Google App Engine now on Amazon EC2

April 14, 2008 | programming
One of my main complaints about Google App Engine is that it locks you into using Google’s servers and APIs, giving you little recourse if Google decides to terminate either the service or your contract. Well, good news: that’s changed—somewhat. Chris Anderson has gotten a proof-of-concept App Engine clone running on Amazon’s EC2 service. Because Anderson has done little more than repackage the App Engine SDK for deployment on EC2, it cannot scale the same way that Google-based hosting (or...

Parental Views on Video Games

April 13, 2008 | politics, technology
According to Ars Technica, parents would rather that their kids’ video games feature decapitations than sex. I don’t really have any commentary to add; just read the whole article.

A Poor Man's Time Machine

April 12, 2008 | programming, technology
One of the cool new features of Mac OS X Leopard is Time Machine, a really simple backup solution for Mac OS X that not only transparently backs up your data, but also does so with an amazingly ugly GUI that lets you quickly jump back to the way that your documents were at any given point in the past. Unfortunately, Time Machine doesn’t run on my Linux boxes, so I’m forced to come up with an alternative. The good news is that getting a 90% solution is ridiculously easy. On the back-end, all that...

The Ultimate Philosophers

April 11, 2008 | personal
Whenever someone asks me who my favorite philosopher is, my answer usually elicits either a blank stare or a chuckle. My answer is always Bill Watterson. Watterson’s comics meant a lot to me when I was growing up. Even though I was hardly an impossible-to-manage kid (cough), I empathized strongly with Calvin’s view of the world. As a constant daydreamer myself, his blurring of reality and fiction spoke to me in a way that few other works, comic or otherwise, really could. As I grew older, Calvin...

Cold War II, Part 2

April 11, 2008 | politics, technology
Hacking isn’t limited to pro-Tibetan groups; the Pentagon notes that cyberattacks against US defense infrastructure has greatly increased in the last few years. Given the sad state of computer security and the increased use of consumer components by the military, I strongly suspect that the average American would be petrified to learn how many national secrets we’ve failed to protect. For the time being, at least ignorance truly is bliss.

Patent Hell

April 11, 2008 | politics, technology
I’ve been against software patents for a long time now, but when I read about stories such as satellites being turned into space garbage because the only way to fix the orbit is patented, I’m forced to question the wisdom of patents in general. I love the idea of patents; I’m just dubious that the current implementation actually works. More often than not, I see patents used not to protect a novel invention, but as a legal stick to bludgeon small competitors. That runs completely against the...

Cold War II

April 10, 2008 | politics
If what Wired claims about the recent Office patches is true, then we’re in deep trouble. (And, even if it’s not, the fact that few people would call such claims impossible makes me seriously question the wisdom of holding the Olympics in China.)

Windows Versions of NetNewsWire

April 10, 2008 | technology
Sadly, there’s no such thing as NetNewsWire for Windows, but today I downloaded FeedDemon, which is made by the same company and also offers synchronization with NewsGator, and was extremely pleasantly surprised. If you, like me, have a Mac at home and a PC at work, it’s definitely worth a look.

An Ode to Primer

April 10, 2008 | personal
One of my absolute favorite movies is Primer. Written, directed, and scored by an engineer who also serves as the film’s leading actor, Primer stands as a testament to what science fiction can be. Too many science fiction works either are nothing but social commentary that use science as a glorified MacGuffin, or else have plots that exist primarily to rant about new scientific ideas. Primer has neither fault, beautifully embracing hard science while having a riveting interpersonal drama based...

Write Your Own Google Apps

April 8, 2008 | programming
Google has announced Google App Engine, which allows you to write applications that run on Google’s infrastructure. I personally would be a bit nervous using the service for anything important—unlike Amazon S3 and EC2, making your own service-compatible alternatives is not feasible, leaving you inextricably tied to Google—but I suppose it could be useful for certain applications that need high scalability, integration with other Google applications, or both. Note that all 10,000 initial...