Happy Summer Solstice

Yep, the current season for the northern hemisphere is now summer. It would not be summer with out the sun, our local star.

And speaking of stars, the star Eta Carinae made its way on to the front page of Digg twice today. Eta Carinae resides at about 7500 light years away from Earth. Back in the 1840s the light from a supernova like explosion on Eta Carinae reached Earth. Now with composite pictures from NASA excitement over this star is increasing. According to Phil Plait, from Bad Astronomy, Eta Carinae should produce a gamma ray burst in its supernova event. A steady diet of these high-energy rays will kill all living inhabitants of Earth. Don’t panic, according to Phil the most likely directions for the gamma rays to be emitted during the event are not aimed directly at us.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Vista Performance

The Vista beta 2 displayed the potential of Microsoft’s new operating system, too bad that the included performance issues became worse. Last week I was called into a client’s office to try to figure out why a custom written command-line application took twice as long to complete in Vista. By no means is this an apples to apples comparison but the results are surprising.

This particular application written in Fortran an compiled in Windows XP took about 2 hours to complete it’s calculations on a Pentium 4 1.6Ghz machine running XP. The same application, running the same model, on a Pentium D 2.8Ghz machine took over 4 hours to complete when running Vista. Without even knowing that I have primarily used Linux as my main OS for the last month, they inquired on the benefits of migrating to Linux as they own the source code the the majority of the tools they use. Since none of their tools venture out of the command line world, porting them to Linux could be as simple as a recompile.

Last Saturday someone inquired on my impressions of Vista and Linux. Again there was no reason for the person to suspect that I run Linux, but they inquired anyways. These people are not the technical type, they know how to use their computers to aid them in their work and that’s about it. The simple fact that these people are frustrated with Vista and more importantly know Linux exists surprises me. While others have in the past proclaimed the respective year of proclamation the year of Linux, to date no substantial mass migration to Linux has occurred. I will not grant a single entity the privilege of the icon for a year. However, the next three years will be interesting, especially if Microsoft manages to piss off any major game studio (e.g. Electronic Arts).

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]