Saturday, February 26, 2005

Interesting video experiment

The creators of BattleStar Galactica have chosen to make an entire episode (including 4 deleted scenes) available on the Web for free and without commercials. Click here to see it:

http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/33_full_episode/

This reminds me of BMW films, although the motivation is a little more direct. And it is not the first time it has been done. It is still interesting.

Here are some other videos that I've linked to in the past:

Friday, February 25, 2005

Another new idea

[See Previous]

This is a pretty interesting idea, and massive: Solar Tower of Power Finds Home

From the article:This tower will generate 200,000 megawatts. I know that the nuclear power plant in Raleigh generates 800,000 megawatts and that handles most of the city, so this is a significant amount of power.

It is funny that it is in Australia -- It fits right in with the Australia Project.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Something else to worry about

[See Previous]

US could see its advantage in technology slip away

From the aricle:

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Web idea - domain squatting

[See previous]

100,000 Domains Sold for $164 Million

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Three new ideas

In a single 24-hour period I came across three "new ideas." They are interesting to me for three reasons:
  1. All three ideas are "outside the box."
  2. All three ideas have been published in the hope that a groundswell of support might develop around the ideas.
  3. They all seem like original ideas that approach problems from a different angle and may be better than the current "dominant" ideas that are out there (although none of them are perfect).
Let's look at them and you will see what I mean.

The Hubble idea

The first new idea involves the Hubble space telescope. If you've been following the Hubble saga, then you know that the existing Hubble needs a repair mission soon or it will fail. The two ideas out there are: 1) send a manned shuttle repair mission, or 2) send a repair robot. Option 1 is a problem because there is no way to rescue the astronauts if something goes wrong with the shuttle. Option 2 is a problem because it will cost a gazillion dollars.

The new idea is simple -- build and launch a brand new version of the existing Hubble telescope using spare parts and plans that already exist. The cost would probably be less than $1B, and you get a better mirror and better computers than the existing Hubble has. Click here for details. The existing Hubble becomes disposable, like most other products today.

It is cheaper and safer than repair, plus we get a better telescope to boot. What a great idea.

The social security idea

The second new idea is trying to come up with a better way to solve social security. It is being floated by Paul O'Neill, former treasury secretary in the Bush administration. If you have been following the social security saga, you know that it is a messy system that will, at some point, run out of money. The way the system was originally designed cannot handle the baby boomers because there are so many of them.

O'Neill's idea is simple and elegant. Set up an account for every new child in America. Put $2,000 in each account every year. Invest that money in index funds in the stock market. Let the returns compound. Worst case, after 65 years each kid will have more than $1 million, which will then fund the kid's retirement. Total cost for this solution is about $150 billion per year. click here for details.

It is a great idea because of its simplicity. Plus it gives each child a private account, which seems to be the current goal of most reformers. It has a problem -- we have to figure something out in the middle of the 65-year span. His best line in the article is this one:If you are interested in other outside-the-box ideas to fix SS, see also Robotic Freedom

The 10 commandments idea

The third new idea is trying to find some kind of compromise around the 10 commandments. The idea is floated by Gregg Easterbrook in the Wall Street Journal. If you have been following the 10 commandments saga, then you know that: 1) some Americans want the 10 commandments displayed everywhere, while 2) some Americans want the 10 commandments erased from public display.

Easterbrook's idea is interesting because it comes out of the blue. What Easterbrook noticed is that, in the New Testament, Jesus refers to a stripped down version of the commandments -- the 6 commandments:
  1. Don't murder
  2. Don't commit adultery
  3. Don't steal
  4. Do not bear false witness
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. Love your neighbor as yourself
His point is that these are hard for anyone to argue with. Who is going to argue, for example, with "Don't murder?" Click here for details.

The most interesting of these is #6 - "Love your neighbor as yourself." It would be fun to see members of Congress argue over the meaning of that!

Here's another take on the 10 commandments -- the nine "core principles" from the Australia Project. They are:
  1. Everyone is equal
  2. Everything is reused
  3. Nothing is anonymous
  4. Nothing is owned
  5. Tell the truth
  6. Do no harm
  7. Obey the rules
  8. Live your life
  9. Better and better
Click here for details (toward the bottom of the page).

Have you seen any outside-the-box ideas recently? If so, please mail them to me or put them in the comments:



Thanks!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Web idea - Web Design on a Shoestring

[See previous]

Web Design on a Shoestring - book review

Web idea - blogosphere

[See previous]

The darlings of the blogosphere

The state of the art in video today


There is an interesting post on SadTech this morning discussing the state of the art in video today, and where it is headed in the future. Click here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Free utilities

This is an extremely nice list of 16 free utilities for your computer, including a free spyware detector, a free virus scanner, a free notepad replacement, a free software suite, a free file manager, etc.

The 16 Best-ever Freeware Utilities

Monday, February 14, 2005

Finding your soulmate


One thing I was able to do this week was watch a movie on late night TV. The movie was "The Hunt for Red October", which was interesting, but more interesting were the ads.

The thing that caught my attention was the barrage of ads for eHarmony.com. There was also a bunch of ads for HappyMarriage.com on another channel. The two services appear to be absolutely identical, but run by different companies.

Both of these sites claim to help you find a partner for marriage using a "personality profile" that allows a computer program to home in on a highly compatible mate. They both claim that they will help you find the "the right person" and "the love of your life." HappyMarriage.com claims that, "Our matches are informed by a deep understanding of how and why relationships succeed."

eHarmony.com claims even more:eHarmony.com is also enamored with the word soulmate.

Now if you think about this, you will realize that there are (at least) three potential problems with these sevices, one involving space, one involving branding and the other involving time. Here they are:
  1. What if "the right person" for you and "the love of your life" actually lives in India and has signed up on a site such as Shaadi.com? Obviously you are never going to find your soulmate.

  2. What if "the love of your life" happens to have signed up on eHarmony.com while you are on HappyMarriage.com? Obviously you are never going to find your soulmate.

  3. Most insidious, however, is the following scenario. Let's say you sign up on eHarmony.com. It finds a suitable match for you, introduces you, you hit it off with your new partner and get married. But then, six months later, the computer happens to see that a new person has signed up who is the ABSOLUTELY PERFECT MATCH FOR YOU. This is the best match the computer has ever seen -- a match made in heaven! This is your SOULMATE!
Now what? Is the computer going to destroy your marriage so that you can hook up with the love of your life -- your true soulmate? Or is the computer going to let you live the rest of your life in a substandard marriage? What a mess! What would Isaac Asimov and I, Robot do with this?

It's when you think about it in these terms that you realize that everyone who is dating or married is in a substandard relationship. There is no way that you did a search that looked: a) across the entire planet, and b) across a large swath of time at every single potential partner, and that you then c) had the opportunity to meet the ABSOLUTELY PERFECT MATCH FOR YOU because you both happened to be disentangled and in the same hemisphere at the same time. It is impossible. Someone would have to create a single, unified, gigantic, global eHarmony.com that includes a detailed profile on every person on the planet (single or married). And then that site would have to have the authority to destroy existing relationships in order for people to actually connect with their "true soulmates".

Since that is never going to happen, the whole notion of a soulmate is nonsense. It also seems like eHarmony.com and HappyMarriage.com need to put huge disclaimers on their ads...

This upifting Valentines day message is brought to you by "The Hunt for Red October", eHarmony.com and HappyMarriage.com!


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Comments are now enabled

After 7,000 requests, comments are now enabled. Feel free to blast away...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Web idea - High Paying Keywords

[See previous]

Blog Content Based Solely on High Paying Keywords

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Web idea - IPodLounge

[See previous]

IPodlounge Drunk With Success

Lunar photos


Over at panoramas.dk they have stitched together photos taken on the moon to create some really spectacular 360-degree panoramas. Click here to take a look. They also have a gorgeous hi-res shot of the lunar lander:



Click on the image for the hi-res version

How in the world did we actually pull this off in 1969???

See also: Going back to the moon

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

New project!


I have been working on a new project called SadTech. The idea is to try to project ourselves forward to 2050 and then look back at 2005. What will people in 2050 think about us?

When we look back at the 1950s, we think of the people living in the 1950s as primitive. They did not have PCs or internet access or answering machines or cell phones or DVDs or... HOW DID THEY SURVIVE??? People in 2050 will look back at us in exactly the same way. We think we are hip and high-tech, but they will think that we are pretty sad.

You can start by reading the introduction to SadTech, or these icons point to some of the specific articles. Click on one:

  

  

Monday, February 07, 2005

Parsing a photo

Does anyone know why this happens? Look at this photo, which was on the front page of the local paper recently:



What do you see? Here is what my brain saw:Only after about 5 seconds did my brain get its act together and figure out that the guy with the machine gun is not a doll, but instead a person standing on the roof of the building in the background. Yikes!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Web idea - blogs for sale

[See previous]

Blogs for sale

Makes me smile

I don't know why, but the two videos on this page (especially the second one with the reporter) just make me smile every time I watch them:

Player Who Made Miracle Shot Does It Again

How could he actually make that shot a second time, while the camera is rolling??? It's a good way to brighten your day!

Something to ponder again

Your Own TV network :

Roll Your Own Television Network Using Bittorrent

A "new sort of television network, one which could harness the power of P2P distribution to create a global television network." Producers of video entertainment and news would provide a single copy of a program into the network of P2P clients, and the p2p network peers distribute the content themselves.

And radio station...

How to Podcast

How to get Podcasts on your iPod and for the DIY Radio enthusiast, how to make your own Podcasts using mostly free tools. What's a Podcast? To put it simply, a Podcast is an audio file, a MP3, most likely, in talk show format, along with a way to subscribe to the show and have it automatically delivered to your iPod or other music device.

And email server...

Own your own email server

Recently, I moved my personal mail from a hosted Windows 2003 application to my own virtual Linux server. I now have nearly unlimited storage, full control over my e-mail and it's less than $10/month.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The law of unintended consequences


The law of unintended consequences appears to be alive and well in Germany, as detailed in this article:

'If you don't take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits'

The title seems farfetched, but here is how it happened. In Germany there is a system that helps unemployed people. A lot of people are enrolled in the program because in Germany the unemployment rate is fairly high -- 4.5 million people (and rising) out of a total population of only 82 million. According to the article: "Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job."

As it turns out, bothels were legalized in Germany about two years ago, so brothels are now legitimate businesses. As legitimate businesses, they can turn to the unemployment agency for employees. The combination means that an unemployed woman can basically be forced to become a prostitute in Germany. Presumably if gay brothels were to become popular, the same fate awaits unemployed men.

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