Iraq, the new Vietnam

21.59.49 - Mark

There are misinformed numbskulls out there who pigheadedly believe that there is no comparison to be made between Iraq and Vietnam. Both are situations where America forced its way in, ignored for the most part allies, and both were highly protested both by regular citizens and the soldiers fighting the battle. somehow thats not enough for the reds and they continue to believe that the war is just when it isn't.

For the war-mongers: keep in mind that Vietnam and Iraq are equally deadly when you account for medical improvements and different combat styles.

Give it a few years after our officials wisen up and get the hell out of dodge. There is no way that history will look kindly on the United States and its war in Iraq. Unneeded, Unwanted. Unwise. A true low point in our history.

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18.30.30 - Mark

ABC has named bloggers as People of the Year and what happens? Conservative bloggers can only find stuff to bitch and moan about in it.

Idiots. Take it a the compliment that it is, I mean they aren't trying to condemn us in the piece like they have tried doing several times over the last year. get your heads out of your asses and take a more positive approach to it like Boing Boing and Blogger have.

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Still only two days...

18.07.23 - Mark

Bush, slow as ever, has pledged to give $350 Million for tsunami aid Better than the previous $45 million, but I still think it's a border line social gaffe. The $350 million is still trivial to the Iraq screw up, going from 6 hours to a bit under two days. I think upping it to around $1 Billion worth of aid and billing it as a week in Iraq (not quite but close enough) would help a lot. But I'm not a politician, I'm not big on government spending in the first place and I really don't like the idea of paying for this screw up for the rest of my life, but at the same time I don't want my nation to be well hated 'round the world. Making a show out of this could help the nation save a lot of face.

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Spending spree

21.50.12 - Mark

I ended up ordering my Bluetooth headset last night about 3 am, they were selling like crazy too so I'm glad I'm a nightowl. In addition to that Matt and I made a run out to Lowe's hardware to get material to build some cabinet doors (he's glad I have a license and car keys). Anyways he got a pile of metal hardware and half a dozen sheets of 2'x4' boards and on the way out I spotted some regular sheet metal. I've been working a fridge in a mac for a while now, slowly amassing the parts needed for a peltier based minifridge. The last main component has been a sheet metal enclosure to act as the cooling side heatsink, and I've been putting it off since I thought it would be expencive (at one point I was eyeballing an old filing cabnet for its sheet metal) anyways we're set to check out and as an impulse I grabbed a big sheet of 26 gauge metal (24"x36"). $7. I can't believe how wrong I was about the cost. Anyways I've got pretty much everything I need to make the minifridge except for sorting out which powersully I'm going to use to power the junction, so with luck I'll be able to finish up the FridgeMac in a few days (depending on how much I procrastinate)

I'm happy. Bluetooth head set for a mere $30 post rebates and sheet metal for my fridge mac. I'm thrilled. Anyways I just finished Dling the latest podcasts so I'm going to go out of my evening walk.


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Tsunami Relief.

02.24.24 - Mark

I'm not big on posting about natural disasters other than those in my own backyard, but I was listing to Off the Hook (a radioshow from 2600) and they brought up a couple of interesting points. NOAA and the US governemtn are complaining about how they knew about the eathquake, and the effected asian countries didn't, and that the asian countries could not be warned in time because of jurisdiction crap. Well as 2600 pointed out why not use the media? All it would have taken was one PR talking head to go on the record at CNN, Reuters, BBC and the effected countries would have known. No BS about it. Now I don't know what good it would have done as there doesn't seem to be any awareness in the area, but simply take a look at tornadoes in the midwest of huricanes in the east. The media reports the event and what to do. Usually evacuations occur (mostly orderly) but after preperations are taken at homes and businesses. Tornadoes are a better example as they occur about as fast as the Tsunami did. Thanks to the media warnings deaths from tornadoes are extremely low as compared to the pre-mass media era. Don't know, but the red tape excuse is crap. All it would have taken was one expect to leak the report.

The other thing pointed out on OTH was on the $45 million the US government is pledging for relief in relation to the cost of the War in Iraq. They suggested that the $45 million going to the effected countries pays for an hour and a half to two hours in Iraq. There wasn't a source to those numbers so I did my own checking. The USA is paying about $115,000 every minute we spend in Iraq (source: Oppurtunity Costs of the Iraq War @ The center for American Progress). By those numbers I get 6 hours in Iraq. Either way thats a horrible ratio. We've screwed ourselves with the Iraq war fiasco. We made a mess we shouldn't have and now we're paying to clean it up with both cash and as a world leader. If we want to reclaim our title as a positive world leader, we need to give away more than 6 hours of war.

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iPod Linux

02.05.39 - Mark

A while back some resourceful programmer developed a linux build that ran on his iPod. Nothing really came of it at the time but now more programers have joined in and have created Podzilla (what is it with open source and *zillas?) Now this is cool. Its easy to install, doesn't wipe out your iPod completely, plays your MP3s and oggs (no AACs and certainly no DMRed AACs) without much problem, and it provides a bunch of new features like more games, can turn the iPod into a web server (with a host computer attached to do the net connection) and the one I really like is record audio without an adapter

Among other things I've been recording meetings recently, and would love to use my iPod as a replacement device. I am thinking about doing a podcast but as I have an iBook my options are limited to adapters (USB/iBook or mic adapter/iPod) or bluetooth. I would just love to use a cheap headset to record part of a podcast while I'm out walking/listing to podcasts. Being able to comment on some audio clip without hauling around my iBook would be awesome. doesn't look Like I'll be doing it that way as it looks like I will be going the bluetooth route (hit upon a really sweet deal for a bluetooth headset), but it would still be something cool to play with, especially for longer public meetings where an iBook might prove distracting or if a bluetooth headset get a decent pickup.

Adam Curry is thrilled with this project find the daily source code podcasts for December 28th and 29th and I don't blame him. One free program from some resourceful coders is exceeding the quality provided by $30-$40 adapters. I can't wait until they bring support for the 4G iPods like mine so I can mess around with it.

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Condenced Wisdom

12.14.39 - Mark

How to be Creative

It's not exactly what it sounds like it is. Go ahead click and read...

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Interesting rumor

10.01.12 - Mark

I usually don't put much faith in any Mac Rumor, but this one on sub $500 Macs piqued my interests for a number of reasons.

First is that selling a PC weenie on the quality of macs isn't that hard, especially when compared to selling the same users on forking over $1000 for low end hardware .You can argue until you're blue in the face but its generally fruitless (no pun intended) unless you want to try and sell used hardware - and thats even tougher. You really have to give Macs out for free before you'll convince most PC users (I've personally handed out a half dozen used Macs, and I know people who have given brand new powerbooks to stubborn PC users) A $500 Mac will do wonders for the market share.

Secondly is the feasibility of it. Is it possible. I think it is. Look at video game consoles and where they are at. An xBox will easily run Linux and costs just over $150 now and about $300 at first launch. These things already pack hard drives, USB, DVD optical drives, great video chipsets and CPUs that can run a GUI interface. Even the next xBox is slated to pack a IBM 970 processor (aka a G5) So is this rumor really far off? The cost of installing the OS and applications is negligible since Apple made that as well. The cost of adding a G4 or G5 into the mix will up the cost some as will a modem and ethernet - but those can't be more than $10 for a major company to add. So say apple pays $400 for each one, at $500 they're making a profit in addition to market share.

True we won't know for a couple weeks yet, but of the many rumors out there this one is interesting to say the least.

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Box Store reuse

12.04.46 - Mark

Big Box Stores can sap business away from small chains and local stores. I've seen cases where a Walmart SuperCenter came in got a shit load of benefits from the city - like extending utility lines outside the city limits, and the day it opened closed down a smalller store. Sure I like the savings, but some of the stuff they produce is crap, and the data mining operations kind of kill privacy. I'm not a big fan of using my SSN on every legal document I've every seen I'm certainlly not handing one over to walmarts (ie check cashing) Anyways these stores move to bigger and bigger locations and leave the old location standing. Enter BigBoxreuse.com, an online project documenting some creative reuses of these old shells. some of the ideas are pretty neat, and I gotta give credit to Austin, MN and the Spam Museum. Not only did they use a bigbox shell, they've also turned it into a major tourist trap - in the recent trip to Chicago my family took Matt got wind of it and wanted to go, so they might be onto something.

Still a neat site/project. I hope they find some other examples of bigbox reuse and stick them up.

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Eccentric Genius - Desktop Warfare

21.52.14 - Mark

Eccentric Genius is the website/store of a guy making working models of medieval weaponry that he advertises as the best alternative to generic office presents. The guy is a generic tinkerer, and he figures out how to do some of the fun things like making model guillotine blades out of old saw blades. Cool stuff. There's a lot on his site, but theres some more stuff in this interview, I especially like the part about workplace murders going though the roof...

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iPodder Diets

21.18.25 - Mark

I'm not usually the type that goes on diets or exercise routines but I've been finding that the most enjoyable way of listing to the podcasts I'm downloading is going for walks. Driving costs money (gas) and is limited to roads (boring) and I can't wear headphones which means suffering tough jerryrigged audio solutions (flaky FM transmitters or old cassette adapters). So I've been loading up my iPod with podcasts and going for walks. I can go where I want easily, I can control how long I'm out easier and it is indisputably healthier. Last night I went out for about 40 minutes to an hour around the neighborhood tonight I was out for about 90 minutes on the greenway walking trail. I didn't realize how well thought out it was until I walked it at night and periodically checking my iPod for time markers. Along the trail there are a few fences, and while walking it I realized that with an average pace they start/end about 10 minutes apart. Pretty neat. So I now have a set of markings, along the greenway at least for 10 minutes intervals.

And I'm not sure what's will al the locals thinking its cold. 40 degrees with just a hint of wind chill is nothing. -10 before windchill is cold. My walks have been perfectly enjoyable, and assuming the podcasts don't die out I'll probably stick to the walks.

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True Story of the CD

18.02.43 - Mark

Before Sony and the other Major japanese electronics companies created the CD, Jim Russell was recording video on plates of glass. Unfortunatly he doesn't see any profit from his inventions, despite using the same ideas and technology.

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Cheap Hosting

01.55.36 - Mark

Found a webhost that looks like its reliable, well reviewed, provides quality servers, plenty of bandwidth and is dirt cheap.

I have been thinking about leasing serverspace for a while now (beyond what I'm doing with trificient) because I'm having any number of headaches with the box I set up. I like sandboxes but I don't like headaches when trying to do something for profit. (I'm getting bad about these tangents) Anyways I was flipping though my RSS feeds and a plug/deal for Dreamhost came up. This is amazing

800MB storage
120GB transfer/mo
3 domains/15subdomains
600 mailboxes
Unlimited MySQL Databases
1 free domain name
and No Setup Cost (which is where good deals tend to go bad)

for a grand total of $10 for my first year (don't know about after that) but for a basis for my commercial endeavors thats a great deal.

Here's how to do it- go to the above link, click on the main image, select the lowend packege (crazy domain insane) for 1 year and fill out all the info. When you get towards the end (verify total) enter in "777" as a promotional code. That should chop off ~$100 and make the 1 year cost a measly $10. Not too bad. Took only a few minutes to register aside from picking a domain name and its processing pretty quick. Payment took a minute, the domain was registered in under ten, supposedly the server should be online in a few more minutes and I might have this blog hosted on the server by Wednesday (possibly).

Don't know how good they will end up being but hey at $10 for a year with a domain name, it's pretty hard to go wrong... (*knocks on wood)

Fun Fun Fun (you can tell I'm a geek - 2 am and the best I can talk about is finding a dirt cheap webhost)

Update Almost the moment I published this I got a stream of emails from them. Web, FTP, Mail are all set up and just waiting for the DNS to cycle though, tho' I could access everything though the generic server address if I wanted to. I also learned they have a referral program, so if you're looking for a cheap hosting provider please go ahead and click on the link above and sign up. Hell at $10 what do you have to loose?

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iCash Crop

12.27.20 - Mark

As I mentioned in an earlier post there is a plethora of accessories out there for the iPod - a whole industry worth. And most of it is junk. When I went into the Apple Store in Chicago there was this thing called a TuneDoc Car Holder from Belkin. For this junk name there is an equally junk product. For a mere $30 you can buy a glorified travel cup, chopped in half and a iPod holder merged into everything. Thats it. No charging feature, no wireless transmitter, nada.

Fast-forward a few days, a thousand miles and into a walmart automotive section. There are these smoking accessories that are pretty much the same thing a plastic/rubber-ish cup with an ashtray on top. Cost $2. I bought it and took it home - half of that Belkin thing. Now I've got plexiglas floating around just waiting for a use, but a .10" thick piece about 8"x4" has a retail value of under a dollar. Wow I'm up to $3.

Now the plexiglas is flat but place it over a piece of wood about the width of an iPod (or a little bit wider) and heat the edges up with a generic heat gun while applying pressure with hammer and in a few minutes I had a nice little iPod holder. Bend it again so the back side creates an angle ~160degrees and round off the edges with a Dremel sanding bit and wow I've got both parts of the belkin junk for a 1/10 of the cost. Cut a quick slit into the ashtray, insert plexiglas, and then iPod and I was done. I added a metal coat hook (upside down) to one side of it because of a broken cup holder in the family van, but that only added a couple dollars to the total cost.

I may post a picture and a write up, but I spent 5 dollar and two hours creating a thing that, if branded as an iPod accessory, could sell for at least 5 times the cost. Now thats one example, but there are more. People are taking simple junk, some of it handed out for nothing, branding it for an iPod and selling it for a killing.

Another example is the iPod backup power packs. Belkin (and others) are creating battery backpacks for the iPods, nothing special, just some correct wiring and injection molding plastics. geeks like myself are wiring up some firewire ports to a set of 9v batteries and sticking everything into a tin of mints. Cost $10 (including mints) Cost of the commercial iPod Accessories junk $60.

I'm not sure if I'm making this a rant on the over-consumerism of America or on how people in the cult of white earbuds are paying too much for junk that isn't special and is available for less if they can make do without the iPod branding. In either case its ridiculous.

Now. How can I get in on this action...

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Blessed are the ignorant

18.27.21 - Mark

My brothers are so entrenched in bullshit they're using it as ammunition. I was surfing the web and saw a note on NASA upping the odds of the Earth colliding with an asteroid in 2029 (something like a 3% chance). I mentioned this to my brothers (something now listed as "against my better judgment") and instantly they fire off "It doesn't matter Nostrodamus says the earth will end in 2014". I try and explain how those predictions are bullshit unless they picked up a mix of Latin, French, and Greek without telling anyone. But of course I'm wrong, I'm always wrong with Matt even if I'm right, and Nostradamus is this brilliant soothsayer who of course, knows more than a bunch of rocket scientists at NASA.

This is one of those situations where I wish I had Penn and Teller's BULLSHIT! on DVD so I could pop it in and show them that Nostrodamus' predictions are less ancient writer and more money hungry idiots manipulating 16th century writings to reflect current events. I dare anyone reading this to find a single Nostrodamus prediction that, from the original texts - none of the adjusted meaning/interruption crap, was accurate before the event. You won't find one, because its all in the interruptions coming from his nut-case followers.

At least this argument was at home. A few days ago they were attacking my personal beliefs (humanist/bright) in packed restaurant so loud I'm surprised no one came over to the table to tell them to shut the hell up (not that they would have). I honestly don't know how I can possibly be related to them...

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Ketchup, Catsup

22.15.01 - Mark

Here's a weird article on Ketchup and why it hasn't changed much over the years, with information on how people choose what flavors they like in other products. Somewhat interesting. I wonder if part of the reason ketchup isn't diversified like pasta sauces are is because of the number of other tomato based condiments out there like Barbecue sauce, steak sauces, etc., manmy of which are similar to basic ketchups...

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01.43.53 - Mark

A while back I posted on "Feed Envy" and my love of RSS feeds (they really are great) Anyways I'm now up past 125 feeds and I figured it was about time to post them (I've been an RSS junkie for over 2 months now). So a couple of file exports and a little tweaking later I have uploaded a list of my subscritpions with title, site designated descriptions, rss/atom location (hyperlinked) and site location (also hyperlinked). Over a day that list will pull down 700+ items.

List brought to you by random web surfing, blogs, NetNewsWire Lite, OmniOutliner Version 3.0 (beta 7), and the standards OPML and html/css.

The unedited OPML file is also available here if you want to try and add my feeds to your own RSS reader. (You'll probably need to save it to your local drive)

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To the Moon Alice...

01.22.05 - Mark

We've proven that individuals can get three people into space with a few million dollars backing them. We also know that private corporations and educational organizations can produce and launch satellites into orbit without government backing. After orbit all you have to do is get half way to the moon, and it helps to have a guide, like say, an Apollo Guidance Computer.

Where do you get one of these things? How about build one in your basement? All build documents are public domain and available as PDFs

Just the thing to give to the avionics geek in your life, or Burt Rutan/Richard Branson...

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Damed Christians

22.53.38 - Mark

Just went in search of an open store and there is NOTHING open. I know its Christmas and all that but why must everything be closed because one faith chooses to have a holiday on that day. I didn't see anything close down for the winter solstice, I don't think anyone closed down on account of Yom Kippur, Nobody bothers to do much on Work-a-holics Day (Since it pops in over the 4th of July Weekend) Why then do we let one group of nut-cases place our economic systems in a strangle hold?

It's irritating. I think I'll throw my support behind Dogbert Day. That legislation will clear out some of the other riff raft...

(not meant to be a grinch, its just frustrating to have nearly everything in the USA closed because a percentage of the population wants to celebrate a possibly fictional birthday)

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19.01.29 - Mark

Been a long couple of days. While we were shopping on Wednesday night
Chicago saw a few snow flakes, but not a lot. Enter lake effect snow
and nearly everything east and south of us got pounded. Half of Indiana
was shut down Tuesday morning, and even more of the interstates are
closed down. Murphy's law bites again. I'll get back to the weather in
a minute

So we got a later start that I would have liked which ment we could
only say goodbye to the grandparents then went downtown again so we
could see Spamalot. It rocked. Our seats were horrible (couldn't see
the upper half of the stage) and there were some uncouth ass holes
reciting lines and singing along with some of the songs (I was getting
real close to turning around and biting their heads off in the second
act) but we still saw most of the stage. Everything else was just
amazing. Songs were amusing, several new ones and longer versions of
the classics (I especially liked "I Am Not Dead Yet", "You Won't
Succeed on Broadway" and "The Song That Goes Like This") They really
did do a good job of converting the movie to a musical. By the end Matt
and I were in agreement that we needed to get the CD ASAP so on the way
out he filled out a pre-order form and he came out with a new shirt.

So we hit the road soon afterwards and started barreling to
Indianapolis. By the time we got to the south side the roads were
getting pretty bad (foot of snow easy - and despite plowing the roads
were still covered) and it was getting late so we stopped got some food
and slept. I would have posted something and updated my podcasts at the
hotel but, while they had internet access I didn't have an ethernet
cable (I know bad geek) and with subzero temperatures I wasn't in a
mood to go war driving at midnight.

It is a good thing it was Indiana and not North Carolina - they would
bee shut down for a couple weeks in this weather. Since even more roads
were shut down in south Indiana we elected to go east. Even going that
way there are cars trapped in a couple feet of snow in the median and
the shoulder. There was a whole semi (truck and trailer) that was just
flat on its side. Even on this stretch of road a few rest areas are
closed up. Pretty bad.

Hopefully it will clear up a little further east (Ohio) and we can make
up some time. For now, we're taking it slow so we don't end up off the

*mark goes back to listing to podcasts
(finished just west of the Indiana/Ohio border)

revision Since I'm too lazy to edit all of the above I'm making
this foot note. Ohio Was even worse than Indiana. Keep in mind Ohio
roads start off a lot worse than those in the rest of the USA. There
was broken ice from basically the border to Columbus and then some.
There were a few places where the interstate traffic was at a
standstill for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. It took about 4 hours to go
150 miles. Just absolutly terrible. Once we got past Columbus I took
over and it got better, so I made up some time, but it seemed like it
took days to get though that shit hole state (the last time we went
though Ohio was nearly as bad - and that was mid summer) Once we turned
south there was no one on the road and we made up more time. I took us
though a good part of West Virginia before switching off for the last
time. A word to the wise. NEVER travel at night on December 24th. There
is NOTHING open. Even walmarts are closed down. I blame christians. One
third of the general population of Earth should not have the power to
shut down EVERYTHING. Its screwed up beyond belief. Ugg and don't get
me started on xmas songs. Video games don't cause holiday violence, a
month of 24/7 christmas songs do.

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01.08.08 - Mark

It took a week in Chicago and a gruesome 2 week-long day in Ohio to do it but we're home. I think I'm in one piece, one very aching piece, and I'm pretty sure everyone else in the family is OK, but I'll see sometime tomorrow. I already typed up the Ohio thing and will send it off sometime in the next 24 hours (too tired right now) To the christian readers, Merry christmas, and to all other faiths, enjoy your respective days. I'm going to crash now and crash har......................

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Only at Apple...

12.38.39 - Mark

I know a few people who have worked for Apple and who hated the experience, but its odd that the "Better to be a Pirate than to join the Navy" mantra is still there in some extent. Specifically this story of Graphing Calculator. Graphing Calculator is a really cool app that shipped with a couple of OSes designed for the PPC systems. I remember discovering it while setting up some iMacs somewhere in Kanas (don't ask what I was doing in Kanas setting up iMacs) and how it produced some sweet animations among other things, in that regard those guys really did succeed in what they set out to do (make a really cool free app that shipped with a crap load of Macs)

That's a newer case, but I don't think there's another company on earth that invokes this sort of dedication. There's this page, those for Audion and Watson. Not to mention the hundreds of stories at folklore.org. That's just online too, there's a book developed from folklore.org, but several dead-tree books (and even a TV movie) on the subject of Apple's corporate culture. If nothing else Apple is an amazing company...

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Speaking of Bush Policy

12.01.33 - Mark

Bush has granted 31 pardons in his first terms. The Volokh Conspiracy posted that thats the fewest number of pardons for any president in their first term, with exception for Washington and John Adams (who presumably didn't have anyone to pardon) Many of them are compeletly BS. The cases involved involved misdemeanors that resulted in probations that were all done with over a decade ago. For those who voted their "morals," mostly "christian" what happened to supporting a president that supports that forgive and forget thing? Anyways a link to the post.

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23.58.57 - Mark

Chicago has been good. For whatever reason I've neglected blogging about it, time, other interesting links stuff like that. I guess I've developed blogging habits and its a little hard to break them. Anyways a run down of what I've done.

On the 20th was the Museum of Science and Industry. Always a treat. Unfortunately the U-505 (first captured German U-Boat) wasn't open for display, and I didn't get to see everything I would have liked to, but with the larger institutes thats always going to be the case - it gives your a reason to go back. So that was a really good deal for my birthday. The family insisted I choose where to eat and me (suffering from a headache and irritated at one inpatient tween brother) choose a generic chain restaurant (TGI Fridays). I managed to enjoy it, but I would have preferred something a little more uniquely Chicago like Pizzeria Uno (originator of the deep dish pizza).

21st we hit the Institute of Art (free admission on Tuesdays) Matt and I enjoyed it a lot, the tween didn't but we expected that. The art institute requires some maturity he still lacks. Matt and I basically wandered though it, limiting ourselves to 20-30 minutes per section. Saw a lot of it but I would have liked to see more and see some of it better (slower pace) The thing that surprised me was how much Matt and I were agreeing on pieces. Usually our tastes in art clash dramatically. Anyways we got out mid afternoon and went to the Berghoff a famous Chicago loop restaurant. Real nice place that can serve both local suits and out of town tourists. Germanic food, which is some of my favorite, nice and rich, plus a couple steins of root beer (their own brand - typical of good german restaurants, not some generic bulk crap). So filling in fact that pretty much everyone in the family passed on supper, partly because our timing was perfect. We sat down almost as soon as we got in, at the end of the lunch crowd but before the evening rush. When we walked out there was a line extending out the door a good 30 feet, in addition to the 30 feet from the door to the seating area. Like I said, its famous (and for a perfectly good reason). After that we drove around downtown, unfortunately I couldn't get them to stop at the Michigan Avenue Apple Store (one of the larger 2 story ones)

Today was more relaxed, no museums or anything. We got a late start so we went down to Navy Pier and later one of the Malls. Pretty cold, but nothing I didn't remember from Iowa. The problem I had was the Pier and malls want money, and I didn't have a lot of it. Still we wandered around for a couple hours at the pier (Arcade style mall and numerous exhibits) I would have liked to experience some of the seasonal things like Ferris' giant wheel (the original) or one of the many cruises based at the peir, but its all shut down. Like on Thursday we took in a late lunch, this time at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Yes its based on the movie, and yes I got some shrimp. Very good food, the fish and chips I had in addition to my shrimp was extremely good. Not like some of the stuff they try and pass off as fish and chips in NC after a quick stop to see the grandparents (the third or fourth this week) we went over to Oak Brook Mall. I did go to an Apple Store there, and I may post on some of the stuff I saw there (can thing of a couple things right off the bat, but this post is getting pretty long) Its upscale so I was going into all of the gadget shops, and I'm going to be looking at a Robosapian a lot closer (holy shit are those things fun)

Anyways tomorrow we're going to try and get an early start and go downtown before Spamalot (can't wait) at 2 PM local. After that we'll start heading back. Current plan is 2 phases, stopping somewhere near Indianapolis over night then starting early the 24th finishing at home. Like I guessed a strait shot is doable, but unnecessarily hard. We know that now and adjusted the plan accordingly.

Anyways, I need some sleep so I'm not completely zombie like in the morning.

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That FBI supoena should be arriving anyday now...

11.20.04 - Mark

In addition to DIY fire arms, toilet terrorism, armored 737s and grilled cheese sandwich aided drug smuggling tips (among others), I present backyard mechas.

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Good retrospective

11.03.43 - Mark

Warren Ellis has a good 2004 retrospective up on his blog. take a minute and Read it. Mostly politics and technology (my favorite combination) And I agree with it pretty much 100%

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More cool shelters.

23.39.25 - Mark

Kinda of like the cardboard houses I posted on a while back, there are some similarly cool sandbag shelters out there. Sort of like igloos in design, I guess its going to redefine the sandcastle thing...

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I refuse to...

23.33.45 - Mark

"Negotiate with myself in public."

I like that bushism. I don't like the guy's policies, but I like that way of saying no comment.

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Should have shipped USPS - nothing stops those guys

22.19.37 - Mark

Don't you just love irony...

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Cool Hardware Hacker Story

23.47.48 - Mark

There's a nice story from the New York times on the designer of the c64, one of those all in one game systems that sold thousands of units in one day on QVC. Unlike some of the others which are duplicated by the original creators she dug into the old systems and rebuilt it with modern components much like the Apple 1 replica. Both are cool, and I'd like to own them both. I would too if I could find a justification (although the geek factor is much louder)

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Yesterday was long. Really long

11.27.25 - Mark

Road trips are never quick and simple, but with three of us driving we made pretty good time and got into the hotel around 12 PM EST. Having a bunch of DVDs made it go pretty quick. Matt watched on his laptop, mike watched a couple on mine, and I put few hours on my iPod. I did my share of the driving in Kentucky and Indiana. Kentucky was nice. Nothing major there, and on my second leg we started seeing some precipitation when I was just south of Indianapolis and when we sat down to dinner a few minutes north is started snowing :) Not any of that small snow, the lightly falling big stuff. Didn't make conditions too bad, just made the road damp until we crossed into Illinois, where it was lightly covering the road, but unlike NC they were prepared and had salt trucks out. So even that wasn't too bad. As I'm typing this up there's still some signs of snow, but a lot of the roads are melted clear. All that solar energy and salt is melting it off despite the cold (7 oF and a good bit of windchill) Anyways now to argue what we're going to do this afternoon, and I seem to be the only one with the ability to connect to the free wifi...

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Nada Mucho

23.26.35 - Mark

Nothing much today. Fault of miscommunications and bitter cold. One of the ideas was go to a bears game, but with a a sub-zero wind chill that didn't get far. So we checked in with the grandparents and went to a pretty cheap mall and ate food. Decent but tomorrow should be better. I'll be a year closer to drinking age and will be visiting the Museum of Science and Industry. There should be other things, but I've long since gotten used to crappy birthdays. I guess I'll see how the day pans out, it would be hard for it to be worse than today (lots of yelling, several livid arguments, and me cranking up the volume on my iPod to drown them out numerous times - thank Jobs Apple made the iPod so loud)

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The Sabatical Begins...

01.42.12 - Mark

By the time anyone in their right mind is reading this I should be barreling down an interstate headed towards Chicago, possibly in command of a massive green ground missile with a lot of inertia. I've been looking forward to this trip for a while, at least since Matt bought tickets to Spamalot and likely sooner than that. Really everyone in the family has been. we haven't been able to take a recreational vacation in over three years. With luck this trip should be bearable. Three laptops, an iPod and between Matt and myself a more than healthy collection of music and movies, not to mention a fresh supply of junk food Matt acquired (yes he is almost paying for this trip - its ridiculous). What we do in Chicago is a still up in the air to a degree, some family of course, but we're going to try and make it as enjoyable as possible.

Since I will be wardriving some (it is Chicago - there are gonna be tons of hotspots) and if the hotel directory the place we're staying has free broadband. So I'm sure I'll maintain some connection I don't know how much. Likely not too far different from what I already do (except probably less linkage). With a digital camera and photoshop expect some photoblogging to take place as well. It all depends, but isn't that always the case?

Anyways I better catch some zzzs while I still can. Last I knew we were still planning on getting out early. Its going to be a long drive tomorrow since we are going to try a straight shot - which is going to be 15 or 16 hours at best. I doubt it, theres no way we'll be looking at a Saturday evening arrival even with the time zone difference. My money is 1am - 2 am central at the earliest assuming minimal breaks and junk food meals. We'll see. We should be local again for xmas, but again I think that may be pushing it. xmas eve travel is a bitch. We've done it before and 1) Murphy Strikes while 2) America rolls up every road except for a few dirty paths leading to a church stoop.

::yawn:: anyways enough typing, if I don't say it latter, enjoy your own break if you have one, and enjoy the season even if you don't, and remember its about family and sharing, not getting the most gift/killing for the last whatever in the state.

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12.43.45 - Mark

iWant. The rumors have been circulating forever (along with the iNewt and other iWishfulThinking products) but today Apple announced a formal partnership with Motorola to make a cellphone with some compatibility with iTunes. It could be the flash iPod from other rumors but if Apple is seriously making a cellphone with motorola I'm seriously interested. Not because I'm a diehard apple geek (which I am) but because I'm itching for a nice bluetooth enabled cell phone. Motorola is already one of my favorites with the Razr V3, but its trailing behind the Sony-Ericsson T637. If I don't get a cell for my birthday or xmas I'll be watching Macworld in a few weeks to see if anything is released (the infamous one last thing)

Coverage by the register, Forbes, and engadget.

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State of the Union?

12.12.19 - Mark

Ever wonder how far the United States has come? Project Gutenberg recently posted all of The State of the Union Addresses from 1790-2001.

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Better Security Though Insecurity

16.18.03 - Mark

Boing Boing pointed out a blog post on Burglers and feeling "secure" Its something I have seen and pointed out several times, but people don't get it.

All the technology is the world isn't compensating for your stupidity.

People, even the dumbest of them, are still capable of things computers have yet to achieve - cognition. We can put things together in our minds faster than microprocessors and form better connections than the best mapping and search applications out there.

