Saturday, January 31, 2004


Most popular...

...security tools?

Pete's blog - linked at right - pointed me to Insecure's Top 75 Security Tools list. No surprises... ethereal, snort, nessus, tcpdump, hping2 are all in the top ten. L0phtcrack - which once would have made the top 10 - has dropped a bit since it's "gone commercial".

...web sites?

A thread on JOS points out that if you do a Google search on "www", the results are the most popular web sites... Google Search: www. However, I think that the results are really "the most inlinked" web sites. Witness Real.com at #11. I have no reason to believe that Real is the 11th most popular site on the web. But it might be the 11th "most inlinked" site, given that so many sites provided content that can only be delivered to RealPlayer-equipped systems.

If Dick Vitale was a hacker...

Typical Announcer: "Strickland resets the offense..."
Hacker Dick: "Strickland REBOOTS the offense, babee!"

TA: "Leach blocks Davis' shot..."
HD: "Leach says ACCESS DENIED to Davis!"

TA: "Kline picks off the pass intended for Hill..."
HD: "Kline ISSUES AN INTERRUPT on Hill's toss!"

TA: "Wright drains a long three..."
HD: "Wright's writes three thousand lines... AND IT COMPILES FIRST TIME!"

TA: "Brown can't inbound the ball in five seconds... turnover..."
HD: "Brown EXCEEDS HIS QUANTUM and it's Indiana's ball, babee!"

TA: "Wright picks Hill's pocket..."
HD: "Wright EXPLOITS HILL'S VULNERABILITY!"

TA: "Ewing converts a dunk at the other end..."
HD: "Ewing EXECUTES A FLUSH COMMAND right in Davis' face!"


Thursday, January 29, 2004


Tufte on Columbia Disaster

Edward Tufte, an acknowledged expert on the visualization of data, has created an intriguing analysis of the key slides related to the Columbia space shuttle disaster.

"The 3 reports concerning the possible tile damage on the Columbia prepared by the Boeing engineers have become increasingly important as the investigation has developed. The reports provided the rationale for NASA officials to curtail further research (such as photographing the Columbia with spy cameras) on the tiles during the flight..."

Click for Tufte Site

Click for Tufte Site

Tufte on Columbia Evidence—Analysis of Key Slide

Signs your company has hired a bad developer

"1. Uses AOL for his home email/internet access

2. Doesn't know the difference between an IP address and a MAC address

2a. When you mention a MAC address, he thinks you're talking about Apple computers

3. Was previously unaware that you could have more than one monitor connected to a computer

3a. Asks if multimonitor setups can be used on all video cards by using some sort of y-cable

4. Tries to impress you by mentioning how much time he's supposedly spending at home each night, learning to use a certain programming language. Problem is, he was hired because he supposedly knew this stuff already. But now he's "busting his tail" to learn it. From scratch. And he wonders why you're not impressed. To be fair, this is a fault of my company's hiring practices (which I'm not involved with) as much as it is his fault.

5. Wears a Java shirt even though he can't code in Java (this is not the language I'm referring to in #4)

6. Has breath that smells like a plate of wet tuna fish that's been left in the sun for a while and possibly urinated on. I'm sorry, I know programmers sometimes have little hygiene problems, but if venturing within ten feet of you is a problem, that's taking things too far.

7. Keeps talking to you even though you have donned headphones for the express purpose of ignoring him. No, I DON'T feel like walking you through the "Hello, World" example chapter, you cluess pile of dung.

8. You're building an n-tiered application, and you explicitly and repeatedly inform him that he'll be working on the presentation tier ONLY. He spectacularly fails to understand this, and pesters you with suggested database designs (that suck). Trust me, he's not knowingly overstepping his bounds here. He's absolutely failing to *comprehend* his bounds because he does not understand the concept of separation between the presentation, business logic, and data layers.
"

Signs Your Company Has Hired A Bad Developer

Auto Performance

AutoSite has a detailed analysis of automotive performance achieved by compiling all of the major reviewers and their road tests. The linked page describes the stats gleaned from the major reviews of the Infiniti G35 Coupe and Sedan. The Sedan is surprisingly quick compared to the Coupe (6.1-6.2 for 5AT Sedan vs. 5.75-5.9 for 6MT Coupe).

AutoSite Performance

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


The case of the missing linker

Joel points out that .NET is missing a linker. No big deal, given the obvious requirement for the .NET runtime. Or is it? As usual, Joel is batting 1.000 on the issue of trying to develop client-side, application software.

Amazon Review Saga, Part 36

In late-breaking news of critical importance, Amazon's content filter issued a "pass" on my revised review of Confidence. Apparently, the phrase making love set off the alarm klaxons and caused an overzealous editor to wrongfully excise an entire two paragraphs from the review. Once I changed the offending snippet to making time... the entire review passed muster. Wheee!

Obscure Superheroes

Whickety WhackHere's a pretty obscure superhero... Matter-eater LAD. I don't believe I saw too many comic books featuring him when I was growing up.

