard will include face recognition sotware
a good year to be a microbiologist, they are dropping like flies.
Times debunks this.
- Not to be left in the waiting room, Google has also declared that it will offer online personal health records like Microsoft. In late Feb'08 Google started testing this system. On 19-May-2008 Google's Health Beta program was opened to the public.  
- 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 Asus Eee PC 701 gets reviewed by Laptop Mag, discussed here on Engadget. There's at least one 701 in the UK getting passed around the reviewers and its being received favorably. CNet's Rory Reid got his hands on it and quite liked it, a Slashdot discussion of this review revealed that ZDNet was to have reviewed the machine after CNet, but that CNet had messed it up by trying (and failing) to install XP on it. However, Rupert Goodwins the the ZDNet reviewer then fixed the problem by installing the new Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon release on it. Since the standard Ubuntu installed with only minor issues I'm guessing that this little laptop might receive a lot of attention from the Linux community which should be a good thing for it. There is also an unofficial Eee PC forum at www.eeeuser.com along with lots more news and some unofficial specs (like the VGA port supports up to 1600x1280). NewEgg appears to be the first to claim to have stock of these in the USA. Engadget has a round up of the latest post-release reviews. This review from Notebook Review is especially noteworthy has it includes instructions on dissecting your new laptop and also on upgrading the RAM to a maximum of 2GB. 
- Humanized has some interesting applications, including an application to allow embedding of LaTeX generated equations in other documents (including email) and Map Anywhere which allows you to embed Google maps in things. 
AVSMedia sells video format
conversion software, as well as a pretty decent video editing
(which includes the ability to include still images and do simulated
pans and zooms within them). They have a fully functional
try-before-buy version that just puts a logo in the middle of the
output, so its easy to test to see if it will work for you. You can use
this to create DVDs from source material that is in 16x9 aspect ratio,
the trick with this is once you have placed the clip on the time line,
right click to summon the properties menu and then from the properties
dialogue select the "aspect" tab and set 4:3 as the "video proportion"
(which seems counter intuitive). When you setup the initial project you
should also set it to 4:3 aspect ratio, even though what you are trying
to do is to make a 16:9 letter boxed DVD.
An article on how to calculate the life
time of a flash storage device based on its size, wear rating, free
space and anticipated write rate.
- 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.
Hardware has an end of the year (2005) write up that does a good
job of covering all the available DVD burners and the various formats
and speed they support.
The first reviews of Blu-ray burners are starting to appear
in late Jan'06, this
one covers the Samsung SH-B033 which was able to burn a 25GB disc
in about 43 minutes and should be able to burn dual layer discs as well.
Some time in the future CDs
might hold a tera-byte, but various "holograpic techniques" have
been touted as being just around the corner for a long time now, I think I
remember hearing similar claims back in the 1980's, so don't depend on it!
Here's an updated press release that claims samples
will ship in the 3rd quarter of 2002. Here's some more news
DVD storage. This gets mention on Slashdot
(16-Jul-02) as some ex-Sony engineers have demonstrated this.
How about 20 or 25MPixels? Phase One makes digital backs
medium format cameras a lot of pros use, this
article looks at the latest to come to market (June'04) and
includes an interesting cost/benefit analysis that shows how even a
$30K piece of equipment could appeal to a pro on the basis of cost
Build your own pin
hole camera, a PDF guide and template for this.
One professional photographer's idea of what would make a great compact camera.
This is an interesting specification here are some thoughts about it:
- he calls for an APS-C sized sensor, which would be a very
good thing from the noise perspective (but this will make the lens
larger so he accepts a smaller zoom range). The resulting zoom
range of 28-70mm is useful for much photography (especially landscape
type work) but the 70mm end is going to be too short to appeal to a lot
of people. I have found that with the 28-210mm range of my Minolta A2 I
rarely need more zoom, and in the times I do I'm looking at something
so far away that I'd probably need a 500 or 1000mm lens to get a decent
photo anyway. Back in the late 70s and 80s when I did 35mm film
photography I typically found 135mm adequate and considered the 200mm
telephoto "exotic". The Minolta A2's lens is about the same
physical size as may 35mm camera's 50mm lens, largely because of the
film-size issue, the A2 has a smaller sensor that APS-C (but its larger
than somthing like the Canon G series), and I'm sure today that a
sensor of this size could be made with low noise up to at least
- I don't see much need for additional screw in optics (i.e
a 2x converter) as they tend to be so bulky (as big as this camera!) that
you're not going to be carrying them with you - it is better to make
the basic lens a bit bigger to get a bit more zoom range (using a
folded optical path you probably could fit a 28-150 or even 200 lens
with a bigger sensor in a pocket size camera).
- I agree with the need for standard screw-in filters, I
often make good use of a polarizing filter.
- I find his specification of only having a live-view LCD
and no optical view finder built in refreshing, he's missing two points
though, first you need the view finder to be articulated, both so you
can look down when shooting waist level and so you can look up at the
camera for an overhead shot; the second point is for you to be able to
do manual focusing the Minolta A2 shows you need at least a 900K pixel
resolution (and even then that's often not enough).
- The internal buffer should hold 10 shots in RAW, and in
motor drive mode it should pre-capture some frames (i.e. once the focus
is locked it should capture frames even before you finish pressing the
button) and save a number of these at the start of each sequence.
