Archives for: "August 2006"

New Windows Vista UI isn't so new

Word is spreading on the blogosphere about some new Windows Vista screens, the claim being these are of the new user interface Microsoft will be rolling out with RC1, here are some of the screens in question:

New fake Windows Vista UI

New fake Windows Vista UI

We see the old style Sidebar, which was dropped in favour of the new one, we see the old Media Player gadget which Microsoft said they wouldn't be shipping, and we see some really fat chunky title bars. Below is one of the old 40xx builds which Microsoft showed at PDC 2003:

PDC 2003 Windows Vista build

PDC 2003 Windows Vista build

These new screenshots look very similar to 40xx so I think it’s safe to say they're nothing more than screens of the old builds re-published, may be with a few Photoshop tweaks here and there. I don’t see Microsoft changing the user interface this close to launch, especially not to something as ugly as the 40xx builds.

Bush regime interfering in the Venezuelan elections

From Another World is Possible, the blog of John McDonnell MP, who, if we have our way will be future leader of the Labour Party:

Reports have appeared this morning confirming what many of us suspected. The Bush regime is interfering in the Venezuelan elections in an attempt to depose President Chavez. Funds are being deployed by the US to mobilise support against Chavez. This is an unacceptable act of imperialist inteference in a foreign country which must be condemned by democratic governments across the world.

As joint president of the "Hands Off Venezuela Campaign" I am calling on our Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to issue immediately a statement condemning any such interference and calling upon the Bush regime to disengage in this illiegal activity. The UK government must insist on the democratic rights of the Venezuelan people being respected and must disassociate itself from any acts by the US or any other government seeking to undermine democracy in Venezuela.

Under a real Labour Government Britain would work co-operatively with the Chavez administration to tackle poverty and inequality in both our countries and to secure peace and justice globally. This includes upholding the rights of the people of Latin America to determine their own futures democratically and to secure the full benefits of the natural resources of their continent.

The message to Bush is "Hands Off Venezuela."

Aero Glass on a Toshiba M200 Tablet

I installed the 5536 build of Windows Vista on my Toshiba Portégé M200 Tablet PC just the other day. One thing I noticed almost straight away was that in the Appearance Settings dialog Windows Aero was not only available but actually worked.

The M200 has a way below-spec graphics card to run Aero Glass only 32MB of on-board memory and a DX8 part. In previous builds it would simply revert back to the basic theme. Not in this build, I don't know if this is a bug or if Microsoft have perhaps re-considered outright disabling Aero Glass.

It does run slow with a few windows open, the Flip 3D feature is more of a slideshow on this hardware, but the live window previews and the glass itself run ok with just a couple of windows open.

Windows Vista running Aero Glass on a Toshiba Portégé M200 Tablet PC

But it does actually work. Obviously this may change in the next build, Release Candidate 1 due in a couple of weeks. But I like it and at the moment I'm running my Tablet PC with it turned on despite the slowdown with quite a few windows open. So hopefully this is a decision to allow Aero Glass to be turned on even on non-supported hardware.

Which christian state has Darwin on its banknotes?

Come on you crazy creationists... There is a christian state (that is; christianity is the official state religion) which has the satanic face of the evil founder of Darwinian fundamentalism (whatever that is) Charles Darwin printed on, name that country?

Give up? The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Behold a £10 Bank of England note:

£10 banknote

So why the fuck is that evil Darwinist, Charles Darwin doing on a banknote from a christian state? I hear you say?

Because he was one of the greatest scientific minds in human history, he did for biology what Albert Einstein did for physics.

So why don't you drop your god damn Darwin bashing? Even the former Pope dude said "evolution is more than a theory", they gave up trying to take on science because they got burned every time. Just like you guys get burned every time you try and take on science in the courtroom - where there are rules of evidence.

Evidence is something you don't have. In the land of science we point out where our hypothesis can be falsified so it can be tested. Darwin said if our understandings were correct we wouldn't find modern life with ancient extinct life. That is still true to this day, we've never found a human skeleton next to a dinosaur. Finding a human being in the same strata as ancient life. Just finding a fossilised human with a trilobite in his pocket, that would cause an earthquake in the scientific world and science would change to adopt the new data. And that's the key word here; change.

Both science and creationism go through stages of development to search for the truth (or Truth with a capital T if you're a creationist) to rip off Penn and Teller who did a great episode about creationism:

Science changes and adapts to what evidence is in front of it, its basic process goes through these stages:

Observation.
Hypothesis.
Testing.
Debate.

While creationism is rigid and goes through the following stages:

Fiction.
Assertion.
Insisting.
Twisting fact.
Torturing.

Darwin is so evil he's on banknotes of a christian state - he must be one evil dude.

