mm252: A short word about the process of blogging

January 13, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

blogoftheday8113

The fuelmyblog.com website is home away from home for a growing community of bloggers. You’ll see near the top of our Left-Handed Complement sidebar the means to “fuel,” i.e., cast a (positive) vote for yr (justifiably) humble svt on their site, as well as the icons of some fellow members of the community whom I have found to be interesting reads (click to check them out — if you do, be sure to vote your opinion of them).

As a curmudgeon in good standing, don’t exactly know what to make of this:

dayaward

The screen shot above shows, indeed, that this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has been selected as Blog of the Day, 13-January-2008, at FuelMyBlog.com, and is showing as one of the top blogs in their News/Politics section.

Guess I’ll just say, “thanks, sincerely, for the recognition, FuelMyBlog!”

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm251: Stem cells – Lab harvests from embryos non-destructively

January 12, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Stem cell research is simultaneously a neocon hot button, and one of medical science’s most promising magic bullets.

As a prototypical aging Baby Boomer, yr (justifiably) humble svt has made stem cell research a frequent topic in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©:

Stem Cell Research: Support it now!

mm251: Stem cells – Lab harvests from embryos…
mm230: Stem cells…
mm:221: The dread disease … Old age
mm201: Stemming the tide of ignorance
mm200: Stem cells: Unlike oil… alternative source
mm172: Diabetes: Not so Simple, Simon!
mm171: Maintain your brain!

George III, our presidential protector of evangelical Christian values (and please don’t confuse him with the facts), has stifled medical research based on stem cells, on the grounds that the source of the research material was purported to be aborted fetuses.

Recently, researchers have concentrated on finding less controversial sources for stem cells. The latest breakthrough was reported in Friday’s Washington Post.

washingtonpost

Lab Cites Stem Cell Advance

By Rick Weiss

Washington Post Staff Writer | Friday, January 11, 2008; Page A04

Scientists in Massachusetts said yesterday that they had created several colonies of human embryonic stem cells without harming the embryos from which they were derived, the latest in a series of advances that could speed development of stem-cell-based treatments for a variety of diseases.

In June, scientists in Japan and Wisconsin said they had made cells very similar to embryonic stem cells from adult skin cells, without involving embryos. But that technique so far requires the use of gene-altered viruses that contaminate the cells and limit their biomedical potential.

By contrast, the new work shows for the first time that healthy, normal embryonic stem cells can be cultivated directly from embryos without destroying them.

Of course, the Bush administration is not taking this advance at face value.

But that is not likely, said Story Landis, who heads the National Institutes of Health Stem Cell Task Force, which oversees grants for studies on the medically promising cells.

The embryos Lanza used, which were donated for research, appear not to have been damaged, Landis acknowledged. However, she said, “it is impossible to know definitively” that the embryos were not in some subtle way harmed by the experiment. And “no harm” is the basis of the Bush policy, she said.

The science in question was a technical tour de force:

“It is a technically impressive piece of work,” said Douglas A. Melton of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. “They’ve demonstrated their ability to isolate human embryonic stem cell lines without destruction of the embryos” — something few scientists thought possible just a few years ago.

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

Lab Cites Stem Cell Advance – washingtonpost.com

Lest we lose site of what all of the shouting is about, Wikipedia has a useful research timeline.

The possibilities for using stem cells to provide breakthrough solutions to what have been incurable, mysterious and tragic diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and diabetes are compelling. And the tragedy has been compounded by the typically ignorant, anti-science stance of the Bush administration.

When will evangelicals wake up and learn that science isn’t the opposite of religion, that the two are not mutually incompatible?

Meanwhile, January 20, 2009 (as this is written, 373 days, 6 hours, 46 minutes, 40 seconds from now) cannot get here soon enough!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Note!: the link to Bushtimer.com used above is for clever illustration purposes only and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor. I can link, so I link. It’s technology. It’s cool. It’s an artifact of Sequitur Service©. Deal with it.

Share this post : del.icio.us it! digg it! reddit! technorati! yahoo!


mm250: Stay home, Mike?

January 11, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

The continuing saga of Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, and his feinting and hinting about a presidential campaign hit the front page of NYTimes Friday.

