September 2004 Archives

The Return of the Powerbook


They actually shipped this out on Monday, and I was set to receive it on Tuesday. It was stuck in shipping hell for a couple of days, but I was finally able to pick it up this morning. It still has yet to be reinstalled with all the software, but so far, it's looking good.

I'm so glad I got Applecare, as replacing the Logic board alone would have cost 600 dollars. Along with replacing the logic board, they also replaced the DVD drive, and the heatsinks and fans of the Powerbook too.

I suspect tonight will be the restoration of the OS and the software.

Update: System 10.3.5 Install Complete. Also noticed they replaced the rubber feet on the bottom, and buffed out the "scar" on the top of my powerbook case. It's pretty much good as new, except for the paint chipping on the lower half.

The Second Boom


Google's stock price has been rocketing lately, hitting a high of 135.02 today before petering off, shedding a couple of dollars as it did so. There's a momentary pause in the action everytime it hits a psychological panic mark which seems to alarm stock buyers into thinking for a moment "hey, wait a minute, is it really worth this much?".

Iron Technologist: Today's ingredient: city-wide wifi


It looks like my hometown's city wide WiFi is about to get some competition on that front: Philadelphia recently announced a two-year effort to string a free wireless network across its 135 square miles, potentially giving Philadelphia an entirely new identity as the most wired - or unwired - municipality on the planet. Cerritos, by comparison is only 8.6 square miles, and when I visited last month, I still couldn't access the wifi from my bedroom (although we do live on the edges of the city).

Computer of the Past... is not


I was tempted to blog about this Computer of the Future as envisioned in 1954, but a closer examination reveals that the photograph is in fact,
a hoax

The Moon Festival


About.Com : The Moon Festival

I went into the chinese grocery store this morning to pick up some green tea and soymilk. I was surprised when there was a huge line at the checkout, because I usually don't see a long line at this time of day. Then, as my eyes went past the checkout line, I noticed the table of mooncakes, and then I remembered. Today is the day of the mid-autumn festival.

Sometimes we all need a little perspective


Just thought this was really cool:

World on Fire

This video costs $150,000

What's wrong with this video?

Well, it only cost $15

$150,000 could make a difference to over 1,000,000 people



I've been meaning to blog about this for a while now.

Jon Udell: LibraryLookup (Build your own bookmarklet)

What this little page does is create a bookmarklet for finding ISBNs (on for example, Amazon) and then tries to find the book at the library. Since I tend to use my Amazon Wishlist as "stuff that looks interesting, but I'll have to look at it later", I can now quickly export that list onto my account on the library and put it on hold. It's been quite useful for me (and has probably saved me some money that I would have otherwise spent of buying the books).

Here is the bookmarklet for San Jose Public Library.

Trip to the Applestore


In the process of exorcising the demons from my Powerbook, I tried a clean install of the MacOS.Wiped the hard drive and installed fresh. This worked, sort of, for about all of 5 minutes. Then my Powerbook seemed to be in agonizing spasms of death. I woke up early enough this morning to make it down to the Apple Store and get my name on the queue for the Genius Bar. The initial diagnosis was that the RAM was bad -- they were going to exchange my RAM fo new RAM, but when they went to swap it out, it was discovered that it was the logic board that was bad.

A faulty Logic Board has always been the bane of any Mac's life. When I worked at UC Berkeley, my Computing Center had the latest PCs and Macs (Pentium I - 166s and PowerMac 6200s to give some sense of how long ago it was) there wasn't a week that wouldn't go by without a Mac at one of the residence halls that wouldn't need to have their logic board replaced. Sometimes it was the same ones, other times it was new ones. Either way, I've know for a long time that the logic board was the one piece in Apple's hardware that was likely to die. That was why when I bought my Powerbook a few years ago, I shelled out the money for AppleCare. I figured that if the screen died after a few years, or (god forbid) the logic board died a year after owning the laptop, I could get it replaced for free, which seems to be exactly what happened to my poor Powerbook.

So, at this moment, my Powerbook is on it's way to the Apple Powerbook surgeon, who will replace the logic board with a new one, as well as replace the plastic on the middle part of the case. (The paint is bubbling away). They will look at the DVD ROM drive too. The whole process should take little more than a week.

For the time being, I am on a Pentium II-266 mhz PC with 192 Megs of RAM. It's good enough to be used temporarily, but I had forgotten what bricks these computers used to be.

A had a look at the new iMac G5s. The design isn't better in person. The long chin looks absurd on the 17" iMac, and almost tolerable on the 20" iMac. The thickness from the side looks better in the pictures, and it uses a touch sensitive controls on the side.

