Category Archives: Miscellany

The Internet is growing in complexity and networking labs are trying to keep up

“Today I have on my desk a smartphone, a tablet, and a Mac computer. To move data between them, today the request goes all the way to the cloud—God knows where that is—so it can come back here to another device that is two feet away,” says Lixia Zhang, a computer scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “That is wrong, it is simply wrong.”

via Future Internet Architectures Aim to Better Serve Billions of Tablets and Smartphones | MIT Technology Review.

Absence of posts explained

Here’s a quick note to let you dear readers know that I am, indeed, still alive and have survived the Mayan apocalypse intact. In fact, the news doldrums of the holidays have afflicted more damage to my spirit. Fortunately, the Montana Legislature’s session begins soon, and I am reinvigorated. Expect more dispatches soon.

Gandalf-Studying-300x205-1

Poring over the meaning of “pore over”

You learn something new every day. For example, quite by accident, I learned last night that when you are going through loads of something looking for information you are actually “poring” through that stuff.

That’s right, you’re not “pouring” over it or “pouring” through it. So stop typing it that way. (I shall endeavor to keep the newspaper from typing it that way too.)

The verb “pore,” according to our Associated Press-sanctioned Webster’s New World College Dictionary Fourth Edition, means “to gaze intently” or “to read through carefuly” or “to think deeply and thoroughly.”

It is often paired with the preposition “over,” though “through” is also acceptable.

It comes from the Middle English “poren,” according to that dictionary, though the OED lists “poore,” “poure,” “pouri,” “power” as its Middle English forms.

The word’s true origins are unknown, though it could be related to the verb “pire,” which means the same thing and is comparable to the Low German “piren.”

The word is not, however, related to the noun “pore,” which comes to English from Middle French at the end of the 13th century, which in turn comes from the Latin “porus.”

The verb “pour,” for its part, is completely unreleated any of these. It comes from, maybe, Middle French’s “purer,” meaning to decant.

And let’s not forget the adjective and noun “poor.” That comes from the Middle English “pawre” and various other forms. The word’s origins are Anglo-Norman in “pover,” “pore,” “povere,” “poevere” and “puvre” and Old French in “povre.”

As to our original purpose, DailyWritingTips offers this memory device to pore over:

Lore is learning, knowledge, doctrine. To become well-versed in computer lore or the lore of magic, or the lore of religion, one must pore over learned tomes.

New laptop and minimalistic attitudes

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

It was my birthday this week, and I finally pulled the trigger and bought myself the big gift I have been pondering for months: a new laptop.

Each time I get a new primary machine, it begins an adventure. How much of your old stuff do you really need to move over to the new machine? How vital are all those old files? Do you really need all those backup files?

I have been having this experience with computers since the mid-1990s. Each time it’s different. With some of my past computers, I have tried to transfer absolutely everything. Other times, I decided to simply burn copies of the “important” folders to CD, from which I could copy the things I needed as I needed them.

The result of this: a binder full of CDs labeled “desktop,” “My Documents” and “Music.” The vast majority of them have not been inside a disk drive since they were burned.

This time around, I have taken a somewhat different approach, inspired by my reading of Minimal Mac, a blog focused on the simplicity of Apple’s product design and the minimalistic lifestyle that some people adopt around their Apple hardware.

Quite a few posts on Minimal Mac recently have recounted the stories of people who have switched from larger Mac machines to MacBook Airs. With hard drive space, these people have had to adapt their computer usage habits, installing only the software they truly need to accomplish their goals.

In this spirit, I have so far tried to keep the software installed on my new computer to a bare minimum. Adobe CS3, TextMate, Twitter, Reeder, TextExpander, Transmit, Firefox, Notational Velocity, 1Password, Dropbox and Evernote for starters. (I would like to eventually get a copy of Final Cut Pro, but that’s going to have to wait for my savings to rebuild a bit.)

I have moved zero files across to this new computer.

That’s right, no files. No family photos, no music, nothing.

Why? How can I leave all that behind? Well, for one thing, it’s safely stored on the hard drive in my old laptop, where it will remain until I copy the vital bits onto an external hard disk or load them into some cloud service. For another thing:

I don’t need that stuff.

  • Music is handy, but I seldom listen to music on my laptop. I have an iPod. All my music is there.
  • Family photos are nice to keep, but the ones I don’t wind up sharing on Facebook with family are simply archives. Nice to look through from time to time, but not something I need to keep on my machine’s hard drive.
  • Old documents? If I truly thought they were important, I would have logged them into my Evernote account for syncing to the cloud and across every machine I use. If I was still working with them, they’d be in my Dropbox.
  • Videos? It’s called Netflix. It’s streams, people. No need to rip movies. (see also YouTube)
So… 750 GB hard drive. 705 GB available.

So, how careful are you with what you keep on your computer?

 

Two new elements you’ll never see or use added to periodic table

Two new elements have been added to the periodic table. Elements 114 and 116 are now officially recognized by an international committee of chemists and physicists, the Associated Press reports.

Both elements are very heavy, in atomic terms. They are radioactive and exist for less than a second before decaying into lighter elements. Their Wikipedia pages will offer you more details about them than you probably want to know: 114, 116.

The two new elements are unnamed right now. For the time being, element 114 is called ununquadium. Number 116 is dubbed ununhexium. Scientists use generic, number-based names for new elements until they are given official names, like argon, plutonium and unobtainium.*

The discoverers have proposed a name for 114: flerovium, after Russian scientist Georgy Flyorov, Wired reports.

The elements were added after a three-year review by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, the BBC reports.

As a side note, you may or may not know that the periodic table as pictured above is not the only way to arrange the elements into a pattern that makes a lot of deep sense. The fact that there are alternate periodic table presentations has fascinated me ever since chemistry class in high school. Check out some of the alternatives on the Wikipedia** or here for a spiral layout or here for a whole database of alternate layouts.

** Sorry for the glut of Wikipedia links in this post, but it really is a great source for raw scientific information.

Eastern Montana is under water

I post this because not because it has any strict pertinence to the subject of this blog or to the content the Chronicle produces. Rather, this is the side of the state I’m from, and there hasn’t been flooding like this in years.

Also, despite the disastrous subject matter, the 1 p.m. update has a great lede.

UPDATE 1 P.M.: It would be easier to list places in Eastern Montana that are not swamped with floodwaters.
via Flooding causes evacuations, closes Interstate 90 – Billings Gazette

I should mention, though, if you have any flooding news to report in the Bozeman, Three Forks, Livingston, Ennis area, please don’t hesitate to call the newsroom at 587-4491 or e-mail [email protected]

If you have photos you’d like to share, e-mail them to [email protected] and I’ll get them into an online album on our Facebook page.

Be Right Back

Quiet week

It’s spring break week, which, as we reported today, means that the city of Bozeman becomes considerably quieter. People from all walks of life plan their vacations to coincide with break week, turning the city into a ghost town. And when I say people from all walks of life, that includes newspaper people too. We are tremendously short-staffed in the editorial department at the paper this week, so I have had to turn my attention elsewhere — what which medical marijuana raids on local businesses and an earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis in Japan.

Rest assured that when things are back to normal next week, regular posting will resume here.

Back in the saddle again

NewImage.jpgI’ve been gone from this blog for quite a while, but it was for a good reason (pictured at right). Anyhow, I think normal posting should resume now that the new year has started, and I will endeavor to continue my pre-New Year’s resolution about blogging each and every day.

Of course, this counts as my post for today.

(Don’t expect to much from me. I’ve been out of the game for a while here!)