Friday, May 30, 2008

Space Ambassadors Needed

Ever wanted to tell someone about going into space and be an evangelist for Space? Now you can. The National Space Society and Virgin Galactic are starting a space ambassador program or as they say on their website, "Space Ambassadors can be anyone — you just have to have a passion for space and the ability to effectively communicate that excitement to others. Teachers and artists are particularly encouraged to apply. Membership in the National Space Society is not required to participate, but is encouraged! "

Check it out at$Origin=SpaceAmbassadors

They say on the web site that one lucky ambassador will be chosen to fly. Gosh, maybe I have a chance to go up after all :D

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Netaudio Ads...Real or Scam?

Several months ago, I wrote a blog entry on this site about having joined the Net Audio Ads craze that was hitting. While it all seemed like it would be the latest and greatest way to add monetization to my web sites, it has panned out to be anything but.

Over several weeks, the idea went from a few people signing up to viral and then to Net Audio Ads being on the blink to them back tracking on the fees, to them not starting the service to the people who signed up thinking that there was a large advertising machine behind the group being asked to sell advertising.

Now the only thing that ever plays on my blog is an ad for Net Audio Ads. In April, when I looked, I had made a whole penny off my ads. That's right folks, 1 red cent!!! Now when I look, they don't even give me credit for that one. The funny thing about that is, I get more in one click through on Google Ads than I have ever gotten from Net Audio Ads.

My feeling is that the way they hyped the site and the service far too much and basically the only thing they are left with now is no ads. And while this seems to be the way it is, I haven't removed their ad module from the blog because I want to see this story to the end.

I don't know if anyone else has been following this or had experience with this group but I would definitely be interested in hearing how other have made out with it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A new openess in China?

Over the past week or so since the big 7.9 magnitude earth quake in China, we have seen scenes of the destruction and the suffering unlike any we have seen out of China before. One might ask, is this just a convenience to get the sympathies of the world or is the open reporting for real?

It has been amazing with reports by phone, satellite, and even video phone, seemingly coming to the world without impunity from all of the reporters there. Never before have we seen this aspect of a country that has become synonymous with human rights abuses and closed borders.

It is refreshing to see this, but then comes the ultimate question of "will it last?" Once can only hope that it does last. And now that the country goes into a three day mourning period with more than 35,000 people dead, 200,000 plus injured and millions left homeless, the situation is far from over there.

The only thing that has been a bit like the old days is China's refusal to accept most aid but that has been changing too with a team of search and rescue experts from Japan being allowed in to help in recovery efforts. Also, the world has generously offered stocks of food and water and China, unlike burma has been readily accepting this help and distributing it with no holds barred.

Everyone thought that the Olympics would change China. My feeling is that maybe it takes an act of God to change China and now that we have one, China seems to be changing very rapidly. Even dissension and questioning of the government has been allowed very openly after more than 7000 schools collapsed throughout the country. The reporting of this dissension has also been freely allowed and almost encouraged.

While China is still communist, one can only hope that now that the country has seen one of the worst natural disasters in human history, that the country can truly change and become the real world player that it has the potential of being.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Double Amputee Allowed to Compete

Over the past two years, many news reports have covered Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee record holder in the 100,200, and 400 for disabled athletics. Many of the articles I have read have not been so favorable on him competing against able bodied athletes and fulfilling his dream to compete in the Olympic games in Beijing.

Oscar was born with several deformities which cost him his legs at the age of 11 months old. Obviously with the advances in technology, he can now compete on a fairly level playing field with other runners. Not disabled athletes but able bodied ones. This is the way it should be. However, not everyone feels that way and after the way the International Association of Athletics Federations ruled, it is obvious that they didn't feel that way either.

The IAAF ruled that Oscar Pistorius had an advantage over his able bodied competitors because his prosthetics gave him an advantage of having to expel 25% less effort over the same distance. Yet, in spite of this supposed advantage, he has failed to automatically qualify for the Olympics. In the IAAF testing, it is unknown exactly what they based this judgement on but one can only assume that they based it on him being completely whole in body which he is not.

Now, finally after all the wrangling and testing and the sheer hell that these people and organizations have put Oscar through, The Court for Arbitration of Sport has made a decision that he can compete for his country. Luckily, this decision is final and there is no appeal for the IAAF at this point.

Because of his failure to qualify automatically to compete, it is highly likely, according to some reports, that he will go to Beijing as part of the South African 4x400 meter relay team which is allowed to take 6 athletes to the games to compete. I sincerely hope that Oscar Pistorius does well and performs his best there as the whole world will now be watching. Not because the man will break any world records, but because he is now joining the ranks of the able bodied athletes after being forced into a classification most of his life that he neither asked for nor had any choice in.

To all the nay sayers in the world, who thought that Oscar Pistorius was not capable of competing or that he had a technological advantage, I say "go Oscar Pistorius!!!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WWDC Sells Out....What????

WWDC, the developers conference for Apple which is held each year at Muscone Center in San Francisco, apparently has sold out. While the exact number of tickets available for the conference is not known, it is a bit odd that there were 6000 some attendees last year and it wasn't sold out but this year, it is sold out at 5000.

Is this a limitation being placed on the number of people by Apple or is it real? Who is to say, however, after my experience with last year's conference, it almost doesn't seem to matter.

We went to last years conference looking for meat and potatoes developers information yet, got spoon fed apple sauce marketing crap from companies all over the spectrum. The ever elusive developers information on the iPhone was not only non-existent but the short run through that they did in the keynote, which supposedly had information available on the WWDC web site wasn't even available until the conference closed. Not much good for any question and answer sessions with the Apple developers when you have them right there.

But of course, with the popularity of the Mac increasing as a computing platform, it is no real surprise that they would say it is sold out. However, I find the numbers to be just a bit too artificially set and it is with doubting heart that I believe this is any more than just a marketing ploy. Of course with past history as an example, this is no real surprise.

The only real surprise is that it took a year for them to add the iPhone track to the program. This track should have been made available in last years conference when the iPhone was the entire focus. But instead, Steve chose to come on and say that we didn't need an SDK. Then in February, he decided we did. Now as the throngs of the Apple faithful clamor to Muscone with hopes of seeing the next generation iPhone and other goodies, will they be once again disappointed the way we were with a second round of Leopard stuff that wasn't really relevant to developing much of anything.

To this accord, I say "Please, Apple, make up your mind, quit faking the numbers, and get the meat and potatoes on the table for us real developers to eat."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Apple Camera Nabs Thieves...err...Stupidity nabs thieves

I have read several articles this week that Apple store employee, Kait Dupalga of White Plains, NY, had her MacBook stolen and recovered it by remotely capturing a photo of the thieves using it. While many stories on the net had everything from this being miracle work, to the Mac having anti-theft devices, it is amazing how few people check their facts before actually publishing a story such as this.

First, the Mac does not have an anti-theft device. The fact that the Mac was remotely accessible was due to Back to My Mac remote access that is part of the $99 a year .MAC package offered by Apple, Inc.

Second, this is no miracle. When you have stupid thieves who use a computer as is, they are bound to get caught. These idiots didnt even change anything. They just fired it up and using the browser, were shopping for beds.

Third, It begs the question why the owner had no security set on the computer. No passwords, nothing. If Ms. Dupalga had been smart, she would have installed a security package such as Lojack or Undercover. But she did no such thing.

All I can say is she got lucky. Extremely lucky. The fact that she was able to get the shot of the guys and that it was someone her room mates knew and recognized, obviously payed dividends. But if you want real security on your system, get one of these programs and install it.

Back to My Mac --
Undercover --
LoJack for Laptops --
Verey I For Mac --

Where are the militaries of the world now?

When countries have felt threatened in the past, they have rushed in their militaries with lightning speed. Such was the case in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq and other hot spots. But the Burmese people who have one of the largest despot militaries is seeing no such help.

We will send billions to Africa in aid, but barely a trickle to Burma. And not only that, the aid that is being sent is now being stuffed into military warehouses to support their military rations or marked with the names of generals of the regime and then handed out. It is odd that these jokers think that the people will be fooled about where the aid came from when the box is clearly marked, Kingdom of Thailand, China, India, US Aid, or others.

It sickens me to think that the big countries are going to sit by idly and let the Junta in Burma kill 2 million people. It is time for these countries to quit fighting over the wealth of the world and for them to step up and to fight for the humanity of the world. I am surprised that the US has not resorted to aid shipments in the manner which it took with Yugoslavia in the 1990's. Drop pallets of MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat for you non-military types) and water rations from C-130's flying over head and let the people have them. Protect these flights with F-18 fighters and Navy carriers and tell the Junta straight up that if they interfere, we will destroy their military and military bases in a fortnight. (this could be done since they seem to conglomerate in certain areas).

It is high time that the crimes that are being committed against the Burmese people cease and that the real aid begins to happen. The Burmese have suffered long and hard at the hands of these idiot generals and it is time that it comes to an end. The US, UK, and all the coalition forces or NATO or other militaries, should step up and make this mandate happen immediately.

Talk about timing!!! China Espaces the Glare.

This week after the world had the weight of its criticism focused squarely on the Junta of Burma and the Chinese for its handling of the Tibet issue, something happened that has turned all that criticism on its head.

An earthquake of 7.8 struck killing more than 10,000 people at last count. While most people are still focused on the Burmese Junta's handling of the cyclone aid, their criticisms of China and Burma have suddenly waned. Call it the sympathy factor or the ADD factor.

Of course, at the same time, the Olympic torch relay has been reconfigured and seems to no longer be the main focus of the government. Unlike other governments around the world who have been criticized for their handling of a natural disaster, the response of the Chinese government has been praised to extents never seen.

The focus of the government has rightfully turned to rescue operations and they have implemented the usage of their military in a manner that is consistent with the military being the people's military. Even the US government failed in this respect with the Katrina response, at a time when it could have won the hearts and minds of the people. Now China has obviously learned from that and the Burmese government failures and they have squarely focused the full efforts of their military machine on recovery and rescue operations.

But are we being too soft on China now that they have their own issues? will the focus on their human rights abuses be lost in their great response to something that no one expected them to step up to the plate in? Or is the Chinese government the ultimate propaganda machine that has learned that the real way to help change people's minds is to do something that shows benevolence and compassion? Only time will tell, but I have noticed that the reporting in this disaster has been clear, numbers concise and accurate, and even the reporting by foreign press freely allowed, seemingly without restriction.

It is my feeling that the government of China will play this up, try to show it's best face in the Olympics and then go right back to being the over bearing, people beating, polluting country that it has been once the focus is off. But the only things people will remember will be the handling of the earthquake response and the Olympics. And in this, the people of Darfur, Burma, and Tibet will be forgotten once again and left to their own devices.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Recovering from a crash

Over the years, there have been several times where I wished I could back data up to something that would never loose my data. But this dream is probably the dream of every engineer or programmer on the face of the earth. Of course, this dream is probably the biggest dream there is. Unfortunately, a recent database crash caused the dream to come back again.

In this day and age with free storage online and the availability of big hard drives cheap, the problem of hard disks failing is becoming more prevalent. Which leads to other failures.

Is this problem leading us into an era in which we truly are going to loose everything? If we were to suffer a magnetic pulse on a large scale around the world, such as that caused by an asteroid hitting the earth, it would be foolish to think that anything of our data would be left other than that which is in print format.

Should we even be thinking about the paperless office that people have been trying to create since the 1980's, rather foolishly and unsuccessfully in reality. But what is the flip side of that thinking. If we go back to using just paper, things slow down, and also we use more natural resources that are already strained beyond belief.

So what to do? In the short term, I would say that if it is important, back it up on two different mediums. Use online as well as offline resources. If it is really important, print it out. And if it is even more important that that (imperative to your life), put a physical and a media copy in a safe deposit box.

Luckily I dont have much that is in the final category but I keep thinking how many web sites would become my only copy of items I have created should I loose my hard drives.