Bruce Momjian

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Technology Christmas Gifts, Including GPS

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The kids' favorite Christmas gift was a "Get Smart" DVD set. I got Christine a GPS navigation system for each car. We used the GPS yesterday and it worked well. Getting two identical GPS devices allows us to configure one GPS and then use a USB cable and laptop to transfer the configuration to the other device. Also, by having an external GPS device rather than one built into the car, I can bring the GPS in the house and enter addresses and get trip estimates before I get in the car.

Two things I like about the GPS is that it allows me to think more about driving and less about which roads to take, and it gives an estimated arrival time. With the GPS I do not have to wonder if I am lost or if I missed my turn. I don't think the GPS allows me to do much more than I could do without it, but it makes things easier and I have more confidence taking unfamiliar routes. (Another favorable GPS opinion.)

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Thoughts Copyright Morality

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This article covers some interesting hypothetical cases of copyright use.

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Thoughts Green Chri$tma$

Friday, December 21, 2007

I just heard the Stan Freberg radio drama "Green Chri$tma$" (script, critique) and thought it was a funny parody about the commercialization of Christmas.

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Flight International Shipping

Friday, December 21, 2007

I forgot a few things when I traveled to Japan so I had Christine send them via DHL. Interestingly, now that I know she can send things to me I don't feel as isolated when I travel internationally.

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Technology Are Proprietary Databases Doomed?

Friday, December 21, 2007

This interesting article discusses open source databases vs proprietary databases from a business perspective.

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Technology Missing Ubuntu Applications

Friday, December 21, 2007

There are two applications I have to boot to XP to use. I use them so rarely I forgot about them. One is Polycom video conferencing software, and the other Netflix streaming movies.

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Technology Disappointing Technology Products of 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This article lists the top fifteen technology disappointments of 2007, and I think it is pretty accurate.

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Technology Rhapsody On Linux

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One of the applications I thought I was going to miss on Ubuntu was the Rhapsody music service but they have a web browser version that works on Linux. I also needed to add a few entries to Firefox's Adblock Plus so the player would work properly:

[Adblock]
@@rhapsody.com
@@realone.com
@@real.com
@@listen.com
@@doubleclick.real.
@@doubleclick.rhapsody
@@doubleclick.realone
@@doubleclick.*listen
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Technology Using Ubuntu On My Laptop

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Having used Ubuntu on my laptop for two months I have decided to continue using it and not return to XP. Ubuntu is not only as good a user experience as XP, but actually better. Ubuntu is more responsive and seems cleaner and more flexible than XP and better integrates with my Unix server. All the applications I used on XP exist on Ubuntu, so I am not missing anything there. (And I hear Microsoft Vista has an even worse user experience than XP.)

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Thoughts Home Electricity Usage

Monday, December 3, 2007

The common belief is that lighting is a major component of home electricity usage. In fact, lighting is only only 9% of average electricity usage (full report). Computers and televisions are also minor energy users. The largest usage is for heating (house heater, space heater, water heater, oven, clothes dryer) and cooling/dehumidifying (air conditioner, refrigerator, freezer, dehumidifier). (Internally cooling/dehumidifying devices use motors to compress coolant.)

This chart summarizes total energy usage and contains costs for typical devices. This excellent web site shows how to attack the largest electricity users. To do your own electricity monitoring, get a Kill-A-Watt device that allows you to monitor the electricity usage of individual devices.

I was surprised by how little electricity my computers and television use, and how much electricity my refrigerators and dehumidifier use. I don't use much electricity for heating or cooking.

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Thoughts Human Nature

Monday, December 3, 2007

This article make some interesting observations about human nature. I doubt they are all true but some probably are. (critique)

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Technology RuneScape Game

Monday, December 3, 2007

My boys have started frequently playing RuneScape. It is like Club Penguin but more sophisticated. It is basically a browser-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Their usernames are 'mmomjian', 'lmomjian', and 'ppeter10000'.

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Thoughts Radiation Dangers Exaggerated

Monday, November 26, 2007

I was quite surprised to learn that radiation is not as lethal as once thought. This conclusion is based on studies of human radiation exposure during the past fifty years. In the past, radiation danger estimates were based on the expectation of illness years after radiation exposure, but now enough years have passed to know that such occurrences are rare.

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History More Soviet History

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I have finished reading the first book on Soviet history. The second, The Soviet Century (review) is more topic-oriented rather than chronological . It covers specific areas in depth, like administration, agriculture, and the prison system. My third book is a collection of Soviet documents, and the fourth planned book contains stories from people who lived during the Soviet period.

This is actually illustrative of how to study an historical period: overview/analysis, details, documents, personal histories/biographies.

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Thoughts Proofreading

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Seems people can read text that is grossly misspelled.

Update: A detailed video about this

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History Terms From the Middle Ages

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It is amazing we still use phrases from the 1500's, and we often don't even know what they mean.

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Thoughts Reasons To Hate English

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This humorously illustrates the many complexities of English.

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Community Pennsylvania State Flag

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pennsylvania is considering adding its name to the state flag. I have to say I initially didn't like the idea of a change myself, but looking at the new version, it does look better.

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History More Military Deaths in Some Years of Peace Than War

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I was kind of surprised by this story reporting that there are sometimes more U.S. military deaths in years of peace than war.

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Technology Good Cell Phone Reception

Thursday, November 8, 2007

This article explains why my Verizon IS-95 (CDMA) phone gets better reception than 2G GSM (TDMA) phones. The difference is caused by how the two systems allow multiple users to access the same cell phone tower. IS-95 (CDMA) uses Code Division Multiple Access to randomly spread callers across the spectrum of available frequencies. 2G GSM (TDMA) uses Time Division Multiple Access which allows multiple access by using small time slices for each user. IS-95 (CDMA) works better in areas with less density or a weaker signal, which explains why I get better reception. 3G (3GSM) networks use CDMA. Of course, a pull-out antenna helps too.

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Arts Playing Sinatra For Fifty Years

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I just read an interesting interview with Sid Mark about his fifty-year-old radio program playing Frank Sinatra music. I remember my mother listening to his show when I was a kid, and he is still on the air. I enjoy the show myself.

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Technology Portal Game

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I just finished playing Flash Portal. It was fun but requires a lot of thought. You can find video solutions for each level on YouTube.

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Community Pastor Meets President Bush

Friday, November 2, 2007

Our church's assistant pastor is in the Army Reserves and met President Bush at Fort Jackson. He is the second person on the left.

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Technology Open Source Pricing and Clones

Sunday, November 4, 2007

This interesting article explains the complexities of open source pricing and offerings by looking at Red Hat and CentOS.

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Thoughts The Power of Nightmares Video

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I just watched a video series The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (parts 1, 2, 3). While I don't agree with everything in the video, it does have an interesting analysis of Islamic revolutionaries and U.S politics.

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History Soviet History Quotation

Friday, September 14, 2007

I am half-way through The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991, by Martin Edward Malia, and have come upon the following passage which I think summarizes the entire book, and in fact the entire Soviet experiment.

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Community Activities for the Fall

Friday, October 12, 2007

We have the usual children's Fall activies (choir, robotics, marbles), but have added dance for Catherine, chess for Luke, and gymnastics for Peter.

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Community Armenian Genocide Resolution Passed by U.S. House Committee

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

An Armenian genocide resoution was passed today by a U.S. House Committee.

Update: Looks like the bill will not get a U.S. House vote.

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Technology New Pictures

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I got tired of seeing the same elephant picture on my main home page so now a set of pictures cycles through every hour.

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Technology Open Source Adoption

Sunday, October 7, 2007

This discussion thread is a huge reality check on the challenges to open source adoption on the desktop. The bottom line is that being just as good as commercial offerings often isn't enough. They must be better. On the server side, open source is often better than commercial offerings, which explains the high adoption rate of open source for servers.

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Flight Back from Russia

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I returned from Moscow a week ago. The city has modernized tremendously since the Soviet days. There is lots of construction and everything is being updated. They even gutted many of the older buildings and they look very good.

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Technology Trying Ubuntu

Thursday, October 4, 2007

After using XP on my laptop for several years, I am now trying Ubuntu. It seems to work quite well, and automatically finds all the devices on my laptop and my network printer. Fortunately I was already using mostly open source applications on XP so they all exist on Ubuntu too. The few commercial software programs I use either have Linux versions or have web interfaces. Seems Linux is getting to be a viable alternative to XP for ordinary computer users.

