Monday, December 31, 2007

The Anatomy Of An Approved Drug

Ever wondered what a drug that gets approved by the FDA looks like? What are the most common types of drugs that the agency approves, and what other characteristics improve a drug's chances for approval? If you've pondered these questions, then you're in luck: In 2006, the FDA released a review examining the drugs that get approved by the agency and their characteristics.

Overall, 47% of the 77 drugs reviewed from 2002 through 2004 were approved the first time they went up for approval; 23% were approved after resolving approvable-letter concerns; 5% were issued not-approvable letters; and the remainder had approvable-letter concerns that had not been resolved by the time the report was issued. Cumulatively, then, at least 70% of drugs making it to the FDA review process went on to get approved.

The Milken Institute (opens PDF) pegged the approval rate for new molecular entities under review at 81% in an earlier 2002 report. The FDA report cited 73% of drugs treating a life-threatening condition with a new mechanism of action as getting approved on the first go-round from 2002 through 2004. A drug like Genentech's (NYSE: DNA) Avastin falls into this category.


How Electric Cars Could Save the Grid

Their idea is simple: electric cars have to plug into the power grid anyway to get their batteries recharged. Why not use those batteries collectively as electricity "sponges" to soak up and wring out the excess power from utility companies that fluctuates notoriously on any given day?

Utility companies would benefit because they'd have a place to store energy; car owners would receive a fee to participate; and car manufacturers would have an attractive selling-point by which to promote their vehicles.

And it doesn't take much to get started.

"If you can collect 300 cars, that fleet is sufficient for a utility operator to run a V2G operation," said team member Ajay Prasad, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware in Newark.

Car owners drive, on average, about one to two hours per day. So statistically, a large percentage of the total population of cars is sitting idle at any given time.

At the same time, electric grid operators play a balancing game of generating electricity that will meet customer demand. On top of that, they must pay to keep a generator fired up that will serve as a back up in the event of a catastrophic failure on the grid. Until the failure, that energy is wasted.

But if all of those parked cars were electric and plugged into the grid, the utility operator could automatically draw on the batteries exactly as needed, meeting demand. And instead of paying a power plant to generate energy that would be wasted anyway, they would pay a fee to the electric car owner for making the battery available.



This sounds fine and dandy, except it won't work in India. Well, it won't be needed in India until far into the future. I guess our current needs far exceed what the grid can pump.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ubuntu Linux Vs. Windows Vista: The Battle For Your Desktop

To be honest, there's a lot about Ubuntu that impresses me. The out-of-the-box software available with the OS is well-chosen, and the Ubuntu community folks have made a good effort to support the vast majority of the things people do with their PCs. The fact that Ubuntu is free is of course another big motivator, especially if you've already blown your budget for a PC on hardware alone.

But there's at least as much about Ubuntu that I find disheartening or frustrating. There are still too many places where you have to drop to a command line and type in a fairly unintuitive set of commands to get something done, or edit a config file, or -- worst of all -- download and compile source code. For a beginner, this last is the kiss of death, because if compiling code fails, a beginner will almost certainly have no idea what to do next.

To be scrupulously fair, the situation isn't always much better in Windows: Most people find the idea of spelunking the Registry to be about as unappealing -- although the Registry does enforce at least some degree of consistency in the way configuration data is stored.


Comment ...

I think the idea of the article is great: An objective comparison of Vista and Ubuntu. However, I think the author fell short and had some significant biases. Before I mention the specific judgements made by the author, I'd like to point out some more subtle indications of bias. First, discussing Ubuntu features as 'Windows-like" and not describing some Windows features as (Ubuntu-like) demonstrates a bias. Another subtlety is the use of the phrase "elegant". Normally what is implied is a simplicity and intuitiveness. However, if somebody has spent their whole life using Windows--and most have--then Windows features will often seem more intuitive! True, there are objective standards of intuitive user interfaces, but it is very hard to assess by individuals because of their experience. It is sort of like and American going to England and claiming that driving on the left is less intuitive than driving on the right. It may be true, but it is very hard to accept that there is no bias as the American has spent their whole life driving on the right and has been driving on the left for only one week while on vacation in London! He is in a foreign country, doesn't know his way around, like he does for most of his driving at home, and is naturally frustrated because of it. This is not exactly the best posture to make "objective" judgements. At least the author pointed out in the beginning that, despite every effort to be open-minded, he is slanted towards Vista. Nonetheless, it is misleading to present an article in an objective tone, when it isn't at all objective.

Friday, December 28, 2007

BBC’s Favorite Technology 2007

Witricity, a device for delivering energy to laptops and other electronics without wires.

Enum, which can map net domains to telephone numbers and could unify the worlds of phones and the Internet.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Antigua Wins Another Round In Online Gambling Fight With U.S.

Arbitrators have ruled that Antigua can suspend its intellectual property obligations to the United States in retaliation for the U.S. prohibition of online gambling.

In a 97-page report (PDF) released last week, a panel weighing Antigua's complaint that the online gambling ban violates free trade agreements said that Antigua has no effective trade sanctions against the United States in terms of services and agreed that the country could suspend copyright, trademark, and intellectual property obligations.

The decision means Antigua can take copyright-protected U.S. goods, like CDs and software, and sell them without copyright protection. The value of the goods can total up to $21 million a year to satisfy the supposed damages the country has suffered.

The ruling estimated Antigua's trade loss at $21 million, which is less than the country estimated but more than the United States estimated. Antigua claimed $3.4 billion in losses; the United States said the country would lose $500,000.

Care to comment? Google feature lets news sources respond

This should fix misquoting and misreporting by journalists, which is all too common.


Google News, an increasingly popular way to get news online, may tip that balance, however, with a feature it calls "Comments From People in the News." The idea is simple: If you have been quoted in an article that appears on Google News, which presents links and summaries from 4,500 news sources, including the familiar big players, you can post a comment that will be paired with that article.

Knol

Wikipedia, Citizendium

Slashdot

ask.metafilter.com

ask.slashdot.org

yahoo answers, google answers, amazon

google groups (usenet)

dilbertblog

wikihow

instructables

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Quote of the Day

Mike Krzyzewski - "The truth is that many people set rules to keep from making decisions."

Indexing, Searching documents - Full-text

Lucene, Xapian and Swish-e.org are open source solutions. A comprehensive list.

PostgreSQL Full-text (tsearch2) is better than MySQL full-text. Postgres performs as well as Lucene, MySQL doesn't come close.

Yes, Lucene is specifically designed for search, but there are many advantages to using something like PostgreSQL is it performs on par. The details of the search can be described more articulately in SQL than in a search grammar. Additionally, it would allow us to later join the search results against "other" data for the purposes of simple intersection as well as altering the relevance based on some piece of data known outside of Lucene.

If going ahead with database based indexing, it would be better to take a look at Sphinx. This is being used at curse.

Sphinx is a full-text search engine, distributed under GPL version 2. Commercial license is also available for embedded use.

Generally, it's a standalone search engine, meant to provide fast, size-efficient and relevant fulltext search functions to other applications. Sphinx was specially designed to integrate well with SQL databases and scripting languages. Currently built-in data sources support fetching data either via direct connection to MySQL or PostgreSQL, or using XML pipe mechanism (a pipe to indexer in special XML-based format which Sphinx recognizes).



