Eric Lindsay's Blog 2007 October

Monday 1 October 2007

Blog Entry

5 a.m. Time to get up and go through the motions of blogging.

Freedom of the press is guaranteed to anyone with an internet connection. No longer any need to own a press.

The goal of Western society, apart from a false sense of security, is the efficient mass production of things for people to buy, and of people able to buy the things. This is called raising the standard of living. A sense of culture must not disturb the production line.

You should expect democratic states would favour the fullest development of the individual. In practice, the state attempts to push the individual into line. The aim is a stable society, not a questioning society. The first purpose of education is to guide the young student towards happy immersion in the correct values and mores of their society.

Advertising Government

How does this arsehole of an Australian government get to waste taxpayers money on a vast swag of TV and newspaper advertising in favour of their policies right before an election? Maybe it is time to stop all government advertising? If the government has anything important to say, they can put it in the Government Gazette, or on their web site, and some newspaper will report on it.

This advertising before an election shit was started by the Labor Party, but the Coalition have taken it to unprecedented depths of corruption. None of the major parties deserve government, whatever the merits of their economic policies.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Water Tanks and Disease

More reports by Hannah Davies in the Sunday Mail that councils are not checking water tank health and safety regulations. Not one householder fined so far. Queensland Health printed 90,000 leaflets warning of fines up to A$225 if tanks are not mosquito proof. Meanwhile, Ross River Fever cases in Queensland increased by 300% in the past month. It is warmer weather, so maybe it would have increased anyhow. However 95,000 new water tanks in the hands of people mostly not used to keeping them safe probably didn't help.

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Apple iPhone Applications

I am not surprised to hear unauthorised applications resulted in a bricked iPhone when Apple updated their iPhone firmware. However at the moment the iPhone does not compete in phone related capability even with a low end smartphone like the Nokia 6120 Classic. A phone like the Nokia E51 also has WLAn via 802.11b/g, which makes it well ahead of an iPhone technically. As for using an iPhone as a PDA replacement or substitute, there isn't any chance at all.

Since I live in country Australia, a phone that only handles GSM and EDGE isn't going to have the range needed. Plus only Telstra supply decent connections in country areas (with real high margins, and low download limits). At the moment, there is no indication which inadequate telco Apple would partner with here, so there is no point in following the iPhone further.

Maybe sometime in mid 2008 the iPhone will be updated. Maybe sometime in 2009 the iPhone will use Intel's Moorestown system on a chip. Maybe it will be available from a telco with good prices and decent coverage. Oh, wait, there isn't one. Or a replacement for the Nokia 6120 might not be as clunky and hard to use. Who knows, maybe the rest of the phone designers will start adding WiFi to their confounded phones.

Actually I'd be happy with an Intel Menlow mobile internet device based on the Silverthorne CPU, if it had a decent range of PDA style capabilities, and great battery life. I suspect Apple is stalling on an ARM SDK for iPhone because it intends to move the iPhone from ARM to Intel as soon as it can, and make use of hardware integrated into the Intel chips. If so, then the iPod Touch will also change. Arguments about problems with CPU incompatibilities make no sense. Apple's Mac OS X universal binary already supports 32 bit PowerPC for the G4, 64 bit for the G5, and 32 and 64 bit code for Intel. Apple know how to handle CPU changes and byte reversal. However will the new Intel chips work as well as they plan? Intel's (ARM based) XScale wasn't a winner.

Thursday 4 October 2007

Very Hip

We drove from the Whitsunday Terraces to Mackay so Jean could have her left hip replacement checked. All is going well, and she is mostly walking without a cane. She has the right hip replacement scheduled for November. We will have to make two visits to the Blood Bank prior to that so Jean can deposit blood for the operation. We organised dates for that also.

Reflections on Apple iMac

While at Mackay, we visited Matilda Internet, the only dealer I know within 300 km who has Apple computers. They had a 20 inch and a 24 inch iMac. I thought the 20 inch iMac glossy display was poor compared to both the 24 inch, and compared to my existing 20 inch iMac G5. I think Apple used an inferior LCD panel to their previous models to help get costs down for the low end model (they did the same on their 17 inch imac). Despite not being a very brightly lit room (by tropical standards) I thought the reflections on the glossy glass in front of the 24 inch display were just too obtrusive. I don't think I could live with that level of reflections.

