Saturday, January 31, 2015
For whatever reason, the notion of applying primitives like filters, min, sum, and so on to collections of objects has been something I've done a lot of. In the past, I've often extended the generic collection types (ArrayList and HashMap, especially) to provide these primitives as I needed them. The new Stream library allows me to do the same thing without having to extend the generic types at all, while still having superbly readable code. I'm feeling much Stream love here :)
But you'd be wrong, because that's exactly what we're doing with raisins in America. The law requiring this was part of FDR's “New Deal”. The Supreme Court is reviewing the legality of it...
Via my mom, who accuses me of stealing Reddy, her neighborhood red fox. I think what actually happened is that Reddy heard about events in Charlotte, and took off to join the fun!
Unless you're a progressive, though, you most likely didn't consider the taxes Uncle Sam won't collect when you do it yourself. For instance, when I decided to do my own electrical work, the electricians didn't get to do it. They didn't get paid for it, so they didn't pay taxes on the income I didn't provide. If you're a real progressive, then you think I should pay those taxes when I do the work myself.
My first inclination was to laugh at this, assuming it was a joke. Then I read up more on the topic, and discovered that they (the progressives) are serious. This topic is being bandied about by progressives in power (in California and Massachusetts, in particular) as a possible legislative initiative for this year.
Man, we escaped from California in the nick of time!
Ace, writing on the same topic, includes this joke that I am shamelessly stealing:
A man owned a small farm in Vermont. The Vermont Labor Board claimed he was underpaying his help, so they sent an agent down to interview him.It's things like this that make me doubt this country's chances for long-term survival...
"I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them," demanded the agent.
"Well," replied the farmer, "there's my farm hand -- I pay him $200 per week plus free room and board.
The cook has been here a bit more than a year and I pay her $150 every week plus free room and board.
Then there's the half-wit who works about 18 hours per day and does about 90% of the work. He makes $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night. And, once in a while, he's pretty sociable with my wife."
"That's the guy I want to talk to -- the half-wit," says the agent.
"You're talking to him," replied the farmer.
I've been sort of bemusedly watching my Twitter feed and the hashtags that appear on it. I've been vaguely bothered by the whole hashtag phenomenon. On the one hand, it seems like a great technical solution to the problem of how to find out what people are saying on a particular subject. On the other hand, often (but certainly not always) people are using hashtags more as a trivially easy way to show their agreement with some expressed concern, like Michelle Obama and her #bringbackourgirls sign. In a way, they're like the MIA/POW wristbands so popular in the '70s, or the peace sign pendants in the '60s. While at first they may have been a meaningful symbol of where someone stood, they quickly became meaningless and insignificant tokens used by someone who really doesn't care (or even understand) the issue at hand, but wants to pretend that they do.
Why would someone do this? Social acceptance is the obvious answer, and I see no reason to doubt this is the major motivator. One variant of that is a bit earthier, but memorable – I remember overhearing a conversation between two boys in my 12th grade English class. The gist of the conversation was that if you wanted to get laid by a hippy girl, the key was to wear a peace sign necklace – just 99 cents at a local store. Cheap, easy social acceptance at work :)
Friday, January 30, 2015
The photo at right is not mine, but the fox in it looks like a freshly bathed version of the one we saw. Ours looked like it had spent some time recently in a muddy area – it's tail was matted, and the entire fox looked quite dirty. As we watched, it was hunting (most likely for voles, which are extremely common here). We saw it pounce several times, and after one of them it took a minute or so to eat something it caught...
The cats were all “Get that annoying thing out of here!” Debbie was pretty much the same. All of them looked at me :) We got a plastic bucket that had a snap lid, and managed to herd the thing into it. I took it out into our field and let it go – where, most likely, it made a good meal for a hawk or a dog...
