Sunday, September 30, 2007

5 Cool Google Tools You Should Know About

Probably, Google itself doesn't know where it's headed, and its leadership believes that this "throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks" model is a far better way to pick winners and losers than to make bets internally. They're probably correct about this.

I guess I shouldn't complain. Google has so much stuff going, that there's always something to peer into. Plus, its model of releasing anything and everything provides us all with universal, and usually free, access to the fruits of its research.

Here are the latest five:

Rock Your Presentation with the Right Tools and Apps

At some point in your career as a student or professional, you're going to have to give a presentation—and when you do, you want to be prepared with the right content and applications. Whether your demo'ing software or explicating Melville, a computer hooked up to a projector can either give an audience a great audio/visual experience, or a bullet-studded snoozer. Whether you're using a Mac or Windows, PowerPoint or Keynote, or simply presenting straight from your web browser, there are a few power tips, apps, and tools that can make your slideshow or demonstration smooth, entertaining and memorable.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lawyers/attorneys in New Jersey/New York Area

Alice Yao

8 Bridge St, Metuchen NJ 08840
(732) 548-9595

Alice is very helpful.

Kamal Rastogi.

350 5th. AVENUE, SUITE 5014

Tel: (212) 279-4403
Fax: (212) 563-4534


New Jersey Contact:-
Tel: (908) 764-9161

Very prompt and professional.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cupid Can Be Stupid

"We don't know why eHarmony has rejected over a million people looking for love," goes the tag line. "At, come as you are."

Companies like Match, eHarmony, and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) rely on serial daters to keep their premium services going. If all these lengthy registration forms are bunk, why should folks looking for love bother with the tollbooth-anchored dating sites?

It's free to post an ad on Craigslist to reach others within your town. is another free website that claims responsibility for 500,000 relationships last year alone. Don't forget the folks who are hooking up on free social networking sites like Facebook, News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS) MySpace, and United Online's (Nasdaq: UNTD) Classmates.

Why would eHarmony rock a boat that is already taking on plenty of water from free matchmaking sites out there? I just don't see why eHarmony rejects a premium-paying model.

Stupid cupid. It shot itself with its own arrow.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Livable places in US: Huntsville, AL

You can laugh about Alabama. I did, until I came down for a job interview. Huntsville, AL is a great place. Because of the research park, there are people from all over the country. NASA and the Army's Redstone Arsenal have need for 30K to 50K high tech jobs.
Huntsville is a very high tech city, it has the 2nd largest research center in the US.

Brick houses (new) for under $100 a square foot. A brand new 4 bedroom, 3 bath 2500 square foot brick rambler on 1/3 of an acre in a new neighborhood for $240K. And it's not ramshackle construction.

Overall, AL has the lowest taxes in the US. Good schools, thanks to NASA and the rocket scientists at the Redstone Arsenal.

Insurance is a fraction of what I used to pay. Property taxes are less than 1/2 what I used to pay in a top 10 city for a house half that size. Electricity is cheap, thanks to the Tennessee Valley Authority. Gas is about the same as anywhere else, but there's no commute! No traffic! No crime! Do you know why there's no crime? Most of these people go to church! They have morals! It's not like NY City or Chicago, where you have to have Police on every street corner to keep the peace.

On top of all this, I'm making more than I was in the big city! It is 3 hours to Atlanta, 5 hours to the Gulf Coast. 90 minutes to Nashville, Birmingham, or Chattanooga. 3 hours to Memphis. It's 4 hours to the Smoky Mountains.

Winters are really mild, summers can get hot, but aren't as bad as Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, or Florida. It's not as humid as Florida or the other neighboring states. It's not as dry, or as hot, or as polluted as Southern California or Phoenix.

Huntsville is a northern city transplanted in the south.

Read what the AC said in this post. I'd write everything he said but I'm lazy. I'm an engineer, I work on Redstone Arsenal here in Huntsville, AL. Housing is cheap. Taxes are cheap. Utilities are cheap. While I was in college (I went to UAH []) I was paying $350 a month for a 1-bedroom apartment. My wife and I just purchased a brand new brick home for $80 a square foot. Other homes in town, new, brick are going for $51 by reputable builders. My utilities bill is averaging $150 a month, including getting the lawn started (lots of water) and kids. Summers are freaking hot, being from Wisconsin, but the air conditioning is good and the house is well-insulated. Get a DirecTV so you can watch "real" sports

Alternative Medicine: Homeopathy, Acupuncture, etc

Something few people seem to recognize is there are two separable elements to most of homeopathy. The first is the treatment itself, and the second is the explanation for how it works. For whatever reason people aren't satisfied to know that something works, they also need to know why it works. And unfortunately if there isn't a self-evident explanation one will be invented. And it doesn't end there, the invented rationale is then usually extended to develop other treatments (which don't work of course because what they are based on isn't true).

Take acupuncture. Twirling small needles in the top layer of the skin has a variety of benefits. But why? Traditions tell the story that it balances the energy flows, etc etc. A recent study examined three groups, one with no acupuncture, one with acupuncture in the traditionally prescribed locations, and one with acupuncture in random locations. Both of the latter two groups were better than the first (no treatment), but interestingly they weren't different from each other.

So yes acupuncture has some effect, but the traditional explanation has nothing to do with why it works.

Arstechnica article

James Randi

NTP Sues Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile

I think that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. RIM had been walking around suing companies for having a miniature keyboard on their mobile devices. If you believe NTP, it was this blatant patent trolling that led NTP to file its own suit. (How would NTP explain this one?) Furthermore, RIM refused to settle for $10 million, and its courtroom behavior was horribly bad. However, once it was obvious that NTP could get injunctive relief and shut down all Blackberry service in the United States, RIM had no leverage at all and had to pay an extortionate amount to settle before they went bankrupt.

There is a huge difference: RIM is a Canadian company. This simple fact limited them in three very important aspects:

(1) Many US Courts are biased in favor of US litigants.
(2) As a foreign company, RIM is severely limited in the amount of campaign contributions to US politicians.
(3) As a Canadian company, RIM does not have a home town congressman and senator.

All of these limitations are not unique to the US, they largely apply to US companies suing or getting sued overseas. See the different treatment Microsoft got in the US and the EU cases.
It's potentially different in another aspect. IBM was not just trying to win the case against SCO: they could have done that any number of times. What they were trying to was make an example of SCO, crushing them slowly and draining all the legal juice out, setting sufficient precedent that no-one in their right minds would ever do anything like that again. I don't see another SCO happening for a long, long time.

I wouldn't mind seeing someone take the same road with NTP. IBM's executives correctly understood that appeasement rarely works. If you have the resources, winning a head-on battle is better in the long run than a buy-off, because you won't be a target when it's over.

Rashmi Bansal's Rant

More IITs and IIMs: For our benefit or the government's?

Three Smart Things You Should Know About Genomics

1. The real benefit of studying genomes is that it has taught us how little we know. We used to think noncoding "junk" DNA didn't do anything. Now it turns out it may contain underlying instructions for how DNA works.

2. Genomics' reductionist approach has become more holistic. Now we also look at all the proteins a cell makes (proteomics), RNA transcription (transcriptomics), molecules that control which DNA gets turned on (epigenomics), and cell energy consumption (metabolomics).

3. Important genes usually exist in multiple copies, in case one iteration gets damaged. This results in lots of leftover, deactivated genes from up the evolutionary tree — solid molecular proof that Darwin was right — birds have genes for teeth; humans share genes with gorillas.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

US Employer Health Premiums Up 6.1 Per Cent

Employer sponsored health insurance premiums in the US went up on average by 6.1 per cent in 2007 compared to 2006, outstripping workers' pay (rose by 3.7 per cent on average) and overall inflation (up by 2.6 per cent).

These are the key findings of the 2007 Employer Health Benefits Survey announced this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust. A version of the report is published in the September/October issue of the journal Health Affairs.

The average health insurance premium for a family now amounts to 12,106 dollars a year, with workers on average paying 3,281 dollars.

Dr Drew E Altman, President and CEO of Kaiser said while there was evidence of some "moderation" in the increases (this latest figure is an eight year low in the rate of increase) there was still no cause to celebrate:

"Every year health insurance becomes less affordable for families and businesses. Over the past six years, the amount families pay out of pocket for their share of premiums has increased by about 1,500 dollars."

Jagdeep Singh - Infinera - 100Gb Ethernet

Infinera has been an early mover in support of 100-Gbit/s Ethernet. In November, the company showed off its 100-Gig technology with a team that also included Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR - message board), Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT - message board), Internet2 , and researchers from the University of California at Santa Cruz. For that demo, the team split the 100-Gig signal into 10 lines of 10-Gbit/s each, showing that 100-GigE is possible on current 10-Gbit/s infrastructure. (See Infinera Demos 100GigE.)

But the company's scrappy spirit is just a reflection of its founder. In an interview after his company's first earnings call, Singh told Light Reading that getting customers to switch to Infinera's system is a "good validation" of the economic advantage it can provide. After all, he asked, "Can you name another major North American long-haul network that was not awarded to the incumbent?"

Cafe Hayek - A 1975 Sears Catalog

But inflation is difficult to calculate. In a later post, I’ll take a page from the work of Michael Cox and Richard Alm and ask: how many hours did the American production worker have to work in 1975 to buy things from the Sears catalog? And how many hours must the average production worker today work if he were to buy 2006 versions of these things?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Unbelievable Growth Is Just Beginning

The next boom

The act of paying relatively decent wages for the cost of living has spurred a new phenomenon in many formerly impoverished countries: a middle class. While that may not sound like a big deal to the average American, it is a huge deal for the rest of the world.

Taken as a whole, a solid middle class absolutely dwarfs the spending power of anyone else. While the ultra-rich may have a whole bunch of money, there are only so many of them around. To have a strong local economy, instead of simply an export-driven one, a country needs a solid middle class.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

India Cities

India Energy


Thursday, September 06, 2007

OOXML is defective by design

Microsoft is trying to push new file formats that are using ZIP and XML. Are those new file formats any good for Office developers ? In other words, should anyone feel safe to make direct access to file parts, and start getting free of running instances of Microsoft Office and its COM object model, usually through VBA ?

Microsoft does not run out of teasing. There is ton of videos, see here, and here for example, screencasts, articles and blog posts (self-serving Microsoft blog posts mostly) about how much they are opening up. It boils down to the following, excerpt from Microsoft Office 12 introduction white paper :

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

AlwaysOn - GoingGreen

Complements TED?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The morality of health care finance

As a class, are the old and sick needier than the young and healthy? No they are not. They have more assets and less poverty than any other group.

As a class, are the old and sick unluckier than the young and healthy? Considering people as beings with duration in both time and space, no they are not. The overwhelming majority of old and sick people were once young and healthy. They got to be young and healthy, and old and sick.

As a class, are the young and healthy more responsible for the bad health of the old and sick? Quite the reverse. Many people in the old and sick category did nothing at all to deserve their fate; they just aged or were victims of fate. But some members of the "old and sick" class contributed to their fate. Contra many of my interlocutors, there are a lot of very expensive diseases that have a substantial lifestyle component: high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, lung cancer, emphysema/COPD, congestive heart failure . . . many of our nation's biggest killers, and consumers of health care dollars. So as a class, the old and sick are somewhat responsible for their poor healthcare outcomes, although I will leave it up to the doctors to argue exactly how much responsibility they bear.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?

The United States—with five percent of the world’s population—houses 25 percent of the world’s inmates. Our incarceration rate (714 per 100,000 residents) is almost 40 percent greater than those of our nearest competitors (the Bahamas, Belarus, and Russia). Other industrial democracies, even those with significant crime problems of their own, are much less punitive: our incarceration rate is 6.2 times that of Canada, 7.8 times that of France, and 12.3 times that of Japan. We have a corrections sector that employs more Americans than the combined work forces of General Motors, Ford, and Wal-Mart, the three largest corporate employers in the country, and we are spending some $200 billion annually on law enforcement and corrections at all levels of government, a fourfold increase (in constant dollars) over the past quarter century.

A more convincing argument is that imprisonment rates have continued to rise while crime rates have fallen because we have become progressively more punitive: not because crime has continued to explode (it hasn’t), not because we made a smart policy choice, but because we have made a collective decision to increase the rate of punishment.