The reflections are a real shame, especially since you can get picture frames with low reflection glass. I really wanted to replace my main Apple system, a 20 inch iMac G5, with a 24 inch Intel IMac. Instead of a replacement Apple, I guess I will just give the old system a memory boost, and get a bit longer life from it.

This model will be the motherless Edsel of the iMac line and I look forward to its replacement.

Friday 5 October 2007

Intel Desktop Penryn CPU

Rumours Apple have bought almost all of the new Harpertown 3.2GHz Xeon and 3.33GHz Extreme desktop Penryn CPUs, with a 1600 MHz front side bus, when the Extreme Penryns are launched on 12 November. If so, a new Mac Pro upgrade seems not too far away (it is due). Maybe the Yorkfield Extreme for its servers as well, which haven't been updated since August 2006. That sort of front side bus speed would probably need DDR3 memory, not DDR2. Sounds expensive.

On the other hand, if the current aluminium and glass iMac runs cool, maybe Apple will decide to put a desktop class dual core CPU in that. I don't think that is likely, however much I would like to see it. The iMac is a laptop class computer, with appropriate power consumption, like all Apple computers except the Mac Pro. To be honest, I don't really need more than an iMac can deliver. But my iMac G5 ALS is not enough behind the curve to have a decent excuse to replace it yet - but I want a replacement whether it is justified or not.

Saturday 6 October 2007

iMac Displays

Found some comments on the new glossy Apple iMac displays. Calibrating new glossy iMac display impossible except in the dark. Specifically targets 20 inch iMac display as highly similar to a good laptop display, not to a full 8 bit desktop display. Take apart photos show the 20 inch iMac now uses a LG Philips LM201WE3, an 18 bit display - the specs say 8 bit(FRC), which is misleading - it is 6 bit plus dither. They say the 24 inch iMac is better than the 20 inch iMac, but also inferior in display quality to the previous 24 inch iMac model. I don't know about that. Various people suggest the glass 24 inch iMac is using a high quality LG-Philips LM240WU2, an H-IPS panel, which was used on at least some of the previous model 24 inch white iMac. One list says Mid_2007 24" iMac: LG.Philips LM240WU2-SLB1, S-IPS, 8-bit. Note that the otherwise similar LG Philips LM240WU3(TN) is a 6 bit panel. Late_2006 24" iMac: LG.Philips LM240WU2-SLA1, S-IPS, 8-bit. Mid_2007 20" iMac: LG.Philips LM201WE3-????, TN Film, 6-bit. Late_2006 20" iMac: Samsung LTM201M1-????, S-PVA, 8-bit. 20" ACD & G5 iMac: LG.Philips LM201W01-SLA3, S-IPS, 8-bit

The reviews do say the performance with the Santa Rosa chipset is great.

Another report that the iMac glossy display is nothing but trouble in the business area. Say they can no longer recommend the iMac. Suggest potential iMac buyers check it out for themselves. I feel the same. I am going to wait until Apple give me the choice of a matte display.

Sunday 7 October 2007

LCD Monitor Tests

Really nice set of LCD display test images, that will let you see how good (or mostly how poor) your LCD display really is.

Monday 8 October 2007

Reflections from LCD Displays

When light moves between transparent substances with different refractive indexes, you have a refractive index mismatch. Light will change by reflecting (bounce), refracting (bending, like a straw partly in clear water), and being absorbed. LCD screen designers need to reduce the reflection of external ambient light (sunlight or indoor lighting). This can be done by roughening the physical surface to produce a matte surface. Polarising film can also be used to to produce an anti-reflective high-gloss surface.

Light reflecting from a matte surface diffuses in multiple directions, reducing reflections, and making them less like a mirror. It also reduces the intensity of light going through the surface, so the image being transmitted is also diffused and less clear.

