Saturday July 31, 2004

Treasures 2004_31

"Life ... is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?"
-- Margot Fonteyn

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words, These are my Treasures for the past week. ...
       Continue reading "Treasures 2004_31"

Treasures 2004_31 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 31 Jul, 10:05 Pacific

Friday July 30, 2004

Last Day of Contract

Today was the last day of my second six-week contract at The Job. We won't be renewing again because on Monday I will become a salaried "permanent" FTE (Full Time Employee). Woo hoo.

I like the company, the people, and the Job (and if I have to drive to a Job, the commute could hardly be much better) so I asked for this. It took 6 weeks to accomplish everything necessary for the conversion but we got there.

Looking back through various entries, I don't seem to have ever really specified what kind of work I'm doing! This is an Internal Documentation position; I am the "Internal Technical Writer". That means that I have been writing, reviewing, and editing engineering design specs, intranet web pages, how-tos, and architecture overviews. I've also been on call to the "external" Tech Writer (the technical publications department) for help with writing, reviewing, proofreading, etc for the product user guide and release notes. Not much will change about the parameters of the Job, but I will be able to take on more speculative and long-term projects now. ...
       Continue reading "Last Day of Contract"

Last Day of Contract ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Fri, 30 Jul, 20:27 Pacific

Thursday July 29, 2004

Tasks

We've invested in a new piece of software. This is a web-based hierarchical to-do list manager called Tasks. I was especially pleased to see Tasks 2.0 mentioned on versiontracker (in the Mac OS X section) where it has received very good reviews.

Tasks is quite nice; you can try the demo. There's also a 30-day trial version you can load with actual data; if you buy the product ($29.95) you'll get your trial data to load in. The standard version is a one-user version; it you need multiple-user and group task support, there's a "Pro" version ($125).

The documentation is easy to follow, the author is responsive, and there's a support forum for users. The interface is pleasant to look at, clean, and easy to use. The author makes ample use of "tool tips" (little explanatory text block that appear when you hold the mouse over things). There's an included calendar and support for notes. All in all it's well thought out and well put together.

Tasks ( in category Computerware ) - posted at Thu, 29 Jul, 23:32 Pacific

Wednesday July 28, 2004

A Toy Car for Adults

Q. What do you get when you cross a sedan with a minivan?
A. A Scion XB

...
       Continue reading "A Toy Car for Adults"

A Toy Car for Adults ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Wed, 28 Jul, 23:00 Pacific

Monday July 26, 2004

Weekly Wrap-up ( Monday July 19 - Saturday July 24 )

The weather has been alternatingly damp, grey, drizzly, clear, cool, and slightly humid. That's summer in San Bruno.


A "Sunny Express" Delivery truck was behind the Company earlier in the week (on one of the foggy days). As I walked by, I said to the driver "So, where's the Sun you're delivering?" He laughed. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up ( Monday July 19 - Saturday July 24 )"

Weekly Wrap-up ( Monday July 19 - Saturday July 24 ) ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 26 Jul, 22:47 Pacific

Sunday July 25, 2004

Inverse Femtobarns

Rich and I have learned a new unit of measurement - the inverse femtobarn.

What on earth is a "femtobarn," and what does it have to do with the amount of data an accelerator produces?

Rich picked up a copy of the Stanford Report, a daily Stanford newspaper. In the paper was an article entitled Understanding luminosity through 'barn', a unit that helps physicists count particle events.

A barn is the unit used by nuclear physicist for the size of an atomic nucleus of uranium.

The cross-sectional area of a uranium nucleus is about 10 -24 square centimeters, small on the human scale, but large compared with other atomic nuclei. "Femto" means a factor of 10-15: a thousandth of a millionth of a millionth. A femtobarn, then, is 10-39 square centimeters ­ an incomprehensibly small unit of area.

The term "barn" was coined by two physicists, M. G. Holloway and C. P. Parker, at Purdue University in December, 1942. ...
       Continue reading "Inverse Femtobarns"

Inverse Femtobarns ( in category SciTech ) - posted at Sun, 25 Jul, 20:58 Pacific

Saturday July 24, 2004

Treasures 2004-30

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words, These are my Treasures for the past week. ...
       Continue reading "Treasures 2004-30"

Treasures 2004-30 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sat, 24 Jul, 10:27 Pacific

Friday July 23, 2004

Clothing Oragami

The friend who sent me the pointer to this little gem used the phrase "It is a big world...." ...
       Continue reading "Clothing Oragami"

Clothing Oragami ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Fri, 23 Jul, 17:17 Pacific

Thursday July 22, 2004

Spy vs. Spy 3D

MTDewSpy

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.
-- Franklin P. Adams

I've always found new words this way, browsing the dictionary, looking up something else. Now, with the WWW I find all sorts of wonderful gems on the way to looking up something else.

