2009.12.30

Human Blood For Sale?

17.59.19 - Mark

I keep seeing random guesses on the cost of human blood, with some saying just the cost of training the people who help collect the donations to $200+ per pint, so while fruitlessly hunting for something that at least feels like a legit source, I did come across this older Slate article - "Does the Red Cross Sell Blood?" The title, and the first few points it makes go against what the American Red Cross says (second question on that page)

We all know that blood in worth far more than anything it may cost, but we know that it costs something to save lives - from the people who are trained to conduct and prepare donated units, the proper testings, storage, and transportation, to the fact that supply and demand fluctuates thought the year. Even the potential future of Artificial Bloodmakes us wonder about the cost of "free" blood. It would just be nice to have nice solid facts rather than wild uncited speculations.

I doubt it would cause me to stop donating blood

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2009.12.27

Wearable Displays

23.45.31 - Mark

Over 10 years ago I got a bit hooked on the idea of wearable computers. One handed keyboard+mouse devices, lightweight CPUs that work for hours, maybe with the speech recognition software, and a display that "floats" in front of the eye. Being in high school at the time I managed to scrounge together some pieces, with mixed degrees of success. I was given some semi-dead mac laptops and got some of them to work. Bought one of those one handed keyboards but never got it to work with my assorted Apple hardware, and even got a couple wearable displays.

While I gave up / sold / repurposed a lot of that stuff, the displays are about the closest I got to success. It was older gadgets, but I adapted it to take better, less expensive batteries, and when I got a second display I carefully took it apart and tried to convert it to a more discrete monocular version based on a few of the hacks I found online. While I managed to kludge together a "working" model, it was loosely assembled on a chopped up pair of sunglasses, a few pieces from an old erector set, scraps of plexiglass, and a zip tie or two. It showed me the amazing effect of monocular displays, but made me look like a massive idiot.

However with technology getting smaller, and these micro-displays getting less expensive and somewhat more common I'm playing around with the idea of getting one to hack. When I started taking another look at the commercially available ones, I found A Monocular Myvu hack. These Myvus, along with many of the other modern wearable displays, are geared for videos from iPods and other portable video players, and easily found for $100 or so. Not great resolutions for a computer, but could be a nice tool for some of my camera work or getting videos off my iPod.

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2009.12.24

Making Shortcuts

21.25.53 - Mark

Recently I've been helping on putting together a couple websites for a couple local businesses, one as a hired web developer, the other where I'm somewhere between being a website advisor and lowly website janitor (which is a needed site but has been a mess for 9 months and counting). So while I may or may not be the code monkey on both these sites, my skills as a decent photographer have been called on for content.

However both these projects piled up to a couple hundred images needing some tweaks or edits in photoshop, and generally not the changes that a batch process would do without mistakes. I didn't even have a problem with doing this work, 95% of those changes were easy, and the rest were fun little challenges. My problem was the lack of keyboard shortcuts for most of the tools I was using in Photoshop.

Some I could understand not having shortcuts (same tool in several places), others unused enough to not receive one, some merely annoying to a Mac user due to Adobe's universal standards, and on top of the fact that lots of people don't seem to use shortcuts other than copy, paste, print and save. So I just whispered curses over my lack of shortcuts.

What I missed however was being oblivious. I've tweaked Photoshop's preference settings for almost as long as I've used it, and never in it's preference setting area did it have anything about controlling shortcuts. However the other day I found a little link to one of Adobe's blogs about how they're Doing the right thing with Cmd-H for us Mac users. Mostly the write up talks about how CS5 will make Photoshop a little easier for the user to make it a bit more OS friendly. It also talks some about why it's been avoided for so long.

Since I'm still hacking away with CS3, the changes in CS4 and the upcoming CS5 don't matter a lot for me (at least not yet...), but within that write up a little gold nugget hit me just right (my emphasis):

With regard to Cmd-H, Photoshop's keyboard shortcut editor has long made it possible to assign Cmd-H to hiding the app. Doing so takes just a few seconds, yet many people are unaware of this or unwilling to invest the time.


While some of the shortcut combinations (both the ones given and the ones you can create ) can be a bit big and cumbersome, they're a hell of a lot nicer than reverting to nothing more than moving around the mouse and clicking like crazy.

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2009.12.18

Reintroductions

22.07.42 - Mark

Since moving from Iowa to North Carolina, the winter thing largely disappeared. It gets chilly, but the winters around here don't create iced over ponds good enough for skating. Snow is almost equally absent, the few times it shows up (at least a bit off the mountains) accumulations seems to be fractions of an inch. Today however 3 inches isn't hard to find, and a foot or more is still predicted. It's truly lovely.

So while the snow is still falling, I'm reviewing some of what I did building this site. While the "disconnection" from the internet is easily blamed for the lack of writing, the reasons for some of my content disappeared in other ways. A variety of reasons I effectively stopped reading though a pile of RSS feeds (but now redeveloping), custom blogging tools I've honestly forgotten about until looking over my code. And while this code has remained working for years, I quickly fixed a few after yesterday's post (like removing the 19 empty archive pages that that post triggered), but I have a number of more bugs to iron out. Good thing I still enjoy coding.

The other little bit I've rediscovered is mess of changes to some of the online tools I had been using to help. I had forgotten Feedburner was purchased and moved to Google (admittedly well before I paused blogging), and my list of RSS feeds used to be backed up on NewsGator Online, but they shifted their goals and I apparently was supposed to have moved my list to Google Reader. Easy enough solutions to fix, just a bit surprised that I missed those changes.

Oh well, I suppose I've got a few more spider webs and dust to clear off this site.

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2009.12.17

Revival

20.35.27 - Mark

1 year, 7 months, 19 days, and a handful of hours.
That's 599 days

That's how long it's been since I spun out some other words for my personal site.

7 years, 6 months, 7 days.
That's 2,748 days

That's how long it's been since I started "blogging" (at that time was really just glorified site updates with tiny bits of my life attached)

In those first close-to-six years of scribbling out notes in my little section of the interwebs, I periodically missed a month or two of updates, but never really lapsed a season, let alone a year.

And honestly, I don't feel "bad" about my "disappearance". Over the years I've seen some of my favorite sites truly disappear, some merely idol for eternity, some vanishing into the ethers, some choosing to retire, sometimes you just miss the memo about changes in direction. In my extended gap however, I still put things onto my flickr account, which merges into my main RSS feed, as well as occasionally put things on Twitter and Facebook (which I'm pretty sure don't merge into that feed).

There's a good amount of stuff to put online here, I pretty sure it won't take another 599 days to write some more.

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