Thursday, December 30, 2004

Possible new Mersenne Prime found?

Some guy posted with an Italian email address asking what he should do about his copy of Prime95 beeping and flashing at him. This is something that Prime95 will do if it finds an exponent "p" that passes the Lucas-Lehmer test (indicating that 2^p-1 is prime).

George hasn't heard from him since that posting, so it very well could be a prank or a known bug with small exponents. It would probably be easy enough for George to check which exponent was assigned to his client (since he has already matched the email address to a PrimeNet user), and start the verification process on that exponent.

The last Mersenne prime was discovered in May 2004, and the one before that in November of 2003. These numbers have no practical use, other than perhaps for random number generators. The ones being found today are millions of digits long.

Interesting FFT Explanation

I found a link to this person's web page where FFT Multiplication is demonstrated using an Excel spreadsheet.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Comet Machholz

There's a comet in the sky that is brightening, and will continue to do so through January. Currently located near the feet of Orion, it is a Magnitude 5 object, just visible to the naked eye. At its brightest, it's expected to be around a Magnitude 4 object.

Comets are amazing sights to see. I missed Halley's back in '86, but I sure took in Hale-Bopp in '97. Machholz is not going to be nearly as spectacular, but it will be worth looking for in January to say the least, if only to say that you were able to pick it out of the sea of background stars.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Kerry Absent More Than Not

Ok, I know that Senator Kerry was campaigning for presidency, which required him to be away from the Senate floor more often than not over the past year, but where I'm going to have a problem is if he receives his full salary for 2004. The law states that if a Senator is not present when Congress is in session, and he is not sick, then pay shall be deducted.

I, for one, will be interested in seeing his tax filings for 2004 when he releases them in a few months. Same for Edwards and anyone else who had any absenses from Congress.

This isn't about the Presidential Election.... This is about holding our lawmakers fiscally responsible. These are the same people who can give themselves a pay raise while the rest of the country is working on frozen salaries.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

GBPVR: First Thoughts

Despite having developed for the GB-PVR platform, I don't actually have a HTPC running yet. Well, I don't have a complete one running with a remote control, etc.

I currently have a P3-800 box with 256MB and about 60GB of combined HDD space. It has a SB-16 sound card, and a WinTV PVR-150MCE capture card. Right now, there's a SIS AGP video card in there.

It took a little bit of trial and error to get GB-PVR to work on this interim setup. One lesson learned, and I'm not sure if it was made clear in the documentation or not (probably was, but I tend to skip over important details), is that you need a MPEG-2 decoding software (aka, a software DVD player that integrates with Media Player, etc) like WinDVD, etc. Or at least, GB-PVR started playing for me after I installed one.

In the current set up, I still have intermittent problems with live tv and watching video in GB-PVR, but scheduled recordings fire off without a hitch. I'm proud to report that I was able to record Ghost Hunters on SciFi last night during the busy Wednesday Night 9PM timeslot and play it back later (through Media Player, but it was still a great picture).

I'm sure my issues are related to the fact that Sub just put in support for the WinTV 150MCE, and probably issues related to the video card (it's not supported by Media Center, so it's going to get upgraded sometime). I won't rule out my software configuration either.

Annoying Website Feature

Here's something that annoys me, and I run into it using of all places:

Some sites take a while (meaning >1 second) to load, but the browser renders the page and its form elements while it's still loading. Then, there's a "onload" event handler for the body tag that sets the focus to a particular control.

That in itself is not the annoying part, but my bank and both do this on the login screen.

So, what happens is that I type my username, hit Tab, and then start typing my password. Well, in the middle of the password, that "onload" handler fires off, moving the cursor back to the username box, and it usually ends up with the latter half of my password being typed in clear text within that username box.