Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I have about 73% of these skills. Dwell meter!


Here's your link. Link.


Right on.

Dan of Dan's Data is a funny guy and an enjoyable writer. (Skepticism is refreshing in small doses, tedious when it becomes religion, however. FYI.)

Anyway, left-handed compliments aside, Dan's recent article on copy protection and DRM is pretty much right on the money. Thank you Dan!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

That's quality design!

Gotta have a reset hole.

Everybody loves Spicoli

Nice jacket!

Monday, February 25, 2008


I've been ignoring shoe maintenance lately. The ol' boys were a little dusty. Situation rectified!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Another "blog banner bug" thingy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The king is dead, long live the king

I forgot to stop and get rum and limes, so I'm drinking a Moosehead in honor of the "fall" of Fidel Castro. They kept warning him, and I guess finally the rhythm did get him.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Various Updates

1) The rechargeable battery in the digital camera experiment came to an abrupt end. The camera just doesn't like those batteries. I got about 20 photos before the low battery light came on. Not as bad as the cheap battery experiment, however. You know the ones, you get them in packs of 100 for $12? Four flash pictures before the camera failed to function properly. Smooth!

1b) So I'm transitioning the rechargeables to more mundane uses, like remote controls and my work pager. So far so good. I think that's probably their natural role, in low drain devices that are relatively near the charger. The pager eats a regular Duracell in about a month. That should recoup the cost of the rechargeable in under a year. Then, profit.

2) Did you know Flickr has rss feeds? Had no idea. Efficiency!

3) I spent most of yesterday relearning the rules of DC electricity. I was trying to do a load test on a battery for a UPS (Absorbed Glass Mat Lead Acid). More ridiculously, I was trying to figure out what the wattage of a 100W 120VAC lightbulb would be when hooked up to a 12 VDC battery. I gave up and went and bought a headlight for a 1979 Dodge Magnum. $8 and I know it is 55W @ 12 VDC.

3b) I wanted to do this because I just don't understand batteries. I have an RBC11 battery back for a SUA2200RMXLNET UPS. It consists of four 12V batteries hooked up in series. It measures out at the expected voltage. But just wouldn't support a load when in the UPS. Turns out, if one of the batteries fails, the whole string goes bad. More enragingly, each 12V battery (even your car battery) consists of 6 2V cells in series. That means if ONE cell goes bad, the whole thing goes kaput.

3c) I demand an investigation.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I Just Ate Too Many Tater Tots

The Digital TV transition is now a year away. On February 17, 2009, the old fashioned TV channels we know and love are going off the air. In their places will be the new digital channels that will carry (and in most cases already are carrying) the digital versions of all the programming.

Wired has a good article regarding this.

Missing from this article is emphasis of the Big Picture point, which is, if you already have satellite or cable this will not affect you in the least.

Smaller picture points:

- Your tv/am/fm/weather radio will no longer pick up tv audio.
- Over the air high definition can be better than that of the satellite providers.
- Digital may end up being easier to receive. Right now it isn't, but once they shut down all the analogs, it might.
- You do not need a new "digital" antenna. The digital channels are broadcasting on the same frequencies as the old channels. If your antenna gives you a clean picture now, it should receive digital (with a converter box) just fine.

Thank you, and goodnight.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tommy Skilling!

Explaining the WGN Weather Bug.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Small part of the solution

Healthcare and perscription drugs.

Why are Canadian drugs cheaper? We're told that it's because they negotiate a cheaper rate with the pharma companies. Assuming that's correct, here's what we do. Starting with Medicare and Medicaid and assuming there's some national health insurance plan.

Unless we get the cheapest price you sell it for, we won't buy it. We'll buy older off-patent generic drugs.

Patients are free to pay retail if they want the new shiny antihistamine or dick pill or whatever. Patients will demand that doctors will do a better job of explaining features, side effects and benefits of the various treatments available and the customer will make an informed decision.

But more importantly, the drug companies will change their behavior. They will stop charging the US a premium to make up for their losses overseas. The price for the drug will be the price of the drug all over, people will pay what it's worth.

The golden goose of the rich, insured US customers paying for all the R and D, and the rest of the world benefiting from it will be gone.

Also gone will be drug R & D that leads to drugs that aren't actually more beneficial, but that are just different enough to qualify for a new patent. And ALSO gone will be the presumable pressure of the companies to delay release of actual improved drugs because it will harm their older drug's cash flow. It seems like more than coincidence that extended release versions of drugs appear on the market right around the same time the old one is going off patent.

