Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Opera Browser Resources For Thai Users

If you want to happily use Opera to browse Thai websites you should visit this OperaThai site. One of the first things you want to do is to follow the font instructions here.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Cooking With Solar Power

On sunny days, we have a few hundred watts of power per square meter from sun light and this site has a lot of plans for collecting the power to dry, boil, and cook things.

A rule of thumb is 4 square meters of sun power is about the same as one clothing iron. They are about 2000 watts or so. That's why it's very hot in Bangkok. (That and all the cars stuck in traffic burning imported fossil fuel.)

P.S. Just found this link to Vietnam's solar cooking project. บทความเป็นภาษาไทย

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Firefox Internet Browser With Thai Support

For my students who would like to try Firefox for their Internet browsing need, you should visit this page to download the version that can support the Thai language better than the default version. ไฟร์ฟ็อกซ์ภาษาไทย! ไฟร์ฟ็อกซ์ภาษาไทย! ไฟร์ฟ็อกซ์ภาษาไทย!

For me, I prefer Opera, the One True Browser to rule them all :-)

Nifty Relativity Animations

Einstein told us about relativity about a hundred years ago but most of us still don't understand the consequences and ramifications of the ideas. This is mostly because our direct experiences do not include the situations where relativistic effects are easily appreciated. This site aims to remedy the situation. There are computer simulations of what we would see if we are moving really fast or living near a black hole, among other things. (A lot of pages are in German, but you can use Babel Fish to translate them.)

If you decide to make a very fast rocket, you should consult this "Relativistic Rocket" page to gauge your resource requirements.

Now, for something completely different, see zany romance novel covers here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Physics Notes in Thai & A New Huge Book

My friend Professor Piyapong wrote a few physics notes in Thai about mechanics, electromagnetism, and relativity and made them available on the web. If you wish you had more physics education in your highschool or college and you can read Thai, you can view and download them here.

On a related note, I ordered Roger Penrose's new tome, "The Road to Reality : A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe." I think I will spend the next year or so looking through it. I hope I would get more satisfaction from it than from Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science." That book is so hand-wavy I couldn't get any meaty science from it. However, keep in mind that Wolfram created Mathematica, a great computer program that is to higher math what a calculator is to division, so there is still a slim possibility that his book contains important truths that most readers missed. (Full text and images from A New Kind of Science are also available.)

Fooling Biometrics With Fake Fingerprints & FM92.25

Here is an illustrated article on how you can fake your very own fingerprints for fun & profits (& possible prison time.)

For those of you who understand Thai and would like to hear a fresh news perspective (as opposed to the news perspectives warped by self consorship induced by economic/political pressures), you can tune in FM 92.25 (aka "Democracy Radio.")

Friday, May 13, 2005

Mondo Cool Computer Science Research!

"Colorization Using Optimization"

It's about converting black & white pictures and movies (!) into full-color with a lot less pain than doing it manually. Much better than an approach based on segmentation.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Three Great Virtues Of A Programmer

"We will encourage you to develop the three great virtues of a programmer: Laziness, Impatience, and Hubris.

LAZINESS: The quality that makes you go to great effort to reduce overall energy expenditure. It makes you write labor-saving programs that other people will find useful, and document what you wrote so you don't have to answer so many questions about it. Hence, the first great virtue of a programmer.

IMPATIENCE: The anger you feel when the computer is being lazy. This makes you write programs that don't just react to your needs, but actually anticipate them. Or at least that pretend to. Hence, the second great virtue of a programmer.

HUBRIS: Excessive pride, the sort of thing Zeus zaps you for. Also the quality that makes you write (and maintain) programs that other people won't want to say bad things about. Hence, the third great virtue of a programmer."

Programming Perl, p. xiv, by Randall Schwartz & Larry Wall

Top Design Flaws In Software

Here is a very interesting catalog of bugs that we (software practitioners) should pay attention to in our work.

In the "Ten Most Wanted Design Bugs", Bruce Tognazzini, a famous human-computer interaction expert, shares with us a list of serious design flaws that have existed for a long time in many software products, despite their embarassing (or worse, catastrophic) consequences.

On a related note, if you are old enough and you are in the software business, you should have encountered almost all of "The Eight Fallacies of Distributed Computing" collected by Peter Deutsch.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Informative Article About Copy Protection

My company is planning a few new software products and a discussion about how to make sure we get paid for the products came up. Our very first product was intended for retail users and cost about $50. We sold only a few copies and it could be found in Pantip Plaza (Thailand's leading pirated software place) selling for less than $5.

Subsequently, our next few software products sell for about $500 per seat so bundling a hardware device is no problem. This upcoming new products would be quite a bit cheaper so doing the old routine would not make us any profit. Then I found this informative article about copy protection written by Bruce Johnson. I agree with him on the most points.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Python & Java Programming Links

If you want to use Unicode in Python, I recommend End to End Unicode Web Applications in Python by Martin Doudoroff. It's simple, short, and informative.

Another excellent article about using Unicode is "The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!)" by Joel Spolsky.

If you want to develop Java applications that support the Thai language, IBM has a useful article here.

I'm checking out CherryPy which claims to be "a pythonic, object-oriented web development framework." It seems simple enough for me to work with. We'll see.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Understanding What You Order At Starbucks

I do not frequent Starbucks in Bangkok. I am not particular about my coffee and I don't feel like paying the price of two typical meals for a cup of coffee. However, once in a while, I would accompany my friends there and always order a Mocha since I like its chocolatey-taste and I tend not to vary my food preference for a long time.

There is always a small voice nagging at me every time I saw a Starbucks menu and don't know what each item is. This page answers every question for me. I will stick with Mocha for at least the next few years.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Birthday Paradox

Over the years, many people taking classes in probability have asked me about the Birthday Paradox. I wrote up something about it here while I was working on generating random numbers which should be unique. Since I prefer to do as little work as possible, I save a lot of time by using the excellent Mathematica to calculate everything.

(If you are too lazy to click any link, the paradox arises from trying to answer this: To have a 50% chance that at least two people in the same room have the same birthday, how many people must be in the room? The answer surprised so many people that it is called the Birthday Paradox.)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Today's Interesting Links

"What You'll Wish You Had Known" -- an essay written by Paul Graham, a Lisp wizard who (among other things) created and sold the product that became Yahoo! Store, about useful things young people in highschool/college should know.

"You and Your Research" -- a transcription of a talk given by Richard Hamming, a famous mathematician/computer scientist about how to do great research.