Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Not much posting coming from me over the next two weeks; not that I post a lot anyway, but I'll be busy on other holiday related matters.

I have one holiday link though. This is a site a found a couple weeks ago and never got around to noting, but it's a page that speaks to the Caribbean Dutch Christmas experience, which apparently involves Santa's little helpers dressing up in blackface!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Anime Memories

I recall in my youth owning a cool Voltron set that consisted of the five robo-cats that could be assembled into the giant Voltron mecha. I had vague, though fond, memories of watching the show, and I half (more like quarter) thought about picking up some of the special set that's now out for the show, but Carl Kimlinger at ANN sets me straight:
The nostalgia surrounding Voltron is a palpable, living thing. It hovers over the show like a shroud, blinding the eyes and fogging the brain. How else can you explain why so many people are so fond of something that is so obviously ill-made, ill-written, and just plain stupid?
Guess I'll leave those memories locked away and not soil them by revisiting what was nothing more than something handy to sponge up a half hour worth of time. As well:
Included are the original pilot episode, staff interviews, an overview of the remastering process, and, most importantly, the “You Got Robo Served” episode of Robot Chicken featuring a break-dancing Voltron. Ironically, the parody is not only funnier than the original, but has better animation as well.
Oh yeah, that was a good bit...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Computer Ads

The sight of the latest batch of computer ads from HP and Dell bring a grim chuckle to my heart. They reek of a desperate attempt to frame their product as some trendy, highly personalized product. The reality is that they're no different than the Wonder bread bakery down the road. Their exciting personalization functions work out to be the equivalent of telling the bakery how many slices of .5" thick white bread you want in your loaf.

Harder to pigeon hole are the latest Apple Mac ads. I never cared for them and their target demographic seems to be people who already buy Macs. I'm especially confused when I see these same Mac ads during a football game sandmiched in between a beer ad featuring scantily clad women and an ad for enlarged prostate medication. However, late last month my buddy pointed me to the Japanese Mac ads. These are cool in that you can't understand the inane banter going on between the Japanese Mac dude and the Japanese Windows dude (with the exception of the ethnicity of the actors and the language, it’s the SAME ad). I figure Apple should switch the American ads with the Japanese ones (and probably vice versa) since I've every confidence that the Japanese ads will work just as well or better than the super lame domestic Mac ads.

I guess at least unlike Dell and HP, Apple doesn't have a lame system to go with their lame ad.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Okonomiyaki vs Islam

Mrs. Sandmich has been teaching an intro to Japan session for some ungrateful wretches in one of our home school co-ops. Due to their generalized dislike for anything fishy tasting, her demonstration of okonomiyaki had to be very Americanized. Since it was up to me to cook, it was time to start makin' bacon!

The okonomiyaki was just 4 inch patties of chopped bacon and cabbage with just enough batter to hold them together. When I dropped them off, Mrs. Sandmich was stressed, saying that one of the kids is fasting and two of them can't eat bacon, for religious reasons. Now mind you, they're Christians, so this anti-bacon thing is entirely self imposed since, to the best of my knowledge, Jesus wasn't the biggest fan of the mosaic laws upon which the 'no pork' thing would be based.

I myself would have nothing to do with any religion that banned bacon, and I wondered how well those Christians would hold out upon smelling some crackling bacon. But thinking of a slightly larger scale, maybe our problems in the Middle East could be solved much the same way: just coat the region in a delicious fog that consists of the smell of thick, maple smoked bacon slices cooking and those Muslims will realize the error of their way!

(As yet another aside, I recall watching MTV back in the eighties when they were interviewing some female artist of some sort who had tooled around with vegetarianism at one point. I don't remember anything about the interview except for the fact that the woman said that the hardest thing about being a vegetarian was the smell of bacon cooking. Since then, I've been struck by what a magical smell it is, and I've little doubt in its power to bring people around to a right frame of mind. So get that bacon cooking for the good of mankind!)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Environmental Fun

I remember a couple years back when environmentalists started to make wine makers use synthetic corks because, I guess, harvesting real cork is mean to trees. Low and behold, unable to sell cork, Spaniards began to cut down the cork forests so that they could grow something that they could sell. Whoops!

