- AnandTech good PC
has a running digest of whats new on many other similar sites. 
- Storage Review
reviews of hard drives, cdroms and DVDs. Has a very useful
performance database, allowing you to compare todays new drive with
old clunker and weep! 
without supply? 
PDF file creation and manipulation with Python is discussed here.
- Manipulating common data files in Python, here.
in Action, 2006, by Noel Rappin and Robin Dunn, published by
Manning Publications. ISBN: 1932394621.
Here's an artical
interviewing Robin Dunn. Reviewed
on voidspace. Reviewed
on Slashdot by Ron Stephens.
This is a very
good introduction to using wxPython to create GUI applications
Python. Currently I've read about 70% of the book and found it quite
to follow, the examples are quite concise, but still illustrate some
powerful concepts (especially the grid table in Chapter 5 and the
simple drawing application in chapter 6). Source code to the examples
is available from the publisher's web site, but sometimes one learns
more from actually typing in some of these that just downloading and
running them. That's one of the beauties of Python, you can actually
type in some stuff in the Python shell window and interactively
experiment with things.
HTML into wxPython. Using PIL
(Python Imaging Library) within a wxPython application.
Python and Tkinter Programming,
John E, Grayson, 2000, ISBN 1-884777-81-3. The publisher's web page for this book. This
book is out of print, but an e-book version appears to be available
from Manning Publications.
urllib2 - The
A list of many Python
One man's Python success
story, this is rather like my experience with the language
Module of the Week BLOG. The calendar module gets a work out here
(some of this functionality was added after Python 2.3).
- The Python Imaging Library (PIL), can be downloaded here, the
documentation is here,
with the work-in-progress version here.
An article on using PIL
to add watermarks to photographs. And another watermark
Motion Graphics with Python, is an article on working with video,
it makes use of PIL to do a number of interesting image manipulations
and for transition effects. The PIL ImageEnhance module contains
routines that implement colour, brightness, contrast and sharpness
changes according to the technique described in Image
Processing By Interpolation and Extrapolation by Paul Haeberli and
a collection of enhancements to the Python distutils, provides support
for EasyInstall and Python Eggs and many other things. From the Cheese Shop. An article on using setuptools.
packages Python programs as standalone executables. A more recent link. A showmedo
video of how to use PyInstaller.
a new COM library for Python
a package for extracting data from Excel spreadsheets. It is here on PyPI.
To get the Windows command shell to execute
Python scripts by just typing in the name of a Python file (like
script.py) and hitting return, you'll need to have the PATHEXT
environment variable set up correctly.
Management Instrumentation (WMI) in Python can be used to remotely monitor the health of Windows based computer.
module for searching, creating and manipulating Active Directory objects
wxPython is a free
cross-platform GUI toolkit built on wxWidgets.
It gets discussed here.
Links to some particular wxPython topics:
and radio buttons with wxPython
a program for viewing the characters of different fonts
the menu bar's background colour
- comments on the strangeness
of the wx.DateTime class
the world projection of the FloatCanvas (which is a wxPython widgit for
displaying a world map - this is included in the wxPython demo). The mailing
list for FloatCanvas.
is a property sheet object
- Using wxPython to receive
dragged emails from Thunderbird
- a number of additional widgets for wxPython can be found on
for Windows, announced here.
- The pycrypto
Python crypto toolkit (in July 2006 this moved to Launchpad) and the ezPyCrypto wrapper
is an updated (and much higher performance) version of ezPyCrypto.
Voidspace.org has pre-compiled
binaries for PyCrypto and a number of other useful modules. An example of doing AES encryption with PyCrypto.
also does SSL, here
is the home page. M2Crypto is being updated for use with Python 2.6. The update has appeared here. M2Crypto has reached 0.20 now, with lots of SSL server support.
a module for using the Cairo 2D graphics package from Python
Links to many Python 3D
a Python module for 3D visualization of large datasets.
A Python implementation of the Mandelbrot Set,
implemented using pygame.
The Python manual's section on Extending and Embedding the
another XML file manipulation library for Python
A look at Python-based DOM Manipulation templating systems
Swiginac provides symbolic formula
from within Python, ah the good old days of MACSYMA return!
According to this,
Fermilab uses a Python package called Enstore to manage a 3 PetaByte
data store to which they are adding about 25TeraBytes per day.
an Inference Engine in Python
an interface to the HDF5 libraries, this provides an hierarchical
database for efficient management of very large amounts of data.
is a Python module (home
page) that provides high performance graph data structures and
algorithms, this is based on the C code igraph engine so is very fast.
a MathLink module for Mathematica that makes it possible to write and
run Python code within a Mathematica notebook.
of using MatPlotLib to create PNG formatted graphs
Brokers Python API, announced here.
Now available from the Google
SQLAlchemy and Geniusql compared from a performance perspective
- mod_python is a module
that embeds Python within the Apache web
server. One limitation
is that it only seems to work in directories that are open access or
controlled by Basic authentication (not Digest authentication). Here is
a recipe for doing Digest
is an extension module for mod_python. A WSGI wrapper
- 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.
a library for doing asynchronous IO from Python
Comparing the CherryPy
and RhubarbTart web frameworks. A book
on CherryPy is to be written.
- Frog, is
a Blog server application written for Snakelets. It is small but has
many features, such as BBcode markup, XHTML+CSS page output, multiple
users, no database required, anti-spam measures, email notification, Smileys, RSS
feeds, and more. This is now at frog-blog with a home page here on SourceForge. 
is an integrated wiki, bug tracker and source code management tool written in
a Python package (home page: imdbpy.sourceforge.net)
useful to retrieve and
manage the data of the IMDb
movie database about both movies and people.
is a robust, high performance CORBA implementation for C++ and Python
is a social networking platform, it gets discussed
here in the context of improving server performance by using static
HTML when possible.
a throttling HTTP proxy in Python
JSON data from within Python
is a Python module to allow you to disassemble, modify and reasssemble
Python byte code.
- Using UNICODE
with Python. A simple
utility for displaying properties for a given unicode character or
searching a unicode database for given names.
a Python to C++ compiler, main site is here. Mentioned here
on Slashdot. Here it is used to good effect to speed up real-time julia set fractals.
is a command line parsing library for Python
is a command line argument parser that offers some more capabilities
command and buildutils module.
Manipulation of ID3 tags in MP3 files from within Python, the ID3.py module. eyeD3 is another module. pytagger is another which
might be the only one that is not under the GPL license. id3reader
is no longer maintained. mutagen
is another, this is a pure Python library.
- PyMedia, a Python module
for the manipulation of wav, mp3, ogg, avi, divx, dvd, cdda... files. Here is a guide on how to install pymedia on Ubuntu's Gutsy Gibbon release.
(PickFile home page)
a module for managing files that contain pickled object
cleans up and reformats Python script files.
faces, a powerful and
flexible project management tool. It not
only offers many extraordinary features like multiple resource
balancing algorithms and multi scenario planing, but can also be easily
extended and customized. Faces consists of a Python class framework and
a graphical front-end. License: GNU General Public License (GPL)
open-source todo manager
- 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.
watching for file events on Linux, it gets used here. Also there is the pywatch package for running arbitrary commands when a watched file changes.
- The Python "module of the week" project visits the atexit() function. 
- Python and the Image Manipulation Library, a Show Me Do video by Jeff Rush that introduces the PIL (Python Imaging Library). 
- PyMOTW looks at the optparse module 
- 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.
Google Maps Mania
covers various applications of Google Maps
Google Earth for environmental purposes as a tool to visualize
man's impact on nature
Manipulating the Windows environment
Some additional string
server uptime for Windows 2000/NT/XP, this executes a "net
statistics" command as a subprocess and pipes the output into the
Python script for analysis
A higher level API for manipulating
allows Python functions to be called from the command line, this also
contains some Windows registry manipulation code.
cloning (of tissues) starts in the UK
in mice, triggered by hydrogen sulphide, has been demonstrated,
perhaps this could also be used to induce a hybernative state in humans
(could be very popular for dull lectures)
hypothermia to save
trauma patients may be just around the corner. The idea is to
rapidly drain the blood, replace it with a chilled saline solution and
then operate for up to 2 hours, then pump the saved blood back in.
Works with pigs 90% of the time, wonder what it does for human
memories? Could this be extended further by taking the temperatures
lower? Perhaps even to the point of long term suspended animation?
A man cures
himself of HIV
There is now a push for earlier
use of stem cells in treating human patients
A money tracking
turns into a way to study human
movement that can contribute to the spread of disease
calculated from a race result. Performance evaluation tests.
A Calgary biotech firm has developed a process to produce
human insulin from genetically modified safflower oil
Researchers have reversed
melanoma (cancer) by manipulating the patients blood to attack the
painkiller may be based on human saliva.
- 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.
cure for cancer based on using special sugars (ManNAc) to deliver
butyrate into cancer cells (where it apparently interferes with their
growth) is being developed.
According to this
article (Calgary SUN 11-Feb-2007), bird flu may not greatly affect
the elderly (or those born before 1969). It appears that nearly 90% of
the people who have been diagnosed with H5N1 so far have been under 40
years old. This is to be reported in a letter to the "Journal of
Emerging Infectious Diseases" by Matthew Smallman-Raynor and Andrew
Sheep that may be 15% human, the idea is to use them to grow
organs for harvest
blood may contain a cure for AIDS, a irus-inhibitory peptide
(VIRIP) molecule occurs naturally in blood and some test changes to
this have proved much more effective at blocking HIV's entry point to
for longevity in worms has been found and there appears to be
something similar in humans
loss in humans may be reversible and might be addressed by
controlling a single gene
can integrate itself into human DNA and now a technique to snip it
out has been developed
Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University
have figured out a way to turn
a mouse into a factory for human liver cells, making new drug
testing and other research easier.
DMS - a Dead Man's
Switch for your PC
and speaking of VNC this site has a VNC
on a floppy project, though its not been updated for some time
Manager is a disk partitioning tool (resizing, conversion...)
GCC the GNU C++ compiler,
the C++ FAQ
the C FAQ, Boost a site for C++ libraries, Standard C Library
documentation, The GNU
C Library documentation, strmode(3)
returns archive flag state, see also chflags.
Real Quick C++
guide. C++ in Action,
a book by Bartosz Milewski is available on-line at Reliable Software, along with a tutorial on Win32
is an open, free, platform independent high performance 3D rendering
here on Slashdot
The state of Massachusetts
is mandating that all file formats be open
- 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:
(pcattcp.exe) is another port to Windows of the ttcp UNIX application
(Microsoft uses its own version called NTttcp for a lot of network
performance benchmarking), its useful for doing quick sanity tests on
network performance issues (such as figuring out if your switch and NIC
are agreeing on full versus half duplex), its very easy to set up (no
install appart from copying a couple of files to the machines under
test is needed) and quick to run.
for Windows 2003 Server, the html
version from Google's cache. This talks a bit about additional
registry settings that might need applying to Windows to make a gigabit
LAN really perform well. This sort of tuning is also discussed here.
CoolUtils.com makes Total Image
Converter and a host of other file conversion and manipulation
utilities (video, audio, office documents, PDF, ...)
BitPim is a program that allows you
to view and manipulate data on many CDMA phones
to the Roomba may be sold in Germany
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.
from Elenco look
like a good way to introduce kids to electronics. The kits are also
"upgradable", they appear to sell a "delta-kit" that contains the parts
you need to take your current kit and upgrade it to the next level in
the series - they have
even set up the manuals this way, so when you buy the level 2 kit you
get two manuals
the first contains the experiments that the level 1 kit can do and the
additional experiments that are unique to the level 2 kit.. and so
on... There's even a computer interface in the higher level kits, but I'm not
sure what its based on (parallel, USB or serial). Actually according to this page
its probably using the microphone port on your computer's sound card
and it includes some basic oscilliscope software to allow one to see
what is happening.
South Korea and China are going to mandate the cell phones
must use standard
chargers and data cables. This is a very good move, now if only
others would follow with PDAs and digital cameras. Imagine being able
to carry only a single charger when on a trip instead of a pile of 3 or 4!
S10 is getting a Bluetooth connection and will be available in a
bracelet form factor for a nice wireless MP3 experience. It would
be nice if they made a version in stainless steel with a link-style
watch strap which a man could ware as a watch
1000 is the Swiss Army Knife of personal electronic
gadgets, combining camera, video camera, media player, radio, game
player, text viewer (poor man's e-book?) and a calendar (but it looks
like it does not have any PDA capability).
the Actiontec, a dial-on-demand router based on a uCLinux core
How to add radio remote
control capability (using RF transmitter and receiver modules made
by Laipac Technologies) to microcontroller
projects, also mentions manchester
encoding to reduce the error rate.
How to build
your own USB cable for the new 2GB iPod Shuffle. Three other
things, Apple should have used a standard mini-USB connector (like is
found on some cell phones), or else they should have used a regular USB
plug like memory sticks do. The third thing is that cable manufacturers
should sell some short (as in just a few inches long) USB cables of
various types for applications like this where the device is going to
sit right beside the computer.
22-Jul-03 Slashdot talks about the new Sony Vaio PCG-TR1A
sub-notebook which might make a pretty good webpad, but a few too many
bells and whistles make it a bit too expensive.
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.
In June'07 Via introduced a new reference design for ultraportable
laptop computers. Looks like it is targeted at the same price point
as the Palm Foleo but with more functions. FIC (known as Everex in the
USA and Packard Bell in Europe) will be making these, expected
to ship in Aug'07. Here is what the FIC
CE261 UMPC looks like, and some preliminary specs. iDOT is planning
to make two NanoBook
- The csv module, introduced in Python 2.3, is useful for working with various types of data table text files, such as the comma separated variable (csv) format.  
- The PyMOTW looks at the os module, useful for things like running external processes, though cautions that there are newer ways of doing some of this.
The PyMOTW looks at the glob module which is used for quickly extracting a list of files (from a directory listing) that fit a simple wild card-type pattern (but not a regex-style pattern).
The PyMOTW looks at the calendar module which can be used to get simple textual calendars for a given month or year as well as doing date oriented calculations.
rebel against journals, and about time too! Scientists
quit from the editorial board of a journal.. Nature
debates the issue of electronic access to scientific literature,
on Slashdot. Apparently the US Congress is considering having all government funded research
published in an open way. Mar'05 the IEEE wonders who will pay the costs of open access. Now some open access journals
are being funded by accepting a payment from the author for publication. The
Royal Society wants to keep papers off the web. The Association of American Publishers
to work against scientists publishing freely. The European
Commission may be providing some funding towards making a free
scientific library. Nature is going
to allow open online access to pre-publication works in Nature Proceedings, something similar to arXiv.org. The physics journal Physical Review may reconsider its position on copyright now that some scientists are writing to tell it that they are unhappy with the current restrictions that will be placed on republication of their works.
In Are Academic Journals Obsolete Slashdot discusses the journal issue - perhaps they are only useful for evaluation of professorial job performance? In Oct'08 the arXiv system reached 500,000 publications. Current science publishing methods are being called problematic. The MIT faculty have voted in favor of making all their publications open access. Perhaps the final solution to this problem would be to abolish copyright protection on academic works. Now the University of California faculty might boycott the publisher of Nature, seems to me all they would need to do is self-publish their own papers in a peer-reviewed section of Wikipedia. 
man flying machine from SoloTrek
with chemistry, or maybe just pyromania, and movies
of more fun.
How fast can a man on a bike go?
Make a rocket car from old plastic pop bottles
Cloning hs been making the news, but this
(mixed species cloning) will be the last straw for many.
Experimenting with kilovolts
The big earthquake
of Dec 26, 2004. India seems to have been hit but news is sparse.
Scotland on Sunday.
The European Space Agency has some satelite
pictures of this. And there are some very good before/after
shows that most of the Indian east coast is 2000km from the epicentre,
while Shrilanka is about 1600-1800km away, so the potential for damage
along the Indian east coast is still very high. Here are some before/after
shots of a few points on the Indian coast. Locating
the earthquake by listening to sound waves in the ocean. In Aug'06
satellite data was used to see gravity
changes caused by this quake.
brain is still evolving
Powering a glider
via a laser, the objective would be to make a permanently airborne
platform possible. Of course if this could be done with a
commercial aircraft then the cost of flying could be reduced by not
needing to carry such a large fuel payload for thousands of miles.
Using an EEG cap to link
a human brain with a computer, and to enable the human to act as a
"visual data front end processor" for the computer, thereby allowing a
human to solve the hardest part of image processing and recognition.
- Wammu is a mobile phone manager, the front end is written in wxPython and the back end is Gammu. 
- The PyMOTW looks at the hmac module, which is used for cryptographic signatures and verification of messages.  
- A comparison of the performance of the ZODB and SQLite3 where the ZODB does pretty well. 
