Reactions to Those Without Cellphones

July 1, 2008 | technology
Given I know a few people myself who don’t own cellphones, I found defective yeti’s list of how people’s reaction to the discovery he does not have a cell phone has changed over the course of the last decade spot-on and hilarious.

WALL•E's Soundtrack

June 30, 2008 | personal
In my earlier review, I compared WALL•E—at least the first half—to a silent film. (True, the sentences, “Directive?”, “WALL•E,” “EVE,” and “Classified!” are indeed spoken, but since that’s it, I’m willing to fudge a little.) Silent films were, of course, not actually silent; a pianist—or, for larger locales, an organist, or even an entire orchestra—provided music to accompany the visuals. I had hoped that WALL•E would honor that tradition by having an outstanding soundtrack. I was not...

The Fuel Economy of a Toyota Prius vs. a BMW M3

June 30, 2008 | politics, technology
And it turns out that the Toyota Prius isn’t necessarily that great for the environment after all. (This should not come as a surprise if you’ve been keeping up on the research into renewable energy.) Listen closely to the end of the segment, though—the point isn’t that the Prius cannot be more efficient than the M3, but rather that the driver has to do his part to drive more conservatively, too—something that I’ve argued, and been keenly aware of, since I started driving.

WALL•E: The Last Great "Silent" Film

June 29, 2008 | personal
I was more excited about the arrival of WALL•E than I have been about any movie in a very long time. WALL•E would be one of the last Pixar films with minimal Disney influence, promised to make us fall in love with a pair of robots, and, I hoped, would give the Pixar a chance to redeem itself from Cars (also known as “Doc Hollywood with less nudity and more automobiles”). Besides, the trailer for this post-apocalyptic G-rated adventure used part of the soundtrack from Brazil. What wasn’t there to...

DSLAMs, BASes, and BitTorrent, Oh My!

June 29, 2008 | politics, technology
Bell Canada is currently engaged in a lovely kerfuffle with the CRTC (Canada’s rough equivalent of the FTC) for throttling BitTorrent traffic. The CRTC recently ordered Bell Canada to release its bandwidth numbers, and Bell Canada, after some protestations, complied. The little teensy problem with their data, as Ars Technica points out, is that the numbers indicate that any problems Bell Canada is experiencing have nothing whatsoever to do with BitTorrent, and can be trivially and cheaply fixed....

The Flux Capacitor Arrives

May 1, 2008 | technology
It may not enable time travel, but the flux capacitor, in a literal sense, is here. Called a memristor, the device provides similar functionality to a transistor, but at vastly higher efficiencies, an should allow for much smaller, more efficient computers in the future.

The Economics of Weather Forecasts

April 22, 2008 | technology
The Freakonomics Blog has a fasciating report on the horrible accuracy of TV weather stations. Although I don’t find the results remotely surprising, the data reflect such a profound lack of insight that I’m forced to reevaluate whether watching the weather is worth my time at all. For most people, going outside, looking at the sky, and paying attention to changes in humidity seems as if it would yield more accurate results.

The End of MySQL (Updated)

April 17, 2008 | programming, technology
Sun has just announced that they will begin close-sourcing MySQL. For years, I’ve avoided MySQL due to a mixture of paranoia (I’ve had extremely bad experiences with MyISAM-backed data stores) and disdain for their shoddy standards compliance (which has bitten me before in nontrivial ways). Now I can also avoid them for not being open-source. My standardization on PostgreSQL for this website feels more rational by the minute. Update: The originally linked article wasn’t quite correct. MySQL AB’s...

The Worthless ISOification of OOXML

April 16, 2008 | politics, technology
Tim Bray makes the same argument I’ve been making for months on why ISO-certified OOXML won’t actually make a lick of difference. At least the ISO has successfully proved how corruptible they are for all geeks to see, so I suppose the approval process wasn’t totally useless.

Yahoo Finally Starts Making Sense

April 16, 2008 | technology
Yahoo just announced that they’re buying a company that makes a competitor to Google Analytics and releasing it for free. This is the first rational thing I’ve seen coming from Yahoo in quite some time. Although I’m not a big fan of the “buy product, release for free” business strategy, a web traffic analyzer is a perfect loss-leader for Yahoo, because it should boost their ailing ad program. The value of Google Analytics for Google is that it helps me maximize my AdWords revenue. That means...