Thursday, January 29, 2009

Look at my works ye mighty and despair

What I found most interesting about this CNN piece is that the author is not making it up. There really is a National Republican Victory Monument.

And if you become a Platinum donor, your name can be inscribed on it!

The triumphal arch is more generally associated with the military victories of dictatorships and kings than electoral success in a democracy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

iPod Touch mounted on M110 Sniper Rifle | The Firearm Blog

The Firearm Blog shows an interesting twist on the development of the iPod. It is no longer an autonomous mobile device, it is a component in other devices.

The iPod touch is actually a pretty cheap package for a battery, computer and display.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Better DRM = cheaper software?

I have been interested in 3D-Modelling, 3D Design and most recently small scale CNC for some time. But as anyone who has tried to work in that area knows, professional software costs a huge sum - thousands, cheaper commercial products tend to cost in the region of $500 and lack necessary features and open source software tends to be works in progress.

Looking at the features of IronCAD it is exactly what I need. It allows 3D objects to be built from acfurately dimensioned 3D models. But even the lite version still costs thousands.

What I need is really a limited time usage license. Instead of buing a seat I want a fraction of a seat, a few hours a month at most.

If we had decent DRM technology it would be possible to support this type of use. Software vendors could expand their market and avoid competition from below.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gratuitous use of technology part 1.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Leap second - Just say no.

Over the course of a year solar noon varies by as much as quarter of an hour. From 12:00 (by definition) on midsummer's day and 12:15 around beltane at Greenwich.

'The astronomers' are apparently worried that solar noon must exactly accord with noon according to our clocks everyone else uses because it appears that they don't know how to correct for such things without changing the time table for everyone else. The rotation of the earth is not exact and not exactly predictable.

So what they do instead is they install a leap second once a year or so, giving only six months notice. This messes up no end of computer programs as it means a vast amount of rarely tested code has to be written to deal with the edge cases.

And so there is a US proposal to stop the idiocy and abolish the leap seconds. There is simply no reason to introduce regular corrections of the order of a second to a quantity that varies of its own accord by fifteen minutes over the course of a year. That is three orders of magnitude more than the corrections being made by the astronomers.

Unless you are an astronomer there is no particular reason to care which particular day of the year 12:00 corresponds to solar noon.

So the response of the astronomers to the proposed change is classic agenda denial. 'There is no publicly available documentation that adequately or consistently justifies the proposed re-definition of UTC' In other words we are going to keep meddling with the clocks because we don't know what might happen if we stop doing it.

This is really about power. The astronomers get a feeling of importance from being responsible for proposing their little corrections. They should be told firmly that this is going to stop.

The US should stop piddling around negotiating a change to UTC. Just define a time scale without corrections and announce that that is now official. Job done.

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard