Okay, the last one was admittedly pretty easy. This one should be harder.
Such a consumerist I am. Something bright and shiny comes along, and I can’t help but lust after it. But really, when it comes to gadgetry, I’m sure I could make an excellent case for why you’d want this particular piece of geek kit too: it’s called the SheevaPlug, and it’s a 1.2GHz, 512 meg DDR, Linux-based computer with USB 2.0 capabilities and a Gigabit ethernet port, that runs entirely enclosed within a 5-watt power brick. Also, it costs only $99 USD. Want a Linux server but don’t want to have to spend on the power consumption or configuration hassles? Buy one of these suckers and an external USB 2.0 hard drive, and you’ve got yourself an SSH, print, FTP, VPN, website, proxy and/or media server, or whatever else you can think of running on Linux. It also runs multiple distros of your choice — yes, including Ubuntu.
I don’t care that the author of this review considers the lack of video configuration such a big disadvantage, either. If all it had was a command line, I’d be happy, being that I routinely prefer the command line for performing very simple or very complex operations in Linux, but then again I’m not exactly the average computer hobbyist. In fairness, I don’t think anyone who has seriously considered implementing RFC 2324, AND has most of the parts you’d likely need to do it (if you omit most of the mechanisms for delivering ingredients to the appliance, making my potential implementation an admittedly incomplete one), could consider themselves “average” any more.
When I was in early grade school, I was placed in a program called “Enrichment”, where because I was too smart for my own good and was disrupting classes’ ordinary learning-flow, I was taken out of the “easy” classes and taught separately about topics of my choosing. I believe the first of my chosen topics was the human body — I wanted to know all about how the various cogs and gears fit together and worked in unison. One of my first scholastic memories involves being corrected on the spelling of “away” on my labelling of the ventricles of the heart, in fact.
Another of my earliest scholastic memories involves a further module in this same topic, wherein I was taught where on the tongue the taste buds for various types of tastes were located. They even devised an illustrative experiment where they had a series of little unmarked bottles with eye droppers and clear liquid, and used the eye droppers to place a droplet of one type of liquid or another directly on different spots on my tongue. The teacher was surprised when I recognized the tastes regardless of where they were dropped, but then hand-waved it off proclaiming that it must have been because the drop spread out across my whole tongue. The fact that this experiment didn’t work out as planned has stuck in my mind since then, as it was one of the first times I was exposed to the concept of experimentation used to prove or disprove dogmatic beliefs.
Of course, some years later, I discovered that the commonly held folk-wisdom that there were four delineated taste-regions was completely and wholly without any scientific merit whatsoever (never mind that we recently also discovered umami is separate and distinct from sweet, bitter, sour and salty, meaning the map originally made by D P Hanig would have had to be revised). What sticks in my craw to this day is, the teacher was presented with evidence through experimentation that challenged her dogmatic belief that the taste buds were localized, and yet rather than stirring her curiosity or leading to a real experiment with proper scientific controls, or with overturning the commonly held precepts of taste bud maps, she simply waved it off with a facile explanation invented from whole cloth.
Science, as you must know by now from my myriad postings on the topic, is subject to revision when new evidence comes along that refutes the hypotheses of the day. There is no scientific “belief system”, you do not take science on “faith”, and you do not accept scientific “dogma”. You can trust that the theories postulated by scientists are well-evidenced and make testable predictions that have been borne out, but you should never take what someone says as dogmatic truth without being presented with that evidence or those tested predictions. Also, if you have evidence that refutes a theory, that theory is (rightly) overturned and after new hypotheses are postulated and experimented against, a new theory that better fits the facts is created.
So that’s the story of how it will likely bother me to the end of my days that I was taught folksy bunkum in my “enrichment” program, and will forever question pretty well everything I’m expected to believe by rote. I hope you learn from my lesson.