My reco is "decaf"

The highly excitable "T" writes:

"WTF? I can't believe you just compared Windows XP to THE defacto standard in windowing technology, X-Windows-- especially when the root of your rant
only applies to the fat-ass bloated Linux window managers that the uneducated miscreants of the linux world now associate with 'X-Windows.' So, here's a quick history lesson for you and your Windows XP Fan-Boy minions:

In 1984 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) formed Project Athena. The goal was to take the existing assortment of incompatible workstations from different vendors and develop a network of graphical workstations that could be used as teaching aids. The solution was a network that could run local applications while being able to call on remote resources. They thus created the first operating environment that was truly hardware and vendor independent - the X Window System. Over the subsequent 20 years, the X Consortium, along with MILLIONS of open source developers and commercial partners, built X-Windows into a highly streamlined, fast and extensible windowing environment.

They did such a good job, in fact, that it has become the basis for almost ALL modern windowing systems to date. Starting back in the late 80's with Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics, Inc, X-Windows STILL holds the record for most user interfaces in-use, in existence-- and that doesn't even count all the Microsoft Windows versions which clearly stole the X-Windows architecture and technology back in 1992 with the release of Windows NT. Oh and, FAN-BOY, I forgot to mention that all the highly-acclaimed Apple computing interfaces since 1988, including the much-loved Next Operating System (now the basis for OS X) are 100% genuine X-Windows engines underneath the covers. What system do all the graphical
power houses use again?

So next time you go on a performance rant, do a little research, and at least verify that you are ranting on comparable products. Your comparison was similar saying "my Ferrari F-60 Enzo, while towing a 46-foot tractor trailer, just doesn't have the power to match my Nissan-Z wanna-be stripped down Infinity Sedan..." Yeah, well, Duh! Lose the bloat and try that test again, and I think you will be unpleasantly surprised, and embarrassed, by the results. Oh, and if you need some help reconfiguring your test, let me know-- I have an 8 year old nephew who frees up about 3 o-clock everday, and I'm sure he would be happy to set you up.
"

Let's see, where do I begin? I believe I was contrasting Visual Studio with the equivalent Linux representatives (say, Visual Slickedit under Gnome or KDE). Obviously, Gnome and KDE are the two leading X-based GUI's for **ix world. At some point, blame for poor performance must fall in either of the higher level layers (say, Gnome) or the lower level Windowing engine (X). Or perhaps a combination of the high- and low-levels.

Bottom line is that my original rant still stands: where is the X-based IDE that will handle my incessant, rapid-fire [Alt] keystrokes without choking the menuing system?

Corollary: if Gnome and KDE couldn't get X right... who can? Who will? And, if those guys couldn't get it right (remember, they're "fat-ass bloated... window managers"), what does that say about X itself?

And another minor rant regarding RedHat keyboard handling: why can't Gnome or KDE handle the numeric keypad in a standardized way? It seems that handling of the rightside keypad -- in navigation mode -- is left to the application. Huh? SlickEdit takes care of numeric keypad navigation (say, PgUp, PgDn) while most other apps ignore it. For someone who changes machines a lot and relies heavily upon that keypad -- this is a pretty serious annoyance.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


Toys You Had As a Kid That Would Be Outlawed Today Due to Potential Injury

Great thread on the normally... uhmmm... controversial FC discussion board.

I had a Tonka Dump Truck. Completely fabricated from the sharpest metal Tonka could find. It could take a finger off if not handled properly. No f--kin' way that baby makes it into the store today.

Stretch Armstrong, the kind filled with jelly. If around now, some hypo allergenic, ADD f--k wad would eat it and his tard parents would look to sue the korean manufacturer. The whole thing would be on a 20/20 segment hosted by John Stossel.

Bow & arrows. Arrows had easily-removed suction cup ends for putting other kids eyes out.

Jarts! aka "Lawn Darts", those things were deadly!

How about building models? Like ships, planes, aircraft. Do you think any parent today would let model glue into the house?

Air blasters. Ingenious guns you would pump and fire. They would shoot a blast of air in the form of a torus that was amazingly stable and could travel across a room. Of course, it only took kids about 10 minutes to figure out they could also fire rocks, nails, etc.

This thing called, I think, the Flexy Racer. It was a sled on wheels and you could steer it somewhat but I don't recall it having brakes.

And a Mattel creation called Crispy Critters. You baked gel in these bug molds. The sadistic part was you could slam them out of the hot molds into someone's hand and you'd end up with the burn mark of a bug. God!

A slinky. Certainly doubles for a garotte.

Wait a minute--wait a minute--Bangsite! Evil smelling granular crap that came in a kind of a toothpaste tube. (I think it was calcium carbide.) Mixing Bangsite with water made an explosive gas. Rich kids had Bangsite cannons, heavy cast iron things that were relatively safe to use. The rest of us took a metal baking soda can and punched a nail hole through the bottom. This turned the can into a three-man, crew-served weapon. One kid tipped some Bangsite into the can, spat on it, jammed the lid on, and placed the can on the edge of the curb. Second kid put his foot on the can to brace it. Third kid applied the match to the nail hole. KAF--KINGBOOM! with a burst of flame, and the lid goes flying clear across the street. I still cannot believe that my parents knew I was doing this, and let me.

The Green Machine. You would steer with these two levers between your legs. Hit a curb hard enough and those babys were burying themselves into your n-ts-ck.

All Aluminum snow sleds. On a good hill you could go upwards of 60+ MPH. F--king things are banned now.