Well they're at it again. I love stories like this, from WSJ on dead tree (12/05/06):
Here on the island of Borneo, a thick haze often encloses this city of 500,000 people. The cause: forest fires that have blazed across the island. Many of them were set to clear land to produce palm oil - a key ingredient in biodiesel, a [ahem] clean-burning diesel fuel alternative.
Exactly where do all these fans of biofuels expect this stuff to come from? The production of biofuels doesn't scale very well and any large implementation will require putting vast swaths of the planet under the till.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Something Fishy

I picked up the Japanese snack below a couple weeks on the word that it was mildly healthy. I was actually hoping that it tasted foul and would act as an appetite suppressant.(Un)Fortunately, it's not half bad; kind'a like a 'trout almondine' an astronaut would eat.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor Forgotten

In the past I've been disappointed with some Japanese views on the war, but at least I feel I know where they're coming from. However, I've been increasingly disappointed in the likes of Clint Eastwood and others poo pooing WW2 American self defense as well. It's one thing for a few Japanese to say that American racist warmongers were the cause of the war, but it's nothing short of being completely disgusting to have many people in the American intelligentsia saying the same thing (I guess you no longer have to be intelligent to be in the intelligentsia). If a person doesn't think a nation has good standing to defend itself under those circumstances, then I'd doubt there's any situation in which a person like that would find self defense acceptable. It also stinks of the communist tendency to trash a nation's history so that it can have a grand, socialist future.

I'd say the commies are mostly on the path to success as I've had way too many conversations along the following lines:
[product of American public education]: "So WW2, that was the one with the Germans, right?"
[Sandmich]: "Well...umm...yeah"
[product of American public education]: "So WW1 was the Japanese?"
[Sandmich]: *cries*

Anyway, here's links to my previous Pearl Harbor posts:
http://sandmich.blogspot.com/2004/12/bombs-away.html
http://sandmich.blogspot.com/2005/12/date-with-war.html

Death of Social Security

It's a loud death to be sure, from the WSJ (subscription):
The "compromise" plan [to fix Social Security] would eliminate the payroll tax cap (now at $90,000 a year in income), raise the retirement age, and cut benefits for wealthy seniors.
The 'out' always used by supporters of Social Security was that the plan pays out benefits from taxes collected by that specific program; thus making it a form of a ponzi scheme government guaranteed pension. By enacting 'reforms' such as those above, Democrats (and the like minded) are basically giving up one of their better arguments. Social Security could never pay out benefits on salaries higher than $90,000, and thus by eliminating the ceiling AND curtailing benefits for wealthy seniors they're showing what Social Security actually is: a glorified welfare program. All that'll be left to do is to fold FICA into the regular income tax and we'll be done playing this silly government shell game.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Umm....Okay

From a cap gun search on Amazon:

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Grocery Paradise

There's been some news in Cleveland about the fact that the larger grocery chain bought out the slightly smaller one. The result, which can be predicted, is the shutdown of all the stores operated by the smaller chain. Cleveland and it's surrounding suburbs now have exactly ONE real grocery store to choose from. There's a menagerie of bit players, but they all have various faults which relegate them to permanent second tier status.

The joke? For the most part these faults are self inflicted (except for maybe K-Mart which I'm given to believe is just poorly managed). They do this in order to stay under the radar of the omnipresent, corrupt, evil unions (and their corporate enablers) that dominate the region.

When discussing the issue with a coworker I'd asked if she had ever been to a Super Wal-Mart or Meijer type of store. I was about dumb struck when she said no. Another coworker chimed in that she had been to one, once; and she also seemed to get dreamy eyed about the experience, as if she was recounting a romantic date.

"Wut up wit that?" I thought. Are those stores so far away that no one in the Cleveland area can find their way out to one? I'm spoiled from living in Cincinnati and even out the boonies where I lived I was twenty minutes away from three different super stores. That's not three Super Wal-Marts; that's three completely different chains*. Determined, I looked it up and a little bit more than a half an hour from my house is grocery paradise:


Most of the prices are mildly less expensive than what I'd pay closer to home, except for the produce. The produce is easily and consistently a half to a third (or even less) than the sale prices at Giant Eagle** (the remaining grocery chain in the Cleveland area). I'm of a mind that there would be riots in the street if the people in Cleveland knew to what extent they were being played for fools on this front, but that's probably just more wishful thinking***.

