Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sugar free treats dont satisfy

Interesting discovery. Scientists found out that when you eat a sweet treat, at least 2 parts of your brain light up. One says "its sweet". The other says " I'm satisfied".

Sugar substitutes only make the first part of the brain light up. So sugar free food make you want to eat more.
in reference to: Sugar-free satisfaction: Finding the brain's sweet spot - life - 27 December 2009 - New Scientist (view on Google Sidewiki)

Network Magic

What good is this program? Well these are the features that I have used

1. Share files in a network. Sometimes this can be a frustrating experience if you do it manually. I recently reformatted my laptop and now I can see the laptop on the network but I cant access the files from my desktop. Some crap about permissions. With this program Its really easy. Just run NM on both computers and designate the folders to be shared.

2. I can see if someone else is on my wifi network

A 7 day free trial is available and there are several more features.
in reference to: Cisco - Home Networking Software - Set up and Manage Your Network with One Easy Application (view on Google Sidewiki)

Grim Tales from down below


This is a webcomic that I frequent. Its made buy a guy called Bleedman who is supposed to be a Fil-Am.The art is pretty amazing. Its characters are taken from several horror based cartoons.

As you can see, it is anime influenced.

Monday, December 28, 2009

First affordable LED Monitors in the Philippines

Philippine Daily Inquirer Dec 28 2009 Page B6 gives the price of the 18.5 inch e936Vw as PhP 6395 and the 21.5 inch e2236Vw as PhP 8595. Interestingly, the newspaper ad is worded as "First LED Monitors in the Philippines".

in reference to:
"First affordable LED Monitors in the Country AOC also unveiled the first affordable LED Monitors in the Philippines – e936Vw and e2236Vw. These AOC e36 Series monitors offer consumers brilliant large screen performance at highly competitive price. The AOC e2236Vw offers premium picture quality for graphics-intensive applications. It comes with 2.000.000:1 (DCR) contrast ratio, which delivers exceptional image clarity, and 160-degree viewing angle to provide increased visibility from side viewpoints. Its response time is 5ms, a key feature that prevents fast moving objects from becoming blurred. The LED monitor e936Vw is the New Green Monitor of AOC. The e36 series e936Vw has a unique external design, framing the screen in a glossy piano black finish with sea shell texture. The low power function of e936Vw saves up to 78.38% consumption than normal 4CCFL monitor, while for e2236Vw it is up to 75.51%. The table below shows the calculations on how you can save energy in a year:"
- AOC Monitor the Worldwide Leader in Display Manufacturing (view on Google Sidewiki)

New stupid security restrictions for flights

Holy crap batman, I have to go to the BAT-ROOM really bad!

What happens if some terrorist tries something 2 hours before landing?

in reference to:
"As we boarded, the flight attendants announced that all passengers would be prohibited from getting out of their seats (for instance, to go to the toilet) or from using any electronic devices (phones, laptops, games) or having anything on their laps (even a book or a blanket) during the last hour of the flight."
- Yo dawg, I heard you like TSA security restrictions, so I put some security restrictions on top of your security restrictions Boing Boing (view on Google Sidewiki)

Ubuntu OS that looks exactly like windows XP

Hey, this would be a great experiment for net cafes. The website is in chinese (translated with google toolbar).

Its a 600 meg download. I think its free. And NO I have not tried it yet so I dont know if its any good.

in reference to: Ylmf OS-雨林木风Linux操作系统 (view on Google Sidewiki)

Flash drives in National Bookstore

National Bookstore is the #1 book and school supply store chain in the philippines. Imagine my surprise when I found out that they also sell flash drives. Ok they also sell a few PC related stuff like diskettes and cd's because its part of the modern office. I was surprised when I found out the prices are almost the same as Cdrking. Almost all are well known brands.

So same cheap price (probably the cheapest in the Philippines), better brands, much shorter lines. National Bookstore FTW!

Related Posts Widget for Blogger / Blogspot

Really useful widget
in reference to:
"Related Posts Widget for Blogger / Blogspot"
- Related Posts Widget for Blogger / Blogspot | Best Blog Widgets For Free (view on Google Sidewiki)

Eco cars for the philippines - what will be successful

For reference here are 2 related posts

A Prius for the Philippines

Why Philippine Car companies are stupid

If you want to sell an electric or hybrid car or whatever eco friendly car in the Philippines you need to pass some criteria. I'll try to post my ideas from the perspective of a normal Filipino car user/buyer.

Lets look at the what I think the target market would be. I think the target market would be the mid to upper middle class like me. I'm a doctor. Any of the lower classes would not be able to afford  it. Either they use public transportation, motorcycles or at best they use > 10 year old second hand cars or locally assembled owner type jeeps.

Only the rich would dare buy an expensive car like the Prius just for its eco friendlyness because the Philippines is a poor country and we have our priorities. Save money over the environment, even if it just covers the short term.

As a member of the middle class, my goals are a balance between initial price of the car versus the money saved in daily operations. If I were say a taxi company or operating a jeepney, then my priorities would be different. In that case the balance would swing towards lower running costs since these types of vehicles have a hack of a lot more mileage per week than a private car. LNG and small diesel engines are currently used for taxis and jeepneys but there are a few electric jeepneys. But even for taxi and jeepney companies, a very very high initial price is not good because credit isnt easy here and a lot of businesses wont risk so much up front for a possible long term payoff. I'd say for a middle class person, around up to 25% more expensive than a comparable normal car would be the limit.

For a jeepney airconditioning is not needed but for a middle class person arriving at work all smelly and sweaty would not do your social and professional life any good. Also related to this is the looks of the car. It cant be too ugly. An ideal eco car would at least look decent, preferably it would not look any different from a regular car. Unfortunately a SUV variant of the eco car would be needed in the philippines because of the bad roads, the flooding and the extra cargo/passenger space which may be useful. But of course some people would be ok with a small 2 seater so there should be a variety of models available.

Maintenance would be a big issue too. For electric cars, lowering initial price and lowering servicing costs by using cheap lead acid batteries would be viable. Modular battery packs would be nice. You could buy a car then if you had extra cash, go for the li-ion battery pack as an extra. If you have to lose some options to lower the price like computer controlled battery charging, regenerative braking and automatic transmission then do it.

Performance on the road would not be too high a priority. Max speed of 110 kph and tepid acceleration would be acceptable if it would mean lower running costs. Compare this to the prius which has the acceleration of a V6 coupled with a high price. Range would depend on the consumer. For electric and hybrid electric vehicles, different battery packs should be available. I personally would be ok with < 50 km per charge.

Small diesel cars (say the size of a Vios or smaller) would be a hit in the Philippines. Low initial cost, readily available fuel and parts, mileage comparable to some other more expensive alternatives. Who cares about the CO2 and particulate emissions as long as the average Filipino saves money. Ok thats not the right attitude but the average filipino is poor and prioritizes budget over the environment.

A Prius for the Philippines

The Prius. WTF was Toyota thinking? Its expensive, around the same price as a mid end luxury car and almost 5x the price of a vios. Look, Toyota, if I was rich enough to afford a Prius I would be rich enough to NOT CARE about the gas bill. And I would rather buy a BMW or Mercedes since the price is the same. Filipinos dont give much thought to the environment because we're poor. We'll gladly stomp all over the greenies if it meant saving a buck. I predict that most people in the Philippines who buy the prius (if any) are more interested in "appearing" green.

