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Showing posts from 2005

AjaxTrans

Here's a cool little demo app. It translates from one language to the other, as you type.
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Bitter Brew

I opened a charming neighborhood coffee shop. Then it destroyed my life. Some good info here like:
There is a golden rule, long cherished by restaurateurs, for determining whether a business is viable. Rent should take up no more than 25 percent of your revenue, another 25 percent should go toward payroll, and 35 percent should go toward the product. The remaining 15 percent is what you take home.

It reminds of an article a few months ago that the hardest workers (in terms of hours worked per week) in Brasil are typically the owners of small businesses.

Linux Toys

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I'm thinking that in 2006 I may purchase a new toy and I'm thinking of two of them:
One is the GP2X. It's basically a Linux game machine and costs only USD$200.00.

Another device is less suitable as a game machine, but more suitable as an e-book reader. That's the Nokia 770 internet tablet, also a Linux machine. This one's quite a bit more expensive at USD$360.00, but the screen is a lot nicer and it has Wi-Fi connectivity. These machines are very close to perfect, and I'm a little torn between the two. The GP2X is inexpensive and with MAME should be quite the game machine. The Nokia 770 would be a very nice e-book, can be used for e-mail, browsing the web, PIM, but the battery lasts only 3 hours. I wish the 770 had a IR device so I could possibly use it as a universal remote.

I like the fact that they are open Linux devices. This means that there's a chance that someone will make a compelling application for it, like a program to keep track of my golf score. …

Reddit.com, another social bookmarking site

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Del.icio.us is great Digg is maybe even better, but reddit.com is my current favorite. Like del.icio.us it's very clean and at the moment it provides the best (most interesting) links of the three. I also like the fact that they wrote the site in Python and have hundreds of millions of hits each day.
Through reddit I also found this related article: Getting it Right (blink.com founder on why blink failed, and del.icio.us didn't).
Here's my saved list at reddit.
I think their mascot should be a frog that says "reddit" instead of an ET.

On School Lunches: French vs American

This is a very interesting article which compares the menus of a school in NY state and a school near Paris. I can't believe the crap that American schoolchildren are given, it's embarrasing.
Near the end of the article is a little funny:

I had this difference in sophistication vividly demonstrated some years
ago, when I was a student in Paris. I had been hired to babysit a
five-year-old boy twice a week, in the hopes of teaching him a little
English. One evening, as I was preparing a snack, I held up a piece of
cheese.

"Nicolas, in English this is called cheese. Can you say that?"
"Cheeeese!"
"Very good! Cheese. What would you call this in French?"
"Reblochon."
Five years old, and he knew his cheeses by name. I
checked him on every one in the fridge. He even knew the names of the
ones that were unpasteurized.










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pyContest - shortest Python coding contest

The pyContest is to make a Python program that pases some unit tests with the fewest number of characters possible. Mine has 191 characters, ranked 68 so far.
Here's my submission:
c=[
' _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ',
'| | | _| _||_||_ |_ ||_||_|',
'|_| ||_ _| | _||_| ||_| _|']
def seven_seg(x):
return '\n'.join([
''.join([l[n*3:n*3+3]
for n in map(int, x)])
for l in c] + [''])
The version I submitted is all on one line and doesn't have the assignment. I just prettied it up for you.
Here's another, better solution.

$100 Laptop (OLPC)

Jim Getty has an interesting post on my favorite subject, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. He has scrounged together more technical information about the laptop and offers advice on how and why to develop programs for it. Here's a snippet:
What does this mean to you, an open source developer?With
luck, a huge new audience for your software all over the world; maybe
of order 100,000,000 in ?07, if everything goes really well (there are
about 1 billion school-age kids on the planet, and others want the same
kind of hardware for more commercial use). Governments want to buy
these by the shiploads. Their motivation is obvious: distributing
conventional books is expensive, and all you get is a book. A computer
at the $100 price point, if it can last 4-5 years, can be justified on
that ground alone, much less the other uses of computers, such as the
web, VOIP, email, IM, etc.Technorati Tags: ,

Why not self-publish

DonXml looks at self publishing a book versus a publishing house. Summarizing: doing all the work yourself and selling through Amazon.com you might be able to get $9.50 per book sold. If you go through a publishing company you might get about $1.60 a book.

First Rule of Usability. Don't listen to Users

An interesting article by Jakob Nielsen on usability. Here's a snippet:
Watch what people actually do.
Do not believe what people say they do.
Definitely don't believe what people predict they may do in the future.
We did some usability studies at Andyne which was very useful. We set up a video camera taping a beginner users using our product while we watched in another room. It was painful to watch, but after a few hours of this with a couple of users we had a list of simple changes which would greatly improve the usability of our product. Some of the problems that I remember could also have been 'solved' by using screencasts which are becoming quite popular.


