28 January 2005

Scientific American reviews the latest developments in quantum cryptography.

Posted 02:45 PM

Self-employed people are always looking to cut costs. It's a necessity, especially when you're just starting out and every dollar brings you closer to having to give up and get a "real" job. It's hard to remember that your own time is valuable, too, and that sometimes it makes sense to pay people to do stuff for you.

Case in point. This morning I was looking at an interesting little application called Sciral Consistency. It's a reminder for recurring tasks: the things like "back up computer" or "replace toothbrush" that have to be done every so often, but not really on a specific date.

It's a useful gadget, but it costs $25 to register. I could probably throw together a spreadsheet that does the same thing in an hour or so. Even if my spreadsheet skills are even more pitiful than I think they are, this is no more than an afternoon's work. And I could sync a spreadsheet with my Palm, too.

Then the light bulb goes on. I bill my time at significantly more than $25 per hour. Spend the afternoon working on one of my own projects instead, and I'll earn enough to register this thing several times over.

I haven't decided whether to buy Sciral Consistency or not. $25 is still a lot of money for very limited functionality. But trying to duplicate it just doesn't make sense.

Posted 01:04 PM

Interesting. New research finds that fit people tend to be more restless and fidgety than obese people. Even in an office setting, fit people will get up and pace around. The extra exercise burns about 350 calories a day, or 30 to 40 pounds a year.

In an environment where food is scarce and "work" means personally killing or gathering what food there is, conserving energy makes evolutionary sense. The problem arises when food is as close as the soda machine and "work" involves staring at a computer screen for hours at a time.

Posted 10:40 AM

Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. World leaders gathered to commemorate the event and to talk about how the world must never forget, must never again allow such a horror.

These are the same world leaders, mind you, who allowed the horrors of the Sudan, of Rwanda, of Bosnia, of Cambodia. Who allowed the long, appalling list of genocides since 1945.

Talk is cheap.

Posted 10:23 AM

27 January 2005

Many of the components of consumer electronics, from signal processors to displays, are becoming commodified. The Wall Street Journal reports that low cost competition is squeezing profits at some industry giants. (Paid subscriber link.)

Posted 11:36 AM

This week, we're seeing a test of the stupid CEO defense, with former Worldcom CEO Bernard Ebbers claiming he didn't know what was going on while the company reported $11 billion in fraudulent earnings. (Wall Street Journal link, paid subscribers only.)

Somehow I don't think the IRS would let me duck responsibility if my accountant fraudulently reduced my tax bill after I complained about it. If Ebbers wasn't getting paid to take responsibility for the company's behavior, what was he getting paid for?

Posted 11:26 AM

26 January 2005

Digital photography (and mismanagement) killed Polaroid. For a few years it looked like Kodak was going to be a casualty as well. But now the yellow box is back as one of the leading providers of digital cameras, photo printers, and printing supplies.

Posted 11:21 AM

24 January 2005

Liberals caricature conservatives as intolerant theocrats. Conservatives caricature liberals as hedonists with no moral center. Both views are wrong.

Posted 11:13 AM

23 January 2005

The Washington Post has an excellent article on PublishAmerica, discussing how its practices differ from the industry standard. Should be required reading for all aspiring authors.

(Thanks to Sheila for the link.)

Posted 10:30 AM


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