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 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.

Ignoring the firewall

April 15, 2008 | technology
The Coding Monkeys have released Port Map, an application to make accessing computers behind firewalls NATs easier. Unlike Copilot, which tries to work around obstinate routers, Port Map focuses on providing an easy and consistent interface for reconfiguring them. It’s hardly perfect for everything—notably, you have to have permissions to reconfigure the router causing you difficulty, making it unsuitable for corporate environments—but I can see it being quite handy if you’re just trying to...

The Return of Ada

April 15, 2008 | programming
I’m somehow having a really hard time feeling anything but dread about the prospect of a return of Ada. It seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to the last few seconds of Carrie…

Some Musings on Backups

April 15, 2008 | technology
I upgraded bitquabit to Ubuntu today. I learned a few valuable lessons: Untested backup scripts don’t count. This one I knew, but I didn’t fully process that “untested” really means “untested recently.” In particular, my backup script was backing up a database called wordpress. Unfortunately, I moved all the blogs hosted by bitquabit to a database called wp last fall. Result? The backups, though minutes old, were effectively from last October. I was lucky here: I happened to have a day-old WXR...