Archive for January, 2007
Wednesday, January 31st, 2007
I’ve been doing some research for work related to cell phone interfacing. In the process I’ve come across an amazing group of Motorola phone fanatics. ‘Extreme moto modding’ involves hacking the firmware and settings of your Motorola phone in order to modify the default functionality and look and feel of the operating system. It reminds me a lot of what kids used to do to their cars in high school, only these kids are deep into the technology and low level programming of their phones. Some good examples include altering buttons on the RAZR so each one plays a different MP3 and adding slick animations and sounds to the interfaces. They also have a hip lingo that shows up in their forum posts. Pretty interesting stuff. Dig into the forums on MotoModders.net for a peak into thier world.
One additional worthy mention – one guy known as “s5vi” wrote a Windows desktop application for interfacing to the USB interface in Motorola’s interface software. He wrote the whole application in inline assembly. I guess it’s the only language he knew. That’s about as crazy as it is cool.
Wednesday, January 31st, 2007
In all the reporting surrounding what Congress has the right to do and what it doesn’t regarding Iraq, I’ve not seen a single news article actually quote what is probably one of the clearest and most succinct sections of our Constitution.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;
To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;
To establish post offices and post roads;
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
To provide and maintain a navy;
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
Clearly, Congress is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the military, but it does not command it. Congressional resolutions demanding troop withdrawls are symbolic, Congressional resolutions cutting military funding of the war in Iraq are not. The other option for preventing the policies of a U.S. President is through impeachment by the Senate.
In reading over Obama’s proposed “Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007″, he’s oversteped Constitutional bounds. If passed, my guess would be that it would end up in the hands of the Supreme Court, in which case the resolution would be ruled unconstitutional.
Stops the Escalation: Caps the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the number in Iraq on January 10, 2007. This does not affect the funding for our troops in Iraq. This cap has the force of law and could not be lifted without explicit Congressional authorization.
De-escalates the War with Phased Redeployment: Commences a phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq not later than May 1, 2007, with the goal that all combat brigades redeploy from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group. This redeployment will be both substantial and gradual, and will be planned and implemented by military commanders. Makes clear that Congress believes troops should be redeployed to the United States; to Afghanistan; and to other points in the region. A residual U.S. presence may remain in Iraq for force protection, training of Iraqi security forces, and pursuit of international terrorists.
If the anti-war politicians want to stop the war, they can do so with enough votes. What’s unfortunate is that they don’t seem to have the kahones to accomplish that goal via the methods the Constitution clearly defines they have.
Update – Feingold, unlike Obama, obviously understands the Constitution.
“Tomorrow, I will introduce legislation that will prohibit the use of funds to continue the deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq six months after enactment. By prohibiting funds after a specific deadline, Congress can force the President to bring our forces out of Iraq and out of harm’s way.”
Update 2 – Ok so the kanones comment might have gone too far. However, it’s obvious Obama is playing the role of a slick politician running for President. I honestly like the guy and like the idea of electing a man like him, but I don’t like the fact that he’s taking such a ‘safe stance’ on this matter.
Wednesday, January 31st, 2007
But so far, response has been mixed for PlayStation 3. While Sony says that it has met its targets of shipping 1 million units in each of the two markets, analysts have pointed to signs of disappointing sales.
On my last visit to Best Buy a couple weeks ago, there were about 20 PS3′s stacked on the showroom floor collecting dust. I’ll have to get back and check to see if the’re still there this weekend. If Sony dropped the price point down into the $300.00 range, I’m sure they would start to move. Unfortunately the current price is just too high for ‘too little bang’ at this point.
Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
The OS is dark and handsome. It’s really quite exciting. Like the Zune’s interface, it’s artfully done. The beautifully-rendered shadow effects and transparency give Vista a greater “depth” than OS X, which looks a little flat and well… old fashioned in comparison. I know this is because Vista’s new and novel, but it makes OS X look dated.
Now what should I do with this funny macbook I have sitting here… hmm. Too bad there’s no ‘right click’, otherwise I might follow Leander’s lead and put it to good use.
Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
(stats show) Google with 3.035 billion searches in December, up 22.6% from the year before, and Yahoo with 1.412 billion searches, up 30.1% from December 2005. This is kind of shocking, given that conventional wisdom is that Google is outpacing Yahoo, as the Y! slowly falls behind.
Which is always a good thing if you believe in ‘the markets’. I wonder what odds Microsoft has defied in maintaining a 95%+ market share over the years. Regardless of which platform is on the rise – the computer install base is increasing fast so.. business is good, no matter what platform you choose to develop on.
Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
While the tech pundits rustle the bushes, the tech enthusiasts are still sitting on the sidelines waiting for the hardware. Due to bleeding edge hardware requirements, Vista isn’t an “upgrade” it’s a “buy a new computer” operating system. Shutter to think Microsoft would push the envelope, maybe they should have rolled out a minor upgrade instead. But that wouldn’t be good for the industry as a whole now would it.
For me, that graphic above is missing one important item – the ‘HD’ before the ‘TV’, and I’m not buying a new system until that changes.
Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
Despite what sounds an aweful lot like a last gasp of desperation on the part of the anti-microsoft crowd, the most compelling operating system available today is out. Vista is finally here. Congrats to Microsoft, it was by all accounts a long time coming and apparently somewhat of a painful road but they made it. Every screen shot of this operating system I’ve seen impresses – the look and feel is just beautiful, the functionality incredible. I still can’t believe Vista has built-in PVR software man! Streaming HD to the living room in real-time, neat!