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Linux: Useful utilities

There are twoposts which list some of the most useful and most used utilities in linux. What I didn't know about was lsof, tcpdump, CDargs. Two that I use daily at work, which was also mentioned in the articles are SSH and GNU Screen. I also use ssh -L to tunnel to my machine at home and wget on my machine at home to get downloads that the company blocks.

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Fun: Arcade Cabinet

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MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) is a computer program which runs on PCs which can emulate a huge number of arcade games (i.e. the ones where you put in quarters). In fact there are more than 5848 rom sets that can be played which would be worth $1,462.00 if you played each one once for a 25 cents each!
This guy built a MAME cabinet in about 24 hours. I'm salivating just looking at it. I might be able to build and identical one here for about R$1,350.00 (or USD$572.00) without the monitor and the computer (which I already have). Ever since I was a kid I had a dream of having a Robotron cabinet in my house, and now it could be possible, without even breaking the bank.
Another idea is the image below, built by Joel McIntyre which is maybe a litte more practical, and cheaper too.

I've been doing some digging and I found that the best version of MAME is AdvanceMame and the best front-end is AdvanceMenu. Basically the AdvanceMame tries to improve on the graphics and the intern…

My 2006 year prediction

I think 2006 may be the year we see a new disruptive technology, with headless (linux) devices. We are already seeing it a bit with PVRs, but here's my ideal device.
You go to the store and buy a box it's designed to sit in the closet or someplace out of the way. It can be used as a NAT/firewall. It has a huge hard drive and you can hot-swap in one more. If it finds another similar device on the network it will configure itself to be a mirror of the other device. If you don't have your house wired you can get the more popular WiFi version.
So for a beginner it should be really easy, they ideally buy two of these boxes and plug them into the wall, one of them they plug into a cable modem or other the broadband connection. Both of them would be hotspots so by placing them in different locations you can get better WiFi coverage. They automatically talk to each other in a p2p fashion. If one of them dies it's ok because they are automatically mirroring each other, just buy a…

PostgreSQL is goodness

A recent post by my old friend Sandy reminded me that I haven't posted much of anything about PostgreSQL on my blog. About 10 months ago I did some extensive research on open source databases and quickly zeroed in on PostgreSQL. Here in summary form are what's to like about PostgreSQL (PG).
It's true open sources and free. MySQL is sorta, kinda open source but not to same level as PG.PG is very flexible and agnostic. There is nothing special about the function SUM as used in PG versus writing your own SUM function in C and hooking it in. This is also true of datatypes and nearly everything else (like indexes). You can create new datatypes, functions, index types etc. with absolutely no speed penalty and without requiring a recompile of PG.
PG is very close to the features of Oracle. I use Oracle every day at work and have learned a lot of the ins and outs of that product. No doubt about it, Oracle is very quick, especially when you've got more than 4 processors, but PG …

Weekly del.icio.us bookmarks

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwoodThe Linux Link: Portal To Linux Web Radio Shows -- tagged as: [podcast linux]feedbag » Blog Archive » Using Closures To Support Object-Oriented AJAX -- Everything you wanted to know about closures and JavaScript. tagged as: [ajax article javascript programming]Smart stuff - the world's smartest stuff. -- The Broken Window book looks interesting. tagged as: [shopping blog]Gobby -- Collaborative editing tool with each user using a different color tagged as: [agile development edit collaborative text]USB Flash Memory HOWTO -- I'm having problems with my USB mp3 player sometimes.... tagged as: [flash linux howto]Performance Tuning PostgreSQL -- Some interesting info here. tagged as: [postgres tips]Os pinguins também jogam! - Die bitch!!! -- Nice list of Linux games with little screen shots. tagged as: [games linux]del.icio.us/help/firefox/extension -- Firefox extension for slightly quicker del.icio.us tags. tagged as: [extension…

Programming: CanvasGraph.js

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CanvasGraph is a library to draw charts using JavaScript. It doesn't work at the moment with Internet Explorer and I think SVG instead of Canvas is the way to go in the near future, but it's still useful in a lot of cases.

Creating charts by running a program on the server to make PNG or GIF files is just lame. I really never understook why charts are not part of the HTML standard. SVG is a good step in the right direction, but it tries to compete with flash, why not compete with charts instead? Wouldn't it be cool if as you mouse over a chart it shows you the Y value at your current position and this would be part of the browser, oh well?

