Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A letter from a US commander in Iraq

Michael Yon : Online Magazine » Blog Archive » A Thank You Letter
The following letter and photograph was sent to Michael Yon from LTC Jim Crider, the commander of the 1-4 CAV soldiers based at FOB Falcon whose progress reports have recently been published on this site.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Maybe we should just all kill ourselves...

Can't use nuclear, can't use coal, can't use wind, can't use hydroelectric (the fish, you know). And we (and everyone else on the planet) is incapable (or rather unwilling) to reduce the energy that we want in our lifestyle. Maybe we can find some grownups who realize that we have to do something and no solution is perfect. And if we don't do something, we will get dramatically higher energy bills (remember everyone who had their undies in a bundle last year about a relatively small increase in gas prices...this would be far worse) and/or rolling brown/black outs. Then we will hear the cries of why didn't we do something.

And remember that this lawsuit comes on the heels of the Kennedy clan(yes, THAT Kennedy clan) fighting against a wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod purely on aesthetic reasons.

Coalition sues Land Office over wind farms
The famed King Ranch and a coalition of environmental groups sued Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson in federal court Tuesday, seeking to require extensive environmental review and public comment on two planned wind power projects along the Gulf Coast in Kenedy County.

The coalition, the Coastal Habitat Alliance, also sued over the wind project in state District Court in Travis County. That suit claims that the state's Public Utility Commission illegally denied the alliance's request to participate in permit hearings for the wind project's transmission line.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Our hotel.

Limo we rode from one end of the Las Vegas strip to the other with the wedding party.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sometimes extinction is a GOOD thing - Scientists find fossil of enormous bug
The discovery in 390-million-year-old rocks suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were far larger in the past than previously thought, said Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleontologist and one of the study's three authors.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My subject

Test email to blog. Taken on my phone camera and sent directly to this blog.

The foundation of winning at Blackjack is to utilize proper basic strategy in playing the hands. "Proper" means that each decision you make on hitting, standing, doubling or splitting pairs is the correct mathematical play for that hand. There is no room for intuition, gut feelings or guessing when it comes to basic strategy; you must make the "percentage" play each time. Even if you've doubled an 11 against a dealer's 10 five times in a row and lost, when that hand comes up a sixth time you must double. Consistency is a big part of playing a winning game, so resolve right now that you are going to make the proper play, regardless if the dealer rolls his eyes upward or the other players at the table groan quietly when you do it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Free Medical Clinics

This is cool.

TCS Daily - The Free Clinic Movement
Free Clinics are private, non-profit organizations that provide medical, dental, pharmaceutical and/or mental health services at little or no cost to low-income, uninsured and underinsured people. These clinics are truly free - both to their clients and to the taxpayers.

Unlike federally-qualified so-called "free clinics", they do not submit receipts to Medicare or Medicaid for reimbursement. St. Luke and the other authentic Free Clinics in Virginia do not submit bills to anybody for reimbursement.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This is a really cool story

ESPN - High school teammates honor gravely ill classmate - ESPN
It was halftime at the Lake Fenton-Mount Morris game, seemingly just another high school football contest during another homecoming week on another October Friday night in another American suburb.

But this time the fix was in.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Doris Lessig: "unthinking and automatic rubbishing of men"

Guardian Unlimited | Archive Search
The novelist Doris Lessing yesterday claimed that men were the new silent victims in the sex war, "continually demeaned and insulted" by women without a whimper of protest.

Lessing, who became a feminist icon with the books The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook, said a "lazy and insidious" culture had taken hold within feminism that revelled in flailing men.

Young boys were being weighed down with guilt about the crimes of their sex, she told the Edinburgh book festival, while energy which could be used to get proper child care was being dissipated in the pointless humiliation of men.

"I find myself increasingly shocked at the unthinking and automatic rubbishing of men which is now so part of our culture that it is hardly even noticed," the 81-year-old Persian-born writer said yesterday.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The summer my son graduated from High School, we went on a car trip. We hit a Cubs game at Wrigley and a CArdinals game in St. Louis. This camera phone pic is from Wrigley Field on a bright sunny day. It was a great trip.
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Saw this at my local Holiday gas station. They installed the TVs in the last couple of weeks. All the others pumps were working fine except this one. I mentioned it to the manager and he rolled his eyes and said "I know, thanks."
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Software Engineering vs. Computer Science

I have always felt that Computer Scientists need to come up with the new theories needed for the Software Engineers to implement in the real world. Here is another example of what we need our Computer Science Departments to be doing. This is a different curriculum than what a Software Engineering program would be. The sooner the schools make this split the better.

Official Google Blog: Let a thousand servers bloom

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Safety Crash Videio - Car crash test

You can see many car models crashed and evaluated on this site.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Men's Rule #2

Only go into a women's purse under extreme duress. Purses are
actually small black holes that contain 1) more stuff than should be
able to fit into that space, and (more importantly) 2) things that men
just weren't meant to see. I am not talking about "feminine hygiene
products" and the like - I've shopped for those many times and talk
with my girls about all that. I am talking about things that will make
you shake your head and get you in trouble if you ever mention it.
Consider the reverse, she looks in your (toolbox, computer harddrive,
whatever) and starts a sentence with "Why do you have...?" No good can
come of any of it.

Men's Rule #1

Never, ever, EVER assume a women is pregnant. She may be having contractions every two minutes, but the microscopic chance that is it really just heartburn or gas pains should prevent you from making the assumption. You have very little to gain and everything to lose. It is far far better to be thought obtuse for not noticing she is pregnant than to make a mistake and thereafter be classified as a form of life lower than a flatworm.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

IT Rule #5: Outsource deep technical expertise

When looking at your IT staff and considering how to deal with the ever growing load of projects that need to get done, the issue of outsourcing comes up. As it should. The first question to consider is: What might we outsource? The answer is not "whatever we can save money on". That way lies madness and the path to failure.

What might we outsource? Looking at the skills necessary in an IT department, I divide them into 3 areas:
  1. Knowledge of the business
  2. Knowledge of technology
  3. The boundary between 1 & 2.
Knowledge of the business should not be outsourced. At all. At best you can bring in hired guns as analysts. In order for them to be effective, they need to locate on site and be there long enough to actually learn enough about the business to make a difference. But they can walk out the door if they tire of being a consultant or of your business. It is far better, especially for SMBs, to have analysts on staff. If you are small enough, training your developers on analyst skills so they understand the business better.

If you shouldn't outsource knowledge of the business, then you really should outsource the boundary between the two either.

That leaves technology as a possible outsource candidate. Clearly, in order to handle the boundary well, your staff needs to have some understanding of technologies that you have installed and that may be useful down the road. But what you don't need to have on staff (or what you can give up if you need to for resource reasons) is deep knowledge of technology.

For example, your admins may need to manage windows servers and a network. That keeps them pretty busy, especially with projects to improve capabilities. But from time to time you have difficult windows problems and network congestion. Outsourcing that expertise makes sense. Bring in a top-notch network geek and have them fix the problem or look at the overall implementation and make recommendations. Teach your staff one or two things to help future issues and walk out the door.

Another example would be a database administrator. We have three developers with long to-do lists. Having any of them take the time to become DBA-capable would take away from their development effort. And since we have put efforts into making them better analysts, we lose that also. However, bringing in a part time DBA resource makes sense. Such a person knows the deep internals of SQL Server and can easily see things that we won't see. They can make recommendations, help us fix things, implement some monitoring tools, check in once and a while. We get a better DB and we don't have a to add staff to do it.

info on my cellphone

(If you are wondering why this is here, look up and read my description of this blog.)

The Motorola E815 Super Page: Review, Motorola Ringtones and more information on the Motorola E815

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Save a life or follow the company policy manual?

Fortunately, the guy did the right thing. Unfortunately, the company he works for thinks he shouldn't have helped her. Metro: Story: 'You're fired,' man hears after saving a woman's life

Iraq: Michael Yon: Be not Afraid

Michael Yon : Online Magazine » Blog Archive » Be Not Afraid

For far too long our media and government have failed to fully inform us–even to the point of lying–about Iraq.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Symantec's Norton AntiBot

This could be interesting if it worked. There has been little to protect against some of the newer bots and signature-based anti-virus (the majority of the ones on the market) are not sufficient against mutating malicious software.

Norton AntiBot - Symantec Corp.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

IT Rule #6: Don't put your detailed error messages where the employee can see them

When problems happen in applications, the IT staff need to see as much detail as possible to help find the root cause. The employee, however, doesn't want to see all that crap. Give them an employee friendly message and tell them what to do. Put all the detail error codes, etc. into a log file somewhere or email them to the support staff.

IT Rule #5: Encourage people to tell you about problems

You can't fix/improve something if you don't know it is an issue. Make it very easy for employees to get an issue to you and that you have a mechanism for an IT staff person to grab it and let everyone else know they grabbed it. Respond quickly and *always* thank them for bringing it to your attention, regardless of how many times you have heard the problem. Remind employees constantly to tell you about stuff, even if they think you already know about it.

Repetition is important because of two factors:

  1. Most people tolerate computers doing weird things. Restart the app or reboot are typical attempts to deal with things. Typical because it makes the problem appear to go away (reality is that it justs masks the problem).
  2. Most people don't want to bother IT with problems because the IT group may be unresponsive, they don't  think the problem is important enough, or they just want to get back to work.

Friday, May 25, 2007

IT Rule #4: Anal Retentiveness is a good thing

In IT, a little AR goes a long way. More is even better for the consistency it brings and the ability to find root causes easier. Too much and the people that use the systems will consider you too inflexible and push back.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

IT Rule #3: Permanent Insufficiency

No matter how much storage space or memory you allocate to a computer or task, it will not be enough.

Minnesota Dept of Health and Department of Public Safety: codeReady

This is a site to allow you to create a emergency plan for your household. It is designed to have you enter a bunch of info and then print/email the results. None of your information is stored on the website so you need to do it in one sitting.


Friday, April 27, 2007

IT Rule #2: One Domain to Bind Them All

Never name a server the same name as your domain. It brings about countless confusion points in conversations and introduces very strange networking behaviors. It can be made to work but isn't worth the effort, mainly due to IT Rule #1.

IT Rule #1: Firefighting is a waste of time

Time spent fighting fires (a.k.a. fixing problems) should be avoided as a rule. Note that as one of IT's main responsibilities is keeping things running smoothly, firefighting cannot be ignore and problems must be fixed as they come up. However, it is not in the company's (and therefore IT's) best interest to spend time doing firefighting.

Fire prevention is by far the better way to spend time. In most cases, an hour spent preventing fires will pay for itself many times.

Prevention includes the following efforts

  • Solid infrastructure. This includes network, wireless, storage, and all the components that make up the computing environment. Spend the money on good equipment, but maintenance, and monitor everything.

  • Consistent Desktops. This can be a tough balance with the desire to let employees have control to changes things in order to do their job better or just to make the computer their own (remember, they may be spending 5-7 hours a day working on it).

  • Identifying root cause. When a fire has to be fought, spending time to determine the root cause is well worth the effort. Since MS-Windows can fail for unknown reasons, it isn't always possible. However, if the root cause can be found and (importantly) proven, the fix can be applied across the company to prevent that problem from happening again.

Reducing time spent fixing problems frees up IT staff for working on projects for improving the computing environment. The business world is moving too fast to not have that time for improving systems.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Although I frequently didn't agree with this views, the man was a damn fine writer and always made me think. Time to go back and reread some of his stuff again.

Novelist Kurt Vonnegut dies

NEW YORK - Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five'' and "Cat's Cradle,'' died Wednesday. He was 84.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cable for wireless amp that I got used

Audio-Technica - Microphones, headphones, wireless microphone systems, noise-cancelling headphones & more : AT-GCW : Guitar Input Cable

1/4" phone plug to locking 4-pin connector for use between instrument and A-T UniPak™ body-pack wireless transmitters. 36" (0.9 m) cable.

UPDATE: I returned this wireless unit as it was not able to work in a noisy environment. At home or in the rehearsal space there was lots of static.

Team, Management, and organizational communication more important than change control? - Business Technology Leadership - ABC: An Introduction to Change Management

During havoc-wreaking ERP implementations, the researchers found that team composition, top management support and organizational communication proved more important than change management. During ERP upgrades, change management fared similarly, coming in fourth behind team composition, organizational communication and project management.

IT annual report

Interesting idea. - Business Technology Leadership - IT Value Methodologies: Do They Work?

For example, I work with a CIO who produces an annual report that shares what the business has accomplished with IT’s support. It also talks about where they will jointly focus their effort and dollars for next year. As with any good annual report, it discusses the financials: spend versus budget, benefits of previous projects versus plan, cost-saving initiatives versus plan, etc. It also discusses what they’re doing to prepare for the future from an architecture and technology standpoint. It has been extremely well-received, and this is in a non-high-tech company - Business Technology Leadership - IT Value Methodologies: Do They Work?

The “atomization” of technology (many more subcomponents and vendors) also means that no IT department can afford to supply or even be competent in every technology. At the same time, companies don’t want to be locked into a single vendor or approach, with no endgame in sight. They want to avoid creating the legacy environment of the future.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Best Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs: Scientific Lab Test vs. Incandescent - Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics designed a test pitting seven common CFLs against a 75-watt incandescent bulb. To gather objective data, we used a Konica Minolta CL-200 chroma meter to measure color temperature and brightness, and a Watts up? Pro ammeter to track power consumption. Our subjective data came from a double-blind test with three PM staffers and Jesse Smith, a lighting expert from Parsons The New School for Design, in Manhattan. We put our participants in a color-neutral room and asked them to examine colorful objects, faces and reading material, then rate the bulbs’ performance.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mosquitoes in March!

Noooooooooooooo! I was out last night putting the motorcycle mount on the trailer. Upper 60s. I was wearing shorts and I got almost a dozen bites! I never saw them so I can't swear they were mosquitoes. The little buggers love me for some reason and always swarm more around me than the others with me. My kids thinks its funny. My wife thinks I am imagining things. But I'm not! They are out to get me! I used to have the solace that the darn things died in winter and wouldn't show up until June. But now March!?!? I'm doomed.
dooce: Nooner

And afterward instead of feeling guilty or regretting that second fistful of French fries, we both agreed that we would look back on that delicious 10 minute period exactly as if it was some of the most spectacular sex we’ve ever had in our lives.

As always, the the whole thing. If you miss a reference, go read her other stuff. Warning, not for the easily offended...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More on my sister's job...

Sandra Burrowes joins Troncossi Public Relations - Bermuda Press Releases | Bermuda News -

In her new role, Ms. Burrowes will be responsible for advising on communication challenges, managing potential media crises, monitoring the media, writing press releases, newsletters and positioning statements, and liaising with the media as well as with clients. She will report to the Managing Director.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My sister's new job in Bermuda.
Troncossi PR names new consultant

The public relations firm Troncossi has appointed Sandra Burrowes as a consultant, it was announced in a press statement.

Ms Burrowes will be responsible for advising on communication challenges, managing potential media crises, monitoring the media, writing press releases, newsletters and positioning statements, and liaising with the media as well as with clients.

