Wednesday, August 31

Google gets better. What's up with that?

Well, what's up with it is that Google wants to take over the Internet wholesale (in my opinion, anyway). In many ways, the Internet is where everything computer-related is heading. Actual, physical computers are becoming merely portals to the Internet. If Google owns and/or controls the Internet, from wireless access points to browsers to web services like email, they hold the reins for nearly all of technology.

Google has the capability of becoming bigger than Microsoft, because Google reaches every single machine in the world. Microsoft only has a major foothold on Windows PCs, since they make the OS. Admittedly they have a minor foothold on OSX PCs, since their Office suite for Mac allows Apple users to collaborate with what has become the de facto standard for word processing. spreadsheets, and databases. (MS also has an indirect foothold on Linux OS's, since OpenOffice was created solely to be compatible with Office.)

Anyway, where I'm going with all that rambling is that Google has a direct impact on nearly every computer user... meaning that they have an even greater opportunity to rule the world than Microsoft does. And, on the plus side, people actually like Google!

Tuesday, August 30

Sign up for Gmail!

You can now sign up for a Gmail address without an invitation! You just need to have Google send you a text message and they'll send you a confirmation code for a free account.

Or, if you know my email address, I'd be happy to send you a free invitation... I've got 50 right now.

Saturday, August 27

More Mini-Putt games

First, a course with all the same holes as Mini-Putt 1, but in a different order and with an updated interface:
Mini-Putt 3 Classic

Second, another game with the same interface but with new holes (and more dinosaurs!):
Mini-Putt 3: Jurassic Putt

(the link above goes to Psycho Goldfish: a site with a bunch of Flash games, including the Mini-Putt series)

Alzheimer's linked to daydreaming

Apparently, the portion of the brain that fails when afflicted with Alzheimer's disease is the same portion that younger people use when daydreaming, remembering, or utilizing other non-active unfocused parts of our minds.

So, apparently, overuse of the faculties of critical thinking, problem solving, and task resolution can lead to atrophy of the latent areas of the mind and possibly Alzheimer's. However, this article in The Australian is very cursory; I'd love to read something more in-depth once it gets published.

Thursday, August 25

Are sizzling gadget sales cooling off?

According to this article, "Forty-nine percent of U.S. and Canadian households say they have all the gadgets they want."

This pretty much describes me. I'm very happy with all of the gadgets I've currently got (whoa. did I actually say that?), and I don't really need anything in addition. However, while market saturation is causing a dip in growth for sales of electronics, there is no way that this will cause any sizable dent in the amount of such purchases.

But electronics manufacturers and retailers will have to get money from someone else-- I'm pretty satisfied. Well, mostly. An iPod might be nice (eventually)... ;-)

Homeland Security Chief Tells of Plan to Stabilize Border


A DHS chief who is proactive about stemming the tide of illegal immigration. And-- surprisingly enough-- this NYT article actually calls these breakers of US law "illegal immigrants" instead of pandering to socialist Democrats who insist that the term is demeaning. "Undocumented," my eye.

As usual, there's somebody to complain... even when things are going right. The criticism is that not all of the "holes" are going to be plugged by Michael Chertoff's new plan. But hey, it's at least a step in the right direction. Do these people actually think that, unless a plan is PERFECT and INFALLIBLE, we should sit idly by and do NOTHING? I think that the critic cited in the article, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, is just afraid that he'll have nothing to study (and, therefore, no livelihood) if plans like this actually work.

From IRC re: Google Talk

"All users be aware: Google have now released an instant messenger based on jabber, but the new google messenger has a VERY dodgy privacy policy: - in this policy are such gems as recording "who you talk to" and when you talk to them, and selling of statistical data to marketing companies. Be very scared people, be very scared."

These are not my words (they were contained in a global IRC mesage from Brain over at ChatSpike), but I'm not at all surprised that Google has adopted such a hearty information-gathering approach to its IM software.

I don't use IM all that often, so I'll probably just stick with AOL's protocol (though not their client - AdiumX is all I'll ever use) instead of laying my life out on the line for Google. I do use gmail, but I'm comfortable with having computers scan my email to present targeted ads. I don't know how much I'd enjoy knowing that my real-time conversations were being recorded by the service provider-- even if they only record the fact that the conversation took place and not the messages themselves.

Wednesday, August 24

Windows Got Ya Down? Try a Remix

This is a cool article about the various (and, until today, unkown to me) "remixed" versions of Windows XP there are; from tiny install packages to those with Service Pack 2 already added. I wonder if these modified versions are legal for legit license owners to install, if they are desired only for the pared-down features? Do they leave the "insert your CD key here" screen in the install process, so I could keep it legal?

Until I know that, I won't explore this "option" any further.

Tuesday, August 23

Company names

An interesting list of how some tech companies got their names.

This week in wireless

Well, "Last week in wireless," now that I've finally gotten around to putting this CNET News article on my blog.