PostgreSQL is goodness

A recent post by my old friend Sandy reminded me that I haven't posted much of anything about PostgreSQL on my blog. About 10 months ago I did some extensive research on open source databases and quickly zeroed in on PostgreSQL. Here in summary form are what's to like about PostgreSQL (PG).
It's true open sources and free. MySQL is sorta, kinda open source but not to same level as PG.PG is very flexible and agnostic. There is nothing special about the function SUM as used in PG versus writing your own SUM function in C and hooking it in. This is also true of datatypes and nearly everything else (like indexes). You can create new datatypes, functions, index types etc. with absolutely no speed penalty and without requiring a recompile of PG.
PG is very close to the features of Oracle. I use Oracle every day at work and have learned a lot of the ins and outs of that product. No doubt about it, Oracle is very quick, especially when you've got more than 4 processors, but PG …

Politics: Dictator Bush

Bruce Schneier has a long article about President Bush secretly authorizing the NSA to engage in domestic spying without having to go through any legal procedures that regulate this activity. Here's part that caught my eye:
The result is that the president's wartime powers, with its armies,
battles, victories, and congressional declarations, now extend to the
rhetorical "War on Terror": a war with no fronts, no boundaries, no
opposing army, and -- most ominously -- no knowable "victory."
Investigations, arrests and trials are not tools of war. But according
to the Yoo memo, the president can define war however he chooses, and
remain "at war" for as long as he chooses.This is indefinite dictatorial power. And I don't use that term
lightly; the very definition of a dictatorship is a system that puts a
ruler above the law. In the weeks after 9/11, while America and the
world were grieving, Bush built a legal rationale for a dictatorship.
Then he immediately…

Programming: Selenium, more than just an element.

Selenium is more than just element 34 on the periodic table. It's also a very cool way of writing functional tests for your web applications.
As an asside I'll describe my foray into testing for web apps.I decided the best way of writing these tests is to make some XML files with commands to create for GET or POST and read the results. I worked fairly well quite quickly, but I saw that I needed to have cookies working to test properly. A little more code and I had cookies. Then I noticed that redirects weren't working. A little more code and I got that working as well. Then I had the problem with pages with passwords - fixed. Then I wanted to test multiple languages, added. Now I have a reasonably complete testing suite for Python which uses XML as the testing source. But then I found some problems with my JavaScript code on the page and realized there was no way for me to test that. I would have to drive IE or Firefox from Python and it was just too much work.
Selenium sid…

Weekly del.icio.us bookmarks

A little tardy with the weekly bookmarks this week because del.icio.us was down when the script to generate it was run (through crontab), plus the accent in one of the links screwed up my Python script, here it is..
Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwood
The Linux Link: Portal To Linux Web Radio Shows -- tagged as: [podcast linux]
feedbag » Blog Archive » Using Closures To Support Object-Oriented AJAX -- Everything you wanted to know about closures and JavaScript. tagged as: [ajax article javascript programming]
Smart stuff - the world's smartest stuff. -- The Broken Window book looks interesting. tagged as: [shopping blog]
Gobby -- Collaborative editing tool with each user using a different color tagged as: [agile development edit collaborative text]
USB Flash Memory HOWTO -- I'm having problems with my USB mp3 player sometimes.... tagged as: [flash linux howto]
Performance Tuning PostgreSQL -- Some interesting info here. tagged as: [postgres tips]
Os pinguins também j…

Programming: Premature optimization is the root of all evil?

There is something about the phrase "Premature optimization is the root of all evil" that gets in my crow. Perhaps it's because I like doing optimization, or perhaps because I've seen code go into production that is embarrassingly slow. [BTW, the full quote by Hoare and Knuth is: "We should forget about small efficiencies, say about 97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil.", I have less issues with the full quote]
There's another expression that's similar in the Agile world which is "Ain't gonna need it". Basically, don't put in code unless you need it right now to fulfill your tests. There's a tendency for programmers to put in code because they think they'll need it sometime in the future. When it finally does get used, a year later, it doesn't work because it was never tested.
The evil here is over-engineering the code. I've seen junior (and not so junior) developers create code which I th…

Politics: Patriot act renewal rejected

The patriot act was designed to be a temporary measure for "times of war". I put that it quotes because there really doesn't exist a war in the traditional sense when it comes to terrorism. I mean, who surrenders, which land or resources do you get when you "win", where is the enemy? The government could have this "war" go on forever, because it'll never end against terrorism (according to them).
So the Patriot act is dissolved. Finally, something that the Bush administration did right!
Oh, I'm sorry, the Bush administration was against dissolving the "Patriot" act - never mind - perfect record.

You really need to checkout TurboGears

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I've been playing with TurboGears for a little while and it's great (and just getting better). What is it? The main site calls it a "[..]rapid web development megaframework you've been looking for."

