Tuesday, September 28, 2010

IBM Typewriter - Model B Executive

IBM Model B - Executive

I've just picked up this beast of a machine and have been looking into its history. Something I just found out was that the Executive version of the Model B was fitted with proportional spacing, this turns the familiar typewriter style printing into something resembling a real printed document. The following extract from Wikipedia shows the significance of this feature in the 1940's.
According to Darren Wershler-Henry,
In 1944, IBM launched the Executive, a proportionally spaced typewriter. Characters on the Executive typewriter occupied between two and five units per grid cell, depending on the width of the letter. Beeching relates an anecdote that demonstrates the significance of this achievement. The proportionally spaced typewriter immediately leaped to the apex of the world bureaucracy and administrative culture when President Roosevelt was presented with the first machine off the line. The Armistice documents that ended World War Two were typed on an IBM, as was the original United Nations Charter. To a world accustomed to monospaced typewritten documents, a page of typewriting produced with an Executive...was indistinguishable from a page of typeset text. Prime Minister Churchill allegedly responded to Roosevelt that "although he realized their correspondence was very important, there was absolutely no need to have it printed."[2]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oracle and the death of Opensolaris.

I mentioned back in June that changes made by Oracle meant that I was no longer able to download critical updates for Solaris systems without a $upport contract from Oracle/Sun. At the same time I pessimistically mentioned that Oracle might squeeze the life out of Opensolaris as well ...

It happened.

On Friday August 15th 2010 a blog post leaked an internal memo from Oracle outlining the path Solaris was to take and also the future of Opensolaris.

Long story short, Opensolaris had no future.

While we still have a few legacy machines at work I'll continue to work with Solaris but I'm done with it otherwise. Regardless of the financial or political reasoning behind Oracle's decisions they have lost a platform for the rapid development and testing of new features and a potential customer base for their more robust enterprise offerings.

It was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Waiting for Ubuntu 10.10 ...

The next version of Ubuntu is coming soon

Monday, August 30, 2010

Spiceworks - Free network monitoring software

Manage Everything IT…for Free! Spiceworks is the complete network management software, helpdesk, PC inventory tools & IT reporting solution designed to manage everything IT in small & medium businesses.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Innovative macro recording application for Mac / Windows & Linux

What is SIKULI ?

Sikuli is a visual technology to search and automate graphical user interfaces (GUI) using images (screenshots). The first release of Sikuli contains Sikuli Script, a visual scripting API for Jython, and Sikuli IDE, an integrated development environment for writing visual scripts with screenshots easily. Sikuli Script automates anything you see on the screen without internal API's support. You can programmatically control a web page, a desktop application running on Windows/Linux/Mac OS X, or even an iphone application running in an emulator.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Katy Amateur Radio Society - Field Day 2010

The Katy Amateur Radio Society Field Day was held on the 26th of June 2010 at the Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy Texas.

Click below for pictures from the event:

KARS Field Day 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sun now require support agreement for critical updates

I guess I'll put Solaris aside now that Sun/Oracle has decided that you should pay for even the most basic security related patches. Previously Sun has a fairly understanding policy where you could download critical patches for old systems that you 'had to keep running'

So long Solaris, it was nice while it lasted. Perhaps OpenSolaris will do better, if Oracle doesn't squeeze the life out of it as well.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Atlanta Pollen Count is "High"

Atlanta Pollen Count

Today's count is 5733.

That is in the high range.

The major pollens present are cedar, elm and maple.

TODAY'S TIP: Spring pollens may be most bothersome at mid-day or mid-afternoon. During this time, the wind picks up the pollen particles and distributes them throughout the air.

0-30 Low
31-60 Moderate
61-120 High
Over 120 Extremely High

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Smoky Mountains hiker rescued thanks to ham radio operators