- More on ZODB perfomance, this time its compared to Durus. 
is offering prizes for prior art that can invalidate some patents
BountyQuest may be disappearing
some day soon). BustPatents.com
is also watching and reporting on this mess. Scientific American ran this
article on four very bad patents (imagine patenting the "training
Here is a claim
that may invalidate the BritishTelecom patent on the web. There may
be a way around all gene based patents.
- 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.
Litman Law wants
to submit your patent
- 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. 
- Now SOHOWare is
NBG800 (reviewed here)
which is the first I have seen that claims to have stateful packet
(which is something that GNATBox has had for a long time). This Slashdot
article looks at this sort of equipment. GigaFast
makes a 4 port router with a built in printer server. The Compex
NetPassage is another NAT firewall/router unit, with wireless
ISB Pro800 router
with NAT sounds nice.
There are a number of web servers you could run, but many
choose MicroSoft's IIS. Unfortunately for them it seems to have become the target
of choice for hackers, as seems to be about as solid as Swiss
cheese. See also this.
Guide to Wireless Auditing, makes use of the scapy Python packet
A Slashdot review of Cryptographic Security Architecture:
Design and Verification, by Peter Gutmann, ISBN: 0387953876.
Commander wireless router is equipped for monitoring network
A Slashdot discussion
of Ophcrack, a Windows password cracking tool, there's plenty of
additional material in the comments. KB299656 applies to
this issue of the weak hash algorithm used in LAN Manager.
- Someday a photonic engine may propel space craft, a prototype that is powerful enough to do some maneuvering has now been developed. 
- Germany has arrested 10 people in a phishing scam. 
- The Klimantiris Gallery, an online showcase, nicely done. 
- The PyMOTW examines the timeit module for high resolution time functions. 
- The Paleolithic Diet (here on Wikipedia), has you eating like a caveman, or perhaps an even earlier ancestor. Their idea is that at only recently (say in the past 10000 years) man added grains, beans, potatoes and dairy to his diet and that his digestive system still cannot handle these properly. 
- For Belgium
(where there are many Vermeulens)
A listing of many telephone
on the web
Tetenal makes inkjet
printer paper that works with most printer systems and has won some
awards. This appears to be made in Germany for the European market.
inkjet printers tell you the ink is out when there is still a lot
- It seems to be relatively easy
to install games on an XP Pro box under
the administrator account, and I seem to be having pretty good success
at getting them to run. However, they will often not work under other
accounts on the same machine. Part of the trick at getting them to run
seems to be to give the other accounts "Power User" group rights.
However my old NT 4.0 Domain server does not have the "Power users"
group, so it looked for a while like I would have to create local
machine accounts with membership in this group. A bit of web searching
turned up this
page that suggested there was a way to make the NT4 domain user
group appear to be called the power user group and this would have the
same permissions. The trick was to go to the workstation where the
power user group is needed (actually it sounds like this will apply to
all machines) and execute this command:
net localgroup "power users" /add "DOMAIN\Domain Users"
once I did this it became possible to install software as a regular
user and a lot of the programs that refused to run under other accounts
will now work.
How to uninstall
hotfix or a service pack (perhaps that Windows Update has
installed) that is causing the computer not to boot. Use the recovery console (boot from the
Windows installation CD to get this) and do a DIR $* to see the various hot fix
uninstall directories. Then, for those that were created on the suspect
date, CD into each in turn and execute the uninstall batch file with
the command: BATCH spuninst.txt.
After doing one of these you should reboot (by using the EXIT command) to see if it fixed the
problem, and if not, proceed with the next patch. On 13-Oct-06 a set of
Windows updates messed up one of my Windows XP Pro boxes (KB922819,
KB923191, KB923414, KB924191, KB924496 to be precise). I used
this approach to remove them, but the same problem remained. On
the following day while I was copying files off the afflicted machine
to prepare to rebuild/repair it, Windows Update redownloaded the
updates I had removed. I let it reinstall them and found that
this time the updates worked properly. So I suspect that something went
wrong in the first update that the second attempt corrected.
to safely add or replace a hard drive, has a good introduction to
IDE cables and jumpers and also mentions the trick of using Device Manager to uninstall the
current entries under Disk Drives
prior to imaging the system partition on the current old drive that is
to be reimaged to a new replacement drive. It also talks a bit about
the Windows Files and Settings
Windows Dynamic disks (described in this article: KB222189 - note
this article does describe an "import" function that is provided to
allow you to move a dynamic disk from one system to another) cannot be
moved from one system to another readily. This knowledge base article: KB232463,
mentions this in the context of laptops, but I have run into this while
trying to move dynamic-type disks from an older Win2K machine to its
replacement WinXP box (when I did this the disk was shown as
"foreign"). Probably best to stick with the basic disk type, unless you
are really needing to make use of the new features of dynamic disks
(for example to provide a RAID file system). It also appears that you
cannot put a dynamic disk into a USB drive case and still access its
contents (the article KB254105 confirms
this is the case) - probably for similar reasons relating to the disk
partition database, as once the disk is USB attached it could be
attached to any number of machines and this database is not designed to
handle this. Other articles on dynamic disks:
- How to convert basic and dynamic disks in Windows XP
How to establish a striped volume with parity (RAID-5) in Windows
Server 2003: KB323434.
Best practices for using dynamic disks on Windows Server
2003-based computers: KB816307.
Basic storage versus dynamic storage in Windows XP: KB314343. This
says that the mirroring and RAID-5 features are not available in
Windows XP Pro.
How to use disk management to configure dynamic disks in Windows
Windows Services can be made to be dependent on other services being
started first. Modifying these dependencies are discussed in KB193888, the
TechNet article: Understanding
Windows Services Architecture goes into this in more depth, it also
states that the dependencies are used during the stopping of services
too. If you are installing a custom service that needs internet
connectivity and also access to files on network drive shares then this
article on installing
Apache as a Windows Service, may help. It identifies the following
other services that your service should be dependent on:
The JavaService Wrapper project's documentation
states that during machine shutdown the Windows Service Manager
ignores the service dependency tree and tells all services to shut down
at the same time (not in the reverse of the order that they were
How to get Windows XP File Search to Really Work (again).
The search function of Windows XP (from the start menu "Search") is by
default not set to search the contents of most files. In order to turn
this on you can follow the steps in method #2 on
this page. A similar writeup exists in Microsoft's KB309173.
If you have ever used the "search for text in files" function and it
has failed to find what you were looking for, but you know that the
search should have worked it is probably because the behavior of the
searching changed greatly between Windows 2000 and Windows XP. By
default Windows 2000 would search in all files, but Windows XP will
only search in certain "known" file types (probably .txt. and .doc and
not much else). The fix for this is quite simple, though remarkably
hard to find. Here's what to do:
note that despite the fact this setting is controlled through the
Indexing Service, you do not need to start the Indexing Service running
for this to work.
- open the control panel
then go to administrative tools and open the "Computer
Management" application, set the display to show both the tree view (on
the left) and details list on the right, (the 4th icon from the left on
the tool bar) and the do the following steps in the tree view
under "Computer Management (Local)" you will find "Services and
Applications", and then "Indexing Service"
do a right click on "Indexing Service" and select "Properties"
from the popup menu
the "Indexing Service Properties" window will appear, this has
two tabs, in the tab called "Generation" you will find a check box
labeled "Index files with unknown extensions", you need to check this
and then click the OK button and that is it
Manager may cause your auxilary display to shutdown and restart
from time to time, when this happens the windows that were showing on
it may flee for the safety of some other display.
date calculator, this is based on an algorithm from Astronomical Formulae for Calculators,
by Jean Meeus, ISBN: 0943396018.
Published by Willmann-Bell who
appear to specialize in astronomical tomes.
A Slashdot book review of Astronomy
Hacks - Tips & Tools for Observing the Night Sky, by Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara
Fritchman Thompson, ISBN 0596100604
- The US Supreme Court is taking on another important patent law case. The question here is if a patent holder can sue not only the manufacturer of a component that directly infringes the patent, but all the other people who indirectly infringe by making products that happen to contain the infringing component. 
- Manning Publications is starting to make pre-release chapters of Iron Python in Action available. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the copy module which can be used to duplicate objects (and deep trees of objects). 
for image manipulation
SmartPix photo manager
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...
IFranView is a
freeware image viewer, with some manipulation capabilities. Through a set of
plugins it has support for loading RAW format files for a number of
cameras, including the Minolta A1/A2. It is reviewed here,
apparently it now has the ability to create panoramic photos.
FxFoto is an image
manipulation, cataloging and slide show creation package
a prismatic filter that is good for determining white balance, a review
of it with some convincing sample photos is here,
perhaps the most amazing of these test images is of a pub at
night under street light illumination. Here is the manufacturer's page on the ExpoDisc. They have added a lens cap style version called the ExpoCap which is opaque rather than prismatic.
is a program to examine the EXIF (including maker notes section) of
The GIMP is a free
photo editing package, an extended manual is available called Grokking the GIMP
to configuring a Windows XP box for best pixel processing performance
a tool for decoding RAW format photographs from many cameras
PhotoFiltre is an
processing/manipulation program that is available in a reduced feature
free version and a commercial version. It is reviewed here.
STOIK makes a number of
processing tools, including PictureMan and Noise Autofix.
Image Darkroom, a photo manipulation package with integrated RAW
is an open source tool that can be used for noise removal and image
resizing, discussed here on
Slashdot. This is a command line tool, which might be a good thing as
that allows you to use it from a batch file for bulk processing tasks.
from iView is image management software for annotating, organizing and
distributing digital files.
- ACDSee 10 Photo Manager has some new image processing tools, including shadow detail enhancement.  
- Could the human appendix have a function after all? 
Bringing the Pentium-M
into the SFF PC has some benefits, lower power, less noise, and
perhaps even more performance. Of course the mobile chips are currently
While not small, the home theatre-size PC case is another option.
Zalman makes one with a built-in
7in LCD for a control display.
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.
Tyan makes some nice
motherboards, their Thunderbolt S1837 makes a great workstation or server box. Tyan so far
is the only manufacturer to make a dual Athlon mother board, their
first model was very high end and required an expensive custom power supply,
this new Tyan Tiger MP S2640
too, and here and here
as well, and at AnandTech
too) looks like it could open the flood gates for AMD.
It appears that if a CPU
fan dies on an AMD Athlon chip that the chip itself could die, as
of 30 Oct 01 AMD is issuing new design guidelines to motherboard
manufacturers to help prevent this in future board revisions.
The Register reports that VIA chipset based motherboards may
have problems keeping up with full PCI speed data bursts, and that
this could hurt the performance of high speed (like ATA133 and U160
SCSI) disk controllers. And this
article documents a similar problem with the Intel 850 and 860 chip
Looks like Intel
may be the winner of the first round in the quad-core battle, what
with better performance, lower power consumption and more motherboard
choices than AMD.
All about fan
Performance info on AMD's
Tom's Hardware has a comparative CPU
performance review that spans the 100MHz to 3GHz CPU era
the performance of all Pentium-style CPUs
Intel's hyperthreading system may actually reduce
the performance of heavily threaded applications
In Jun'06 Intel started showing their new Conroe CPU, this
looks like it could bring a 10-25% increase in performance
CPU from Intel will contain 4 cores on a single chip and ship in
Nov'06, this will run in existing 775 socket motherboards and looks
like it will bring quad-CPU functionality to the desktop. Here is a preview
of the performance that can be expected. The Core 2 Quad got launched
in early Jan'07.
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.
solar panels can be used as windows and yet still generate about
3W/ft2 (about 33W/m2). A rather novel idea, but apparently they could
also be used as screens for projection TV units. These are manufactured
by MSK Corporation.
a windmill built out of high altitude kites - position this in the jet
stream and you'll get oodles of power
Nickle Manganese oxide batteries, may outperform NiMH batteries in
electric car applications.
World oil production may
have hit its peak in Dec 2005, but demand continues to climb
In Mar'06 Dr. Martin Fleischmann of cold fusion fame was hired
by D2Fusion to produce a
commercial prototype of a fusion-based home heater. Discussed on Slashdot.
Time to start investing in heavy water plants.
- Slashdot discusses how to measure
the electric consumption of single devices. ThinkGeek has the Kill-A-Watt,
which is a power meter with a digital display. There is also this power
watt meter, from Germany with a UK style plug and socket.
CanadianTire (in Canada) has the 52-8851-2, EM100
Electronic Energy Meter. The EnergyHub is another power monitoring device, this has a base station with LCD interface and monitoring modules that you plug in to track the power usage of each device of interest - probably a great deal of overkill but it looks nice.
discusses a new solar
panel technology, this is much less expensive to manufacture but is
less efficient. This is called CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide).
There are several companies that are entering this field (anyone know
what the patent situation on this is?) Miasole is going to be producing
cells in 2007. DayStar
is another. Also entering the field are Nanosolar (which is aiming to
build the biggest factory) and HelioVolt. In Dec'06 Honda
announced they are going to open a plant in the fall of 2007 which
will produce these cells too.
Nanotechnology is being used to improve
solar cell performance, by coating a solar cell with a 1nm thick
layer of silicon fluorescing nanoparticles researchers have improved a
cell's performance by 60%
- The Twike (see Engadget)
battery and human powered two seater car. There is some information on Wikipedia here. The Canadian site is here, I wonder how it fairs in snow?
At the other end of electric based performance is the Human
Powered Car, this seats up to 4 and also has some electric drive
One man's successful conversion of a Jeep
Cherokee to electric power, the range is not much but the operating
costs are quite low (less than when gasoline powered)
- Honda has set up a new company: Honda Soltec, to develop and manufacture solar cells. 
- Via's vm7700 is a compact computer built into a case that can bolt onto the back of any standard VESA type LCD monitor. The screws that hold the the PC in place actually go all the way through it, which makes mounting it to the back of the monitor very easy. Now that this approach has been publicized I would expect to see some other third party case manufacturers start making similar boxes. One potential application of this sort of thing would be as a DVR PC, allowing the PC and all its cables to easily be hidden behind a large flat panel TV system.  
- The Samsung SPH-9200 UMPC (the cute flip and fold split keyboard design) is getting closer, its manual has been leaked. 
- GreenPipe makes software for pipeline integrity management and pipeline flow modeling. 
explaination of colour management.
has current pricing of the current camera offerings from the major
along with reviews and user ratings
- PyWPS is a Python implementation of GRASS, the Geographic Resources Analysis Support System that is used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics/maps production, spatial modeling, and visualization. 
brother at waldomart? And in casinos
too... and at a personal
- On demand print publication from Lulu.
Might be a good place to go if you want to self-publish something. At least one person has used this service and appears pleased with it. Swaroop has used Lulu to publish: A Byte of Python, he also mentions PediaPress and some difficulty using Amazon's CreateSpace to do the same thing. Looks like Lulu is going to the DRM dogs and raising fees. One user of the Lulu service writes about his experience using it to self-publish a book on physics.
What one man would want in his perfect
web search engines
Thoughts on picking
a CMS - Content Management System to help with your web site
- Swish-e is a Simple Web
Indexing System for Humans - Enhanced. This is an open source system
for indexing web pages and other documents with versions available for
UNIX and Windows. pyswish provides a Python interface to it.
- An article on favicon.ico files. The favicon.cc web app can be used to design favicons, it gets discussed here.
A Slashdot book review of, Head
First HTML with CSS & XHTML, by Elisabeth and Eric Freeman,
A Slashdot book review of, CSS: The
Missing Manual, by David Sawyer McFarland, ISBN: 0596526873. 
on Slashdot) they are the only ones to provide a Linux version with
GUI/X windows pre-installed (the comments in this
article mention this briefly). They use a different virtualization
Linux) than the rest appear to use, and are the only ones that
mention you can (space-permitting) install more than one version of
Linux at the same time in your account, and then reboot to switch
between them - which might be a good testing tool. A quick
review of Linode. Some scripts to help monitor
your bandwidth usage. Documentation on the screen package
that lish uses.
- The PyMOTW looks at the shlex module, which can be used for parsing quoted strings, implementing shell-like syntaxes and writing domain-specific mini-languages.  
- More rumors of a GPhone, this time with HTC being the phone manufacturer. 
- Stem cells have been used to grow replacement nerves in animals, a team from the University of Manchester is now going to expand its work on this to humans. 
- SanDisk is working hard at figuring out more ways to increase the demand for flash memory, their new TakeTV is an 8GB USB drive that enables video playback. Apparently it has a docking station that provides video output (though why you need such a bulky memory stick for this is still unclear - perhaps they have put the video chips into the same package as the flash drive rather than putting them into the docking station)? Engadget takes a more detailed look at it here. I think they are still missing the best market opportunities by not including support for hi-def playback and by not including support for playback on DVI-D LCD panels (then this could be used to make a large photo frame out of an LCD panel). Switched On discusses the TakeTV.
Well it didn't take long for this to die, it lasted from about 30-Oct-07 to 15-May-08. Let's hope SanDisk learned something here and come back to the table with something capable of playing HiDef. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the itertools module, this provides iterator functions for efficient looping.  
- mercurial, is a source code management system designed for efficient handling of large distributed projects. This article has some speed comparisons between mercurial, git, bzr and darcs, it looks like mercurial and git are the fastest of the bunch with git having an advantage. 
- 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. 
Oregon is considering using
GPS systems to track actual vehicle mileage driven in the state and
tax on that basis rather than on fuel usage.
- VideoReDo is a
powerful tool for extracting and deleting scenes from MPEG1 and MPEG2
files. This has a pretty convenient batch edit function that can also
be used to split a single file into a number of smaller files (perhaps
you have a few hours of vacation tape to edit, and you want to start by
extracting the dozen or so interesting scenes into separate files so
they are easier to work with). What you do is explained
on their FAQ (its not immediatly obvious from the help file or
program's controls that you can do this). Since the FAQ is a little
vague, here's a recap:
- You will probably need to set some program options first, in the "General Parameters" select "Queue to batch clears cut list" and set the "Editing Mode" to "Scene Mode".
- enter the Batch Manager, and select a destination folder,
then enter a "_" (underscore) into the "destination modifier" field, finally
hit the "Done" button
- now pick the scenes you want in each separate file (you
can select several per file if you want), by finding the start of the
scene, clicking on the "Sel. End" button, then finding the scene's end
and clicking on the "Sel. End" button and at last clicking on the "Add
Selection" button. Repeat as needed.
- once your list of scenes is complete you hit the CTRL+B
key (or use the File / Add Edits to Batch Queue... menu item)
- a dialogue will appear that shows you the file name it
will save those scenes to, this should be in the destination directory you
selected, the file name should start with the original file's name and
then have an "_nnn" extension, where "nnn" is a number that starts with
001 and automatically increases each time you hit CTRL+B. Answer "OK"
to the dialogue if the name is correct.
- once you have finished your selections you select the
Tools / Start Batch Manager menu item again, check the "Run Silently" check box
(this doesn't seem to do much) and then press the "Save and Execute"
button and it will build the new set of scene files without needing
further user interaction.
Amigoshare.com makes some video
manipulation tools (a splitter, a joiner, a DVD maker and a format
converter). I have used their Easy Video Converter
to convert MKV (Matroska) format
video files to MPEG for transfer to DVD, it does a good job and runs
Microsoft has a FAT32
32GB partition limit under Windows 2000 Pro, even though FAT32 has
about an 8TB practical limit they will not allow you to create a
partition larger than 32GB, saying that you should use NTFS instead. This sounds
a lot like a bug being called a feature to me. I have verified this
(Win2K Pro SP1) and this is indeed true. However, if you can find some
other way of creating the partition (such as using the partitioning tools
that come with System
Commander) then Win2K will work with it just fine.
A review comparing
the performance of IDE base RAID 0, 1, 10 to single SCSI drives.
- The SMART
for IDE drives, can providetemperaturemonitoring
of the drives. Some more information on understanding the various attributes that SMART can report.
The next time you think your hard drive has died, perhaps
its the software that's to blame, Seagate is providing some tools
they call SeaTools to
help you determine this before sending your drive back (these tools are
supposed to check drives made by other manufacturers too)
Slashdot looks for large
RAID solutions for the home server, it appears that hardware raid
cards may no longer have a performance advantage over a software Linux
based system. Setting up a RAID array for Linux even has a dedicated
book now: Managing
RAID on Linux, by Derek Vadala, ISBN 1565927303.
referenced on Slashdot,
is claiming that many drives do not implement the "flush buffers to
disk" functions correctly
Hard Drives will combine flash memory and conventional hard disks
to reduce power consumption and perhaps improve drive performance. In
June'06 Seagate announced
its first laptop hybrid drive with a 256Meg flash buffer.
Using a 2.5in
laptop drive in a desktop computer, this will reduce power
consumption a bit (perhaps 10W less for the whole system) but will
impact performance noticably. Probably only of interest if you are
trying to build very small computers.
Seagate is planning to stop
manufacturing IDE hard drives by the end of 2007
Adtron announced (Feb'07) a 160GB
SSD and they claim up to 70MB/sec read/write performance.
- Drobo is a
4 drive enclosure that has a disk management processor built in and
appears to allow for hot swapping. More
details on this unit. Engadget reviews it here. Drobo appears to be popular amongst photographers, here is a review by one who uses it on a Mac network. Drobo has been opening up to running additional applications and now have an SDK.
ASUS is going to make a series of optical
drives that run quietly. This is a big pet peeve of mine, until
drive speeds hit about 24x they were all nice an quiet, but now a
spinning CDROM drive can be the loudest part of a computer. And really,
for what good purpose? I really don't think one needs to build a
separate "quiet drive" model, all you really need is to add a jumper to
the back that limits the drive maximum speed to about 24x. You could
make this setting overridden via a command issued over the IDE bus by
some utility software, in the event you want to use the drive in high
speed mode temporarily.
disks with 3-Layers have been shown in the lab, with a potential to
go to as many as 10 layers
- twizzler, a command line progress indicator. 
- Google is promising to reveal its mobile phone plans in the next two weeks (so by mid Nov'07). Slashdot discusses Andy Rubin, the man behind the Google Phone. 
Tiffen for filters
and addon lenses, their new MegaPlus
series includes a 2x and 0.75x lens pair.
Rob Galbraith's compact
flash performance database
this is an SD card with an integrated WiFi interface that you will be
able to put into a lot of digicams to allow them to upload their photos
by a WiFi connection, it will also work with a CompactFlash adapter to
allow it to be used in a lot of the D-SLR cameras. Engadget writes (Oct'07) that the Eye-Fi is now shipping and will include 2GB of storage. Engadget takes a first look at it here, and finds that this is a case of a tempting tech tool that doesn't really solve any problem we are interested in. Reviewed here on dpreview.com, they have a pretty good write up on how it is configured and used, along with its somewhat disappointing speed of about 10-15 seconds per photograph. The other problem with this is that you need to attach the card to a computer in order to enter access point information, so unless you have brought a computer along you can't just walk into a Starbucks and have it upload your photos when traveling. Perhaps they could provide a small keyboard device to allow you to do this while on a trip, but even then you might just be better off buying a couple of blank 4GB SD cards or bringing along a mini laptop like the ASUS Eee PC. One user of this card has written some Python software to take the place of the standard Eye-Fi server (also here on Engadget), this could be the start of making this card more useful.
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.
TV 100 from Visioneer, is a device for displaying (and
manipulating) digital photos on TVs, something like this is going to be very popular
- The DigitDia
3600 from Reflecta is a slide scanner that takes slide trays,
allowing you to scan 50 slides in one batch. A wonderful idea that's
just so obvious one wonders why none of the other manufacturers have
done this before. A pity that the quality of the scans are not as good
as some of the comparable scanners.
- 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. 
Combining Lego NXT
with a gyro sensor from Hitechnic
to make an unmanned aircraft
LTL Imagery has a number of articles on
Pettri on colour
A short article from Michael Reichmann that illustrates the
of light to the landscape scene
Snaphsot to Fine Art an article by Michael Reichmann
The Confused Photographer's
Guide to Photographic Exposure and
the Simplified Zone System, by Bahman Farzaf, ISBN: 0966081714.
Management in Digital Photography, a new book.
A pod cast on Color
Management in the workflow by Eddie Tapp. 
- Ultra capacitors using nano technology to increase their charge storage surface area could theoretically reach about 50% of the capacity of conventional batteries. This would be a big change since capacitors last through many thousands or millions more cycles that regular batteries and capacitors can be charged or discharged at much greater rates. 
- The PyMOTW looks at the shutil module used for doing file-level work. 
- This articlediscusses the strange case of pickling an object twice resulting in two different pickle strings. Turns out (in the comments) this is an expected behavior and there is some discussion of what pickle actually is and an example of using the dis module to take a look at the disassembled pickle string to better see what is going on.  
- Wikipedia writes about the Slashdot effect, the example load graph they include shows a web server going from idle to delivering content at a 900k bytes/sec rate and gradually declining over a 12 hour period. Simple integration of this curve (which is essentially a triangular shape) leads to a total delivery of about 19GB of data in response to Slashdot requests. A visualization of this effect can be seen here. 
- Chris Lomont has a number of nice looking screen savers (lots of variations on the Mandelbrot curve) and games (particularly puzzle type ones) here. 
- Philips' AJL308 is a clock radio combined with a photo frame. From the product brochure and owner's manual it appears that you can select a song to wake up to. 
- A review of the book: Programming Collective Intelligence by Toby Segaran, ISBN: 978-0596529321 which includes sections on similarity calculations, text search engines, optimization, neural networks, document classification and spam filtration, decision trees and genetic programming. 
Targus makes a folding
keyboard for the Sony Clie series (well most of them). Belkin
also makes some keyboards for a number of Palm-type devices. I have an
older keyboard for my PalmPilot-Professional (before the Palm III) and
I find it to be an essential tool - very useful for taking notes in
meetings. Logitech also makes two types of keyboards, their folding unit called the TypeAway
and a "roll-up" unit called the KeyCase.Cyrez
International also makes some PDA keyboards, possibily distributed
under the Vortek Systems label in Canada. GrandTec also makes the PocketVIK,
which is a roll-up keyboard.
- The PXIO C2 is a universal recharging system with many device-specific adapters. 
- The PCSport Power Stepper is a small, USB-attached stepper that can be placed under your desk to get some exercise while working. Slashdot discusses it here. Given that it is going to be rather limited in range of motion, and that your knees will be quite bent while using this in a typical sitting position (unless you are on the edge of a rather high seat) I doubt this will burn many calories per hour and I'd be a bit worried it might lead to some odd new joint injury (due to the odd position for the knees). Still it might help keep the circulation going. 
- Amazon's Kindle e-book reader will also provide the ability to access the web through EVDO-like wireless connectivity. This may start a shift in the design of other e-book readers towards something that can act more like a web pad. From the official release presentation Engadget has more information on the Kindle, here, here and here. Some more reviews have appeared and are discussed here on Slashdot. 
- The PyMOTW looks at the urlparse module.  
- There is some indication that SanDisk may be introducing a "write-once" type of lower cost flash memory, aimed at the digital photography market. There is probably a large group of photographers (consider the Grandmas of the world) who may prefer to keep their photos this way, rather than the more complex process of transferring them to a computer and backing them up to CD/DVD ROM. Consider the casual photographer who before going digital shot about one roll of film a month (so about 300 photos per year). Let us say that after going digital they now take 10 times as many pictures, so about 3000 photos per year. For further argument lets say that their photos are on average about 3MB each, so that's 3000x3 = 9GB per year. Given that you can currently (Nov'07) buy 2GB SD cards for $25/each that's about $112 per year to just buy new cards whenever they fill up and never reuse them. Note that at about $15 to buy a 24 exposure roll of film and develop and print it, this photographer was already paying about $180 a year, so even at current memory prices, never reusing flash cards actually will make sense. And given that memory prices will drop by another 30-50% in the next year it will make even more sense - even if SanDisk does not introduce this new type of card. In fact, unless SanDisk really prices these low I cannot see much point in using them at all. 
- StructArray is a module that lets you define large arrays of objects and then provides the ability to apply various operations to attributes of all the objects at once - this is sped up from what you could do in Python by applying the operation through C-code extensions. This is obviously useful in some types of games, such as 3D graphics, but it could also be useful in manipulating lare data sets. 
- Hyperion plans to build a factory to manufacture small nuclear power modules (they call them batteries). These would be hot tub sized devices capable of producing about 27MW. These have a uranium hydride core surrounded by a hydrogen atmosphere and need to be connected to a steam powered generator. It is supposed to be self regulating with no moving parts. They now claim to have a backlog of $2G worth of orders for more than 100 devices (discussed on Slashdot) and one potential application is in providing power to tar sands oil extraction (which could also reduce green house gas emissions by replacing the natural gas that is used for this today). 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the inspect module. This module can be used for looking inside objects to see their attributes, functions and class pedigree. There is also support for examining the call stack.  
- Google has announced a project to develop a renewable energy system that is cheaper than coal. An excellent idea, and if they just stick to looking at improving the manufacturing costs of some of the recent solar or wind technologies, its an idea that should be readily achievable. 
- Adding an internal Bluetooth module to the ASUS Eee PC. The basis of this hack has also been used to add a 16GB flash drive as well as a Bluetooth module to an Eee. Really, it would make sense for ASUS (or other manufacturers) to include a small empty bay inside the laptop with a couple of USB jacks in it for internal expansion. 
an NT4 Domain to Samba-3
how to demote
a Windows PDC to BDC, also discussed here,
2K4, a distro based on Mandrake (reviewed here), this is a
live-CD sort of thing
a 40GB USB drive that's loaded with a Mandrake Linux that allows you to
take over (and use) any PC with a USB connector. Perhaps this makes
more sense that carrying a laptop between the office and home?
For travel a version of this that fits on a 1GB USB flash device, but
still leaves you some space to work would be good.
The Official SAMBA-3 Howto and
Reference Guide, edited by John H. Terpestra and Jelmer Vernooij, ISBN: 0-13-145355-6,
is a pretty good compendium of information on Samba, it is also available
How to mount
a Windows share from some Windows workstation or server onto your
linux files system so you can work with it from the shell.
A Howto manual for Debian
another desktop distribution
So many bootloaders,
and DVD burning software for Linux
NetDirector is another
configuration management package
Zenoss is another
configuration management and monitoring package
This Slashdot article talks about some other systems
- Google's Pages software may be replaced by JotSpot based software in 2008 - allowing users to set up business sites with intranet, project management tracking, multi-user collaboration and extranet functions. 
- If, when attempting to access a shared drive, you get an error message with the text "Not enough server storage is available to process this command", then you make have a case of KB177078. When this happened to me I was able to get to one administrative share but not another for drives I had just added. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the socketserver module, which is usful in implementing TCP/IP socket server programs.  
- WebFaction are a Python friendly hosting company, they support things like Django and WordPress. They provide SSH shell access and you can install your own applications. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the BaseHTTPServer which gives you the basis for building a custom HTTP server in Python. I have used this in a problem report tracking system for work and in the pictatrove server and the webanno server.  
- CLY is a Python module for implementing interactive command line shells. 
- It looks like the Canadian government is backing off on its plans to introduce a Canadian version of the DMCA - they've probably sensed some of the early outcry and figure they can't afford to loose that many voters. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the zipfile module.  
- Some praise for Pylons over Django. Contrast that to this discussion of
some reasons to prefer Django over TurboGears (using Pylons). 
- The Creative Digital Darkroom by Katrin Eismann and Sean Duggan ISBN: 978-0596100476. A book that looks at how light and shadows can be worked to influence the mood of photographs. 
- Managing RAID on Linux by Derek Vadala, ISBN: 978-1565927308. This might be useful to have, but with a 2002 publication date it is probably in need of an update (the mdadm tool was being introduced about then and I think the 2.26 kernel series had yet to start). 
- Christoph Petermann's site
which includes some use of the Canon G1 to take star pictures
to make a Hartman Mask to help focus the scope with a CCD camera
a astronomical ephemeris/almanac for the Palm Pilot
- The PyMOTW looks at the zipimport module which lets you load and run code that is contained in zip files.  
- Computerworld takes a look at the Samsung 64GB flash drive along with five other drives in a review of the six top hard drives for speed and capacity. 
- 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. 
- Rare genetic mutations are now being identified. Could this be the start of the next era of human evolution?
- A review of the book: The Definitive Guide to Django. 
- Storm SQLAlchemy and Geniusql are performance compared here and here. 
- This article explains how poorly behaved botts may kill (or overload) web servers by making many POST connections and writing into them slowly. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the mmap module which is used to map files directly into memory.  
- Service Pack 3 for Office 2003 will disable support for many older file formats. It looks like this mainly affects the ability to open Lotus and Quattro files, plus PowerPoint files before PowerPoint97, which does not sound like too much of a problem. However, there is also some restriction (see KB938810) on opening older Word files which appears to be to prevent opening of files created by Word 5 and older, as Word 6, 95, and 97 should still open this is probably not too important - Word really did not displace WordPerfect until about Word 6. In a follow up on this, Microsoft has corrected its reason for doing this, and they now say that its not the file formats that are insecure, rather its the code that reads them. 
- The Forerunner 405 is a watch-sized version of the Forerunner 305. While many people are enthusiastic about the smaller size I would actually prefer something that provides a larger display than the 305 - so it is easier to read when running. Consider the original 201/205 form factor was pretty good (its only slightly larger than the 305, now if they installed a display that covered the whole of the surface of a 201 then that would be much more useful. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the weakref module that lets you refer to a large object without preventing it from being garbage collected. These are potentially useful in object caching situations. The article also includes some informative examples on Python's garbage collection system.  
- Google and Facebook have joined DataPortability.org, an association formed to promote the idea that the users of online services should be free to (and provided with tools to) move their data from one online service to another. I guess we'll be seeing another Google API to address this any day now. I would think this issue is pretty significant for online photography sites, not for the photographs (as users are just uploading copies) but for the auxiliary data that is added to the photographs once they are placed online (things like descriptions, titles, comments, rotation, cropping, even just the order of photographs within slide shows). I suspect that for many users the task of recreation of this extra data is preventing them from switching sites. 
- The Intel D201GLY2 motherboard is a mini-ITX board with soldered-on Celeron processor that costs about $80, making it the least expensive mini-ITX solution I know of (Jan'08). SilentPCReview takes a look at the D201GLY and the newer D201GLY2, they ran tests of the board's ability to play HIDEF media (up to 1080p) from files on the hard drive. It was able to handle 720p and 1080p H.264 playback but WMV3 VC-1 encoded files stressed the CPU and there were some dropped frames. Mini-Box has a good performance comparison between a VIA 1.5GHz processor and the Celeron 215 (1.3GHz) processor on the D201GLY, this shows the Celeron solution running at roughly 25W for a full system, versus the VIA solution running at 20W (so the VIA is a bit lower power); however, the Celeron out perfoms the VIA in all benchmarks and often by a 50% to 100% margin. 
- I came across this How to Build a Panoramic Tripod Head article after recently having seen a demo of a professional (I think from Manfrotto) pano head given by a friend of mine. This do it yourself model catches the essence of the professional design and should cost a lot less than the $400 for the real thing. The one thing it is missing is a way to adjust for the position of the len's nodal point by changing the length of the "arm", according to my friend one of the key things to getting professional panos is to get the nodal point of the lens centered on the axis of rotation - unfortunately the nodal position changes with the lens (and on a zoom lens it changes with the focal length) so it can be quite tricky to get this right. However, its supposed to be worth the pain. One approach for the wood mount would be to set up a couple of camera mount points for predetermined focal lengths.  
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the threading module.  
in another revision control system, somewhat like CVS, but with some
functions like the "switch" command which is a version of "update" that
is specialized to work between branches.
- Is Copy Protection Needed or Futile, a debate on the use of copy protection control copying, this also contains some side links to support the observation that the man on the street really does not understand what copyrights are all about anyway. 
- Importing a particular version of a package that is managed by easy_install. 
is an integrated wiki, bug tracker and source code management tool
written in Python
A Slashdot article on source
code/requirements management systems
Silva, is a content
management system (CMS) allowing for the storage, versioning, editing,
review and publication of documents by a team of authors and editors.
The document source is in XML and this allows source fragments to be
reused for various purposes.
a source code management system.
and performance comparison of Bazaar and Mercurial.
discussion of ticket tracking and customer management systems.
- GIT (main
page here) is the revision control
system initially developed by Linus for the Linux kernel (manual page here), he
mentions it briefly in this article. A
talk by Linus on GIT is here,
in which he rants against CVS and SVN (some of which is quite well
deserved) and even Google. Currently it it requires Cygwin to run under
Windows, and as
such, it runs slower under Windows than on a Linux host. GIT gets
here along with a discussion of branch merging in Subversion. A brief
comparison of mercurial and git. Another comparison that
talks about how git's branching is more powerful than mercurial's. GitPython is a Python library that can work with Git repositories, so if you need to do something tedious or complicated there is a chance you could automate it with this and some Python code.
An article that has a quick overview
of many of the modern revision control systems.
open-source (GPL) system for managing software and knowledge projects.
Developer's Almanac is a book (with examples)
on JDK 1.4 but missing Swing, AWT and printing
A Slashdot book review of Java
Performance Tuning, 2nd Ed., an analysis of and guide to
thoughts on managing a open source software project (2-Jul-03)
A favorable review
Visual Quick Start Guide, an introduction to database programming
that includes examples that have been tested on many different systems
(both commercial and free) and explanations about the defects of these
answers the question: how do you manage IT requests in your
A Slashdot review of In
Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters,
a new management bible.
an MIT study
of the software development process
The economic impact of computer viruses, is it time for a
solution to the source?
hires so many PhDs
Man Month (MMM) revisited,
some more on Slashdot. MMM is a great text, well worth a read every few
years. If you do software development of any significant size you'll
find some relevant gems in it, and a lot are of the form we're screwing up that way too! In
a way its reassuring to know that your development approach is not the
worst in the world.
Slashdot reviews: The Product Marketing Handbook for Software,
4th Edition, by Merril R. Chapman, ISBN 0967200865.
A Slashdot review of: Succeeding
with open source, by Bernard Golden, ISBN: 0321268539.
This is a guide for managers and IT people on evaluating open source
free enterprise management software in a box
the black arts of management
a project management system written in Python. Includes version
control, documentation system, scheduling and bug tracking integrated
into a wiki environment. More on using
Construction of high
integrity code, discussed in the article: Correctness by Construction: A Manifesto
for High-Integrity Software
Windows Theory, one man's view of why Vista is behind schedule, discussed here
Project Management, techniques for coping with short schedules. Discussed here
The theory of the "free
electron" programmer. I fully agree with this article, these people
exist, they are pretty rare and they can be difficult to direct and
apply to specific tasks, but once they are engaged on something you
will get more out of them in a few days than you can get from most
programmers in a month. When interviewing new candidates you should try
to see if any of these get caught in your net, look for evidence of
self-motivation in computer projects at an early age, look for people
who've written their own libraries, engines or toolkits. Once you have
one on staff your problem will be keeping them amused and preventing
other project managers from press-ganging them and putting them to
"good use" just fixing bugs.
IT projects either don't finish or are poorly completed, though
this might not be as bad now as it was in the mid 90's
by Michael Loop, ISBN: 978-1590598443,
sounds like it might be worth a read.
There appears to be too
many solutions to choose from when it comes to parallel
programming. Perhaps one should ask: why?
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the hashlib module that combines the original md5 and sha modules and extends them with other hashing algorithms provided by OpenSSL.   
- Could Python have been the cause of the failure of the Chandler project? From some of the other stories about Chandler it seems more likely that it suffered in a major way from the lack of constraints and control at the project/product architecture level. This gets further discussed by Phillip Eby in this article. Chandler finally reached version 1.0 in Aug'08. Chandler provides a combination of note taking, calendar and task management in a shared environment. 
- Canadian songwriters are looking to cut out the middle man (i.e. record companies) altogether and just want $5/month from all high speed internet subscribers to fully legalize file sharing without financial gain. 
- Fabric a remote deployment tool designed to upload files to and run shell commands on a number of servers in parallel. Some notes on using this. 
- The ICANN has voted to eliminate the free trial (domain tasting) period that many scams are being built on. The have also discussed Network Solutions' front running practice (registering domain names automatically under their name whenever someone does a whois search for the name), but have not taken any action on it. An ICANN committee has determined that domain name tasting may be causing problems (probably because of Google's pressure) but that there is nothing wrong with the practice of front running. 
- The HumanCar, for $15K you can have a bicycle built for four. From the description it sounds like it includes additional power assisted drive for when your kids refuse to pedal anymore. 
- MythBusters asks why so many devices have custom battery packs and incompatible chargers. Just try traveling with a computer, a cell phone, a PDA, a digital camera, a PMP and see if you have any room left in your carry on after packing all the chargers for them. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the string module.  
- Gutmann sound wave therapy, the strange tale of the Dutch proximity card billing system and how $2G was spent to produce an insecure system.  
- Ian Bicking writes about what he would like to see in a simple content management system (CMS). 
- Panasonic is working on a sensor that will facilitate high dynamic range (HDR) photography, they do this by getting the sensor to take a sequence of three photographs with three greatly different exposure times and then combining the data. They have been able to expand the dynamic range from 60dB to 140dB with this technique, note that dB scales are logarithmic so this is not a simple factor of 2.3 increase, with each 3dB the linear range is doubled (i.e. an f-stop or factor of 2 change in shutter speed) so that's an exposure range increase of 26 f-stops (or changing from , with this you could probably set up a manual shutter speed and f-stop indoors and then go outside into sunlight and shoot without changing anything and still get a usable photograph. If you hold your f-stop fixed this range is equivalent to changing your shutter speed from 1/8000th of a second to over 8000 seconds. Of course their test sensor is only 177x144 pixels, but there's no reason this sort of technique could not be applied to a modern sensor pretty soon. 
- NASA's guides to wiring, soldering and other assembly processes. Can you make your hacks meet NASA's standards? 
- roundup is an issue-tracking system with command line, web and email interfaces 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 PyMOTW takes a look at the tempfile module.  
- Python's BaseHTTPServer class makes it pretty trivial to build little custom web servers to perform dedicated functions, here is an example to add a web interface to command line tools or scripts. 
- The IDC is finding that IT departments that build projects around open-source solutions are much more successful in successfully completing them. Perhaps this is a case of just reducing the work from a full design and programming effort to a much simpler implement and tweak type task? For example, an IT department might want to build an issue-tracking system, if it designed and built this from scratch this might consume a few man years of effort and result in an unusable monstrosity that, while completed, never gets used. However, there are lots of free, open source, issue trackers that can be configured and put into use in a matter of hours to days (or weeks if the department works hard at it). 
- Solar cell technology that directly produces from hydrogen (without first producing electricity) is being developed. 
- The 2.5 inch Easy Nova Data Box PRO-25UE RFID portable encrypted drive turns out to be pretty insecure (discussed here on Slashdot), seems the manufacturer only implemented an XOR algorithm instead of the claimed AES.  
- Someone managed to patent the idea of scanning checks and storing the images rather than the originals, now they want billions from the banks in the USA.
- UQDS, Ultimate Quality Development System might be too heavy weight for some, so an alternative, XQDS, Xtremely Quick Development System is proposed. One suggestion I would make would be to switch from using Subversion to using a more modern distributed version control system (such as Mercurial) to support this type of work flow. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the pkgutil module, this contains a function that is used to modify the search path for modules.  
- Some detailed notes about how finalizers are called and work in Python. 
- A look at Python suitable for consumption by managers. 
- The ohloh project is an idea that HR and management types might want to apply to monitor the progress of a company's staff and internal projects. 
- CommandLineApp is a module for parsing command line arguments and a base class for command line applications. 
- The Palm has been emulated on an iPhone, what a way to upgrade your Palm. This sort of approach might make sense for the Palm company - just sell a Palm OS emulation package that runs on different hardware packages, leaving the low-margin high-risk hardware development and manufacturing to other companies. 
- The PyMOTW visits the imp module which is used for working with Python's import mechanism.  
- A recipe for modifying the Windows registry that creates simple data files and feeds them to the "reg" command line tool.  
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.
- excrement to energy, a biogas producing digester for the third world (or maybe your Manhattan roof-top loft). 
- A class for extraction and manipulation of data from Microsoft Access.  
- ComputerWorld takes a look at 7 secure USB drives, this is discussed here on Slashdot. 
- 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. 
- Konarka Technologies have developed a solar cell that can be manufactured by inkjet printing techniques all without the expensive requirement for a clean room. As they don't ever mention efficiency one must presume that these are rather low efficiency devices, but if they are inexpensive enough then that's often not a problem. 
- The Devil Framework (from DLevel Software Design) is a framework for configuration, management (data collection, monitoring and control) of a distributed network of systems. This may be applicable to the SCADA system problem, how to collect, process and display a series of events being received from PLCs.  
- The PyMOTW visits the time module.  
- How to stop Google Indexing Your Site a look at some simple errors that could prevent Google's bots from indexing your site. 
- the EB-100 and EB-300 from Netronix (who also manufacture e-ink displays) are a 6-inch and a 10-inch pair of new e-books. 
- How to build The Electronic Post-It Note out of a microcontroller, trackpad and an LCD module. Though for abut 30% more one could buy a Nokia N800 instead, put that wouldn't give you as many experience points. 
- A discussion of how to update the state of controls within MFC programs, including enabling and disabling menu items, by using the ON_UPDATE_COMMAND_UI messages. 
- The Photograph: Composition & Color Design by Harald Mante, ISBN: 9781933952260, is a book that focuses on the theory of design, color, shape and composition in photographs. 
- Calorie-Count.com has a very good food browser with nutritional break downs for many foods. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the datetime module which provides functions for doing date and time parsing and arithmetic.  
- The BBC's Yes, Minister and the followup Yes, Prime Minister are some of the best political satires every to appear on the small screen. Notable quotes from these can be found here, including my favorite about the minutes of meetings:
It is characteristic of all committee discussions and decisions that every member has a vivid recollection of them, and that every member's recollection of them differs violently from every other member's recollection; consequently we accept the convention that the official decisions are those and only those which have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials; from which it emerges with elegant inevitability, that any decision which has been officially reached would have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials, and any decision which is not recorded in the minutes has not been officially reached, even if one or more members believe they can recollect it; so in this particular case, if the decision would have been officially reached, it would have been recorded in the minutes by the officials and it isn't, so it wasn't.
- Sir Humphrey, Man Overboard (Yes, Prime Minister)
- How Apple got Everything Right by doing Everything Wrong discussed here on Slashdot. Handy tips for the evil manager. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the collections module.  
- Sphinx (here at the cheeseshop) is a Python tool to build documentation, typically from source code. A screencast that demonstrates using Sphinx and Doctests. Here is a note on it with some samples. Here is another example of how this is being put to use (including with Latex). Another recommendation for sphinx with sample of the setup. 
- Slashdot discusses on-demand book printing and Amazon's use of it. 
- Ned Batchelder's Aptus is a Mandelbrot set graphics creator written in Python. He ran into problems with display redraw flickering on Windows (but not on the Mac) and discusses a solution using double buffering for wxPython here. It is written in Python with a C extension for speed and uses the wxPython, Numpy and PIL packages. 
- Looking at the performance of various HTML parsers for Python (lxml, BeautifulSoup, html5lib, ElementTree, cElementTree, HTMLParser, htmlfill, Genshi, xml.dom.minidom).  
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the urllib which is used for the client side of access to HTTP resources.  
- The Sony HDR-SR12 is a hard-drive based hi-def camcorder (reviewed here) with a 5M pixel CMOS sensor which is supposed to bring a significant improvement to low-light noise levels. 
- Rambus has won its patent case, which means that it will now go on to attack a number of other memory manufacturers. 
- 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.
cancer scanner looks a lot like it uses one of the scanning wands
used in airport security checks. It may offer a fast, inexpensive, way of
screening for presence of any cancer in your doctor's office. If this is fast,
cheap and efficient it'll never be welcomed by the medical community, they'll
claim something like "it has too many false-negatives to be safe to
Of course the cancer scanning that is currently carried out on all
patients on their regular doctors visits is running about 100% false negatives
right now... That is to say practically everyone who visits a doctor for an
annual medical leaves his office with a false feeling that they are healthy
(i.e. cancer free).
publishes books on-demand, one copy at a time
printing is now possible
The Degree Confluence
Project, still there are many spots left to visit.
Habitat for Humanity
Joel on Software
and project management and the City Desk publishing package
is a source code management system
CVS is another source
code management system, and introduction is here,
and there is an O-Reilly pocket
reference book too.
management for programmers on Slashdot
The world's first man-made
synthetic virus, when will it escape?
plays the ukulele
TVs made of glowing plastic. I wonder why all the emphasis on
making these things roll up (before releasing the technology in to the
market)? Sounds like a smoke screen to hide the fact that there
still something else that needs addressing before these can be
Otherwise why not mount them behind a conventional rigid protective
(such as glass) and then sell them as "hand on the wall" flat screen
(which there is a demand for right now, if the price is right).
Jef Raskin's Humane
Environment for computing
Flugtag, the human
competition will be in San Francisco in Oct 2002
search engines and some
guesses as to how Google functions
is a Windows tool to manipulate the data stream from your DVD drive
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the operator module. This module contains functions that provide the same functions as many built in operators, allowing you to use this operators in places that call for a function object.  
Xlibiris is a
print on-demand publishing house
for motocyclists... making the transformation into Michelen Man.
reports on the industry's recent grief, sounds like it might just be
self-inflicted due to miss-management
vehicles (discussion on engadget)
could become popular tools of terrorists. Given that these can also be
hard for radar to detect, and that they will often fly at very low
altitudes, could they become popular with smugglers? Heck, with a
payload of 110 pounds some of these could already smuggle people.
In 2007 a vending
machine that can print and bind books on demand will be installed
in a number of US libraries, when with Amazon.com start using this to
print books on demand, if they thought about this they could offer you
a choice of a used book, a new (from the publisher) book or a
printed-on-demand book. In fact many low volume titles (like technical
books) would be best done entirely with the print on demand
system. The print on demand system has another potential benefit
for an Amazon, they could set up offices with these machines in major
centres (perhaps partnering with some local retailler) and print and
ship them from a location close to the person who is placing the order,
thus further reducing (or even eliminating - if the purchaser just picks
it up) the shipping costs.
Brother calls for more DNA, a judge in the UK has called for
everyone there to be DNA sampled and recorded. This might come
to an end due to a European Court of Human Rights ruling.
to build a high performance web server
an old manual typewriter to a computer keyboard
- yapsy is a package to manage plug-in extensions. 
