Wednesday, March 28, 2007


When I switched from the old Blogger to the New Blogger beta, I posted about some of the changes that they had made, and also touched on some of the things I liked and didn't like about the changes. Since then, I've had some time to work with the new Blogger, and I've noticed some annoyances. Recently, I was (slightly) involved in beck switching her blog from Typepad to Wordpress. In researching Wordpress' features, I noticed a few things that I liked, and I also recently noticed that it is possible to move an entire blog, comments and all, from Blogger to Wordpress without much trouble. So the question arises, should I switch to Wordpress? Here are some things that I like about blogging with Wordpress over Blogger:
  • Big Brother: Google gets to corrolate my blog with my search history, e-mail, my Google Checkout purchase history, etc. There are some parts of "the world's information" that I would like to keep unorganized and inaccessible, thank-you-very-much.
  • Login issues: whenever I log in to my e-mail account and the session expires, I get logged out of my blog. This is annoying, and it didn't happen before my Blogger account was absorbed into my Google account.
  • Web Statistics: Wordpress gives you excellent statistics, not only on traffic to your blog, but also on how many people are subscribed to your feeds. I use Webalizer and ClustrMaps to get something similar in nature, but I have no idea how many people are subscribed to my feeds or where else they come from.
At the same time, there are things that I still like about Blogger over Wordpress:
  • It requires no change: I'm already doing it.
  • Uploading pictures to Blogger posts with Picasa: it's easy, and the hosting is free (to a point).
  • Wordpress makes labels (tags/categories) as I use them less convenient, or at least so I hear. This is one feature that Blogger does quite well.
So far, I'm not annoyed enough to switch. If Google fixed the login/logout issues, I would be a lot less annoyed. If Wordpress were to start supporting the OpenID specification, it would be even more appealing, especially if Google didn't.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ansible

I hate sensationalist newspeddling, especially when it's scientific news. Reporters say the silliest things. No, Doc won't be able to get that flux capacitor working in his De Lorain, but that doesn't mean that the experiment described in this article is any less cool.

It all has to do with the speed of light. Nothing, incuding information, can travel faster than the speed of light, but apparently, some scientists are going to try to get information to travel backwards in time along a beam of light.

The reason this might work is that according to Einstein's Relativity, from the perspective of a photon, no time ever passes. Photons don't experience time, because they are travelling at the absolute speed limit of the universe. Absolute speed means infinite time dilation. From the perspective of a photon, zero time passes between the time it is emitted and absorbed. In fact, from the perspective of a photon, the photon doesn't travel any distance either: it's just a bit of energy that doesn't happen to be matter. It hops from its emitter to its final destination in a single moment. If its destination forces its spin to be a certain direction in order to be absorbed, then that's what the spin will be throughout its entire existence: no matter how far or long from our inertial reference frame we think that photon travels.

So, if we can affect the properties of the entire existence of the photon at the absorption point, and if we can entangle a pair of photons so that they share properties, then it is possible to construct an experiment where we cause entangled photons to follow different paths. If the path from which we cause the property to be fixed is longer than the path from which we observe the effects of the property, then it is possible for an event to be caused by an event in its objective future, at least, from our reference frame. (From the reference frame of the pair of photons, everything will be happening simultaniously.)

So, what's it good for?

One thing it's not good for is changing events in the past. At best, what you would get is a way for information to be passed instantaniously over great distances, or to place-times in the past that couldn't have affected you with the information yet. It takes several seconds for light to travel the distance between Earth and Mars. Imagine being able to control and monitor a Mars Rover in real time from Earth. Imagine being able to teleconference with your friend on a planet orbiting a star dozens of light-years away. What you'll be doing is monitoring the state of photons that were emitted decades ago by a waystation roughly half way between the two of you, but the state of which was fixed moments ago on the other end. The beam would have had to have started transmitting decades before it reached you, but you would be able to effect the states of the photons received on the other end in the present.

Imagine getting WoW ping times in the 100 millisecond range on an overseas server. Oh, so now I have your attention!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Vista Ultimate

Yes, it's finally here: the pinnacle of Microsoft's manifold glory. It's mostly the same as the pre-release versions that I've been running since last August, so there's not much new to report.

It still runs my favorite free and open source programs just fine.

I had become quite adept at transferring the necessary settings and files from one install to another through the process of repeatedly installing beta versions, so I had no trouble doing that, with the help of my external drive to hold the files, and Athena, my trusty Linux server, still had all of my install files. I upgraded where there was a new version of a program that I use.

Vista's fancy-shmancy window-switching: if you have a graphics card that can handle it, you can use it with Win+Tab (in stead of Alt+Tab).

For all the hum-drum of the final release, I don't want to give anyone the impression that Vista is not pretty. Vista is very pretty, and I think they've done a fine job. The User Account Control feature isn't annoying anymore.

They seemed to have made some minor UI tweaks. I noticed some of the sounds had changed. Also, the file folders used to be open just a crack, so that you could hardly see what was inside them, and they've opened them up a bit.

Vista still doesn't behave quite right with the taskbar on the top of the screen (which is not standard). I still get windows opening underneath it, and two of my icons at the bottom of the screen (Firefox and Opera) keep migrating up one notch.

I haven't yet explored the differences between Home Premium, which is what I had for the beta test, and Ultimate.

I've Moved from Israel to Poland!

Well, technically speaking, my server, athena has moved its DNS listing from (Israel) to (Poland). This occured because apparently the "Israili society for Free Open Source Software," which had registered, originally as a site to host a discussion board and support for users of the Gentoo Linux distribution, had apparently not gotten off the ground, and had donated their DNS listing to the FreeDNS pool at, but that domain was now expiring or changing hands, so it was leaving the pool I've had to move before. Over the past year-and-a-half, I've been at: As you can see, my method of chosing names has typically been to search for something with "gentoo" in it, and then add the hostname "athena" to the beginning of it. Changing domains for me involves the following:
  • Setting up a new DNS entry with the domain server
  • Changing the update URL in the cron script that updates the listing whenever my IP address changes
  • Updating the PuTTY saved sessions on Windows boxes that I use to access Athena via SSH from outside the home network.
  • Updating the links in my blog templates that point to Athena
  • Updating all the links in all of my blog posts that point to content hosted on Athana (mostly pictures)--this one is time-consuming, and has the unfortunate side-effect of re-shuffling my blogs' RSS and Atom feeds.
It's those last two that are the problem. So, why do I put myself through this? It's getting to be pretty inconvenient to have to change all of this every few months in order to keep my links to hosted pictures unbroken. I know one thing I could do would be to pick a more stable domain to subdomain off of. Free DNS entries with "gentoo" in them tend to be unreliable for piggy-backing off of because they tend to belong to failed websites that are simply waiting for their registrations to expire. If I were to choose something more stable, it would last longer, and I wouldn't have to change all of the time. But I like having "gentoo" prominently in the name. It's part of Athena's identity: Gentoo is what makes her tick. I could register my own domain name, of course. It's something I've considered, and something I will probably end up doing eventually. Part of my reluctance is the fact that hacked-up, free DNS is very much in the spirit of Linux, especially Gentoo, which is geared toward customization and tweaking. Yep, I'm just another one of those free software hippies.