On a semi-related post over at Libertas, they had this comment:
Don’t you love Hollywood lecturing us about consumerism? I live out here. I see what those ugly homes have done to those lovely Hollywood Hills. I see the cars and suits and jewelry and this fascinating race I call the Plastic Surgeoned. I’ll bet Zwick and Leo [DiCaprio] got more stuff now than I’ll own my entire life. But of course, I got most of mine at Wal-Mart, not on Rodeo Drive, so that makes me the problem.
I'm going to do my best to be part of the 'problem' not part of the 'solution'.

*(Part of my reason for usually being cool to WalMart is that I preferred their competition in Cincinnati: Bigg's (a French concern) and Meijer (Michigan). Given no other choice though, I'll take them any day over the local thugrocers.)

**(Giant Eagle's ads now remind me Microsoft's advertising for their OS and Office lines. The fact that they try to make you feel good about getting taken makes you resent them all the more).

***(There's been plenty of talk about the evil monopoly and ZERO talk about improving the business climate in order to attract the needed competitors. I guess they're getting what they deserve).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More M$ Watch

Looks like Microsoft is (surprise) trying to 'Mac' their OS up even more! From here:

And instead of remembering within which folder a particular document, image, or media files was saved, something called Windows Vista Instant Search will point to the correct document or program [right...]. And, unlike many desktop search applets from Google and others, Windows Vista indexes your hard drive without much of a performance hit […if you're running a Cray Supercomputer].
While they're Mac'n it up, maybe they could include these features which keep escaping their grasp:
  • I recall the Mac having a pretty good interface for presenting what services and programs are loading when the system starts. It sure would be nice if an M$ computer could tell us this info straight up without having to rely on crappy interfaces and half written third party utilities (re:Hi-Jack this). (I'll even go so far as to say that even Linux has better interfaces than Windows for this purpose)
  • The last time I used one, a Mac's file browser would compile the folder sizes on the fly while you were browsing files. Windoze shows file sizes, but if you want an inline browser to show you the folder sizes you'll have to rely on a third party utility (re: TreeSize Pro)
  • When I last serviced a Mac I had an OS problem and I reinstalled the OS as, what it would be to a Windows tech, a last ditch effort to salvage the system. I was amazed beyond belief when it actually fixed the issue! Despite repeated efforts in the past to reinstall Windows in order to clear up an issue, I'm hard pressed to recall any instances where that happened, although I'd like to think it worked at least once since I keep trying it. Doesn't matter too much though since reinstalling Windows usually causes whole new problems without solving the original issue, ARG!
Now mind you, these three points are from when I supported Macs eight years ago. That's what cheeses me off about Microsoft, I'm really given to defend them, but it doesn't help when they release a new OS, and despite all the pain and extreme expense, it's (optimistically) just a four year old knock-off of Apple's OS.

(I know I’ve complained about these same things before, but I figure some year I’ll get to praise MS for finally clearing them up)

Monday, November 27, 2006

CS Spray

Within the game CounterStrike you can create what's called a custom spray, which is basically a (very) small bitmap that is 'sprayed' within the game at your behest while you are playing (typically via the 't' key). I'm not sure of the specs of the sprays for the newer versions of the game, but old CS 1.6 has a variety of restrictions resulting from the fact that it's basically a klugey hack for a regular in game function.

Anyhow, during previous periods of boredom, I cranked out the following sprays that I use while I am playing:

This is a spray I made of one of my chums with a stove pipe hat on. It was more or less yet another effort in my continuing quest to goad him into using his incredibly superior artistic skills for evil instead of good (in this case, revenge). He didn't bite and I am more than willing to attribute this to his incredible professionalism, though a voice in the back of my head tells me that he may not have responded because he may be the only person on the planet with an attention span shorter than my own.

Please note, the image above (as well as the others) are at the limit as far as size, although the other images appear larger, it's just because they've been spread out. The blue background is a transparency layer and does not appear in the game.

A different friend is a fan of the HK firearm company and I made this spray up for him. The lack of a transparency layer made this image a little easier, though the edging had to be tweaked since it was 'dumbed up' from a smaller GIF file.

