Wednesday, August 30, 2006
  MSNBC - Ever heard of raisin tasting?

Great, raisin snobs.

Grape experts tested the raisins with 120 raisin eaters recruited on the UC Davis campus and found widely divergent fancies.

"The differences were fairly pronounced," said Hildegarde Heymann, a wine expert at UC Davis who also worked on the testing.

Researchers found that grapes dried on the vine were fruitier, softer and lighter in color. The ones dried on trays were a bit more sour, chewy and stickier.

And many liked them better.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
  Damn stupid post - Why Processes Scale Better Than Threads

Damn stupid post by myopic LAMP zealot. Yes, when all your examples show linear execution flow requiring functions built-in to various *nix utils, processes will probably be faster to hook together to do a job than coordinating data flow through threads. Not everything is text-processing/web server processing requests though. Just because processes are second-nature to you doesn't mean that threads can't scale as well.

My counter-examples - encoding a video to a given compression format or play a game of chess. How will you get multiple processes to do this faster than multiple threads?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 Apple - thin-skinned as ever in the NeXT generation

Steve Jobs can't handle criticism, or at least his underlings can't.

Even worse, long threads complaining about this have been deleted from the Apple Discussions Logic Pro forum. The mere mention of the inability of running Logic fully utilizing the capabilities of G5 Quad machines are deleted without explanation. Apple refuses to comment or respond to emails or even hint if a fix is on the drawing board.

Now, users of Logic + G5 Quads are furious - as much for Apple's lack of communication as their top-of-the-line machines (at least until the Mac Pro announcement) are seen as "old technology."

This isn't the first time that Apple has released software that doesn't use the full capabilities of their own hardware. This happened with the Mac II at least.

Apple == diva.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
  Seattle Times - Big layoffs follow sale of Onyx

Onyx is now a business unit of Made2Manage Systems, a privately held enterprise-software and services company based in Indianapolis and backed by Battery Ventures and Thoma Cressey Equity Partners.

The restructuring includes closing Onyx's research-and-development department and moving that work to Bangalore, India, to lower costs, she said.

"We restructured Onyx for profitability and stability in order to align the company with the current status of the market," Stahley said.

Onyx, which makes customer-relationship-management software, is competing in a market where growth has slowed and the industry is consolidating, she added. As a result, the new Onyx will concentrate less on acquiring new customers and more on retaining the ones it has.

I assume the outgoing R&D folks will have to train their new Bangalore team members to get their full severance package. Nice move from the bean-counting geniuses at Made2Manage.

Monday, August 21, 2006
  Globe and Mail - A brave loo world

Forget automatic hand dryers and sensor flushing: The latest scoop on poop is all about rotating toilets that clean themselves, send alerts when the paper runs out and cost as much as a downtown condo.

Already a common sight in Paris, New York and London, a batch of self-cleaning, electronically monitored, fully automatic toilets are now on their way to downtown Vancouver, and Toronto is next in the lineup.

The so-called automatic public toilets, or APTs, not only flush automatically but also are fully disinfected and blown dry after each use. Each standalone unit houses one toilet, with a self-locking door and a timer that lets you know when the allotted time (usually 10 to 15 minutes) is about to end.

One British regional council, however, found that automatic doesn't always mean better. Reigate and Banstead Borough Council closed its APTs because the $29,500 annual running costs and infrequent usage meant that the cost per use was averaging $15.

Richard Chisnell, of the British Toilet Association, said washroom standards have been slipping around the world as cities cut costs by closing public facilities. Even in Britain, which gave the world public toilets in the Victorian era, about half the public facilities have been closed in the past decade.

Meanwhile, Beijing is pouring 400 million yuan ($55.8-million) into its toilet network in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. But instead of hitting the high-tech button, the Chinese capital aims for a more personal touch: Each of its toilets will be staffed by attendants who speak basic English.

  Globe and Mail - A culture of overwork exacts an extreme price

At China's biggest telecoms maker, every new employee is issued with a mattress. The reason? So they can grab a nap beneath their desks, day or night, when they succumb to exhaustion from their endless working hours.

Huawei, previously seen as a model company, is now a symbol of the overwork phenomenon. One of its star employees, 25-year-old software engineer Hu Xinyu, died suddenly May 28 after nearly a month of overtime work

One of the most poignant cases was the story of Gan Hongying, a 35-year-old worker in a garment factory in southern China.

Desperate to raise money for her husband and two young children, she worked 22 hours of overtime in a four-day period this spring. She began to complain of dizziness and headaches, and she talked constantly of how she needed to sleep.

On May 30, after more than 54 hours of work over four days, she died suddenly. Her last words to her sister were: "I am so tired. Give me the key to your home, I want to have a rest."

The investigation found that 70 per cent of factories in the Pearl River delta of southern China, where Ms. Gan worked, had required its employees to work more than the legal maximum of overtime every week.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006
  NYTimes - Picture Tubes Are Fading Into the Past

“After the holidays, the days of picture-tube TV’s are gone,” said Geoff Shavey, the TV buyer for Costco. “One year from now, we will not sell picture-tube TV’s.”

