Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2006

Stella Award is no award at all

I've been getting the Stella Award email from a number of sources. It leads off with the following:Time once again to review the winners of the Annual "Stella Awards." The Stella Awards are named after 81 year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald's (in NM). That case inspired the Stella Awards for the most frivolous, ridiculous, successful lawsuits in the United States.The problem is that the 2006 winners are the same as the 2004 winners and the 2003 winners. This is from the first page of Google results. If you'd like to see what really happened, you can read about the Stella Liebeck case here. You'll find that yes, she was awarded money, but nothing close to $2.7 million in punitive damages, and that all she wanted from McDonald's to begin with was $20,000 to cover medical expenses.

Moral of the story: Don't eat at McDonalds because it will make you fat, leading to diabetes and heart disease. And don'…

Eclipse 3.2 M5 due Feb 17

Eclipse 3.2 M5 is now in the final stretch before its scheduled release on Friday, February 17th. Here is a list of bugs to be fixed for 3.2 M5. I have no idea what new features may be delivered for this specific drop.

It was 30 years ago today...

It's that time of the year when the infamous Bill Gates letter is pulled out and dusted off. So let's read this letter and take a moment's pause to think about the man and his company, Microsoft.
February 3, 1976

An Open Letter to Hobbyists

To me, the most critical thing in the hobby market right now is the lack of good software courses, books and software itself. Without good software and an owner who understands programming, a hobby computer is wasted. Will quality software be written for the hobby market?[1]

Almost a year ago, Paul Allen and myself, expecting the hobby market to expand, hired Monte Davidoff and delivered Altair BASIC. Though the initial work took only two months, the three of us have spent most of the last year documenting, improving and adding features to BASIC. Now we have 4K, 8K, EXTENDED, ROM and DISK BASIC. The value of the computer time we have used exceeds $40,000.[2]

The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC…

The Empire tightens its grip, Part 2

Pay-to-play on the Internet is coming.Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency. According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out.

Under the plans they are considering, all of us--from content providers to individual users--would pay more to surf online, stream videos or even send e-mail. Industry planners are mulling new subscription plans that would further limit the…

The Empire tightens its grip

You have to admire the balls that Microsoft has when it makes a statement like this:
"We don't want this technology to be available to every hobbyist. We need to keep the number of licensees down to a manageable number. We charge a license fee to keep the number of people we have to deal with down to a level we can handle."What is Amir Majidimehr, Corporate VP at Microsoft's Windows Digital Media Division, talking about? Microsoft's version of Digital Rights Management.

It's interesting how history repeats itself. High licensing and developer fees were what caused the Unix vendors to falter and fail in the late 80s, because Microsoft was standing right there offering the same essential functionality with nearly zero cost of entry compared to Unix. The high cost of developing for the Microsoft environment has reached levels only seen in the heyday of Unix. It's a tax on innovation, a tax that many can't afford to pay. Right now Linux stands on the side l…

NetBeans 5 Final is released

The final release of NetBeans 5 is here. I've downloaded and installed it under SuSE Linux and Windows XP. I can't find anything that changed between RC1 and Final, which is a Good Thing. Now is the time to dig in and start working with NB5. Features I find compelling:
Matisse. This editor has shaped up to be one of the best visual UI designers for Java. I'm sure there are better tools you can buy. But for a free downloadable tool it works quite well for the kind of layouts I work with. The very fast way it switches back and forth between layout and code is also very nice.Emacs key bindings. They are good for an IDE, but incomplete. What is missing are key codes for creating split screen views and toggling (at the keyboard) between views. But it's open source, and who knows. Maybe I can add that feature myself.Better module development support. My own attempt at creating a module was labor intensive and error prone. And that was with help from Sun itself. I need to dig …

Dell makes a MacIntelitosh

Yep. Dell has a new notebook for sale: the Inspiron E1705. And I don't think it's an accident that it looks like Apple's aluminum-colored iBooks and PowerBooks. It's a Core Duo machine with a 17" screen that looks like it's designed to go head-to-head with the Apple MacBook Pro. Some quick comparisons:
The screen of the E1705 is 17", while the MacBook Pro is 15.4". Advantage: Dell.
The MacBook Pro's Core Duo processor tops out at 1.83 GHz. The E1705 starts there and tops out at 2.16 GHz. With the Core Duo, those seemingly small jumps in clock speed actually do matter. Advantage: Dell.
The high-end E1705 comes with an nVidea GeForce Go 7800 video card with 256MB of video memory. The MacBook comes with an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 256MB of video memory. Advantage: Dell.The hard drive on the MacBook tops out at 120MB while the hard drive on the E1705 tops out at 100MB. However, the Dell drive tops out at 7200RPM while the Apple drive only spins up…

Narcissic navel gazing

When I look at the zero comments I get I go and google for blogbeebe, just to see what shows up. This morning I got seven pages of search results. As I rummage through the results I see I'm now on two fairly sophisticated site tracking systems that seem to look at everything I do on this blog. The first, BlogShares, has a price on my blog of $183 (as of the date of this post). Who'd of thought it would be worth that much? Then there's PubSub, which has a nice professional set of diagrams and graphs that show my blog is - well, a zero. It looks like it's counting inlinks and outlinks, and it shows them as all zero. Which is odd, since I usually link to at least something in every post. But I must not be linking to Anything Important.

The rest of the links concern an odd mix of Java and celebrities. I can understand the Java links. The celebrity links surprise me. Apparently even mentioning an actor or actress is grounds for tracking. I write far more about Java and other…

Intellectual popcorn

I love good, witty, and sarcastic writing in the morning. It's wonderful. (from "No Opinions? No Problem" on Wired News)
Events are taking place. Disturbing events. World-shaking events. Fortunes are at stake. Countries are at stake. The survival of the most adorable life forms on the planet are at stake. Blogs and news sites across the web host message boards yearning for your commentary.

You owe it to everyone to let them know what you think, and by extension what they should think. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people fail to register.

You may be impaired by -- among other things -- the lack of an actual opinion on the subject at hand. That's OK, opinions are filthy, malodorous things that tend to fall apart under close examination. What you need is something that appears to be an opinion without actually requiring defense, justification or rational thought.

While you're wasting time considering context and relevant factors, lesser min…