This one was a bear since it needed every color available on the 244 color palet to come out looking this good. It's still a bit shabby and further proof that photos don't do well as sprays.

Showing the true limits placed on these files, I could not muscle those letters any clearer no matter how hard I tried. Although it looks easy from the picture, there's actually only about three clear pixels inside the 'G's (if you can tell where they are) and it was a choice between looking like a 'C' or looking like a '6'

This image has very few colors and a cartoonish appearance so this was an easy, good looking spray. It's my fav.

My first spray. It was a lot of work given the result.

I've packed all of these and one more into this file, enjoy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another J-Candy Update

I think I may have made mention of the above candy before, but my brief, nonexistent search of my blog didn't turn up any references. This is one of my all time favorites: a green tea flavored soft taffy type candy covered in powdered green tea. It has a unique harshness that only green tea aficionados like me can enjoy.



Disappointingly, these taste nothing like real colons (i.e. cheap sausage). Even more disappointingly, they taste completely like sugar wafers. Despite being 'green tea' flavor, they're much like their sugar wafer American equivalents where the different flavors are just color swapped versions of the other flavors.*



A hard candy sold as being plum flavored. Tastes like a stale, unflavored Jolly Rancher. Not bad, but quite forgettable.

*That reminds me of a couple years ago when my son was trying to sell Fruit Loops to me as having some fruit based nutritional value. I challenged him to eat them with his eyes closed and tell me which fruit he happened to be eating; an impossible task given that "sweetened cardboard" and "sugary styrofoam" haven't been designated as fruits yet.

BSOD!

If your Windoze system is too stable for your liking and you miss the crashin' days of yore, you can download and run the Blue Screen of Death screensaver. Unlike previous versions of this same idea, it uses actual system data and a fake reboot to simulate a BSOD. As well this is written by Microsoft, thus increasing your chances of experiencing the genuine article!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Iraq Attaq!

Paul over at Powerline comments:

To analyze this question [of a new approach to Iraq], we need to identify the reasons we have remained in Iraq for the past few years. I can think of five: (1) to avoid a humiliating Mogadishu-style defeat that will embolden our enemies, (2) to prevent parts of Iraq from becoming a base for anti-American terrorists, as Afghanistan was under the Taliban, (3) to prevent Iran from becoming the dominant player in portions of Iraq, (4) to prevent Iraqis from killing each other in sectarian strife, and (5) to promote a democratic Iraq. To me, the first two objectives are vital to our national security, and the third probably is very important to it. The fourth and fifth are extremely worthwhile objectives, but are not of high importance to our national security.
An interesting puzzle that Iraq. I had long thought that any workable government would have to be along the lines of a 'Super Singapore' style of government. This would be characterized by a command and control system that tracked everyone all the time. Civil punishments would exist for the slightest of offenses while the worst offenses would be met with (at the very least) near medieval levels of punishment. But alas...

I'll be blunt and say that Bush has missed very few opportunities to screw this up and I've long been disappointed that the Democrats even to this day do little more than bitch and moan (at best) or (at worst) actively impede our ability to do anything over there. All of this adds to the accurate perception that they would find a way to do an even worse job than what Bush has done.

What doesn't help is that both sides have a weird view of our place in this conflict. On the left many are anxious to depict any withdrawal of any kind as a defeat. This is, of course, unreasonable as we would have to leave sometime. I remember many years ago when the Filipinos threatened to kick us out of Clark Air Base where we had been for several decades, many lefties hopped on it as an opportunity to stress a loss of face to the U.S. It turned out that so valuable was this base to us that we wound up walking away from it after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

On the other side are some overly optimistic people that claim we will still suffer defeat unless the place looks like New Hampshire before we leave. There was consensus, I believe, to go in to Iraq to take care what was an active threat that was growing worse; can anybody argue that the threat has not been dealt with? As an added bonus, we stayed until the al-Qaeda favoring Sunnis are on the ropes and will be too busy defending themselves for the foreseeable future to pose any threat to us. In fact, #3 from the citation above works out to be to our advantage, though everyone is too civilized to admit this out loud; but the problem is that since no one will admit that publicly it can’t actively be cited as condition of victory, even though it is! ARG!

