Category Archives: Tech - Page 2

13 things that don’t make sense in science

From New Scientist, [13 things that do not make sense]:

This was a really good read. For the lazy, here’s the list of them to entice you to read the rest of the article:
1 The placebo effect
2 The horizon problem
3 Ultra-energetic cosmic rays
4 Belfast homeopathy results
5 Dark matter
6 Viking’s methane
7 Tetraneutrons
8 The Pioneer anomaly
9 Dark energy
10 The Kuiper cliff
11 The Wow signal
12 Not-so-constant constants
13 Cold fusion

My, how I’ve grown… to be a spam target

Up until this point, I’ve considered my blog to have low enough traffic so as not to be very visible to spammers. As such, I’ve been content with being sent emails for each comment added, and manually deleting the spam comments and closing comments for old articles.

This has now changed. Perhaps it’s a sign of my blog’s maturity. This blog has become a spam target, garnering several spam comments per day from a single spammer ( feel free to send spam to that address, haha ).

So I went ahead and installed [MT-Blacklist]: . If you’re a MovableType user, you should seriously consider this nifty plugin. I was surprised how *ridiculously easy* it was to install, and the sheer power it afforded with such minimal effort. If you’re using version 2.x or feel that TypeKey is too restrictive on your audience, give MT-Blacklist a go. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before you get inundated with spam.

Let Governments build Free WiFi

I think most people will agree that free wireless access is a *good thing*. When is it not a good thing? Honestly.

Have a look at [Lawrence Lessig’s]: article on Wired: [Why Your Broadband Sucks]:

Lessig talks about how the ramifications of Pennsylvania Governer Rendell’s passing of a law that prohibits government from building free wireless in communities, exempting [Philadelphia’s free wireless]: , since of course Philadelphia is the only place that likes free wireless.


I might be being a little reactionary, but how does free wireless stifle competition? You can argue that people won’t be using the paid hotspots when free wireless is available, so… does this mean that we shouldn’t have public bathrooms? I mean, hey, a private company might want to build pay-per-use bathrooms at the park, and the government would be unfairly competing there, wouldn’t it? Oh, and darn it all, libraries compete unfairly with bookstores, don’t they? How dare they provide free access to books and newspapers!

Would government really be unfairly competing? I think Lessig is right on target with the idea that government should be able to compete to provide public services. Private enterprise is always free to compete with government (Lessig’s example: FedEx, UPS, DHL, Airborne Express vs. USPS), in order to provide better product or better prices. Isn’t this a good thing?

On a side note, I think free wireless would increase commerce and put more dollars into the economy than paid wireless. I buy a lot of stuff online, and I definitely buy more when access is a given. Online access makes me a much more efficient consumer. Whether increased spending is good for me or not is another issue entirely, but I think the quality of life definitely goes up, even if my savings account grows slower.

Paul Graham’s “Good Bad Attitude”

Paul Graham writes a lot of awfully good essays. Here’s one about “hackers” and their opposition to copyright that I found quite good and thought-provoking. 🙂

Good Bad Attitude

Great Hackers

Great Hackers

This is a really great article about, well, programming-type people. No, not about h4x0rZ… hahaha

IE’s monopoly slips (and OneNote)

Hey, I think Microsoft is perfectly capable of making some really great software, but sssshhh.. I think Internet Explorer is on its way out of dominance. Which isn’t a bad thing. Everyone still uses Windows for other monopolistic reasons, including those which existed when Netscape dominated.

An example of Microsoft’s really good software:
[Microsoft OneNote]: It seems to have all the stuff I was thinking of when I was telling my friends and family about my note-taking computer idea way back in the mid 1990s. Of course I also said I would only pay $200 for a device which would be replacing a couple years worth of notebooks, pens, markers, and highlighters. It’s still the first polished software realization, and with the tablet PC, it’s the first reasonable solution. Of course, Microsoft will probably try to patent everything in it, like “a software mechanism for a stylus to leave an overlaying colored trail on a touch screen,” because yes, *no one else* would think of letting you highlight stuff. Really.

Anyway, I digress. You probably want to read this [entry at Memex]: which talks about how Internet Explorer’s the security-holeyest browser, and how Microsoft needs to keep telling users that the software they have isn’t good enough, and they need to upgrade to the latest flawed Microsoft incarnation. I know, I know… other software is flawed too. So why stick with Microsoft? Open-source software used to be a source of frustration with me, but it keeps becoming a more and more credible alternative.

Examples of good free software:
[]: still needs some work, but really, I think it’s good enough. Occasionally, it crashes, but only about as much as a system with a slightly buggy device driver.
[MozillaFirefox]: is certainly *better than good enough*, with its 0.9.1 version being one that I’d recommend to my parents, and even my grandparents. Its resistance to popups and spyware alone will give them less overall headache.
[Knoppix]: continues to impress me. With a Knoppix CD, I can boot, read all of my windows files, browse the web, play DVDs and .avis, burn CDs and DVDs, listen to MP3s and streaming music, make office documents, and a bunch of other stuff, ( *here’s the kicker* )without installing or configuring anything. You stick the CD in, and it works. I think Knoppix should have a “mainstream” version that has less features and is a little dumbed down for people who don’t know that they need to run a program called k3b to burn CDs easier than “Easy CD Creator”. Seriously, when I was doing my periodic reinstall of Windows (OS decay and all), I was wondering why I didn’t just use Knoppix instead. But the answer came quickly…. [Monkey Island games]: need Windows (or Mac, I suppose).