I've been just a bit under the weather the past few days – some sort of low-grade bug that just sapped my energy level, nothing more. Debbie made some tlapeno soup yesterday, and ever since I ate a gigantic pig trough full of yet, I've been feeling better :) That stuff is Mexican penicillin! I've been doing just a few easy things inside the house, and putzing around with some programming (not much physical effort there!). I'll most likely take it easy again today, but I can feel that I'm on the mend, and I suspect I'll be back to normal tomorrow at the latest...
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Not feeling well, and being concerned about his immortality, Barack Obama consults with a psychic about the date of his death.Ah, Simi ... thanks for the belly laugh!
Closing her eyes and reaching out to the future, she tells the President, “You will die on a Jewish holiday.”
With much anxiety, Barack asks, “Which holiday?”
“It really doesn’t matter.” She replies. “Whenever you die, it will be a Jewish holiday.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
One of those features I wanted is the ability to upload some data to the blog periodically, and then have that data available to people reading the blog. For instance, I'd like to have the weather forecast for the next few days show up. I can “scrape” that sort of data from other web sites, then package it up for display on my blog – but to do that, I need to upload that data to the blog server somehow. Many blogging platforms provide an API for that sort of thing, but Ghost does not. I spent quite a bit of time on the Ghost forums, researching the issue and asking questions about it. The conclusion from expert Ghost developers: it can't be done.
This morning I came up with a way to do it, and I whipped up a prototype and tested it – it works! Best of all, it's easy as can be. Here's how it works:
- I created a special “bucket” on Amazon's AWS S3 storage service. This bucket has the name “assets.www.slightlyloony.com”.
- I created a DNS record (a CNAME record) that aliases “assets.www.slightlyloony.com” to the S3 storage URL.
- I wrote a program that uploads the data of interest to a particular set of files within the S3 bucket.
- In my client side code (running in the blog reader's browser), whenever I want to access some of that data, I use the URL “http://assets.www.slightlyloony.com/[file name]” to get it. The browser thinks it's on the same host, because “assets.www.slightlyloony.com” is a subdomain of “www.slightlyloony.com”, where the browser loaded the page from. No cross-site scripting rules are violated by this.
I like the way Hot Air closed their article:
You were lied to. Again.Yes. Yes you were.
On a trip I made recently, I had a three hour layover in Houston. I spent a good part of that time in a store that carried high-end laptops (Dell, HP, Asus, etc.). All of these laptops cost less (though sometimes not all that much less) than Apple's MacBook Pro, which I use. None of them, in my not-so-humble opinion, matched Apple's physical design, fit, or finish. They were very nice laptops, mind you – but they all had easily visible design flaws, or fit and finish issues. Then there's the fact that they all had Windows as their operating system (with one exception: a Dell that could be purchased with Ubuntu Linux). After 8 years of using OS X, there is no freaking way I'd go back to the nightmare named Windows. Not happening. And Linux's desktops, while much improved, aren't even close to being as usable as OS X yet.
So an Apple fanboi I shall remain, for now :)
Starting next week, that's coming to an end – my subscription expires on February 4th, and I'm not renewing. It's not that I'm no longer interested in its content – I am. The main reason I'm stopping is that Dow Jones (the publisher) has finally managed to raise the subscription price to the point where I just can't justify it any more. It's now $300 a year, nearly a dollar a day, to read content that I can largely find elsewhere for free.
So sadly, and reluctantly, I'm saying goodbye...
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The first one shows Miki, watching Debbie eat her lunch (and hoping for some of it to drop down within his range). Note how his head – and especially his eyes – glow brightly. Those are the areas where his body is losing the most heat.
The middle photo is of our kitchen table top, without my hand in the photo. I made this by placing my left hand on the table top, counting to five, then taking my hand away and snapping the photo. The infrared camera is sensing the very slight temperature difference caused by my hand's presence a few seconds before I took the photo. My hand's image was still clearly present 20 seconds later, then rapidly faded away.
The last photo is a closeup of Miki's head (still sitting, waiting hopefully). The resolution isn't even close to the visible light camera, but it's plenty good enough to discern what you're seeing.
I'm looking forward to trying this tonight, to see if we can spot some wildlife...