Recently, while searching for ways to syntax-color code and turn it into web pages, I found a link to Ned Batchelder's blog and there, I also found this:

I saw a new TV commercial for Mountain Dew a few weeks ago, and was flabbergasted: it was the old Mad magazine "Spy vs. Spy" cartoon, translated into 3D. Bob Congdon found online copies of the ads. I think they've done a stellar job of capturing the feel of the cartoon, both in terms of the elemental plotting and violence, and the stripped-down black and white look of the strip. One of the ads ends "to be continued". I hope there will be more...
Thanks, Ned! ...
       Continue reading "Spy vs. Spy 3D"

Spy vs. Spy 3D ( in category Odd Corners , Special Interests ) - posted at Thu, 22 Jul, 20:18 Pacific

Wednesday July 21, 2004

bloviate

A new word... and a marvelous quote.

bloviate (BLOH-vee-ayt) v. intr. Slang

Bloviate is from blow + a mock-Latinate suffix -viate. Compare blowhard, "a boaster or braggart." Bloviation is the noun form; a bloviator is one who bloviates.

Trivia: Bloviate is most closely associated with U.S. President Warren G. Harding, who used it frequently and who was known for long, windy speeches. H.L. Mencken said of him, "He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash."

[ bloviate was Word of the Day on June 22, 2001 ] ...
       Continue reading "bloviate"

bloviate ( in category Special Interests ) - posted at Wed, 21 Jul, 18:52 Pacific

Tuesday July 20, 2004

It's Physics

There's a joke about Science:
If it wiggles, it's Biology.
If it stinks, it's Chemistry.
If it doesn't work, it's Physics.
Perhaps to this we could add:
If you don't understand it, it's Quantum Physics.
...
       Continue reading "It's Physics"

It's Physics ( in category SciTech ) - posted at Tue, 20 Jul, 07:32 Pacific

Monday July 19, 2004

Weekly Wrap-up ( Monday July 12 - Sunday July 18)

It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone...

The weather has been mostly pleasant with the occasional morning or evening fog. There have been a couple of truly spectacular sunsets as well this week.


We've placed an order for a Black Cherry Scion XB:-) We ordered the fog lights and the cargo cover but no other add-ons. We're not sure when the car will be delivered to San Brino. On Monday it was still on a ship in the Pacific, bound from Japan to Long Beach, CA. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up ( Monday July 12 - Sunday July 18)"

Weekly Wrap-up ( Monday July 12 - Sunday July 18) ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 19 Jul, 19:04 Pacific

Sunday July 18, 2004

Treasures 2004_29

"Life ... is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?"
-- Margot Fonteyn

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words, These are my Treasures for the past week. ...
       Continue reading "Treasures 2004_29"

Treasures 2004_29 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sun, 18 Jul, 16:11 Pacific

Saturday July 17, 2004

A Strange Dream

I had a strange dream two nights ago. That's hardly unusual. Many of my dreams are strange; they are nearly all very busy and very colorful, with high production values.

A friend and former co-worker was in this one, along with lots of other people. Although part of it was at a conference or trade show I can't recall if I knew any of the other people (on the waking side). This is also not unusual; my dreams have very full casts as well as fancy sets. I often wake from dreams thinking, "Who WERE all those people?!"

During at least part of this dream, I was aware that I was dreaming. Again, this is not unusual; in fact, lately this has been a fairly common occurrence for my. I generally cannot affect my dreams (I occasionally have tried) but I often know they are dreams. The result is rather akin to watching a movie. I know I'm watching (in this case, participating or playing a part). I can't change anything about it but the knowing alters the experience a bit.

The reason I mention all this is as background to the telling of one small piece (one scene if you will) during this particular night's dream. We were walking along and I turned to my friend and said "This is certainly a strange dream".

It made perfect sense at the time.

I sent my friend a note to tell him; I thought he would appreciate the logic :-)

A Strange Dream ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Sat, 17 Jul, 14:54 Pacific

Friday July 16, 2004

Are Mac Users Smarter?

Well, yeah...Isn't it obvious? I mean, we use Macs!

Duh!

Paul Murphy decided to do a little "scientific research" into the subject for his recent article in MacNewsWorld.

I doubt it's possible to get a definitive answer, but as long as you don't take any of it too seriously you can have a lot of fun playing with proxies such as the average user's ability to read and write his or her native language. This isn't necessarily a reasonable measure of intelligence (mainly because intelligence has yet to be defined) but almost everyone agrees that a native English speaker's ability to write correct English correlates closely with that person's ability to think clearly.

In other words, if we knew that Mac users, as a group, were significantly better users of written English than PC users, then we'd have a presumptive basis for ranking the probable "smartness" of two people about whom we only know that one uses a Mac and the other a PC.

