Monday, 30th of June, 2008
Looking for the easiest way to save money and help the environment? Start with something colorless and tasteless - quit buying bottled water. There is no way it can be worth 1,000 to 10,000 times more than tap water. If you like the convenience of having water in a bottle, save your bottle, and fill it up with some tap water at home. Chill it in the refrigerator and your tongue will be so cold while drinking it that even if you're sensitive you won't be able to tell any difference in taste.
Saturday, 28th of June, 2008
Pixar's demonstrates superior creativity again with this year's movie - Wall-E. I should know better by now and just trust that Pixar movies will always be good, but when I watched it tonight I started out skeptical again. How are they going to make an interesting movie about one or two robots rummaging through what is left of the world in 2700, absent of humans? Again, I should know better - it was not the talking that made toys, bugs, monsters, and fish come alive. It was the computer animation - and this time they conquered the challenge of giving robots life and emotion.
Of course, there is more to the story than just two robots - humans come into the plot later, and the way that works makes this one of my favourite Pixar movies.
Incidentally, the Pixar short before the movie was excellent - there was one part in particular that made me laugh out loud. You can probably figure out what shot it is too.
Friday, 27th of June, 2008
Apparently Vista is so bad that Intel has no plans to use it internally for their own systems. They plan to skip to Windows 7. My limited experience with Windows Vista is not so hot either. Yesterday I was at a friend's house taking a look at some really basic flaws with Vista. First, the screen saver never activates. Turns out there is an incapatibility with wireless mouses - he even had a Microsoft wireless mouse. The solution is to install an optional "HID Non-User Input Data Filter" update, which Windows didn't seem to let me do until I installed Service Pack 1 first. Second problem - computer seems to not hop on the wireless network until about an hour after bootup. That's serious - what good is a computer without network capabilities? I suspect it has to do with this Microsoft support issue - Microsoft enabled the broadcast flag in DHCP discovery packets and many routers cannot process those packets.
Wednesday, 25th of June, 2008
I first encountered a fancy Japanese toilet at a hotel in Taiwan. The number of features on a toilet that washes your bottom automatically is mind boggling. Apparently they are found in 63% of Japanese homes now. Another crazy statistic - 23-30% of Japanese men now sit down while urinating!
Thursday, 19th of June, 2008
Picture - One of the more spectacular images of the flooding in this area.
Wednesday, 18th of June, 2008
The trunk pull down actuator on the Cadillac took a dump today - it's been flaky before but pushing down hard on it seemed to trigger what was necessary to get the mechanism to do its job, until today. Tried some of the advice in a thread on Cadillac Forums - reset the fuse, oil the mechanism, but none of that did anything. I finally removed the unit - it was held on by 2 nuts - and dismantled it to try to crank the latch down by hand. Three screws later the motor was in pieces, and once I figured out counter-clockwise was the direction I should be turning the shaft we were good. The idea is to crank the latch all the way down so it would operate like a normal trunk. I ended up discovering that with the latch all the way down it required quite a bit of force to get the trunk to latch. I cranked it back up a little and now it just requires some significant force, and hopefully it's a good enough to form a seal on the weatherstripping so no water gets in.
Tuesday, 17th of June, 2008
The LA Lakers lost at the NBA Championship this year, but there are some interesting facts in this WSJ article about what statistically is the "winningest team in American professional sports" "since their first NBA championship in 1950, when they were the Minneapolis Lakers."
Left the client site super early today because someone accidentally dropped all the rows from the data warehouse, and the development environment was down for some unrelated maintenance, so there was barely anything for me to do. It's a win-win situation because I got to get some other stuff done and the weather was beautiful today.
I went to my usual place, Bimmers R Us, to try to find some ATE brake fluid since it's time for a brake flush on the Subaru, but they didn't have it. Wound up stopping be a couple Auto Parts stores, and Advance Auto happened to have some Valvoline Synpower brake fluid that "exceeded DOT 3 and 4 specifications" with a 503F dry and 343F wet boiling point. Not quite ATE, but probably good stuff - interestingly enough Valvoline doesn't even list it on their own website. Took it the Autotire in St. Charles on Droste Road and they fantastically squeezed me in at the end of the day.
Monday, 16th of June, 2008
Google Street View was released for St. Louis last week. While some might find it a little creepy, there are some that have started to document some of the funnier things that were captured when pictures are randomly taken of streets and the houses and cars that sit on them.