Ms Burrowes headed Ready, Aim, Market!, a consulting business providing publishing, marketing and media relations expertise to publishers, authors, and industry organisations.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Needed to move some large pieces furniture at my sister's house. Erik brought three of his friends along. They decided to take a break on the king size mattress bvefore we hauled it downstairs. Given the amzing quantity of pasta they had consumed an hour before, I'm not at all suprised at the food coma. They did eventually roust themselves and finish the job. I could not have done it without them. Good kids, all.
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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Our next lens

Nikon 18-200 mm Lens VR Zoom Lens - Instapundit Glenn Reynolds Out of the Box Review - Popular Mechanics

How does it work? Very well. I focused on a bookshelf and photographed it from across my study in available light. The focal length was 200 mm (equivalent to a 300-mm lens on a traditional 35-mm film camera) and the shutter speed was about 1/6 second. With the VR mechanism turned on, the image was quite sharp. With VR turned off—notwithstanding my steady hands—it was rather blurry.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

And sometimes when you think the dog is left handed, it really isn't. That causes all sorts of problems with the spinner and the exhaust windings. However, a simple dish of pad thai (do'nt be silly, remove the noodles first) often enough to rectify the situation if applied liberally to the windings, but not the dog. That will lead to all sorts of other problems, most of which involve a mop and Mr. Clean.

Baby Name Voyager

is really fun. Click your cursor to the top left and start typing in
names. A dynamic graph pops up with the history of the names. From: The
Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager

Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO)

A BFO is one a situation where you learn something that is so obvious you wonder why you didn't think of it before. For example I have always borrowed my sister's pastry bag for making deviled eggs. Then I read this:

Eggs! ( "Once you've mashed up all of the ingredients, you have to put them back in the egg halves. If you have a deft hand with a spoon, this isn't a problem, but there's a more fun alternative. You take a large ziploc bag, put the mash in there, and seal the top, then cut a small hole in one corner and squeeze the stuff out like it's a pastry bag."

BFO's can be met with two responses: 1) Doh! how could I be so stupid as to not think of that myself! and 2) Cool! I learned something. I usually have the second response (but not always!).

I learned about BFOs from a former collegue, Dave P, many years ago.

IT spending as percent of revenue

This is an interesting take on the question of proper IT spending levels. I think it is still important to understand the percentage, but his swapping of the dog and the tail make sense. The business are the dog and the percentage is the tail, not the other way around. Which should do the wagging?

Koch's IT Strategy - Home Page - Blog - CIO
The report identifies three broad ways to manage IT spending: resource management, work management and demand management. But those are basic principles of good governance in any IT organization--keep projects running well, keep infrastructure and people costs under control and have a good spending management process in place. They are necessary whether you are spending 25 percent of revenue on IT, as some financial services companies do, or less than two percent, as some retailers do.

What would really help is a better way of justifying the proper level of ambition of IT in the specific context of the company, its competition and its customers. For example, how information-intensive are the company’s products? How decentralized is the company? Are there obvious opportunities to create new products or business capabilities using IT that could justify being considered over and above the usual IT budget?

Starting with an average number and then trying to justify why internal spending should be higher or lower seems like a terrible way to determine your fate as an IT organization. How about starting with the business strategy of the company and proximity of customers to information products and services and working back to a number from there?
No where else can we imagine
No one else can be sure
No one thing can make us believe
No one except us
No one

Video from 2002 about the history of Rush. 5 parts

Rush Blog - Rush is a Band Blog: MuchMusic special - The Story of Rush - 1/5

The Story of ... Rush which aired on MuchMusic in 2002.

"A Few Signs Of Progress"

From a gentleman living in Baghdad...

IraqPundit: "A few signs of progress."

On the other hand, I'm far more inclined to take seriously a picture of Baghdad that comes from a life-long Baghdadi than one coming from a Westerner who has parachuted into town for a while, and who doesn't speak the language.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ramana's Garden

Joyce spent a few days at this orphanage when she was in India. It was a very powerful place for her. Folks from my work gave, as a wedding present to us, a nice amount of money to this place. One of the best gifts we got.

Ramana's Garden

Imagine abandoned, destitute, or abused children who are given love, shelter, food and education so they may thrive in a world that once seemed almost hopeless. That is what Dr. Prabhavati Dwabha envisioned as a result of her spiritual practice on the banks of the River Ganga in Northern India, so she formed Ramana’s Garden Home for Destitute Children (Ramana's Seva Samiti) there more than 10 years ago.

