Monthly Archives: March 2005

Fair End User License Agreement

InfoWorld’s Ed Foster is working on what he calls the
Fair End User License Agreement
(FEULA), now in version
0.90.1. The FEULA goes a long way towards making companies
accountable and responsive to their customers (something the
current EULAs expressly don’t do). I’ve railed about
Microsoft’s restrive EULAs
before so I won’t do again
here. But if Microsoft were to use Mr. Foster’s version they
would go a long way towards
building trust
– something long missing in the
conversations with MS.


Firefox 1.0.2 Security Update

I like to think I keep up-to-date with what’s happening
with Firefox
but it seems a security update slipped out the door on the
24th without my noticing it. Version 1.0.2
fixes three vulnerabilities
, including one that, as the
saying goes, allows the execution of arbitrary code (geek
speak for anyone can run anything on your PC). Note carefully
that the
install instructions
say to remove your previous version
of Firefox before installing this one.

There is also an update to the Thunderbird e-mail program
so you may want to update that too.
Release Notes are here


Cuban Content

I’ve been reading Mark Cuban’s blog,
off and on, for maybe a year now. I got linked to his site, I
think, via a mention in Doc Searls blog.

Mr. Cuban appears to be, like the professional basketball
he owns, a maverick. Being a maverick is not always
a Good Thing. But in his case, it is. Mr. Cuban speaks
forthrigthly and with conviction. Conviction based on common
sense and the research he does before he writes about

So I am pleased that he
is writing
on the issue before the US Supreme Court
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., et al. v. Grokster, Ltd.,
et al. No. 04-480
(see this
for his additional info on the RIAA
claims). He makes the clear case for technological innovation
versus fear of losing control over content distribution (yes,
I know, Doc hates the term).

Clearly, digital technology and distribution of
music/movies over the Internet can revolutionize how artistic
works are offered to their customers. Previously, a few
companies controlled everything. But with the coming of the
Internet, broadband connections, and digital technology,
artists can now cut out the middlemen and have conversations
directly with their customers.

The powers that be are clearly frightened by this and are
doing the best they can to muzzle these conversations. If they
win, innovations such as the Xerox machine, VCR, cassette
tapes, recordable CD-ROMs/DVDs, and Tivo-type DVRs would all
have been illegal (and just about all of them were opposed by
these very same companies/associations using the very same
arguments saying the sky would fall if they became popular
and that their primary, nay only, use was to illegally copy
content. Thus, stealing money from the mouths of their

I am especially pleased that not only does Mr. Cuban
oppose these attempts to stifle digital innovation, he is
willing to fund the EFF’s
efforts against them. This folks, is walking the walk. This
is declaring to all where he stands.

Thank you Mark Cuban. We need more people like him.

Please support the EFF by
becoming a member
. I just did (I’m getting the t-shirt).
Membership starts at only $15 for students and $25 for
everyone else.


Blowing Hot Air

Electronics, like most people, hate a lot of heat. Heat
reduces, sometime substantially, the expected life of
electronic components. In fact, given enough heat, almost any
electronic component will immediately fail.

As you may remember, I’ve been searching for a new
CPU fan/heatsink.
This is because of the extremely high temperature readings I
got from the very first time I booted SWMBO new PC
(Pentium 4 2.8E Prescott Core) and the related incessant CPU
fan noise.

It was not unusual for Intel’s CPU monitor utility, which
displays temperature and voltage levels of the motherboard
(in addition to fan rpm), to be constantly going off because
the CPU was exceeding the maximum default temperature of
68°C. I was getting peaks exceeding 72°C (about
162°F). Even at idle (the CPU, not me) the utility
typically reported 59°C (about 138°F). Compare this
to the previous generation of Intel CPUs running at about 30
to 40°C.

I first tried adding more fans to my
Antec SLK-2650-BQE
case, which came with a 120mm rear fan
(not to mention the PSU fan). I installed an 80mm fan in the
side panel duct, and an 80mm front fan. While the over
temperature warnings ended, they were still in the
mid-to-high 60° and the stock Intel CPU fan still made
an awful racket because it was spinning as fast as its little
blades could go.

Hence, rather than waiting for the CPU to expire in a puff
of smoke, or my eardrums to burst from the fan whine, I
decided to purchase a new CPU fan/heat sink.

mentioned before
that it came down to two different
models: ThermalRight XP120 and Zalman CNPS7700-AlCu. In the
end, I ordered a Zalman but the smaller brother of the 7700 –
Zalman CNPS7000B-AlCu
. I got this one because it didn’t
exceed the weight limit of 450 grams for Intel motherboards
and because I could get it from (which is a Better
Business Bureau member in good standing).

