Archive for October, 2006

if all stories were written like scifi stories

October 28th, 2006

So true:

They selected one of the hydrocarbon-powered ground transports from the queue which waited outside the airport. The fee was small enough that it was not paid electronically, but using portable dollar tokens. The driver conducted his car unit into the city; though he drove only at 100 km/hr, it felt much faster since they were only a meter from the concrete road surface. He looked over at Ann, concerned that the speed might alarm her; but she seemed to be enjoying the ride. A game girl, and intelligent as well!

~jeff

that guy in college

October 27th, 2006

bret.gif

I’ve been beefing up my playlist at work, but I keep turning back to the Bret Turner songs I ganked more than anything else. Who is Bret Turner? Just some guy my friend went to school with… and his music is actually pretty good. And damn funny. “Juan Santos” and “The Perfect Time to Take a Crap in the Sink” pale only in comparison with “The Stupid Song” (this excerpt under the photo fails to capture its comedic brilliance). I thought at first his music was one of those ‘guy in college’ effects where, since you know the guy, you give it half a listen and think since it’s better than you expected it’s OK but you’d never actually listen to it again. But 5, 10 years later the silly songs he recorded then are still in my head. And they’re still good. Did I say brilliant? Maybe that’s a bit overstepping. But they are good. Which song reminds me the most of ldopa? “Oh Thank God for Amateur Recording Equipment”.

staring at the screen too long

October 23rd, 2006

Stick figure tumbling

So that’s what the lasso does.

The product of an animator who clearly spends most of his time staring at Flash. I think Jon Land will be either proud or threatened.

yul brenner not available for comment

October 21st, 2006


Good news for 71% of 66% of 51.5% of you: British scientists say they’ve found a technique that grows hair in five out of seven adult males:

With the new technique, a small section of hair and skin is removed during a 30-minute operation carried out under local anesthetic. The hair is taken from the side of the head, where the follicles tend to live longer – and so produce hair later in life – than those on the top of the scalp. The sample is then taken to the lab, where the dermal papilla cells are separated out and coaxed into multiplying in flasks. After two months, the patient returns to the clinic to have the lab-grown cells injected into his bald patch, again under anesthetic. Three months later, new hair should start to poke its way through the previously bald skin.

…good news for balding males, bad news for the spray-on hair industry.

~jeff

too little, too late

October 19th, 2006

gmail .Mac

I’ve been a .Mac user for years now, but it is time to say goodbye. Even with this promised revamp “coming soon”, paying $99 a year for webmail just doesn’t make sense anymore. But you say, “Tucker, what about IMAP?” I too will miss IMAP. But using Mail.app with Gmail’s POP3, and judicious use of filters to move incoming mail from myself to the Sent box, and this script to secretly Bcc yourself on everything, you can effectively mimic IMAP.

What else does .Mac provide?

  • Webspace. Awkward webspace to be sure, but I will miss that. But an alternative shouldn’t be hard to find.
  • Contact syncing across machines. I can export my Gmail contact list periodically to achieve the same end. Besides, how often does my contact list really change?
  • Free software. Yeah, no. It used to, back in the day, but it hasn’t included anything but crummy demos in years.
  • Backup. Minimal backup space across the net. For $99, I can get an 80 gig drive and do it myself.
  • So will I miss it? Nope. Too little too late.

    google opens new psychiatric evaluation service

    October 15th, 2006

    In an effort to improve the Google Image Search database, google has opened another beta site: Google Image Labeler. It’s a slightly bizarre site where you are partnered up with an anonymous “person” on google and are each presented with the same image. You then have to enter in a list of text descriptions for that image, and if you and your partner come up with the same description string, it’s accepted and you both move onto the next image. This continues for 90 seconds, then ends.

    The result is kind of strange; the only answers that match right off the bat are usually generic… things like “man”, “woman”, “tree” etc., I’m not convinced that this will actually help the database. Also, the images are kind of small and for some of them, that really impedes the labeling process. At the end you are provided a link to the index cache where you can see where the images actually came from, at which point, you can see a full-size version.

    It is, however, much like being given a ink-blot test, and I’ve found that it’s oddly addictive.

    mac mini review

    October 15th, 2006

    mac_mini.jpg Superfluous background story: My PC gave up the ghost about a month ago; the power supply fails at high load, so the pc boots for a while and then when too much juice gets required, the whole thing resets. Obviously, this isn’t so great, so I went to the internet and got a cheap power supply replacement from Newegg for $20… which didn’t fit in my non-standard case. In fact, no PC ATX power supply I’ve found for under $100 fits in the damned case, which means to fix my crap PC it’s going to cost me a chunk of change just to get back the 1.6 GHz Pentium 4 machine that stunk in 2002 when I bought it.

    That, my friends, is the Point of Decreasing Return. It’s time to cut and run.