I suggest a cheaper version, a PRIUS LITE if you will, with these specs:

* Smaller body, 2 seater if needed.

* Smaller engine. The Prius has a 1.8 liter engine but accelerates like a V6. Who the heck in the Philippines would want to do that? It wastes gas! Just give me a 1 liter engine that accelerates like a 1.3 liter engine. That would be good enough for me.
* Cut down on the expensive electronics. Just have the dashboard flash a big LOW BATT or FULL BATT sign and have the driver manually switch the gas engine on or off.

* Why be gas at all? Go diesel - electric hybrid

* Modular battery pack. Add more or less cells depending on your budget. Also have the option of going lead-acid.

* From the start its a plug in hybrid.

* Typical battery only range would be say 20-50 km, with the aircon on. This is the Philippines. Its hot here. An aircon is a necessity. Anybody that can afford a decent car also has a job or social life that would be affected if they showed up to work sweaty and smelly.

* Manual transmission to lower the price.
* Not more than 1 million pesos in price

Why Philippine Car companies are stupid

Some recent big time mistakes done by Philippine car companies.

WARNING: this is a rant. I do not pretend to be a car expert. This is all my opinion and is based on some personal observations and consultations with a few friends. It also contains sweeping generalizations, mild swearing and mild exaggerations for shock and comedy purposes. So if you have information that can explain some of the stupid decisions car companies have made, or if I made some mistakes, then feel free to comment.

NOTE: by "philippine car companies"  I dont mean companies that were founded by and owned by filipinos, I mean major car companies that sell cars in the philippines.

Lets start with the new Austin mini and the new  VW beetle. These 2 are remakes of cult classics so fans of the original who are now grown up might want to buy them. Unfortunately, that looks like the full extent of the market. These 2 did not sell well. Not sure if they were grey market cars or if an official distributor exists. Anyway these 2 had big disadvantages. Parts and support are always a problem in the philippines unless the car is one of the Big japanese or german brands. Pero the main problem is price performance ratio. These are not large or fast cars and they cost a lot. For almost the same price it would be much better to get a more ordinary looking BMW or Mercedes Benz. Filipinos are practical and wont buy a car just on sentimental value or cuteness.

Next, small diesel cars or lack thereof. AFAIK in Europe Austin mini sized diesel cars exist. AFAIK the smallest brand new diesel car you can buy in the philippines would be a ford escape 2.0 liter. If someone could offer a diesel subcompact sedan (something like a Vios or City) with a ~1.5L diesel with a sub 1 million peso price tag, it would sell like hotcakes. Even better would be a really small diesel car like the Suzuki celerio. Aside from being practical, filipinos are poor. Afaik one reason the honda CRV won over the Rav 4 was its lower price.  1 liter of unleaded gas costs 39.9 something pesos and Diesel costs around 10 pesos less than that. Add to that the generally higher mileage of diesel and you know why diesel cars are cheap to operate. On a related note, why the F*** dont the expedition and other large cars come in diesel format?

Next - Cars need to go on a Diet. The Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic started out as small cheap sedans available in 1.3 liter versions. They then started to grow bigger and bigger, both in size and engine displacement. Finally they got overpriced out of their market segment and the Toyota Vios and the Honda City had to be invented. As similar thing also happened to the Suzuki vitara - becoming the Grand vitara. The small SUV segment was taken over by the Jimny but it is too small to take over the vitara's place. WTF are those people thinking. Only a few filipinos need more horsepower. Remember that the Philippines is a poor country. Special mention to the Ford Expeditions that are now gathering dust in their owner's garages or are being sold dirt cheap. A SUV or sedan with a > 2 liter gas engine is a stupid buy these days. Gas is expensive. You should at least offer a diesel version.

Next - the Prius. WTF was Toyota thinking? Its expensive, around the same price as a mid end luxury car and almost 5x the price of a vios. Look, Toyota, if I was rich enough to afford a Prius I would be rich enough to NOT CARE about the gas bill. And I would rather buy a BMW or Mercedes since the price is the same. Filipinos dont give much thought to the environment because we're poor. We'll gladly stomp all over the greenies if it meant saving a buck. I predict that most people in the Philippines who buy the prius (if any) are more interested in "appearing" green.

I suggest a cheaper version, a PRIUS LITE if you will, with these specs:

* Smaller body, 2 seater if needed.
* Smaller engine. The Prius has a 1.8 liter engine but accelerates like a V6. Who the heck in the Philippines would want to do that? It wastes gas! Just give me a 1 liter engine that accelerates like a 1.3 liter engine. That would be good enough for me.
* Cut down on the expensive electronics. Just have the dashboard flash a big LOW BATT or FULL BATT sign and have the driver manually switch the gas engine on or off.
* Why be gas at all? Go diesel - electric hybrid
* Modular battery pack. Add more or less cells depending on your budget, sacrificing cargo space. Also have the option of going lead-acid if your budget is really small.
* From the start its a plug in hybrid.
* Typical battery only range would be say 20-50 km, with the aircon on. This is the Philippines. Its hot here. An aircon is a necessity. Anybody that can afford a decent car also has a job or social life that would be affected if they showed up to work sweaty and smelly.
* Manual transmission to lower the price.
* Not more than 1 million pesos in price

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Misleading (largely plain wrong) advertising from US ISP's

 LOLZ. So this also happens abroad, not just in the Philippines

And We havent even mentioned the monthly caps which make this even more LOLZ.

Basically Every ISP Is Trying to Scare You Into Paying for Internet You Don't Need

You thought AT&T was screwing unsuspecting customers into paying obscene bandwidth bills with ridiculous claims of stuff you can't do? Time Warner says you can't have 3 people on the internet without at least 15Mbps. Oh, it gets worse.

And then there's Cox. By being vague, they're a little less bad, but still perpetuating the idea you can't share photos or download music without at least a 10Mbps connection

According to Time Warner, unless you have at least 7Mbps internet, you can't download music, or even "Windows Media Player software." And you need their most expensive plan for "Super Fast Shopping Concert Tickets & Online Auctions" and watching videos

Here's AT&T's ridiculous chart again, which says you need at least 3Mbps to use Facebook, and at least 18Mbps to download movies.

in reference to:

- Basically Every ISP Is Trying to Scare You Into Paying for Internet You Don't Need - ISPs - Gizmodo (view on Google Sidewiki)

Domesticating the Fox

An astounding and audacious experiment showing how animals were domesticated

Belyaev decided to study the genetics of domestication, a problem to which Darwin gave deep attention. Domesticated animals differ in many ways from their wild counterparts, and it has never been clear just which qualities were selected for by the Neolithic farmers who developed most major farm species some 10,000 years ago.

Belyaev’s hypothesis was that all domesticated species had been selected for a single criterion: tameness. This quality, in his view, had dragged along with it most of the other features that distinguish domestic animals from their wild forebears, like droopy ears, patches of white in the fur and changes in skull shape.

Belyaev chose to test his theory on the silver fox, a variant of the common red fox, because it is a social animal and is related to the dog. Though fur farmers had kept silver foxes for about 50 years, the foxes remained quite wild. Belyaev began his experiment in 1959 with 130 farm-bred silver foxes, using their tolerance of human contact as the sole criterion for choosing the parents of the next generation.

“The audacity of this experiment is difficult to overestimate,” Dr. Fitch has written. “The selection process on dogs, horses, cattle or other species had occurred, mostly unconsciously, over thousands of years, and the idea that Belyaev’s experiment might succeed in a human lifetime must have seemed bold indeed.”