In order to install the new fan I, of course, had to
remove the old one. I would like to note here that sharp
metal objects and delicate motherboards and CPUs do not a
good match make. Not that I had any problems mind you ;). In
any case, the old fan and heatsink eventually came off. I
then used rubbing alcohol to remove the excess thermal
grease from the CPU. Most sources warn that you should wear gloves when
coming in contact with the grease so consider yourself

While the new fan is much larger than the Intel OEM one, it
doesn’t have any problems fitting on the Intel
motherboard. But be aware that the outside edge
of the heatsink comes awfully close to the bottom of the
power supply and may be a problem in smaller cases. I’m glad
I got the smaller fan because I’m not sure I would have been
able to fit the larger and heavier
Zalman 7700

Fitting problems aside, getting the new fan screwed down
onto the bracket was harder than it should have been. You
have to tighten down two screws. Each is situated at the
opposite and extreme ends of what can be imagined as a lever.
As you try to tighten the first screw down, the other end
rises. It rises so much it is impossible to get the opposite
screw started unless you are pressing down on it. Hard.
Simultaneously, the whole assembly slides around on the thin
film of thermal grease. Eventually, I got both screws started
(it helps to have three hands) and was able to tighten things
down and closed the case up without causing injury to the
motherboard, CPU, case, or myself.

Everything booted up fine so I guess nothing was damaged.
I was, however, disappointed that under idle, there was no
difference in CPU temperature as compared to the stock Intel
fan. I had seen other reviews in which idle temps went down
by five or more degrees. But I did not find any difference at

However, and this makes be happy, there was a big
difference under load. As mentioned earlier, using the stock
Intel fan, I would get constant over heating warnings when
the CPU temp went over 68°C. This occurred when running
simple, relatively low-intensity applications like Word.

Except for one alarm, when first booting, the temp has not
risen above about 62°C (about 143°F), even when
running multiple applications like displaying a DVD (“Animal
House”), while listening to an AAC (Joss Stone), and editing
a document in Word. I don’t know why I got that first alarm
but I hope I don’t get any more.

Not that everything is perfect, though. The Zalman is
running at about 2,700 RPM. This creates noise. Less noise
than the little Intel fan spinning at the same or higher
speeds, but noise nonetheless. Fortunately, this is not a
MPC that needs to
be silent because it’s sitting in your living room. But the
noise is still something you should think about if your
environment requires silence or if you are particularly
sensitive to noise.

If you are, you are on your own. Perhaps the larger Zalman
will work/fit. Maybe not. If not, other than going to water
cooling, I can’t suggest an answer to how to keep your Intel
Prescott core CPU running cool and fans quiet.


Screened Out

Enough with the “transparent screens” already. What? You
can’t get enough of the effect? Well, then go here
or here.

Transparent laptop screen 1.

Transparent laptop screen 2.

Transparent laptop screen 3.


Eyes of Space

My wallpaper for the week (suitably stretched and squished
for my monitor) comes from Yale
and the Hubble Space Telescope. The image
indirectly maps dark matter clumps through light deflections
made visible by a process called gravitational lensing (don’t
ask me because I don’t know – ed.).

As a programming note, tomorrow is a state holiday (Prince
Kuhio Day) so the next post won’t be until Monday.

Have a Great Weekend, Everyone –

Happy Days

So enough with the boring stuff. How about a few happy

This guy likes origami
. But not just any origami
(the Japanese art of paper folding). He likes doing stuff
like rhombitruncated cuboctahedrons, truncated icosahedrons,
and greater stellated dodecahedrons. One example of his work
is below:

Compound of five tetrahedrons.

guy likes his Mac Mini
. He likes it so much he decided to
hide it in an old Dell case so that no one would know he was
using one and steal his.

MAc Mini inside of a Dell case.

there’s these guys who like high powered projectors
. They
have a series of photos created by projecting images on to
the side of what looks like a cooling tower of some sort
(much like the ones for nuclear reactors). Once at their site, click on the link at the top corner of the photo and it will take you to the next image (the site is not in English but I think “weiter”
essentially has you go forward one image).

Cooling tower projection.

you guys who are into robotics
, Radio Shack is launching
a robotics kit called the Vex Robotic Design System for $299
that will give you the parts needed to contend in the FIRST competition.

Vex robot car.