Droid Update

On 2010.02.18, in Technology, by Greg

My original post about the Droid was 2009-11-06. Three months into Droid and time for an update. The good news is that ones life can be divided into BD and AD, before Droid and after Droid. But not without some complaints of course. The camera is really slow, which means you are going to miss some opportunities. It is really easy to accidentally activate functions unintentionally.

These are the apps I use in order of most frequent:

  • Phone and contact lookup with integration to maps
  • Maps, especially with the traffic layer turned on
  • Music – listen to books on mp3
  • Gmail
  • Calendar to look up appointments, etc.
  • Sportstap – keep track of you teams
  • TED – view outstanding 18 minute videos from the TED conferences
  • CardioTrainer – uses GPS to track walking workouts.
  • Radar Now – show weather radar arond your GPS location
  • Trapster – avoid speed traps and photo enforcement cameras
  • WaveSecure – to locate Droid if misplaced, and erase everything if stolen
  • Wifi Analyzer – check on your wifi signal
  • Droidlight – use camera flash as a light
  • Google Goggles – scan business card to add to contacts
  • PageOnce – track financial accounts
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The Space Debate

On 2010.02.04, in Politics, Society, Technology, by Greg

Steven Weinbeg received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979 and the National Medal of Science in 1991. He teaches in the physics and astronomy departments of the University of Texas at Austin. He has some important observations about space exploration funding in today’s Wall Street Journal, some of which are quoted below. It is gratifying to be able to report anything that the current Obama administration is proposing that would move us in the right direction and this is one.

One of my sons, Mark, worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL in Pasadena, CA during the summers of 2004 and 2005. JPL is a NASA contractor and lead center for the robotic exploration of the solar system. JPL has done far more with it’s tiny budget than the massive NASA manned programs to improve life on earth.

What about Hubble? Weinberg notes:

It is true that astronauts made a large contribution to astronomy by servicing the Hubble Space Telescope. But if Hubble had been put into orbit by unmanned rockets instead of the Space Shuttle, so much money would have been saved that instead of servicing a single Hubble we could have had half a dozen Hubbles in orbit, making servicing unnecessary.

The Mars rovers were dispatched by JPL, and they did an incredible job, as noted by Weinberg here:

It is difficult to get reliable estimates of the cost of sending astronauts to Mars, but I have heard no estimate that is less than many hundreds of billions of dollars. The cost of sending Spirit and Opportunity to Mars was less than $1 billion.

Weinberg concludes:

The only technology for which the manned space flight program is well suited is the technology of keeping people alive in space. And the only demand for that technology is in the manned space flight program itself.


In a presentation yesterday, a McAfee representative stated that security experts thus far have not found a way to modify the “Operation Aurora” zero-day exploit of IE to overcome the defense represented by the combination of Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) and Data Execution Protection (DEP). DEP alone is not sufficient. DEP is available in XP, but ASLR is not (from Microsoft). ASLR is available in Windows 7.

Quoting Wikipedia:

Operation Aurora was a cyber attack conducted in mid-December 2009 and continuing into early January 2010. The attack was publicly disclosed by Google on January 12 in a blog post. In the blog post, Google said the attack originated in China. The attack was aimed at dozens of other organizations, of which Adobe Systems, Juniper Networks and Rackspace have publicly confirmed that they were targeted. According to media reports, Yahoo, Symantec, Northrop Grumman and Dow Chemical were also among the targets.

By some counts, there were 34 firms affected. The Intellectual Property (IP) in each case was different. For example, it appears that a large amount of IP from an oil company was taken by the Chinese during this period. The property in question was bidding data on oil leases off the coast of Africa. The competition is China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).


The Wall Street Journal reported just now that President Barack Obama proposed a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2011.

The budget plan calls for nearly $1 trillion in tax increases on upper-income families — largely by allowing Bush-era tax cuts to expire. Banks, bankers and multinational corporations would face new fees and levies. And oil companies would lose $39 billion in tax breaks.

In all, the president’s budget would add $8.5 trillion to the federal debt through 2020, pushing the debt as a percentage of GDP to 77%, up from 53%.

If you are opposed to the budget (except perhaps for the tax breaks on oil companies), let your representatives know. They think you don’t care about your kids and grand kids.

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