The rocket you filled with water, and then pumped it full of air! Too many kids let it fly with their head in the way.

I'm now remembering how much fun it was slapping someone with those bright orange Hot Wheels track strips!

Wrist Rockets? Basically a sling shot that wraped around your wrist and used heavy rubber tubes as the bands, You could also buy ball bearing like ammo. This thing was basically a .38 Cal and was deadly.


Toys You Had As a Kid That Would Be Outlawed Today Due to Potential Injury

Monday, January 26, 2004


Bummed @ Amazon

I'm a little bummed out at Amazon... an editor there censored part of my review of the movie Confidence. If you check my Jan. 24 blog entry, you'll see the full review. Since they've never edited a single one of my previous 56 reviews, I'm wondering what was objectionable. If anyone has any ideas, fire me an email.

Okay... it's a few minutes later (8:01PM). I justed edited the review and changed the possibly objectionable phrase "making love" to "making time". Hmmm. We'll see if it makes it through the content filters this time. And I'll be certain to keep you --- my faithful reader -- up-to-date on this momentous news.

Camera-phone scam

Got this email from Rick: "Keep a watch out for people standing near you at retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores, etc., that have a cell phone in hand. With the new camera cell phones, they can take a picture of your credit card, which gives them your name, number, and expiration date. Identification theft is one of the fastest growing scams today, and this is just another example of the means that are being used. So... be aware of your surroundings."

Snopes validates this -- at least in the sense that it isn't an out-and-out hoax -- although most phone-cams don't have the necessary resolution. However, the newer, high-end phones will have the capability of in-store ID theft... so watch your back.

Buying Cars at eBay

I'm so whickety whack at HTML that if you click on this picture, absolutely nothing will happen!  Well, I'd make something happen, but I'm too tired to copy the URL from autos.msn.com.  Mad... simply MAD HTML skillz!Speaking of Rick, he's one of the few people I know who bought a car on eBay. Buying his '99 911 Cabrio in a transaction brokered by the 'bay probably saved him $6 or $7K.

Anyhow, eBay is now buying German auto classifieds site mobile.de to solidify its position as a market-maker for all things automotive. Look for more acquisitions in this space. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if LeaseTrader or Swapalease were next on the block.

2005 Porsche 997

There's no text here, just go about your businessHere's a "spy pic" of the reputed, forthcoming Porsche 997 from the excellent AutoSpies site. Reaction. Reaction. Still waiting for my reaction. Hasn't changed alot since '99, has it? That's why I'm still of the opinion that Porsche is wavering on the precipice. Not a lot of vision, when you can hardly tell which year model you're looking at -- and the Japanese competitors are pounding on the castle walls.


Sunday, January 25, 2004


Why Sun is getting Dusted, Reason #723

Sun has had, what, 8 or 9 years to get a good IDE for Java together. We're still waiting. I've used what I think might be the best Linux-based environment -- Visual SlickEdit under X -- and, while powerful, is far from as usable as Visual Studio. Part of that is X. It's just not as snappy as it needs to be to compete with XP. Example: if you're a long-time VS maniac and hit Ctrl+F, then S in rapid-fire succession to save your file, you'll be sorely disappointed. The keyboard processing/menu handling just can't handle the quick keystrokes. Eclipse has plenty of well-documented warts. Bottom line is that I haven't found anything that compares to Visual Studio.

Bad news for would-be competitors. There is some cool shiznit in Whidbey, the forthcoming VS release. Number one on the list is the refactoring menu. How many times have you wanted to pull an inline chunk out of your code and slam it into a method? Or expose a class member as a property? These common refactoring tasks -- and more -- are integrated into Whidbey's Refactoring gadget.

Code snippets are another neat addition. Imagine finding some sample code, copying it to the clipboard, pasting it into the right place in your project, and filling in the necessary changes... automatically? That's what a code snippet purports to do. There are some other cool features as well, but some of them simply play catch up with other IDE's (cheez, how long did it take to export IDE settings for import onto another machine?). Anyhow, you make the call:

Visual Studio .NET Whidbey Release.

Jack LaLanne is my hero

One word describes Jack LaLanne: Awesome.

"...At 89, the 5'4" LaLanne has a 46-inch chest, a 31-inch waist and can still do 100 push-ups without turning so much as light pink. His 90th birthday is coming up in September, and he wants to celebrate by swimming the 30 miles from Catalina Island to Long Beach, Calif., underwater, using air tanks. It'll take about 22 hours...

'We have no pride, no discipline in this country!' rants LaLanne. 'We're serving junk food in schools! People think they can eat anything and just sit on their big, fat butts! Athletes are selling their souls to advertise crap that they know is no good for kids -- milk and cheeseburgers and candy! Why can't people see that it's killing them! Any stupid ass can die! Living is hard! You've got to work at living!'

He's not a fan of the Atkins diet: 'It's a gimmick! All that meat! You need whole-grain bread and cereals!'
Or dairy products: 'Am I a suckling calf? No other creature uses milk after they wean.'
"

SI.com - Rick Reilly: Jumping Jack's Still a Flash

RTFM or, rather, UG


I will use Google before asking dumb questions!


Build your own model plane!

It's fun, entertaining and easy to do. Well, actually, I just came across this nicely illustrated (but certainly inhumane) set of instructions... read, enjoy, but please don't do this without the written consent of your engines.


Saturday, January 24, 2004


The World's Most Dangerous Geek

Justin Frankel, inventor of Winamp, Gnutella and many other cool apps is a true programming "god". Rolling Stone's profile of Frankel is an excellent overview of his recent years, playing the part of rebel in the AOL corporate infrastructure.

"The most dangerous man in music is ready to rock. It's Saturday night in San Francisco as Justin Frankel, gangly and bed-headed, ambles through the warehouse garage he aptly calls his "playground." He has come here, as he often does, to screw around on his drums or his Moog or electric guitar. But first he needs his fog machine..."

The most dangerous Geek alive

Confidence

Click here to see the Amazon page for Confidence, so yes, I'm whickety whack at HTMLSaw the DVD Confidence last night and wrote up this Amazon review:

This watered-down "thriller" is the spawn of an unholy union: _Reservoir Dogs_ and _Usual Suspects_. Possessing neither the chilling terror of Dogs nor the mind-twisting plot of Suspects, _Confidence_ follows a formulaic approach in describing the aftermath of a grift gone bad.

Edward Burns is the leader of a motley group of con-men who have made their way to LA, having perfected a team approach to grifting. Their con takes place in a low-brow bar and when the "mark" witnesses a murder in the establishment - and the cops head in - the money is left behind in the confusion. Of course, the murder never really took place and the witnesses in the bar are in on the scam - as are the pair of crooked cops who show up. Problem is, this mark had money that belonged to the "King" - and when one of the gang gets capped in the head, Burns is forced to deal with the problem by having a sit-down with the King.

The King, head of a nonsensical, "independent" criminal enterprise, is played unconvincingly by Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman - as a Dennis Hopper-type prone to violence - simply doesn't fit the bill, given that any 16-year-old high-school football player could wipe the floor with Mr. Hoffman. Burns never changes his persona during the entire movie - whether making love to a female pickpocket (Rachel Weisz) that conveniently shows up in his life - being threatened by a large firearm point at his nose - or in his day-to-day life, planning the scam that will pay back the King and give the group their final retirement score.

I could go on, but why bother. You can probably guess how it all turns out. The sad truth about this flick is that the talented actors are abused by a story that is simplistic, silly and completely unbelievable. If you've got nothing better to do on a rainy evening, certainly give it a watch. But expect to be underwhelmed, given the ability of a cast that has a lot more to offer than what you'll see here.


What your car says about you

This is a long-running viral email but still rings true. Like it or not, your car does say a lot about who you are. Or rather, who you think you are. Or who you might want to be someday ("Sean Connery, can I please borrow the Aston-Martin?").

Buick Park Avenue - I am older than 34 of the 50 states.
Cadillac Eldorado - I am a very good Mary Kay salesman.
Chevrolet Camaro - I enjoy beating up people.
Datsun 280Z - I have a kilo of cocaine in my wheel well.
Geo Storm - I will start the 11th grade in the Fall.
Geo Tracker - I will start the 12th grade in the Fall.
Honda del Sol - I have always said, half a convertible is better than no convertible at all.
Isuzu Impulse - I do not give a rip about J.D. Power or his reports.
Jeep Wrangler - I am fiercely independent, just like all my friends with Jeeps.
Mazda Miata - I do not fear being decapitated by an eighteen-wheeler.
Nissan 300ZX - I have yet to complete my divorce proceedings.
Peugeot 505 Diesel - I am on the EPA's Ten Most Wanted List.
Plymouth Fury - I like driving an air-conditioned sofa that can carry your car in my trunk as a spare.
Pontiac Trans AM - I have a switchblade in my sock.
Porsche 944 - I am dating big haired women that otherwise would be inaccessible to me.
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow - I think Pat Buchanan is a tad too liberal.
Subaru Legacy - I have always wanted a Japanese car even more inferior than Isuzu.
Volvo 740 Wagon - I am frightened of my wife.
Volvo 240 - Other drivers are unsafe. Let me go ahead and pull out in front of this guy to slow him down


My Car Speaks For Itself

Friday, January 23, 2004


What's an MBA Really Worth?

"It will cost more than $100,000 to earn a degree at an elite business school. Just one problem: There's little real evidence that it will enhance your career... After college, Tad Glauthier didn't have much of a career plan. He knocked around for a while as a ski instructor, then as a TV sitcom stand-in. But when he decided at the age of 28 that it was time to get serious, he applied to one of the most revered career-building institutions in capitalism: Stanford's Graduate School of Business. 'I thought B-school would catch me up,' he says...

What's an MBA Really Worth?

Thursday, January 22, 2004


Linux @ Amazon

Amazon's heavy reliance on Linux is described in this article from News.com. The most interesting part - at least, for my addled brain - covers the scalability of the backoffice commerce infrastructure, to wit:

"Amazon uses a message-based system in which one server, such as a machine that just logged a customer order, sends messages to other machines, such as those that take care of billing or shipping... With tasks handled by the next available system in a large pool, the design can easily expand to meet demand..."

