Archive for January, 2006

DRM

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

I often want to write and article about something and then find that someone else has done it much better than I ever could. This is the best article I’ve seen on Digital Rights Management (DRM). What’s DRM? It’s a feature added to a product that prevents you from using it freely. For example, you can play a tape or CD in just about any player ever made. Record the songs from tape to CD, into the computer, listen to on your MP3 player, take one song off and make a mixed CD, etc. In the DRM’ed CD, you will only be able to do what the record company expects. Which would likely be play it in an “approved” CD player. No making tapes, copying into the computer, giving to a friend, or anything else that the copyright owner disagrees with. It’s their rights that are being managed not yours. Why is this bad? Why is it not feasible? Read this funny and insightful lecture given at a Microsoft event.

Google Gulp

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Google is also beta testing food products. Writing software and other geeky things are all that they do. Check out Google Gulp and let me know if you find it in a store near you.

http://www.google.com/googlegulp/

IP Addess of US Congress and House

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Recent problems with congressional staffers messing with wikepedia had publicized the IP address of computers from the US Congress and US House of Representatives. If you have a website and log the IPs that hit it these numbers will let you know if they came from the US Capitol.

House
Any IP from the range 143.231.0.0/16
Any IP from the range 143.228.0.0/16

Senatorial IP range is 156.33.0.0/16

Best Buy to Stop Rebates

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

I think everyone’s purchased a rebated product. Sometimes you get the rebate and sometimes you don’t. Whether it’s your fault or the manufacturers is irrelevant. Personally, I won’t buy rebated products and I think the actual price should be the big number and the rebated price should be the small number. Best Buy is the king of rebates. Ars has an article about their plans for phasing out rebates.

Where’s George

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Ever wonder where your money’s been? There’s a website where people go to track money. It’s called WheresGeorge.com. Enter the serial number and series and you can see where your dollars been hanging around.

Easy to add Amazon links

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

I have an Amazon Associates account and I have a very large media list to put on a page. Amazon makes a page that’s good for one a time items, but sucks if you have to use it for over 5 items. If I can’t find something to resolve this, I’m going to make a Firefox extension that will. So, far I haven’t found anything that makes it easy to look at a book and generate the text link for Amazon Associates accounts.

Update 1
I searched for a similar extension based on the keyword Amazon and all I could find were search engines or add-ons. So, I sketched out the basic features and the techniques to learn and I scouted 3-4 websites. Xul is cool. :) Basically, I want to add a button the reads the title(removing amazon.com:) and address and builds an Amazon Associates text link and puts it in the clipboard. Then you go to your webpage under construction and paste the text into it. This will be my first OS project. If it works I’ll release it.

Update 2
I have created a firefox extension which operates as described. It was used to add many new books to the media list page. Extensions are written in script, which is open and readable by anyone who cares to. I used delicious, bugmenot, and adblock as examples. The current development item is adding an options page so that you can use this for Amazon or B&N, add your own ID, and create a picture link as well as a text link.

Update 3
This extension is coming along nicely. I’ll use this site to provide updates. Right now I’m working on the Preferences interface. This will allow you to select Amazon or Barnes & Nobles, Text or Picture links, etc.

Porn Drives New Technology?

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

I found this on MSNBC today and I’m posting part of the article here.


The standoff has resonated in the online world not only because of its privacy implications, but because it goes to the heart of what has spurred the Internet to such prodigious growth. Online pornography, a $2.5 billion business and growing rapidly, pioneered such now-commonplace practices as streaming video, trading files and making online purchases. By comparison, sales of music downloads totaled $1.1 billion last year.

It’s an old joke that every new technology is driven by porn: A big attraction for digital cameras, some hold, was the ability to take bedroom photos without having to take film to the snickering teenagers at the corner photo shop. And a force behind the rapid spread of VCR and, later, DVD sales was the ability to watch blue movies without being seen at a theater.

More recently, when Apple announced an iPod with video playback capabilities, there was a stampede among adult entertainment companies to announce that they were making video programming available in the player’s format. Mobile porn is already such a booming business that it has its own trade show, the Mobile Adult Content Congress, which will take place in Miami next week. Scheduled speakers include representatives from Virgin Mobile UK and Vodafone, as well as porn actor Ron Jeremy.

Freezing You To Save You

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

In a popular Star Trek TNG episode, three terminally ill people are frozen and when discovered by the Enterprise are revived and cured. Doctors in London are ready to go to human trials and a somewhat less extreme procedure to do the same thing. The process is for treating people who are minutes away from dying due to a catastrophic loss of blood. This means gunshots, knife wounds, deep cuts etc. The patient’s blood is replaced with a cold saline solution, bringing the body temperature from 98.6 to 50 in a few minutes. This induces hyporthermia, like when someone falls into an icy river. The person has no heartbeat or brain activity. Doctors then operate to repair the injuries and revive the patient. They say it works 90% of the time on pigs.

Why does this work? In normal operation, the brain and body would use up all the oxygen in the blood (what’s left of it). When low on oxygen the mechanism that generates energy releases destructive freeoxygen that damages the cells. A person would die within 4-5 minutes. In a hypothermic patient, this would take 90-120 minutes to happen.

Obviously, this would only be used as a last resort for someone who is about to die anyway.

Online Calendar

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

At the close of last year, I discovered online calendaring systems. These are very intriguing, because they pose a direct threat to Microsoft Outlook. Anyone who’s worked in a corporate environment scheduling meetings and discussions across offices has probably used Outlook or Lotus Notes. These are expensive and time consuming products to setup and maintain. A free online calendar system that’s easier to use (my opinion based on Planzo) is a market competitor to these companies. What’s most appealing is the small business angle. This market segment may have ignored calendaring applications due to complexity and expense.

My own experience is based on the NCE-NSP merger. We got direct orders to get Outlook working across the new company (out little piece) as quickly as possible. Next to email it was considered one of the most important business tools.

I’m looking into calendaring apps on the internet and will make a choice. There are about a dozen I’m aware of and I need to decide which one will survive and grow. When I do, I’ll post the results.

Babylon 5

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

I recently started buying the season DVDs for Babylon 5. It’s amazing watching the show again without interruptions or commercials. As of this writing, the first episode aired almost 13 years ago, yet the special effects on most parts is passable today. The show has an amazing cohisiveness that I didn’t appreciate at the time. It’s not so much a TV series as one very long epic story, like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. There’s one author for ~90% of the shows, so plot lines carry over all the way from season 1 to season 5. So many things I missed, because I had forgotten stories from the earlier seasons.

Watching it again it seems like a show many years ahead of it’s time. There’s no syndicated new programming these days. It shows scenes of war more reminiscent of the recent conflicts. In the early ’90’s, we had not been involved in a war in almost 20 years (I conveniently forget the Gulf War for reason I won’t go into here). The disturbing reductions in freedom due to unknown, unspecified threats resonates with the arguments we hear about the “war on terror”.

This was also my first introduction to ideas from hinduism, budhism, and metaphysics. For example, the Minbari believe in reincarnation a fundamental tenant of many eastern religions. There is also a discussion with a missionary, acquiring the names of God, with a pair of Minbari in season two describing each person as a projection on a wall exactly as Swami Vivekenanda (hinduism) does is his first volume. These things are sprinkled like salt and pepper throughout the TV season. Radical concepts from where I grew up; a small, isolated, rural, protestant, homogenous community in Texas.

If you have the time, around 100 hours, take a peak. It’s better than a lot of shows on TV today.

NORAD Santa

Friday, January 13th, 2006

The same technology that monitors for incoming nuclear weapons to Canada and USA can also be used for tracking Santa Claus. I know it’s a little late, but something to keep in mind for 2006.

Panexa: Ask Your Doctor For a Reason to Take it

Friday, January 13th, 2006

http://www.panexa.com/

Flourescent Green Pigs

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

I raised pigs when I was younger and this breed was definately not in the manual. Glow in the dark pigs.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4605202.stm

Hello world!

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

Welcome to WordPress 2. This is your first post in the new blog on the new blogging software.