...
       Continue reading "Are Mac Users Smarter?"

Are Mac Users Smarter? ( in category Random Thoughts , SciTech ) - posted at Fri, 16 Jul, 23:49 Pacific

Thursday July 15, 2004

Murder Off Mike

Murder Off Mike is a first novel by Joyce Krieg. I hope it will be only the first in a long series.

The mystery, set in Sacramento, CA, introduces Shauna J. Bogart, the on-air pseudonym of Sacramento Talk Radio's first full-time female talk-show host. Shauna loves her job, adores her boss, and enjoys her co-workers at the station, including "Dr. Hipster", her mentor and long-time friend. When Dr. Hipster is killed, she's naturally upset. The police say suicide but one of Shauna J's callers says it was murder and he was an eyewitness. Now it's up to Shauna J. to uncover the truth.

Murder Off Mike won the 2002 St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic contest for Best First Traditional Mystery. The characters are well drawn; the plot line held my interest.

I was especially pleased that Shauna J. was, if anything, a little over-cautious. Unlike so many murder mystery heroines, she doesn't trust anyone easily once she realizes something fishy is going on. Her suspicions include her co-workers, the boss's son, the candidates for governor, her apartment complex's security guards and even the local police department (Sac Pee Dee). In a murder mystery, that sort of caution can save your life.

I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, Slip Cue, coming "soon" from St. Martin's Press.

Murder Off Mike ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Thu, 15 Jul, 18:29 Pacific

Wednesday July 14, 2004

It's a Wrap

Or, in this case, it's a pressure-point reliever.

We've been using bubblewrap in the bottom of our fruitbowl. We have a large, shallow, wooden bowl we use for holding fruit — apples, bananas, pears, occasionally peaches. We were tired of the fruit getting bruised on the bottom.

Then Rich considered putting a layer or two of bubblewrap in the bottom of the bowl. Now the fruit rests on air.

"But!", you say. "I like to pop the bubbles! We never have any bubblewrap left to use for fruit." Well, if you like to pop bubblewrap, try virtual bubblewrap. You can pop forever and still put a sheet or two of the real stuff in your fruitbowl.

It's a Wrap ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Wed, 14 Jul, 21:30 Pacific

Tuesday July 13, 2004

Eat Cake

Ruth Hopson is the star and first-person narrator of Eat Cake, a novel by Jeanne Ray. Ever since she was five years old, Ruth has had a special relationship with cake. At this point in her life, with husband, teenage daughter, and mother all living in the house (her 20-year-old son is off at college), Ruth bakes a cake whenever the stresses of life begin to get to her. When life gets difficult, Ruth loses herself in cake. ...
       Continue reading "Eat Cake"

Eat Cake ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Tue, 13 Jul, 00:10 Pacific

Monday July 12, 2004

Weekly Wrap-up (Monday July 5 - Sunday July 11)

The weather has been mostly sunny and warm with some fog in the evenings. It's a perfect July, so far. Monday was a holiday which made this a most excellent week.


After 6 months of hemming and hawing, starting and stopping, and occasional "rousing discussions" Rich and I finally took our PowerBook 2400 apart for the third time. We went down into it on Monday swapped back the original hard drive. This time I "drove", taking out (and putting back) all of the screws and such. It wasn't really a big deal. It wasn't trivial but it wasn't that bad and when I was done, it Booted! Yes! Third time's the charm. ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up (Monday July 5 - Sunday July 11)"

Weekly Wrap-up (Monday July 5 - Sunday July 11) ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 12 Jul, 22:43 Pacific

Sunday July 11, 2004

Treasures 2004_28

"Life ... is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?"
-- Margot Fonteyn

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words, These are my Treasures for the past week. ...
       Continue reading "Treasures 2004_28"

Treasures 2004_28 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Sun, 11 Jul, 09:56 Pacific

Saturday July 10, 2004

I Want a Flintmobile!

OK, it looks like something Fred Flintstone would drive. But it has visibility. It has headroom. It has legroom!. It's an amazing car. Have you tried sitting in one? Have you tried driving one?

I have.

I want a new car!

Specifically, I want a Scion XB. ...
       Continue reading "I Want a Flintmobile!"

I Want a Flintmobile! ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry , Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Sat, 10 Jul, 21:38 Pacific

Friday July 9, 2004

Almost 10 weeks

Monday (technically) will mark the end of my 10th week at The Job; I started on Tuesday, May 4. ...
       Continue reading "Almost 10 weeks"

Almost 10 weeks ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Fri, 09 Jul, 19:13 Pacific

Thursday July 8, 2004

Hardware Hackery

Rich has a T-shirt that says

I Am a Professional.
Do Not Try This at Home.

Perhaps I should have worn that shirt this past Monday. :-)

We have a Powerbook 2400. The 2400 is a fairly old Mac laptop. It's a PowerMac but it can't run Mac OS X. It will be stuck on Mac OS 9 forever. Nevertheless, back in November of last year, we decided to upgrade it to a larger hard disk (it came with a 1.3 GB drive). We had recently upgraded the drives in our G3 Powerbooks so we had a pair of 12 GB hard drives just lying around. Why not swap one into the PB 2400?

Well, one reason "why not?" is that it's difficult to do. It turns out that the PB 2400 really has "no user-serviceable parts inside". Just getting inside is tricky. We finally found instructions on the web. The instructions were not encouraging.

The 2400 is indeed very scary on the inside. This procedure is definitely not for the faint of heart. However, even though its got a lot of screws, it doesn't require any forcing and bending of plastic or ribbon cables, which is more than I can say for some other PowerBooks, and everything just kind of comes in and out comfortably. If you've had experience taking moderately complex things apart before, this shouldn't be too bad.
OK, it shouldn't be too bad. How bad could it be? ...
       Continue reading "Hardware Hackery"

Hardware Hackery ( in category Computerware ) - posted at Thu, 08 Jul, 19:37 Pacific

Wednesday July 7, 2004

Sit on a Ball

I have an "interesting" and unusual chair that I use at The Job. It's a 65 cm diameter, puncture-resistant, inflatable exercise ball! It makes a great conversation piece and it helps my back. ...
       Continue reading "Sit on a Ball"

Sit on a Ball ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Wed, 07 Jul, 19:28 Pacific

Tuesday July 6, 2004

Treasures 2004_27

"Life ... is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?"
-- Margot Fonteyn

Treasures are positive things that strike my fancy, that make me feel happy or thankful or interested. Treasures are memories encapsulated in just a few words, These are my Treasures for the past week. ...
       Continue reading "Treasures 2004_27"

Treasures 2004_27 ( in category Treasures ) - posted at Tue, 06 Jul, 18:08 Pacific

Monday July 5, 2004

Weekly Wrap-up (Sunday June 27 - Sunday July 4)

The weather has been mostly fair, though we get a little fog in the evenings, but not heavy.


I was asked to "look into" documenting the system process manager at The Job, as a sort of "pre-employment" test. It's a different sort of documenting project than I've done so far. OK, that should be fun. It took two days. Now I'm in limbo again...


You know you're working in a startup when they tell everyone who wants to know how to disable/enable the alarm system... ...
       Continue reading "Weekly Wrap-up (Sunday June 27 - Sunday July 4)"

Weekly Wrap-up (Sunday June 27 - Sunday July 4) ( in category Gemisch/Gallimaufry ) - posted at Mon, 05 Jul, 00:17 Pacific

Sunday July 4, 2004

Happy Fourth!

NYCfireworks

Click the image above to go to an animated fireworks display.

Happy Fourth! ( in category Special Interests ) - posted at Sun, 04 Jul, 12:30 Pacific

Friday July 2, 2004

Red White and Boom

Rich suggested I meet him in Palo Alto and we could have dinner and then go over to see the fireworks at Stanford. I thought that sounded like a good idea.

At 6pm I drove to Millbrae and took what CalTrain calls the "baby bullet train". It only stops at SF, Millbrae, Hillsdale, Palo Alto, and San Jose. Saves 15 minutes off the regular "Express". ...
       Continue reading "Red White and Boom"

Red White and Boom ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Fri, 02 Jul, 23:20 Pacific

Thursday July 1, 2004

Dump and Run

I grew up in a College town. My Dad taught at the university. Our house was next door to a small apartment building. We found the most amazing castoffs over the years, including a blender, a typewriter, a perfectly functional desk, table lamps... and more. One of the saddest finds was an entire set of stoneware (dinner plates, desert plates, etc) that were discarded the day after trash day. None of the pieces survived being tossed into an otherwise empty dumpster.

According to the June, 2004 Readers Digest, the average College student throws out 640 pounds of stuff each year with 30% of that amount coming in the month before graduation. The castoffs include everything from unused notebooks and working pens to half-full bottles of laundry detergent to working stereos.

Lisa Heller, a Syracuse University grad student, decided to do something about the problem.

"Students were so busy with finals and job interviews they didn't have time to drop off stuff at a Salvation Army". ... So... in 2000, [Heller] founded Dump & Run (dumpandrun.org), now a national nonprofit that gathers pre-grad unwanted from university bins and drop-off boxes and sells it at events in campus gyms and parking lots.

Last year, participants at 20 universities raised over $100,000 for charities.

Dump and Run ( in category In The News ) - posted at Thu, 01 Jul, 21:24 Pacific