Anti-reflective high gloss displays have a chemical coating (typically magnesium fluoride) on the polariser film over the display. This reduces the refractive index to closer to that of air. This should reduce both reflection and refraction. Use of a smooth high gloss surface means the image will be clear and without distortion rather than diffused, will be brighter and have more contrast, and colours will be clearer. However any reflection that does exist will be much more like that from a mirror.

My opinion is that glossy displays are suitable and superior for evening use, during flights, and in dimly lit rooms where you control the level of lighting. In my opinion, glossy displays are totally unsuitable in sunlit rooms and in brightly lit rooms.

Fujitsu introduced this high gloss display around 2003, and Sony made it better known as XBRITE. Trade marked Dell TrueLife, HP or Compaq BrightView, Toshiba TruBrite and Acer CrystalBrite are essentially the same.

Screentek, suppliers of laptop screens, provide a good explanation of high gloss LCD display surfaces, with illustrations of the technology.

Tuesday 9 October 2007

Stabilising Wedges for Climate

An interesting article by S Pascala and R Socolow on Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technology in PDF, or Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies in HTML. Great idea, right approach, but will it actually work?

EMI Music on iTunes

Someone mentioned using the rondo from Mozart's 4th Horn Concerto as a ring tone on their new mobile phone. They also mentioned this was used by British comedians Flanders and Swann in their song Ill Wind. That in turn reminded me that when I was (much) younger, I enjoyed their mild satirical humour. So after checking in iTunes that I had the Mozart (I had the 2nd and 4th, but not under the correct title), I looked up Flanders and Swann online in the iTunes Store.

To my delight, not only were a variety of Flanders and Swann records available, but some were available from EMI as 256 kbps ACC without DRM. I simply refuse to buy any music with DRM. Although I keep all my music on computer, I would prefer to have a CD (as backup, and a better sounding format). However I couldn't find the complete Flanders and Swann on CD at an Australian store. Plus the US prices for the set of CDs was significantly higher than the iTunes price. So the Complete Flanders and Swann became the first music I ever bought from iTunes. Talk about The Long Tail.

I note Christopher Breen says customers don't like DRM. Yahoo's Ian Rogers said music needs to be convenient, and that DRM is a problem for music labels. Mind you, that Fistfullayen web site uses those annoying snap popup previews, which I don't find convenient. It will be real interesting to see if EMI's online sales increased now they have dropped DRM. Maybe the music industry still has a future.

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Thermal Solar

Interesting and enthusiastic Business Week story about solar thermal power from flat mirrors direct to steam. John O'Donnell's company Ausra, using technology from Sydney University's David Mills, and businessman Peter Le Lievre. Plan a 2 GW plant. They had a previous 1 MW solar thermal plant next to a Liddell NSW coal plant.

To quote from the article: As a startup with newer technology, Ausra faces harder financial challenges. Coal plant builders have been able to count on 80% to 90% debt at an interest rate of 5.5% to 6%. Their equity investors expect about an 11% return on equity. That puts the average cost of capital at about 7%. But since no one has built a giant solar plant, investors demand a risk premium. O'Donnell's equity investors want a richer 20% rate of return. Plus, he can get only 50% debt, at an interest rate of 7.5%. As a result, the overall cost of capital for Ausra's first plants is 12%.

Plasma TV Ban

Interesting idea. Ban plasma TV to save electricity, according to a Digital CEnergy report for the Australian Greenhouse Office. Add the equivalent of Energy Star ratings to TV, and ban those that don't manage to get a single star. The report claims energy used by TVs has overtaken fridge, heating and air conditioning. Of 116 TVs tested, 16 out of 20 plasma displays would not get even a single star.

Banning plasma TV will not happen, according to Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. I don't think anyone seriously expected this idea would fly. I mean, who actually cares about greenhouse gas emissions?

