Archive for the ‘technology’ Category.

A cell phone puzzle

I originally wrote this in 2011, but am copying it here for posterity:

Yesterday [in 2011], I rebooted my Android smartphone (i.e., removed and reinserted the battery) in a location with absolutely no cell phone coverage but with great WiFi. I then could access the Internet at large, but Google services (including GMail, Reader, and Plus), did not work (this is to say, locally stored data was still available, but I could not interact with the cloud). When I then moved to an area with cell phone service, Google services started working again. Who can explain why?

I doubt it makes a difference, but I have [had] a Nexus One on T-Mobile. Find the answer below the break! →

No More Google Bombs

Remember when I mentioned Google bombs? Well, it turns out that 2 weeks after I posted that, Google changed their algorithms so that Google bombs no longer work. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

An entertaining moment

Go to Google’s homepage, search for “miserable failure” and click I’m Feeling Lucky. This was created by something called a Google Bomb. (Edit: it doesn’t work any more)

Tech Talk: Ubuntu

Mark Shuttleworth (co-creator of Ubuntu Linux) gives an interesting look at how Ubuntu is developed, and how it fits into the world. This talk, much like Ubuntu itself, isn’t particularly technical although it makes reference to lots of other projects/programs that you might not recognize if you’re not already familiar with open source software.

For those who aren’t in the know, Ubuntu is a Linux distribution designed for ease of use with little required knowledge on the user’s behalf. It is one of the newest distributions, one of the most quickly growing ones, and one of the simplest to use (which makes sense, because it was designed that way). There is also a lot of mention of the Novell/Microsoft deal, in which Microsoft is going to start supporting some parts of the SUSE Linux distribution (which is owned by Novell these days).

Totally into Pokémon!

If you don’t get the reference in the title, go read XKCD for a while. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I finally got around to finishing the switch from Gentoo to Xubuntu (which is really just Ubuntu with XFCE on it). Yes, I realize I’ve been meaning to do this for months, but I’m lazy. A preliminary review of (X)Ubuntu →

Two talks

Yesterday, I got to see a live video feed of Steve Wozniak talking about his youth and how he cofounded Apple Computers. A summary of the talk →

Another Tech Talk

Google Video also has a Tech Talk on it about the history of copyright law, which was fascinating. He isn’t great about handling the questions at the end, but the talk itself is pretty good.

A summary of the talk →

Google periodically has visitors who come in and give talks on various subjects (a lot like the Nelson Series, but without a yearly theme, though most of them are CS-ey in some way). I have just found out that many of these are subsequently posted to Google Video so other people can see them, too. They’re pretty great, if ever you have a yen for intellectual discourse.

In particular, I’m quite impressed with Chris Spurgeon’s talk about great achievements in map-making and navigation.

A couple other things

First off, quite possibly the first science fiction movie was Le voyage dans la lune, a silent film made in 1902 based off stories by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne (the French narration can be found here). It has some surprisingly good special effects, and is well worth the 14 minutes it takes to watch.

Also, it appears that Microsoft is actually going to require that all kernel-space drivers be certified in Windows Vista, which I think is going to be fantastic. They are permanently moving graphics stuff into user space, so I don’t anticipate many drivers needing certification. I expect that this will make the Windows kernel much more stable and secure, to the point that the BSoD might be a thing of the past in a few years. The Slashdotters are naturally wanking about OSS issues, but I think this is actually a pretty great change. The worrying part is that they could very well put copyright enforcement stuff in there, which no one would be able to change, even for legitimate reasons. Yes, that would be a poor design decision from a stability/security standpoint, but Microsoft hasn’t had the greatest record with that stuff in the past. Here’s hoping that the execution goes as well as the planning!

I’ve decided to make the switch (again)

With any luck, 24 hours from now I will be running Xubuntu. In the meantime, I’m backing stuff up like crazy… For those of you who weren’t reading this back in the day, my first switch (from Windows XP to Gentoo Linux) happened over the course of these few entries).

I really liked Gentoo’s system of package installation/management (called Portage). I liked the feeling of having the most up-to-date software on my machine, and the knowledge that it was specially compiled for my system. I hated how every once in a while, an upgrade would break something really important (sound, flash, screensavers, SQL, etc). I hated the fact that I had to know every system inside and out just to get it to work. I never fully got printing, samba, videos in Firefox, or several other things to work simply because I didn’t have the time/effort I needed to learn about how to configure them properly.

With the exception of the second sentence above (the one about being on the bleeding edge of software with custom compiles), I believe that Xubuntu will be able to better satisfy my computing wants. Here’s hoping!

Also, thanks to macdaddyfrosh for telling me about Xubuntu; I doubt I would have found it otherwise.