Nikon D70 Digital SLR

I believe that I have managed to change my own mind (again) about the digital camera that I would like to purchase. This time I am fixated on the Nikon D70 digital SLR. This camera is a better value for money, in my opinion, that the Canon EOS-300D. Here are some of the better features:
The shutter buffer is 17 frames in full 6.3 megapixels for the Nikon while the Canon only offers a 4 frames buffer before dropping to the “one frame per second” buffer.
The Nikon comes with a Nikor DX lens which has much better edge manipulation for digital pictures that any regular SLR lens. The Nikon will take regular Nikor SLR lenses as well. One disadvantage of the Nikon is the price. The Canon would have gotten me a 70-300 AF lens for the same price as a 28-70 DX lens for the Nikon.
The other advantages of the Nikon include a better body, better flash, MUCH faster shutter release, a quieter shutter and USB 2.0 connectivity.

All in all, a $100 increase in price is worth all of these extras, especially the larger shutter buffer. The icing on the cake is the brand. I frankly like Nikon better than Canon. Personal preference.

Russian Ternary Computers

On continuing my personal search for education and all things cool, michel led me to Russian Ternary computers from the turn of the century. The idea is really cool and seemed like it would work at the time. The basic principle was that instead of working with binary numbers, they worked with ternary numbers. Brousentsov’s Ternary Principle suggested that “the result of some weighing is expressed in the ternary number system by using three numerals namely: 1 (the positive unit), 0 (zero) and `1 (the negative unit).” The number base three idea follows from the original Fibonacci equations and formulae and were actively followed in Russia.
For those of you interested in this arcane yet extremely interesting computational mathematics, you can read more about it in “History of Computing in Russia and the USSR“. Apparently, Moscow University spent a great deal of money and resources looking at just this idea.
This would also make it easier to compare and come up with three pronged logic problems which require nested if and while loops (or extra temporary variables) to solve with our present implementation of binary numbers. I wish I could come up with a better example, but it completely alludes me this late at night.
Enjoy!

“Computer Science” Versus the Real World

Why did I get into a master’s degree program? I had hoped to learn new technology, learn about the insides of existing technology and to learn and practice some advanced programming. I have been in the program for about two years now, and I can safely say that every bit of my education that has to do with recent technology, has been from work that I have done outside of school or at least outside of classes taught in school.

That is a sad revelation. I am on the second highest level of Computer Science education possible. I have learnt little in school. Where are the professors and classes that pertain to real world computing? Why are all the gurus and technology innovators outside of educational institutions? Where are the Mark Pilgrim, Phil Ringnalda, Joel Spolsky and Jakob Neilsons of the educational world? Why are we teaching classes about Ada and Cobol instead of classes on (developing) programming standards and .NET? Let me give you some examples.

I only signed up for classes which sounded interesting to me. Two of the most fun classes were advanced database systems and wireless networking. However, if I had stuck to the information taught in the class, I would have learnt very little of present technology. In our wireless networking class, we learnt about call centre routing and advanced prediction systems for wireless networks. We were told that these were the basic constructs of wireless networks and it was really important to learn before jumping into contemporary technology. I played along till there were only four weeks left in the semester. We had not talked about any present technology yet. I finally decided to make up my own project so I could learn something of consequence from the class. I did some work on 802.11b and Bluetooth co-existence problems. But where is the beef?

I could go so far as to say that if I had worked with Phil Ringnalda, Joel Spolsky and Matt Mullenweg for the past two years (instead of going to school), I would have learnt more and would be a much, much more capable computer scientist. (I already have learnt lots from them just from associating with them) My physics education tells me (and furiously prompted me) to work with the cutting edge of technology. I had been pushed to find new ideas to explore and forced to think outside the box. I worked with three seperate research projects while at The College of Wooster. All three of them dealt with cutting edge technology either from NASA or from OARDC. I was learning about things which we talked about and heard about everyday. I have compeltely missed that in my present education.

There is another arguement often used. Higher education is designed to be supplemented with real world knowledge and the more you learn outside, the richer your own educational experience. That is a load of crock coming from people that have stopped learning themselves and are unwilling to work any harder to learn the new technology and adpot it in their teaching. If a student is forced to learn everything that is worthwhile on their own time, what is the point of going to school? There needs to be some serious rethinking of education and educational objectives!

So, are we producing truckloads of “dumbed down computer scientists” (with arcane ideologies) who are supposed to lead the technological future of this country and of the world? Are computer professors and scientists worried about the usefulness of their work? Am I spending oodles of money to just get the “masters degree stamp” on my forehead? Is the computer science profession on its way out? To be replaced by the free-thinkers and self taught gurus?

I might be jaded because I went to school that is really short on money and does not have a very good computer science program. Are other Universities the same way?

Wine tasting and voice blogging

I have installed an interesting application – BlogJet. It’s a cool Windows client for my blog tool (as well as for other tools). Get your copy here: http://blogjet.com

“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” — Pablo Picasso

This can be very interesting at times. I would really like to rewrite my phone blogging script so I can send voice messages over my phone to my blog. I might work on that next week after my thesis defense (if nothing seriously goes wrong).
We had a really good time tonight! I never realized that wine tasting with friends could be this much fun. I might take my mother and my father to one of these events this summer. The wines that I really liked tonight included “Black Tower Riesling, Germany” and “Chiarlo Moschato De Asti, Italy“. They were fruity and very very tasty! Try them out if you would.
Jennifer was our Designated Driver and there was very nice finger food there. Linda, John, the other John and Kelly were just a perfect match for Jennifer and I. I have not had such a good time with friends for a while now. Wine tasting is good, clean, fun!
I just wish I had a good cigar to go along with it.

Brain usage profile

I found a couple of very interesting brain usage profile pages. I also ran across a very fun Windows program that tests left brain over right brain dependance etc. I am not very sure how accurate this is, but it sure is very fun. You can download the Brain Usage Profiler here. Just a word of warning, it is about 1.5 Megs.

In other news, I made some definite boo boos and deleted a couple of my posts including the one about the Canon Rebel. I am beginning to think that I am not supposed to get that camera after all! 😉 I coded a little on a gallery hack for WordPress and am about to work for a couple of hours on some comment code. The rest of the day is going to be spent working on my thesis defense presentation.

Jennifer and I along with John and Linda are going for some wine tasting tonight. Jennifer is going to be our designated driver and it should be a good time. The weather was supposed to be nice this weekend, but they are calling for rain now.

Back from the Garden State

SpringLake

I am back from New Jersey and I have to say that I had a really wonderful time. The only regret that I have is that I could not take Jennifer with me, she would have loved it! I went to a small beach front town called Spring Lake, New Jersey. Even though the beach was desrted, the quaint little town balloons to a huge beach goers’ paradise in summer. I had dinner with a good friend and his wife in the evening and we went for a walk along the beach at night. The houses are of colonial style (and very expensive of course) and the restaurants are very well catered. New York City is less than a stone’s throw away and the Garden State Parkway is a total mess. A nice place over all. I have made some observations about my trip which I will discuss at length at a later time, but till then, enjoy some of the pictures from the trip.

Off to the land of New Jersey

I am off to New Jersey for a couple of days. I will be away from blogging, my blogs and everything computer (including email) until I find a Hot Spot. This withdrawl will be very good for me…right?

Anyways, if you try to contact me during this time, you will not get a reply. Try again soon!

Boo-yah! I’m going to keep

Boo-yah! I’m going to keep nagging Jason until he applies this weekend’s test code site-wide. No legacy tags, beyotch! Oh, and… “This Page Is Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional!” I’m not sure if I wanna play with a fixed-width or stick with the variable. Doesn’t look great on anything less than 1024×768, but those folks are in the minority. Hey, I got it to look fantastic in all the major browsers on all the major platforms – that’s gotta count for something. Props to glish for the guidance. So, what did I use for my editor? Notepad, baby. Metapad, actually (the best clone around). Thanks to everyone else for the virtual ass-kicking; you accelerated the inevitable.
…excerpt from: http://chris.pirillo.com/archives/2004_03.html#009547

Mac or PC? – from a new buyers’ perspective

I was asked this question over email and this was my long(ish) answer. Enjoy!

If you can afford it, get a Macintosh. You will never, ever look back! Macintoshes are designed and built to elicit “Oooh’s and Aaaah’s”. They are rugged, are very, very user friendly, and are perfect for home and office use. The new Macintosh OS X based operating systems are very intuitive, fast, stable, and are just a pleasure to get around in. In addition, almost every piece of software that is available for the “PC” is also available for the Macintosh. If I could afford another machine, it would be a Macintosh.

Many of the WordPress developers (if not all of them) secretly desire to buy a Powerbook at some point of time. There are many “Oooh’s and Aaah’s” that I talk about and here are some examples of peoples’ reactions to opening a new Mac (or browsing through one at a store) for the first time.

I couldn’t find the articles I was thinking about, I will add then when I do.

Cons for PC users switching to a Mac:
Well, there are many. You will have to invest in new software for your computer such as word processors, multimedia, etc.
There IS a learning curve for longtime PC users to switch to MacOS. A lot of people will deny it, but it does happen and can SOMETIMES be frustrating.
You might have to give up some notions of “normalcy” about your computer and using it. You will have to learn new tricks to fulfill your needs.
You will spend more money than you ever did on your PC.

Pros for PC users switching to a Mac:
You will start hating other PC users as they whine about their computers.
You will start enjoying the time you spend with your computer.
You will become one of the few who are fanatical about their machines.
Tasks will be a lot easier to do.
Hardware will work a lot more easily than ever before.
You MIGHT spend MORE time on your computer than ever before.
More probable than not, you will JUST LOVE your new Macintosh.

Here are some of my recommendations, depending on your budget and tastes:

1) Low/Medium Budget, An IMac of some sort: These are design marvels that are prefect for the small home or office desk and are zippy as can be. Make sure you add up enough RAM to build it up to at least 512 megs. On the other hand, get the lowest RAM possible and buy a lot more (at a much cheaper price, from other Mac RAM vendors) yourself and put it in. You will thank yourself later on. They are “pretty” for the lack of a better word. Truly a design to be reckoned with.

2) Medium to medium high budget, get a Power Macintosh G5: These machines are fast, and I mean extremely FAST. Again, get lots of RAM (same trick as before) and a big hard drive. I dont think they sell a Macintosh with a bad video card. Really powerful machine with lots of bells and whistles and just a pleasure to use. I own a Blue and White G3 and I LOVE it!

3) Medium High budget and space constraints/need a laptop: Get a 17″ PowerBook: Oh the beauty of this object! Very well packaged with a very wide screen. Perfect for ANY laptop power user and just very, very appealing. Good all round machine.

4) High budget/dream machine calibre: Get the dual G5 Power Macintosh: This is what dreams are made of! This baby flies like you would not believe. Argueably, one of the fastest desktop computers on the planet and just oodles of everything. Get lots of RAM and you have yourself an incredibly fast, powerful, useful, versatile, stable, need I say pretty, and friendly machine. This is the Zenith of the Macintosh computing world.

In spite of all my pressure to buy a Mac, if you still want to get a PC, here are some recommendations

1) Dell still makes a very nice desktop machine. Get something with LOTS of RAM, at least 60GB Hard drive space, a 64 Meg (at least) video card and DO NOT GET A CELERON. I would buy an Athlon without batting an eyelid, but Celerons are a NO NO.

2) Laptops manufacturers and models are abound but I trust only a few. Dont get an HP/Comaq…period. Toshiba and Sony laptops are nice and reliable with good customer service. Dell laptops are nice but pricey and you get more for your money elsewhere.

Not much else exciting about PCs’

Hope this long lecture helped you somewhat. I know I wanted to post some articles about Macs that I cannot find right now. If I do, I will add them to this post.

TypeKey Comment Registration – did they miss the lectures again?

Six Apart recently launched their new “TypeKey” comment registration system. I have some serious problems with that system.

1) I agree with Matt and see a real problem with any centralized system that has no local component except for a closed API (more about that later). As has been discussed over and over again, any centralized spam prevention system is doomed to failure right from the start. Six Apart has many more resources than I can ever hope to have and will probably be able to handle all the traffic, but they leave the service open to all kinds of DDOS attacks from spammers which they could NOT handle. (as many other email blacklist servers and services have found out the hard way) If people say that comment spam is probably never going to reach email spam proportions, I will have to disagree. Once there is enough legislation to stop or stem email spam, blogs will just be the natural step down for spammers. But that is an arguement for another day.