Thursday 11 October 2007

Wild Power

More on Epuron's crazy scheme to put a gigawatt wind farm of 500 wind turbines out near Broken Hill. If I haven't already expressed my disbelief in the wind availability there, let me do so now. Wind farms make marginal sense in the roaring forties, on the Tasmanian west coast, and maybe the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. However consistent wind at 10 metres a second is scarce on the Australian mainland. You need around 10 metres a second to get large wind turbines to rated power output (although they start producing at around 4 metres a second). Power output is approximately equal to the cube of the wind speed, which is why high winds are needed. There may well be a bunch of small local sites that have good wind, but I can't see any evidence in CSIRO wind rose figures that decent wind is generally available.

The latest suggestion is that there isn't enough transmission capacity near the proposed wind farm site. Decent scale transmission costs around a million dollars a kilometre. The distances involved may be 500 kilometre.

Friday 12 October 2007

Portable User Accounts

Foreshadowed about four years ago, Apple was awarded US Patent 7,120,785 for making user accounts portable. A user account on a multi-user computer could be stored on an external data device. Then the account could be used on a different computer. This sort of portable user account isn't new, but creating such an external user is usually a pain. Apple may bring their typical ease of use to the task.

Similar but more limited functions are available for Firefox browser users. Windows Briefcase had some of that function, or FolderShare in Windows Live. Roaming profile is also similar, as is Damn Small Linux.

Saturday 13 October 2007

Apple OS X Prices

I took note of some Apple prices prior to the release of Leopard. I wanted to see whether Apple made much of a change to their prices to take into account exchange rate variations.

In the USA Apple online store, Tiger (OS X 10.4) costs US$129 (family pack US$199). Plus state sales tax if applicable (worst case less than 10%).

In Australia Tiger costs A$199 (A$299 for family pack), including 10% GST.

However in Australia Leopard is listed as A$158 (family pack A$249), an A$50 decrease in price. Wonderful. Apple changed their launch prices based on exchange rate changes.

In the USA Apple online store, iLife or iWork each cost US$79 (family pack US$99), not including state taxes.

In Australia, iLife or iWork each cost A$99 (family pack A$129), including 10% GST.

Sunday 14 October 2007

Download Idiocy

So the front cover material in the Sunday Mail was a chance to win one of 100 Apple iPods. These iPods seem to be very popular with young people. At least, several have shown me the iPods they have. Plus another item was a free download of some Greek alphabet singer's latest song. However the song was blocked from use with some proprietary music format. It does not work on an iPod. Does anyone else think this sort of promotion is unbelievable stupid? If you have a free music download available, put it out in MP3 or in AAC or in something that is an international standard, so people can actually play it. The music companies seem to be run by utter idiots. Luckily most of them will be bankrupt in another decade.

Monday 15 October 2007

Intel Quad Core Mobile CPU

Intel demonstrated a working 45 nm quad core mobile Penryn CPU in Taiwan. Just out of the fab, the 840 million transistor chip has a hot 45 watt power envelope, so that means large notebook computers (or an iMac). It is scheduled for second half 2008, with the Montevina chipset.

Mobile VP Mooly Eden also mentioned direct compressor cooling (like air conditioners and refrigerators). He showed a 2 cm diameter 10 cm long compressor. Sounds like a less power hungry technique than Peltier effect coolers, but not near as efficient as a fan.

Chester Cuthbert's Birthday

Canadian fan Chester Cuthbert celebrated his 95th birthday. His vast science fiction collection has been donated to the University of Alberta libraries. It took five moving vans to carry the collection away, I am told.

Tuesday 16 October 2007

iTunes Music Price Reduction

Reports from the USA that Apple have brought down the US$1.29 price of unlocked unprotected higher bit rate (256 kbps) iTunes Plus AAC music down to the same 99 cent level as their original DRM infested 128 kbps AAC music. This was believed to be a reaction to Amazon making unprotected MP3 music available online at similar price. More Indie music is appearing as iTunes Plus, foreshadowed for some time.

Apple are a spoiler company, one that helps breaks old industries (such as buggy whip manufacturers). Rarely the very first, but often earliest at making things easy enough that lots of people start seeing them as a good idea. They helped destroy the mainframe computer. They will help destroy the power and income of the old record companies, and partly destroy the CD.

