Archives: March 2006

Tue 28 Mar 2006

Excellent Content Management System

Oops.

The Spider of Doom
(The Daily WTF, Alex Papadimoulis)

Josh was called in to investigate and noticed that one particularly troublesome external IP had gone in and deleted *all* of the content on the system. The IP didn't belong to some overseas hacker bent on destroying helpful government information. It resolved to googlebot.com, Google's very own web crawling spider. Whoops.
(via Digg)

Dumbasses.


Abulsme - Tue, 28 Mar 2006, 17:41:30 PST
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Sun 26 Mar 2006

Fixing It More

Adding in a couple of loops to have it be a bit more like what we actually listend to at dinner. This should be pretty much exactly that, except it ends after three loops as opposed to going on for hours:



And then another looping both voices at their full lengths rather than clipping at the end of the first loop:



[Edit 3/27/2006: I included that second one only because Amy said she liked it.]


Abulsme - Sun, 26 Mar 2006, 09:13:58 PST
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The Corrected Beat

When I woke up they told me I had completely messed it up. They made me sad.

So here is EXACTLY the track as it was while we were eating dinner yesterday.



Although it sounded better then cause it was looped and the echo carried over into the next loop, which it does not here. But whatever. Here it is exact and untouched. When I'd added a manual couple of loops and a fade at the end I'd also turned on a third vocal track which turns out was unwanted. Pooh.


Abulsme - Sun, 26 Mar 2006, 08:51:33 PST
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The Beat



Amy does much better at this than I do.


Abulsme - Sun, 26 Mar 2006, 02:37:32 PST
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Sat 25 Mar 2006

Pandora

Pretty cool.

Can you help me discover more music that I'll like?

Those questions often evolved into great conversations. Each friend told us their favorite artists and songs, explored the music we suggested, gave us feedback, and we in turn made new suggestions. Everybody started joking that we were now their personal DJs.

We created Pandora so that we can have that same kind of conversation with you.


Abulsme - Sat, 25 Mar 2006, 13:36:50 PST
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Fri 24 Mar 2006

Sleepy Groceries



After a long day of travel, there was no waiting for parents to finish grocery shopping.


Abulsme - Fri, 24 Mar 2006, 22:42:25 PST
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Brandy Over PacMed

image

I noticed on the flight tracking online that Brandy and Amy's plane was about to pass over head. So I ran outside to the parking lot with my camera phone, and there they were. It was a camera phone, so you can't tell, but I could see the Delta markings and such, so I knew it was them. I took several shots, but this one as they were about to fly into the sun and the building in view was the coolest I think. (You can actually see the plane better in a couple of the others, but in this it looks like they are about to be devoured by a black hole, so I liked it damn it!)

They should be on the ground by now. I expect a call from them any second. I have a meeting to go to, then I'll be picking them up. Yea!!


Abulsme - Fri, 24 Mar 2006, 10:56:33 PST
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Wed 22 Mar 2006

Don't Shoot the Puppy

image
(via Boing Boing)

It took awhile and a lot of work, but I finished all the levels and won the game. Woo!


Abulsme - Wed, 22 Mar 2006, 23:37:52 PST
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Ratings for Who

Eh, not a blockbuster, but probably good enough to make it worth Sci-Fi's wire to use it while their other shows are on hiatus.

US Debut Ratings
(Shaun Lyon, Gallifrey One)

According to information from the programming department of the Sci-Fi Channel, Doctor Who did well its first night in broadcast. 1.58 million viewers tuned in to watch "Rose," says the report, with 1.61 million viewers watching "The End of the World" and .78 million viewers each watching "Rose" and "The End of the World" in their 11pm and 12am repeat slots. These numbers are somewhat lower than the standard viewing the channel received for its broadcasts of its original series "Stargate: Atlantis" and "Battlestar Galactica" in the same time slots, but higher than any broadcast of syndicated series that evening (including repeats of "Firefly" and "John Doe").
Now, renewing it to show the next season or two will depend on how it holds up over the next 13 weeks. If it is steady or up, they almost certainly will go for the next couple series. If it is down...

Of course, they are still going to be way behind. New episodes in the UK will be starting in just a few weeks.


