Proof of incompetence

So Microsoft, unable to compete in web searching by providing a quality product, is now making a deal with Rupert Murdoch to delist his web sites from Google. No doubt there will be a deal so that you can only search said web sites with Bing. The Financial Times reports that MS has entered similar talks with other online news sources.
  • Current Mood
    nauseated nauseated

Thanks, sideband

Sure enough, reseating the DVD data connector did the trick.This means that I have a spare DVD burner to make up for my forgetting to order one for my sister's new computer, which we'll be building shortly. Yay!
  • Current Mood
    thankful thankful

Save Numb3rs

From Rob Morrow's Facebook page:

"Hi All, CBS has pulled us back to 16 eps from an original order of 22. not a good sign. but, we're not over yet. we need a big write-in campaign. ya'll have to get everyone u know to blitz the network with unrelenting letters. keep numbers alive....

here is the address:
Nina Tassler
President, CBS Entertainment
4024 Radford Ave., Room 3118
Studio City, CA 91604

thanks all, rob m"

Numb3rs is a fresh breath of rationality and favorable view of math in popular entertainment; the two hours of dreck that precede it drive the point home. Please consider expressing your opinion to the folks at CBS.
  • Current Music
    "Mandelbrot Set", Jonathan Coulton

Antique database technology

So tonight on NCIS there's an episode that starts out with people taking out an ISP and then doing something to trigger a widespread power grid failure--and suddenly our intrepid investigators must go back to old methods.

All of a sudden I was reminded of an early database package of sorts. I'm not sure whether I saw it in an Edmund Scientific catalog or maybe even, of all places, a Lafayette Electronics catalog--that's a vague memory I don't think I should trust. After all, the whole point was that no electricity was required.

The hardware? A bunch of stiff cards that you wrote information on. Each card had holes punched around the border, and each hole corresponds to a predicate. Actually, you could go either way--having the hole cut out to the edge could either represent the predicate being true or being false, and you could even set up negative logic, a la logic circuits, if it would make certain common queries faster.

Let's say we go with "hole = false, slot = true". Then you use rods through the holes/slots for the predicates you're interested in. Simplest query: select all records for which p is true. Stick one rod through the deck at the spot corresponding to p; all cards that fall off have the hole cut through to the edge, and hence have p. p is false? Stick the rod through; all those that stay on the rod are those for which not-p. p and q? Rods through two holes; those that fall off have both cut through, and hence p and q are both true. And so forth. Really kind of clever for the era if you can't afford a 407 accounting machine.

UPDATE: That's the term! Edge-notched cards.
  • Current Mood
    nostalgic nostalgic

hard drive prices, and redundancy

I'm still amazed at how they've plummeted. I recall a coworker once who bought a hard drive that would hold a whole gigabyte! It was a SCSI drive, 5.25", full height, and cost a bit over a thousand dollars. You'd never fill that, I thought, just as a few years earlier I thought I'd never fill the thirty megabytes available on the hard drive I hooked up to my CoCo 3.

Tomorrow morning, the UPS guy will hand me a SATA II hard drive that's 3.5", half height, holds 1500 times as much as that gigabyte hard drive, and costs a tenth as much. Initially. It's also a "green" hard drive, so I'm sure it will consume far less electricity than the old SCSI hard drive did. It will slide right into a D-Link NAS unit I've seen recommended by several sources, and I'll set it up to keep backups of irpooh 's and my systems.

As a wise person once said, though, the correct number of something to have is either zero, one, or infinitely many, and if you listen to Leo Laporte's Tech Guy shows*, you regularly hear him say, "If there's only one copy of something, it's not backed up." Also, there's the whole offsite backup issue. What do you folks do?

*If you listen to Kim Komando for non-comedic reasons, I urge  you to switch to the Tech Guy show.

  • Current Music
    "Memory", from, yeah, Cats

Karmic Koala (didn't Boy George sing something like that?)

I did the update. So far, so good, mostly. For some reason, "switch user" in KDE is behaving as if I'd asked it to lock the screen. I did something stupid, i.e. put the 64-bit Flash plugin in the directory for 32-bit Firefox plugins, and that broke Flash on some sites in a bizarre fashion. Other than that, it's nice.
  • Current Mood
    pleased pleased

Grumble, grumble--darned DVD/CD burner

So, the Karmic Koala  release candidate install went without a hitch on the netbook, and it was time for my home computer, eeyore, to get the treatment.

Back everything up to the little purple USB drive (all 120 GB of it--nice time for a nap), insert the CD I'd just burned, reboot, watch the little startup screen, wait for it to time out and go to the default Live CD boot (for some reason, the Ubuntu Live CD doesn't deign to notice the USB keyboard, not initially)--and see the "ERROR -- can't read CD" message.

Tried it again--same result.

Reboot into 9.04, and try to burn another CD--and it doesn't notice that I've put a blank CD in the drive. Put in a Best of Judy Collins CD... and Sound Juicer doesn't notice it's there.

What are the chances that the DVD/CD burner would die on me just then, I ask you?
  • Current Mood
    grumpy grumpy

Iowa Film Tax Incentives

(Posted here and on Facebook)

Sad to say, the state of Iowa has a Gatling gun pointed at its foot and is turning the crank as fast as it can, by totally freezing the Film Tax Incentives program while it investigates the abuses of a few. The film projects that are in limbo thanks to the freeze can't wait forever; they'll go elsewhere--and it's not just productions that come, film, and then go. We're talking new permanent businesses in Iowa to support those productions that are also at risk, and of course the lodging, catering, car rentals, and all the other existing businesses that benefit from films being made in Iowa. Take a look at this PDF for more details and things you can do.
  • Current Music
    "Celluloid Heroes", the Kinks

"I'm gettin' old, babe..."

Last Sunday, irpooh and I were trying to remember a song part of which was going through her head. ".... Beecher, my English teacher" was what she remembered. I remembered the tune, but was fuzzy on the lyrics. I thought maybe her first name was "Natalie"; to paraphrase Rodney Carrington, "hell, it scanned."

"English" was what foiled my Googling at first, it was "history". Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, "Abigail Beecher". The lyrics are here.

Why do I feel really, really old? Well, remember those literary anthologies where, for the really old stuff there were footnotes explaining obscure old cultural references and the like that people from WAY back then would catch on to, but we wouldn't? Take a look at those lyrics. Footnotes, explaining really old cultural references (Why did they call Freddy Cannon "Boom Boom"? What's an XKE?  What the [bleep] are the Monkey and the Watusi?).

Excuse me while I go sit on a lawn chair and soak up some sun... oh, wait, this is Iowa in October. Never mind.

EXTRA CREDIT QUESTION (since we're remembering English lit): in what bad movie did a great dancer utter the line quoted in the title?
  • Current Music
    the obvious

oh, that's what that stands for...

I'd like very much to talk sometime with one of irpooh 's friends. By all indications very intelligent, well-read, well-spoken, and creative.

Well... reading my dear wife's friends page, said friend announced getting in to the "ENO Messiah". (Excellent news indeed!) I followed the link and it turned out to be the English National Opera, but for one uncomprehending but tantalizing second the notion of Brian Eno doing a version of Handel's oratorio hung before my mind's eye. I think I'd like to hear it. Hear both, actually, but I won't be able to make it to England.

  • Current Music
    "For Unto Us a Child is Born"