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Archive for February 2009

A FM Radio for one-dollar – How is this possible?

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dollar_logo1We love Walmart

On the way out of the Walmart store – right where you check out – the place where smart merchandising people place items for those people who are impulse buyers and those who are unable to delay gratification – I saw a FM Radio for the price of one dollar.  For the exchange of one dollar in United States fiat currency I could have in my possession a FM radio.  Wow.

The radio runs on 2xAAA batteries, came with a earbuds, tunes the whole FM broadcast band, and has a light.  Wow.

The radio runs on 2xAAA batteries, came with a headset, tunes the whole FM broadcast band, and has a light.  Wow.

In a few moments, the prize was mine.

Can’t break old habits.

I have heard people tell stories of when they were a kid they liked to take things apart to see what was inside.  If you are a kid, maybe 5-10 years old, then its fun taking things apart but unfortunately sometimes they did not go back together.  Maybe your parents told you to stop doing this – taking things apart to see how they worked.  But for many kids, myself included, one could not resist taking things apart to see what is inside and what makes it work.

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Written by frrl

February 28, 2009 at 8:06 am

100 Years of Radio

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Video on the milestones of radio.  100 years of radio, spark gap, ham radio, and all the rest.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4569021939106575335

Written by frrl

February 28, 2009 at 4:38 am

Outing Scott Adams – the creator of the Dilbert Comic Strip

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dilbert_instoryThe usual corporate scenario

In the northwest suburbs of Chicago is the corporate headquarters of a particular global company.  This company occupies two towers of about 20 floors each.  In each tower is a bank of elevators.  At the opposite side of each elevator bank is an area where there is a coffee maker, refrigerator, microwave oven, dishes, utensils, and cabinets – everything that makes life livable in the workplace.  There is also a bulliten board in these areas.

The Ritual

There is sort of a ritual at this company.  It happens once every month or so.  The ritual is performed by the Human Resource Department.  At the appointed time, a human resources staff member makes a “sweep”.  The “sweep” is to go to each floor in each tower – that’s 20 floors in 2 towers in 2 areas – to check and pull down any Dilbert cartoons that the employees post on the bullien boards.  That’s 20×2×2, or 80 bulletin board that need to be swept of Dilbert comic strips.

So who is Dilbert ?

Dilbert is a bespectacled buckethead with a perpetually upturned tie and a pocket-protector worn as a coat of arms. He slaves as an engineer in some vast corporate cubicle hive, dodging lethal directives from dunderheaded managers. His creator, Scott Adams, writes from personal experience: Adams spent 17 years in a cubicle himself, first at Crocker Bank and later at Pacific Bell.

Who is Scott Adams ?

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Written by frrl

February 24, 2009 at 6:30 am

The comptroller of the Unitd States in the matter of ham radio operator Larry A. Clendinen

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The comptroller of the Unitd States in the matter of ham radio operator Larry A. Clendinen. Transferred employee claims miscellaneous expenses for taking down and reinstalling “ham’ radio antenna and hooking up icemaker and dishwasher. “the use of the radio equipment of the type he has is today so widespread as to be common to households in the United States…”  Your tax dollars at work – read it

Written by frrl

February 23, 2009 at 4:39 am

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Dematerialize your Linux System: Or, why buy the Taxi when all you need is a ride?

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See our related articles:
Going Virtual-How to Virtualize your Linux/PC Environment
Let the Republic of China Backup your Linux and Windows PC

cloudcomputing_logoIt’s the great chain of related content.  First we suggested that you use Clonezilla to do disaster recovery on your Linux System.  Then we suggested  that you don’t need that – that you should go Virtual instead.  Would you ever trust us or are we just giving you the run around on what do to about your pesky Linux system?

Regarding Linux disaster recovery what problem are we trying to solve?  We are trying to solve a problem that, really, needs to be solved because we may have made an error in judgement.  Or, simply, that we don’t understand things clearly.  What have we not understood – what is the essence of the question that will inform our judgement?

Lets think about this.  We have confused value with hardware.  You need to ask yourself a critical question.  Is Linux about Linux or is Linux about creating value? 

If you answer that Linux is about value – then the hardware and the operating system is a nuisance – you need to make it go away.  Really, you need to transfer the nuisance and the problem to someone else.

Computing in the Cloud

So, now the ultimate solution to your disaster recovery backups and the pesky physical hardware that sits there running Linux – contemplating in-itself when it will surprise you with a disk or other hardware failure – is to think in a new way about why you would want to own any hardware at all. 

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Written by frrl

February 19, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Interviews with Scott Adams

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February 19, 2009 at 4:43 am

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The Obama Cabinet is a CEO black hole

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February 19, 2009 at 4:42 am

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Virtualbox – A Virtualization solution from Sun Microsystems

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Another virtualization solution with pre-built guest operating systems.  This is a free solution from Sun Microsystems.  We were able to try this virtualization product with pre-built guest operating systems Ubuntu 8, Fedora 10, and CentOS.  This is a very excellent solution which will compete with Microsoft Virtual PC 2007.  The large number of pre-built virtual disks of configured operating systemsmake this virtualization soltion a real winner   – http://virtualbox.wordpress.com/

Written by frrl

February 19, 2009 at 4:41 am

Going Virtual – How to Virtualize your Linux/PC Environment

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vpc_virtualizationBare Metal

There is a term/concept you might hear related to PC’s and operating system.  The term you might hear is “bare metal”.  Bare metal as in installing an operating system on ‘bare metal”.  What does this mean?