Abulsme - Wed, 22 Mar 2006, 10:44:12 PST
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Right Choice in December

Read all the comments from MS employees in the thread. They are pretty unhappy and demoralized at the moment. (At least the ones posting there.)

Vista 2007. Fire the leadership now!
(Mini-Microsoft)

It certainly sounded like Microsoft leadership committed to us, our customers, our partners, and our shareholders that Vista would be out in 2006.

Slip!

We should have asked for more details around the "or else" part of that commitment.
(via Tech Memeorandum)

Meanwhile, Apple is on a roll.


Abulsme - Wed, 22 Mar 2006, 10:00:06 PST
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Tue 21 Mar 2006

Didn't Crash!!!

image

When I got Cronus I also got X-Plane and I've been playing with it a few times a week ever since. I always have it set to have real time weather and real date and time. I started at SeaTac and while I have tried a whole bunch of planes from the Hindenberg (not really a plane, I know) to 747s, but rather than picking places to start each time, I have always let it start me back up at the closest airport to where I crashed. And there have been some nice crashes. Recently though I have nearly always managed to at least crash near airports. And even made a few "landings" that might have been survivable by those on board, cause, well, the plane only bounced a few times, ended up right side up, and not that far from the airport. Well, they would have survived if they were very very lucky.

Tonight though for the first time I was perfect. Took off smoothly. Did a nice figure eight pattern over Olympia, Washington and then made a perfect landing! Came in slowly all lined up with the runway. Touched down without bouncing. Applied the brakes and rolled to a stop while still on the runway. Woo! Go me! It was in a Robin DR400-120 as seen in the screenshot above which I took right after landing. I'd mostly been flying the Cessna 172SP lately but this time I decided to try the Robin for the first time. Don't know if it was the plane, the weather tonight, or just more practice, but it was my best flight yet. Woo!

I did cheat slightly though. It is night time and off and on during the course of the flight I did use the night-vision goggles option to see rather than just relying on ground lights. (Thus the green in the picture.) But hey, I landed! A nice soft landing too!

I need to get a joystick though. Using the mouse has its problems. But I seem to have mostly gotten the hang of it.

Over all since I got the program, I started at SeaTac, went out toward the east over the mountains, then one hour in a 747 got way far south, then in a fighter plane got back to the Pacific, now I've been working my way back north in General aviation type planes. Not far left to go to get back to SeaTac. But I'll try to do it in the daytime. Hopefully when there is a high ceiling. One time earlier this week I tried when there was only a 500 foot cloud ceiling, and since I am still only doing VFR stuff, that really sucked once I was in the cloud.

Anyway, I'm having fun. And unlike Chessmaster, when I crash this one, I only crash the plane, not the program.


Abulsme - Tue, 21 Mar 2006, 21:23:57 PST
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Mon 20 Mar 2006

Googlefied Stock Graphs

image
(via Digg)

Oooo... pretty! There is now a finance.google.com. As many of the commenters on Digg mention, there is not much really NEW here that you can't get dozens of other places, and many of those places give even more info. But it is nice new and shiny. I like shiny things. And I really like how the dot bounces around when you move around. And how you can drag it. And the letters that go to the news stories.

Hmmm. Beta indeed. In the time I took to write this post, it appears to have gone down:

image


Abulsme - Mon, 20 Mar 2006, 23:00:10 PST
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Birds Over PAC

image

Wheeling and cawing in the golden hour the birds, they come to the PAC.


Abulsme - Mon, 20 Mar 2006, 21:16:30 PST
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Sun 19 Mar 2006

DVD: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 2nd Season: Disk 3

imageIt took me awhile to watch this disk. I started it, then shoved it into my bag to watch on the plane... without any protection... when I tried to watch it again, surprise, it was all scratched up and wouldn't play right... even after the toothpaste trick. So, I asked Cynthia if I could borrow her copy, she mailed it to me, and then I finally got around to watching more of it again. I finally finished the last of the four episodes on the disk yesterday. And guess what, my season two gaps continue to come up. Three of the four episodes on this DVD were new to me.

"What's My Line, Part 1" and "What's My Line, Part 2": Kendra the Vampire Slayer shows up and helps foil a plot by Spike to revive Drusilla using Angel. I wasn't a big fan of Kendra. The character really just didn't work for me. But it was very good to fill in this hole in the Buffyverse that I'd missed.