That's what kills me. To me, we've won, and won big. If the Iraqis don't want their country to be a mess, that's their issue; it's their failure, not ours and I've every reason to believe that the Arabs in the region view it as such. I think given enough time, money and way, way more pressure we could bring most Iraqis around to behave better; but that's a fight for another day which will probably never come, and doesn't have to ever come.

In a very timely fashion my mom has sent me this article which touches upon the same idea:
On the other hand, I'd be happy to see our soldiers walk out of Baghdad, not with their tails between their legs but with their middle fingers in the air.
As well John Derbyshire reflects on our future Middle East policies. Oh, and he has this separate bit:
Armchair warriors like myself are sometimes accused of laboring under the illusion that all the world’s problems can be solved by neat “surgical strikes” on troublesome locations, in which suspect facilities, or persons, are cleanly eliminated with minimal collateral damage.

Not guilty! I am, in fact, willing to confess myself a collateral-damage armchair warrior, who would be happy to see us trade in our inventory of smart laser-guided precision munitions for lots and lots and lots of old-style iron bombs, and fleets of great big iron planes to deliver them. Remember those photographs of mid-1945 Berlin, fragments of broken wall sticking up out of vast drifts and dunes of pulverized masonry? Now that’s rubble.
Ralph Peters echos the same points.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election Fun

A line from the front of the WSJ: "Threat of gridlock looms"

We should be so lucky...

Monday, November 06, 2006

That's Some Luck

I was scanning around and noticed that trance DJ genius Paul Van Dyk is going to be 'playing' at a club in Cleveland! I figured all that stood between me and checking out the show was convincing some additional someone to shell out $30 to go to the show with me; but it's on friggin' Thanksgiving! What the heck is up with that? The Sandmich will be much too bloated with white wine and turkey to even think about not watching football, let alone feign being strung out. That and the club OPENS at 9 PM, which about an hour before I go to bed. Still....

Ugh, I guess I'm too old for stuff like this, but give tracks 101 and 201 on this page a listen and tell me you wouldn't want another scoop!

Walk the Plank - Ohio Style

I now think the Ohio GOP missed a golden opportunity in not impeaching Governor Taft. They should have realized their mistake when the clever Dems said that there was no way THEY were going to move to impeach such a valuable target. Seems at least one side learned the right lesson from the Clinton impeachment!

So now it looks like economically depressed Ohio is about to get even more of the same ill advised policies that the people are complaining about, but I know: we get the leaders we deserve. Just check out this slate of elected leaders of Cuyahoga County, one of the poorest regions of the country, and see what these winners have in common:

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Game Dev Notes

I think I'm finally done with Final Fantasy X, just in time for the release of the new one. And no it’s not that I beat it, I did that months ago. I unlocked and defeated the last monster in the monster arena. At some point I was told that the prize for doing so would let you continue on in some form should your characters die in the game. Although it didn't work, the joke is that by the time you get to that point you're pretty well immortal anyway.

I have to admit though, I did use the infinite money cheat when playing. Although I figured it'd save on time (which it did), in hindsight it was more worthwhile to use in order to avoid one of the most painful aspects of Final Fantasy games: inventory management. This basically consists of constantly massaging a long list of items that you're carrying in order to decide which ones to sell/keep/through away, etc (items in inventory being a stored form of cash that must be converted). How un-fun is this part? As a note to game developers, should the gamer playing your game at any point think "I wish I could do this in Excel", your game has failed on a very fundamental level; because it's no longer a game, but a business productivity package with a crappy interface.

I'm rather disheartened to hear that the new version has even more inventory management; so I'll probably wait for a cash cheat for that as well.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wedding #3

One of my sisters got married a couple weeks back and I figured I'd share a few pics. Actually, it was at the insistence of those pictured, which means they probably had too much to drink. I'm sure they'd disavowal knowing me if pressed, anyway...

I heard of the shirt below that's on my brother-in-law, but I didn't see a version of it until a couple days later when I was in WalMart; at which point it drew a hearty chuckle from myself...until I had to reign myself in when I discovered that Mrs. Sandmich found the shirt mightily unamusing:


The groom had purchased some decent cigars for the occasion and I figured it was a good time for a pic with my ever missed younger sis:


Culinary hint: cigar+cheese=smoked cheese, yum!