Not Bad Penny

Well, the band decided not to use Bad Penny as the name (was already in use). Working on a new name. The guitarist made a good point when he said the name matters less than what we sound like. Not having been in a band before, this is all new to me. All of the others have done the band thing. I'm clearly the weakest musical link, but everyone has been wonderful about things. We are working on building two sets: a lounge/torch singer set of tunes and a more uptempo bluesy/jazzy set for getting people on the dance floor. No idea if this will lead anywhere, but I am learning lots and having fun playing.

Saving money by going to expensive stores...

So we are trying an experiment. So far: two months gone by successfully.

The Plan: spend less money by going to more expensive grocery and household stores. Or put another way: Save money by avoiding Target, Wal-Mart, Cub foods, Rainbow Foods, etc.

Why? Two reasons: 1) Impulse buys, along with 2) the "going to need it" problem. Impulse buys we all know about. We do pretty well avoiding the stuff at the register. But when you couple problem 2), there is a whole new class of impulse buys. End caps of things that you use once and a while, sales on things that you use, etc. We often buy way more than we expect when we go to these stores.

So we decided to try to avoid these stores. We go to places that cost more and spend less total dollars. We go to the local small grocery store (Kortes) and the corner Wallgreens. We spend less dollars (according to Quicken) and don't seem to be missing out on much.

Do we know if it will work long term? Nope. But it is an interesting experiment and puts us more in touch with our spending. And has us actually spending less per month which is really the bottom line.

Kelsey had a very nice gymnastics meeting and I got this shot as she bounded up the stairs with all her trophies in hand. It was the first time that she won the all-around at a meeting. Very exciting!
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New pastor at our church

There is a lot of excitement at the church about this appointment. We will miss Pastor Cindy terribly as she moves to the next stage in her life. It is interesting how one can feel strongly both ways about things....

33 Names of Grace: Fourth Time to St. Paul

All the letters are out so I think it is safe to say it in this venue: this June we're moving to St. Paul where I will be the pastor of Fairmount Avenue church. The official language is, "It is the intention of Bishop Sally Dyck to appoint (me) to Fairmount Avenue United Methodist Church."

Friday, March 02, 2007

interesting view on global warming -

Coal and oil are, over the long term, far more valuable as chemical feedstocks than as fuels anyway, and burning them is unacceptably filthy regardless of greenhouse issues. We should replace them as soon as possible with nice, clean, greenhouse-friendly nuclear plants and other environmentally friendly power technologies. Burning less carbon is good planetary hygiene, and good practice generally, regardless of what you think of global warming. So, I suppose, in a way we should be pursuing global warming remedies regardless of what you think about global warming.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Interesting crock pot recipes

How to get a real person when calling a big company

gethuman - advocacy for high quality customer service for consumers

The gethuman project is a consumer movement to improve the quality of phone support in the US. This free website is run by volunteers and is powered by over one million consumers who demand high quality phone support from the companies that they use. More info.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What schools should be teaching kids about computers

Life-Long Computer Skills (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Teaching life-long computer skills in our schools offers further benefit in that it gives students insights that they're unlikely to pick up on their own. In contrast, as software gets steadily easier to use, anyone will be able to figure out how to draw a pie chart. People will learn how to use features on their own, when they need them -- and thus have the motivation to hunt for them. It's the conceptual things that get endlessly deferred without the impetus of formal education.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

An excellent article on how tech folks sometimes treat users...

It Ought To Be Simple: I'm an Idiot...

I’m stupid, clueless, dumb – hell, I’m a complete moron. I’m so inept, in fact, that a new word has been created to capture my incompetence: “luser.” I feel terrible about it, I really do; it was never my intention to upset my IT department – heck, the whole IT industry – by not being bright enough to use the wonderful tools they give me. But I just can’t seem to get it right.