New definition removes Pluto from planetary status

The IAU have just in the last few hours voted on the definition of the word planet. The new definition removes Pluto from the family of planets and places it into a new category of dwarf-planets.

Here is resolution 5a:

The IAU therefore resolves that planets and other bodies in our Solar System be defined into three distinct categories in the following way:

(1) A planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

(2) A dwarf planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite.

(3) All other objects except satellites orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as "Small Solar-System Bodies".

And resolution 6a:

The IAU further resolves:

Pluto is a dwarf planet by the above definition and is recognized as the prototype of a new category of trans-Neptunian objects.

The previous resolution that got all the news headlines last week, was shot down 2 days later. Under this resolution we would also include Ceres, Charon and 2003 UB313.

This was deeply unpopular with a lot of astronomers including myself, although 12 doesn't sound like too bad a number it would grow rapidly and many trans-Neptunian objects would find themselves being classed as planets, even our Moon under that definition would become a planet in approximately 3 billion years.

So there it is, we have a precise scientific definition for the word 'planet' and we have a solar system with 8 planets; Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Don't call it Orion

From the BBC:

US space agency NASA has named its new manned exploration craft Orion.
The vehicle is being developed to take human space explorers back to the Moon and potentially then on to Mars.

It is hoped the name Orion could eventually mean as much for manned space exploration as Apollo did in the 1960s and 1970s.

Its first manned flight - to the International Space Station - will take place no later than 2014 and its first flight to the Moon no later than 2020.

Don't call it Orion. Say the word Orion to a space-exploration geek and he or she will utter three words; nuclear pulse rocket.

Project Orion was under serious development until 1963 when the PTBT was signed preventing the use of nuclear weapons in space causing the project to be put on hold.

Basically it used nuclear explosions instead of chemical reactions for thrust, by detonating nuclear bombs behind it against an inertial plate. Such a craft would be much faster than chemical rockets and be able to carry much larger cargos. From Wikipedia:

The reference design was to be constructed of steel using submarine-style construction with a crew of more than 200 and a vehicle takeoff weight of several thousand tonnes. This low-tech single-stage reference design would reach Mars and back in four weeks from the Earth's surface (compare to 12 months for NASA's current chemically-powered reference mission). The same craft could visit Saturn's moons in a seven-month mission (compare to chemically-powered missions of about nine years).

Don't use Orion if you want to use the name of a constellation use one that has not been used before like Camelopardalis, now that's good, using a camel to cross the desert of space! But what's wrong with Apollo II? Or hell even Starbuck!? :)

Science in America

Talk about depressing. The following is the result from a poll asking "Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals." the results are below:

Acceptance of evolution

America managed to beat Turkey but that is all... Well done America. I'm sure most of you can guess the reason, right?

The total effect of fundamentalist religious beliefs on attitude toward evolution (using a standardized metric) was nearly twice as much in the United States as in the nine European countries (path coefficients of -0.42 and -0.24, respectively), which indicates that individuals who hold a strong belief in a personal God and who pray frequently were significantly less likely to view evolution as probably or definitely true than adults with less conservative religious views.

To all the Americans who are going to accuse me of anti-Americanism (which they seem to be quite popular of lately), I am not anti-American I am trying to help you. Get rid of the religious fundamentalism or the US will become utterly backward and all science and technology will go elsewhere in the world.

Good luck

OMG Catherine is getting her exam results tomorrow. So good luck Catherine. :) Not that she needs luck when she's got leet skillz. :D

Vista improvements - more clocks

Everyone likes clocks. In Windows Vista we can now add an additional two clocks to the system.

By hovering over the time we see the date and any additional times show up in text form. Or by single-clicking the time in the corner we can the familiar calendar and clock pop up.

Windows Vista additional clocks

Setting up the additional clocks is easy enough, just pick the time zone and give them a name.

Windows Vista additional clocks config

If you really need more clocks you can use the sidebar gadgets, of which you could set a virtually unlimited number of clocks and have them available at the touch of a button on the sidebar, or even all over your desktop.

Windows Vista clock overload!

Clock overload.

HD DVD wins the quality wars

Now that we've got the same films on both HD DVD and Blu-ray its possible to do a direct comparison quality wise, and High-Def Digest have done just that.

"In our first head-to-head comparison, we found the HD DVD to be superior. The unfortunate cropping of the Blu-ray image, coupled with more noticeable compression artifacts and an overall darker cast, can't compete with the more consistently pleasing presentation of the HD DVD ... I must say, our first Blu-ray versus HD DVD comparisons continue to yield surprises. I wasn't expecting to see much difference in video quality between the two formats with 'Rumor Has It...', yet the two discs did bear noticeable differences, with the HD DVD boasting better detail and a more film-like look."

Do not allow Sony's crappy quality, more expensive and more retrictive format to take off, boycott Blu-ray, all support for HD DVD.

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