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Linspire Bails Out – Sells Assests To Xandros

What some are describing as a secret back door deal, it seems that Linspire may have sold out to Xandros, according to a memo sent to shareholders. It also seems that some people are not to happy in the way the deal was made, which appears to have been behind closed doors. According to an article by Kevin Carmony, he states:

Today, as a Linspire shareholder, I received the below “memorandum” from Linspire. I have confirmed with several other Linspire shareholders that they too received this same notice.

In classic Michael Robertson form, he has once again completely disregarded the 100 some-odd shareholders of Linspire by pulling off this deal without a shareholder meeting. Most states require shareholder approval of any merger or reorganization of a corporation, or the sale or transfer of all or substantially all of the corporation’s assets. Regardless of state laws, common decency would dictate that even if a company only has 1 minority shareholder, there should be a shareholder meeting and the acquisition explained to all shareholders. What do Linspire shareholders get in place of a shareholder meeting? This completely worthless notice in the mail.

It is going to be interesting to see what action, if any, the sharholders decide to take. If they file a law suit the deal could be placed on hold for some time. Or they may just decide to let the deal go through, lick their wounds, and move on with life. Only time will tell what action takes place.

What do you think of the Linspire deal?

Comments welcome.


An Easy Fix For The Laptop’s Biggest Design Flaw

Ponzi wrote today’s report on an airplane en route from SNA to SEA.

If you’ve ever headed to the airport an hour or two early or had a layover on a coast to coast flight, I’m sure you’ll agree with me on what I’d like to write about.

What is the one worst design flaw of all computers? What’s the most annoying bit of necessity we all hate to handle, yet spend hours each year fiddling with? The power cord. Here’s my take on how we deal with it.

  1. There are the people in denial. They get rid of it altogether and act like it’s not a problem — until they have to deal with it. They put it out of mind and out of sight — pack it in the suitcase. As svelte and cord free as these people are in the airport, secretly they are the ones who frantically throw everything out of their suitcases looking for it when they have a blackout in the taxi on the way to the hotel. (I know — because I’ve done it.)
  2. The people who don’t care. This group just stuffs that whole cord into the backpack or bag and say that’s part of carrying the laptop, deal with it. Then all their crap comes pouring out when its time to use it — thanks! We really wanted to see your half eaten powerbar and pink pouch that holds your Carefree mini maxi.
  3. Last, there are the ones who try to act like they have some control. This would be my crowd for the moment (I tend to bounce between all three). They roll up the cord and use the piece of velcro if they have it (IBM tried to give us a solution) which usually doesn’t fit the whole cord. Personally I use a black twisty tie to corral the rest of it. While I’m doing this I ponder to myself how much of my life has been given to corraling various cords.

I wonder who is going to be the first company to give us retractable cords. Or at least a wrap lock. Let us wind it around the power adaptor neatly and put in a little clamp. Or better yet a small trough around the power base that u’s to hold a winding cord with a clamp cover. (Maybe they could incorporate the use of those horrible hair clips from the ’90s) I promise you (insert huge corporate hardware company with lots of money for R&D) you would have a lot of happy customers. Heck I’d even bet you too Mr./Mrs. Big Corporate Designer would like it if your cords weren’t everywhere. :)

I will say this for Apple — my MacBook has an adaptor that allows me to make my cord long or short and a small little clip to hold the wire to itself. It’s not very efficient but it was an effort toward acknowledging the problem. So kudos to Apple for trying and at least giving me choices. Too bad the clip part doesn’t really hold it strongly and the wire doesn’t wrap smoothly. Yeah — back to the drawing board on that one, please.

Being a woman who travels quite a bit and likes to carry many gadgets, the less cordage I have to tote, the better. If anyone has any devices with smart cord options — please share.

I’m on a flight now writing this post. Here are the contents of my bag.

