Ivor O’Connor

November 29, 2008

New Disk Speeds

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 3:59 am

If this is true I expect we’ll see fast boot up times at reasonable prices in 5 years on laptops.


Within the next year, Micron Technology Inc. expects to bring to market a high-end solid-state disk drive that could achieve 1GB/sec. throughput, according to a company executive. The transfer speed is four times that offered by Intel Corp.’s newest SSD, the X25-E.

November 28, 2008

Dell Refubished Laptops

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 12:13 am

Dell Outlet has a form allowing you to get a filtered view of the laptops they have. It’s interesting because:

  • They don’t have an option to filter on the screen’s native resolution.
  • No way of specifying your wireless network card. To work with Linux you need the one supplied by Intel. Not the standard “Dell” one.
  • Not much price granularity. You’d think they’d let you put your own price in the field. However it’s a pick list with a very blunt $500 granularity!
  • No ability to specify the class of CPU. For example a way to specify you want multiple CPUs as opposed to just one. Or that you want a 64bit CPU. Instead they give you only model numbers of CPUs or show everything.
  • It looks like they don’t make laptops with more than 4GBs of RAM.

Since I can’t specify 8GBs or more for under $800 with a 64bit multi-core system and an intel wireless card I’m going for price and RAM only. Something under $500 with 4GBs of RAM. Then I’ll examine the system for a wireless Intel card. I guess it’s something I should do every day.

November 27, 2008

Apple’s new MacBooks have built-in copy protection measures?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 11:18 pm

I suspect this type of behavior will not last much longer. Perhaps another year. Two at the most. With our economy spiraling into a depression Apple can’t afford to assume their customers will continue to stay plugged into the matrix. Not when there are better alternatives available for free to anybody who steps out of Apples reality distortion field for a day or two.

Still it will be humorous to post this so we can look back and laugh at what companies thought they could get away with:

From http://www.appleinsider.com/

Apple’s new MacBook lines include a form of digital copy protection that will prevent protected media, such as DRM-infused iTunes movies, from playing back on devices that aren’t compliant with the new priority protection measures.

The Intel-developed technology is called High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) and aims to prevent copying of digital audio and video content as it travels across a variety of display connectors, even if such copying is not in violation of fair use laws.

Among the connectors supported by the technology are the Mini DisplayPort found on Apple’s latest MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, in addition to others such as Digital Visual Interface (DVI), High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), Gigabit Video Interface (GVIF), and Unified Display Interface (UDI).

ArsTechnica reports that Apple has apparently acquired a license for the technology and is now using it across its DisplayPort-enabled MacBook lines to to prevent transmission of purchased iTunes content to devices that don’t include support for HDCP.

Water Via Condensation?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 9:12 pm

I think there is a lot of potential for this. I’ve noticed some deserts often have a humidity over 90%. Imagine hooking up a solar panel to this gizmo. How much water would be produced? How about maintenance? Imagine what it could do to desert property values!


Water, Water, everywhere; nor any drop to drink. The plight of the Ancient Mariner is about to be alleviated thanks to a firm of eco-inventors from Canada who claim to have found the solution to the world’s worsening water shortages by drawing the liquid of life from an unlimited and untapped source – the air.

The company, Element Four, has developed a machine that it hopes will become the first mainstream household appliance to have been invented since the microwave. Their creation, the WaterMill, uses the electricity of about three light bulbs to condense moisture from the air and purify it into clean drinking water.

The machine went on display this weekend in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, hosted by Wired magazine at its annual showcase of the latest gizmos its editors believe could change the world. From the outside, the mill looks like a giant golf ball that has been chopped in half: it is about 3ft in diameter, made of white plastic, and is attached to the wall.

It works by drawing air through filters to remove dust and particles, then cooling it to just below the temperature at which dew forms. The condensed water is passed through a self-sterilising chamber that uses microbe-busting UV light to eradicate any possibility of Legionnaires’ disease or other infections. Finally, it is filtered and passed through a pipe to the owner’s fridge or kitchen tap.

The obvious question to the proposition that household water demands can be met by drawing it from the air is: are you crazy? To which the machine’s inventor and Element Four’s founder, Jonathan Ritchey, replies: ‘Just wait and see. The demand for water is off the chart. People are looking for freedom from water distribution systems that are shaky and increasingly unreliable.’

New Swimsuit Material?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 8:53 pm

A “New Scientist” article discusses a nanotech fabric that “never gets wet”. I thought nanotechnology was determined to be highly carcinogenic. Yet they want to make swimsuit fabric out of this? It reminds me of the irradiated watches that could be read in the dark along with the irradiated diamonds that sparkled without constant cleaning. How long will they push nano stuff that can be inhaled or touched before people learn?

Is it possible at some point in the near future we’ll see rules put into place stating swimmers attempting to set world records or compete in races must do so in the buff? No more high tech swim suits! Is this too much to ask for? To level the playing field so new world record holders get their titles based on something else rather than a rad new nano fabric that might give them terminal cancer 10 years down the road? I suspect as long as we have a two party system with both parties owned by the lobbyists we’ll never have any common sense solutions.

We probably have to rid ourselves of the religious zealots too. They seem responsible for the skin taboos and, as a side-effect, all the perverts causing trouble. America is the only non third world country that is slipping back into religion as the decades progress. So I doubt we’ll rid ourselves of the zealots anytime soon.

So here is the article: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16126-nanotech-clothing-fabric-never-gets-wet.html

If you were to soak even your best raincoat underwater for two months it would be wet through at the end of the experience. But a new waterproof material developed by Swiss chemists would be as dry as the day it went in.

Lead researcher Stefan Seeger at the University of Zurich says the fabric, made from polyester fibres coated with millions of tiny silicone filaments, is the most water-repellent clothing-appropriate material ever created.

