News Briefs 08 Jan 2009

Obama pushes stimulus, warns on recession | Reuters I’m highly skeptical of Obama’s neo-socialist attitude that only the government can solve the economic crisis, especially one that will only increase the debt left for future generations. The Federal Government can not be the cash cow for the country to turn o for money that doesn’t exist. History has shown government influence and control hinders economic recovery. Recent history even more so highlights this with the epic failure that was the so called Wall Street Bailout. Do we really want to trust a government that bankrupted the nation’s social programs and ran up massive deficits and debt over the past forty to fifty years to have greater influence in the economy as well? I, for one, do not.

Israel faces criticism as Gaza toll hits 765 | Reuters And why doesn’t anyone blame Hamas, a blantantly obvious terrorist organization, not held accountable for its attacks on civilians? Oh that’s right, only Israel does wrong. Everyone else in the ME is innocent, fluffy bunnies. /sarcasm Yes Israel has done some terrible things to Palestinians, but then so have the Palestinians done terrible things (to both themselves  and Israelis) as well by allowing the Arab world to use them as pawns to keep the corrupt Arab regimes in power for decades.

Microsoft’s Ballmer touts ‘best version of Windows ever’ –
What’s funny is I thought Vista was the best version of Windows since the archaic 3.11. I know others had problems with Vista but I never really did. On the rare occasions I did I was always able to find a viable, easy solution. So go figure. Perhaps this means Windows 7 truly will be the ‘best version ever’. Perhaps not. I still like Unix/Linux systems (particularly Ubuntu) better even if I don’t use one at home.

I did get some amusement at the implication that they had developed a flexible screen. The Japanese came up with that nearly a decade ago. I remember seeing it on a Japanese tech news television program. I guess its good that it’s finally reached the US.


Rocketfish RF-HD25

So I finally broke down and bought a hard drive enclosure kit for my otherwise dead laptop. I ended up with the Rocketfish RF-HD25 enclosure kit, mainly because it was the only 2.5″ PATA kit available in the area and even then I bought the last one the store had available. I have to say I love the kit. Simple and concise. Took less than fifteen minutes to get everything up and running, and I’ve been happily recovering the files from my laptop’s old drive.

I do have to say I think the prices of all enclosures (at least the ones at the store) are a little high in price. But that’s my opinion and despite the cost, I think it was money well spent in my case.

Brief thoughts on CATIA V6

As CATIA is a major software package used in my industry I went and checked out CATIA V6R2009. CATIA V6 tries to harness Web 2.0 and Web 3D to improve collaboration and innovation. They also play up the “lifelike experience” angle, though I personally despise that phrase when applied to CAD design and developing since it is used far to often.

The reality is many designers and engineers want and need to interact physically and directly with others when collaborating on ideas. While the rapid exchange of data and files is an excellent idea, being able to access others remotely is a good idea in theory but is still somewhat limited in practice. Perhaps this will change sooner or later, but designers and engineers tend to be conservative by the nature of their careers and slow to accept the idea of removing human interaction in the design process, especially given those fields continually looking for individuals that are articulate and capable of working in groups effectively.

CATIA V6 sounds like a lot of great ideas that have a number of issues to overcome: namely a variety of intellectual property rights regarding file types. There is an on going legal dispute between Autodesk and Dassault Systemes’ SolidWorks over a number of issues including the use of DWG in product names.

Today’s Faux Controversy: 28 Sept 2008

Today’s faux controversy: Spore Sparks Controversy Gallery and Images – GameDaily

My short response to (1) Christian extremists, (2) Conservative media do-gooders, (3) militant Atheists:

(1) It’s just a game! Don’t like it for whatever reason then  don’t play it.

(2) Don’t like certain content for you kids then monitor what they are doing like the parents you are supposed to be.

(1&3) Quit trying to force people to believe or disbelieve as you do.

I think that covers the fake controversies of the game. Note when I say fake I am not dismissing their personal opinions or concerns, just their extremist and totalitarian reactions that result. As one of my favorite saying goes, and can be easily applied here: “Slavish adherence of formal ritual is a sign one has nothing better to think about.” (I don’t even remember where I heard this one and suspect I’m paraphrasing it a bit.)

News Commentary 08 Sept 2008

Canada’s Conservatives could be headed for big win | International | Reuters Interesting. Didn’t think the Libs were in such trouble in Canada. But then the Green party seems to have imploded up there as well.

McCain, Obama deadlocked in presidential race – I take the shift om the polls as a good sign for McCain/Palin but it’s way too early to say who’ll win the election, especially with the constantly changing economy and world political situation. Also, CNN’s explanation for why their poll is so different from other polls is some what questionable. Given recent problems of bias at NBC and MSNBC I do wonder at CNN’s impartiality. As a side note: I do keep wondering why the Obama supporters are comparing Obama to Palin considering Obama is running against McCain.

Iran calls for oil output cut ahead of OPEC meeting – Just another reason the U.S. needs to get off oil, foreign or otherwise and switch to new resources. The fact that OPEC members, aside from Saudi Arabia, want to keep oil prices at $100/barrel or more should be reason enough to change. Better to change than be bled dry by other nations that would prefer the U.S. be crippled or destroyed anyway.

What the rescue means for borrowers – Sep. 7, 2008 While I understand the reasons for the government deciding to bail Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out, it rankles me whenever U.S. taxpayers have to pay (and they eventually will) for these companies inability to run themselves. Worse if the fact that it will do little to nothing to end the housing problem in this country.

‘Harry Potter’ author wins copyright claim – Sep. 8, 2008 Not unexpected ruling since Rowling is the creator of the series. The only thing I disliked was Rowling supporting the website when it benefited her and then turned on them. This is her right of course but also a reminder of fans to never trust creators no matter how supportive and friendly they seem unless you have written permission to create derivative work, even those based on fair use. I also seriously doubt she had creative difficulties because of the case as she lamely claims. That’s why I get some amusement at the relative pittance the judge ordered for damages.

Google turns 10, raises monopoly concerns – While it’s good Google has reached a milestone, the company has also become pretty questionable in their behavior (i.e. censorship, China, Chrome, questionable claims of ownership of others creative works, etc.).

Demo: UsableLogin lets you use one password for all sites | Webware : Cool Web apps for everyone – CNET It sounds like it has potential, but I can’t help but wonder whether you really want a single password for everything. The company likes to claim it’s impossible for others to access but I have yet to see a security system a hacker could not crack. Can you say goodbye to all your online information in an instant?

China counts down to third manned space launch | Science | Reuters I notice the Chinese have become somewhat more conservative with their space flight plans.

Kazakhstan accuses Russia over space crash | Science | Reuters Definitely not a good thing to have Russian Proton rockets crashing near industrial centers, especially when the Kazakh president is in the region. Not sure how this going to effect changes Kazakhstan wants made over the use of Baikonur but I’m sure they’re going to demand greater safety and compensation for ecological damage.

Food, money, moms, death, and Chrome

LA’s fast-food ban draws skepticism | Reuters Stupid and arrogant move by the state that thinks it has to control the lives of poor and minorities because the state believes these people are too dumb to make their own decisions. Here’s a novel idea for the politicians to ponder: hold people responsible for their choices.

Rice announces $1 billion in U.S. aid for Georgia | Reuters Heh. This is going to stick in the Russian government’s craw.

U.S. has deep interest in Caucasus allies: Cheney | Reuters Funny how Russia claims it want to stabilize the region and the way that is achieved is for Georgia not to be rebuilt, either civil services or militarily. In other words, Russia wants to be able to bully everyone in the region with impunity.

Sarah Palin controversy stokes Mommy War | Politics | Reuters What war? People need to get over themselves and accept that if a mother wants to work they should be allowed to work and equally so if they chose not to work. A more important question is why is this not an issue for men, who face biases and discrimination as well if they are a single or stay at home parent. Grow up America and stop acting like sexist morons.

Vatican says not questioning moment of death | Science | Reuters Interesting that there’s some debate on the issue. I always figured if one was brain dead that was it- you’re dead. You can’t rely on the heart not working as a baseline for being dead given numerous people every year resuscitated after heart attacks, drownings, etc..

Google backtracks on Chrome license terms | Beyond Binary – A blog by Ina Fried – CNET News This was primarily the reason that made me decide to pass on Chrome. That and the fact that I love Firefox and see no need for another browser from a company with questionable information privacy practices or thinks it has the right to steal its customers work simply because their using their product.

News commentary

Robotic Suit Helps Paraplegics Walk Personally, I think this is fantastic invention. I know my paraplegic friend was very interested in the ReWalk suit when I showed him the article. And the estimated price tag, US$20,000, really isn’t that bad when you think about it.

Iraq Says US Wanted Presence Until 2015 So if the agreement (assuming this is part of the final agreement) is accepted on both sides and all goes reasonably well, the U.S. will withdraw in 2011. Sounds reasonable to me without being needlessly reckless.

US, Russia anchor military ships in Georgian ports And the tension and Russian occupation continues. As noted in the article there was a very thinly veiled threat now against Moldova using the same nationalist notion of “protecting Russians”. Sounds way to much like Hitler and his supposed desire to unite the Germanic peoples. Remember how that conflagration ended?

Computer Virus Found on Space Station – Switched Somehow I can’t stop myself from laughing at the absurdity of this. I guess I just expect better security on such important computers and software systems. As an engineer I find it disturbing given the previous attempt by a disgruntled worker to sabotage equipment intended for the ISS.

Woman With Last Name of ‘Yoda’ Barred From Facebook – Switched How stupid. Ignorant people making ignorant decisions. But then I avoid social networking sites for exactly that reason.

T-shirt gets Van Nuys woman kicked out of federal building – LA Daily News This it what happens when small people get a little perceived power and think “Big Brother” will cover their actions. Fortunately even DHS recognized this guard was a fascist asshole and made it clear the guys was out of line. I hope Paragon Security Company loses its DHS contract as well as is penalized for its discrimination against a US citizen over such a stupid thing.

Dead Sea Scrolls to go digital on Internet | Science | Reuters Excellent.

Union prepares proposal for Boeing as strike looms | U.S. | Reuters Not good news if negotiations fail. And both sides seem a bit hot under the collar at the moment. Both sides really need to come to an equitable agreement before any disagreements damage both sides, though Boeing has far more to lose than the IAM.