In fact, after only eight generations, foxes that would tolerate human presence became common in Belyaev’s stock. Belyaev died in 1985, but his experiment was continued by his successor, Lyudmila N. Trut. The experiment did not become widely known outside Russia until 1999, when Dr. Trut published an article in American Scientist. She reported that after 40 years of the experiment, and the breeding of 45,000 foxes, a group of animals had emerged that were as tame and as eager to please as a dog.

in reference to: Nice Rats, Nasty Rats: Maybe It’s All in the Genes - New York Times (view on Google Sidewiki)

wall socket with extension cord

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kindle hack removes DRM

If there is one near universal gripe folks have with the Kindle, it's the DRM-laden files. It's no wonder, then, that the thing has been a lightning rod for the "information wants to be free crowd," almost since the beginning. Sure, we've seen Mobipocket, .epub, and .pdf files used on the device, but if you really want to bedevil Bezos the thing to do would be to altogether circumvent the DRM from your Amazon e-books -- and it looks like an Israeli hacker named Labba has done just that. For the time being, the hack, which allows you to convert your legally obtained e-books to unencrypted PDF files, is available as a Python script. We're sure that the process will be streamlined for us civilians soon enough -- let's just hope that it happens before the hole gets plugged and your e-reader auto-updated. This is one way to keep hold of your legally purchased Orwell, eh?
in reference to:
"Amazon Kindle gets its DRM stripped"
- Amazon Kindle gets its DRM stripped (for the time being) -- Engadget (view on Google Sidewiki)

No Grace Period for Credit Cards

There are unconfirmed reports that starting 2010, the moment you swipe the CC, there is already interest.

in reference to:
"No Grace Period Na sa Credit Cards"
- TipidPC.com | No Grace Period Na sa Credit Cards (view on Google Sidewiki)

Robinsons holiday mall schedule 2009

December 1 to 23: Extended mall hours (10AM to 10PM), 10AM to 12MN (on December 18, 19 and 23)
December 24: Regular mall hours (10AM to 9PM)
December 25: 12NN to 9PM
December 26 to 29: 10AM to 9PM on weekdays, 10AM to 10PM on weekends
December 30: 10AM to 12MN


SM malls Holiday schedule 2009

December 19 to 23: 10AM to 12MN
December 24: 9AM to 7PM
December 25: 10AM to 10PM
December 26 to 30: Regular Mall

Schedule (10AM to 9PM)
December 31: 10AM to 6PM
January 1: 12NN to 10PM
Regular mall schedule resumes on January 2. The regular mall schedule for SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City is from 10AM to 10PM.


µTorrent Release Candidate 1 (2.0 build 17668) released

Feature Overview:

UDP trackers are a different protocol for tracker communication that uses significantly less processing power on the tracker end. It's important for us to support this because trackers have limited resources, so this should allow them to support many more users with their current hardware and not crash under the load.

uTP is an alternative communication method for BitTorrent traffic that allows the client to automatically regulate its bandwidth usage to avoid adversely impacting your internet connection. This will allow you or other users on the network to download their torrents but still allow others on the network to function with little difference. This does not require any additional setup.
In addition, uTP in this version has added its own form of STUN, a method of getting incoming connections without direct connectivity to the Internet. This allows µTorrent to punch holes through routers and firewalls to increase connectivity and improve speeds. It is even possible to connect two firewalled peers through uTP's NAT traversal feature.

The transfer cap settings were added in response to various users who have ISP-mandated caps on how much data they can download/upload in a month. Now you can track your usage in MB (with a handy graph to visualize it) and even configure µTorrent to stop torrenting once the limits are exceeded. Currently, you can configure the time interval, the data cap and whether it should stop based on only download, upload, or both combined.
As a privacy notice, this traffic data is not sent back to us or anyone.

-- 2009-12-21: Version 2.0 RC2 (build 17668)
- Fix: disconnect issue with seeds
- Fix: uTP over Teredo at high speeds, and MTU problems on some kinds of networks
- Fix: Add translations to new graph strings

-- 2009-12-15: Version 2.0 RC1 (build 17624)
- Change: New default artwork
- Fix: webui would allow any name for guest account when enabled.
- Fix: download/uploader limiter issues in build 17539

in reference to:

"µTorrent Release Candidate 1 (2.0 build 17668)"
- Download - µTorrent - a (very) tiny BitTorrent client (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Notebook batteries, not meant to last?

The prius has such a system, it always keeps the batteies in a narrow range, 80% to 50% or so, in order to extend life.

in reference to:
"Notebook batteries, not meant to last?"
- Notebook batteries, not meant to last? (view on Google Sidewiki)

Heatpipe Wick Structures

I didnt know there were 3 kinds. All I knew was the mesh wick

in reference to:
"Heatpipe Wick Structures"
- Heatpipe Wick Structures Exposed - Sintered Powder, Groove and Multilayered Metal Mesh - FrostyTech.com (view on Google Sidewiki)



I have no idea if this is a scam or not. A quick google search gives a few claims of being paid.

You can try it. $0.001 per captcha.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The science of Avatar

A very nice post


Copernicus’ Law of Science Fiction: Bending the laws of
physics out of service to the story is fine, doing it out of ignorance
is unconscionable.

I don’t mind if the ships in Star Trek can go faster than the speed of
light – otherwise the story would be pretty boring. And I know
there’s no sound in space, but I want Star Destroyers to
rumble, and the Millennium Falcon to have that iconic whine. But if a
director casually gets science wrong for no real reason other than
that he is stupid or lazy (see ARMAGEDDON, THE CORE, and THE DAY AFTER
TOMORROW, to name a few), then to hell with him. If the filmmakers
don’t respect the intelligence of the audience, I’m not going to
respect the movie.

Fortunately, James Cameron has a knack for science that rivals his
moviemaking skills.


Historically, movie directors have had their asses kicked by
astronomers as far as taking us to exotic worlds. For the most part,
movie planets look like an extreme form of Earth -- they almost always
have an oxygen atmosphere at an Earthlike pressure and gravity. Movie
planets don’t even come close to matching the diversity of worlds in
our solar system: the surface of Io is a mottled, sulfurous
orange-yellow, constantly being repaved by volcanoes shooting hundreds
of miles into the sky. Titan has a thick smog atmosphere that blots
out the sun and rains hydrocarbons. Mars has planet-wide dust storms
and a 17-mile-high volcano that nearly reaches above the atmosphere.
Venus has a crushing, choking sulfur dioxide atmosphere with a
pressure 92 times that of earth, and a temperature that can melt lead.
Enceladus shoots ice geysers into space. And the real Pandora orbits
within the rings of Saturn. These are only a few of the hundreds of
planets, minor planets, and moons in our solar system: we’ve
discovered hundreds elsewhere in the galaxy, some of which seem even
crazier: super-Earths, nearly boiling puffed-up Jupiters, and objects
that may be free-floating rogue planets without a star.
So I can’t think of a better use for 3d and a few hundred million
dollars of effects than filmmakers starting to raise the bar to
finally approach the awesome reality of nature. Due to the limits of
budgets, finances, and creativity, I can’t think of another film that
has attempted something near the scale of what Cameron has done here.

I’ll address the different aspects of the science in sections.