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Storm Coming

The Storm botnet is larger than most people think, and continues to spread Windows executables via links in email that looks like it is targeted. Storm includes your email address. The Storm worm uses fast flux networks, constantly changing public DNS records to make tracking difficult or impossible. Storm has added encrption to its command and control traffic, presumably as a step towards leasing compromised computers in the botnet to spammers or for DDoS attacks.

Annoyed Storm does DDoS attack on researcher, is part of a pattern of Storm attacks on anti-spam websites.

I keep saying the only way to stop spammers is to kill them. No-one believes me.

Thursday 18 October 2007

Trip to Mackay

We had to leave the Whitsunday Terraces and visit Mackay so Jean could visit the Blood Bank to make a deposit prior to her hip replacement. Managed to visit Spotlight and get eggcups (the eggs are too large for them - why doesn't anyone here sell eggcups?). Jean got some fabric paint for her T shirts. A cute salt and pepper grinder set for me (I need ones small enough to throw into the kitchen drawer), and a plastic box that you can almost fit a Weetbix box into. Why doesn't anyone sell a correct sized box for Weetbix? I wrote to Decor Plastics asking them about that a year or so ago. Plus at Bunnings I got 10 @ 25 x 25 x 20 mm right angle brackets. I plan to stick them on the balcony to prevent the iRobot sweeping robot (Binder) from plunging to its death over the side.

Jean wouldn't let me get a milkshake at Bloomsbury on the return trip to the Whitsunday Terraces, so I had to survive on a skinny chicken and lettuce sandwich Jean didn't need - she had the giant chicken and salad roll we had bought at Bloomsbury on the way to Mackay, plus whatever the Blood Bank fed her.

Nuclear Power Too Cheap to Measure

Some may recall Lewis L Strauss declaring nuclear power will be too cheap to meter around 1955. A large amount of hype there, and not supported by engineers and visionaries of the time. Good article on the history of that remark.

Friday 19 October 2007

iPhone SDK

Steve Jobs announced an Apple iPhone software developers kit planned for release in February. The OS X based iPhone has always been capable of accepting third party software. Enthusiasts came up with various applications since it was released, and found ways to force them to install.

Why announce the SDK now? It is big news, at least for potential developers and iPhone enthusiasts. Why not save the announcement for some major event like Macworld San Francisco in January? One thing is to serve notice to iPhone software developers that their efforts might be along the wrong track. But the hackers know that already. They don't care.

I hope it means Apple think they will have so much to announce at MWSF that they don't want other items detracting from product announcements.

While I don't think the iPhone will be released in Australia any time soon (if ever), release of a SDK may make the iPod Touch of sufficient use to consider buying one. On the other hand, there are other internet appliances with WiFi, like the cheaper Nokia N800, which even has a larger display.

Music Singles on USB Drive

Universal Music plan to sell music singles on USB drives to teens who no longer think CDs are cool. At 67% higher prices than a single CD, this idiocy shows once again that the record companies just don't get it. More expensive than a download, and less convenient. What are the music executives sniffing?

Sell the stuff in AAC or MP3 or a lossless format, at a reasonable price. Then people can play it on whatever they want to. If the music companies don't do it, then either the artists will do it from their own web sites, or the music will be peer to peered. The music companies need to get a clue.

Saturday 20 October 2007

Nokia N810 Internet Tablet

Just announced, the Nokia N810 internet tablet has WiFi, Bluetooth, and retains the 800 x 480 display. It runs Linux based OS2008, and should be priced at US$479. You can sometimes find the older N800 at US$239. 256MB Flash, and two SD cards.

Environment and Market

Despite increasing oil costs, last month Australians last month bought 87,750 new cars, up 7% on September 2006. SUVs were up 20% to 17,309. Plus over the past four years, the number of vehicles increased 11.7% to 14.4 millions. Average fuel consumption was 13.4 litres per 100 kilometres.

Sunday 21 October 2007

Digital Radio

Digital radio is audio with pictures, says Austereo chairman Peter Harvie. So how is that different to TV, or those stupid mobile phones that display video? So digital radio is mandated from 2009, after Australian broadcasters ignored it for decades. The broadcasters still don't care. If I am a typical customer, I sure as hell don't care. Plus the government says digital radio is unsuitable for regional areas.

Monday 22 October 2007

Apple Financial Reports

Apple's September 2007 financial reports. 2.164m Macintosh sales, 34 percent growth, 400,000 over previous record. 1.119m iPhones bringing cumulative fiscal 2007 sales to 1,389,000. 10.2m iPods, a 17% growth (I thought iPods were saturated).

Apple had an astonishing 33.6% gross margin on revenue of $6.22 billion and net quarterly profit of $904 million, or $1.01 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $4.84 billion and net quarterly profit of $542 million, or $.62 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. $24 billion in revenue and $3.5 billion in net income in fiscal 2007. 40% of sales outside the USA. Direct sales 57% of company revenue.

473,000 sales at 197 Apple retail stores, half to new owners. 42% growth year on year, revenue $1.25 billion, $268 million in segment margin. Revenue per store $6.6M, up $1m. Forty new stores expected in 2008, one in China prior to the Olympics.

Desktops 817,000 units sold = $1,195,000,000 up 30%. Portables 1,347,000 units sold = $1,908,000,000. Subtotal CPUs 2,164,000 units sold = $3,103,000,000.

iPod 10,200,000 units sold = $1,619,000,000. Other Music Related Products and Services $601,000,000. iPhone and Related Products & Services 1,119,000 units sold = $118,000,000 with sales recognised over 8 quarters. Peripherals and Other Hardware $346,000,000. Software, Service and Other Sales $430,000,000. Total Apple $6,217,000,000

17% of global music sales were digital in the first half of 2007, compared to 11% for all of 2006. iTunes is the third largest music distributor in the USA.

Apple made $100m from Tiger in its first quarter, with a world base of 15 million machines able to run it. Base for Leopard is most Macs from past four years, around 21 million.

Apple earnings call transcript provided by Seeking Alpha.

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Greenhouse Gas Accelerates

Global CO2 emissions in 2006 were 9.9 billion tons. CO2 released since 2000 has increased 35% faster than scientists expected, according to Michael Raupach and others of CSIRO and the Global Carbon Project, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Extinctions linked to higher temperatures, at least in tropical seas, according to Peter Mayhew of University of York, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Chinese Growth

Every Chinese person twice as rich by 2020, is what President Hu Jintao plans. Why should they not improve their life, when Western societies have had this advantage from science, technology and social changes? In the past five years, per capita income doubled to US$2000. However to do this, China needs minerals, and above all, it needs power. China has coal. Does anyone think Kyoto will stop China burning their coal? Does anyone think it will stop China burning Australian coal? Get real. Wind and wave power simply doesn't fuel an advanced industrial economy. There will be real competition for resources like oil, gas and coal. This will fuel increased prices for many manufactured goods, and for foodstuffs. Plan for a high greenhouse emissions future. It is coming.

Inflation Rate

The consumer price index for the September quarter was 0.7%, but on the basis of expected increases, the Reserve Bank is likely to increase interest rates to dampen inflation. The Reserve Bank focus on the underlying rate, not headline rates. We have full employment, better than ever before. We had had a record 15 years of average 2.3% inflation, mostly thanks to letting the Reserve Bank work on it (with some fairly blunt instruments). Drought and higher fuel prices have really pushed up food costs, while rent and housing costs are also higher. Partially balancing this was lower costs for electronics, thanks to China.

Haneef Case Weak

Interesting admission from Police Commissioner Mick Kelty that he thought the terrorism case against Dr Mohammed Haneef was weak. Sounds like more infighting between police and prosecutors. The immigration minister still seems to be a goose, even if police fed him what he wanted to hear. Luckily the whole bunch of the politicians are likely to be chucked out.