GATLINBURG (WATE) - A woman who became injured on a hike on Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains was rescued Sunday thanks to ham radio operators.
The hiker was Judy Potter, 57, of Atlanta.
John Oakberg was hiking Sunday afternoon when he came across Potter, who had broken her ankle and was stuck on the mountain, with the weather getting worse by the hour.
"A lot of rain, wind, sleet, fog," Oakberg explains. "Nobody had cell phone coverage, but I had a hand-held ham radio with me."
He put out a plea for help to any other hams who might be listening.
"I heard the emergency call, but his signal was poor and it was very scratchy," says Dean Webb in Loudon County.
Webb and fellow operator Cleve Hayes, in Knox County, quickly set up a radio relay to another ham, Scott Wyrick, in Sevier County, from John Oakberg on the mountain.
"I could relay what he was saying to Scott, who was on the phone to the National Park Service, to get the information they wanted such as height, weight, age and does she have any medical issues," Hayes explains.
Medical and rescue rangers started out immediately, to the great relief of injured hiker Judy Potter, who talked to 6 News by phone Monday night from her Atlanta home.
"It hit a point where I was just in tears. You can say you're going to be tough and get out of this, but you just get weary. And I think having somebody come an hour or two quicker and being able to get moving helped keep my spirits going," Potter said.
Potter is scheduled for surgery to pin and plate two broken bones in her left ankle.
"People all over the place that I don't even know helped me," she says. "Thank you!"
The ham radio operators give the credit for the rescue to the quick response and hard work of the National Park Service rangers.

From :  http://www.wate.com/global/story.asp?s=12219162

'Sorcerer' faces imminent death in Saudi Arabia

"The lawyer for a Lebanese man sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for witchcraft has appealed for international help to save him." from BBC

I'm speechless, I fail to understand how any society can level the charge of 'witchcraft' against a fellow human being and then claim, against all odds, to be civilized.
Don't misunderstand me, I know perfectly well why a society would tolerate leaders who take these actions or allow these things to happen. 
I guess, even after all this time, I still have more faith in the essentially good component of human nature than is warranted.

Long story short? People are disgusting.

Miserable details here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Profoundly interesting TED presentation

I'm sure this comes as no surprise ... "Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain"

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. "When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."
Hoebel lab

A Princeton University research team, including (from left) undergraduate Elyse Powell, psychology professor Bart Hoebel, visiting research associate Nicole Avena and graduate student Miriam Bocarsly, has demonstrated that rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup -- a sweetener found in many popular sodas -- gain significantly more weight than those with access to water sweetened with table sugar, even when they consume the same number of calories. The work may have important implications for understanding obesity trends in the United States. (Photo: Denise Applewhite) Photos for news media

In results published online March 18 by the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, the researchers from the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute reported on two experiments investigating the link between the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and obesity.

The first study showed that male rats given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, in conjunction with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas.

The second experiment -- the first long-term study of the effects of high-fructose corn syrup consumption on obesity in lab animals -- monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. Compared to animals eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly. Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet. In humans, this would be equivalent to a 200-pound man gaining 96 pounds.

"These rats aren't just getting fat; they're demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides," said Princeton graduate student Miriam Bocarsly. "In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes." In addition to Hoebel and Bocarsly, the research team included Princeton undergraduate Elyse Powell and visiting research associate Nicole Avena, who was affiliated with Rockefeller University during the study and is now on the faculty at the University of Florida. The Princeton researchers note that they do not know yet why high-fructose corn syrup fed to rats in their study generated more triglycerides, and more body fat that resulted in obesity.
Hoebel lab

When male rats were given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow, the animals gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, along with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas, including the orange soft drink shown here. (Photo: Denise Applewhite)

High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are both compounds that contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose, but there at least two clear differences between them. First, sucrose is composed of equal amounts of the two simple sugars -- it is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose -- but the typical high-fructose corn syrup used in this study features a slightly imbalanced ratio, containing 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Larger sugar molecules called higher saccharides make up the remaining 3 percent of the sweetener. Second, as a result of the manufacturing process for high-fructose corn syrup, the fructose molecules in the sweetener are free and unbound, ready for absorption and utilization. In contrast, every fructose molecule in sucrose that comes from cane sugar or beet sugar is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it can be utilized.

This creates a fascinating puzzle. The rats in the Princeton study became obese by drinking high-fructose corn syrup, but not by drinking sucrose. The critical differences in appetite, metabolism and gene expression that underlie this phenomenon are yet to be discovered, but may relate to the fact that excess fructose is being metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely being processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles.

In the 40 years since the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup as a cost-effective sweetener in the American diet, rates of obesity in the U.S. have skyrocketed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1970, around 15 percent of the U.S. population met the definition for obesity; today, roughly one-third of the American adults are considered obese, the CDC reported. High-fructose corn syrup is found in a wide range of foods and beverages, including fruit juice, soda, cereal, bread, yogurt, ketchup and mayonnaise. On average, Americans consume 60 pounds of the sweetener per person every year.

