Over at AppleInsider, they have a bunch of photos comparing the new 15-inch Macbook Pro with the now "old" design:

My thoughts: The new MacBook Pros are a really worth thinking about. From their overall look, they seem to be better designed, and a few annoyances have been taken care of, such as the old MBP's plastic rim, or the hard drive (failure part number one in computers, seriously) that was hidden way on the inside of the box.

Along with that, since I bought my first-generation one, the processor speed (mine still has an Intel Core Duo CPU), and now also graphics power have increased significantly. All the new "bling" in Mac OS X Leopard and many new and fancy applications demand a lot from a laptop, which mine--in spite of plenty of RAM--sometimes can't fulfill.

Bottom line: I am considering retiring my laptop "Chronos" some time next year as my primary, every-day tool, in favor of one of its younger siblings, with much more "bang" to tackle the work to come.

I also looked at the smaller MacBooks, and while I like that they moved closer to the MBP (being aluminum and all), the missing FireWire, ExpressCard, and the shared-memory graphics made me forget about that pretty fast.

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Carnegie Mellon's wireless network makes me sad: I get about 20 KB/s of constant noise (all day, every day) from, mostly, Windows computers announcing their presence to the outside world via broadcast packets.

In the "network" window, this looks like that:

If this is a secret ploy with the intention to empty everybody's laptop batteries as fast as possible, it's working! :) Then again, unlike University of Karlsruhe, CMU puts power outlets into every seat when they drop a bucket of money to renovate a lecture hall. At my home university--with the exception of the new library--laptops have to be mostly powered with their owners' love and respect: Places with appropriate power connections are rare.

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Today's xkcd comic boils down the Digital Restrictions Management dilemma to its core:

The latest Wal-Mart example--switching off their DRM servers (in spite of their later decision not to do it after all)--has shown that companies are not willing to stand by their self-imposed duties of providing a DRM framework for many decades to come. Instead, they are taking away the technical possibility to play your files at their sole discretion, leaving you as a customer with no choice other than throw away your media collection--or violate the law.

This is why DRM is so bad: While it is understandable that companies want to protect their income sources, by demanding payment for the media they produced, DRM is making promises the companies do not want to hold, or in some cases (read: bankrupcy) can't hold. This is why I prefer, at least at the moment, Amazon MP3 over the DRMed part of iTunes any day of the week.

And while Wal-Mart does not exactly have a great reputation as a whole, there's one thing they've thoroughly understood: The concept of capitalism. So it comes to no surprise that they (along with Amazon, for example) exert pressure on the music industry to be able to sell DRM-free music. The market demands DRM-free digital media that can be owned like a record or a CD and slowly, very slowly, content providers are forced to acknowledge that.

I can't help but wonder, though, is this development going to include digital video as well, any time?

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Heute abend würde ich gerne ZDF schauen können: Literatur-"Papst" Marcel Reich-Ranicki hat bei der Verleihung des "deutschen Fernsehpreises" für einen kleinen Eklat gesorgt:

Zunächst hielt Moderator Thomas Gottschalk persönlich die Laudatio für Reich-Ranicki und gestand, dass er ihn "sehr verehre". Danach trat der "Literaturpapst" selbst ans Mikrofon und fand harte Worte: "Ich kann diesen Preis nicht annehmen. Man hätte mit seiner Zeit während der letzten drei Stunden weit Besseres anfangen können als diesen Mist hier." Weiter kritisierte er das aktuelle Fernsehprogramm als "Blödsinn" und setzte nach, dass nur noch auf Arte und 3Sat manchmal eine gute Sendung liefe. Sein Resümee des Abends: "Ich gehöre hier nicht hin. Ich werfe den Preis von mir!"

Ich selbst schätze Reich-Ranicki außerordentlich: Er war von je her ein Mensch, der seine Meinung mit allem Nachdruck vertreten hat, und dadurch -- ob man seine Ansichten nun teilte oder nicht -- zum Nachdenken angeregt hat. Und so hat er auch dieses mal nicht enttäuscht, wenn er der vor sich hindümpelnden deutschen Fernsehlandschaft eine Absage erteilt.

Bemerkenswert, dass die Chefs von ARD und ZDF gleich bereit gewesen sein sollen, über die Programmqualität zu sprechen. Sie scheinen genau zu wissen, was Reich-Ranicki meint.

urteilt der "Lawblog"-Schreiber Udo Vetter, und diese Ansicht teile ich: Es kommt wohl nicht von ungefähr, dass man Reich-Ranicki im Anschluss an die Aufzeichnung eine Sendung anbot, in der er wohl mit Gottschalk über das deutsche Fernsehen debattieren soll.

