Missing SATA connectors...

Everybody who knows me, also knows that I am extremely lucky.
Today I was going to assemble a Micro ATX computer to be used at home, since the old one (the Soltek Qbic) died some months ago and I had to use only the notebook (using which I miss my 10K rpm WD Raptor).
The mobo was an ASRock P4i65G, but during the assembly at a certain point I had to stop because I was unable to connect the SATA cable... because the connectors are missing!

As you can see there are just some straight pins on the PCB board and it is impossible to connect a SATA cable on them:

Obviously if you check the official picture from the ASRock website the connectors should be there! This picture (rotated and with the red circle added by me) is taken from the official page of the mobo:

 So I'm going to ask for a replacement from Amazon, and keep fingers crossed.


Comparison Table for Relocation from Italy

I recently had to evaluate pros and cons about moving from Italy to another country, and I ended up compiling the following table:

Obviously the table is very subjective, so I have to explain some items and cite some sources.
European Union and the Euro Currency are quite obvious.
The Metric System is used in Europe, but even if both Ireland and the UK switched to this system, it seems that you can live in Ireland using it only, but that in the UK and Canada the Imperial Units are still in widespread use. Furthermore, in the States you will have to learn the Customary System...
This is a map of the world with RHD (Right-Hand Drive) countries and LHD (Left-Hand Drive) contries in different colors:
About quakes, I've been talking about seismic risk in a previous post; now I just want to make clear that I'm marking the States as "dangerous" since the only State I could relocate to is California, that is known to be waiting for the Big One.
About queens and kings someone could argue that they are way better than some prime minister, but I decided to include this row anyway...
About guns and rifles freely available at the grocery shops (Tesco or Wal-Mart or your preferred ones) it's easy to understand that I do not agree (at all) with this degree of freedom.
And finally, I listed the countries officially taking part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 (as you can see, officially Spain has been present for some months and Canada is absent).
This post has no conclusion: I could only note that the countries with the best non-weighted scores are France and Ireland.

Italy's growth

I recently discovered from a book written by Charles Young that in the years from 2001 to 2009 the GDP per capita in Italy decreased, and that it can't be due only to the economic downturn since only Zimbabwe, Haiti and Ivory Coast performed worse in the whole planet.
This first chart, taken from the book, shows how bad Italy did compared with the rest of Europe:

And this second chart shows that Italy is the only listed country for which the per capita GDP decreased (in blue bar) from 2001 to 2009:

In the same chart the green circle shows also how the same per capita GDP used to increase in the previous 8 years (i.e. from 1993 to 2001).


World Map of Seismic Risk

Should one have the ability to relocate anywhere in the world, I would suggest looking at the following map first, and picking up a white or green region (currently I live in a yellow/orange area and it is clearly unsafe, unless you are in California or Japan):


Where is Springfield?

Having a 4-years-old daughter who is already a fan of the Simpsons (and especially of Maggie) I recently noticed that in The Movie they say that their hometown Springfield "borders Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky".
I am not American and so I do not have a clear idea about the geographical location of all the 50 States: should they have said Massachussets or Florida or California it was much easier also for me, but I had no idea about Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky.
So I had to check a map, and I realized that...

...there are no borders that join them! Only Ohio and Kentucky are neighbours, but Maine is at the top North-Eastern corner and Nevada is in the Far West...
So I also discovered that Simpsons' Springfield is a fictional city and that this name has been chosen because it is a very common place-name, especially in the United States: the full list is here... please note that in USA there are more than 30 cities with this name, and more than 10 are in the UK!


Google Merchandise

If you're looking for Google corporate merchandise then the Google Store is what you are looking for.
There's plenty of items (the main categories are Accessories, Fun, Kids, Office, Wearables and Doodles), just have a look and you'll find something that you can't really miss!
Furthermore, the European e-commerce store is managed by Merchandise Mania, a reliable company that will ship items immediately and that will solve any problem you may experience with shipping (no, I don't get money for this advertising but I want to publicly thank "Dave" for his helpful solution!).
Pictured below are some items that I already have:



I recently found this funny sign in front of Buckingham Palace:

If you still don't see why I find it funny, please read and understand it first. Then look at how they have chained it to the electricity pole: with a chain and a padlock! This means that "thieves" may have already stolen some similar signs in the past...
Policemen beware! :)


New OpenSPARC-based Project

Some days ago I've published on the home page of Simply RISC an article written by Dmitry Rozhdestvenskiy in which he explained how he started from Simply RISC's S1 Core and then created a new OpenSPARC-based project able to run the Linux kernel 2.6.
The new project is hosted on OpenCores, but I'm receiving lots of email from people who had difficulties downloading it directly from this website.
If the "Download" link on OpenCores doesn't work, a single-line shell command will do all the work for you:
svn co http://opencores.org/ocsvn/sparc64soc/sparc64soc/trunk
Obviously in order to execute it you will need Subversion installed on your machine and an account created on OpenCores, since it will prompt for username and password.


The London Salary Calculator

Yesterday I found some spare minutes to write a simple Java 6 application (just a few lines of code). It will just tell you how much you will "take home" given a base salary for a job in London in the range 40K to 100K.
You may download the JAR file from here; you need Java 6 JRE installed to run it onto your preferred Operating System, then right-click the JAR file to select to open it using the JRE (that file extension may be associated with some archive manager on your system). Please note that the source file (just one) is included in the archive.
If you don't want to try it (it's completely useless if you don't intend to look for a job in London and you are not going to rent a house for 1250 GBP per month!) then you may just watch this screenshot to see how it looks like:


Intel buys MIPS

The title of this post is intentionally provocatory, and should be read as "Will Intel acquire MIPS? If I was Intel, I would".
But if I was at Intel, I would definitively try to enter again the embedded (and mobile) RISC market, where Intel was already years ago with the ARM-based XScale line of products that was then sold to Marvell in 2006.
That move stopped the flow of royalties from Intel to ARM, but the ARM architecture and microarchitecture still have a huge base of licensees due to the advantage of a minimal power consumption required by mobile devices, against with x86 cannot (still) compete.
Just to provide some numbers: the power consumption of a generic ARM core is around 300 mW, while the lowest power Atom is around ten times that.
And the market shows that a lot of microprocessors for mobile phones will be sold over the next few years.
Then, could Intel buy ARM now? The market capitalization of ARM Holdings is around 4 billions, and that's still a huge amount of money even for Intel.
Why don't buy MIPS instead? Their shares declined from a maximum (in year 2000) of 80$ to just 4$, so the market capitalization of MIPS Technologies is just around 200 millions, and this would be a very cheap purchase for the Intel giant.
And finally consider that currently MIPS lacks a CEO; and it wouldn't ever need one if it becomes a group inside Intel Corp.


White Britain

If you missed the terrific picture of Great Britain under the snow taken by a NASA satellite, just click the picture to go the official one: