mm248: Political Potpourri

January 9, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

We are all of us under bombardment. If it’s not politics, it’s electronics (the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week).

What’s an overstressed blogger to do? How to choose?

It’s 2008 — politics wins. Actually, it’s been 2008 politically since November, 2006.

From the veritable cascade of information flowing out of the results of the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, as well as germane political news of a more general nature, we’ve put together another in a series we at Left-Handed Complement like to call:

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As this is our second effort in the past 16 hours or so, we will restrict ourselves to more cursory commentary. These are three stories that faithful reader should read for understanding.

There will be a test!

The New Hampshire results, especially Hillary Clinton’s surprise narrow victory over the sweetheart of Iowa, Barack Obama (a five-day honeymoon — that’s Britney Spears class!), most embarrassed the people who conducted the polls that had everyone, especially Obama’s team, believing in his invincibility.

nytimes

opinionatornytimes

They Were Misinformed

By Tobin Harshaw | January 9, 2008,  9:33 am

Well, it was a shocking defeat for this group, and today they’re going to have to take a long hard look at what went wrong. No, I don’t mean Team Obama — that crowd can move ahead — I mean the pollsters who were so certain that the Clinton campaign was D.O.A.

We’ll start, as usual, with Mark Blumenthal at Pollster.com, who dissects the final poll by CNN and the University of New Hampshire:

The discrepancy between the last UNH poll and the result seems concentrated in a few key subgroups. I will post the exact numbers tomorrow once the we get a final exit poll tabulations, but virtually all of the difference seems to come from women and college educated voters. For the moment, when comparing the UNH poll to the exit poll, I see a net 17 point gain for Clinton among women compared to a 5 point gain among men, and a 13 point net gain among college educated voters compared to a one point net loss among those with no college degree.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

They Were Misinformed – The Opinionator – Opinion – New York Times Blog

Back to the drawing board, pollsters. And, it’s game on for this political season, as the long-held (okay, five-day-long-held) sureties dissipated in Hillary’s “comeback.”

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It’s the season, and we’ve been increasingly concerned about vote fraud, most specifically when it involves voting machines (lately here and here).

This past weekend, the NYTimes magazine ran an extended feature on voting machines, and the crises in confidence they’ve caused in many states.

We all know the story of Florida in 2000 (which was a paper based system, in a state that politically gives Myanmar some competition), but disturbing stories are told all over the country.

nytimesmagazine

Can You Count on Voting Machines?

By CLIVE THOMPSON | Published: January 6, 2008

Jane Platten gestured, bleary-eyed, into the secure room filled with voting machines. It was 3 a.m. on Nov. 7, and she had been working for 22 hours straight. “I guess we’ve seen how technology can affect an election,” she said. The electronic voting machines in Cleveland were causing trouble again….

As the primaries start in New Hampshire this week and roll on through the next few months, the erratic behavior of voting technology will once again find itself under a microscope. In the last three election cycles, touch-screen machines have become one of the most mysterious and divisive elements in modern electoral politics. Introduced after the 2000 hanging-chad debacle, the machines were originally intended to add clarity to election results. But in hundreds of instances, the result has been precisely the opposite: they fail unpredictably, and in extremely strange ways; voters report that their choices “flip” from one candidate to another before their eyes; machines crash or begin to count backward; votes simply vanish. (In the 80-person town of Waldenburg, Ark., touch-screen machines tallied zero votes for one mayoral candidate in 2006 — even though he’s pretty sure he voted for himself.) Most famously, in the November 2006 Congressional election in Sarasota, Fla., touch-screen machines recorded an 18,000-person “undervote” for a race decided by fewer than 400 votes.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Voting Machines – Elections – Ballots – Politics – New York Times

We have a lot to worry about, people!

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Couldn’t resist this one.

A fellow WordPress blogger (there are only a couple of million of us) had the following unique take on two men in the news (and present always, or lately, in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©).

Always, Michael Bloomberg:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC for U.S. President 2008

mm024: Bloomberg?
mm038.1: Jews Sorta Like Bloomberg Even Though…
mm051: Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg’s Money, Visibility…
mm054: Chicago Tribune news: An Idea for Bloomberg
mm058: What Kind of President would Michael Bloomberg?
mm064: How to take down plutocrat Michael Bloomberg…
mm066: Michael Bloomberg’s Knightly Ambitions
mm069: The Votes Are In for New York’s Mayor Mike
mm086: Bloomberg Takes School Plan… to Midwest
mm110: Grading Mayoral Control
mm117: The cure for the Electoral College is worse…
mm208: Overdue a Bloomberg post
mm238: Bloomberg’s candidacy — closer to real?

Lately, Barack Obama (see above, and here, for example).

Why not put them together? asks this distinguished political expert, blogger Jon Taplin.

jontaplinsblog

Obama-Bloomberg?

January 7, 2008 · 7 Comments

Obama- Bloomberg

With Drudge predicting Hillary’s exit and Barack Obama increasingly building excitement towards locking up the nomination on Feb. 5, I’m thinking about the role Mike Bloomberg could play as Obama’s running mate. The Republican battle could last all the way until a brokered convention in August. Romney has too much money to retire easily, McCain could take New Hampshire, Huckabee wins South Carolina, Rudy wins Florida and the Feb 5 races could be split with no clear winner. That leaves Barack with time to consolidate the Democratic Party, raise money for the general and choose a running mate while the Republicans remain in a squabble, spending their limited resources on the primary.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Obama-Bloomberg? « Jon Taplin’s Blog

What a concept! It’s got legs, brains, $$$.