My Powerbook has been downgraded


I haven't been posting many blogs lately, because my Mac has been misbehaving.That cuts down on the blogging time as I waste countless hours restarting my computer.

Last night I took the Powerbook to the Genius Bar at the Palo Alto Apple Store. After going through a checklist of things I had already done, the Genius concluded that my Powerbook had been 10.3.5'd. Apparently applying OS X 10.3.5 and the latest Software Update Patches can cause certain Powerbooks to freeze up. (Apparently network traffic causes a virtual memory overflow problem). He recommended I try an older version of the OS and see if everything works there, so I downgraded to Jaguar. (10.2) Everything seemed more stable, so if all goes well, I'll reinstall Panther (10.3) later today and hopefully get that all taken care of.

I had to replace my tires today. Yesterday (it seems like a lot longer than a day ago), I found out that my car, having reached 70,000 miles has worn out it's tires. Having done almost 40,000 miles in these tires, it's weird to see how much more tread the new ones have.

Been playing a little bit of Burnout 3: Takedown on the PS2 at work. It's one of the better games that's been released of late. The concept is pretty simple: take a car driving game, add physics fun, and combine it with a demolition derby. To add to the fun, you have to unlock new tracks and new cars. They don't use real cars, but the cars are styled enough to be recognizable. I played the XBox version of this, and it just wasn't as cool. The Xbox lacks the motion blurring and sparks flying as you careen off the guide rails, which is one of the subtle places where the PS2 version succeeds.

Random Links

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Today is World Car-Free Day

BMW H2R sets new speed records
. The H2R is a car with an engine based on hydrogen fuel.

Overseas Americans having a hard time registering for absentee ballots

The Bush Administration Harbors 4 Terrorists in Florida

Simple Sugars discovered at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy

I watched some of the Star Wars Documentary that came with the Star Wars Trilogy DVDs last night. Some of the funnier stories about making the trilogy are documented here:
Yahoo: Tales from Making the Star Wars Trilogy

iPod bargain


You can now get an iPod Mini Bundle, which includes armband and a 15 Song iTunes gift certificate for 269.99 from Costco.

iPod Mini = 249.00

iPod Mini Armband = 29.00

iTunes gift certificate = 14.85

List Price: $292.85

Price: $269.99

You save: $22.86 (7.8%)

No idea what shipping is, but prior to that you'd be saving a little over 20 bucks. Not too bad.

What if...


Washington Monthly: What if Bush Wins?

16 stories written by writers from both the left and the right. I find the right-wing ones most humorous, as they are amazingly optimistic about the changes that Bush has in store. With quotes like "Having found the voters willing to let him try again, George W. Bush will respond with a presidency that will make him more popular when it ends than when it began." News flash: Until 9/11 Bush was not a popular president. Most of the country didn't even vote for him in the elections.

The Devil is in the Details


$3 Trillion Price Tag Left Out As Bush Details His Agenda

Dubya Bush is nowhere near as astute as his father, who won his re-election using the phrase "no new taxes" (do people remember this?). Bush senior didn't keep his promise, and taxes went up. Dubya is using the threat "Kerry will raise your taxes", but honestly, what kind of naive people is Bush pandering to? If Kerry's budget is even 2 trillion (which Kerry says it is not), then Bush's budget of 150% of Kerry's should really scare people, because what Bush is saying isn't that he won't raise taxes, just that Kerry is going to raise taxes. But what do you think Bush is going to do? Yup. He's going to raise taxes too, but he doesn't want to say it.

Zombies take out Hero


Resident Evil: Apocalypse is the number one movie this weekend, taking out Hero, which was number one for the previous two weeks.

I saw the original Resident Evil in the theaters. It was a really bad movie. I honestly can't believe they made a sequel, but I think this week's box office sales of the movie pretty much guarantee a third movie. (boggle)

Zombie Infection Simulation. (requires Java)

Star Wars on DVD


One of the films that I've been looking forward to owning on DVD ever since I first bought my DVD player 7 years ago is Star Wars. As always, with every new release of the Star Wars film, the director, George Lucas has made changes. The "Special Edition" release of 1997 which featured new additional scenes and CGI-effects has now been replaced by the DVD release, which features even more changes via CGI. The Digital Bits has a great article comparing the changes between the 1997 Special Edition and the 2004 DVD Release.

Charting Progress


Are you Better Off Today Than You Were 4 Years Ago?, a set of graphs on the the U.S. rate of Unemployment, Budget Deficit, the Stock Market and Job Creation.

The Yin Yang of Ginseng

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MIT team explains the yin yang of ginseng

"In work that emphasizes the need for stronger regulation of herbal drugs, an international team of MIT scientists and colleagues has unraveled the yin and the yang of ginseng, or why the popular alternative medicine can have two entirely different, opposing effects on the body."

(source: boingboing)

I'm too cheap to pay 15 dollars for 24 hour access to the article published in Circulation magazine, so I just read the abstract. Unfortunately it doesn't say which varieties of ginseng contain Rg1 and Rb1. However, it does say that Rg1 creates conditions favorable to the creation of new red blood cells and Rb1 acts as an inhibitor in the process and has the opposite effect. It looks like the magazine is carried at the King Library, so I'll have to take a look at it later.

Word Tree


Ecotonoha, a real word tree. You can add a new leaf daily.

Some Food For Thought


If I ever visit Pennslyvania, I'm definitely visiting Denny's Beer Barrel Pub for their 6 lb. burger. 6lbs is just the amount of meat on the burger. The entire burger including bread and fixings and all bloat the weight to 9 lbs. Look at those photos! It's incredibly massive!

There's also a place in Venuezla that offers 812 Flavors of Ice Cream, but only about 75 of them are available at a time. Vancouver however, has La Casa Gelato which features an incredible 488+ Flavors (208 which are available all the time).

Happy 100th Birthday to the Banana Split

This weekend, I had a couple of food moments. The first was at Flames, where I wolfed down the mountain of hash browns and the second was at Hydration, where I had ordered two bento boxes with two bubble teas.

The incident at Hydration was the much more entertaining of the two.

"To go?" the man behind the counter asked.

"Yeah. It'd be kind of scary if I could eat all this by myself." I said.

"Well, we had one guy come in here and get 3 boxes. Then he asked for a slice of cheesecake. We were going to put it on a plate, but he said that's okay, and just ate it in one gulp. If you can finish these two bento boxes, you can have a third for free."

"No thanks" I said. "I know my limits."

A little bit of peace




Genesis crashes in the desert

The parachutes failed to open, and the capsule plunged into the desert floor at over 200 miles per hour. From the reports that I have heard, the contents of the capsule have been exposed to the desert environment and contaminated.



Deleted Scenes from Star Wars

I never knew there were so many deleted scenes in the Star Wars saga. It makes sense though -- when you're filming, you film from different angles, you have different takes, and ultimately the film you end up with is only shown from one viewpoint (unless your film is Hero or Rashomon).

A pretty nifty site, now you can fill your head with Star Wars trivia of deleted scenes.

One of the more interesting aspects of this is that the Episode I and Episode II DVDs which do contained deleted scenes don't contain all of the deleted scenes.

The Ultimate Broken Machine


Outraged sedan owner gets donkeys to drag BMW 760i

I like BMW. However, it is not a car you get if you expect the build quality and reliability of a Toyota. Every BMW owner I've ever known has had problems with his or her vehicle. 11 problems is pretty bad, but considering the problem machine is a 760i -- the flagship 12-cylinder sedan, I'm not surprised. The 7 series uses iDrive, BMW's incredibly complicated user-unfriendly interface. BMW makes fine engines, but I've noticed that they lack electronic prowess (iPodding a BMW could be done better, and my own 8 series is an electrical nightmare). I know, the current 7-series is quite possibly BMW's worst car ever, but needing to be pulled by a team of donkeys?

What's in your medicine cabinet?


nightmare ii


had a horrible nightmare tonight. dreamed someone stole my laptop. scary. woke up to find it safe and sound beside me. comfort. back to sleep.

Comic Talk


To The Best Of Our Knowledge: Comix

Features interviews with Art Spiegelman, (of Maus fame) and Neil Gaiman (Sandman). There's also a stereotypical story in there about graphic novels vs. comics.

Mind Reading

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To the Best of our Knowledge: How do you know who you are?

Some really great audio bits about mirrors, neuroscience and Buddhism.

Classical Horizons


On NPR today, I heard a bit from To the Best of our Knowledge: Classical Horizons. On one of the segments of the show, one of the guests talks about how in today's world of classical music, performers seem to matter more than the music. I had forgotten how mood evoking good classical music can be, and how much I enjoy the sound of a cello and Bach.

State of Games


Redefining Games: How Academia is Reshaping Games of the Future

BBC: Women take a shine to video games

"It means that women like games that are easy to pick up, play, and master, rather than those with complicated controls that require a lot of time to learn."

I would actually say that everyone loves games as described above, but that few people know how to make games like this, or people begin to confuse complexity with complicated.

