Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Fastest Route to Faster Internet Speeds

I faithfully read Pogue's Posts. David is both entertaining and insightful. And I trust his thorough and honest reviews on everything from PCs to digital photo-capable binoculars. His post on The Fastest Route to Faster Internet Speeds made me check our routers firmware. It hadn't been updated since we bought it 7 to 10 years ago.

After updating the firmware, and running speed tests at SpeakEasy and our download speeds have increased from around 3.6M to 4.6M. That's a whopping 28% increase. Total time invested, five minutes. Total cost, zero dollars. Thank you, David Pogue.

If you're running an old router with old firmware, do yourself a favor and install the update.

Now I'm wondering if the spastic performance of AT&T DSL we tried out last winter was caused by our paleolithic era router firmware.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Stock Dividends are not just good for investors

Daniel Eran Dilger in his insightful post, Why is Microsoft Buying Back $40 Billion of its Own Stock? points out that executives and other option holders are enriched by stock buybacks without having to increase the value of the corporation.

Warren Buffett on Rewarding Failure.

In a 2005 letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett wrote:

Too often, executive compensation in the U.S. is ridiculously out of line with performance. That won’t change, moreover, because the deck is stacked against investors when it comes to the CEO’s pay. The upshot is that a mediocre-or-worse CEO – aided by his handpicked VP of human relations and a consultant from the ever-accommodating firm of Ratchet, Ratchet and Bingo – all too often receives gobs of money from an ill-designed compensation arrangement.

Take, for instance, ten year, fixed-price options (and who wouldn’t?). If Fred Futile, CEO of Stagnant, Inc., receives a bundle of these – let’s say enough to give him an option on 1% of the company – his self-interest is clear: He should skip dividends entirely and instead use all of the company’s earnings to repurchase stock.

Friday, September 12, 2008

How Videogames Blind Middleschoolers With Science

Clive Thompson's Wired article discovers that middle schoolers are secretly appplying the scientific method to their on-line games. It's so secret, the kids don't even know they're doing it.

At one point, Steinkuehler met up with one of the kids who'd built the Excel model to crack the boss. "Do you realize that what you're doing is the essence of science?" she asked.

He smiled at her. "Dude, I'm not doing science," he replied. "I'm just cheating the game!"

. . .

One of the reasons kids get bored by science is that too many teachers present it as a fusty collection of facts for memorization. This is precisely wrong. Science isn’t about facts. It’s about the quest for facts — the scientific method, the process by which we hash through confusing thickets of ignorance. It’s dynamic, argumentative, collaborative, competitive, filled with flashes of crazy excitement and hours of drudgework, and driven by ego: Our desire to be the one who figures it out, at least for now. It’s dramatic and nutty and fun.

via John Gruber

Thursday, September 11, 2008