Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The history of Android

That's a lot of history in a very short period of time. Personally, I can't wait to see what's next.

So what happens when everyone has a college degree?

A college degree might not be good enough anymore. At least according to this New York Times article.

College's have been raising tuition for years because they need more faculty and resources to educate the increased student population and now it may turn out that expensive degree won't even be good enough to get your feet in the door.

Can't say I'm surprised.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Yet another software divide

Brief but insightful. As someone who's been doing software development with researchers off and on for about six years... I can say this holds a lot of truth.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

3D Video is hard on the eyes

I'm not going to start this post with the word "Duh". That's why it was at the end of the sentence.

Look, I think 3D is neat. If I find myself needing to buy another TV, more than likely I will pick up one that is 3D capable just for the "wow" factor... but 3D technology just isn't ready for every day use like all of the TV manufacturer's (and content producers) want it to be. Box office returns have shown that.

But it's certainly not worth the price premium... and for a lot of people it's just a pain... literally.

A different take on computerized HVAC

So I've often wished that my home's HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) had a little bit smarter "brain" so that I could tie into my "Smart Meter" or maybe even have some kind of android app so that I could control my home's temperature from remote. However, some Microsoft Researchers had a totally different take on computers and HVAC....

Essentially, computers produce a lot of heat.... why waste all that heat when it could be put to use heating homes?

While the idea is a bit "out there"... fundamentally, I think this kind of thinking is going to become very important to society. Why waste all of that heat and then consume yet-more-energy to heat a home? We need to start looking at our "waste" products of our processes and try and do a better job of determining if there is a better use for them.

Unfortunately, in Texas, I really don't need heat all that much... I just need some appliances that put out cool air as a waste product.

"This American Life" Covers "Patent Trolls"

I regularly listen the "This American Life" Podcast and I was excited to hear at the end of last week's episode that this week, "This American Life" would be looking at small companies that all they do is create massive numbers of patents in hopes that some other company will come along and do something that intrudes on one of these patents so that they can then extract licensing fees from them.

I'm ashamed to say that the East Texas court system has also been very friendly to these "patent trolls" when it comes to intellectual property cases.

I'll admit I haven't listened this week's episode yet (it typically doesn't show up in my podcatcher app until Sunday afternoon), but I encourage anyone and everyone to listen to this.

There are major issues with the US patent system and our intellectual property laws and unfortunately the vast majority of the american public is totally unaware.

My favorite comic strip of all time?

Geeks love their comic strips. Whether its Dilbert, Penny Arcade or something else... we all have some strip that we hold onto. However, I distinctly remember seeing the below strip in hte newspaper one morning when I was in college and I thought it pretty much summed up my life.

I always have to take it to the next level.

I had a hard time tracking this down, but it turns out Bill Amend is regular poster on twitter... A couple of months ago I asked him directly about the comic and while he wasn't sure how to find it... one of his other twitter followers was kind enough to supply a link.

Maybe one of these days I'll buy this as a framed art print.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Linux 3.0 is out

Linus announced it on his Google+ page last night. More details were posted to the Linux Kernel Mailing list which you can read here: https://lkml.org/lkml/2011/7/21/455

I can remember downloading and compiling the "Linux '95" kernel for my first Slackware install. It's been a long, strange trip.
Amplify’d from plus.google.com

Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds's profile photo
3.0 pushed out.
Read more at plus.google.com

Thursday, July 21, 2011

AndroidCentral 101... how to replace a battery

Can't do this with an iPhone, eh? More tips and tricks for android newbies.

Before & After Joplin Tornado

A friend of mine posted this over on Google+. Wanted to share it here as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Correlation does not necessarily imply causation...

I'm filing this article away for the next time someone throws out the video games and violence stories. If you've ever heard the expression, "Lies, damn lies, and statistics" this is what it's all about. If you take the time you can correlate almost any data sets to prove a point. Just because there appears to be a statistical correlation between one data set and another does not mean that one thing caused the other thing to happen (or vice-versa).

