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  1. Republican-based Intellegence

    brian on 2003.01.24
    at 04:44 pm

    OK, most people reading this right now are just waiting for me to tear into some random Republican for something underhanded. Well sorry to disappoint, but I'm hear to sing the praises of Gov. Mitt Romney of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (no one here calls it a state). Well on this one issue at least. Read this Globe article detailing how Mitt and his crew have actually listened to environmentalists who continue to harp on how sustainibility makes sense economically.

    Yes! He wants to cut out SUVs from the state fleet, where they're 99% un-needed.

    "The price tag for SUVs is 50 percent more than regular cars and it's 50 percent more to operate,'' said Douglas Foy, the newly appointed coordinator of housing, transportation, environment, and energy under Governor Mitt Romney. ''Aside from the environmental issue, it's a budget issue in these austere times."

    He's also staying with an excise tax on SUVs mentioned during his campaign and looking into the placement of government offices in urban settings which are readily accessed by mass transit. Damn. I'm impressed. I disgree on many topics with Mitt, but I will be the first to say "Job well done" if this kind of progress makes it to reality.

    Posted in: Cool Info

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  2. 12" PowerBooks, in person

    brian on 2003.01.24
    at 03:55 pm

    We finally got our 12" PowerBooks. They're awesome. Some thoughts:

    • Feels solid, as if cut from a chunk of aluminum.
    • Details abound. Sleep light placed on the lid latch. New speaker placement on the back reflects (louder, higher-quality) sound off the screen at the user. There's now a third, mid-range speaker inside. When the lid is down, sound can shoot sound straight out. We compared, the 12" seems both louder and clearer than the current 15" PowerBook. You won't throw a party with any PB (sans external speakers), but it's a notable improvement.
    • New RAM and AirPort(extreme) card placement. Neither no longer reside beneath the keyboard. This does a couple things: some hard typists thought the previous keyboards were a little squishy. I didn't. The AirPort(X) card now lives inside the battery bay. RAM (that snappy DDR, 640mb max) has its own little door on the bottom, next to the battery.
    • Video: The Nvidia GeForce 420Go video card is snappy, while only using 32mb of DDR video RAM. Windows fly across the screen.
    • Resolution: many think 1024x768 is not high enough resolution. I think on a 12.1" screen, any higher res would lead to squinting by all but the youngest of eyes. A compact laptop isn't about screen real estate.
    • Finish:New anodized finish seems tough, and feels nice. The track-pad has a different texture now, almost abrasive. Some of the guys really liked it, I'm indifferent. Mouse button is raised slightly higher than on the similarly shaped 12" iBook. Keyboard (which I believe is plastic painted metallic to match perfectly) keys are shaped differently than previous PBs and iBooks, much more shapely and angular.
    • Is it hot you're asking? Well, I think some people are overly sensitive to laptop heat. Never the less: it's warmer than my indigo iBook, but after a day of being used non-stop, I stuck my hand beneath and was not burned, or even close. You can definitely use this on your lap. If you're bothered, buy a pad.

    That's all. if you haven't seen the new Big and Small TV spot, go see it now. Vern Troyer meets Yao Ming, big and small yuks...

    Lastly, wanted: a cool nickname for the 12" Suggestions?

    Posted in: Technology

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  3. OLED Monitor on show, thoughts...

    jake on 2003.01.24
    at 02:17 pm

    A new and emerging technology is OLED displays. So far they are still in development stages but they are starting to emerge as the screen tech of choice in handheld devices. I'm not positive when they will actually be on the market.

    Sharp had a prototype of a 12" screen at CES recently. The guys over at PocketPC Thoughts had a friend at CES who took a couple pictures of the unit and posted them. The thing is amazing, less than an inch thick.

    Posted in: Technology

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  4. Today

    brian on 2003.01.19
    at 01:51 am

    Rode to work on the T. Saw three of my co-workers on board. Had a busy day at work. Finished work, picked up my first thing with the employee discount. Recommended if you are an early-adopter, like I am. Got home, on time (purposely) to catch the big game. Came back all game just in time for the grand disappointment when you learn your highly-talented, but young, team doesn't yet know exactly when to foul. Got over it, as there's a lot of time left in the season. I was made happy by the other news of the day.

    Posted in: Cool Info

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  5. SUVs: Cool vs Evil

    brian on 2003.01.17
    at 03:23 pm

    I think some SUVs are very cool. The problem is that 99% of them are not, and 99% of their drivers would be ticked if their glorified truck touched dirt. That said, I tend to react with disgust when I see a SUV on the road. This leads me to recommend the reading of four things:

    Posted in: Cool Info

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  6. Joel Knows

    brian on 2003.01.16
    at 07:39 pm

    Joel Spolsky knows what makes a good software company. I think a lot of what he mentions in these outakes make sense for any company designing websites or software. He outlines a job description that sounds literally written for me: A Program Manager:

    A program manager also needs to coordinate marketing, documentation, testing, localization, and all the other annoying details that programmers shouldn't spend time on.

    Program managers are invaluable. If you've ever complained about how programmers are more concerned with technical elegance than with marketability, you need a program manager. If you've ever complained about how people who can write good code never do a good job of writing good English, you need a program manager. If you've ever complained about how your product seems to drift without any clear direction, you need a program manager.

    Rule 1. Don't promote a coder to be a program manager. The skills for being a good program manager (writing clear English, diplomacy, market awareness, user empathy, and good UI design) are very rarely the skills for being a good coder. Sure, some people can do both, but they are rare.

    Program managers study UI, meet customers, and write specs. They need to get along with a wide variety of people -- from "moron" customers, to irritating hermit programmers who come to work in Star Trek uniforms, to pompous sales guys in $2000 suits. In some ways, program managers are the glue of software teams. Charisma is crucial.

    This he talks about in a piece about writing Specs. (These snippets are from Part 3 Here's the link to Part 1) Lastly, if Joel was hiring in Boston, and he interviewed me along the lines to this story on how to interview, I would pass with flying colors. It's unfortunate that Joel's company (based in NYC) writes software only for Windows.

    Posted in: Technology

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  7. 1421- The Year China Discovered The World

    jake on 2003.01.14
    at 03:26 pm

    Well, it seems that someone made a big discovery. That someone is Gavin Menzies. There is lots of information that supports his theories. Yet there are still skeptics.

    I say, who cares. If the Chinese discovered the Americas, that's great. More information to understanding our world. In the modern age we live in you think people would be a bit more open minded about concepts like this. While he may not have gone about it 100% perfect, I applaud his efforts.

    I attest the practice of teaching history to youths. Telling them one thing to "simplify it" and then five years later telling them what happened was completely different.

    I think I may have found a new coffee table book of course, since moving into a new apartment on Saturday, I have yet to own a coffee table.

    CNN
    Home of the book

    Posted in: Cool Info

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  8. Antarctica

    brian on 2003.01.10
    at 03:18 am

    Is it a Big Dead Place?

    "You're talking about the south polar region, the most inaccessible continent, a block of ice renowned as the most distant psychological space on the planet.

    Except by the IRS, who claims that Antarctica is part of the United States for tax purposes. This results in a paycut for an American at the South Pole who would otherwise be rewarded if he or she worked for NSF or Raytheon in Canada or the Bahamas or in Europe, none of which are the coldest, deadest, place in the world."

    Apparently Antarctica breeds sarcasm. Let's hope that certain Congressmen don't read and change their minds about certain raises in the NSF budget.

    Posted in: Cool Info

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  9. The Next Photography Revolution

    jake on 2003.01.09
    at 06:47 pm

    I wish there were more of these...

    Well, in the wonderful world of digital photography there has been new technology looming on the horizon for a while now. It's a new sensor called the X3. It comes from a company called Foveon Inc.

    The X3 uses the properties of light waves to extract three colors. RGB. The technology used today pulls one color and then fudges the rest of the data. The X3 increases image quality immensly.

    This article discusses some of the technology and its creators. Headed by the "simple ideas" of Carver Mead.

    Posted in: Technology · Cool Info

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  10. Today

    brian on 2003.01.08
    at 05:56 pm

    and commentary

    We all know there are lots of cool things I could be linking to from Apple's Keynote announcements from yesterday. But, today I'll focus on other good things.

    • Wireless Commons: Along the lines of Creative Commons Looks to establish interconnected Wireless nets that are free and accessible to everyone. I'm very much in support of this.
    • Pehaps I'll link more later?

    This post posted with Safari beta. That's great because it has spellchecking built right into text fields! [Too bad it doesn't yet display this blog correctly, but the bug has been reported! If you've come to check compatibility Safari team, welcome!]

    Posted in: Technology · Cool Info

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  11. Keynote not to miss!

    brian on 2003.01.07
    at 02:12 am

    Don't miss the MacWorld San Francisco Keynote address January 7th, 9am PST (12pm EST) by Steve Jobs! Point your web browser to Apple's QuickTime website and check it out.

