Monthly Archives: May, 2006

Softly, softly

I saw a ‘stealth boat’ today for the first time.

Stealth Boat

If you’re a Bond villain and need to pinch one of these for your daily commute, this one can be found in San Diego harbour. If you look very carefully.

Joke for the day

Don’t remember where I saw this…

A very rich man dies and arrives at the pearly gates with a large heavy bag on his back. St Peter asks him, “What’s in the sack?”

The man replies “I’ve given most of my riches to the poor, and I thought I could just bring a small amount with me to heaven”.

Peter says, “Mmm. I’ll have to ask God if you’re allowed to bring this in.”

After a while, St Peter comes back and says it’s probably fine, but he has to check the bag. He opens it and discovers it’s full of gold bars.

“Oh!”, he says, “That’s OK. You’ve brought paving stones.”

Getting the big picture

I saw my first 100 Mpixel display today, on a visit to Calit2 at UCSD.


It’s 55 standard displays, with a bank of Linux machines to drive them. So the pixels are the same size as on your normal display, but you need to walk around to examine the whole image. Very cool.

Click the picture for a couple more images.

The Emperor’s New Phone

Sol Trujillo, the CEO of Telstra, gave the opening talk at FiRe tonight. He made several interesting points, including a complaint about his newly-installed HDTV system and the 50-button remote that came with it, which he found completely bewildering. Somebody had installed it for him, and he knew that he had HDTV service, but when he arrived home, he couldn’t work out how to get to it. Why are so many consumer devices so hard to use? And that’s when you’re only using one of them at once. Just wait until you get your HDTV hooked up to your DVD and your Tivo and your XBox and your PC and….

My most poignant experience of this recently is the Motorola RAZR, perhaps the most beautiful cellphone hardware ever created, combined with the worst ever software user interface.

RAZRWhenever I talk about this in public, people who know Motorola phones laugh in agreement. Now, I can’t believe that everyone at Motorola is an idiot – far from it – so they must know that they’ve created a monstrosity – beauty on the outside, beast on the inside. I can therefore only deduce that they don’t care. Why not, and how can we, the users, make manufacturers care, so that they fix it?

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Inventive ways of recruiting…

MATHEMATICALLY confident drivers stuck in the usual jam on highway 101 through Silicon Valley were recently able to pass time contemplating a billboard that read: “{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com.” The number in question, 7427466391, is a sequence that starts at the 101st digit of e, a constant that is the base of the natural logarithm. The select few who worked this out and made it to the right website then encountered a “harder” riddle. Solving it led to another web page where they were finally invited to submit their curriculum vitae.

From an an Economist article about Google.

The Colour Purple

SGI logo
This may be the end of an era. Silicon Graphics has filed for Chapter 11. It’s been a long time since those purple SGI machines have been commonplace, even in research labs, but they made some good and innovative (if expensive) stuff in their time and the tech world will be poorer for their demise.

DIY Drive-Ins

Got a cool projector? Perhaps a MobMov would be a good way to show it off…

Brett’s Bromides

Brett Arends offers some golden rules of management. For example:

4. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Except in Alaska, where you should also fear grizzly bears.


Cambridge is blossoming. And I can’t stop taking photos…

2006_05_02-09_04_12 2006_04_29-15_04_10

Cambridge Menus

Any readers in the Cambridge area will appreciate this useful page put together by Samuel Lipoff.

Thanks, Samuel – your efforts much appreciated!

Quote of the day

This is from John’s blog, but it’s well worth requoting. Note the date.

“It was never the object of patent laws to grant a monopoly for every trifling device, every shadow of a shade of an idea, which would naturally and spontaneously occur to any skilled mechanic or operator in the ordinary progress of manufactures. Such an indiscriminate creation of exclusive privileges tends rather to obstruct than to stimulate invention. It creates a class of speculative schemers who make it their business to watch the advancing wave of improvement, and gather its foam in the form of patented monopolies, which enable them to lay a heavy tax on the industry of the country, without contributing anything to the real advancement of the arts. It embarrasses the honest pursuit of business with fears and apprehensions of unknown liability lawsuits and vexatious accounting for profits made in good faith.”

U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Atlantic Works vs. Brady, 1882.

Wooden Computing

Wooden computing

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser