This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



March 2006

Mini? Pshaw!

I know I’ve posted a lot today, sorry. Don’t know what has gotten into me.

In any case, forget the Mini. It looks like after several years the Smart will finally be available in the USA! I saw one (with Mexico plates) outside of Pittsburgh a few years ago and instantly said to myself “I want one!” But they haven’t been available unless you wanted to import one yourself and go through all the attending hassle.


Smart Cars: Coming to the U.S.
(Nathan Edwards,

Good news for the “smaller is better” crowd: The fuel-efficient Smart Car is (finally) on its way to our shores. Smart-Automobile LLC announced today that its Smart For Two Coupe / Convertible, available in Europe since 1998, is ready to be imported to the United States. Much of the delay involved learning how to modify the cars and tooling the proprietary Smart diagnostic system to ensure the cars meet U.S. safety and emissions standards.

(via Digg)

Um… or maybe still a Mini.

Or, more likely still, another Saturn.

Of course for now, the main goal is to keep my 1996 Saturn going as long as possible. It went over 170 kmil a couple weeks ago though, and I don’t think any car I’ve ever driven regularly (the Dodge Colt, the Ford Taurus or the Toyota Corolla) have ever made it to 180 kmil. We shall see…

Oh… and I still haven’t posted about Brandy’s car… maybe if she doesn’t post about it herself I will by the end of the weekend.

Today’s Bad Things From Governments

There is a steady stream of these sorts of things almost every day it seems. More and more restrictions, more and more rules, more and more barriers… all these kinds of things just hamstring all the benefits that can come from a fully wired world. (Not that they don’t mess around with too much with the unwired world too.) Sigh. And most of these things happen with almost no resistance too, that is the sad part.

New bill: Cyber Safety For KidsAct of 2006
(Xeni Jardin, Boing Boing)

Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Max Baucus, (D-MT) have proposed a bill that would require all commercial websites with material “harmful to minors” (in other words, sexually explicit content) to move to a .xxx domain within 6 months of this bill becoming law — or face civil penalties. Under the terms of the proposed law, the US Commerce Department secretary would be required to develop a domain name for adult sites (presumably .xxx) with ICANN.

Europe seeking to make open mapping impossible – help!
(Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing)

The EU’s INSPIRE directive is supposed to harmonize the way that European mapping agencies share their geo-data, but the process has been hijacked. Now it looks more like a proprietary, restrictive, monopoly pricing policy that guts open access.

Geographic data is a key to unlocking information collected by government on behalf of the public – census, voting, planning, utilities, environmental, transport information. Google Maps/Earth mashups are just starting to show us what can be done by overlaying different kinds of environmental and social information over freely available base maps.

The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the European Parliament gets the chance to roll back some of these changes next Tuesday (21st March).

Cousin Jake on TV


Thanks for Chad to pointing out to me that my cousin Jake’s TV appearence on the World Poker Tour (see here) is actually on this week. It aired for the first time earlier this week at 16 Mar 2006 02:00 UTC on the Travel Channel. Chad says it will be repeated several times before the next new episode airs next week. I couldn’t find that information on the online schedule, but according to the Travel Channel schedule it definately will be on again at 25 Mar 2006 23:00 UTC.

Or, there is always the torrent.

I haven’t actually watched the whole thing yet, but I probably will tomorrow.

A Bed Like Chad

And there is an air mattress (two actually) as well!


When Amy and Brandy were here they decided I should not sit on the floor.

Book: Introductory Statistics: 3rd Edition

imageAuthors: Neil A. Weiss and Matthew J. Hassett
Started: 16 Jan 2006
Finished: 7 Mar 2006
940p / 51d
18 p/d

After starting my new job, I decided a review of statistics might be in order, just to make sure I remembered all the relevant terminology and such and had the concepts fresh in my mind. I don’t actually have to DO that kind of analysis for work right now, but I certainly have to understand it. So review is good. It has been a long time since I’ve had to do this kind of stuff.

Now, I dug this particular book up from college days. Specifically the one summer between undergrad and my one abortive year of grad school. Even though I had a Physics degree, the Heinz schoiol required an actual stats class as a pre-requisite. I had used lots of stats, but never taken an actual stats class. So I signed up at the community college over the summer. There was all kinds of confusion about if I was an in state student or not and what the price was and all kinds of other things. Anyway, as it ended, although I attended all the classes, I never was officially enrolled in the class, never paid, and never got any official credit for it, and Heinz did not care and I started anyway. The class was also painfully simple. I was very bored.

In any case… the book… like the class, the whole first half of the book is painfully slow. There are chapters spent on what Means and Medians are, which arer topics Amy covered in the first half of 5th grade… I know it started at the beginning, but… so anyway it slowly gathered steam. Only the first few chapters were truly trivial. Then there were many chapters of stuff I remembered once I read it, but would have been challenged to describe cold if asked before I read the book. Then maybe the last half of the book was actually stuff I didn’t remember at all.

It frustrated me though. Not because the material was hard, but because it was all being done as a cookbook approach. “Have this kind of problem, use this procedure.” There was no derivation from first principals, and in many cases they avoided actual equations whenever possible. And there were bunches of places where if they had used calculus it would have been a lot nicer, but they were doing this at a level where algebra was enough. Now, I understand, this is the kind of bpook this is. This is a stats literacy book, not a book for math majors. So no proofs. No derivations. No detailed analysis of WHY something is done the way it is… it is just given as fact. Which has its purposes, but that always tends to frustrate me. I don’t like just being told something is some way because it is, I like to understand why.

But that would be a different textbook entirely. (And I’m not so interested that I’m going to go order one now.)

This one did its job. It refreshed my memory of various sorts of statistical analysis that I might bump into or need. Enough so I can speak about such things without being a complete idiot, and enough so I know where to look for more info if I need it.

Which is good.

But after 51 days and 940 pages of a statistics textbook, I am now quite glad the book I am now reading is a nice quick read novel…