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Northwest Passage

There have been a number of articles recently on the effect of global climate change on the arctic ice pack, and I guess you could say one of the “good” things that is happening is that a (Summer) shipping route North of the Arctic Circle may be a reality within the next few years.

While the melting of the ice pack might be good news for shipping and oil/gas exploration, it might not be a good thing for the world as a whole.

Remember, a large portion of the world’s population lives in coastal regions, not far above sea level — when the ice pack melts, that water goes somewhere — and, of course, that’s fresh water, so not only does the level of the oceans rise, but the salinity of the oceans goes down.

No one can really predict what these changes will have on the habitability of this planet long term, but along with the receding glaciers we have more evidence of rather dramatic climate change.  Whether these changes are a natural event, a natural even being accelerated by emissions, or purely cause by emissions may still be debatable, but whether or not it’s happening… that’s fairly well documented.

Of course, as I always say — many love to do the back-stroke in de-nile; or as other like to day, de-nile isn’t just a river in Egypt…

Originally posted 2011-08-18 02:00:18.

Thinking Inside the VirtualBox

Sun Microsystems used to be a major player in the computer world; and I guess since Java belongs to Sun they are still a a fairly major force…

There’s a number of open source or free projects that Sun sponsors:

And, of course, it’s VirtualBox that has inspired this post.

VirtualBox 2.0.4 released on 24 October 2008, and from my initial experiences with it, it’s a contender.

A fairly mature x86/x64 virtualization framework for x86/x64 platforms.  VirtualBox runs on Windows, OS-X, Linux, and of course Solaris.

What sets it apart — well it’s to my knowledge the only fairly mature cross-platform virtualization framework that’s FREE on all platforms.

In general it doesn’t require hardware virtualization support with the exception that to run a x64 guest you must be on an x64 host with hardware virtualization.

Going through the list of features and playing with it there’s really nothing I couldn’t find that it didn’t do (and in playing with it, it seemed to work well)… the one feature that VirtualBox supports that none of it’s competitors had last time I looked (and that Hyper-V is sorely missing) is SATA (AHCI – Advanced Host Controller Interface) support… that provides much more efficient emulation of disk channel connections to the guest (and thus much better performance — and if you recall from my post on Hyper-V the fact that Microsoft doesn’t have SCSI boot support or AHCI support at all is what prevents me from moving to Hyper-V).

VirtualBox does apparently support VMWare virtual disks, but not Microsoft virtual disks (both of them provide open specifications, so my only conclusion is that Sun’s anti-Microsoft bias is at play which is sad since VirtualPC, Virtual Server, and Hyper-V account for a fairly substantial segment of the market, and a growing segment).

Like any product, you really need to carefully evaluate it based on your needs, but my feeling is that certainly for Mac users this might be the choice if you don’t want to by Parallels Desktop… and for Windows desktops this looks to be a very good.

NOTES:

On Windows if you want to use this on a server host machine (ie one that doesn’t require users to control the virtual machine) VirtualBox doesn’t really provide any interface for controlling machines in this manner; however, you can launch a VirtualBox machine from the command line, so you can have your server start up VirtualBox sessions at boot… though there are no tools provided by VirtualBox for managing running instances started this way.  My recommendation is that the VirtualBox team add a tool to manage and launch instances in a server environment.

On Windows (and other OSs) the way VirtualBox handles host networking (the default is a NAT’d network through the host… which could have some performance impact) is buy using the TUN/TAP driver.  Certainly they way Microsoft handles virtualization of the network adapter is far slicker, and I found that using host networking is not as reliable as NAT; hopefully this is an area where there will be some improvement.

Lastly, I haven’t run any actual performance tests head-to-head with  Parallels, VMWare, VirtualPC, and Virtual Server… but I can tell you that guests “feel” substantially faster running under VirtualBox (I was quite impressed — and surprised).


VirtualBox

Originally posted 2008-12-08 12:00:55.

Google Voice(mail)

I’ve already made a few posts that tell you how you can use Google Voice to make and receive unlimited free calls (provided your carrier allows you to specify at least one telephone number that’s air-time free), but here’s a way you can use an unlimited data plan to reduce your air-time fees for retrieving voice mail and totally eliminate any carrier charges for “visual voice mail”.

Verizon charges nothing for “Basic Voice Mail” per month; but they will charge you air time each and every time you call your own voice mail (evening and weekends are air time free on some plans, but you cannot put your own number in the air-time free call list [current called “Friends & Family”, it used to be called “My Circle” before the AllTel acquisition).

Verizon charges $1.99 for “Premium Voice Mail” .  You can read up on the features they’ll rape you for.

Verizon charges $2.99 for “Visual Voice Mail”.  Again you can read up on the features they’ll rape you for.

Or… you can just setup your Google Voice account to be your voice mail — and then you’ll essentially get all the feature Verizon would love to charge you extra for; plus be able to call your voice mail for free (assuming you have put your Google Voice number in your “Friend & Famly” list) or just read the SMS and/or email message that contains the voice mail transcription or play the voice mail over your unlimited data connection.

There are actually instructions on Google Voice for setting up Google Voice mail as your primary voice mail on your carrier (they will tell you for most any carrier), so this doesn’t only work for Verizon, this will work for pretty much any carrier…

Why throw money away?

While I might have reservations about letting Google have access to more and more of my information, I sort of lump them in the category that the people you don’t want to have access to your information had it before you did…

Anyway, Google Voice mail (and Google Voice) will work with any cellular phone (and actually you can use this strategy with landlines as well).

Originally posted 2010-10-17 02:00:07.

Apple Sues HTC For Patent Infringement

Remember Apple suing Microsoft for “stealing” the Mac’s user interface?  A user interface that Apple actually stole from Xerox?

On 4 March 2010 Apple filed suite against HTC for infringing on some twenty patents for iPhone technology they allegedly used in their Android handsets (but not their Windows Mobile handsets).

It’s pretty obvious to me that HTC manufactured Windows Mobile handsets long before the iPhone, and those handsets used many of the basics of the technology described in the twenty iPhone patents — so who’s stealing from whom?

It’s totally ironic that Steve Jobs is quoted as saying:

We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.

When in 1996 in the PBS Documentary “Triumph of the Nerds” he said:

Picasso had a saying. He said that ‘Good artists copy; great artists steal.’ And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.

I think Eric Von Hipple of MIT’s Sloan School of Management may have hit the nail on the head:

The social value of patents was supposed to be to encourage innovation — that’s what society gets out of it. The net effect is that they decrease innovation, and in the end, the public loses out.

Those who can’t innovate, litigate.


Steve Jobs, 1996 “Triumph of the Nerds”

Originally posted 2010-03-07 02:00:30.

Windows 7 – Service Pack 1

Beware the ides of March!

No, you really don’t have to with respect to Windows 7 Service Pack 1…

This service pack has been available for a couple weeks now; and there have been no major reports of issues with it; but there are some things you probably want to know.

The first thing is the service pack is huge; so if you are going to install it on more than one computer, consider downloading either the x86, x64, or combined install set.

The second thing is you should make sure you have performed updates… some of them seem to be required for the service pack to install (yes — that seems to breaks with the past, but I have had more than one machine fail to install the service pack when several updates had not yet been applied).

The third thing is you should allocate time; the service pack is huge, and it takes a very long to to install (even if you have downloaded it)… particularly on slow machines.

I haven’t really noticed any significant changes except the preview window now seems to be enabled on the right sidebar of file explorer windows (so now you have a menu ont he top, a tree navigation pane on the left, an information window on the bottom, and a preview window on the right.  You can configure all of that to be the way you want.

I also had some initial issues making network connections to a Linux server (via SMB), but that seemed to right itself with an additional reboot.

I haven’t found anything that’s broken; now have I found anything that’s fixed — all the annoying parts of Windows 7 (including the price tag for those who upgraded to Vista) are still present… so while I encourage you to keep your Windows machines fully patched, and your security software up to date; you’re probably not going to feel particularly rewarded for the time you will invest in this.

Also, applying service pack 1 works via the upgrade system — so if you’re just doing a single machine (or one 64 bit and one 32 bit) you can probably make your life easier and just let the Microsoft magic happen — you will have to approve the installation of service pack 1 (I’m sure at some point in the future it will become required rather than recommended).

Downloading requires validation; and applying it will likely remove any hack you might have to get around activation — so if you’re not “genuine” don’t even thing about it (and maybe you should consider shelling out a little cash for a legitimate license).

One final note; this service pack also applies to Windows Server 2008.

Windows 7 Service Pack 1

Originally posted 2011-03-15 02:00:39.

No climate change here…

I clipped this from Dr Jeff Masters on Weather Underground

A flash flood emergency has been declared this morning in Pensacola, Florida and Mobile, Alabama. Record daily rainfall amounts were set on Tuesday in both cities, with 11.13” and 11.24”, respectively. Pensacola Airport recorded a remarkable 5.68 inches of rain in just one hour ending at 10 pm Tuesday night. Flood waters closed a 30-mile stretch of I-10 near the Alabama/Florida border Tuesday night, and a 5-mile stretch remained closed this morning.


…full article…

Nearly a foot of rain??? Nearly a half foot of rain in an hour???  The yearly rainfall average for Pensacola is only 61.2″  almost 10% of that occurred in a hour… easy to see that there’s absolutely no supporting evidence that the worlds climate is changing.