- The battery pack should be standard AA size (not another
custom lithium pack that needs a custom charger), using two NiMH cells
normally and regular AA cells if you get caught in a tight spot, I
wouldn't mind only getting 200-300 shots out of a single pair of NiMH
cells as they are so cheap you can always carry a few sets with you to
do something big.
The Hama Panorama
Kit, this is a specialized tripod head adapter plate that adds a
spirit level and a an index wheel to your tripod. The index wheel
allows you to more accurately turn the camera in even steps for each
frame of the panorama. 
- Microsoft's HD Photo format has been picked as the basis for the next generation of JPEG standards, to be called JPEG XR. Its probably another year before the standard is finalized (so maybe by late 2008). According to this article the new standard will allow for a much larger colour space (exceeding the human eye's range) and will even allow for floating point colour specification. 
- The Google Phone is for real, it will be Linux based with a layer of Java, target date is Spring'08. It sounds like it will be open for developers to produce new applications (which makes sense as a lot of what Google has been doing includes providing public use APIs). Wake up iPhone, time to open up or die. Slashdot discusses the Google Open Source Mobile Platform. Engadget has a lot of coverage of this: live coverage" of the announcement, Google and HTC's dream phone, a letter to Palm, and Palm's vague response, how Symbian, Nokia, Microsoft and Apple don't want to play, and a quick summary of all this. Microsoft's Ballmer calls Android a mere press release, guess Microsoft might be a bit concerned about the impact of this on Windows Mobile licensing. Dvorak says the gPhone is doomed - so it must be a good thing!
- MRI machines may soon get a lot smaller, less expensive to produce, transport and operate. Which would bea good thing as so far these have proved to be very useful with little in terms of risk (unless you've got a metal plate, or have a habit of swallowing metal objects or have tattoos). 
In late 2006 another attempt to get a Python port working on
PalmOS was announced.
This is a good thing, it would be nice to be able to write little bits
of code and run them right on the Palm.
- Some Linux users are complaining that the ASUS Eee PC violates the GPL by not including the required source code. Of course the GPL just calls for that source code to be made available somehow, so presumably ASUS will at some point make it available on their web site. It looks like ASUS has addressed this issue and is saying it was a mistake. 
- MiniPC.ca is a Canadian distributor of mini-ITX related products (cases, motherboards...). 
Linux, also examined here.
as well. In May'06 SUN Microsystems started
to adopt Ubuntu. Could this cause compatibility
problems for Debian? In Sept'05 version 5.1 of this was previewed.
Taking linux on
the road with a small USB drive and the Ubuntu H2
distro. In late Oct'06 the 6.10
version of Ubuntu was released, there have been reports
of problems when upgrading to this version.
The Netfilter FAQ.
This has a list of other iptables related documentation as well
- pygooglechart (project homepage is here) is Python module that encapsulates the Google Chart API. Some more detailed discussion of this is here. GChartWrapper is another Python wrapper for the Google Chart API.   
- 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.  
- The Aptera Electric Type 1, is a pretty exotic looking 3-wheeled electric car, due to be sold first in California in 2008. Google has invested $2.75 million to help get this rolling. It is a bit late, but now (Jan'09) Aptera has reached the pre-production stage and are promising first shipments in October, they have an "interested" list 4000 people long. Now how do you fit a pair of 200cm skis into one of these? More info on this is leaking out. In Oct'09 it looked like Aptera might get some of the energy-efficient vehicle grants to commercialize it. 
Links to the Hubble
- A device to isolate and analyze circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from the blood. 
- Mercurial (also known as Hg) is a distributed revision control system. I started using this in late 2007 and its a nice change from CVS. You need to make some mental adaptations but it seems a lot more capable than CVS, especially in the branching and merging areas. Its also pretty easy to put anything under revision control, just do an hg init dirname on the directory you want to track the contents of and then do some hg add filename commands to tell it what to track. To add this to a Debian Linux box is as easy as apt-get install mercurial. 
- The Digital Message Centers (more info here) from Audiovox, some more photo frames intended for mounting on the refrigerator, one even has a built in webcam for recording short video messages for later playback. 
Revision Control Systems and related topics 
- 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. 
development support tools (like Great
Circle) that look for memory leaks and such. We recently had very
success with this package at work, in fact we turned to it when Purify
consistently failed to work. If you are writing complex software that
programmed in multiple languages (ours uses C++, FORTRAN and JAVA) and
interacts with an object database (such as ObjectStore) this might be
a try. I have used a similar tool from Rational
Software called Purify,
though over the years this has got harder and harder to run (probably
the program we are running it on has got bigger and bigger). GlowCode
also makes a package for code profiling and leak detection that sounds
promising, and it is a lot more reasonably priced than Purify and
If you are doing development with Java, then OptimizeIt
is an excellent tool to have. This was written by VMGear
and later picked up by Borland.
Slashdot artical also includes some freeware
memory leak references, such as this
page which has further references.
A Slashdot book review of C++
Templates: The Complete Guide, a useful reference for those working
Microsoft has released
the Windows Template
Library (WTL) to SourceForge
How to calculate the true
replacement cost of software
- Peggy is a LED pegboard display kit from the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. Its a 12x15 inch circuit board that, if fully populated, will hold 625 LEDs in a 25x25 matrix. The intent of this is to use it to build custom LED signs. The design also allows one to save time and materials by only installing the LEDs that are needed for a specific sign. 
- plasTeX (home page) is a LaTeX document processing framework written in Python. 
