Archive

Archive for July, 2007

NASA funding

I’ve heard people say that NASA’s budget should be cut to help fight poverty around the world, and this is a very political topic which I’d like to talk about a little bit even though I won’t get into too much depth.

The first thing I should say is that I do not believe in government redistribution of wealth. It is not a good option at all, and it is not very ethical. The basic premise is that a large number of Americans believe that too much money is gathered in the hands of a few. Their solution is that the government (the majority) should spend the money (from the “few” rich) in ways to redistribute wealth so it is not “unfairly” (unevenly) distributed. This idea goes against everything I believe America should be.

So if it’s not the government’s job to make sure everyone has money, what is it? This was established only 200 years ago, but many Americans already forgot. The government’s responsibility is to protect its people and act in the best interest of all Americans so competition is fair and beneficial. Free competition that allows everyone to pursue their dreams without limits used to be the American dream. Now the American dream is to get into the country and mooch off other people’s work.

NASA

Back to the topic of NASA funding. NASA is an investment in the future, and people have analyzed how much the money invested in its science research has benefited people[1]. People take atomic clocks, global positioning (OnStar), weather satellites, and life saving technologies for granted or do not give the proper credit to NASA for developing them. NASA does a lot for the world people don’t remember[2]. This technology is not done by civilian corporations because it involves huge expenses based on ideas that are very risky and very extensive. Going to the moon, developing the first satellites, and exploring the universe are not very beneficial commercially, but lots of good things have come from them. It is good to know what is going on in the universe.

Children who grow up wanting to be astronauts should not be told that America no longer believes in their dreams. They should not be told that science and hard work are a waste of money because it is better to spend America’s money to fight poverty. There will always be poor people until everyone is equal. We should not have to resort to socialism and penalizing success.

Categories: Appreciation, Law, Philosophy

$100 Laptop

I’ve been following the $100 laptop since it was first announced in the news, but recent articles about it are still impressing me. The software on the laptops looks truly impressive. It includes several programming languages in Linux and the ability to use the headpone jack as an analog input for a multimeter or oscilloscope[1]. The wireless “mesh” networking looks truly appropriate for creating a network and internet sharing. It’s great to see constructive innovation in this project.

This project can very plausibly change the world when it brings access to information to the developing world. Information sharing and software development can create some real economic progress which will benefit the entire world.

The number of programmers in the world will probably be will increase dramatically, which will probably lower the demand for American programmers, but the production of cheap laptops will continue to be a valuable business for America.

Wikipedia has a good page on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XO-1_(laptop)

Ohio State Policies

Ohio State does lots of things and does them well, but there are a few things that do not seem to be as they should be. Two of them come to mind tonight.

Computing facility Cooperation

A few days ago I had extra time while I was waiting with a business major in Schoenbaum Hall for my next class. Computer labs are great for being productive in spare time, which is their entire purpose. However, the Fisher College of Business has not been helpful when it comes to convenience in my experience.

In the Electrical Engineering department, anyone who is enrolled in an ECE class is allowed to use ECE computer labs. This seems sensible to me. However, being enrolled in a business class, I can NOT use the college of business computer labs. Imagine my surprise and frustration.

Anyway, the university should cooperate with its own students to make productivity convenient. There is no reason for this segregation and these secular politics.

ECE website and outreach

The Ohio State ECE department web site looks quite outdated to me. I am upset that the configuration of an ECE web site is inconvenient, but probably even more disappointed that the site does not show the true capabilities of Ohio State’s brilliant minds. This will need to be changed, possibly by suggestions from concerned students such as myself who understand that the image of their university reflects directly on the way others perceive their education.

There is a time to be supportive and a time to be critical. I suppose I’ll have to be supportive some other time.

Simplicity

Google has become a software giant and the most popular search engine on the planet[1] by offering simplicity to connect with the nearly limitless content of the Internet[2]. When I joined Facebook, I thought they had the same policy. However, several broken promises and undeserved dollars later, Facebook has become an unruly mess of needless gadgets, money scams, and privacy concerns. I had hoped that it would remain simple: exclusive to universities and limited to profile pictures and contact information.

To some extent, I feel obligated to fix the mistakes Facebook has made. The first question I have to answer, though, is how to make a difference. I could:

  1. Host an Ohio State social networking site through OSU, maybe a student organization
  2. Start a Facebook-like site with less advertising and no scams
  3. Come up with a solution unlike anything anyone that exists

Somehow I’m inclined to look most closely at option #3. The idea of simplicity I mentioned at the beginning of this article gives me and idea, and I’d seriously like to consider a little more. If the ideal social networking site would be simply pictures and contact information, could this be accomplished by a client-side website? Better yet, maybe a free service could be utilized to have the same unintended effects as a social networking site. To add “friends,” a friend could send an email to an address TBD. Maybe even have the profile sent to that person in the body of the email. This could actually work really well with email: mass mail profile updates to all friends.

This email idea makes me think I should go back to the client-side social networking, maybe something similar to the Gmail Notifier. A website version would be nice for simplicity, but I’ll see what works well if I ever get to it. Ideally this could all be accomplished by changing settings without a typical Windows installer.

Categories: PC Software

Test IR remote controls with cell phone

While the infrared light emitted from a remote control is not visible to the human eye, it is easily seen by cameras such as those in cell phones. Below is an animation of what a remote control looks like on a cell phone when its buttons are pressed. The infrared light appears as very bright blue on a cell phone.

This method makes it very easy to test the batteries and functionality of a remote control. Simply open a cell phone’s camera view finder and see the results. As shown, the room does not need to be dark and no precautions are necessary. The light is very visible and apparent.

Categories: Electronics

Ohio State web hosting

I’ve looked around Ohio State before to find free web hosting to use as a student page and I didn’t find anything. Recently I think I’ve found that there are a couple ways to do what I’d like, but the better way, through the ECE web site, hasn’t been set up yet.

Method 1:
http://carmen.osu.edu actually has web hosting for students. The pages can be edited from the “Class List” section by finding your own name. Here’s my page: https://carmen.osu.edu/pages/personal/91748/index.html

Method 2:
Use an ECE web site like these:
http://ece.osu.edu/~kruckenj

Here’s the site on how to set this up:
http://www.ece.osu.edu/computing/makepage.html

Categories: PC Software

Bookmarklets / Favelets

Not everyone is aware of the useful effects of bookmarklets, so I’ll present this post just to provoke thought. Bookmarklets are javascript functions saved as links for use in the Links bar of Internet Explorer or Firefox. Here are some that I like:

  • Edit page – edit your browser’s display of a page temporarily
  • frmget – inputs are defined in URL to make pages linkable
  • Named Anchors – show page anchors visibly to facilitate linking

Look into bookmarklets to see that they can make lots of things easier.

Categories: PC Software