One Old Lady Who Loves Obama - A DIFFERENT TAKE...A cheerful read, if you don't think too critically about the assertions. While I wish I felt the same optimism that the author does, I do not. I see little evidence (as opposed to talk) that the American electorate is actually supportive of (much) smaller government. I do remember similar public feelings – when Carter was president – and after a brief flirtation with sanity, the electorate reverted right back to big government proponents (remember the Clinton administration?). The government is now vastly larger by any method of measurement than it was during Carter's term. I won't be surprised at all if the government continues to grow, even if we managed to elect, say, Ted Cruz.
This is certainly a different way to look at what is happening. One 82-year-old lady loves Obama and she may have a very good point. She says that Obama is amazing, and is rebuilding the American dream!
She gives us an entirely new slant on the "amazing" job Obama is doing, and she says that she will thank God for the President. Keep reading for her additional comments and an explanation. When discussing Obama, she says:
1. Obama destroyed the Clinton Political Machine, driving a stake through the heart of Hillary's presidential aspirations - something no Republican was ever able to do.
2. Obama killed off the Kennedy Dynasty - no more Kennedys trolling Washington looking for booze and women wanting rides home.
3. Obama is destroying the Democratic Party before our eyes! Dennis Moore had never lost a race. Evan Bayh had never lost a race. Byron Dorgan had never lost a race. Harry Reid - soon to be GONE! These are just a handful of the Democrats whose political careers Obama has destroyed. By the end of 2014, dozens more will be gone. Just think, in December of 2008 the Democrats were on the rise. In two election cycles, they had picked up 14 Senate seats and 52 House seats. The press was touting the death of the Conservative Movement and the Republican Party. However, in just one year, Obama put a stop to all of this and gave the House and the Senate - back to the
4. Obama has completely exposed liberals and progressives for what they are. Sadly, every generation seems to need to re-learn the lesson on why they should never actually put liberals in charge. Obama is bringing home the lesson very well: Liberals tax, borrow and spend. Liberals won't bring themselves to protect America. Liberals want to take over the economy. Liberals think they know what is best for everyone. Liberals are not happy until they are running YOUR life.
5. Obama has brought more Americans back to conservatism than anyone since Reagan. In one year, he has rejuvenated the Conservative Movement and brought out to the streets millions of freedom loving Americans. Name one other time when you saw your friends and neighbors this interested in taking back America!
6. Obama, with his "amazing leadership," has sparked the greatest period of sales of firearms and ammunition this country has seen. Law abiding citizens have rallied and have provided a "stimulus" to the sporting goods field while other industries have failed, faded, or moved off-shore.
7. In all honesty, one year ago I was more afraid than I have been in my life. Not afraid of the economy, but afraid of the direction our country was going. I thought, Americans have forgotten what this country is all about. My neighbors and friends, even strangers, have proved to me that my lack of confidence in the greatness and wisdom of the American people has been flat wrong.
8. When the American people wake up, no smooth talking teleprompter reader can fool them! Barack Obama has served to wake up these great Americans! Again, I want to say: "Thank you, Barack Obama!" After all, this is exactly the kind of hope and change we desperately needed!!
9. He made Jimmy Carter happy since Jimmy is no longer the worst president we've ever had.
Monday, January 26, 2015
The folks at Agri-Service came down today and picked up my tractor. It's going into the shop for a 100 hour service (routine) and for some testing to see if they can find the source of a slow (but very irritating!) hydraulic leak. We timed it so that we had a week's forecast with no snow in it, so I won't be snowed in without a plow...