"Ted": OK, this is the one here that I'd seen before, and not only had I seen it before, but for whatever reason I'd seen it multiple times. Which is kind of annoying, cause I never really liked it that much. I guess it isn't horrible, but I didn't really need to see it again.

"Bad Eggs": Another one that I had not seen. I was quite amused. Xander and Cordelia continue their closet thing, and everybody plays the egg game until they hatch. The Texas vampires were not that exciting, but they were a sideline. I liked the eggs.

Now I need to mail this back to Cynthia.


Abulsme - Sun, 19 Mar 2006, 12:15:51 PST
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Sat 18 Mar 2006

Blast from the Exploding Whale Past

This is one of those video clips I've actually had a copy of saved on my hard drive for probably around a decade or so, so it is not new by any means. But it had been many years since I actually watched it. I stumbled across it again today. Gotta love the exploding whale.

Annotated transcript of the video
(theexplodingwhale.com)

The dynamite was buried primarily on the leeward side of the big mammal so as most of the remains would be blown toward the sea. About seventy-five bystanders, most of them residents who had first found the whale to be an object of curiosity before they tired of its smell, were moved back a quarter of a mile away. The sand dunes there were covered with spectators and landlubber newsmen, shortly to become land-blubber newsmen. For the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds.

...

Our cameras stopped rolling immediately after the blast. The humor of the entire situation suddenly gave way to a run for survival as huge chunks of whale blubber fell everywhere. Pieces of meat passed high over our heads, while others were falling at our feet. The dunes were rapidly evacuated as spectators escaped both the falling debris and the overwhelming smell.
(via Hugh Hewitt)

Note: Check out the actual video and the whole exploding whale site too.


Abulsme - Sat, 18 Mar 2006, 12:07:34 PST
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Six Degrees to Iraq Abuse

Well, actually, most of what is reported here was in 2004. Some of it was after the Abu Ghraib pictures were public, some of it was before. And it looks like there WERE active investigations of the abuse from above. So I'm not sure how much of this is really NEW, but one thing about half way through the article got my attention...

Before and After Abu Ghraib, a U.S. Unit Abused Detainees
(Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall, New York Times)

As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein's former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government's torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.

...

Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, "NO BLOOD, NO FOUL." The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. "The reality is, there were no rules there," another Pentagon official said.

...

The new account reveals the extent to which the unit members mistreated prisoners months before and after the photographs of abuse from Abu Ghraib were made public in April 2004, and it helps belie the original Pentagon assertions that abuse was confined to a small number of rogue reservists at Abu Ghraib.

...

General Brown's command declined requests for interviews with several former task force members and with Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who leads the Joint Special Operations Command, the headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C., that supplies the unit's most elite troops.

...

General McChrystal, the leader of the Joint Special Operations Command, received his third star in a promotion ceremony at Fort Bragg on March 13.
(via Daily Kos)

If I am not mistaken, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is one of the brothers of a certain other person with that same last name who ran a company I used to work for.


Abulsme - Sat, 18 Mar 2006, 11:32:58 PST
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Luckily Should Not Affect Us

At the moment I'm in Bellevue, not Seattle, and this is mostly about elementary, not middle, and we're hoping to get into and figure out the private school route, but this kind of thing is why we started looking that route in the first place...

Parents may get less of a choice
(Tan Vinh, Seattle Times)

Seattle's difficult school-closure process is under way, but ahead may loom another far-reaching — and potentially contentious — change: reducing elementary-school choice.

District officials say the popular choice system — which, since 1989, allows families to apply for slots in schools beyond their immediate neighborhood — may need to be scaled back to cut transportation costs.

The issue could come up for discussion as early as this fall, and if the School Board approves, students would have fewer enrollment options as early as fall 2007.

"We are not eliminating school choice, but we want to reduce it," said board President Brita Butler-Wall.


