Friday, February 12, 2010

Using Funtoo stage3 tarballs for new Gentoo installations

The hard drive holding the root partition of my Gentoo server is about to be replaced. I could very easily copy it over while using a live CD (preserving permissions, of course), but that would be taking the easy way out.

Instead, I'm going to reinstall using a fresh stage3 tarball from Funtoo. If you haven't heard about it, its a fork (?) of the Gentoo project and is run by Daniel Robbins, the original creator of Gentoo. He uses a custom build script (dev-util/metro) to build a stage3 environment from the latest portage snapshot; the ones offered officially from Gentoo are updated every few decades it seems and do not take long to become outdated.

If you're going to do a new Gentoo install (and if you haven't, why not!?), I can't find a reason NOT to use a Funtoo stage3 tarball.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Trends in Credit Use

There's an interesting graphic up at Man Vs. Debt showing the use of credit in various contexts.

The first chart shows credit use in eight major countries in dollars and the percentage of household expenses devoted to food within those countries. I'm not sure how the two are related since two different metrics are used -- its and apples-to-oranges comparison. Even individually, the total dollars an overall number and does not take into consideration the population. Showing "billions of dollars in credit card transactions per person" I believe would've been much more effective. Even with what we have, though, the disparity between China and the US is especially stark considering population.

The percent of expenses devoted to food is also a bit misleading. I understand that the author is trying to show an inverse correlation between this percentage (implying the societal value of food?) and credit use but even by itself, these data don't show much. For example, a higher percentage could occur if the overall expenses or total income for a household decrease. Ultimately this first chart seems too incredible for me to place any value in its findings.

I do believe that there has been a steady proliferation of credit use, and the second chart in the graphic is far more straight-forward in pointing that out. That in itself, can't be the problem; when used effectively credit can be a great tool. Indeed, I believe it's essential for many small businesses to grow, for example. Personally, I use credit to pay for anything I can, paying off my balance each month and accruing rewards (points, cash back, miles, etc.).

I consider irresponsible use to be a symptom of a deeper issue: ignorance. I don't blame anyone in particular, there just aren't too many passively available resources to educate people when they're most malleable: youth. Cultivating a greater understanding of fundamental finances and fiscal responsibility should be a staple of every teenagers' (at least, I would start even earlier) education as much as social studies or history. I wish I could offer a solution but hopefully an optimistic blogger's lament will hold you over until then.

Anyway, although I agree with Adam's sentiment, I believe his point would have been much more persuasive had he split up the first chart into two distinct graphs and developed his logic within each.

Man Vs. Debt [via Get Rich Slowly]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010's CEO Aaron Patzer gives presentation on building startups

Aaron Patzer, the founder and CEO of personal finance site gave a presentation last October describing his journey taking Mint from startup to big-time; they were recently acquired by Intuit to the tune of $170 million.

This is a very insightful and humbling lecture, and just because I'm an engineer and therefore biased doesn't make it any less invaluable.

Check it out:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Part II of the Gervais Principle

I discussed the first part of Venkatesh Rao's essay on the Gervais Principle here. He has since released part II, entitled "Posturetalk, Powertalk, Babytalk and Gametalk." Just as insightful as his first part, I highly recommend reading it over.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

FOSS drivers for Broadcom Crystal HD creates a lot of potential for low-cost HTPCs

Broadcom's Crystal HD is a new technology that for most of us AV nerds that is as revolutionary as is evolutionary. Usually those are mutually exclusive, but bear with me. Anand argues that the available platforms don't make sense for what most people are trying to do. Intel's graphics platforms, while reasonable for the real-time decoding of most content, are simply too underpowered to handle 1080p. NVIDIA's ION platform, on the other hand, is just too expensive; I believe the phrase he used was "not retrofittable." This allows you to take an existing system that may just not have to juice to stream 1080p content and imbue it with that magical power, in the form of a mini-PCIE card. In the future, it should also be available in ExpressCard and 1x PCI-E form factors.

What makes this release revolutionary is a result of both Broadcom's strategy and the software ecosystem into which it will inevitably end up. First, Broadcom has released the driver under the (L)GPL for both Linux and OS X, and if you know me at all you should know how warm that makes me feel inside. This obviously has its own inherent benefits, such as a rapid update cycle, quick bugfixing, greater compatibility, etc. In combination with existing software for Mac/Linux, though, this is a no brainer. He uses XBMC as an example of one such media center because it has already incorporated the userspace support for the Crystal HD libraries, but I can easily see this being taken up by other projects such as ffmpeg, vlc, mplayer, and MythTV -- just look at how quick those projects were to adopt NVIDIA's VDPAU library!

I don't have any 1080p content currently, but that was based on my hardware limitations. Once I was able to move up from SD to 720p streaming my video library quickly upgraded. I don't think this is something I'll tinker with in the coming months, but certainly something I will follow as it combines three of my favorite things: media streaming, open source, and HD!

[via AnandTech]