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Flight Busy In Moscow

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I can guarantee you that Russian hospitality is alive and well in Moscow. I have been in Moscow for only three days and have seen churches, monasteries, museums, Red Square, the Kremlin, and stayed two nights in a country house (dacha), and had time to give a five-hour presentation too.

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History Soviet History

Friday, September 14, 2007

I have always been interested in the Soviet Union because its social structure was so unusual, and now that I am visiting Russia I decided to read a Soviet history book. Surprisingly there is not a lot of material about Soviet history, clearly less than Nazi history, which was a shorter period and farther in the past. Anyway, after looking at some books that were purely factual, I came upon The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991, by Martin Edward Malia, which is a penetrating analysis of Soviet history (book review, reader reviews). Also interesting is that the Google book link seems to have most of the content accessible, though there is a viewing limit.

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Community Good Year For Agriculture

Monday, September 3, 2007

We have a local farmer, Fred Funk, who delivers produce to our house twice a week. He says this year is the best he has ever had, and we have eighty pounds of tomatoes to prove it. Fred doesn't use fertilizer, pesticides, or irrigation, so he is very dependent on the weather. We had a good mix of rain and sun this year.

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Technology Computer Museum

Monday, September 3, 2007

Seems there is a good computer museum that has all the cool computer equipment I remember seeing as a kid.

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Transportation 1986 Toyota Pictures

Friday, August 31, 2007

Christine took some pictures of our Toyota Celica (image, image, image, image). The car has 110,000 miles.

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History September 11 NORAD Tapes

Sunday, August 5, 2007

I just read an interesting account of the efforts to intercept hijacked planes on Septmeber 11, 2001.

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Technology New Operating System

Friday, August 3, 2007

I have been running XP on my laptop since I got it in 2003. Today I had time to try PC-BSD as a second bootable operating system, and within a few hours I had it doing everything I do on XP, including Firefox, Pidgin, and wireless internet. I am surprised how easy it was.

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Community Earth Images

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Seems there is an updated image of the Earth that has a higher resolution than previously available.

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Technology Computer Companies That Died

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This article lists computer companies that many wish were still around. For me it is Digital Equipment Corp (DEC), Borland, and Commodore Business Machines.

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Technology Blinking Lights

Friday, July 13, 2007

After having trouble finding ground-fault outlets that don't have a constantly-lit status light, I was reminded of this commentary advocating a "Gadget Bill of Lights".

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Community Final Salute

Monday, July 9, 2007

This article describes the intimate details of the Marines assisting the family of a fallen soldier. The slide show is particularly powerful.

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Technology Streaming Movies

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Netflix recently added a Watch Now section where you can watch movies immediately, rather than having the DVDs postal mailed to you. They only have 3,000 movies, and you have to use Internet Explorer, but other than that it works well. It is a taste of the future of movie viewing at home.

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Technology Free Telephone Directory Services

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Google has a good free voice-activated directory lookup service for businesses. Free411 also has one that includes homes, but it has advertizements. Both are very useful from my cell phone because I am not near a computer to do lookups.

Update: There is now a 1-800-BING-411 from Microsoft that can supply turn-by-turn directions.

Update: Seems the service is being terminated. 2010-10-11

Update: I will now be using Bing 411 instead. 2010-10-31

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Community Friend Gets a New Job

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My friend from SRA and EnterpriseDB, Richard Romanik, just got a new job at Infosolve Technologies.

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Technology Email Disclaimers

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Here is a good article about email disclaimer signatures.

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Technology RadioShack

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Here is a funny spoof about RadioShack stores.

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Thoughts Service Tip

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

If you take an item in for service (car, electronics, etc.), write down details of the problem and the work you want done. Even if you have already given that information over the phone, having a written record usually yields better service because the person actually doing the work has all the information they need, rather than relying on whatever information was taken down over the phone.

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Technology Telecommuting

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Here is an interesting analysis of telecommuting, something I have done since 1992.