One measurement that this story has legs is its regular appearance since mid-June in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

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
mm057: Bloomberg for President?
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?
mm248: Political Potpourri

Now Mayor Bloomberg’s newspaper of record broadcasts a discouraging word. Perhaps the voting public, especially those voters who are his constituents in New York, are becoming a bit testy over his aforementioned feinting and hinting.

The peg for today’s story was Bloomberg’s trip to Oklahoma City this week, where bunches of former (I almost said politician, but my experience is that there’s no such thing as a former politician. Politician, or deceased politician are the two varieties) elected officials gathered to assess the terrain: Is the U.S. ready for a serious third political party, and is Michael Bloomberg the man to become its presidential candidate?

The Times indicates that people might have begun to classify Bloomberg with Fred Thompson, who took all summer to decide to run (or merely took a nap all summer?). We can see how Thompson is faring.

Couldn’t resist running the photograph that accompanied the on-line version of the story.

bloomberg8111

The caption is in MUDGE’s favorite type, 2-point Myopia, so we’ll tell you the woman in white at his right is Diana Taylor, his companion, and Silda Wall Spitzer, wife of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is at his left.

nytimes

Calls Grow for Bloomberg to Make Up His Mind

By DIANE CARDWELL and RAY RIVERA

Published: January 11, 2008

Nearly every day a tiny new development trickles out from the stealth presidential campaign of Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York.

He has talked with Chuck Hagel and Sam Nunn, potential running mates. He has delivered a tart critique of the presidential field. He is conducting intricate polling to test his appeal in all 50 states.

Mr. Bloomberg’s dalliance with the idea of running for president has stretched on and on, with his enthusiastic approval despite the public denials. But even before actually entering the contest, Mr. Bloomberg may have already risked losing something: people’s patience.

So here’s why this story continues to intrigue:

To be sure, there is little indication that ordinary voters around the country have given much thought to a Bloomberg candidacy, especially given the dramatic primary races in the two major parties. But his enormous wealth and willingness to spend it make him someone who cannot be ignored within the political world.

But, all may not be well at home, while Mayor Mike tours the world, and Oklahoma.

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

Calls Grow for Bloomberg to Make Up His Mind – New York Times

Interesting also the news that Unity08, a high profile interest group working nationwide toward a viable third party, written about here several times until we became concerned about their motives, is cutting back its activities in that direction.

One dirty tricks theory of U.S. politics says that third party candidates cause so much mischief to Democratic candidates (think Ralph Nader) that Karl Rove and his ilk must be the éminence grise behind them.

In that light, maybe Mike should stay home?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Share this post : del.icio.us it! digg it! reddit! technorati! yahoo!


mm249: OLPC – News, more news, and a review

January 10, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

One Laptop Per Child is real, and is all over the trade press. As is our wont at this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©, here’s a review of previous posts on the topic:

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: Li’l green laptops a hit in Peru
mm247: OLPC — reviews are coming in

News of Intel’s sudden departure from the OLPC board of directors came to our attention last week. This story, from eSchool News was forwarded by MUDGElet No. 2, the education professional in the family.

eschoolnews

Intel quits One Laptop Per Child program

Chip maker, OLPC founder trade accusations about who is to blame

From eSchool News staff and wire service reports

OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte claims Intel undermined the group’s sales efforts even after joining its board.

It was like one of those ill-fated relationships you suspect won’t last, and on Jan. 3, it finally ended: Citing disagreements with the organization, Intel Corp. said it has abandoned the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative, dealing a blow to the ambitious project that seeks to bring millions of low-cost laptops to children in developing countries.
The fallout ends a long-simmering spat that began even before the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker joined OLPC’s board in July, agreeing to contribute money and technical expertise. It also came only a few days before the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where a prototype of an OLPC-designed laptop using an Intel chip was slated to debut.

Seems like OLPC had some legitimate beefs with Intel.

A day after learning that Intel was abandoning his project over “philosophical” differences, Negroponte hit back, claiming on Jan. 4 that Intel had undermined his group’s effort to sell low-cost computers for schoolchildren in the developing world even after the chip company got a seat on the nonprofit’s board. He said Intel’s sales representatives had been disparaging OLPC and its XO machine as they pushed Intel’s sub-$300 Classmate PCs.

Negroponte said Intel even tried to undo a deal that OLPC already had sealed in Peru by citing flaws in the XO and telling government ministers “we ought to know, because we are on the board.” Such hostile comments were prohibited, Negroponte claimed, under the July peace treaty that brought Intel into the OLPC camp.