If I interpret this correctly, Amazon isn't using the expected, high-tech web-services approach. Rather, they're on the traditional big-iron bandwagon: relying upon a messaging infrastructure (e.g., Tibco) and a straightforward API (say, JMS) to drive critical transactions.

Web services are for real - I've seen them used too often to think otherwise - but it's instructive to look at an Amazon for a sanity-check on how huge shops operate.

Welcome to the world of RFID

"First, consider what per-product RFID does to the checkout queue. Instead of having to wait for a shop assistant to swipe each product across a barcode reader by hand, you would simply roll your cart through a set of RFID readers. ..

...One area of privacy that would be hard to resolve is the ability to determine from outside a house what a person owns (at least, the things which have RFID tags). Imagine a gym that drives around the neighbourhood detecting those families that have a few too many Twinkies in the pantry in order to send a salesperson to their door...
"

Welcome to RFID

Thanks, Pud

From FC's message board, Move Titles that sound like you're taking a [crap] [Caution: adult readers only, please!].

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The Case Against Extreme Programming

Given that XP has maxed out at 9 of 10 on the hype-meter lately, a certain level of 'backlash' is to be expected:

"XP is a symbiotic process: that is, you really need to do all of XP or none at all. There’s no in-between (with the possible exception of unit tests). The theory is that each of its individually flawed practices reinforces each other to produce something stronger... Unfortunately, as we will explore in this article, this can also work in the other direction - stop doing one practice and the chain unravels. In the real world it proves difficult to adhere to the XP practices for the duration of an entire project."

Software Reality

Scripters Paradise - not .NET?

One thing I love about PHP and Perl is the ability to slam together quick-and-dirty command-line scripting. Yes, you can build huge, n-tier apps with either (witness SourceForge or Slashdot)... but scripting as the glue for infrastructure makes a lot of sense. Thus, this missive about .NET and scripting...

"What about the scripters? Due to the benefit of my experience and a job and
supervisor that provide time for personal development, I'm slowly making the switch to ASP.NET. But what about the dozens of scripters at my (and countless other) workplace(s) whose responsibilities cover a variety of IT niches (desktop support, server admin, IT education, etc). They do not have the time or the background to move to an event-driven, object-oriented, significantly more complex development environment. But they still need to produce simple, procedural, functional web-based database applications. I'm talking here about HTML forms that post or retrieve data for editing.

So what is the problem? Where is the procedural .NET!?! Where is the scripter's version of .NET!?! My colleagues are giving up on Microsoft after years of effort to consolidate on the MS platform...
"

DannyBoyd

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Function disfunction

The Old New Thing, a great development site BTW, has an article on IA64 development. While that may not be of interest to most folks, what is neat is the illustration of improper calling syntax. In this case, Win32 CreateThread and all of the grievously screwed up examples that have spread all over the web. And even MSDN is one of the offenders!

"This is hardly the only web page that supplies buggy sample code. Here's sample code from a course at Old Dominion University that makes the same mistake, and sample code from Long Island University, It's like shooting fish in a barrel. Just google for CreateThread LPTHREAD_START_ROUTINE and pretty much all the hits are people calling CreateThread incorrectly. Even sample code in MSDN gets this wrong. Here's a whitepaper that misdeclares both the return value and the input parameter in a manner that will crash on Win64... And it's all fun until somebody gets hurt."

Desynchrony

Looks like Asynchrony shut down a few days ago. This was a community development site that, IMO, didn't offer enough to developers to make it worthwhile. I looked at it originally for BadBlue and SwiftTouch, but didn't think it was worth pursuing.

Tweaking MySQL

Kuro5hin has a much-needed article on Tweaking MySQL which has invariably attracted the hordes of units who insist that only Postgres, Oracle, text-files, or magnetic coils are right for the job. Bottom line is that some sites grew up with MySQL and - with a bit of parameter-tuning - they might live a little longer. Or at least until they can upgrade to DataBoy 2000 or whatever technology is needed.

Monday, January 19, 2004


Wow...

Picture taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express orbiter on 14 January 2004 under the responsibility of the Principal Investigator Prof. Gerhard Neukum. It was processed by the Institute for Planetary Research of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), also involved in the development of the camera, and by the Institute of Geosciences of the Freie Universit√§t Berlin.

It shows a portion of a 1700 km long and 65 km wide swath which was taken in south-north direction across the Grand Canyon of Mars (Valles Marineris) from two perspectives. It is the first image of this size that shows the surface of Mars in high resolution (12 metres per pixel), in colour and in 3D.


High-res JPG of Valles Marineris
Mars: Valles Marineris


ESA - Mars Express - Europe's eye on Mars: first spectacular results from Mars Express

Jenkins Tribute

My favorite player to watch in the NFL playoffs this year is not a QB, not a half-back, not even a hard-hitting safety ("Oh my goodness, Chris, I think Manning's head has actually been separated from his body by Milloy's hit!").

No... instead, I'm enjoying watching Panther's defensive tackle Kris Jenkins crush, kill and destroy every gimmicky blocking scheme that offensive coordinators and line coaches have thrown up against him.

It was awesome watching him against the Rams. There were literally occasions where he was being triple-teamed (guard, tackle and tight-end) and he was pushing all three of them back! What does the opposing coach do when that happens ("maybe we could throw the center and pull a guard at him, too")? Mr. Jenkins is insanely powerful and just doesn't seem to take a down off. Seriously, just watch for #77 in the Super Bowl (he usually lines up around the left offensive guard). Then wait for the pain to begin.