Xapian is very well-recommended and would work well for intense loads.

You should take a look at Xapian (http://www.xapian.org). I've messed with Lucene (I'm also not a Java fan) and TSearch2 GiST/GIN (I've been a PostgreSQL DBA for 5 years), and neither seemed as simple or scalable as Xapian. I mostly use the python bindings, and I was able to handle thousands of queries per second with a concurrency level of 10 against a 16GB Xapian db containing millions of documents. It's feature-full (http://www.xapian.org/features.php), indexing and searching are incredibly fast, administration is very straightforward (http://www.xapian.org/docs/admin_notes.html), and it scales quite well (http://www.xapian.org/docs/scalability.html). It even has a remote backend for distributed searching and indexing (http://www.xapian.org/docs/remote.html). If I was implementing a large-scale full text searching solution right now, I'd definitely use Xapian. By the way, thanks for writing such a great book.

Also found some useful information on mod_python memory usage.

I often see the complaint by people about mod_python’s memory overhead, but when you query them about it, they more often than not have no basis for the claim and are usually just repeating what someone else has said. Since you have a large site using it and have made this comment, I would be quite interested to here from you directly what basis you have for pointing out the memory overhead of mod_python. As much as we would like to address memory overheads issues in mod_python, it seems no one running real sites ever comes to the mod_python mailing list to share their experiences.

It seems MySQL is better at replication than Postgres. Needs further investigation. MySQL Cluster and Slony might be completely different.

My experience with mysql vs postgres is that these days, depending on what you are doing postgres can easily beat mysql on a single box system, but when it comes to replication mysql wins hands down. Slony is a complete dog. Once you move past a single box postgres has severe problems.

Alfresco is an open source Enterprise Document Management System.

Soumen Chakrabarti may be the right person to talk about all these.

Bug #1 in Ubuntu

Bug #1 (liberation), first reported on 2004-08-20 by Mark Shuttleworth

Microsoft has a majority market share

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sex and chocolate deliver powerful brain boost

If you are looking to boost your brain power there is nothing like sex and chocolate, according to a new book titled "Teach Yourself: Training Your Brain." Authored by Terry Horne and Simon Wootton, the book says individuals can boost their brain power by having plenty of sex, eating equally high amounts of chocolate and cold meats.

The book throws aside conventional methods of keeping the brain fit like doing the daily crossword and even Sudoku. The book also says that people who want to improve memory must shun cannabis, soap operas and keeping company with fussy people.

"For decades we have thought that the capacity of our brains is genetically determined, whereas it's now clear it's a lifestyle choice," said Horne, who is a cognitive psychologist. "People can make lifestyle choices that will not only prevent what used to be seen as an inevitable decline in cognitive ability after the age of 17, but will constantly increase it throughout our adult lives."

The book also offers several mental exercises for people wanting to improve their brain power. Furthermore the effect of diet, stress and environment on a person's mental capacity is thoroughly analyzed. Many tips offered in the book are based on the release of certain hormones after various activities.

For example, sexual intercourse increases the levels of the hormone oxytocin, which in turn triggers the brain's innovative recesses. Diet wide, the book says that magnesium and antioxidants in dark chocolate can provide more oxygen to the brain.

"Mix with people who make you laugh, have a good sense of humour or who share the same interests as you, and avoid people who whinge, whine and complain, as people who are negative will make you depressed," Horne added.

Instead of running after happiness, the book says that people should adopt the BLISS policy; that is Body-based pleasure, Laughter, Involvement, Satisfaction and Sex, for better lives.

Frameworks Exist for Conceptual Integrity

Chapter 4 of my copy of The Mythical Man-Month has a permanant bookmark now: it is the chapter about conceptual integrity, and after rereading it this weekend, I've finally figured out that conceptual integrity is exactly what continues to frustrate me about Pylons. When there is no conceptual integrity, a product is unusable as the basis of further programming, and a product with no conceptual integrity is fundamentally incomparable to one that does. Brooks says as much in the very first chapter - in fact, on the first page:

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Immune system may target some brain synapses

A baby's brain has a lot of work to do, growing more neurons and connections. Later, a growing child's brain begins to pare down these connections until it develops into the streamlined brain of an adult.

Now researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered the sculptor behind that paring process: the immune system.

The value of this discovery goes beyond understanding how connections are weeded out in a normal, developing brain. The finding could also help explain some neurodegenerative disorders - such as glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis - that result from the loss of too many neuronal connections, which are known as synapses.



But according to an unknown model of the brain (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaussian_adapation#the-evolution-in-the%20b...)
an algorithm such as Gaussian adaptation may - according to its theory - simultaneously maximize the mean fitness and disorder (entropy, average information) of signal patterns, thus climbing a mental landscape efficiently obeying the Hebbian rule of associative learning. This disorder and average information may be of crucial importance to the success of the process.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Asian datacenter energy use to double by 2010

Energy use by datacenters in the Asia-Pacific is set to double from 2005 to 2010 as growth in the region's consumption outpaces the rest of the world's, said a study released Thursday.

The region excluding Japan will require electricity equal to output from two new 1,000-megawatt power plants by 2010 to run datacenters, which house computer systems, and telecommunications, storage and cooling systems, it said.

The report, released by US chip giant Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), detailed what it called shifting patterns in worldwide datacenter energy use in the United States, Western Europe, Japan, the Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world.

The US share of total world server electricity use from datacenters will likely decline from 40 percent in 2000 to about one-third by 2010, while the Asia-Pacific region will increase its share from 10 percent to about 16 percent over that period, the study said.

Electricity used by datacenters in the United States and Europe makes up about two-thirds of the world's total, with Japan, Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world each at between 10 and 15 percent.

From 2000 to 2005, the study found that electricity use by datacenters in the Asia-Pacific region grew at a 23 percent annual rate, outpacing a world average of 16 percent a year.

The report coincides with world climate talks in the Indonesian resort of Bali where more than 180 countries are discussing a framework for tackling global warming past 2012, when pledges under the Kyoto Protocol expire.

Growing use of electricity by datacenters and Internet-related systems has been a subject of concern in the expanding information-technology industry amid worries over global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

"Coal provides 25 percent of global primary energy needs and generates 40 percent of the world's electricity," said AMD environmental strategist Larry Vertal in a statement.

"We must work harder than ever to not only deliver more efficient server and cooling technology, but also work with our industry and government partners in areas where we see the most dramatic increases in energy use," he said.

Why iproute2?

Most Linux distributions, and most UNIX's, currently use the venerable arp, ifconfig and route commands. While these tools work, they show some unexpected behaviour under Linux 2.2 and up. For example, GRE tunnels are an integral part of routing these days, but require completely different tools.

With iproute2, tunnels are an integral part of the tool set.

The 2.2 and above Linux kernels include a completely redesigned network subsystem. This new networking code brings Linux performance and a feature set with little competition in the general OS arena. In fact, the new routing, filtering, and classifying code is more featureful than the one provided by many dedicated routers and firewalls and traffic shaping products.

As new networking concepts have been invented, people have found ways to plaster them on top of the existing framework in existing OSes. This constant layering of cruft has lead to networking code that is filled with strange behaviour, much like most human languages. In the past, Linux emulated SunOS's handling of many of these things, which was not ideal.

This new framework makes it possible to clearly express features previously beyond Linux's reach.

http://lartc.org/howto/lartc.iproute2.html#LARTC.IPROUTE2.WHY

http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/Net:Iproute2

http://itsecureadmin.blogspot.com/2007/02/creating-virtual-ip-addresses-on-linux.html

Culture Speeds Up Human Evolution

Homo sapiens sapiens has spread across the globe and increased vastly in numbers over the past 50,000 years or so—from an estimated five million in 9000 B.C. to roughly 6.5 billion today. More people means more opportunity for mutations to creep into the basic human genome and new research confirms that in the past 10,000 years a host of changes to everything from digestion to bones has been taking place.

"We found very many human genes undergoing selection," says anthropologist Gregory Cochran of the University of Utah, a member of the team that analyzed the 3.9 million genes showing the most variation. "Most are very recent, so much so that the rate of human evolution over the past few thousand years is far greater than it has been over the past few million years."

"We believe that this can be explained by an increase in the strength of selection as people became agriculturalists—a major ecological change—and a vast increase in the number of favorable mutations as agriculture led to increased population size," he adds.

Roughly 10,000 years ago, humanity made the transition from living off the land to actively raising crops and domesticated animals. Because this concentrated populations, diseases such as malaria, smallpox and tuberculosis, among others, became more virulent. At the same time, the new agriculturally based diet offered its own challenges—including iron deficiency from lack of meat, cavities and, ultimately, shorter stature due to poor nutrition, says anthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, another team member.

"Their bodies and teeth shrank. Their brains shrank, too," he adds. "But they started to get new alleles [alternative gene forms] that helped them digest the food more efficiently. New protective alleles allowed a fraction of people to survive the dread illnesses better."

Security, encryption: Bruce Schneier Blazes Through Your Questions

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/04/bruce-schneier-blazes-through-your-questions/

http://www.schneier.com/essay-092.html

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/09/home_users_a_pu.html

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/03/data_mining_for.html

http://www.schneier.com/book-beyondfear.html

http://www.amazon.com/Applied-Cryptography-Protocols-Algorithms-Source/dp/0471117099

http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Lies-Digital-Security-Networked/dp/0471253111

http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Fear-Bruce-Schneier/dp/0387026207

The Impending Destruction of the U.S. Economy: Part 2

To recap, here's our problem: Americans spend much, much more than they probably should and rely heavily on debt to fund their purchases. A huge amount of this debt is funded by foreign investors who enjoy the relative stability of American markets. As a result, we have an enormous account deficit -- nearly $800 billion per year.

With this massive account deficit comes a weakening dollar. With a weakening dollar, foreign investors will begin to demand higher interest rates to make their investment in the American economy worth their while. Sounds easy enough! But we have that pesky problem of our current real estate and credit disruptions that could place our economy in a tailspin and, hence, require lower interest rates to bail us out. Who is going to win this battle?

Less Tax, More Growth

According to ALEC, favorable tax rates -- both corporate and personal -- are sucking business out of the traditional Nor'easter economic powerhouses and into the South and Midwest, write the authors. That's bad news for Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, but great tidings to governors in Arizona, Texas, and Utah.

My own Florida owns the fastest-growing population in the Union, thanks to no income tax and a retirement-friendly climate. We don't score very well in per-capita income metrics, but growth and a very high employment rate count for a lot.

California is suffering from the same kind of overtaxation issues that drive companies out of the Northeast. "California and New York share little in common, other than their movement in a pro-government intervention direction in recent years," reads the report. "They both stand out as flashing billboards for what states should not do if they want to gain income and wealth." (Emphasis in the original.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Re: One Laptop Per Child Doesn't Change the World

I pretty much disagree with your view:

If you look at OLPC as an attempt to save the world, then of course, it won't. But if you see it as an innovative way to approach a number of educational deficiencies in a lot of developing nations, helping educated children learn and use computers and the internet, then I think it is very good.

I live and work in a developing nation that has millions of hungry children, but has millions more who eat enough and go to school regularly, but their families cannot even begin to consider purchasing a computer. There are others who are able to save up enough money to buy a 5 year old, "thrown away" desktop computer from Europe or the US for $100 which is guaranteed to work in the shop, but may break in 1 day. These used computers can be fine computers, but can also be expensive paperweights for a family that makes less than $100 per month (family may mean multiple married brothers and their children living in the same compound). These computers also use a lot of expensive electricity which may not work everyday.

I really don't know about the motives and real desires of all involved in OLPC project, but I do know that it is can meet a felt need in many places like where I live in South Asia. With it's power saving features, unique interaction with wireless networks, and low costs (among other things), it has the potential to be a very big advantage to the educated, but non-malnutritioned, children.

I have watched government and international money for food fall right into a black hole with no long term advantage (or often without any short-term value). So if you think giving money that could be diverted from a missile is a solution, then you haven't worked in the developing world. At least with OLPC, there is a physical asset that will be of value for several years, even if it doesn't meet it desired goal.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Earth: The parched planet

But for all its virtues, Chowdhury's 2-hectare farm is sowing the seeds of a global disaster. To grow the fodder that he needs to feed his cows, he is entirely dependent on irrigation water pumped from deep underground. Over the course of a year, his small electric pump sucks twice as much water from beneath his fields as falls on the land as rain. No wonder the water table in the village is 150 metres down and falling by 6 metres a year.

What is less well known is that the success of this "green revolution" was built on a massive investment in irrigation systems. Today the world grows twice as much food as it did a generation ago, but it uses three times as much water to grow it. Two-thirds of all the water abstracted from the environment goes to irrigate crops.
This use of water is massively unsustainable, and has led many people to conclude that the apocalypse wasn't averted, only postponed.

The starkest example is India. Over the past decade, the country has seen an extraordinary "barefoot" hydrological revolution. Farmers have hired drilling rigs and bought electric pumps to mine water that has sat undisturbed beneath their fields for millennia. Today, more than 21 million Indian farmers tap underground reserves to water their fields, and two-thirds of India's crops are irrigated with underground water.

The juggernaut is still accelerating. There are a million more pumps every year. We are only just beginning to see the consequences." Shah estimates that at least a quarter of Indian farmers are mining underground water that nature will not replace, and that up to 200 million people face a waterless, foodless future.

The groundwater boom is turning to bust and, for some, the green revolution is over. Fifty years ago in northern Gujarat, bullocks driving leather buckets lifted water from open wells dug to about 10 metres. Now tube wells are sunk to 400 metres, and they still run dry. Half the traditional hand-dug wells and millions of tube wells have dried up across western India. In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, two-thirds of the hand-dug wells have failed already, and only half as much land is irrigated as a decade ago. Whole districts in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are emptying of people. Suicides among farmers are rife. Many more are joining the millions migrating to urban slums or joining the gangs of construction workers and labourers travelling the roads of India.

His electric pump brings up 12 cubic metres of water an hour. When he needs to irrigate his fields, which he does 24 times a year, it takes 64 hours to pump up all the water he needs. That adds up to 18,000 cubic metres of water a year to grow the fodder to produce just over 9000 litres of milk. That's 2000 litres of water for every litre of milk. According to Shah that is better than the local average.

