Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Data Blog: Joe On Data

I started a new blog: Joe On Data. In it I will be writing about data; how to manage it, how to store it, how to process it, and what you can do with it. I started it to try and keep a common theme going for people interested in the topic, and hopefully to help focus and motivate my writing. This blog,, will continue to serve as an outlet for other personal interests including Free Software, digital freedom, and technology in general. Since I already only post a few times a year here, this new blog shouldn’t take away from it.

Please check it out. There isn’t much there yet, but stay tuned! You can follow @joeondata on Twitter or subscribe to its RSS feed to stay up to date.


MAKE: Void Your Warranty T-Shirt

This is an awesome shirt with a great message:

You can check it out / buy it here.


A Rare Doctor’s Proof

I’ve been watching a lot of House and Mystery Diagnosis lately and came up with this (weak and not very scientific) proof about doctors.

  • Doctors are human
  • Doctors are bound by the capacity of humans
  • Humans have a limited capacity for memory
  • Doctors have a limited capacity for memory
  • Being able to make a diagnosis requires memory
  • Doctors have a limited capacity for diagnosis
  • Doctors can only diagnose what they know
  • Doctors are unlikely to make a diagnosis they have not yet encountered either in a textbook, paper, or clinically
  • Doctors are less likely to encounter rare problems
  • The rarer the problem, the rarer the doctor
  • The rarer the problem, the less likely a correct diagnosis

What does this mean? I guess most importantly, don’t get born with, or contract, a rare disease or illness. And if you do, you might have a tough time finding a doctor that won’t write you off and tell you there’s nothing wrong with you because they can’t figure it out.

p.s. I had stubbed this up and sat on it for almost a month, only now to finally polish it up a little (and I mean a little) and post it.


Patent reform coalition aims to abolish software patents

A coalition of patent reform advocacy groups has launched a new project that aims to challenge the legality of software patents.

read more | digg story


Why isn’t there an Intellectual Property Property Tax?

A great article discussing the social impact of intellectual property rights conflicting with social value.

read more | digg story



So, I came up with this idea, it’s called TeleJamming, which is when you play music with other people when you’re not physically with them, from possibly distant locations, using a computer and the internet. I’m not quite sure of the usability and quality we could achieve using today’s technology and average internet connection speed, but it could work, at least in theory.

Here I’ll outline the initial technology design for enabling TeleJamming. Everything is based in an application that must run on your computer, be connected to the internet, and be able to listen to your instrument. The interface will closely resemble a digital mixer. It will take audio input, both directly from your instrument input and from other players. It will allow you to adjust levels, record, and playback. And it will allow you to listen, in real time, to other players.

There will be one person playing the role of producer, and zero or more persons playing role of player. The producer has control over the mixer, including levels, recording, and playback. The role of producer may be passed to a player, but only one person at a time can be a producer. A player simply plays their instrument.

There will be 3 basic modes of operation; jam mode, record mode, and playback mode. In jam mode, all players will be able to hear each other. This is primarily to synchronize playing, and is not used for recording purposes because it is in a low quality audio format because of bandwidth limitations. In recording mode, each player’s computer will record their own audio stream in a high quality audio format and transfer it to the producer after recording is completed. Playback mode is similar to jam mode, but a recording is played back from the producer which is heard by the players.

In jam and playback mode, the SIP prodocol with a high quality audio codec will be used in a way similar to a teleconference bridge. Video could also be used over SIP, but might not be possible because of bandwidth limitations and the importance of the high quality and low latency requirements of the audio channel.

There are also features that could be added to allow multiple players on the same computer or to allow players to record their portion ahead of time and can be used by the producer during live recording.

One major barrier of entry could be that each player must be able to capture their instrument’s audio on their computer. This is not always an easy task and usually requires more equipment than people usually have, such as a microphone or a quality recording device.

This is not meant to replace studio recording. The primary use, as I see it, is in jam mode. What I think is great about it is it will let you connect up with old friends who moved away or allow you to collaborate with people you would never be able to play with in person. I think the technology is all there, the only real new part is the use of VoIP to interact in real time with other players.


