Sunday, October 30, 2005

Bird's Nest

China's Olympic stadium is going to look like this:

I like it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I found a firewire hardware RAID 1 to put my photos on. RAID 5 would be more 31331 but also louder. MediaBank allows hot-swap of drives—and in fact encourages it as an offsite backup solution. The only drawback (besides price) so far are the strange limitations on the drives: IBM/Hitachi recommended while WD/Seagate are not compatible (why?); and 250GB max. I've ordered one anyway.

Harddrives always cost around $200. I remember when I bought my first one: 170MB for $170. Three orders of magnitude later, the price/performance sweet spot remains the same.

update: it's out of stock for a month.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Educating spammers

When will the comment spammers realize that it's pointless to continue? Those who use comment spam bots should ask for their money back.

On progress, part two

I just forgot my keys in a restaurant. Which brings me to another future I am waiting for: when instead of the three things I have to carry with me—keys, wallet and cellphone—I'll need just the latter, and all the functionality of multiple physical tokens will be absorbed by a single one.

From a brilliant class taught by David Wagner and Ian Goldberg (it was a long time ago, so I might be misquoting):
In computer security, the best strategy is often to put all eggs in one basket—and watch that basket!
I'll never forget my cellphone in a restaurant if I need it to open my car.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Cellphones and "Do What I Mean"

My cellphone is in the 510 area code. Alice's phone number is 650.555.1242. I have it in my addressbook. When I dial "5551242 send", I mean to call Alice. But I end up calling Bob at 510.555.1242.

What's better: a consistent interface that consistently makes you call the wrong person, or a "do what i mean" interface that is inconsistent but does the right thing 99.99% of the time?

To complicate things further, the phone displays "Calling Alice..." even if I dial Bob's number. So the phonebook look up procedure is "do what I mean", whereas the dialing itself is "consistent".

Any pointers to comparisons of cellphones based on human interface are appreciated.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

On progress

When will we reach the promised techological paradise? When we have spaceships? Skycars? Long-distance brain surgery? (I am sure I've seen all of these somewhere...)

I have a different benchmark. When a ten-dollar alarm clock I buy will automatically set itself to a correct time as soon as I plug it in, then I'll believe in progress.

All that's needed is to transmit correct time and correct timezone. There are literally dozens of networks and protocols that can do the job. From radio, GPS, cellphone, WiFi, wired networking to IP, NTP and the rest. Yet, I can't buy the self-setting alarm clock for ten bucks.

How long do I have to wait? And, specifically, what for?

update: Steve J says there's already one for $9.50—and I just ordered it. But I wonder, do you have to set the timzeone manually?

update 2: the $9.50 phone failed to figure out the correct time after 24 hours. I am still waiting.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

English as a second language

Very recently I ran into the word "lisp" in a regular English text, and was surprised to find out that it actually meant something besides "LISt Processing."

A long time ago, a friend of mine was absolutely certain that "beetle" is spelled with an "ea".

You live you learn.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

For real

Yahoo! is running an IM contest, with prizes. (Now long-distance relationship is a sport.) Three couples stay in touch via Y! Messenger; you get to eavesdrop. Which is fascinating to me, since I never got the hang of the whole IM thing: call me a dinosaur.

The exchanges are enitirely devoid of content. This illustrates my theory that in an electronic human-to-human communication the most important field is neither body nor Subject, but Date.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Genius bar

I finally connected a power cord back to my iMac. The computer was at Apple Store because the harddrive crashed. I bet my cousin five bucks that there would be no software on the disk. That was foolish: the iMac boot up into Tiger, even though the computer originally came with OS X 10.3.

But the real surprise came when I ran Software Update. It offered to install this:
The iMac G5 Sleep Light Update adjusts the brightness of your iMac G5 sleep indicator light so it's not as bright during the evening. The daytime brightness remains the same.
I bet Steve will put a light sensor in the next revision of hardware: the heuristic doesn't work if you live in a cave.

More to the point: does anyone know of a RAID solution in a 1TB range for a small Mac network? I will not lose my photos again, no sir.