- 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 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. 
- 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). 
- 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. 
- 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.
WTL (home page) might be an alternative to MFC.
The CWnd class has the necessary functions for traversal of the child/parent/sibling window lists (and since CDialog inherits
from CWnd it has all these too). Traversal in TAB key order (within dialogs) gets more complex because there
are sub windows that do not have TABSTOP set on them, so they get skipped. Plus the tabbing
logic knows to skip any windows that are disabled. The tab logic will always descend into
dialog windows that have the WS_EX_CONTROLPARENT set (this might happen even if there are no windows in them that have tabstop set, which can make for a tab traversal that seems to stop and catch the tab).
Getting out of a sub dialog, by hitting the tab can be done by trapping the tab key
and putting in some code to manually move the focus out of the dialog to another window. If you really want this behavior the best thing to do would be to override CDialog::PreTranslateMsg() to handle the tab key and then use that version of CDialog as your base class for dialogs.
Using the Spy++ tool can help understand the window tabbing order because the tabbing order is the order that
windows appear in its view (i.e. the order they are constructed and chained together).
The win32 function ::GetWindow(HWND, UINT) can be used to find the first child
window of a given window when UINT == GW_CHILD. It can also be used to find the first (among several) sibling windows when UINT == GW_HWNDFIRST. There is a CWnd::GetWindow() equivalent function.
For an in-depth write up on messaging in MFC and things like PreTranslateMessage see:
this article. Some of the additional related articles are worth a read too.
- 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?  
- A virus that attacks an aggressive form of human brain cancer in mice has been found. The possibility of using viruses to attack specific cancer cells is very appealing, especially (as is the case with brain tumors) when it is next to impossible to operate and difficult to treat with radiation without causing significant collateral damage. 
- 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 TeX Users Group has lots of information about TeX, LaTeX and related type setting packages. There has even been an attempt to make TeX usable from within a Python program: PyTex. 
- dbcook is a framework to abstract database mappings of objects and relations to isolate the database from the application code. 
- 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. 
- The ASUS R50 UMPC is a 5.6 inch handheld device, that's supposed to sell for something over $500 starting in June'08. 
- Translate Toolkit is a Python package to assist with localization of software. 
the online beer search engine - plan your trip around a few stops
- This site has a number of free maps, typically
in a black and white outline format, that can be useful for a variety
of purposes. The EPS format ones will load into Microsoft Publisher,
then you can pick a big page size and print a map that covers multiple
pages. The maps
at the CIA's World Factbook are of better quality, but they are in
PDF format which limits the tools you can use to manipulate them. This blog note talks about various sources for free vector maps of the world.
a site specializing in home improvement information (The Home Discovery Show
by Sell Busey on radio in Western Canada) (ICF is insulated concrete form)
The British are considering adding RFID
tags to license plates, big brother hits the motorways!
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
Callebaut makes some of the best chocolates in the world, right
here in Calgary.
is a Windows tool to manipulate the data stream from your DVD drive
- Forgent Networks claims
to own a patent that covers the JPEG (and probably other related
schemes such as MPEG and MJPEG/DV) compression system. From the
scan I did of their patent I would guess that their basis of claim will
be applied to any compression scheme that can be considered
"lossy". Can we say "overly broad"?
- 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. 
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.
Tracking the movement
of cars by scanning their license plates
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.
- 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:
Chad Whitacre really likes App Engine. 
- 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.  
- 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. 
- Breve is a Python web template engine that uses a domain specific language for its templates. 
- The short-lived GNUPedia
, and its semi-unrelated big brother the Nupedia
- 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.
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. 
- 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... 
- When sub-classing an MFC CComboBox one can run into some difficulties, this is because the CComboBox is actually comprised of two controls in one package and Microsoft did not try very hard to make the result behave like a single control. For example, trying to use OnChar() to look at the keys the user is pressing will not work as noted here. Microsoft's approach to solving this problem is quite bizarre, most people appear to be using PreTranslateMessage() to do this, for example look at this code that adds auto-completion to the control. 
- 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. 
- In WiFi pirate radio Dan's Data discusses the possibility of home grown public WiFi mesh networks based on inexpensive solar powered WiFi hardware. Plenty of links to related materials.  
- 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.  
- The SAP DI Commander IronPython starts to manipulate SAP databases. 
- 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. 
- The next computer clock related bug is the Year 2038 Bug. 
- Hotsync 6.0.1 when running under Windows Vista may one day fail to finish transferring your calendar data. When this happened to me I did some searching and found that a common cause of this was that either one of the databases had become corrupt or that there were a large number of deleted items on the Palm (and as these get deleted once the hotsync is done, so the problem never clears up).
There is a tool called DbFixIt you can install and run on your Palm to check to see if you have any database errors. This will also report the number of deleted records in each database. The registered version of this tool will also fix common database errors. By the time you need this you might be in a Catch-22 position where you cannot hotsync but you need to hotsync to install the tool. So to install the tool you will need to configure your hotsync manager (on your computer) and tell it not to synchronize the applications that are causing it to hang (the calendar in my case). When I ran the tool it told me that all the databases were fine and there were no records to delete. Later I tried hot syncing on a Windows XP machine, and much to my amazement the hotsync finished, but it did report an error:
Some handheld records were not copied to your PC. Your computer may be full or you may have reached the maximum allowed records on the desktop. To correct this situation, delete some records and perform a HotSync operation again.
