Sunday, June 29, 2008

William McDonough on cradle to cradle design | Video on

Green-minded architect and designer William McDonough asks what our buildings and products would look like if designers took into account "all children, all species, for all time."
William McDonough on cradle to cradle design | Video on
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Dean Ornish says your genes are not your fate | Video on

Dean Ornish shares new research that shows how adopting healthy lifestyle habits can affect a person at a genetic level. For instance, he says, when you live healthier, eat better, exercise, and love more, your brain cells actually increase.
Dean Ornish says your genes are not your fate | Video on
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

:: The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It

This extraordinary book explains the engine that has catapulted the Internet from backwater to ubiquity—and reveals that it is sputtering precisely because of its runaway success. With the unwitting help of its users, the generative Internet is on a path to a lockdown, ending its cycle of innovation—and facilitating unsettling new kinds of control.

Pods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos represent the first wave of Internet-centered products that can’t be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners. These “tethered appliances” have already been used in remarkable but little-known ways: car GPS systems have been reconfigured at the demand of law enforcement to eavesdrop on the occupants at all times, and digital video recorders have been ordered to self-destruct thanks to a lawsuit against the manufacturer thousands of miles away. New Web 2.0 platforms like Google mash-ups and Facebook are rightly touted—but their applications can be similarly monitored and eliminated from a central source. As tethered appliances and applications eclipse the PC, the very nature of the Internet—its “generativity,” or innovative character—is at risk.

The Internet’s current trajectory is one of lost opportunity. Its salvation, Zittrain argues, lies in the hands of its millions of users. Drawing on generative technologies like Wikipedia that have so far survived their own successes, this book shows how to develop new technologies and social structures that allow users to work creatively and collaboratively, participate in solutions, and become true “netizens.”

:: The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

'Nova: scienceNOW' is light years from the norm

Gone are the days when a science show on PBS was the television equivalent of castor oil.

Tonight's season kickoff of "Nova scienceNOW" is more like a tall glass of really good lemonade.

It may not be quite as good for you, but it makes you want to come back for more.

One segment tells the inspiring story of how a once-wayward youth found his life's calling in computer science - and that one of his missions today is challenging phony celebrity photographs.

It all started, Hany Farid explains, with the semi-famous People magazine cover photo of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

It was widely thought to be a composite, a suspicion Farid confirmed by comparing the angles of light on their faces.

But he didn't stop there. He developed a computer program that analyzes light and pixels carefully enough for him to debunk other, more serious photo distortions - like an alleged photo of a bombed Lebanese city where thicker smoke had been added to the sky.

Farid describes himself as an "accidental scientist," which is the kind of relaxed attitude that Nova is after when it tells skeptical viewers, "Wait, wait, stay tuned. This isn't all about astrophysics."

Some of it, of course, is about astrophysics. The opening segment documents the search by scientists for "dark matter," an unseen form of matter that apparently affects the motion of the whole universe.

"Nova" treats the hunt for dark matter like a classic mystery with a fascinating, offbeat cast. Scientists work in a lab a half-mile underground so their search for this elusive matter is less likely to be compromised by unseen things zipping in from space.

Host Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist himself, downshifts to populist terms as he acknowledges with some amusement that devoting your life to the search for the unseen is an unusual career choice.

'Nova: scienceNOW' is light years from the norm
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Small Business and State Taxes

Oh, and a note for those of you who think there are only 50 state taxes to program into a lookup table. States like CA have different state rates based on location. There are over 7400 different state and local tax zones. And, Shan is right about each item having a possible different tax rate. Here food items specifically used to prepare meals are taxed at 1.5%, but the plates to serve the meal are taxed at 7.6%. It's a nightmare for just one store to figure out one state's tax code.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Journey of Man

The Bradshaw Foundation , in association with Stephen Oppenheimer , presents a virtual global journey of modern man over the last 160000 years.