First, we replaced about 15 of those god-forsaken CFL pigtail bulbs with daylight LEDs – far more light, and at a color temperature we find pleasing (the old bulbs were about the amber of a smoky candle, and not much brighter). Much better in the rooms we fixed. The main challenge with this process is finding the right LED bulbs to fit the various fixtures. This danged house must have 15 kinds of light bulbs in it! And there are another 6 or 7 rooms left to go :)
Then we replaced the broken wine refrigerator with a new one. The old refrigerator was a conventional compressor-type cooling unit (just like an ordinary kitchen refrigerator). The new one uses a thermoelectric cooling unit (using Peltier devices), and consequently is completely silent (no moving parts). Wine refrigerators, it turns out, are not a standard size – they vary in height, width, and depth. So far as we could tell, there are no two the same. The new one we bought is about 3/4" wider and 2" shorter than the one we're replacing. It's under-counter, so that meant I had to cut 3/4" of the cabinet's facing off (there was plenty of room behind the facing). I clamped a piece of wood in the right place to act as a guide, then used a battery-powered oscillating saw to do the cutting. This let me cut right down to the floor and right up to the bottom of the cabinet top, and it made a very nice smooth cut. It was so nice, in fact, that we're not going to put a trim strip up to cover the cut – it looks finished just the way it is.
Finally, we fixed a silly switch arrangement for the light in the walk-in closet in our bedroom. That closet was originally an office when the house was first built. The second owner converted it into a closet, installing shelving along the walls, but not changing the location of the switches and outlets. One (of several) unfortunate consequences of this decision was that the light switch ended up on the inside of the closet, and worse, on the inside of a shelving unit. To turn the light on, you had to walk into the closet, make a 180° turn, then fumble around in the dark between clothes on the shelf to flip the switch. This is not what we wanted :) So I carefully measured and cut a hole for a junction box on the bedroom side of the closet wall, adjacent to where the existing switch box is located. Then I wired a new switch into that box, connecting it to the existing wiring inside the junction box that the old switch was mounted in. Then I removed the old switch, and we're covering that old box with a blank plate. Now we have a switch where it belongs – outside the closet, next to the door – very convenient.
In the process of doing that wiring, I used a tool that was new to me: a circuit breaker tracer. I found an outlet that I guessed was on the same circuit breaker as the light, and plugged a signal transmitter into it. That unit sends a low-power radio signal into the wire. Then I took the tracer unit – the size and shape of a very fat carpenter's pencil – and ran it up and down the circuit breaker panel. It squawked on one circuit breaker, and when I shut that one off, the outlets and light in the closet were all dead. That whole process took about 60 seconds, and eliminated the need to shut off one breaker at a time to find the right one. Very nice!
Barring any last minute revelations of her killing a bunch of hookers or something, she is expected to be confirmed. (Even if she did off the call girls, she'd probably still be better than Eric Holder.)Indeed.
Current satellite-based Internet distribution is almost entirely done with satellites in geosynchronous orbit, about 26,000 miles above the earth's surface. At that altitude a radio signal takes about 1/7 of a second to travel between the earth and the satellite, a delay that is the inevitable result of the speed of light. That delay may seem small, but it adds up very quickly. The simplest possible web page (with no images or any other non-textual content) requires a minimum of 5 earth-to-satellite-to-earth signal trips (for the geeks: 3 to establish a TCP connection, then one request/response pair). Each of those trips takes 2/7th of a second, so 5 trips takes 1 3/7ths seconds – and that's the fastest you can get! There are some tricksy things that can be done to reduce the number of round trips, but the absolute best one can do is still so many trips that browsing the web feels sluggish – a very different experience than one gets with terrestrial Internet connections. The geosynchronous satellites do have one very compelling advantage, though: a single satellite can service an entire continent (North America, for example).
Musk's vision for satellites in low earth orbits would have quite a different operating characteristic. First and foremost, they'd be less than about 1,200 miles high – I'm guessing 500 or 600 miles. Below roughly 500 miles the atmospheric drag limits satellite lifetimes. Higher satellites increase the speed of light latency, but also increase the “footprint” (the size of the area the satellite can service). On the other hand, smaller footprints might be desirable, to limit the number of connections that a single satellite must be capable of. So my guess is Musk will opt for the lower orbital altitudes, to optimize performance and minimize individual satellite size and complexity. To guarantee global 24x7 coverage, Musk will need hundreds of satellites – even more if there is to be redundancy. Hence the $10B price tag, even with assumptions about SpaceX drastically reducing the cost of a launch.