So my problem was that I had exceeded some fixed maximum number of records in the calendar. To test this theory I deleted a few records from the Palm's calendar and synced again, this time without incident. I then synced on the Windows Vista machine, and again, the sync ran without any issue.
Desktop = 6378, Handheld = 6375
So now the question is: is 6375 the maximum number of calendar records, and can this be changed? 
- Mike's Flying Bike, a project to turn bicycle into simulated airplane control system to control the Google Earth flight simulator. 
- 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. 
- pdfrecycle is a module that allows you to build a PDF file out of pages selected from other PDF files. It needs a full LaTeX environment installing to use it though. Its home page is here. 
- 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.  
- zoomii books takes a Google Maps approach to navigating an online book store. The days of wandering little twisting passages decorated with merchandise and populated by monsters may not be far away... 
- pyserial is a module that encapsulates access to the serial port. It supports Windows, Linux and possibly other UNIX like systems. 
- 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. 
- LANshack.com has some examples of wiring a home network, including Cat 5e feed-thru couplers, patch panels and wall plates. They have a reasonable guide to assembling a patch cable.
- 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. 
- werkzeug offers a collection of utilities for WSGI applications and other HTTP related tasks. 
- matplotlib is a very powerful system for producing publication quality 2D graphics (including contour plots). It also has a mode (called pyloab) that emulates matlab graphics. If you do a manual install of this you'll need to install numpy and then matplotlib. Their official How To is here. 
- Underground caverns can be used to store energy (perhaps generated when excess solar or wind power is available) for later use by pumping compressed air into them. A similar thing is done already to store excess natural gas production during the summer months for later sale in the winter. Another possibility would be to use the cavern and a surface reservoir as a high-head hydro-power facility, when excess power is available using it to pump water out of the cavern to the surface, and then when power is needed allowing the water to flow back into the cavern - this could also be done between two levels in a cavern. 
- 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.  
- 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%. 
- 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.  
- The Mini Chocolate from Ripple is a small, low power computer based on the Atom processor. 
- 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.  
- Police in Washington DC are testing some license plate scanners, these can be mounted on police cars and can scan and check on thousands of license plates per day. Initially the application was to look for stolen cars, but they can also be used to look for lapsed insurance policies and failed emissions inspections (and if this was New York they would be looking for unpaid parking tickets). Even at $25K per scanner this will become another cash cow soon. 
- 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. 
- 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. 
- How to manipulate the read only (and other) file attribute from within Python. 
- Google has at last released its own web browser called Chrome. So far this does not appear to be a good product, its massively bloated and encumbered with a user-hostile EULA. A couple of days later Google fixed their terms of service to remove the clause about them owning your first-born. 
- 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.  
- One attack against a SCADA system has now been published. Some of the Slashdot discussion gives a hint of how frequently these systems may actually be connected to the Internet rather than being completely isolated as one might at first think.  
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the anydbm module which provides access to DBM-style databases.   
- A national car tracking system has been proposed by private traffic enforcement camera vendors in the US. They expect to be able to use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to track cars as they pass various cameras and to be able to photograph the driver and maybe passengers too. The automobile insurance system should be somewhere behind this too. Australia has just completed a study on doing the same thing, how long until this is international? 
- In Generating correlated random numbers the author applies a method described in Generating Correlated Random Numbers to generate correlated random numbers with Python.   
- Chrysler is starting to get serious about producing some electric vehicles, maybe we'll actually see something by late 2010. 
- SimpleTech will be shipping an external dual-drive with up to 3TB of storage in late 2008. 
- Chameleon is a web page templating system that compiles templates to some form of byte code. Sounds rather interesting. 
- The US DARPA is developing a special bleed control cuff that uses ultrasonics to determine the location of the bleed and then applies more sound waves to speed coagulation. While the military applications are obvious this sort of thing might be very useful to EMS crews attending to traffic accidents. 
- The WD TV HD Media Player from Western Digital is a small media player box that you hook up to a TV via composite or HDMI (1080P supported) cables and then hook up a USB hard drive (or flash drive) and use it to play the media files from the drive onto the TV. It has appeared at Buy.com and BestBuy. A little video review is here. Another short review is here including some pictures of the insides. Western Digital now has some pages about it here on their site. Some people are now hacking the firmware of this. WDLXTV is a user-enhanced version of the firmware that adds support for networking and other features. A new version of this which includes a network port, should be appearing in late 2009 (starting to show up on Best Buy in Oct'09).  
- 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.
- Another entrant in the small laptop race, this time from UMID, their super mini laptop weighs in at only 315g and has a 4.8 inch 1024x600 touch screen so must be similar in size to the Nokia N800 series (though its a nice clam-shell design). This is getting closer to reality, now they are talking about a $500 price. A video of it being handled has appeared here, with its smaller keyboard, small screen and no space lost to track pad and palm rests it ends up being the size of a large PDA. The price on the UMID mbook M1 seems to have climbed to about the $1000 point. A review of it is here, it is a very small device and has some odd quirks (like not having standard headphone or USB jacks - so one must use adapters to plug many things in). The UMID mbook M1 began general shipping in late May'09 at a price of %659 with Linux or $765 with Windows. This appears to have been rebranded by Kohjinsha who are calling it the PM series UMPC and are wanting about $650 for it. UMID's new for the end of 2010 mbook M2 should start at about $499. 
- 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. 
- spats is a simple page template server. 
- 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.
- There is an ITU standard (E.123) for formatting phone numbers and a Wikipedia entry for it, there is also a related RFC 3966. The ITU standard also makes note of the ICE (in case of emergency) contact entry idea (and another more recent proposal that takes the form 0nSTRING, where n is a digit to get the desired sort order and STRING is some descriptive name like "wife", "mother", "doctor"). This ICE idea is a good example of something simple that just needs doing. 
- Using sodium-sulfur batteries to store wind power, in late 2008 this was reported as costing about $3/W (which might actually be $3/Whr). This is being tested by Xcel Energy in Dakota at a 20MW pilot facility. 
- 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). 
- An "after 6 months" report on switching to solar power for a house, this shows the difference between summer and winter electric generation. Some of the comments talk about the apparent error in this installation - the panels are mounted flat to the roof which does not allow for tracking within the day or across the seasons (which will affect power generation greatly). An update on how this is going after a year. 
- A good technical article on the old Commodore 64 and the various related versions. This even mentions the reason that the serial disk IO was done in software when the 64 included two hardware serial ports that were left unused - turns out these serial ports had hardware bugs. 
- Why LaTeX is still being used by some authors. This note looks at using reStructuredText. 
- New toll road systems that work by photographing license plates could be put to other uses, like issuing speeding tickets if the average speed of the car (as measured by the distance between entrance and exit toll points and the time taken between them) is too high. 
- GlaxoSmithKline may be having a turn of heart about providing more appropriately priced drugs for the world's poor - or they are just worried that if they do not do something soon third world governments will just act unilaterally and cut them off. 
- The US economic stimulus package contains billions to stimulate the US battery manufacturing industry. 
- Microsoft is starting to try to collect on some of its patents, first target is TomTom. This looks like it might be an attack on Linux as well, more details here. More theories on this, including that this might actually be an attempt to force TomTom to stop using Linux by forcing them to violate the GPL license's terms. It appears there should be a simple resolution to this one: TomTom should be able to license FAT without violating the GPL. It had to happen: TomTom has returned fire and it is counter suing Microsoft for patent infringement. Possibly it is just a coincidence, but while this has been going on TomTom has become a Linux licensee. This case came to a close quite quickly and TomTom has now settled with Microsoft, though TomTom still must remove some functionality to comply. 
- The Authors Guild is up in arms over the text-to-speach function that the Amazon Kindle 2 includes. Amazon will be "updating" its Kindles to disable the text to speech function on a book by book basis. Slashdot discusses the remote kill flags that the Kindle has. 
- OCZ is joining the netbook game with their Neutrino. This is supposed to be available in two versions, a basic one that the user will populate with RAM, drive, etc. and a fully tricked out model. This is getting closer to shipping, with a target of mid-April for $269 (without operating system, RAM or hard drive). 
- pypp is a Python preprocessor based on the Mako template engine. 
- Finding twin-earths by studying transit events may require that multiple events be added together to boost the signal to noise ratio. Given that a twin-earth might have a year-long orbit this means it might take decades or even centuries to accumulate enough data. Sounds like we need bigger telescopes in space. 
- Computing Normal Probabilities in IronPython includes a function for calculating phi(x) which is then used to calculate the normal probability - this is implemented in standard Python code so will work with CPython too.  
- Seagate's 6TB BlackArmor NAS is a 4-bay RAID 0/1/5/10 device aimed at small business LANs. It includes support for a number of services, including Microsoft Windows Server Active Directory. Since they are claiming an 8TB version will be due out in May it is probably a safe bet that Seagate's 2TB drive is going to start shipping then (or they are going to populate these with WesternDigital drives) which is a lot sooner than the Q3'09 they had previously announced... 
- The ProDisk 3-in-1 is a compact tool that provides a white balance filter (which you place in front of a lens to make a custom white balance reading) and a grey card and color swatch to place in a scene for testing later. 
- How to use Linux to simulate a slow LAN connection by injecting latency on packet propagation. 
- A new conductive resign has been developed that might replace indium tin oxide (ITO) as the transparent conductor used in OLED panels. 
- A stem cell based cure for blindness caused by age-related macular degeneration is approaching the clinical trial stage. 
- The itools library is a collection of packages focused mainly on working with different file formats (XML, CSV, HTML...) but also offers a template system and a search engine. 
- Two heavy duty electric plugs for charging electric cars are in the late phases of being standardized. Looks like there will be two designs, one for North America, Japan and markets which have 110V power and another for Europe and other markets that have 240V power. This will mean that EVs cannot be moved between those markets easily and that there will be multiple power controllers for each model of car. 
- 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. 
- Free CSS has lots of CSS templates and information. 
- A trial of the Espresso Book Machine, an automated, one-of book printer and binder is to start in late April'09 at Blackwell's in London. This will be used to print out of publication books for a price similar to those currently in publication. 
- What is the shape of the Earth? The oblate spheroid approximation improves accuracy greatly. 
- Brownian motion of a stock, this simulates stock market price movements with a Brownian Motion model. This should generate trends that look reasonable, but lack enough infrequent, but large, movements.  
- DARPA has released a report (discussed here on Slashdot) that describes some of their strategic research programs, there's some neat stuff including a number of projects related to vaccines and first aid.  
- Brando adds an HDMI and component video output to a hard drive docking unit. 
