Latest thing in OLED displays: transparency

"Any regular reader of Ars knows that the editorial staff is fascinated by the potential for organic LED technology. While we are still awaiting installation of the first OLED panels at the Orbiting HQ, we tend to keep a close eye on any new advances in that area, and this latest one is pinning our excitement meters.

Scientists at the Technical University of Braunschweig have announced the development of transparent OLED panels. That's correct, transparent. This offers more than just the opportunity to play Minority Report - The Home Game. The development team sees this as having applications ranging from operating rooms, where surgeons could be fed a constant stream of patient data without blocking their field of view, to automobiles, although if the technology is added to windshields, we're going to recommend against hooking up the game machine while driving.

How did they do it? By marrying transparent thin-film transistors (TFTs) to OLEDs. Transparent TFTs are made of zinc-tin-oxide—as opposed to the more common silicon—and transmit at better than 90 percent in the visible spectrum."

- Read the rest of the article at Ars Technica


Pay-per-email and the "Market Myth"

Bennett Haselton has written a thoughtful piece on the latest developments in the pay-for-email schemes making the rounds from some of the big players in the world of AOL. This one is really worth your time, so please click on and read what he has to say.

This sums up his point in a nutshell:
The problem is that many advocates of these systems say that any flaws will get sorted out automatically by "the market" -- and in this case I think that is simply wrong ... But has the marketplace punished Hotmail for using it? Have people left in droves because non-Bonded-Sender e-mail gets blocked? No, because if they never see it getting blocked they don't know what happens. Free markets only solve problems that are actually visible to the user.
Some good comments after the Slashdot article as well:
I'm on the OpenBSD-security-announce list for example: Where OpenBSD announces when they've found a security bug. I never expect an email from them, but if they send one I want it.

The problem, as they see it, is that if I didn't get an email sent by that list I'd never know. I don't know when or if it was sent. But I still want the email.

This is one of the most common uses of email. It is something spam tries to hide as. A good spam-fighting solution must be able to handle it. Sender-pays doesn't, espcially for small/free projects.
Full disclosure: I am an AOL employee. This is not meant to be an opinion on my part, nor an endoresement of any practice. Any implied opinion is not that of my employer. There, full CYA complete.


Ubuntu File And Print For Windows Workgroups

This is a detailed tutorial about the steps to set up an Ubuntu based server (Ubuntu 5.10 - Breezy Badger) to act as file- and print server for Windows workstations in small workgroups. This howto uses the tdb backend for Samba to store passwords and account information. This is suitable for workgroups for up to 250 users and is easier to setup than an LDAP backend.

I'm primarily posting this as a reference to myself - so I can get my new file server running the right way from the start. Which would be a welcome change.

Forbes Opinion Piece: Microsoft Vista Not 'People Ready'

Daniel Lyons has an opinion piece up on Forbes.com about a recent press conference held by Microsoft:
The new version of Microsoft Windows, called Vista, has slipped again. It was originally going to ship in 2003. Then 2005. Then 2006. Now in early 2007. I'm not surprised, having seen a demo of Microsoft's new programs at an "event" for tech buyers in New York last week.
In other MS news, up to 60% of the code in Vista is set to be rewritten as the Company "scrambles" to fix internal problems. In an effort to meet a deadline of the 2007 CES show in Las Vegas Microsoft has pulled programmers from the highly succesful Xbox team to help resolve many problems associated with entertainment and media centre functionality inside the OS. Comments on the last bit over at Slashdot.


NVIDIA Launches New SLI Physics Technology

Hot news from Slashdot:
NVIDIA just launched a new SLI Physics technology. It offloads the physics processing from the CPU to the graphics card. According to the benchmark, it improves the frame rate by more than 10x. Certainly worth investing in SLI if it works.
Ten times the frame rate??? Wow, sure am glad I haven't upgraded my motherboard to SLI yet, this would rock if the benchmarks are on the money...


