Updates from April, 2010 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Pat 1:05 pm on 30 April 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Via Ars Technica: Palm has been acquired by HP. The new management has already announced plans to develop a webOS tablet, and there will probably be new webOS smartphones as well. Key quote: “At least Palm now has a future, which was more than we could say about it yesterday.”

  • Hober Short 3:18 am on 28 April 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Via Instapundit: Rats who eat grapes have better blood chemistry.

  • Hober Short 12:54 am on 28 April 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    The broken window fallacy is alive and well in Clayton: they cancelled their Fourth of July celebration.

    The one-day celebration costs the town more than $30,000 – about $20,000 in fireworks alone. Resident Ronald Roy lives across from Municipal Park. He said he understands the town’s decision to cancel this year’s celebration.

    “That’ll save somebody’s job – an employee’s job,” Roy said.

    And the unseen fireworks company that is now getting $20,000 less revenue this year?

    Note, I’m not saying this is the wrong thing to do. But trying to justify it with the “jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs” mantra is invalid.

  • Hober Short 7:58 pm on 26 April 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Listening to the recent episode of the D&D Podcast titled D&D Product Overview, I heard Mike Mearls and Friends lay out the plan for D&D Products for the coming year. In it, they confirmed what I had suspected.

    The currently on the market “D&D Roleplaying Game Starter Set” is an expanded module: playbook, dice, tokens, map tiles, characters.

    The forthcoming “Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game Starter Set” is, however, analogous to the Red Box of old: a solo-play adventure, a small group-play adventure, and then simplified rules to begin creating your own campaigns. In fact, they are taking the analogy so far that all through the presentation, Mearls kept talking about it as “the red box” and the box art is intentionally evocative (if not derivative) of the old-school packaging.

    Hopefully the two will end up with different names, but both should be interesting for hooking new players.

  • Hober Short 4:45 pm on 26 April 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    This has been up for a while, but I only recently got the chance to see it with my own eyes: the Barrel Monster is now a historical landmark.

  • Hober Short 2:53 pm on 26 April 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Art imitates life: Scott Adams posts his two comics about the next-generation iPhone blunder:

    Take a moment to marvel at the fact that I didn’t need to add anything to the story as it has been told in the media. All it really needed was Wally.

  • Pat 1:01 am on 20 April 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Bob has previously commented on how credit union branches are replacing teller windows with ATM-like video chat terminals that let you interact with a teller who may be in the next room or on another continent. These transactions usually involve the cashing or depositing of checks, because why else would you bother to drive to a branch nowadays? But the machine doesn’t actually send the check to the teller; it just scans it and sends an image to the teller wherever he or she is.

    Well, if that’s how it works, we don’t actually have to drive to the branch, do we? We could easily send an image of the check from home — or anywhere, really, now that we all carry phones with built-in digital cameras.

    At least one bank has embraced that argument. USAA now offers a free app to its customers who use iPhones. You use the app to photograph both sides of the check and send the images to USAA, which processes the deposit and credits your account. You can then void the check and file it with your other records, or just shred it.

    One might ask why we still have to deal with paper checks at all, but as long as we do, this is an interesting approach to the problem.

    • Hober Short 10:19 pm on 20 April 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Unfortunately, the personal check system is also hopelessly insecure: https://longtrance.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/1675/

      This was another reason that I was almost pathologically hesitant to write my SSN on a check and mail it off to the FedGov. So many ways to fail.

      • Pat 9:44 am on 21 April 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Oops. I forgot that you had already posted about this last year. How embarrassing.

  • Pat 12:10 pm on 19 April 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    I ended my recent post about Palm and TiVo with a warning for Apple not to rest on its laurels where the iPhone is concerned; it will lose market share if it’s not significantly updated. I can now say that Apple does not intend to let that happen. You’ve probably already heard about the announcement of version 4.0 of the iPhone OS, which will add a bunch of new features like multitasking, app folders, custom backgrounds, a new e-mail app, and hundreds of other enhancements. (Alas, the multitasking will not work on my iPhone 3G. But I knew I was making a compromise when I chose not to buy the 3GS.)

    It appears that Apple is updating the hardware as well. There’s been no announcement, but the folks at Gizmodo got their hands on a prototype next-generation iPhone that was accidentally left in a bar in Redwood City, CA (I swear I’m not making this up), and they disassembled and analyzed it. It has a front-facing video chat camera in addition to the improved rear-facing camera (which has a flash!), an improved display, and possibly noise cancellation.

    So I think it’s safe to say that Apple is not going to be complacent about the iPhone. It may still lose market share to Android or other competitors, but not without a fight.

    Speaking of competitors, Palm has put itself up for sale. HTC and Lenovo are said to be interested acquiring it. Some observers think it would make sense for RIM (the Blackberry folks) or Motorola to purchase it, but that’s just speculation at this point. Dell has reportedly looked into the idea and decided against it. Palm has been a wholly-owned subsidiary before (first U.S. Robotics, then 3Com), so perhaps the company’s story isn’t over yet.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 10:33 am on 13 April 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    In its annual New York auction of space memorabilia, the Bonhams auction house has some interesting items up for sale this week. The list includes the sort of thing you’d expect, like mission patches and pins. More interesting is an annotated emergency checklist from Apollo 13 (I’m guessing the annotations are the most interesting bit).

    But to me, the most surprising item was this one:

    Another big-ticket item on offer is a diamond and gold pin that was given to NASA director of flight crew operations Deke Slayton by the widows of the three astronauts who died in the Apollo 1 fire. The late astronauts had planned to give the pin to Slayton themselves, but never got the chance. Later, Slayton lent the pin to astronaut Neil Armstrong, who took it to the moon with him during the Apollo 11 mission. This item could sell for $80,000 to $120,000.

    That’s the actual pin that was the focus of an entire scene in an episode of From The Earth To The Moon.

    I think we should buy it. I can kick in fifty bucks if you guys can cover the rest.

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