Interesting Links: 9.13.07

  • 13 things that do not make sense – 19 March 2005 – particularly interesting because even though this was originally written in 2005 these still do not make sense. Interesting read.
  • 7 Amazing Holes – I know it sounds like holes wouldn’t be all that interesting, but look at the “glory hole” in particular. It looks insane. I want dive the Great Blue Hole in Belize also (someday).
  • Totally Scored – This is a very handy site that lets you create a custom RSS feed that will spit out your favorite sport teams scores (all your teams in 1 feed).

This is a a very brief wrap up. It’s kinda been a slow week for interesting links, and classes have been fairly busy.

My next computer, but which one?

So I am struggling with the decision to get a new computer. The only part of the process that I’ve really decided so far is the fact that I won’t be building this one from scratch (I just don’t have the time to). I am going back and forth between getting a Dell with Windows Vista (or XP) or getting a new Apple iMac. This isn’t an easy decision to make for a few reasons. Here is a visual breakdown of the 2 systems I am considering:
Dell Computer vs Apple iMac
As you can see, the Dell wins in more categories than does the iMac. Dell wins three categories that are especially important: processor, memory and price.

  • The Q6600 Quad-Core will smoke the Dual Core, so the Dell definitely wins there.
  • The RAM in the Dell runs at 800MHz compared to the iMac’s RAM running at 667Mhz
  • The Dell also ends up being almost $400 cheaper than the slower iMac.
    • Note: With a 22″ LCD, the Dell still only comes to $1,459 which is $100 cheaper than the iMac

UPDATE: Here is another comparison that includes the 22″ LCD with the Dell. I clearly stated this above, but people apparently can’t read.
dell with LCD vs imac
Now, I realize that the iMac obviously comes with a 20″ LCD, but that doesn’t really matter to me considering I have 2 perfectly functional 17″ LCDs that I plan to use. I also realize that some people will say that Vista and OS X should not be considered a tie, but then again I’d tell those people to lay off the crack.
Part of the appeal of an iMac is the simplicity of an all in one solution, but I don’t think that simplicity is worth $400. The Dell also has a greater possibility in terms of future upgrades, whereas the only thing I could upgrade on the iMac would be adding RAM.
My point here is that while the iMac may look nice, it’s still far more expensive than a comparable (or actually superior) Dell computer. The stigma of “expensive Macs” continues, and for good reason. Now I just need to actually purchase this computer (hopefully in the next few weeks).

Interesting Links: 8.12.07

It’s been another one of those weeks where way too much is going on during the week so I collect bookmarks to read and post about individually, but we know that doesn’t happen. So here is a week in review:

  1. Regular expression can seem scary, but they can be very useful in the right situation.
  2. If the default system applications in Windows can’t do something that you’d like to do then look for alternatives. You will find a plethora of great alternatives (and they are usually free too).
  3. Cygwin is an interesting thing, and I won’t lie: I still don’t think I have quite got my head around when/why I’d use it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to do a “ls” at the Windows crapline command line.
  4. CSS layouts can be an easy thing to code, but the initial planning to decide which type of layout to use is always the biggest challenge. This is a great summary of the trade offs for each type of layout.
  5. HTML 5 is still a ways off in the future, I realize that, but I am still intrigued by the possibilities that it might will bring when it’s ready. Mark my words, Microsoft will join the development effort eventually.

Interesting Links: 8.5.07

  • The Best Geek Quotes, Sayings, and Phrases: #1 – There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.
  • HARLEM-13-GIGAPIXELS.COM: 13 gigapixel image taken in Harlem, New York City
  • a Grayspace Poster Gallery: This gallery mostly consists of Polish posters designed since 1940
  • FileHamster: FileHamster is a version tracking application for developers, graphic artists and other content creators that frequently modify existing files.
  • Blueprint: A CSS Framework: Blueprint is a CSS framework, which aims to cut down on your CSS development time. It gives you a solid CSS foundation to build your project on top of, with an easy-to-use grid, sensible typography, and even a stylesheet for printing.

Yet again, this is what happens when I don’t have time to blog during the week. The Geek quotes are funny, the Harlem image is pretty cool, the Polish posters are interesting to look at, FileHamster looks very useful during my upcoming college semester, and Blueprint…well, I don’t know how I feel about that one just yet.

Microsoft 'Gatineau' sneak peek

Microsoft ‘Gatineau’ sneak peek

One of the reasons we wanted to wait for our own announcement around the beta functionality is because we wanted to explain where we get our demographic data from. Beta 1 will include the ability to segment data by both age and gender buckets, so you can get more of an idea of what kind of visitors you have. Questions are already being asked on Dave’s blog about where we get this data from; the answer is that we do get this information from users’ Live ID (formerly known as Microsoft Passport) profiles, but I would stress that we get this information anonymously, and there is no use of PII (Personally Identifiable Information, such as name or e-mail address) in the product.

Sounds quite interesting, and I definitely hope to get into the private beta. Honestly, I don’t know how a stats program is really going to impress me, but I could always be proven wrong. Some leaked screenshots below
Gatineau Pic 2Gatineau Pic 4

Security at my company

So the security at the company I am doing this internship for is abysmal. When I say abysmal I am actually being nice.
A quick example, I called IT this morning to install MS Access 97. The guy remoted into my computer, asked me to log out so he could enable my account as an administration. I log back in, and the real fun begins. He knows perfectly well that I am sitting right at the computer, but he still does everything I am about to tell you.
He goes to “run” and types in the full network location for a folder that happens to contain all kinds of software that the company uses. We’re talking things from AutoCAD, Nero, Maple, etc to Microsoft Office. So obviously I am a bit interested when I see the contents of this folder. He then goes into the “MS Office 97” folder and opens a document called (I kid you not) “Office 97 serial”. So here is the serial number for Office 97 sitting on the screen in front of me. Yes, I know Office 97 is nothing exciting, but the point is that he was flashing the serial for anything around.
So continuing …he installs Access 97 for me and then promptly says “ok, everything looks ok, have a good day, goodbye”. Yes, he hung up that quickly. Now at this point, I was shocked. Not only is 1. the serial number still open on my desktop, 2. the directory of applications (each with a serial in the directory, I checked) still open on my desktop, 3. the full network path for this folder of applications is still in my “run” field, BUT HE ALSO LEFT ME WITH ADMIN PRIVILEGES. I felt like calling this guy back and laughing at him, but instead I decided I didn’t feel like getting fired today.
It’s scary and frightening how poor the security is inside this company. I can only hope, and god do I hope considering what is it they/I do, that security to the outside world is drastically better than this.
p.s. I won’t say where it is that I am working because I can only guess they’d not like me telling the world how crappy their internal security is.

Week In Review: 6/28/2007

It’s been a rather interesting week for several peculiar reasons. Obviously the biggest thing happening this week for me has been my first experience with jury duty. On a similar note (obviously), I also experienced my first trial. Work has been remarkably busy after the trial was over, and then Monday morning I start my new internship. So yeah…
I guess it’s not an odd idea to think that being a juror in a trial would be slightly intimidating. That is exactly what it is, and I wasn’t even on a really “serious” case. Obviously without much detail, I was a juror on a DWI case this past Monday and Tuesday. I lucked out because the trial only lasted 1.5 days, but I feel like I got a good sense for what a trial “feels” like. The process is interesting to be a part of, and to observe. Although the judge actually made a joke or two during the jury selection which definitely helped to lighten the mood. I will not be anxious to get that wonderful jury duty summons in the mail next time, but at least I know what to expect now. I did my part, I “played my role in the justice system”. heh…we’ll see how fast 6 years go by now.
As I said, work has been very busy. I don’t know why I feel like I have significantly more to do than I did when I was gone for an entire week on vacation. How does that work out? I am gone for 2 days, I have a ton of work. I am gone for a week, I don’t have all that much. Very odd.
On a totally different note, Windows Live Folders started it’s private beta on Wednesday of this week. I was one of the 5,000 people to get into the beta test for it, so I guess that means I am lucky. That being said, Windows Live Folders in its current form is very basic, and definitely lacking in terms of features. Here is a quick example, this is my Public Live Folder with files I am sharing. An example of basic features that are not implemented yet, if you upload an image you’d think the site would automatically create a thumbnail of an image. This, however, is not the case. The same goes for a music file. You’d think that if you upload an mp3 file you’d get some kind of embedded audio player to listen to the file. Again, this is not the case though. It’s a start, but I really hope (for their own sake) that they plan on adding a plethora of features that are not in this current version. Not to mention, 500MB of storage is nothing these days. If they plan on impressing anyone they will need to offer a minimum of 5GB+ for free, and ideally they should just go with Yahoo’s “unlimited” storage model. The final key thing that is missing is a desktop application for accessing this storage space. Ideally, they need to make Live Folder space seamless with the desktop. When you go to “My Computer” (Win XP) or “Computer” (Vista) the Live Folder should be displayed right there. It should look, act, and be nearly indistinguishable from a normal local hard drive. I really believe this is just about the only way to get “normal” people using this. They will definitely not make the effort to login to a web site, manually browse for the files, and then upload them to their Live Folder. It will not happen, that I guarantee you.
I am beyond intimidated by this internship. As far as I know, I will be working on redesigning the user interface for some kind of medical application. Now the obvious question, do I really know how to do that? I am sure I’ll be ok once I sit down, look at things, and perhaps receive a bit of instruction. Right now it just feels really scary though. Scariness aside, I am excited to start on Monday.

Microsoft Research demonstrates laptop-compatible multi-touch displays

Microsoft Research demonstrates laptop-compatible multi-touch displays

The idea of having a multi-touch-capable laptop sounds pretty sweet, but of course no one would want to carry a cathode-ray-tube in their backpack, so how do you come up with a solution for a screen less than an inch thick? Microsoft Research Cambridge’s Steve Hodges might have the answer.

Very cool, but at least right now this is still fairly basic. The demo he shows is a good example of this: it’s a start, but it still has miles to go before it’s truly powerful.

TorrentSpy is Officially Dead

TorrentSpy ordered to start tracking visitors

TorrentSpy, a popular BitTorrent search engine, was ordered on May 29 by a federal judge in the Central District of California in Los Angeles to create logs detailing users’ activities on the site.

Just a heads up for people. Remove TorrentSpy from your “list”. TorrentSpy is officially dead after this ruling. Move along to the other plethora of sites available.