The Genographic Project: Tracing Human Roots to a Single Origin

The Waitt Institute for Discovery is the key partner for the field research for an ambitious global project whose goals are twofold: to capture a snapshot of human history locked within our DNA before it disappears forever, and to highlight the untold stories and uncertain future of indigenous peoples worldwide.

The National Geographic documentary Journey of Man, which tracks human origins and migrations using DNA samples from around the world, has sparked a partnership with IBM to conduct the most significant research project in National Geographic's history, the Genographic Project.

The Genographic Project, a five-year research partnership, will use sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people, including indigenous peoples and members of the general public, to map how the Earth was populated. Led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Spencer Wells, Ph.D., a team of international scientists and IBM researchers will collect genetic samples, analyze results and report on the genetic roots of modern humans.

With funding from the Waitt Family Foundation and support from the Waitt Institute for Discovery, the scientists will establish 10 centers around the world and will study more than 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous populations. The project is expected to reveal rich details about global human migratory history and to drive new understanding about the connections and differences that make up the human species.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

GMC AVC-S7 Case - Conclusion -

The slim and elegant design of the AVC-S7 may not be unique but GMC is probably the only company which offers such a small case loaded with so many features, including iMon VFD and remote. The AVC-S7 is very small but it can accommodate a very good HTPC system and perfectly fit in your living room among your home theater equipment.
GMC AVC-S7 Case - Conclusion -
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Do Women Write Better Code?

Now that I've lived to see this day,
These are the things I must but say.

Die a bachelor, if your options are few,
Never ever love a female programmer,
they'll make a program out of you.

Don't laugh it away, mine has been an object lesson,
They find syntax errors, even in a romantic expression.

Alas! They search logic in love, where there is none,
Your heart may skip a beat and they just hit return.

You are in for trouble if you persist,
You'll just be a pointer in her long linked list.

Do Women Write Better Code?
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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cargo Cult Science

But then I began to think, what else is there that we believe? (And I thought then about the witch doctors, and how easy it would have been to cheek on them by noticing that nothing really worked.) So I found things that even more people believe, such as that we have some knowledge of how to educate. There are big schools of reading methods and mathematics methods, and so forth, but if you notice, you'll see the reading scores keep going down--or hardly going up in spite of the fact that we continually use these same people to improve the methods. There's a witch doctor remedy that doesn't work. It ought to be looked into; how do they know that their method should work? Another example is how to treat criminals. We obviously have made no progress--lots of theory, but no progress-- in decreasing the amount of crime by the method that we use to handle criminals.

So we really ought to look into theories that don't work, and
science that isn't science.

I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are
examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the
South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw
airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same
thing to happen now. So they've arranged to imitate things like
runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a
wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head
like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas--he's
the controller--and they wait for the airplanes to land. They're
doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the
way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land. So
I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the
apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but
they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land.

Cargo Cult Science
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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Business (LLC) and H1B - | Google Groups

This advice is incorrect. US immigration law does not allow an H1 todonate their time to a business. You can volunteer your time to acharity or the like if you can prove that unpaid work is typical forother people at the charity in a similar position. I doubt you will findmany people 'donating' their time to a business.

As an H1, your investment in the LLC can only be passive i.e. you canattend shareholder meetings, invest money and take profit/loss which arereported on a form K1 attached to your US tax return. You cannotactively work for or manage the company. If there is nobody elseinvolved in the LLC, then you are automatically in violation (since youmust be doing the work).

If you are working for the LLC as described, you are in violation ofyour H1 status. Be careful. You should file for a concurrent part-timeH1 status ASAP.