    While I still ♥ my trusty aluminum PowerBook, I do need a PC kicking around; I work with PCs at school, and occasionally there’s Windows-only software I need to check out. So I need a PC, but here’s the thing: I don’t really like PCs. Unless you lay out several thousand dollars for top drawer hardware, on average, they’re loud, clunky and overall boorishly engineered pieces of junk. So when I got the opportunity to test drive a new Mac Mini (Superdrive model w/1 GB RAM), I decided I was going to check it out; not as a Mac, but as a PC.

    As a Mac, it works just as you’d hope. It’s fast; nothing I did managed to spike the CPU for any appreciable amount of time. It’s tiny. It’s incredibly quiet. It’s got wireless built-in standard, it’s got an adorable little remote for Front Row, and it recognized my PC keyboard and mouse without complaint. In short; it’s pretty amazing for a $850 machine. It wasn’t more than a couple years ago when getting this kind of hardware from Apple would set you back three grand, no exaggeration. And it stacks up against even the cheapest Dell, cost-wise; when I went to configure even the lowest-end Dell to compare, once I added the Core Duo CPU, the cost for the Dell went up to $899; $50 more than the high-end Mac Mini with a gig of RAM.

    parallels02.pngIf you want the Mini to run as a PC, you’ve got to load the OS yourself. I’ve played with BootCamp before with decent results, so this time I downloaded Parallels, a virtualization environment for Intel chip Mac OS X machines. In about a hour, I had a machine that would run Mac OS X, Windows XP and Ubuntu 6.06 all at the same time if so desired. While the Parallels user interface initially reminded me of prior bad experiences with Virtual PC, this time around, everything works very smoothly and the primary difference is speed. The Core Duo chip in the Mac Mini is incredibly fast and my experience in Windows was fully native — and probably the fastest I’ve ever seen Windows run on any machine.

    Same with Ubuntu — full-screen window resizing didn’t work in Ubuntu as smoothly as it did in Windows, but that’s primarily because setting screen resolution in X11 is still a bitch. Mac Mini users have mainly complained about the lack of powerful video hardware, but I didn’t see a huge problem; I play my video games on a console these days, so the Intel video was plenty ok for my needs.

    There’s no doubt my next Windows PC will be a Mac Mini. It’s cheaper at the outset, less problematic to own, and a simply better piece of hardware than what PC manufacturers are putting out these days.

    ~jeff

    dear chemistry guys: thanks. love, jimmy

    October 11th, 2006

    Acesulfame K

    It’s about time modern chemistry contributed something valuable to our lives. Look, I love soda. I’m aware of how plainly awful the content of refined sugar is for us, but as hard as I’ve tried, I could never drink a diet soda. The horrid aftertaste that was symptomatic of any of the artificial sweeteners was just too much to take. Well, a while back I tried a sip of my fiancé’s Coke Zero. There was still that familiar bite, however it was noticeably less severe. Though not overwhelmed by the drink, I was encouraged by the thought that whatever the Coca Cola company was doing was definitely a step in the right direction. Then I noticed there was a Sprite Zero. I tried it and thought that was a little more like it, as the citrus flavor seemed to lend itself to masking most of the rudeness that had been inherent of the artificial sweeteners. Ok, so now there are two zero-calorie drinks that I not only can stomach, but after drinking them for an extended period, I could actually enjoy because of the fading frame of reference that was their non-diet counterparts. Naturally, I wondered what was going on. The primary sweetener in these drinks, as well as the rest of the diet sodas that I wouldn’t drink to stay alive in the desert was still aspartame, so what gives? Well, a quick glance at the ingredients indicated the presence of an extra component that was included in the recipe of only those soft drinks that I found palatable: Acesulfame Potassium. Ovulation Tests. Armed with this new knowledge, I began looking for anything new and improved with this miraculous agent on the supermarket shelves. I am happy to report that I have discovered a number of other once-cherished brand names that currently offer a pleasantly drinkable counterpart inclusive of Acesulfame K. Among those that I’ve tried are Pepsi One, Diet Mountain Dew and Fanta Zero Orange. Next up on the list are Diet Fresca and Vault Zero. The “thanks but no thanks” award in this category goes to Sierra Mist Free, as not even the inclusion of a drop of dewy-sweet sweat shaken from the hips of Shakira herself would encourage me to ever again imbibe this viciously rank brew…. Not to mention my complete spiritual aversion to their cosmically unfunny ad campaign.

    Oh, and contrary to some very near-sighted reports of differing “fact”, I’m down three belt buckle holes since May. True story.

    great historical insults and slang

    October 7th, 2006


    Great insults from the past reveal conclusive proof: American culture is getting dumber by the very second. Additional proof: our slang a century ago didn’t make anyone sound like an idiot while using it.

    Personally speaking, it’s amazing how much 1920’s lingo I use today. I think it’s the bee’s knees.

    ~jeff

    wii hardware overview

    October 1st, 2006


    Really nice video overview/fondling of the Nintendo Wii hardware linked to over at Joystiq. I’m writing a longish piece about the Nintendo Wii for the paper I write for, so I’m collecting up thoughts and opinions; email me or post a comment below. Personally, I really hope this new console works out for Nintendo; it would be nice to see genuine innovation rewarded in the video game marketplace for a change.

    ~jeff