More importantly, it seems to be the most free/libertarian solution to the problem. We're not telling anyone not to do anything. We're just taking our dollars elsewhere if we don't get a price they are already charging someone else. If the effect of that is to raise prices for elsewhere, well fine, that's the marketplace.

Thoughts? Pitfalls?

(An exception would be for free or subsidized drugs for countries in a natural disaster or blight state. Like anti-malarials and AIDS drugs.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another Online Museum!

Of course, it's Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century.

File Under: I'm a Blogger!

One of Hillary Clinton's talking points is that she's ready to lead on day one, implying that Barack Obama somehow isn't. I understand the appeal of that line of reasning, she was in the White House with Bill for 8 years. That is, when left unparsed, certainly a lot of experience. So, what did she do?

The health insurance fiasco. An unworkable plan that led, in part, to the 1994 conservative revolution.


The FBI file scandal.



Best Bellow in Film

I'm watching "Support Your Local Gunfighter", and feel the need to point out Harry Morgan's tremendous yelling voice.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Late to the party?

Do y'all know about the "conditional formatting" feature in Microsoft Excel? Fantastic.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Name calling

With a semi-recent shift in the Chicago talk radio landscape, I've been listening to more right wing radio than I should. A theme keeps coming up, and that's this assertion that the left "believes in nothing" and engages in moral relativism.

But then they criticize McCain and others like him ("the radical left") for their stance on waterboarding. So they construct a nightmare scenario to try to break the anti-torture people. "What if there was a nuclear bomb about to go off and you had the only guy who could stop it. Would you waterboard then?" The reactionaries want to hear you say no so they can make fun of you for not wanting to protect The People. Isn't that like textbook case of relativism? If the stakes are high enough, it's OK to break with what you believe in?

(Their success story for waterboarding is that it was used successfully to find out who the masterminds of 9/11 were. My answer is a respectful, so what? It still happened. No lives were saved.)

Another similar situation is the courts. Both with the tort reform boogeyman and the enemy combatant issue. It's ok to deny these people the standard of justice we guarantee others because we don't like them.

And then there's the abortion one. Abortion is killing babies, murder most foul, the worst thing possible. Unless the baby's daddy is a rapist. In that case, perfectly OK to murder the baby.

You can take it even further, if you want. It's OK to advocate for religion in public life if you love the Baby Jesus, but if you happen to be Muslim, you're a terrorist.

There's a lot wrong with everyone, but this crap is really hypocrisy at it's finest.

[Sorry for using the "murder most foul" thing twice so recently.]

Thom Brady

Ha! Suck on that, clown.

Is there a word for ultra-schadenfreude? Enjoying the fact that one is enjoying the misfortune of others? Or is it even schadenfreude at all if one believes it's not misfortune at all, but a cessation of undue good fortune? A showing of true colors?

That's right, I don't like any of them. I don't like cheating, I don't like bending rules, I don't like whining, I don't like hooded sweatshirts with cut off sleeves on grown men who aren't cleaning fish for a living. I don't like giving up with one second left.

I'm watching the game, right at the end there, and Brady has something like 35 seconds left with which to attempt to win the game. Now, I get the don't let the pressure get to you thing. But look at his face- there was no color. Was his heart pumping at all? He was yellow! Looked like my grandfather right before he went in for the quintuple bypass. You have to get it up a little bit when you still have a chance to not give up the biggest upset in the history of football. Get the blood pressure into the triple digits at least. Act like you care!

And that's why I'm glad the Giants won. Good for them.

EDIT- In response to a comment from CSO. I agree with you, in principle. Were it the Steelers, Colts or even the Packers, I'd be right there looking for the historic achievement. But not in this case. For me, the character of a team matters as much or more than the name on their helmets.

Their success isn't why I dislike them, it's how they play the game. Brady and Belichik are jerks, and I don't like it when jerks succeed. And I really don't like it when talented people cheat. They didn't need to do what they did, but they did it anyway.

So upon sober reflection, no, I'm not feeling schadenfreude at all. I am pleased to see an underdog win against stacked odds, and I'm pleased to see jerks lose.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

New word

decoction -
1. To extract the flavor of by boiling.
2. To make concentrated; boil down.

The opposite of a concoction. Nice.

The Way of the World

Person1: I'm old, the world belongs to me!
Person2: I'm young, the world belongs to ME!
Person3: The world is all of ours to share.

Person1 and Person2: Shut up hippie!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A little tax advice