- Windows XP still lives on, its been "dead" for a year now but probably is still the most preferred operating system. 
- XeTeX is a TeX system that includes support for UNICODE (UTF-8) characters and modern font technologies like OpenType. It can be used with something like the Gentium typeface. LyX is another TeX/LaTeX system, this has support for a word-processor like display and you can even embed SVG graphics. 
- A discussion of the compatibility issues between the Python 2.x and 3.x series that stems from the UNICODE related changes. 
- A Java x86 PC emulator has been extended to allow x86 code to be run in a web browser. 
- As a side-effect of dismissing a class-action suit against Microsoft for violating privacy by collecting IP addresses a Judge has ruled that IP addresses are not personally identifiable. If you think about it, this sort of issue has been recognized in the past with radar camera issued speeding tickets, where the license plate cannot be used to identify the driver of the vehicle. 
- A new laser treatment appears promising for age-related macular degeneration, one of the most common forms of blindness. Kings College Hospital are using radiation beams as a treatment technique. 
- 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. 
- It looks like Facebook's policies violate Canadian privacy law. Given that 1/3 of Canadians are Facebook members, perhaps this means our privacy laws need amending? It looks like Facebook is going to change things to comply with Canada's view of the world. 
- The DHS is wanting to move the bio-hazard labs that study such nasties as foot-and-mouth disease and Japanese encephalitis from a somewhat isolated island in the north east to Kansas. Doing so is going to act as a tornado magnet, as what self-respecting tornado is going to go after a trainer park when there's a class 4 bio-safety lab to destroy? Of course, they'll probably want to house the researchers in temporary housing nearby. 
- Some notes on using PySerial to talk to the serial port from Python. This uses com0com as a null-model emulator to demonstrate the communications. Another related article talks about how to list all serial ports on Windows with Python. A discussion on approaches to framing the data in serial communications, brings back memories of my old VBBS (IceBBS) days. A follow up that discusses frames and protocols. 
- Blackboard may have lost their patent on learning management systems. 
- The practice of bars scanning drivers licenses to keep track of patrons (the BarWatch program in B.C.) is under attack as a violation of Canada's privacy laws. 
- The Nissan Leaf electric car is claimed to get an equivalent of 367 miles per gallon. The US DOE has a formula for calculation of the equivalent gallons of gasoline that a pure electric or hybrid vehicle would use, it is discussed here. Essentially what they do is to use a conventional vehicle dynamometer to measure fuel consumption in simulated driving (just like they do with any other vehicle) and then they take that measurement (which is actually in Watt-hours per mile) and convert it from an electric energy value (a Watt-hour is just 3600 Joules - which is a true energy unit) to a gallons of gasoline by using the factor 82049 Watt hours per gallon of gasoline (which would be 295.4MJ/gallon). The odd thing here is that published energy content for gasoline (also here) is about 45.8MJ/kg which would result in about 124.6MJ/gal... 
- tex is a module for converting LaTeX or TeX source to PDF or DVI format output. 
- Researchers are playing with Lego to learn how arrays of nanoscopic objects could be used to sort cells. Or so they claim, really its all about accumulating a massive pile of Lego blocks in the rare colours. I just wish I had tought about using Lego in my thesis.  
- The US military is looking into an injectable brain gel, the idea being to help protect and then stimulate healing in the brain after trauma. Might also be useful for university students around exam times. 
- POWDER is a Rogue-like game, built for the Gameboy DS and later ported to other platforms. 
- ESL, electron stimulated luminescence, may bring us light bulbs that are better than LED bulbs. 
- dobbin is a new (in late 2009) object database for Python. This is taking a different approach to ZODB in that it all data that you access is read only until you check it out. This should have some significant benefits, including easier use with multiple threads and processes and a smaller memory usage footprint. Located here on PyPI. 
- A dissolvable glass alloy could be used to make surgical implants for bone repair that would stabilize the bone and then the body would later disolve, eliminating the need for later surgery. 
- West Texas may be getting a 600MW wind farm populated with 240 x 2.5MW turbines from China. The cost of this is about $1.5G which makes it under $3/W. This will occupy 36000 acres of land and should supply the needs of about 150,000 homes - which makes for an interesting statistic of 4.2 acres per home, or 150 acres per turbine (which is only 4 turbines per square mile, which seems rather sparse). 
- songbook is a Python tool to create printable songbooks or music score sheets using LaTeX and Lilypond.  
- Yes, it is now possible to (somewhat) develop applications for the iPhone using Python. The game "Elephants!" was coded in tinypy, translated into C++ and then compiled with Xcode for the iPhone. 
- An Alaskan beetle has been found to use a new type of antifreeze, perhaps this beetle-juice will bring us colder, smoother, ice cream or maybe it will be useful in deep freezing space travelers? I'll go with the ice cream. 
- The ExoPC Slate is a webpad with an 8.9 inch screen that runs Windows 7. A look at its hardware is here. This is now expected in the Summer of 2010. 
- Packaging and shipping is hard walks through packaging a Python application for easy installation and use on Windows. 
- ARCHOS is getting ready to introduce some new 7 inch Android-based PMP / FDA / MID style tablets. The first announcement is here and then this article refers to them as the Archos 7 Home Tablet and Archos 8 Home Tablet. The Archos 7 Home Tablet is due to ship in June 2010. Engadget takes a look at the Archos 7 Home Tablet but finds it somewhat lacking, still for $199 it might be a good choice for some users. 
