Monthly Archives: July 2006

WinRAR Free Sunday

The WinRAR people are so happy with winning the the Shareware Industry Awards Foundation annual Best Utility award, that they’re going to give WinRAR away for free between 0:00 and 24:00 CET on Sunday. That’s between 02:00 Sunday and 02:00 Monday BST if I got that right.

Open letter to the US

Dear United States of America,

How can ten percent of you think that the currenct conflict between Israel an Lebanon is fair and moral? I agree, that Lebenon started the conflict, they do still hold two soldiers prisioner and Israel have every right to defend itself against terrorist attacks, but this is just way way out of line.

I think it’s clear that it’s the Lebanese people who are paying the ultimate price, rather than Hezbollah. Hezbollah doesn’t control Lebanon, the Lebanese state isn’t at war against Israel, so why is the US letting Israel completely destroy Lebanon?

Furthermore, can’t you see that all this is going to do is strengthen many terrorist forces in Hezbollah controlled regions? Hezbollah are getting more popular by the day with other Arab states, such as Iraq and Iran. The best way to control Hezbollah is to gain the support of the current Lebanese governments and they can then use their influence on them.

This is gaining you no friends, and creating far more enemies, and not just in the Arab states. Your reputation in the World is already very tarnished, and this will not help that. Condoleeza Rice’s visit was a joke, a token gesture to try to appease world pressure on the US, and the offer of conditional ceasefire offer proposed by her is unworkable, and they know it.

What is needed now is an immediate ceasefire, and for dialog to start between Israel, Hezbollah and Lebanon. At least this way there will be less lives lost, and hopefully will be the start of a longer term peace. The way things are currently going, the situation is just going to get worse.

Regards,


Weiran Zhang.

Nikon D80 scoop

Looks like Ken has the latest scoop on the Nikon D70′s successor, the inspiringly named D80. It’s features include the D200‘s 10MP sensor, 4.5 FPS rate and using SD cards rather than Compact Flash.

The rumoured $899 asking price would put it around £500-600 in the UK. Budget D200 anyone?

Update: DPReview have gotten their hands on a D80 for a preview. It seems it will cost £699 body-only in the UK.

Landis gives positive drugs test

The Tour de France is starting to get rather silly now, with Landis testing positive for the male hormone testosterone. Either the riders need to stop cheating, or the Tour de France needs to get more accurate testing methods!

EURid suspends 74000 domains

It’s good to see the EU are doing something about the .EU domain fiasco a few months ago. Maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to get zhang.eu.

EURid [...] has suspended 74000 .eu domain names and has sued 400 registrars for breach of contract. This move was prompted by abusive behavior from a syndicate of registrars who have systematically acquired domain names with the obvious intent of selling them. #

Bluetooth Mighty Mouse

Just as I was going to buy a Mighty Mouse, I hear rumours that Apple are planning to release a new bluetooth Mighty Mouse with a laser based sensor, which is exactly what I want.

It’s about time too, seeing as it’s been almost a year since the USB Mighty Mouse’s release.

Update: It’s now official.

Gmail for your domain

Google have finally decided (almost a year after I sign up) to let me trial Gmail for your domains, even though I now have no interest in it now as I host my own email!

However, if you for some reason want a @weiran.co.uk email address, then you can have one for free. Nothing beats free eh?

The hybrid lie

I had planned an article detailing why hybrid cars, in the long-term, are pointless. However, OmniNerd have already done a good mathematical analysis on the economic viability of hybrids, and finds that unless you do many miles they’re not.

You might then argue that hybrid cars are better for the enviroment, and you’d be right. But there are many more effective ways of reducing your energy usage and being “greener”. However, that discussion is for another article!

MySpace Redux

I’ve always been a fan of independent redesigns of big sites, and Mark Otto’s MySpace Redux is just that.

If I do have one critique, its that I’m not a fan of the “mystery meat” navigation hes got going on at the top there. If you do find that you have too many menu options, maybe its time to rethink the structure and consolidate.

Music makes good developers

Dave Thomas gives an interesting answer to what he thinks makes a good programmer:

I have seen a strong correlation between people who have some music in their background and programming skills. I have no idea why, but I suspect that some of the areas of the brain that make someone musical also make them good at software development. #

Film4 on FreeView

Film4 is going to become the UK’s first free-to-air film channel tonight at 9PM, starting off with the excellent Lost In Translation, which was my movie of the year 2003.

If you have FreeView, I highly recommend it, the film and the channel.

Minted

Ejecutive is now Minted.

Hole keyboard

If you’ve ever spilt some coke or juice onto your keyboard and gotten a permanent from of sticky keys, then you’ll appreciate the hole keyboard.

Successful men always cheat

It seems that they just can’t help it.

It is not the mating act itself that is so important – that varies very little. It is the thrill of the chase and the excitement of a new conquest that drives them on. Once the conquest has been made, the novelty of the affair soon wears off and another chase is begun. #

QWERTY by design, quirky by nature

The QWERTY design was originally patented by Christopher Sholes in 1868, and until today remains the only keyboard layout design to have any kind of market penetration.

QWERTY’s was originally designed for typewriters. It seperated the most commonly found pairs of letters in an attempt to stop the typebars from becoming intertwined and stuck. Because of this layout, it means that the typists had to hunt around as much of the keyboard as possible to type most words in, which slowed them down and kept the machinery running.

That was the nineteenth century. Now, there is absolutely no reason to be using QWERTY as the design of keyboards in modern electronic keyboards, as they don’t get stuck (unless you spill something on them). The average typist on a QWERTY keyboard gets around 30 wpm, topping out at around 50 wpm for a good typist. If you’re exceptional, you can achieve upto 90 wpm bursts.

Now lets roll forward a few years to Dvorak’s Simplified Keyboard1 design, which was patented by Dr. August Dvorak in 1936. Dvorak’s layout was design to reduce the inefficiency and fatigue problems associated with QWERTY.

The speed and efficiency of this design is demostrated by Barbara Blackburn, who holds the world record as fastest typist. With a maintained 150 wpm over fifty minutes of typing, and over 200 wpm in bursts. All of this with a Dvorak layout, which would not have been possible with QWERTY.

So why are we still using QWERTY? Because of the amount of investment by companies and typists in the QWERTY layout, they are reluctant to change, so new typists and computers still use the QWERTY standard. Essentially, they’re locked into QWERTY.

Another reason, is that most typists don’t aspire to the level of speed that the Dvorak layout allows. They’re comfortable with their current speed. It’s ironic that the’re in an industry thats constantly changing, some things never change.

While I’d love to change to something more efficient than QWERTY, I’d probably be in the minority. The reduction in efficiency in the transition process would put off most, and if that doesn’t the yet unsolved compatability problems with keyboard shortcuts on computers probably would.


  1. Dvorak’s design is by no means the only competitor to QWERTY, but it is widely regarded as the best.

You can’t break me

Yesterday I dropped my phone when I went to pick it up, and I had that huge sinking feeling of “shit I broke my phone”. However, the Orange SVP M600 (A.K.A. i-Mate Jamin) survived without any marks, or the usual battery cover flying off trick. It was dropped onto hardwood flooring too.

I’m impressed.

Getting good answers

Mark Ash has some tips on how to get good answers to questions posted on forums and chat rooms.

Avast, me critics! Ye kill the fun

New York Times film critic A.O. Scott talks about if they’re becoming more out of touch with popular culture:

Are we out of touch with the audience? Why do we go sniffing after art where everyone else is looking for fun, and spoiling everybody’s fun when it doesn’t live up to our notion or art? What gives us the right to yell “bomb� outside a crowded theater? #

Mispronounced domain names

Companies that should’ve thought harder about their domain names.

Wired together

If you’ve never noticed, Wired News and Wired Magazine are owned by seperate companies. But now they’ve been reunited after seven years apart.

Does anyone still read Wired?