- A Micro SD Card video projector, at $99 it'll probably not be much good, but maybe a more serious manufacturer will do this sort of thing with better quality parts. 
- FixedPoint is a pure Python module for manipulating fixed point numbers of essentially arbitrary precision. This includes both basic and transcendental functions.  
- The Dr. Project team writes a bit about some of the other project management systems on the market. 
- A feature list for project management systems. 
- Ultra is suing a number of power supply manufactures over making power supplies with detachable cables. This is a good example of a patent that should never have been granted because it was "obvious to a practitioner of the art". The only reason people were not building "modular" supplies would have been cost - the cost of two extra connectors per cable would have made the supplies more expensive and thus less competitive in a very cut-throat market. In fact, for many years all power supplies did already have one such "modular" cable: the AC power cable. This has been detachable for pretty much the whole history of the modern personal computer to allow a single power supply to be used in different countries by changing the AC cable. Thus, the "prior art" that should invalidate this patent is even built into the device, and even a blind patent examiner should have spotted that art. 
- The 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.  
- Slashdot discusses solar thermal power, described in The technology that will save humanity. This is a rather good summary article on the history and economics of concentrating solar power stations (i.e. things like the power tower) where sunlight is concentrated through mirrors to heat steam to turn conventional steam turbine powered electric generators. It appears that this sort of solar plant could soon be built to produce electricity at a cost of about $0.08-$0.10/kWh, which makes them quite competitive. 
- d9t.gis is a Python package for searching for near addresses, this is specific to German zip codes but that may just be a data set issue. 
- For a science project a German schoolboy, Nico Marquardt, has revised NASA's Apophis asteroid orbit figures to follow what changes might happen if the asteroid hits a satellite when it pases near earth in 2029. This might make the chances of an earth-impact in 2036 much higher, up to 1 in 450.  
- The DataTraveler BlackBox drive from Kingston features a 256-bit hardware AES encryption processor and has been inspected by NIST in the US and the Communications Security Establishment in Canada. I wonder how long it will be before hackers open one up and find there's a trivial way to defeat this drive's security, like so many of the competing products. At $424 for an 8GB drive it would probably make more sense to buy a conventional drive and an ASUS Eee to run TrueCrypt> on it.  
- For those who need privacy while working on their laptops in public places, or who like to surf the web in a park at -20C, or who view life as performance art, how about this knitted privacy screen?  
- CommandShift3 is a user-driven comparison of web site aesthetics, they also have collections of best and worst rated designs. Quite interesting to look through and be sure to do some comparisons to see how your design tastes compare to the rest of the (geek) web. I'm certain vermeulen.ca would loose big time. 
- ikaaro is a Content Management system built in Python. 
- Rumors are circulating that the next step in the ASUS Eee dance will be taken in June'08 with the introduction of an Intel Atom-based Eee. This would improve performance while also increasing battery life, both of which are weak spots for the current 7 and 9 inch Eees. 
and Gromit, some fine, funny animation. A Matter of Loaf and Death will be airing on BBC One around Christmas 2008.
- From Steve Mann, digital
image processing to assemble
higher resolution photos out of a set of low resolution images.
- 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.
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the filecmp module. This is useful for comparing files and directories.  
- 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... 
- Is television the cause of the downfall of modern society? Is it right to be wasting all that time watching sitcoms? What about the man hours lost to the World of Warcraft?  
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the functools module which provides tools for wrapping functions and other callable objects.  
- One Californian has built his own electric car, he converted a eight seat bicycle to be driven by an electric motor and fitted three solar panels to the roof. 
- The WALL-E robot toy looks pretty neat, I wonder how many home robotics projects will start with one of these? Perhaps it can be taught to weed the garden? A short video clip that demonstrates a lot of what it can do is here, unless you want to have a few of these around the house, best to not let your kids see this movie!
- pixie dust derived from the lining of a pig's bladder helped to regrow a finger tip. This may be a hoax, or strange luck but it's certainly the direction most people want this stuff to go. A talk about why we can't grow new body parts. 
- Using Firebug and YSlow to analyze the performance of AJAX applications. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the cmd module, which is used for creating command interpreters. cmd2 provides additional features for the cmd module.  
- High-strength magnetic ball bearings (from TheNeoCube.com) could make for a fascinating toy.  
- The SAP DI Commander IronPython starts to manipulate SAP databases. 
- Jesse Noller asks for suggestions on useful Python video manipulation libraries. 
- Slashdot discusses hacking Canon point-and-shoot cameras, there is now software (called CHDK) that can do this without having to re-flash the camera allowing for safe experimentation. There is now a project to improve the firmware of the Canon 5D Mark II DSLR. There is now a book called The Canon Camera Hackers Manual (ISBN: 9781933952581) for those who would like to read about this.  
suggests hunting for financial patterns. Mandelbrot died in October 2010 at age 85, he will certainly be remembered for the Mandelbrot Set, but he should also be remembered for questioning 20th century financial models.
The Black-Scholes formula in many languages,
Numerical Recipes in C++, byt Bernt Arne Odegaard. Bits of this
have been implemented in Python in the pyFinancials package, announced here.
- Caching RSS Feeds with feedcachetalks about using the feedcache package to better aggregate data from a number of RSS feeds in Python.  
- In Command line programs are classes, too! Doug Hellmann talks about using the CommandLineApp module to write command line applications that are classes. 
- Working with IMAP and iCalendar is an example of extracting calendar information from an email server through IMAP. icalendar is a package for parsing and generation of iCalendar files in Python. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the heapq module which implements a min-heap sort algorithm.  
- Some performance tips for users of MySQL. 
- 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? 
- This article discusses the purpose of the svchost.exe processes (which you can often see lurking on your system in the task manager). An important aspect of these is that they are the host process for one or more Windows services and you can see which services each hosts by using the command line tasklist/svc program or by right clicking on one of the svchost.exe instances in the task manager and then selecting Goto service(s) from the popup menu. A writeup of all the various services is available here. 
- Intel has added an Atom chip to the D945GCLF mini-ITX motherboard, this should improve the CPU performance of the board, perhaps to the point it can play hidef video? It is available here and gets mentioned here along with some other boards (the DG45FC) that might support DVI and HDMI outputs and also here. Discussed here on Slashdot. 
- Jurassic Park is taking its first baby steps, parts of the Tasmanian Tiger have been expressed in a mouse embryo. 
- Oilman T. Boone Pickens has seen the way the wind is blowing and is starting to invest in wind power generation. More information and discussion about this and Picken's push to get a wind power generating corridor built that would provide about 20% of the USA's electric needs. This project ran into a snag in July'09, after placing an order for $2 billion worth of wind turbines they came to realize that getting the power to the grid was going to be too difficult, so are now looking for other places to place the wind turbines when they arrive. So if you want a 400 foot tower in your back yard, give him a call! 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the traceback module which is used to produce detailed error messages with program stack traces. A very handy thing to have in server log files.  
- Intel's Atom processor may not be offering a big performance boost to the low-power market. 
- Using Python to update selected records in a database or using an SQL command to do this. 
- The PyMOTW visits the contextlib module which is used with the new with statement from Python 2.6.  
- GrapeFruit is a pure Python module for manipulation and conversion of the colour information, it supports many colour spaces including RGB, HSL, HSV, YIQ, YUV, CMY, CIE... 
- Fasting may fix jet lag. Perhaps something to try on your next flight, it sounds like a 16 hour fast is about what is needed to trigger the change (in mice), and since food is no longer served on airplanes and you have to get to the airport many hours early you probably only have to start the fast a few hours before leaving your house. Then once you get to your destination have dinner and go to bed. 
- Mantissa: and Alternative to LAMP describes the new Mantissa web stack for the Python Twisted environment. A quick set up guide for Mantissa is here. 
- Google has opened up access to AppEngine and added some new APIs, including one for image manipulation. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the cookie module which provides tools for working with HTTP cookies on a server.  
- ADITAM is a package for distributing and managing tasks across a network. It has two parts, the agent and the core. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the dircache module which caches directory listings and refreshes them when the time stamp on the directory changes.  
- Slashdot discusses office chairs and their suitability for long computing sessions. Some of the suggestionsL
- not all USB flash drives are the same (discussed here on Slashdot. If you are looking for a speedy drive, especially if you need to write a lot of small files, then there can be large differences in performance and probably the only way t ofind a fast one is through tests. Kingston has some documentation about what sort of NAND flash RAM technology it uses in its products, which may be significant if you use a flash drive for something that does a lot of writes (like running an operating system off one). They also mention that flash drives can store data for up to 10 years under normal conditions - something that does not receive much attention. This is particularly troubling as prices for SD cards (the most common format for digital cameras) have dropped to the point (in mid-2008, some are going on sale for $10 for a 2GB card) that one could consider just using them on a shoot once and then file in an album basis and not bothering to transfer the contents to hard disk or DVD media. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the platform module which is used to get access to system hardware and operating system version information.  
- The Eee 901 gets dismantled, in case you're curious. 
- California is trying to restrict user-demanded DNA testing, the real reason might be to prevent people from submitting DNA that is not their own (say an employee or a date's) to see what genetic skeletons lurk. 
- Google's App engine experiences its first significant outage. 
- FireFox version 3 added colour management for photos with embedded ICC profiles, here is how to enable it.  
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the warnings module that is used to deliver/control non-fatal alerts to the user of a program.  
- 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. 
- A huffman encoder and decoder module for Python. 
- The US Bureau of Land Management has just put a freeze in place on applications for large-scale solar power development on the federal lands it manages. Apparently they have a backlog of enough applications to power 20 million homes, which would require about 1% of their land pool to fill, and they are worried about assessing the environmental impact. So was the halt brought about by big oil or the nuclear power lobby? Since they have never actually approved any of the application backlog it appears they have realized they don not need to freeze to prevent development after all and have thus, lifted the freeze. 
- After a successful trial in mice a new cancer treatment based on donating granulocytes (a type of white blood cell) is going to enter human trials. 
- Slashdot discusses the various options available for Linux users who need persistent terminals (where a session stays logged in all the time, to which you can connect and disconnect at will - perhaps as you move from one access point to another). For many years I used VNC to do this at work on a Solaris box - in some cases my session might have persisted for six months or more. A common objection to doing this with VNC appears to be: VNC is a resource hog. In the years of doing this I don't think we ever had a case where VNC was actually to blame (if anything it seems lighter than a regular Solaris X Windows desktop). Rather, there would occasionally be a process that a user started (such as a debugging session or a long running Xemacs) that took too many resources and had to be killed. Typically we had about six people using the same (mid-sized, dual processor) Solaris box working this way and it was quite convenient. 
- The UK has approved a plan to harvest human stem cells from hybrid pig-human embryos. Sounds pretty strange. 
- In this article on the Asus P5W64 motherboard there is a comparison of the on-board ICH7R RAID controller (in RAID 0 and 5 modes) to the Areca ARC-1210 PCI Express RAID controller card. While the Areca has a significant (about a factor of two to three) advantage in RAID 0 mode, it completely blows away the ICH7R in RAID5 write performance. In this case the ICH7R got an average write performance of only 11MB/sec versus the 244MB/sec that the Areca got. The 11MB/sec speed seems rather low, in my experience with an ASUS P5E motherboard using the on-board RAID5 (with 4 drives in the array) I get about 30MB/s, still that's a lot slower than the Areca card gets. 
- Hitachi expects to have a 5TB hard drive by 2010. Better start your downloading now... They have now achieved a recording density of 610Gb / sq. in. which is 2.5 times the current amount (mid-2008) so achieving their claim of 5TB seems pretty likely. 
- The PyMOTW looks at xmlrpclib and the SimpleXMLRPCServer modules.  
- Engadget discusses how to archive DVDs, with to many means ripping them to a large hard drive and compressing them to a more space efficient format (like H.264). 
- gnofract4d is a fractal image generation program (which can view the Mandelbrot set among other things).   
- The Gdium is another webbook soon to enter the 10-inch screen battle. Slashdot discusses it as its running Linux Mandriva. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the base64 module.  
- The MKVToolnix package contains a number of command line and GUI tools for working with MKV files.  
- Slashdot asks is anyone using the Google Web Toolkit? The GWT has been available for about a year and a half now and it does not seem to have been used by many sites outside of Google. 
- dbmigrate is a utility set for managing database migrations. 
- sqlcmd is an SQL command line tool. 
- Many ways to count items in a list. 
- If it ever ships at the promised price of $99 the JL1000 mini laptop from J-PRO (discussed here on Engadget) might actually prove to be a popular webpad device. There is some talk that Linux might be possible on it too. Heck, at that price it's competitive with many digital photo frames... This Slashdot article discusses some similar products. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the uuid module which implements the RFC 4122 system for making universally unique IDs.  
- ComputerWorld takes a look at a number of backup packages. 
- Manipulating the __builtin__ dictionary to insert your own debugging functions and make them globally available without needing imports. 
- SUN's VirtualBox is an x86 virtual machine system capable of hosting 32 or 64 Linux, Windows XP, Vista, 98, OpenSolaris or even DOS. It gets discussed here on Slashdot. I ran into problems with installing Windows 2000 Pro in VirtualBox 2.1.4, what would happen is that the installation would work up to the point you are asked if the machine should be in a workgroup or domain, at this point pressing "Next" should take you to the setting up windows phase, instead the machine just rebooted and that part of the install would just repeat. After reading the manual (imagine that!) for a bit I found section "11.2.2 Windows 2000 installation failures", which suggests issuing the command:
VBoxManage setextradata VMNAME "VBoxInternal/Devices/piix3ide/0/Config/IRQDelay" 1
I shut down VirtualBox, opened a DOS window, changed directory to "C:\Program Files\Sun\xVM VirtualBox" and then issued the command replacing "VMNAME" with the name of my virtual machine. Then I restarted VirtualBox and continued the installation. This time the install completed properly. 
- A technique that uses microwaves to help form lithium iron for use in lithium batteries could result in reduced manufacturing costs. 
- 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 Python MOTW takes a look at the webbrowser module which is handy if you want to pop up some web pages from a script for the user to review.  
- Managing Meetings talks about using red, yellow and green cards to manage the flow of questions from the floor during a meeting. 
- In the evolution of humans, did the discovery of cooking cause our brains to grow or did a bigger brain cause us to crave BBQ? 
- A new theory about the formation of gas giants calls for them to spiral inwards through their solar systems (this explains why so many solar systems are being observed with gas giants in near-sun orbits). If this is correct, then solar systems like ours might be quite rare as the gas giants would naturally tend to sweep up any smaller planets as their orbits gradually shrink. 
- The UK is looking at building a system to store records of every text, email and browsing session that takes place in the UK. Hard disk manufacturers must be happy. 
- How to modify or set an environment variable permanently on Windows from within a Python script.  
- The PyMOTW looks at the signal module.  
- Windows may be falling behind the curve on supporting new technologies, the adoption of a fast booting small Linux system (that ASUS first implemented in some of their motherboard BIOSes) has started to go mainstream with Dell's "Latitude On" system. Dell has taken this a step forward and included a special low power ARM processor that runs the laptop in this mode to greatly extend battery life. 
- Your government may have the the worst computer security. And if you try to point out their problems they might fight back. Another example of government mishandling security: the British National High-Tech Crime Unit had a web site which got linked to by a number of important sites (like the BBC) and then they abandoned it, now a German owns the domain name. 
- Gizmodo takes a look at how the Lego mini-figures are manufactured. 
- PC Hardware manufacturers love piracy, and what about component manufacturers (like hard drives, CD/DVD burners...) and come to think about it - what about all those high speed DSL and Cable providers, without piracy who would need so much bandwidth? 
- Generating side-by-side (SxS) manifest files from native DLLs for registration-free COM. 
- A long open security hole in the border gateway protocol (BGP) has been publicly revealed. This works by convincing a target router to reroute packets to the attacker so he can play man-in-the-middle and other eavesdropping games. 
- Using a virus to reprogram adult cells has been demonstrated in mice. The immediate application seems to be restarting production of insulin by the pancreas, but other applications will surely follow if this works in humans. 
- Sometimes politics, health and market place special interests don't mix well. When Alberta had its mad cow scare (starting in May 2003)the government and majority players in the industry only wanted to tighten procedures somewhat and make sure the appropriate standards were being complied to. A minority voice in the industry argued that 100% of cows should be tested for BSE, regardless of the international or US criteria, and that doing so would help rebuild trust in the product. As the cost of doing this probably was less than $100 per animal it would not have raised prices of the beef greatly. This idea was ignored and it took something like 4 years to get Alberta beef fully shipping back into the US and during this time the industry suffered greatly. Now one American company is wanting to test 100% of their beef that is targeted at some particular markets (such as Japan) and their competitors are using the USDA to stop them from doing this - for fear that other consumers will start to demand the same standards. Beats me why they are worried, all they would have to do is to pass on the increased costs of testing to the consumers who would be willing to pay for the better meat (probably less than $0.50/pound, if the tests were $100/animal and you get 200 pounds of meat from one animal). Of course the conspiracy theory for this is that the producers know they have a problem with BSE and by inspecting 100% of the animals this will soon become obvious... 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the profile, cProfile and pstats modules, which are used for profiling code. 
