Spin!

Germans don’t like McCain.  Still was it really necessary to print this picture (right)?  But what is particularly interesting was the subtitle:

In the Rheinische Post the descriptionwas "McCain making faces at Obama" (unfortunately, I found this only in print, not online).

In Hamburger Abendblatt, it was described as "Obama tripping".

In both cases, the picture was the same, it was provided by Reuters.

Reduce Poverty (Blog Action Day)

Today is Blog Action Day, and the topic is poverty. Everybody is invited to think about it.  Here are my thoughts:

  • It’s not as bad as it sounds – we have to get our facts right, and according to many measures, poverty in the world is decreasing (e.g. in Sub-Saharan Africa, poverty decreased from 46% to 41% from 1990 to 2004).  This is great news, and we should be grateful for these developments! But…
  • This is no reason to stop improving things!  There is still much to be done.  We mastered past crisis, but there are new ones ahead.  We all can help but how?  To figure that out, we first have to understand…
  • What is poverty anyway?  Food, shelter, access to medicine, those are just the basics, and those are the ones that are measured by the World Bank and other institutions.  But there are many other kinds of poverty, and if you want to help, fight the poverty that you can and that you feel comfortable with, specifically:
  • Fight where you feel comfortable – I know people who don’t want to give to charities in other places – then don’t!  But don’t do nothing.  There are plenty of local causes that decrease poverty in your city or neighbourhood.
  • Fight where you can – Money is by no means the only way to give.  Participate in a food drive, donate some of your time – there are so many way to do something.

Togehter, we can make the world a better place.  Thank you.

Quote from Lao-Tse

I just came across this quote from Lao-Tse on Triiibes that is a real keeper:

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did this ourselves.’"

Synaptics Touchpad & USB Mouse at the same time

While Touchpad and USB Mouse worked out of the box on my T61 running Ubuntu 8.04, I prefer the synaptics touchpad driver.  Installing it was a breeze, but it stopped my USB Mouse from working.

While there are a lot of fixes are on the internet, it took me a while to get it to work, mainly because my Kernel was too new.  Most fixes suggest to use the "AlwaysCore" Option in the "ServerLayout" section.  Eventually I found this link which suggests to use "SendCoreEvents" instead.  Now my xorg.conf looks like this:

Section "ServerLayout"
    ...
    InputDevice    "Touchpad0" "CorePointer"
    InputDevice    "Mouse0" "SendCoreEvents"
EndSection
...
Section "InputDevice"
    ...
    Option         "SendCoreEvents" "true"
EndSection
...
Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier      "Touchpad0"
    Driver          "synaptics"
    Option          "CorePointer"
    Option          "SendCoreEvents" "true"
    ...
EndSection

Book Reviews: Feynman vs. Watson

Recently I read the biography of Richard Feynman, "Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman" and just now the biography of James Watson, "Avoid Boring People".  Feynman won the Nobel Prize in Physics 1965 and Watson the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.

The Feynman book I can wholeheartedly recommend the Watson-Book not at all!

Feynman starts off a little slow, but the book gets really interesting and shows a man who is truly passionate about physics.  He couldn’t care less about the Nobel price and was even considering to turn it down.  The book is entertaining and shows a man with integrity and passion.

Watson starts off slow and stays slow.  His book almost reads like a telephone book, with far too many names and facts that are irrelevant to the story.  Although I really enjoyed the science parts of the book.  But after the discovery of the double helix (after the first 3rd of the book) it really goes downhill.  Watson starts to complain about not getting enough salary, he says really nasty things about some people, and in generall comes across as petty, self-centered and back-stabbing.

Don’t forget: Summer is book-reading time!

How to charge for social networking websites

A while back I criticized the Xing business model and the fact that the users – the main assets of the networked – are charged a significant fee.  It’s not that I cannot afford it, it’s more about the fact that they need users as much, if not more than the other way around.

I just discovered Ning, which offers users to build social networking sites – for free of course.  BUT you have the option to pay: You can pay to:

  • Remove promotional links
  • Control the ads shown
  • Use your own domain name
  • Increase storage and bandwidth

Whether the model is viable is to be seen – but I consider it more honest towards the users and more robust against competition.