SAY CHEESE!

Back to my Ohio, again, unfortunately

Welcome to another roundup of depressing voter initiatives in Ohio! For reasons which I did not feel like discovering, the TABOR type amendment is not on the ballot. The remaining initiatives give credence to the idea of a professional legislature since even the lamest ones don't cook up ideas like this:

  • Issue 1 - I guess this ballot initiative will do away with some extremely lame reforms that the Ohio legislature enacted on the state run worker's compensation plan. Although probably a good idea to vote no, it probably doesn't matter either way since what the whole worker's comp apparatus needs a complete overhaul. (Fun fact: if an injury, fake, real or imagined, happens in the workplace, the state collects funds sufficient to treat the worker's disability for the rest of their life. Of course the vast majority of these funds are never paid out and the state gets to keep it's vast bounty (to invest in rare coins and whatnot) which is currently appears to valued at more than 16 BILLION dollars, pdf link)

  • Issue 2 - Minimum wage hike. A stupid idea which has probably found its day. Nothing like a job killing law in a state that can't make job to save its ass, but vague platitudes almost always trumps facts. As an added bonus, anyone will be able to find out the wage and address information of anyone else in the state.

  • Issue 3 - Would allow slot machines at Ohio horse tracks and two slot casinos in scenic, peaceful, downtown Cleveland. Of course, like all stupid ideas it's being sold to 'help the children!!!' I could actually care less about slots at the horse tracks, but the idea of backdoor tax increase while making downtown Cleveland even less appealing is a really bad idea (see Detroit). The issue is currently polling mildly favorably, though it hasn't broken the 50% line.

  • Issue 4 - enforce smoke/no smoke zones for all public areas, including cities which had previously banned all smoking. No thanks...

  • Issue 5 - Ban all smoking in public areas. Nanny state retardedness, no thanks again...

  • Other issues: yet another cig tax is being proposed for 'arts funding' in Cuyahoga county. I'm tempted to vote for it since it will further cripple the States ability to collect any cig taxes, though I'll probably not. Also a very poorly worded levy renewal which may or may not be a renewal, I'll vote no just to make sure. As well, I'll probably turn down the school levy as well, just out of spite.
That’s not all; I have one more tale of Ohio woe. One of the accountants for my company stopped by office to ask for an obscure piece of information. I asked what this was in relation to and she said that the state send out auditors from the unclaimed funds department and if you have any cancelled or uncashed checks on your books that do not have a good justification for being in that condition, you'll need to cut a check to the state for the amount of the check. A handful of checks were cancelled, but no justification was in the system detailing their cancellation, so the state of Ohio gets dibbies.

When's my voter initiative coming up that calls for the public caning of corrupt and/or lazy public servants?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fort Worth

Okee, I'm in Fort Worth hopefully giving my presentation live for the last time. I'm still debating whether or not to do some sort of video up of it, but I don't know if the internet is ready for that level of boredom. Anyway, how about some pictures!


The hotel I stayed at was the last place the Kennedy slept, so there are pictures and memorabilia all around.



The architecture of many of the buildings are an odd mix of 'Art Deco' and 'Santa Fe'. This government building is a more traditional older western style.



This place has tasty all-you-can-eat beef ribs for 10 bucks!



How long before the anti-gun zealots take away the topiary gun?



The full picture album is here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

EnviroBull

Hot on the heels of my last post, the WWF puts out this bilge:
Humans are stripping nature at an unprecedented rate and will need two planets' worth of natural resources every year by 2050 on current trends, the WWF conservation group said on Tuesday.
Who does this? The threat is so vague that it's meaningless, never mind the NUMEROUS times in the past such soothsayers have gotten it completely wrong. It's just an effort to get the idiotic saps out there to send the WWF a check. It's disgusting that environmental causes have been hijacked by such a malicious bunch.

I'd read somewhere that environmental issues are all about engineering, in that a meaningful solution needs to be designed and implemented; but the current batch is all about activism and screaming about the problem. Of course it’s much easier to do that since it doesn't require any thought what-so-ever.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Oceans as Sewers

Justin links to a story about the devastation of environmental run off:
On research dives off the Louisiana coast, she has seen cottony white bacteria coating the seafloor. The sulfurous smell of rotten eggs, from a gas produced by the microbes, has seeped into her mask. The bottom is littered with the ghostly silhouettes of dead crabs, sea stars and other animals.