- 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. 
- Will 2010 be the year of the tablet? At CeBIT low end tablets are appearing aimed at a price point of about $100. Apparently more than 50 ARM-based tablets are currently in preparation, so the later parts of 2010 could see a lot of activity in this market sector. I'm guessing that manufacturers are looking at this "new" segment and thinking they had better not miss it like the early days of the netbook segment which allowed ASUS to run away with that market. It looks like Toshiba is thinking along the same lines and is getting back into this market segment. 
- Phoronix.com has a lot of Linux CPU and GPU related benchmarking information. 
- Some thoughts on why hiring good programmers can be difficult - perhaps it is because most applications you will have to sort through really cannot program. I think the suggested approach of looking for evidence that they program out side of the office is a good short cut. 
- A large reserve of methane hydrates has been discovered in China in the tundra of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. This reserve contains enough energy to supply China for about 90 years (equivalent to about 35 billion tons of oil). Discussed here on Slashdot. 
- How to see a photograph, or how to isolate the best part of a scene. 
- The Google Nexus One Phone does work on Virgin Mobile in Canada. As of 26-Mar-2010 I was able to successfully connect my (ATT/Rogers style) Nexus One to the Virgin Mobile network in Calgary, Canada. It runs fine and with the data plan activated it works over the 3G (HSDPA) network quite nicely. Getting connected was much more painful than it needed to be. Here's the story:
- It all started when I heard from a couple of friends that the unlocked Nexus One was now available to Canadians and that they had taken the plunge. So I did a bit more research and found that there were now two variants: one (the AWS version - for "3G on T-Mobile USA") would only work on the Wind network in Canada and the other ("compatible with 3G on ATT and Rogers Wireless") should work on Rogers, Fido, Telus, Bell and Virgin. I ordered the ATT/Rogers version because it offered me more carrier choices in Canada.
- After researching the various carrier offerings (and rediscovering that the thinly-disguised monopolistic cell phone price fixing conspiracy was still alive and well in Canada) I decided to stick with Virgin Mobile where I already had a pre-paid phone.
- I then called Virgin's support to see if they thought the Nexus One was compatible, they confirmed that the specifications were a match and stated that: as this was not a "supported phone" they could not guarantee data would work. They said when I got the phone to take it to one of their stores and get hooked up using their GSM SIM card.
- I then paid a visit to their North Hill mall booth (they don't really have "stores" just booths in Calgary) only to be told "they only do CDMA phones". Of course Virgin has only recently begun handling GSM/3G type phones, but you'd think their staff training would have mentioned the fact that now they are carrying the iPhone and offering SIM cards and that they had joined the GSM/3G service crowd (like the rest of the Virgin operations around the world). I also visited the Bell booth (Virgin runs on Bell's network in Canada and shares network towers with Telus, competing with Rogers and Fido) and they were ready to try right away.
- Undaunted I called Virgin service the next day, reconfirmed that the phone would work and that I would be able to port my pre-paid phone number and remaining balance to the new plan and then settled back to wait for DHL to deliver the phone.
- Once the phone arrived I returned to the Virgin booth, this time it was staffed by someone who did know that they did more than CDMA, so we got set to the task of hooking up. After about 15 minutes of credit check, verifying that the phone's IMEI number was listed in their database as compatible (for the 3rd time!) we got to the part where they scan in the SIM card's number and associate the phone by its IMEI number. At this point we got a rather odd error from their system saying something like "the SIM card is incompatible with the selected plan". The salesman called his support line and they got the same error and after a few minutes they just gave up. The salesman gave it another shot (this time starting as if I did not have an existing account, in case the pre-paid legacy account was messing things up) and even used a different SIM, but still got the same error. As I was running late, I just called it a day and left.
- The next morning I called Virgin support and told them what had happened, they went through the same registration process (again checking the IMEI for compatibility) and ran into the same error (using a SIM card on their end as I had been unable to purchase one). This time support called their support, and after a few minutes on hold, they returned to say they had got around the error and we could proceed, but that I would have to now buy a SIM card from one of their stores. However, all the account stuff had been done and I had a new (non-working) phone number and once I had the SIM I was to call back and they could complete the process.
- So at lunch time I went SIM shopping, its just a little $5 card that all the Virgin retailers carry and there are several a short ways from my office, so I checked stock levels at The Source (as the Virgin Booth is further away) and walked over. On my way I passed "The Telephone Booth" which had a big Virgin Mobile display at the front of their store, so I went in and asked for a SIM, they wanted $42 for it (unless I registered through them) so I resumed my search for The Source.
- At The Source they said no problem, they had the SIMs but needed to check the phone first, so they checked the IMEI against the database and then got out their "test SIM" (which was from Bell), popped it into the phone and declared it good. So then they proceeded to sell me the Virgin SIM, but at some point in the checkout process they have to have a Virgin Account number (to sell the SIM against), so they wanted to go through the registration process (again!). I told them this had already been started and it was on hold pending purchase of the SIM. They called Virgin, and after about 10 minutes of back and forth (and another IMEI check, credit card check and photo ID recheck) they got the account number out of Virgin and were able to complete the sale. All in all, about 25 minutes to make a $5 sale - how do these guys stay in business?