Thursday 25 October 2007

Rent in Whitsundays

CPQ say average weekly rents in the Whitsundays for 1 bed unit is $200, for 2 bed unit $250, for 3 bed unit $325. For 2 bed house $250, 3 bed house $360, for 4 bed house $470. Figures would be more use if they were grouped to smaller areas.

Leopard Torrents

Apple's Leopard OS X (10.5) is said to already be available via the pirate torrents. I wouldn't waste my time stealing it, or my limited download capability, but I wish my boxed family pack of Leopard would arrive. I really want to play with it (instead of doing more worthy things, like completing my tax return). It is listed today as shipped.

There are instructions for installing Leopard on an older Macintosh, from MacRumors forum. Basically modify the install tests. Apple commented their code pretty well, and don't seem to have made a determined effort to prevent you using an older model Macintosh.

I figure Leopard is almost worth the money just for Time Machine. Yes, I already do backups. I've used SuperDuper, and written scripts ... but I don't get around to running them as often as I should. Yes, I could automate them as well. But Apple have this tendency to make easy things you could do, but don't. I am hoping for nice things from Front Row, for example, particularly in handling ripped video.

Meanwhile, Intel CEO Paul Otellini says he and his wife use a iPhones and he uses a MacBook Pro at home for his personal life, and a ThinkPad at work. Pretty good publicity for Apple.

Mac OS X 10.5.0 Leopard will be officially released on 26 October 2007.

Friday 26 October 2007

Serial Numbers

Information about Apple from serial number from Chipmunk. Handy service. More on serial numbers.

The alphabetical prefix is the factory. W8 is Shanghai, China. The next digit is the year, so the 5 for my iMac is 2005. The next two digits are the week in the year, so 20 is in May 2005. The next three characters seem to be a unique identifier within the week, in base 34, with the letters O and I not used. The rest of the letters identify the model.

Some model numbers: QHX - aluminium Powerbook G4 (2004). QHV - iBook G4 (2004). MVZ - aluminium 17 inch Powerbook (2003 M8793).

Sound Levels

All day the Port of Airlie construction below our Whitsunday Terraces balcony pumps out sound from the diggers and trucks, and dumps dust and dirt through our apartment despite the water truck. Then tonight the band struck up for the Fantasea Reef Festival cracker night. By 6 p.m. I had to move my stereo speakers to within a metre in an attempt to listen to the news. The band must be 300 metres away, if not further, and were still producing over 70 dB. Still, I do enjoy the fireworks, even if I can't stand the so called music.

Saturday 27 October 2007

No Vote

Former Premier Peter Beattie's seat of Brisbane Central was (as expected) won by Labor's Grace Grace. Dr Paul Williams writes an interesting article in The Courier Mail pointing out she won 50.35% of the votes cast. Alas, the votes cast were only 67.77 of the 34,374 enrolled voters. That gave her 11,248 primary vote or less than 33%. The same percentage didn't bother to vote, which is pretty interesting when voting is compulsory. Without a credible Liberal or National opponent why would some people bother? Four percent managed an informal vote, which is pretty hard to manage. we really should have a choice in elections. I suggest we need None of the Above at the bottom of every ballot.

ATP GPS photo finder

Dram maker ATP (whose useless site doesn't include a search) have a GPS photo finder keeps track of where you are (GPS access willing). Insert a SD, MMC or MS camera memory card and it checks the time jpeg photos were taken. Then it adds the GPS settings for that time. Cost A$189. Portable Geotagging. Now if only someone actually sold it in Australia, instead of merely sending out press releases about it! Update. Borge's Imaging sell the ATP GPS Photofinder in Australia.

I have been waiting for something like this for ages, since the camera people seem to refuse to use something like a NXP SnapShot to add a GPS to cameras.

Sony have a similar GPS-CS1, but I suspect it expects a connection to a Windows box.

My only obvious alternative is to use Craig Stanton's Geotagger to add GPS EXIF information to photos in my iPhoto library. I am a little reluctant, as I don't know whether Apple plan to do something themselves. I note Preview in Leopard is now location aware.

