Friday, April 29, 2005

UK firm DSP Design has made a PC that gets electric power via a network cable rather than through a wall socket.

Before now power via a network system has only been used for devices such as wireless access points, CCTV cameras and (Voip) internet telephone handsets.

DSP said it expected their new PC to find uses where it was hard to lay any kind of cable other than computer network cables.[1]
How cool is that? Just make sure you don't stick the ethernet plug in your mouth, I guess.


[1] Via BBC UK Online.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Gizoogle it, and find out how your favorite website should be "transliatin'd" to the street level.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Check out this story in WikiNews: Man attempts to foil breathalyzer by eating feces. Well, doesn't that give new meaning to being [censored]-faced.
The nets are not up yet in Portland, CT, but the bison have already started hitting the courts in Pikesville, MD.



And now you know where Gary Larson gets his ideas from.
Click and Clack chime in with the 10 ugliest cars as voted by their listeners. Some pretty good chuckles here, including no. 6, the Subaru Baja:
About how it was named, someone said, "The first focus group they showed it to must have commented, 'Baja-ha-ha-ha!' while rolling on the floor laughing."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Did you know that Amazon has free MP3 downloads?

The Abortion-Fetus Law

White House to Enforce Abortion-Fetus Law:
"The Bush administration said Friday that it would enforce a nearly 3-year-old federal law that requires doctors to attempt to keep alive a fetus that survives an abortion.

In making the announcement, the Department of Health and Human Services Department said it was an attempt to educate the public about the little-known law. Officials said they didn't know how often a fetus survives an abortion and would not say whether there have been any complaints about a lack of enforcement.

'As a matter of law and policy, the (department) will investigate all circumstances where individuals and entities are reported to be withholding medical care from an infant born alive in potential violation of federal statutes for which we are responsible,' HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a statement.

'We will also take proactive steps to educate state officials, health care providers, hospitals and child protection agencies about their obligation to born-alive infants under federal law,' Leavitt said.

The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act of 2002 amends the legal definitions of 'person,' 'human being,' 'child' and 'individual' to include any fetus that survives an abortion procedure."
The problematic thing to me about abortion law (and what I highlighted above) is how you define that which is OK to abort. Although the argument has been molded into a faith-based issue, to me it's more of a scientific one. Turning the argument into a faith-based issue means you can speak less technically about abortion - avoid the conversation of when a human being is created, and focus on when that human being has developed "personhood" or has become "an individual."

I guess I find this little news item interesting because it brings a bit more attention on the definition of an "individual." Does it make sense that a human being become an "individual" only after surviving the trip through the uterus and vagina of their mother? Does it make sense to use the term "individual" to define abortion law at all?

I had a discussion with my wife the other evening about abortion law. I think that Roe v. Wade will be kicked out of federal law in my lifetime and will be made a state issue, although she isn't convinced of that at all.

Gadgets Hazardous to Your Intelligence

Researchers at the University of London Institute of Psychiatry have found that the constant distractions of email and texting are more harmful to performance than cannabis.

Those distracted by incoming email, phone calls and text messages saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, more than twice that found in studies of the impact of smoking cannabis, according to the researchers.[1]
No wonder I'm a rambling idiot.

[1] http://www.vnunet.com/news/1162648

The GhiaMonster

What better way to go green than to go in a 1000 ft/lbs of torque electric Karmann Ghia.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Recycle Your HP Printer Cartridges

I know you paid 35 - 50 bucks a piece for them, and I know you're trying to recharge them using those refilling contraptions. However, if you can't be bothered with trying to refill them go to HP's recycling site on the web and request materials to have your cartridges recycled. Everything is free - the envelopes, the postage, etc.

On the Foxtrot



Wow, doesn't that hit the nail on the head. We're 90 days into term II of the current administration, and we've got a room full of 6 figured wonks who can't get nominees passed because they feel it's relevant to discuss the possibility of particular nominees not being nice to former underlings. I mean, forget what the nominee represents with respect to policy in the position he is being nominated for.

Better Than Giving the Finger

Perhaps a better method of biometrics is to use voice recognition systems. This article discusses it in the context of activating a credit card, which seems like a dorky reason for implementing the technology to me. If the voice recognition system could "serialize" your voice down to a series of numbers and then transmit that with your credit card transaction -- that would seem like a decent way to verify credit card transactions.

