Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Dad's Gonna Be Jealous

So I had a gift certificate to burn at CompUSA and was deciding between a new desktop printer and a DVD burner (Harley, dinette set, Harley, dinette set...). The DVD burner won.

I ended up getting the Hi-Val dual-layer, external model. I won't bore you with a series of numbers, x's, and letters with plus and minus signs. I'll just say that it bills itself as fast as anything else that was on the shelf, and compatible with any media that you can find. The dual-layer format means that you can burn 8.5GB per side (if you have dual-layer media), just like commercial movie DVD's. Technically you could rip a commercial DVD to this format without recompressing the movie along the way, but who's gonna do that, right?

It's interesting to find that the product inside the box looked nothing like the picture on the outside. In fact, the drive itself is actually labeled "I/O Magic" and is apparently this device. I couldn't find a link anywhere to the Hi-Val product. After a little digging it seems that the product names are interchangeable.

Although the link shows the product selling for $129.99, I picked mine up for $119.99. Seemed like quite a deal to me, especially considering that there were name brand internal drives doing the same thing priced in the mid 100's to 200.

So here are a couple pics...

The side, revealing a dreamy, glowy, blue light that resembles the dashboard lighting in my GTI.

The front, with more glowy blue lighting. No, it doesn't come with that O'Reilly book.

At present all I have is DVD-R media rated at 2x, so I can't provide any test results. Besides, dual-layer media ranges anywhere between 5 and 7 bucks a piece depending on brand and quantity. 20 pieces of media or so and I've outspent the drive itself.

Installation was a snap - completely plug & play on my WinXP system. I didn't have to insert any CD with drivers or anything like that. It comes with Nero version 6. I have version 5 dot something installed on my machine, so I'll end up upgrading.

I can tell you that it rips audio CD's briskly and is fairly quiet. Assuming it handles it's DVD burning chores as advertised, I'd say it's a good use of $120.

That's Why Their Cities Are So Clean

Canadian trucks, Canadian trash, American soil. Spiffy, eh?


It's whats for dinner.

Your Car On Drugs

The family Camry started giving the owners fits after years of service. They took the car into the shop and discovered it had a little drug problem.

United Nutjobs Want To Regulate the Internet

Because they've done such a bang-up job in places like Iraq, the Congo, and Kosovo they're now qualified to get their greasy little paws on your Internet connection. Captain's Quarters notes:
The UN mostly consists of dictatorships and autocracies, which have little use for the free speech and open information that the Internet provides people all over the world. A free Internet threatens their power and their oppressive regimes. Nothing would please them more than to get their hands on the engines of the Internet in order to suppress the information that would inspire their subjects to throw off their shackles and claim freedom for themselves.

Let me put it to all in this light. Will we trust the same organization that put Libya and Cuba in charge of human rights and Syria in charge of counterterrorism to manage the Internet and safeguard free speech?

The Beast Is Beta Testing

This guy put it in the wrong hand, though.

UPDATE: An interview with the gentleman in question.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

No Duh

A study finds that 72% of those teaching at American universities describe themselves as Liberal, leaning "further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined." You don't say? I don't consider myself conspiratorial and I actually couldn't image that percentage being lower.

Another study found that the earth is really, really, really not flat.

Control Servers From Your Cell Phone

Hitachi is developing BREW VNC, which allows you to control your servers using your BREW enabled cell phone.

Monday, March 28, 2005

PDA-Friendly Blogs

So I've discovered a new personal pastime - reading blogs on my Treo. I have to admit that a year ago I doubted why anybody would want to connect to the Internet for any reason using a PDA, but it's really nifty to check e-mail and read stuff when killing time anywhere you're at.

I normally use Bloglines on my laptop & desktop computers to read, and was pleasantly suprised to find that Bloglines detects that I'm using a PDA and reformats the page accordingly. Either that or the built-in browser on the Treo does a really nice job interpreting the page for the tiny screen.

In any event, I'd say about 75% of the blogs I read include the entire text of the article in it's feed, so I don't have to jump off the Bloglines site to read the article. A few, however, include a snippet of the article, and fewer still only include the title of the article (quit holding out on us Hugh!).

