May 27, 2004

alien contact

a nice little story of aliens exploring earth, then deciding not to make contact.

May 26, 2004

Catholic church weighs into politics

Catholic church, also covered by The Gaurdian is telling people to remember it's teachings when they vote, as if true believers wouldn't anyway. While softer than the Vatican line it still says: This combines with pushing for a reference to europes [bloody, repressive, and violent] christian history in the new EU constitution to show that Catholosism appears to becoming more politically active again. While I don't expect a renewal of the Spanish Inquisition, as Monty Python said, "nobody expects the Inquisition".

May 25, 2004

Abu Ghraib: US security fiasco

The Register has a good article on the Abu Ghraib fiasco and the reasons for it.

May 24, 2004

Random breath tests rejected ... for now

The EU wants to impose random breath tests on motorists, what this has to do with a free trade area I don't know, creating the new crime of "driving whilst in a car". Perhaps this is to counter racial insensitivities of the home grown "driving whilst black" laws. Of course the (unelected) Commision has already said that it is going to force this law on us not matter what our (elected) Parliment says, adding it too the 50% of all our laws that are not passed by Parliment.

Greek budget mess earns EU rebuke

The BBC is running a story on the Greek buget exceeding the 3% deficit threashold set by the Growth and Stability Pact (better named the Stagnation and Stupidity Pact). Currently haft of the eurozone has broken the treaty, including all of the big economies, Germany, France, and Italy.

Originally forced by Germany (which is also in breach) to stop the smaller countries from running up huge debts based on the strength of the Deutsmark it is now showing what a bad idea the euro was in the first place. The ECB is stubbonly refusing to reduce interest rates enough. This is needed to spur on growth as was done by the Bank of England and US Federal Reserve as soon as the resesion hit in 2001. The goverments of the Euro having no monitary tools to get them growing again have to use either Keynesian (public works to pump money into the system) or Supply Side (tax cuts to give consumers more money to spend) tools instead. Both of these mean that the goverments will run up deficits, which should be then paid off as their economies pick up. to do anythign else would lead to economic decline and them getting voted out in no short order. Therefore they break the pact, therefore they face large fines. Indeed they would probably be having to pay these fines had it not been France that first said that it was going to ignore the pact and try to get it's economy growing again, and this being the EU whatever France says becomes the new rules.

May 21, 2004

stunning photoshop strangness

I just found these strange photoshop compositions very surreal and well done.

Google Software Principles

Google Corporate Information: Software Principles This provides a link to Googles ethics on software.

Gnome 2.6: the spactial browser

Re: Gnome 2.6: What were you thinking? is a mailing list post about the new Gnome 2.6 file manager switching to a spatial window system (like Mac OS classic) from a browser window system (like Windows 98 onwards). He states:

When I want to *manage* files, spatial nautilus rules. It's so much nicer to handle moving things around, renaming, making dirs, *opening files*, etc. I emphasize "opening files" because that activity was simply too slow to use the nautilus browser for, whereas it's actually possible to use spatial nautilus for that.

When I want to *browse* around for files, then (unsurprisingly) the browser works better.

I think that this shows the difference between real ease of use and simply initial does it fit what I'm used to habit (by being like Windows). Windows is not the be all and end all of usablity by any stretch of the imagination and it's browser as file manager was not even included to aid usability, it was included so that they could claim wrongly that the browser was an intergral part of the OS and could not be removed. Personally I use column view in Mac OS X as my primary way of navigating and manipulating the filesystem (not it's browser like view), and would use the spatial option if it could be turned on globally.

May 20, 2004

mono just say no

Seth Nickell - Design Fu : monoAn interesting article on Mono and the danger it poses for Free Software, here he is looking at the licencing that you have to get for the CLI and class libraries (these are the bits that where standardised under ECMA) and the fact that you must get a licence as they are covered by patents. This is not ADO.NET or ASP.NET or any of the other parts that where never submitted to the ECMA but the core parts that where.

Remember Microsoft considers Linux and the Free Software movement to be it's number one threat, and they have a history of doing anything, legal or illegal, to remove threats. They may not be doing anything at the moment but it is not a good idea shoehorn a time bomb into your products, even if the bomb does have lots of nice lights and ticking things.

A better solution to getting a enviroment with everything that c# and .NET offer would be in the completion of the GNU Classpath project. Java may not have been sent to a standards organisation like ISO or ECMA but the licence is GNU compatable for complete implementations and does give full patent clearance as part of it, Sun also a much better history of working with standards and not breaking the law.