Anyway enough serious stuff.... apparently this professor has been able to correlate a countries GDP to the average penis size of a country's men. No.. I don't know how he sourced his data.

Genetics, Culture, Customs and IQ

While the title of this source article is a little controversial (and arguably racial... if you believe Judaism is a race), but the author goes on to consider not just genetics, but also cultural, and historical explanations for his hypothesis.

Potter on Android

Mmmm... this might make me re-buy the books. I found the whole Pottermore ebooks store idea intriguing, but by giving me an option to stick this into my Google Books library means I can have access on any of my Android Devices. Very tempting.

Harry Potter Android

Calling all Muggles -- JK Rowling's Harry Potter series will finally be hitting e-readers this fall, and it'll be available on Android. There's a bit of a catch, as you'll actually be buying the books from the new Pottermore site in October. When you purchase, you'll have the option to save the book to your Google Books library. And from there, you can read on any Android smartphone or tablet (or any non-Android or iOS device that has a browser).

Read more at www.androidcentral.com

Two screen laptops... sounds heavy to me

Personally, I'm sick of lugging around my single-screen, 17" Dell M90 laptop that my company issued me for work. I know a lot of developers and video professionalls crave screen real-estate so I expect there is a (albiet niche) market here, but I just can't see many people wanting to make this their "daily driver". I'm due for a replacement at work and I'm seriously considering downgrading from the "high end" laptop to the company's "standard" configuration (which is a 15" screen) just to save on the weight. That being said, even the new high-end machines are thinner and lighter (albeit still 17") then the M90 so maybe I would be still okay with the high end. I would hate to give up the high end processor/memory/graphics card, but bulk IS an issue.

Have you run a google search recently?

As of yesterday... google can now detect if your PC has a particuliar type of malware infection when you execute a search on http://www.google.com. If your PC is infected you'll get a yellow bar like in the image below.

Personally, I think this is genius. Too many people don't check their machines or stay up to date with proper malware/virus scanning tools. If popular websites integrated a scanning services I think it could potentially cripple botnets. Of course, this first attempt is to block a particuliarly bit of malware, but I think the idea is a good one.

xkcd -- Standards

Seen this at work too... I think I've even been guility of it a time or two.

Netflix available on even more Android devices...

I would have thought my Sprint Epic 4G would have been one of the first devices Netflix supported. Long before releasing anything on Android they had released statements indicating that their support was going to be contingent on their ability to secure content via DRM. Now my feelings about DRM aside for the momemt, all Samsung Galaxy S devices (including the the Epic 4G) have DRM services in order to secure content purchased through Samsung's own "Media Hub" application (which also allows for video rentals).

I suppose there wasn't an easy way for Netflix to piggyback on the existing service.

Nevertheless... glad to see it finally officially supported. Ironically, I've been able to use it from the very first Android release on my hacked Nook color, but this is the first build that I've seen run on the Epic.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Android Central's Android 101: How to check what has been using your battery

AndroidCentral.com offers yet another tip for android beginners. I've been intending to do some articles to help my friends and family get acquainted with their new phones. To date, I haven't had the time yet, but in the meantime I'm going to re-post any of these articles that I come across.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Troy Hunt: The science of password selection

A little while back I took a look at some recently breached accounts and wrote A brief Sony password analysis. The results were alarming; passwords were relatively short (usually 6 to 10 characters), simple (less than 1% had a non-alphanumeric character) and predictable (more than a third were in a common password dictionary). What was even worse though was uniqueness; 92% of common accounts in the Sony systems reused passwords and even when I looked at a totally unrelated system – Gawker – reuse was still very high with over two thirds of common email addresses sharing the same password.
I know people hate coming up with passwords, but the reality is we all need to get a whole lot better at this. Based on all the recent hacks that have exposed password databases, and a bit of statistical analysis it appears that 70% of all passwords chosen fall into pretty predictable patterns. The password cracking tools will be updated to try these patterns first and accounts will be compromised much faster. Personally, I've been using tools to generate random passwords for years (and I won't mention which lest the tool is found to have a bug that that shows it's "random" algorithm is actually predictable), but that's a step most people won't follow.

