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User Journal

Journal Journal: random loss of input focus in WinXP - Help? 1

I am tearing my hair out. I got a new thinkpad a few days ago. It has something running in the background that is causing the window that I'm typing into to lose focus at random, sometimes as often as every couple of minutes. I tried installing tweakUI and its feature to prevent apps from stealing focus, but it's had no effect. So, I type away, and I lose characters if I'm not watching like a hawk. Surely there is an app I can install that would sit around and, when something tries to grab the focus, would say "gotcha!"
User Journal

Journal Journal: How Bell Labs blew the microchip

The December 2006 issue of IEEE Spectrum carries an article about the life and tragic death of Jack A. Morton, of Bell Labs: How Bell Labs Missed the Microchip. It includes "On integrated circuits in particular, Morton exhibited serious blind spots that cost the parent phone company, AT&T, dearly--and may have contributed to its eventual dismemberment."

Those of us with past ties to Bell Labs can get rather wistful on reading this....

User Journal

Journal Journal: Dave Patterson: "Stop Whining About Outsourcing!" 2

(Rejected posting. I thought this one would make it!)

Dave Patterson, President of the ACM, has the "Curmudgeon" piece in the 11/05 issue of ACM Queue, which has finally made it into their online edition. It starts with "I'm sick of hearing all the whining about how outsourcing is going to migrate all IT jobs to the country with the lowest wages" and continues from there to say that actually IT jobs in the US are growing and "Despite the rumors, the facts say that IT outsourcing is not the job-sucking vampire that everyone has been whining about." He accuses people of fear-mongering. Is he right?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bush quotes ... dare we believe? 2

David Isenberg has a great, great blog, one of my favorites. Today he referred to two, count them two, quotes by President Bush that really make me go "hmm". I have trouble believing them, but if so ... he's in a lot of hot water. On Leno, if noplace else :).
  1. "Stop throwing the Constitution in my face, it's just a goddamned piece of paper!"
  2. "I don't give a goddamn. I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."
User Journal

Journal Journal: How Bush stole the election

Another great link from David Isenberg about the questions surrounding Bush's win in 2004. (Or did one of my "friends" already post this? Sorry, if so.)
User Journal

Journal Journal: Buy Blue

I found a link in about Costco's article in the NYT. It mentioned BuyBlue, a site that lists companies whose executives donate to the good guys (and the bad guys). Very interesting stuff.
User Journal

Journal Journal: CapitalOne Auto Finance woes 3

In 2002, my wife and I refinanced two auto loans with PeopleFirst, which became CapitalOne. We arranged for them to auto-deduct payments from checking.

Some time ago, they screwed up, failed to take their money, and then yelled at us for not paying them. They apologized eventually.

Last weekend, after we had supposedly paid off both loans last month, we got a letter about one of the loans, complaining we were about $50 in arrears. I called them, and they said they failed to compute the interest properly, but would have it credited. But a few days later they called us to inform us, again, how much in arrears we were. I called back, and was again assured they'd fix the problem.

Now it's been a couple more days, and it still hasn't been fixed.

What a chicken-excrementy outfit. They had nice rates, but their service stinks. Thought I'd warn the blogosphere ... and see if by any chance anyone else had experienced similar pain.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Pedal Magic -- awesome

My daughter turns twelve this week. She's never been eager to learn to ride a bike, and she went through several bikes, each with training wheels, while never biking often enough to really learn. This week we bought a full-size bike, which turns out not to be available with training wheels unless we custom order something as expensive as the bike. Turns out we didn't need to. While researching this, my wife found Pedal Magic, a site with a downloadable video that claims to teach anyone to ride, without training wheels. And it worked exactly as advertised. She watched the 15-minute video, did several minutes of exercises taught on the video, and went out and was riding independently in just a few minutes. After a day at the wildest Yankee game I may ever have attended, we went back out with the bike. Another few minutes and she almost looked like she'd been riding for years. Well, almost :). We're about to get a new bike for our 6-year-old, and we'll skip the training wheels and go straight to Pedal Magic. Joe Bob says, check it out.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Eric Brewer: Technology for Emerging Regions

Rejected from the main index:

Eric Brewer, a professor of computer science at Berkeley and founder of Inktomi, gave a keynote speech at WWW2005, in which he highlighted his project on Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions. Brewer described a number of ongoing projects in this area (at Berkeley and elsewhere) that have really made a difference, such as using sensor networks to enable people to kill mosquitos that otherwise made broad areas of farmland uninhabitable; connecting medical clinics to support telepresence and remote diagnosis; improving commerce; reacting to natural disasters; and other areas. There are numerous difficult problems in computer science that need to be addressed, such as Delay-Tolerant Networking, dealing with intermittent connectivity; extremely low-cost and low-power computing; extending wireless networks over extremely large areas; and so on. Brewer was challenging the audience to join in this effort and make a real difference in people's lives.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Amazon's A9 customization

I really thought this'd get in :(.

As reported on ZDnet and Amazon CTO Werner Vogels's blog, Amazon's A9 search engine is now supporting plugins to its search engine -- opening the search engine to users in the way that RSS opens content, or Google News is customizing user displays. Of course, sites like "My Yahoo!" were doing the latter a long time ago.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Home Equity question 5

I decided to try out Lendingtree over the weekend, and it seems to be working out well. One question, though: when I told one lender that I was a bit torn between a fixed-rate 2nd mortgage and a line of credit, he suggested I do both: fixed-rate and fixed value plus an equity line on top. The next lender I spoke to was aghast when I suggested this... "a third mortgage?!"

Has anyone tried this? Also, this is with Wachovia; any comments on them, pro or con, would be appreciated. Same goes for Lendingtree.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The end of public libraries? 2

Is this the beginning of the end? The NY Times reports (firstborn son required) that Salinas, the hometown of the famous John Steinbeck, and for whom one of its public libraries is named, is about to shut its libraries for lack of funding. Public libraries throughout the US are suffering big cutbacks, and strapped taxpayers are unwilling to do things like a proposed sales tax hike to fund public services. I wonder whether this will spurn a public outcry and a nationwide donation campaign, or simply the most famous in a long line of failures past and future?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Reid on Thomas/Scalia

Harry Reid, the incoming Democratic minority leader in the US Senate, has spoken out on the confirmation process. CNN reports that he calls Clarence Thomas "an embarrassment to the Supreme Court" and implied he would fight against any possible promotion of Thomas to chief justice. On the other hand, he cited Antonin Scalia's brilliance, and said while he disagreed with many of his opinions, he found it hard to dispute the reasoning by which Scalia arrived at them. He also commented on the use of filibuster to deny approval of a confirmee, saying that "advice and consent" means just that, and the senate shouldn't rubber stamp every nominee.

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