Bookmarks for May 5th through May 6th

These are my links for May 5th through May 6th:

Bookmarks for April 12th through April 13th

These are my links for April 12th through April 13th:

Bookmarks for April 12th from 17:02 to 19:13

These are my links for April 12th from 17:02 to 19:13:

Bookmarks for April 11th through April 12th

These are my links for April 11th through April 12th:

  • Wordle – Beautiful Word Clouds – Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.
  • The dark side of Dubai – Johann Hari, Commentators – The Independent – "Dubai was meant to be a Middle-Eastern Shangri-La, a glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism. But as hard times arrive in the city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging."
  • Topless Robot – Hot Girls Have Lightsaber Strip-Fight for Your Viewing Pleasure – Star Wars CGI meets fake body spray ad
  • Poll Result: Best VPN to leap China’s Great Firewall? – Thomas Crampton – - Witopia – Undisputed winner. Quality of service, speed of surfing, though it is said to be relatively expensive at US$50 to US$60 per year. Hotspot Shield – Bandwidth limits can be painful. Force you to wait until the next month if you use it too much. – Ultrasurf – StrongVPN
  • InfoQ: Facebook: Science and the Social Graph – In this presentation filmed during QCon SF 2008 (November 2008), Aditya Agarwal discusses Facebook’s architecture, more exactly the software stack used, presenting the advantages and disadvantages of its major components: LAMP (PHP, MySQL), Memcache, Thrift, Scribe.
  • The Running Man, Revisited § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM – a handful of scientists think that these ultra-marathoners are using their bodies just as our hominid forbears once did, a theory known as the endurance running hypothesis (ER). ER proponents believe that being able to run for extended lengths of time is an adapted trait, most likely for obtaining food, and was the catalyst that forced Homo erectus to evolve from its apelike ancestors.

Looking for something to eat in Waikiki? Try Choi’s Kitchen at the International Marketplace

Choi's Kitchen - 2 Choi's Kitchen - 3

Every time we stay in Waikiki, I look forward to picking up Korean food to go from Choi’s Kitchen, one of the many interesting options at the food court hidden at the back of the International Marketplace. The first couple of years on vacation in Waikiki we mostly ended up either eating at a restaurant or at the snack bar. This can be both expensive and not so good for maintaining a healthy diet. For around the price of eating at McDonalds or Burger King, you can have a combination of teriyaki chicken, Korean BBQ beef, and a selection of Korean banchan (side dishes) including kimchee, sukju namul, seaweed salad, and many other choices, plus a generous serving of steamed rice. We usually get a couple of the chicken + beef, with 4 side dishes, and carry it back across the street to eat on the beach. There is also seating area at the International Marketplace, if you don’t want to go with take out. Many locals come through for lunch, while there are more tourists in the evening, some of whom come to see the live entertainment in the courtyard. Personally, I think the food is great, and the entertainment not so much. I’d rather be on the beach.

Choi's Kitchen - 1 Waikiki International Marketplace

The whole International Marketplace complex is planned to be demolished and renovated at some point, but those plans are on hold for now. If you’re in Honolulu, maybe stranded by Aloha and ATA Airlines going out of business, or just in Waikiki looking for something to eat, give Choi’s Kitchen a try.

 Choi’s Kitchen, 2330 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu HI 96815, 808-923-5614 

Aloha, Aloha

Evening at the Moana Surfrider Lingering after the sunset

Returned to Palo Alto last night, which was the original plan, but also a little surprising. When we left home, I had been thinking we might end up stranded on vacation for an extra day or two. We booked our travel plans late, and weren’t able to get seats on a return flight from Hawaii to the Bay Area on Saturday, Sunday, or even Monday by the time we left. I’ve discovered that the flight booking sites don’t update availability regularly. So even though there were fares listed on various sites (United, American, Expedia, Orbitz), if you tried to book them, various warnings and errors appeared, encouraging you to call an agent, who told you there weren’t really any seats. I decided we’d just head out on vacation and sort it out after we got there.

Airline news while we were on vacation wasn’t encouraging; American Airlines cancelled a few hundred flights due to equipment problems, then Hawaii’s Aloha Airlines went bankrupt again last week, and has shut down all flight operations effective today. I had looked at flights on Aloha, but they fly to Oakland which is less convenient from here, and there weren’t any seats available anyway. It would have been a good story to be stuck in Hawaii for a while, but we ended up finding a few open seats on a non-stop flight to SFO. Oh well.