I've heard it referred to being something akin to a Linux distribution, just like Linux has a variety of distress that cater to different needs by pulling in different code from different projects: TurboGears is a web development framework that pulls in:
MochiKit - an AJAX/JavaScript library (screencast)
Kid - a templating framework (docs)CherryPy - a web development framework (tutorial)SQLObject - an object relational manager (docs)It pulls together these separate best-of-breed projects and puts them together in one simple install, adds some shell scripts and documentation and give it a cool name and logo. There's also someextralibrariesincluded.
You really need to check out the screen casts.
Download this movie and in 20 minutes Kevin will show you how to build…

Ubuntu: Some USB problems

I wrote a little Python program to copy my downloaded podcasts to my MP3 player(s). It works farely well, except, on occasion I'll get a podcast that's scrambled. It'll start with one podcast and in the middle there would be another. It's like the FAT table is screwed up or wasn't properly flushed. I have noticed that when I unmount the MP3 player using the icon in the desktop it'll go away immediately, but the device itself will continue flashing on it's display (maybe indicating that it's copying something?). Eventually, it would stop flashing.
Also, if I run "mount -l" I'll still see the drive for a while until it get's fully unmounted. What I need is a way to be sure that it's safe to unplug the device or a method of forcing a flush to disk after I've copied everything, it's very fustrating.
So far I've found this article usb flashkey disk copy error.There's also the USB Flash Memory Howto.

Relation to teeth brushing and weight loss

...there is no clear evidence that schools are contributing to the growth in obesity. The obesity-related complaints about school lunches, vending machines, and physical education are based largely on the assumption that these factors are causing our kids to get fat. Yet, I find little evidence to support this claim. For example, in looking at survey data on the health behavior of middle and high school students, the factor I found that best predicted whether or not a kid was obese was tooth brushing [emphasis added]. More important than how much junk food they ate, soda they drank, or physical education they received was whether or not they brushed their teeth. Among fourteen- to seventeen-year-olds, only 16 percent of kids who brushed their teeth more than once a day were overweight compared to 24 percent who brushed less than once a day. Of course, other factors were important as well -- teenagers who play more computer games, eat more fast-food, and drink less whole milk wer…

First wikipedia entry

Often when writing a blog entry I'll point to a wikipedia entry. The other day I wanted to point to firehosing, which didn't exist in wikipedia when I checked. So I went and created it. It looks like it might get deleted, since it's more like a dictionary entry than a wikipedia entry, so I've also put in a wiktionaryentry as well. Hopefully, one will get accepted.

Weekly del.icio.us bookmarks

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwood:gumstix - expansion boards -- Linux based robot boards tagged as: [electronics robots]Linux.com | Creating appealing video software demos in Linux -- Even better than screenshots! tagged as: [linux video demo]How to Handle Your Child's Temper Tantrum - WikiHow -- tagged as: [kids victor]Code Sermon > Home -- Might be an interesting podcast. tagged as: [podcast programming]BackupPC: Open Source Backup to disk -- Another backup solution. tagged as: [backup linux perl]Linux.com | Simplifying backups -- Yet another backup program. tagged as: [backup linux python]TiVo to develop TV ad search service - Yahoo! News -- I don't know why ADs aren't easier to find and download. tagged as: [toblog]Urwid - curses-based User Interface Library for Python -- Cool library for Python, even works on the web! tagged as: [gui python library]Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes | Linux Journal -- L…

OLPC One Laptop Per Child

The $100.00 laptop is one of my favorite pieces of news that I'vebeen followingclosely. The short of it is that I think it's a great idea. On slashdot there's a recent thread on it. I see the same comments over and over:
Laptops? These kids need food and water!$100.00 could be better spent elsewhere.It'll be sold for food and money
$100.00 - can't be done3rd world, what about Americans?So here are my answers:
Laptops? These kids need food and water! These laptops are mostly for kids that are too poor to buy a computer but rich enough to have food and water. There are kids in the US that go to school hungry as well. For those kids laptops aren't the solution. However, there are lots (most) kids that are on the edge of technology, but not quite there. Or they might have parents who have the money but don't know computers and don't want to "waste" their money on a computer or laptop. $100.00 could be better spent elsewhere. A laptop is somet…

Kids songs

This is for me and Victor, links to some English kid's songs:
A Tisket a TasketThis Old ManBingoMy Bonnie
Of course there are more songs there. Just don't know the lyrics to all the kids songs, the Internet is a great resource.

Weekly del.icio.us bookmarks

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwood
Wired News: Real Story of the Rogue Rootkit -- tagged as: [internet security toblog windows]The Penguin Machine -- tagged as: [games linux python]OmniNerd - Articles: Is a Hybrid Worth It? -- tagged as: [article toread environment hybrid]Articles -- Unsustainable software development tagged as: [article development toread]

Embarrassing Mercedes demonstration

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Here's a link to a little mishap during a demonstration where they showed the Mercedes automatic radar braking system in their S-class series. The idea is that the car is supposed to brake for you automatically, except in this case it didn't. Looks like it was because they were inside a building and it confused the radar.