Business (LLC) and H1B - | Google Groups

You are now officially an illegal alien, out of status and deportable
pursuant to 237(a)(1)(C) of the INA.  The only question now, is if the
government will learn of the violation.
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Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Care and Feeding of FOSS: The Lifecycle of Software Technology

Stage 5. FOSS Domination

With the slow pace of innovation of the Maturity phase, the FOSS community begins to slowly but inexorably erode the technical lead held by the commercial offerings. FOSS versions of the technology may have been present all along, but the pace of innovation during the Expansion phase often left them in the dust. But now, with the technology mature and the pace of innovation slow, FOSS becomes the proverbial turtle, plugging along toward the finish line, slow but unstoppable. Feature by feature, the FOSS developers eat away at the commercial products.

The commercial suppliers are doubly cornered.

First, the product is no longer cutting edge, so staffing is reduced and management interest is low. Since there's little innovation, R&D costs are low, which means profits are high. Developers who want to innovate are discouraged, because there's little potential return on investment.

Second, the technology has expanded to the logical boundaries, and additional features are less and less relevant to the core technology. These two factors slow innovation dramatically in the commercial sector.

Sooner or later, the FOSS product not only matches the commercial products feature-for-feature, but the nature of open-source software makes the FOSS product more reliable, higher performance and (where security is a concern) more trusted.

During this "end game", there is often a series of attacks on the FOSS software by commercial suppliers.These vary but may include legitimate competitive attacks such as feature or performance comparisons and support issues. There may be a spurt of new R&D. Sometimes legalistic tricks are used to block FOSS acceptance, such as certification requirements that are incompatible with FOSS itself, or getting standards bodies to accept patented technology as a "standard". As FOSS continues to erode the commercial market share, the attacks often turn turn somewhat shady or desperate, such as unfounded claims of security problems, copyright or patent attacks, hints that FOSS is written by "foreigners" with unsavory motives, and other "mud slinging" tactics.


The Error of Hard-Core FOSS Advocates

There is a group of FOSS idealists who, for lack of a better term, I will call "hard core" FOSS advocates. I mean no disrespect by the term, in fact, I admire most groups who have strong ideals and work to achieve them. As folk-singer Arlo Guthrie says, "I'd rather have friends who care than friends who agree with me."

The hard-core FOSS advocates would like to go directly from Stage 1 (Innovation) to Stage 6 (The FOSS Era) and skip the whole commercial part. They argue that proprietary software ownership is undesirable at best, and immoral or unethical at the worst.

But ignores capitalism and human nature, and the economic forces that help fund and drive the creative process in Western society. In spite of fundamental differences between software and brick-and-mortar industries, software follows the same first four phases of the lifecycle.

Capitalism has a way of getting things done, of bringing resources and energy to a problem quickly and efficiently. When there's money to be made, capitalism can be a powerful, positive force. Investors pay handsomely, and innovators flourish in their pay. Capitalism fosters the basic competitive instincts of human nature

Capitalism also encourages an odd sort of "collaboration": Secrecy abounds, but innovation, once commercialized, spreads rapidly through the industry, sparking new levels of creativity and innovation. In addition, the profit motive encourages companies to "steal" one another's key personnel, further fostering this strange collaboration.

At the same time, capitalism stifles software innovation. Each company wants to get the edge, the latest feature, the one innovation that everyone will need and only they can provide. To achieve this, commercial vendors are secretive, and go to great lengths to protect their ideas and innovations. More importantly, once they invent something useful, they often will attempt to block others from the new technology. They'll use anything and everything to develop and keep a monopolistic position, including patents (sometimes absurd ones), highly-restrictive licensing agreements, lawsuits over alleged copyright infringement, employment contracts that turn employees into virtual indentured servants, and anything else they can think of to "protect their turf."

It is this behavior that bothers FOSS advocates. Capitalism is a double-edged sword for software. It both fosters and stifles innovation and collaboration.

The Care and Feeding of FOSS: The Lifecycle of Software Technology

Essays by Craig A. James

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Mobile phones expose human habits

The whereabouts of more than 100,000 mobile phone users have been tracked in an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of human movements.

The study concludes that humans are creatures of habit, mostly visiting the same few spots time and time again.