From a visual perspective, Avatar’s Pandora is breathtaking. While
most movies have only hinted at the exotic nature of their worlds with
an establishing matte painting or two, here Cameron takes us on an
elaborate three-dimensional tour though various habitats, from the
treetops to the forest floor. He’s created a whole ecosystem, from
semi-intelligent trees to giant land and air creatures. Most seem
inter-related via symbiotic relationships. In fact, Cameron has taken
the Gaia hypothesis, that the biosphere of the Earth is itself a kind
of living entity, and sexed it up – the biosphere of Pandora is
essentially a god, and it’s networked! Creatures can plug into each
other via what amounts to USB hair and fiber optic roots. While some
of these ideas are not without their faults (see below), Cameron gets
points for creativity – this is true science fiction, not space opera.
I do have one minor complaint, that given their networking abilities,
the Na’vi should not be so technologically inferior to the humans. On
Earth, the largest barrier to technological progression was that
information that existed in the brains of primitive humans could not
be easily shared or preserved. As soon as writing was developed,
suddenly it was possible to store information outside of the brain,
and record and build upon knowledge. The knowledge available to a
human or tribe went from one brain’s worth (and a minimal amount of
oral tradition), to thousands, and ultimately billions of brains’
worth. The result was a technological and social explosion. Hominids
have had technology like spears for about half a million years, but
only 7,000 years after the development of writing we had left the
planet. And the sharing of knowledge is still undergoing a revolution
with the development of the internet. Now we have instantaneous
access to the combined knowledge of the entire history of humanity.

Since the Na’vi have had the ability to download information and share
it in a massive network for long periods of time (evolutionary
timescales), they should be way ahead of us in terms of technological
development. Still, I have to give Cameron a pass here. It is
thematically necessary that the Na’vi are technologically primitive,
and their root-network is necessary to the plot. Maybe you could say
that they could have evolved more technology, but they don’t need it
or want it. Still, that reeks of the “Noble savage” idea, and I have
to agree with Stephen Pinker that that is a bunch of hoo-ha.

But my major complaint from an evolutionary standpoint is that there
is no way in hell that life on Pandora would evolve to look so similar
to Earth life: there are humanoids, space horseys, hammerhead
rhinoceri, and pseudo-pterodactyl beasties. And to make it worse,
they have DNA, and the DNA is close enough to our own that Na’vi and
human DNA can be combined! Again, I have to give Cameron a pass.
First, it is easier for the audience to relate to familiar things.
And more than that there is a significant plot point that I won’t
spoil towards the end of the film that hinges on humans and Na’vi
having similar DNA.

One way out of both my evolutionary nitpicks is the panspermia
hypothesis -- that life in the galaxy was seeded in multiple places by
an advanced civilization. But even then the odds against evolution
producing such similar animals on different planets is astronomical.
Since we have a clear record of evolution on Earth, some civilization
would have had to keep taking specimens from earth, first
pterodactyls, and ultimately humans (after they evolved), and then
would have had to deliver them to Pandora, possibly modified via
genetic engineering. That would be an interesting sequel: humans and
Na’vi come together to confront their godlike humanoid ancestors!

Grade on astrobiology: A for the scale of the ecosystem, C for being
too much like Earth – call it a B overall.


Pandora is a moon of Polyphemus, a fictional gas giant orbiting Alpha
Centauri A. I’ve always wanted to know what the view would be from
the moon of a gas giant. Can you imagine a quarter of the sky being
taken up by a massive cloud-covered planet visible night or day? We
get to see it in Avatar, and since Jupiter is the king of the gods,
maybe majestic is an appropriate word to describe it. I wonder if
Cameron’s choice to set this on the moon of a gas giant wasn’t a slap
in the face to Lucas, as if to say “this is RETURN OF THE JEDI done
right.” (I know it is ambiguous in the Star Wars universe whether or
not Endor orbits a gas giant.)
But what had me really geeking out is the choice of the star system.
Alpha Centauri A is perfect. First, as the closest star system to the
sun (4.37 light years), it may well be the first star we travel to.
Second, it is familiar in that you can see it with the naked eye if
you live in the southern hemisphere – it is the brightest star in
Centaurus. Actually, what appears to be a single star can be resolved
as a binary system if you use a telescope. It is Alpha Centauri A, a
bit more massive than the sun (1.1 solar masses), and Alpha Centauri
B, a bit less massive than the sun (0.9 solar masses). The choice of
G-type stars near the mass of the sun is great – they last for
billions of years – plenty of time for life to evolve. They are in an
elliptical orbit around a common center of mass, which means they come
together and drift apart over the course of one 80 year orbit. The
two stars get as close as 11 astronomical units (an AU is the average
Earth-Sun distance; 11 AU is about the distance to Saturn), and get as
far apart as 36 AU (about the distance to Pluto).

Would you see the companion star (Alpha Cen B) in the sky from
Pandora? That depends on where it is in its orbit. At the farthest
distance it would be a few hundred times the brightness of the full
Moon as seen from Earth. But your eyes are logarithmic detectors, so
it would actually only seem a few times brighter than we perceive the
Moon. At its closest approach, Alpha Cen B would be a few thousand
times as bright as we see our Moon. This is not all that bright – in
comparison, on Earth the Sun is about half a million times brighter
than the Moon. So on Pandora, if Alpha Cen B is up in the daytime
then you might not even notice it, depending on how far away it is in
the sky from Alpha Cen A. But if it is up at night (as it would be
for half the year), it would never get completely dark – the sky would
just be kind of dark blue.

Technically, there is a third star in the system, Proxima Centauri,
but it is a tiny red dwarf a huge distance, about 12,000 AU, away – it
is not even clear it is bound to the system. At any rate, it would
not be prominent in the sky as seen from Pandora. Incidentally, my
first job as a graduate student was to help calibrate the fine
guidance sensors on the Hubble Space Telescope to help my advisor look
for planets around Proxima Centauri. Sadly, we didn’t find any.

It is an interesting question as to whether planets around either
Alpha Cen A or B could exist in stable orbits that would last for
billions of years. You might think they couldn’t because the gravity
of the other star would perturb any forming planet.
However, simulations show that at least at Earth-like distances,
stable planets can form in that system.

Grade for astronomy: for the choice of star system, setting in on a
moon, and around a gas giant, Cameron gets an A+.


Electromagnetic radiation comes in many forms, gamma rays, x-rays,
ultraviolet, visual, infrared, and radio. Our eyes evolved to see in
the narrow range that the sun has its peak output -- the visual band
-- and the flora and fauna of Earth evolved pigments and colors that
work at these wavelengths. But this isn’t universal -- some animals
can see a narrower region of the spectrum than us, and others see
farther into the ultraviolet or infrared. Our cornea blocks most UV
light, but bees, for example, don’t have one and can see farther into
the UV. They can see patterns in flowers that we can’t.
In fact, colors are really something manufactured in our brain –
physically colors are just different wavelengths of light ranging
uniformly from short wavelengths (violet) to long (red). What we see
as blue or green or red helps us differentiate sky from grass from
blood, but to a creature from another world, all these things might
appear as the same color. In fact, you could imagine that bats might
use echolocation to “see” rough surfaces as one color and smooth
surfaces as another. So since colors are something created by our
brains and not intrinsic to the universe (only wavelengths of light
are), it is virtually certain Pandorans would see color differently
than we do.

Alpha Cen A has almost the same temperature as the Sun, but it is just
a bit hotter. As a result, the star puts out most of its light at
visual wavelengths just like the Sun. But the star’s output is only
part of the story – the oxygen and ozone in our atmosphere block much
of the ultraviolet light from the Sun, and water vapor blocks some of
the infrared light. Pandora doesn’t have an oxygen atmosphere (if the
movie mentioned what gasses it contains, I didn’t catch it), so we
might expect more of the ultraviolet light to reach the surface. The
creatures there might be able to see farther into the ultraviolet.
There might be all kinds of patterns that the inhabitants of Pandora
can see that just look blue to us. Maybe that’s which there are so
many blue colors in the film. To take this a step farther, I would
have loved to see a scene where a character sees beautiful colors or
patterns as an Avatar, only to have this beauty evaporate into a
uniform sea of blue when he sees the same vista with human eyes.

Another feature of Pandora adding to the ubiquitous shades of blue is
that bioluminescence seems to be a staple of the ecosystem. As
Massawyrm points out, this makes sense for a world that may spend days at a time
shrouded in darkness. Remember that a day occurs when Pandora rotates
on its axis. But it might take a month or so to orbit its gas giant,
which we know looms large in the sky, and could blot out the sun for

Grade for the astrophysics: For the fact that this world doesn’t have
an oxygen atmosphere, and the plausible use of color, A.


Since Pandora is a moon and is presumably smaller than the Earth, the
gravity would be lower. This is alluded to in the film, and creatures
do grow larger and survive falls from greater heights than you could
on Earth. I wonder if Cameron dialed in a different gravity to the
physics engine rendering everything. To my eye, for at least the
human scenes, the gravity looked just like Earth gravity, but then
again if the gravity is close the differences can be subtle.
Virtually all science fiction movies feature planets with gravity at
1g, since, of course, until now, filming has always been done on
Earth. Since here so much of the world was created inside the
computer, I would have liked to see this aspect pushed a bit farther.
In one of my biggest pet peeves regarding the science of Avatar, there
is one scene where the gas giant, Polyphemus, can clearly be seen to
be rotating in the span of about a second or two. Let’s say it
rotates about a degree out of 360 degrees in those 2 seconds. That
means it makes one rotation in 720 seconds, or 12 minutes! Jupiter
takes about 10 hours to rotate. So the gas giant in Avatar rotates
about 50 times faster than Jupiter. Winds on Jupiter can exceed 100
meters per second, so the winds on Polyphemus would have to exceed
5000 m/s – this is supersonic and clearly implausible. Here’s one
case where Cameron opted for visual effect over realism, but to me the
bargain isn’t worth it. It looks unrealistic and takes me right out
of the movie. But I do like the look of the clouds on Polyphemus –
they look like a cross between Neptune and Jupiter. The highlight is
a giant storm resembling Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. That is
particularly appropriate for Polyphemus, named after a mythological

But my biggest beef in Cameron’s trading physics for visuals is those
goddamn floating mountains. Seriously, floating mountains? How the
hell do they stay up there? This is such an egregious flouting of the
laws of physics that surely there is some reasoning behind it.

Between the fact that Pandora seems to be sort-of at 1g, the
impossible rotation of Polyphemus, and the floating mountains, physics
is one one area AVATAR gets a marginal fail on Copernicus’ Law of
Science Fiction. But on all the other aspects of science, Cameron
gets either a pass or passes with flying colors.

The dream of interstellar travel will only become a reality far beyond
our lifetimes. But I love the fact that today I can be deeply
immersed in not just a plausible, but a compelling alien world just by
putting on a pair of 3D glasses and visiting my local theater. Even
if I have to drive 100 miles to see it in IMAX, that is nothing
compared to interstellar distances! And I love that there is a
filmmaker that plays more than lip service to the science in his
films, stimulating discussion and thought about distant worlds among
geeks everywhere. I was inspired to do astronomy after seeing STAR
WARS as a kid. I’m willing to bet that a fair fraction of tomorrow’s
astronomers will have decided to devote their life to the discovery of
new worlds because of AVATAR.

Mail Copernicus
-- Copernicus

Thanks for the enthusiastic response to the article. Thanks for all
the emails, and it is nice to see some interesting discussion in the
talkbacks (who knew?). A few updates:

People have sent links to several sources that explain many of the
questions I had. One is the pandorapedia. Another is A
Confidential Report on the Biological and Social History of
. And people sent the script treatment. I have not read
the entirety of that last one yet, but the first two are interesting

Levitating mountains: As dozens of people have pointed out, the
mountains supposedly contain unobtainium, a room-temperature
superconductor. Superconductors expel magnetic field lines, and as a
result magnets can levitate above a superconductor. Here
superconducting mountains are apparently levitating over the strong
magnetic field of the moon or planet, or both. I had thought about
some kind of mechanism like that but dismissed it for two reasons:
(1) how could mountains form, stay in place, be weathered and shaped,
etc. (2) if there is unobtanium in the floating mountains, why not get
it there so as not disrupt the Na'vi. But I think I was just
short-sighted. In the case of (1), the intention is that the
mountains started out attached, but broke off and floated upwards at a
certain point, and now they sort of float around. I buy that, at
least enough for a cool movie scene. And for (2), maybe the
unobtanium in the mountains isn't the right kind, or isn't pure, or is
hard to mine. Interestingly, a geologist emailed me with another
sighting indicating the strong magnetic field of the planet: the stone
arches seen at the climax seem to be from mineral growth along
magnetic field lines. Awesome.

Plenty of people have asked where the water comes from for the
waterfalls in the floating mountains. To me, it is just like a normal
mountain, with the bottom missing. Where does the water come form in
normal mountains with waterfalls: rain and snow. Yes there was tons
of water, but have you ever been to Yosemite in the spring? When the
snow melts it all comes down at once, and it is an impressive sight.

And this is a little out of the purview of this article, but plenty of
people have also asked why the humans didn't nuke the planet from
orbit. (A) maybe they didn't bring any -- the proverbial "somebody's
gotta go back and get a shitload of dimes" problem, and (B) you people
scare me! Why doesn't the US just nuke countries we don't like? That
is not cool, man.

Planet rotation: Someone affiliated with the film who asked me not to
name them (but who ought to know) says the planet rotation scene was
intended to be time lapse. Brilliant. I'll have to see it again to
confirm that, but I'd buy it, because I think there were other shots
where the planet didn't seem to be rotating quickly.

Oxygen atmosphere: I said that Pandora doesn't have an oxygen
atmosphere, but I was wrong about that -- it does, but it has other
gasses that are poisonous to humans. Clearly Cameron, a fellow diving
and deep sea enthusiast, thought of this, because the people only need
simple gas masks to breathe, and not huge oxygen tanks.

DNA: The Pandorapedia says the Avatars don't have DNA, just something
analogous so that you can map to it. Great! Although, from my
memory, the movie implies they do have DNA. I'd need to see it again
to be sure. Maybe the character explaining it knows as much about DNA
as most people do and just got it wrong. If I had a nickel for every
time I was at a partly and someone told me that they heard that "they"
(meaning scientists) have broken the speed of light, teleported
something, etc.

Interstellar travel: From the pandorapedia: "Mission Profile: 0.46
year initial acceleration @ 1.5 g to reach 0.7 c; 5.83 years cruise @
0.7 c; 0.46 year deceleration; 1 year loiter in orbit around Pandora;
Mission Duration: 6.75 + 1.0 + 6.75 = 14.5 Earth years. However,
relativistic effects shorten the time onboard ship to slightly less
than 6 years each way."