In terms of security a screen door might be better protection that a 1 foot thick lead door with a dozen locks, biometric scanning, and a platoon of armed guards because people will be more aware of their environment.

The same thing works with traffic control -the fewer signs and regulations there are the more alert drivers need to be. There are some small cities that are adopting this policy, but a more common example is a big box store parking lot (mall, walmart, target, etc) There are only a few signs and road markings, but drivers tend to be more alert in that environment.

Kevin Mitnick makes similar arguments in The Art of Deception but doesn't argue the side of less physical security (although does point out how its easy to bypass)

People are lazy, if you take away the high tech, often fallible tools they use for "security" you force them to perk up and pay attention. If you do that intruders, or terrorists, will get caught much faster

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I object!

13.17.21 - Mark

Gotta love our government. Some guy taking drugs though airport security and was caught is arguing that drugs don't pose a risk to national security and the search that discovered them was therefore unlawful. I've got my own stance of regulated substances, but the funny thing in this case is every time his lawyers as a question about airport security the federal goons are objecting since its a "matter of national security" This includes even obvious questions lawyers ask to establish a scene or give a witness creditability (Yes I did enjoy participating in Mock Trial competitions).

So if they ask "Mr. Airport Screener, do the x ray terminals display information on a 2 dimentional screen?"
the state promptly yells "I object (citing BS national security reason)"

Another question
Defense "Do metal detectors beep?"
State "I Object (cites BS national security reason)"

You know we can't have that in court. Who knows what the terrorists discover that xrays are 2D and metal detectors beep...

Cory Doctorow's Boing Boing Post on the trial

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Distrust Government

10.46.49 - Mark

Woohoo. The US government under the Bush administration is find new and
different ways of screwing up the economy and nation security - by
shutting down the GPS system. We're not talking about Selective
Avalibility (which is fine since it only adapts the signal by a few
meters and is still commercially avalible), href="http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?
positioning_satellites" target="_new">we're talking about shutting down
the whole *&^%ing thing
, under "only the most remarkable
circumstances" of course but thats what? Alert level red which can go
on indefinitely? Maybe we'll shut it down in the event of another 9/11
like we did the airports. Oh wait. What about the fact that GPS is
invaluable to search and rescue?

furthermore we're not happy screwing around with our own system we're
going to muck around with the emerging EU system Galileo - which if you
go back and look at is being developed for exactly this reason. They
got tired of the US having sole control over GPS and SA, so they
started building their own network independent of the US (in other
words, the EU doesn't have their collective heads shoved up their
collective asses)

Considering that there are any number of business applications for GPS
its not a good thing to consider shutting down the system for any
reason for any ammount of time. Hell I bet chickenlittle screaming "the
sky is falling" would be acceptible reason to shut down the network.

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iPod impressions

18.08.08 - Mark

Yep Got the iPod and I've loaded it up with my music and podcasts. Listing to one of the latter now by some initial impressions. I'm a little surprised by how heavy the iPod is, its pretty dense but thats a good thing, not like some of the plastic junk toys coming out of the asian markets. So the weight is good. On top of the sound and interface is good. If there is a manual in the box I ignored it, and I can do everything iTunes can in terms of playback. Change music ratings, fast forward skip etc. I didn't understand what the reviewers meant by the intuitive interface until I started using it this afternoon. My grievance is the ear buds, they really are big and uncomfortable. Sound good but the combination of next to no weight and fluffy size makes them kind of worthless. I'm kind of thinking about the EarJams from Griffin Technology. Since I'm going to Chicago and will be near a couple of Apple Stores you can bet I'll be seeking the things out. If not I'll be looking for another set of headphones.

One last thing I'd like to find out about (and will be googling for it as soon as I hit post) is if I can use the fast play for something other than audiobooks (like the podcasts) Even without searching I'm wondering if it has something to do with the genre settings. If I find it I'll post it. Still I'm happy with the iPod (bar the earbuds).

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God, save me from your folowers

13.07.45 - Mark

Especially Bill O'Reilly as he goes on a personal Jihad against Jews, homosexuals and other people not of the Christian faith. (Salon.com, subscription or daily pass)

Between November and now I'm seeing more and more of this nut jobs trying to impose their faith on me trying to "save my sole" during the holiday season, oblivious to the fact that of all the religions and faiths that celebrate something in the late December time frame, almost all of them have common threads - like family and togetherness, not to mention blatant and full on consumerism.

I recognize I'm in the middle of Republican America population zillions of Christian fanatical, but come on, recognize the pagan roots of your own holiday (and religion) and leave me alone to believe what I want to how I want to.

See also: The latest animation from JibJab.com

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Mood: Groggy

23.57.42 - Mark

I'm out of it for some reason. With exams done and the vacation coming up in 55 hours (if Matt gets his way - I think it will be closer to 58) This afternoon I just slept. Maybe it was a bad night of sleep last night or the fact I haven't been banking as much as I usually do. Either way thats only the nocturnal side of things. I didn't post anything Tuesday, and only a fraction of what I have been today (granted I was taking tests or sleeping most of today) Not really lack of content, feeds are acting as usual, I guess its more to do with the podcasting/broadsnatching and garageband surfing habits I'm developing. I should write some scripts to make the broadsnatching more efficient but I'll be able to mess with that on vacation. Strange videos will provide a nice break between the DVDs and texts I'm taking. However we're driving, which means I'll be reaking havok on the interstate. Anyone thats done that for a few hours knows how that can get a little long in tooth, so with my iPod becoming mine in the next few hours I'm stocking up on new audio. which means Garageband.com. A number of the pod casts I've been listing to get their music from there because it isn't any of the RIAA crap. Most of its freely downloadable but some of the better groups list on iTMS. I'm not big on buying music but there were a few titles I didn't mind forking over actual money for (note to date all of the money I had on my iTMS account was given to me, gift cards, pepsi caps, and a couple of Ben and Jerry's)

Like the web is buzzing I tried using my paypal account but its a royal pain and you need to establish a credit card with paypal - and I couldn't select the card I have on file with paypal. Oh well, no free songs from paypal. I might write them and tell them about the bug, but not until after the holidays. I'm more concerned with getting the music from Garageband. For free a lot of its pretty good, and the metadata and database they have makes it really easy to browse by most popular/highest rated as well as search for RIAA style bands for similar songs and bands. Lots of fun.

Personally I'm pulling down techno, trance, and electronica from all over the place. I told Matt about it and last I knew he was pulling down some more mainstream music from foreign groups. Its a cool site, and it beats helping the RIAA sue its customers.

Anyways I'm going to go back to sleep. still tired and a real bed will probably help this ache in my back developed from an afternoon of sleeping on a curbside special futon.

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Fucking con artists

11.35.33 - Mark

There's good news, more good news, even more good news and bad news for me today.

Good News is Finals are done.

More Good News I'll have my iPod tomorrow

Even More Good News I'll be in Chicago by Sunday

Bad news College Bookstore buybacks are a fucking rip off. This semester's books cost a bit over $360 dollars, $300 when you drop the ones they won't buy back (like the mandatory "college success handbook"). For that $300 I got $42 from selling them back. Its a fucking rip off. I barely got $6 a book from the fucking morons. If I wasn't in need of cash due to the above items I would have said screw you in just as many words and turned to half.com, amazon.com, or eBay. All of the book were in mint condition - hell one was still in the shrink wrap from the intro to computers class I had to enroll for (wrongfully I'm now told). Bought the book, when I tested out of the class I couldn't return it for full value 'cuz I "didn't drop the class" or some equal bullshit reason. No matter here's $6 for something that only needs a $20 CD.

Its the ultimate con. Charge a boat load of cash for crappy books - I saw better information in free texts than I did in most of the books (a big reason I barely cracked the fucking things) buy them back for nothing, sell them to next uneducated buyer for another boatload - this time all profit since they aren't buying from some overrated company.

42 fucking dollars. I know better now. Next time I'm 1) buying used and 2) not selling them back to the fucking college bookstore. If possible I'm not even going to bother with getting the things from the bookstore. Gotta love free market economies - they sure as hell ain't getting my business if I can avoid it.

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Mildly cool

17.02.54 - Mark

I'm not big on body mod, but I think href="http://www.bmezine.com/news/pubring/20041214.html">these
are pretty cool as far as body modification goes. I'm not
giving up my contacts for them, but they look neat. Kind of like
Morpheus's sunglasses from the Matrix now that I'm thinking about it.

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19.32.45 - Mark

My parents tagged an iPod onto my iBook order a couple months ago. They attached conditions on it, but I'll meat those within the next 60 hours (give or take a couple hours) I'll certainly have my iPod in the next 72 hours. I'll be smiling. And sorry brad, I'm sure you'll have one eventually.

Now the question is how long until I hack the firmware?

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17.08.20 - Mark

Still listing to podcasts. Some of these are really good. A number of comments on how to create these things from audio recording to sound bytes to publicity. Hear a couple of good mashups I'm even starting to thing about trying my hand at one, although I probably don't have the determination to do one. I can do the tech side of things but I don't know that I would have the content. I don't know I got so many other projects to work on. Once I finish the current one (Adam Curry's Daily Source Code) I'll go back and look at some of the media I've been snatching.

Give me a few days. With only 2 exams left on wednesday I'll probably be suffering from information overload by the end of the week. I may go wardriving this week and pull down some webcomic archives with my new favorite linux command curl. I gotta have something to entertain me on the family trip to Chicago...

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Enhanced Ego Surfing

16.11.59 - Mark

Typical ego surfing involves typing your name, first and last, into a search engine (google being the standard of course) then looking for the first relevant hit. Generally I hit along the lines of 3-10 anymore (never managed to displace the Wake forest chem professor) Right now that waste of bandwidth I created for my internet technology class has managed to displace my main site! Shocking. Maybe I was right about keeping that design for my real site. Anyways here's a revised method for ego surfing.

Go to google suggest

Start entering your name, first and last, watching the complete options

Once your name is the first complete option (no scrolling) make a note of how many letters you had to type in your last name - if you only typed your first name (like for George Bush) count this as a .5

Also note the number of results

If you aren't on the first page of results, dig until you find the first hit relevant to you, making a note of how many pages you had to dig though

Then divide the number of results by the number of letters from your last name. If applicable, divide the number of pages you had to dig though from that answer.

That's your Google Guessing score, the higher the better

My score was a 10650. If you're bored post your result in the comments section.

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Fun Fun Fun

14.22.48 - Mark

I love my RSS feeds. I'm proclaimed that several times before (and its still true - I'm over 120 feeds now) but I'm finding more and more to like about the standard, including the mostly unused enclosure element. To really use this I needed to download another feed reader called iPodder, think of of a hybrid born of on demand streaming radio station crossed with MP3s. That's a combination podcasting (remember most of these geeks have iPods) or depending on if you want to play with other forms of media broadsnatching. Audio video images, the best and worst of the random nature of the internet. Granted you need broadband to play with some of this suff, but its amazing what you can pull down.

ATM I'm playing this random video diary entry thing its some sort of stupid semi-stoner video ranting about relationships (I got it over a random feed from BlogDigger's media feeds. The video itself is from here) and before that I was listing to some audio clips from Leo Laporte and engadget. Next up is some sort of movie trailer (batman?) Anyways this is fun stuff. Additionally I've been thinking of setting up some bittorrent snatches but those really eat up bandwidth, which can be used in a webbased tivo - except you need to download the work before viewing (since it isn't linear like other p2p networks). If you stick to the TV shows and pass on movies and most of the programs, bittorrent is exceptionally legal (IOW you can download the latest episode of the simpsons legally since fox technically distributes it free of charge)

Geeze I'm probably overloading this post with information. But I guess thats the point of podcasting and broadsnatching. The only downfall is the sluggishness of the DSL line I'm using. If they weren't so expensive I'd be itching for a T1 line (or at least a fractional T1 line) Actually screw that I am itching for a T1, but only in the same sense I was for DSL in Iowa (as in still no chance in hell)

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The Powerpoint Killer?

01.11.55 - Mark

I may have mentioned S5 before but I don't remember and can't be stirred to look it up, but in addition to the Java infused CSS and XHTML of S5 there are also plain style sheets being used for power point replacements. My dad wrote a column on Presentation software last week, and one of my teachers mentioned it to me a few days ago. he of course defended the smoldering pile of Redmond's crap (he assigned a few of them to all of his classes) and I argued that power point is what it is - a smoldering pile of Redmond's crap.

Schools no longer teach presenter skills. Forget planning out a presentation, creating useful aids and delivering a meaningful dialogue, all schools want now are "power points" that have:

Then all you have to do is click for X*Z and read all the text for the audience, who you are to assume are so inept that they are incapable of reading. Broken english - perfectly fine since it is a powerpoint. Uncredited works - its a powerpoint not a research paper. Saying things not on the slides - wait we can't have that its a powerpoint!

In the above example let's say you have 6 text slides and and 4 image slides. It takes no more than 10 seconds to read each slide. Hey we're looking at two minutes of information. Dude, that's got to be inducing information overload.... So we add animations. hey lookie! We just made a 5 minute presentation!

For those 2 minutes of actual speaking, we give an A. Its pathetic. It has become acceptable to spew information in six word packets then move to the next item. Civilization is getting to the point where a 5 minute speech is impossible. I've worked at Raven Knob Scout Reservation for two years and both summers instructed a communication session. Its almost surprising how many people can't even improv something for a couple minutes, let alone write out a 5 minute speech and deliver it

I can't wait for something to kill powerpoint and force people to learn how to pass on information. Until then I guess I'll have to suffer though a few more and give my own slide shows and passing on what I know (but not with powerpoint...)

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The future of media?

23.09.12 - Mark

Just got pointed to a flash based animation that's a speculation of the future in the eyes of a historical document.

EPIC 2014 suggests that blogging will take over mass media within 10 years, going as far as putting the New York Times out of business or at least mass distribution. True blogging is starting to have an effect on mass media but I'm skeptical that its going to get to the point of EPIC, at least within 10 years. I'm sure that us bloggers will have a lot of throw by then but I don't think we'll be putting the New York Times out of wide distribution. Still some neat ideas, especially with the news mashes and copyright law. It will be interesting to see if Google News really does get to that point (and I'm sure it will).

The Semantic web I don't know. Sure the original vision of the web was equal amounts of content creation and distribution (go read Tim Berner-Lee's book) but I'm skeptical that something like the Grid of EPIC is the solution.

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Heinlein Was Right Redux

19.33.43 - Mark

A couple weeks ago I posted an article about the Army letting soldier with prosthetics continue serving in the armed forces Heinlein was right

Well time for part two of his predictions, as we are now sending 70 year olds into Afghanstan. Granted voluntarily, but still...

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Math sucks...

19.14.35 - Mark

At least that seems to be the message the gold old USA is sending. I can't agree with the author about America not needing math skills. I know I'm a geek but try setting up, as the author proposes, a spreadsheet to crunch the numbers for anything. You still need to know how to form the answers. In my experience the best way to do that is solving similar problems. Reverse engineering is fun. Now if I could figure out how to calculate the perimeter of a fractal (OSIX.net's Geek Challenge Level 3). I was trying an equation that I know works for the first few generations, but it isn't giving the right answer for the last level.

