Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Schedule shot through...

My wife and daughter have been traveling Europe these past weeks.  My schedule is shot.  They get back this weekend, so I hope things finally go back to normal.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Tree That Made America

I read a few years ago that work was being done to bring back  the American Chestnut tree.  Here is an article discussing the use of genetic splicing to help it build resistance to the foreign fungus that virtually wiped it off the face of America.
In the first half of the 20th century, however, the American chestnut fell victim to a fungus unintentionally imported from China, and the tree that once dominated the forest canopy of the eastern U.S. all but disappeared. Now it is on the cusp of a comeback, a testament to America's scientific ingenuity.

For years, scientists have been trying to develop a strain of chestnut tree that was immune, using traditional hybridization methods to instill resistance from Chinese chestnut trees into the American variety. Now plant scientists have found another way to develop a chestnut tree that fights off the fungus. Borrowing a gene from wheat, they created a strain that produces a substance that neutralizes the fungus's lethal acid. What's more, this trait is passed along to seedlings. Versions with even greater resistance are in development.

Friday, July 11, 2014

California-based work wear manufacturer to relocate to DFW

Holy Cow.  The exodus keeps persisting.  Ironclad Performance Wear is moving to TX.
"Many of us have personal roots in Texas and recognize the significant growth opportunity Texas offers today," said President and CEO Jeff Cordes, in a written statement. "Positioning our corporate headquarters in Farmers Branch and the North Texas region provides greater access to our expanding customer base and quality of life for our team members."
There's that phrase you hear: quality of life.

Jobs leaving California, coming to Texas

Good article summarizing several companies that have either expanded into TX or pulled up stakes and moved there.
Chevron will move about 400 employees and create a total of 1,752 jobs in Houston and additional 400 in Midland and initiated plans in late 2012 to build a data center in San Antonio according to the report.

Also, just earlier this year, the noodle maker Maruchan an Irvine-based company, opened a new plant that created about 600 jobs in the Alamo City.

Other companies that are relocating, expanding to Texas include Apple, eBay, Dropbox, LegalZoom, Motorola, PennyMac and Visa. Most of the jobs in the report are heading to Austin, Houston, and the Dallas-Forth Worth metropolitan area.

Texas has to buy jobs while California creates wealth

A silly article that sneers at criticisms of high taxes and almost insurmountable regulations.  How stupid can you get?

Yeah, TX has the money to buy jobs.  Where the heck is CA's money?  They dont have any!  They're still digging themselves out of debt!

Is it possible to get any more small minded than that?
"In some business magazines, they rate Texas as a great state for business and in a ludicrous way they rate California at the bottom," Gallis said. "California has created more wealth in the hundreds of billions of dollars. How can the state that produced more wealth than any other state in the United States be called a bad state for business? Because they're looking at business taxes and regulatory environment. And they go, 'Texas has no taxes and it's got a low regulatory environment.'"
Yeah, like that's a bad thing.

Texas lures Active Network with $8.6M

The exodus continues.

Active Network’s move was widely expected. Private equity investor Vista Equity Partners, which manages $8 billion in assets, has a history of moving firms it acquires out of California.

Vista Equity bought three San Diego companies in 2013 – Active Network, Websense and Omnitracs. It relocated Websense, a San Diego cyber security software firm, to Austin earlier this year, after netting $4.5 million in incentives from Perry. The move eliminated 445 local jobs.

Now Omnitracs, a fleet tracking technology firm formerly owned by Qualcomm, ascends to the top of the relocation watch list.

My new laptop: Surface Pro 3

Probably the only Surface Pro 3 in all of  Korea.

The Surface Pro 3 (SP3) in Korea.

This was not easy to buy here in Seoul.  I had to import it and that cost me an additional 10%. The one I bought has the i7 processor and the 256 gb SSD.

I had just a handful of criteria when it came to what I wanted in a new laptop in the order of importance:

- must be light

That was it.  Since I do a lot of traveling, I wanted something I could carry almost to the point of not even realizing I had the computer in my backpack.

I had two subcriteria that I considered not must-haves, but really nice features to have:

- backlit keyboard
- touchscreeen

And the SP3 had both of these, too.

I had been eyeing the Macbook Air for some time.  I have one that I've used since 2008.  But over the years it hasn't been able to keep up with the technology, especially with youtube videos. When they play, they're choppy and the audio has static.

The Macbook air had the backlit keyboard, but no touch screen.

I was also looking at the new LG 980g laptops that are all over the place here in Seoul  This Windows laptop weighs in at only 2 pounds.  Really, really nice.

But no backlit keyboard.

I found the Surface Pro 3 fit my main criteria and both my subcriteria.

If I were to rate the Surface Pro 3 compared to a Macbook Air, with the MBA a 10, I would rank the Surface Pro 3 an 8.5 - 9.  I'm rethinking this rating now....If you include the touchscreen functionality maybe a 9-9.5 is a better number.  So, the range is a slightly broader 8.5 - 9.5.  I think that is a fair characterization.

The only things I would ding the SP3 for is the mouse pad and....  yeah.  That's it.  The mouse pad.

I've read several other reviews that have pooh-poohed the keyboard/cover and I can understand this.  So I suspect someone will - maybe even Microsoft - come out with a cover that has an aluminum outer shell.  I think they would fly off of the shelves.

Now, there is one unintended consequence about the keyboard case that is a GOOD one: If you spill coffee on the keyboard you don't fry the whole dang computer!  Like I did a few years ago to myMBA. I started using the "Skin" brand of keyboard cover films, but I didn't really like the resulting feel.  And I still fear I'll fry my computer yet again.

But, back to the mouse pad.  So far in life I have found that the only mousepad I have ever liked is the one on the Macbook Air.  It fits my right hand perfectly and the mouse button is placed naturally where my thumb is. I used to think that the one-button mouse was a defect in the Apple design, but for a laptop, this is not the case.

On Windows laptops, mouse pads are a necessary evil.  But having said that, the SP3 mousepad by far better than other Windows laptop mouse pads I've used.  My wife's old Toshiba laptop mouse pad was just painful to use.  My daughter's much newer HP laptop was not much of an improvement.

Scrolling with the mousepad is slightly choppy.  Not quite as smooth as an MBA.

But the best feature that is still not available on the Macbook Air is the touchscreen.  My daughter's HP has it and I started getting spoiled.  I found myself sitting in front of my Macbook Air poking my finger at the screen wondering why nothing was happening.  And that sold me.  My next laptop should have the touchscreen feature if I could get it.

The 12" screen is about as small as you want to go.  I loved my old Mac iBook.  But I was dismayed that Apple never came out with a 12" MBA.  I was never going to buy the 11" model.