Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"I was a copyright infringement in a previous life" t-shirts

Today I finally got 'round to grab my "I was a copyright infringement in a previous life" t-shirt from the fine folks at monochrom. As I also live in Vienna I actually went to their "office" instead of paying the extra cash for having it shipped to my place. They seem to be a bunch of mighty cool people and they also told me that on Monday they had sent out more than 60 orders of t-shirts, so if you've ordered one you should be getting it anytime soon. I couldn't help but take a photo before that t-shirt goes into the washing machine, it certainly looks even better in person than on the pictures. I normally don't really care about clothes but that t-shirt rocks! And I'm certainly not the only geek to think so... ;-)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

a break; from all the stress

I've finally had some time to relax after an extremely stressful Monday and Tuesday filled with exams and stuff. It's always a shock to check your RSS-reader and see the 50 new stories at Slashdot, my Boing Boing folder also shows 98 items, and counting. So the better part of today was spent going through most of the news-items I had missed since Saturday and here's a collection of what I found to be most interesting:

Gamers gasp as booth babes banned [bit-tech.net]: " Oh dear. We like to remain an equal opportunities news reporting outfit here at bit-tech towers, but we're just a bunch of guys at heart. We've been blasted for being a little female-exploitative in the past - but sometimes, when we get a story that makes us sad in our hearts, we just have to run it."
Poor geeks. Now their last chance to see 'real' women has been taken from them. I think I'll start a charity to collect some money so they can at least rent some decent pr0n. Or maybe get a stripper for their MSN buddy's birthday. Seriously though (if that's even possible on such a subject;) I think that large games conventions need booth babes otherwise they'll loose much of their appeal. I mean, how could any Gamestar (largest German gaming magazine) E3 coverage ever be complete without their booth babes section? What are all those nerds supposed to do while waiting 2h in-line to see a 60 second trailer of one game or another? And let's be honest, Sex sells and attracts attention. I can't count the number of Games Convention and CeBit booths I only checked out to get a closer look at 'da ladies'. I also remember some fine folks from a German modding website who literally took hundreds of photos of good-lookin' booth babes and female visitors during GC04. But more importantly, I vividly remember the dark-haired girl from the Sony Ericsson booth that year... she could grab some serious attention with the way she moved her ass (w00t) at that Sony PlayStation party! However my personal favourite as far as booth babes are concerned is this photo... ;-) To cut a long story short, computer conventions and geeks need booth babes!

DRM is a complete lie [theinquirer.net]: "DRM IS A LIE. When an agenda driven DRM infection peddler gets on a soapbox and blathers about how it is necessary to protect the BMW payments of a producer who leeches off the talented, rest assured, they are lying to you. DRM has absolutely nothing to do with protecting content, it is about protecting the wallets of major corporations. The funny thing is they aren't protecting it from you, they are protecting it from each other."
This is probably one of the best rants about DRM that I've read in a very long time. Personally I've decided not to support any companies who use extensive DRM technologies, so I certainly won't be buying any Sony products in the forseeable future. I accept and understand DRM as long as it doesn't cut into my fair-use rights. So if I purchase a CD I want to have the right to make a copy of it so I can use it in the car. When I buy a DVD I want to be able to make a backup of it, even more since it was recently discussed that today's optical media might only have a life-time of 5 years or so before stopping to work. When I decide to burn our collection of family videos to a DVD I sure as hell don't want to be sued for using DeCSS just because I'm producing a copy for Grandma's birthday. And the list goes on...