The cause of death is decaying algae. Fed by millions of tons of fertilizer, human and animal waste, and other farm runoff racing down the Mississippi River, tiny marine plants run riot, die and drift to the bottom. Bacteria then take over. In the process of breaking down the plant matter, they suck the oxygen out of seawater, leaving little or none for fish or other marine life.

Years ago, Rabalais popularized a term for this broad area off the Louisiana coast: the "dead zone." In fact, dead zones aren't really dead. They are teeming with life — most of it bacteria and other ancient creatures that evolved in an ocean without oxygen and that need little to survive.

"There are tons and tons of bacteria that live in dead zones," Rabalais said. "You see this white snot-looking stuff all over the bottom."

That sounds great!

I had heard at one point that in order to prevent such bad runoff, a barrier of about ten feet of woodlands around farms would serve as filter to keep much of the nasty stuff from being sent downstream. I figured with all the B.S. regulations the government was into, this was one of the few that made sense. However since it was never implemented, I'm guessing that it's either A) untrue or (even more likely) B) Never going to happen since it would upset a key lobby. Backing up the 'B' idea is a piece written by Jonah Goldberg:
Then, of course, there's the environment. [Farm] Subsidies wreak havoc on the ecosystem. One small example: There's a 6,000-square-mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, larger than Connecticut. It's so depleted of oxygen because of algae blooms caused by fertilizer runoff that shrimp and crabs at the Louisiana shore literally try to leap from the water to breathe. This is endangering the profitable Gulf fishing industry. Most of the fertilizer comes from a few Midwestern counties that receive billions in subsidies (more than $30 billion from 1997 to 2002, according to the Environmental Working Group).
It's interesting that the Midwestern farmers are allowed to trash the fisherman's business. This can more than likely be traced to the fact that most fishing works on an allotment basis. If someone actually 'owned' the area in question, the affect would be more visible. Would the fisherman who has sustained such harm be allowed to dump waste on farms to exact revenge? Would such an event make the news?

Good thing James Taranto has found a real crusader in moderate Republican Chris Shays:
So I'm surprised when I ask his biggest point of disagreement with conservative Republicans, and he answers by reproving them for being untrue to their free-market principles. He faults Mr. Bush for imposing steel quotas early in his term: "I probably had 1,000 people put out of work in Bridgeport"--a shipbuilding center--"because . . . the steel cost them more after quotas than what their finished product [was worth]." And he criticizes the GOP Congress for enacting "a major manipulation of the farm market--subsidies--after Bush won. . . . I have some contempt--quotes--for being lectured by archconservatives who carry their principle, but it disappears when it comes to farm aid."
Go boy, stick it to the man...oh wait:
Mr. Shays's views on social issues fit well with his liberal constituency. Last month alone he cast "no" votes on constitutional amendments against flag burning and same-sex marriage and on a measure to stop federal courts from rewriting the Pledge of Allegiance, and he voted in favor of expanded federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research.
Some 'free marketeer' promoting corporate welfare crap like that; he's every bit the whore like all those other jokers in Congress.

Eh, guess we're boned, sorry. The right won't do anything on it since it isn't a big enviro concern; and the left won't do anything because they'd rather chase demons like global warming which can never be caught, thus ensuring a lifetime of employment of trying to obtain the unobtainable.

Canned Art

I've been using a package called IBM Director which is a free computer management package whose latest iteration has been slicked up (for a boring product) with some new artwork. However, when I went out to DLink's site to check on some equipment, something looked familiar so I took a screen shot...

I can assure you that no one who looks like that uses IBM Director or DLink switches (well, maybe that fat, bald guy in that's behind her). The legend of the attractive computer hardware tech continues...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Arthritis

DDR on a cell phone?
The accompanying fast moving video boggled my mind since every cell phone I've ever had has had the buttons rigged to discourage accidental button presses (i.e., I've had to darn near put my finger through the phone to trip the buttons). Plus cell phones aren't exactly generous with memory. All but top tier phones would probably max out at a song or two at a time (unless the music is encoded with some horrific, 'finger nails on a chalkboard' compression).