  1. MacBook (I’m toting this as a new option for my computing needs; still not convinced of its powers though I am mesmerized by its beauty)
  2. ThinkPad (on lap in hand now — not pretty, but still chosen)
  3. Microphone with cord (small zippered bag) (Sennheiser e835)
  4. Recording device (M Audio — microtrack 24/96) — for podcasting
  5. Wallet/checkbook
  6. Lipstick, perfume, lip liner, vitamin E oil, nail polish (all in a quart Ziploc)
  7. Ink pen — Montblanc
  8. iPod — with earbuds from my PSP (still hate corraling these wires, too)
  9. Sunglasses — cheapo Target pair
  10. Phone — Cingular smartphone
  11. Gum
  12. Portable toothbrush
  13. life.doc CD (to do later…)

So no room for the following: Nice Bose earphones, PSP or Game Boy, more makeup, writing pads, or books. If I choose a bigger bag it’s not going to fit under the seat in front of me. I will say I’m glad the uber tiny bags are out and one large bag is in, otherwise I’d never make it with only two hands.

Ladies what do you carry in your bag? Guys, how about you: backpacks or murses (man purses)? And — what do ya’ll do about cords?

Karen Bernards’ Sweet-Hot Thai Burger

This is delicious. It is an award winning recipe from Karen Bernards:

link: Sweet-Hot Thai Burger

Follow the patties directions exactly. Even though it may seem like an over-abundance of sweet chili sauce, it isn’t. If you have hungry people to experiment on, double the recipe. This will become a quick favorite.

Catherine Forsythe

Firefox Sets Guinness World Record But…

Firefox accomplished its goal in setting a download record. It is a record that is recognized by Guiness World Records:

“…The final record breaking 8,002,530 downloads for Firefox 3.0 took place in June with parties in over 25 countries.”

link: Firefox download record official

While the record is impressive, as a Firefox user, I am still waiting for some of the extensions to catch up. It seems that Firefox is ‘incomplete’ until favorite extensions are functional in Firefox 3.0. It is weeks now and some of those extensions are still incompatible with the new version of Firefox. It’s just annoying.

Catherine Forsythe

User Hostile

I’ve been thinking about the bizarre concept of user friendliness, specifically as it applies to software and operating systems.

By way of illustration, my workplace uses Office 2000. Someone got a bug up their backside because the number 2007 is greater than 2000, so we obviously needed to ‘upgrade’. As any legitimate MIS guy would do, I installed it on a few PCs to test it out (especially the main complainer). What we found was that Microsoft ‘improved’ Office by hiding all the functions you’re used to. Most activities are an exercise in search and rescue. And, as one would expect, it’s way more bloated and slow than previous versions. Office 2007 made its point and as a result, we’re using Office 2000 and Open Office.

Curious about the hype and bored out of my skull, I messed around with a Mac. They have done wonders with their user interface. The way I had to dig for anything meaningful was downright Microsoftian. Setup and hardware interaction were beautifully hidden, bringing to mind the word ‘excavation.’ The mouse was physically hostile; it hurt my hand. No matter what I did, I found it counterintuitive and more difficult to operate.

Windows Vista: there are more reasons to hate this OS than taxes. The first time I saw it desperately begged to be the last time. Keeping in mind I’ve been using Windows since Win3, this interface is a mess. Never mind bloated and resource-intensive; once again everything is hidden. It’s not anywhere near where it used to be or should be. Counter-intuitive. It is also guilty of Leftystrat’s Number One Sin: prettiness. Granted, this is not a widely-held opinion, but it is mine. I don’t need blinking lights, fancy cursors, constant popups, or Help from my OS. I don’t want to be questioned or second-guessed… I’ll deal with the ramifications myself, thank you.

A coworker showed me a preview version of KDE 4, the Linux desktop. He got two screens into it and we both agreed this was a waste of time, requiring too many keystrokes or clicks to accomplish the most basic tasks. His comment was that KDE 4 is the Vista of Linux. [fortunately you’re not stuck with any single desktop with Linux]

When I relate some of these experiences, one of the comments is that the user interface is not designed for the current user – it’s designed for the total beginner. The explanation is that teams of usability gurus got together to make this interface idiot-proof.