“I want to say we tried, but it was never a partnership,” Negroponte said. “There’s not one single thing in their contract or agreement that they lived up to.”

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

Top News – Intel quits One Laptop Per Child program

News now comes from ZDNet blogger Dan Farber at the Consumer Electronics Show, where Nicholas Negroponte was a principal speaker.

zdnetfarberdignan

OLPC’s Negroponte seeks truce with Intel and deal with Microsoft

Posted by Dan Farber @ 3:43 pm

During a presentation at the Consumer Electronic Show this afternoon, One Laptop Per Child’s Nicholas Negroponte didn’t address the recent rift between Intel and his organization.

negroponte.jpg
Nicholas Negroponte and his baby, the OLPC

Intel recently unhooked itself from the OLPC board of directors, and Negroponte was not shy about blasting the chipmaker last week:

Despite OLPC’s best efforts to work things out with Intel and several warnings that their behavior was untenable, it is clear that Intel’s heart has never been in working collaboratively as a part of OLPC. This is well illustrated by the way in which our separation was announced single-handedly by Intel; Intel issued a statement to the press behind our backs while simultaneously asking us to work on a joint statement with them. Actions do speak louder than words in this case. As we said in the past, we view the children as a mission; Intel views them as a market.

News.com’s Michael Kanellos has some good fodder he picked up during Negroponte’s CES presentation:

What keeps this story line from being merely a pissing match among grown-ups who should know better are the stakes involved.

There’s a reason One Laptop Per Child has been so newsworthy: it’s a beacon of innovation for an industry that, Apple aside, seems to have commoditized itself into boredom.

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

» OLPC’s Negroponte seeks truce with Intel and deal with Microsoft | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

Finally, from the same source, ZDNet’s Larry Dignan, Dan Farber’s blogging partner there, comes a recent review of the XO-1 itself. We’ve posted a couple of these recently, and they are intriguing looks at a fascinating and world-changing tool.

Lessons learned: Two weeks with the XO laptop

Posted by Larry Dignan @ 2:03 am

Repeat after me. The XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child project is designed for kids. Why bore yourself with that mantra? If you don’t you may find yourself griping about something that wasn’t designed for you in the first place.

That’s one of the big takeaways from my two weeks with the XO (see unboxing gallery). Let’s face it–I bought the XO for me (err my daughter). Sure, she’d play with it, but dear old dad’s gadget lust–along with doing a good deed–drove the purchase.

So what did I learn?

1. It’s my daughter’s laptop. I’ve barely seen the thing since she’s been doing non-productive things like looking at herself in the Webcam and showing her one-year old sister the toy. Checking email? Silly grown up things. The XO is about the built in drawing program, the Web cam and icons my 5 year old guinea pig grasped instantly.

2. The XO is rugged. It has been dropped, tossed into a toy box and has had its shares of fluids on it–syrup, snot etcetera. I cringe, but the kids don’t.

3. It’s intuitive. Sure the XO is a laptop, but it’s really all about the software. Is it easy to navigate? How’s the interface? Can anyone pick it up? The Fedora based operating system rarely raised any questions for my daughter. She found the write program with little effort. And aside from the music program, which frankly was over her head, she found her way around easily.

So his five-year-old daughter grabbed it and hasn’t let go. That’s the entire story in a nutshell – a teaching tool that children play with. Education, in such short supply in much of the world, can become absorbed like all too scarce vitamins. Dignan identifies some issues with XO-1, but they don’t seem to be deal breakers.

Other odds and ends:

  • Some folks have asked me to try out the Asus EeePC, which could be a superior device–I don’t know. Meanwhile, Christopher Dawson has a series on Intel’s Classmate, a strong rival. However, these comparisons miss the point. The (emerging) market is big enough for multiple players and it’s not clear that students need an alpha male device (my chip is faster than yours and can do office productivity!). The kids just need something that works so let’s not impose that cliche device wars storyline to the OLPC.

We’ve talked a bit about the ASUS Eee PC recently. More of a conventional product, as is the Intel Classmate, but compellingly low-priced and thus a potential competitor to the XO-1.

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

» Lessons learned: Two weeks with the XO laptop | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

OLPC XO-1, ASUS Eee PC, Intel Classmate: it’s all good. If Nicholas Negroponte has revitalized the laptop computer business, how beautiful is that?

Let’s get them all out to those educationally bereft parts of the world that need them so desperately, soonest!

As a veteran teacher once exclaimed (unfortunately, after 30 years or so the context is a mystery to me), “May the best educational experience win!”

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Share this post : del.icio.us it! digg it! reddit! technorati! yahoo!


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:

shortattention_thumb2 ©

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.”

shortattention_thumb2 ©

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!

shortattention_thumb2 ©

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

Share this post : del.icio.us it! digg it! reddit! technorati! yahoo!


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

Share this post : del.icio.us it! digg it! reddit! technorati! yahoo!


mm246: “Outright election fraud:” surely I jest – NOT!

January 7, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

We completed our last post this way:

And our increasing concerns about the dirtiest dirty tricks of all in American politics, outright election fraud, will become a great deal more compelling as Obama’s sizable contingent of young and minority voters find roadblocks to casting their ballots.

Not just MUDGE’s imagination, apparently. The barriers to enfranchisement will need to be surmounted another day.

But this morning, received confirmation that our concerns about vote count fraud are not tinfoil hat paranoia.

The felonious mischief possible with today’s electronic voting technology has been a festering ulcerous boil on U.S. democracy since the debacle of Florida’s presidential vote counting in 2000.

Do we need to give up electronic voting altogether? The states of California and Colorado seem to be about to do that.

Do we need to wring our hands in dismay? Not so fast.

Election expert William Poundstone, writing in today’s NYTimes, presents two scholars’ proposals for a uniquely simple, elegant, and statistically meaningful method to test the accuracy of vote counting, electronic or not.

nytimes

A Paper Trail for Voting Machines

By William Poundstone | Published: January 7, 2008
Los Angeles
PARANOIA over electronic voting is the new American consensus. The Democrats who will vote in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday aren’t worried that Hillary Clinton will steal the election from Barack Obama or John Edwards, but a good chunk of them would probably confess to dark fears about a Republican plot in November, even if Karl Rove won’t be involved.

Last month, Colorado’s secretary of state, Mike Coffman, a Republican, decertified the state’s electronic voting machines, after the alarming finding that one model could be disabled with a magnet and others were scandalously inaccurate. He left voters to draw their own conclusions about what this meant for the state’s most recent elections. The California secretary of state, Debra Bowen, a Democrat, took office last year after running on a don’t-trust-electronic-voting platform, and in August she pulled the plug on the state’s voting machines.

But what other options are there? Paper ballots aren’t perfect. Ballot boxes can be stuffed or lost. Indeed, because of Florida’s paper-ballot mess in 2000, electronic voting is probably here to stay,

Fortunately, there is an elegant solution that lets us use modern technology while assuaging the growing fears about voter fraud. Ronald L. Rivest, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist, and Warren D. Smith, a mathematician and voting reform advocate, have proposed an ingenious method that would combine paper ballots and a Web site to achieve greater ballot security than is possible with paper or software alone.

Rivest and Smith’s method is disconcertingly simple: give as a receipt to each voter a newly chosen random copy of a cast ballot. Then, post the serial numbers and votes of each ballot cast on a special website.

This way, a concerned citizen could confirm on line that the vote for which he has a receipt (not his own that’s apparently a recipe for another kind of fraud) but a randomly printed one, has been correctly recorded.

Take a look at the details.

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

A Paper Trail for Voting Machines – New York Times

Seems like a lot of (complicated, but admittedly low tech) bother, but I’m impressed that this proposal actually only requires a few busy-bodies to assure accuracy.

For instance, to have 95 percent assurance of detecting a fraud involving 6 percent of ballots, only 50 voters would have to check, and this is true no matter how large the electorate. If the margin of victory is less than 6 percent, then more people would surely check.

Ain’t statistics grand?

Let’s do this, people, so that our votes aren’t stolen from us yet again.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Share this post : del.icio.us it! digg it! reddit! technorati! yahoo!


mm245: Obama – the pundits are still marveling

January 6, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

A news story that just won’t go away: Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee winning the Iowa caucuses; our post, including a distressingly poor quality but nevertheless inspiring video, is here.

The always refreshingly incisive Steve Chapman sheds some light:

Authenticity is the winner in Iowa test

Steve Chapman | January 6, 2008 | Chicago Tribune

Back in the 1990s, Bill Clinton talked a lot about building “a bridge to the 21st Century.” Right now, his wife looks like an unappealing detour back to the 20th.

Having him stand behind her as she addressed supporters after her third-place finish in Iowa didn’t help. She might as well have invited Fleetwood Mac to provide the music. Nostalgia isn’t everything.

The Iowa caucuses, it should be noted, are rarely as decisive as they may appear. Since 1976, only one candidate has won Iowa on the way to becoming president—George W. Bush in 2000. But if you can’t win the election in Iowa, you can certainly put yourself in a solid position to lose it, which is what Clinton and John Edwards accomplished Thursday evening.

Steve Chapman The evening was full of surprises. I would not have guessed that Barack Obama would reprise a German slogan chanted upon the fall of the Berlin Wall: “We are one people.” But it was appropriate, since the polarization of the last 15 years has featured everything short of an Iron Curtain between the red states and the blue.

Regarding Huckabee, Chapman warns that a win for an evangelical darling” in Iowa may not translate in the rest of the U.S.:

His victory was one for “none of the above.” Once voters get to know the newcomer better, he may look worse than the other options.

And as for Romney and Clinton, he believes that their smooth politician’s pandering became transparent to Iowa’s caucusers.

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

Authenticity is the winner in Iowa test — chicagotribune.com

Faithful reader should know by now what side of the political spectrum yr (justifiably) humble svt usually finds himself, not for nothing is this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© is called Left-Handed Complement.

And readers of Steve Chapman, in the Tribune as well as Reason have every reason (as it were) to believe they know on which side of the aisle he feels most comfortable.

Yet, both of us are (perhaps unexpectedly, or in spite of our selves) impressed by Obama’s victory this past Thursday night.

The key question remains regarding every candidate: can s(he) govern?

This jury is still out. But, this endless presidential election campaign has certainly become a great deal more compelling.

And our increasing concerns about the dirtiest dirty tricks of all in American politics, outright election fraud, will become a great deal more compelling as Obama’s sizable contingent of young and minority voters find roadblocks to casting their ballots.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Share this post : del.icio.us it! digg it! reddit! technorati! yahoo!


mm244: Solar power – finally ready for prime time?

January 5, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Left-Handed Complement has covered alternative energy several times (here, here, here and here for example).

What we haven’t discussed is solar power; it has always seemed attractive, but impractical. Two articles found today, via Digg.com (seems to be somewhat more mainstream these days) and always dependable reddit.com, both from sites new to this reader, has us reconsidering the viability of solar power.

environmentalgraffiti

solarpower

Welcome to the Solar Century

Until a few years ago the suggestion that solar power might provide the answer to the intertwined problems of long term energy security and climate change would have been dismissed as a pipedream. The high cost of solar cells, their inefficiency in converting the sun’s rays into electricity and the lack of state investment or assistance for renewable energy start-ups meant there was little hope.

But now, thanks to some determined innovators, the rising cost of fossil fuels and the widespread realization about the damage they cause and some clever market regulation, a solar transition is rapidly become a reality.

It’s impossible now to underestimate the need for alternatives to fossil fuels for central power generation.

Germany is one nation that has created laws mandating that a certain amount of power be generated via solar, and as a result, prices are finally coming down, as the profit motive supports research.

Innovations in technology have taken solar power out of the toy stage (see below) and into becoming a more realistic alternative.

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

Welcome to the Solar Century : Environmental Graffiti

But there remain issues…

There are also still a plethora of technical issues to overcome. Firstly, new research has shown that the small windmills and solar panels that are fitted to our rooftops often create more greenhouse emissions during manufacture than their use curtails. Secondly, how do we store the energy solar power creates for a rainy day? Hydrogen is notoriously dangerous to transport and there are huge inefficiencies when you start converting and moving energy about.

Which brings us to the second article of the day, from another until now unknown to us source.

metaefficient

Storing Solar Power In Molten Salt

January 4th, 2008 · 4 Comments

Solar power is a truly efficient source of energy, but it tends to fluctuate, and, as you might know, it turns off at night. One clever way to alleviate this intermittence is to store solar energy in the form of heat using molten salt. An aerospace company, Hamilton Sundstra, has created a venture called SolarReserve, and it plans to have its first molten salt solar power plant online by 2010.