GPL 3 disses DRM [arstechnica.com]: "The wording of the language makes it clear that GPL3 is aiming to exclude software and products that utilize DRM. This is not entirely surprising, as Richard Stallman, the creator of the original GPL and one of the two co-authors of GPL3, already hinted as such. "We might put in something refusing to allow DRM modifications. Maybe, maybe not," he said in an interview in April 2005. The use of the word "Restrictions" instead of "Rights" in the DRM acronym appears to further enforce their anti-DRM position."
Yet another comment on the state of DRM. Stallman is walking a thin red line with this GPL3 proposal. While I generally do agree that the philosophy behind GPL aren't compatible with DRM Stallman might scare of a lot of potential companies interested in licensing their software under the GPL. As the article points out it is entirely possible that Linux will stay with GPL2 because GPL3 wouldn't allow companies such as TiVo to make use of Linux based solutions in some of their products which support DRM in one way or another. It will certainly be interesting to see how the discussion surrounding this GPL3 draft turns out, I do think that the DRM issue will be the most debated point. In general this new version seems to have been well received, for example by the folks from Debian (Debian scrutinizes GPL3 [newsforge.com]).

Cell Phones & Leashes - A Deeper Social Analysis [overclockers.com]: "Cell phones have become a prescription drug with extremely hazardous side effects & dangerous dependency disorders. It's not my intention to bring out typical arguments heard about the same subject, more so and observation as to what cell phones have done to me and other "test" subjects. This isn't a rant about annoying ring tones."
If you're ever annoyed about hearing your cell phone ring, read this article! And let's be honest, we all have a love/hate relationship with out cell phones, right? While things here have never been so out of hand as with that poor guy, I've been in a couple of situations where cell phones have caused significant problems. It's a real pain to have people call you at times when you simply don't wanna hear anything from them. The worst part is that most people don't stop calling, even if you've already ignored them three times. It's like, gimme a break, will you, it's only 11a.m., I'm a student and I'm asleep, so STOP CALLING! That's also why my cell phone is always turned off while I'm sleeping, there's nothing worse than having somebody wake me up with some appalingly useless issue...

Windows XP on an Intel Mac [winxponmac.com]: "The Contest
My MacBook is shipping on the 15th of February. I told my boss that this would replace my IBM desktop and I could boot Windows XP on it. I am still confident it can be done. I am pledging $100 of my own money and offering anyone else who would like the instructions on how to Dual boot these two operating systems the ability to donate some of their money into the pot as a reward for the person / group that can make dual-booting Mac OS X and Windows XP happen on an Intel Mac. Good Luck."

Having heard that a number of people have already trashed their brand-new iMacs when messing with EFI and trying to get WinXP to boot it will be interesting to see whether this bounty will yield any results. I'm sure sooner rather than later somebody will come up with a way to dual-boot WinXP or some Linux version on an iMac. Which would give me yet another reason to get an Intel based Mac mini once Apple releases that baby (which IMO will happen once Intel gets their Core Duo production running smoothly).

Democrats and Republicans Both Adept at Ignoring Facts, Study Finds [livescience.com]: "The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.
"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," Westen said. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones."
Notably absent were any increases in activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning."

Quite an interesting study I dare say. Makes me wonder about my own decision making process... And not just as far as politics is concerned, it's about everything: buying decisions for example. I tend to read lots of reviews, forums and customer feedback before I make any significant hardware or gadget purchases. But if you extend the results of that study, I might actually only do all that research to confirm to myself that I was right about buying XYZ in the first place. And I'm a fairly unbiased buyer, what about all those AMD, Intel, ATI and NVidia fanboys? To them, buying gear from "their" company is more of a religious deed and it might prove impossible to convince them that another piece of hardware might be better suited. Anyway, certainly something to keep in mind for the future...

Link of the day: ipspotting.com: useless, but fun!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday reading...

