Minimo - The Next Portable Browser

I love PDA's.  Many of these little devices can do it all, especially O2's XDA Trion mobile powerhouses.  One area where I have noticed a lack of innovation, however, is the browser.

Over the last few years I've worked with various browsers on portable devices and found each of them lacking.  I'd love to find a release of Opera for Windows Mobile 5, but this seems to be next to impossible.  I've heard it is available, so hopefully the memory requirements for the application is a little lighter than on my XP and Vista systems.  So it came as a bit of a surprise when I stumbled across a small browser called "Minimo".

This small application is pretty slick.  It runs on a Mozilla core and seems to be capable of viewing most every site I've visited.  Social Bookmarking, tabbed browsing, SSL/TLS support, and Javascript/AJAX support are just some of the incredible features that this application comes with.  I've been using this on my iPaq for a little over two weeks now and can't believe I've survived with Pocket IE for as long as I did.

I really like the clean interface and intuitive operations.  One of the biggest problems when designing anything for a mobile device is the lack of screen real estate, and the UI designers certainly know how to make this look easy.

As of this writing, version 0.2 has been released, but don't let the small number fool you.  The stability and capabilities of this browser are worthy of a 2.x designation.  If anyone running Windows Mobile 4.2 or 5.0+ would like to replace their existing browser, I'd strongly suggest giving Minimo a try.

The Universe's Brightest Supernova

Galaxy NCG 1260 is some 240 million light years away.  To put that into some perspective, it would take a starship 158,311 years at a constant speed of warp 9 (1.02 Trillion miles per hour) to reach it.  Yet despite this incredible distance, NASA's Chandra telescope has recorded a massive supernova.

This incredible source of destruction was about 100 times more powerful than a typical supernova, and scientists believe that because of the readings, this star may have been about as large as a sun can (theoretically) get ... about 150 times the size of our own second-generation yellow star.

It's long been thought that the first generation of stars were massive, and this particular supernova allows us a rare glimpse into how these first stars died.  That said, finding these massive stars and then witnessing their death is not without challenges.

The star that produced this supernova (SN 2006gy) apparently released a large amount of mass before exploding.  This large loss of mass is similar to something happening to a star within our own Milky Way Galaxy called Eta Carinae, which may be ready to go nova itself.  Although SN 2006gy is technically the brightest supernova ever recorded, Eta Carinae is only 7500 light years away (a little over 4 years at a constant speed of warp 9).  Should Eta Carinae go nova in our lifetime, it would be one of the brightest objects in the night sky for years.

Supernovas usually occur when massive stars exhaust their fuel and collapse under their own gravity.  In the case of SN 2006gy, astronomers think that a very different effect may have triggered the explosion.  Under some conditions, the core of a massive star produces so much gamma radiation that some of the energy from the radiation converts into particle and anti-particle pairs.  The resulting drop in energy causes the star to collapse under it's own massive gravity.

After this collapse, violent runaway thermonuclear reactions occur (similar to hydrogen bomb mechanics) and the star explodes ... sending it's matter in all directions.  This paves the way for smaller second generation stars (like our own) to form, potentially with proto-planetary discs for solar system formation.

I often wonder if perhaps computer programming was the wrong field to get into ... astronomy has always been far more exciting, and I would love to examine the effects of a supernova on the fabric of space.  To have such a massive gravity well suddenly spring forth would have massive reprocussions to the surrounding region ... aside from the obvious.

Oh No, SETI!!!

I thought something was amiss when my workstations reported only 2% load this weekend.

It appears that [email protected]'s science database machine, Thumper, has forgotten how to identify it's own hard drives.  Since the disk controllers for the server are built into the motherboard (let this be a lesson to anyone running mission-critical servers on integrated components!) and major repairs are expected to be necessary.  So until this server is up and distributing work again, it seems that we'll all be running with lots of extra clock cycles.

Luckily, the great people at Sun Microsystems are going to be replacing the database server.  As of this writing, they should have the machine running through its final preparations or enroute to UC Berkeley for immediate deployment.  I am curious to know what kind of system Sun will provide, though.  These machines often remind me of the Mars rovers, in that they exceed their expected lifespan by ridiculous margins.

