Just in Time for Cyber Monday: XO give 1 get 1 + a grin that will last for years!

XO ComputerThat's right, for a limited time you can get your own XO laptop [great for your kids or your sister's kids or your own personal use or app dev work] AND a child somewhere in world who has no computer will also get one, courtesy of you. Plus you get a $200 tax deduction AND a year of free T-Mobile Hotspot access. Not to mention a warm sense of satisfaction that will last for years. Just click on the cool machine and DO IT!

UK Child Data Missing: Mother of all data cock-ups?

First let me say that the choice of words in not mine. Apparently it is okay--in the UK--to use the term "cock-up" in a daily newspaper, as in "the mother of all cock-ups that has left half of Britain vulnerable to identity theft." (The Daily Telegraph)

The quote is from an opinion column that summarizes the situation so far. The basic facts are this: Two unecrypted CDs have gone missing, handed to a courier service and never delivered, potentially exposing the names, addresses, dates of birth and National Insurance [Social Security] numbers of the entire UK government child benefit database (this includes the bank account details of more than seven million parents, guardians and carers). As the Washington Post and others point out, that means it could affect more than 40 percent of the British population.

Please note the word "could" because, despite an array of armagedon-style prognostications from pundits, this incident, which is the talk of the nation in the UK at the moment, is not...

Give a Laptop, Get a Laptop: And a great big grin!

Thanksgiving. Christmas. Time to give, thanks and gifts. Time to get. And this year the giving and getting has never been better for geeks. Why? The XO is here.

XO ComputerYes, Oh happy day! XO Day! For the XO is the little laptop that could, as in 'could change the world.'

Come on all of you geeks out there. Get back to the edge. Buy an XO! Forget Wii. Forget Xbox. Forget Playstation and Bezos' Brain Fart (a.k.a. the Kindle). What your soul really wants is the coolest tech gift this year AND a very special feeling, a way to feel good about yourself for years to come: righteousness! And you get that from getting the XO.

That's because the XO is the laptop designed and destined for the developing world, places where they need computers that work and work cheap. The XO is the embodiment of One Laptop per Child and until we reach that target, surely anything else is just a diversion?

And right now is THE time to buy. If you live in North America and buy before Christmas, laying out about $400, roughly the same price as you would for Bezos' electronic version of a paperback book, you can get your own XO, a totally cool and very unique machine, AND have one delivered to a child in a developing country who really needs one. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE...

U. S. Sentencing Commission Considers Shortening Terms for Imprisoned Crack Offenders

Good article here on the debate about the U. S. Sentencing Commission considering shortening terms for imprisoned crack offenders. This may be the end of one of the most obvious forms of institutionalized racism in America. Consider this congressionally imposed rule:
"The mere possession of five grams of crack cocaine requires a court to impose a minimum term of five years' imprisonment, regardless of mitigating factors that may be present in the case. In contrast, the possession with intent to distribute 500 grams of powder cocaine is required to trigger the five-year mandatory minimum."

So white folks who do powder get to slide, while black folks who do crack get serious jail time. Hello? Crack IS cocaine. This is discrimination, pure and simple. The good news is that things may be changing. Too bad about all those families ripped apart by this late twentieth century incarnation of the Jim Crow mentality.

Intellectual Property Inanity: Genes, Surnames, Our Past

I've just finished reading Michael Crichton's Next, a hoot of a book that totally skewers the patenting of genes (along with a lot of other harmful trends in scientific and medical research). He makes a convincing case for ending the patenting of genes and a lot of other naturally occuring material. As the strangely inspired judge states toward the end of the book:

GWMO Saga: We make it to Nashville (promise we won't sing)

Tuesday morning was wait-and-see time in our Fairfield Inn hotel room in Centerville, Ohio. Waiting for the phone to ring and Jim, the service manager at Planet Ford, to say "Your vehicle is ready." Jim called before noon. He said the necessary belts had been ordered and we would be ready to go by about 5PM for an estimated $450. We took Jim at his word and checked out of the hotel. We headed to a nearby Starbucks. Layla wore her Service Dog outfit and behaved wonderfully, as usual.

Layla

We nursed several lattes and cappucinos for several hours. I finished reading the truly awesome 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Just as I have suspected for years, the Americas were full of people before they came into contact with Europeans, people who had been taking care of these two continents for centuries, from the woods of New England to the Amazon delta. Makes me very hesitant to call St. Augustine the oldest city without some serious qualifications.

Big Vehicles Need Bigger Vehicles

Truck recovery truckBefore buying the Great White Mobile Office, seen in the background of the picture above, and discussed at length in other posts, I had not really thought about the problems of recovering such vehicles when they go astray, or just won't go. This recovery vehicle was capable of lifting 80.000 points, a lot more than the 18,000 gross vehicle weight of the office. Operating one of these recovery trucks is obviously an art. And when you need one there is no substitute. So we were grateful to Sandy's Towing of Moraine/Dayton for sending one out so quickly, and to Richard, the operator, who came up with an ingenious solution to our immediate problem of how to get the GW to Planet Ford.

The [Great White Mobile] Office Saga: Part Deux, Ohio here I/we come

...we join the story in progress...Stephen has won the bidding on a 35 foot long mobile classroom that was up for sale on eBay, allegedly built in 1987, supposedly equipped with a 460 Ford engine , and less than 1800 miles on the clock. He plans to use it as an office in New York but first has to get the thing from Ohio to Florida where he will equip it...

Landed late in Columbus. Met by anxious Pastor Dan who drove me to the church parking lot in Urbana where the thing has been sitting. Looked it over best I could in the intermittent rain. Dan was keen to get to the Friday night high school football game that was in progress nearby [apparently attended by a huge crowd--cheers and band noise could easily be heard several miles away--the type of high school game where the ball is dropped from a helicopter].

I handed over a banker's check and...

Skybus Delivers: Cheap seats and relatively few hassles

Looking for the quickest and cheapest way to get from St. Augustine, Florida, to Columbus, Ohio? Skybus is answer. Could also be the answer if you are going between any two of these places:Skybus routes

Ten seats on every flight are sold for only $10. The rest cost more as plane fills up. I tried them out for the first time on Friday, to make the trip from Florida to Ohio to collect the Great White Office. I paid $90 including all fees, taxes, government surcharges, etc. That was at least $40 less than any other commercial flight I could find from Jacksonville, and this plane left from St Johns County airport just 3 miles and a cheap cab ride from my house, as opposed to 50 minutes and a $45 fare to JAX. To book...

The [Great White Mobile] Office Saga: An idea, an auction, a leap of faith

Once upon a time we lived in Florida and it was good. In fact, the living in Florida still is good. But a few years ago we found a magic valley in the North, in a state called New York, a hidden place peopled by cool folk and planted with many crops and trees. We bought a house on a hill there and it was good to visit. Then we thought, wouldn't it be nice to live here most of the time?

But there are some things lacking in our house on the hill, and I'm not just talking about no fibre optic net connection. There is no office space for my office stuff. There is a single car garage that would make a nice office but that would take a fair amount of professional contract work to convert, work I might not be there to oversee. So I thought, what about those offices they have on construction sites? And that's how we got into this...The [Great White] Mobile Office