November 2005 Archives

Outsourcing to Americans

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All of the conversation of sending jobs overseas, I thought this one should probably get more play.
Actually, there are areas within the US where inexpensive unskillled labor could be utilized.

Not sure why more worked isn't farmed out to these areas. Well, I suppose one reason is that we have a burgeoning and profitable prison labor system.

Wired News: Outsourcing to the Heartland

Do-it-yourself religion

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What an interesting way to define freedom of worship. Heck, you could even define it as designer religion. Clearly, people will always have great debates over religious text interpretations and the their associated clerics and officials. Of course, I have my own opinion.

Essentially, the bottom line is whatever believe system you choose, let it be one that pleases you. I have never subscribed to the theory that everyone must believe the same dogma, nor share the share the same spiritual context. Just do not beat people over the head with your choice.

OpinionJournal - Spin Your Own Faith

Cold day in hell

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I never thought I'd see the day when Bram would sell the fsck out for the bucks. Clearly, its all about the benjis(read benjamins), yet another very compelling piece of intellectual property likely to buckle under the legal pressure. I suppose every entrepreneur dreams about getting a nice payday. Why should Cohen be any different?

Well, P2P suffered a similar blow during the Napster era. I'm sure that BitTorrent will continue to be a popular protocol for filesharing, as it has been Open Source for quite awhile.

FWIW, the announcement only affects people that would visit Cohen's site to search for illegal torrents. There are several other places to find that elusive torrent file ;)

Web Site Agrees to Help Curb Access to Movies - New York Times

The Equalizer - $100 laptops

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I've heard much about this project, as it is a most important means of leveling the technology playing field in developing countries. Naturally, the deal only applies to those countries that would benefit most from the access. In keeping with the reuse theme, I would expect that the program should drastically reduce the alleged huge amounts of dated computer dumping that occurs in some locales.

…My heart’s in Accra » One Laptop Per Child - a preview, and a request for help

Mass and Venezuela deal for oil

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Gosh, the rising cost of heating oil has forced local politicians to broker deals on their own. Big slap at GW. He certainly deserves it.
However, I'm not sure that oil is destined for the poorest areas of Mass. I would imagine that some people in Roxbury could use it too.

The report also mentions that a section in the Bronx will also get lower sweet deal on heating oil. I wonder who negotiated that deal?

Hell, maybe we should send Kwame to broker a deal for Detroit ?
BBC NEWS | Americas | Venezuela gives US cheap oil deal

Child protection or censorship

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To what extent would you go to protect your child? The internet is a wealth of information, and could be a great resource for anyone. I'm not sure that schools should determine what children have access to this information and who should not.

Blogging does not have to be an invitation to pediphiles and such. To the contrary, children can learn viable problem solving skills, provided that they have adequate supervision. Additionally, other avenues of opportunity could be explored by introducing these students to blogging (ie A+ Certification, Java, XHTML, PHP, etc).
The real issue is that the teachers are woefully unprepared and technically inadequate in these areas. So, it is far easier to simply restrict the students, instead of forcing these teachers to attain the necessary training.

Boing Boing: Principal says students can't keep blogs or MySpace profiles

Electronic waste

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*Sigh* I wonder if all of these machines could have been spared if they had not adopted the WinTel model?
Very likely that people could take machines that were said to be 'unuseful' or too old, and install Linux or FreeBSD. Taking it a step further, one could remove all of the hard disk drives and run a diskless workstation. Essentially, extending the so-called useful life of aging hardware.

I would love to be able to spend time in Africa to show interested parties how this could be done. Apparently someone is already doing this work (Namibia || Direqlearn). Unfortunately, it doesn't get much press.

Poor Nations Are Littered With Old PC's, Report Says - New York Times

Top-Ten Blogging Tips

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Do you want more blog gusto? Here are some great strategies for a more effective blogging experience.

I love Technorati tags, and obviously RSS. MT has a plethora of plug-ins and is very extensible and hackable. If you're willing to tinker there are an infinite amount of customizable features to be exploitied. Never really thought about opening a CafePress store, but heck you never know..

Micro Persuasion: Ten Blogging Hacks

Socialized medicine

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A battle is raging and it appears that some of our larger corporations are losing big time. It appears the fight is to figure out a means to avoid the legacy costs associated with providing adequate healthcare to employees.

It is clear that insurance companies have reaked havoc on an already broken system. I have not been happy with fact that my pops has struggled to make ends meet, while he has spent thousands of dollars on anti-rejection medicine, to maintain the kidney he received roughly 5yrs ago. Is it a necessary evil? I'm not at all certain. What is clear, is that we have a system which is financed by the taxpayer and employer. The argument has always been, that the government should not finance healthcare.

G-Men Rising

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I'm totally recovered from the Bombers post-season failure. It appears that the Giants have a very legitimate shot at the NFC East title. However, I believe they're one-year away from a return to the SuperBowl. We now have a deep threat in Plaxico Burress, and Jeremey Shockey seems to have dedicated himself to the game. Perhaps he's picked up some lessons from another great Giant tight-end Mark Bavaro?