May 19, 2004

ID Cards

As David "taliban" Blunkett continues his quest to force everyone to carry licences to exist, yet more holes have appeared in his reasons. It was said that we might as well have the ID card scheme on the basis that most of the cost is money we'd have to spend anyway, because we need to upgrade our passports to meet US and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standards however Belgium and Holland are getting ready to ship Biometric Passports without biometic ID cards.

How you might ask? Well the, perfectly ligitimate, biometric used in the new passports is simply a machine readable image. The same as the picture that passports already need but in a scanned from, meaning that they can get a biometric passport without any extra cost, inconvience, or additional trashing of civil liberties.

It's amazing, once the liberal left wing labour party got into power they have consistently managed to find someone from there ranks that is even more illiberal than Michael Howard to act as Home Office minister.

WebSE - System 7.0 - Test Drive a Macintosh...

WebSE - System 7.0 - Test Drive a Macintosh...An amazing peice of work in Flash replicating the original Macintosh System 7, still one of the most usable user interfaces in the world. The level of detail is astonishing, the file size is even the same as the original system (don't worry this was the time when you could fit an operating system on a floppy disk), sometimes they run into the limitations of Flash and obviously can't replicate things like being able to install new programs and save things to disk but no the less a master peice of Flash.

May 18, 2004

What is Google Cooking?

Photo Matt What is Google Cooking? it appears that rather than just following links and crawling what it finds google is now actively searching for Atom.xml news feeds. This is a departure from the norm. There are many possible explanations for this:

May 17, 2004

Bussard reactors, using advanced fuels

lots of info on using various fuels in Bussard type reactor

Iraq, USA bins Geneva conventions - National NewsNewsweek magazine reported that in 2002, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales wrote a memo saying he believed the war on terror "renders obsolete Geneva's [the Geneva Conventions'] strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."And then they wonder why this happens and the reactions to it.

Georgian dog auction draws howls

Georgian dog auction draws howls a story about a dog and his master. Nice dog, corrupt despotic master.

Counterterrorism in Airports

Crypto-Gram: May 15, 2004 contains a short section on some new security measures that are being tested in US airports using, shock, well trained security guards! A much more effective measure than all the dumb stuff they have done so far, such as easily faked fingerprint scanners removing all possible sharp things, even if there is no possiblility of using them as a weapon, but of course matches, as used by the Shoe Bomber are fine, and of course installing Perv-O-Vision to keep the (poorly trained and paid) security guards interested.

Inferno - what the next generation of OS should act like

Inferno I really like the design principals of this OS, basicaly it gves you what you need to work with but without any hassle connected to where that particualar resource is. I think that this kind of thing is going to become particually usefull in the future as networks, network hosted services, and network client devices become more prevelent rather than the stand alone PC of today. Pity the interface is just yet another (rather ugly) Windows 95 clone.

May 14, 2004

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | The price of Eurovision victory

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | The price of Eurovision victoryA Eurovision win could cost your country's entire tourism budget
As well as all your musical credability.

Everett's Relative-State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics

Everett's Relative-State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics
A fuller explanation of the current Many Worlds hypotheses

X Prize, rutan breaks the sound barrier

The winner is...:
Space Ship One built by Burt Rutan, the first man to fly non-stop around the planet, has broken the sound barrier and reached 68,000 feet. This must be the front runner fo the X Prize now.

explanations of the two slit experiment

An description of all the explanations of the two slits experiment, the classic quantum mechanics demonstration. The explanation of Many Worlds isn't as good as it could be (as a Many Worlder), as is the description of the transactions explaination. But good to have them all in the same place.

May 13, 2004

The Avon and Cheddar Guide book

MendipClimb After waiting for years the Avon and Cheddar Guide is about to resurface, within the next few weeks it is rumoured. Time to get that preorder in as I think they are going to be selling fast!

Fussion is most important US research project

The Office of Science - Mission and Strategic Plan

The US Goverment has outlined it's plan for funding the next 20 years of research, fusion gets top billing "If everything works, in 35 years, we could be putting electricity into the grid from fusion". Hopefully it will be a bit sooner than that. There are only so many countries that they can take over to supply their energy needs.

Interview with Brother Guy Consolmagno :: Astrobiology Magazine :: Search for Life in the Universe

Interview with Brother Guy Consolmagno :: Astrobiology Magazine :: Search for Life in the Universe

Interesting interview, less on the possibility of alien life than on the ethical and religous reasons for the study of science.