Want to Marginalize the iPod? Ask Steve Jobs How! [applematters.com]: "There are a million iPod killers floating around. Some feature more capapcity, some feature more gizmos, and some feature lower price points. None of the iPod killers are actually doing any iPod killing because they’re too busy trying to be more iPodish than the iPod. ... Nothing lasts forever, certainly some day the iPod/iTunes duo will be challenged and soundly defeated. That day isn’t today and unfortunately, if you’re Microsoft, it isn’t even this year. " - quite an interesting point of view I dare say. while I do agree that it may seem hard to break into the iPod/iTunes market these days, it's certainly not impossible. especially the iTunes music-store does have some weaknesses, here in Europe it's mainly the price which can be up to 30% more than in the USA. additionally many people (including myself) don't like being locked into a single company for all their digital music needs (player, software, store). I'd much rather have something of an "open" approach where I can choose from a variety of hard- and software-solutions, after all "consumer choice" is what capitalism is all about, right? so while the author's article might see licensing as somewhat of a risky gamble for Microsoft, I think it's their biggest chance. with their extensive product portfolio combined with a single standard people could access music stores and file-collections from their office-PC, HTPC-setup, XBOX360 or even Mobile Windows powered mobile-phones and PDAs. as I'm also looking for a new MP3-player I'll be keeping an eye on this market.

First Lab Tests: iMac with Intel Core Duo processor [macworld.com]: "Macworld Lab’s tests do show that the new Intel-based iMac is faster than the iMac G5 when running native applications. However, we found that those improvements are generally much less than what Apple claims is a 2x improvement in speed.
Instead, our tests found the new 2.0GHz Core Duo iMac takes rougly 10 to 25 percent less time than the G5 iMac to perform the same native application tasks, albeit with some notable exceptions. (If you'd prefer, that makes the Core Duo iMac 1.1 to 1.3 times as fast.) And we also found that applications that aren’t yet Intel-native—which must run using Apple’s Rosetta code-translation technology—tend to run half as fast as the same applications running natively on the iMac G5."
- having read earlier performance analysis of Intel's Core Duo platform I'm not surprised by these results. Apple has been caught with their hands in the performance cookie-jar several times and so one knows that they aren't to be trusted when talking about the "outstanding" performance of their latest and greatest products. given that I'm waiting for the Intel based Mac mini I'm still quite happy with the results though, if Apple can get a 20% performance boost from moving from G5 to Core Duo, I do expect a similar (rather even more) improvement when the Core Duo Mac mini replaces the G4 version that we have now.

Google + Facebook + alcohol = trouble [arstechnica.com]: "What can you do to keep yourself out the crosshairs? The obvious first step is to internalize the idea that no section of the Internet is your private playground, and to keep your mouth shut in public forums about information you would rather the rest of the world did not know. Beyond that, though, it can be difficult to eliminate traces of stupidity online. Good luck getting Google to remove all links to that embarrassing office karaoke video that comes up first when you search your name. It ain't gonna happen. The moral of the story is: don't expect privacy on the Internet and you won't be disappointed." - hehe, very nice story indeed. does remind me of things I've seen around here. one of the highlights was probably when me and a buddy were having lunch at university and suddenly his drunk face showed up on one of the large-screen plasmas that provide news, information and party-reports. I had a good laugh! the article's conclusion about not expecting privacy on the net is certainly very true and I wish some people 'round here would understand that concept...

Surveys show open source popularity on the rise in industry [arstechnica.com]: "The popularity of open source software is increasing around the world, but for many different reasons. European companies seem to value the flexibility of open source solutions, while American companies value the savings. Many companies are using open source software on proprietary operating systems, but the Linux adoption rate is definitely expanding. Finally, the results show that user demand for customizable software does exist, despite the claims of proprietary software vendors." - while I can't really comment on the issue of TCO and savings in companies, it's quite obvious that downloading kubuntu and a bunch of applications from the net is significantly cheaper than going down the M$ route and buying tons of extra software. I'm however convinced that in the long run the possiblity to customize software is the most interesting aspect here. I'm not just talking about the high-profile projects like hacking Sony's PSP to run Linux, or Nokia's 770 tablet which allows for many customizations. being able to mess around the with software and adapting it your needs is certainly a great possibility for both individuals and companies. especially in the embedded market where many products these days are based on customized versions of Linux.

