Archives: April 2009

Thu 30 Apr 2009

Curmudgeon's Corner: Episode 100

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Glowing Animals
  • Vat Meat
  • Swine Flu
  • Torture Again
  • Automakers
  • Bank Stress Tests
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Note: For those using the "View in iTunes" link, it often takes iTunes quite a few hours to show a new episode after the episode is posted here. So if you are looking for the podcast very soon after I post this, use one of the other methods to find the new episode. For those who are subscribed, your Podcast software should pick up the new episode next time it checks for new episodes on its own, or you can always force a refresh. For those using the XML feed directly, the new episode is now there.


Abulsme - Thu, 30 Apr 2009, 12:35:46 PDT
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Tue 28 Apr 2009

In the Woods


Abulsme - Tue, 28 Apr 2009, 23:44:04 PDT
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Baby Squirrel

I know posting has been light lately, so here is a heartwarming video of a baby squirrel.



(via Neatorama)


Abulsme - Tue, 28 Apr 2009, 01:27:09 PDT
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Tue 21 Apr 2009

Curmudgeon's Corner: Diplomatic Windows

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Windows Again
  • Real Estate
  • Obama Diplomacy
  • Torture
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Note: For those using the "View in iTunes" link, it often takes iTunes quite a few hours to show a new episode after the episode is posted here. So if you are looking for the podcast very soon after I post this, use one of the other methods to find the new episode. For those who are subscribed, your Podcast software should pick up the new episode next time it checks for new episodes on its own, or you can always force a refresh. For those using the XML feed directly, the new episode is now there.


Abulsme - Tue, 21 Apr 2009, 09:51:26 PDT
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Fri 17 Apr 2009

DVD: Doctor Who: The Time Meddler

Last weekend was time for another Doctor Who DVD. Specifically, this time it was The Time Meddler, a First Doctor episode from 1965. We had actually been up to the Third Doctor, but in the mean time they released more earlier episodes, so we are back to the First Doctor again.

In general, I've felt like watching the First Doctor was basically an exercise in historical curiosity. They were interesting, but not compelling or really all that much fun to watch.

This episode surprised me. It actually kept me interested and engaged for the whole four episodes. (It helped that it was only four.) The Doctor was actually somewhat sympathetic. I didn't mind the companions much. And I liked the whole premise behind the Monk. (He was another Time Lord, actively trying to change history to make things better, which of course violates various rules against interfering with history.) We got to see another TARDIS, which is always nice. It was fun.

I actually ENJOYED a First Doctor episode. (OK, some of the others were OK, but I definitely enjoyed this one more than any of the others I've seen so far.) This may be because this is the LATEST of all the first Doctor episodes I've ever watched. From things I've read, the First Doctor really grew into the character and became much more of a sympathetic character and in general the series matured a bit as things progressed. This was the very end of the Second Season. So maybe by then things had gotten into a groove and had become something that more closely resembles the later seasons that I am more used to. Dunno.

Anyway, I liked it. So if anybody out there is thinking of sampling a First Doctor story, I'd say this one is a pretty good place to start.


Abulsme - Fri, 17 Apr 2009, 18:53:51 PDT
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Pirate Bay - Guilty

This is sad.

The Pirate Bay Trial: The Official Verdict - Guilty
(enigmax, Torrent Freak, 17 Apr 2009)

Just minutes ago the verdict in the case of The Pirate Bay Four was announced. All four defendants were accused of ‘assisting in making copyright content available’. Peter Sunde: Guilty. Fredrik Neij: Guilty. Gottfrid Svartholm: Guilty. Carl Lundström: Guilty. All receive 1 year in jail.

...

The court said that the four defendants worked as a team, were aware that copyrighted material was being shared using The Pirate Bay and that they made it easy and assisted the infringements.

While the court did not agree with the plaintiff’s estimates of losses (around $12m), it still set the damages at 30 million SEK ($3,620,000). This a hugely significant amount and the court has ordered that the four should pay this amount between them.

Peter Sunde has already explained that this decision does not mean the end of the line in this case. There will be an appeal which means we are still far away from the ultimate decision - possibly years away.

As for the fate of the site, Peter has already promised that The Pirate Bay will continue. The site itself was never on trial, only the four individuals listed above.
It certainly seemed from the coverage of the trial itself that the defense had made a better case, but of course I'm not actually fully versed in any law, let alone Swedish law. Therefore I won't speak at all toward if this was a "correct" decision. But any policy or law that makes what the Pirate Bay does illegal is bad policy or law. If this is upheld after the appeals, and if trends toward strict copyright laws continue, then I predict there will be a significant backlash as soon as the generations currently aged 25 and under who grew up with the internet and with file sharing as a normal part of life start reaching positions of power... perhaps before then.

Using the law as a ham fisted way to maintain and support outdated business and economic models that stifle innovation and the free flow of things with a near zero marginal cost of reproduction (basically any text, images, audio or video at the moment, and probably more things in the future) may be a tactic that works in the short term, but in the long run it is a losing proposition.

Quite simply, in good old fashioned supply and demand curve terms the ease of reproduction makes the supply essentially infinite which of necessity should drop the price to essentially zero. Using the government to make the reproduction illegal and/or difficult is simply artificially constraining supply to try to prop up the price... at a potentially huge overall cost to the efficiency of the system, which ultimately will be unsustainable.

Anyway. Sad day.


Abulsme - Fri, 17 Apr 2009, 02:41:16 PDT
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Various

I've been pretty busy, so haven't had time to comment on things like the torture memos. I'm sure Ivan and I will talk about them on our next podcast though.

Also, yeah, I also watched the Susan Boyle thing a few times. Good for her.

There were other things too. I've got a bunch of starred items in my Google reader to either post about or talk about on the podcast when I get a chance. Some of them by the time I have time will be out of date though. Oh well.

I also have a request from a reader for a specific post about the banks and regulation that I got a couple weeks back. I'll get to it before too long, but there has been no time lately.


Abulsme - Fri, 17 Apr 2009, 02:33:00 PDT
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Thu 16 Apr 2009

Started

Yesterday Brandy sent all the relevant information to the lawyer she'd found for the purpose, and we sent in the first payment to said lawyer, so Brandy's divorce process has begun. It will take awhile for anything to actually happen of course, but the process has now been started. Woo.


Abulsme - Thu, 16 Apr 2009, 19:10:23 PDT
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Curmudgeon's Corner: Ivan Sings

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Data Woes
  • Curmudgeonly Corrections
  • Pirates
  • Photo Copyright
  • Hidden Agenda
  • Executive Decisions
  • Dead Cat Bounce
  • Bernie's Pants
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Note: For those using the "View in iTunes" link, it often takes iTunes quite a few hours to show a new episode after the episode is posted here. So if you are looking for the podcast very soon after I post this, use one of the other methods to find the new episode. For those who are subscribed, your Podcast software should pick up the new episode next time it checks for new episodes on its own, or you can always force a refresh. For those using the XML feed directly, the new episode is now there.


Abulsme - Thu, 16 Apr 2009, 12:20:29 PDT
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Wed 15 Apr 2009

Heartbeat

We had another appointment Wednesday with the doctor. Everything is proceeding normally. Back in February we'd seen an ultrasound where you could see the heartbeat. In March there was an another ultrasound where we could clearly see the baby moving around doing stuff. But today was the first doctor visit that Amy came along to as well. And today was the first time we got to HEAR the heartbeat:

Amy burst into tears. Happy tears. Brandy and I had seen the other ultrasounds live (not just a still picture printout). But this was Amy's first direct "contact" as it were. I think the little brother or sister who'll be here in a few months just became "real" rather than an abstraction.

And yes, the pictures are something too... the last set in particular where we got to see something clearly baby shaped that was moving around and seemingly reacting to things really got to me, I left with a huge smile on my face that time... but there really is something unique about listening to the heartbeat as well.

And yeah, I got a bit choked up too as we were listening today. :-)


Abulsme - Wed, 15 Apr 2009, 21:51:27 PDT
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Taxes Done

All filed and paid electronically. Elapsed time 2 hours 43 minutes to get all my forms organized, fill everything out in TurboTax Online and to do the electronic filing. Not too horrible.

Could be better though. A lot was able to be sucked directly from my employer and financial institutions. But a lot could not be. There is no reason I see why it couldn't be set up such that it COULD all be sucked in. In general, if ALL of your information comes from your employer and various financial institutions, I really fail to see why I should have to fill out anything at all. They could just figure it out and bill me or refund me as needed. I should only have to fill out stuff if I wanted to report something that wasn't coming from those standard sources. And even then I should only have to fill out something describing that additional bit and they should figure out the rest by default, unless I chose to want to go through all the rest in the hopes of finding more for myself or whatnot. Oh well.

We ended up having to pay $229 on top of what was already deducted. Not too bad compared to some previous years.

Anyway. All done with that.


Abulsme - Wed, 15 Apr 2009, 19:56:32 PDT
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Oops... is today Tax Day?

I guess I should start doing my taxes then... just have to electronic file by midnight local time, right?

K. No Prob. :-)


Abulsme - Wed, 15 Apr 2009, 17:13:29 PDT
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Mon 13 Apr 2009

Added

OK, I added the remaining few graphs to my dashboard. It now has all of the things I had been tracking day to day using other means. As I mentioned yesterday, there is still a bunch of backfill though. Almost all of the gaps seen in the graphs for the past two years I really have data for, I just have to find it and enter it.

Now time to start thinking of new things to graph now that it is nice and easy to add more. :-)


Abulsme - Mon, 13 Apr 2009, 22:30:06 PDT
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AbulDash Launches



Well, I've finally done something I've been intending to do for years, but this weekend I got up a head of steam and just did it (sacrificing some sleep). That is, I've taken almost all of the various things that I generally track on a daily basis in Excel at home and moved them onto a lovely dashboard. It now has a place of honor on my top navbar as well for easy access.

There are two of my daily graphs that I haven't yet ported over because they require a bit more computation (not much, just a little, and in a different way than all the rest, so they will have to wait). I'll get to those eventually.

And there are still some others on my old graphs page that I haven't updated in a long long time, that perhaps this will spur me to reactivate.

All in all, I've actually automated a bunch of the graphs so they will update without human intervention. Others to require me to do something each time I add a data point, but rather than putting data in an intermediate place to later put in excel, now the data will immediately go live online. So much less effort over all.

I still have a bunch of data in email (and even some older data on paper) that eventually will get backfilled into this. The charts have what was already in Excel.

Woo.

Anyway, I'm excited.

And tired.


Abulsme - Mon, 13 Apr 2009, 07:05:06 PDT
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Fri 10 Apr 2009

DVD: Bruce Almighty

So last week was time for another Amy movie. This time it was Bruce Almighty. And this time Amy actually watched it with me! Brandy skipped though.

I'm generally not a big fan of Jim Carrey or his sort of physical comedy. And this was not an exception to that. It had a few moments, but for the most part I got tired very quickly of Carrey's exaggerated motions and funny faces and the like. And while the premise sounded interesting, I think it worked less well as executed and got a bit preachy at the end.

After it was over we watched some of the deleted scenes. Some of them I think would have made it slightly better, but even more of them were of the "I am so glad they left that out" variety.

Amy laughed a lot and enjoyed it though.

Anyway, overall this was a "bleh" for me. I enjoyed spending the time with Amy watching it, and I did laugh a few times, but it certainly wasn't very memorable. Unless you're a Jim Carrey fan, I'd probably skip it.


Abulsme - Fri, 10 Apr 2009, 20:56:18 PDT
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Thu 09 Apr 2009

Curmudgeon's Corner: Burning the Globe

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Burning Out
  • Music and Such
  • North Korea and Cuba
  • G20
  • Anti-Globalization
  • IBM and Sun
  • Sling and AT&T
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Note: For those using the "View in iTunes" link, it often takes iTunes quite a few hours to show a new episode after the episode is posted here. So if you are looking for the podcast very soon after I post this, use one of the other methods to find the new episode. For those who are subscribed, your Podcast software should pick up the new episode next time it checks for new episodes on its own, or you can always force a refresh. For those using the XML feed directly, the new episode is now there.


Abulsme - Thu, 9 Apr 2009, 10:32:24 PDT
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Wed 08 Apr 2009

Boing Boing Boing

So, I was thinking that perhaps because my regular early Wednesday (UTC) teenager taxi duties were canceled due to Spring Break, that I might work on the Podcast and get it released a day earlier than I have the last couple of weeks. It has been really frustrating to me releasing it on Thursday given that we usually record it on Monday (sometimes Sunday). But after we record it Monday, I've already spent a decent amount of time on it and feel the need to do something else. On Tuesday Brandy and I usually spend some time together while Amy is at one of her activities. And on Wednesday I have taxi duty. In between those things are work and sleep. So usually these recent weeks the first time I get a good chance to sit down and get things ready to push out is Thursday. I may just need to suck it up and do all the editing Monday immediately after recording, as Thursday is just silly in terms of timeliness.

Of course, I did not end up getting things ready tonight. Instead of normal taxi duties, Amy and I went and dropped a travelbug in a geocache near home. And then went for ice cream.

And then, when I was sitting down deciding if I had enough energy to be productive and do the podcast, I had a quick IM conversation with my sister, who informed me about an audio glitch with LAST WEEK'S SHOW. Basically, there was a section where I went "boing boing boing" and put in an after the fact note about what Ivan and I were about to talk about. But I screwed up. RIGHT before I published, I unhid a working track that I had ended up adjusting and then putting a copy of elsewhere. The end result is that during this boing boing boing section, I was playing two copies of the same thing on top of each other, offset by about 5 or 6 seconds, with the first copy starting before it was supposed to and stomping on some more of me talking. Bleh. And I even did a specific spot check where I played back significant chunks of the final output before posting the new episode, but I missed this part.

Anyway, rather than doing anything new, I fixed the old episode. Which only took a few seconds of actual fixing, but then about two hours of exporting and publishing. In any case, if you haven't yet downloaded last week's episode and do so now, you'll get the fixed version. If you have already listened to last week's show, your podcast client may still pull down the fixed episode as if it was a new episode. Of course, by this point, anybody who was going to listen, probably already pulled it down, so this is all for naught most likely, but I figured I'd make sure the fixed version was up for the historical record. Some may accuse me of historical revisionism though. Oh well.

In any case, I'm going to bed now. I'll get this week's podcast out tomorrow (Thursday). And next week I'll consider my options for changing my schedule around on this. When we usually recorded on Sunday (instead of Monday like we do now) my goal was always to release within 24 hours of recording the episode. I think I need to figure out how to get back to that.


Abulsme - Wed, 8 Apr 2009, 00:55:05 PDT
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Fri 03 Apr 2009

DVD: Pulp Fiction

So, the last DVD scheduled was a Brandy movie, and it was Pulp Fiction from 1994. I'd seen it before. More than once I think. But not since a year or two after it came out. Brandy had never seen it. We started watching it over a month ago I think. We went maybe 40 minutes, then Brandy had had enough. We waited until the next week, then we kept going. Maybe another 30 minutes. Then that was enough. Then the third week, it just didn't happen. Then the fourth. Brandy really really hated the movie. Did not want to sit down and watch the rest.

So last weekend I sat down, started over, and watched the whole thing straight through.

I actually kind of like Pulp Fiction. It isn't super great, and I think it got a bit more hype than it deserved, but it was a funny movie. It was supposed to be a comedy, right? That's really the only way it works for me, as a comedy. A bunch of it is just funny. Mostly one liner stuff, or some of the physical stuff.

They do of course do that mixed up timeline thing I generally hate. But it is screwed up enough it is actually fun to figure out what order things really happened, so that spins a few brain cycles. And then of course there is the whole "what is in the box" thing and similar bits of trying to interpret the "meaning" and symbolism in the movie. Blah. Whatever.

Some of the violence is a bit over the top, but that is part of what makes it funny.

Oh, and I love the soundtrack. Some great music in there.

Anyway, I liked it. Brandy couldn't even finish it. Amy didn't even try.

The end.


Abulsme - Fri, 3 Apr 2009, 20:17:40 PDT
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Thu 02 Apr 2009

Curmudgen's Corner: The Big Lip Thing

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Ivan and his Dog, clicking on things
  • Hotelicopter
  • Space Tourism
  • CyberSpys
  • Conflicker
  • G20 Protesters
  • Republican Budget Plan
  • Health Care and Education
  • A Few Quickies
  • Real Time Comparison Shopping
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Note: For those using the "View in iTunes" link, it often takes iTunes quite a few hours to show a new episode after the episode is posted here. So if you are looking for the podcast very soon after I post this, use one of the other methods to find the new episode. For those who are subscribed, your Podcast software should pick up the new episode next time it checks for new episodes on its own, or you can always force a refresh. For those using the XML feed directly, the new episode is now there.


Abulsme - Thu, 2 Apr 2009, 13:05:36 PDT
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Not Happy

The Slingplayer app for iPhone will only work on the current batch of Slingbox hardware, not the older Slingbox AV's that we have at the moment. Not happy at all.

Special Upgrade Program for Slingbox Owners

If you currently own an original Slingbox, Slingbox AV or Slingbox TUNER, you are eligible to receive $50 off a new Slingbox SOLO or Slingbox PRO-HD. To qualify, you'll be asked to enter your serial number to receive your discount.

Sling Media is encouraging customers who own these earlier versions of Slingbox to upgrade to Slingbox SOLO or Slingbox PRO-HD to take advantage of next generation software and services that will only be supported when using the most current Slingbox and SlingLoaded products. Future software includes the highly anticipated SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone software launching soon.

Current Slingbox functionality will not be affected if you choose not to upgrade, but software like SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone and future services yet to be announced will only be supported for customers using Slingbox SOLO, Slingbox PRO and Slingbox PRO-HD products or forthcoming SlingLoaded products.
News of this broke on April 1st. Perhaps it is a joke. It should be a joke. Bastards.


Abulsme - Thu, 2 Apr 2009, 09:40:07 PDT
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Wed 01 Apr 2009

Ing

It is snowing in Seattle. I am ready to be done with snow now.


Abulsme - Wed, 1 Apr 2009, 10:29:36 PDT
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Tue 31 Mar 2009

All Hands 10


Abulsme - Tue, 31 Mar 2009, 23:22:45 PDT
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