Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

December 21st, 2008:

Odd Lots

  • Foxit Software (which sells a line of very good PDF-related software, including the Foxit Reader, which I use daily) has announced an e-ink based ebook reader, the eSlick. The device isn’t being shipped yet, but there have been some early reactions in Wired and other places. I’m interested because Foxit is unlikely to claim (as most ebook enthusiasts do) that PDF is the spawn of the devil. Worth watching.
  • The Loopy Idea of the Month comes from two Ohio academics who have recently patented the notion of collapsing hurricanes by flying around them in supersonic aircraft and (somehow) using the sonic boom shockwaves to scramble the storm. Apart from the fact that supersonic aircraft use fuel at a prodigous rate, I still don’t quite follow the physics of how this is supposed to collapse the storm. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • Jim Strickland passed a long a detailed how-to for extracting metallic titanium from white pigment. The process is straightforward, if (as it must be) highly energetic. I think the stickier question is working the titanium after it’s been isolated. Titanium is difficult to melt and very difficult to machine. I have a piece in my curio cabinet, and I’m very glad I don’t have to make anything from it.
  • Many people sent me the latest version of the old joke that “If Programming Languages Were Religions…” most of them lamenting that my favorite language—and my favorite religion—were not included. So it goes. I’m guessing that Pascal, like Catholicism, is patient: There will be only one programming language in use in the hereafter, and it will not be C++. You’ll have to go somewhere else for that.
  • The Wall Street Journal tells me that the RIAA is abandoning its mass-lawsuit strategy of copyright enforcement. It hasn’t worked at reducing music piracy, and its sole effect was making the music industry bigshots look positively evil. One can only wonder why it took so long to figure this out, and whether the damage can ever really be undone.
  • Here’s a wry peek at what we may see come out of the Big 3 bailout. Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link. Have you driven a Pelosi lately?
  • Also from Pete comes word that Werner Von Braun wrote SF. This actually looks pretty good—gotta love that cover!