PC gaming is dying

It’s an unfortunate fact, but PC gaming is dying. While unfortunate, it makes sense. 5 years ago, at least for me, PC gaming was where the serious gaming was at. There were lots of great games and the PC gaming rigs were fun to build and stay up to date on the latest and greatest. It was a great market for PC game makers, PC hardware makers, and most importantly, the gamers. Yeah, the consoles always had some great games, but it always seemed like PC gaming was king.

Two important things are happening: (1) Serious PC gamers are getting older, getting jobs and serious relationships and just don’t have the time to spend keeping up with PC gaming and (2) The younger folks, en masse, don’t have the dedication or need to keep up a formidable PC gaming rig.

Consoles are easy and cheap. Consoles are easy because they are pre-build, pre-packaged, and the games are not designed to exceed the capability of the system. They’re also cheap, for the same reasons why they are easy. And, from an operations standpoint, they’re plug-and-play, you open the box, plug it in, and you’re gaming. The level of entry is very low.

PC gaming is not so easy and not so cheap. Hardware just keeps getting faster and more expensive and game manufacturers are constantly pushing the envelope and forcing you to upgrade every 6 months if you want to keep up. Using a pre-build system for PC gaming is a joke, so you need the skills and motivation to build and maintain your own system. This makes it really easy to fall behind the trends and not be able to play the latest and greatest games. With PC gaming, the level of entry is pretty high, in both price and needed technical skill.

Even though you still have PC gamers shelling out the cash and time to keep up with the latest PC gaming trends, gaming in general is reaching a wider, less tech-savvy and less hardcore gamer, audience and the consoles are winning out. Now that the console numbers are increasing, the PC game makers are following them and spending their time, effort, and money where the money is, and that’s with the consoles. This means fewer games are coming out for the PC, and nearly all the good games are coming out for consoles only.

This isn’t so bad. It just means we, as gamers, need to follow the games, and they’re heading for the consoles.


Mozilla launches Prism

Today Mozilla Labs is announcing a new experiment called Prism, a competitor to Adobe AIR and Microsoft Silverlight.This is where the web is going.

read more | digg story


Bluetooth Dialup over Treo 700p on Verizon

After a few days of tinkering I finally got bluetooth dialup over my Treo 700p on Verizon setup. What this means is I can use my phone to connect my laptop to the internet, which is actually how I am making this post. This was the one thing I knew wasn’t going to be easy or even possible, but really wanted, and now it works. YES!

I was able to set this up with the Ubuntu BluetoothDialup documentation and USBModem software on the Treo. I’m pretty sure everything I did was from those docus. If you are trying to do this and have any questions that aren’t described on those docs, post a comment.

Here are a few tips:

  • Install bluez-gnome and run System -> Preferences -> Bluetooth Preferences to get a fancy Bluetooth symbol in your notification area
  • You do need the USBModem software, which costs $24.95, because the built-in dial-up-networking (DUN) does not work. I tried it without it, but it wouldn’t connect. Once I installed it, it worked.
  • I did disable the built-in DUN when USBModem asked me to (required soft restart)

New Lenovo Thinkpad T61

My Lenovo Thinkpad T61 arrived this week after more than a 5 week wait. I ordered it from the Lenovo website on July 19th. I arrived at my door on Aug 28th. The wait sucked, but so far I love the laptop. Here are the specs:

  • Thinkpad T61
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0 GHz
  • 2GB RAM
  • 100GB 7200rpm hard drive
  • 15.4″ WSXGA+ display (1680×1050)
  • NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M (128MB)
  • Integrated Bluetooth

I of course installed Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Faun). There were only a few hickups in the install and setup. First, feisty doesn’t have a compatible nvidia driver, which caused the standard live CD to not boot, so I had to use the alternate install CD and install from text mode. Second, I screwed up the partitioning, thinking I was allocating the Ubuntu partition when I was allocating the Vista partition, and it took me a while to realize this so I had to go back with a gparted live cd and re-partition again. Third, and last problem was I had to restore Vista to factory defaults from ThinkVantage because apparently the partitioning screwed it up. I’ve now got Ubuntu and Vista dual booting perfectly. There were no other issue with drivers or anything. Everything on the laptop is working perfectly. I just have to watch out when I upgrade the kernel and rebuild the nvidia drivers.

What I like most about the laptop is the screen size and resolution. The display is crisp and there is enough room to be productive. And of course, its very fast.