Archive for May 2008

While KDE 4.0 did not meet everyone’s expectations, most recognized its potential to become the desktop platform of the future. KDE 4.1, the first beta of which was released earlier today, builds on the excellent base of KDE 4.0. KDE 4.0 promised a relatively fixed API and was geared towards developers, but KDE 4.1 is for consumers.

In particular, the announcement from the KDE team noted:

  • Greatly expanded desktop shell functionality and configurability
  • KDE Personal Information Management suite ported to KDE 4
  • Many new and newly ported applications

Most notably, Plasma has matured greatly and has gained new features such as resizable panels and more desktop effects. More KDE 3 applications have been ported to KDE 4 and many existing KDE 4 applications have been improved. In particular, Dolphin now supports tabs, Konqueror now has many new features, and the printing applet has been completely redone.

Not all changes are immediately visible, however. Many of the frameworks that KDE 4 uses have also been improved. KHTML is now faster due to anticipatory resource loading, and WebKit is now included and allows for Mac OS X dashboard widget integration. Plasma itself has become more stable due to new features in Qt 4.4.

While the final release of KDE 4.1 won’t be until July 29th, the KDE team urges consumers to try this beta version and report bugs. Debian has precompiled packages in the experimental repository, while Kubuntu packages are in preparation as of now.

Read more at kde.org.

(edited 05/28/2008)

The word is out that Kubuntu packages are being built and should be ready by Friday; thanks, Richard!

Space agencies were some of the first places where you could find open source software “in the wild”. Being natural early adopters, cash-strapped and very inquisitive, the agencies naturally took to the open source concept. Additionally they were some of the first users of ARPAnet and subsequently the Internet, which which lit a fire under the open source movement. Today this marriage between rocket science and open source saw its latest victory with the landing of NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander.

via OStatic

Apparently, the aerospace industry makes heavy use of free, *nix-based custom software for almost every mission. The U.S. military has already using/developing free software, and companies in the aviation business are most likely looking to use free software for their applications.

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer had nothing but high hopes ahead of his visits in Central and Eastern Europe that were scheduled to debut in Budapest, Hungary on May 19, 2008. But a less traditional reception awaited the CEO of Microsoft in the final stage of his Hungary visit. Ballmer participated at the Windows Server 2008 executive launch event, then attended a press conference for the launch of Hungarian Employability Alliance, in an online chat, and was scheduled to finish the day with a keynote address at the Entrepreneurship Forum at Corvinus University, where it all went bad for the CEO. During what appeared to be nothing more than a regular speech, Ballmer was egged by a protester, and the otherwise anodyne event managed to make video history.

via Softpedia

Here are some YouTube videos.

Too bad he missed, eh? While it is understandable that people might dislike Microsoft, the protester’s actions were pretty immature. Ballmer handled the situation well enough.

Sept 8, 2008: Comments closed due to spam, sorry.

The Stirling engine, invented in the 19th century as an alternative to the steam engine, is powered by the expansion and contraction of a gas as it is alternately heated and cooled. In a conventional Stirling engine, the heating and cooling is achieved by moving the gas between a hot chamber and a cold chamber. The result is an extremely efficient mechanism that can operate on very small temperature differentials (i.e. body heat vs. environment).

The lamina flow engine is a Stirling engine with a single chamber with a hot end and a cold end, insulated by a restriction in chamber diameter. Not only does it have a much simpler design, but it is also somewhat more efficient: the only moving part is the piston.

It would be interesting if lamina flow engines can be used to harness solar energy the same way these guys are doing in L.A. with traditional Stirling engines.

I will be constructing a simple model using a test tube and a glass syringe. Details will follow as they become available.

The last version of DOS I used before upgrading to Windows 3.1 was 6.22. I wonder where this one came from, but it totally kicks ass:
http://ms-dos7.hit.bg/

It’s totally beefed up, has multimedia support (read: MP3′s and videos on DOS), comes with Microsoft Anti-Virus (read: erase those DOS viruses now), is GPL (read: not a genuine Microsoft product), and comes with a totally awesome bootsplash!

The best part is… you know how Linux has these live CD distros? Well DOS 7.10 goes farther — live floppy with Windows 3.11 window manager O.o

It’s awesome because it packs some nifty tools, and supports Windows 95 and Windows 98.