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Food hacking

01.28.11 - Mark

I don't get why some people don't like cooking. Its not like there aren't simple dishes out there. I don't know, I've always preferred cooking my food as compared to wasting a ton of money to eat out. Anyways tonight was one of those clear the fridge out nights (in preparation of the family trip starting in a few days) Unfortunately this means that the only things left in the fridge are salad dressings, milk, and assorted items suitable only for placing on bread, like jams and other weird things that have been in there for a while. Given this I still managed to find some shrimp (frozen), BBQ sauce, and a package of bacon. Thanks to my brothers incessant baking habit there was some yeast in the spice cabinet and some herbs in the yard. Add warm water and a few cups of flower and I had a pizza crust. Don't you just love organic sciences? BBQ Shirmp Bacon Pizza. That's what I call Good Eats

Cooking is just a form of science, similar to chemistry. Its all about mixing in the right proportions and knowing how everything will react. And its fun, you can't forget that it is supposed to be fun. If you want to challenge me I suggest you go learn more about Alton Brown

Anyways I've had my pizza and soda, now I'm off to letting my iBook rip DVD backup files and watch some more adult swim

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Good old calvin

19.52.38 - Mark

I should add this old strip to my english papers. All of my teachers
have accused me of not making my engrish assignments long enough at one
point or another. While I do it in my blog on occasion I'm usually not
one to add a bunch of redundant crap for the sake of making a few extra
words. if I need to fill a page, I'm more libel to mess with the
kerning (or select a font with a greater default kerning). Strict
teachers might check font size with a ruler, but I've yet to hear of
one anal enough to check kerning.


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Do it yourself Armaments

19.08.54 - Mark

Bruce Sterling posted some stuff on the potential for DIY gun designs. The stuff was sent to him by William Gibson. The reason I bother mentioning Gibson is because in one of Gibson's books (or short stories) the hero builds a weapon to get around what is presumably a mess of legal restrains and tracking issues (future, corporate controlled government stuff). Anyways the character, IIRC, noted you've got to be pretty hi tech to go low tech, and I'd say this is the same thing. There's another novel out there (with a title I can't remember or find)
that had to deal with some mercenaries and early on involved a guy fabricating a canon and shells into the back of a white van. Wish I could find it or remember the title, ended in " 's cat" took place in Los Angles was a fun read. Oh well it will probably show up when I'm not thinking about it.

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Audiophiles are nuts

11.32.47 - Mark

Audiophiles are completely and totally nuts. I mean these are guys that pay $500 for a pair of headphones and thousands of dollars for desk speakers. I mean sure high end speakers look good, but ouch. Here's one guy selling custom made speakers out of PVC pipes - for $2500 at the high end!

I like music as much as the next guy, but I'm sure as hell not paying $2500 for a few feet of red PVC pipe and what amounts to a few magnets. Then again I am/was thinking about installing a pair of old bookshelf speakers into a couple of Mac cases...

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Tiny Tim and the ISS

10.47.41 - Mark

A number of sites are reporting on a food shortage on the ISS, and if a russian supply ship doesn't show up on Dec. 25 an American and Russian will have to jump out.

No word yet on wether or not the supply ship will be carrying an x-mas dinner.

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Paypal's plans to take over the world economy

13.34.14 - Mark

Apple's iTunes Music Store is now accepting Paypal as a form of payment. (the PayPal PSA that shows up after login is currently toting the new deal) So now you can make money using paypal (ebay and online surveys) and then buy just about everything without moving funds around. Music (iTMS) Domain names (godaddy.com), computer hardware (tigerdirect.com), and just about anything else. Plus you've got automatic currency conversion and some degree of protection.

I'm thinking about setting up an New iTMS account with paypal for the free tunes (5 songs to the first 500,000 to set up an iTMS account with Paypal)

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Sane Christian Missionaries?

13.04.38 - Mark

I'm not converting or anything, but I just ran across this Salon article on a non-traditional Christian missionary group who actually seem respectable. Certainly not like some of the nutcases I've run across who have suggested that I am an moral-less bastard pig preparing to go on a killing spree, to be condemned to hell (or something worse). For whatever reason those nutcases refuse to believe that morals come from society as a whole and not form a specific faith, and they certainly don't like being told as much.

Rant aside, 24-7 Prayer is one of the few religious organizations I don't have a problem giving some respect to.

Note: It is a Salon.com article, you have to pay for a subscription or click though some ads to get a day pass, but its probably worth it, it is a decent article

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Quick and dirty

09.32.41 - Mark

Just uploaded some simple pages for my intro to internet class. Extra points if you can figure out where I borrowed the name (waste of bandwidth) and the inspiration for the index (hint the first is a famous Mac hacker/author, the other is an cyberpunk author I link to on occasion)

I've never been a fan of assigned HTML pages, but they usually provide an opportunity to mess around with new designs, which makes it worth while I suppose. I liked the way the index page turned out. Tables are bulky compared to CSS but it turned out well, and was quicker than developing a CSS style sheet. The way the graphic lined up (on 1040x786 full screen) is shocking to say the least. I designed the tables and image independently and I only needed to move one table cell a few pixels to get it just right. I'm so-so on the other pages. Just threw content up and tried to add some background art (the effort of a strenuous 10 minutes in photoshop ::) ) to keep it from too vanilla.

I kind of wanted to do a CSS based frame page (using some of the image repeat limits it offers) but didn't have time to develop the idea - CSS takes a while to develop -but I may mess with it once I finish some of my more profitable ventures. I've barely scratched the surface of what CSS can do with my other pages and a complex project could be fun.

Come to think of it I could tweak my initial idea and work the patter into a blogger template. The blogger sidebar would be a mild challenge (unless I move over to an archives page and make all the links above the posts) Hmm I can see something working... But I still need to work on some of the other pages like mountairync.net first. Meh. There should be plenty of time in the next few weeks, after today its mainly just exams (4).

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Reminder to Homeland Security

23.43.08 - Mark

Ugg, I hate saying that, sounds to much like Nazi or Communist propaganda."Homeland Security" Bleh. Anyways onto the reminder:

"Those who desire to give up Freedom in order to gain Security, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one," Thomas Jefferson

Timely since our government is rushing a bill along (passed House today, expected to pass the Senate tomorrow and Bush by the end of the week) that, in addition to some needed changes in the intelligence community, looks like its going to screw over some trivial things like privacy.

(warning this could be a double post, I tried sending it to blogger via email earlier today and it hasn't shown up yet) It did, five hours after I sent it in. I swear, Blogger's overall service is starting to drag down. You'd think that with google behind them they could maintain a higher quality of service...

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We have weasels!

21.40.11 - Mark

Scott Adams has released the results of the 2004 Weasel Awards. Unfortunately I'm a member of one of the top weasels. USA Number One...oh...wait...

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I'm not saying anything

16.50.05 - Mark

Just linking and trying to keep a straight face (which is really really hard to do for that specific link)

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16.35.37 - Mark

I'd love to be on this expidition, find or no find. Too bad I could never afford it.

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I for one welcome our new RoboRat overlords

16.04.48 - Mark

Take my post on Toyota's robotic human mobility things from the other day and add one of these brain in a bottle things. Yes I know the rat flies jet thing has been out for a while but it poped into one of my feeds today so I'm justified.

BTW, Brad - was your opposition to human brains or any organic material? Cuz I kinda like the idea of a roborat army....

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Be still my beating heart...

15.47.20 - Mark

Forget what I have already. I'd just about kill for one of these babies available direct from China. I mean what isn't to like about it for a wearable system. First you get the wireless color LCD Head mounted display and on top of that you get a battery powered hard drive. Best case scenario is that the wireless transmitter takes a standard composite video or s-video signal (likely) then transmits while the base station serves as a power supply and external HDD for a computer (the specs say that it supports Macs, and presumably thats for the 20 or 40 GB drive in the thing.)

And the best part, the thing is only $500. Most wired displays cost the same amount...

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Swing your Planets do-ce-do

12.09.35 - Mark

This will never show up in North Carolina schools - never, we can't possibly have solar systems square dancing

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Ken Jennings, Post Jeopardy!

23.02.18 - Mark

Ken has found work with Microsoft promoting their Encarta service. I'll pass.

Personally I'm waiting for H&R block to go after him. Something like "I'm Ken Jennings - Look at how much money I lost by not knowing about H&R Block" negotiate with Sony for the Ken Jennings final Jeopardy clip, then have he next to a pile of cash and tax forms. Works on several levels, for a few months anyways. (note to H&R, fell free to send me a check for that idea)

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Are those candles or a bonfire?