"Our findings lend support to the theory that the excessive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup found in many beverages may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic," Avena said.

The new research complements previous work led by Hoebel and Avena demonstrating that sucrose can be addictive, having effects on the brain similar to some drugs of abuse.

In the future, the team intends to explore how the animals respond to the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in conjunction with a high-fat diet -- the equivalent of a typical fast-food meal containing a hamburger, fries and soda -- and whether excessive high-fructose corn syrup consumption contributes to the diseases associated with obesity. Another step will be to study how fructose affects brain function in the control of appetite.

The research was supported by the U.S. Public Health Service.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How did I miss this gem of a movie ... ?

The World's Most Action Packed Action Movie from Everythingisterrible.com

"Don't Taze Me" parlor performance by Jalan Crossland

Its easy to forget just how much depth and character music can have unless we actively seek out 'unplugged' performances and shy away from Clear Channel approved, autotuned, sanitized pap.

For your enjoyment, "Don't Taze Me" by Jalan Crossland. Video by CMACPICTURES.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I'll see your puny Ten Pin Bowling and raise you .... Road Bowling!

I'm sure once you've have enough to drink the possibility of a steel ball smacking you senseless bothers you not one bit ...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Craigslist ... do you need a "NEW 2000 POUND COMPACITY WENCH" ?

If you can remember the 60's you weren't really there ...

... here is something they might have been trying to forget.


100 Percent of Fish in U.S. Streams Found Contaminated with Mercury

(NaturalNews) In a new study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), every single fish tested from 291 freshwater streams across the United States was found to be contaminated with mercury.

"This study shows just how widespread mercury pollution has become in our air, watersheds and many of our fish in freshwater streams," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that builds up in the food chain at ever higher concentrations in predators such as large fish and humans. It is especially damaging to the developing nervous systems of fetuses and children, but can have severe effects on adults, as well. The pollutant enters the environment almost wholly as atmospheric emissions from industrial processes, primarily the burning of coal for electricity. It then spreads across the plant and settles back to the surface, eventually concentrating in rivers, lakes and oceans, where it enters the aquatic food chain.

The number one cause of human mercury poisoning in the United States is the consumption of fish and shellfish.

Researchers tested the water, sediment and fish of the 291 streams between 1998 and 2005. Fish tested were mostly larger species near the top of the food chain, such as largemouth bass.

All fish were contaminated with mercury, more than 66 percent of them at levels higher than those set by the Environmental Protection agency as a "level of concern for fish-eating mammals," according to Reuters. More than 25 percent of the fish were contaminated at levels higher than those set as the threshold for human consumption.

The study is the first to focus on mercury contamination of streams, rather than lakes, reservoirs, wetlands or oceans. The researchers found the highest mercury concentrations in fish from the coastal blackwater streams of the Southeast. Apparently the combination of pine forests and wooded wetlands found in these regions transforms mercury very effectively into its more toxic organic form (methylmercury). Mercury concentrations were also high in streams fed from areas with a history of mining.

Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com.

A new Symphony of Science available now ...

More autotuned goodness from the Symphony of Science crew.

Click here to watch it on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The GuruPlug - Odd name, cool idea.

Instant plug-in server for all your evil schemes. Very low power so its green ... and black.

Price? 99.00 USD .... Well within the means of the impoverished evil genius.

Click here for more details.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Digital clock using vacum tubes!

I'm still a little shocked at the scope of this project. It might be small compared to the original IBM tube computers but this is a significant accomplishment in an age where tubes are not usually used for much more than audio amps and radio transmitter output stages.

The text is in German but you can still look at the pictures here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2081 - Interesting Movie

Finally everyone will be equal ...

2081 - Watch the Trailer

Watch the trailer and let me know what you think.

Handbrake - DVDs to media library

If you have young kids you'll know that DVDs don't last very long before getting scratched, smudged or otherwise rendered unfit for playing.

One of the best solutions is to convert your DVDs to video files and play them on a computer or media player like the WDTV or the Apple TV.

Converting the DVDs to video files is usually the hard part ... until Handbrake came along.

Handbrake is the only application I have found which will consistently convert DVDs to video files ( MP4 is the best format so far ) without hanging, crashing or requiring a dozen steps to start each DVD.

Downloads are available for Windows, Linux and Mac ... give it a shot and start creating your own media library.