Staplers come and go, but the tiny Swingline Tot stapler that I bought for 50 cents when I was seven years old, still survives.

Weird European customs

I'm currently watching a whole semester's worth of lectures (on Functional Programming in Haskell) that were recorded at RWTH Aachen, a prestigious university in Germany. The way they do things in Europe is rather strange by American standards. There are no grades, and the homework is purely optional. If you want, you can get an "Exercise Certificate" for the class, but for your entire PhD, you only have to get one of these, and to get one only requires completing 50% of the homework questions, plus completing a short final.

I also remember hearing something like this from an acquaintance a while who went to Oxford. IIRC, he said there were no per-class exams. He said the only exam was some sort of big general qualifying exam that you had to pass in order to graduate.


There's apparently a "search engine optimization" strategy that involves posting little platitudes such as the following:

Excellent post I must say.. Simple but yet interesting and engaging.. Keep up the awesome work!

There's no link in it, however, so I don't understand how it works and precisely what they're up to. You can Google for the above paragraph, however, and see that it is littered all over the Internet.

Any ideas?

The Netbook is Dead: Long Live the Netbook!

The Netbook is Dead: Long Live the Netbook!

The “netbook” has only been with us for a couple of years, and yet in that time, it has managed to completely shake up the laptop market, driving prices down, 
downdown. But I'm here to tell you that the reign of the netbook is over!

The reason for their untimely demise is that netbooks have traditionally been shipped with Windows XP, as netbooks weren't powerful enough for Windows Vista. Since nobody really wanted Vista anyway, everybody was happy with this. But now Windows 7 is hot, hothot, and who wants to be left in the dust with crufty ol' XP? It is getting pretty long in the tooth, after all.

But what to do? Windows 7 won't run well on a tiny little netbook, with its miserly 1gb of ram, its miniscule display, its subpar resolution, its slow-to-the-bone CPU, and its crappy video card, will it?

Probably not. This fact has apparently not been lost on laptop manufacturers, and so a few of them have just started shipping perfectly good ultralight notebook computers at netbook prices. For instance, I just purchased an Acer Aspire 1410-2801. It has a dual-core low-voltage 64-bit Celeron CPU and 2gb of ram. It's expandable to at least to 4gb (without taking the whole thing apart you'd have to do for many netbooks!), comes standard with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, and a 6-cell LI battery good for about 5 hours of use. It weighs only a tad over 3lbs, has a decently-sized 11.6" 1366x768 LED-backed display, and can play HD YouTube videos with nary a frame dropped. What more could you want for $400 shipped door-to-door?

“Isn't this just the new breed of netbook?” you ask? Well, of course it is! But the manufacturers don't call them that anymore because they don't want you to think these machines are crippled. And now netbooks aren't. Long live the netbook!

Go Beavers!

Half of the freshman MIT class is now female. You've come a long way, baby.

(When I was an MIT student, only 20% of the students were female.)

Their last moments

"I’m trying everything I can to contribute to when that next model does come up, whatever it might be, whether it’s subscriptions or whatever, where the artist is more fairly represented and has a say and is compensated, and you’re not paying for jets for record label CEOs ... They’re in their last moments of death and I’m happy to see them go ’cause they’re all thieves and liars." -- Trent Reznor

Bat for Lashes live!

I saw Bat for Lashes live at the Paradise in Boston this past Thursday. The Paradise is a relatively small club that holds a few hundred people. Bat for Lashes was wonderful. (I'm in love!) I got there early and squooshed my way to the front of the stage, so that I was within a hand's reach of Ms. Lashes for the entire show. (Except for when she played piano.) I didn't get to actually meet her, as she didn't go the merch table, or come out to her bus within a reasonable wait. I did meet the opening band, Other Lives, however, who played a very nice set.

I didn't realize how good a singer Natasha Kahn is. She doesn't ever do anything showy with her voice, but she was never even the slightest bit off pitch or timbre, not even for a millisecond, even when her monitors needed adjusting. She's also apparently a good musician, as she played a number of different instruments. You wouldn't know from watching her videos, as she only ever sings in them.

Her band was also excellent. It was largely a girl band, as there was only one guy in it. You don't see that many excellent female drummers, but Natasha has one of the few, and the female guitar player, played guitar, bass, and drums. And, strangely enough, she's Tori Amos's lost twin sister.

P.S. Here is the brand new Bat for Lashes video ("Sleep Alone")

She was also on Jimmy Fallon's show a few days ago, performing the same song: