Archive for September, 2008

Nvidia’s chip fabrication problem

Friday, September 5th, 2008

The Inquirer recently published an excellent article about Nvidia’s chip fabrication problem that I highly recommend reading. It doesn’t spare any of the technical details in explaining why Nivida’s recent graphics chips are approaching a failure rate of 40% on some lines. The short summary of the problem is that Nvidia put off some complex but necessary re-engineering on their new chip lines until it was too late to do it properly, so to meet engineering tolerances they switched out one type of component with another, thus causing a whole set of problems including fast failure rates. Ouch.

What with ATI’s new line of 4850 and 4870 graphics chips that are surprisingly good, their new and improved GNU/Linux support, and a lack of high failure rates, I’m thinking my next graphics card purchase will be an ATI. This latest round of news is really bad for Nvidia, but definitely good for ATI. I wouldn’t even consider buying another Nvidia card until I hear that the problems are worked out.

Stephen Fry celebrates GNU’s 25th birthday

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Now this is a slightly unexpected, yet nevertheless entirely awesome, bit of news. Stephen Fry, famous British comedian of Fry & Laurie fame (that’s Hugh Laurie, the actor who plays Dr. House on House), has released a celebratory message to GNU on its 25th anniversary. It contains a good bit of background on GNU and Linux, though nothing that should be new to you if you’ve been involved in the Free Software community for awhile.

Still, it’s a nice video, and it’s cool to see someone so, well, famous extolling the virtues of Free Software. Check it out! Unfortunately, it’ll work a lot better in the United Kingdom than here in the United States, since they actually know who he is. We just need to get an American equivalent to tape something equally praising of GNU/Linux. How about … Scarlett Johannson?

Finally back from a long week

Monday, September 1st, 2008

I’m finally back from my ten-day “vacation”. Although I did take vacation days from work to attend the Democratic National Convention, it didn’t really feel like a vacation. Conventions are, by their very nature, thoroughly hectic. At least the two days in Breckenridge and one day in Boulder helped me unwind a little bit. One negative of the trip was that I hardly ever had Internet access (would you believe I don’t even own a laptop?), so I only had time to blog some initial impressions of Denver, thoughts on the musical talent, and those ridiculous abortion protesters. I suppose I’ll try to flesh out the rest of the experience now.

As expected, I saw all sorts of celebrities at the convention, including nearly every talking head from the news shows. I also saw every correspondent from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at one point or another. And I mention it as an after-thought because it’s a given, but I saw pretty much every famous Democratic politician. And just in the hotel lobby I ran into James Carville, Howard Dean, and Jimmy Carter. In terms of non-politician celebrities, Anne Hathaway was there, and my mom’s lawyer’s son even got a picture with her, but I didn’t see her. Drat.

The convention itself was really good, and everyone was impressed with pretty much all aspects of it. Hillary and Bill Clinton did what they had to do with aplomb, and there was very little lingering resentment from the Obama crowd. I was on the convention floor when Hillary put Obama’s nomination up for acclamation and the roar coming from the delegates was tremendous. Biden’s speech was very heart-touching and had everyone in our sky box crying. Then, of course, Obama’s speech on Thursday, in front of some 80,000 supporters, was amazing. The fireworks capped it off less subtly in case anyone watching it at home didn’t get it. Some Republicans prayed for rain but obviously God is feeling kind of spiteful at them right now, because He delivered unto them instead a hurricane during their own convention. Hehe. Payback’s a bitch.

The worst of the protesting that I saw was nevertheless still peaceful, and consisted of a big stand-off between protesters and riot police. The police won. From the limited amount of news coverage I was able to see, there were some arrests at other protests, but nothing too serious. I gather the protesting at the Republican convention (or what’s left of it, anyway) is going to be a bit more emphatic.

Everyone agreed with Obama’s choice of Biden as VP, while everyone was simply left in shock at the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s VP. The most common sentiment was “What in the hell was he thinking?!” Amongst other problems, she’s connected to the crooked Ted “Tubes” Stevens, is staunchly anti-abortion even in cases of incestuous rape, supports teaching creationism in schools, has no experience to speak of, and only met McCain once before he chose her. And this latest revelation, that her unmarried teen daughter is pregnant, won’t exactly have conservatives rushing to the polls to vote for her. If McCain really thinks that nominating a staunchly anti-abortion woman will woo over the rabid feminists that mainly make up the Hillary Clinton hold-outs, he’s even stupider than we thought.

Then, after the convention, our brief sojourn to Breckenridge was nice, relaxing, and scenic. We happened to be in town during their annual Rubber Ducky Race, which is actually slightly more amusing than it sounds. They have a stream running through the entire town, the bottom of which is fenced off for the event. Then, people buy or sponsor ducks and they are floated down the river in heats of many dozen each. The first duck that makes it to the fence wins. Granted, the event is kind of aimed at kids, but seeing those duckies getting caught in the eddies behind rocks as eager little kids look on is hysterical.

Oh yeah, and Boulder was very hippie. We went to the Pearl Street Mall, which was full of all sorts of interesting characters, attended a local fair which had some great local musicians, and ate dinner at an amazing teahouse that was imported piece-by-piece from Tajikistan of all places. I’ve never been to a Tajikistani teahouse before, but let me announce here and now that they are amazing.

So that about covers it. A good time was had by all. The convention went off smoothly, the parties were fun, and I got to see all sorts of famous people (again). Hell, I even got into the CNN Grill on Wednesday night, which was proclaimed to be the most exclusive ticket in all of the western hemisphere on that night. Here’s to the 2012 convention, and may we be nominating Barack Obama again then!