Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Sorry for the silence here; I rarely go a week without posting but a lot of things ganged up on me. Many have noticed that I'm gradually moving toward posting less often but doing longer posts. I've discovered that it doesn't take me a great deal more time to write more detailed posts than shorter ones, but not posting at all on some days allows me to concentrate more fully on other projects.
  • There is a major total lunar eclipse tomorrow night, 2/20-2/21, which will be almost perfectly positioned for viewing in the US. See the NASA page for details. And if you're not up on lunar eclipses generally, ask Mr. Eclipse.
  • Flash memory is getting bigger; a 16GB SDHC card would hold a lot of ebooks.
  • Pertinent to the above: I'm not bullish on solid-state drives based on Flash, especially if they're positioned to replace ordinary spinning-disk hard drives. Flash storage cells can change state only so many times until they cease holding a state reliably, and extra hardware is needed to “spread the wealth around” so that frequent write activity in a particular location doesn't kill cells. Flash is thus best used for things like storage of music and ebook files, where you write data rarely but read it a lot.
  • Also, Flash may evenually be superceded by nonvolatile phase-change memory. We're still a few years off, but phase-change is faster than Flash and may even replace volatile RAM. No information yet that I've found on whether the cells degrade or die after a certain number of write cycles.
  • One other ebook note: Although most early reviewers claimed that the Kindle's SD slot was limited to 2 GB cards, the truth is that the card slot is SDHC and many owners have reported success with larger cards up to 8 GB. I don't have 8 GB of ebooks yet and may not for several more years. I just don't read that fast. For people who are actively converting their print library to ebooks, however, larger cards are a very important issue.
  • This nice link to NPR came over from Don Doerres, concerning the growing hobby of watching satellites. We used to go out and freeze butt looking for Echo in the early 1960s, but these guys are calculating orbits, photographing flares (momentary bright sunlight glints off polished satellite parts) and profoundly irritating the spooks. Watch the videos. Really watch the videos.

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