In the backwoods of Gujarat, I met Haradevsinh Hadeja, a retired Indian police officer who has transformed his home village of Rajsamadhiya by doing just that. He has turned a near-desert landscape of desiccated fields and empty wells into a verdant scene of trees, ponds, full wells and abundant crops. Most of the other villages in the area rely on government water tankers to provide drinking water for much of the year. They have little left to irrigate their crops. That's not the case in Rajsamadhiya. "We haven't had a water tanker come to the village for more than 10 years. We don't need them," Hadeja says.



PayPal Says Linux Grid Can Replace Mainframes

"I came from Visa, where I had responsibility for VisaNet. It was a fabulous processing system, very big and very global. I was intrigued by PayPal. How would you use Linux for processing payments and never be wrong, never lose messages, never fall behind the pace of transactions," he recalled in an interview.

He now supervises the PayPal electronic payment processing system, which is smaller than VisaNet in volume and total dollar value of transactions. But it's growing fast. It is currently processing $1,571 worth of transactions per second in 17 different currencies. In 2006, the online payments firm, which started out over a bakery in Palo Alto, processed a total of $37.6 billion in transactions. It's headed toward $50 billion this year.

Now located in San Jose, PayPal grants its consumer members options in payment methods: credit cards, debit cards, or directly from a bank account. It has 165 million account holders worldwide, and has recently added such business as Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, U.S. Airways, and Overstock.com, which now permit PayPal payments on their Web sites.

Thompson supervises a payment system that operates on about 4,000 servers running Red Hat Linux in the same manner that eBay and Google conduct their business on top of a grid of Linux servers. "I have been pleasantly surprised at how much we've been able to do with this approach. It operates like a mainframe," he said.

As PayPal grows it's much easier to grow the grid with Intel (NSDQ: INTC)-based servers than it would be to upgrade a mainframe, he said. In a mainframe environment, the cost to increase capacity a planned 15% or 20% "is enormous. It could be in the tens of millions to do a step increase. In [PayPal's] world, we add hundreds of servers in the course of a couple of nights and the cost is in the thousands, not millions," he said.

Hot Image Your PC's Hard Drive with DriveImage XML

You don't need a complicated boot CD or expensive software to create a restorable system disk image for your PC: free utility DriveImage XML can save a full, working snapshot of your Windows hard drive while you work on it. (That's hot.) When your PC crashes and burns or just slows down over time, the best insurance you can have is a mirror image of your operating system, complete with drivers, user settings, software applications, and documents in one place. A while back we covered how to partition and image your Windows hard drive using the Linux-based System Recovery Boot CD, a process that involves command line work, disk-burning, rebooting, and video driver wrangling. With DiskImage XML, imaging your PC's hard drive is a matter of a few clicks, no reboots required. Let's check it out.

http://www.freewaregenius.com/

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Can Greed Save Africa?

Agriculture isn't sub-Saharan Africa's only investment draw. Microlending—the making of small, unsecured loans to ordinary people—is bringing in big profits for a raft of publicly traded companies all across the continent. Blue Financial is among a new breed of so-called salary-microlenders, which make loans only to formally employed borrowers and take payments directly from their paychecks. The set-up helps Blue manage its risks: Bad loans are only in the 3%-to-4% range, remarkably low in a part of the world where fewer than one in five people has a bank accoun

Genentech's Gamble

For a time, his maverick approach produced an impressive winning streak. Soon after he took over as CEO, he briefly amped up Genentech's research spending to 50% of the company's sales—more than twice what most drug companies spend on R&D. The resulting stream of hit drugs pushed Genentech's sales up from $1 billion to $9 billion since 1999, and the company swung from a $1 billion loss that year to profits of $2 billion in 2006. Genentech's market cap soared past $75 billion, surpassing the valuations of Amgen (AMGN), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), and Schering-Plough (SGP).


To prove it, Levinson is taking on one of the most treacherous areas of medicine. He's targeting diseases that arise when the immune system becomes deranged, attacking the very tissues and organs it's supposed to protect. These so-called auto­immune diseases include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and more than 80 other ailments for which there are few effective or lasting treatments. Together, they afflict some 23.5 million Americans and are so disruptive for victims that they cost the U.S. health-care system $100 billion a year—nearly double the economic burden of cancer.


Levinson himself is still in the thick of scientific decision-making. When newly hired researchers defend their early-stage research in meetings, he often drops in to pepper them with questions. It's rare for pharmaceutical CEOs to get so deeply involved in research that isn't anywhere close to yielding marketable products, Scheller says. Adds Vishva Dixit, vice-president for discovery research, "He'll send us e-mails at 2 a.m. about some journal article, and he'll say: 'Have you read this paper? Look at figure 5, panel E.' He's the CEO, and he's sitting at night, pondering science. That's an awfully powerful message to the rank and file."

Chimps Beat Humans, But How?

The performance of these chimpanzees is very impressive. It highlights another cognitive capacity that these animals exhibit and supports the idea of their high intelligence. Studies such as this one are useful for demonstrating similarities and differences in human and nonhuman animal abilities through direct comparison.

I do wonder whether this advantage of chimpanzees over humans really is less about retention and recollection of information in working memory and more the result of differences in processing speed of stimuli. These things are related, of course, but there is evidence that some nonhuman primates enjoy an advantage over humans in terms of their processing speed of certain kinds of stimuli and their speed in responding. In this paper, human performance suffered in comparison to one young chimpanzee in exactly the condition where the presentation of the numbers was so short that humans may not have been able to process all of them. This suggests that the chimpanzee processed the numbers faster than the humans did. If true, we need
to understand what the benefits and costs are for such fast processing (and why processing speed may change across the lifespan, as the older chimpanzee did not perform as well as either the young chimpanzee or the humans). Understanding how humans might have benefited from the substitution of other cognitive skills in place of pure processing speed may highlight an important component in the evolution of human cognition.

I also wonder about the effects of experience. The chimpanzees were highly experienced with the task (one might even claim that they reached a level of expertise in terms of their training), and I suspect humans who had an equal amount of practice might improve their performance. Extensive practice or experience often changes perceptual and cognitive abilities (think of the musician who can detect the slightest note out of tune where the non-musician cannot), and this can happen in situations requiring rapid processing of stimuli (as with the chess master who surveys a board only briefly and knows instantly who has the upper hand).

So, it remains to be seen whether this is really an advantage of chimpanzee memory over human memory or the result of some other effect such as amount of practice or speed of processing (or perhaps it is some combination of all of these). It may be that chimpanzees do have a true memory advantage, and the researchers have suggested an interesting and viable hypothesis for why this might be the case. Questions remain, but they certainly do not diminish the impressive performance shown by these chimpanzees or the importance of these data for our understanding of the evolution of cognition.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Job Board Statistics vs. Hard Data

This morning I was getting caught up on my reading over at fellow blogger Justin Thorp’s site and noticed that a couple of days ago he wrote about how for many popular sites like Facebook, ‘The Number of Active Users Is Different Than The Number of Accounts Created’. It reminded me of a thought that I’ve been having about the job board and blog statistics that I’ve been tracking lately. A thought that I just can’t get out of my head when the job board reps call me to ask me to spend $5-12k for access to their resume databases.