    I'll be at work watching the satellite feed of the keynote.

    Slow internet connection? Don't live near an Apple Store? Try your local university! (More.) (And even more late additions)

    Posted in: Technology

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  12. A Switch Tale

    brian on 2003.01.06
    at 04:05 am

    Many people know that I myself once Switched, and have been terribly happy with my tech life ever since. I even work part-time for the big A. This story has almost nothing to do with that, what-so-ever.

    The part that does have to do with it is parody. John Bender is a Switcher. He's an American who moved to Canada. He parodied Apple's ads with his own, based upon his experience moving north. His site is a great knock-off of Apple's and is full of interesting info and links on The State's Great White neighbor. Of course, his switch has a great deal to do with meeting a Canadian who would become his wife, but he seems quite happy with the move, none the less.

    I'm not endorsing leaving The States. No matter how many times I've thought of it when W. has opened his mouth without thinking first, I couldn't give up on the US of A, despite the fact that I'm quite fond of Canada, the North and snow, snow, snow! I'm quite proud to be an American, and a Yankee/ native-New Englander. Side note: Jake and I both have matching Team-USA Hockey Jerseys.

    Posted in: Cool Info

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  13. Dow gets low

    brian on 2003.01.04
    at 12:49 am

    and we

    Dow Chemical, how low can they go? Here's a hint:
    On December 2nd a peaceful march of 200 women survivors from Bhopal (India, 1984) delivered toxic waste from the abandoned Union Carbide (recently acquired by Dow) factory back to Dow's Indian headquarters in Bombay with the demand that Dow take responsibility for the disaster and clean up the site. Dow obviously has other ideas because they are suing survivors for about US$10,000 for "loss of work". Hmm, funny because only one Dow employee came to speak with the protestors, but thousands lost their lives in this incident. Who should sue whom?

    Posted in: Cool Info

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  14. Red Cross under attack

    jake on 2003.01.03
    at 12:19 pm

    so much for being a hero

    I remember giving blood recently at work. It was a troubling experience, I had not drank enough water over the previous days and had a hard time filling up the bag. I left frustrated and vowed to not let it happen again.

    Apparently that doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. As the Red Cross has been not doing their job. I know it's not a very lucrative job, taking blood from one person and bringing it to another. Yet somehow I find that the idea of cutting corners a bit more unnerving when compared to the contracters making imperfections in my parents house. Or the guy who didn't want to install a new cable line, because it would be work that would require more than 5 minutes.

    I hope that the FDA slaps the Red Cross around and calls it Shirley. Maybe I should start my own blood drive, where I take the blood to the patient myself, pending bi-weekly blood tests of course...

    It may require more work on my part, but at least I'm doing work. And I can guarantee the blood is pure.

    CBSNews
    MSNBC News

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  15. (Un)Wiring Laos

    brian on 2003.01.03
    at 02:44 am

    This is the incredible story of Lee Felsenstein one of the founders of the HomeBrew Computer Club, which basically led to The founding of Silicon Valley and such heavies as Apple Computer (Lee actually introduced Steve Wozniak to Steve Jobs). Anyhow, Lee has basically designed a rugged computer system, powered by Linux (localized into the Lao language) and a bicycle (seriously!), that would allow rural farming communities in Laos to communicate wirelessly (WiFi) with each other and the market where they sell their crop. Here's his story. Here's his story told by another. You see, he needs funding to get it put into place. He'd normally get the funding through grants, but they won't come through until during Laos' monsoon/typhoon season, greatly delaying their deployment. If you can donate, click here, and do so through the Jhai Foundation's site. And of course, spread the word!

    Posted in: Technology · Cool Info

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  16. I hate yearly reviews

    brian on 2003.01.02
    at 01:57 pm

    As much as anyone, I can't stand the recaps of the previous year when January rolls around. That said, I got a good laugh out of Dave Barry's 2002 year in review. Well worth the read.

    Posted in: Cool Info

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  17. In Google we trust

    brian on 2003.01.01
    at 11:57 pm

    An excellent article from Wired Issue 11.01 - January 2003, "Google vs. Evil". A company with its own ethics is great, especially in an America were "democracy" and "patriotism" have become code-speak for "predatory capitalism." This article wrestles with the business issues ahead for an ethical company that many believe is on the verge of an IPO. We all know that being beholden to stockholders isn't the most comfortable place for a company with a dual bottom line (eg, beyond simply cash).

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