How to spot a daddy

It’s easy, if a guy smiles/makes cute gurgling noises at a baby, then either:

1. It’s his baby, i.e. he’s a daddy

2. It’s someone else’s baby, but other people’s babies are invisible to guys who aren’t daddies, so he must be a daddy

i.e.: he’s a daddy.

Q.E.D. 🙂

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Where do bad drivers come from?

In Cambridge (MA, not UK) where I’m currently staying, I meet great people every day – from cashiers at Trader Joe’s, to joggers, to friendly restaurant customers from neighbouring tables who come over to make cute noises at my baby boy, to my colleagues and friends at MIT, to the cheerful staff at local libraries, to.. etc. You get the general idea – I really like the people here!

So something that’s been kicking me is, why are drivers here so impatient and rude? On numerous occasions, I’ve been honked at while starting up at traffic lights (even though I’ve barely had enough time to disengage the parking brake), or if I slow down to look for landmarks or road signs, and on some occasions given really nasty looks if I unintentionally stray into the wrong lane. This has left me wondering.. if the people I meet everyday are so nice, where do all these bad drivers come from? Does getting behind the wheel bring out the worse in people? Or are there two distinct populations in Cambridge – drivers and non-drivers, and for some reason do my daily interactions bring me into contact with only the latter group?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m really not that bad a driver, honest!

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One Laptop per child?

I can’t quite believe what Bill Gates has said about the OLPC project (briefly, this is a research project founded by MIT faculty members which aims to develop the technology required to create laptops costing USD100 each for distribution to children in developing countries). More analysis can be read here but here are two juicy excerpts:

  • Hardware is a small part of the cost” – Sure, if you’re a rich American! Of course, when he speaks about software, Mr.Gates is probably referring to all the over-priced proprietary software sold by companis such as, oh, Microsoft springs to mind 🙂 A Linux distribution costs $0 and includes (apart from the OS) virtually all the application software that a typical computer user would ever need..
  • geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you’re not sitting there cranking the thing while you’re trying to type” – I’m sure the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation will be happy to donate the funds required to (1) Equip all the 100million+ laptops with batteries and power supplies (2) Upgrade and extend power supply to all those rural locations in Nigeria, amongst other target countries

Oh and, did I mention that Google is one of the supporters of the project? 🙂

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PyBlog

I have created a simple tool to simplify posting to blogs. You first need to save your login details (these are encrypted using AES), after which text files may be dragged onto the application to create instant blog postings (for example, this post was created using PyBlog) (yup, that’s the name of the application). I used Python, which provides a nifty little XMLRPC library, which makes interfacing with the Blogger API (supported by WordPress as well) a snap. The downside? I still need to log in later to update the title/tags. Will probably use support one of the most modern APIs at some later date but this works already. Give it a try 🙂

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The Read-Write Web

Originally published as a PDF file, Rod Boothby in this white paper discusses the new wave of web-centric interactive applications (a.k.a. the “read-write web”). Throughout the paper he frequently refers to the “MBA class of 2006” as a kind of shorthand for the new generation of super-web-literate tech workers who come fully conversant in the various web office technologies. Examples are shared calendars (i’d like to use this opportunity to shamelessly pitch for 30boxes 🙂 ), web e-mail, blogs and wikis. It is argued that web office applications have the potential to make corporate workers more productive, reduce costs and (more importantly) stave off obsolescence 😉

Well.. he also says a bunch of other stuff.. go read!

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Cute

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P.C. phone home

This looks like it will be SUPER fun to set up 😉
The idea: create a little script which will (figuratively) “phone home” when the computer is stolen. This can be installed into a hidden location on the notebook and instructed to run everytime the machine starts up (a (discreetly named) entry in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run or something should do the trick).

As for the script, there’s only about a million ways of writing it but here’s a “hello thief” sample in python:


import urllib,re,tkMessageBox
reg=re.compile("stolen_stolen")
fil=urllib.urlopen("http://www.yourweb.page/stolen")
if (reg.search(file.read()):
tkMessageBox.showwarning("This Machine has been stolen. Please alert the authorities");

Which basically checks for the file “http://www.yourweb.page/stolen” everytime the machine starts up. If present and containing the trigger phrase “stolen_stolen”, the script pops up a message warning the user (or delete key files, e-mail the IP to you, etc etc)

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