2) I dislike that company’s elitist propaganda. Here are some excerpts from this TypeKey page:

“And TypeKey will work with TypePad weblogs as well as other tools and services soon after that.”

They expressly state that there will be a product “launch” and then …

“At that point, there will also be information about what is required to make use of TypeKey services in commercial applications.”

Six Apart is a growing company with many talented individuals who have defined blogging as we know it today. BUT, they are not Gods and never will be! Microsoft-esque promotional documentation language is just annoying and feels very elitist. Just for that I refuse to use their service.

3) How is typekey different from forcing users to register on a blog and only then allowing them to comment? What if I sign up for typekey and then post all kinds of junk?? who says whether my stuff is spam or not?? Some big shot blogger might think that my opinion on their “learned” topic is spam and decide to report me to TypeKey. Would that mean I could not comment anymore? Is one person’s comment another person’s spam?

4) This is proprietary software folks. Nothing to see here. There will …

” ….. be information about what is required to make use of TypeKey services in commercial applications”.

5) What about trackback spam? How will TypeKey prevent trackback spam? Get rid of trackbacks completely? Is there another component? No solution there at all.

6) As Michel points out, what about identity theft? What if someone signs up as Mark Pilgrim with a different email address and posts all kinds of junk? Who is to say that Mark’s email address is blah@blah.com and not bah@blah.com? Centralized solutions of establishing identity break down without getting really personal information involved. I better make sure I am the first to sign up with all my names and nicknames!!

“TypeKey helps ensure that people who comment on a site have a verified identity, keeping conversations on track and helping to prevent abusive or offensive content (comment spam) from being posted.”

– Nah! Doesnt work right and I aint givin you my credit number neither!!

I think, I think I might be closer to done

With cautious optimism and glee, I would like to say that I might have more time to dedicate to a job search and coding now. 🙂
As for the items on my plate, the more important ones are:

  • Promoting my Peace and Unity Meme (see above, please)
  • Applying for jobs for at least 2 hours a day (I have to be regimented, or I lose track)
  • Writing a very simple MySql based wiki’ing system which is designed to be intgrated into other systems (primarily WordPress)
  • Fixing my threaded comments hack to be compliant and non-javascript (and other little issues with it)
  • Writing some code to support a LiveJournal mod of WP which would allow more control over the posts (might take a while)
  • And of course, cooking and spending time with my Jennifer 🙂
  • My parents are going to here on the 12th of April and that could not happen a day too soon! I have not seen them for almost a year and a half!! Jennifer Luckey will get sooo spoilt (again) ! 😉

    The World’s Loudest Mouse Click

    I am organizing a Meme called “The World’s Loudest Mouse Click”. Here is what this means. I am trying to get a “LARGE” number of people to click on their mouse buttons at the stroke of midnight on the Fourth of July. I will define stroke of midnight as “zero hundred hours NY standard time on the 4th of July”.
    A bunch of purposes will be served through this meme:
    1) It will symbolize peace, unity and solidarity
    2) It will bring people together and could serve to be a catalyst for other ideas
    3) If marketed properly, it could set a world record
    I am passionately requesting my readers and friends to read through this post and embrace the idea. If you like this idea and would like to help promote it, please make a link to this post (trackback if you like) and write on your blog or website about the idea. You could either link back to this entry or you could simply suggest the time, the idea and add your own thoughts. I do not care whether you mention me or my site on that entry. I am The World’s Loudest Mouse Click unimportant in the scheme of this meme. I would like to see this happen. If you do decide to promote this idea, I only request that you not maime the original thought of peace and unity. Other than that, you can change and promote it any way you please.
    Expect to see a page about this soon.

    So let us all get together and try to bring more people together.

    I pray for Peace, Unity and Solidarity in our world.

    Some comments so far that have really made my day:
    As from MyDimension:

    An endevor to symbolize peace. I think this is a great idea, to see the internet unite for one moment, with a single purpose. Even one so simple as clicking a mouse button.