Since Patriots' QB Tom Brady had virtually no pressure applied to him by the Colts D-line, it will be very interesting to see what Bellichek decides to do against a much more dangerous and powerful front.

Sunday, January 18, 2004


Power Brick Rant

Philo from JOS: "Another peripheral, another freaking power brick. Why do I have fifteen different transformers under my desk?

...USB was supposed to carry power for peripherals, but I guess it was too hard. Well now that USB2 and Firewire are established you guys can go back and put power back on the pins. I also want daisy-chaining put back in the spec...

...And if nobody can bother doing that, then I want a standard low-voltage power established with a standard connector. Everyone can use 15v or 7.5v...
"

JOS - Power brick rant

WWII Aerial Photos...

From the Guardian (credit to Slashdot for the link): "Unique aerial photographs of the some of the key events of the Second World War are to be made available for the first time over the internet... The entire archive of more than five million aerial reconnaissance photographs, shot by the RAF over Western Europe during the conflict, is going online from Monday.

They include American troops landing on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, the seizure of the Pegasus bridge by British paratroops, the aftermath of the first 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne, and the German battleship Bismarck as the Royal Navy hunted her down...


The Aerial Reconnaissance Archives (TARA)

Star Wars Honda Del Sol

I guess I'm not as much of a loser as I thought...


Star Wars Civic Project

Saturday, January 17, 2004

More Google Hacking

From ResearchBuzz comes this interesting Google syntax for date-based searching:

The syntax is daterange:xx-xx , where each xx is a date. Here's the kicker, though; the dates must be in Julian format. I hear you yelling, "What the heck is Julian format?" Julian dates are a continuous count of days since noon UTC on January 1, 4713 BC. April 21, 2002, at about 5am UTC is 2452385.70608 in Julian date format (hereafter referred to as JD.) Skip the decimals; Google doesn't like 'em...

dogs daterange:2452384-2452384

You'd get about 400 results, vs about 6,770,000 for a full Google search of the word dogs. Now, can you mix this with other syntaxes? Yes, to a certain extent. It works fine with intitle:

intitle:dog daterange:2452384-2452384

It also works okay with inurl, even when you mix the syntaxes together.

intitle:dog inurl:dog daterange:2452384-2452384


NBOR Review

The pre-release marketing hype has faded and left NBOR with the reality of developing a usable software product. The first reviews are in and are decidedly, well, you make the call.

"My opinion is that NBOR's Blackspace could be a great university/phD project or a research project. But not a product. It is currently very limited (few basic functions to derive from) to be used in real offices (for $299 retail price no less), it does not interoperate with existing office documents, its interface is terrible and can even be time consuming creating some of the tools from scratch for functions that they are just a click away on existing Office or graphics applications...

...Maybe when they have a complete SDK to give away, they refine their interface, clean up the crashing bugs of the player, be more compatible with office ... then maybe NBOR would have a chance. But if that take them 10 more years to complete I don't want to even imagine their investor's mood by then.
"

Advice to NBOR and other would-be software designers working on leading-edge user interfaces: hire the best (e.g., Gerry at MindStorm) and let them work their magic. I have a suspicion that the guys at NBOR have never shipped a mainstream product before and, if that's the case, their investors did everyone a disservice by not insisting upon a seasoned team to assist.

Friday, January 16, 2004


Grille Frenzy

Okay, let me state up front that I love Nissan and Infiniti products. My family has had a variety of these automobiles over the years and I've owned both the '03 and '04 Infiniti G35 Coupe and Sedan. My Dad and brother have both owned multiple Maximas, and for many years I drove my wife's beater '84 Nissan 200SX (which apparently stood for "Styling suX"). So... what I don't understand is what Nissan is attempting with the "steel plate" grille.


2004 Nissan Maxima


I'm trying to figure out the designers' thought process here. "Let's slap a giant, square steel plate in the center of an otherwise good-looking grille! It'll fit really well with our new branding, given that the new Murano and Altima don't have these steel plates!"

The plates - which don't match the exterior color of the car nor the grille finish itself - stick out like a sore thumb. Nissan - are you listening? The grille, by itself with the simple, compact Nissan logo, would be much, much, much more attractive. For a company that has made few tactical errors in the last few years, this styling gaffe sticks out like a sore thumb. Or perhaps a steel thumb.

Names

In the Clever names department, I present Exhibit A: the Mazda "Truck".

Great Styling Work #107

Wonderful job by Volvo's designers with the new S40 exterior. Strong, flowing lines that borrow from the S80. Attention to detail in the corners. Just a very, very nice design.


2004.5 Volvo S40


XLR

Although I haven't seen in person yet, I get the distinct impression that this unit looks markedly different than its rendering in a 2D photo. I'm not a big fan of the "Stealth Fighter" school of design that has become the Cadillac branding vehicle. Stealth fighters are angular for a reason. Cadillacs are angular for no particular reason, except perhaps a skewed sense of aesthetics. And the interior... oh my. Cadillac: please beg, borrow or steal a BMW interior guy and get into the 21st century. We really don't need a dashboard that harkens back to a mid-80's Cimarron, at best.