Power Line is one of those blogs that includes only a snippet of the article. Generally it wouldn't be a big deal to click over to the permalink for the article -- permalinks for most sites contain just the article in question plus the rest of the site decoration -- but PowerLine's permalinks are archived by month. Meaning, every article for the month of March is archived onto one page, and it jumps to the article in question using an in-page anchor. Some other sites do this, but I don't see it too often.


Let's see how the Treo likes this, it being near the end of March and all:

Whoa, still receiving after over a megabyte.

Right after this error message the Treo caught fire.

How big can the page possibly be? Doing a "Save As" of the web page reveals:

Holy Moses, Batman. I have a few suggestions:
  1. Don't be stingy. Give us the whole article in your feed.
  2. Make your permalinks link to just the article.
  3. Have a toned-down version of your site available, like Andrew Sullivan's.

UPDATE: Power Line did a slight redesign on the site and "unexcerpted" their feed at the same time this past week. See? I get things done.

Not-So Crowded House

Paul Hester, former drummer of Crowded House commits suicide in his home town of Melbourne. He was only 46.

Don't dream it's over...

The Credit Card Prank

More like a test of what you can get away with signing your credit card slips, this particular gentleman ran two different tests to find out what it would take for cashiers to actually check your signature.

My favorite is how he dealt with poor service at a restaurant:

I'm going to have to try that one out soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Fox News Blocker

A nerd from Tulsa, OK has created a bauble that will block Fox News from your television. Why?
(Sam) Kimery now contends Fox News' top-level management dictates a conservative journalistic bias, that inaccuracies never are retracted, and what airs is more opinion than news. "I might as well be reading tabloids out of the grocery store," he said. "Anything to get a rise out of the viewer and to reinforce certain retrograde notions."
Well, it seems to me that you could have stuck just about any other news agency name in place of Fox News and stuck in the word anti in front of conservative and have been fairly accurate.

To date Kimery has sold about 100 of the devices. Fox News has about 1.6 million viewers.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A (Late) Good Friday Thought

My pastor asked a handful of us to comment on the seven last phrases of
Christ before his death. I picked out Luke 23:43, Jesus' words to one of
the robbers on the cross. Despite the robber's grisly outcome, I'd always
wished I was him -- the only person on record who received a personal
guarantee from the Christ.


You have been tried, found guilty of robbery, and handed a sentence of
death. Along with two others you are led outside the gates of the city to
have your punishment handed out - death by crucifixion.

As you are raised on the cross, your ears are filled with the heckling of
the man on the cross next to you. The crowds, the soldiers, and even some
religious looking men are mocking him - if you are the King of the Jews,
well, just come down off that cross then. Come now, come down and save

You look across and the other man who is being executed is also joining in
on the act. Full of bitterness and the realization of your fate, you can't
help yourself and you join in. You throw your scorn onto the man on the
cross next to you.

Something isn't sitting right with you, though. The man next to you isn't
returning the mocking in kind. He's talking to God, asking God to forgive
the people mocking him. He's actually asking God to forgive you? In a
moment your eyes are opened to the shocking revelation that this, indeed,
is the Christ that you've heard about. This is Jesus.

The other man next to Jesus jabs again. "Aren't you the Christ? Save
yourself and us!" Your conviction burns in you now as you rebuke the man.
Jesus has done nothing wrong! We're getting what we deserve! A last glimmer
of hope is in you as you turn to the man next to you. "Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom." The man turns towards you, looks you in
the eye, and says "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in
paradise." In one moment you have been given a personal guarantee from the

Are we really any different than this robber? Perhaps we've lied to
somebody close. Maybe we've stolen something from work. Maybe we've clung
on to our possessions a little too tightly, or jealously eyed the
possessions of our neighbor. Maybe we've even cursed God himself. Our sin
nature guarantees that we've committed sin against God, and God's holiness
demands that we pay the penalty for those sins. We are all found guilty,
and our sentence is death. Not just death of this body, but a spiritual
death - separation forever from God and the influence of his mercy and
love. Like that robber we hang on to life by a thread, waiting for our
sentence to be carried out.

