The Mystery Of Microsoft’s Bldg 7

Pranks and jokes revolving around the mysterious Building 7 at Microsoft’s Redmond campus may live on thanks to building planners.

The Seattle area has 116 Microsoft buildings and the buildings on the Redmond campus are numbered sequentially except for the number seven.

Read more at InfoWorld on this years old mystery and why it’s in the news today…


Details Emerge On IRS Plans To Tax eBay Auctions

Ars Technica gets a sneak peek at the proposal from the Treasury Department to target eBay auctioneers and gives us their analysis.


The IRS has made no secret of the fact that it wants Internet auction companies like eBay to provide more information about high-volume sellers to the government in order to help close the “tax gap” between what Americans owe and what they pay. But now the official proposals are finally on the table, and Ars has had a look at the documents. Here’s what you can expect if the changes go through.

But this isn’t a change that will apply to all eBay sellers; in fact, most will be exempt from the new reporting requirements.


Developing Game Coders At USC

For EA and its industry brethren, USC is looking more and more like it will be an invaluable source of talent and ideas.

That’s because the university is in the process of forming what it calls the USC Games Institute, an “umbrella of activity” surrounding the research, development and design of video games that is set to encompass the various programs of study currently being held at the university’s engineering school, its School of Cinematic Arts, its Annenberg School for Communication, its Institute for Creative Technologies and its Roski School of Fine Arts.

Link to C|Net article

What Is That??

Well I’ve been gunning for some new material for these WIT photos, and I think I’ve found a few that will give you guys a run for your money! I’ve decided to branch out and grab some material that isn’t necessarily tech related, so keep that in mind when you peruse the next several offerings.

What Is That?

It was a blast to find this stuff for you guys, so I hope you have as much fun guessing what they are, as I did in finding them 😉 Comments, if you please!

A Plethora Of Links: May 16 ‘07

Woz Sports Two Of The Geekiest Watches Ever
Why would Woz wear a watch on each wrist? And what kinds of watches would a man with his finger on the pulse of the tech industry sport? Not your standard Timex, that’s for damned sure.’s New Interactive Weather Map
MSDN Blog – Jonbox
Weather.Com has added anew map, the Interactive Weather Map. It’s very much like using a map – zoom, panning, satellite view and a street view – but with weather features layered on top.

The Mother Of All Heatpipes To Cool Your Proc
This monstrosity is known as the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme and it’s topping the charts for cooling performance.

AMD Unveils Phenom
Hardware Geeks
AMD has unveiled their new processor family called Phenom. The AMD Phenom processors are the world’s first true dual-core and quad-core processor.

NASA Unveils Hubble’s Successor
The telescope Hubble’s successor is scheduled to launch in June 2013. The $4.5 billion space telescope is bigger than the Hubble and will sit further from Earth. NASA officials unveiled a model of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) yesterday.

Spec Ops: Capture The Black Box
Relive an actual SEAL operation in Vietnam in this game of wits! Are you Special Forces material? Can you make the right decisions under pressure? Find out in just a few clicks.

Dogfood Doesn’t Always Taste Good

One of the developers on the Windows Mobile team is Mike Calligaro, he writes on the team blog at length about some of the interesting technical challenges around trying to dogfood a new version of an OS when the hardware manufacturers either can’t keep up to get them devices to experiment on or when they simply won’t provide reference boards period.

Pretty interesting read, I always like Mike’s articles, he’s not afraid to speak his mind, likes to make you feel like an insider and usually doesn’t pull any punches.

Here’s 3 snippets:

One of the huge challenges we face in Windows Mobile is finding acceptable devices to use for Dogfood. Because the device we need to use hasn’t been created yet, we almost always develop the next release on a device created for the previous one. This causes serious problems (that lead to clever solutions) when the previous hardware doesn’t have features we’re trying to develop. For example, it was hard to add QWERTY keyboard support because no device had a QWERTY keyboard. And no one was going to make a QWERTY device until we added QWERTY support.

We needed a way to do 240×240. We did that by taking a 320×240 iPaq and just making its display driver only draw the first 240 pixels. We needed a way to do 640×480. For that we used an XDA (which had a 320×240 screen), made its display driver tell the system it had a 640×480 screen, and then “pixel quartered” the output (average pixels together) to make it fit. It was ugly, but if you squinted, you could almost pretend it was the higher resolution. And it let us test to make sure that text fit on the screen correctly, etc.

The most funky thing we needed to do was 240×320 for Smartphone. We couldn’t use the pixel quarter trick there because the MPX200 was 176×220, which isn’t an even multiple. Instead we made the Smartphone version of our code run on the XDA. To simulate the number pad, we overlaid a number pad on the screen and let you tap it with your fingers.

Link to the blog.

Apple Updates MacBook

Speed and memory increased, price point remains the same – Link.

At a glance, these are the specs for the updated MacBook:

13.3-inch glossy display
2.0GHz or 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Up to 2GB memory
Up to 200GB hard drive
Apple Remote with Front Row
Built-in iSight camera
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
Slot-loading optical drive
Built-in AirPort Extreme
FireWire 400 and two USB 2.0 ports
Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 2.0+EDR

DnD Babes

Ladies can roleyplay, too you know. I stumbled across an all girl group at

Here’s the DM and players of the group and their forums, they also have a gallery and profiles of the DM (Sarah) and the players.