Update 04-03-2008: ATA Airlines also declared bankruptcy today and has shut down flight operations. I had also been looking at some ATA flights connecting through Las Vegas as a fall back route to get home, but they were sold out over last weekend also. Looks like it could be harder to find a cheap flight to Hawaii for a while.

Daily Rainbow

A rainbow a day…
Daily Rainbow

On vacation

On vacation Afternoon light at Black Rock

Back in Maui for spring break. Everything looks the same as last year, which is just the way we like it…

Land of the Morning Calm

Land of the Morning Calm 

Namdaemun fire

This is sad news – over the weekend, the Namdaemun gate at the center of Seoul was destroyed by fire. The Namdaemun gate is over 600 years old and is designated as the top item on the list of Korean National Treasures. For some perspective for non-Koreans, it’s kind of like hearing that the Statue of Liberty, London Bridge, or the Eiffel Tower burned down over the weekend.

Pictures from the BBC 

Camping out at Singapore Airport – revisited



Singapore’s Changi Airport is one of my favorites for long haul travel, as they have everything you need within the security perimeter, including the equivalent of a shopping mall, two gyms, two hotels, assorted restaurants, and excellent, inexpensive internet and telephone service. I wrote about it a while back in Camping out at Singapore Airport, and it looks like there are a couple who have more or less taken up residence there, according to AsiaOne Travel.

SINGAPORE may have its own version of Tom Hanks in the 2004 Steven Spielberg-directed comedydrama, The Terminal. This time though, it’s an Asian-looking pair apparently living and camping out at Changi Airport Terminal 2.

Assorted comments in the AsiaOne forum.

All good things come to an end

Surfing at Waikiki Sunset at Waikiki

End of another perfect day

End of another perfect day

On Vacation

On Vacation

Thinkpad battery fire at LAX

The recent problems with spontaneously combusting lithium-ion batteries in Dell and Apple computers appears to have turned up in IBM Thinkpads now.

Engadget reports

the ThinkPad (which was quoted to be an IBM, not a Lenovo) apparently had a number of death throes as the fire went through various phases, until eventually a United employee busted out the fire extinguisher and laid the laptop to rest. Apparently the machine’s owner already checked its battery against the recalls and it was not listed — and why would it be? IBM and Lenovo aren’t flagged for bad batteries — yet.

I cleaned up the photo a bit to get a better look. Based on the battery placement and connectors it looks quite a lot like my T42P. It will be interesting to see whether that battery was an original IBM-supplied battery or from a 3rd party. My notebook has a Sanyo battery. The recent battery fires have all been in Sony-manufactured units. There are also a lot of low quality generic batteries available in Asia, but the Thinkpad is mostly purchased by corporate and consulting users, who are likely to stick with original equipment.

It would be really miserable if we end up with a ban on notebook computers in airplane cabins. I’ve been on at least one international flight in which everyone on the upper deck (business class) of a 747 appeared to be equipped with Thinkpads.

There’s a short discussion at the Thinkpad forums, and the original post at Something Awful.

See also: Dell recalls notebook batteries – who’s next?

Update Monday 09-18-2006 16:43PDT – The owner of the notebook posted in the comments over at Engadget. It was a T43, and it was turned off and in its case when it caught on fire…

Awesom-o: It’s legit. How do I know? Because it’s mine (I was wondering how long it would take before someone posted this on engadget). The thing went up like a firecracker when the fire hit each of the cells. It was pretty crazy.

And yes, it’s a ThinkPad T43. I don’t know if it was a Sony battery – I can’t tell now that it’s a charred mess, but my guess is that it was if they made them for IBM. I was using it 30 minutes before and it had no problems. It was even turned off and in my bag when it caught fire. So even if the computer is off, there’s still a risk of a fire – now that’s scary.

It’s going to be an interesting Monday morning when I take the thing into the office for a replacement. One thing for sure, I’m always going to disconnect the battery from the computer whenever I fly. At least I have a good excuse for not working when I’m flying :-)

Everyone please check your computer battery, and just because it isn’t on the list doesn’t mean that it’s not at risk. If anything, just disconnect the thing when you fly.

Update Wednesday 09-20-2006 16:25PDT – Lenovo confirms that it was a T43, although doesn’t say if it had Sony batteries. (CNET)

Update Friday 09-29-2006 11:09PDT – Lenovo issues a recall for 500K Thinkpad batteries, including recent T43 and T60s.

Dell recalls notebook batteries – who’s next?

