GPS without GPS

June 27, 2005 at 7:20 pm | Posted in Technology | Leave a comment

After being put off by the price and unreliability of commercial GPS systems, not to mention the ability of the US military to putz around with these signals when we may need it the most, I thought that 802.11b/g wireless access points may be a way to get GPS-like functionality in urban areas at a lower cost. Now it seems that a Boston startup done exactly that. Imagine your laptop or PDA/iPod, coupled with GIS data from Google or Yahoo and the right software. Suddenly, that $699 Garmin receiver (plus more $$$ to get locked into their proprietary data formats), isn’t as attractive anymore.

Mad Cow Rampage

June 25, 2005 at 7:49 am | Posted in Food and Drink, Politics | Leave a comment

Not only is the Bush Corporate Government needlessly endangering military lives, but their close ties to the food industry may be endangering the lives of all food-eating Americans.

An NPR report (Real Audio) and a more detailed followup describes how the second case of Mad Cow (BSE) disease was found and it shows the following shortcomings of the current process. Our government claims this is “world-class” when it is clearly not so.

  • They are only screening “downer” animals, but like cancer, BSE will often be present in normal-looking animals. It is even worse if a long time passes between the test and the time the animal is killed.
  • A negative first test for BSE results in no further testing. Other countries either run a second independent test and/or test all their animals.
  • We don’t have a world-class BSE detection unit. We have to outsource to England, where they have plenty of Mad Cow experience and are willing to take the necessary steps to ensure food safety.
  • This shows the importance of independent elements in our government to reverse or reconsider earlier decisions. I’m sure the BushCo response to this would be to eliminate these “troublemakers”.

It is obvious that scientific integrity is not high within the USDA – their priority is to minimize the cost to the food industry, not to save lives. They forgot to tell us that the “gold standard” they were using was based on fool’s gold. From another recent article:

“USDA strategy is basically to cross its fingers and hope that beef from a BSE-infected animal doesn’t end up on Americans’ dinner plates.”

Sounds like faith-based science to me. Between the first case in December 2003 to the second case this month, how many BSE-infected cows have made it to the food supply? I suppose you can go to your local In-N-Out and find out.

Unlike most BushCo lovers, I perfectly understand if other countries won’t be lifting their bans on American beef anytime soon.

Longest Day

June 21, 2005 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Fun Outdoors | Leave a comment

Happy summer solstice – that time of the year when I wish I were somewhere else admiring the late-setting or never-setting sun. Shout out to friends in the Great White North.

Iraq War Dead 2005

June 19, 2005 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

In the third year of the Iraq occupation, Nightline has once again broadcast a recitation of the war dead on Memorial Day, including two commercial interruptions. I have said before that I don’t mind commercials, just their placement within the show.
Continue Reading Iraq War Dead 2005…

My Brain Bigger Than Your Brain

June 18, 2005 at 9:03 am | Posted in General | Leave a comment

A study done at a Virginia university suggests a correlation between intellect and brain size:

The study, published on line June 16, could settle a long-standing scientific debate about the relationship between brain size and intelligence.

I call bullshit on that study — an article in the LA Times suggests otherwise.

For so long, scientists had championed the idea of larger brains as an indicator of intellect. Witelson, however, gradually became convinced that overall brain size didn’t matter.

Personally, I’d go with Einstein on this one – he didn’t give his brain to VCU for study. Also, the Virginia study was done not by a biological scientist, but by a business professor.

You decide.

How To Say No

June 17, 2005 at 7:04 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment

You can always preface with “Hell” for extra effect.

Gruber Disses Cringely

June 12, 2005 at 8:39 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

Kevin sent me Robert X. Cringely’s speculation about Intel eventually buying Apple. I found the idea intriguing and appealing, as it gave the possibility of a strong enough competitor for Microsoft. However, the counterpoint by John Gruber makes more sense.

The fact is that Apple is and always will be Jobs’ company is enough to discount all thoughts of him leaving voluntarily, though there are still quite a few Mac users out there more than willing to give him the axe for last Monday’s keynote.

Let’s Get Universal

June 12, 2005 at 8:37 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

I downloaded Xcode 2.1 and was trying to find the “PowerPC/Intel” switch shown in the keynote. Select Project…Edit Project Settings. That should bring up this inspector palette. Double click the “Architectures” setting and viola!!!

However, I was unable to compile a Universal Binary since I did not have the x86 libraries.

Portfolio Update

June 9, 2005 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

I never thought I’d do this, but it’s time to add this company to my portfolio, seeing has how it is now linked (somewhat) to my AAPL holdings. As of today, it’s on my watchlist only and will stay there for now.

Beyond Steve’s RDF

June 6, 2005 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

I must have been drinking too much Kool-Aid this morning.

Apple released their Universal Binary Programming Guide and a rough scan of the contents doesn’t sound too hopeful for those whose code does not match certain expectations.

Programming the x86 is truly a PITA. Using Apple’s API helps, but it will be painful for those who rely on PowerPC behavior and/or use low-level instructions. Those who program at a higher-level will probably have to program more defensively. I suppose this is good news since it will keep programmers working hard for some time to come, but at a cost of slowing down or pausing other plans for their Mac applications. As was said in the keynote, it all depends on your code and your build environment.

Some short sections from the above document showing the problems involved going to x86:

  • Appendix A: Rosetta > What Can Be Translated?
    This is the biggie with lots of limitations: PowerPC code on Intel will run as an emulated G3. Forget Classic code. Forget 68k code (bye bye Hypercard!). Forget Altivec. Forget G4 or G5 specific code. Forget hardware drivers using kernel extensions. Apple wants to go Intel. Fast. Really fast.

  • Architectural Differences > Byte Order
  • Architectural Differences > Divide-by-zero operations.
  • Guidelines for Specific Scenarios > Open Firmware. What Open Firmware?
  • Appendix B. Ugly ugly ugly. I don’t know Altivec programming, but this section shows how elegant the PowerPC instruction set was. I feel sorry for the programmers who had to learn detailed Altivec programming in order to get the most out of the PowerPC (as opposed to those who just checked the Altivec flag in their code generation preferences. Sometimes it pays to be lazy and let Apple figure it all out).

OSX isn’t the only one who’s getting a brain transplant. I think a lot of Mac developers will be heading to the Intel “re-education camps” the next few months. I will gladly wait for the glorious products promised today. All Hail the Beneficent Wisdom of Chairman Jobs!

[Seriously, I do like what has happened. I plan on buying the first fruits of the Apple-Intel partnership.]

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