Hmm, I don't think that calculation is quite right, but it is close
enough. To see, let's take the special relativistic part, the
cruising speed. If ET is Earth Time, ST is Ship Time, v is velocity,
and c is the speed of light, then ET=ST/SQRT(1-v^2/c^2). So
ST=5.83*SQRT(1-0.7^2)=4.1 years for the cruising. Even if you assume
there is no time dilation on the accelerating and decelerating parts,
then the trip is only 5 years, not 6. Maybe they are including the
hanging out on Pandora time. To do the calculation correctly I'd have
to drop some GR on you bitches, and I'm too lazy and you'd be bored.
70% of the speed of light is a good figure though -- it is almost
plausible! From what I've read of the ship technologies, they sound
very well thought out too.

Eyes: One of those sources mentioned that some of the creatures have
two pairs of eyes -- one visual, and one that sees in the IR for
nighttime hunting. Sweet! This is not without precedent. We have
two separately evolved "circuits" for vision in our brains -- one
primitive automatic one and another one for conscious sight. Look up
"blindsight," where people with damage to the latter circuit can't
consciously see, but can catch a ball. And of course we have two
types of cells for day / night vision in our eyes: cones that allow
you to see color when there is plenty of light, and rods that allow
you to see black and white only, but give you night vision. Try this:
put an eye patch on while you are inside for about 30 minutes, then go out where it is dark and blink between your dark and light adapted eyes. You can really see the color difference. It is awesome.

Wow, it appears that many of my nitpicks about the science were actually taken into account by the filmmakers and there are answers. I'm impressed! Hats off to Cameron and company for getting all this right. I can't wait to use this film in my introductory astronomy classes.

there's a related post here


waiting for the post office :<

Its been around 2 months and my fenix e01 flashlight plus a couple of ebay items still have not arrived. I went to my local post office. First impression was, wow, its smaller than I imagined. Probably understandable in the age of text and email. They looked in the ledger (still not computerized) and my name wasnt there yet. They said it usually takes > 3 months if its from the states.


Why console ports suck

Reasons why some console ports to the PC suck, IMHO.

* They are not optimized for PC hardware. So you find games with equivalent graphics but lower system requirements.
* Simplified controls. Again this is due to the lack of buttons on consoles. One specific example are quickslots. Some games have only 8. I've seen MMORPG's that use ~ to + and F1 to F12. And there are games that really need some more quick slots. But sometimes if done right this can result in elegant gameplay. Another example is menus. So your weapon has several functions. In the PC you would give each function a hotkey on the keyboard. With ports you press a button to bring up a menu and you choose. Its SLOW man in the heat of battle.
* Checkpoints instead of saves. Even with old old games like castle wolfenstien or doom 1, we could save anywhere. But consoles initially lacked write memory so they had checkpoints. Games could be so frustrating at high difficulty and would be easier if you could save right before or after a difficult spot. Not to mention it saves time. Save files could be archived and you could go back but some cases, you cant do that with checkpoints. Sometimes the game saves only at the start of a level. The level is divided into checkpoints but it is saved only in ram because if your PC hangs, when you start the game again, you are back to the start of the level.
* Limited save slots. With most PC games save slots are limited only by hard drive space. If you're unlucky you only have 1 save slot per user ID. The problem with that what if the game hangs and the save file is corrupted. When that happens either you use a level skip cheat or you start back at the beginning of the game. Around 6-10 slots would be ok so you could go back and repeat. Why the F*** should pc gamers be made to endure the low techness of a console that doesnt have write capability.
* Unskippable intros and cutscenes. What?? Only PC gamers have ADD?? Thank God for no intro hacks. Really frustrating combined with the checkpoint system when you have a checkpoint then a long slog through enemies then a long long cutscene then a difficult battle where you die. And you have to go through all of that again. Even more frustrating if the game hangs and you have to restart the game often. Its a poor excuse if you say that there is no esc key in consoles and you were too lazy to add the code when you ported it to PC.
* Sometimes slower to adapt new PC tech like Direct X, all in the name of compatibility with the console which is frozen in time.

To the programmers. WTF are you doing? Stop programming like it was 1980. Consoles have evolved.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hiding something on A moon

A little scifi musing.

What If there was an alien civilization that hid an artifact on A moon (not THE moon) and expected to come back? Kind of like a pirate burying treasure. Where would they place it? Since they would not want just anybody to be able to find it placing a big obvious marker would be out of the question and it would be well hidden.

If the moon in question over the large scale had a homogenous appearance, i.e. there would be no big terrain features that can act as a marker. So for a featureless moon, there would always be 2 constant points. The north and south poles. If the moon is tidally locked, a third point, might exist, the center of the face facing the planet. But due to librations and parallax, the point may be inexact

