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Archive for June 2008

Skinny Bitch
> Sleeper hit
– The Time Traveler’s Wife
-> Rachel McAdams
–> Glengarry Glen Ross
–> Genie Award
—> Sorel Etrog
> Vetting
> Veganism

I figure that it’s time to add a little commentary to these wikiwalks. My aunt has a copy of that book, “Skinny Bitch,” and I read the first few chapters. As it is, I’m underweight, but I wanted to see what the authors had to say about eating healthy. I’ve also considered becoming a vegatarian for health reasons a few times before this, but I thought that it was impractical to pursue it until I was the one doing all the cooking and grocery-shopping. :p

I loved “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” by the way, and would encourage you to pick up a copy. The movie is coming out at the end of the year, I think. I’m not a big fan of Rachel McAdams, so I hope she does the character justice.

Most of my wikiwalks actually stem from some kind of media experience – a band I’ve come to like, a book I’ve been reading, something that someone in this movie or show mentioned in passing. You get the idea. :) I know that I set out to create a sci/tech blog, but it seems that I’ve got one foot in the sci/tech pool and the other in mass media. I suppose it comes from being a Comm major.

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The local news in my hometown featured animators from General Santos City one morning. Apparently, an ICT group based there is aiming to turn GenSan into the animation capital of the Philippines. I think that would be great, because (1) I’d love to see GenSan get on the ICT train, (2) animation is something for which we Filipinos have little-recognized talent, and (3) it would be nice for GenSan to be known for more than tuna and conflict. For the record, not all of Mindanao is a warzone, and not everyone there is Muslim, and not all Muslims are part of the conflict.

Hmm, I haven’t done a wikiwalk in a while.

So, Bill Gates has stepped down from Microsoft and is now putting more hours into his (and his wife’s) philanthropy work. As evil as people have made Mr. Gates seem sometimes (remember when people said he was the Antichrist? :D ), I still think that he’s a pretty cool guy. Windows will always be my first love, too. I’m not switching back from Ubuntu, but I will always have some respect for Mr. Gates and his work at Microsoft. Here’s a little salute from my corner of the web.

I’m currently back in Metro Manila, and I’m jobhunting. I’d still like to get a job writing in some kind of science or IT publication, but the only ones around are gadget magazines. I’m hoping for something more like Discover. :)

So far, though, a lot of the ads I find are for outsourcing firms and website hit generators. :/ I don’t really have anything against outsourcing because I know that it brings money into the country. But the idea still strikes me as some sort of betrayal. I’d rather work for a local company, for Filipino bosses. It’s a loyalty thing. And as for hit generating gigs, I’m going to say no thanks to those, too. When I write, I want to catch the attention of a human being, not of a search engine.

I’m currently based in my relatives’ house in Parañaque. While they have a lovely DSL connection, for some reason, I can’t see any of the clips on Clipmarks.com. :( So I can’t go there and find stuff to share with you. It’s not a huge problem; it just means I’ll have to go an extra mile to find Clip material. :)

clipped from blogs.zdnet.com
After months of rumors that Microsoft might rethink its decision to pull the plug on Windows XP, the� official word is out: XP is on its way out.
Microsoft is sticking to its plan to cease providing PC makers with XP to preload on new PCs after June 30, as Microsoft is now letting customers know via a letter it has posted to its Windows XP and Windows Vista Web sites.
Microsoft support for XP doesn’t end on June 30; free Microsoft-provided support for XP continues through April 2009. Microsoft “Extended” support — for which users must pay (other than for security-specific hot fixes and various self-help tools, which are free) — lasts through 2014.
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You’re kidding me. Over here! I, ME, KATRINA A. wants a job writing in IT. Please, pretty please.
clipped from education.zdnet.com
ComputerWeekly reported yesterday on a UK study that found many college graduates didn’t want to enter information technology careers because they would be “boring.” These same grads acknowledged that job prospects and salaries in the industry were quite good, but still had no intention of pursuing careers in the field.
A job as a member of the Best Buy Geek Squad does not count as an IT career. Teaching math using the latest software is an IT career. So is managing development of a video game or making the Phoenix lander actually pick up chunks of ice. Statistical analysis of banking data or designing new web interfaces for sex education? Both IT careers.
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… and whether it’s a great speaker.

The Story

My dad decided to take my CPU with us when our family went home from Manila. The initial idea was to just take my hard drive – to keep it safe, he said – but when he had trouble removing it from the case, he decided that we should just take the whole thing along. :p

I’m glad, because at our house, one computer’s not big enough for all of us. With a spare monitor and some spare peripherals, my computer was soon up and running. This decreased arguments over who got to use the sala terminal first by 100%, hahaha.

We didn’t have spare speakers, though, and I missed working with music on in the background. I had earphones, but because I wanted to preserve my hearing, I opted not to use them as often. Also, I wanted to listen to some old cassette tapes, but the cassette player wasn’t working.