Update: Telecommuting survey 2011-09-21

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Technology Open Source Economic Analysis

Friday, May 4, 2007

This article outlines many of the reasons open source makes economic sense for businesses and developers.

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Thoughts Actual vs. Perceived Risks

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This commentary outlines how most people inaccurately assess risk. This causes people to avoid some things that are less risky but do other things that are more risky.

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Community Governor Sets Bad Example

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The New Jersey governor has set a bad example in breaking the law by speeding and not wearing a seat belt. (Aftermath: Seems the governor agrees.)

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Technology Most Annoying Technical Products

Monday, April 16, 2007

PCWorld has an article about the most annoying computer products.

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Technology Programmer Advice

Friday, April 6, 2007

Here is an insightful article about what a programmer should learn for long-term success.

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Technology Technology Product Failures

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Here is an interesting article about the most dramatic technology product failures.

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Technology x86 CPU Instruction Set

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

This article outlines why the x86 CPU instruction set is still the popular. In my opinion, the x86 instruction set is the only popular instruction set that can be programmed efficiently in assembler. Both RISC and EPIC instruction sets are too complex for programmers to code directly.

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Technology Fifty Best Technical Products

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

PC World just posted a good article listing the top fifty technical products.

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Technology Oracle Opens Patents to Open Source

Friday, March 30, 2007

Here is a surprising announcement about how Oracle has made open source projects, like PostgreSQL, safe from claims of infringing Oracle patents. Oracle, like IBM, Sony, RedHat, and Novell, is now a member of the Open Invention Network, whose members all offer the same patent indemnification.

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Technology Oracle-Compatible Database

Friday, March 30, 2007

Here is a good article about how EnterpriseDB, my employer, is using PostgreSQL to make an Oracle-compatible database. This is similar to how Linux used open source tools to make a Unix-compatible database.

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Technology Elephant Picture

Monday, March 26, 2007

People have asked if the picture of me with the elephants on my main web page is real. The picture was taken at an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka during a post-conference tour, and was taken by Greg Stein, a Google employee and Apache member. Other than being cropped to better fit on the web page, the picture is unretouched.

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Technology Batteries

Saturday, February 3, 2007

With lots of kids, we use lots of batteries. It seems expensive and wasteful to buy batteries and throw them away when they are depleted. Fortunately, Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries are better than disposable ones. They charge quickly, and don't become less powerful after only a few uses. They usually come in AA and AAA sizes, and I now favor buying devices that use those battery types.

Update: This article has more details about rechargeable batteries and how they work.

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Technology A Better Mouse Trap

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Mice are often too small to trigger mouse traps. My solution is to wrap a twist tie (paper-coated wire) around the bate lever before adding the peanut butter bait. When the mouse comes to eat the bait, it works hard to eat the peanut butter trapped around the twist tie, and unavoidably always triggers the trap.

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Technology Too Much Media

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The public's exposure to mass media during the 20th century went from radio, television, movies, video rental, to the Internet. Now, with the Internet, video rental services like Netflix, music services like iTunes, and Internet-based entertainment like YouTube, the public has access to more media than ever before, and the traditional media companies are struggling. Newspapers, radio, television, and movie studios are all reevaluating their place in a market with more and more choices. Mass-media culture was unique to the 20th century, and it looks like the mass part of it isn't going to make it too far into the 21st century. View or Post Comments


Community My Accent

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Living in the Philadelphia area all my life, it seems I have a distinct accent. When I ask for water, pronounced "WU-der" here, I usually get a "huh" from non-Philadelphians. And it seems a small quiz can pick out your accent. It easily identified me as a Philadelphian.

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Technology EnterpriseDB Doing Well

Sunday, January 14, 2007

It is nice to see my employer, EnterpriseDB, is doing well. Some open source companies I have worked in the past have struggled. It is nice to be with one that is thriving.

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Transportation Toyota Celica Repaired

Monday, January 1, 2007

Our Toyota Celica GT, which my wife purchased new in 1986 (file images), required $2900 USD in repairs last week. The dealership repaired not only the immediate problem but most of the other parts that typically need replacing after twenty years. Many family members felt the car wasn't worth repairing, but my wife hasn't found a car she likes better, so the repair seemed wise. Hopefully the car will last many more years.

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