When the new server is up and running (likely Monday evening) there will likely be a huge rush to go out and collect large sums of work.  Hopefully people will adjust their cache to grab no more than two days of work (my PCs typically only cache 3 days of work) so that the few available workunits can be evenly distributed among the community.

There's right now a discussion in the forums to determine a new name for the server (I'm going with Helios), as well as updates on the progress of the replacement.  Feel free to stop by and add your voice.

Home Alone

Long distance relationships are not easy.  I don't think anyone will disagree with the statement.

As I write this, Reiko is on her way back to Japan on a fully loaded Air Canada jet.  I really hope that she's comfortable during the flight as an 11 hour journey is tiring even under the best of conditions, but much harder when the surroundings prevent you from enjoying the trip.

On the way back from Ontario I was becoming restless on the plane 90 minutes into the 4.5 hour flight.  From the first moment of discomfort, the rest of the travel time seems prolonged.  I had been able to get the window seat, but the two people next to me seemed to go comatose shortly after take-off.  This made it impossible to get up and stretch my legs or even go to the washroom.  Perhaps if I was more forceful with my communications, these people might have woken up to move ... but I didn't have to go quite that badly.  Oddly enough, they slept right up until the plane hit the runway in Vancouver.  That slight jarring was enough to bring them back to life.

Must be nice.

But now that Reiko is gone, I'll need to once again turn my attention to other matters.  For the moment, studying Japanese, completing the paperwork necessary for school and work, and completing a potentially saleable NAS device are my top priorities.  With all these in place, I should be able to find work in Japan for this coming Fall/Winter season ... hopefully sooner.

I've lived alone for almost a decade, with only short periods of time where someone would share a home with me.  This has given me quite a bit of freedom to come and go as I please, and handle maintenance and other items at my leisure.  When Reiko leaves, though, my home feels more empty than it was the day I first moved in.  Hopefully this will be the last time I need to say goodbye to Reiko at the airport.

Playing Tourist at Home

Dark coulds, heavy rains, cold winds and slow bus drivers.  It feels good to be back in Vancouver.

Reiko and I braved the elements to stop by my work in Richmond today where we picked up a camcorder battery ordered 10 days ago from a vendor on eBay.  I cannot believe the amount of time it took to receive that package ... it was supposed to arrive 2 days before Reiko did, not two days after.  I'll leave the obligatory positive feedback (considering how the battery is brand new and in better shape than I expected), but I will have to make mention the long ship time.  It wouldn't have been so bad if the seller would have said something like "I only ship on Friday".

Oh well.

From work we made our way to Downtown Vancouver to play tourist, and it was lots of fun.  After a great lunch at Tsunami Sushi (best $35 I've spent all week), we shopped for souvenirs and visited every store that caught our eye.  I even managed to find Reiko a cute squirrel stuffed animal at a shop in Gastown.

I know that all good things must come to an end, but I really wish Reiko could stay in Canada longer.  It always seems that we say goodbye a few hours after saying hello ....

I'll pist some of today's pictures in the "Vancouver 2007" album.  Hopefully I can do this before too long.

Back in BC

Alright ... it's taken an hour longer than originally scheduled ... but my plane finally landed.

I guess this means I should start writing some new entries and/or posting some of my fillers ... but I'll work on all that stuff tomorrow.  Right now I'm exhausted, despite sitting in a chair for the last five and a half hours.

I'll be sure to update my image gallery with some of the 590 pictures I managed to snap in the last three days.

Seeing The Falls Again, For the First Time

It's funny how something as simple as being somewhere with the woman you love can make that somewhere ten times more enjoyable.

The FallsI grew up in Southern Ontario, spending much of that time about an hour's drive away from Niagara Falls.  In the 22 years I had spent in the province, I had seen The Falls maybe half a dozen times.  Each time I had gone with friends, but never girlfriends.  Because of this, we would often go just to watch people or visit one of the many nudie bars that lay on the outskirts of the city.

Seeing The Falls themselves was alright, but not much fun.

