Critical Section


Tuesday,  04/06/04  11:13 PM

Spirit roverCNN reports: Mars rover finishes primary mission.  "The unmanned robot, marking its 90th full day on Mars, had accomplished all of the tasks NASA considered essential to declare the joint mission a success.  Its twin rover, Opportunity, was getting close to achieving the same."  Very awesome.  The article goes on to note that NASA has extended the mission through September.  If the rovers continue to function, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will apply for money to extend the project again.

Think the press isn't biased?  (If you do, you're pretty naive.)  Anyway check this out, an AP story entitled "Bush loyalists pack Iraq press office".  Now, what does "pack" mean?  It means "one-third of the U.S. civilian workers in the press office have GOP ties".  I'm not sure "one-third" equals "pack".  And I'm not sure having a GOP tie means you're a Bush loyalist, either.  Sheesh.

Cambay designoidAn interesting class of objects are "designoids".  These are objects which occur naturally, but which appear to have been manufactured, because of their symmetry, regularity, etc.  For example, check out these objects found in the Gulf of Cambay.  They appear man-made, but they're not.  The so-called fairy circles of Namibia are another good example of apparent design.  These kinds of objects show how difficult it is to separate intentional design from natural evolution.  Humans are another such object :)  [ via Matt Brauer ]

caffeine moleculeThinkGeek celebrates caffeine.  They would.

PCWorld reports DVD Players Anchor Home Nets.  The number and kind of devices which move video from computers to home entertainment systems is staggering.  Networking DVD players is a comfortable choice, because people already understand DVD players.

Russell Beattie joins the Tivo bandwagon.  "It's awesome - as good as all its press and more."

Matt Goyer answers Dave Winer's question about Windows XP Media center.  "It's a software platform.  So just think about what you could do with RSS, BitTorrent and a Media Center."  Indeed.

Seinfeld / Superman American Express adThis is too funny: An American Express ad featuring Jerry Seinfeld - and Superman.  You must watch this!  [ via Cory Doctorow, who notes "I can hardly believe that DC/AOL/Time-Warner licensed Supe for it" ]  Yep.

Speaking of Cory, Boing Boing is apparently a victim of their own success.  "Our bandwidth bills are going through the roof.  If traffic continues along the projected curve, maintaining Boing Boing will become unaffordable."  There's an interesting comment thread from readers with suggestions about tip-jars, subscriptions, etc.

Marc Cantor reacts to the Sun-Microsoft deal by wondering: When will IBM buy Sun

I can remember a startup I was involved with; at one point we had an opportunity to buy a weak competitor, a minor roll-up.  The goal would have been to buy the company for its customers.  One of my colleagues said "nah, forget it, we'll take their customers one at a time in the market".  And we did.

So why would IBM buy Sun?  To get Java?  They have it already.  To get Solaris?  They have AIX already, and are moving toward Linux.  To get Sun's server technology?  IBM already has the RISC/6000 family.  No, the only reason would be to get Sun's customers.  And I think they're happy to be taking them one at a time in the market...

"Our president is an idiot" washing labelSkeptomai found this interesting washing tag on a computer sleeve.  "The English is exactly what you would expect and so is the French, for the first 6 lines.  The last three lines of French are most interesting: 'We are sorry that our President is an idiot.  We didn't vote for him.'"  If they feel that way, not say so in English, too?  Pandering wimps.

This is pretty interesting: Mary Jo Foley notes Microsoft releases source code on SourceForge.  "Microsoft made available an internally-developed product called the "Windows Installer XML" (WiX).  WiX is a toolset for building Windows installation packages from XML source code."  Interesting that they did this - and smart.

Linux on iPodAnd speaking of SourceForge, this is amazing: Linux on iPod.  These guys have reverse-engineered the iPod (which is a "closed" platform) and are able to run the 2.4 kernel on it!  From the FAQ: "Why would you do that?  A number of reasons, but mainly because its there."  I love it.  (Long-term you could imagine this could enable iPods to play, say, WMA audio as well as MP3s.)

Bill Gurley on the state of broadband: One nation under Internet Protocol.  Very interesting comparison of the progress of broadband usage in the U.S. vs. South-East countries like Japan and South Korea.  (P.S. I just can't get used to "J. William", sorry Bill.)

Tom Coates makes some interesting observations about Kinja, the new server-side blog aggregator.  "your killer app is this sharing of digests, this creation of really user-friendly throw-aroundable clumps of groupness."

I'm attending BloggerCon, a one-day conference about blogging at Harvard Law School on April 17.  Jay Rosen is hosting a session entitled "What is Journalism?", and has posted some thoughts about the nature of Journalism and how amateurs like bloggers fit in.  Fascinating, I think Jay hits several nails on the head simultaneously.  Check it out.

Andrew Grumet, of RSS+Bittorrent fame, is hosting a section on blogging infrastructure.  He's posted his notes on that session, along with a reader discussion.

Wrapping up, Microsoft launched Channel 9, a public group blog for Microsoft developers:

"Channel 9 started as a personal story from one of us about fear of flying.  Lenn realized after years of dealing with it, that it was actually a fear of the unknown.  The fear was conquered through learning.  The more transparency into what it took to fly a plane, the more the fear went away.  Lenn got to know pilots who flew planes everyday, and every time he flew he turned on Channel 9 on the in-flight audio system to listen in to the cockpit.

"We think developers need their own Channel 9, a way to listen in to the cockpit at Microsoft, an opportunity to learn how we fly, a chance to get to know our pilots.  Five of us in Redmond are crazy enough to think we just might learn something from getting to know each other.  Were we wrong?

"Time will tell.  Join in, and have a look inside our cockpit and help us fly the plane.

Looks interesting.  I especially like the use of embedded video, which seems like it has more promise in the long run than embedded audio, which always seems just weird when I see it (hear it?) on a blog.  I'll stay tuned, and share my reactions...

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