Sunday 28 October 2007

Two Human Species

The human race will split into two different species in 100,000 years, according to Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics, in a report for men's satellite channel Bravo back in October 2006. The physical regress from a peak will start around the year 3000. Within 10,000 years, reliance upon technology will weaken us. Seems H.G. Wells The Time Machine picked that up with his Eloi and Morlocks. Does sort of seem like the thing you would produce for men's TV. Curry says Bravo released extracts out of context.

Monday 29 October 2007

Travel to Mackay

Despite the early hour, there was a cruise ship out in Pioneer Bay when we looked outside from the balcony at the Whitsunday Terraces. We had to drive to Mackay early in the morning, so Jean could attend the Blood Bank. The local garage was out of fuel, which wasn't a good start. Next garage had fuel, expensive. When we arrived at Mackay we dropped her paperwork off at the Pioneer Valley hospital. Jean was walking badly enough that she had brought her crutch, and I dropped her off at the entrance before parking the car. Before we continued to the Blood Bank, I checked Bunnings, but couldn't get any more of the right angle brackets I wanted (still no stock).

No parking remaining at the Blood Bank. Found a field and parked in that. No problems with Jean giving the blood, but her red cell count was way down again. Seems Waygu beef, venison and iron tablets are not a magic fix for multiple blood donations.

Stopped at Red Rooster on the way out of town, so Jean could have more to eat. Someone else took our order by mistake, and left their own, so there was a delay while they did Jean's snack again. Stopped at Bloomsbury for a milk shake each. Yeah!

Jean dozed most of the trip. When we arrived home at the Whitsunday Terraces I found a parcel from Apple on the doorstep. Yeah!

Leopard OS X 10.5 arrives

The parcel on the door step had a label, saying TNT Drivers: As a one-off, and only for deliveries to private addresses if the consignee is not home, Apple authorises this to be left in a secure location and without pod signature. I have not seen Apple do that previously.

Since I had increased the memory in both my Apple computers, I started installing Leopard on my Powerbook at once. After the DVD consistency check, it started installing around 3:50 p.m. By 4 p.m. it was telling me it would take 3 hours and 49 minutes. Ouch! Luckily by 4:30 the installer was saying it would complete in 30 minutes. Leopard came up a few minutes past five. Didn't want to let me remove the DVD, but perhaps that was user error.

Now Spotlight is hogging the CPU and seems to be indexing the whole drive again. CPU temperature around 60 degrees, and the fan is working a little harder. Activity Monitor is showing CPU hitting 100% fairly often. It took about an hour before Spotlight had done its indexing. The Powerbook was still working fine despite the CPU use.

Intel Penryn Released

Intel originally had a 12 November embargo date on their 45 nm Penryn Xeon server processor. Seemed they have changed the embargo date to 29 October, with the quad core Extreme QX9650 processor, a shrink of the Core2Duo (it does have SSE4 SIMD support). Two sets of 410 million transistors, on a 2 x 107 sq mm die. 130 watt thermal envelope is hot stuff (although there are indications it runs cooler), and the US$999 price tag means high end.

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Daylight Saving

More on whether extended Daylight saving saves energy. Conclusion, for some areas, probably not.

Coal is King

Coal production rising 60% worldwide by 2030, to 6.9 billion tons a year. China already produces 2.4 billion tons of coal a year, and still has to import more, since it is building a coal fired power plant a week. USA hit a record 1.2 billion tons last year, and is planning 150 new coal fired power plants this decade.

Wednesday 31 October 2007

Apple Killed Music Pricing

NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker says Apple destroyed music business in terms of pricing. NBC wanted higher prices for a TV show, as a test. I guess the idea is that if people paid the price, more price increases would come.

While it is true many similar objects (like cars) are sold at different prices, these objects also have different marginal costs. I think that makes a difference. After all, going to the movies cost the same whether the film wins an Academy Award, or is B grade junk (mind you, the two could be the same). It costs the same whether it is 90 minutes, or three hours. Not that I would pay Apple's prices for a compressed, low quality download.

The comments about NBC by readers were almost all scathing. Many commented that TV should go and die. I dumped my TV set several years ago, so my opinion is clear.