Archive for September, 2011

Miscellany 19

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

I’ve been accumulating a lot of links. Time to clear the tabs out.

A good overview of corruption in Obama’s DOJ here.

Interesting discussion of poverty here.

This must have something to do with truth in advertising: a supermarket chain has been forced to withdraw ads that show happy customers.

Useful knowledge: How to avoid going to jail for violating 18 USC 1001.

Not, perhaps, the best dietary choices.

It’s been a long time – I haven’t read much about spontaneous human combustion since I was in high school.

I’ve seen photos of people with elaborate facial tattoos before, but never in this context.

This is interesting – a section of Idaho where major crimes can’t be prosecuted.

Time for Science and Technology:

Carbon nanotube cables that conduct electricity as efficiently as copper? Bring it on!

This is a bit old, but … we can now measure the magnetic properties of a single proton.

This is also a bit old … a new type of car engine. These come around every so often. I was quite taken with the Wankel rotary engine, but it had problems with manufacturability. Maybe this one will work out better.

Visual cryptography. Interesting, but I’m not sure how easy it would be to extract the information into text form.

A visual reference to computer ports.

Fairly computer-centric, but, then, I am employed in the field of software, and I love the title – Here be dragons: advances in problems you didn’t even know you had.

New and improved wireless technology.

Fossilized feathers found in 80-million-year-old amber.

Here’s a scale model of the solar system. Be prepared to do a lot of scrolling.

On the subject of the solar system, here’s an orrery that I think is pretty damned impressive.

Continuing with science, the Ig Nobel awards are about to be announced.

Scientists are also planning to make an artificial volcano.

Here’s something unusual: placebos are becoming more effective. How’s that work?

Been hearing voices with nobody around? You may not be as insane as you feared – birds are teaching each other to talk.

A Z-machine interpreter and a list of games for it.

Technology keeps on improving our lives – here’s a self-inflating bicycle tire.

The Document Which Used To Be Called The MIT Lockpicking Guide. I downloaded a copy when it was called that. Related: a series of lessons on YouTube.

Some products aren’t well-designed. Here’s one example from a trade-magazine blog on the topic.

Time for a little humor.

Here’s something that’s a staple of Jay Leno’s “headlines” segments: marriage announcements.

Got OCD and like to cook?

Lord of the Strings?

I like some of these modified signs.

Not quite humor, but close … Which Programming Languages Make You Cuss More? More accurately stated: which programming languages have more cussing in comments in the code I looked at?

Lost and found

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

I had my cellphone at home with me last night, but couldn’t find it this morning. I spent the day without it – not much of a problem, given how few calls I make/receive – and eventually found it this evening. It had ended up beneath the cushions on my couch.

If I hadn’t found it, it would have been inconvenient, but I probably wouldn’t have done anything about it immediately. Next week is when I’m eligible for a cellphone upgrade, so I’d have held off until then. I’m definitely going to get a smartphone. I’m surprised at how much I miss not having the web and maps available anytime I want them.

I’d have been interested in the Droid Bionic, but the reviews I’ve seen say that the display, although higher-resolution than other Droid phones, is fuzzier-appearing. I guess I’ll just have to choose something else. Unfortunately, because of the timing of my Droid dying, and not having a smartphone since, I’m not grandfathered into Verizon’s unlimited data. Not that I’ve ever used more than a couple hundred megabytes per month so far, but you never know what the future will bring.

Ten years ago

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

I was at work when a coworker said an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. After it became apparent that this was something serious, I went home and brought in a small portable TV to set up in the lunch room.

I don’t know how much work actually got done that day; I spent much of it watching what was happening. There’s a saying that goes like this: Once is happenstance, and twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action. When the second plane struck the towers, I said immediately that this was war. The Pentagon was the third strike, but there was no way that what was happening was anything but a result of deliberate actions.

The Pentagon was also my closest brush to a direct connection to the attacks; my father, although retired from both the Air Force and the civil service, had worked in the Pentagon before retirement and still went almost daily to take advantage of their fitness facilities. It was four days before I could verify that he hadn’t been anywhere near the Pentagon at the time of the attack.

I could fill this post with links to the words of those who have said things with which I agree in much better ways than I can or have, but what’s the point? I would either be preaching to the choir or convincing you that I’m deranged and dangerous. I will suggest that you read Blackfive’s post about Rick Rescorla, and sign the petition he links to, if you’re so inclined.

Miscellany 18

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Just some things that have been hanging around.

This is a useful site for learning to play the ukulele. If you want to start from the beginning, here’s the first post. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t have an easy way to access the archives.

Tired of people who don’t know how to spell or which homophone to use? Here’s a potential solution.

Want a guess as to how long you’ll live? This site tells me I can expect about another 27 years.

Can spiraling help you run faster? I don’t have the knees to run for exercise anymore (and I’m still coming back from my broken ankle, besides), but this sounds interesting.

Sometimes, science fiction can be eerily prophetic. A couple more by Heinlein that they could have mentioned are his prediction of the waterbed in Stranger in a Strange Land (which was actually referenced as prior art to invalidate a patent application), and his prediction in the story Waldo that telephone answering machines would be used to screen incoming calls.

I’m not terribly familiar with it yet, but I’m becoming quite taken with the music of Flanders and Swann. It’s certainly more interesting than this concert.

Scientist trading cards. The people behind these also pulled off a neat guerilla art prank.

Oh, wow, man! The colors!

I can’t believe it! (via Theo Spark – the site is possibly NSFW, YMMV)

The rarely-seen arborial moose. Must have been trying to visit Rocky.

And, to finish up, a list of the ten deadliest toys of all time. I’m not sure I agree with all of their choices, particularly with the “of all time” qualifier, but it’s probably a pretty good starting point for the years since about 1950.

Good food

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Friday, I had lunch at Which Wich, a sandwich store I hadn’t seen before. Very good food, and they have a really ingenious way to keep people from holding up the line at the register while they decide what they want to eat – they have a rack of bags labeled with the sandwich types, and printed with all of the options for the sandwiches. You select the bag labeled with the type of sandwich you want, mark all of the options for bread and fixings, then hand it to the person behind the register, who rings you up.

I was there with a friend, and we were in and out within a few minutes. I’ll definitely be going back there again.