Beware Your Online Presence

There's an article in the NY Daily News stating that an increasing number of employers are Googling their prospective employees during the interview/hiring process. Troubling thought, but inevitable I suppose.
A friend of mine posted a picture of me on My Space with my eyes half closed and a caption that suggests I've smoked something illegal,' says Kluttz. While the caption was a joke, Kluttz now wonders whether the past two employers she interviewed with thought it was so funny. Both expressed interest in hiring Kluttz, but at the 11th hour went with someone else.


Recommended Reading List for PHP

IBM developerWorks has put together a PHP recommended reading list. It provides resources for developers and admins adopting PHP and tackling advanced topics such as building extensions and writing secure code. There's also a list of books and blogs for keeping up with changes to the language itself.
This list of recommended reading material on PHP is compiled from a variety of online sources by Web application developers in IBM's Global Production Services organization. These resources have been selected with the intention of introducing IT specialists and architects to PHP, providing specific information about development and maintenance, and helping to integrate the technology with IBM products.

PHP is an interpreted programming language run in an environment provided by an open source core engine and extensions whose development is driven by many companies and individuals. As such, this list describes resources that apply to writing PHP programs and to customizing the interpreter's environment. It links to material published by IBM and content provided by others.
They state that they will be periodically updating the list, in part based on user comments. PHP is one of those things I keep wanting to get more into, I've tried to move my site back into PHP but there's so much I don't know how to do...


Dilbert is so often right on target...


My thanks to Steve Bass, who apparently has very similar humor to my own...

Fine-Tuning Kubuntu

Ubuntu is a well-maintained, well-organized Linux distribution. Kubuntu adds the popular and powerful KDE desktop environment. As nice as Kubuntu is, the default installation doesn't fit every user. Carla Schroder shows how to get help, get access to more software packages, set up a firewall, and review and get rid of unnecessary services.

Google's New Calendar CL2

Google is apparently working on its own calendar (CL2) program to integrate with Gmail. The closed beta is ongoing with about 200 participants - people involved are not allowed to invite outsiders to see the calendar and are under strict rules not to share any details with outsiders. Here's an article with some leaked photos of the CL2:
About CL2

CL2 makes it easy — even effortless — to keep track of all the events in your life and compare them to what your friends and family have going on in theirs. We’ve designed a calendar that works for you — helping you add events from email, friends, and other public calendars — so you don’t have to spend all your time maintaining your schedule. CL2 even helps you discover new events you might be interested in. We think it’s a great tool for managing your daily schedule, keeping track of what everyone in your family is doing, organizing events for a club or team, or creating public events that you can promote to the world.
Looking at the screenshots, this is going to be very very sweet... CL2 is very closely integrated with Gmail. It includes some standard web 2.0 features: Ajax, subscription feeds for integration with iCal and other desktop calendars, event creation, search, sharing, notifications (including SMS) and more. Very nice.

404 - Page Not Found

This has got to be one of the funniest 404 page errors I've seen. Wait for it...


5 rules to make your work day sane

Another decent Fortune article I came across. "The digital age promised to help us work smarter, not harder -- yet it feels like we're not getting anything done. With a little discipline, even a weary wired worker can tame the beast." Here's the meat of the article:
1) Give yourself a time-out. Devote an hour to uninterrupted thinking and planning every day. First thing in the morning is safest, but anytime that works for you is good. No calls, no e-mail, no chitchat, just quality time. "If there's an emergency, someone will come get you," says organization expert Julie Morgenstern. "Use this time to think strategically about your work."

2) Show your technology who's boss. Constant e-mails and phone calls bring a sense of urgency and importance that's tough to resist, not to mention the thrill of instant accomplishment. But keep your eye on the prize. "Anyone who has his e-mail client notify him anytime an e-mail comes in has already lost," says Shirky. Most of today's devices and software actually can be set to be less intrusive. You just need to learn how: Switch off the ping that heralds the arrival of an e-mail, create folders into which incoming messages are automatically shunted. When busy, let outgoing message capabilities alert others to when they might reasonably expect to hear back from you.

3) Keep your meetings rare. Surveys show that most people find meetings a major time waster. Use them sparingly, keep to an agenda, start and end on time. And unless someone is expecting a baby (or using technology is part of the meeting) turn off all cellphones and BlackBerries. Intra-meeting texting is rude and counterproductive.

