There has been quite some buzz about the new search engine, cuil. While the name was supposed to sound like cool, I could not help but remember one of the early search engines built by the University of Geneva: the CUI World Wide Web Catalog. The presentation of the new search engine’s search results looks sleek and the way pictures are added to the results is cool. The only problem I could see is that the photographs are not exactly about me…
This week-end, I set up a new machine for my mother. I had bought her a new 20 inch iMac which replaced a 1999 blue iMac. I felt a little bit sad replacing a perfectly functional machine, but the processing of complicated web pages and PDF files was really getting slow, not to mention the fact that I was getting nervous about the data in a nearly ten year old hard-drive. I also wanted a no hassle backup solution, which Mac OS 10.5 offers.
There is no way my mother’s computing activities are going to exploit the power of two 2Ghz cores, but there have been many improvements on machines within a decade which become obvious when you run the two machines side by side:
- Screen quality
- Compared to the old CRT, the quality of the glossy LCD screen is really striking. Colors are more intense and the text way more contrasted. I saw none of the picture quality problem which seem to have plague early 20 inch models.
- The old iMac was producing a humming sound, the new machine is basically silent.
- Boot time
- While the old machine’s booted, you could go to the kitchen en prepare yourself some tea, the new machine is ready in a few seconds.
- The new machine is way more compact, despite having a much larger screen. The stand design and the new keyboard mean the machine does not use much space on the table.
One amusing side effect of me setting up this machine, is that my mother now has a more powerful machine than her two sons who both work in IT. In a sense I’m not sure this is really a desktop computer, it looks way more like an appliance from the outside and a laptop from the inside.
Un des plaisirs à être enfin de retour chez moi, c’est que je peux paisiblement relire mes vieilles bandes-dessinées. Comme de nombreuses personnes de ma génération, je pense avoir été plus influencé par Franquin que Hergé, qui restait pour moi l’auteur des bande dessinées chez les médecins. En relisant un Gaston Lagaffe, j’ai réalisé que là où Hergé utilisait des mots obscurs pour exprimer des jurons, Franquin avait une approche plus graphique, proche de ce qu’on appelle en anglais des grawlix. Il utilisait, entre autres, des caractères chinois. Si le cas n’est pas isolé – j’ai vu des symboles ressemblant à des hànzì pour représenter des formules magiques dans Isabelle – ce que j’ai trouvé intéressant, c’est le fait que les caractères sont reconnaissables avec des formes de traits raisonnables. Ce n’est pas suprenant : Franquin travaillait à l’origine à la plume.
|Désobéir, dispute, très, contraire.||Marche 彳 et arrêter 艮|
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Joss Whedon, of Buffy and Serenity fame, had made an funny three episode show that can be viewed on the internet: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Of course any story involving a evil genius with dating troubles is going to get my vote.
Shamus, of the twenty sided has some interesting comments about the distribution model. If I could, I would certainly buy the thing by the way of the iTunes store, but alas, the show is not available in the Swiss store.
While in many respects, europeans tend to be more formal that their counterpart in the USA, people in the USA seem to have a love of rituals that is fascinating. One example is the prom. Formal dress balls are quite rare in continental Europe, in particular for late teenagers. In the USA, this seems to be a country-wide tradition. A similar example would be graduation uniforms in Universities. I would hardly claim that there are no such rituals in Europe, but they tend to be limited to one region, one country, or one type of school.
A less serious tradition in the USA is the chinese restaurant. You’ll find chinese restaurants in most towns, in Silicon Valley they are often strongly related to China. The food becomes more american as you move inland and you cross the chopstick line (the point where by default in a chinese restaurant, you are given a fork by default instead of chopsticks). There is a tradition that persist in any case: the fortune cookie. At the end of the lunch, typically with the bill, each diner receives a cookie that contains some vague prediction. The interesting thing with this tradition is that it is not chinese, you won’t get such cookies in restaurant in China – you won’t even get such a cookie in most chinese restaurant in continental Europe or in Japan. In fact, the New-York times has an interesting article explaining that fortune cookies are originally from Japan.
Given the cultural influence of the USA in Europe, there is now a funny phenomenon: restaurants slowly start serving fortune cookies at the end of the meal…