Suppose Musk actually pulls this off (and his track record is pretty darned good). What would that mean for Internet access? It would mean that no matter where you were – in a city or in Antarctica – you could get 100mbps+, low-latency Internet access. Broadband for all. At sufficient scale (not a small constraint, mind you), the $10B price tag will look like peanuts compared to terrestrial methods that require things like digging trenches and burying cables or fiber. In other words, if Musk gets enough people on the system, it has the potential to be cheaper than existing broadband connections. Much cheaper. If the orbits are at 500 or 600 miles altitude, the latency will be very comparable to terrestrial networks – in other words, no performance downside.
Internet distribution could be the killer app for space. Google and Fidelity are apparently persuaded that that's a good bet.
And Elon Musk will own the world :)
Interviewer: Forget about measuring the voltage already! Suppose you can't reach the fixture to measure its voltage.This reminds me of a story I read about Feynman, though I've forgotten where I read it, and why the story was being told. In the story, someone who knew Feynman wondered out loud why the altimeter in an airplane always seemed to be wrong. Feynman launched into a learned discussion of how the altimeters worked (bellows-type pressure gauge), the loose correlation between air pressure and altitude (due to humidity, temperature, and wind), and the numerous engineering problems associated with bellows-type pressure gauges (including non-linearity of the spring force in the bellows, thermal expansion and stiffness variation, and the “stiction” effects caused by metal crystals rubbing on each other). Feynman's companion asked how Feynman came to know all this about how altimeters worked – and it turned out that the only thing Feynman knew was that they used bellows-type pressure gauges. Everything else he deduced or inferred – classic Feynman...
Feynman: Again, I must point out that it seems very odd to ask a question about diagnosis of an electrical system while not allowing the diagnostician to use common electrical tools. But anyway, you said that I was on the right track, so let's go with that. We know that modern dimmers do not put a variable resistance across the AC signal; rather, they selectively "cut out" a variable-sized portion of the wave and leave the rest of the cycle in its normal size and shape. We could build a device that works analogously to a dimmer, but much slower. The device could have a couple of rotating cams that flip a switch on and off once a second. Now we need not disassemble any of the switches, or cut the power at the panel. We attach the device to the first switch, flip the second switch off, and the third switch on. Since we have already established that the switches are single-location switches that have been wired correctly according to the NEC, we know that the switch in the "up" position is energizing its lamp and the one in the down position is off. Now we go into the other room. The lamp that is off is controlled by the third switch, the lamp that is on is controlled by the second, and the one that is flipping on and off every second is controlled by the first. This system will work no matter what kind of lamps are in the fixtures, provided of course that they are good lamps, not burned out.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
So now the cattery has beautiful bright white (daylight color temperature) lighting, even and mostly free of shadows. Extra bonus: the switches work correctly, both there and in our bedroom. I only have about 150 outlets and 60 switches to go...
Saturday, January 24, 2015
But...that's not going to happen until we get all those fixtures up, and naturally that's harder than we expected. When I took down the first track lighting, I discovered that the previous owner had installed a chintzy wall box (intended for outlets, and not very good even for that!), totally unsuitable for hanging a heavy ceiling fixture from. It was unsuitable (and not compliant with code) even for the danged track lighting, but for a normal ceiling fixture it would be downright dangerous. So it was off to the hardware store to buy a new junction box designed for the intended purpose. Actually, I wanted to buy four of them, since I figured that all four fixtures would have the same problem. Alas, they only had two in stock.
We spent the next couple of hours wrestling the old junction boxes out of the ceiling without enlarging the 4" hole. This involved hammers, chisels, pliers, and creative swearing (mostly at the previous owner, may lice of 1,000 jihadists infest him). Then I installed the new boxes (easy when you have the right one!) and Debbie held up the new fixtures while I wired them up. We got two up today – installed correctly – and we'll put the other two up once we can lay our hands on a couple more ceiling junction boxes of the type we need.