My thought has been centered around the numbers game that is used to sell companies on job boards. It is usually either ‘we have the most users so use us’ (Monster), ‘we are partnered with the most papers’ (Careerbuilder), or ‘our users are only here and not there’ (Jobfox).

The Taxman Barely Cometh

The biggest tax-avoidance strategy targeted by Rangel is what might be called cross-border tax arbitrage—taking advantage of the difference between higher U.S. rates and lower rates abroad. Companies can do this because they do not have to pay taxes on earnings from their overseas operations until the income from those operations is brought back into this country. One of the big beneficiaries of this rule is semiconductor manufacturer Broadcom, which calls Irvine, Calif., home but makes most of its goods in low-tax countries such as Singapore. It then ships them directly to overseas customers.


Corporate Taxes: Who Pays the Least
http://bwnt.businessweek.com/interactive_reports/corporate_taxes

Congress is currently considering lowering the 35% federal tax rate. But a lot of companies don't need help from Washington, they've been finding legal ways to shrink their tax bill for years. We asked the analysts at Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's) to cull the cash taxes (ie. actual checks) that the companies of the S&P 500 paid to the tax collector over the past five years and then look at how that compares to their earnings before income taxes. Here's a list of the 100 companies that sent in the smallest checks





FairTax.org - Freedom. Fairness. Savings.

What is the FairTax plan?

The FairTax plan is a comprehensive proposal that replaces all federal income and payroll based taxes with an integrated approach including a progressive national retail sales tax, a prebate to ensure no American pays federal taxes on spending up to the poverty level, dollar-for-dollar federal revenue neutrality, and, through companion legislation, the repeal of the 16th Amendment.

The FairTax Act (HR 25, S 1025) is nonpartisan legislation. It abolishes all federal personal and corporate income taxes, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, and self-employment taxes and replaces them with one simple, visible, federal retail sales tax administered primarily by existing state sales tax authorities.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

We live in a youth-oriented society

In 2006, Americans had 11 million cosmetic surgical and noninvasive procedures, a 48% increase from 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Unsurprisingly, Botox injections skyrocketed by 420% during that time, while breast augmentations and hyaluronic acid injectables, like the lip plumper Restylane, grew by only 55% and 59%, respectively.

"We live in a youth-oriented society," he says, "and a very large number of my patients come in and say, 'I sell homes, and I can't compete with a woman in her 30s. I need to look young enough.' I've had a lot of salesmen who say they've been told they look angry or tired, so they get a brow lift."


Recruiting candidates from college: Thoughts on What is the best interview process / approach?

Most IT companies visiting college campuses [in India, at least] go armed with predefined question papers containing lots of “analytical” questions [puzzles, lateral thinking stuff, geometry riders, etc.] - the assumption being that anyone good enough to solve a certain number of these questions within a short time-frame should be good enough to write code [after training, of course].

Now, what we asked ourselves was… is the assumption true?

How To Debug Web Applications With Firefox

Debugging is one of the most painful parts of developing web apps. You have to deal with browser inconsistencies with HTML, CSS and javascript, let alone the difficulty of debugging javascript itself.

Here’s a rundown of the Firefox extensions I use to manage this madness.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Database Sensei Brian 'Krow' Aker Answers Your Questions

So, let me get this straight: you (mySQL) use a dolphin to fetch data while PostgreSQL uses an elephant to fetch data. Would that explain why PostgreSQL is better at fetching large datasets? Like, the elephant can haul more, but is slower while the dolphin is faster, but can't carry as well? Have you thought about using a non-animal to fetch your data? Maybe a racecar? Those are fast and could probably haul as much as an elephant. Plus, then I wouldn't need to have fish or peanuts in my server room.

India's tax story: A success?

With surcharges and cesses, it is now 34 per cent. The results are most gratifying. While the tax rates have fallen, collections in relation to GDP have gone up from less than 2 per cent of GDP when the reform began, to about 7 per cent now.

If anyone wants proof that people are more willing to pay taxes if the rates are reasonable, and if the tax collection machinery uses data bases intelligently to bring millions more into the tax net, here it is. All the leftists who have criticised the broad thrust of tax reforms should have the grace to admit that they were wrong, and that the reformers were right.

Scary facts about India's skill gap

Quite a few Indian companies have no option but to import people for even blue-collar jobs. Here are a couple of examples: DLF Laing-O'Rourke is planning to bring over 20,000 carpenters and electricians from West Asia for its projects in India. Reliance Industries is using 40,000 blue-collar workers from abroad for its Jamnagar project work.

Totally, therefore, India has about 6 million people who would benefit from skill and vocational training every year (after the current backlog of 82.5 million is trained). Assuming similar employability profiles of the new entrants each year, the country's training bill would be around Rs 36,000 crore (Rs 360 billion) per annum. The calculation is simple.

TeamLease says since 82.5 million of the current employed or unemployed require Rs 490,000 crore for training and skill improvement, six million new entrants are likely to require Rs 36,000 crore.

Though the training bill is substantial, it does have a sound economic as well as social logic. Take the training bill of Rs 490,000 crore over two years for the current 82.5 million people.

TeamLease says spending that amount (10 per cent of GDP) will yield an extra income of Rs 136,000 crore (Rs 1,360 billion) annually, everything else remaining the same. Assuming a discount rate of 8 per cent, this translates to Rs 1,751,487 crore (Rs 17,514.87 billion) of additional income (about 61 per cent of GDP) generated over the lifetime of the current crop of employable/unemployed youth. That's a return of over 600 per cent on the investment.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

An opportunity for Zipcar?

A Plan to Improve Campus Mobility

Lets say we have a few slots reserved for zip car at every building on campus. In college towns, we can have zipcars at dorms, walmart, etc.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

7 Habits of Highly Innovative People

Dont like the original article, but these resources sound good.


External Resources on Creative Thinking and Innovation (books contain affiliates id):

Torvalds On Where Linux Is Headed In 2008

Torvalds: I think the real strength of Linux is not in any particular area, but in the flexibility. For example, you mention virtualization, and in some ways that's a really excellent example, because it's not only an example of something where Linux is a fairly strong player, but more tellingly, it's an example where there are actually many different approaches, and there is no one-size-fits-all "One True Virtualization" model.

There are many different levels of virtualization, and many different trade-offs in efficiency, management, separation, running legacy applications and system software, etc. And different people simply care about different parts of it, which is why the buzz-word "virtualization" shows up in so many places.

And not only do we tend to support many different models of virtualization, but one telling detail may be that I am personally so totally uninterested in it, that I am really happy that I have almost nothing to do with any of them.

And I mention that as a strong point of open source! Why? Because it actually is a great example of what open source results in: one person's (or company's) particular interests don't end up being dominant. The fact that I personally think that virtualization isn't all that exciting means next to nothing.