MT3.0 licensing update

Yesterday, [SixApart announced]: a new pricing structure for MT3.0. It seems reasonable now. I fit under the free license, and I have the flexibility to add two more disjoint, non-overlapping blogs. If I want more, I can get unlimited blogs, and I’d be able to add four more authors for $70. $70 isn’t that cheap, but if I really had to have more than three blogs, and my friends/family didn’t want to install their own copies, I can see it in the realm of possibility.

$100 for a no-limit personal license. Nice to see that there’s a cap. $100 for a license that lets you do anything isn’t all that bad. And with inflation increasing, pretty soon a hundred bucks won’t be that much money anymore. hah.

They lost a whole lot of points with their initial pricing plan, but this one wins them a whole lot of customer service points. It’s nice that at least one software vendor is listening.

Microsoft Patents Doubleclick

[Text of the patent]:,727,830.WKU.&OS=PN/6,727,830&RS=PN/6,727,830


> Microsoft has successfully patented using short, long or double clicks to launch different applications on “limited resource computing devices” – presumably PDAs and mobile phones. The US patent was granted on 27 April.

It’s just another example of how broken the US patent system has become. You gotta ask: does this patent really protect innovation?

There’s another side: I read another article where someone was arguing that if he had his own cool innovation, his best course of action would be to keep it secret. He could patent it, but then everyone would know, and a big company would just use it, and it would be too expensive for him to fight it.

Litigation is expensive. Since it’s expensive, it tilts things in favor of richer, larger companies. Patent everything you can, even the obvious stuff you didn’t invent, and it’s too expensive for anything but a richer company to fight. depressing….

File-sharing and “lost” sales

Hey, I saw over on [Lawrence Lessig’s blog]:
a link to an [article]: about whether sales of music are actually down.

Fascinating. I knew there was something wrong with their numbers. With file-sharing, and especially internet radio, I’m exposed to a much greater variety of music than MTV, some ClearChannel radio, or strip-mall music store. Is it any surprise that I buy *more music I like* these days? Is it any surprise that almost all the music I buy these days was heard first in mp3 format? Is it any surprise that it has made me buy more music? You know, I think all this music sharing is *free marketing* and hey, with all honesty, with decreased population in peer-sharing-networks I see less music I like, and less artists whose CDs I want to buy. Oh well. I can play more video games, read more books, and (oh no!) blog more.

Anyway, you should read the article. And Lessig’s blog is a good one to add to your RSS subscriptions.

Six Apart: Okay, maybe we were a little hasty….

Seems like Six Apart’s sorta in damage control mode now. In the wee hours of this beautiful Saturday morning, Six Apart posted a /revision/ and /clarification/ of the new licensing terms. This time, it’s an [entry on SixLog,]: the main SixApart blog, instead of the personal-ish blog of Mena the co-founder. As I write, another hubbub is ensuing, yet, I think this one will be smaller than the 612 trackbacks that hit the previous one. It’s only at 125 (and ticking higher) as I cook up this entry.

I guess I was wrong about Six Apart. They /did/ rethink their licensing terms. The fury of the the current MT users, plus some other interested parties in the blogosphere probably tested a bit of their “commitment to a free version.” For posterity’s sake I’ll note here that [Mena’s blog entry]: and [SixApart’s download page]: have been hanging at or near the top of blogdex, with links for [WordPress]: and [migrating from MT to WordPress]: showing up as well. Hey, looks like [textpattern,]: [pMachine,]: and [drupal]: are showing up in blogdex as other alternatives to MT. It looks like diveintomark has [already converted]: to WordPress (along with several others I’ve seen) in these couple days, and stupidevilbastard [notes that he’ll still probably ditch MT anyway,]: as the slightly better free licensing and personal licensing terms are just a little [too little,]: and [too late.]: But to be fair, SA has addressed many concerns, and a lot of people are pleased. Some were even [happy with the first version]: of the new licensing scheme. And others think [it’s just one step in the right direction.]: Still, what do I think? Because, really, if you’re reading my blog for general news, there are better sites.

I feel a little better with this revision. The free license is now good enough for me, though still it’s no-good for families, and other small groups of familiars. Is that okay? It feels odd that if I were to get married, then she would need her own installation of MT3. I wonder how things get counted if a single mom wants to have another blog for her toddler, from the kid’s perspective. Does that count as two authors? Okay, I’m being a little facetious. 🙂

The single CPU restriction in the license has been removed as well, which is cool, because I honestly don’t know how many CPUs my host machine has. Heck, maybe my host has a cluster of machines that serve my site. I just don’t know, and, really, as long as the performance is there, I don’t think I should care.

It still bothers me that with MT3, it would cost me money to give a spot to a friend to blog. Or if I wanted to host my brother’s blog, it would cost me money. I suppose if I could make a shell account so he could install MT himself, then it would be fine. I feel like I’m being really cheap, but honestly, it has more to do with the fact that the extra stuff that MT has over the competition isn’t worth the even the introductory price to me. If I add a blog for my brother, and he uses it for a couple months and forgets about it, I’ll still have paid $69.95 (or $99.95 it I don’t act fast) just so he could try it. I don’t know… is it worth it? No, not really… but I feel a little persuaded to hold off migration until the general 3.0 release, where MT will be better from the efforts of the community, all of whom (except the contest winner) won’t see a dime from their efforts. Which isn’t that bad a thing, considering that code is usually higher quality when it’s personally, not financially motivated.

Man, I’ve been blogging a lot these couple days…