Social networking 101 for physicians: friendster, facebook, blog tips

A very nice guide for docs to avoid mistakes

Social networking 101 for physicians

Managing the risks of Facebook, Twitter and other social media

By Eric T. Berkman

October 19, 2009
The usefulness of online social networking is undeniable and it’s no surprise that physicians are embracing it.
But lawyers and other experts warn that these tools present a minefield of legal and professional hazards for medical professionals who don’t take the utmost care in how, what and where they post.
“If you can’t do something at a cocktail party without people staring and looking at you strangely, you shouldn’t be able to do the same thing online,” says Jim Tobin, president of Ignite Social Media, a Cary, N.C., social-media agency that is developing a social-networking program for the Massachusetts Medical Society and its members.
Physicians are using these tools to discuss medical news, pick other doctors’ brains about clinical or practice-management issues, market their practices or just generally feel connected.
In June, MMS polled approximately 800 of its members and found that the usage of social media grew 50 percent in the last year, with usage by doctors aged 45 to 54 tripling.
Whether blogging, participating in open networks like Facebook and Twitter, or visiting physician-only networks such as Sermo or iMedExchange, physicians can reduce their legal risk by doing the following:
  • Be mindful of patient confidentiality.
Online networking presents a risk of a doctor compromising patient information and facing a compliance action under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or a lawsuit.
Take, for example, a physician who shares a detailed anecdote about a patient on his or her personal Facebook page, or on Sermo.
The information a physician shares “needs to be generic enough that nobody can identify a patient in the course of reading a post,” says David Harlow, a Newton lawyer and health care consultant who writes the blog HealthBlawg.
Though this sounds like common sense, the potential for carelessness is always present, says Kevin Pho, an internist in Nashua, N.H., whose 5-year-old blog, KevinMD.com, is one of the most popular health care blogs on the Internet, currently boasting more than 26,000 RSS subscribers.
“The easier it is to publish something, like a [Facebook] status update or a [tweet], the easier it is to slip up and give identifying information,” says Pho, who has more than 500 Facebook fans and 14,000 followers on Twitter, a “microblogging” site where users can post 140 character “tweets” on issues of interest.
Daniel Palestrant, the Cambridge-based founder and CEO of Sermo, says the same is true for doctors posting on his site.
“Though Sermo is a secure site and we make every effort to keep information in the community, there may be situations where information is cut and pasted out or someone is motivated to pull information out of the community in one way or another,” says Palestrant, himself a physician.
Confidentiality issues may also arise when doctors allow patients to post on their websites or Facebook pages. A patient might be too open in a “wall” post and later realize he’s made his own information public. He might then blame - and perhaps sue - the doctor.
“Once a patient posts, [he or she has] essentially consented that it be public, but most [patients] won’t view it that way,” says Harlow.
There’s no guarantee such a case would hold up in court. But to be safe, Harlow advises doctors to block patient access to their personal Facebook pages, and provide clear warnings on any public sites against posting medical information.
  • Remember that your patients are not your ‘friends.’
A physician who gets too close to his patients puts himself at risk.
That’s why Cambridge internist Phoebe Cushman refuses to accept Facebook “friend” requests from current or former patients.
“I just hit ‘ignore.’ …  I think it’s very important to have boundaries in the physician-patient relationship,” says Cushman, who also maintains the strictest privacy settings on her account.
That’s a good approach, says Harlow, suggesting that doctors set up a separate page representing their practice and enabling patients to become “fans.”
“This is a way of connecting and allowing folks to follow your updates without blurring that personal/professional line,” he says.
  • Monitor your web presence regularly.
Harlow points out that the pervasiveness of social networking has resulted in some people transmitting all their communication through Facebook and Twitter and expecting others to be there to receive their messages.
Doctors who enable such communication without properly monitoring their sites run the risk of missing urgent messages or a patient’s medical history details and possibly facing a malpractice action for failing to respond, he says.
While social media is obviously not a reliable means of clinical communication with a doctor, it’s hard to tell where a jury’s sympathies might lie.
“There are now more than 300 million Facebook accounts,” says Harlow. “Do you run the risk of going to trial and facing a jury full of people who rely on Facebook as their primary means of communication? They might say someone should have been monitoring the account.”
David S. Szabo, a partner at Edwards, Angell, Palmer & Dodge in Boston, agrees.
“If you start using [social media] as a means of regular communication or an element in how you communicate with people, perhaps you could be charged with at least looking at it on a reasonably regular basis and being aware of information sent that way,” he says.
  • Take advice from online doctors’ forums with a grain of salt.
Physician-only discussion boards like Sermo have become a valuable replacement for the traditional “curbside consult” with colleagues about complex cases.
But Harlow warns that free advice is “worth what you pay for it” and thus “should be taken with a grain of salt.” After all, relying on advice outside the standard of care could constitute malpractice.
Also, since all users post under pseudonyms, “you have to be confident that whoever’s replying [to your inquiry] is who they say they are,” says Pho.
Palestrant reiterates Sermo’s extensive physician verification process, adding that when a user clicks on another member’s profile, he or she can see the member’s specialty, the history of his activity on the site, and his rating by fellow users.
Nonetheless, Palestrant adds, physicians should of course solicit information from multiple sources, such as journals, peers, or non-physician colleagues such as nurses and physician’s assistants.
  • Be aware that you’re never truly anonymous on the web.
In 2007, a Boston-area pediatrician, known as “Dr. Flea,” blogged about his ongoing med-mal defense, sharing candid musings on defense strategy, the jury, opposing counsel and the plaintiff’s case.
He thought everything was safely cloaked in anonymity until his cross-examination at trial, when plaintiff’s counsel - who had been following the blog and noting similarities - outed him to the jury. The case settled the next day.
Szabo says this is a cautionary tale that anything posted on the web can be traced back, with severe consequences.
“When you start throwing in little details, if you have any connection to someone, it may not be too tough for that person to figure out who you are,” he says.
Pho adds that anything you write on Twitter or your blog is indexed by Google and kept permanently.
“So never write anything disparaging about your hospital, patients or other doctors, because it can be found,” he says.
Further, Szabo warns that Internet service providers, websites and social-networking companies are under no obligation to resist subpoenas in a civil lawsuit. Accordingly, they might decide to produce information like an IP address or e-mail address that could identify the name of a person who posted offending content.
Finally, says Tobin, the existence of vehicles like Facebook and Twitter does not change existing copyright, slander and libel laws.
“We’re under the same restrictions we’ve always been under,” he says. “The only difference is that saying something is much easier. You can send a tweet or a Facebook status update in seconds. So you need to pause and think before you hit that ‘update’ button.”

in reference to:
"Social networking 101 for physicians"
- Social networking 101 for physicians : Mass Medical Law Report (view on Google Sidewiki)

The fictional language of James cameron's avatar

Its interesting to know that they went to the trouble of creating an entire fictional language just for a movie.
in reference to: Language Log » Some highlights of Na’vi (view on Google Sidewiki)

shattered horizon

Probably the first dx10 only game. Halo 2 doesn't count because it was only artificially locked to vista and can be hacked to run on XP. Wiki entry here.

Very interesting concept. It might give you vertigo though. And plus points to people who are reminded of Ender's game.

System requirements are pretty high

Minimum Requirements:
Shattered Horizon requires DirectX 10 on Windows Vista or Windows 7.
There is no support for Windows XP or DirectX 9.

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 / AMD Athlon64 X2 5600+
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT / ATI Radeon HD 3870
GPU memory: 256MB
Hard disk space: 1.5 GB
Sound: Windows Vista compatible sound card

Recommended Requirements:
Shattered Horizon requires DirectX 10 on Windows Vista or Windows 7.
There is no support for Windows XP or DirectX 9.

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 / AMD Phenom II X4 940
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 / ATI Radeon HD 4870
GPU memory: 512MB
Hard disk space: 1.5GB
Sound: Windows Vista compatible sound card

in reference to: No gravity, one gun, no problem: Shattered Horizon interview (view on Google Sidewiki)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Globe wimax is actually 8mbps

Wow, so thats why globe wimax is so slow.
in reference to:
"While the fastest option/plan currently available on Globe WiMax is only up to 1Mbps, the network can actually deliver real-world speeds of up to 8Mbps. We did the test yesterday with an uncapped WiMax connection at GreenHills, San Juan."
- Globe WiMax tops at 8Mbps uncapped | YugaTech | Philippines, Technology News & Reviews (view on Google Sidewiki)

kills 99.99% of germs - in lab conditions only


Not all hand sanitizers kill that many germs in real world conditions!


Friday, December 18, 2009

OCZ modxstream-pro 600w

Well in my last post here you saw pics of the inside of my busted Hec PSU. I had to go to PC hub sm pampanga to buy a new PSU. My choices were PChub and PC express. I looked at their price lists online and pchub's selection was better. They dont have a landline but they gave me a cell number. I'll post it later.

Since my old psu was a 550w, i would be getting at least that. They had a hec cougar 550w for ~ 3800. An OCZ 600w for 4200 and a corsair 6xxW for ~ 5k-6k. Ok OCZ it is. Tipidpc discount applies so thats 4090 pesos.

They were kind enough to troubleshoot my PC (tear it apart) and confirm that it was the PSU that was the culprit. And NO EXTRA CHARGE for the troubleshooting and the installation and the cable management. My cpu hsf was a little loose so they fixed it too. Its pretty easy to isolate. The mobo was on a box on the table, connect psu, 1 ram and vid card. The old psu doesnt work and the new psu works. Case closed.

I'm now home using my PC.

Pics here


They dont have a landline so txt louie at 09293560807.


Here's the website of OCZ with the specs

HEC 550 ab power supply - pics

 pictures of the inside of my june 2008 vintage hec 550ab. Bought from PC options.

My pc now turns on and off. I think the psu is busted.

UPDATE. Yah confirmed, its busted. I bought a new PSU. See the next post

For the record, these are the symptoms. When I turn on the PC it turns on then off then on. Cycle ranges from 3 seconds to 2 min. Mostly seconds so it rarely gets into windows. Sometimes the pc just stays on with no beep, naka hang.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Smart bro plug it unlimited capped at 384kbps

"According to Smart Customer Support (*1888), the new Unlimited Plan 999 for Plug-It is limited to speeds of up to 384Kbps. There’s a 24-month lock-in period as well."