This is actually the biggest strength of Linux. When you buy an OS from Microsoft, not only you can't fix it, but it has had years of being skewed by one single entity's sense of the market. It doesn't matter how competent Microsoft -- or any individual company -- is, it's going to reflect that fact.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dying 47-Year-Old Professor Gives Exuberant ‘Last Lecture’

Dying 47-Year-Old Professor Gives Exuberant ‘Last Lecture’


Randy Pausch spoke with the theatrics of a showman, the wit of a master comic, and the eloquence of a statesman. He recalled his own childhood dreams, his life's goal to enable the dreams of others, and the lessons he learned and wanted to share over the 46 years of his life. Pausch is a handsome man, with a full head of black hair, bushy eyebrows, and a remarkable sense of humor. Of all the lectures this computer science prof had delivered during years in classrooms, this one was especially poignant and urgent. He began simply enough by quoting his father who always told him that when there is an elephant in the room you introduce it.

So Pausch pulled up on an overhead screen a trio of CAT scans that showed the 10 tumors in his liver and spoke about his doctors' prognosis that he had three to six months of good health left. "That is what it is," he said simply. "We can't change it. We cannot change the cards we are dealt—just how we play the hand."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Webdesign - forms

Niceforms

http://www.badboy.ro/articles/2007-01-30/niceforms/

http://blog.makemepulse.com/2007/07/04/niceforms-optimisation-and-new-features/

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Marijuana Cuts Lung Cancer Tumor Growth In Half, Study Shows

The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.

Can't talk now. System's down.

Sorry for the holdup. Looks like a temporary glitch in our network has part of Yahoo! mail down, so you're briefly without service. Rest assured the alarms are blaring in the basement and our team is working frantically to get you up and running ASAP. Again, the snag is on our end — so there's no need for you to do a thing.

Back to it,
Yahoo! Mail Team

The Architecture of Mailinator

The most interesting part to me is that the complete set of hardware that mailinator uses is one little server. Just one. A very modest machine with an AMD 2Ghz Athlon processor, 1G of ram (although it really doesn't need that much), and a boring IDE, 80G hard drive (Check ServerBeach's Category 1 Powerline 2100 for the exact specs). And honestly, its really not very busy at all. I've read the blogs of some copycat services of Mailinator where their owners were upgrading their servers to some big iron. This was really the impetus for me writing down this document - to share a different point of view.

Gift Card Scam

In case you had any doubt that human beings are irrational creatures, driven by stories, consider the case of the gift card.

Christmas has become a holiday about shopping, not about giving. Case in point: the $100 gift card, now available from banks, from stores, even in a rack at the supermarket.

Last year, more than $8,000,000,000 was wasted on these cards. Not in the value spent, but in fees and breakage. When you give a card, if it doesn't get used, someone ends up keeping your money, and it's not the recipient. People spent more than eight billion dollars for nothing... buying a product that isn't as good as cash.


Home Ownership Is Not A Savings Strategy

When you add up interest, insurance, regular maintenance and a couple of costly repairs that are inevitable, a home owner can spend up to three times the purchase price of a house over the life or a mortgage.

Go through the links on that site.

Intellectual Antiproperty

If closed IP makes a small amount of people a lot of money - does opening the IP make a moderate amount of money for a large amount of people? The latter seems a better outcome to me. It also suggests that open hardware benefits small companies more than large ones.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

US and Iraq

Here is an interesting thought experiment.

The UK had a terror campaign waged against it for 30 years (IRA). The IRA terrorist were partly funded by the USA. This was by private individuals not the government(that I know of) but the government turned a blind eye to this and did nothing to stop it. Imagine if instead of the peace process that did happen the UK had invaded USA to stop this terrorism, cause several hundred thousand innocent American citizens to die in the process but succeeded in preventing any further IRA attacks against UK and toppled an unelected dictator (assuming this happened before bush's second term when he did win the election) how many americans would consider this a victory? Or are collateral causalities in the 'war against terrorim' only acceptable when it is foreigners dying?



Imagine you hired a contractor to renovate your house. You started out with a rather run-down, but still serviceable, four-bedroom, two-bath spit entrance ranch.

The contractor starts the project by essentially leveling your entire house with explosives. You end up living in a tent in the back yard, with no plumbing, no electricity, no heat. Heavy machinery is constantly tearing up the yard, sometimes backing over your tent, and once a back-hoe accidentally killed your dog.

Ten years drag by, while you live in your tent. You live through drenching rains, blizzards, and heat waves, year after year. Your youngest child dies of dysentery from the lack of sanitation. You can't work, because without plumbing you can't bathe or wash your clothes. The contractor makes very slow progress, because as becomes clear very early on, he has no idea how to build houses.

Finally, twelve years later, you end up with a reasonably okay home, which now in addition to the four bedrooms and two baths, has a patio, pool, and two-car garage. Unfortunately, your wife has left you, your two youngest children are dead, and you have to re-enter the job market after being unemployable for a dozen years.

Does your contractor get credit for building you a nice new house? How much credit?

Now, let's assume that you didn't hire this particular contractor. He just sort of appointed himself as your contractor, and rebuilt your house for you, unasked, while you shivered in a tent for a decade. How much credit do you think the contractor gets now?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Food subsidies

Drewnowski gave himself a hypothetical dollar to spend, using it to purchase as many calories as he possibly could. He discovered that he could buy the most calories per dollar in the middle aisles of the supermarket, among the towering canyons of processed food and soft drink. (In the typical American supermarket, the fresh foods — dairy, meat, fish and produce — line the perimeter walls, while the imperishable packaged goods dominate the center.) Drewnowski found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of cookies or potato chips but only 250 calories of carrots. Looking for something to wash down those chips, he discovered that his dollar bought 875 calories of soda but only 170 calories of orange juice.

As a rule, processed foods are more “energy dense” than fresh foods: they contain less water and fiber but more added fat and sugar, which makes them both less filling and more fattening. These particular calories also happen to be the least healthful ones in the marketplace, which is why we call the foods that contain them “junk.” Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly — and get fat.

This perverse state of affairs is not, as you might think, the inevitable result of the free market. Compared with a bunch of carrots, a package of Twinkies, to take one iconic processed foodlike substance as an example, is a highly complicated, high-tech piece of manufacture, involving no fewer than 39 ingredients, many themselves elaborately manufactured, as well as the packaging and a hefty marketing budget. So how can the supermarket possibly sell a pair of these synthetic cream-filled pseudocakes for less than a bunch of roots?

For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill. This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation, which comes around roughly every five years and is about to do so again, sets the rules for the American food system — indeed, to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system. Among other things, it determines which crops will be subsidized and which will not, and in the case of the carrot and the Twinkie, the farm bill as currently written offers a lot more support to the cake than to the root. Like most processed foods, the Twinkie is basically a clever arrangement of carbohydrates and fats teased out of corn, soybeans and wheat — three of the five commodity crops that the farm bill supports, to the tune of some $25 billion a year. (Rice and cotton are the others.) For the last several decades — indeed, for about as long as the American waistline has been ballooning — U.S. agricultural policy has been designed in such a way as to promote the overproduction of these five commodities, especially corn and soy.


The Consumer Crunch

The main fuel for the spending was easy access to credit. Banks and other financial institutions were willing to lend households ever increasing amounts of money. Any particular individual might default, but in the aggregate, loans to consumers were viewed as low-risk and profitable.