Screening the Latest Bestseller [wired.com]: "In the end, whether the Sony Reader winds up kick-starting the e-book market depends more on Sony's marketing and pricing decisions than on the sexy E Ink technology, according to Gartenberg. "The technology looks like it's in place. What it comes down to is if they can deliver enough content at a reasonable price," Gartenberg said.
Books have been written on sheets of dried, mashed plants for about five millennia. Paper is a cheap, relatively durable and versatile technology. Sony's new Reader will not spell the end of that long history, but it could be the opening of an interesting new chapter."
- it's still way too early to decided whether Sony's e-book reader will attract enough attention and customers. I certainly like the idea of such a device but as pointed out in the article the content distribution model will most likely be the bigger problem. I think the market would need something that's indeed similar to the iTunes store. I'd also rather not be dependant on having to use my own computer to download content, that way I could also grab new books while I'm on the road or on holidays. additionally I'd like to see format like PDF being supported (or at least some type of conversion tool) because that would also allow me to read university material, technology whitepapers, etc. with the e-book reader. again, somewhat of an "open" approach to the technology and content distribution could make this device very appealing.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hello Slashdot...

Who could have imagined that? This blog was only created 30 hours ago and a link to it is already appearing on Slashdot. Good stuff! Well, of course the link is kind of hidden behind my nickname, but cares? I know I don't. Of course it always helps to read CmdrTaco's article on Slashdot formatting. ;-)

Anyway, here's a couple of articles I read earlier today that you might find of interest:

Pareto's Principle - The 80-20 Rule [management.about.com]: "In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country, observing that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth. In the late 1940s, Dr. Joseph M. Juran inaccurately attributed the 80/20 Rule to Pareto, calling it Pareto's Principle. While it may be misnamed, Pareto's Principle or Pareto's Law as it is sometimes called, can be a very effective tool to help you manage effectively." - very interesting read, makes you re-think your own schedule and daily goals

The Media's Crush on Apple [businessweek.com]: "It's the first time in my memory that a product announcement by Steve Jobs has caused the AP to send an alert -- especially since this development was fully expected. And it says a lot about the intensity of media attention Apple generates. When is the last time a NewsAlert went out based on the words of Michael Dell or Bill Gates? Clearly, the AP's editors determined this news was important enough to warrant such action." - yep, Apple is indeed very good at making their voice heard. I know, I because I was following the live updates from Job's keynote via engadget.com! and I'm also guilty of posting in forums about what products he might announce. but what am I supposed to do, ignore it? doesn't work. and you know it!

Web 3.0 [alistapart.com]: "The jerk at the library event was in love with his own noise, and the problem with noise is that it interferes with signals. What is the signal? What, if anything, does “Web 2.0” mean? What is the good thing that the hype risks obscuring? Well, there are several good things, it seems to me." - having "Web 2.0" on my list of things I'm currently interested in does but me in somewhat of an odd position on this article. am I believing too much of the BS that marketing departements around the world are producing these days? or are we indeed looking at a fundamental change of how the internet is used and perceived. it's still somewhat of an early call and while I do believe in these new "applications" and "services" it is true that some people could easily screw this one up. big time.

Product of the day: t-shirt "I was a copyright infringement in a previous life" - think I'll get one of those. and maybe some more for my friends. [via boing boing]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

couple of links before I head to bed

The essence of a Geek [ZDNet]: "A general rise in technical literacy driven by gadgets such as the iPod could be evidence that 'geekery' as a personality trait is becoming more pervasive." - unselfishness in economics? not the kind of stuff people are taught today

Unselfish Technologists [redherring.com]: "The key to sustainable capitalism is reasonable profits as opposed to maximizing profits…. What you need to do is combine the sensibility of the social enterprise with the form of a for-profit business." - unselfishness? not the kind of stuff future economists and business-leaders are being taught today

Interview with Martin F. Krafft, Author of The Debian System [xyzcomputing.com]: "This interview was conducted with Martin F. Krafft, the author of "The Debian System". Despite Debian GNU/Linux's important role in today's computing environment, it is largely misunderstood and oftentimes even discounted as being an operating system which is exclusively for professionals and elite users." - good read!