Abulsme - Sat, 18 Mar 2006, 11:07:17 PST
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They Don't Often Emerge

SXSW to MPAA: STFU
(Derek Powazek, Just a Thought)

What followed was an hour-long firing squad as one audience member after another directed angry questions her way. The feeling of pent-up frustrations with the movie biz was palpable, especially as her claims of flexibility and excitement within the MPAA to find "creative new solutions" to the problems raised by the audience rang more and more hollow, the more times she repeated them.
(via Boing Boing)


Abulsme - Sat, 18 Mar 2006, 10:42:34 PST
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Fri 17 Mar 2006

Out of Boat



Went to another building for a meeting a couple of hours ago. This is a shot from my Treo looking back toward my normal building from the 17th floor there. It goes up to 50 I hear, but we didn't go that high.


Abulsme - Fri, 17 Mar 2006, 16:50:47 PST
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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.

image

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

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.


Abulsme - Fri, 17 Mar 2006, 10:58:52 PST
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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).


Abulsme - Fri, 17 Mar 2006, 10:35:05 PST
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Cousin Jake on TV

image

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.


Abulsme - Fri, 17 Mar 2006, 01:03:27 PST
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Thu 16 Mar 2006

A Bed Like Chad



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


Abulsme - Thu, 16 Mar 2006, 22:17:50 PST
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Desking



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


Abulsme - Thu, 16 Mar 2006, 22:04:20 PST
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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...


Abulsme - Thu, 16 Mar 2006, 21:15:16 PST
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Ports and Such

I have been meaning to post something about the whole DP World blow up thing ever since it started, but just never got around to it. Noticing as I eat lunch here today that Phatback has commented I thought this would be a good time...

Here is my thought... I disagree with W on almost everything he does, and think is not only wrong but dangerous in most things... but, as much as I hate to say it, W (and Al) are completely right on this one.

Were there some problems with the process in terms of it following the procedure it probably should have followed? Yes. Definately. And that is bad. Do I have an issue with the fact that DPW is not just a foreign company, but is actually completely owned by a foreign GOVERNMENT... yes... But... while both of those things were mentioned in the debate a decent bit, it was not the focus, the focus was that DPW was Arab and the risk was higher because of that. Looking at all that has come out I think that in the end the conclusion the administration seems to have been completely sound. And the orgy of xenophobia and proivincialism from both parties that erupted over this was absolutely shameful.

Are there security issues at the ports? Yes. Damn right there are. People have been pointing out how vunerable they are since well before 9/11, and certainly ever since. But do they have to do with the ownership of the companies that run the ports? Not at all. They are completely independant issues. Why was it OK that the Brits were runniing things, but suddenly when it is another ally of ours that happens to be Arab it is not OK? Come on...

And some people have even been pushing the idea that NO foreign company should be involved in these sorts of things AT ALL. Now, at least that idea is a bit more self-consistant, but it is so isolationist and backwards... Get with it... it is a global economy... national borders will mean less and less as the decades progress. International ownership is not an apriori bad thing. In fact often it can be very positive. And if we are going to decide it is bad across the board, get ready to say goodbye to many things we take for granted....

Anyway.... for the past several weeks while this depate flared up I just kept shaking my head every time I heard the talking heads... taking something which should be a non-issue, and flaring it up to a major thing... with the only end result being that in the end we further decrease trust in the world about us (already at an all time low), discourage foreign investment in the US and give some port business to a US company (as Al says, probably Halliburton)... and do absolutely nothing at all to improve the security at our ports.

Thank you to the raving irrational xenophobic hordes in both parties for that one.

(These same bipartisan folks are also working on such fun things together as making internet gambling illegal even when using overseas sites and on extending bad campaign finance laws so they extend to internet postings thus perhaps making the 1st amendment meaningless for thousands of bloggers... thanks for that too.... Urgh!)


Abulsme - Thu, 16 Mar 2006, 12:47:55 PST
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No No Please Stop!

I just went to Google to look something up for work and instead of the normal Google home I got this:

image

Please no. Please stop. Please don't ruin Google like Yahoo was ruined years ago. I don't want a damn portal. I want to search. I have never really liked portal sites. They try to do too much for too many and just end up sucking. Even if you use the personilization features. Just too much crap.

Perhaps Google would do better, but this screen shows no evidence of that. I think you have been able to get this page before, but this is the first time it ever came up as the default for me when I just typed in google.com, and I'm not happy about that at all.