Ontario Approves New Wind-Power Projects

Cool, looks like Wolfe Island near Kingston might get nearly 200 megawatts from wind power.
I can vouch that Kingston has a lot of wind.

Weekly del.icio.us bookmarks

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwood
Looks Good Works Well: Musings on Mouse Hover -- tagged as: [ajax design javascript]SoMA Review - Betraying Jesus - Jim Wallis -- tagged as: [politics toblog toread]"Esquire" Lays the Smackdown on Creationism -- tagged as: [politics toblog]Blue Dog Coalition :: Press Releases :: Bush Administration Breaks Record -- tagged as: [politics toblog]OpenGrade -- It's in perl, but I know someone who might need it. tagged as: [linux opensource teaching tools]I, Cringely . NerdTV . Archive . Guests | PBS -- Some past shows tagged as: [internet podcast video]jpeg.py -- Read and write EXIF comments and a few other bits. tagged as: [python library picture]Maxemum TV-Guide -- Something examine my tv xml tagged as: [linux]

$USD100.00 Laptop

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Onceagain I'm going to talk about this laptop.
I think the key feature of this laptop is to supplant books and paper for children going to school. I think that very quickly more and better free textbooks will become available. Schools and governments will make some of their textbooks and class notes available under Creative Commons type copy protection allowing others to translate to their language or make audio versions available, for example.
The latest news is that the $100.00 laptop will use Linux and not Apple OS X, Sun OS or MS Windows, as some suggested.
I would be willing to devote some of my time to help bring tools or software to this platform. For example, a better version of TuxPaint.


Click image to see some more pictures.

Another interesting point that Negroponte made is that, as the technology becomes cheaper, they plan to make the laptop cost less than $100.00, rather than making a better version of the same device at the same price. If this is true it means that we …

Made me laugh

Sync has a short piece about a 34-year-old guy named "Ray Digerati" who placed an ad of Craig's list that said "WILL FIX COMPUTERS FOR SEXUAL FAVORS," and he says it's been non-stop action ever since.
Most of the calls I get are for spyware removal and viruses. One girl didn't even wait for me to finish the virus scan—she just grabbed me and gave me a blow job.

Do you have a set, um, pay scale?
No, I leave it up to their discretion. One girl didn't want to have intercourse, so she offered me a massage and then finished me off with a hand job. It's basically all about the time I spend: If I'm working for one or two hours, I'd like a blow job. An orgasm for every two hours of service is pretty fair. If it's something simple that I can fix in 15 minutes, I'd like to get a foot massage.Reminds me of a joke from a Woody Allen film, What's New, Pussycat:
Woody: I've got this job at the strip joint helping the women get in …

Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD

For those who don't know there's plans for a newer, better version of DVD, I've written a little about it before. Unfortunately, there are two competing standards: HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. HD-DVD is backed more by Microsoft, Intel, Toshiba and others and Blu-Ray is backed by Sony, Fox, Disney, Apple and others. The recent problems with Sony and their rootkit has brought to light the problems of having media companies making hardware as well. In fact, I believe that one of the biggest mistakes Sony made was to get into the movie and music making business. They had a lot of difficulties repeating their success of the Walkman because devices they made didn't support MP3, until recently. They refused to support MP3 for the longest time because it doesn't support DRM. Their media divisions insisted on DRM protected content. The irony is that Sony makes much more money from their hardware divisions than from their media divisions.
Both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray promise to ha…

Unsustainable Software Development and its Causes

Woah, this hits close to home. I've seen this type of behavior first hand, more than once. I've often wondered why it's sometimes easier to rewrite a program than trying to improve it. When it happens on projects that I join there's often a good excuse: like "we need to rewrite in a modern computer language", "that software it's based on is no longer supported", "the software was written without concern for portability", etc.. But after reading this article I've realized that these are often just excuses, rewriting from scratch is very expensive.
What's needed, in my opinion is:
90%+ automated unit test coverage90%+ automated funcional test coverageAutomated buildsGood programmers and good continuous monitoring of these programmers (code reviews, etc.)Automated tests can fix a lot of woes. Plus you can make major changes to the underlying code (refactoring) without fear. If done right the automated tests can be used as docu…

Weekly del.icio.us bookmarks

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwood
News - KFlickr -- tagged as: [flickr internet linux photos web]BitlBee - News -- Might be better than gaim, and it supports transparency. tagged as: [internet util]Gravetat Project Homepage -- Might be fun to play with tagged as: [graphics science linux]Slashdot | Best Science News Podcasts? -- Thread on science podcasts tagged as: [podcast list]'Q' DVD-Author -- The main page for QDVD tagged as: [dvd linux tools video]QDVD-Author -- Another DVD program tagged as: [DVD linux util]Knoda database frontend -- Looks interesting for database work tagged as: [database gui linux python]Python-Hosting.com : Specialized python hosting provider -- Maybe I should change host tagged as: [linux python web hosting]