Most people also move less than 10km on a regular basis, according to the study published in the journal Nature.The results could be used to help prevent outbreaks of disease or forecast traffic, the scientists said.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Mobile phones expose human habits
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Where Google App Engine Spanks Amazon’s Web Services

For building scalable web applications quickly, App Engine beats AWS by a surprisingly wide margin. Note, however, this refers specifically to web applications. For anything custom, you need Amazon. Because App Engine only supports Python, you also need Amazon for running any non-Python code. While this is a significant difference, many good developers are facile with multiple languages and can move rapidly between them. Amazon’s flexibility makes it win out for many applications, but not for the most common application there is: web sites. App Engine is more of a “domain-specific cloud” for web applications, but it’s shockingly good at what it does.
Where Google App Engine Spanks Amazon’s Web Services: S3, EC2, Simple DB, SQS « Route 183
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Religioscope: India: does Hinduism exist? Interview with Martin Fárek

Religioscope - But when people speak about Hinduism, what is problematic?

Fárek - It also depends on the position of the person speaking about Hinduism. When a Westerner speaks about Hinduism, I see several problems. One of them is the notion that it is a unified religion. There have been so many different attempts to define Hinduism itself; I myself have written an article about these discussions and definitions. Some people say that the term "Hinduism" makes no sense. In academia, you have radically diverse opinions on the very basic understanding of what Hinduism is.

Behind this, there are more serious questions. When we speak about Hinduism in Europe, in our classrooms or in the media, we are conveying to people the idea that a religion such as Hinduism exists and that this is what Indians are. By doing this, we are explaining what the people of India are, what they do, why they do it, etc. We make sense of Indian cultures and traditions according to this definition of Hinduism, very much connecting it to the caste system and a range of other issues that have arisen at the conference.The question is: Does all this really help us to understand people in India?

Religioscope - Do you expect such an undertaking to have any impact outside of academic research? Do you see it as something more than an intellectual exercise - something that could initiate changes in Indian society?

Fárek - I think it can. But there is a question of several layers or groups when one is speaking about Indian society. At the conference in question, during several sessions and discussions, one could observe that there are people whom we call "Hindus" who rarely use the word, and if they did, it was because they had to complete forms for the government or respond to census questions such as : Are you Christian, Hindu, etc., i.e. What is your religion? It was on these occasions that many Indians first heard about "Hinduism"! Many of them decided: "OK, I am Hindu!" But this obviously did not mean much to them. So we must think first of all about how many people in India still live in villages - I think possibly 70 per cent of the population. These people are not touched by these emerging notions of "Hinduism" so much and whatever other terms are used. Of course, then you have the educated strata of society, not only intellectuals: I think they are the real targets of the conference - the educated so-called "Hindus". Many of them experience difficuty in understanding who they are and what their tradition is. Some of them feel that they are anglicized or modernized, but what are the alternatives? There is a lot of heated discussion around such questions. This is a sign that this conference can achieve a more general outcome.

The paper about untouchability was wonderful in many ways, and in one way it showed that you cannot solve untouchability in India as a problem without dealing with the broader issues that arose at the conference. The researcher presenting the paper, who himself had occasionally had very painful experiences with regard to untouchability, told us: "You see, untouchability has nothing to do with religion, with Hinduism. There is something else behind it. And what I say after doing a great deal of research" - i.e. these were not statements just based on his personal experience, even though he had actually thought originally that untouchability had something to do with religion - "is that at least in Karnataka, religion does not fit into the picture." He said that, at the moment, the government of India is more or less approaching the problem of untouchability as a religious problem, and since India is a secular state, the government will never interfere with it. There are laws demanding equality for all citizens, but this is not the solution to the problem of oppression. He said that, in some areas, because of this secular approach, the problem of oppression of some groups by other groups is getting worse. We do need to rethink the whole idea of the caste system, but this problem is very much connected to the notion of "Hinduism" and how the structures of Hinduism are perceived. We have first to deal with this issue, because it is blocking our search for possible solutions to the problem.
Religioscope: India: does Hinduism exist? Interview with Martin Fárek
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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Where Would General Motors Be Without the United Automobile Workers Union?

Without the UAW, GM would have an average unit cost per automobile close to that of non-union Toyota. Toyota makes a profit of about $2,000 per vehicle, while GM suffers a loss of about $1,200 per vehicle, a difference of $3,200 per unit. And the far greater part of that difference is the result of nothing but GM's being forced to deal with the UAW. (Over a year ago, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that "the United Auto Workers contract costs GM $2,500 for each car sold.")

Where Would General Motors Be Without the United Automobile Workers Union? - George Reisman - Mises Institute
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Monday, June 02, 2008

Blue Jeans Cable Strikes Back - Response to Monster Cable

Further, on that point: one of the design patents you attached is closely related to a utility patent applicable to the same design, and you failed to point that fact out. I need to be able to rely upon the completeness and accuracy of the information you send to me and I find this sort of omission deeply disturbing because it is clear that the effect of this nondisclosure is to obscure the real significance of the patent features. Similarly, as I note further below, you omit reference to another patent Monster has held which appears, frankly, to be fatal to your position. If you expect to persuade me, you had better start making full, open and honest disclosures; I will find out the facts sooner or later in any event, but the impact upon your credibility will not be repaired. It looks like when you sent this letter, you were operating on the premise that I am not smart enough to see through your deceptions or sophisticated enough to intelligently evaluate your claims; shame on you. You are required, as a matter of legal ethics, to display good faith and professional candor in your dealings with adverse parties, and you have fallen miserably short of your ethical responsibilities.

  I have seen Monster Cable take untenable IP positions in various different scenarios in the past, and am generally familiar with what seems to be Monster Cable's modus operandi in these matters.  I therefore think that it is important that, before closing, I make you aware of a few points.

            After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985, I spent nineteen years in litigation practice, with a focus upon federal litigation involving large damages and complex issues.  My first seven years were spent primarily on the defense side, where I developed an intense frustration with insurance carriers who would settle meritless claims for nuisance value when the better long-term view would have been to fight against vexatious litigation as a matter of principle.  In plaintiffs' practice, likewise, I was always a strong advocate of standing upon principle and taking cases all the way to judgment, even when substantial offers of settlement were on the table.  I am "uncompromising" in the most literal sense of the word.  If Monster Cable proceeds with litigation against me I will pursue the same merits-driven approach; I do not compromise with bullies and I would rather spend fifty thousand dollars on defense than give you a dollar of unmerited settlement funds.  As for signing a licensing agreement for intellectual property which I have not infringed: that will not happen, under any circumstances, whether it makes economic sense or not.

            I say this because my observation has been that Monster Cable typically operates in a hit-and-run fashion.  Your client threatens litigation, expecting the victim to panic and plead for mercy; and what follows is a quickie negotiation session that ends with payment and a licensing agreement.  Your client then uses this collection of licensing agreements to convince others under similar threat to accede to its demands.  Let me be clear about this: there are only two ways for you to get anything out of me.  You will either need to (1) convince me that I have infringed, or (2) obtain a final judgment to that effect from a court of competent jurisdiction.  It may be that my inability to see the pragmatic value of settling frivolous claims is a deep character flaw, and I am sure a few of the insurance carriers for whom I have done work have seen it that way; but it is how I have done business for the last quarter-century and you are not going to change my mind.  If you sue me, the case will go to judgment, and I will hold the court's attention upon the merits of your claims--or, to speak more precisely, the absence of merit from your claims--from start to finish.  Not only am I unintimidated by litigation; I sometimes rather miss it.

Blue Jeans Cable Strikes Back - Response to Monster Cable — Audioholics Home Theater Reviews and News
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