Schwarzenegger's Alternate Austria


Cat mentioned to me an interesting article she saw today that seems to have been missed by me. I was able to find an Associated Press article which covers the same story:

Historians criticize governor for flubbing Austrian history at GOP convention

What's more, when Schwarzenegger left in 1968, Austria was run by a conservative-only government headed by People's Party Chancellor Josef Klaus, a staunch Roman Catholic and a sharp critic of both the Socialists as well as the Communists ruling in countries across the Iron Curtain.

Schwarzenegger "confuses a free country with a Socialist one," said Polaschek, referring to East European Communist officials' routine descriptions of their countries as Socialist.

Polaschek saw the moderate Republican governor's recollections at the convention as a tactical move. Schwarzenegger, he said, was "using the old Communist enemy image for Bush's election campaign."

"He did not speak as a historian, after all, but as a politician," Polaschek said.

Norbert Darabos, a ranking official of Austria's opposition Social Democratic Party, sharply criticized Schwarzenegger's "disdain for his former homeland."

"The Terminator is constructing a rather bizarre Austria image," he said."

The Art of Understanding


A couple of weeks ago, I heard a
NPR radio broadcast
about drawing. The interviewer talks about how as children, around the world, in every culture, we draw. Drawing is one of those universal things, but eventually as language becomes our primary means of communication, drawing becomes overtaken by words.

Yesterday at meta's going away drawing hour party, I saw honeyfield's sketchbook and notebook, with which she had brought with the intention of drawing. What I found so intriguing about it was that the notes were illustrated. An arrow wasn't simply 3 lines, but it was hollow, and it had curves, and it still managed to be an arrow. A picture is a means of communicating when words are inadequate. And yet drawing and language are all part of the same thing -- our universal desire for understanding.

Everyone needs to be understood. As human beings, we all express our need for understanding in different ways -- some use paints and oils, some use clays or metal, others use music and sound, but more commonly, we use words, which is the medium that I am using to communicate my thoughts on understanding. As with any form of expression, words can also be misunderstood or misinterpreted.
As I struggle with the words to explain this concept and the relations contained within, my words fail me.

To put it simply: To be human is to be able to express our desires to be understood, as well as our desire to understand the world around us.

A nightmare


I woke up this morning with a horrible dream in my head. I had dreamt that as Bill Clinton was recovering from his heart surgery, he publicly endorsed George W. Bush. Bill Clinton wasn't cleanshaven, and had decided to sport one of those moustaches that was villain twirlable. At the Kerry office, the campaign managers just said "We just lost the election".

It's bad enough that the waking hours of my day are occupied by political propaganda. I don't need it invading my dreams too!

Rare books in German


Rare books in German library fire

The library was established in 1691 and holds several rare works spanning the 16th to the 18th centuries - a period when Weimar was home to German literary legends Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller.

Its total collection - scattered around several sites in Weimar - numbers some one million volumes, the majority of which were in the building affected by the fire.

Possible Alien Signal?


A signal could possibly be from outer space

It was broadcast on the main frequency at which the universe's most common element, hydrogen, absorbs and emits energy, and which astronomers say is the most likely means by which aliens would advertise their presence.

The potentially extraterrestrial signals were picked up through the SETI@home project, which uses programmes running as screensavers on millions of personal computers worldwide to sift through the huge amount of data picked up by the telescope.

Astronomers deny the signal

Speaking to BBC News Online from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, where he is preparing an observing run to follow up Seti@home analysis, Dr Wertheimer said: "It's all hype. We don't have anything we are excited about.

"At the moment, we have no candidates that we are particularly excited about and the new 'signal' is not a priority."

He continued: "With Seti@home having analysed some 50 trillion frequency bands, it is not surprising that a signal like this occurs purely due to chance."

Dr Horowitz, who looks for alien signals using optical telescopes, told BBC News Online that it was "not new and definitely not a signal".

Morning Thoughts

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Because I only got 3 hours of sleep last night, I am taking a sick day today. I feel pretty sick and I've had a lot on my mind.

It's a chaotic and confusing soup of thoughts, mainly revolving around a relationship that has been going on for the last year or so. We have a lot of fears about each other, and we end up hurting each other. I don't know of any other way of breaking this cycle other than talking about our own fears, concerns and needs and being aware of the other person's fears, concerns and needs to stop hurting each other.

Sleep beckons...



I have a stuffed nose. Hopefully that doesn't mean another cold, and it's just a wayward allergy.

I'm sick and I'm tired, and I'm getting some sleep.