It also seems it would work better for auto security systems, as your fingers don't necessarily need to be attached to you to activate fingerprint systems.

Off-"shoring"

Here's a crazy idea for offshore outsourcing that somehow is supposed to combine the best of all worlds:
Take a used cruise ship, plant it in international waters three miles off the coast of El Segundo, near Los Angeles, people it with 600 of the brightest software engineers they can find around the world (both men and women), and run a 24-hour-a-day programming shop, thereby avoiding H-1B visa hassles while still exploiting offshore labor cost arbitrage and completing development projects in half the time they’d take onshore or offshore.

“As more people have run the [offshore] gauntlet and found the joys of traveling to India coach class and having three weeks of stuff on their desk when they come back, [they discover] it’s much more disruptive than they ever imagined it would be,” explains Mr. Green.

Before you think, “sweat-ship,” hear them out. These workers, they say, will each have private rooms with baths, meal service, laundry service, housekeeping and access to on-board leisure-time activities. Picture the Love Boat with a timecard. Staff can make the three-mile voyage into town in their off hours by calling a water taxi. Or they can spend time shopping in the on-board duty-free shop.

“Engineers can be kind of quirky in some ways, but they can be really productive if you give them the right setting,” says Mr. Green. “We think we’re going to be putting them in the perfect setting. Very few distractions. They’ll be with similarly motivated people who are really interested in advancing and doing this engineering work. It’ll be this perfect place for getting engineers to work.”

Half the developers will have the day shift and half will have the night shift. “But they’ll probably meet in the middle and chit-chat,” says Mr. Green.
I dunno. Sounds like a cool place to be for, oh, a couple weeks. You'd have to really buy in to the commune way of living.

Wicked Pizza Cutters

Something that is sure to impress the guests.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Smart Cars Are Coming

ZAP!, the US distributer for the Smart Car finally received regulatory approval to sell the Smart Car in the US.

The StompBox

Behold the Stompbox, a "WWAN" (Wireless Wide Area Network) router. Instead of hooking up the computers at a location to a shared cable or DSL Internet connection, this one hooks them up to cell-based wireless networks.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Maybe Fingerprint ID Systems Aren't a Great Idea After All

If events like this happen often enough to those of us owning devices requiring biometric login we'll find ourselves unable to even type a password in anymore.

Meanwhile, a woman goes into a Wendy's and orders a bowl of chili...

PC Case Modding Championship

Some pretty wild stuff here, including some woody cases, various car shaped cases, and this curious looking mannequin case.


Page transmogrification by Babelfish.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Why It's Great To Be Canadian

What do you do when you have a burgeoning, new technology that's popular with users and profitable for the provider? Tax the crap out of it.

We're Going Back To The Future

The flying car is coming. Just wait until they're able to hit 88 mph in those things.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Good Luck In the Draft, Timmy

Tim Chang is hoping to live the dream that I once had -- to become the first Asian American to play quarterback in the NFL.

Friday, April 15, 2005

And So It Begins

A customer is suing Comcast for handing out her contact information to RIAA in connection with RIAA's carpet bombing method for suing copyright violators. Hopefully this will be the first of many lawsuits against ISP's who hand out customer information without their permission or court order.

Have I mentioned lately that Comcast sucks?

Defined: Jerk

Terrel Owens wants a new contract only one year after signing $49 million dollar deal over 7 years:
"This is not about me being greedy or selfish," Owens told The Philadelphia Inquirer for Thursday's editions. "I was called selfish for trying to come back and play in the Super Bowl. I just want people to think about what they're hearing from all these reports about me being greedy. Just take a moment and look at my stature in the game."
The stature of your game did not win the Super Bowl for the Eagles. In fact, the Eagles continued to cruise right along without you in their march to the Super Bowl.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Here You Go, Tree Huggers

Behold, the iLog.

Tire Tagz

Add these to your car along with those blinking brake lights and you're sure to attract new, custom pinstripe work on your car at the grocery store parking lot.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Whoa

A rather hard hitting[1] commercial making smoking analogous to walking through a busy intersection. This commercial is only a "spec," so I doubt it'll ever see the light of day.

[1] Hardy har-har-har.

"Intranasal Foreign Entity"

Also known as having a leech in your sinus cavity.

Moon Over Portland

Sunday, April 10, 2005

This Ought To Be Good



The master of fact checking's show will feature this Wednesday the Italian journalist who can't figure out what exactly happened to her in Iraq or why it happened.

It's not too often that a train wreck is pre-announced.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Happy Spring

Spring weather has finally arrived here in the North East. It's supposed to get into the low 60's today, with a chance of hitting 70 tomorrow.

Yesterday I had a day trip to NYC for a client meeting. What a gorgeous day. Although being in the city a bit too long tends to wear on me, it really looks good on a bright day. None of these pictures will really do it justice.


Littered sidewalk.


A view down 42nd... you can catch a gargoyle peering out the side of the Chrysler building on the right.


A view from the Cosi Sandwich shop on 44th.

Today is equally as stunning. I had to get up at 5 to take Mrs. Vickers to the airport. She's roughing it out in Hawaii the next week or so with a girlfriend. I had an appointment to get a stereo installed in the truck at 9, so it afforded me a chance to go have a cup of coffee in Middletown and grab a set of sandals.


A view of the police station and First & Last Tavern on Main Street in Middletown.


A look towards the north end of Main Street.

Growing up in San Diego I don't think I had an appreciation for clear weather like I do now. Participating in the change of seasons is a special thing.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Shoegazing

This is how I spend an appreciable amount of time at client visits, it
seems. At least I have time to get a post in using the Treo.

(sent from my Palm)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

This Isn't the Answer Either

Congress is considering stepping in to make DRM schemes compatible across different hardware/software platforms:
The Congress have been considering a plan that would outlaw music protected by proprietary digital rights management (DRM) technology, such as Apple's FairPlay, which stops iTunes downloads being played on Microsoft digital music players and vice versa.
Why do they feel the need to step in? I'm not a big fan of DRM (it's really a silly game), nor am I a fan of the DMCA or suing and/or imprisoning your customers if they copy your digital wares. But I certainly don't want the government telling technology companies how they are to distribute their goods.

Stay away. Far away.

Use a Two Dollar Bill, Go to Jail

Sounds like Snopes material to me, but there's a story floating around about a man who was arrested for trying to settle his Best Buy bill with two dollar bills.

Congress May Extend Daylight-Saving Time

A bit late for April Fool's, our law makers think it would be a swell idea (and save a bit of oil) to extend daylight-saving time by a couple months.

Really, this is just another way of creating a tech-bubble in the economy. With all the extra, unnecessary work around the Y2K buildup we'll have plenty of nerd work to fix the manufactured DS+2 problem.

10,000 FPS

Thank goodness that, when coming up with subject matter to test your super high speed camera, it's generally decided to blow something up or shoot it. Motion Engineering Company has a few tasty examples.

Just be patient. The videos are shot at 10k frames per second but load at 1 frame per 10k seconds.

Starbucks (De)locator

In the event that you're jonesing for caffeine but sick of the mermaid.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Think Twice...

...before shaking the hand of your favorite baseball player. Not sure if it's a hoax or not, but some players reportedly have a not-so-sanitary method of toughening up the skin on their hands.

Ludicrous Speed... GO

For the past year we've been on a plan with SBC, getting our phone service + long distance + DSL for a packaged price. Factoring in the price of our monthly average for long distance, we were paying right under 90 bucks a month. The DSL portion of the bill amounted to $26.99.

The term of this plan ended in March. SBC has all sorts of new bundles now, including a package with Dish Network service. We didn't elect to add dish service through SBC at this time (I'll explain later), but we did re-up everything else. For a hair under 90 bucks a month we could get the same phone service, unlimited long distance, and 3 megabit DSL service. What's not to like about that? The bill will remain steady now, no matter how much long distance we generate. We could have also re-upped with the phone & long distance package and our existing 1.5 megabit DSL service for a bit under 80 bucks a month.

Anyhoo, after ordering the service last week SBC said they would "flip the switch" this past Monday. After running some tests a few times late in the evening it seems the new speed just sort of kicked in. No new equipment required. I just rebooted the DSL box.


Before, 1277kbps downstream.


After, 2507 kbps downstream.

Roughly double the speed downstream and an incremental increase upstream, although it seems that we were getting a bit more upstream (320 kbps) than what the service advertised (256 kbps).


[1] Bandwidth tests via BroadbandReports.com. I chose the Speakeasy test site in Boston.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Popups Must Die!

