Bill's Blog

Friday, July 15, 2005


How's this for an amazing coincidence - my grandmother, wife, and mother have birthdays on consecutive days. What's more, they're all married to Bill Blankmeyer's (That's right, I'm "the third").

It's a good thing we didn't name either of our boys Bill or he would have been under some pressure.

(By the way, Happy Birthday!!!)

Local Fallout Shelter Revealed

This is a story from last month that I didn't find out about until today. Apparently, a local plant that recently had a fire has a 1960-era fallout shelter that no one outside the plant knew about. Last month, the company, Sonoco, decided not to rebuild the damaged plant and workers contacted the Downingtown Historical Society to show them what the plant sits on. I hope they open this one up for tours!

Downingtown Ledger: Fallout shelter rediscovered at Sonoco

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NerdTV Launches in September

NerdTv Logo
PBS is launching the first ever "downloadable web-exclusive series from a major broadcaster" - NerdTV. The show will feature interviews with people in the computer industry and looks interesting. Thirteen 1-hour episodes have been ordered.

I'll be tuning in. First episode will be available September 6th.


Netscape History

Netscape LogoFortune is running a fatastic article on the IPO of Netscape. The article covers the formation of Netscape, the release of the browser, the IPO and ties them into the beginning of the dot-com bubble. It is an interesting read and in several places makes you wonder "what if". Check it out:

Fortune: Remembering Netscape

Tatooine In A Galaxy Not So Far, Far Away

Planet View From Imaginary MoonThat's right, scientists have found a planet that has three suns. The planet is a bit bigger than Jupiter and orbits one of the suns. All three suns are in proximity similar to the distance between our Sun and Saturn. The discovery challenges current theories about how planets are formed.

Tatooine for those who don't know is the planet Luke Skywalker grows up on in Star Wars and has twin suns.

Nature: The Triple Sunset That Should Not Exist

Physorg: First Planet Under Three Suns Is Discovered

CNN: Scientists find planet with 3 suns

Sharp's Dual View LCD Screen

This is fascinating. Sharp unveiled new technology that allows them to display to separate images/feeds on a screen depending on your viewing angle. In a TV application this could be used to allow two people to watch two different programs on the same screen (providing they have headphones or Sharp utilizes some form of HyperSonic Sound). In monitor applications, Sharp sees this being used to "show information to a client while sales personnel see internal information".

BetaNews: Sharp Introduces Dual-View LCD

ATC: HyperSonic Sound

Dual LCD Screen

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Interesting Idea for Patent Reform

Wired is running a story about using an "internet-based, peer-review method", proposed by Beth Noveck (New York Law School Institute for Information Law and Policy Director) called 'Peer to Patent'.

Basically, applications for patents would be submitted to a peer-review community of experts who would decide on applications using a rating system. This gets the decision making process out of the sole hands of the patent office - the current system, which is clearly broken (USPTO Needs Reforms). For 2005, the backlog of cases facing the patent office will grow by 85,000. Something needs to be changed.

The beauty of this idea is that it would not require lawmakers to get involved. We would just have to convince the USPTO to switch to this method. It would also take a good bit of time to setup and get the kinks worked out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Should the UN Control of the Internet?

Following last weeks announcement by the U.S. that it would not turn over DNS servers it controls to ICANN (U.S. Won't Let Go of Master Domain Servers), the U.N. is set to report next week that it should control the internet backbone.

If there's one organization that I can name that shouldn't have control of the Internet, it is the United Nations. I think the UN has outlived its useful life and needs to either be drastically reformed or replaced completely. If we're ever going to have a united world government, that institution needs actual power, protection for member states, and freedom from corruption (or what the best safeguards can allow).

The UN has no business asking to regulate something, when it can't even regulate itself. Granted, I don't necessarily think the U.S. government should be in charge of the DNS backbone. I think it needs to be an un-national and un-political organization that has a limited focus on running the internet with feedback, not only from world-wide governments, but from businesses and individual users, as well. A model based off of the open-source movement could work.

Just keep it out of the hands of the U.N.

NASA calls off shuttle launch

Space ShuttleI was actually looking forward to the shuttle launch. My kids are now old enough to actually have fun watching the launch and semi-understanding what is going on. Hopefully, this is just a minor delay and they'll be able to get the mission of the ground in the next couple of days. I heard on Fox News that they would try for tomorrow.

Shuttle Launch Scrubbed

WorldCom CEO Sentenced to Prison

In proof that the legal system in this country is not completely broken, Bernard Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the fraud he oversaw at WorldCom. I think those in charge of corporations and businesses need to be held accountable and this sets a good precedent. I'd like to see more prosecutions of CEOs whose companies knowingly defraud consumers, employees, or the public in general.

