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October 04, 2007

Thoughts on the latest-and-greatest

Call me a boring has-been but the more new products and new technologies I see on the horizon now, the more leery I grow of them. Truth be told, the carreer path that I have followed (embedded software/firmware development) relies on the tried-and-true. This is always extremely more valuable than the latest-and-greatest. That said, lately I have been wondering about whether or not to upgrade to using Windows Vista. We are now in the midst of October 2007 which has given Vista almost a year to be in the marketplace. I use a computer for the most part of my waking day.... so I am starting to wonder whether I am missing out on anything tremendous that Vista might have to offer. However, as I poke around for opinions..... it is hard to find many worthy opinions which are positive. These are some interesting links:

On the opposite note, I even find many instances of thought where people actually go out of their way to put back Windows XP into their brand-new bought computers. Wow, a couple of years back, I recall reading that Microsoft bet their entire war-chest into the development of XP. I don't vaguely know the enormity of the chest but everyone knows it's got to be one-of or if "THE" largest war-chest in the world.

Posted by Hoang at 07:09 AM | Add the first comment | Technology

December 28, 2005

Things of Interest

  • Writings from music artists
    Anna Nalick's Journal
    Her journal is a pretty good read if you are a fan of her music. The snippet about her nephew changing the lyrics of her songs are cute.
    Anna Nalick on myspace
    Glen Phillips blog on myspace
    My brother is a die-hard fan of Glen and would make it a point to come to every one of his shows whenever he is in town. So are Nickel Creek, as I am told. Unfortunately I have never seen a live performance by Glen or Toad the Wet Sprockets when they were still together.
    Vienna Teng on myspace
  • Starting out small but affordable
    Affordable... yeah. At an average of $480,000 for a condo in San Jose, a normal person would need just about 2 lifetimes to pay off the interest alone. No need for curtains, just plaster newspaper over the windows. What about that thing called food? It is a luxury that we can do without.

October 23, 2005

Flash memories trend

flashMemory.jpg

The premise of this topic comes about as I am shopping for an MP3 player. With such array of choices in players, how can any consumer tell what makes one player trumph over another. Obviously the top of the heap is the iPod.... but that is out of my price range of trying to find a music player to accompany me to Gold's Gym. Even if you have decided on exactly what player you would like, it is even hard trying to decide between 128M, 256M, 512M, or 1G. The vast array of choices just boggle the mind.

The trend that is most obvious to everyone is that FLASH memories are finally coming down in price. This is the greatest factor that is finally making many portable devices available to average consumers. Devices such as 5Mbit pixel cameras, MP3 players, USB keys are finally at a range to compete against other things that don't cost quite as much: analog cameras, portable cd players, and floppy drives. But 5 years ago, I had the same question in my mind.... why are FLASH memories so expensive?

I have never worked in the semiconductor manufacturing industry so everything I say would only be a guess. Like everything in life, the answer must lie in supply and demand. Then that begs the question: Why is supply so low for FLASH because the demand is obviously there. Just as I am writing this, Sandisk (SNDK) stock has jumped over 22% on the announcement of their yearly profit. How wonderful for them to have been right smack in the center of this trend for all this time. How many of us have worked in an industry where the product are treated almost as valuable as gold?

If you have any thoughts to this topic, please contribute them here. This would provide you more space to elaborate.

October 07, 2005

technobabble

CSI Miami is pretty fancy when it shows off technology. There is usually a lot of flash in the show which makes it engaging for us commoners. It doesn't have the brilliance of the writing team for the original CSI; however, sometimes you do have to let your brain take a shit.

Recently I saw an episode where the investigator backtraces a webcam transmitting video wirelessly towards a receiving computer many states away. The CSI traces it to an IP address located in Georgia. Then the IP address rolls around on the screen like a fancy slot machine and comes up:

342.19.211.44

Aha... so the perpetrator is caught by the special technology. But there is something wrong here, can you guess? Message to hollywood: if you're going to wow us, try to do it right.

blurb on the flub: IP addresses are made up of a set of 4 hexadecimal numbers. Each hexadecimal number is in the range of 0-0xff (this translates to 0-255 decimal). The first number on that made-up IP address is entirely wrong.

Posted by Hoang at 08:25 AM | 1 Comments | TrackBack | Common Sense , Technology

September 14, 2005

Is faster better?

I remember my first computer modem that opened me up to the connected world. It was 300 baud and one of the few bulletin boards which I frequented often was called “The Shark’s Head”. This was in the San Jose area (making sure calls were local was extremely important back then). The Shark’s Head was a place where amateur writers, poets, or poet-wanna-bes like me could share our writing. The technology we used back then was so arcane but the community and the content we produced was extremely rich.
networking.gif

Fast-forward to today. I am helping build and improve Cisco’s routers. 100Mbit connections are the lowest ethernet speed that the machine supports. Middle-line are 1 Gigabit and 10 Gigabit fiber connections. The sheer number of packets which flow here boggles the human imagination. I typically use the IXXIA traffic generating equipment to pump data into the routers for testing. The typical ethernet speeds are 1 Gigabit. Can you imagine the sheer number of data flying by? Often in humourous times, I equate this to shovelling ethernet packets.

Yet with all the vast amounts of bits flying all over the world today (as compared to 10 years ago), have we made better use of our connectivity? My observation says no. In fact, the quality of the content which we have in the virtual world is diminishing every day. There is just so much more junk floating around and going around. I look at my email filter statistics and see that 80% of the mail I receive are SPAM. And it is only increasing as time passes. Are we in the midst of an internet excess?

August 24, 2005

Cluster Sizes

I have run into a similar problem to the default-allocation waste that is encountered when using the hard-disk. However, as that I am currently working in the data networking arena, that is where it occurs.

First, let me just review the disk-allocation waste situation with those who aren't familiar. When you format your hard-disk, you must choose a specific cluster-size. This size dictates that the smallest unit of disk-space your computer will refer to will have this size. Having a large cluster size is beneficial for large files because the computer doesn't have to index as many blocks when accessing such a file. With a small cluster size, there will be so many more index entries just to keep track of that file. But the biggest drawback here is that if you have a small file, a minimum chunk space is still allocated to contain that very small file. The difference between that small file and your cluster size is the waste that is not being used.

disk_clusters.jpg

A prime example of this is when you realize that very big disk that you just bought for your windows 98 machine suddenly runs out of space so quickly. You didn't use up all the space. It is because your disk defaulted to a large cluster size and most of your disk space is located in the unused portions of your disk clusters. I have written about Hard Disk Sizes before.

round_defrag.jpg

In networking, it is similar. Having a small "cluster" will optimize usage of pipe bandwidth but large packets are just not accepted by your switch or router. They would be dropped as they don't fit in the cluster. Having a large "cluster", jumbo packets are routed just fine; however, there is a large amount of waste whenever you are sending very small packets. The throughput is sub-optimal and can degrade as much as 35%. Again, the reason here is that the space occupied by the frame and the cluster size is essentially wasted.

The two situations above are exactly the same problem but in entirely different domains. In truth, you can't win them all. You choose your cluster size somewhere in the middle and hope that your usage will fall somewhere there. There will be benefits and wastes but like many things in life, they are out of your control.

August 19, 2005

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