Murphy, of Murphy’s Laws, states that if you make something idiot-proof, they’ll just make a better idiot.

If we give the explanation a little credence it raises one niggling little question: what about the usability for the millions of existing users? Why make an ‘upgrade’ more difficult to use?

Sorry, I’m not buying. Literally.

My userbase would have required retraining had we gone to Office 2007. So in order to ‘upgrade’ we faced the costs of the software and training. If we had to put that much effort into an upgrade, we figured why bother. There was no gain. At least Open Office doesn’t require training.

I have this odd requirement for software. I want it to work. Reasonably quickly would be good. Not too graphics-intensive is a plus. One last thing: if any onscreen action happens to produce noise, the entire computer is likely to become airborne, giving a new meaning to in-flight computing.

What do you think?

The iPhone And MS Exchange – We Have Arrived

Finally, we have an iPhone that I can see myself giving a rip about.

  • "The price is (finally) right, Bob"! At the rate of $200 vs past price points seen with the iPhone, I do not feel like getting one for my wife is a total waste of money. In the past we had $600, then $400. That is insane, I am sorry. But $200 is at least on planet Earth.
  • MS Exchange. This was total deal breaker for me. And to be fair, to use this in an enterprise environment without this funcionality is just plain silly. So kudos for making this happen with the latest iPhone release and updates.

Now there are a number of other features, but those are the two biggest that struck me. Yeah, 3G is important too, but it was not the deal breaker for me that the other stuff was. Am I pumped enough to get one of these badboys for myself? Not really as I am have a nearly new BlackBerry that suits my needs just fine. That said, I may indeed be looking to the iPhone when my existing phone is due to be replaced. Congrats to Apple for not taking Google's third party (can't someone else do it" approach to real enterprise class options for the mobile device. It's about time. Should be interesting.

The U.S. Government Ignores Its Own Identity Theft Precautions

There is universal agreement that identity theft is one of the trends in crime in the technological age. Identity theft not only can rob a person of his/her financial resources. It can destroy one’s name and reputation. In the case of medical identity theft, it can be a matter of life or death. An identity thief can use a stolen identity for medical treatment which eventually can harm the person who true identity was used.

Government agencies and law enforcement have warned people to shred documents and zealously guard their social security information. Unfortunately, there are government agencies who have not been listen to these suggestions – or perhaps, these government agencies simply ignore the suggestions of other branches of the government:

“…The nation’s Medicare agency and the Pentagon want at least 52 million Americans to carry their Social Security numbers in their wallets, contrary to warnings by the Federal Trade Commission that people should avoid doing so.

At least 44 million Medicare insurance cards include the beneficiary’s full Social Security number. The number also appears on 8 million Defense Department identity cards used by active duty and reserve forces and their dependents, and on identification cards issued to military retirees. The Pentagon, however, plans to remove the numbers but won’t complete the effort until 2014.”

link: US contradicts itself over its own ID theft advice

It is bewildering that citizens are encouraged to carry their social security numbers with them. It is simply dangerous.

One would think that, in a technological age, to change the individual identifier should not be such a monumental problem. With the projected time to complete this project, the next President of the United States will have finished serving a term of office.

With so much emphasis on national security and protecting citizens from harm, this is an insult to every American citizen.

Catherine Forsythe

Are Programmers Up to the Task?

A not so unexpected announcement from Intel comes today, telling us what we already knew – the speed race, in GHz, is over.  The chips of today are close to their limits already – there will be no amazing 6GHz chips just over the horizon.  Oh sure, there are those apocryphal tales of old style Pentium 4s hitting 5 GHz under nitrogen cooling. True? Probably. Possible for you and me? Not likely. Unless some gains are made in room temperature superconductivity, we will see all new speed increases from parallelism.

