Archive for February 23rd, 2004

Flash Mob Supercomputer

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SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 22 Some class science projects get out of hand.

That is certainly the case with Patrick Miller’s graduate course in do-it-yourself
supercomputing at the University of San Francisco. On April 3, his students plan
to assemble the first "flash mob supercomputer" in the school gym.

While brainstorming about how to build a home-brew computer powerful enough to
be added to a list of the world’s 500 fastest computers, Mr. Miller and his students,
along with Gregory D. Benson, an associate professor of computer science, came
up with the idea of an electronic barn-raising. They decided to build on the
concept of flash mobs, the sudden Internet-organized gatherings with no particular
purpose that became an unlikely fad last summer.

Last week, the class put out a call for about 1,200 volunteers to bring their
computers to the Koret Gym here for a day and plug them into a shared high-speed
network.

from the
New York Times

We’re Always the Last to Learn…

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How to cheat at Apple Computer’s much-hyped Pepsi/iTunes music-giveaway
promotion.

For a chance at a free song from the music download service, buy a specially
marked bottle of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, or Sierra Mist. The underside of
one out of every three caps of these bottles bears the words "ONE
FREE SONG"; the losing caps read "PLEASE PLAY AGAIN." When
John Gales, a 19-year-old college student from Tampa, discovered that
he could tilt the unopened bottle, peer under the cap, and see whether
or not the word "AGAIN" appeared, he graciously decided to
spread the wealth. So he diagrammed the stunt and posted it to his Mac-user
website, MacMerc.com. By the middle of last week, the site had become
so popular he removed everything from it except the page with diagram.
Now, that’s the Pepsi spirit.

from the Boston Globe

Make Way for Goslings

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Spotted leaving work this afternoon, crossing the BU Bridge on Memorial
Drive along the Charles River in Cambridge, an extended family of geese.
Bringing both drivers and joggers to a stunned halt, the gaggle of approximately
50 geese and ganders (and a couple of scruffy ducks, or maybe they were
goslings) strolled across the the crosswalk and gathered in the shadow-shrouded
grassy island in the middle of the bridge traffic circle. Although tempted
to investigate further, we only circled twice, and then hurried on our
way.

US Sec of Education Calls Teachers “Terrorists”

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation’s
largest teachers union a "terrorist organization” during a private
White House meeting with governors on Monday.

Democratic and Republican governors confirmed Paige’s remarks about the
National Education Association.`These were the words, ‘The NEA is a terrorist
organization,”’ said Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.

Whoa! Who knew! We were seriously thinking of joining their teacher’s
group health insurance program if we lose our BU benefits! What a narrow
escape. We certianly hope and expect that Secretary Paige is in contact
with Secretary Ridge and Attorney General Ashcroft and that they are
even now in the process of rounding up these terrorist scum.

They may
need to expand the holding pens in Guantanamo in preparation for the
NEA’s 2.7 million members, but the only way to defeat these terrorist
organizations is to roll them up like soiled rugs, exfoliating their roots
so they can’t grow back. Thank God our leaders were able to detect this threat in time…

from the New York Times

Long, Hot Summer

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The Dowbrigade has never been afraid to admit he was wrong, which is a good thing
as this happens so frequently that otherwise he would live in a constant
state of fear. In our first posting on Blogging
the Conventions
we assumed
that the Democratic version, in Boston, would be MUCH more interesting
than the Republican one, in New York.

Heavens! We were forgetting the other side of the equation, and after
noting that the most interesting blog stories would probably involve
juxtaposing the action and attitudes on the convention floor with the
corresponding
actions and attitudes of the protesters on the streets. Shame on us.

While Boston police are warily watching the anarchist organizers holding
nonviolent protest training sessions, how to get arrested without getting
hurt, protest tactics and street theater, the morality plays of our times, and
predicting that the hundreds of protesters will probably not want to
remain in designated "protest ghettos", in New York City, according to
the New
York Times,
police are bracing for 500,000 to
a million
organized and angry Americans on the streets
of the Big Apple at the end of August.

Obviously, the Republican Convention is going to be the place to be this
summer. Although the act on the convention floor will probably be completely
choreographed and predictable, the PROTESTS will be much more focused
and forceful. All the principle agents of evil will be there! Dick Cheney!
John Ashcroft! Karl Rove! 17 members of the Bush family! George Steinbrenner!

And a million crazed and outraged citizens running wild in the steaming
streets of the Big Apple, with every news outlet in the civilized world
covering the the story like makeup on Tammy Faye. We’re there, dude.

So, as we suggested at last Thursday’s Meeting, we need to start arranging
Mutual Blogging Services Swaps between New Yorkers and Bostonians. You
crash with us in July, visa versa a month later in August.  Net
access, Wi-Fi hotspots, sources and secrets could be exchanged. Anyone
interested?

Though the Police Department and many protest organizers have been
reluctant to predict how many people will ultimately turn out for protests,
estimates have ranged from 500,000 people to a million.

Six months before any delegate is to take a seat at Madison Square Garden, it
is clear that many groups are already planning strategy and activities. Labor
unions, environmentalists, self-declared anarchists and others who merely label
themselves as anti-Bush or anti-Republican are making plans to turn out. Barely
a week passes without several planning sessions in New York, focusing on everything
from housing and tactics to legal strategy and what to expect in interactions
with the police.

from the New York Times

Metrognome

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Time Heals All Wounds

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Time truly heals all wounds. For a looong time after that
fateful October night
, the Dowbrigade could not hear the word baseball or
see the color red without suffering anew the deception and depression
due to the disastrous denouement of the 2003 season.

But the van left for Florida last week, and we didn’t feel like running
away to a Tibetan monastery.  We no longer reflexively change the
channel whenever the topic of the boys of summer comes on the air.  We
can’t say we are ready to root for the Home Town Team (notice we still
can’t bear to write their name), but we may be OK with rooting against
the Evil Umpire. A promising sign of spring – this morning we cracked
a smile while reading Gordon Eaves list of analogies to having A-Rod
and Derek Jeeter on the same side of the diamond:

It’s like having Monet and Manet teach art at the Sorbonne. Or having
Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart cater your wedding reception. Or
having Atticus Finch and Johnnie Cochran on retainer. Or having Bozo
the Clown and Ronald McDonald at your birthday party.

from the Couch
Slouch
in the Boston Globe