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David Kramer’s high-entropy blog

Dwarf Tossing Is Out. Now There’s Robot Tossing.

No, alcohol isn’t involved this time.  These are military robots.  Lots of ’em.  All different kinds.  According to this article on Network World, the Marines are looking for, among other things, robots that weigh 10 pounds or less and can be litterally tossed into battle for reconnaissance or other support operations.  They’re looking to other types of robots (some of which already exist as prototypes) to carry gear, assist with communications, and actually fight.

Read on…

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How I Will Make My Next Million Dollars

Why is it that answering machines, no matter how fancy, don’t have a feature to mark a message as unread?  I mean, most households have more than one person in them, and the odds are good if a message is for one person, another person in the house might play the message.  Being human, odds are good they will forget to tell the intended recipient there is a message for them.  And if one of the cats answers the phone, well they don’t care about anyone but themselves anyway (except at mealtime).

Almost all answering machines are digital these days, so there’s no technological reason.  There isn’t even extra information to store.  All it has to do is not clear the NewMessage bit if the listener presses that button.  What do you think?  Will you invest in my company?  Or should I just sell the idea to VTech or Panasonic then move to Bermuda with the million dollars?

P.S. Just to make it clear to those who will read this and be tempted to rob my house, my next million dollars will be my first million dollars.

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Timeline: 40 years of Unix

This is the 40th anniversary of UNIX.  ComputerWorld did a nice timeline of the history of UNIX.  As with anything (or anyone) with a 40-year history, there are going to be fuzzy spots and disagreements about what actually happened, but this accounting looks mostly sound to my eyes.  And I have been using UNIX/Linux for about 20 years.

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A Compendium Of Linux Documentation

The other day I posted about the reference material available on DZone.  Today I found this post on LinkedIn’s Linux Expert group from someone who has combined the input from the Linux Documentation Project and other sources into one indexed.  I poked around it and really like the way he’s organized it.  Check it out here.

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Free Software Developer Reference PDF Cards: DZone Tech Library

DZone is a community-driven website where software developers can post links to articles and reviews. There’s other great content there, but I want to focus on the huge collection of free reference cards they offer in PDF format.  Some of their recent titles are:

  • Agile Adoption: Reducing Cost
  • Effective Process Modeling with BPM & BPMN
  • Flex & Spring Integration
  • Apache Maven 2
  • Getting Started with Equinox and OSGi

The reason I like this concept so much because my specialty is having no specialty.  I have a very diverse set of skills.  But when you know so many languages and technologies that have a lot of common (Meet the new language, same as the old language), it’s great to have quick reference materials to refresh myself on the ins and outs of the hat I need to wear that day, or to an interview the next day.  The quality of the material is high, too.

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Google’s Next Semantic Web Move

We all love Google.  And I’m not just saying that because I would love to work there.  Sure, there are other search websites, but for general use, Google works best for me.  And I’m not saying that because it usually brings me to the right Wikipedia page as the first result, or the cool logos.  They get the whole metadata thing.  They get the whole “The Web As A Database” thing, as does Yahoo.

Just the other day, Google announced on their Webmaster Central blog a new technology that will allow web devleopers to specify content for their website’s Rich Snippets (I found this on Dries Buytaert’s blog post, posted on a LinkedIn group).  Rich Snippets are tiny sections of a website that appear next to the link on Google’s search results page.  Depending on the kind of website, it might show reviews of the company/product, contact information for that person, etc.  That information is automagically derived from that page and related pages. Read on…

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