CNet has an article on a beta patch for Firefox that blocks popups that utilize Flash and/or Java, thereby bypassing Firefox's standard popup blocker. The patch is linked in the article.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Black Licorice

I'm playing with fire here. Nature is giving us the shower and blow dryer treatment right now, and the power has flickered off twice. I'll probably get four fifths of the way through this post before losing power for good.

Anyhoo, lovely Lori got me the Numark PT-01 portable turntable as part of my birthday present. It's a "fully manual" record player that works great either stand-alone or hooked up to your stereo.



The unit is almost exactly square as the diameter of a full-size record. The controls on the bottom right include speeds for 33, 45, and 78 RPM, pitch, tone and volume. The volume control also effectively controls the recording volume on the line-out. There is a speaker located under where the cartridge sets at rest. The arm rest has a lock that traps the arm when transporting the unit.

On the right side of the unit lies the various interfaces:



Kind of hard to see there, but there are quarter and eighth inch headphone jacks on the left, stereo line-out, the power cord and a power switch all the way on the right. The cord is unpluggable, the other end going into a power wart.



And here we have the unit with the cover on. The handle is located towards the rear.

So, I've spent part of the day ripping vinyl, as it were, and I'm really digging the player. I basically hook it up to my MiniDisc recorder for recording, and then digitally upload from the MD recorder to the computer. I can monitor the output on the headphone jacks located on either the record player or MD recorder. Unfortunately plugging into any of the output interfaces on the player mutes the audio on the speaker. The "fully manual" operation is also somewhat of a downer, but I'm primarily using it to rip vinyl, so I'm babysitting the recording session anyway. The price to me seems very reasonable.

One of the records I was recording today had some major divots on it. The record was seriously old, and I seem to remember the record skipping badly in long times past. A short hunt on google revealed an article on how to repair skips. It worked suprisingly well. It won't get rid of the massive crackling you hear through the divots, but I got everything to play through.

After fixing the skipping I bought some outer and inner sleeves from Sleeve City (weird that the URL says "sleevetown"). Amazing that there are businesses out there that still cater to older tech.

I've been using SoundForge to edit and sweeten the audio once it's in the computer. Version 7 (I'm a version behind) has a vinyl repair process which works fairly well. It also is great for creating the different tracks and then exporting. Although the software can burn CDs, I couldn't get it to burn the tracks individually (it created one large track), nor could I get it to work correctly with my new burner... it didn't seem to be closing the disc. I'm guessing the older version of SoundForge isn't speaking clearly enough to the newer drive.

So I export the tracks out of SoundForge to seperate wav files. Using the new version of Nero that came with the new drive I burn the wav files out to CD on the new burner. CD-Text has never worked for me in the past, but when I went to rip the newly-burned CD back into SonicStage, voila, SonicStage read the CD-Text. Hallelujah. SoundForge exports the regions using a track number / name scheme, and Nero seems to be able to discern it and use it for CD-Text when burning a CD. Considering most of the vinyl I have isn't going to be located in CDDB, this will be a lifesaver.

The audio CD burn speed of the new burner? Shmokin'.

I have a bunch of old (older than me) vinyl laying around that I promised to digitize for Dad. I'll start popping these to the top of my queue.

[1] Lunch on me if you can guess the record in the first picture.

Hacking the Prius

Some folks are adding plugs (for charging) and modifying batteries in their hybrid cars, with claims of over 100 mpg.[1] Toyota's response is lame:
"They say this is the next great thing, but it just isn't," said David Hermance, an executive engineer at Toyota. "The electric utilities really want to sell electricity and they want to sell it to the transportation sector because that expands their market. They have an agenda."
Yeah yeah, the electric companies really want to sell electricty, oil companies really want to sell oil, and Toyota really wants to sell cars.

While 100 mpg is intriguing, isn't the idea of plugging your car in just moving fossil fuel consumption somewhere else? Like at the power company?

I think hybrids are just a short term, trendy solution. The answer is hydrogen, where BMW has a leg up on everybody.

[1] Use this if you don't have a NYT account and can't be bothered with registering

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fool's Roundup

Get your fool's fix right here.

iPoo GPS Toilet Locator

Probably just an April Fool's joke. I'm pretty sure certain coworkers would buy one of these, though.