Ob diese implizite Selbstkritik freilich ausreicht, weite Teile des deutschen Fernsehens aus der Trivialität zu holen, muss sich zeigen.

Nur eines kann ich aus der Ferne beitragen: Reich-Ranicki tut gut daran, sich nicht das Amerikanische Kabelfernsehen anzusehen: Das meiste, mit dem die Sender hier das Werbefernsehen unterbrechen, lässt uns Zuschauer nur wünschen, dass bald wieder Werbung kommt. Ausnahme: Von den exzellenten Serien hier (ich denke an CSI, House, ER, Dexter...) kann man sich daheim mehr als nur eine Scheibe abschneiden. In derselben Liga spielt in Deutschland nur der Tatort (was man ja vielleicht bereits als einen kleinen Lichtblick werten könnte).

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There's a 106-year-old American nun living in Rome who plans on voting this year again for the first time after she voted Eisenhower in 1952:

Sister Cecilia Gaudette, who last voted for President Eisenhower in 1952, has registered to vote and says she will vote for Democrat Barack Obama. Although hard of hearing, she keeps herself informed by reading newspapers and watching TV (...). Asked about her hopes for the US under an Obama presidency, she says: "Peace abroad. (...)"

She could well be the oldest person to vote in that election. I find it impressive how much she still cares about politics, at an age few will ever reach.

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The new feature called "content-aware image resizing" in Photoshop is amazing. There is a promotional video up on the Adobe site that's really fun to watch. For example, they make a Volkswagen bus more "economical" (mind you, while keeping the wheels round):

The technology behind it is based on research from an Isreali research group. That group put a video up on youtube in 2007 already:

It's a little more technical, but no less impressive, so all of you geeks who wonder how it actually works should watch this as well.

I can tell you one thing: I want this in Firefox's page resizing code. Sadly, I assume it is strictly patented and Adobe will probably have made sure to have some sort of exclusive deal on it.

Update: A commenter points out, there is an open source plugin for the GIMP that does content-aware resizing--already since 2007. Thank you, Gandalf!

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The New York Times write, Gov. Palin of Alaska abused her powers to get her former brother-in-law fired:

A 263-page report released Friday by lawmakers in Alaska found that Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, had herself exerted pressure to get Trooper Michael Wooten dismissed, as well as allowed her husband and subordinates to press for his firing (...) Further, it says, she “knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda.”

That raises one question for me: What would she do in the West Wing, if, say, she saw a way to advance her family's careers by using a bit of her power? Or if there was a way to give homeland Alaska preferential treatment over the other 49 states?

One thing is true about German politicians: If they do don't care much about their work ethics at home, they do not turn into model citizens either once they go to Berlin. I doubt that it's any different when you fly from Alaska to D.C...

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The US national debt clock was recently running out of digits:

It appears even technology cannot cope with the global financial crisis: the National Debt Clock in New York has run out of digits for the first time. (...) As a temporary fix the dollar sign has been switched to a figure--the '1' in $10 trillion. The clock is currently marking the US federal government’s national debt at about $10.2 trillion.

That reminds me of the German national debt clock, that I ran across quite accidentally a few years ago when on vacation in Berlin. I took a photo and subsequently donated it to Wikipedia:

At the time, it was at roughly 1.4 trillion Euros, while now it's already well over 1.5 .

The good news is: At least the German clock is not running out of digits soon. If that's any consolation, with a per-capita share of 18.000 Euros in debt, is a different story.

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An unfortunate typo in a configuration file left this blog completely without images for a little while. Apologies to the readers who may have been confused by that.

Now, fredericiana is back in all it's glory :)

On a side note, I am actually glad how nice my blog still looks with images "disabled". Still, I am glad everything is back to normal now.

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Yesterday was the national holiday of Germany: The 3rd of October is the German Unity Day, commemorating the anniversary of the German reunification in 1990.

Google Germany made a special logo for it and put it on google.de, which I think looks pretty cool:

My humble self obviously had to go to work anyway, as foreign holidays tend not to be observed over here ;) but we coincidentally ended the day with dinner at a fancy fish restaurant, which counts as celebrating, doesn't it?

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