Posted tagged ‘Technology’

This is National Dark Sky Week!

March 29, 2008

From March 29 to April 4 is the annual National Dark Sky Week. And tonight, from 8 to 9PM is Earth Hour. To take part in tonight’s event, turn off the lights and appliances you don’t need (like a PC running 24/7?) from 8 to 9PM. Outdoor lights are especially encouraged. Similarly, National Dark Sky week promotes energy saving and a better view of the beautiful universe around us for the whole week.

And it’s always a good thing do put less carbon into the atmosphere. Give it a try!

More information here.

Spectacular Space Shuttle night launch video

March 22, 2008

Space Shuttle Endeavour had cameras mounted on its solid rocket boosters when it climbed into orbit on March 11. Together they produced a beautiful video of a night launch from the spacecraft’s point of view. It’s hard to believe the shuttle is 28 miles up and moving at 3100 mph when the boosters detach—without the Earth in the background, the spacecraft appears still.

Ferrofluid “Morphing Sculptures”

March 2, 2008

Ferrofluid is cool stuff. Here’s a video of two electromagnetic metal cones in a pool of ferrofluid. Mmmm…. spiky….

Apple’s iPhone: Where are the standard smartphone features?

February 26, 2008

I bought an iPhone the day after they were introduced. I like it a lot. I used to carry a Palm, a mobile phone and and iPod. Now I have the iPhone, and I bring my 60G iPod when I drive.

One thing has been troubling me for a while. When will the iPhone’s software be upgraded to include de rigeur smartphone features like recording movies or voice memos? Voice dial seems like a natural feature for an OS X-based phone, when OS X has voice recognition built in. The web experience is better than any other current phone, but it really isn’t “the whole web” without a Flash plugin.

What about the note pad? I’ve been syncing notes on my Palm for over a decade. Instead I have to use a draft email in an IMAP account as a note pad. Another feature I relied on in my Motorola V180 was “wait during dialing,” where the phone would dial up to a point and wait for me to hit a button to continue. That feature was good for making any call that included an extension number or PIN, and it was great when calling SmartRoutes (a free traffic reporting system with many prompts, and driving-challenged inputs like “*4951” to get information on the northern half of Route 495).

Steve Jobs said there’d be more features to come when he introduced the iPhone. Instead, the software updates have been largely focussed on bug fixes and securing the phone from unlocking. Where are the “new” features that are standard on lesser phones? We’re waiting.

Comcast Follies 2-15-08

February 15, 2008

Ars Technica is reporting and analyzing Comcast’s 57-page response to the FCC investigation into its internet traffic throttling policies.

A few questions have been answered: Yes, Comcast has been doing this for a while, though their press releases would have a rational person believe they had never done so. Yes, they are disrupting customers’ traffic by sending phony TCP reset packets that masquerade as originating from remote computers that customers are connected to. No, they don’t like calling these “forged packets.” No, they don’t think this is in any way wrong (regardless of their actions to conceal this behavior).

One interesting change in their rhetoric is they’re no longer justifying their actions as necessary anti-piracy steps. Plus, they seem to realize they’re on the defensive, accusing their critics of “inflammatory hyperbole.”

A few questions are unanswered. If this interference with normal communications is supposed to enhance everyone’s internet experience, why do all my internet programs (browsers, email, web publishing, synchronizing my computers) time out and fail when they’re throttling my connection? To hear them explain it, only P2P uploads should be affected, only some of the time. Why did they waste all our time with disingenuous answers for so long, so that the AP and the EFF had to independently prove they were, well, lying? As Art Technica writes, if this bandwidth issue is such a problem, why haven’t they had a similar issue with downloads? As I wrote, doesn’t their recent announcement offering a 20x speed boost to “millions of customers” contradict their stated need to conserve bandwidth to preserve their customer’s satisfaction?

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are intended to entertain and, in some cases, uplift. They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

NetNewsWire has made browsing fun again!

February 10, 2008

netnewswire-icon-128.pngIf you’re using two or more Macs that are synchronized with .Mac, and you use Safari to track RSS feeds, this is the tip for you! This thing rocks.

For months, I’ve been limping along with two Macs, Safari RSS, and .Mac, and it was a huge hassle. .Mac is supposed to synchronize the state of your RSS feeds between machines (since OS X 10.4.4, I believe), but it doesn’t. What it does do it corrupt your Syndication database periodically, requiring a Reset Safari to recover.

This is a huge inconvenience, because (until Safari 3.x/OS X 10.4.10) resetting Safari also deleted all saved forms, passwords, and cookies.
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