Massive parallelism. Or so states Intel.  Wait a minute – isn’t this what nVidia’s CUDA initiative is all about? Yes, but that’s another story that Intel wants you to forget.

What Intel wants the public to know right now is that for this to work, all your favorite applications are going to have to be extensively rewritten. Alright, you say. Well, the problem here is cost. It’s going to cost a lot, because the way that programmers think is going to have to change.

The writing will be changed. The verification will also have to change.  It will all begin with the compilers used, and those will have to be optimized for the number of processors expected – if the compiler is designed for 12 cores – 12 threads of execution, and someone wants to use it on a 16 core system, those extra cores go wasted.

Beyond that, there are many jobs that don’t respond to massively parallel computing – 1 thread must complete before the next, and no amount of branching and prediction will help.

As astounding as the resources of Intel are, nVidia has this working now, at least to a much higher degree than Intel. The only other possible competitor at present would be the owners of the Cell processor.

With nothing in the Intel road map according to its tick-tock time frames, it will be a horse race to see if it is nVidia or Intel, or possibly IBM, that gets the massively multicore processor to the average desktop first.

full article

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PHP WeatherBug Wrapper – WeatherBug API Entry


Today we have yet another PHP entry for the WeatherBug API contest going on right now. This PHP related entry is called the PHP WeatherBug Wrapper. This PHP application allows its users to take the existing wrapper and then build their own frontend for it, possibly to be used on their own web server. One option might even be to bundle this with something like Ext JS for example? I for one cannot see why this would too difficult for programmers to do?

So what does the PHP WeatherBug Wrapper offer?

  • wb_searchLocations – Returns the location based on the U.S. and international city name or U.S. Zip Code.
  • wb_stationList – For a given zipcode, citycode or latitude/longitude this call returns the weather stations in the area.
  • wb_liveWeather – Returns detailed live weather conditions for the chosen location. (RSS)
  • wb_compactLiveWeather – Returns concise live weather conditions for the chosen location. (RSS)
  • wb_forecastRSS – Returns the 7-day forecast for a zipcode, citycode or latitude/longitude. (RSS)
  • wb_cameraList – For a given Zip Code or latitude/longitude, this call returns a list of available weather cameras (U.S. Only).
  • wb_alertsRSS – Returns weather alert information for a given Zip Code or latitude/longitude (U.S. Only). (RSS)

Also included.

  • wb_alerts – Returns weather alert information for a given Zip Code or latitude/longitude (U.S. Only).
  • wb_forecast – Returns the 7-day forecast for a zipcode, citycode or latitude/longitude.
  • wb_compact – Returns concise live weather conditions for the chosen station.
  • wb_complete – Returns detailed live weather conditions for the chosen station.

Remember, the WeatherBug API contest is open to everyone, so if you have some ideas, feel free to submit them.

Natalie Coughlin: World Record in Omaha

If you wander over to the ESPN site and look for a story about Natalie Coughlin on the front page, you won’t find one there. You won’t find a Natalie Coughlin story on the front page of Sports Illustrated either. However, you will find a Natalie Coughlin article here, on the front page of Lockergnome. She deserves the recognition.

In the Olympic qualifying meet in Omaha, Natalie Coughlin is lowing the world record:

“…Coughlin, a Cal graduate, qualified for her second Olympic Games in world-record fashion, powering to the wall in 58.97 seconds and lowering the bar on a record she set the day before.

“This is such an emotional meet,” said Coughlin, already donning a dark blue USA hat. “It feels so good to finally be on the team. Now I get to take a breath and enjoy the rest of the meet.””

link: Coughlin earns Olympic berth

She is a world class athlete who is setting new standards in her sport. Some describe her as the ‘American girl next door’. That is only if the girl next door is an Olympic athlete with a laser focus to succeed. The editors of ESPN and Sports Illustrated should have this story as their lead sports article of the day. It speaks volumes that they don’t.

Catherine Forsythe