April 02, 2006

NXT On Sale

From the Lego Education Blog: you can preorder the Lego NXT education edition from the Lego Education Store (here) now.

You'll need to buy the software separately in this edition. But, nicely, it comes with some extras like a rechargable lithium battery.

Even though you can place the order now, it doesn't ship until August.

Posted by David at 08:42 AM | Comments (1)

April 04, 2006

Free MVS, Xen, and Intel

Today's interesting tech news is that Microsoft is giving away - free as in beer - the Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 product. The reason this giveaway is grabbing headlines is that MVS 2005 can host Linux - free as in speech - on top of Windows. This will make it easier for Windows shops to try their hand at hosting tons of Linux servers (although without abandoning Windows). Welcoming the neighbors in (for free) is an unexpected move by Microsoft!

So the news lead me to read some more about recent goings-on in the world of virtualization. What I found was interesting...

Continue reading "Free MVS, Xen, and Intel"
Posted by David at 11:17 PM | Comments (1)

April 05, 2006

Dual Boot Mac Made Easy

I was thinking of wasting a few hours this weekend to go through the hackery necessary to dual-boot OS X and Windows XP on my new Mini. But today, Apple releases Boot Camp, a free tool to make it easy.

Boot Camp comes with a disk full of Windows drivers for the Mac graphics, networking, audio, 802.11, and Bluetooth chipsets, plus support for Apple keyboards and the iMac brightness control. And a Startup control panel for Windows. This is not a hacked-together offering.

Dual booting is not as good as virtualization. Though the rapid release of Boot Camp suggests that once free virtualization is possible, Apple will support it too. (Red Box anyone?)

But dual-boot is good enough to play the ocassional game on XP. Yay! (Still, if you know Chris Sawyer, please tell him that we'd be happy to buy a copy of the old RCT2 if he ever decides to port it to OS X, now that it's on Intel.)

I wonder when (or if) Apple resellers will start selling Macs preconfigured dual-boot. That will be the right Christmas present for my mom and dad.

Update: The instructions say "You must use a single-disc, full-install Windows XP CD that includes Service Pack 2. You cannot use an upgrade version of Windows XP, or install an earlier version of Windows XP and update it later to SP2."

Naturally, I didn't believe it and tried my XP 1.0 install disk. And naturally, it didn't work. XP installed, but it did not know how to reboot cleanly (power switch worked!), and it did not have access to any networking devices, thus the impossibility of upgrading to SP2. The Apple drivers for ethernet and 802.11 weren't able to install on pre-SP2 XP because some needed files were missing.

Oy, as entertaining as it was to see XP on my Mac, Windows is very unpleasant when it is missing drivers. And Windows Setup is slow. After spending about an hour to run through XP setup and failing, I held down the "option" key on reboot to go back to OS X (thankfully unharmed). Boot Camp erased the XP partition in about 2 seconds. Back to normal.

Maybe I'll pick up a copy of SP2 to try it. Maybe.

Hm.... Intel Macs arrive early; then Vista is delayed to 2007; Boot Camp goes beta; Intel's upcoming VT will enable virtualization of Windows; and Xen 3.0 is ready to roll with it. Will all the pieces come together in OS X Leopard before Christmas 2006? Watching the latest attack on Windows share is like watching a crash in slow motion. Drama!

Posted by David at 10:28 AM | Comments (1)

April 06, 2006

Is Microsoft Like GE?

On Craig Newmark's blog (that is, the North Carolina Craig Newmark, not the San Francisco one), David Foster comments on my discussion of Microsoft.

He writes:

"A computer in every home...Personal computers everywhere"...I don't think it's correct that a successful company must have only one mission, where "mission" is viewed at this level of specificity. The analgous mission statement for the original General Electric would have been "electricity in every home...electricity everywhere." This certainly would not have encompassed the jet engine business, or the healthcare business, not to mention the finance business.
In a decentralized company, divisions can have their own individual missions. With organic growth, these business divisions can emerge from an original core competency...as GE's jet engine business drew on the skills developed in making power generation turbines..but develop very different markets and missions.

My Comments

There was a point at which Microsoft envisioned itself as the next GE-style diversified conglomerate: In the mid-90's Microsoft went on an investment spree, building a TV company (along with GE!) and a content business, investing in cable and telecommunications, and so on.

But a decade later, things are unchanged. Microsoft is still the "Windows and Office" company (and Xbox too). What happened? My thoughts below...

Continue reading "Is Microsoft Like GE?"
Posted by David at 06:44 AM | Comments (2)

April 07, 2006

What is Innovation?

Next time you are accused of reinventing the wheel or rediscovering fire, remember:

Innovation is not having a new idea.

It is being bold enough to try again.

Links via Glenn and David.

Posted by David at 10:10 AM | Comments (2)

April 19, 2006

Logistic Growth without Calculus

A blog entry about math. My brother Kevin visited us last weekend; he was in town to interview for a high school teaching job in Philadelphia, and they asked him to teach a sample math class about logistic growth. You see logistic growth everywhere, but you usually don't call it "logistic growth".

Kevin has given me an appreciation for what teachers really do. Over Easter weekend I watched him assemble a complete lesson plan with a presentation, examples, activities, handouts, and homework. Much of the work of a teacher is outside the classroom. It is not easy to teach well.

When he shared his handouts with me, I realized that teaching logistic growth to tenth graders was an awkward assignment. His math students were pre-calculus, yet the whole idea of sigmoid functions and logistic growth historically came from an analysis of the calculus. Logistic growth is not really a pre-calculus concept. Is it?

Continue reading "Logistic Growth without Calculus"
Posted by David at 11:05 AM | Comments (5)

April 27, 2006

Non Neutral Net Nip

Yesterday by allowing telecoms to tier content, Congress voted to turn the clock back to 1993 when News Corp, Time Warner, John Malone, and Al Gore believed that all the worlds information should flow through closed-platform set-top boxes, 500 channels of bandwidth carefully metered out to elite media tycoons according to the size of their yachts. (Here, as always, I am speaking for myself, not my employer.)

Apparently some people have been holding on for a decade for a chance to pave over the Internet with an Information Superhighway. How would it be different?

Continue reading "Non Neutral Net Nip"
Posted by David at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2006

Augmented Nintendo

A video. A rumor is circulating (here, via digg) that the upcoming Nintendo Revolution - that is, the upcomding Nintendo Wii - will implement an Augmented Reality UI, which would be extremely cool. Whether the rumor is true or not, it gives us an idea for what they are driving at with the new controller. And it reminds us again, Nintendo is not to be underestimated.

What the heck is augmented reality? Video below.

Before you say "impossible!" remember that you can already get consumer augmented reality software today with webcams. (Remember the popular YouTube Breakup video that circulated last month, which used Logitec's augmented reality software. Here is a demo from Neven Vision.)

Update: more thoughts on Friday

Posted by David at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)