Is this true???

Posters in tipidpc still report fast up to 2mbps speeds.  Maybe the cap will be implemented in the future.

in reference to:

- SmartBro drops Unlimited Plug-it to Php999 | YugaTech | Philippines, Technology News & Reviews (view on Google Sidewiki)

LED traffic lights cause accidents

Well, thats bad engineering for you. Facepalm moment.

in reference to:
"A number of cold weather American states are reporting their dismay at finding out that LED traffic lights are so energy efficient that they do not produce enough excess heat to dissipate any snow that covers them. It turns out, perhaps in an homage to bad engineering everywhere, that the inefficiency of incandescent light bulbs was previously relied upon to keep traffic signals unimpeded. The new LEDs do not achieve the same effect, which has resulted in a few accidents and even a death being blamed on obstructed traffic lights. Feel free to apply palm to face now. It's not all gloomy, though, as the majority of people are said to treat a dysfunctional traffic light as a stop sign (how clever of them), and a tech fix is being worked on as we speak."
- LED traffic lights don't melt snow, do cause accidents -- Engadget (view on Google Sidewiki)

Smart money biller codes.

A google search of "Smart money biller codes" "Smart bro biller codes" or turns up nothing concrete so I'm posting the codes from the smart money brochure.

smart gold - 03006
smart bro - 06012
pldt landline and landline plus - 05012
nlex - 99020
sky cable zpdee - 05014
maynilad - 05009

In reference to this older post.

update: smart money website seems to now offer a complete list. LINK

So I'm reposting a more complete list

03006 SMART Gold Monthly Subscription
06012 SMART Bro Monthly (Service Fee)
05012 PLDT Landline and Landline Plus
99021 Easytrip Transponder
99020 MNTC North Luzon Expressway EC-Tag
05014 Sky Cable / ZPdee
05009 Maynilad
05010 Meralco

Or donate to the following charitable institution of your choice
To make a donation to a charitable institution, just type the CODE of your chosen charitable institution  amount and send to 270


the end

How to pay Smart Bro using Smart Money

To pay bills using Smart Money:
  1. Go to Smart Menu, select Smart Money
  2. Select Pay Bills, press OK
  3. Select Others, press OK
  4. Enter Biller Code, press OK
  5. Enter Bill Account Number (please refer to your billing statement), press OK
  6. You will receive a prompt message, press OK
  7. Select source of funds, press OK
  8. Enter amount you would like to pay, press OK
  9. You will receive a prompt message confirming the transaction, press OK
  10. Enter W-PIN, press OK
  11. Subscriber will receive an SMS confirmation of his transaction

However the source's link to the biller codes is now offline.

Here are the biller codes

UPDATE: if you check your smart bro bill here, it takes a few minutes for the payment to be reflected.

Real men dont use browsers to download

Thats a little joke i have. What that means is that I, as an experienced PC user, see noobs use the browser's "save as" feature to download files. I dont do that because it has drawbacks. I use download managers or at least browser add ons.

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way condoning piracy. Use this to download legal files only.

I'll divide this into 2 parts, HTTP downloads and file sharing downloads. Torrent and other P2P stuff isnt included here, its a different subject.


HTTP downloads means the regular download when you go to a website and download something. FTP is similar. It looks like this

I blurred out some options because you wont see them unless you install a download manager. Just concentrate on the "Save File" option.

* no additional software needed
* simple and easy to use

* No acceleration. Its usually faster slower
* No resume. You can pause and resume, even after turning off your PC
* No queing of downloads
* No limiting speed of downloads
* Download list isnt saved. If your PC hangs, you can resume later.

For HTTP and FTP downloads, use a download accelerator or download manager. This will take care of all the cons stated above. There are also other useful features like right clicking on a website and downloading all the files or jpegs linked. I use either Orbit or download them all.

2. File sharing

We all know what this is so I'll get to the point. Some of these are crippleware. I mean that you can use it for free but there are disabled features. Its not really a software but a website so crippleware is not 100% accurate.

For example if you dont buy the premium version, there can be limitations like:

* No download managers allowed. You have to use the "save as" mentioned above. This may be slower than using a download manager.
* No resume.
* No queing
* Only 1 download per IP address at a time, with some other limit like a max number of files per hour or a time delay in between downloads.

Regarding that IP address thing, If your ISP has a dynamic IP, you can do this

clean up IE or netscape cookie( In this case the one that belong to rapidshare website)
On Command prompt
type -----> ipconfig /flushdns <---Enter
type -----> ipconfig /release <---Enter
type -----> ipconfig /renew <---Enter
type -----> exit <--------Enter

Or save these commands in a bat file and run it everytime you need to fool Rapidshare server.Remember to clean up rapidshare cookie in your temp Internet files folder.

Again, this does not work if your ISP has a static IP like PLDT DSL. Its even worse if your ISP has a shared IP like the many smart bros because you may be competing with hundreds of users for that one slot to dowload.

Ok this is what I do

* Do not use file sharing websites with so many restrictions, use the free ones with few restrictions. This may not be practical all of the time.
* Use a file sharing download manager like jdownloader. It doesnt go around the restrictions but at least its automated. Just set it and it will keep trying while you sleep. When you wake up, its already downloaded. But it does not take care of Captchas Sometimes you need human intervention for the captchas but sometimes the program can go around it. This is useful for ISP's with shared IP addresses. The program merely keeps bugging the server every few minutes. If there are a few seconds where by chance no one on your share IP is donwloading, it can grab that chance.
* Go around it. Use services like rapidleech servers like rapid8 or www.leechking.com. This acts like a seedbox for torrents. They download the file for you with a high speed net connection onto their server and you can use HTTP with a download manager to download the file from them. This might be complicated to use.
update: these are sometimes called premium link generators. The problem with websites like these is that they can sprout and disappear quickly and they have limited bandwidth or they limit you to donwloading only a few files per day.
* Worst case scenario is to use skipscreen. Its semi automated. Set it, do something else and when the timer is up, you get the usual "save file" dialog box. But you gotta be awake to click on the button.
* Dont use file sharing sites, use p2p or torrent

Gamespot's best of 2009

Showing on dec 18 around 10am philippine time on gamespot.com

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

JetBeam C-LE

Their website here looks pretty slick

If you pay attention, the dot CN in the URL means its a chinese website  and yes this is a chinese brand. Probably class A or better.

A quick spec overview:

* Cree XR-E P4
* Aluminum OP reflector
* Harden glass lens
* T6061 Aluminum Alloy, Type III HA
* 1 AA battery (1.0-1.5v)
* Head dia. 19.5mm, tail dia. 17mm, length 85mm
* Weight 32g (bettery not included)
* Twisty type switch
* 10m water-resistance
* Multi-mode output: Med/Low/High/Strobe(10Hz)/SOS
* Output level: about 40/20/80 Lm
* Run time: about 7/30/2 hrs.

$26, free shipping

Acc to the review here

One big turn off is the lack of a spring on the negative end/tail cap. This can damage nimh batteries by crusing the negative terminal.

in reference to: JetBeam C-LE Cree 1xAA Flashlight [E2315] : BestOfferBuy.com, Buy DVD, Shop for PC accessories, Discount MP3 Players, Bargain Deal for Surveillance Equipment, Cheap R4 for NDS, X-sim Unlock (view on Google Sidewiki)

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