Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Hard drives are cheap, and I still have one free SATA port on my desktop system, so I ordered another drive as a Linux playground to solve the problem described in my entry for December 19, 2009. This time I’m going with a Seagate, since for reasons still obscure, the Linux kernel seems to like Seagate drives better than Western Digital drives.
  • And while we’re talking drives, Seagate has just announced the 2.5″ Momentus Thin, which at 7mm is about as thick as a vanilla wafer (you can tell I’m off my diet for the holidays) and will definitely bring down the BMI of netbooks and other portable gadgetry.
  • I think most people may have seen this by now (I forgot to Odd Lot it back when it appeared a couple of weeks ago) but wow: video footage of an underwater volcanic eruption under three klicks of water. Man, this is what robotics is for. (Thanks to Aki Peltonen and several others for the link.)
  • I just received my brand-new Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook here, and all I know so far is that it powers up and boots reasonably quickly into Windows XP Home. The unit as configured to order has both a built-in TV tuner and a GPS receiver. It’s going to be my travel computer and replace my knuckleheaded Lenovo 2005 Thinkpad X41 Convertible Tablet PC. I’m going to mess with it for a little while and will post something here as soon as I have a feel for it.
  • We’ve been hearing about Apophis for years: the 900-foot asteroid that will swing by in 2029 and say hello. And for an unnerving change of perspective, check out the close encounter from the asteroid’s point of view, in a JPL animation that counts as the scariest thrill ride I’ve taken in awhile. (Have not seen Avatar yet.)
  • Speaking of asteroid collisions, if you’re an SF writer spinning a plot involving big rocks and the sudden release of kinetic energy, look for Hazards Due to Asteroids and Comets, Tom Gehrels, ed. (University of Arizona Press, 1994.) It’s a 1300-page compendium of academic papers on big things hitting even bigger things, with lots of formulas, charts, and analysis. Dense and not an easy read (and also not cheap–it was a steal years ago for $40) but I’ve learned a great deal from it.
  • It’s interesting to read the reasons why good and intelligent men do not believe in God, and here’s Gregory Benford’s testimony, which is a lot more cogent than most I’ve seen. (Thanks to Frank Glover for the link.)
  • Finally, if there’s some source code in your past that you regret (I’m thinking of a few lines right now that I’d like to wipe from this space-time continuum if I could) maybe the answer is Bad Code Offsets. Debug-and-Trade, anyone? (Thanks to Bruce Baker for the link.)

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