Friday, May 12, 2006

NSA Phone Call Database

I think I'm beginning to agree; George Bush is no conservative. At least not in the post 1984 sense.

What limited government advocate could approve of a national database recording every phone call made in the country?

I think George Bush, Jr. grew up on the inside. His dad was CIA director. He got to kick around Ronald Reagan's White House. He learned along the way that access to money and power could bring you a lot of rewards. He picked up on the language of the Reagan revolution; but he internalized a sense of entitlement to the use of power and money.

I guess I should be happy to see the principles of modern conservatism being shredded by the guy in charge of the movement. But maybe there are some things more important than just politics.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rebate Scams.

Hewlett Packard just informed me that the computer I bought from Best Buy, including a rebate form printed for me at the checkout counter, does not qualify for the advertised rebate because the purchase date was outside of the rebate period.

This seems to be par for the course with rebates; but what I wonder is why there haven't been a series of class action lawsuits, and congressional hearings.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Intel gets Back on Track

Last summer, I observed that computers consume a whole lot of power, and in particular that desktop computers burn through electricity like it is free, while laptops are much more efficient.

At the heart of this divergence is a decision Intel made about 15 years ago, to try to maintain its lead in microprocessors primarily by accelerating clock speed. Power consumption goes up something like the square of clock speed; so Intel's processor decision locked in a 15 year trend towards increasing power consumption on desktop PC's.

But along the line, Intel split its product line. They delegated an older architecture determined to have limited potential for increasing clock speed to mobile processors, the line that is currently dubbed the Pentium M series. In this line of chips, Intel put power consumption as its highest priority (while trying to improve performace as well), and lo and behold, after a few iterations, Intel figured out how to get similar performace out of these lowly slow-clock chips as they can get from their souped-up hyper-clocked, consume power like it is going out of style chips.

For the past few years, AMD has been catching up with Intel on performance - some say exceeding Intel's performance - using somewhat slower clocked chips. Intel, meanwhile, hit a wall on clock speed, because consuming more power (square of the performance gain) creates a lot of heat, and you have to get more and more sophisticated about how you get that heat away from the processor (and into your air-conditioned building).

The press attributes Intel's lackadasical performance not to this abandon efficiency if it gives a boost to clock speed decision in the CPU wars, but rather to a maturing company in need of restructuring. But the real restructuring Intel needed was to recognize that they went down the wrong path in the clock speed wars.

And today, Intel's new procuct line announces a new line of more efficient dual-core processors that increase performace per kilowatt consumed.

I suspect Intel's recovery is under way.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Unprofessional President

What's wrong when the President bends rules to suit his political agenda, and then seeks to tightly enforce similar rules to prevent opponents from exposing unpleasant issues for the administration?

I think it's a stark contrast from the professional ethic that brought the US world respect during the middle of the 20th century. After World War II, the US was respected around the world for its professional conduct. That conduct, in turn, was rooted in respect for the institutions and the individuals working for the institutions of America's civil, foreign, and military services.

When a President undermines the rules that guide professional respect, both at home and abroad, that corrodes America's position in the world.

The Bush administration came in to office with a promise to manage the government like the executives managed private sector companies. But this sort of unprofessional management wouldn't survive long in the private sector.

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