- How to manipulate the read only (and other) file attribute from within Python. 
- Dell has let loose its Mini 9 (also discussed here on Slashdot), with pricing that start at $349 and climbs to about $499. Time for most of the recent netbooks to get repriced (though the Acer Aspire One and MSI Wind are pretty competitive with this). Engadget has a collection of early reviews of the Mini 9. The Dell service manual for the Mini-9 has been posted online, let the modding being. An unboxing of it here includes some good comparisons with other laptop and small devices to give you a feel of its size. Engadget asks its readers how they would change the Mini 9. The Mini 9 has been hacked to run Apple's OS X, so if you want a mini Mac notebook this might be a route to take. 
- E Ink makes it to the cover of Esquire magazine. One man opens up his Esquire to see how this was done and intends to hack this further. More information about this here. 
- iLovePhotos is a Mac software package that uses facial recognition to manage your photo collection.  
- Some SATA RAID controller card solutions.
Tom's Hardware takes a look at a number of SAS and SATA RAID controller cards.
The HighPoint RocketRAID 3520 SATA RAID controller card.
The Areca ARC-1231ML controller, this review compares it to the Promise SuperTrack STEX6850 and the ICH9R (Intel chipset solution that is often found on motherboards) controllers. Unfortunately they only examined RAID-0 and RAID-1 performance so did not find much in the way of differences. A comparison of nine Serial ATA RAID 5 adapters dates from 2005 but goes into a lot of details, including looking at differences between the CPU-hosted and on-board processor approaches.
- keas.kmi implements a NIST SP 800-57 compliant Key Management Infrastructure (KMI). 
- HotHardware reviews four of the current (Sept'08) SSD hard drives from OCZ, Super Talent and Mtron. With prices now reaching $200 for a 64GB unit (for the lower performance drives) these are becoming more relevant to the regular consumer. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the built in exceptions module and now that Python 2.5 deprecates string exceptions it is probably time to convert any lingering string exceptions over.  
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the anydbm module which provides access to DBM-style databases.   
- A good write up on the various commands that can be used in DOS batch files. 
- This article: Benchmarking hardware RAID vs. Linux kernel software RAID, shows that a high end RAID card can outperform a software implementation of RAID5 by about a factor of two (from about 150MB/s to 300MB/s write speeds with 6 disks) using an AMD X2 2.2GHz CPU. They also mention that XFS has some performance advantages over ext3 when used on a RAID disk set. 
- Germany is working on cleaner coal fired power. 
py_sg is a library for sending commands to SCSI devices (on Linux) from Python.
ieee754bin is a module for manipulating floating point numbers at the bit level. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the imaplib a module that implements IPAM4 client communication functions.  
- This article argues that project managers should be evaluated on the performance of the projects they manage. 
- The State of Kentucky managed to seize control of 141 domain names, may of which were hosted off-shore. 
- The Tech Report asks Can a sub-$100 graphics card get the job done? They take a look at power consumption, temperature, cooling fan noise, game and Blu-ray video performance on a number of low-end Nvidia (like the 9600GT) and ATI cards (like the Radeon HD 4670) and find almost all of them will do the job. Further discussion on Slashdot here. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the mailbox module which can be used for accessing the contents of local mailbox files.  
- A short script to modify the Windows registry to switch the Python command file associations between Python versions. And another script to search the registry. 
- madpy is a new content management system. 
- Vehicle to grid (V2G) is an idea to allow the electric grid to use electric cars as a power source during peak demand times. Researchers at the University of Delaware are conducting V2G trials for The City of Newark. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the smtplib which is used to implement a simple message transfer client.  
- The Drools Solver can be used to solve some types of constraint-based problems such as planning problems like lesson and exam scheduling. 
- phprpc a project to implement a Perfect High Performance Remote Procedure Call client and server for use over the internet. 
- The RapidSSL certificate from SERVERtastic is pretty easy to purchase. The process seems a bit backwards in that you pay for the certificate before entering any of the necessary details. After you take this leap of faith they then email you a link to processed with entering the details about your website for the certificate. You will also need to be able to generate a CSR (certificate signing request) and paste that into their form, for this you will probably need to have OpenSSL installed. They do supply the necessary commands to type to generate the CSR in their help pages. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the trace mode, this causes the Python interpreter to output what it is doing. 
- The FCC has now approved a free wireless band. Engadget has more on this change of position. 
- The Alaris 30 Desktop 3D Printer would be a great way of creating small custom project cases, of course its probably super expensive as no price is mentioned and the supplies won't be cheap. But in another 5 years perhaps? These devices could be used to make small metal parts through the lost wax process, so they are potentially a game-changing device in the design to manufacturing world. 
- The RIAA has settled in one case for only $200 per song instead of the $9250 they usually demand. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the smtpd module for implementing SMTP servers. This way to the land of spam.  
- Slashdot discusses open source hardware, in particular the Arduino controller project (which was featured in this Wired article). 
- An example of using Chaco to produce an interactive graph to show a simulation of the Van Der Waal's Equation. 
- Some more views on using the ZODB, in ZODB-LESS ZOPE the author reports on bad performance with the 2.7 series of ZODB. This article mentions problems with query performance when their database hit 30K objects. 
- XDepth 48 is an attempt at moving JPEGs to 16 bits per color (i.e. 48 bits per pixel). This would be a very good thing as it would allow camera manufacturers to build systems to capture a greater dynamic range (without having to resort to RAW formats).  
- In Stop Doing Things That Don't Work the author takes issue with VPS hosting. It appears his experiences have been tainted by VPS vendors that are running some form of "easy managed" VPS environment. Solutions such as Linode.com exist that do not suffer from this issue. 
- The German Foreign Ministry is migrating its desktops to OSS. By doing this they figure on reducing their maintenance costs from about 3000 euros per desktop to 1000 euros per year. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the struct module which is used for working directly with binary data.  
- An unusual approach to log file parsing talks about formatting log file messages as actual commands that can be executed. The result of this is that a log file might even be a full Python script that you run to analyze. 
- Stretching before exercising can actually impair your performance. The correct thing now seems to be to do some short (5-10 minutes) aerobic (but low-intensity) activity followed by some "dynamic stretching" activity (crab walks, spiderman on the pavement, or re-enacting the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks skit). I suspect a few minutes of Tai Chi would probably count as dynamic stretching too. 
- Netbooks have hurt Windows profits, Microsoft is finding it hard to monopolize the low-end market because the cost of their Windows license is a significant part of the overall machine cost. This is something that anyone who has tried to build a low-cost "appliance" type machine (like a NAS device) based on Windows knows quite well. Typically you can buy all the new hardware you need for a few hundred dollars, and then the $140 or so for an XP license is close to half the cost of the hardware making you think strongly about using Linux instead. It looks like the netbook manufacturers are getting their XP licenses for something like $50, which means that on a $250 machine Microsoft is still 20% of the total, leaving little room for profit. The sudden development of the netbook market has taken Microsoft by surprise, its increasing size and popularity due to the typically lower price point is seen as threatening to erode the sales of traditional laptops and desktop systems and thus reduce Microsoft's profits. What Microsoft is not considering is that many of these netbook sales are going to people who are adding a second or third computing device, and who are only doing so because of the tempting price, so it is likely this new market is not eroding the traditional markets to the degree that Microsoft fears. In fact, if Microsoft were to extend its reduced price XP license some more it might find XP showing up in other low-cost devices like NAS boxes and set-top media players where Linux (thankfully) has a near total monopoly. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the array module which can be used to handle sequences of fixed types of data.  
- Another possibility for a Linux-based NAS machine would be to use unRAID from Lime Technology, their hardware compatibility page is here. This is reviewed by SmallNetBuilder and here is another approach. unRAID is somewhat like RAID-4 in that it uses a single parity disk, but it also does not stripe the data across multiple disks. This causes it to loose some potential performance due to the lost striping, but it provides some important gains in flexibility. You can upgrade existing data disks much faster (as the only data regeneration is to reload the contents of the replaced disk) and there are fewer limitations on the sizes of the individual disks. There is a long support thread on the LIMEtechnology unRAID product here. A video review of unRAID can be found here, they gloss over some of unRAID's biggest advantages: it can make a fault-tolerant array out any random assortment of IDE and SATA drives (they don't have to be all the same size, this also allows you to easily upgrade old (small) drives by just unplugging them and replacing them with a larger new drive) and if you have the bad luck of having two drives die at the same time the data on the other drives in the array is still usable (which is not the case for RAID-1 or RAID-5). Another video on unRAID, this goes through reasons for using it and a full build, further discussion here. 
- 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.
- A look at the performance of the first beta of Windows 7 shows little to no change over Windows Vista and also shows that it appears to be a relatively minor tweaking of Vista. 
- Genes many work differently than currently thought, they might be a lot more complex. 
- 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. 
- Proteins that control the evolution of organisms have been discovered. How long before athletes start taking these in the search for better performance? 
- Research into research findings has found that many published findings are false. 
- A report on the Nikon D3 with some nice examples of low-light performance. 
- The Meggy Jr RGB is a small game platform based on the Arduino. This is a kit that you solder together and then write the code for. Steven Read has built a Donkey Kong clone that runs on this. 
- The PLoP Boot Manager can be used to select different operating system installations to boot from. It can be started from harddisk, floppy, USB, CDROM or a network location. 
- SUN is adding support for Python to NetBeans, including an editor with code folding, semantic highlighting and other goodies. 
- Monitoring Hard Disks with SMART talks about using the smartctl utility from the smartmontools package that is included with many Linux distributions to monitor the health of hard drives. 
- 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. 
- At last, a leisure suit that will never get wet (no matter how many drinks get split on it), well currently just the fabric has been made and its based on nanotech. Another company is going to produce swim-wear that does not get wet. 
- The Linksys WRT54GL is a Linux-based wireless router (the wireless section can be disabled if you just want a wired router) that is well supported by a number of open source projects:
Tomato the manual is here. This installs very easily over the original Linksys firmware, just download and unpack one file then go into the administration section of the interface and upload the new firmware.
A Botnet Worm has been identified that targets modems and MIPS-processor routers based on Linux (such as the OpenWRT, DD-WRT or Tomato firmware). Discussed here on Slashdot. It looks like power cycling the device will clean it, but then you should also change passwords and disable any administrative access from the WAN (which is how it gets infected - though presumably if you have WiFi enabled it could get infected from that network too). 
- A long discussion of one man's crusade to stop spambots that scan his web site. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the readline module which provides an interface to the GUI readline library.  
- SKI*GO (also SKI*GO Canada) makes ski waxes, including some for cold conditions on hard (aggressive) snow. Their Racing Universal wax (90245) is a high fluoro kick wax for all snow except new snow, to be applied in 4-6 layers. This is supposed to be good on man-made snow (such as we have at the Canmore Nordic Center - CNC), see their racing wax table. I have used this wax at temperatures from -25C to +3C at CNC with very good results, this includes the CNC's Lynx trail (which is an intermediate, heavily groomed, man-made snow trail) and Banff and Bow trails (which are mostly natural snow), on all these trails I can stride up all the hills with it. This wax also appears to work well (perhaps with slightly less grip) on new snow.
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the gzip module which is used to read and write compressed files.  
- Buy This Image is a website widget for selling your images online. 
- Doug Hellmann (the PyMOTW author) takes a look at moving the PyMOTW to a public code repository, which these days, also means reviewing the revision control tool. He takes a look at svn, mercurial, bazaar and git. 
- Slashdot discusses an ExtremeTech article which presents a performance study of Intel's current crop of quad processor CPUs (including the old Q6600 and the newest Core i7 chips). Looks like about 30% is the improvement you could get by spending 2 to 3 times as much as the $200 a Q6600 goes for. And if you are looking for faster video transcoding its probably still better to wait for a good GPU implementation to appear. 
- An extended Programming Mantra. 
- python-serpente is a Roman numeral encoder and decoder. 
- The US auto industry is waking up to the demand for electric vehicles and also has started to realize that the most expensive component, the battery, is not made in the USA. Naturally, they now want a government handout to rectify the situation... 
- Why the Emacs editor is still the favorite of many programmers. 
- This Slashdot article on man in the middle attacks with SSL certificates has some interesting (and rather disturbing) commentary on the state of "trusted" SSL certificates. It appears that at the moment little (if no) validation is being done by some of the trusted authorities. 
- How to Photograph Mixed Light talks about taking photographs at dawn or dusk with a mixture of both natural and artificial light (which are at very dissimilar colour temperatures). This can be used to good effect in pictures of houses to create an inviting warm glow. The only real tricks to this are that there is only a relatively narrow window of time (about 10 minutes) and that you may need to manually set your camera's white balance to "sunny" (which will cause the blues of the sky and the yellows of the artificial light to get intensified). 
- 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). 
- Seagate's Free Agent Theater HD (available in a few versions) is another hard drive media player solution, starting at $129. The demo video gives an example of the use of the device for showing photo slide shows, performance looks pretty good.  
- Research towards getting the immune system to fight cancer on demand. 
- The NVIDIA Ion platform may bring us some new, higher-performance, single board systems capable of playing most forms of video. 
- Why Google Employees Quit makes it sound like many was just cast adrift - despite the long Google Interview Process. 
- Paver is an alternative to Make, this tool is written in Python. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the compileall module that is used to compile Python code to byte code.  
- Full disk encryption is expected to drop in price (to near zero) and become available on most new drives, but when? With this approach a drive must receive the appropriate password before it will load any data, so you end up entering the password before the computer starts to boot. But what happens if you forget the password? Will you be able to overwrite the old disk with a new data set using a new password, or is the drive rendered inoperative to protect the encrypted data on it? Or, is there an administrative password you can enter to reset the user password? Or do you have to ship it back to the manufacturer to be unlocked? Or is there even a secret back door - say for customs to use? This gets discussed here on Engadget and here on Slashdot.  
- One of the pitfalls that can await companies that use consultants to do work on their projects without the proper copyright agreements in place. 
- Were early humans in Malaysia 1.8 million years ago? 
- RFID passports have been cloned (discussed here on Slashdot) through a war driving rig. What would he have got if he had just parked in the airport parkade for an hour? He points out that one of the potential issues with the widespread use of RFID tags (for things like drivers licenses and credit cards) is that it would allow the movements of individual people around a city to be easily recorded - just set up these RFID scanners at choke points (office tower front doors, subway station entrances, parkade pedestrian access and car entrances etc.) and you can now track the movements of individual people - and with access to one of the RFID databases (like the driver's license information or a credit card database) one can find out who went where and when. Of course this could be very handy for generating an initial list of possible suspects, so expect banks to have RFID scanners at their doors - and to detain anyone who tries to enter the bank without an RFID tag on them... Another attempt at gathering passport numbers via RFID is discussed here on Slashdot.  
- An article on using the new "with" statement and the contextmanager decorator. 
- In this article about tools for writing technical documentation, a process (used in the making of the PyMOTW series) for writing articles that end up as HTML or PDF files and which include code fragments and the output they produce is described. 
- An ATM flash mob managed to steal about $9 million from ATMs in 49 cities around the world in a 30 minute coordinated attack. Of course, with that many people involved someone is bound to slip up, get caught and then spill his guts... By Nov'09 it appeared that this case had been cracked. 
- This set of articles takes a look at the various major DVCS systems (Git, Mercurial and Bazaar), and comments on relative performance and features. 
Star Wars: The Clone Wars, with all the effort Lucas is pouring into this thing you would think he could hire some animators that can actually make humans walk and run naturally.
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the pwd module which is used for reading user data from the UNIX password database.  
- The new (and expensive) Intel X25-M flash drives have been bench marked with very fast write speeds, but these appear to fall substantially after the drive has been in use for some time. Discussed here on Slashdot. Intel says this is not so. Intel has investigated these claims and found the cause and issued a firmware update that addresses the issue (and also suggests the possibility that these drives are actually even faster internally, but are limiting their speed for marketing reasons). Another round of firmware updates in Oct'09 had some problems. 
- Michelin and Valeo are working on e-wheels, these are a full electric drive and suspension system built into the wheel allowing for a simpler electric car design. I wonder if these will refuse to roll if another manufacturer's tires are mounted on them. 
- The US economic stimulus package contains billions to stimulate the US battery manufacturing industry. 
- A few more good articles on the world of high finance, including hedge funds and what is wrong with modern risk management. 
- Decorators can be used to provide some aspect oriented programming features to Python. This example shows how to do this with decorators and context managers. 
- 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. 
- Palm has released a webOS Mojo SDK Tutorial for those who want to learn about application development for the new Pre. 