The subprime crisis, however, marks the beginning of the end for the long consumer borrow-and-buy boom. The financial sector, wrestling with hundreds of billions in losses, can no longer treat consumers as a safe bet. Already, standards for real estate lending have been raised, including those for jumbo mortgages for high-end houses. Credit cards are still widely available, but it may only be a matter of time before issuers get tougher.

What comes next could be scary—the largest pullback in consumer spending in decades, perhaps as much as $200 billion to $300 billion, or 2%-3% of personal income. Reduced access to credit will combine with falling real estate values to hit poor and rich alike. "We're in uncharted territory," says David Rosenberg, chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch (MER ), who's forecasting a mild drop in consumer spending in the first half of 2008. "It's pretty rare we go through such a pronounced tightening in credit standards."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Games that can educate: SimCity donated to OLPC project

Electronic Arts announced yesterday plans to donate the original version of the SimCity computer game to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project so that it can be distributed to schoolchildren in developing countries on OLPC's XO laptop.

The original SimCity game, which won numerous awards and paved the way for an immensely successful franchise, transforms the player into the mayor of a virtual city. The simulation encourages cultivation of problem-solving skills and requires users to plan elaborate city infrastructure and respond to the needs of virtual citizens. The idea of including SimCity on the OLPC XO laptop was conceived by Electronic Frontier Foundation cofounder and OLPC advisor John Gilmore.

Aspect-oriented programming

AOP compliments OOP. It centers on cross-cutting concerns, or aspects - parts of code that are common to many different objects, of which logging is the canonical example. Using an AOP language (such as AspectJ) or libraries (such as Spring), programmers can code this functionality once and then define where to weave it into existing objects.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Open source networking -

Vyatta has changed the networking world by developing the first commercially supported, open-source router, firewall, VPN solution to provide an alternative to over-priced, inflexible products from proprietary vendors. Vyatta delivers the features, performance, and reliability of an enterprise-class secure router with the added benefits of flexible deployment options--x86 hardware, blade servers, virtualization-- freedom to integrate applications, and the economic advantages of commodity hardware and components.

Introduce new levels of economics, choice, and control into your network:

Economics: Save 50% or more over proprietary products! Leverage industry standard x86 servers and off-the-shelf components.

Choice: Simplify network deployment by running Vyatta on: Vyatta appliances, x86 hardware, server blades, or common virtualization platforms.

Control: Source code availability and community influence allow for faster feature integration and the freedom to build your own custom solutions.

www.ondemandbooks.com

On Demand Books LLC. is planning to become the first company to globally deploy a low cost, totally automatic book machine (The Espresso Book Machine), which can produce 15 - 20 library quality paperback books per hour, in any language, in quantities of one, without any human intervention. This technology and process will produce one each of ten different books at the same speed and cost as it can produce ten copies of the same book. ODB has two machines currently deployed (one at the World Bank InfoShop in Washington DC, and one at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt).

ODB is also finalizing technology to access a vast network of content that can be accessed and produced via The Espresso Book Machine Network. The content of this library will reside in numerous locations from a multitude of sources. Our system will accept multiple formats, and fully respect licenses and rights.

Whereismybus.com and nextbus.com

NextBus uses Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking satellites to provide vehicle arrival information and real-time maps— not just bus schedules — to passengers and managers of public transit, shuttles, and trains.


http://www.whereismybus.com/

lambda-the-ultimate.org

Learn Programming Languages

Google Web Toolkit a Year Later: Was it the correct level of abstraction?

A little over a year ago, Ajaxian published an editorial entitled Google Web Toolkit: The correct level of abstraction? In it, Dion raised some important questions about GWT:

  • Isn't debugging generated Javascript going to be messy?
  • Wouldn't the large size of the generated Javascript make it's use infeasible?
  • Where is all of the cool stuff, like effects libraries, etc.?
  • Is generating "assembler" in Javascript really the right level of abstraction?

Now that a year has passed and people have had a chance to experiment and develop with GWT, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit these questions. I interviewed GWT practitioners Dr. Adam Tacy and Robert Hanson, who -- aside from working on commercial projects featuring GWT -- have just finish their first book on the subject, GWT in Action: Easy Ajax with the Google Web Toolkit. They were kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Monday, November 12, 2007

non-compete, intellectual property, prior art


First of all, the law is not nearly as clear-cut as geeky programmer types think it is. As a rule, the law is roughly speaking some mash-up of what the legislature wrote, what the judge thinks ought to be so, and what a jury of random folks majoring in theater and journalism at the local community college think it ought to be. Hence a good lawyer is probably not going to be able to give you an precise and definitive answer on all your what-if scenarios. Instead, he'll probably agree with you on general grounds that the contract is evil, vicious, and you are a noble person dreadfully wronged blah blah (this is just advertising, an appeal to your vanity, so you won't forget him when you someday need a lawyer). If you press him on specifics, the most he's likely to do is tell you roughly how he would argue the case against the contract if he needed to, but he's unlikely to guarantee it will work.



If you are involved in solving any problems creatively, and have to do any SOP work for the company in question:

1. Get a stamp, ( DATE: NAME: WITNESS, in boxes )
2. Get a notebook, and STAMP EVERY PAGE.
3. Write down EVERY IDEA YOU HAVE HAD THAT RELATES TO THEIR WORK.
4. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING, AND WHEN YOU TALK TO THE LAWYER, have him initial all the pages. ( EVEN BLANK PAGES)
5. have a copy made, and send one to yourself, and one to the relative nearist you. Make sure you completely cover the entire package with clear tape.

Note: This is from the 'how to protect intellilectial property' book by Nolo press.

Dbdeploy - A Database Change Management tool

What?

dbdeploy is a Database Change Management tool. It’s for developers or
DBAs who want to evolve their database design - or refactor their
database - in a simple, controlled, flexible and frequent manner.
Why?


The recurring problem with database development is that at some point
you’ll need to upgrade an existing database and preserve its content.
In development environments it’s often possible (even desirable) to
blow away the database and rebuild from scratch as often as the code
is rebuilt but this approach cannot be taken forward into more
controlled environments such as QA, UAT and Production.
How?

Drawing from our experiences, we’ve found that one of the easiest ways
to allow people to change the database is by using version-controlled
SQL delta scripts. We’ve also found it beneficial to ensure that the
scripts used to build development environments are the exact same used
in QA, UAT and production. Maintaining and making use of these deltas can
quickly become a significant overhead - dbdeploy aims to address this.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Creating a RSS feed of an Exchange 2007 Mailbox Folder

Creating a RSS feed of an Exchange 2007 Mailbox Folder using Exchange Web Services C# and Powershell
http://gsexdev.blogspot.com/2007/02/creating-rss-feed-of-exchange-2007.html

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Best Server Storage Setup?

Firstly, decide on a decent motherboard and disk controller combo. CPU speed is basically irrelevant, however, you should pack each node with a good 2G+ of RAM. Make sure your motherboards have at least two 64bit/100Mhz PCI-X buses. I recommend (and use) Intel's single-CPU P4 "server" motherboards and 3ware disk controllers. I believe the Areca controllers are also quite good. You will have trouble on the AMD64 side finding decent "low end" motherboards to use (ie: single CPU boards with lots of I/O bandwidth). Do not skimp on the motherboards and controllers, as they are the single most important building blocks of your arrays.