The article talks about Intel's plan to blanket cities with free or inexpensive Wi-Fi coverage. I'm all for it, and I wish San Diego was on Intel's list of "Digital Communities." However, our city has bigger things to worry about than Internet connectivity right now...

Monday, August 22

Gilliam's island

Interesting... "The Brothers Grimm" with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, directed by Terry Gilliam. This definitely goes on my list of must-see movies.

Friday, August 19

In case of emergency, put your cell on ICE

This is a great idea. It was started in England, but EMTs and hospitals are recommending that the technique be used here in America as well. Many accident victims, even if they have ID on them, have no information about whom to contact in case of emergency. The solution is this: create a new contact in your cell phone's contact list called "ICE - Mom" or "ICE - Joe" or the name of whatever person you would like to be contacted In Case of Emergency.

This is a great idea... and it will save time for hospital administrators. Instead of trying to use the info on your license to search for relatives, you can provide the number to them right away.

Thursday, August 18

Flash games

Two variations on a theme:

The slightly simplistic Mini-putt,
and the more advanced, but still noticeably the same Mini-putt 2.

Both are really quick mini-golf games for those "I just need a 5-minute break" times.

Wednesday, August 17

Free Wi-Fi? Get Ready for GoogleNet.

This highly speculative article about Google's future undertakings is very interesting. And I hope its predictions do come to pass, but even if so it'll be a long time coming.

Sunday, August 14

State Limits Hybrids in Fast Lanes

I didn't even know that California was doing this. Last I heard, only vehicles which used no petroleum-based fuels at all were permitted in the HOV lanes. It seems that drivers of two Honda gas/electric hybrids-- the Civic and the Insight-- as well as one from Toyota-- the Prius-- are being given the opportunity to drive in carpool lanes even when traveling alone.

Makers of other hybrid vehicles, such as Ford (which makes hybrid Escape pick-up), are upset that their products are not on the list. However, I trust the researchers who made the rules and I'm pretty sure that making a truck (like the Escape) or an SUV (like the Toyota Highlander) operate on a hybrid motor will increase its fuel economy enough to warrant special treatment.

Of course, I own a Prius, so that might account for my agreement with the government on this point. Now my wife (the primary driver) can sneer at drivers of hybrid Accords, Escapes, Highlanders, and Lexus RX's from the carpool lane.

Of course, I don't really mean that. She's not really a sneering kind of person... more of a Shakespearean thumb-biter.

Now there's a fun mental image...

A Brilliant New Memory Card

How cool is this? A memory card with a fold-out USB dongle. You don't even need a card reader anymore... the card itself will plug right into the computer!

I'm not going to look for one of these, though. I've already got a Lexmark USB Key that's actually an SD reader instead of having embedded Flash memory. Giving USB connectivity to the little cards directly is pretty nifty, but ultimately unnecessary with tools we've already got at our disposal. I see this becoming the SD card of the future, though...

Tuesday, August 9

Daylight-Saving Switch May Cause Tech Woes

President Bush is expected to sign a bill on Monday that will extend Daylight Saving Time by three weeks in spring and one week in the fall. This is intended to be an energy saver, by allowing Americans to make use of natural light later in the evening so that they musn't turn to the electric alternatives.

Problems are expected to arise when older technological devices with automatic DST correction are no longer changing the clocks on the right date. As Windows users have probably seen, when the clocks must be adjusted your computer tells you on startup that the time has been changed. The programming for this auto-modification is hardwired to the current system of DST changes (first Sunday in April and last Sunday in October), and it will require a software update to work according to the new standard.

VCRs, online calendars, and computers will all be affected by this issue, and they will likely have to be manually modified to stay in step. My favorite quote from the article is this:

"We get up and change the time on the VCR ourselves," Tzur said. "These things come with directions."

If only things were actually that simple for the vast majority of Americans these days.

Future Tech Software Is Here Today

This article from Ziff Davis is a snapshot of where technology is going (and, for many early adopters, where technology is).

Google News Adds RSS Feeds


Google News has added RSS feeds for its news service. I'll probably be switching to Google News from Yahoo! News now, but I'll be looking at the feeds from both for a few days just to compare.

And yes, I realize the irony in linking to a Yahoo! News story to point this out...

Monday, August 8

The college library of tomorrow

This article from CNET details the emerging trend toward digitizing reference books. Of course there will be major problems with intellectual property and copyright issues, but I have every hope that they will get worked out satisfactorily for all parties.

I have even started reading some things digitally. Any text file can be converted, using Plucker, into a Palm database that cen be read on my Tungsten E2. Most texts I can get this way are public domain works from Project Gutenberg, but many people who release their writings on the Web include plaintext versions (like this amazing essay on the evolution of computer use called "In the Beginning was the Command Line").

Books in print may never die, but increased access to material, portability, and searchability of digitized texts will definitely make them the publishing wave of the future.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by emailing the author (use the link above).

The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.