Would billionaire Mayor Mike settle for being anyone’s second banana?

Don’t you just love political season (except of course that it has apparently become the first true perpetual motion machine)?

And that’s L-HC’s first ever (that we can recall) Political Potpourri. Does anyone doubt that there’ll be more?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm247: One Laptop Per Child — reviews are coming in

January 9, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

olpcperu7c25

My son, an education professional, pointed me toward an interesting review of the XO, the inexpensive laptop designed for use by children in the developing world.

As faithful reader will recall without prompting, One Laptop Per Child has been a frequent topic in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© over the past eight months.

mm088: Meet the XO
mm089: Amateur mapmaking…
mm099: A $99 Desktop…
mm149: India’s take…
mm153: By a Laptop, Get one…
mm162: Laptop with a Mission
mm170: Technology and Ed …
mm179: OLPC for India after all?
mm189: OLPC cranks up!
mm203: OLPC: News; discouraging word
mm212: Cheap computing…
mm219: OLPC — Harvard speaks
mm232: Little green laptops a hit in Peru
mm247: OLPC — reviews are coming in

Before we get to the inside-out analysis, let’s start with a review from Peter Glaskowsky’s technology review blog at CNET.com, a mainstream PC oriented site:

speedsandfeeds

Unboxing OLPC’s XO-1 laptop

Posted by Peter Glaskowsky| December 29, 2007 2:05 PM PST

… If you get an XO-1, don’t throw away the box! You’ll need it for the free year of Internet access through T-Mobile WiFi hot spots. The box has the reference number for account activation.

In keeping with the low-cost nature of the XO-1, its packaging is minimal but adequate.

XO-1 documentation

The OLPC XO-1 comes with only a few sheets of basic “Getting Started” documentation. Credit: Peter N. Glaskowsky)

The XO-1 comes with no manual, just two sheets of paper: one showing the hardware and software features of the unit plus some warning icons, and one with a thank-you note from OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte….

XO-1 open

Open, the XO-1 shows its most distinctive feature: the antenna “ears”. (Credit: Peter N. Glaskowsky)

The XO-1’s ears contain 2.4 GHz antennas shared between the WiFi and proprietary mesh networks. They’re also the locks that hold the machine closed. They engage with spring-loaded pins so the top will snap closed even if the ears are stowed first.

Glaskowsky is critical of the keyboard (lighten up, it was designed for children, after all) and battery life, but is generally impressed.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Unboxing OLPC’s XO-1 laptop | Speeds and feeds – Technology analysis by Peter N. Glaskowsky – CNET Blogs

The next reviewer, bunnie at bunnie’s blog, literally took the XO apart, and has some fascinating insights into its innovative technology.

bunniesblog

bunnie’s blog: OLPC XO-1

… We like hardware, and the OLPC XO-1 is an interesting piece of hardware. There are plenty of teardowns for the OLPC XO-1 (including one on the OLPC wiki itself), so I won’t repeat the tedium of what screw comes out of where and just cut to what I thought were interesting highlights.

If I were to make one general comment about the OLPC XO-1, it’s that its mechanical design is brilliant. It’s a fairly clean-sheet redesign of traditional notebook PC mechanics around the goal of survivability, serviceability, and robustness (then again, I’ve never taken apart any of the ruggedized notebooks out there). When closed up for “travel”, all the ports are covered, and the cooling system is extremely simple so it should survive in dusty and dirty environments. Significantly, the port coverings aren’t done with rubberized end caps that you can lose or forget to put on–they are done using the wifi antennae, and the basic design causes the user to swivel them back to cover the ports when they are packing up the laptop to go. That’s thoughtful design.

The full review is rather esoteric (and yr (justifiably) humble svt can be as much a geek as anyone, but these Linux guys are a breed apart!), but there are some interesting photographs of the components…

Here’s a photo of the motherboard with the heat spreader on:

And here’s a hi-res photo of it with the heat spreader off (click on the image to access the hi-res version):

Notice how both of the large BGA chips are underfilled to provide better shock and vibration robustness. I actually have never seen an underfill like this before–it seems to be oozing out of the edges–and it also doesn’t seem to be very uniform (some spots seem to have a little underfill missing). Most underfills I’m familiar with to attempt to cover every gap and void underneath a chip (which is actually a very hard process problem); maybe this is some new kind of underfilling technique that expands a little bit upon cure to help cover voids and its robust to a few missing spots. If a reader is familiar with this type of underfill technique, I’d appreciate a link to it.

… and useful observations regarding the suitability of the design for its intended application: education of developing world children aged 6-12.

And the extensive comments to the blog at the end add a great deal more information.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

bunnie’s blog » Blog Archive » OLPC XO-1

There is no doubt that OLPC XO-1 is a technological tour de force. Nicholas Negroponte’s designers and manufacturers made thoughtful and innovative choices that enhanced both the hardiness and the daily practicality of the hardware for its intended use in the developing world.

One example: the brightness of the backlight as seen in bunnie’s photo, in the context of the comparatively lengthy life of the XO’s battery charge that is not yet fully to its design target, is remarkable.

The early report from Peru we published recently certainly was a positive endorsement of this innovative program in the field.

Now, we can hope that the early successes will have two outcomes.

  1. Persuade wait-and-see developing nations to revolutionize their children’s education by acquiring these world-changing devices.
  2. The novel designs and technologies developed for XO is adopted by the industry at large so that all PC users can benefit.

Okay, mainstream business laptop manufacturers, how soon can you make us a useful business PC that will run coast to coast plus terminal waiting time on a single charge? The pieces of that puzzle seem to be in place.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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