Drops of water stay as spherical balls on top of the fabric (see image, right) and a sheet of the material need only be tilted by 2 degrees from horizontal for them to roll off like marbles. A jet of water bounces off the fabric without leaving a trace (see second image).

The Car Industry

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 7:54 pm

I look at this little sports car from Tesla and shake my head. What’s the purpose? I just don’t understand “sports” cars. They are cramped, small, and useless. It’s not like we can drive at decent speeds as if we had a real freeway system like the German autobahn. Our government likes stupid arbitrary speed limit laws. Never mind the fact autobahns with no speed limits are safer than our American freeways. In terms of percentage of accidents and deaths for 1000 drivers. Then there is the fact our government can’t seem to build decent freeways. Our roads are so bumpy if you tried to drive at 150 mph you’d bounce off the road. And our government can’t even build bumpy freeways that last a few years so we are getting all these toll ways from private companies we now have to pay to use! (What is our government doing with all our money besides spending billions a week on wars we started on false pretenses.) Someday in the future perhaps we will have aerodynamic electric cars with solar paint and no speed limits on autobahn-like-freeways. Perhaps someday we’ll care about the quality of the vehicle, how it lasts with time, how upgradeable it is, etc.. Until then I will continue to have no interest in autos and shake my head.

From http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-10108210-48.html

The Tesla I drove featured “Powertrain 1.5,” eliminating the two-speed gearbox from the previous model. Yes, Tesla patterns itself after tech companies, so the power train gets a version designation, although the cars themselves still go by a model year.

In this Tesla, as in other electric cars I’ve driven, the operation is dead simple: Move the shifter from Neutral to Drive, and you’re moving forward. Push the accelerator if you want to go faster and hit the brakes if you want to stop. The only real difference, besides the fact that the Tesla goes a lot faster than other electric cars, is that taking your foot off the accelerator at speeds less than 40 mph makes the car slow down as if you were applying light pressure on the brakes. That is the regenerative power train in operation, using the car’s momentum to generate electricity for the battery pack. The Tesla also has regenerative brakes, but you don’t need to use them much, adding the side-benefit of very infrequent brake maintenance.

DataForm adds efficient input to OpenOffice.org Calc

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 7:16 pm

linux.com has yet another tantalizing article. Perhaps it is their way of giving thanks to the community over the holidays. I hope these good articles continue. http://www.linux.com/feature/153244

Spreadsheets might be called databases for the timid, since they’re more user-friendly than databases and do a good job working with limited amounts of data. Some tools for databases can work well with spreadsheets too. Take for instance DataForm, a new OpenOffice.org Calc extension that provides a form-like interface designed to make entering and finding spreadsheet data easier.

DataForm is based on a similar feature in Microsoft Excel. In both cases, the feature exists because of the difficulty of entering information in spreadsheet cells. To enter data in any spreadsheet, you must either use the input field on the toolbar or click in the field directly; neither choice is particularly convenient. You can use the tab or arrow keys to move around once the cursor is in a cell, but the information you enter may not be immediately visible unless you have taken the effort to customize column widths. DataForm bypasses these limitations by offering a third option: A small form of the sort you can create for entering data in OpenOffice.org’s Base.

Currently at version 0.6.0 but in rapid development, DataForm claims to be compatible with OpenOffice.org 2.1 or higher, but, in my testing, it worked only with OpenOffice.org 3.0. Since its listing also suggests using DataForm with StarOffice 8.0, Update 5, the extension may also work with the latest versions of OpenOffice.org 2.4.

You can install DataForm, like any extension, from Tools -> Extension Manager. Unlike a growing number of extensions, it does not require Java, but is written in OpenOffice.org’s own macro language, which may explain why it is faster than many extensions I have investigated recently.

TiddlyWiki derivatives help you get things done

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 7:12 pm

I have always wondered if there were some uses for a personalized wiki. Perhaps I should read up on this article. http://www.linux.com/feature/152948

TiddlyWiki excels at managing notes and text snippets, but can you tweak it for other uses? If you take a look at some applications based on TiddlyWiki, the answer appears to be a resounding yes. With TiddlyWiki derivatives, you can manage tasks, track projects, keep tabs on contacts, and organize book collections. Like the original TiddlyWiki, each derivative consists of a single HTML file which you have to download to your local hard disk. Open the downloaded file in a browser, and the TiddlyWiki-based tool is ready to go.


Filed under: bash, debugging, ubuntu — Tags: , , — ioconnor @ 7:06 pm

http://www.linux.com/feature/153383 has an article on bash debugging. Something I did not know was possible. I don’t need this now but it’s good to know it exists.

The debugging project is located at http://bashdb.sourceforge.net/

November 26, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 5:19 pm

I installed ntop today. Here are the steps:

sudo apt-get install ntop
sudo /etc/init.d/ntop start
firefox http://localhost:3000

I think I’ll make this a startup page. ntop has a very nice frontend that’s self explanatory and very useful. Here are some of it’s many features
* Sort network traffic according to many protocols
* Show network traffic sorted according to various criteria
* Display traffic statistics
* Store on disk persistent traffic statistics in RRD format
* Identify the indentity (e.g. email address) of computer users
* Passively (i.e. withou sending probe packets) identify the host OS
* Show IP traffic distribution among the various protocols
* Analyse IP traffic and sort it according to the source/destination
* Display IP Traffic Subnet matrix (who’s talking to who?)
* Report IP protocol usage sorted by protocol type
* Act as a NetFlow/sFlow collector for flows generated by routers (e.g. Cisco and Juniper) or switches (e.g. Foundry Networks)
* Produce RMON-like network traffic statistics

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