Costco, a discount warehouse chain, , has already cut its picture-tube offerings to three models this year, from 10 in 2005.

Mr. Shavey said that a 32-inch wide-screen L.C.D. television was available for $700 at his stores, within striking distance of a tube set of similar size. But he added, “The demand for picture-tube TV’s is far off from what it was one year ago.”

One reason is that flat-panel TV’s make a strong design statement, prompting women to want to swap their old sets for sleeker ones, said Mike Vitelli, a senior vice president at Best Buy.

“For the first time in history, women care about the TV that comes in the house,” Mr. Vitelli said. “Men are not just getting permission to buy a flat-screen TV — they’re getting directed to do so.”

Picture-tube TV’s represented 78 percent of the market in 2004 but will account for only 54 percent this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, a trade group. In the same period, sales of flat-panel units have jumped from 12 percent of all TV’s sold to an expected 37 percent this year. Front- and rear-projection TV’s will account for about 9 percent of sales in 2006, according to the group.

  NYTimes - A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749

Ms. Arnold says she loves online research, but the disclosure of her searches has left her disillusioned. In response, she plans to drop her AOL subscription. “We all have a right to privacy,” she said. “Nobody should have found this all out.”

Too bad she'll have to deal with cancelling her subscription, see Vincent Ferrari tries to cancel his AOL subscription.

If AOL was willing to fight so hard over Mr. Ferrari's $14.95/month, I hope Ms. Arnold doesn't have the $23.95/month subscription!

Friday, August 04, 2006
  AnandTech's bad, misleading graph for "New Standards in Fast DDR2"

The techie websites usually have decent graphs. This one graph sucks.

Anandtech compares two sets of high-speed DDR2 DIMMs, one from Corsair and one from OCZ.

Most graphs show the vertical scale going from low to high numbers.

But the graph of SuperPi performance starts with the higher value at the bottom and ends with the lower number at the top. The subtitle says "Time in seconds (lower is better)".

If you were to key off of "lower is better", you'd think that the lower the data point the better the RAM was. But for this graph the lower datapoint represents more time spent in Super PI.

The other graph on the same page shows lower-to-higher numbers on the vertical scale so I have no idea why one would be so brain-dead to switch to the other way unless Excel or whatever they used decided to graph it that way.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
  CRN - Ballmer Analyzes Microsoft's 'One Big' Vista Mistake

At least MS top management is saying what any sensible engineer could point to as a big problem with Vista - overhauling the graphics, audio, and network subsystems and expecting to ship on time is crazy-talk.

  LA Times - Year of the Burger

The epicenter of the new hamburger explosion is Hollywood, where three relatively new places have some of the best gourmet burgers in town, both Kobe and not Kobe.

At 25 Degrees, Tim Goodell's burger-and-wine bar at the Roosevelt Hotel, the burgers are a blend of chuck and sirloin, with a secret ingredient: a dash of pork fat. Goodell's burgers come medium-rare, as befits a restaurant named after the difference in degrees between a medium-rare and a well-done burger. They can be built from a variety of ingredients and come wrapped in parchment paper with a big side of fries.

Just down the street, Lucky Vanous' haute diner, Lucky Devils, offers a massive Kobe burger served either standard, with caramelized onions, arugula and garlic aioli on a brioche bun, or as one of "Lucky's Favorites," fully loaded with all of the above plus Maytag blue cheese, Gruyère and Nueske bacon.

And then there's the Hungry Cat, David Lentz's seafood place, which has what might be the best burger in town — a gigantic paean to sirloin known as the Pug burger. (Named after Lentz's and wife Suzanne Goin's dog.) It's topped with mixed greens, an enormous wedge of blue cheese, thick aioli and served with more fries than you'll be able to eat in two sittings.

What goes into the burger itself is important to Lentz. "I'm suspicious of Kobe burgers," he says, noting that some places mix different cuts of meat together into their burgers, and burgers labeled as Kobe burgers are not necessarily 100% Kobe. And Wagyu "isn't even close" to Japanese Kobe, he says.

Whatever goes into them — Kobe, sirloin, chuck or duck — we're eating them up.

Both Terrace's Klein and 25 Degrees' Goodell agree: Their research shows burgers as the most-ordered item in the country. In hotels, Klein says, it's "80% burgers, 20% other."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006
  NYTimes - A Web Site Devoted to Smarter Summer Fliers

Now, I have spoken with Ms. McLaughlin on several occasions over the last few years, and she is not the excitable sort, so I knew she was right. In fact, Wednesday night, I had routinely perused the “airport status and delays” link at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Web site,, and noticed that airports in the Northeast were reporting delays of as much as five hours.

O.K., so we have trouble. Now what are we going to do about it?

Ms. McLaughlin has one answer. She is the vice president for development and marketing at a Web site called For some time, Ms. McLaughlin has urged me to have a close look at, which I have avoided doing until now, on the admittedly dubious theory that copious amounts of immensely detailed flight data can make your head explode.

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