But a miraculous thing happened at that place of execution two thousand
years ago. Jesus, the man crucified between two robbers, paid the price of
our sin, a price that is forever out of our own grasp. He answered the
mockery of those telling him to save himself by saving us. Christ died for
our sins and offers us forgiveness today.

Our story began in tragedy. Living in a paradise, we scorned God and broke
his law. In judgment God told us that we will surely die, and we were
removed from that paradise. But our story does not have to end in tragedy.
God showed his mercy to us and sent his son, Jesus, to pay the price of our
sin. Through his work on the cross, Jesus offers us forgiveness today and
salvation from our terrible death sentence. We have a guarantee that,
today, if we believe in Jesus, we will join him in paradise.

No Knowledge For You

It's nice when trying to access the help files on a website only to find the server bogarting all the knowledge.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Billboards You'd Like To See

And then some of them are just wrong. Billboards and other wrongness over at


Some crazy Austrians decided it would be a good idea to use cadavers in crash tests. Why? Not to create more life-like scenarios for crash testing, but to build better crash test dummies:
Researchers at an Austrian university used human corpses to study how to develop better crash-test dummies, and authorities are now investigating whether the scientists should be charged with violating the dignity of the dead, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
"Dignity of the dead?" I don't advocate using cadavers for crash testing, but it seems that an individual's claim on dignity are gone once their breathing permit expires.

PEZ MP3 Player

Seems like a waste of a perfectly good PEZ dispenser to me.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Finger Food

Diner finds finger in chili:
"This individual apparently did take a spoonful, did have a finger in their mouth and then, you know, spit it out and recognized it," said Ben Gale, director of the department of environmental health for Santa Clara County. "Then they had some kind of emotional reaction and vomited."
Hope I caught you reading this during the lunch hour.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Princess Leia Takes Down a Media Advisor to the Empire

Republican media advisore R. Gregory Stevens was found dead at the home of actress Carrie Fisher on February 26, apparently from an overdose of cocaine and Limbaugh pills.

Still using The Force after all these years.

Herbie Returns As A Bad-Ass Beetle

Herbie Fully Loaded features, what else, Herbie the Beetle. This time around, though, he appears to be a bit hot-rodded.[1]

This makes up a bit for the abomination from Monday.

[1] Via Jalopnik

Tablet PC by Cray

Viewsonic is offering a tablet PC on Amazon that is apparently built by Cray.

  • 10.00 GHz AMD Athlon
  • 2000 MB DIMM
  • 30000 GB IDE Hard Disk
  • Spoofy Romance Novel Covers

    "World of Longmire" has a little treat for those of you who enjoy reading romance novels.

    The funnier ones are actually on the reader submitted page.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Water Purification By NASA

    If NASA ever gets their water recycling device "off the ground" (hardy-har-har), well, just please don't tell me when they install one at work.

    It's About Stinkin' Time

    Computer technology has progressed much over the past 20 years, but one thing that continues to irk me is hard disk technology. With all the wonderful junk you can stuff your computer with, you still need something in there to store stuff on, and this thing just happens to move at several thousand RPM and be prone to mechanical failure. It's 2005, folks, get rid of the moving parts.

    SimpleTech announces today that they are releasing a solid state hard disk with an SATA interface. Solid State Disk (SSD) technology should provide much better performance and be easier on the ears. I just wonder what type of heat they will generate.

    Solar Death Ray

    You know you've got something awesome on your hands when the disclaimer reads:
    The sun is bright. Don’t look at the sun or you will damage your
    eyes. Anything that focuses the sun will only make it more
    dangerous. The Solar Death Ray is dangerous. Don’t build one.
    I’m surprised I haven’t burnt or blinded myself yet. The fumes
    from molten plastic can’t be good either. Don't play with fire.
    Apparently this device can heat up objects to in excess of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

    LiteBrite before:

    LiteBrite after:

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    Defined: Pimping My Ride

    The mods that have been done to this bug can also be defined as "heresy." What a tragic ending.

    Could It Be... Satan?

    Satan shows up on the shell of a turtle, which apparently was the only animal to start survive the fire in the store it was being sold in.

    I guess one thing you can say for Satan is that he has the smarts to not show up on a grilled cheese sandwich.