Search Engines as Leeches on the Web [useit.com]: "Search engines extract too much of the Web's value, leaving too little for the websites that actually create the content. Liberation from search dependency is a strategic imperative for both websites and software vendors." - haven't really read it, looks interesting though

SLAMPP [slampp.abangadek.com]: SLAMPP is a generic Linux distribution that can boot directly from a CD-ROM, or optionally can be installed on a local hard drive. It is designed to be used as an "instant home server". - gonna give that one a shot

Linux robot site launches with user-controllable robot [linuxdevices.com]: "A Linux hacker with an electrical engineering background and experience creating robots for the legendary performance art troupe Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) has created a website devoted to... Linux robots. Michael Shiloh's LinuxRobots.org website hosts a live robot that users can ssh into and program." - Linux + Robotics = excellent mixture

VIA VT310-DP Mini-ITX review [EPIACENTER.com]: "The VIA VT-310DP is the latest in VIA's growing line of highly acclaimed Mini-ITX mainboards and introduces dual processing power and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity to the Mini-ITX form factor for the first time. Combined with the VIA CN400 digital media chipset, the VIA VT310 DP enables the development of a wealth of high density, low power consumption, fanless, and embedded applications to be implemented in small form factor or node farm configurations with extensive processing resources." - nice board, too expensive for what it does

Imitation is no match for innovation [bit-tech.net]: "Wil Harris is fed up of the imitation culture of the tech industry, having witnessed a million-and-one knock-offs at CES. Bring on the companies with vision and originality!" - I'm looking forward to CeBit

Look At The Numbers... [Overclockers.com]: "In an era of hype, when sizzle is so often sold that people don't even know what steak is, it is always good to look for the beef.

When it comes to claims by technology companies, to "look for the beef" means to look at the sales numbers and marketshare, and if the claimers don't give them to you, rest assured they're hiding something."
- marketing = bullshit (?)

ATI All-in-Wonder X1800XL Review [Sudhian]: "Back in the early days of All-in-Wonder there would be a slight delay after the release of a GPU before ATI offered an All-in-Wonder variant. Nowadays ATI is quick with releasing All-in-Wonder cards—typically a month after the initial GPU release." - wish I could afford that sucker

Microsoft selling PCs, prepaid style [Engadget]: "Those Microsoftees like to distance themselves from the PC hardware biz in the States, only just skirting it with their MSN TV 2 (pictured) and Xbox units, but in Brazil they're jumping into the market with a system of prepaid PCs for low-income buyers." - ugly design, interesting concept

good night.

welcome / mission statement / rant

welcome to my blog, called "too much technology news"!

even though I had known it for a long time, recently I again noticed that there's simply too much interesting technology news out there. these days sites like slashdot don't help you to sort out the garbage, they help spread it. of course there's the occasional cool tid-bit of information but who cares about exploit #916 in microsoft windows or some enterprise server software. I know I don't. you do however end up going through all the trash and junk in order to find the good stuff. with the increasing use of rss and other push-type news-services I find myself with more than 50 news-items per day and even though I know it's pretty useless and time-consuming I still end up going through most of them. of course it's really pointless because once you've finished reading through 20+ articles you can't remember what the first one was about.

that's why I came up with this blog. to help myself remember what I found to be interesting 24 hours ago. and also to share with others what I consider to be interesting. my current topics of interest (per the A4 sheet hanging on my wall) are: content creation, device hacking, embedded computers, mobile applications, robotics, services, small form-factor systems, society and technology, tech journalism, technology and development, and web 2.0. if you also consider some of these topics interesting then you might like this place. if not, well, so be it.

to cut a long story short: I hope you enjoy your stay. and I hope I enjoy mine.