Tag Archives: nerd

Notice anything different?

Well, besides the sporadic outages over the past week.

I changed hosting companies, and one of the side effects was that the database that powers this blog was having locking issues.  So, I upgraded to a better database engine, and, man, this site is now SNAPPY.  Pages and posts load very quickly compared to when it was running on the old box.  As cool as a self-contained, fully-managed, filesystem-based database is, it can’t match the performance of a server-based database.

Anyway, enough geeking.  Back to your regularly scheduled lack-of-blogging-from-yours-truly.  🙂

Starbucks + AT&T = Teh Rad

This is good news.  Whenever I'm traveling and I need to check my email, I'll generally head to Starbucks for a cup of joe and to tap into the T-Mobile wireless hotspot.  However, at $9.99/day, the access fee always ticked me off (though never enough to prevent me from paying for it).  I have never needed 24-hour Internet access at a Starbucks.  Why the heck couldn't they offer a smaller time period for less money?

Well, now they do.  Except "they" is no longer comprised of Starbucks + T-Mobile; "they" is now Starbucks + AT&T:

At Starbucks, T-Mobile is out and AT&T is in, at least when it comes to WiFi. AT&T and Starbucks announced their new partnership this morning, saying that the carrier plans to offer a variety of service offerings at 7,000 Starbucks locations in the US. Best of all, many customers will be able to access the service for free (as in beer), with paid offerings as low as $3.99 for two hours of use.

Ah, sanity momentarily returns to the land of overpriced breakfast sandwiches and macchiatos. 

I'm not an AT&T broadband subscriber (monopolies are a bitch (SureWest does provide excellent service, though)), so I don't get to surf for free, but $3.99/two hours is still a welcome change.

Good move, Starbucks!


In case you hadn't heard, Microsoft has offered to buy Yahoo! for a few pesos.

If this deal goes through, my only hope is that they continue to fully support Flickr, Yahoo! Mail, and del.icio.us, as I use those three applications at least once per day (and in the case of YMail, about every 15 minutes).

Sheesh.  $44.6 billion?  That's ridonculous.

Big Brother is watching you

When I was a wide-eyed freshman EE student, I had a great idea for a senior project.  I was going to devise a patrol car-mounted system that would automatically detect the speed of an oncoming car and, if it was traveling above the speed limit, my system would snap a picture of the license plate and automatically generate a ticket for the owner of the car.  Obviously, I didn't think this through very far, but it was a fascinating idea to me at the time. 

Then, around the end of my sophomore year, I got bitten by the programming bug.

Bye-bye vehicle-mounted automated ticketing sytem, hello Web apps.

Well, it looks like parts of my idea are coming to fruition*:

The Sacramento Police Department will receive an award Wednesday for its high-tech license plate reader system during a ceremony recognizing outstanding accomplishments within the public sector's information technology community. […]

The system allows a computer to read license plates in real time and compares it with information on stolen and wanted vehicles in a police database, Young said.

Patrol cars outfitted with the license plate reader are equipped with three external camera systems, which constantly scan license plate images during routine patrols. The images are then transmitted to a computer database and processed. The system notifies the officer if a match is made.

That's pretty sweet… and pretty gnarly, too. 

I suspect that it's only a matter of time before they're able to tie in GPS, radar, and video, and make each patrol car an automated hammer of justice.  Drivers, beware.

* To be clear, I had nothing to do with the design or implementation of Sac PD's new system.

Click-to-activate going the way of Clippy

If you've used Internet Explorer in the past ~1.5 years, you've no doubt been inconvenienced by the fact that you have to click on Flash animations/Java applets/etc. to get them to work.  Well, no more.  Great news from the Internet Explorer team today:

Back in April 2006, we made a change to how Internet Explorer handled embedded controls used on some webpages.  Some sites required users to “click to activate” before they could interact with the control.  Microsoft has now licensed the technologies from Eolas, removing  the “click to activate” requirement in Internet Explorer.  Because of this, we're removing the “click to activate” behavior from Internet Explorer!

This isn't an earth-shattering announcement by any means, but I'm still very happy about it.  Just one less annoyance I have to put up with in my daily life.

The only downside?  You likely won't get this update until April 2008 or beyond.