Critical Section

Archive: May 17, 2010

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Monday,  05/17/10  09:48 PM

A rainy Monday, managed to enjoy it; sometimes it's nice to get a change of weather, right?  Tomorrow I'm off again, to Vista, and then up to Portland Wed and Thu, but today had a nice quiet day working from home.

"wild birthday party" - coming up Saturday...Warming up for a massive party Saturday too; Megan has just turned 13, and in consequence we're being invaded by about 50 seventh graders.  So be it.

TheScientist reports Fate of Science hero uncertain, regarding the reelection prospects of Arlen Specter.  "It isn't often that citizens from a single state in the union can dramatically shift the fate of research support in the United States, but Pennsylvania voters may have the chance on Tuesday (May 18). They head to the polls in a primary election that will determine whether democratic Senator Arlen Specter -- arguably the most celebrated champion of biomedical research in Congress -- will remain in his seat next year."

The inconvenient facts about global warming.  I no longer know what to believe; it seems there is global warming taking place, it is exacerbated by human behavior, but it doesn't seem to be an impending disaster...

Brett Lancaster wins Amgen Tour of California stage 2Of course not everyone enjoyed today's rain; consider the organizers of the Amgen Tour of California, who moved the TOC from February to May for better weather only to have a rain-soaked stage 2 from Davis to Santa Rosa.  The weather was so bad the TV 'copters were grounded, making for a pretty boring viewing experience.  In the end Brett Lancaster prevailed over Peter Sagan in a wet bunch sprint, leaving those two leading the GC as well.  Tomorrow the selection begins in earnest with the stage to Santa Cruz featuring the Bonny Doon climb.

Scott "Dilbert" Adams with a marvelous post: The Value of Attention.  "If the New York Times asked you to write a guest editorial, for no pay, on the topic of your choice, would you do it?"  Absolutely!  Read it; definitely worth your attention :)

The steady increase continues: Seagate confirms 3TB hard drive.  Wow, unbelievable.  And interestingly, they might have to make it look like two drives on older computers which can't handle drives larger than 2.1TB.

One way to get attention: IndiaRealtime reports companies might soon have a Chief Tweeting Officer :)  Well at least I wouldn't have to change my acronym!


Windows 7: paging that works

Monday,  05/17/10  10:02 PM

Hi!  Yes, it is time for a


You all know, I am not the biggest fan of Windows.   (*cough*)   Over the years I have criticized Microsoft for focusing on the wrong stuff, adding all sorts of bells and whistles which aren’t even properly part of an operating system and adding cruft and overhead while neglecting core facilities like memory management and networking.   So hold on to your hats because here comes a compliment.  

Windows 7 finally has paging that works.   And that is a breakthrough.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been assembling extremely large images for Jacopo Annese, a researcher at UCSD’s Brain Observatory.   You may know him as the leader of the team which sectioned H.M.’s brain.  The assembly process consists of compressing large tiles together into columns, and then compressing columns together into the final image.   It takes about eight hours to complete one image; the files are about 2.5GB in size after 40:1 compression with JPEG2000.

So here’s the thing: I’ve been able to do this in the background on my laptop while doing all sorts of other stuff; sending email and surfing the web, editing various documents, blogging, making and presenting powerpoints, working in Excel, even coding in Visual Studio.   The compression processes just run in the background, sucking a ton of storage and grabbing CPU cycles when they are available, and paging when necessary.  I can put my laptop to sleep, Zzzz…, then wake it up, and everything resumes; under Win 7 it all “just works”.   I don’t have to worry about the background processes dying or stalling, and more importantly don’t have to worry about their impact on my foreground work.   Finally in 2010 we have a version of Windows that works the way a computer ought to, instead of falling off a performance cliff as soon as physical memory is exhausted.

I know, I know; precelebration is the root of all failure.   I’m now probably five minutes away from a blue screen.   Still I thought it was worthy of mention… if you’re not on Win 7 yet, think about upgrading; you’ll like it.



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Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
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Try, or Try Not
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almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
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your cat for my car
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world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
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introducing eyesFinder
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where are the desktop apps?