Saturday, January 21, 2012

Arctic Woolly Bear Moth

The Arctic Woolly Bear Moth (Gynaephora groenlandica) is a fascinating creature. It is a moth that is found in the Acrtic circle. As a caterpillar, it emerges in spring and feeds on leaves during the short Arctic spring. Towards the end of spring, when temperatures start to drop, the caterpillar slows down its metabolism and practically freezes. It reawakens the next spring to repeat the cycle. This growth-freeze cycle continues for 7 to 14 years! After a decade it spins itself a cocoon and then finally emerges as a moth. BBC's "Frozen Planet" showed this moth on episode 2. Here are a few pictures of the caterpillar and moth from the show.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon has a added a new offering to AWS: Amazon DynamoDB. This is a fully managed NoSQL database. One of the most interesting items to catch my eye was this: "All data items are stored on Solid State Disks (SSDs) and are automatically replicated across multiple Availability Zones in a Region to provide built-in high availability and data durability." Does this mean that Amazon is now the largest owner of SSDs? I wonder who they buy from. Amazon's pricing structure for this service is a little weird. They have introduced the concept of "Write Capacity" (one write per second for items of up to 1KB in size) and "Read Capacity" (one strongly consistent read per second or two eventually consistent reads per second of items of up to 1KB in size). Why not just define pricing in terms of data reads and writes per second per KB? With the added bonus of Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR) integration, this should be a useful service for all NoSQL users.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized $25-$35 ARM GNU/Linux computer that can be plugged into a TV and a keyboard. Here's a picture of the connectors on the device.

The device is stil under development but here's a rendering fo what it will look like. Should be an interesting alternative to Arduinos but make take a while before it has a good community around it. There's already a lot of interest and activity on the forums. Looking forward to being able to purchase it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Madeira Airport (FNC)

Madeira Airport (FNC) in Funachal, Madeira, Portugal is an amazing airport. A portion of the runway is built out over the ocean on a series of 180 columns, each 70m tall! Tons of pictures here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

10 Years of Blogging

Hard to imagine that it has been 10 years since I signed up on Blogger and started blogging! My first post, which has since been moved to a different blog, was on "War and Peace" and Altavista's Babel Fish. Surprisingly the original link to Babel Fish - - still works and redirects to Yahoo's Babel Fish.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Windows 7 on VirtualBox: Random Freeze

Running a Windows 7 guest via VirtualBox on OSX Lion, I noticed that the guest VM would periodically freeze up. The freezes occurred once every few minutes and would unfreeze within half a minute. It was quite annoying and after many months of back-and-forth on the VirtualBox forum, it seems like there is a solution. The solution is to use the Chipset PIIX3 (instead of ICH9) in the virtual machine's motherboard settings