The Actual Review

I spotted the DKNH MD-305 or Mini Sound Box in a mall kiosk. This lightweight speaker is just a little bigger than a ping pong ball, making it extremely portable. It comes in two colors: yellow and orange. It fits my PC, MP3 player, and old Walkman just fine (yay – my cassettes aren’t dead yet). And, it has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Most importantly, the sound quality is decent: 3/5 or 4/5, depending on whose ears are in the room. For the PHP 290 price (roughly USD 6.50), I’m pretty happy.

Connected to the portable cassette player

The only trouble I’ve had is with the instructions on the package. The product is numbered MD-305; the package is numbered DK-305. More importantly, it doesn’t say where the product was made. The only clue – not a very good one – is that the instructions themselves are in poorly translated English. It took me a while to realize that my speaker was recharged via USB.

This brings me to battery life: there’s nothing in the instructions about it. On the speaker itself, there’s a little green light bulb, but it hasn’t gone off in hours. No, I haven’t road tested the thing, but my hunch (if you know better, please guide) is that the sound quality degrades as the battery dies. Most of the time, it’s connected to the USB drive, anyway.

Hooked up to the CPU

Ah, yes. Recharging the speaker is troublesome because of some poor design: the jack for the sound is perpendicular to the speaker’s USB connector. Unless you’ve got a short extension cable for your USB drive (thanks, Dad), you won’t be listening and charging at the same time.

Overall, I’d give the Mini Sound Box (not at all box-like, haha) a 3.5/5. It does the job well enough, and that’s the important thing. But its manufacturers would do well to clear up the labels that provide basic and necessary information.

I finally got a good ISO – if only I’d known sooner that the hash shown in Transmission would be different from the hash of the final file. Raar.

So I burned the image to a CD and then hauled the old Compaq Presiario 7212 over to my desk for resurrection. Or rather, Dad hauled it over for me, hahaha. I put on some music, connected all the cables, and then pushed the power button. A flash of little green lights, the familiar whir of the machine that provided my childhood with lots of 256-color games, and… nothing.

The power supply of the old computer can’t hack it, apparently. :p

I’ll be leaving the CD with my dad in case he still wants to work on the Compaq or if he decides to try GNU/Linux on a not-as-old secondary PC. I’m just glad he didn’t promise any beneficiary(ies) that they’d have a working computer by any set date yet.

Bermuda Triangle
> Devil’s Sea
> Sargasso Sea

I first read about this in this month’s Reader’s Digest, which says that an Audeo device for telephones is in the works. That one would help ward off eavesdroppers, considering that you would no longer have to say anything aloud into the phone.
clipped from www.theaudeo.com
The Audeo is being developed to create a human-computer interface for communication without the need of physical motor control or speech production. Using signal processing, unpronounced speech representing the thought of the mind can be translated from intercepted neurological signals.

By interfacing near the source of vocal production, the Audeo has the potential to restore communication to people who are unable to speak. The proposed solution is a featherweight wireless device resting over the vocal cords capable of transmitting neurological information from the brain. Using data analysis, this information can be processed into synthesized speech or a menu selection capable of conveying the basic necessities of human life.
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“And as they say, it’s in your DNA – you’re gaaaaaaaaaaay!”

Sorry, couldn’t help the song reference.

clipped from news.yahoo.com

LONDON (Reuters) –
Gay men and straight women share some
characteristics in the area of the brain responsible for
emotion, mood and anxiety, researchers said on Monday in a
study highlighting the potential biological underpinning of
Brain scans also showed the same symmetry among lesbians
and straight men, the researchers wrote in the Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences
Brain scans of 90 volunteers showed that the brains of
heterosexual men and homosexual women were slightly asymmetric
with the right hemisphere slightly larger than the left, Ivanka
Savic and Pers Lindstrom wrote. The brains of gay men and
heterosexual women were not.
Then they measured blood flow to the amygdala — the area
key for the “fight-or-flight” response — and found it was
wired in a similar fashion in gay men and heterosexual women as
well as lesbians and heterosexual men.
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“Our plan is to have a demonstration-scale plant operational by 2010 and, in parallel, we’ll be working on the design and construction of a commercial-scale facility to open in 2011,” says Mr Pal, adding that if LS9 used Brazilian sugar cane as its feedstock, its fuel would probably cost about $50 a barrel.
clipped from www.timesonline.co.uk

Silicon Valley is experimenting with bacteria that have been genetically altered to provide ‘renewable petroleum’

Some diesel fuel produced by genetically modified bugs

“Ten years ago I could never have imagined I’d be doing this,” says Greg Pal,
33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon
Californian sun. “I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the
people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this
is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.”

He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very
small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips
or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

Some of the complex lab equipment used to make some new strains of genetically modified bacteria

Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of
bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the
giant Lexus SUV
Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet.
He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls
“renewable petroleum”.
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