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Friday, May 20, 2005

What's happening

Took the boys to see the latest Star Wars movie last night. We all enjoyed it thoroughly.

Mutual Materials (what kind of name is that?) is delivering 6 pallets of concrete bricks to the house today. Landscaper is finishing the base (4 inches of gravel) today and laying bricks tomorrow.

Owner where I work is scurrying aroung trying to get ready for a trip to HIF next week. HIF: Hydrological Instrumentation Facility, government operation in Mississippi. They have a working scale model of the Mississippi river basin.

Manufacturing is trying to find a printer that will print labels with individual ID numbers for some BlueTooth radios we build. Tried to find one once before, but couldn't get a printer vendor interested in talking to us. Owner said he was going to take care of it, but it's been three months, and he hasn't done diddly, and now the situation is getting critical. I expect we will have an explosion here before the end of the day.

Went by Aaron Brothers art supplies last weekend and picked up a do it yourself metal frame for a poster of "Middle Earth" a vendor dropped off at work. It's a cool poster, 160 degree panoramic view of New Zealand farms and mountains. Picture measures 36" by 8". Had to go back to the store and exchange the rails because I got the wrong size the first time.

Anne & Ross & I saw "Kingdom of Heaven" last weekend (two weeks ago?). Tremendous movie.

Reading "Blood of Victory", spy novel about trying to disrupt the supply of Romanian oil to Germany in 1940.

War, war and more war. If you have too much peace, make up a war, war on drugs, war on poverty, war on education.

Subscribed to the Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker. Interesting reading.

Still don't have a real good idea just how the world works, but I'm working on it.

Ross is rehearsing a play.

Kathryn has rehearsal today and performances tomorrow (dance).

Monday, May 9, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven

Saw "Kingdom of Heaven" this weekend. I enjoyed it. Problem I have, as I have with many historical films, is I want to know just how accurate it is. I spent a few minutes searching the web this morning and this is what I found:

From All characters, except Godfrey, existed in real life. In reality, Baldwin, the leper king, died in 1185 at the age of 24, a year before the start of the story.

From the Christian Science Monitor: The two university scholars who read the script did not agree on its historical accuracy. Father George said that the 12th-century Crusader state was, as shown in the film, relatively tolerant, and that Saladin did in fact order his troops to give no quarter in the fighting in Jerusalem, an order he later rescinded. But Mr. Fadl said the Crusader state was by its nature discriminatory and oppressive of other religions. He said that the Muslim knights took the idea of granting quarter very seriously, and that the notion that Saladin would thank Balian for teaching him chivalry, as the script had it, was laughable. "Pick up any book on chivalry, it's exactly the opposite," he said. "The whole idea of knighthood and chivalry came from Muslims and was exported to Europe." He noted, as did Father George, that at the time of this Crusade, science and scholarship were far more advanced in the Islamic world than in Europe.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Computer Business

I see two big problems in the business world today, and that includes the computer industry.

The first is the Republican free market fixation on driving down costs. Witness Bill Gates request for more visas for foreign engineers, and the outsourcing of code development to India.

The second problem is boss's. I used to give people who were in charge the benefit of the doubt. I assumed they knew what they were doing, because the people who put them in charge knew what they were doing. It took me years to realize that most of the people I worked for were terrible managers. Maybe I have had a string of bad luck, or maybe I haven't been as discriminating in where I work as I should have been.

Maybe there are a few companies around with some good managers, and maybe some of these companies reward their employees with compensation commesurate with their worth. I would like to find one of these companies. I certainly have never worked for one. But then I can be "difficult to work with". Among my troublesome characteristics is that I "don't suffer fools gladly".

I find it very difficult to evaluate a prospective job from an interview, even a lengthy one. And it usually doesn't make any difference. If they offer me a job, I'll take it.

Recently I was thinking that I needed an agent, someone to promote me and my skills. It used to really bug me that employment agencies got these huge commissions for doing virtually nothing. But now I am beginning to understand.

I recently came up with the idea of using a 32-bit microprocessor for our next product instead of the 8-bit processors we have been using. I am the only developer here. My rational is that it is easier to develop an application using a cpu with a larger address space than having to manage exteneded memory using a small chip.

There are numerous reasons from the standpoint of software development to use a bigger, faster chip. If we were building millions of units, it would probably be worth it to expend the extra effort to write the program to run on an 8-bit chip. Since our total volume can be measured in hundred's, the development cost will far outweigh the extra cost of the bigger processor.

Big Idea

Last night Kathryn's dance team had their end-of-season banquet. A video of their performance at the state competition was shown. The senior girl's moms put on a dance/skit lampooning the teams that placed above Glencoe. It was hilarious.

But back to my idea. The problem here is that the camera aspect ratio is all wrong for this kind of show. The image needs to be 3 or 4 times wider than it is tall. If you zoom out so that you can get the whole show in the image, the people are tiny. If you zoom in so the performance fills the screen top to bottom, it cuts off the edges.

Seems to me there are a lot of performances that are like this: stage shows, concerts, half time shows, some sporting events, etc.

So what we need is a camera that takes a picture with an extremely wide aspect ratio. Or maybe you could do it with three cameras and special computer software. Then when you play it back on your TV you could select which portion of the complete image you wanted to see. If you want to see the whole thing, you might want special playback equipment.

Is there a market for this? I am sure there is.