Yes, they have a link to the "Classic Home" on the page, and I'll try to make sure that on the rare times I actually go to google.com instead of using the Google search box in Safari or Firefox, I'll go there and not this awful "Personalized Page". But still...

Google is doing more and more stuff that dilutes what gave them their power and made them THE place to go to find stuff. Some of it clicks and is cool. Others just... no. Please don't.

And while we're on google... time to reverse that China policy as well as the similar ones in various places in Europe and say screw you, we won't censor results at all, and if you want to block us, go right ahead, people will find their way around it. And keep fighting the disclosure the DOJ is trying to do in the US, and if you are forced to submit in the end, deliver it in hard copy!

OK. Thanks.


Abulsme - Thu, 16 Mar 2006, 12:15:31 PST
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Wed 15 Mar 2006

Halla Halla Puya Coo



Why GarageBand is dangerous and should be outlawed in any state where I am present. Press play on the above at your own risk. I can not take responsibility for any long term damage to your ears or brain which may occur.


Abulsme - Wed, 15 Mar 2006, 00:01:12 PST
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Mon 13 Mar 2006

Next Season on Numb3rs

The Physics of Friendship
(Lisa Zyga, Physorg.com)

By modeling people’s interactions based on how particles bounce off each other in an enclosed area, physicists Marta Gonzalez, Pedro Lind and Hans Herrmann found that the characteristics of social networks emerge “in a very natural way.” In a study recently published in Physical Review Letters, the scientists compared their model to empirical data taken from a survey of more than 90,000 U.S. students regarding friendships, and found similarities indicating that this model may serve as a novel approach for understanding social networks.

“The idea behind our model, though simple, is different from the usual paradigmatic approaches,” Gonzalez told PhysOrg.com. “We consider a system of mobile agents (students), which at the beginning have no acquaintances; by moving in a continuous space they collide with each other, forming their friendships.”

After a collision, a particle moves in a different direction with an updated velocity, just as how an individual’s chance of meeting a new person depends on their most recent acquaintances.

At a critical point, the system reaches a quasi-stationary state, for the first time allowing the scientists to reproduce several features of social networks in a single model and in a natural way. Specifically, this technique accurately describes social clustering, the way friendships evolve over time, the shortest path length in a large group, and some features related to group structure.
(via SlashDot)


Abulsme - Mon, 13 Mar 2006, 02:53:50 PST
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Sat 11 Mar 2006

DVD: Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos

imageWhile Brandy Amy and I were together, we took the opportunity to watch another Doctor Who. We started in Florida and finished in Washington. A 3rd Doctor episode from spring of 1971. Still before I was born, but not by much. This time it was the turn of The Claws of Axos. It has the Master in it, which is always fun. And some gold people. And some big orange blobby things that look like someone with a blanket over their heads... oh yes, because it IS people with blankets over their heads!

This is an OK Doctor Who I guess, but not outstanding. They seem to be waiting longer to release on DVD the ones that are real classics. Taking longer to restore them and such I guess. And of course we have yet to reach the 4th Doctor, who was my favorite, although I kinda liked the 5th and 7th too.

But this had some good stuff. When the Doctor decided it was time to escape, even if it mean going with the Master. Good stuff. Lets see, better than Spearhead from Space, the last one we watched. And I think better than the Mind Robber, the one before that. But The Seeds of Death, from before that, was better than this. I think the whole trapped on Earth thing they did with the first few seasons of the 3rd Doctor never really worked. The next DVD we'll watch is the one where he finally gets to leave though.

We need to pick up the pace on the Doctor Who episodes. I want to make sure Amy sees some of the original Sarah Jane Smith episodes and K9 before we hit the new Sarah Jane and K9 episode that's coming up for the 10th Doctor... I'm sure they'll make it so you don't NEED the background, but it will be more fun with I am sure. The whole being in different states though makes it tough though.

Oh, and for those of you who didn't see it when it was new, it starts up this Friday on the SciFi Channel here in the US. Of course, they'll add commercials to it and probably mess up some editing to make it fit right in the time slot, but OK. Also, I'm sure it will not do as well in ratings as it would have, because I'm sure most folks who were die-hard and really wanted to see it already have. So after they show last year's episodes I won't be holding my breath for this year's episodes to be promptly available or anything. But it will be there. I won't pretend it is not an acquired taste though, especially for Americans. This new version is quite the hit right now over in the UK though and is doing quite well in the ratings. So who knows, but...