Friday, 13th of June, 2008
Tuesday, 10th of June, 2008
A picture is worth 1000 words. If you're asking just how much gas prices
could affect people in this country, take a look at this New York Times graphic. Start with the percentage of income that a region spends on gasoline, and you can imagine a little what happens when those gas prices double. For some it's a big deal, others not nearly as much.
Monday, 9th of June, 2008
RIM, the Blackberry manufacturer, argues that business users prefer a keyboard over the touch screen that you find in the iPhone. This leads to an interesting article on zdnet that quickly went downhill. I have used the iPhone a little, and agree that the iPhone's touch-screen input seems to slow me down. However, if I recall correctly, the iPhone's touch-screen input is also a "qwerty keyboard." This is where the article becomes useless - isn't the topic at hand more about "Keys vs. Touchscreen" than it is about "Qwerty vs. Touchscreen", since the touch screen is also in Qwerty?? I have seen better high school journalism than this.
While we do bring up the somewhat comical point again that the Qwerty keyboard was invented "to slow typists down in the days when the print hammers could get tangled", the iPhone does not make a departure from it - it just makes it even worse by removing the tactile feedback of a real keyboard. If you really want to advance to something better, the Dvorak keyboard layout was invented 72 years ago.
For a pocket device, I have eliminated the keyboard altogether. Again, we have had the technology for a long time now - 1996 with the Palm Pilot, and even earlier if you count the less successful efforts by Apple to implement handwriting input. Going back to the old qwerty keyboard is almost the only reason why I have not moved over to a Blackberry device - it has been Palm devices for me now since May 2000.
If Apple goes back to their roots and implements good handwriting input on the iPhone, that may be what pushes me over to the Apple side over Blackberry. But what we have now is a picture of a Qwerty keyboard on a touch screen. How is this progress?!
Sunday, 8th of June, 2008
I did a bit more recording and playing with the MRS-8 on vacation last week. I'm sticking with the 5-string violin since it seems versatile enough for what I want so far:
Telemann Concerto in C Major for 4 Violins (130-kbps MP3) - 1st, 3rd, and 4th movements. Next part of the project is doing one more take of the Allegro 2nd movement.
Blessed Be Your Name - Redman (2.2MB MP3) (130-kbps MP3) - Tried a lot of new things in this recording. I started out playing a bass line in the C and G strings and discovered the octaver. I ended up keeping the first take of each track - I played my usual accompaniment and anything other than 2 octaves of melody ended up sounding too busy as I tried to enhance it.
Tuesday, 3rd of June, 2008
The weather is gorgeous this year in Corpus Christi - it's not too hot the sea breeze makes it very enjoyable to be outside.
Today's activity was the Museum of Science and History. It's an excellent museum, covering a variety of subject areas relevant to the Texas Gulf Coast area - earth science, zoology, etc. and history from Spanish exploration all the way through the Industrial Revolution.
Monday, 2nd of June, 2008
The first event of the trip with Haley's family to Port Aransas was the Gulf fishing trip. The excursion on the "Wharf Cat" this year was quite a bit more intense than last year's light fishing experience.
We headed straight out to the gulf where I quickly started wondering if I get seasick. I have never been on a boat in the ocean for 5 hours before.
It only got worse when the boat stopped moving and we started fishing. I quickly lost breakfast and kept going from there for the rest of the trip.
The good news is my stomach discharge was interrupted with the boat's first catch of the day! I caught a beautiful Atlantic Sharpnose shark. That area turned out to be slow so we moved on to an area near an oil rig, and things got very busy quickly. We were catching sharks of a different variety left and right, keeping the crew very busy. I had gotten one myself, but only one person had one that was close to the 54" minimum size regulation.
The big keepers ended up being King Mackerels, as you can see from the display of catches from today. We only had about 15 people on this fishing trip, so we all got on one side and everyone had a pretty successful day.
The big one in the middle of the picture that won the fish pool was Haley's big catch. My shark, the only one that we kept from this trip, is two fish over to the right of the big one. Between the 7 of us, we had over 80 pounds of fish - Haley's big catch was 32 pounds by itself.
Fortunately, I was feeling a lot better once we were back inside the jetty again, and by the time we were looking at the fish hanging up I was ready to have some shark for lunch. I think by the end of the week, we'll all have eaten so much fish we'll be geniuses.