I have been a DirecTV customer for some time now and have had few problems with my service. When I visit the PowerGrandma, a cable subscriber, I often see television ads that suggest that DSS customers often lose their satellite signal on cloudy days. That's true, but I only lose my signal when animals are beginning to pair up and move towards the big boat parked out back in the ravine (i.e. when the clouds are very thick with rain or snow).
As a spontaneous test, I threw 5 hand towels (unfolded) over our satellite dish. The first towel had no effect on the reception on our telly. Neither did the second, third, fourth, or fifth. I never lost the reception.
Surfing the Web last fall, a Chinese high-school
student who calls himself Zivn noticed something missing. It was
Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that accepts contributions or edits
from users, and that he himself had contributed to.
The Chinese government, in October, had added
Wikipedia to a list of Web sites and phrases it blocks from Internet
users. For Zivn, trying to surf this and many other Web sites,
including the BBC's Chinese-language news service, brought just an
error message. But the 17-year-old had loved the way those sites helped
him put China's official pronouncements in perspective. "There were so
many lies among the facts, and I could not find where the truth is," he
writes in an instant-message interview.
Then some friends told him where to find Freegate, a
software program that thwarts the Chinese government's vast system to
limit what its citizens see. Freegate -- by connecting computers inside
of China to servers in the U.S. -- enables Zivn and others to keep
reading and writing to Wikipedia and countless other Web sites.
Roughly a dozen Chinese government agencies employ
thousands of Web censors, Internet cafe police and computers that
constantly screen traffic for forbidden content and sources -- a
barrier often called the Great Firewall of China. Type, say, "media
censorship by China" into emails, chats or Web logs, and the messages
Even with this extensive censorship, Chinese are
getting vast amounts of information electronically that they never
would have found a decade ago. The growth of the Internet in China --
to an estimated 111 million users -- was one reason the authorities,
after a week's silence, ultimately had to acknowledge a disastrous
toxic spill in a river late last year. But the government recently has
redoubled its efforts to narrow the Net's reach on sensitive matters.
...It has required all bloggers, or writers of Web logs,
to register. At the end of last year 15 Internet writers were in jail
in China, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York
group. China also has gotten some U.S. Internet companies to limit the
search results they provide or the discussions they host on their
Chinese services. A tiny firm Mr. Xia set up to provide and maintain
Freegate had to lobby computer-security companies such as Symantec Corp., of Cupertino, Calif., not to treat it as a virus.
In response to China's crackdown, and to restrictions
in many Middle Eastern countries as well, a small army has been
mustered to defeat them. "Hacktivists," they call themselves.
It is already happening. As technology improves, it will become harder and harder to suppress political freedom. Can China stop political freedom now that they've opened up to economic freedom? Can they even hope to contain it?
Last year sometime, the Powerwife and I lost many digital photos we had stored on our home computer, including our pictures of one of the Powerkid's third birthday party. Luckily, we were new to digital photography at the time so we didn't lose too many pictures.
I know, I should have backed those pictures up and I have been doing just that since then. But it sounds like the CD's I use to back my photos up on don't last more than a few years:
"Unlike pressed original CDs, burned CDs have a relatively short
life span of between two to five years, depending on the quality of the
CD," Gerecke says. "There are a few things you can do to extend the
life of a burned CD, like keeping the disc in a cool, dark space, but
not a whole lot more."
The problem is material degradation. Optical discs commonly used for burning, such as CD-R and CD-RW,
have a recording surface consisting of a layer of dye that can be
modified by heat to store data. The degradation process can result in
the data "shifting" on the surface and thus becoming unreadable to the
"Many of the cheap burnable CDs available at discount stores have a
life span of around two years," Gerecke says. "Some of the
better-quality discs offer a longer life span, of a maximum of five
From what I've read, personally-recorded DVD's last for decades, so I am probably safe if I decided to put some of our home movies on DVD. Then I'll be able to bore the neighbors for years!
It's a Tandy! It costs only $8,499! It's got 2 MB of RAM! It's got a 20 MHZ Intel 386 processor.
Today, I type this blog post on a Dell Dimension 8400 computer with a 3.4 GHZ Pentium 4 Processor and 512 MB of RAM with CD and DVD RW drives and a lot of other goodies! I think we paid around $1,500 or so for our Dell. My, how far computers have come in 16 years!
Think about it this way: in December of 1989, average hourly earnings were $9.97. In December of 2004, average hourly earnings were $15.85 (see here from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank Data Base). So, in 1989, the average worker would have to work approximately 850 hours (more than 20 weeks assuming a 40 hour work week) to earn enough (pre tax) cash to buy a 386. In 2004, the average worker would have to work less than 100 hours to earn enough pre tax cash to buy a Dell Dimension like I describe above.
The lowest-priced electronic calculator available in this
catalog set the citizen of 1975 back $13.88 – it had a whooping six digits and
could add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
Also available were microwave ovens, ranging in price from
$189.95 to $439.95.
Of course, there’s been a good deal of dollar inflation
since 1975. Judged by changes in the
consumer-price index, what $100 bought in 1975 takes about $354 to buy
today. So that six-digit calculator
would today cost about $49. Sears
lowest-priced microwave oven in 1975
would today set you back $672.
Here are some other 1975 products and their 1975 prices (along with their
inflation-adjusted 2006 prices):
Sears Best kitchen range, $589.95 ($2,088).
Sears Best television, $749.95 ($2,655)
Sears Best black and white television, $137.95 ($488)
And don't forget that back in 1975, Al Gore hadn't even thought of the internet, much less PC's like we have available to us today - and we wouldn't be exchanging this type of information so quickly.
Jane Fonda and Dirk Digler have written a new paper. Here is the abstract:
Many hackers worldwide would agree that, had it not been for amphibious
technology, the understanding of voice-over-IP might never have
occurred. While such a claim at first glance seems perverse, it has
ample historical precedence. Here, we show the deployment of
multi-processors. Our focus in our research is not on whether the
famous low-energy algorithm for the refinement of hierarchical
databases by Wu and Wang  follows a Zipf-like
distribution, but rather on proposing new game-theoretic archetypes