What should have been a 30 minute job ended up taking most of the day. Sheesh! But the new fixtures put out a nice, even lighting – perfect for the cattery.
Fluke MS2-100 network cable tester – a lovely piece of kit – so this was an easy thing to do. I had Debbie in the basement on the phone to change the reflector (part of the tester) from one cable to the other, while I was out in the barn with the main part of the tester. Both cables tested out as 100% good, which I'm actually a little surprised at. Those cables are 4' underground, laid over uneven trench bottom that has some rocks, and then covered with soil that I drove over (with my tractor) to compact. I wouldn't have been a bit surprised if both were damaged, but it looks like they survived intact. Yay! My backup plan was to run a radio link between the two buildings, but the cable will give me a much faster link...
Friday, January 23, 2015
Upon arriving in Salt Lake City, I called Debbie (who was waiting in the cell phone lot) to come pick me up. Mere seconds later, she rolled up – with Miki and Race in the back seat. After a hug and a kiss and some happy dogs, we drove back home to a lovely shower and an even lovelier big, comfortable bed. It's always so good to get home, even after a wonderful trip like the one I just took, with a week to see my immediate family and their spouses.
I took the photos below as we approached Salt Lake City, crossing the Wasatch mountains. As always, click to embiggen...
The same web site publishes a free daily email called “The Daily Shot.” It's a little cheeky, full of information, and a good deal of fun to read. I've been reading it for a while now, and I still look forward to its arrival in my inbox every morning. Here's their own description:
The Ricochet Daily Shot is a quick, smart, fun way to catch up on today's big events -- and get a preview of what's coming up tomorrow. It's meant to be a fast snapshot of the news from a decidedly Ricochet perspective, packed with enough information to tide you over until you have a chance to sit down with your favorite non-left wing news outlet, assuming you've found such a thing.You can subscribe to it here. Recommended...
The Daily Shot gives you just the right amount of news, wit, and information to make it through the day, and to dazzle and dumbfound the liberals in your wake.
It struck me, as I read, that this is precisely inverted from my own learning experience. The first thing I learned was how the computer hardware worked. Then I learned how the ones and zeroes stored in RAM controlled that hardware – machine language. Then I learned how assembly language made it easier for people to read and create machine language programs (by using an assembler). Much, much later I learned about higher level languages (BASIC, FORTRAN, CMS-2, PL/1, and COBOL, specifically).
Computer History Museum appears to have one. This web page has a piece of a similar one, shown at right. That single sheet of cardboard was the only programming documentation I had for several years as I started to program.
This “bottoms-up” approach to learning how to program makes great sense to me, most likely because that's how I learned it :) For me, high level languages are still the fuzziest part of my knowledge, and I'm still learning more about them all the time. This isn't entirely because of the bottoms-up approach, of course – that area is changing rapidly, and even the top-down learners have to devote considerable effort to that if they want to keep up. But many (most, actually) programmers who learned top-down never learn assembly language, or machine language – a fact that I still have trouble wrapping my brain around...
Where do computers go from here? What do they look like when they get smaller?
Above right you see one group's vision: the computer shrinks to fit into the mouse. Video is transmitted wirelessly to a monitor. Everything else is in the mouse. Now I'm not at all sure these folks have a winner of an idea, but it certainly is illustrative of the possibilities as compute hardware keeps shrinking. I often marvel at the compute power I hold in my hand when using my iPhone; this really isn't much different than that. It will be interesting to see the computer form ideas popping forth over the next few years...
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Sunday, January 18, 2015
This part of the world has a sack full of pieties when it comes to free speech, but its own actions, and frequently its own words, put the lie to all of them. Bowing to ruthless protest has become a habit. Labelling speech some people simply do not wish to hear as “hate speech” succeeds in silencing it. In matters big and small, on issues from global warming to abortion, there is collusion — we call it political correctness — over what should not be said, what cannot be said.You really should read the whole thing...