Dell is recalling several models of notebook batteries, due to several incidents of spontaneous combustion. The batteries in question were manufactured by Sony, which also supplies batteries to other notebook vendors. Lithium-ion batteries are widely used today, so I’m expecting to see additional recalls from other notebook vendors, or at least a raft of press releases verifying that they do not have a problem. Dell has already set up their own web site for battery recall information.

I haven’t heard of any episodes other than various spontaneously combusting Dell notebooks and exploding Powerbooks in recent weeks, but I’m keeping an eye out for news about my Thinkpad’s battery.

The battery issue is compounded by the recent changes to airline security screening. It would be unfortunate if this got all lithium-ion batteries banned from the cabin. On the other hand I don’t see any way to create a completely accident-/terrorist-proof high density energy storage device, which is going to make some people unhappy now that they’ve noticed the issue.

Consequences of new air travel restrictions – removable drives, portable user profiles?

I’m quite pleased that the British authorities managed to foil the attempt to blow up multiple airliners last week. On the other hand, I’m probably not alone in wondering how long-haul business air travel is going to work out.

If a ban on all liquids, gels, and personal electronics stands, a lot of air carriers will need to start competing on in-flight service again. In recent years, I normally bring my own water, food, work, entertainment, and a change of clothes for air travel to China and India. On a trip to India, it’s about 30 hours in transit, which is a lot of time to watch the 6 movies that United usually rotates each month, along with putting in a full day or so of work. I usually fly United since their Asian routes are all based here, but I wouldn’t want to rely on them for food, water, and entertainment. Might be time to book on Singapore Airlines, which flies with a huge video- and audio-on-demand library and Nintendo video games, never seems to run out of food or water, and consistently provides attentive cabin service.

Given the growing number of data theft cases, I’m also hesitant to put my Thinkpad in a checked bag which I’m not allowed to lock (per TSA). Some people are suggesting that airlines rent computers onboard, but this isn’t going to help much until either

  • You can remove your data and applications and carry it with you
  • You can connect to your data and applications online from the cabin

Putting the risk of using someone else’s hardware aside for a moment (sort of like an internet cafe in the sky), you might need a convenient, security-screenable media to carry the bulk of your personal data with you. Perhaps flash memory in another year or two. I know of people who carry portable environments on USB flash memory keys, but you have to be fairly motivated to deal with it at the moment. If notebook computers get pushed into checked luggage, I’m certain we’ll see at least one more high profile data leak, in which someone happened to steal the wrong notebook that had data it wasn’t supposed to have on it.

The other direction would be to use web services for applications, files, and storage. Some people already work that way, but it usually fails badly if you don’t have a reliable and relatively fast network connection. A permutation of this might be to have the airlines become a sort of internet service provider, and cache copies of your data onto the airplane’s local network server for in-flight use, which get pushed back to the primary server when you land.

I’m glad I don’t have any overseas travel scheduled for a while.

Update Sunday 08-13-2006 22:18 PDT: more on the prospects for air travel from Michael Parekh, Jeff Jarvis, and Fred Wilson.

Heathrow closed, terror plot disrupted

Overnight, British authorities arrested 21 suspected terrorists planning to blow up several airliners on Continental, United, and American by mixing liquid explosives carried onboard in hand luggage.

At the moment, all liquids are banned from hand luggage, except for baby formula and medicine.

All in all, it sounds like great work by the UK authorities, although this quote leaves me wondering a little (since they’ve only arrested 21 so far):

“A senior U.S. counterterrorism official said authorities believe dozens of people — possibly as many as 50 — were involved in the plot.”

More from Counterterrorism Blog here, here, and here

West Coaster at Santa Monica Pier

Get ready Whee!

The West Coaster is a small roller coaster going around and above Pacific Park, a small amusement park at the Santa Monica Pier. The ride isn’t too scary, provides great views of the beach, and goes around twice each time you board. The mid-week lines are short, so we went around and around until we lost count.

Back from the mobile office

At the mobile office Ocean kayaking at Malibu

Spent most of the past weekend on the beach in Malibu. Emily and I tried a little surfing, ocean kayaking, and also got a good look at some dolphins while we were paddling around.

I brought the Thinkpad, but left the charger at home, the idea being to limit my computer use while on vacation. We decided to stay a couple extra days, so I was effectively offline after running on batteries for 5 hours or so. Next time I’ll bring the charger anyway.

If you’ve been having trouble getting at this site while I’ve been away, Dreamhost posted a narrative of their recent adventures in data hosting, some of which have been power-related, and some not.

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