Million dollar idea

I've been listening to lots of podcasts and some of them are from conferences. The audio quality is often less than perfect especially when it comes to the question and answer period. Often people have to run around with microphones in order to record the person's question.
My idea is to have a small parabolic microphone with a laser pointer attached. When someone asks a question one of the presenters at the front points the laser at the persons chest who's asking the question and it should pick up what they are saying.
A more sophisticated version of this would be to have a system that points itself to the loudest speaker in the room. It would probably do it by having two or more microphones and will use the difference in time to calculate the position of the speaker. Then a pair of motors rotates the parabolic microphone to that position.

Politics: History of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies

All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity....
The fundamental question was, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer was, absolutely. His regime had large, unaccounted-for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons--including VX, sarin, cyclosarin, and mustard gas, anthrax, botulism, and possibly smallpox. Our conservative estimate was that Iraq then had a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent. That was enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.
...
link

Weekly del.icio.us bookmarks

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwood
Beyond Fallujah (Harpers.org) -- A Year With the Iraqi Resistance tagged as: [toread article politics]wxFontView -- To try tagged as: [graphics linux tools]Gournal -- For use with my wacom tablet? tagged as: [tools linux gui]xstroke: Fullscreen gesture recognition for X -- For use with my wacom tablet? tagged as: [gui linux usability]FirefoxNewVersion - Ubuntu Wiki -- Breezy's Firefox has a few problems tagged as: [linux web]As Brazil Votes to Ban Guns, NRA Joins the Fight -- tagged as: [toblog brazil]nose: a discovery-based unittest extension -- Sniff out some bugs tagged as: [python testing unit]PyKaraoke - Karaoke for Linux -- New York, New Yoooorrrk! tagged as: [karaoke linux python Music]As Brazil votes to ban guns, NRA joins the fight. | MetaFilter -- Gun referendum tagged as: [brazil toblog]PyQe - simple and easy-to-use command launcher -- Almost a competitor to wxOptParse tagged as: [linux python tools]pysqlite -- Python…

Politics: One Laptop per Child

As I said previously I'm quite interested in the $100 .00 laptop idea from Nicolas microphones.
I think one reason I think it might be a success is that books cost money, probably pretty close to $100.00 per child per year or two. If this could be replaced with a laptop and the books downloaded for free (probably written by government sponsored authors) it could pay for itself in a year or two. And if authors knew that their "book" material was going in a certain form factor within a few years I would expect the course material to be:
searchable,
linkable - to more and deeper content - possibly on the web,dynamic - it updates itself with the most recent information,
multimedia - sound, movies,updateble - like wikipedia,feedback - you can test your knowledge of the material - right now,
interactive - show a physics experiment that you setup, for example.So, if you think of the $100 laptop only as a replacement for books it's already looking pretty good. But as you kno…

Funny: Crazy world

This joke has sometimes been attributed to Chris Rock.
You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese, the Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is accusing the U.S. of arrogance, Germany doesn't want to go to war, and the three most powerful men in America are named Bush, Dick, and Colon. Need I say more?
Via Snopes

Security: RFID passports

The US State Department wants to put RFID (Radio Frequency ID's) into the US passports. Bruce Schneier has a recent article on the latest incantation. This version is actually a bit better than before but you have to think of why the State Department wants to use RFIDs in the passports. I can see two reasons:
The RFID chip creators are good at lobying.They want to be able to read you passport secretly.The later seems more likely. When I'm traveling I don't like to leave my passport in my room and often have it with me. If you had readers placed discretely in certain areas (train stations, mosks, churches) there's a chance you can keep track of a suspected criminal. Also, if you are looking for someone and are afraid they may fly out of the country you may be able to track them as they enter the airport (if you had readers at all the doors) rather than when they go through customs. This might give you a little extra time to mobilize your troops to capture him or h…

Oracle Passwords

There's a article discussing how you can crack an Oracle password in about 4 minutes. I've scanned the article and Oracle's password system isn't as bad as I might have thought, but it's pretty bad. The big no-nos was using the user name as the salt (instead of a random value) and forcing the password to uppercase. This greatly simplifies the process of find the password through brute force.
I like bashing Oracle, since:
When I first encountered Oracle I had to write connectivity in C++ to get to Oracle (back in 94 or so). I had already done the connectivity to DB-Library and to ODBC and found Oracle's the most problematic.
Oracle makes the most money of any database out there yet their documentation is rather pathetic.Postgres is better on low end (say 2 processor) machines than Oracle.Oracle's PL/SQL compiler is often useless for finding errors.Oracle's error messages are often useless for finding errors in SQL as well (like which column is wrong).Th…