Thursday, January 15, 2015
A long day...
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
There's a solution already proven to work: completely deregulate the industry, and eliminate all government-granted monopolies (especially the cable company monopolies). This is the approach Estonia took, and the result of competition unleashed is crazy high broadband speeds, access everywhere, and prices lower than our current crap broadband...
We spent a fair bit of time evaluating twisted string actuators to build low-cost robots. Unfortunately, they have some major problems that are tough to overcome for our specific application(s). For one, their lifecycle is measured in the many thousands instead of millions -- despite our best efforts at material engineering. For another, they are highly nonlinear in response (twists vs displacement), which requires very precise calibration for precision movements. Plus, they're inherently linear motors; for rotary motion, you need two opposing motors or spring-return mechanisms. That said.... there are probably a lot of applications that could benefit from this type of actuator!It's a pity, because these actuators are ridiculously easy to build. The non-linear part was especially frustrating to me.
Analyzing these things was surprisingly easy – it turns out that it breaks down into a simple trigonometry problem, with the key variable being the diameter of the string or wire. I had the most success with graphite-lubricated mono-filament fishing line, and silicone grease lubricated mono-filament line came close...
Banning encryption is a bit like banning safes because they might stop the police from looking at the contents. Let's make everybody unsafe because your “leaders” can't spy on you!
Things like this help me understand how revolutions get started...
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
This snow is of a completely different character than the snow we had in December. The temperature is 31.8°F – just barely freezing. The snowflakes are falling at nearly the speed of a raindrop. They're heavy, gloppy, and just barely removed from liquid water. I shoveled that 18" off the porch and was surprised by how much a shovelful of snow weighed – the fluffy white snow of a few weeks ago could barely be felt; this feels more like a shovelful of wet dirt.
I took a look at the weather radar, and it looks like we'll be clear of the storm in an hour or so. Looks like I'll be plowing at daybreak :)
Monday, January 12, 2015
I'm leaving in a couple days to spend a week with my mom and siblings, so I really wanted to have the AV system usable by normal humans. Without a universal remote, one has to juggle four remotes and have a complete understanding of how everything is interconnected (and that's pretty complicated). It challenges me, and I'm the geek who put it all together!
So I ran down to Best Buy in Salt Lake City yesterday, and picked up another universal remote: Logitech's Harmony Ultimate Home. It's pricey, but quite polished. The company has a web site with device compatibility, so you can check ahead of time whether your devices were supported (and all of ours were).
The installation could hardly have been simpler. Less than 30 minutes after getting home from my run to Best Buy, I had all of our devices configured in the remote. We had a much older version of Logitech's universal remote down in Jamul, and it's easy to see that they've come a long way since then. In particular, I noticed that the remote's understanding of device state (especially power on/off) is much better than the older control was. I've already got it set up to let us watch cable TV, listen to the radio, or watch a DVD/BluRay disk. I've got a little tweaking to do on button assignments (for instance, when watching TV, I want to be able to adjust the picture), but generally it's up and running.
That trip took up much of my day yesterday, and fighting BluMoo and implementing the Harmony ate the rest...
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Saturday, January 10, 2015
The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.Read the whole thing...
The pen clearly is NOT stronger than the sword.Laura, I don't know you – but it's clear that you are my kind of gal!
The pens of the world are limp and flaccid and pathetic.
Firepower is stronger than the pen.
Air forces, soldiers, tanks and guns are stronger than the pen.
Superior firepower, superior intelligence, having no fear, and nothing less than a complete commitment to the preservation of Western, Judeo-Christian civilization and democracy are the only things that will save us from ourselves at this point.
Look around you: all over the "free" world, people are not even brave enough to draw or publish a cartoon to save their civilization-they think that will save their sorry, dhimmi asses.
My recommendation is to stick with superior firepower and a commitment to freedom.
By yesterday afternoon I had the system wired to the point where I could try it out, and the results were very satisfying. Music in stereo sounds better than any other system I've ever owned. The imaging (i.e., hearing where instruments and voices are located) is particularly good. The surround sound part has a bewildering set of options and tweaks that I've just barely begun to explore. However, a test with a Lord of the Rings BluRay showed that it was all working fine.
