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Happy New Year!

Obligatory last post of 2006. We just got home from Rachel’s parents in Springfield. We may stay up and ring in the New Year, or we may just crash. :-)

I’ve been staying more or less disconnected from feeds and email this past week, while I’ve been on vacation. I’m taking stock of things I want to get done, and how I’m going to do it. I’m feeling fired up about 2007 – lots of fun, exciting, and productive things coming. At least, that’s how the New Year always starts out, no?

Hope you have (had) a safe and fun New Year celebration!

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Disclosure – who pays my bills

It seems like everyone is doing disclosure posts in the last few days. People are disclosing (or not) that they received a free AMD-based *cough* Ferrari laptop with Windows Vista from Microsoft’s ad agency, Edelman. Scoble is taking a trip to be the blogger on the wall for John Edwards’ campaign. PayPerPost is in the news again, this time as the Federal Trade Commission says “thou shalt disclose”.

So, in case any of you wondered who my sugar daddies are, you’re bound to be disappointed. No juicy conflicts of interest here. But here’s where my money comes from:

I am an employee of Intel, in the IT department. They pay me a salary, I do them a job. I use that to pay my mortgage, car payment, and other bills. I don’t get “paid to blog”, but they kindly allow me to write about Intel stuff on my blog, as long as I follow the rules.

There are Google ads on this blog. I started them as an experiment, and decided to keep them around. The Google AdSense ToS prohibits me from saying how much I make, or any specifics about impressions, CPM, etc., but I think it’s safe to say that I’m NOT getting rich off of AdSense. It makes no more than a few bucks a day – and that goes toward paying for hosting, domain names, and an occasional gadget. I actually keep a separate checking account from our “family” checking account, and anything I buy that’s not necessary for the family comes out of that.

So now you know all of my financial secrets. Try not to get too excited. But do know that I will always disclose my interests, so, like Scoble says, you know where my biases and opinions are coming from.

Now, hows about someone from Edelman sending me one of those Vista laptops? Make mine something with Core 2 Duo, though, so it gets a Vista Performance Rating higher than 2.8. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Why are silicon wafers round, instead of rectangular?

Someone emailed me an Intel-related question – why are silicon wafers, used in chip production, round instead of squared or rectangular? The reasoning being, since the die pieces that are being cut out of the wafer are square, isn’t there waste at the edges? Couldn’t this be avoided with squared/rectangular wafers?


At one point in my Intel career, I knew the answer to this question. It was talked about during a fab tour soon after I was hired. But I’m a carpet-dweller, and far removed from the manufacturing process, so I’ve forgotten.

I’m sure this is a brain dead simple question for anyone who works in the fabs. So let’s have it? Why ARE wafers round?

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Photos from Christmas Morning and Zoo Lights



Opening, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

This morning I uploaded the photos that were in my camera from our trip to Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo on Saturday, and from the Christmas Morning present opening festivities this morning.

Since I’m a geek, there are a disproportionate number of pictures of the Unboxing Ceremony of my new 2G iPod shuffle. ๐Ÿ˜‰

You can see them all in this photoset on Flickr.

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Merry Christmas! Our roof is leaking!

We had a wonderful day today – got up, went to church, came home and baked, played, and listened to Christmas music. Everyone got along, and there was just a general feeling of peace of happiness in our family today. It was really, really great.


Tonight, Rachel made a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner, and after that, we had Emma set out her plate of cookies and note for Santa, and drove around looking at Christmas lights (mainly so the kids would fall asleep ;-)).

However, not all is rosy in the Bancroft household today.

We got home a few minutes ago, and I carried Emma up to her bed and noticed that her pillow was wet. I thought she spilled a glass a water (it has happened before), but I looked up, and noticed a nice “drip, drip” coming from the ceiling.

Apparently, some of those roof shingles that we found in our backyard after last week’s windstorm were important – our roof is leaking. :-(

Any ideas or suggestions on what to do? We’ve only been homeowners for about a year. I know we need to get someone to come and fix it, but it’s going to next week a the soonest, given the time of year. And I have no idea how much to pay – I don’t want to get ripped off. Anyone have any recommendations for a roof repair person in the west Portland/Washington County area?