Weekly delicious bookmarks

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwood
GNOME-Look.org -- Eyecandy tagged as: [gnome linux]Funkload -- Functional and load testing for web pages, in python tagged as: [agile python testing tools web]Put the fun back into computing -- Gives some Ubuntu hints, like 686 kernel and another firewall tagged as: [article linux]rest2web -- Create web site from RST pages tagged as: [python util web text]Distributed Internet Backup System -- Another backup solution tagged as: [backup linux opensource python]Ludesigner: Porque a revista Veja se vendeu -- Magazine Veja sells out tagged as: [brazil politics]hdup2 -- One more backup tagged as: [backup linux opensource]Bacula, the Network Backup Tool for Linux, Unix, and Windows -- Great backup solution, but overkill for me tagged as: [backup linux]LinkChecker -- Check websites and HTML documents for broken links tagged as: [linux python testing web tools]Umbrello UML Modeller -- Might be interesting, although I'm not a big fan of UM…

Cool: optical illusion

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If you look at this image from far away (about a meter or two) the angry and calm faces switch sides, cool.

via Boing Boing

Why does God hate amputees?

Marshall Brain has released an online book called "Why Does God Hate Amputees?" He also wrote a scary vision of the future in Robot Nation and is the founder of How Stuff Works.
His books is 32 pages and the title comes from this idea, we hear about miracles where tumor or some disease is cured, but...:
No matter how many people pray. No matter how sincere those people are. No matter how much they believe. No matter how devout and deserving the recipient. Nothing will happen. The legs will not regenerate. Prayer does not restore the severed limbs of amputees. You can read all the medical journals ever written -- there is no documented case of an amputated leg being restored spontaneously. And we know that God ignores the prayers of amputees through our own observations of the world around us. If God were answering the prayers of amputees to regenerate their lost limbs, we would be seeing amputated legs growing back every day.
I haven't finished reading but what I have read …

Weekly del.icio.us bookmarks

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwood
Barcode Writer in Pure Postscript -- I'll barcode my life tagged as: [util toread]Hydrate Cookbook -- Similar to my xml2ddl in some ways tagged as: [toread library java]A survey of Linux Web development tools -- Quick overview of tools tagged as: [linux programming tools]Ubuntu Me! -- Interesting for me since it shows how one linux user sets up his system. tagged as: [linux article]Howto: Backup and restore your system! -- Easy instructions using tar tagged as: [backup linux how-to]Captain Pork -- Maybe Victor will like? tagged as: [games linux]FlaminTiki: Google Hacks -- Blocked by firewall tagged as: [toread]

I think I want to be freeze dried

I think I want to be freeze dried, it's better for the environment than burying or cremating.It involves freezing the coffin and body to -18C before lowering them into liquid nitrogen at -196C, which leaves them extremely brittle.

A vibrating pad is used to reduce the remains to a powder and a magnetic field then removes all traces of mercury and other metal residues from fillings or hip replacements.

The remains are then put into a biodegradable coffin made from vegetable matter and buried in a shallow grave, where they will be absorbed into the earth within six to 12 months.

Loved ones could plant a tree or shrub on top of the grave, to absorb nutrients from the remains, supporters of the promession system suggest.

The cost of the process is expected to be similar to that for a cremation - around one-third of the price of a grave plot and traditional burial.

Via Boing Boing

Linux: Upgrading from Hoary to Breezy

Last week I spent two days making backups to DVD-Rs for my preperation to upgrade to the new Ubuntu Linux. I basically compressed folders with tar and copied them to a DVD. The pain was that I would have to guess or go through trial and error to get images that were less than 4.2 gig in size so they would fit on a DVD.
At the same time I did sudo apt-get dist-upgrade to upgrade my Linux. This also took about two days of downloading. It took longer because my Internet service provider likes to kill my connection so that I need to turn the modem off and on and then type ifup eth0.
The process was full of errors because of my language settings. It decided that I am using the language en_BR (for English/Brazilian). Which is sort of correct, but it probably wants en_US or pt_BR, which is more common. The install didn't actually fail, it would just complain and then use the US language. So with some trepidation I ignored the messages.
Then it found some configuration files that I had…

Web: what is technorati for?

I've hear of technorati before, but never really understood what it's purpose was. Now I know: basically, if you want to search for static information, use google. If you want to search for news or recent information, use technorati. Technorati keeps track of the rss feeds and does a good job of searching that information, google does a lousy job with that. Recently, I saw an article in the magazine "Veja" a was disapointed that they aparently sold out to the gun lobby (more on that later). I did a google search on what I thought was relevant and got nothing of what I was looking for. Later, I did a technorati search and found exactly what I expected - good job.

