Friday, July 27, 2007

Saving energy searching with Black Google

When displaying a screen with a white background a monitor consumes more energy than showing a black background. That's true at least for (older) CRT type of computer monitors. A study points out that a CRT monitor uses 75 Watts displaying a white background, but only consumes 59 Watts when showing an all black background.
This is not true for LCD type of monitors, as the background lighting is always on, even if some or all parts of the screen are black. But LCD monitors are far more energy efficient than CRT-monitors.

Using a site like Blackle, a version of popular Google search engine with a black background, could globaly save 750 Megawatts per year.

ODF plugin for MS Office

Sun created a plugin for Microsoft Office (2000, XP and 2003), which makes it possible to save documents in the Open Document Format (ODF). ODF is the format used by OpenOffice, StarOffice and other programs to save documents.

Monday, July 23, 2007


In May, no mail was delivered for nearly a fortnight in my town, because of a strike of the postal service.
During those two weeks, there was a national strike of the postal services, resulting in no mail delivery nationwide, for one day. Because of this one-day strike, the CEO of the postal service published a letter of apology (subscription needed) in all major newspapers.

Today, I, and all other inhabitants of my town, received a letter of the postal service, apologizing for the two week strike and all the trouble it caused. As a symbolic gesture, ten free stamps were included in the letter. Thank you, postal service!
But I would prefer not to have such a long term strike in the future, even if they offer me a thousand free stamps afterwards.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Google's stock plunges

Yesterday, Google announced its quarterly results.
Although Google had a profit of 925 million USD, which is 28% higher than last quarter, analysts were 'disappointed', because operating expenses were much higher than expected.
This 'bad news' caused the exchange rate of Google's stock to drop over 30 USD (about 6%) this morning when NYSE* opened.
During the day this loss was slightly restored, but today the value of the Google's stock dropped to a rate of a month ago.

I know stock exchange is sometimes irrational, but am I the only one to see that an increase in profit of 28% is rather well? Google's stock should have gone up today, not down.
I realise that profit could have been bigger if there had been less expenses, but a company like Google should invest in development, which costs money, in order to maintain its growth.

But probably the stockbrokers who caused the drop of Google's stock by mass selling this morning, were smart enough to sell when the stock rate was high and bought those stock back after prices had dropped massively, thus making about 30 USD per stock.
And suddenly stock exchange seems less irrational.

But then again, maybe now is a good time to buy Google stock, they're a lot cheaper than they were yesterday. ;-)

* NYSE = New York Stock Exchange, Google's stock is noted on NASDAQ

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Astronomers need help

Some time ago I wrote about computers needing human assistance for certain tasks, like recognizing images or understanding text.
This time astronomers need human intelligence to assign pictures of distant galaxies to a few categories. This is another task, that's trivial for human but immensely complex and error prone for computers.
The project is called Galaxy Zoo and its concept is simple :
A picture of a galaxy is shown to you and you have to decide which category it belongs to.
This is how you get started : After registration, you get a small tutorial explaining the different types of galaxies. After the tutorial you have to do a small test where you get 15 pictures of galaxies and you have to decide which category they belong to. When you get 8 out of 15 correct, you can start sorting new galaxies.

Donor boom in The Netherlands

Following the 'hoax' donor show last month, some 12,000 organ donors registered in The Netherlands.
It seems the creators of the show reached their goal.

Cut off

I haven't figured out what caused the outage, but I was cut off from internet the entire evening. Maybe the intensive rain flooded a local hub?
As the internet connection uses the television cable, I wasn't able to watch television either.

At first I was a little annoyed, but this soon faded when I realized I could read instead of watching television or spending some time on the internet.
I was able to finish a book I started reading on the train traveling to Barcelona and read some articles I had lying around.
It turned out to be a very enjoyable evening, listening to music and hearing the sound of extensive showers in the background while reading a good book.

BTW : The book I finished was 'Het derde huwelijk' (The third marriage) by Tom Lanoye.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Barcelona tube

Earlier this year, I mentioned going on a trip to Barelona.
Well. I went, I saw and I enjoyed it.
One of the things I enjoyed most, was the metro system. It is very practical : you enter a station somewhere in the city, take a train, maybe switch lines halfway and leave a metrostation in a totally different part of the city in no time.
I noticed that the metro trains in Barcelona are airconditioned, but the stations are not. Once you're on a train the temperature is enjoyable, but in the stations it can be realy hot. It is sometimes even hotter in the stations than it is above ground.
Prices are acceptable. You pay 1,25 EUR for one ride, but when you buy a pass for 10 rides (6,90 EUR) or a one (5,25 EUR) or two-day pass (8,30EUR) , it costs even less.
You can use the same ticket on bus and tram in the Barcelona area.