If Tiki Barber continues to run the ball extremely, it will certainly take the pressure of Manning, as he seeks to continue a yeoman-like sophomore campaign. Go G-men..

The Constant Gardener

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Now that the Trebuchet competition is over, I can focus on Finance and accounting course. Essentially, the semester has ended. I took an opportunity and peeped another film. The Constant Gardeneris based upon the John Le Carre novel, which depicts corruption on behalf of large Swiss pharmaceutical firm. The company decided to use Sudanese people as guinea pigs, as they 'alpha' tested AIDS drugs. I was quite saddened, but not surprised that this was not a fictional account, the pharmaceutical industry braced for the release of this film. Essentially, it lifted the skirt of the whole dirty secret of human experiments of so-called expendable people. Very despicable to say the least. Certainly brings back to memory the infamous Tuskeegee Experiment. How much is the life of an African/African American really worth?

Not really sure how the film arrived at its name. I tried very hard to find clues to its title. None were readily obvious. There was a great deal of clandestine activity on behalf of the British government, and you really had to pay close attention to understand who the bad guys were in this tale. The actors were very capable and quite plausible. Perhaps the only issue that I have with such flicks is that there is always the 'white man' God complex. In that, the folks of color never seem empowered or just totally helpless. Thus, the well-equipped European rides in to attempt to save the day or snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
I never really cared for these types of flicks. The answer to why this occurs is obvious. No African wrote or financed the film. So, you only get one perspective. Were there any African insurgents? Who cooperated with the Europeans in the first place?

Despite its faults, I'd still recommend that you peep the flick. The knowledge gained will be astonishing.

Google - Decoupled

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Here is a unique way to look at all the advanced features within Google. Does it simplify or mistify?

Soople; easy search in Google. Advanced calculator

Options - Hedging your bets

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I've never done very well on the stock market, in fact I don't know many people who have done very well. My first experience with an IPO was the upstart Transmeta(TMTA). I remember it well, as I used my now defunct Datek account to buy 50shares. I was really amped because I thought the Crusoe CPU, which employed code morphing(software that speeds up the processor) strategy was far superior to that of Intel's hardware(Moore's Law) model. I remember salivating after reading Transmeta's initial white paper. I may have also been pursuaded due to the fact they had Linus on their payroll too..

Well, Transmeta had the misfortune to have launched its campaign in 2000, immediately following the dotcom implosion. It also had logistical problems, and couldn't deliver on its increased battery life for notebooks. I lost $500, but it was a great learning exercise.

Now I primarily do traditional vehicles (Real Estate, Roth, and 401K).
Never really thought about Options, as a possible power move. I always thought that it required big gusto loot :) Ejovi helps clarify the strategy.

Ejovi Nuwere

Making of a trebuchet

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Lately, most of my time has been consumed by coursework. As the semester winds down, I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. One of the more interesting courses this semester is Systems Engineering. Our final team project is to build a trebuchet. It was a perfect sedgeway from my earlier post. The idea is to use system engineering tools and predictive analysis software (ie. FEA, Atreb V2.2, Minitab) to develop a robust trebuchet to satisfy customer requirements.

The course was divided into two phases:

Part I. Planning and predictive analysis
Part II.Validation, Fabrication and Testing.

Both Part I and Part II, make up what is called the System Engineering "V".
Left side is strictly design for robustness and prediction. The right side is the hardware validation and testing.
We were not allowed to build/test the treb until Part II.

The commercial software package Atreb V2.2, was tremendous, as it helped us understand the physics of a trebuchet. Although, our group is comprised of mechanical and electrical engineers. Nobody knew how the contraption worked, and I certainly wasn't born in the middle-ages. The treb operation was based upon first principles, but it clearly was non-trivial.

We used Minitab, a statistical tool, as a means to develop a sensitivity analysis, which would help validate our DOE.
We could then better understand the variability or the noise factors inherent to our design (ie. main arm pin friction, counterweight mass, main arm length).
After running Minitab, we studied the main-effects and then used this information to begin modeling the treb in CatiaV5.
Once we had a general idea how to model the package, we set out to improve robustness.

Sony DRM gone astray

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I have discussed the dangers of DRM in earlier posts (Part I || Part II). Lately, Sony has come under fire for its part in installing a rootkit on the entertainment media it sells. What is interesting about this story is that the author who originally broke the story is a certified M$VP. The guy makes a living developing tools for windows API and such. Although, I strongly oppose any technologies which have the ability to modify the behavior of consumer personal use hardware. I think it's a bit curious that someone from the M$ camp would be complaining about DRM? Smells a bit hypocritical to me. Moreover, both M$ and Sony have competing DRM strategies, so if Sony's strategy fails (as is the case of M$ DRM), well I believe you can connect the dots.