Linux: Organizing my life

I'm starting to put little programs in my crontab file so that it executes once in a while. The things I have setup are:
Local movies. A little Python program that I wrote a while ago, which I need to update because the site changed format, which grabs the Movie listing from a web site and filters out the ones that are local to my area. Once a week on Thursdays it e-mail me the listing, here's a sample:Cinemark Pátio Savassi
======================
Sala 01: "Deu Zebra" 11h10 - 13h30 (dublado)
Original title: Racing Stripes [Comédia,Infantil]
Director: Frederik Du Chan Actors: Bruce Greenwood, Hayden Panettiere, Caspar Poyck, Gary Bullock http://cinema.terra.com.br/ficha/0,,TIC-OI5569-MNfilmes,00.html
Sala 01: "Virgem de 40 Anos" 15h50 - 18h20 - 21h10 - 23h50* (*apenas 07, 08 e 11/10)
Original title: The 40 Year-Old Virgin [Comédia]
Director: Judd Apatow Actors: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco http://cinema.terra.com.br/ficha/0,,TIC-OI5…

Weekly del.icio.us

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwood
Varsha - Making DVD on Linux -- tagged as: [dvd linux video java]DVD Slideshow Examples -- How to Make a JPG slideshow to DVD tagged as: [dvd slideshow]setuptools - The PEAK Developers' Center -- This is the page for creating setup.py tagged as: [python reference setup]Titles By : all -- Need to download the screenshots, via Python tagged as: [toget games]Protecting Files at Home Using Encrypted Containers | Linux Journal -- tagged as: [linux toread security]Slashdot | Sun Eyes PostgreSQL -- tagged as: [database postgres]Comparison of SQL database management systems - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -- It's short, but up-to-date tagged as: [database sql postgres oracle mysql]HenPlus documentation -- Universal sqlplus like tool written in java tagged as: [java sql tools database]Installation Guide - Oracle 10G on Ubuntu Linux -- Installing Oracle 10g on Ubuntu linux tagged as: [linux oracle]X-Moto -- A bicycle racer tagged…

Funny: Bush's Half penny

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"Each half-cent will cost about 0.81 of a cent to mint, creating an unnecessary deficit every year," detractors of The Bush complain. "And it looks so much like a penny, The Bush will facilitate widespread dishonesty. The Bush is doomed to be a miserable failure."

...

The traditional slogan "In God We Trust" is replaced by "Trust Me" on The Bush, which will make it highly sought after by collectors of U.S. coins with oxymorons.

link

Programming: Open usability tests

As part of the OpenSUSE project they are publishing video of actual usability studies done showing users unfamiliar with Linux, using Linux. What a great idea, developers can look at that and see areas that they could improve.
I don't see Microsoft ever doing that.
via Slashdot

Weekly del.icio.us

Shared bookmarks for del.icio.us user scott_kirkwood
Varsha - Making DVD on Linux -- tagged as: [dvd linux video java]DVD Slideshow Examples -- How to Make a JPG slideshow to DVD tagged as: [dvd slideshow]setuptools - The PEAK Developers' Center -- This is the page for creating setup.py tagged as: [python reference setup]Titles By : all -- Need to download the screenshots, via Python tagged as: [toget games]Protecting Files at Home Using Encrypted Containers | Linux Journal -- tagged as: [linux toread security]Slashdot | Sun Eyes PostgreSQL -- tagged as: [database postgres]Comparison of SQL database management systems - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -- It's short, but up-to-date tagged as: [database sql postgres oracle mysql]HenPlus documentation -- Universal sqlplus like tool written in java tagged as: [java sql tools database]Installation Guide - Oracle 10G on Ubuntu Linux -- Installing Oracle 10g on Ubuntu linux tagged as: [linux oracle]X-Moto -- A bicycle racer tagged…

Programming: GC better than Malloc?

There's an article at IBM saying that garbage collection (like what Java does) is better than C++ and Malloc. The article is a little deceiving and incorrect. It's a little ironic but I did learn a few years ago that GC can be better than allocating on the heap or even the stack. When it comes to allocating memory the stack is the king when it comes to speed. The only problem is the stack is has lots of limitations, that why in C++ we use the heap. But if you follow what the memory manager does on the heap you can see that it will take a bit of time. The trick here is to use a pool, if possible (and it usually is possible). A pool can be quite fast.
Another trick used in C++ is reference counting. This looks pretty fast but turns out that doing any calculation is too much calculation when it comes to memory allocation. Also, with reference counting you can forget to count correctly, which happens a lot with COM, for example. Python, my favorite language, uses reference counting…