    Samsung Long Range Cordless Phone

    Take your home telephone calls with you around town for a distance of up to 30 miles.

    QWERTY For Your Seat

    The wife vetoed this "furniture" for the family room.

    Friday, March 18, 2005

    Things That Make Scientists Go Hmmm...

    Here are 13 quandaries that are sure to keep the pocket-protected side of you up all night.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    In Case Of Terrorist Attack

    If you have set yourself on fire, do not run.

    More silliness here.

    The New Borg

    Well, ye Apple cult members, it may have come around to bite you on the backside. Earlier this month comes reports of Apple's attack on bloggers.

    Step one in becoming a boorish company is to go after your first amendment rights. Second step is to regulate and tax you to death. Apple now wants a piece of the pie of the iPod accessory market if that accessory uses the "Made For iPod" logo.

    There ya go, Apple... a two-fer.

    New VW Vehicles

    One of these is definitely in order. Just don't repeat that within earshot of my Mazda. The poor girl is temperamental and is likely to leave me on the side of the road if she feels threatened.

    Autoweek is scooping the new line of VW vehicles coming out over the next few years. The truck is sweet, and the VW Miata Concept C coupe is also nice (and from what I hear, on it's way to production). That "Beduin" thing is hideous, though.

    Nothing Like Canadian Health Care

    Vancouver is piloting a program where they will distribute heroin to drug addicts on the taxpayer's dime. This is supposed to be in the name of keeping them from "getting something irreversible like HIV, hep C, and overdose death."

    How about step two in the process - provide taxpayer-funded prostitution. I mean, we really need to make sure that we keep those creepy diseases off the street.

    Underwater Tank Viewing

    When viewing through four glass walls just isn't enough.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    I Am the Cool Mack Daddy of the Dope Hype Flow

    Molten Thought has a proposal for adjusting the language of The Ten Commandments in light of the Today's New International Version Bible about to hit the market.

    Via: Michelle Malkin

    Monday, March 14, 2005

    "Gullible" Is Not In The Dictionary

    Somebody in my back yard is setting up a "service" to broadcast your e-mails to outer space.

    Your money is probably better spent a few miles away at Mohegan Sun.

    Set Your Weapons To Stun

    The Sonic Devastator. Be the life of the party for 300 bucks (fully assembled).

    Saturday, March 12, 2005

    Under God

    Although I started reading this right after we received it at Christmas from my Aunt & Uncle, I just finished it last week. Yep, I'm one of those people who read 12 books at the same time and finish about 3 of them a year.

    I'm generally wary of any attempted reflection or wisdom imparted by members of the entertainment industry. This one is written by Toby Mac and Michael Tait, members of the popular Christian market rock band DC Talk. Despite my wariness, I found this an enjoyable read.

    The book is a collection of vignettes about various people who helped shape the America we know today - George Washington Carver, Ruby Bridges, Harriet Tubman, on and on and on. There are 60 of these stories. Not to fear, for they average about 6 pages each, which really helps out with my short attention span.

    In each of these stories the authors make a tie between the actions of the person and the person's faith in God. Through each story they make a case for the founding of America on strong Christian beliefs.

    I am woefully ignorant of our country's history, so there was nothing that could jump out at me as patently false. If nothing else it whet my appetite for learning more about the historic characters of our country.

    Friday, March 11, 2005

    GTI MacMini

    Must have this.

    Windows Upgrade Path: Plagiarism

    Mr. Gates lets us know that future versions of Windows will assimilate more 3rd party utilities:
    People used to buy TCP/IP stacks. People used to buy basic backup software. People used to buy fonts. At least nominally, people paid for browsers...When you come into the world of software you know that if you are up at a higher level and you have something superimportant, it's going to move down, down, down and eventually be part of every copy of the operating system if it is something superimportant.
    My first job in the software industry was with a company from which people used to buy fonts. That company pretty much died when Windows 3.1 arrived, which included TrueType technology.

    Our crosstown buddies, Stac Electronics, also made software that Microsoft plagiarized (remember DoubleSpace?). Stac ended up suing Microsoft, getting an injuction on the sale of DOS until a settlement was reached.


