Saturday, April 29, 2006

Project Syndicate

Project Syndicate is an international association of 264 newspapers in 114 countries.
Project Syndicate's global reach has attracted a distinguished international group of contributors, including presidents, Nobel laureates, and others from a variety of backgrounds and representing a wide spectrum of democratic opinion. Their commentaries have been read and discussed in many countries and provoked discussions spanning the range of modern media. By bringing those ideas and issues discussions to the printed mass media, Project Syndicate establishes an institutional framework within which the editors of major newspapers, together with their readers, may cooperate in dispersing today's "cloud of unknowing.

I am delighted to discover that they provide very good commentries, including commentry by Mikhail Gorbachev. Some of the commentries are really empowering, enlightening and adroitly written.

Worth reading (commentries available in multiple languages):
* Turning Point at Chernobyl by Mikhail Gorbachev
* The Conundrum of Scientific Fraud by Steve Fuller

The commentries are also categorised into sections such as The World in Words, Science and Society, The Asian Century, etc

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In: Jonathan Schwart, Out: Scott McNealy

After 22 years at the helm of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy is leaving. Famed for his empowering vision -- "The Network is the Computer", Scott McNealy has not only seen Sun through tough times, but he has also driven and rode the waves of innovations in the past decade including Java and Solaris.

Scott McNealy, although quitting as CEO, will retain his position of chairman. He is succeeded by Sun president Jonathan Schwartz.

Non sequitur: we also remember the Sun advertisement.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Black Holes Again

The latest on Google News is regarding the high efficiency of black hole 'engines'.

Animation of Black Hole in Elliptical Galaxy

This artist's animation depicts a journey into the center of an elliptical galaxy. After traveling past stars in the outer part of the galaxy, the supermassive black hole located at the bright center of the galaxy becomes visible. This black hole is surrounded by hot gas shown in red and yellow, which acts as fuel for the black hole engine. Power generated by the engine flows away from the black hole via jets of high-energy particles.

In addition, I managed to check out a documentary [Part 1, Part 2] on YouTube (starring Sam Neill) and produced by BBC (regarding black holes). Very educational.

Flickr Photo of the Day: I have sailed the seven seas

Shipwreck in the Njardvik shipyard. I can't help it, but I think there is a sense of nostalgia and beauty to this trash. Imagine where this boat has been. The fierceful weathers it has escaped. The delicious fish it brought home.

I have sailed the seven seas ..., originally uploaded by asmundur.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Gaming in Linux

With SuperGamer-1, gaming in Linux is finally here!

The SuperGamer-1 is a modification of the famous and well respected PCLinuxOS distribution optimized for gaming. It includes 3d acceleration drivers, the underlying pclos system, and several nice games (or demos).

* 3D games: america's army, cube, doom 3, enemy territory, legends, nexuiz, privateer, quake 4, soldier of fortune, ufo: alien invasion, ut2004, wesnoth
* Arcade: BzFlag, chromium, 3d pinball, frozen bubble, neverball, neverput, penguin racer, supertux, tuxkart
* Cards: Pysol
* Strategy: Foobillards
* Kernel: 2.6.13amd64op-smp squash 3 with source and stripped source installed
* Office: Open Office 2
* Misc: Xorg 6.8.2, gcc 3.3.1, firefox 1.0.7, and kde 3.4.3.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Breakthrough in Black Hole Simulation

NASA has produced a new breakthrough in black hole simulation. Read more @ NASA, New Scientist SPACE.
The ripples in space-time created when two black holes merge have been modelled to unprecedented accuracy, according to Einstein's equations, by a powerful new computer simulation. The "waveform" signatures produced in the simulation should help researchers identify the ripples in the data from gravitational wave detectors.

A demo of the simulation is shown below... really impressive.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Titanic Two Spoof Trailer

Its brilliantly done.
And if you are wondering who Derek Johnson is, see Wikipedia.

(If you cannot view it here, click on this text link to video.)

Technorati: Titanic

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Free as in Freedom

Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software by Sam Williams is also availabe on Project Gutenberg, other than on the original website.

An except from the Preface:
The work of Richard M. Stallman literally speaks for itself. From the documented source code to the published papers to the recorded speeches, few people have expressed as much willingness to lay their thoughts and their work on the line. [...]

For the readers who have decided to trust a few hours of their time to exploring this book, I can confidently state that there are facts and quotes in here that one won't find in any Slashdot story or Google search. Gaining access to these facts involves paying a price, however. In the case of the book version, you can pay for these facts in the traditional manner, i.e., by purchasing the book. In the case of the electronic versions, you can pay for these facts in the free software manner. Thanks to the folks at O'Reilly & Associates, this book is being distributed under the GNU Free Documentation License, meaning you can help to improve the work or create a personalized version and release that version under the same license.

The last time Richard Stallman was here in Singapore for some Linux related stuff, the local press reported that he charged a buck (which goes towards the GNU project) for every autograph.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Today I shall devote this little space here to the book Freakonomics. As I had mentioned before, it is a GREAT book... so great that I requested them to send me a bookplate... and to my delightful surprise, they did so after a few months. So, to celebrate the success of Freakonomics's one year, I am doing a little promotion for them here.