Cadillac XLR


Joe Isuzu

Anyone know if Isuzu is still in business?

Brother, can you spare $440,381?

Holy shnikes, this car looks tight: the Porsche Carerra GT. And if you have to ask how much it costs - like me - you have no shot at buying one.


Porsche Carerra GT


Thursday, January 15, 2004


Nice Reference!

I'd never heard of NBOR or Blackspace before reading this JOS thread. But one particular comment caught my eye in one of the linked articles:

"Blackspace is a fundamental change in how we learn, work, play, and communicate," says John Seely Brown, former Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), "as great as the advent of motion pictures. It is not just a new software paradigm, but a new, active, and interactive [medium]."

That's a great reference!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Googlemania

Google's powerful search technology has spawned a host of imitators and even a fan site. Check out this listing of Google-related sites that revolves around Everything Google.

Perfect storm for Google AdSense?

On the less rosy side of Google's business, Hans Riemer points out that pay-per-click (PPC) advertising systems like AdSense are threatened by scams that recruit random users to artificially drive up search engine revenues. The potential downside is the dilution of the PPC model, at best, and its demise, at worst. I like AdSense, but always wondered what some bad guys with Linux boxes and some IPtables hacks could do to the entire business model.

Not to pick on Microsoft, but...

Look, I'll be the first to admit that developing secure, system-level software is damn tough. Damn tough. There are always holes where you least expect them, no matter how carefully you've reviewed your code. News.com reports that Microsoft and Cisco have several major flaws in their implementations of Voice-over-IP using H323, to wit:

"...The security problems can cause a product that supports H.323 to crash. For example, in Cisco telecommunications products running its IOS operating system, the vulnerability could be used to cause the devices to freeze or reboot. However, on Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000, which is included with Small Business Server 2000 and 2003 editions, the vulnerability could allow an attacker to take control of the system... Ironically, in Microsoft's case, the Internet Security and Acceleration Server is designed to help protect companies' networks from online attacks. Specifically, a filter used in the server that secures VoIP communications is vulnerable to the flaw..."

Flaws threaten VoIP networks

Sunday, January 11, 2004


Adobe helping fight counterfeiters

"Adobe Systems Inc. acknowledged Friday it quietly added technology to the world's best-known graphics software at the request of government regulators and international bankers to prevent consumers from making copies of the world's major currencies... The unusual concession has angered scores of customers... Adobe, the world's leading vendor for graphics software, said the secretive technology 'would have minimal impact on honest customers.' It generates a warning message when someone tries to make digital copies of some currencies..."

Adobe helps fight counterfeiting

Fresh fears over cellphones

Uhmm... I don't think I'm gonna be usin' my cellphone quite as much. Check out the brainscan photos. And short Verizon.

Superbowl Predictions

On Wildcard Sunday, the crew made the following predictions for the Superbowl:

Person Pick Tot
Tudy PHI over NE 58
Rick GB over NE 62
Marc CAR over IND 57
Lew PHI over TN 48
Doug CAR over IND 47

Winner gets treated to dinner by the losers.

Survivor Notes

Speaking of the NFL, All-Star Survivor starts on Superbowl Sunday 2004. 18 of the most popular players - including Rupert, Richard, and Tina - are divided into three tribes with a minimum of $25,000 per player (up from the regular Survivor minimum pay of $2,500). There is some indication that Johnny Fairplay is not in the game, although a recent interview (which is an entertaining read) implied he might be participating.

Chickenhead

The anonymous blogger named Chickenhead apparently feels that HP's Carly Fiorina is "under-qualified". Caution: nasty language, adults only please.

And still more from NAIS


Pontiac Solstice

If (a big if) Pontiac can build a high-quality convertible like the Solstice and keep it under $20K (as promised), they might really have a winner.


Chevy Nomad Concept

This attractive, potential Mini Cooper competitor seats four and is built on the same Kappa platform as the Solstice.


BMW 645ci Convertible

This, new premium Beemer drop-top rates a 9 of 10 on the aesthetic scale.


Mercury Aviator Concept

Appealing crossover combo builds on momentum established by the Infiniti FX and the Chrysler Pacifica.


Land Rover Range Stormer Concept

Land Rover's Range Stormer shows off a far sportier direction for the staid manufacturer, a la Cayenne and FX.

Friday, January 09, 2004


More from NAIS


Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible

Another wonderful job by Chrysler - rip the top off the PT Cruiser and provide a motoring experience unlike any other (with the possible exception of the VW Beetle ragtop). An inexpensive, four seater convertible. I guarantee this vehicle will sell like hotcakes for years to come.


Jiexun Concept

Here's something creative: an asymmetrical (left-to-right) front-end. Certainly not pleasing to the eye, perhaps this approach will work in the future. And certainly a completely new idea in an industry seemingly lacking radical approaches.


Lincoln Mark X Roadster

Wonderful job by Lincoln's designers: a droptop with charisma, panache and aesthetic appeal. If it's priced less than $40K, it will truly be a world-beater.


Mercedes-Benz GST

Two words: ugh and lee. Ugly. If M-B is going for a target-market of people who like stunted, undersized station wagons laden with nonsensical curves, then they've got a winner. This model has no chance of surviving in its current form.


