Archive for the 'General' Category

Feb 24 2013

Coffee Consumption is Down

Published by under Food,General

Taking the long view U.S. consumption is down about fifty percent to 23 gallons/person/year. Of course many of the old ‘coffee can’ sources available in 1948 have disappeared and Starbucks et. al. have appeared.

One response so far

Jun 09 2012

It is about time!

Published by under General

This has to be the best news out of the U.S. legal system in a long time: Famous judge spikes Apple-Google case, calls patent system “dysfunctional”. Instead of ‘fostering innovation’ the patent system has often become a weapon used by rich companies to keep out new entrants and to reduce competition in the markets they claim to “serve”. Particularly a problem in high tech industries. Hope Posner’s opinion is upheld!

Now if we can just undo the patenting of silly (i.e. obvious) software and interface ideas. And then there is the corporations are people nonsense.

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Nov 09 2011

A Problem and a Solution

Published by under General

Much financial and business oriented reporting is nothing but puffery, mush, or garbage, but every once in a while I read something worth repeating. The following quote from a ‘pundit’ makes sense to me. So I’m repeating it.

I am not against CDS. We need more of them. But they should all be moved to a very transparent exchange. If I buy an S&P derivative (or gold or oil or orange juice), I know that my counterparty risk is the exchange. I don’t have to hedge counterparty risk. The exchange tells whoever is on the other side of the trade that they need to put up more money, as the trade warrants. Or tells me if the trade goes against me.

The banks lobbied to keep CDS “over the counter.” The commissions are huge that way. If they are on an exchange the commissions are small. This was a huge failure of Dodd-Frank. And we all pay for it in ways that no one really sees. …..

Equity markets are supposed to help companies raise capital for business purposes, not be casinos. Investors want to and should be able to buy and sell stocks with a long view to the future. And increasingly there is the feeling that this is not the case. When I talk to institutional investors and managers, it is clear that they are very frustrated.

One response so far

Jul 20 2011

The Reason Why?

Published by under General,Speculative

Is this why your skin ceases to fit as you age:

The amount of water in the body declines with aging, from about 80 percent in young adulthood to about 55 to 60 percent for people in their 80s, ..

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May 28 2011

Disney, bah

Published by under General

From a recent WSJ article:

Walt Disney Co. said Wednesday that it would pull an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in which the entertainment giant sought the exclusive right to use the term “SEAL Team 6” on items ranging from toys and games to snow globes and Christmas stockings.

Disney seems willing to rip off anything for a buck; as if a Seal Team snow glove is just what a kid needs. Guess Disney is not satisfied with their success in paying congresspeople to provide a nearly endless copyright on a borrowed mouse called Mickey.

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Apr 12 2011

“New Disposable, Medical Camera Is the Size of a Grain of Salt”

Published by under General

I think this is a cool invention, but it might just be ominous as well. A video camera with 250×250 pixel resolution so small it can be barely seen by the naked eye. Designed to do that dreaded medical procedure known as a colonoscopy!

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Apr 09 2011

Feel so sorry for them…..

Published by under General

Don’t you feel sorry for spies? All those computers making their job so difficult.

Russian spy agency complains about Gmail, Skype
BY Reuters
— 11:07 AM ET 04/08/2011

MOSCOW, April 8 (Reuters) – Russia’s domestic security service called for access to encrypted communication providers like Skype, Gmail and Hotmail on Friday, saying the uncontrolled use of such services could threaten national security.

As any technology a real issue as encrypted traffic can be good or bad, or both, depending on who is using it for what purpose, but a general banning would not prevent real bad guys from using strong digital encryption. Just prevent the vast majority of people from using it for appropriate purposes.

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Mar 01 2011

Feels Right

Published by under General

This decision “Supreme Court Says AT&T Not Exempt From FOIA” seems to me to have gone the right way. Corporations are not people. They get huge advantages by their potentially infinite “life” span. There should be compensating restrictions on their privileges and rights.

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Jan 19 2011

Least newsworthy award go to…..

Published by under General

Chihuahua survives owl attack in suburban Chicago
(01-18) 11:59 PST Crystal Lake, Ill. (AP) — An owl attack has left a 4-pound Chihuahua with a healthy fear of the dark. ….

What a waste of bits, ink, or time!

