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Archive for July, 2005

Gates on the American IT Apathy

Bill Gates
Bill Gates arrested in his younger days (photo in public domain)

From a thought-provoking article in USA TODAY:

Speaking to hundreds of university professors, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates says he’s baffled more students don’t go into computer science.

Also see:

Spammer’s Death

Junk mail

This news item comes from MOSNEWS.COM:

Kushnir, 35, headed the English learning centers the Center for American English, the New York English Centre and the Centre for Spoken English, all known to have aggressive Internet advertising policies in which millions of e-mails were sent every day.

For harassment purposes, their telephone numbers were disclosed in Wikipedia.

Animation with the GIMP

Spinning logo

30 frames, 63 colours, 200 KB in total

The GIMP is an excellent Open Source program, which among its many functionalities, caters for composition of animations. To demonstrate this powerful feature in action, I generated a spinning globe of the site’s visual identity.

Generation of video sequence is not trivial in the GIMP, so below is a ‘recipe’ which corresponds to menu layouts in GIMP 1.2.3.

  • Open the image of choice
  • Hold down the right-hand mouse button (right-handed mouse) over the image to open the image menu
  • Follow through to Script-Fu » Animators » Spinning globe...
  • Select the number of frames to generate as well as the number of colours for an indexed palette if the default values do not suit you.
  • Once generated (a potentially time-consuming process), Save the image as GIF. Ensure you make it a video output (“Save as Animation“), which is not the default choice.

Manipulation and navigation between frames (actually image layers) is non-trivial in the version that I currently use (I use versions 2.x as well, though not sufficiently often to comment about it). Nonetheless, the outputs can be impressive. As another set of examples, my photo gets subjected to ripples, then waves.

KDE-Tiger Intersection

KDE shadow

KDE menus

The bits shown above come from an excellent Linux screenshots gallery which bound the following caption to the original image.

Gentoo GNU/Linux, KDE 3.3, xorg 6.8. Demonstrating the new shadow and translucently window features. Consider the new stuff a proof of concept, it’s far from usable, but it works.

Months ago I discovered several Mac OSX lookalikes in KDE-Look, for example White Acqua, which is a nice (yet fragile) window decoration.

Related pages: local gallery of KDE screenshots.

Kurzweil Predicts Immortality

CyborgRaymond Kurzweil, the man who made fascinating predictions such as the emergence of the Web and defeat to humans against the computer in chess, foresees artificial rejuvenation of cells by 2030. This essentially talks of inner-body maintenance, leading to longevity provided you can afford it. The article also states: “Given all of Kurzweil’s successes to date, it seems unwise to dismiss his forecasts for 2030 and beyond”.

Skeptics will point out that Kurzweil is reaching the age when his ideas should be taken with a grain of salt. It seems like wishful thinking which comes from a man who will be 82 in 2030. Nonetheless, the article makes an interesting read. The predictions, as the article phrases them:

By 2030, Kurzweil believes, biomedical technology will have advanced to the point where it will be possible to halt the body’s aging process.

Soon after that, around 2050, we should be able to reverse-engineer a human brain and upload it into a robot.

The Desktop Sphere

Demonstration below is no screenshot. It is a fake composition which I pulled together under the GIMP, yet where are the spherical desktops? Where has this initiative disappeared? Microsoft are finally incorporating some transparency in Windows Vista, but why concede an attractive spherical environment? Surely in pragmatic terms, the gain from this graphical developments is nill; it is probably a loss. The heavy computational load, however, can be handled using graphical acceleration hardware.

Spherical desktop

Wallpaper from Houghi (click image above to enlarge; non-lossy PNG version)

Google Slips?

Figures have recently come out, which break down search engine usage in the States. According to one report, Google has been losing some of its impact

Google’s market share of US searches for June 2005 was at 36.9% compared with 37.5% in May 2005.

Then again, according a different study which was cited on the very same site, Google’s usage has been rising lately.

Google’s share of U.S. searches hit 52% in June, up from 45% a year ago, according to Web analytics firm WebSideStory Inc.

A careful read would reveal the obvious. The total volume of queries declines throughout the summer and likewise Web traffic in general. Google is probably more prolific outside the United States and among IT-savvy users.

Search engines chart

June 2005 referrals to this domain

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Original styles created by Ian Main (all acknowledgements) • PHP scripts and styles later modified by Roy Schestowitz • Help yourself to a GPL'd copy
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