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October 21, 2010 / steve8

Qualitative Comparison of UltraPortable Laptop Designs

Anyone who knows me, knows I value efficiency.  Efficiency with space, weight, and energy.

I’ve been generally unhappy with the laptop choices recently and was curious to see what apple would do to their macbook airs.


Apple seems to be the only company who can take a step back and try to design an ideal product, rather than tweak the same design over and over again.


What is the perfect ultra portable laptop?

  1. The entire area of the screen-face should be used for display, no wasted area. (the 11.6” air could actually have a 14” screen without the wasted border area)
  2. thickness should be nearly zero
  3. full-size keyboard, and uncompromised pointing/gesturing.
  4. highest performance per watts
  5. no noticeable noise
  6. no noticeable heat
  7. low risk of damage/wear
  8. Assuming battery capacity costs mass, all other masses should be trivial to minimize weight.


The major step apple took with their new ultraportable is enclosure-less solid state storage, this kind of solution was marketed at ultra-low-cost products by SanDisk not including an enclosure is a way to save pennies, just like smaller cars in the 80s/90s in the US, are for those who can’t afford more.

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May 11, 2010 / steve8

Another Fun Puzzle

The prime number 4535653, when translated to base 16, gives the hexadecimal number 0x453565, which has the same digits as the original number, omitting the last digit.

Find another example of a prime number that, translated to hexadecimal, yields the same digits, omitting the last 21 digits

This was the Ponder This Challenge for April 2010.


It relies on positional base numeral systems which are widely used and rarely thought about in our culture.

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April 24, 2010 / steve8

Buying an LCD Display

I decided I wanted a 24” display, so i did a little searching.

I settled on the HP ZR24w, as it was an IPS panel with good colors and viewing angles (IPS panel), had very little input lag, could rotate for 16:10 or 10:16 use, and wasn’t ridiculously priced like most IPS panels.

on HP’s page they are boasting a lot of energy saving stuff like an 85% power supply.  But forgive me for not really trusting their energy-efficient marketing, so I started comparing some LCD power consumption and found some striking differences.  Take a look at the little table I constructed:



other sources:

energystar, cnet, apple


What a wide range of power consumption, even at the same brightness.  There are no sanely-priced efficient IPS-panel 24-inch displays.  On this data it seems LEDs use less energy (no surprise), but maybe IPS panels need more power than tn?  I say that because the apple display is LED and IPS and still guzzles watts (oddly even more than the dell IPS ccfl display).

March 15, 2010 / steve8

Factoring Algorithm puzzle

What is the minimal number, X, of yes/no questions needed to find the smallest positive integer divisor (other than 1) of an integer between 2 and 166 (inclusive)?

We are asking for the exact answer in two cases:

  1. In the worst case, i.e., what is the smallest number X for which we can guarantee finding it in no more than X questions.
  2. On average, i.e., assuming that the number was chosen in uniform distribution from 2 to 166 and we want to minimize the expected number of questions.

This problem was IBM’s Ponder This puzzle of November 2009.

I’m going to write my solution in English, along with code (both python and java) so anyone knowing any one of the 3 languages should be able to follow along.

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October 22, 2009 / steve8

A glimpse at Modern Racism in dating?

Some data from the United States:

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October 9, 2009 / steve8

intel P55 LGA1156 chipset and DDR3 Memory

When I first bought an Intel P55 chipset based motherboard and a LGA1156 Core i7 Processor, I thought the safest thing to do would be purchasing Standard memory from a reputable company with JEDEC approved voltage and timings.

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August 21, 2009 / steve8

IT window

Current and near-future IT to keep an eye out for.

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