    Nothing like talking to kids about gun safety and then giving them a first hand demonstration.

    That About Says It All

    More right-of-center comics excellence from Cox and Forkum.

    John Doe's Perspective On Receiving An RIAA Lawsuit

    Some interesting stuff from a person who has been sued by the music industry.

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    Give Me Turboboost, KITT

    A KITT replica is for sale, if you can afford it and can handle the laughter from the rice burners on the Berlin Turnpike.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    Laptop Steering Mount

    A laptop mount for your steering wheel. That'll leave one heck of a mark when your airbag deploys.

    Ohio eBay Sellers To Be Licensed[1]

    Here's something that's sure to send the stock price of eBay down:
    Besides costing $200 and posting a $50,000 bond, the license requires a one-year apprenticeship to a licensed auctioneer, acting as a bid-caller in 12 auctions, attending an approved auction school, passing a written and oral exam. Failure to get a license could result in the seller being fined up to $1,000 and jailed for a maximum of 90 days.
    Oooh boy, sign me up.

    [1] Read: screwed.

    Let ME Carry The Bags, Tiger

    Tiger's Caddy gets a car that probably won't accomodate a set of golf clubs:
    The Ford GT sports car Woods won for his victory is worth $140,000, but you won't see him driving it. Because Woods has an endorsement deal with Buick, he made a point all week to be careful about saying anything about Ford products. He did acknowledge afterward, however, that his caddie, Steve Williams , would be getting the keys to the car.

    Monday, March 07, 2005

    That's Gotta Hurt

    Via Ace of Spades:
    Hospital staff treating a retired school teacher for a headache found a five inch knife blade wedged in his head.

    The discovery was made after doctors X-rayed Leonard Woronowicz to see if he had cracked his skull in a fall while climbing over a stool in his kitchen four days earlier.

    Upon Further Review...

    NASCAR officials today updated their findings on the accident that killed Dale Earnhardt. They have now concluded that the accident was partially to blame from errant driving on Dale's part, due to his failure to keep his eyes out of the stands...

    82 Inches of Pure Loving Goodness

    Samsung has introduced their new 82 inch LCD TV. I don't think I even have a wall that wide in my house.

    "This film has been modified from it's original version. It has been formatted to fit your screen."

    Sunday, March 06, 2005

    A Baseless Prediction From Me...

    ...on the Giuliana Sgrena affair. She writes for a communist newspaper in Italy (which opposed Italy's involvement in the Iraq war), and her abductor's demand was for the immediate pullout of Italy's troops.

    It would not suprise me if we come to find out the whole abduction was staged. The abductors in Iraq generally had a way of freeing hostages only after removing their head. The Jawa Report has more on the possibility that this is a hoax.

    Saturday, March 05, 2005

    "4-D" Fetus Ultrasound

    Just remember "it" hasn't attained "personhood." National Geographic is also running a series called "In The Womb" coming up this week.

    Friday, March 04, 2005

    Oh Those Insane British

    I mean it, don't fly British Airways. Captain's Quarters has a follow up to the earlier snafu with a British Airways flight that blew an engine but continued it's flight, only to stop short of it's destination because it was short on fuel. Apparently the the same plane was involved in another 3 engine flight not too long after the first 3 engine flight.


    I must get one of these for the break room.

    Commodore Is Back

    With an MP3 player that, I presume, does not process the audio on the lowly (but once highly advanced) SID chip. All this thing needs is SVideo out and an integrated emulator with as many games as you can cram onto the flash memory, with the audio controls doubling up as a joystick.

    Thursday, March 03, 2005

    Turbo Toilets

    Full of hardy har-har's, Wired's The King of Thrones has the latest on commode technology.

    The Man Who Died a Hundred Times

    The creepiest part of this story for me is repeatedly seeing your heart checking out on the monitor and knowing that you have a few seconds before you personally check out.

    Ring Cutter

    Use this if you find yourself a victim of the freshman fifteen after getting married.

    Here's Something Incredibly Dumbheaded

    Bradley Smith of the FEC Tells us that there is a coming crackdown on political blogging:
    Smith and the other two Republican commissioners wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn't get the three Democrats to go along with them, what Smith describes as a "bizarre" regulatory process now is under way.