Freedom to Tinker » Blog Archive » CD-DRM Rootkit: Repairing the Damage

Public facing calendars

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I manage websites for two non-profit organizations as well as my own. It is customary for any relatively large organization to inform users and staff members of events via a calendaring system. As most of you know I am a fervent supporter of Open Source tools, especially the LAMP variety. However, I've not had very much success with obtaining a solution that is impervious to malicious bandits. Although, I fancy myself as a fairly competent sys-admin, I must trust that the developers of these useful scripts have taken every effort to close holes in their products. People have told me that I'll always have problems of this sort, if I continue to use open source tools. However, I disagree. I know that the community has and can do better. Hell, if an operating system kernel has thousands of lines of code (ie Linux), and does an excellent job of patching security vulnerabilities. I would imagine the same could be done with relatively simple calendar scripts. Perhaps there is a dearth of eyesballs on the code. Who knows?? Bottom line is we must do better.

Kingdom of Heaven

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I've been slow to post entries due to increasing courseload. Rest assured I've been very productive.
Please take a moment to review my latest flick review. I grabbed a torrent and bag of popcorn and took a much needed break from some classwork.

Kingdom of Heaven takes place during the Holy Crusades(roughly 1100AD), the Muslims were attempting to retake Jerusulem from the Christians. The irony is that the Christians had butchered the Muslims, and stole this land from Muslims in earlier crusades, but now the will of the Pope and strength of the Roman Empire was on the side of the Christians.

The corruption of the Pope was exposed earlier in the film, and justice was typically found at the end of a knight's sword. Many life lessons were played out for the benefit of the viewer, and there was the ubiquitous love story to capture your attention in the somewhat lengthy piece.

Roadcasting - nuance in collaboration

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Everyone has talked about road rage. Why not road collaboration with a technical twist? Many people have already discovered P2P networking to share their most prized music and video files. Wouldn't it be nice to share this data real-time with your fellow motorists?

Think of this scenario.. You're speeding down I-95 in route to your destination, and you realize that there is a live network available roughly one mile ahead. So, you are now able to share your most treasured mix-tape with the some nearby vehicle ahead of you. What better way to reduce the boredom of a very long trip?

Yes, there will be discussions of DRM; however, I see a larger benefit of the technology at stake here.. In the spirit of sharing, wouldn't it also be great to quickly share weather, traffic, and police activity to those motorist who share the same network. I believe it would be far superior to the outdated CB radio.

Taking it a step further, if the local municipalities could be trusted to use the network to provide 'real-time' traffic reports, I would suspect that the utility of the network would increase exponentially.

Om Malik's Broadband Blog Roadcasting Rules

Level playing field for success

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Finland is probably best known for Linus Torvalds, inventor of the Linux kernel. However, what is probably least known is its educational system. In fact, the majority of their students attend college because it cost virtually nothing.
In fact, Linus was able to incubate the idea of Linux due in large part to the length of time he was able to stay in school, while pursuing his undergraduate degree. I imagine that if he were paying an exorbitant amount for tuition, perhaps the level of creativity would have been far less substatial.

In contrast, if an American student spends more than five years pursuing an undergraduate degree, they are often ridiculed.

Where are the young US inventors? Are they progressing through the US education system?

According to the Finland Minister of Education, students are not separated based upon ability until age sixteen. Clearly, this type of strategy is a very different than how the US has manages education.

It appears that European countries have always taken a different approach to preparing its students for success. The concept of taking ownership in educational process is of paramount concern to Finland, I do hope we can learn a few lessons from our foreign neighbors.

BBC NEWS | Education | Education key to economic survival

Lean Manufacturing Musings

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Lean Manufacturing principles are really the buzz amongst people who are employed in the auto industry. In fact, there are also interesting synergies relative to Information Technology, An excellent text,"The Cluetrain Manifesto", echoes the sentiment that our manufacturing base must radically change to compete on a global market. A common theme in the text is, "Adapt or Die." It has become apparent that the manufacturing base is leaving North America, particularly in the auto industry. So, I'm dumbfounded as to the reaction and the general paralysis of some of the major players in this space. Regarding the auto industry, it is clear that some will survive despite the tough landscape. The Asian auto industry seems to have some of the same challenges, but have emerged in better shape than their American counterparts. Although, the symptoms are well understood, methinks folks get caught up in a fervent debate over 'equivalent wages'.

Has the Pocket PC really surpassed Palm?

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Some of you may already know that the Palm has partnered with M$ to collaborate on new smartphone - Treo 700W. The article below states that this is a major victory for M$ and it spells certain doom for the Palm platform. The authors list their top five reasons for Palm's demise.

However, I'm not sure I agree with their rationale. I suppose my view could be somewhat biased, as I've been using Palm products since 1999 (ie Palm IIIx, and Treo600). I've always appreciated that there are large amounts of development tools(smartphone || Palm OS) for the Palm platform. Moreover, the author makes a false assumption that corporations have secretly marveled at smartphones powered by WinCE. I would argue that the Blackberry was more widespread than any other PDA in the office place. Recently, Palm has begun to gain traction in some corporations.

Keep tabs on your pals

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Very big brotherish, not sure I'd want anyone to know my every move. Not even my closets friends. It reminds me of Enemy of State. Pretty scary. I suppose that everyone that carries a cell phone already has given up that right to stealth, as your location can be pinpointed based upon the proximity of the nearest cell tower.

Track Friends Via GPS - Lifehacker

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