Ebbers sentenced to 25 years in prison

The End of a Floppy Era

Floppy IconNothing really new here. I doubt many people will still argue in favor of keeping the floppy disks and drives around - not in today's world where we have rewriteable optical drives and USB thumb drives. But this writeup organizes the arguments again the floppy in a clear and concise format. We need to get as many people to read this as possible.

The End of a Floppy Era

Internet Archive Is Being Sued

The Internet Archive ( is being sued for copyright infringement and for violation of the DMCA. This case should be thrown out immediately. If this goes through, it would set a precedent for anyone being sued for not clearing out their Temporary Internet Files.

Companies need to get this one straight - if you put content out the web in the open, you cannot come back later and get made because someone has that content.

The Internet Archive is not using their content to profit and they even stripe out images of their archived pages. This lawsuit should be a no-brainer. And what's more, it should never have gotten passed the filing stage.

Slashdot Commentary

Bendable Color Electronic Paper

Fujitsu PR Release PictureThis is an amazing product, if someone could only bring it to the marketplace. I know I'd be lined up to get one. Issues of course will revolve around interface and power consumption. If both are not worked out to the point that the device is 'simple', it will not take off.

Here are some commentaries on this news release:


Monday, July 11, 2005

Non-Fading InkJet Pictures May Fade?

PC World has an article that discusses the marketing claims of HP, Kodak, and Epson of new advances in technology allowing their ink and paper to print pictures lasting over 100 years without fading. My thinking on this is, the paper and ink haven't been around for 100 years - how do they know?

I get the pictures I want, printed up professionally and keep all my photos digitally as well. It's the only way to go.

NYC Cuts Cell Service in Tunnels

This is one of those security measures that just doesn't make sense. Any determined bomber(s) would be able to rig the explosive with another device. Blocking the service causes more problems than it solves. Now everyday users that could get spotty service before can't get any and in the event of an incident, no one in the tunnel will be able to contact anyone - "Help. There are 40 people trapped down here. Please dig faster..."

Update (07/12):
According to CNN, the Mayor is questioning the soundness of this decision by the MTA. Also, it seems no one wants to take the blame for making the call. MTA says police asked them too. The police say they didn't. Homeland Security says it did not recommend any such measure.

I wonder how long this block will last.

Update (07/13):
Service is back on in two of the four tunnels.

The other two won't be far behind.

High School Ditches Textbooks

In what I'm sure is the first of many, Empire High in Vail Arizona will open next fall without textbooks. Each student will receive a laptop and a wireless internet connection and teachers will be required to have online lesson plans using articles available on the web. This does two things:
  1. Provides students with laptops and gets them used to using technology.
  2. Keeps teachers from getting in a rut.
This sounds like an interesting experiment and I hope we hear from the teachers and students after they have the chance to see how it goes.

Story courtesy of MSNBC (AP)

Movies I've Seen Recently

We joined Blockbuster's Online club about 3 or 4 months ago. It's been off and on whether we're really getting the value out of it. Some months we go though movies like you wouldn't believe and others we don't watch any of them. Here's a straight up, down or indifferent look at the movies I've seen in the past several months:

Mr. & Mrs. Smith - Thumbs Up
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Thumbs Up - Covered this Here.
Bad Company - Thumbs Up
Phantom of the Opera - Thumbs Up
Hitch - Thumbs Up - Very funny movie.
Elektra - Thumbs Down - Fell to sequel doom.
Life Aquatic - Thumbs Down - To be fair, I only could stand the first 5 minutes of the movie.
Spanglish - Could Go Either Way - Sandler really needs to stick to straight comedy.
National Treasure - Thumbs Up - An American-based Indiana Jones flick.
Meet the Fockers - Thumbs Up
Closer - Thumbs Down - A chick flick gone awry.
Ocean's Twelve - Thumbs Up
Man on Fire - Could Go Either Way
Mr. 3000 - Thumbs Up
Bravo Two Zero - Thumbs Down - The book was better.
Flight of the Phoenix - Could Go Either Way
I Heart Huckabees - Thumbs Down - Quirky movie/snooze fest.
Collateral - Could Go Either Way
First Daughter - Thumbs Up
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story - Thumbs Down
Incredibles - Thumbs Up - Good movie to watch with the kids.
Surviving Christmas - Thumbs Down
Manchurian Candidate - Could Go Either Way
Garden State - Thumbs Down
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy - Thumbs Down


Thumbs Up = Go See It!
Thumbs Down = Don't Waste Your Money!
Could Go Either Way = I Could Go Either Way