Secondly, pick some disks. Price out the various available drives and compare their $/GB rates. There will be a sweet spot were you get the best ratio, probably around the 400G or 500G size these days.


Even though the 750GB Seagates appear to provide less bang-for-buck than smaller solutions (400GB, 300GB), the higher data storage density pays off in a big way. Cramming more data into a single box means amortizing the power/heat cost of the non-disk components better, and also allows you better utilization of your floorspace (which is going to become very important, if you really are looking to scale this into the multi-petabyte range).

iSCSI

Going Enterprise - setup your FC4 iSCSI target in 5 minutes

Setting Up an Inexpensive iSCSI Linux Cluster Using SLES10 and OCFS2

Setting Up An iSCSI Environment On Linux

CentOS / Red Hat Linux: Install and manage iSCSI Volume







Java: Linux’s New Best Friend?

The lack of ability to legally play Web-based multimedia content is probably one of the greatest obstacles to mass-adoption of desktop Linux.

Currently, Java isn’t used as the basis for displaying a lot of multimedia content on the Web, but that could very easily change, especially with a Java Virtual Machine re-write by the community to optimize it for multimedia content, and some tweaking of the Sun Java Web Start code. If the codecs ran under an open source JVM and could be licensed legally, a lot of the media problems would be solved. Audio and video codecs would download on-the-fly, and the JVM would handle all of the work required to set up the environment and play the content.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sinking Currency, Sinking Country

Have gold, silver, oil, the euro, the pound and the Canadian dollar all suddenly soared in value in just a few years?

Nope. The dollar has plummeted in value, more so in Bush’s term than during any comparable period of U.S. history. Indeed, Bush is presiding over a worldwide abandonment of the American dollar.

Is it all Bush’s fault? Nope.

The dollar is plunging because America has been living beyond her means, borrowing $2 billion a day from foreign nations to maintain her standard of living and to sustain the American Imperium.

The prime suspect in the death of the dollar is the massive trade deficits America has run up, some $5 trillion in total since the passage of NAFTA and the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994.

In 2006, that U.S. trade deficit hit $764 billion. The current account deficit, which includes the trade deficit, plus the net outflow of interest, dividends, capital gains and foreign aid, hit $857 billion, 6.5 percent of GDP. As some of us have been writing for years, such deficits are unsustainable and must lead to a decline of the dollar.

A sinking dollar means a poorer nation, and a sinking currency has historically been the mark of a sinking country. And a superpower with a sinking currency is a contradiction in terms.

What does this mean for America and Americans?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

To avoid the Big C, stay small

EVERY day there are new stories in the tabloids about the latest link, sometimes tenuous, sometimes contradictory, between cancer and some aspect of lifestyle. If this is a recipe for confusion, then the antidote is probably a weighty new tome from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). It is the most rigorous study so far on the links between food, physical activity and cancer—and sets out the important sources of risk.

Given the rising costs of dealing with cancer alone—in America this is more than $100 billion a year—prevention and early detection look set to take off.


http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/

Poverty Inspires Technology Workers to Altruism

Babajob seeks to bring the social-networking revolution popularized by Facebook and MySpace to people who do not even have computers — the world’s poor. And the start-up is just one example of an unanticipated byproduct of the outsourcing boom: many of the hundreds of multinationals and hundreds of thousands of technology workers who are working here are turning their talents to fighting the grinding poverty that surrounds them.

Prisoners of Debt

A fresh start with bankruptcy? Big lenders keep squeezing money out of consumers whose debts were canceled by the courts



Rising Food Prices and What That Means-Becker

Most of these policies are counterproductive because they discourage rather than encourage food production. This is especially true of price controls since farmers will grow less of the foods that have artificially low price ceilings. For example, if price controls were placed on wheat, farmers will shift some land from wheat to other products whose prices are allowed to rise faster.

Monday, October 29, 2007

American Arbitration Association

The American Arbitration Association ® (AAA), with its long history and experience in the field of alternative dispute resolution, provides services to individuals and organizations who wish to resolve conflicts out of court.

The AAA role in the dispute resolution process is to administer cases, from filing to closing. The AAA provides administrative services in the U.S., as well as abroad through its International Centre for Dispute Resolution ® (ICDR). The AAA's and ICDR's administrative services include assisting in the appointment of mediators and arbitrators, setting hearings, and providing users with information on dispute resolution options, including settlement through mediation. Ultimately, the AAA aims to move cases through arbitration or mediation in a fair and impartial manner until completion.

Additional AAA services include the design and development of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) systems for corporations, unions, government agencies, law firms, and the courts. The Association also provides elections services as well as education, training, and publications for those seeking a broader or deeper understanding of alternative dispute resolution.

How many lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb?

How many lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb?

“Such number as may be deemed necessary to perform the stated task in a timely and efficient manner within the strictures of the following agreement: Whereas the party of the first part, also known as "The Lawyer," and the party of the second part, also known as "The Light Bulb," do hereby and forthwith agree to a transaction wherein the party of the second part (Light Bulb) shall be removed from the current position as a result of failure to perform previously agreed upon duties, i.e., the lighting, elucidation, and otherwise illumination of the area ranging from the front (north) door, through the entry way, terminating at an area just inside the primary living area, demarcated by the beginning of the carpet, any spill-over illumination being at the option of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) and not required by the aforementioned agreement between the parties. The aforementioned removal transaction shall include, but not be limited to, the following steps:

The party of the first part (Lawyer) shall, with or without elevation at his option, by means of a chair, step stool, ladder or any other means of elevation, grasp the party of the second part (Light Bulb) and rotate the party of the second part (Light Bulb) in a counter-clockwise direction, said direction being non-negotiable. Said grasping and rotation of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) shall be undertaken by the party of the first part (Lawyer) with every possible caution by the party of the first part (Lawyer) to maintain the structural integrity of the party of the second part (Light Bulb), notwithstanding the aforementioned failure of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) to perform the aforementioned customary and agreed upon duties. The foregoing notwithstanding, however, both parties stipulate that structural failure of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) may be incidental to the aforementioned failure to perform and in such case the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall be held blameless for such structural failure insofar as this agreement is concerned so long as the non-negotiable directional codicil (counter-clockwise) is observed by the party of the first part (Lawyer) throughout.

Upon reaching a point where the party of the second part (Light Bulb) becomes separated from the party of the third part ("Receptacle"), the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall have the option of disposing of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) in a manner consistent with all applicable state, local and federal statutes.

Once separation and disposal have been achieved, the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall have the option of beginning installation of the party of the fourth part ("New Light Bulb"). This installation shall occur in a manner consistent with the reverse of the procedures described in step one of this self-same document, being careful to note that the rotation should occur in a clockwise direction, said direction also being non-negotiable.

NOTE: The above described steps may be performed, at the option of the party of the first part (Lawyer), by said party of the first part (Lawyer), by his heirs and assigns, or by any and all persons authorized by him to do so, the objective being to produce a level of illumination in the immediate vicinity of the aforementioned front (north) door consistent with maximization of ingress and revenue for the party of the fifth part.”