The biggest reason why I think this is cool is because they’re trying to promote the genre of pen and paper roleplaying to newcomers and removing some of the geek mystique. I don’t know how strong the female voice is in the gaming community, but from what I see here and in a few of the other forums I lurk, I’d have to say it’s on the right track.

Are You A Productivity Junkie?

sticky notes has 28 sure signs that you’re a productivity junkie. The two that jumped out at me as one of the most significant in my life are:

# 10. A few hours away from your PDA puts you into withdrawals.

# 15. An empty inbox gives you a pleasant satisfaction that you still can?t quite explain to your family.

In my case it’s the Smartphone that I use all day everyday. I check work e-mail one last time before turning out the lights to go to bed using the device and place it on the bed side table. It chirps to me throughout the night as co-workers around the world fill my inbox, but the here’s the thing – I subconsciously ignore those mail alerts even though they’re heard.

The incoming messages that do get me to roll over and check the mobile, squinting in pain to the bright light are the incoming SMS’. I have them set to a different chirp, the reason I force myself to wake up fully, reach out and check the SMS is because I get breaking news alerts from 2 news outlets and want to know immediately what’s happening in the world ‘just in case’.

After a pleasant night of sleeping to my mobile lightly chirping to me it then wakes me up with a 6:05AM alarm, I sit up in bed and read through the new mail in the inbox from the previous 6 or 7 hours, saving the more interesting as ‘unread’ to read in detail or respond when I get to the office. Now I have a handle on the mail before the day has even started!

Throughout the day at work, when not at the PC, the mobile keeps me informed via work mail, personal mail, news & stock alerts, checking the mobile RSS reader to stay on top of the feeds and of course I use the browser to check on the state of the site or to check for your infrequent comments. 😀

Link to Lifehack’s list.

Using Where’s Waldo To Explain Zero-Knowledge Proof Cryptography

Where's waldo

“Where’s Waldo?” is a puzzle book where each page contains a very detailed picture with many different characters. The goal is to find Waldo in that picture. As the following true story will reveal, in these pictures also lies an interesting cryptographic problem.

Below is a story involving two characters to explain the problem to be solved; for the sake of anonymity and following a long cryptographic tradition we shall call them Alice and Bob.

One day, while Alice and Bob were playing ‘Where’s Waldo?’, Alice suddenly claimed: “I know where Waldo is!”. Bob responded with a baffling riddle: “Alice, do you know what a liar is?”. Worried about her reputation (both as an honest person and as a qualified cryptographer), Alice wondered: “How can I prove to Bob that I know where Waldo is without revealing his location?”

Aye, there’s the conundrum in Zero-Knowledge Proof cryptography: How can you prove you know the answer without revealing the secret?

Here are some answers using a low tech and mid tech solution as proposed in the paper “Applied Kid Cryptography or how to convince your children you are not cheating“. This is a fascinating example to use in explaining and simplifying the problem.

Link to the paper (pdf)

GOOG Heading To Jury Trial

Reuters is reporting that a US judge is ordering Google to face a jury trial in a trademark infringement suit that attacks their primary source of income- AdWords, which accounts for 98% of their $10 billion in revenue.

The company that brought the AdWords suit wasn’t Microsoft, not Yahoo, but rather a window blinds manufacturer.

American Blind & Wallpaper Factory Inc., the top U.S. reseller of window blinds, charged in its lawsuit, originally filed in 2003, that Google abuses trademarks by allowing rivals of a company to buy ads that appear when consumers search the Web for information on that business.


What Is That??

W00t!  Congrats to Paul White for guessing the last WIT picture.  It’s the back of a windup pocketwatch, showing the internal workings and the adjustment screws.

I’d offer you a prize, but my editor hasn’t approved of anything yet 🙄

So what brings us to our next picture?  All I can tell you is that if I keep staring at it, I’ll get double vision 😛

What Is That?

Well I need to get away from staring at my screen and enjoy some rare sunshine here 🙂  Comments!

A Plethora Of Links: May 9 ’07

RIM to Offer Plug-in for Visual Studio
IDG News Service
Research In Motion (RIM) will enable developers to create applications for BlackBerry phones using the .NET Framework.

Demand for Wii Overwhelms Nintendo
The astonishing popularity of the Wii game console has Nintendo with its nose to the grindstone to supply the demand.

Mac Share of Surfers Doubles in Eight Months
Analysis of Internet metrics indicate Mac OS X is close to or barely over 6 percent of all machines in the U.S. that connected to the Web in April.

Who Are the Linux Desktop Users?
A recent survey shows that your “typical” Linux client user is a fellow in his twenties, is computer savvy but may very well not be an IT pro.

Why Do Device Developers Prefer Debian?
A 2007 survey indicates that Debian was used in device-related projects by 13 percent of the survey’s 932 participants, roughly double the score of MontaVista.

Making ‘Minority Report’ Computer Navigation a Reality
Remember the Minority Report scenes in which Tom Cruise and others use their hands to manipulate data on giant computer screens? Oblong Industries has an operating system, based on human hand gesturing, that enables the user to explore in a 3D plane.

Sensor Sensibility
Science News
The mathematics of shapes is illuminating the structure of wireless sensor networks. “Imagine a future in which billions of tiny computers are embedded into buildings, streets, fields, or even our bodies.”