Personally I’ve stayed away from all the betas and alphas and RC2′s because I just didn’t want to spoil that first experience. I can’t wait.
Welcome to the WOW baby! Vista is here, … finally! YEAH!
Now if Dell would just release their dual-stream CableCARD ready system I can get started.
Friday, January 26th, 2007
Let’s do some basic math. In 2006, Americans used about 7.5 billion barrels of oil. By 2030, that could increase about 30 percent to 9.8 billion barrels, projects the Energy Information Administration. Much of that rise would reflect higher gasoline demand. In 2030, there will be more people (an estimated 365 million vs. 300 million in 2006) and more vehicles (316 million vs. 225 million). At most, biofuels would address part of the increase in oil demand; it wouldn’t reduce our oil use or import dependence from current levels.
Suppose we reach the administration’s ultimate target of 60 billion gallons in 2030. That would offset less than half of the projected increase in annual oil use. Here’s why. First, it’s necessary to convert the 60 billion gallons into barrels. Because there are 42 gallons in a barrel, that means dividing by 42. Further: Ethanol has only about two-thirds of the energy value of an equal volume of gasoline. When you do all the arithmetic, 60 billion gallons of ethanol displace just under 1 billion barrels of gasoline. If that merely offsets increases in oil use, it won’t cut existing import dependence or greenhouse gases.
WaPo OpEd by Robert J. Samuelson (free reg required)
Electric cars and trucks and a major ramp up in the number nuclear power plants seems like a better solution over the long term.
Thursday, January 25th, 2007
If the election were held now, Rudy Giuliani appears to have the support of the greatest number of respondents of both parties, with 56% indicating they would “definitely” or “probably” support him — followed by Hillary Clinton (51%) John McCain (50%) and Barack Obama (50%).
There’s also a great article over on the City Journal on Giuliani’s record and the lead up to his mayorship of ‘Gotham’ (is that what New Yorker’s call it? pretty cool.) I liked this quote at the beginning:
“Over the last century, millions of people from all over the world have come to New York City,” Giuliani once observed. “They didn’t come here to be taken care of and to be dependent on city government. They came here for the freedom to take care of themselves.”
Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
But the most surprising and encouraging development is that a president who for six years has only nibbled around the edges of health-care issues has weighed in with some bold ideas to expand coverage, rein in costs and bring some fairness to the tax code. And get this: It actually involves raising taxes on the rich and lavishly insured and giving the money to the working poor and the uninsured.
Given that, you’d think Democrats would have welcomed a politically courageous proposal to put a cap on one of the biggest and most regressive features of the individual income-tax code. But instead, they’ve shifted reflexively into partisan attack mode, mischaracterizing the impacts of the proposal and shamelessly parroting the propaganda from the labor dinosaurs at the AFL-CIO.
“Dead on arrival,” declared Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of a key health subcommittee in the House, hinting at a dark conspiracy to kill off employer-sponsored health insurance.
Worst of all was the five-page memo distributed by Sen. Edward Kennedy to Democratic colleagues that ought to embarrass a man who considers himself the Senate’s leading health-care expert — a compendium of half-truths, unsupported assumptions and outright lies. Kennedy reverted to the hackneyed rhetoric of class warfare, asserting that the president’s proposals will do nothing for working families, give new tax breaks to the rich, increase the number of uninsured and encourage everyone to buy less insurance coverage than they should have.
In fact, all of these are almost precisely the opposite of the truth.
Every book I’ve read on the subject of healthcare asserts that one of the biggest problems with our healthcare system is that people are too isolated from the real cost, leading to overuse, which causes costs to rise overall. A proposal that forces people with employer provided plans to pay attention too and limit expenditures, while providing equal tax incentives for individuals who purchase private healthcare plans? This is excellent. I’m sure if Congress were interested in doing something they could work out the issue of the deduction cap and how it is applied. Unfortunately it appears the Dems prefer the healthcare situation get worse, not better going into 2008. The logic behind this proposal is so clear, so easy to understand, I’m surprised the Dems aren’t being called on their bluff. So much for a bi-partisan Democratic Congress.
Update – another good WaPo op-ed piece by Ruth Marcus:
As Jason Furman, a leading Democratic economist, wrote last summer in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, “[R]educing subsidies for pricey plans would likely lead to a health insurance system that includes more cost sharing, promotes more consumer consciousness, and plays a modest, but potentially meaningful, role in restraining health spending.”
And so what do Democrats say when a Republican president suggests doing something along these lines? “It’s a bad policy,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (N.Y.) told the New York Times. “We are trying to bring tax relief to the middle class. The president is trying to increase their tax liability.” Likewise, the Senate Democrats complained: “President Bush’s Health Insurance Proposal Amounts to a Tax Hike for the Middle Class.”
This is flat wrong: According to the administration’s analysis, on average, the top fifth of taxpayers would face a tax increase; the rest would save money.
The CBO, along with a number of leading economist have been recommending this type of legislation for years.
Update 2 – From what I’m reading on the liberal blogs, it’s a philosophical disagreement. Hard line liberals like Kennedy want a government run single player system, not private ownership. Personally, I prefer a system that places the responsibility of 1) limiting expenditures, and 2) choosing the provider, in my own hands, not in the hands of the government.