    Q: What rules will apply to the Internet that did not before?
    A: The commission has generally been hands-off on the Internet. We've said, "If you advertise on the Internet, that's an expenditure of money--much like if you were advertising on television or the newspaper."

    The real question is: Would a link to a candidate's page be a problem? If someone sets up a home page and links to their favorite politician, is that a contribution? This is a big deal, if someone has already contributed the legal maximum, or if they're at the disclosure threshold and additional expenditures have to be disclosed under federal law.

    Certainly a lot of bloggers are very much out front. Do we give bloggers the press exemption? If we don't give bloggers the press exemption, we have the question of, do we extend this to online-only journals like CNET?


    "How about a hyperlink? Is it worth a penny, or a dollar, to a campaign?

    I don't know. But I'll tell you this. One thing the commission has argued over, debated, wrestled with, is how to value assistance to a campaign."


    Then this is a partisan issue?
    Yes, it is at this time. But I always point out that partisan splits tend to reflect ideology rather than party. I don't think the Democratic commissioners are sitting around saying that the Internet is working to the advantage of the Republicans.

    One of the reasons it's a good time to (fix this) now is you don't know who's benefiting. Both the Democrats and Republicans used the Internet very effectively in the last campaign.

    Guh. They are going to evaluate the value of hyperlinks from somebody's personal homepage? How much would a hyplink such as, oh, "These guys are complete boneheads" be valued as? Or how about "Click here to view some arrogant jerks" ?

    I guess I also don't understand why this should be a partisan issue. I mean, I understand that the response (according to the article) went down party lines, but it seems there is enough blogging on the left and right side of the aisles that neither side would say that the other is receiving an unfair advantage. I'm a bit ignorant here, so maybe that isn't the point.

    What this really seems like to me is an incursion of free speech. Everybody has some sort of sphere of influence, whether that is through a blog or through family and friends. Is the FEC going to extend the Campaign Reform Act to familial diatribes at the dinner table?

    More comments via Instapundit and Michelle Malkin, if you're interested.

    IBM's Intelligent Shopping Cart

    IBM is offering it's intelligent shopping cart solution to supermarkets in Japan. The "head unit" looks like the one I mentioned by Fujitsu.

    Funny, I didn't know they had Stop & Shops in Japan.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Happy Birthday, Yahoo

    To go along with that ice cream you had to today on Yahoo's tab, make sure you visit their 10 year "Netrospective" as well.

    Bubba Says Hi

    Bubba the 22 pound lobster will retire to the quiet life of Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.

    That would have been a lot of lobster rolls, is all I'm saying.

    Bubba says goodbye.

    Arm Wrestling For the Lonely

    JPL is sponsoring a competition to develop an arm wrestling device "muscled" using synthetic materials called "Electroactive Polymers" (EAP).

    Nothing like testing arm wrestling technology on a straight A girl attending high school.

    New Buffalo Nickels

    Coming to a cash register near you.

    Oh Those Quirky British

    Captain's Quarters relates a story of a flight that seems doomed from takeoff... but pressed on anyway!

    I don't quite understand the workings of that - you're a plane taking off from LAX, you're in American airspace, the American air traffic controllers are telling you to get it off the road out of the sky, it seems that you would be subject to American air traffic authorities no matter the colors of the flag on your plane.

    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

    Let There Be Styrofoam

    Go ahead, drink your coffee from a styrofoam cup while cleaning the tub with your aerosolized ammonia cleaner and enjoying the CFC charged air conditioner.

    Well, maybe not, but some scientists have discovered that significant ozone depletion may be due to solar storms.

    Here comes the sun...

    Casper Says Hello

    Our friend Barb recently bought a Westie pup from Diane's Westies in New Hampshire. Casper (I believe) is around 6 3 months old and extremely cute. I've found he's also sporting a very nice set of teeth courtesy of Ginsu[1].

    [1] But only in play, of course.

    I Pity Da Foo

    Who knows what's peering out from within your PC? This and a myriad of other chip etchings can be found at Molecular Expressions. They also carry a veritable flotilla of other microscopic images, sorted by topic in their galleria.