4) Say no. "Sorry" isn't the hardest word -- "no" is. But not saying it to desperate colleagues or harried bosses is the quickest way to overload your schedule and muck up more important goals. Focus first on meeting your stated objectives. Also, consider family and personal time when filling your calendar: Work-centric employees are more likely to report feeling overloaded than those who plan for their personal lives.

5) Delete. Surveys show we waste 20 percent of our day on nonproductive activities. Cut out or delegate anything on your to-do list that doesn't have long-term consequences for your work. Be ruthless. And while you're at it, don't let a stuffed e-mail in-box sap your will to live. When reviewing each e-mail, make an on-the-spot call to delete, file, or reply to each one -- even if the response is, "I'll get back to you on this later."
The rest of the article is worth a read, as is the extended version.

Cubicles: The great mistake

A little news article from Fortune that falls under the category of 'Blindingly Obvious', but still a good read. Even the designer of the cubicle thinks they were maybe a bad idea, as millions of 'Dilberts' would agree.
Robert Oppenheimer agonized over building the A-bomb. Alfred Nobel got queasy about creating dynamite. Robert Propst invented nothing so destructive. Yet before he died in 2000, he lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called "monolithic insanity."

Propst is the father of the cubicle. More than 30 years after he unleashed it on the world, we are still trying to get out of the box. The cubicle has been called many things in its long and terrible reign. But what it has lacked in beauty and amenity, it has made up for in crabgrass-like persistence.
Go ahead, give it a read.


Genndy Tartakovsky to Direct Dark Crystal Sequel

OK, I can't believe I missed this tidbit:
The folks at Jim Henson productions announced almost without fanfare that a sequel to the impressive The Dark Crystal is in the works and will be directed by the award-winning Genndy Tartakovsky, who created the hit series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Samurai Jack and Dexter's Laboratory, will direct 'Power of the Dark Crystal,' the sequel to the 1982 classic fantasy film.
This is big. Really, really big. Aside from the fact that the rest of Tartakovsky's productions seriously ROCKED, one might call The Dark Crystal a classic, nay perhaps an epic, and it is fantastic to say the least to see this revisted. I shall have to keep an ear out for more on this...


Sony's DVDirect VRD-MC1

I've got my eye on Sony's DVDirect VRD-MC1 now right. Here's a writeup from PCWorld:
Sony's latest iteration of its DVDirect costs more than either of the other models in this group: At $300, it's substantially more expensive. But you're getting notably more functionality for the money, even though the specs for this drive are very similar to those of the others I looked at for this column (16X DVD+/-R, 8X DVD+R double layer, 4X DVD-R dual layer, 8X DVD+RW, and 6X DVD-RW).

DVDirect VRD-MC1For starters, this is the only external drive I've seen to date that's intended for use in stand-alone mode, independent of a PC. It's also the only drive of the bunch with a digital video input as well as composite audiovisual and S-Video connectors. And it has memory card slots for reading and dubbing direct to disc from Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick, Secure Digital, xD Picture Card, and CompactFlash media. The DVDirect VRD-MC1 can create photo slide shows on DVD-R media from images on a flash card; it can also output images to a PictBridge-compatible printer connected to the unit via USB.

The DVDirect VRD-MC1 is the only drive in this group with a 2-inch color LCD screen, located on top. The display is especially convenient for previewing the beginning or end of the video you're recording, be it from live TV (broadcast or cable) or from a VCR or camcorder.

The DVDirect VRD-MC1's one weakness is its lack of a video output for playing back captured video or digital images on a TV. Another nit to pick: Sony placed the video inputs along the left side of the front panel, which simplifies access to cables, but also makes for a messy appearance if you keep those cables plugged in all the time.
I've seen a lot of writeups on this unit, also saw it on "I Want That!" which is in general a very dangerous show to watch (for my wallet anyways). I've tried to convert our VHS tapes to DVD or just digital, but the USB adapter I have doesn't work well... should've known it was too good a price to be high-quality...