Monday, February 26, 2007

Demographics, the Elephant at the Far End of the Western World's Room

I'd recommend reading A Global Intelligence Briefing for CEOs. The mosting interesting part is that the birth rates in Europe and Japan are so low the countries risk imploding in the next few generations.
From the article:

The birth rate in Russia is so low that by 2050 their population will be smaller than that of Yemen. Russia has one-sixth of the earth’s land surface and much of its oil. You can’t control that much area with such a small population.

The native European population will be overtaken by the guest workers whose birthrate is so much higher.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Air Powered Cars

Interesting article on air powered cars. The concept has been around for quite a few years, but no real products yet.

Monday, February 19, 2007

NetBeans 5.5 and Java 6


To maintain my web site, I use a series of java programs to automatically prep pictures and create html. I downloaded NetBeans 5.5 with Java 6 to add some long needed features to the programs. NetBeans seems much better than the last time I took it for a spin. It's fairly fast with many new features. It's worth the download.

Please welcome...Rachel Ann Fincher

Pam and I just had our second daughter, Rachel Ann.


Monday, February 12, 2007

PodCast with David Platt

I highly recommend this podcast with author David Platt on his book,
. The interview is an easy listen. David doesn't give hardcore technical guidelines, but makes a compelling case that the user experience is critical to successful software.

A Quiet User is Not Necessarily a Happy User

Note to fellow software developers:
Just because the users of your software are not complaining to you, doesn't mean they are happy. You need to periodically communicate with your customers to see how they are doing with your software. Discover what features they need and learn what confuses them about your software. A quiet user is not necessarily a happy user.

Wave of the Future

D-Wave is announcing a demonstration of their 16-qubit quantum computer tomorrow. If true, this will be the technology story of the decade. While the mainstream media and blogsphere have been fixated on Vista, D-Wave could be the paradigm shift of computing.
While finding the primes in a 256-bit number might take our fastest computers millennium, quantum computers can run through all the possibilities in a clock cycle. Digital encryption as we know it now would be dead - if D-Wave's announcement is true. Whole new vistas of science will open as complex protein folding algorithms which previously took months to calculate are discovered in seconds. Crash simulations at auto companies can be performed over hundreds of body designs instead of just a few promising ones. It will be a brave new world of computing - if true.

Another story at Techworld .

Friday, February 09, 2007

Why Can't Microsoft Hire Adults to do Programming?

Recently, I noticed my Windows XP machine running out of memory. Casual inspection in the Task Manager revealed the "svchost" process consuming 360 megabytes of memory! TaskManager
The svchost process just manages other processes. One of those processes is "Automatic Updates", the process that periodically polls Microsoft to see if bug fixes and security updates are ready.
According to Microsoft, the "Automatic Update" service has a memory leak.
At my coworker's Scott's suggestion, I went into Services and turned off "Automatic Updates". Now svchost does not suck the marrow from my machine.
But why can't Microsoft write decent code? Detecting memory leaks during testing is hardly rocket science. It's even rumored that there are utilities that can actually detect a memory leak and where the memory was allocated. So how can the coders of this utility get it pushed out to millions of users without a cursory check for bugs? Don't they have a QA department? Why doesn't Microsoft code with this new thingy called ".Net" where memory is automatically managed?
The only reason I can think of is that they are outsourcing code development and QA. Outsourcing to some Junior Highs in Redmond. Why can't they hire adults?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tivo Unboxed and Joost 0.74

A very exciting post from Tivo came today. Tivo and Amazon are combining forces to delivery "unbox" video straight from the net to a Tivo. The most interesting feature is a record of the purchase is stored on Amazon servers. You can purchase a movie today and re-download in a few years.
Also in the video news Joost has announced version 0.74. Joost is an amazing new peer-to-peer network to share licensed content from tv shows and other video. Joost networks collect bit-torrent type packets and inject commercials targeted to specific users, say all the women aged 25-50 in zip code 90210. Since the ads are targeted, advertizers will pay more for them, and in theory, fewer ads would be shown.
Soon we may be able to watch any TV show any time we want with fewer commercials.
I wouldn't bet against Joost - the founders of Joost gave us Kaaza and this little thing called Skype.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cropper - A Free Utility for Capturing Screenshots

I just downloaded and tested Brian Scott's Cropper at Jeffery Palermo's recommendation. It's a wonderful tool for cropping a bit of your screen to include in documents.