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Jan 11 2011

Google eBook Reader

Published by under Books,General

I don’t have a kindle or an iPad. I have read extended parts of text books and reference books online, but never before read a novel. Decided to try reading a novel and chose Google’s ebook reader for the Mac and for the iPhone. The book was a speculative fiction “Surface Detail” (see prior post) from their ebook store.
What I liked:

  • Easy availability at home or away. Always had the phone so I could ‘pickup the book’ anywhere without having had to plan it or to carry another thing.
  • Easy synchronization between laptop and phone. The applications took care of it.

What I didn’t like so well:

  • Weaker navigation than in a paper book. Harder (slower) to flip back pages to find a detail or look ahead to see how many more pages in this chapter. You can only see two page images at a time on the laptop and less than a ‘page’ on the iPhone.
  • On a computer, the presence of other applications is an invitation to distractions. Harder to get engrossed?
  • Smooth coordination between web and iPhone only works when logged in to google on web.
  • A noticeable transition time (measured in seconds) when switching between devices. Time for them to check the google site for synchronization information. Just picking up a book is quicker restart; but of course you have to have the book in hand.

Overall pretty satisfying but I’m not a convert to eBook readers. I’ll have to try a kindle or iPad sometime. I was positively surprised at how pleasant reading was on the iPhone’s small screen.

One response so far

Dec 30 2010

An Impressive Product

Published by under General

Intel has announced a new line of solid state “drives” in a very small form factor. The device are smaller than your finger nail (51 mm x 30 mm x 5 mm), weigh 10 grams, and store either 40 or 80 Gigabytes of data! (Their announcement is here.)
Undoubtedly only a step on path to even smaller and higher capacity, but impressive.

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Oct 30 2010

This news bothers me (More than it should?).

Published by under General

For some reason a couple of news articles about a new Chinese ‘super computer’ bother me a lot. I suppose it seem to be an real ominous sign amidst a lot of words about China’s recent progress. And, a real event in an area that is important for the future of us and them. Here are a couple of articles: First a pre-announcement from the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required), and an article on the announcement from Information Week.
I suppose it is inevitable given the seeming preponderance of Non U.S. nationals in U.S. science and engineering programs.

2 responses so far

Apr 17 2010

More on iPad Badness

Published by under General,Speculative

There is another very interesting analysis or better a critique of the iPad’s role on one of the technical book publisher O’Reilly’s blogs. It explains how the iPad can be, and seems intended to be, used to constrain and charge for materials presently available for ‘free’. An attractively packaged content distribution channel rather than a device that opens new opportunities or delivers new capabilities.
Inadvertently, a recent NPR show “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” had a funny bit that emphasized this point. They called a person with some joke questions about the iPad but the person they happened to call owned and “loved” an iPad. When asked what she could do with it that she couldn’t do before, the answer was … “Nothing”! But, she loved it.
I think I’ll skip the iPad. It would probably be useful, even nice, for very old people who don’t want to deal with the complexity of a more flexible device (computer), but just read email and maybe a few web site; an up-to-date webTV. I’ll get to that point soon enough, but I’ll pass for now!

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Apr 12 2010

Pot or Kettle: Which is blacker?

Published by under General

Apple and Adobe have been fighting over control of web and mobile applications development tools and last week Apple made changes to their developers license that precludes use of a major feature in a forthcoming Adobe product. The following quote is from a Wall Street Journal article on the web this morning:

“An Apple spokeswoman said that Apple embraces standard technologies and that “Adobe’s Flash is closed and proprietary.”

Seems to me that both Adobe and Apple try very hard to establish closed monopoly environments which they can control and get rich on. Apple’s claim to “embrace standard technologies” excludes standards that they do not set or effectively control, but the wording suggests they support “open” standards. Their license change is certainly anti-competitive and in line with their own “closed and proprietary” approach.
Update: For a more detailed analysis of Apple’s PR, take a look at this ars technica article.

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Mar 17 2010


Published by under Books,General

As if to re-enforce the message of the book “Fatal System Error”, this article appeared in my news reader yesterday. Seems that some guys in St. Petersburg, Russia broke into some stock trading accounts and then used them to ‘kite’ a few thinly traded stocks and make a ‘killing’ off of the stocks’ price moves.
St. Petersburg was highlighted as the home of a lot of corruption and of RBN (Russian Business Network) which apparently hosts a lot of shady and probably criminal web servers and provides them access to the Internet. Don’t know if RBN was involved, but it seems likely.

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