Saturday, May 22, 2010

Scientists have created the first synthetic cell.

Craig Venter and his associates have succeeded in artificially creating a new DNA sequence, implanting the DNA into a bacterium and then booting that sequence so that the bacterium is replicating. They, in essence, have created a new life form from scratch. The first synthetic cell.

The video is of his announcement. I will let him do the explaining because I don't have anywhere near the knowledge base to fully understand how they did it. I will say, though, that this is amazing stuff.

This is already upsetting some people. I have read some that are claiming that these scientists have created life and are playing God. Dr. Venter has been very clear to point out that they are NOT making the claim that they have created life from scratch. What they have done is created a new life form (a new species) from an already existing life form. I think we all understand by now that the specific DNA code sequence in each life form is what makes us a unique individual. What these scientists have done is create a unique DNA sequence from bottles of chemicals and implanted that DNA sequence into a bacterium cell that has had it's original DNA removed. What is amazing is that the cell then replicated itself - it multiplied.

The implications here are enormous. One can only imagine what will follow from this. Think of it this way - who could have imagined what has followed when the first computer was created. I think we will find this to be an even greater event in the history of mankind.

Initial applications are looking into creating new vaccines and creating cells that could capture CO2 from the atmosphere that could then be refined into fuel. That will just be a beginning. I think this will be a breakthrough on the par of the discovery of electricity or the creation of the written word.

I hope we do not succumb to the 21st Century version of the people who tried Galileo for heresy and actually burned Giordano Bruno at the stake for believing that the Earth orbited around the Sun. These people exist, they are already writing and making their accusations. This breakthrough is not a refutation of God. I would prefer to argue that this breakthrough was accomplished by people created by God and inspired by God.

Many will be fearful of this new technology. But I prefer to remember that God does not give me more than I can handle - but He often times has a higher opinion of me than I have of myself.


Friday, May 07, 2010

Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 Review

This will be my first attempt at a product review. I want to say up front, I make no claim to be a computer expert so this will not be a technical review of this new computer. My intent is to share my experience for other plain old people like myself.

I have been playing with this mini for about a month now and I really like it. I think I have succeeded in setting it up the way I want it.

Just a brief description of the hardware. This one has the Atom N450 processor, with 1 GB of RAM. It has a 160 GB HDD, a 6 cell battery and the operating system is Windows 7 Starter.

First of all, I am impressed with Windows 7. Just turn it on and walk through the start up and you are off and running. Windows 7 immediately found my wifi connection, logged on and was updating before I even realized what it was doing. It couldn’t have been simpler. This also came with some extra trial software that I didn’t want - more about that later.

The key board is almost full size and just fine for my use. I’m not a high-speed touch typist so I’m not terribly picky. I find the keyboard has a nice feel to it. The keys have a solid feel though some may find them to be a bit stiff.

I’m very impressed with the battery life. The 6 cell battery along with the N450 processor give this little guy a good 8 hours of battery life for my uses. I just plug it in at night and it is good for the day.

Since I use this little guy mainly for web use, I have done some set up to make it work for me. That is where the work comes in. My use for this mini is to have it in my lap in the evenings so I can check the news sites and do my general, recreational surfing. And in this case, I am using it to write this blog post.

Here is how I have set this up:
First I removed the McAfee anti-virus program that was pre-loaded. I have been using AVG on my computers for several years now and have been very pleased with that program on my desk-tops. I use it here and find it works just as well.

Since this is not going to be a business computer, I had no need for MS Office. That 60 day trial may be nice, but I don’t need the programs and definitely don’t want the expense after the 60 days are up. Especially since it didn’t include Outlook.

I replaced it with OpenOffice. That gives me the programs that I want without the expense. I also chose not to install the database program since I have never used it on my other computers. Right now I am also playing with a word processing program called AbiWord that I think is ideal for a mini like this. It is a small program but has all of the features that I want for basic text creation. I’m writing this in AbiWord right now. And I just found how to add a hyperlink, so it hasn’t failed me yet.

Now comes the real meat of the set-up. I want to go online, what browser should I use? I started with IE but wasn’t impressed. It isn’t all that fast with this processor and only 1 gig of RAM. Also, it takes up so much screen space with it’s task bars and headers. I soon discovered that the 10.1“ screen on this little mini is a limitation that has to be considered. With IE, I found that I didn’t get to see much of the web page that I was most interested in seeing.

I had seen some others suggest that Google Chrome is the way to go so I tried it out. I have to agree - Chrome is the choice for a browser when you have a mini like this. The minimalist screen and the smaller footprint makes it the better choice. Chrome has become my browser of choice. Then all I had to do was hide the taskbar on the bottom and I was set.

Oh, that reminds me - since I dumped Office, IE and most of the pre-installed garbage I had no use for that funky taskbar that was at the top. First I tried just hiding it but it would jump out and get in the way when I was trying to go to the buttons at the top. Then I tried moving to the left or right but it still just got in the way when I didn’t want it around, So finally, I just dumped it. There is the option of turning it off or deleting it. I chose to turn it off on the off chance that some day I might want it back. I am not impressed with that little feature.

Well, all in all, I am very pleased with my Mini 1012. It surfs well and I can write the occasional text document without any problem. I’ve used it to play mp3 files and it works well for that as well. I doubt it would be a good gaming station but I’m not a gamer and it isn’t built for that. In all, I would definitely recommend this to the general user interested in a small, portable net computer.

Hope you liked my first attempt at a product review. I don’t imagine I will be doing a lot of this kind of thing but who knows?


Saturday, May 01, 2010

My First Bat of the Spring

I had a visitor tonight. As I was getting ready to go to bed I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. Something had just flown by me. I checked it out and I had a bat in the house.

Nothing to get terribly excited about. We have, over the years, had these guests maybe five or six times. So I knew what to do. I just went to the closet and got an old towel. Then I had to find were it had gone. I finally found it clinging to to the wall above the closet door in the back bedroom. It had gone for the dark room I suspect.

Well, I just snapped the towel at it to knock it to the floor. Then I threw the towel over it. The little guy wasn't very happy with me as I wrapped it loosely in the towel to pick it up. He was clicking away very furiously. But I was able to take him to the door before he escaped the towel and off he flew into the night.

Each summer we have a pretty good number of the little fellows flying around our backyard. Sometimes it is fun to watch them go to work on the insects at night. I never have figured out how they get into our house but I've read it doesn't take much of an opening.
Oh well, no harm - no foul. I want them in my neighborhood, just not in my house.

Good night all and Peace be with you.