- A rather amusing automatic sandwich maker, the bread "auger" works quite well for extracting slices from the loaf, but the cheese dispenser needs more work. 
- Manufacturing costs of solar cells from First Solar (FSLR) reached $1/Watt in March 2009 (discussed here on Slashdot), establishing a new benchmark in low-cost solar power (especially compared with silicon-based solar cells at about $3/Watt). 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the asyncore module, an asynchronous I/O handler.  
- The Touch Book from Always Innovating is to be an ARM powered unit with a detachable touch screen. The screen part can be used as a tablet when detached, so maybe it is more appropriate to say it has a detachable keyboard? Supposed to be available in the spring of 2009 starting at $299. A more detailed write up on this. In July'09 this started production and should ship in August, they are pricing it a $299 for the screen (with brains) and another $99 for the clip on keyboard. This appears to now be shipping (Sept'09) and can (if you dare) be magnetically stuck to your fridge door - just don't slam the door too hard! 
- Pimdox is a personal information manager and documentation system that will build a static website from text files. 
- pki is a toolkit for managing X509 certificates and RSA keys. 
- A pair of economists are claiming patent and copyright laws kill innovation and are costing the economy. But they keep so many lawyers employed... 
- The bitstring package provides easy manipulation of strings of binary data. The project home page is here. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the asynchat module which is used for building asynchronous network communications protocols.  
- A dutch man has built his own solar panel for less than commercial equivalents.  
- In 2009 the US electric car industry received a $2.4G stimulus package, most of which was directed towards battery manufacturing. 
- A short sampling of companies that are designing continuous monitoring systems for the human body.  
- blist is a list-like type that has better performance that the standard Python list type in most cases. It is built around a B+Tree. 
- This Slashdot article asks about how to get a prototype circuit board built. Turns out there are quite a lot of circuit board manufacturers that offer low volume (typically about a 3 board minimum) one-off production services. These include:
As well, some suggestions on other prototyping sources (cases, plastics, machine parts) were made. 
- The Unlden-Swallow is a project to accelerate CPython, it will also be making an attempt to remove the GIL. Discussed here on Slashdot and here on ars technica. 
- AnandTech takes a critical look at SSD drives in early 2009, including two interesting surprises, that all SSDs will slow down (some very significantly) with use and that performance on small random writes is making most of the drives behave poorly as Windows system drives. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the pipes module which is use to create command pipelines. This can be used to tie together commands that write their output to specific files, not just those that use stdin and stdout.  
- Python's module look up system may have a large performance impact, especially if you have a lot of eggs in the system 
- The PeaPod is a neighborhood electric vehicle with about a 30 mile range, a short video clip of it is here and a photo gallery is here. They are talking about a $12K price for this which might produce a lot of demand as most of the other electric car solutions are much more expensive currently. While some might call this a golf-cart, it really shows a lot of thought about providing a fresh solution to short-trip driving (which is what the majority of miles probably are). Some of the steps they have taken to reducing weight (and increasing usable space) like the "thin seats" are quite clever and very appropriate. I'm not thrilled about the massive sunroof though, that's going to get quite hot in the summer - to the point of needing air conditioning. 
- Being Human might be good.
- Wired writes about the many civilian uses that nuclear bombs have been put to. 
- A scathing test of small windmills, the Dutch put a number of small windmills (1m to 4m designs of various types) to a year-long real test to see what they would actually produce. Discussed here on Slashdot. The study may have been somewhat flawed as the average wind speed at the site was only 3.8m/s (13.7km/hr or 8.5mph) which is considered by many to be too low for wind power generation. That said, their large windmill did produce useful amounts of power in the same conditions for a reasonable cost ($1.71/kWh over one year, so if amortized over 10 years would provide power for about $0.18/kWh). 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the new multiprocessing (part 1) module. And in part 2 looks at communication between processes with multiprocessing. And also takes a shot at implementing MapReduce with multiprocessing.  
- Do expensive running shoes actually help, or are they causing injury by modifying the way we run? Discussed further by many sedentary geeks here. Maybe something like the FiveFingers (should really be the FiveToes) from Vibram is what one should use? A paper published in 2001 looks at Barefoot Running. Wired kicks up on the barefoot running thing, the Vibram FiveFingers while looking like something that could cause a lot of blisters on the heel, are quite nice, but don't try to do more than a half a kilometer in them for your first couple of sessions (you'll get sore Achilles tendons on the following days if you do). 
- A Spanish team have managed to identify a parasite that is wiping out honeybees and they have successfully treated infected hives. 
- Slashdot discusses the Future of Financial Mathematics. Which has some links to articles about the flawed math behind the 2008 market crash, including Long-Term Capital Management and What Economic Crisis? 
- The next wave of netbooks might be powered by ARM processors as this would allow their power consumption to be greatly reduced, but this would also force manufacturers to stick with Linux as the operating system. There are some hints that Microsoft (in a strange echo of Windows NT's distant past when it could also run on the DEC Alpha and PowerPC chips) might make a version of Windows 7 that would run on ARM to address this. I find it more plausible that Microsoft would just try to push Windows CE into that role instead. 
- In My Manhattan Project: How I helped build the bomb that blew up Wall Street Michael Osinski talks about the software that was used to assemble sub-prime loans into tasty morsels that the market gorged on until it had a heart attack. Discussed here on Slashdot. 
- A hand-held coil-gun that can be battery powered. A guide to building your own. 
- One man finds that after a year of using Python he no long finds himself slipping back to Lisp. 
- A curious tale of a performance issue with IronPython, this appeared when a class variable (such as an object instance counter) was being modified. 
- BPA has been found to leach out of polycarbonate plastic water bottles. 
- The IdeaPad S12 from Lenovo pushes the envelop for the netbook market with its 12 inch 1280x800 display (driven by an Ion chip set), but if you don't mind the larger size and slight increase in weight it would be quite attractive at $449. A preview of this unit with some videos that demonstrate gaming and HD video performance, and a $499 price tag. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the json module in Python 2.6.  
- The Arduino controller is even showing up in amateur unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) like this BlimpDuino. The Paparazzi Project seeks to create an open-sourced autopilot system. 
- Guido takes a look at a couple of books aimed at beginners to Python. There is also a Slashdot review of Hello World!. Doug Hellmann takes a look at Hello World! too. 
- How Windows 7 behaves with respect to hard disk and SSD performance. 
- SGI's Performance Co-Pilot (PCP) is an open-source system monitoring, measurement and visualization tool which can be used from Python. 
- Some reviews and sample footage from the Canon VIXIA HF200 (a HiDef 1080i/p capable camcorder with SDHC flash card storage).
, this got down converted to SD. Probably about 300W of incandescent to illuminate a kitchen and dining area.
- Day and night, this was shot with the HF20 (which is the same thing as the HF200, except with some built-in flash storage), the day time shots are in a cactus garden, so there is a lot of sharp detail visible. It also gives you some idea of the depth of field on closeups. The night time views were probably shot during and after sunset. So provide a range of lighting levels. There also appears to be some use of the built-in video light to illuminate a child in the foreground of some of the shots.
- A discussion on low light performance on the AVForums.
- A positive review from infoSync. This one likes the low light performance:
Not only were video clips sharp and highly detailed, but noise levels were also minimal across the board, even in low light. In fact, there were some instances where we preferred the Vixia HF20's low light performances to the formidable Canon Vixia HF S10's.
and provides a few still samples of the low light performance.
- Camcorderinfo.com's review finds low light performance to be poor. It appears that the previous model (HF11) had a larger sensor and could reach 50 IRE in about 1/2 the illumination of the HF20.
- More advances in the growing of stem cells, this time a safer way of creating pluripotent stem cells from human stem cells. 
- Some more insights on Google's page ranking algorithm and the human input to it. 
- An explanation of what the twisted txAMQP library is used for. Turns out this is a form of messaging middleware used in large business applications. carrot is another AMQP implementation for Python. The Electric Duncan waxes poetic about txAMQP in a three part discourse: part 1, part 2, part 3. Some more discussion about AMQP and the Python py-amqplib module, apparently JPMorgan Chase was the original developer of AMQP and Goldman Sachs is involved too. 0MQ is a similar (but simpler) thing. 
- An old article on the manufacturing cost of prescription drugs. 
- Python Threading is Fundamentally Broken, the GIL gets examined in detail and is found to encounter significant performance issues on multi-core CPUs when threading is used. More followup on this comparing CPython to Stackless. And another round of followup on this. This article (referenced in one of the comments) shows how raising the sys.checkinterval to a value much larger than the default of 100 can greatly improve the situation. However, it still does not allow a multiprocessor machine to solve a problem in half the elapsed time by using two threads at once instead of a single thread. 
- The Palm Pre might be off to a good start with independent developers, with the root image of webOS leaking out, also here on Engadget. Apparently flashing new firmware onto the Pre is quite simple. A NES emulator and Doom have been ported to the Pre. Unfortunately Palm says the webOS SDK will not be available until the end of Summer - this reminds me of the early Amiga days when the ROM Kernel Manuals were a long time coming. Despite the lack of an SDK some developers have figured out how to install applications on normal Pre phones. Installing small apps can apparently be done through email. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the gettext module which is used for maintaining message text catalogs to aid in internationalization of programs.  
- A command line program for sending email. 
- A useful chart of how many calories are consumed while cycling at different speeds, on the flat, without wind and in an upright position. 
- The Guardian newspaper in the UK is looking to use crowd sourcing to dig up the dirt on MP's expenses (discussed here on Slashdot). A proposal to do something similar in the USA. This article goes into some depth about how they accomplished this and were able to role it out in a very rapid manner using Django (a powerful Python-based web framework) and Amazon's EC2 cloud of servers. 
- Python Exception Handling Techniques by Doug Hellmann is a good discussion of Python exception coding. 
- Some US Senators are looking into the cell phone exclusivity deals that are common in North America between carriers and cell phone manufacturers. Here's hoping they find this to be anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior and then this spills over to Canada. 
- The PyMOTX takes a look at the robotparser module that is used to parse the robots.txt file.  
- In 2009 the rise of digital photography finally lead to the death of Kodachrome film. For me Kodachrome died when the 25 ASA version was discontinued back in (I think) the 1980's, though I did keep shooting with the 64 ASA version for many years. 
- It looks like there are three basic human groups after all. However, it looks like the genetic changes that differentiate us are not simple as previously thought. 
- Laser activated brain cells have been created by splicing genes from light-sensitive algae into human brain cells. While this is being used to study brain function I can't help but think this would be useful for interfacing sensory implants. 
- An HIV Vaccine is to begin its first human trials soon. 
- A similarity between the genetic faults behind both schizophrenia and manic depression has been found. 
- One man finds he does not like Google's App Engine. 
- Running the command line version of VisualStudio (devenv.exe) from SSH in a cygwin environment to do automated builds on a Windows machine. This can run into trouble with Windows account permissions, and one possible solution is to have SSH run commands under the system account. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the abc module, which is used to make an abstract base class.  
- The PyMOTW takes a look at Python's support for file access, this is a brief overview of finding and using files.  
- Not content with breeding fat mice scientists are now introducing genes from bacteria into mouse livers to convert fat to carbon dioxide. These genes have also been introduced into cultured human cells and found to do the same thing. What happens is an alternate metabolic pathway is introduced which prevents fats from being converted to sugars (for possible storage), rather they are converted directly to CO2. Now what happens to the energy produced by this? Do the cells get hot? Do Eskimos have this ability? 
- Bill Gates has bought and put the Feynman physics lectures on line. 
- The takeown command for taking ownership of files. This was in the Windows 2000 Resource Kit and now its in the standard Vista installation. 
- In Trapped in Python Package; Send Food Jesse Noller talks about difficulties with Python package installations (primarily on OS/X and Fedora Linux) and how virtualenv can help address them. He also takes a look at building a python megapack package with all manner of useful things in it. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the urllib2 module. This includes a number of additional references at the end of the article.  
- Amazon has messed up on the Kindle's management of content a couple of times now, which is annoying some people. Amazon has apologized for how it handled the issue of forcing the return of copies of 1984. 
- transaction is a transaction management package for Python, mainly used for ZODB. 
- The SpinVox voice message to text conversion system is often done by real humans. Imagine... Of course, they should really just request a copy of the NSA's transcripts on your behalf to really cut their costs. 
- The Canadian government is taking another run at the DMCA, this time they are consulting the public before drafting the bill. The MPAA is making its views known on this through its Canadian arm, the CRIA. THey held a town hall on this and it was packed by the recording industry to make sure their views were the only ones heard. The public consultation is due to end on Sept 13. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the various tools available for text processing in Python.  
- Slashdot discusses the rise of computer-driven high frequency trading systems which might (in 2009) be accounting for on half of all stock market trades. 
- Blackboard may have lost their patent on learning management systems. 
- An article about software process improvement which adds discussion of a number of partial failures that software projects commonly experience. 
- A study by Siemens of the whole bulb life cycle (from manufacture to disposal) is showing that LED and compact fluorescent bulbs are now about equal in energy usage. They expect that LEDs will continue to improve in the future so should eventually use less total energy. 
- A look at the various package managers that are available for Windows. 
- The PyMOTW looks at the various in-memory data structures that are available in Python.  
- One of the problems with nuclear power is the cost of decommissioning a power station at the end of its life, looks like many old stations are just sitting idle in limbo because the costs to do this have risen and the companies responsible for it no longer have the money to do so. 
- Windows 7 adds support for booting from virtual hard drives (hard disk images stored in VHD files). Some articles on this are:
- The PyMOTW looks at the pydoc module.  
- Gene therapy has been used to grow new fovea in a woman who was nearly blind from birth. 
- Google has opened up access to a about a million public domain books in both PDF and EPUB formats. Their main site is books.google.com. Google is offering its scanned books to rival stores. It will also be teaming up with On Demand Books to print single copies as needed. Microsoft is calling the Google Books deal an illegal joint venture. It looks like the DoJ is not going to allow the settlement to pass without some changes being made. 
- Topaz Adjust is an image enhancement tool, for manipulation of exposure, detail and color balance.  
- Fatty foods may affect memory and exercise performance. Better resist those doughnuts. 
- How many cores will our CPUs get in the future, and why don't we already have 1024 core based machines. This article blames the lack of applications that can use multiple cores. 
- How BACKBLAZE makes their own storage servers and manages to fit 67TB into a 4U rack mount case for a fraction of the price that others do it. Discussed here on Slashdot. The unRAID Server Community Forum is interested in this and has tracked down suppliers for some of the parts used in these servers. The custom cases are built by Protocase and are available to other customers. 
- It looks like H1N1 might be just one small mutation away from being very nasty. Discussed here on Slashdot. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the fractions module which implements a class for working with numbers in rational form.  
- An overview of the state of cloud computing in mid-2009. At the low end RackSpace's offerings are price competitive with the Linode service (reviewed here by Dr. Dobb's, who also take a bit of a look at the Linode management API. 
- Digital Personal Property, sort of DRM for the common man? 
- Could the next power station be built in your basement? That's what a German power company called Lichtblick is working with Volkswagen to do. The idea is to put small co-generation (i.e. electricity and heating) plants in homes, then the home can use the waste heat for hot water and space heating making the overall efficiency of the plant almost 100%. Since each plant is only capable of about 20kW lots of them would be installed throughout the city and controlled remotely by the power company to respond to the grid load. 
- In Utah its TGIT instead of TGIF as they experiment with a 4-day long work week for state workers. So far the program appears to be a success, for workers, management and even customers (complaints are down at the DMV office). And how about a three day work week instead. 
- DFI will be releasing a motherboard that contains two systems, a conventional socket 775 Pentium system and an Atom-ION low power system, on the same motherboard. They also include a built in LAN and switch (so the two can communicate without additional hardware) and a KVM and USB port switcher. The general idea is that you can keep the low-power system always powered up to do long downloads and provide network services, and save on your power bills by only having the high-performance system powered up when needed. 
- Silicon Ink solar cells from JA Solar and Innovalight are supposed to be less expensive to manufacture and deliver up to an 18% conversion efficiency. Initial commercialization expected in 2010. 
- Gravitational currents can be used to reduce fuel requirements for interplanetary space travel. The downside of this is that travel times get much longer, though this technique could be used for freight shipments instead of human travel. 
- Paraplegic rats have been trained to walk again, there appears to be a local control system in the lower spine that will move the legs, even with a damage spine. However the brain cannot control this, so its not a "cure". I wonder how much of our daily repetitive tasks are also handled in a similar manner: locally controlled with only minor supervision by the brain? Perhaps walking, running, climbing stairs or even things like touch typing? 
- Modern SATA hard drives are built to a set of standard block sizes which are available from a number of manufacturers. This generally makes replacing a failed drive in a RAID array (where the exact drive size must match) quite easy. However, some recent motherboard "features" may actually reserve some space on the hard drive to store a copy of the BIOS for backup purposes. When this happens the motherboard sends special commands to the hard drive to tell it to change its reported size so that regular operating system partitioning software will not see the reserved area (the so called Host Protected Area - HPA). This issue was discussed here when it showed up on some Gigabyte motherboards to do with their Virtual Dual BIOS. If you connect several drives to one of these motherboards you may find that only one of them gets its size changed (probably the one on the lowest numbered SATA port), so even identical drives may no longer be identical. 
- A human trial of neural stem cell therapy has been approved, this will take place on only 12 ALS patients. 
- How to use GNU Screen to run and monitor many things at once. Another tutorial on using Screen. 
- An 800 megapixel view of the night sky roughly as the human eye can see it. 
- The ACER Aspire Revo is a nettop computer built around the NVIDIA Ion chip set for improved video performance. At $199 it is a pretty low-cost system. 
- the HP Mini 311 is an ION-based, large (11-inch screen and 3.2 pound weight) netbook that has much-improved graphics performance. 
- PhotoSketch is a tool that will search for and combine elements from photographs in accordance with your hand drawn sketch instructions. Discussed here on Slashdot and mentioned here on Gizmodo.  
- Agile Project Management 
- The Google Translator gadget can be added to your website to provide on-demand translation. 
- In Oct'09 ASUS became the first to ship a mother board and an expansion card with USB3.0 and SATA 6G. The P7P55D-E motherboard has two USB3.0 ports and their U3S6 controller card can add another two USB3.0 and two SATA 6G connectors to a PCIe 4x card slot. Discussed here on Slashdot. While the SATA 6G does not give much of a performance boost the USB 3.0 connection gives performance improvements from 3 to 5 times over USB 2.0 connected external hard drives - which would be a significant boost for people who use external hard drives for backup storage. 
- Installing Python on demand on Windows. 
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the sys module's support for memory management and limits.  
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the sys module's exception handling features.  
- cryptacular is hashed password management module for use in web servers. 
- A man in the middle attack against SSL/TLS has been discovered. More coverage here. 
- Firefox can be configured to allow multiple copies running at the same time (with different profiles) on the same account/machine. A good guide to doing this is here. 
- The PyMoTW takes a look at the sys module's support for tracing your program as it runs.  
- The rl package is a full implementation of the GNU readline command completion interface. 
- Projman is a project management GUI application. 
- The Mandelbulb is a 3D version of the Mandelbrot set. An excellent set of pictures from this are here. A Python project to explore it is here.  
- Doug Hellmann's PyMOTW has a number of index pages, including one by module name which is rather nice.  
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the sys modules support for the run time environment, including things like command line arguments and input/output streams.  
- Microsoft's Windows 7 Media Center now supports digital cable tuners, so if you have CableCARD you can record on your PC.  
- I wonder why Apple never put an infrared receiver and transmitter in the iPhone/iTouch, as with it they would make very nice universal remote controls. You can "fix" this problem with the RedEye base which the iPhone talks to via WiFi and the base then sends the appropriate infrared controls to your home theater system. But still, its not a portable system and it costs nearly $200, to provide functionality that was standard in earlier PDAs like the Palm and probably costs about $0.25 to manufacture. An IR dongle type attachment (along with a universal remote application) has been announced, of course this probably makes more sense for use with the iTouch. The L5 iPhone IR dongle was shown at CES 2010. Logitech has released an app for the iPhone that turns an iPhone into a wireless trackpad or keyboard - this might make the iTouch a rather nice HTPC remote controller. The New Potato's FLPR IR dongle is another IR controller for about $80. The RedEye mini will bring the IR remote dongle down to about $49, it gets reviewed here. The i-Got-Control IRB1 is another entry into this market. 
- A price / performance comparison of various VPS offerings, Linode comes out on top. 
- Western Digital is going to start introducing hard drives that are formatted with 4K byte sectors rather than the current 512 byte sectors in 2010. This will apparently allow for improved error correction while slightly increasing storage density. This will potentially cause a performance issue for Windows XP (and older systems) due to these older Windows versions creating the first partition in a way that it is misaligned to the 4K blocks on the drive (sort of an off by one type error). WD has two solutions for this, one is they provide a jumper on the drive that can compensate for the off by one misalignment (but it is only good for drives with a single partition) and the other is a utility that will realign the partitions on the drive. More discussion here on Slashdot. The first of these drives from WD will have "EARS" as part of the model number. An article about the issues with these 4K sector drives causing bad performance under Linux, both the Reiser and EXT3 file systems can have severe slow downs on writing small files if these drives are not installed correctly at the current time. 
- Managing Creative Assets is an introduction to revision control systems with emphasis on distributed systems like Mercurial. 
- A stem cell treatment where healthy cells from one eye were grafted into the other eye has been used to treat limbal stem cell deficiency. 
- Scientists have been able to get follistatin (a myostatin blocker) to promote muscle growth in macaque monkeys, the next step is to run some human trials. How long will it be before this is put to use by athletes and then banned? 
- The Camangi WebStation is a 7-inch Android tablet, it gets unboxed here and found to be sluggish here. 
- Some articles on the Weibull distribution which can be used to model the probability of failure of devices. The significant difference between this and the normal distribution is that the Weibull is a one-sided curve, so all the events happen above a reference point rather than being distributed on either side of the reference point. This makes sense for things like time to failure given that a component cannot fail before it is put into use (well, if you include manufacturing defects and shipping issues it could...).
- It looks like DNA profiles may not be an exact science after all, scientists and lawyers in the US are arguing for the FBI to release its CODIS database for independent research to see if there are any other cases like the white man who was a DNA match for a black man in the Arizona state DNA database. 
- The Trexa EV development platform is a complete chassis, drive train and suspension system for building electric vehicles on. Now if this sort of thing got adopted by a few manufacturers and picked up by the kit car market, things could get really interesting, fast! 
- China is now becoming the dominant manufacturer of renewable energy devices. 
- Packaging and shipping is hard walks through packaging a Python application for easy installation and use on Windows. 
- 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. 
- Slashdot discusses the difficulty of selecting CPUs and GPUs due to the strange naming and numbering systems that are used these days. For comparison purposes the site: CPUBenchmark.net has a number of good performance charts that span a wide range of CPUs, as well the companion site VideoCardBenchmark.net compares GPUs. 
- A lab in the US called Regenerative Sciences is offering stem cell treatments. Discussed here on Slashdot. 
- 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. 
- YouTube versus Viacom copyright fun that'll take the courts some time to figure out who really did what to whom and for how long. Guess Google is just going to have to buy up all the copyright holders to settle this. 
- 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.
- It appears that rats can get addicted to fatty foods, perhaps the same applies to humans? 
- Photosynthetic man-made material that is based on frog-foam that can capture carbon dioxide. 
- Thoughts after a couple of weeks. I have owned a Google Nexus One for a couple of weeks now and I thought it would be a good time to record some first impressions. In a word BETA. Yes, in keeping with Google's fine tradition of apparently never finishing anything, this is most certainly a beta product. Now given the intended audience (geeks) of the Nexus One this is not a particularly bad thing, but Android is being billed as a mass-market phone (and appliance) operating system and I am finding the smart phone platform is falling short of what a consumer would need, want or expect.
The hardware is quite good, the device looks and feels nice. The screen is very nice, except in bright sunlight. The digitizer generally works quite well, it certainly feels like the iPhones I have played with. The sound quality is good for both phone and media functions. The battery life is good for this sort of device, I'm getting about two days of use out of it by which time the battery level is at about 30%, but I don't do many calls and maybe log about an hour of web surfing, an hour or two of MP3 playback and about 2.5 hours of GPS use in that time. I leave the WiFi and Bluetooth radios on all the time. The fastest drain is when I use the GPS (using Google's Latitude and the MyTracks route tracker applications). I like the fact the battery is user-swapable and there is a microSD card slot.
The only issues I have with the hardware so far are:
The software, this is the part of the phone that's really beta. I have not had any real problems with the underlying OS, I have not had to reboot the phone to get it to function properly or anything like that. My gripe is with the included applications. One of the things I wanted from this phone was a unification of the functions of my old phone plus my old Palm Tungsten T3 PDA, so that I would be able to replace two devices with one and have more functionality at hand too (like the GPS and browsing on the go). So far the places I find that fail are with the basic PDA functions. Here's how I see it:
- The ringer volume (as is mentioned here along with other issues) is too low
- the back cover is rather hard to remove, they could fix this quite easily by including a ridge or slot to get a grip on, or better yet a small latch.
- I would prefer that the microSD card slot was exposed (i.e. externally accessible on one side) so one could change cards without having to power down the phone, remove the back cover and battery and the reassemble everything. My little Samsung flip phone did this quite well. Perhaps there should be two slots, an internal one that is used as fixed storage and an external one that is intended for user-swapping?
- the dock connector appears to only provide a power connection, any other connection must be either through the USB port (which is limited) or via Bluetooth or WiFi radio. This may be a good thing, but at the moment it limits what other things the unit can be used for. Perhaps someone will make a WiFi player dock for it so that the device can be used to play video to an external monitor or TV.
- For a few cents more why didn't they put an infrared transmitter/receiver on this so that it could also be used as a programmable remote control?
- The GMail client is pretty good, its an effective way of doing email triage on the road (train) and the unification of your email into the Google GMail cloud is very well done. You do something on either the GMail web client (at home or at the office or where ever) or on the phone and it's auto-synchronized in a seamless fashion. For anyone who needs to deal with email while on trips this would be worth it alone.
- The contacts manager is also very good, again it pulls off a nice, seamless two way synchronization All you need to do to make this useful is to import your contacts into the GMail contacts lists. I had to do some work on this one because GMail does not have a direct import from Palm devices, you have to export to a CSV and then upload to GMail, which is ok, except GMail import does not understand a lot of the columns that the Palm export provides so it just tosses a lot of stuff into the "Notes" section.
- The todo (tasks) list is missing. Total fail, GMail has a todo list on the web, but to get at it from your Nexus One you must visit a web page! Todo lists have been standard on PDAs since the beginning, so why is this missing?
- The Note taking function is also missing. It seems obvious that this should have been implemented as something that interfaced with Google Docs on the web, in fact there is a third-party free application called GDocs that attempts to fill this void.
- While the device does have a media player that does a reasonable job of MP3 playback and video playback this is a very basic implementation. It lacks the glitter of what the world has come to expect from the iPhone, so it's just basic marketing that this needs to be improved. Note the video formats this can play appears to be pretty limited, so expect to transcode anything you want to view here. Given there are a lot of inexpensive media players that are based on Linux that do a great job of playing just about anything without using super powerful chips one wonders why this cannot be done on this phone?
The last issue is with accessing the microSD card over the USB cable to load or unload data. As a geek I can understand why they have done what they have done, but surely there must be a better way! Here is what the user sees:
In my view what should happen is that when you plug in the USB cable the phone should immediately do all the mounting, the fact it can detect the connection and then prompt you, tells me that there's no real reason why it could not have just done the mounting right away. The mounting attempt might fail if some phone application current was using the SD card (though I have not seen this happen yet), in which case it should notify you of the problem. Then Windows would have quickly opened the drive and you could get onto the important business of dragging over some more MP3s right away. Once you are done with the drive in Windows, you should just use the Windows eject function as normal. Then the phone would detect the end of the session (as it currently does) and instead of bothering you with some more UNIX voodoo it should just silently umount the drive and return it to the normal phone mode - only if there is a problem should it prompt you for anything. This would make the whole process plug and play, the only voodoo left is on the Windows box when ejecting the drive at the end, and that's now accepted as "normal".
- Upon connecting his Nexus One to a computer via the USB cable he gets a notification that says the USB was connected.
- He then drags open the notifications list and touches the USB notification.
- Then a dialog appears saying: "You have connected your phone to your computer via USB. Select "Mount" if you want to copy files between your computer and your phone's SD card." and it gives you two buttons: "Mount" and "Don't Mount". This simply reeks of geek, and not just any geek, we're talking about 50 year old UNIX geeks with massive beards that wear old hiking boots to work in case they need to climb things in the server room! Mount, don't talk to me about Mount! Steve Jobs must find this hilarious!
- Once you hit "mount" your microSD card becomes accessible from the computer and then you can use it until you use the Window's remove USB devices tool to eject it (in a way equally mysterious, but in this day of USB thumb drives something that most people know how to use).
- Once you do this the Nexus One gives you another notification titled: "Turn off USB storage", tapping this gets you another dialog that reads "Before turning off USB storage, make sure you have unmounted the USB host. Select "Turn Off" to turn off USB storage." and gives you to choices "Turn Off" and "Cancel". Again the mountains appear on the phone.
- How to convert a SIM card into a microSIM card by a bit of careful cutting. Discussed here on Slashdot. A small gadget called Cut My SIM has now been built to simplify this process. 
- In the middle of a market correction on 6-May-2010 there was a tremendous spike down, initial reports were suggesting that a single miss-entered trade may have caused this event. Whatever the cause the noise from this is going to be heard around the markets of the world for some time. This event has become knows as the "Flash Crash" and is now thought to have been caused by delays in quote processing on the NYSE (see this analysis by Nanex, discussed here on Slashdot) perhaps intentionally caused by some party transmitting large numbers of quotes, very rapidly, in a sort of denial-of-service type attack. More discussion of this here 
- Dichloroacetate (DCA) has been found to be effective against some brain tumors in a very small trial. 
- More coverage on algorithmic high-frequency trading, this time making jobs for logicians. 
- Manipulating PDFs with Python and pyPdf. 
- Audi and BMW are looking into improving traffic flow by communicating light change times to the drivers - essentially encouraging drivers to speed up or slow down a bit so they run in sync with the traffic lights. Of course the problem with this is that only a few drivers, out of many, are capable of following instructions... 
- The MIDIbox Hardware Platform brings a modular set of components to the DIY MIDI music industry, some of these are available as kits and have been used to implement some big projects like this Station MIDI controller.  
- In the age of the GUI Google is now offering a command line interface (Google CL) for Linux users. This will also work on Windows installations (for those that have Python installed) and here are some useful examples of what you can do with this. 
- The Bliptronic synthesizer from ThinkGeek is the poor-man's Yamaha TENORI-ON.  
- Toshiba is going to try the Android/ARM based smartbook market with their AC100. Now, if only it had a twist around display that could convert it into a tablet. Engadget takes a look at one here. 
- PyFilesystem is a module that attempts to provide a unified interface to many different file system types including such things as an in-memory file system, an FTP server file system and the Amazon S3 file system. 
- The cipher command is the DOS tool for working with encrypted NTFS files and directories. 
- The Mandelbox is another attempt at taking the Mandelbrot set to the third dimension. Very nice stuff.  
- The PyMOTW takes a look at the site module which is used for site-wide configuration.  
- ECO-Green-Speed is a Chinese manufacturer of electric scooters. 
- Leaking electrolytic capacitors have been a problem in computers and other home electronics. Dell got hit pretty hard by this in the 2005-2007 period and perhaps as many as 97% of some of their OptiPlex machines failed due to this. 
- Installing and using the Android Scripting Environment to get command line Python on your phone. 
- Notes on Python Date Manipulation. 
- Boosting the performance of a Python Mandelbrot calculator up to 22937 times faster using pyCUDA. Some more notes on using pyCUDA. 
- The US Army is getting close to manufacturing artificial blood. Wonder if they are going to call it True Blood? 
- A look at command line argument parsing in Python. 
- The Ewee-PT is a Segway-like electric walker, this is a lot less expensive. 
- A pair of short examples of using Qt (via PyQt) to play audio and video. 
- Pivot points and resistance levels are used by many traders as a guide to the likely range of price motion for a stock in the coming day. There are a number of these which are all fairly similar including Floor Pivot Points, DeMark's Pivot, Woodie's Pivot and Camarilla Pivots. See Investopedia and EarnForex. 
- The so-called human powered car is more likely a very light weight electric vehicle with the capability of getting a boost from the passengers. When you look at the video bear in mind that the handle bar crank system is unlikely to be providing a significant portion of the power (I would be amazed if it provides more than 5%) as there is no way that driver could even go half as fast on a light weight bicycle let alone a much heavier vehicle with rather poor air drag (look at the wind on his shirt). Also the hand crank system is a very poor choice for human power, a recumbent pedal system would be far better as the legs can produce much more power and for longer periods of time than the back and arms (not to mention it would be safer as this would not interfere with the steering control). So while it's cute I don't think it makes a significant contribution to "human propulsion", though it might point the way to ultra-light electric vehicles. I do like the idea of a four-seat human-propelled vehicle that has an electric booster system (to assist when loaded, or accelerating or climbing hills), but this is not a reasonable implementation. Also, such a vehicle needs a cover to reduce air drag and keep the occupants dry. 
- The PyMOTW looks at the re regular expressions module.  
- Holy Penguin in a Suit Batman! Linux now provides the London Stock Exchange with the fastest trade executions in the world (well faster than any .NET based exchanges). High frequency traders will be enjoying this. The NYSE is also running on Linux machines.