Click here for the full article.

Like Houston wasn't hot enough already...

Save space in your living room! Let your fireplace double as your home theater speakers!

Seriously, if you don't get it... the flame is actually producing the music you are hearing. Had no idea there was a hackerspace here in Houston. Looks like there is some pretty cool, err... hot, things going on over there at Tx/Rx labs.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wired looks at how Khan Academy is changing the rules of education

This could be a big deal. I don't know how many students would really do their lessons at home so class time can be devoted to individual tutoring, but it could be a real game changer.

How Khan Academy Is Changing the Rules of Education

"'This,' says Matthew Carpenter, 'is my favorite exercise.. I peer over his shoulder at his laptop screen to see the math problem the fifth grader is pondering. It’s an inverse trigonometric function: cos-1(1) = ?"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Just ran across an article from the Standford magazine which is a fascinating look at the Stanford Prison Experiment including interviews with some of the people involved.  I was aware of this study, but I don't think I've read anything in depth before.  A good read.

The Menace Within
"Male college students needed for psychological study of prison life. $15 per day for 1-2 weeks. More than 70 people volunteered to take part in the study, to be conducted in a fake prison housed inside Jordan Hall, on Stanford's Main Quad. The leader of the study was 38-year-old psychology professor Philip Zimbardo. He and his fellow researchers selected 24 applicants and randomly assigned each to be a prisoner or a guard..."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another Nook Color Update

So when I first upgraded to CyanogenMod 7 on my Nook Color (again running from SD card) I was running 7.0.3. A few weeks ago the CM team released their "Release Candidate" for CM7.1. I decided to go ahead and upgrade to the newest release.

For the most part, this release has run well. I have experienced one, strange lockup where I found the nook with a black screen and I had to hard power cycle it.... however aside from that, it's run well and without issue. On the positive side... I am getting MUCH better battery life. Previously I was lucky to get two days out of a battery but now I'm seeing times closer to 2 weeks. Frankly, this is worth the occasional lockup so I have no intention of going back.

For more info on the CM7.1 release candidate, here's their blog post:

CyanogenMod-7.1.0-RC1 | CyanogenMod

I also upgraded to the latest release of the SD Card installer which is discussed here on this thread at xda.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fire the MBAs!

So there's a new book coming out from an Auto-Industry insider that argues that are economy is being micro-managed to death and we need to see more engineers in charge in order to try inovation.  Here's a brief synopsis from Time:

Driven off the Road by M.B.A.s

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Why Bradley Manning is an American hero

Why Bradley Manning is an American hero

Yes, the article is being controversial for the sake of controversy, but there is some truth here. Governments need to be held accountable by their citizens, but if everything is "covered up"... how can that ever happen?

The Founding Fathers Tried to Warn Us About the Threat From a Two-Party System

The Founding Fathers Tried to Warn Us About the Threat From a Two-Party System

One of the major reasons that I back the Libertarian party. I really do think the Republican and Democratic parties are more concerned with maintaining their political duopoly then trying to serve the American people. No, I realize that voting Libertarian today doesn't really accomplish much in most major elections, but I think succumbing to the two party system is even more wrong. We need to make a viable third alternative and it takes voters to do that.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Blues Clues + Flaming Lips = ???

Being the parent of a 3-year-old I can't count the number of times I've watched this music video (which I've actually grown quite fond of):

Jack's Big Music Show | I Hog The Ground - Music Video | Nick Jr.

I also can't count the number of episodes of Blue's Clues I watched. However, I completely failed to put 2+2 together. It's Steve from Blues Clues! Oh yeah... and the other guy is from The Flaming Lips!

Go figure.