Your wife lied – size *DOES* matter

(via Engadget)
This falls under the category of “Things Randy will never, ever own, no matter how cool they are and how much he wants them” but I didn’t feel like adding that category to the site, since so much of the “Stuff I want” category already fits there, too.  That said, check out the monstrous 103 inch plasma display from Matsushita.   This sucker does 1080p, so you know you’ll get a sharp picture.  According to the manufacturer, it has a 3000:1 contrast ratio, but given the lack of standardization on that measurement, I’d just say it has a very high contrast ratio and leave it at that.

As the folks at Engadget point out, the only display to come close to this one is the 102 inch display from Samsung, but you can’t actually order one of those yet.  So assuming you come up with the (still unannounced price) necessary money for this display, what’s it going to take to get it on your wall?  I mean, this baby weighs 473 pounds (that’s almost 215 kilograms for those using a more sensible measurement system).  I’m not even sure my walls would support that.

[tags]Plasma display, High-def TV, Matsushita[/tags]

Americans With No Abilities Act


WASHINGTON , DC (AP) – Congress is considering sweeping legislation, which provides new benefits for many Americans. The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislation by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.

“Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society,” said Barbara Boxer. “We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they do a better job, or have some idea of what they are doing.”

The President pointed to the success of the US Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of postal employees lack job skills, making this agency the single largest US employer of Persons of Inability.

Private sector industries with good records of nondiscrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement “warehouse” stores (65%) The DMV also has a great record of hiring Persons of Inability. (63%)

Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million “middle man” positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.

Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given, to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations which maintain a significant level of Persons of Inability in middle positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

Finally, the AWNA ACT contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Nonabled, banning discriminatory interview questions such as “Do you have any goals for the future?” or “Do you have any skills or experience which relate to this job?”

“As a Nonabled person, I can’t be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them,” said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, MI due to her lack of notable job skills. “This new law should really help people like me.” With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Senator Ted Kennedy, “It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her adequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and also find a place for all illegal aliens no matter how useless they may be.”

From Snopes.  Makes me laugh.

[tags]AWNA, Americans With No Abilities Act[/tags]

More eye candy, courtesy of “The Ringer”

I’ve been watching “The Ringer” over the past few days. The movie itself is somewhat forgettable, but I like the cast. In particular, Katherine Heigl (more information avaialble at Wikipedia) makes it in to my eye candy category. With apologies to Ms. Heigl for the objectification inherent in the category, I must share this picture of the lovely Katherine.


[tags]Katherine Heigl, Eye candy[/tags]

Sleep more or be fat

(via boingboing)
I think this research has been discussed before.  But maybe I’m wrong.  It certainly seems easy enough to figure out – after all, we already know stress can lead to obesity, and not getting enough sleep certainly is stressful.

Research by Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick has found that sleep deprivation is associated with an almost a two-fold increased risk of being obese for both children and adults.

. . .

The research reviewed current evidence in over 28,000 children and 15,000 adults. For both groups Professor Cappuccio found that shorter sleep duration is associated with almost a two-fold increased risk of being obese.

Now I can tell my wife I need sleep to lose weight.  Not that she’ll stop abusing me for wanting to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, but I’ll have research to back me up, at least.

[tags]Sleep deprevation, Sleep related obesity, Tired = fat?[/tags]

1979 review of Cray-1 Supercomputer

Another Modern Mechanix post, this one a 1979 Popular Science review of the Cray-1 Supercomputer.  This little speed demon runs along throwing down roughly 80 million operations per second.

Incredible Cray-1 cruises at 80 million operations a second

It’s 10 times faster than the biggest IBM, with six times more memory

. . .

This was the CRAY-1, the amazing supercomputer designed by a reclusive Wisconsin genius. It’s 10 times faster than the biggest IBM computer on the market. And this particular CRAY-1, installed in a major computer center in Kansas City, was being fed by two giant Control Data computers just to keep it busy.

“You’re looking at the architecture of Seymour Cray,” said a voice floating over the top of the computer.

The voice belonged to Jack Lorenz, president of United Computer Systems and owner of the first commercially installed CRAY-1 system. I saw what he meant. The CRAY-1 is unique, not only in electronic architecture and performance, but in size and shape as well. It doesn’t look like any other computer.

. . .

Standing in the CRAY-l’s chilly center—it’s one of the few computers with built-in refrigeration—I was struck by the wiring. Each of the 12 vertical panels was a thick, solid mass of blue and gray wires. There is no color coding in the CRAY-1. How does one tell the wires apart? One doesn’t.

“It’s designed and built on a from-and-to wire list,” I was told later by engineer Lee Higbie at the headquarters of Cray Research, Inc., in Minneapolis. “First we do all the one-foot wires, then all the two-footers, then the three-footers. There are only a couple of four-footers in the entire unit.” Continue reading “1979 review of Cray-1 Supercomputer”

A serious look at Sen. Stevens Internet argument

Ed Felton has taken the time to reconsider Sen. Stevens argument that the Internet is a series of tubes.  He has re-written Sen. Stevens comments as what was likely intended instead of what came out of the Senator’s mouth.  Then, Felton takes the time to explain why the argument is still wrong and the errors in Sen. Stevens’ examples.

From the lowliest blogger to Jon Stewart, everybody is laughing at Sen. Ted Stevens and his remarks (1.2MB mp3) on net neutrality. The sound bite about the Internet being “a series of tubes” has come in for for the most ridicule.

I’ll grant that Stevens sounds pretty confused on the recording. But’s let’s give the guy a break. He was speaking off the cuff in a meeting, and he sounds a bit agitated. Have you ever listened to a recording of yourself speaking in an unscripted setting? For most people, it’s pretty depressing. We misspeak, drop words, repeat phrases, and mangle sentences all the time. Normally, listeners’ brains edit out the errors.

. . .

In particular, let’s look at the much-quoted core of Stevens’ argument, as transcribed by Ryan Singel. Here is my cleaned-up restatement of that part of Stevens’ remarks:

. . .

His examples, on the other hand, seem pretty weak. First, it’s hard to imagine that NetFlix would really use up so much bandwidth that they or their customers weren’t already paying for. If I buy an expensive broadband connection, and I want to use it to download a few gigabytes a month of movies, that seems fine. The traffic I slow down will mostly be my own.

Second, the slow email wouldn’t have been caused by general congestion on the Net. The cause must be either an inattentive person or downtime of a Senate server. My guess is that Stevens was searching his memory for examples of network delays, and this one popped up.

Third, the DoD has plenty of reasons other than congestion to have its own network. Secrecy, for example. And a need for redundancy in case of a denial-of-service attack on the Internet’s infrastructure. Congestion probably ranks pretty far down the list.

The bottom line? Stevens may have been trying to make a coherent argument. It’s not a great argument, and his examples were poorly chosen, but it’s far from the worst argument ever heard in the Senate.

I snipped out big parts of the write-up, but the main thrust of the article is here.  In the end, it looks like Sen. Stevens was trying to make a good argument but lacked sufficient understanding to do so.  But in doing so, he let us in the geek community know how the fight for and against ‘net neutrality will be argued.

[tags]Network neutrality, Sen. Stevens, Internet, Series of tubes[/tags]

Star Wars, miniaturized

(via Engadget)

Reagan’s Star Wars program never really took off. That doesn’t mean it was a bad idea – it just wasn’t technologically feasible at the time. Time marches on, technology gets better, and some smart cookies come up with less-ambitious projects with similar goals.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Northrop Grumman forecast Wednesday a potential “very large” market for a laser-based system it has developed to shield airports and other installations from rockets, ballistic missiles and other threats.

Los Angeles-based Northrop (Charts) said it had already pitched the system, called Skyguard, to Israel, which worked with the company and the Army to develop the technology.

Northrop also is pushing Skyguard – described as capable of generating a shield five kilometers in radius – to each of the armed services and the Department of Homeland Security, company executives told a news briefing.

The technology looks to be in the $25-30 million per installation range.  Once produced in large quantities, that is.  And here’s the current sticking point:

For the United States, an initial unit could be ready in 18 months for $150 million to $200 million, added Dan Wildt, Northrop’s director of business development for directed energy systems.

Ahhhh, the ever elusive 18 month ready-date.  This is cool technology, really.  And if it comes together and really works, I could see instances where the cost is justifiable.  But as folks who know me can attest, I’m always skeptical of gee-whiz products with availability dates more than a few months out.  Not that I doubt this will happen – just that I doubt it will happen in the estimated time frame at the estimated price.

[tags]Northrop Grumman, Missile defense shield, Laser shield[/tags]