So when Reiko and I visited Niagara Falls with some of my family today, I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed the trip.

Driving there from Simcoe took two hours, and after arriving we had some lunch.  The weather was great, and the light breeze picked up the mists generated by The Falls and blew it across the picnic area.  Even with this cold water hitting us for the first hour or so, the day was remarkably warm.  From there we managed to take several hundred photos as we walked both above the ground, and below.  One of the attractions allowed us to walk behind the falls, and this was enjoyable as we could get right close to the water and see some of the snow that had built up in the morning.  We also treked up Clifton Hill to take in some of the sights, and even enjoyed a brief Ferris Wheel ride.

After all this, I'm still surprised that Reiko managed to stay awake.  She had just come from a Tokyo to Toronto direct flight the day before, with a four hour train ride beforehand.  With the excessive time differences, she had woken up several hours before anyone else.  And add to that the nervousness she had felt for meeting some of my family ... I'm really surprised she didn't pass out mid-afternoon.

Risu HunterMaybe that's why she chased after the squirrels ....

I'm glad that we could make the trip to Niagara Falls during the short stay in Ontario, and I'll be sure to bring Reiko again if we get the opportunity to stay longer.  There are quite a few places in that province that I had never really understood as being "special", though I'm certain that everything will be at least a dozen times better with my Reiko.

In Ontario

Alrighty ... it's been five years, but I'm back in Ontario.

The flight to Toronto was relatively uneventful, with just occasional discomfort from the people next to me.  The plane managed to arrive 45 minutes ahead of schedule, and this was certainly some good news as I really needed the bathroom.

I will admit that I was quite surprised by the lack of WiFi at Pearson International, though.  For an hour after landing, I was sitting at a coffee shop trying to get in touch with the world and I couldn't find so much as a stray signal from a local McDonald's.  Oddly enough, I was even having trouble with my Rogers GPRS data connection at the coffee shop.

Just to add some adventure to the trip, it seems that I had gotten every detail about Reiko's flight to Toronto wrong.  I had landed in Terminal 3, and was expecting her to arrive at the international wing of the same terminal only an hour later.  Almost 90 minutes after she landed, we finally contacted each other via cell and found that she was actually in Terminal 1.  By this time I had already met up with my father and step-mother, so we made the trek to the other terminal and met up with my Reiko-chan.

Ah, what fun.  I wonder what would happen if Reiko and I could go 1 trip without some kind of adventure at the very start.  Hopefully the rest of the week will be enjoyable.

Tomorrow we go to Niagara Falls, and I'll be taking lots and lots of pictures.  Later on, I'll start posting to a new album in the photo gallery.

Off to Ontario

I knew this day would eventually come, but I did not expect that it would come at this time.

Today I fly back to Ontario for the first time in almost five years.  In that time I'm sure that much has changed, and people have grown.  I have a nephew and a niece to meet for the first time, as well as a potential brother-in-law (assuming he ever asks my sister the question shakes fist).

Reiko is already on her way from Japan, and I'll be meeting her in Toronto.  She's sure to be exhausted from the 16 hours of flight, so I'll be certain to have something for her to eat should she get hungry between Toronto and Simcoe (a two hour drive).  Unfortunately, because of time constraints, Reiko and I will only be able to stay in Ontario for two days.  In that time we'll visit Simcoe, Niagara Falls and Port Dover, and there will be some small family things, too.

So this will give me ample opportunity to snap several hundred pictures and put them in the image gallery.

On Wednesday, Reiko and I will be making the flight back to Vancouver (on seperate planes ... grr!) where we'll spend a few days with friends here.  So on that note, I don't think there will be very many science or technology-based entries in the next few days.  I do have a few in reserve for those "slow news days", but I can't quite put them up yet.

For anyone interested in the progress of my OpenSolaris-based Dynamic NAS project, I'm in the midst of putting together a very low cost server to test my initial work on.  The goal is to make use of a very simple $250 (or less) base and expand as required.  For the moment, this is certainly looking more plausible than other network appliances on the market.

I'd say "stay tuned" ... but that's so passe ....

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