Wednesday, October 31, 2007
  Not going to pay a large premium for goods in Canada!!!

I just got an email from about a sale they were having. One of the products they offered on their Canadian website cost about one-third less if I bought from the USA website in straight numbers - no currency conversion applied. Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Vol. 5 - $80.98 => $64.78 Looney Tunes - Golden Collection, Volume Five - $64.98 => $44.99

Hah. How stupid do they think I am?

Anything more than fifteen percent difference isn't going to make me open up my wallet.

I really don't care about their excuses about why things cost more in Canada than in the USA. Deal with it. I'm not your mom.

Monday, October 22, 2007
  Blackberry 8830 First Impressions

Someone was showing off their new Blackberry. I took a look at it.

The initial screen is nice -  decent-looking icons.

But then I decided to start one of the apps - Calendar. It was like I was transported back to Windows 2.11 (sans the garish colour scheme).

Ugly fonts. Damn ugly fonts. There's a reason I bought a Mac II (paying lots of $$$ even with the developer discount) instead of MS Windows. Fonts.

Looks like RIM ripped off the vector fonts from the Tempest arcade game, with one improvement - they removed the extra bright pixels where the vertices join.

After taking a look at the bare-bones craplets, I mentioned the ugly fonts to the owner of the Blackberry and someone said that you could change the default font.

So off I went in search of the Settings page to see if there was a better font.

I found the Settings page. But a decent font was not apparent out of the ten or so available.

Is it just me or are Blackberry fonts crappy?

Thursday, October 18, 2007
  NYTimes - Canada’s Policy on Immigrants Brings Backlog
With an advanced degree in business management from a university in India and impeccable English, Salman Kureishy is precisely the type of foreigner that Canada’s merit-based immigration system was designed to attract.

Yet eight years went by from the time Mr. Kureishy passed his first Canadian immigration test until he moved from India to Canada. Then he had to endure nine months of bureaucratic delays before landing a job in his field in March.

Mr. Kureishy’s experience — and that of Canada’s immigration system — offers a cautionary tale for the United States. Mr. Kureishy came to this country under a system Canada pioneered in the 1960s that favors highly skilled foreigners, by assigning points for education and work experience and accepting those who earn high scores.

A similar point system for the United States is proposed in the immigration bill that bounced back to life on Tuesday, when the Senate reversed a previous stand and brought the bill back to the floor. The vote did not guarantee passage of the bill, which calls for the biggest changes in immigration law in more than 20 years.

The point system has helped Canada compete with the United States and other Western powers for highly educated workers, the most coveted immigrants in high-tech and other cutting-edge industries. But in recent years, immigration lawyers and labor market analysts say, the Canadian system has become an immovable beast, with a backlog of more than 800,000 applications and waits of four years or more.

The system’s bias toward the educated has left some industries crying out for skilled blue-collar workers, especially in western Canada where Alberta’s busy oil fields have generated an economic boom. Studies by the Alberta government show the province could be short by as many as 100,000 workers over the next decade.

In response, some Canadian employers are sidestepping the point system and relying instead on a program initiated in 1998 that allows provincial governments to hand-pick some immigrant workers, and on temporary foreign-worker permits.

“The points system is so inflexible,” said Herman Van Reekum, an immigration consultant in Calgary who helps Alberta employers find workers. “We need low-skill workers and trades workers here, and those people have no hope under the points system.”

Friday, October 12, 2007 G92 and RV670 are GPGPU monsters
Oooh. double-precision floating pt in the GPU. Droool.

We learned that G92 and RV670 are sporting dual-precision units (128, 112 or 96 to be available in G92, RV670 will have 320 units), albeit it is unknown what type of Binary Floating-Point formats are these units supporting. Speeding up Flash... in a flash
Faster is usually better...

During one of those obscure hidden tech sessions at the recent IDF, Intel showed something that caught my eye: ONFI. What the hell is that? By the name alone, one would think of Paris Hilton's next puppy...

Well, ONFI is more than that - it is a part of an initiative to optimise the flash memory integration and performance in the PCs, starting with NVMHCI "Non Volatile Mem Host Controller Interface" akin to SATA AHCI.

NVMHCI is a standard programming interface for multiplatform OS support for flash as native storage at low level, enabling a single driver for both hard disks and flask memory. It can be used to support both the cache-like flash drive supplements like ReadyBoost or ReadyDrive, and full SSD storage devices.

Now, ONFI, or Open NAND Flash Interface, is a flash-optimised, uniform electical and protocol interface, with 1.0 ratified spec since end of last year. Intel and Micron are right now shipping ONFI-compliant chips. The current 60+ ONFI members include pretty much all major names, including ATI, Nvidia and a host of memory and controller vendors.

That's just the start - the upcoming ONFI 2.0 improves performance drastically by changing the NAND interface to almost quadruple the transfer rate from the NAND array to the memory buffer - from 40 MB/s to 150 MB/s per die, not bad eh?

Then, they borrow some thingies from SDRAM and DDR DRAM, like source synchronous data strobes and dual data rate timings with a clock speedup generational chart, ranging from Gen1 at 133 MB/s to Gen2 at 266 MB/s and Gen3 at 400 MB/s - or 10x above the current flash dies. The only pinout change? An extra source sync pin, that's it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007
  NYTimes - The Everyman Who Exposed Tainted Toothpaste
The NY Times interviews the man who overcame the Panamanian government bureaucracy to report the diethylene glycol ingredient in some toothpaste.

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