Archive for September, 2005

MAX’ing out with Microsoft

September 21, 2005

It’s a good thing that I listen to podcasts in my drive-time. The latest This Week In Tech mentioned Microsoft’s new MAX beta software. I hadn’t heard hide nor hair of this. It appears like it’s a competitor to Google’s Picasa. I’ll give it a spin to see exactly how it compares. One thing MAX isn’t is light on system requirements. The recommended system is:

* Microsoft Windows® XP
o Home or Professional Edition
o Service Pack 2
o English only
* WinFX September CTP
* 2.4 GHz processor.
* 512 MB of RAM.
* 200 MB of available hard disk space.
* Windows Presentation Foundation capable 3D Video Card.
* Broadband internet connection.
* Microsoft Update enabled.
* Beverage and snack. The installation may take a while.

The 3D video card, broadband and MS-Update are not part of the minimum system requirements. And the system can be as lowly as a 1GHz processor and 256MB of RAM. So with all that layed out, hopefully it does something neat and does it well. Picasa is a nice piece of software and because it is completely useable even on my Win98 (!) machine at work, I find it extremely useful and it will likely be difficult to beat. Many have said that Google can’t really develop any good software without acquiring it. Let’s see if Microsoft can.

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Speeding Up Firefox

September 21, 2005

There’s a small 4 step speedup for Firefox users on broadband on Tom Raftery’s site. I gave it a try and it does seem to speed things up. Of course I haven’t benchmarked it or anything but it does seem to make the initial load up of a page significantly shorter.

Opera Joins the Free Browser Wars

September 20, 2005

It was only a few weeks ago that Opera gave away free registration codes for their browser for a single day to celebrate their 10yr anniversary. Now it seems that was all for nought. They announced today that they are providing their browser product for free and removing the ad banners. I use both Opera and Firefox and find them both pleasing to use. Opera seems a bit faster to me, but it’s a little more complex in it’s operation than Firefox in my opinion. And don’t forget about Chris Pirillo’s browser of choice Maxthon which is based on the IE engine. Either way, it’s good news that there will be more competition in the browser market. I’m not so sure IE7 will have anything on these products when it ships with Windows Vista. The days of a browser monopoly seem to be dead.

Good Non-Political Link to Katrina Flooding Info

September 9, 2005

Dave Winer points to a very good article here on the science and modelling of the flooding and behaviour of the levees. Good reading for those interested in the scientific/engineering aspects of the problem.

Levee Info from Army Corps of Engineers – Designed to Category 3?

September 2, 2005

Checking out the Army Corps of Engineers-New Orleans District site and found this interesting fact sheet for the levee project in the affected area. From what I gather, this is a description of the ongoing project to improve the levee system. Interesting to note that their SPH (Standard Project Hurricane) – what they designed everything to withstand – was a Category 3. Does that mean that they were upgrading things to bring it up to withstand a Category 3? They don’t go into any detailed design info or describe their methodology so it’s hard to say what ‘designing to a category 3’ might mean. There is quite a bit of budget info and maps provided as well. This protection (however inadequate in hindsight) does not come cheap.

U.S. not accepting outside help??

September 2, 2005

As a followup to my earlier post, it seems that the US is denying help from various other nations, at least in the short term. Lots of conjecture about why, make sure you check out the comments to the post as well. You’ve really got to wonder about the decision-making. Sure there are a lot of considerations that you or I might miss, but c’mon, people are dying there minute by minute.

This whole thing is getting very very messy politically for Bush, and it ain’t going to get any better.

More Thoughts..

September 2, 2005

Reading Dave Winer’s emotional posts and reading and watching coverage from various sources, I have to admit that I come away feeling dejected about the chances of many people stuck in the worst hit areas. Looking at the news reports it appears that there is just too many areas and too many people to help. You can only go so long without food and clean water. I realize people die everyday in the world while we merrily go about our business. This whole situation will unfortunately be a rude awakening for most North Americans (like me) in the coming weeks. Will we be able to ignore the dying in our back yard? It’s amazing what unfortunate things we people are able to put out of our minds.

And you look at the television news coverage (and yeah, they may slant their coverage for whatever motives they might have) but those are not white middle-class people crowding the streets, and filling the alleys. These people already had enough problems in their situation in life before all of this.

In many ways the coverage of this situation almost seems like the very antithesis of the 9/11 situation. Poor black people instead of rich white people, very little hope rather than the optimism of survival and retribution, massive disorganization, and absolutely nothing for America to rally around. Let’s hope they don’t need an enemy to pull together.