Abulsme - Sat, 11 Mar 2006, 20:24:50 PST
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Fri 10 Mar 2006

Pleased by the Fluffys

image

I am still at work for just a few more minutes, but I noticed on my webcam that it is snowing back at my apartment. There is actually white stuff on the ground. Not much, but some. Can't say I've really seen that in the last couple years since I moved to Florida.


Abulsme - Fri, 10 Mar 2006, 17:21:49 PST
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Cool But Less Fun

Three cosmic enigmas, one audacious answer
(Zeeya Merali, New Scientist)

DARK energy and dark matter, two of the greatest mysteries confronting physicists, may be two sides of the same coin. A new and as yet undiscovered kind of star could explain both phenomena and, in turn, remove black holes from the lexicon of cosmology.

The audacious idea comes from George Chapline, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and Nobel laureate Robert Laughlin of Stanford University and their colleagues. Last week at the 22nd Pacific Coast Gravity Meeting in Santa Barbara, California, Chapline suggested that the objects that till now have been thought of as black holes could in fact be dead stars that form as a result of an obscure quantum phenomenon. These stars could explain both dark energy and dark matter.
(via Digg)


Abulsme - Fri, 10 Mar 2006, 14:09:58 PST
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Thu 09 Mar 2006

New Graph: Email Backlog

For the first time in quite a long time... a new graph!

Sam's Email Backlog

In May 2005 I started tracking how many emails were still unanswered in my inbox.  As usual, I am very far behind.  Soon after I started also tracking the age of the oldest unanswered emails in my inbox.  That one is even sadder.  For completeness, I added a third grapoh showing the number of emails in my unsorted spam folder.  That is where all the automatically filtered spam is, but I look through it periodically to find items falsly identified as spam.  That seems to be running about 1 in 1000 messages in that older.  Anyway, here are the three graphs.
Of course, sometime I should update the old graphs too!


Abulsme - Thu, 9 Mar 2006, 22:53:42 PST
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Chessmaster 9000 (Mac) Sucks

So, I've been working my way up the Chessmaster Personality ladder.

* Cassie (Rating 23) - Beat on first game
* Pete (Rating 37) - Beat on first game
* Niko (Rating 57) - Beat on first game
* Ben (Rating 84) - I was completely dominating on the first game, but messed up and caused a stalemete, I beat him on the second game

Then the trouble started

* Petra (Rating 311) - I was crushing her and about to deliver mate and the GAME CRASHED. No record of my game remained. I played her again and crushed her again.
* Parker (Rating 313) - I was delivering checkmate and the GAME CRASHED AGAIN. Once again leaving no record of the game.

Please understand... I have made sure to record every move of every game of chess I have played... or even started to play but not finished... since I was in 8th grade. I suck at chess, but I had been sure to do that. Every game.

But when I play computers, I don't hand write down the games. Because when it is over I can save it or print it or whatever. I now, for the first time in something like 20 years, have two games I played that I do not have the moves for. I suck at chess. Badly. So it isn't like these games are to be studied or something. It is just something I have done and been proud that I've had a complete set. Now I don't.

This isn't quite as bad as the email meltdown of 2004, but it is up there.

I now know that I can not play Chessmaster 9000 unless I want to take the extra effort to hand write every move as a backup.

I have yet to decide if that is worth it.

Chessmaster bastards.

(And yes, I installed the two available patches to make sure I am completely up to date. Those supposidly fixed the bugs it had with Tiger, but perhaps there are new Rosetta bugs that they haven't fixed yet.)

Anyway, I'm very unhappy at the moment.


Abulsme - Thu, 9 Mar 2006, 22:05:52 PST
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Wed 08 Mar 2006

All Hands

image

This was a few weeks ago. I am negligent. But we had an open hands meeting at my job. It was in a neat old theater. A bunch of execs got up and said interesting things and answered questions. Including of course the CEO. One of the presenters mentioned my group. That was good.


