Wednesday, November 08, 2006

EULA Madness

Corel Paint Shop Pro 10 EULA
… or How to Make Sure No One Reads Your EULA. Enlarge the image to see an example of how not to present your EULA. Would you bother to read this? Corel seems to think their customers might. I doubt it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

MIT Developing Micro Gas Turbine Engine on a Chip

Check out this news release from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT is developing a micro gas turbine engine the size of a computer chip that "could run 10 times longer than a battery of the same weight."

I wonder, though: How's it going to work at the gas station? "Hi. Fill up the car. And, I'd like a quarter ounce of Premium in my laptop." If you think exploding lithium laptop batteries is a problem, just wait until everyone's got a gas turbine engine in their laptop. Say goodbye to laptops on planes.

Care of: Boing Boing.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Mt. Hood Land Swap Deal: An Ethical Problem for Two Congressmen?

U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, (D) ORU.S. Representative Greg Walden, (R) ORFor several days the Oregonion has treated us to two articles (Aug. 6, Aug. 8), an editorial and an opinion piece about the proposed land swap deal on Mt. Hood. This deal, brokered by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D) and Greg Walden (R), proposes to swap U.S. government land in the Government Camp area for land currently owned by Mt. Hood Meadows Oregon LP, a limited partnership controlled by Portland businessman Franklin Drake. The articles do a good job of laying out the details of the land swap and the questionable appraisals of the parcels. What concerns me, however, is what I read in the last section of the August 6th article (by Peter Sleeth and Les Zaitz):

As the April congressional hearing approached, Blumenauer and Walden both saw cash infusions into their campaigns from Mt. Hood Meadows partners. Last Feb. 22, Drake, president of Mt. Hood Meadows, donated $6,000 to two Blumenauer committees.

Within days, his partner, Riley, donated $6,000 to the same committees. Blumenauer said he called Riley to seek the contributions. "It was part of my asking. I run for office. I raise money. I asked them," Blumenauer said, adding that the contribution had no effect on his position on the land exchange.

Riley said he has given to Blumenauer in the past and plans to in the future.

Matthew Drake, another Mt. Hood Meadows partner, last February gave $2,800 to Walden in what federal election records list as his first federal contribution. On the same day, Riley gave Walden $1,800.

Asked whether the contributions influenced his actions on the legislation, Walden responded, "The answer is as simple as the question is insulting: Absolutely not."
Am I the only person concerned about what appears to be a distinct ethical problem created by both Representatives? Specifically, the fact that both Reps accepted campaign donations from Mt. Hood Meadows partners during the time this land swap deal was being constructed. And, even more disturbing (if true), the admission of Rep. Blumenauer that he actually "called [one of the partners] to seek the contributions." Of course, both Blumenauer and Walden state that the contributions "had no effect on [their] position on the land exchange." Really?

Let's say that I'm negotiating a contract with a supplier to my company, and I just happen to have a favorite charity that needs some money. So, during the negotiating process, I ask the supplier to donate some money to my favorite charity. Of course, the donation won't influence my decision as to whether your company will win the contract. No, of course not. Don't insult me by even insinuating that! I would be fired if I tried that in my company. So, why is this type of activity Ok for our elected representatives?

The questionable appraisals have already created an "air" around this deal that doesn't smell so good. But, the fact that cash contributions were requested and accepted by the two congresmen who were working to finalize this deal creates an odor that, frankly, stinks. And this from two congresmen who, in March of this year, introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at improving House oversight of ethics and lobbying (see Congressman Blumenauer's website for the press release).

If I lived on one of the districts represented by these guys, I would be asking them very pointed questions about the ethics of asking for and accepting campaign contributions from some of the parties involved in the land swap deal. The appearance of impropriety in this case makes an already questionable deal look even more questionable.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Global Warming? What Global Warming?

So, we don't have "global warming?" Tell that to everyone in the United States on Tuesday, July 25th. The image in this post shows the projected high temperatures for the United States on Tuesday. With the exception of far northwest Washington state and the far northeast, the rest of the states were in the 90's or above. Any way you look at it, we were warm.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

What's That Bright Light in the Sky?

JupiterMost likely, it's Jupiter. The photo to the left is how Jupiter would look tonight as viewed through a fairly powerful telescope. This image is from the wonderful (and free) Stellarium planetarium program.

Night sky showing Jupiter, 8 Lib and 9 Lib

This image shows what you'll see if you look outside at about 1 a.m, looking south from Portland. What's that bright object just below and to the right of Jupiter? Is it one of Jupiter's moons? Nope. That object is really two objects -- 8 Lib and 9 Lib. 9 Lib is a star that is also known as Zubenelgenubi (in Arabic: "Scorpion's southern claw"), located about 77 light-years from Earth. Zubenelgenubi has a close companion star, 8 Lib, and together they appear to be one object in our night sky. In this close-up image you can see 8 Lib and 9 Lib as two separate objects, as well as Jupiter and several of its moons.

Don't have a telescope? That's Ok, as Stellarium allows you to zoom-in on the planets for as close a view as you wish. In this image, we can see Jupiter and three of its moons (Ganymede, Io and Callisto). A really neat feature of Stellarium allows you to select an object and track that object as you zoom forward or backward in time. With Jupiter, for example, you can watch both the planet's rotation and the motion of its moons. Here's a close-up image of Jupiter as it will appear in one month, with its moons Europa (to the left) and Callisto (to the right).

Here's an image of the night sky (looking south) in one month (on May 24th). Notice how Jupiter has moved around to the right of Zubenelgenubi. And finally, a special treat: Here's an image for May 12th, in which you'll see Jupiter, Zubenelgenubi and a full Moon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Shoelace Tying Made Easy

I've always had trouble tying my shoelaces. Either I've tied the laces too loose, and they come untied while I'm walking, or I've tied them too tight, and cut-off the circulation in my feet. Either way, it's a problem.

Now, along comes Ian's Shoelace Site, with many helpful hints (including diagrams) as to how you can both lace, and tie, your shoelaces. With a little practice, maybe I can master the "secure shoelace knot" and my loose laces problem will be no more. Hmmm. I wonder where I can find some blue and yellow shoelaces?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tennis: Always Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Keep your eye on the ball.Australia's Jelena Dokic proves that, in tennis, it's always a good idea to keep your eye on the ball.

Photo courtesy Agence France-Presse (AFP) from the 2006 Australian Open.

More 2006 Australian Open photos.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Orleans Murder Rate Down for 2005! Duh?!

Empty French Quarter, New Orleans, 2005MSNBC-TV just reported that the murder rate in New Orleans, compared to 2004, dropped 70% in 2005. Huh? Note to MSNBC-TV: There's no one there!

Later in the same report, they did state that the population of New Orleans is down 71% from 2004. What are these folks smoking?