He [Levitt] had an interview for the Society of Fellows, the venerable intellectual Harvard clubhouse that pays young scholars to do their own work, for three years, with no commitments. [...] Finally-disquietingly-one [a fellow] of them said: "I'm having a hard time seeing the unifying theme of your work. Could you explain it?"

Levitt was stymied. He had no idea what his unifying theme was, or if he even had one. Amartya Sen, the future Nobel-winning economist, jumped in and neatly summarized what he saw as Levitt's theme.
Yes, Levitt said eagerly, that's my theme.
Another fellow then offered another theme.
You're right, Levitt said, that's my theme.
And so it went, like dogs tugging at a bone, until the philosopher Robert Nozick interrupted. If Levitt could have been said to have an intellectual hero, it would be Nozick.
"How old are you, Steve?" he asked.
Nozick turned to the other fellows: "He's 26 years old. Why does he need to have a unifying theme? Maybe he's going to be one of those people who's so talented he doesn't need one. He'll take a question and he'll just answer it, and it'll be fine."

Yes... that is Steven Levitt. [Read more about the above]

Overall, its a good book, thought provoking and fun. I hope they will publish a follow up book.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Flickr Photo of the Day: In the Realm of Soft Delusions

In the realm of soft delusions
, originally uploaded by IrenaS. Strange, yet beautiful.

Btw, I still have many Windows Live Messenger invites left. Email HanWorks Research if you want them.

Monday, April 10, 2006


New Internet startup Webaroo has emerged from stealth mode! After gettings the news from Google News, I decided to check out the product... and my verdict is that its great. Essentially , Webaroo is a free service that scours a subset of the Web without a live Internet connection. (Read more about how it works)
The key, Webaroo says, rests in giving users "more bang for the memory buck". Using techniques similar to a search engine such as Google, Webaroo "crawls" the internet, selecting pages "with high quality, broad coverage, and small size".

More from Webaroo in the future:
* A web pack containing a million articles from Wikipedia
* More topics for web packs (current web packs are limited to certain cities and the FIFA World Cup)
* A service that will be able to store "the whole of the web" on a 40GB hard drive.
* The company also announced today a deal with Acer, the world's fourth-largest branded PC maker, under which the Webaroo system will come pre-installed on the manufacturer's machines.

Webaroo is a really ambitious service, co-founded by Rakesh Mathur [from IIT-B] (also a co-founder of Junglee, which was sold to Amazon before the bubble burst). This idea may be revolutionary, but I have no doubt about it becoming a very popular and successful service.

The add websites feature is really cool, except that they limited the link depth to 1 only. (It is something like HTTrack, with a powerful search function and maybe more efficient caching.) Currently, I am waiting for them to expand their web packs (which is like 256 MB each ... not really 'small size').

Breakdown of Webaroo
My initial analysis of Webaroo suggests that it runs like a server (on http://localhost port 1000). In addition, it appears to be made using MSVCPP (there is a file MSVCR71.dll in C:\Program Files\Webaroo\dist )and it uses Microsoft .NET Framework according to the section on System Requirements. It appears to use AJAX and also Python (python24.dll in C:\Program Files\Webaroo\dist), and according to the credits (from taskbar webaroo icon, goto about and then credits), it contains BitTorrent P2P software and lots of other stuff. There is even a link going to Webaroo sourcecode, which appears to be an invalid link. Looking at the general coding, I notice that Webaroo includes nifty.js and the 'frames' on the page seems to be AJAX based. Try saving a page or look at the source code. Also settings appear to be stored in XML files in the program files webaroo folder. And websites which you have added to content are stored in C:\Documents and Settings\Your_Username\Application Data\Webaroo\Packages.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Art of Rhetoric: Ethos, Logos and Pathos

Rhetoric is the art of speaking or writing effectively.
According to Aristotle, rhetoric is "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion." He described three main forms of rhetoric: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. Read more here.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Port25 is the website of Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab (OSSL). The website is named Port 25, after the SMTP port. Microsoft OSSL claims to be "located on the company’s main campus, the lab houses more than 300 servers, which collectively run more than 15 versions of UNIX and 50 Linux distributions." Recently launched, Port25 has attracted a large number of comments. Take for example, an article on explaining Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab (Part 1), has comments ranging from NetBSD is not a linux distro (contrary to wide the author writes), and also CentOS & NetBSD being "lesser known" distros, and half-positive comments such as:
I'm so happy to see Microsoft "trying" to get a glimpse of what Open Source is, because after all the censoring they've done, and the copyright laws they've created to try to stop users like us that love GNU/Linux from using it, they had to use something without paying for it. I'm pretty sure that those 300 servers with those 50 distros has been the cheapest investment ever.

There is also another post on why is it called Computer Science.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tux Power! has released its first compilation CD of music by artists using libre software - Made in Linux Vol.1: Tux Power!
Get Tux Power! now! (free download)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Domain Names

Analysis of all 3.5GB of the .COM Top Level Domain zone file.
Of the 17,576 possible three-letter sequences (for .com domain names), every single one is already taken!
I can't believe that even after the Internet bubble burst, domain name speculations are still going on!