Cold water alchemy

I hadn’t decided one day, as a rational adult, that hot water was something I should have. It was a custom that I had been born into, a belief I had inherited, an indoctrination. And my temperament was suspicious of those. If hot water was indeed a necessity I would find out for myself. I would catch pneumonia, or get sick from eating off of dishes washed in cold water. But when instead I found that hot water was not a necessity, that it was a luxury, I overcame my conditioning and dealt a satisfying blow to the status quo. I felt myself standing apart from the sheep-like masses who had been led to confuse their wants and needs.

If the TSA were running New York

The point of terrorism is not to "destroy." It is to terrify. And for eight and a half years now, the dominant federal government response to terrorist threats and attacks has been to magnify their harm by increasing a mood of fear and intimidation. That is the real case against the ludicrous "orange threat level" announcements we hear every three minutes at the airport. It's not just that they're pointless, uninformative, and insulting to our collective intelligence; it's that their larger effect is to make people feel frightened rather than brave.

Rest in Peas: the unrecognized death of speech recognition

Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology Benchmark Test History 

“I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that.”

In 2001 recognition accuracy topped out at 80%, far short of HAL-like levels of comprehension. Adding data or computing power made no difference. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University checked again in 2006 and found the situation unchanged. With human discrimination as high as 98%, the unclosed gap left little basis for conversation.

iPad Killer? We can't even get an iPad challenger...

An early review of an HP Slate prototype revealed what many already suspected—the Slate is more like a slow, handicapped PC forced into a flat-panel form factor than a tablet device. Essentially, it is in fact a touchscreen netbook without a keyboard.

There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that. Windows XP, and now Windows 7-based netbooks seem to perform admirably enough in most cases. They certainly provide a more comparable experience to full-size desktop or notebook PC’s, including USB ports, Adobe Flash compatibility, and the ability to install and use the vast library of software you are already familiar with and rely on every day.

Perhaps, though, that is ultimately why HP has terminated the Slate. Maybe HP realized what the HP-faithful and Windows loyalists still deny—the iPad represents a fundamental shift in mobile computing that defies direct comparison with PC’s or virtually any other platform for that matter.

The iPad tablet is a new class of device; a device built on a mobile OS foundation and intended for a different audience than a Windows-based netbook.

Mac OSX TimeMachine slow? How to keep TimeMachine snapshots snappy fast

I have a mobile machine and having it run backups constantly annoyed me. I guess I'll switch over to something like SuperDuper or Backup.

Someone asked how to keep TimeMachine from running all the time. This happens when your backups are slow. So, in case it can help anyone else, here are a couple solutions:

You can edit the plist or grab TimeMachineEditor and drop the frequency down.

However, there's a better way. Make TimeMachine run fast.

Time Machine keeps one copy of every file it's ever seen, creates a new list of pointers to all those original files every time it makes a snapshot backup, and every time it runs, it compares your current computer's latest files against the previous list. Because of this, I've found the best way to keep hourly snapshots snappy is to:

1) In TimeMachine Options, exclude any constantly changing data that you don't really need a backup of. In my case, that's email. I use IMAP, mail is on the server, so I really don't need my local mail getting backed up every hour. This means exclude ~/Library/Mail. I also exclude ~/Downloads because presumably those files are available online, or if I want them, I've copied them somewhere else. Now I'm not wasting backups on .dmg files I'm going to install then delete. Some system files already aren't backed up, but even so I also exclude ~/Library/Caches, and definitely exclude ~/Library/Mirrors so I'm not backing up iDisk.

2) If you run any VMs, consider excluding their directories too, so you don't copy a 16GB VM image every time you change state in Windows. This saves an astonishing amount of backing up if you use Parallels or VMware regularly. Don't forget to back it up manually though.

3) If I make a major overhaul that drastically changes the content of my drive (for example, do something that adds then delete a large number of files), I usually consider wiping and recreating my Time Machine disk so Time Machine is not comparing a clean state against all those now missing changes. The backup checks through both current and past files, so if you deleted a ton of files and you don't need the backups you've made so far, go ahead and start your Time Machine backups over.

When I was backing up Mail and VM images, my backups took longer than an hour, and I hated it.

When I follow these suggestions, then the hourly TimeMachine run—even over the latency of WiFi to a TimeCapsule with its internal drive—is usually only a few seconds, and I don't even notice it.