It's been quite a few years since I last purchased any AV gear, and things have changed quite a bit since then. Perhaps most surprising to me: every piece of the gear is now network connected. At least one of them (the amp/receiver) has a web server built into it. The amp/receiver also has the ability to update its firmware over the Internet – when I first lit it off, it came up with a message telling me there was an update and offered to download it! I haven't connected the BluRay player or cable modem/DVR to the network yet; I'm not sure what they do with it. The TV has the ability to play movies from the Internet, and Debbie is planning to make good use of that with our Amazon Prime membership, as it comes with free access to many of the movies and series she likes (especially some of the British TV series).
Today I have a friend coming over to help me lift the TV (which weighs 80 pounds) up onto its elevated stand. It was a bit too heavy for Debbie to feel safe about hefting half of it. After that I'm going to be spending the day connecting the rest of the gear to the network, bringing up and configuring a universal remote (BluMoo), and tweaking things until we're happy with the setup. Once it's all working the way we want, and we've got the final positions of all the equipment, I'm going to be making all the wiring “disappear” into the walls and under the floor. Right now we've got wiring running over the floor, which for some reason Debbie's not real fond of :)
Friday, January 9, 2015
A man died and went to Heaven. As he stood in front of the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him. He asked, "What are all those clocks?"It's on the high speed setting, too...
St. Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone who has ever been on earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie, the hands on your clock move.” “Oh, said the man. “Whose clock is that?"
"That's Mother Teresa's," replied St. Peter. "The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie."
"Incredible," said the man. "And whose clock is that one?" St. Peter responded, "That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abraham told only two lies in his entire life."
"Where's Obama's clock?" asked the man. St Peter replied, "We're using it as a ceiling fan."
Thursday, January 8, 2015
But ... two broken parts, on a brand-new unit. I called their support line, and within 30 seconds was connected with John V., a customer service rep. He asked me just a few questions, verified that I actually owned one of their machines (by having me read him the serial number), and then with no hesitation said he'd ship me the two parts. Next thing I know, I got an email with a tracking number – they shipped the parts via FedEx. I got the parts today, installed them, and now we have not only a beautifully performant filter, but we have one with no broken parts!
The whole support experience was just about as good as such a thing can be. No hassles, no delays, no cost, and all very friendly and warm. Great product, great service – always a winning combination!
- It is effective against all the currently scary drug-resistant bacteria.
- It's mechanism is inherently difficult for bacteria to develop resistance against.
- There's no known obstacle to large scale production.
It's difficult to overstate what an important development this is!
More here, here, and here...
Here's an example of what I expect to see much more of: assertions that at least in part, Charlie-Hebdo brought this upon themselves by offending Muslims. In this case, it's a piece published by the Catholic League, who really ought to know better – because virtually everything they publish, believe, and stand for is offensive to the same group of Muslim radicals who attacked Charlie-Hebdo. It's written as though they don't even realize that their fellow Christians are being killed in large numbers by Islamic State right now. Their instinct for appeasement overrides their ability to observe, much as the English left, led by Neville Chamberlain, completely failed to observe Hitler's evil. This sort of essentially suicidal behavior leaves me gaping in disbelief...
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
I'd rather die standing than live on my knees (via Mark Steyn)
First-hand account from the terrorist attack on Charlie-Hebdo (Claire Berlinski)
Charlie-Hebdo massacre: how the west will respond (James Delingpole)
Do not submit! (Zombie)
Here are some links to the best things I've read so far. In the last piece, “Zombie” calls out for publishing the “offensive” cartoons far and wide. Zombie is right: we need to assert our free speech rights vigorously. We cannot appease these monsters. We must resist. To that end, I'm republishing the original cartoons that provoked so much manufactured outrage amongst radical Muslims. I first published these almost 9 years ago, in February 2006...