Abulsme - Wed, 8 Mar 2006, 21:54:09 PST
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Cinema: The Pink Panther (2006)

imageWhile Amy and Brandy were in town, we went to the movie theater right across the street from the apartment and saw the 2006 version of the Pink Panther. I had previously added all the movies from the old series of movies... eight movies from 1963 to 1993... into my Netflix queue, but of course they are way down the list and I won't be seeing them for years. Five of those had Peter Sellers for real, 1 more used old Peter Sellars footage after his death and the other 2 were attempts to keep it going without Peter Sellars that from what I heard pretty much failed and sucked pretty bad. But I haven't seen those, so I shouldn't judge...

In any case, I'd seen some of the original Peter Sellars ones many years ago as a child, or maybe as a teenager, but certainly not since. I think I saw some of them with my dad. So while I have some vague memory of them, I don't have any specific memories, so I wasn't really doing much comparison against them on this new version.

Anyway... I am not generally much of a fan of physical humor, but Steve Martin is really good at it and this was a funny movie. I found myself not wanting to laugh, because it was just plain stupid, but laughing anyway... because it was just plain stupid. I thought Steve's accent could have been better. But it was played for laughs, not reality, so OK.

This was not a movie about plot or characters or anything like that. Just a continuous series of sight gags and physical humor and the like. It had me chuckling, Brandy laughing and shaking her head that it was just wrong, and Amy laughing uncontrollably for 90 minutes straight. So I guess it did its job. I think though that it definately was that kind of comedy that is aimed at kids and such.

It was an OK time. It was funny. I laughed. But it wasn't particilarly memorable. I am alrerady having trouble remembering too many of the details and it has only been a few days since I saw it. And my main thought at this point is just that I really want to watch some of the old ones to compare.


Abulsme - Wed, 8 Mar 2006, 12:56:39 PST
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Nights with Flipper

Obsessed tourist 'marries' dolphin
(dpa on Bangkok Post)

Tendler, 41, has been visiting the city on the Gulf of Aqaba two or three times a year to spend time with her 35-year-old underwater sweetheart.

"The peace and tranquility under water, and his love, would calm me down," the Israeli daily quoted her as saying.

Last week Tendler finally plucked up the courage to ask the dolphin's trainer for the mammal's fin in marriage.
(via Daily Kos)


Abulsme - Wed, 8 Mar 2006, 12:40:13 PST
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Mon 06 Mar 2006

Schoolification

So, after the Moody Blues concert and a few hours sleep, it was time to go to the airport again, but this time Brandy and Amy were coming with me for the first time.

The main reason was that Amy was interviewing for private schools. The options in the public school are not ideal. So we're looking into these possibilities. Who knows what will work out, but we're crossing our fingers. We have applied to six schools, four of which had interviews scheduled for this trip. In the order we visited them:

At most of them in addition to Amy getting interviewed, Brandy and I also got to see the places. At some Amy got to actually attend classes and such for part of the day. All three of us have some pretty strong opinions on the schools (some good, some bad). But I shall refrain from saying anything in a public place like this until we know which (if any) Amy gets into.

There are two more schools that we haven't gotten to see in person yet, although it may happen over Amy's spring break at the end of this month.The official deadlines to apply to all six of these were past before I even started my new job and we started figuring out the school options. But all six let us apply late given we were moving into the area. And the response to Amy at the schools where she spent the most time and we were best able to judge seemed to be pretty positive. But you never know. Things could work out. Or not. We could figure out how to pay for these. Or not.

But we are optimistic for the moment.

And it was very good having Brandy and Amy here in any case.


Abulsme - Mon, 6 Mar 2006, 22:23:43 PST
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MooBlu

It has been awhile since I posted. I apologize. It has been a busy time. I had just gotten into the new apartment. I needed to get up really early in the morning to catch my plane, and I didn't have any sort of bed, so I just stayed up all night long. Then I went back to Florida. We did a number of things in Florida. But the main reason for me being back this particular time was for Brandy's Christmas/Birthday present...

image

A Moody Blues concert. That is the stage before it started. It was good. I don't think Amy was quite as impressed though. She spent most of the time under her poncho hiding and playing games on my phone. But it was good. :-)

And it was good just to be back "home" for awhile longer.


Abulsme - Mon, 6 Mar 2006, 19:34:19 PST
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