Oh, and Merry Christmas to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful holiday! I know I will, even with this in the back of my mind…

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Gmail Ink and Tablet PC Support

I really wish Gmail had support for ink, like on a Tablet PC or UMPC. I love it to death, but it’s a complete pain to write email without a keyboard. Even support for embedding images into messages would be a workable solution – write up a message in OneNote or something, then copy and paste it into Gmail.

I could use Outlook or some other ink-enabled POP mail client, but I already access my Gmail via POP on my Pocket PC phone, and when I use Outlook to do it from another computer, it screws up the read state of all my messages (basically, they all disappear from my phone).

So, how about it tabletsphere? Can someone code up a Firefox extension, or Greasemonkey script, or some kind of web hack that will let us ink messages in Gmail? I’d give, um, a lot of thanks (and maybe a doodad or two) to anyone that comes up with a solution.

Anyone from Google listening?

Update: Thanks to commenters for pointing out Geckotip, a must-have scope guessing Firefox extension that makes using the Tablet PC TIP (Tablet Input Panel) much easier, as well as Loren Heiny’s workaround using linked embedded images (basically, ink your image, save it, upload it somewhere, and embed the external image in your Gmail message). Both are ways to make using Gmail on a Tablet PC easier, but I’m looking for something quicker and even more easy. Call me lazy, but I’m dreaming of native ink support in Gmail messages, or an extension or something that enables me to work like that.

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What an Awesome Birthday!



Opening Presents, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

Yesterday was my 30th birthday, and it was just awesome. I took the day off work, and spent it with Rachel, Emma and Gabe. We ran some errands, cleaned the house in preparation for the party, and had lunch at Red Robin.

The party was great – lots of friends showed up, and it was fun to just geek out with them for a while, and not worry about being “too” geeky – it was my party, after all.

The best part of the day was just visiting and hanging out with everyone, but I have to admit that I got some great presents, too. A couple of books, Final Fantasy III for DS (which I’ve been wanting badly!), and a Roboreptile (pictured).

For anyone who doesn’t know, the Roboreptile is the second generation autonomous robot dinosaur from WowWee – the people that make the Robosapien. I’ve only played around with it for a few minutes (it was dang hard to get out of the box – I ended up using my drill and my Leatherman to get rid of the plastic that was screwed to the feet). It’s way cool, though – it basically runs around the room, looking for “food”, and being aggressive. Emma is fascinated and terrified of it at the same time. I can’t wait to explore what more it can do, and of course, find some cool hacks for it. I’d love to mount a small camera on it.

A huge thank you to everyone who came to the party, or sent birthday wishes by email, comment, IM, phone, or otherwise. And most of all, thanks to my wonderful wife Rachel for planning and pulling off and excellent party. I love you, Rachel! :-)

We have a ton of leftover cheeses from the hors d’oeuvres, and lots of cake, too – anyone want some? ๐Ÿ˜‰ You can see some more photos from the festivities in this photo set on Flickr.

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Asus R2H UMPC Supply Update from ProPortable.com

Justin over at ProPortable.com (affiliate link) has been doing a great job of providing updates on the availability and in-stock status of the Asus R2H Ultra Mobile PC at their shop. Here’s the latest update:

We have only a few backordered right now from today’s sales, but we’re getting in about 30 on Friday. We’ll be shipping those the day after Christmas, for a Thursday or Friday before New Years delivery. Supply is going to continue to be tight until at least the third week of January.

These little babies are hard to find in stock just about anywhere, and it looks like there won’t be another shipment for about a month or so, so if you want to get one before the end of the year, get a pre-order in now. Good luck! :-)

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Want to come to my 30th birthday party?

I’m turning 30 next Monday, December 18, and we’re planning a small, informal get-together at our house in the evening. I’ve already invited a few people, but I wanted to invite my friends from the blogosphere.

So, if you’re in the Portland area, and read this blog, and want to drop by, have some cake, and say Hi, let me know via email (jabancroft@gmail.com), and I’ll get you the address and send you off to my wife to RSVP (she’s coordinating the whole thing).

I know lots of cool geeks here in the Portland area, and I’d love to see you at the party! Don’t worry about a gift or anything, just drop by. See you there! :-)

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