- Later that day, SIM in phone, I call Virgin back again to resume the process. After about 10 minutes on hold I get an operator and after a brief description of what I need to do she decides another department needs to handle the call, so back on hold. After about 30 minutes more on hold I hang up and call back to the support line again, this time I get through and after about 5 minutes we have completed the next step. The SIM and the IMEI are now associated! So now I have to power off the phone, pull out the SIM, reinsert it, power up the phone and then wait for 2 hours for the phone and network to connect up and then call them back to finish the data configuration step.
- After 2 hours I check the phone and the it appears to be on the GSM network (I don't see any 3G indicator), I can make a phone call with it and I have received two text messages from Virgin welcoming me to the party. Things are looking good, so I call them up, wait for about 15 minutes, talk to someone in support who curtly tells me the phone is not supported by them so 3G ain't going to work, your phone's only going to do what its doing now, goodbye. I hope Virgin reviews their call recordings on that one... Muttering to myself I dig through my accumulated net-searches on Virgin 3G lore and find this helpful article where the author reports the same sort of grief. He mentions that the solution is actually documented on Virgin's site (note: Virgin has since removed this page from their site and when I pointed it out to them they denied it even existed, you can get the information you need from Bell's site, since Virgin just resells Bell's service) in a cunningly concealed section of the page on their SIM cards. I found that following the setup (under the misleading heading "What Do I Get?") for the iPhone 3G/3GS eventually worked just fine. These are the settings that worked for me, there are some other settings that I didn't enter anything for.
To get to the data entry page on your Nexus One go into the Settings menu, then "Wireless & networks", then "Mobile networks", then "Access Point Names", then (for me) it says "virgin pda.bell.ca", I click on this and it gets to the "Edit access point" menu.
Initially it did not seem to do anything, but after a few minutes I thought "what if my phone's too smart, perhaps when it is connected via WiFi it does not display the 3G indicator?". So I shut down my WiFi connection and the 3G icon popped into view, a quick test confirmed that data was flowing through 3G and all was well!
- APN: pda.bell.ca
- Proxy: web.wireless.bell.ca
- Port: 80
- MMSC http://mms.bell.ca/mms/wapenc
- MMS Proxy: web.wireless.bell.ca:80
- MCC: 302
- Well that should have been the end of the story, only the next day I realized that in all of this Virgin never actually shut down the old account and ported the number, so I had to call them again (20 minute hold) and go through the number porting process. This required another SIM remove/replace and wait an hour or two cycle, but now things appear to be working.
- I just have to wait a few days and check that their accounting department did move the unused balance from my pre-paid phone to the new monthly (one month term contract) plan. Oh joy, another half hour of hold time ahead. And yes, they did transfer the remaining balance from the pre-paid plan, so nothing was lost there.
- A Xacti ICR-XRS1020MF Sound Recorder from Sanyo that looks rather nice, it can record direct to MP3 or Linear PCM formats. 
- The WePad is an 11.6 inch Android-based web pad, at that size it's not that wee. 
- With HTML 5 the question of patent encumbrances of H.264 video suddenly became more important, Engadget explains and Slashdot rants and how this relates to IE9. 
- Computer composition software is starting to to make real music. 
- Google may be going to set up a music store in the later part of 2010. What's the bet that if this happens they will also be addressing the video market with a tie-in to their Google TV system... 
- The quantum world may violate the principle of equivalence of gravitational and inertial masses. 
- Intel is going to be porting Android to x86 for netbooks and slates. 
- The US Department of Energy wants to stimulate more development of offshore wind projects. 
- A hormone gel is being developed that could stimulate tooth regrowth. 
- A pair of short examples of using Qt (via PyQt) to play audio and video. 
- A Google Engineer thinks that Java and C++ are too complex. I'd have to agree, I much prefer Python, though even it has been tending towards the complex. Still, one can refrain from employing the more complex features for the most part, but in C++ you often have to template things to achieve even the most trivial goals. 
- The Roubini Sentiment Indicator, this started out as a bit of a joke but actually hit a nerve. Turns out that some forms of news may precondition the investing masses, distorting their sentiment to the point where it actually causes market movements (or perhaps it just introduces strain which then gets released en-mass by some unexpected trigger event). This could actually explain why a lot of technical analysis appears to work. The idea here was to use Google Trends to monitor a significant search term that might be correlated with investor sentiment, in this case "Roubini" the last name of Nouriel Roubini an economics professor who is often called Dr. Doom. 
- Squarehead Technology's AudioScope is a 300 microphone phased array that uses computer control to "zoom in" on particular sound sources, allowing conversations to be isolated from within a crowd. The spooks must have been doing this for years by now. This sort of thing was done in a very crude sense, by analogue means, in the film The Conversation, which is a great watch for those into spy themes. Discussed here on Slashdot. 
- The Recompute cardboard PC is a computer, built from conventional components, except the case is made of cardboard. I recall that HP once did some experiments with building server units where the modules were mounted within some sort of foam inlay within the main case - this helped improve airflow for cooling and isolate vibrations. 
- Saul's Advanced Waxing Technique is a video that covers base preparation and glide waxing for cross country skis. 
- Sauls's Cross Country Ski Base Repair and Restoration is a video that covers repair and restoration of cross country ski bases. 
- Saul's Simple Waxing System for Classic Cross Country Skis, in the first part he talks about sizing skis for proper glide and grip and reviews how temperature, time and humidity affect snow. In part 2 he discusses general properties of waxes. Part 3 talks about applying grip and klister waxes. Part 4 takes a look at a simple liquid glide wax.