This term, bare metal, is only possible because of another term – virtualization.  You might hear the term  “guest operating system”.  A guest operating system runs on a platform that supports virtualization.

So what is virtualization?  In simple terms it means that you have some software that is capable of emulating the hardware of a PC to the point that you can install on operating system on it and have it run as if it was on bare metal. 

So, if you put this all together, bare metal is the real hardware.  Virtualization is the capability to emulate PC hardware in software to the point that you can install an operating system and have it work as if it was bare metal.  The installed operating system in the virtualized environment becomes the guest operating system.  The guest operating system run’s in a virtual machine in the virtualized environment

The really cool thing, is that if you have a nice big server with lots of CPU, memory, disk, and other hardware resources plus reliable software that can create the virtualized environment you can run a lot of guest operating systems on a single server.

Here is a more concise definition of virtualization:

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Written by frrl

February 16, 2009 at 7:43 am

Let the Republic of China Backup your Linux and Windows PC

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cz_linuxlogoIf you find yourself, for whatever reason, using a Linux system at home you will be faced with an issue – How do I back this thing up?  Not just how do I backup my files – that’s easy – how to I backup this whole system?

This posting addresses a specific scenario.  Backup up a Linux system as disaster recovery to get to a known system in case of hard drive failure, massive changes to the operating system that renders it unusable, or simply to have a reference copy of an operating system in a known state or configuration.  Sometimes you want to move an operating system off to another media so you can use the resources (PC, hard drive, etc)  for something else.  All these applications of backup is to backup a complete system – an image backup of a hard drive – not a file-level backup. 

There is a huge difference between a file level backup and an operating system backup.  A file level backup will generally be insufficient to restore a Linux system to usable state in the case of a file system corruption or other disaster.

If you have any doubt as to how complex L/Unix backup can get, please read this excellent article: Backing up Linux and other Unix-like operating systems.

The Collective

When I was in college I sat down at a public shared computing cluster and hit the enter key to begin my “user experience”.  Along with some messages that went running across the screen indicating that the machine was refreshing itself for the next user (me) I saw this message.

Please wait – You are being assimilated in to the collective.

Wow.  All I wanted to do was use the computer and here I was being presented with a deep political and ideological statement.  Was it 1984 – again?  You know, the 1984 of George Orwell in a parallel dystopic universe?  Now what was I at the public computer cluster to do – what work did I need to get done?  I forgot – being assimilated into the collective was just too fascinating.

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Written by frrl

February 15, 2009 at 4:39 am

A Great Epic Corporate Battle – Shareholders vs Chicago Sun-Times Board of Directors and CEO

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suntimes_logo

The world is such an interesting place. 

All kinds of things are happening.  All kinds of passions and the endless tug of desires this way and that.  Some people will call it conflict – and some people are afraid of that word. 

 Lets call it a collision of values.  The great cosmic battle among people’s values, desires, self-preservation, and destruction.

From time to time there are great epic corporate battles – shareholders vs the executives – Athens vs Sparta. 

Thucydides, one of the early greek historians  was 2500 years too early. But he got it right –

The cause of all these evils was the lust for power arising from greed and ambition; and from these passions proceeded the violence of parties once engaged in contention – Thucydides

In early 2009, at the time of this writing, the news is all about the economy and the excesses of corporate executives in the context of failing companies.

If you are a shareholder in public companies and you read the proxy materials you get in the mail you will see the many shareholders proposals to do things like ratify executive compensation, disclose lobbying activity, change stock option awards, to be able to nominate board members, and all the rest.  According to the SEC the highest number of shareholder proposals was related to executive compensation.

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Written by frrl

February 14, 2009 at 6:17 am

Tweets from Congress

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Does the Congressuse APRS?  No, but they do use Twitter
See the Tweets from the Congress of the United States – http://tweetcongress.org/
What is twitterhttp://tweeternet.com/
Don’t forget the see who is Twitter-ing in real-time around the world – http://twittervision.com/
and the Twitter search – http://tweetscan.com/

Written by frrl

February 6, 2009 at 4:44 am

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Product Review:Lights of America LED Light Bulb

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Or, are you ready to replace your incandescent light bulbs with energy saving LED technology?

ledlightbulb_sideGreat new technology or wasted money?

Is this posting from the “We wasted our money on this – so you don’t have to” or the “New Technology you should know about department”?  You decide.

About a year ago LED light bulbs were priced at about $35 and above.  You can look at the C.Crane VIVID light bulb here – http://www.ccrane.com/lights/led-light-bulbs/cc-vivid-led-light-bulb.aspx.  These are priced at $19.95 at the time of this writing.  And there are other versions here – http://www.ccrane.com/lights/led-light-bulbs/cc-vivid/

Your mileage may vary, but for me, its all about the quality of the light – I don’t care how much it cost (within reason) I want good quality light. My house is nearly exclusively General Electric Reveal bulbs ( http://www.gelighting.com/na/home_lighting/products/reveal_main.htm ) and Halogen.  No substitutes, please.

Ac/costed at Sam’s Club

While walking down the aisles of Sam’s Club I was accosted by a package of LED light bulbs priced at $14 for a set of three.  That’s $5 each.  Now that’s a price drop.  What’s the real deal?

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Written by frrl

February 2, 2009 at 5:21 pm

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