“The molten salt holds its heat very efficiently and for long periods of time,” Dan Coulom a spokesman at Hamilton Sundstrand. Coulum said the company plans to build as many as 10 plants over the next 10 to 15 years, pulling in revenues of $1 billion over that time period.

The story provides a handy diagram that illustrates the technology.

moltensaltforsolarpower

Thus we have both ends of the puzzle: more efficient (40% solar conversion instead of today’s common 5%) and as a result less expensive generation; and a reasonably efficient method of storing solar energy while the sun isn’t shining, mainly at night.

Very promising.

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

Storing Solar Power In Molten Salt : MetaEfficient

MUDGE remembers visiting as a young child the now restored to sublimity Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, that artifact of the Columbian Exhibition of 1892-3 and wellspring of dreams for generations of Midwestern children (and worthy of its own post or two).

We marveled over the small, tucked away solar power demonstration (massively overshadowed by the incredible theme-park like coal mine — what a fabulous museum, and how ahead of its time!).

It was a light-bulb like globe containing a four-bladed weather vane whose fins were coated with a photovoltaic material. Placed near a light source (a real light bulb), the vane spun and spun.

Seemed like science fiction, but it turns out that Crookes radiometers have been around for over 130 years. And, they’re still available today.

radiometer

Sort of amazing that the kid’s toy of 50 years ago has grown into the capability to provide at a reasonable monetary and favorable environmental cost the centralized power our planet desperately requires.

Wind, water, solar, even (wash MUDGE’s mouth out with soap!) nuclear power — the world needs all of those alternatives to coal and petroleum, and now!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Note!: the link to sundancesolar.com used above is for the convenience of faithful reader and represents no commercial relationship whatsoever. Left-Handed Complement should be so fortunate as to ever collect remuneration of any kind for this endeavor. I can link, so I link. It’s technology. It’s cool. It’s an artifact of Sequitur Service©. Deal with it.

Share this post : del.icio.us it! digg it! reddit! technorati! yahoo!


mm243: Iowa! Obama! Huckabee! What gives?

January 4, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

So we spent the past few days denigrating the Iowa caucuses (here and here). Could this be why? Mainstream media trying to explain away in advance how conventional wisdom got turned on its ear last night?

nytimes

The Two Earthquakes

By DAVID BROOKS | Published: January 4, 2008
Ottumwa, Iowa

I’ve been through election nights that brought a political earthquake to the country. I’ve never been through an election night that brought two.

Barack Obama has won the Iowa caucuses. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel moved by this. An African-American man wins a closely fought campaign in a pivotal state. He beats two strong opponents, including the mighty Clinton machine. He does it in a system that favors rural voters. He does it by getting young voters to come out to the caucuses.…

On the Republican side, my message is: Be not afraid. Some people are going to tell you that Mike Huckabee’s victory last night in Iowa represents a triumph for the creationist crusaders. Wrong.

Huckabee won because he tapped into realities that other Republicans have been slow to recognize. First, evangelicals have changed. Huckabee is the first ironic evangelical on the national stage. He’s funny, campy (see his Chuck Norris fixation) and he’s not at war with modern culture.

yr (justifiably) humble svt dares not pretend to be very much a political analyst, merely a more or less attentive observer.

Boy am I fascinated!

Both of last night’s winners have been denigrated by many as unelectable; this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© characterized Obama that way many months ago. And Arkansas Huck is a joke, right?

Not so fast, Conventional Wisdom!

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

The Two Earthquakes – New York Times

Anybody who spends one microsecond thinking about the ramifications of the Iowa caucuses quickly turns her attention to New Hampshire, in just a few short days, as have the candidates.

Folks, we have ourselves some interesting times ahead; and perhaps the prospect that the result of this messy and expensive process we call presidential elections might lead to some genuine changes.

And, not to totally abandon the phantom Bloomberg Bandwagon, should the result of these primaries, including what Salon called “Tsunami Tuesday,” the February 5 colossal primary day, be as polarizing as Obama and Huckabee (or, let’s face it, any Republican), then there would be ample space in the middle ground for an accomplished technocrat running on a third party ticket.

Boy am I fascinated.

Finally, if you haven’t seen this, spend a few minutes with an eloquent man.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

Share this post :