Mar 25, 2006

Russia’s Putin Reclaiming Dominant Role in Former Soviet Union - COLUMN - MOSNEWS.COM

Russia’s Putin Reclaiming Dominant Role in Former Soviet Union - COLUMN - MOSNEWS.COM:

At the center of the Russian policy in the region is a determination to resist the West’s efforts to boost its influence at Russia’s expense, in what Moscow says is falsely portrayed as a bid to promote democracy.

Let's just take a slightly different (though definitely biased) look: can you truly believe that intentions to be “democracy and nothing else” — in the most altruistic sense? Especially if it is a part of a foreign policy of one of the (potentially) largest empires of the human history?

Let's just keep in mind of the track record, shall we? Wasn't certain Usama Bin Laden a freedom-fighter? That turned into the top-ten most wanted? How about one Saddam Husein?

Democracy is important and Russia needs it badly, but what I think democracy exporters and importers need to remember is that it is not a fridge or a truck load of chicken thighs. You can't buy it, plug it in, turn on/set up and see it work. It takes effort from within. Like love, this is probably one of the things that money can't buy.

Especially if purchases handled by figures that are known not to be angels at all -- corrupt, making fortune on activities that can hardly be considered clean by those same democratic countries.

Democracy is also a very tough thing to sustain -- just look at what is happening in France these days, or UK, or that same USofA.

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Mar 19, 2006

Would you *really* want to dual boot Mactel?

WinXP and OSX dual boot in MacBook Pro:
Finally I’ve succeeded in installing Windows XP in MacBook Pro. Now it can dual boot between Windows XP and MacOS X. There’re few issues with windows xp but being able to boot smoothly between these 2 OSes are really amazing.

I do consider myself a geek, and I do like to tinker with things -- yet I am still a bit amazed that folks are so much intrigued and excited about a success of a story referenced above. I might sound like an old fart here -- but what's the deal? Ok, MSFT is not supporting EFI (and won't be in Vista either), yet Apple has been very much upfront about the thing -- there are no “special” barriers to being able to do this...

I can't remember where I saw this (most probably Slashdot -- but I may be mistaken), but it is so very true: for years Mac fans have been saying their machines and OS a superior to Windows ones -- and now so many of them have succumbed to this?..

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Mar 17, 2006

Everything new is well-forgotten old stuff

Backup Files to DV Camera:

Tape backup was once the norm for archiving files from home PCs. Consumer grade tape drives tended to be flaky and slow, but were the only alternative to using dozens of floppy disks. ... The average price for MiniDV tape in consumer quantities is about $4 or as low as $2.60 in 100 unit lots. MiniDV tape stores 8-12GB in SP mode or 12-18GB in LP mode, depending on how much compression is used during the backup process. The new 80min MiniDV tapes hold as much as 22GB in LP mode.

Several (ten? fifteen?) years ago you could buy a poor-mans tape backup connectors for PCs that would use a VHS recorder as a tape device. These were relatively popular here, in Russia -- for very much the same reason (much cheaper than the real thing, more than enough for average home use). Granted, drive sizes back then were a lot more modest (you get more data on a tiny little USB stick these days than an average PC used to have on a HDD) -- yet idea is the same.

Mar 16, 2006

What's worth the effort?

A revelation has downed on me the other day during one of the endless meetings:

It does not matter how elegant or smart a solution is (or can be). What matters is how timely it is and how well it addresses (especially a long-standing) immediate need.

Case in point -- procurement process (or rather lack thereof). Up to recently we've had an almost total paper kingdom. The only automated part was to fetch a quote from procurement service and fill it into a request -- after that you're on your own getting the quadrillion signatures and praying that scrap of paper does not get lost.

Nobody really wants to spend the money -- at least not until the next very important purchase request is lost. So, you get a poor man's version of a proper workflow tool: you put your standard purchasing items into a bunch of protected Excel sheets (with price quotes and some basic formulas) and you get your purchasing clerks to send out a simple Outlook message with voting buttons in place of a physical signature.

Can't say it is elegant, definitely not very inventive. Possibly smart -- definitely timely and serves immediate need. Bingo -- you get all the brownie points you want!

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