22.30.34 - Mark

I guess I checked my statistics at the right time, since a few minutes ago my page views statistic just rolled over to 25,000. I have a little way to go before I roll over to 10,000 visits. I think it will happen in early January, but it could happen this month. Maybe I'll get really lucky and I'll top $10 in advertisements (google ad words don't pay really well). Now thats dreaming.

Anyways a screenshot of the moment

For the inanely curious, I'm averaging 5000 visits a year, over a 1000 page views a month for hundreds of pages amounting to close to 75MBs + of data in about 3.5 years (tracking for only 2 of those).

Yes I am kind of proud.

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Someone remind me

18.31.23 - Mark

OK some 1 in 5 Americans voted for the more "moral" candidate for president. Bush are known "christians" with strong morals, and both supported a continuing effort in Iraq and this war on terror thing. (all facts so far)

Why there are these "christian" men supporting this war? Can someone please explain to me how this action is "christ-like" or "follows the teachings of Christ" in anyway?

Not trying to go against other's religious convictions, or saying that we should let "terrorists" (I agree with Reuters, thats a bad word I need to stop using it) insurgents run the US, I just want to get the pretext for this war/country straightened out. One moment we're going the all mighty and religious route, then next we've blowing the *&^% out of some 3rd world country seemingly picked at random by a barrage of darts and a large world map.

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Cool Politics Site of the day

17.08.22 - Mark


Some people argue that the Supreme Court of the US is an illegally formed bunch of old geezers screwing with the other branches of our government. To those misinformed nutcases I suggest you pull up Oyez and listen (yes listen) to some of the arguments in their archives. Right now I'm about half of the way though the Tinker vs. Des Moines School Board audio stream. Good arguments on both sides. I'm also messing with some of their site feeds so I'll known when they (oyez) post some of the new cases (like the upcoming Marijuana case and the interstate-direct to consumer wine sales/shipment case)

Fun stuff.

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Miny fresh inebriation

15.46.28 - Mark

I'll admit Iowans have some interesting ways of getting a buzz (note that I am a former iowan - I can get away with saying that). I've heard of one college professor that was growing a bunch of weed at home, Iowa is supposed to be the meth capital of the world (keep in mind meth is just a bunch of man made chemicals cooked together). And now they've got this situations

Now think back to any anti-drug programs at a school or something similar. remember the mouthwash Breathalyzer test demonstration and how the teacher (sometimes police officer) tested as extremely drunk for a few minutes? Well some idiot took that to a new level by downing 2 bottles of mouth wash. At least he couldn't have possibly smelled like booze...

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Alright! Right-wing vigilante justice!

23.46.34 - Mark

Wow, there's a wackjob in Concord, NH who's taken it upon himself to start killing off sex offenders he dug up on the states online sex offender registry. And apparently the state is having a hard time to find a jury to convict the bastard. clicky clicky

Sound like The Boondock Saints to anyone else?

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God vs Football

19.03.50 - Mark

Green Bay chuches are placing football ahead of Jesus

I'll decline further comment.

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17.53.33 - Mark

Some idiot school bus driver has taken it upon herself to misinform youth about stem cell research, citing an article involving Mel Gibson (a now certified wacko) saying that in 23 years stem cell research hasn't produced a single human cure. If her head wasn't so far up her ass she might have realize that, aside from being blatently wrong, it took centuries for electricity to be successfully harnessed and utilized, and that it takes decades for a drug to go from R&D to approval.

Thankfully there is one less idiot influencing children because of it

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What's wrong with a cardboard box?

12.53.46 - Mark

forget the homeless jokes, I wouldn't mind living in one of these cardboard boxes, for a little while at least.

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All I want for xmas is...

12.33.50 - Mark

IBM's PC division. Apple would be better but its not on the market...

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Because we all know where the real threat is

11.41.05 - Mark

I just know I'm being terrorized by small religious groups in the midwest ::) I don't know how but that's why we've got the FBI and other members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigating those Quakers in Colorado and Catholic ministries in Iowa.

Yep, I feel a lot safer knowing my government is blowing thousands of dollars hunting down those little old ladies...

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21.49.48 - Mark

I'm sort of stumped. So far I'm managed to cast two (well really 3 - the second one broke) wax blocks. From there I've carved out a cavity for the thumb drive in each. My problem is figuring out how to connect the two shells so I have a sealed USB drive. The original thumb drive had 4 posts and sockets that held it together with friction. But that's from exactly engineered, computer controlled injection molding. Works fine if you've got the money for such a set up but I'm working with a lot less than that.

Maybe I'll sit on if for a day I'll figure out a way to hold it together. I've already got a couple ideas floating around because of typing this out.

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More trerrorist tips

17.44.24 - Mark

I'll probably end up on an FBI watch list if I keep posting these terrorist/drug running/evil overlord/anarchist tips, but they're so much fun :)

Anyways, when smuggling anything in though Mexico, always carry a grilled cheese sandwich with a face on it. They'll just pass you through.

(if you're wondering what's with the unusually high post count today, I added a bunch of new RSS feeds today. I've even got a number of generic posts prepared in my email client for when I want to throw up a post real fast)

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Where'd the evidence go?

17.42.11 - Mark

From a story about an idiot that stoke a Krispy Kream Truck and left the back door open:

"The evidence was brought back to the police station, and the cops are eating the doughnuts."

I always thought that destroying evidence was a crime...

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Segways are so 2001

13.39.30 - Mark

Forget about the Segway I want one of these:

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There's hell to pay in dixie...

01.28.19 - Mark

(cue the revivalist preacher voice) A great, wise, and most of all god fearing patriot is fighting to protect the young and impresionable children of the great state of Alabama! Yes, our good friend, the honorable Mr. Gerald Allen is fighting for our way of life by trying to cast off the devilish works that tell our children that homosexuality is okay and "natural"!(drop the act)

Yeah, lets just forget about greek history, classic plays like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and authors like Walt Whitman. I'm glad I'm in NC, all they seem to control are the schools

America, Land of the Free and home of the brave, as long as you're not a terrorist, or hispanic, or French, or homosexual, or atheist, or...

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Heinlein was right

21.00.53 - Mark

Shades of Starship Troopers (Wasington Post free subscription required)

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More Tshirts and a hightly addictive webcomic

20.39.48 - Mark

I like a couple of these tshirts Specifically "We are not all jerks", but the third one from the bottom is nice too. And there's a highly addictive webcomic behind the shrits I only have 900 comics left to read in the archives

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22.47.27 - Mark

Just looked at my stats for November. All I can say is ouch. It was my worst month since the redesign (which really isn't too bad, its just barely worse than by best month under the previous design) Frankly I blame my week long server shortage and lack of new content (blog aside) I hope to fix that soon however.

I've got the wax and plaster materials so for the most part I'm ready to proceed with my thumb drive of doom hack, all I really need is to find a way to melt a suitable metal for casting. I see a lot of stuff pointing to building a small propane canister powered kilns, but I'm a bit more interested in the microwave foundry mod, which is suitable for aluminum (which I have plenty of) partially because its like the sand-benders mentioned in a couple of Gibson novels and partially because I can find large microwaves dirty cheap. More research this weekend, and I may post links. I get the feeling no matter which I choose I'll need to buy some firebricks or other high temp materials to get this thing off the ground.

If I get really bored I may melt the candles and work on a design or two, but for now thats secondary to the metallurgy research and foundry development.

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Hell has frozen over

01.03.07 - Mark

Kerry club joining Ohio recount efforts (Washington Post - Tissue sample must be on file)

Little late (like so many other items in the Kerry club's bid for presidency) and really the only thing he's going to drag the spot light to the democrats, possibly doing excessive damage to 3rd parties all over and potential undecidedes in Jesusland, and away from competent, spinal cord enabled 3rd party candidates.

To any republics, nutcase or other wise, who may want to call foul ball I say this:

Kiss my Libertarian-leaning ass. It not like you didn't do the same thing in '00

In unreleated News, the early morning forecast for Hell, MI includes a winter weather advisory until 4AM local time, with early morning snow storms and lows in the upper 20's. Subfreezing lows are expected though out the week with day time highs in the mid-30s (too lazy to get a screen cap but here's the link)

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