Volvo S40

The new S40 is not a bad-looking vehicle at all. Borrowing heavily from the S60 and S80 before it, the 40 is a marked improvement over its predecessor. I believe it will slightly overachieve its sales goals if it is marketed appropriately: age 21-35 professionals living in or near large metro areas.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Very interesting article regarding when (and when not) to outsource the software development function, from one of the leading business simulation firms: The Pitfalls of Outsourcing Programmers - Forio Business Simulations.

Looks like Governor Taft signed HB12 into law, which means Ohio will become the 46th state to pass a concealed-carry law. No state has ever repealed such a law and every rigorous academic study (University of Chicago, Florida State, etc.) has demonstrated reductions in violent crime. Congratulations to Jeff Garvas and Ohioans for Concealed Carry for their fine work in organizing the movement for a sensible CCW law in Ohio.

At NAIS 2004, some interesting product introductions:

Mitsubishi Eclipse Concept

If well-received, this concept vehicle could be close to a production '06-'07 Eclipse model. The Eclipse body suffered greatly in its most recent incarnation as the prior version is still better looking.


Hyundai Tiburon Concept?

The Tiburon is a damn appealing car. This might be a next-gen version and, if so, will continue the roll Hyundai has been on in the states. They're writing the modern-day Honda blueprint for success as we speak.


Jeep Rescue

Need proof that the Hummer H2 is dramatically impacting the entire SUV market? We present the Jeep Rescue, an overwrought Hummer wannabe.


Mazda Concept

Evidence that the Mini-Cooper has changed expectations in the micro-car realm.


Chrysler Crossfire Convertible

Chrysler has done some very nice work pulling the top off the Crossfire coupe. One hopes that the body has been stiffened and the suspension tightened to make it a "true convertible".

Monday, January 05, 2004

Looking to start a business, but need that critical (and fundable) idea to begin? Find out which companies are getting funded. Credit for this link goes to a JOS Thread.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Paul Graham on Java

This Paul Graham column certainly needs revisiting (it was originally written in April of '01), but it is entertaining: Java's Cover.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Getting your MFC app to run on Linux

"Still maintaining that legacy Windows application built using Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC), but now you have clients requesting a Linux version? You may have highly skilled MFC developers on your team, but how do you come up to speed with Linux development? Don't panic; this article is for you..."

IBM's Developerworks discusses how to port MFC applications to Linux.

Game Development

From JOS: Which Game SDK is better?

Visualization

The importance of representing data visually: The Challenger: An Information Disaster.

World's Strongest Man

Amy made the interesting observation that all of the competitors in the World's Strongest Man competition were bald or losing their hair. "None of them have a full head of hair," she exclaimed, "but I really like that Mariusz Pudzianowki!".


Hot Topics Around Various Auto Forums

Mercedes forum: My wife is divorcing me and trying to take the house. How do a kill her and keep my Doctors license?

Monte Carlo forums: Why do I keep getting pulled over, it ain't stolen yo.

Civic forums: Just added some more decals (5hp gain)

Lamborghini forum: Wind noise around 210MPH

SUV forum: Are gas prices going down any time soon?

Pontiac Fiero forum: Just bought a new flame retardant suit (pics)

Buick Forum: Is Medicare and Medicaid right for me?

Hummer forum: Had a fender bender today 24 hurt, 10 killed. Is black touchup paint available through the dealer?

Cadillac Eldorado forum: Is there a way to relocate the spare to get more bodies in the trunk?

Hot topics around the other forums.

Thursday, January 01, 2004


Horsepower Wars

I wanted to briefly revisit my "automotive prediction #1" for 2004: For better or worse, the automotive horsepower race will continue unabated. To see how far we've come, I herein contrast the horsepower and performance of my mid-tier sedan ('04 Infiniti G35) with luxury and performance models from 15 years ago (note: If you have any quibbles about my figures, please contact the editors of Performance Car magazine regarding the accuracy of their November, 1987 issue).

Year Make/Model 0-60 HP
2004 Infiniti G35 Coupe 5.5 280 <==
1988 Porsche 911 Turbo 5.6 300
2004 Infiniti G35 Sedan 5.7 260 <==
1988 Ferrari Testarossa 6.0 390
1988 Porsche 911 Targa 6.1 231
1988 Porsche 944 Turbo 6.5 220
1988 Ferrari 328 GTB 6.8 270
1988 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 7.0 228
1988 BMW 325i 7.2 171
1988 Mercedes 500 SEC 7.3 245
1988 BMW 735i 7.6 220
1988 Toyota Supra 7.7 201
1988 Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 8.0 185
1988 BMW 528i 8.3 183
1988 Saab 900 Turbo 16V 8.5 175
1988 Mazda RX-7 8.5 150
1988 Honda Accord 2.0 8.6 137
1988 Acura Legend 9.5 172

A few caveats: the 1988 figures are from Euro-spec cars, which are generally quicker and possess more HP than equivalent, US-bound models. If we compared US vehicles to the '04 Infiniti, the performance disparity would be even greater!

Now... can you imagine what 2018 will bring? 400 HP sports sedans? 600 HP sports cars? 0-60 in 2.9 seconds? My neck is hurting just thinking about it.