Friday, June 27, 2008

We're still in the dark ages of physics...

Star Stryder » Blog Archive » Dark Energy is Real- by Pamela L. Gay

I believe dark matter & dark energy exist.

I think they may be poorly named however... and 'dark matter' may not end up being matter at all.

Perhaps we'll end up seeing it as a side-effect of gravity.
E.g. String theory describes our universe made up a fabric of strings. Gravity is created when matter displaces space-time, creating a gradient which into which matter & light are pulled. Perhaps this gradient of dense space-time also exhibits a friction upon the adjacent fabric of space.

Think of it like this...
You put a golf ball (like a star or black hole) inside of a spongy material (representing the space-time 'ether' or fabric). The squeezed spongy material around the golf ball has a tension energy of it's own.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Feed Reader Subscriptions

If I am addicted to the web, then Google Reader is crack cocaine.
I don't think the whole 'feed reader' concept has become a mainstream habit - but those who try it will get it & those who haven't yet should.

Below is my formatted OPML file (feed subscription list) as it stands today, exported from Google Reader. My categories (work, webdev, geek-news, fun, sacto, & biz-news) aren't very standard... but they were the best buckets I could come up with for my strange collection of feeds.

Google Reader has some nice features I fully utilize. You can 'star' & 'share' feeds - and you can publish those selections. I do this to tag the items I really like (which you'll see mixed in on my friendfeed & blogroll... starred items for my personal/fun stuff & shared items for work/professional stuff). They added a new feature to 'note' items... which I use like some people would 'tweet' or 'digg' things (nice substitute if it means one less service I have to use).

Here's the list - enjoy...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Historical Bank Prime Loan Rate Changes



I got this data from http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/data/PRIME.txt and dropped in into a Google Docs spreadsheet with a time-based chart. There are some nifty tools in gDocs for sure!

You always hear that rates are at an all time low... but it's not so extreme if you consider that rates could have been abnormally high in the 70's. We'll never know what normal is so long as the Feds keep peering into their crystal ball & messing with things!
We need an average fixed rate & to quit printing money... if we fixed the dollar back on gold & focussed all of our meddling on keeping accounting and investing behavior fair and honest in our country, then we'd have a stable economy that doesn't spin wildly due to politics & speculation.
Economies are supposed to have ups & downs... but keeping business practices straight-up is the only way government should involve itself.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Teaching at 三郷北高校

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since I left Japan.
I graduated from UC Davis in the summer of 1996, and found a brochure for the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program in the career counseling office. While applying for techie jobs, this opportunity called out to me 'Steve, you will never have a better time in your life to do something like this.'
I became interested in Japan because of Kiyonari Otobe, who was a foreign exchange student that lived with my family in high school. The Otobe's (Takaaki & Kyoko) graciously had my brother & I visit them in Nagoya one summer. I was fascinated. I talked about this in my application & JET interview... and I guess it helped, because oddly enough I was selected without speaking a lick of japanese. A couple months later I was taking off in a plane to Japan to become an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in Misato Kita High School.
I just happened across my old school's website last night. Their new ALT had posted an english page & I started reminiscing about what a great experience my two years there were. I could write a book about my experiences there... but this is a blog, so I won't.
If I had to sum it all up though - I'd say it just fell short of moving to an alien world. I suddenly couldn't understand anything around me, I looked different than everyone else, and I had to get used to eating strange exotic foods. The people were so hospitable & kind to me there. I met my good friends Masa (Masatoshi) & Kei Konno in Yoshikawa, the town my apartment was in. They dubbed themselves the gaijin (foreigner) welcoming party... and in fact they did introduce me to the other ALTs (Greg & Andy). We had good times with Humpty, & Ogi - who introduced me to my girlfriend Mizuho Toda (she's married now & I hope she is doing well). It was nice to live just an hour north of Tokyo by train (closer by car) - and we had some wild nights bar-hopping in Roppongi for sure! On the off weekends, we'd just hit a local izakaya, rent a karaoke room in the next town Koshigaya, or sit around a table at someone's pad drinking beers (there wasn't a whole lot to do in Yoshikawa).
The ALT life was also fun & the staff & teachers at my school were extremely kind & helpful. The JET Program lets you stay for a three year maximum. I told myself I'd stay for one year, but felt like it took me that long just to adjust... so decided to stay for a second & came back home in 1998. I still remember how hard saying goodbye was. I miss all my friends from Japan & regret losing touch with them... but I hope to one day return & see them again.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Internet TV - the future of home entertainment

So, everybody knows about YouTube. It’s a great timewaster… you can find everything on there from HR PuffnStuff to tours of the Large Hadron Collider. That’s the ultimate video-on-demand. If you have your PC hooked up to your HDTV like me, YouTube is a great alternative to the boob-tube – especially nowadays when there is nothing but crap on cable.

Now what I really want is the best of both worlds: the wide immediate selection of YouTube at the length & quality of HD television. That won’t be possible until the next generation of broadband evolves. In the meantime, media content from the big networks and creative individuals are all flocking to the web. There are some great sites & resources in addition to YouTube that are here for your enjoyment today:

Miro – This is a great front-end to the wide world of podcast & torrent content out there. Because you subscribe to ‘channels’ which automatically download new content for you to watch at your convenience, you can have higher quality (and sometimes even HD).

Hulu – This site was started by NBC & NewsCorp, so it has a solid collection of ‘legal’ high-quality content. They insert ads in the middle of full-length shows & movies… just like the ol’ days before you had a DVR!

Vimeo – This is a user-generated video site, but allows longer length & plays higher quality than YouTube. It seems to have a more artsy-fartsy userbase… which leads to some very cool entertainment.

Others – There’s Blinx, which claims to be the best video search (although Google & YouTube suit me just fine). Other’s I haven’t checked out much are Soapbox, Break.com, Jumpcut, Blip.tv, Metacafe, Revver, iFlim.

I look forward to a future where I believe all entertainment will eventually be ‘on-demand’ and internet based (along with everything else in our lives). It will be interesting to see how the advertising adapts to the new form - whether it be plugged into streaming content I can't skip, played along-side where I try to ignore it, or integrated into content (like in the movie 'The Truman Show').