Moving your itunes DB

UltraNewb: How to move your iTunes library to an external drive - Lifehacker

iTunes has a (deservedly) bad reputation for taking total control of your music and videos, including where they live on your computer. It wasn't always easy to move your library in past versions of the software, but happily iTunes 7 makes relocating an existing media library pretty painless - that is, with a little know-how. Here's how to get it done.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A way to use labels in Gmail

Ask the Readers: How do you organize your Gmail? - Lifehacker

I keep three types of labels in Gmail: permanent/manual labels, permanent/filter-based labels and temporary labels. Each has certain naming conventions.

Permanent labels (underscore, all caps): Being an "eat your own dog food" type 'o girl, I keep my Gmail inbox empty using my previously-published Trusted Trio system of 3 buckets: Action, Archive and Hold. Since Gmail archive's built right in, the trusted Trio in Gmail is actually the Dependable Duo: _ACTION and _HOLD (since archived messages go out of sight anyway.) The underscore keeps these labels - the most important ones - at the top of the list, and the all caps is just for emphasis.

Filter-based labels (parens): I've also got a few longer-term labels for automatically shuttling messages out of my inbox: like tips email, mailing list messages, and unwanted messages that might very well be spam. I use parentheses to sort them below the "Dependable Duo."

Short-term labels (asterisk): Last, I keep a couple of short-term labels for current projects (like the Lifehacker book) sorted at the bottom of the list using an asterisk (like "*book.") These labels will be deleted at some point when I don't need them anymore.

Friday, February 16, 2007

In support of Robert Heinlein

Rah, Rah, RAH! by Spider Robinson

A swarm of petulant blind men are gathered around an elephant, searching him inch by inch for something at which to sneer. What they resent is not so much that he towers over them, and can see farther than they can imagine. Nor is it that he has been trying for nearly half a century to warn them of the tigers approaching through the distant grasses downwind. They do resent these things, but what they really, bitterly resent is his damnable contention that they are not blind, his insistent claim that they can open up their eyes any time they acquire the courage to do so.


Dynamic capitalism: Innovated and Just

OpinionJournal - Featured Article

I must mention a "derived" benefit from dynamism that flows from its effects on productivity and self-realization. A more innovative economy tends to devote more resources to investing of all kinds--in new employees and customers as well as new office and factory space. And although this may come about through a shift of resources from the consumer-goods sector, it also comes through the recruitment of new participants to the labor force. Also, the resulting increase of employee-engagement serves to lower quit rates and, hence, to make possible a reduction of the "natural" unemployment rate. Thus, high dynamism tends to bring a pervasive prosperity to the economy on top of the productivity advances and all the self-realization going on. True, that may not be pronounced every month or year. Just as the creative artist does not create all the time, but rather in episodes and breaks, so the dynamic economy has heightened high-frequency volatility and may go through wide swings. Perhaps this volatility is not only normal but also productive from the point of view of creativity and, ultimately, achievement.

Monday, February 12, 2007

rebuttal to the hydrogen article

I'm not real comfortable with the "villains" (check the url) and the gratuitous "Rightwinger" label but they do have some decent facts in here.

Debunking Rightwinger Propagandist Robert Zubrin's so-called Hydrogen Hoax

A Lego Trebushet!

Shoots mini marshmellows and the like. Perhaps small dogs but I don't recommend it.

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories - Build a Lego Trebuchet

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Hydrogen: an energy source or carrier?

This is interesting. I'm hoping to find a refutation of this (I"m sure someone has tried).

The New Atlantis - The Hydrogen Hoax - Robert Zubrin

Hydrogen is only a source of energy if it can be taken in its pure form and reacted with another chemical, such as oxygen. But all the hydrogen on Earth, except that in hydrocarbons, has already been oxidized, so none of it is available as fuel. [...] The trouble is that making hydrogen requires more energy than the hydrogen so produced can provide. Hydrogen, therefore, is not a source of energy. It simply is a carrier of energy. And it is, as we shall see, an extremely poor one.

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