BS Thesis

I recently discovered today that some universities are offering PhD programs in Information Security?!? Is such a thing really necessary? Does the private sector need a certification program so bad that they need to mooch off of publicly funded universities? Infosec research isn't like other classic fields (music, history, and English come to mind) where although the expansion of knowledge about such topics is in the public interest, there's no (direct) business need that would necessitate private finding.

Researching information security minutiae? There at least several dozen large companies that will pay you to do that!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Doogie Doo Quandry

So the big boss of the company brings his little yappie dog in for the day because his admin assistant will be taking it home with her while he is out of town. While walking through an unoccupied section of the building, your's truly notices that said dog has laid a deuce on the floor. So do I...
  1. ...go in and tell the big boss and place myself in an awkward situation where a relative peon of the company is telling the head honcho to go clean up a pile of dog crap.
  2. ...go and tell the admin assistant and come off as an arrogant prig because I'm inferring that because of her inferior stature within the company, she is much more suited to cleaning up pet messes than I.
  3. ...go and tell my boss who reports to the big boss and let my boss know in no uncertain terms that I am unable to handle even the most minor and annoying of issues.

And I of course choose #4: ...do nothing.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Greenspan on Sarbox

From here :
You do not get a bill altered when the two names [Sarbanes and Oxley] are in the process of retiring. People are waiting until they are gone. Then, hopefully, changes will be made. Any bill that passes both houses almost unanimously, cannot be a good piece of legislation.
I'm hard pressed to come up with a counter example that proved him wrong. Unanimously approved legislation is typically well meaning and wrong headed ('civil rights', 'for the children', 'victims relief', etc.). Maybe an amendment is needed to require at least a 5%-10% vote failure for any given piece of legislation? That would certainly make for some interesting dynamics.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bizy Sandmich

Sorry for the dearth of posting for those of you who check the page regularly (get RSS already!), but I gave my first public presentation today on a topic that I'll not describe lest I bore you to tears.

Anyway, I got a trip to Indianapolis out of the deal (please, please, contain your jealousy!), so how about a few shots (the Sandmich LOVES eye candy*)?






As well, some lady was traveling with her adorable pooch!



A stewardess had the tag below on her luggage. I told her it was 'cute' when I asked to take a picture; but I figured later that 'cute' probably won't be the first thing that comes to mind by people seeing it:


GREEN ALERT! The TSA had to examine my carefully wrapped pickles that were a gift from my game developer buddy in order to ensure the safety of myself and my fellow (air) travelers:


I feel safer already! Who knows how many evil pickle jars have found their way onto airplanes? (Well, I do: ZERO)


As a bonus, I got to stay at the Indy Omni at a remarkably reduced rate. This was one of the handful of places that I've stayed that I thought was too good for me. People were going to the gym room wearing workout clothes that cost more than my dress clothes. This was also the first place I'd ever stayed at where there were TOO MANY pillows on the bed. At some point when I was down in the lobby I saw a large group coming in and many of them were following the same habit I typically do and had their own pillows. I felt like telling them that if they were paying the rack rate (+$200 a night), I think it's a reasonable expectation that the place can go through the trouble of coughing up a couple friggin' pillows for you (not that they'd need to).

*(Except for that Superman movie. What a floating turd of a film. That kind of mediocrity is acceptable in a five million dollar indy flick, but it was almost sickening to see so much money flushed down the john for so, so, so little in return.)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Non-Angry Muslims

From here:
September 15, 2006: Five Christian churches in Gaza and the West Bank were attacked by Moslems, upset over remarks by the Pope (who said that Moslems were violent).


I originally saw this story from a link my sister had sent me that said that Turkish Muslims were all PO'd from what the Pope had said. It's worth reminding everyone that when the Soviets decided to put a hit in on the previous Pope, they used a Turkish Muslim for the trigger man.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ugly Stick

Another face for radio, from MSN...

Could they have possibly found a worse publicity shot of Meredith Vieira?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bento - More


The bottom one is one of my favorites. I got a small tuna steak and grilled it up pretty raw rare. My wife asked a question she didn't want to know the answer to: "Is that cooked all the way?"

"Sure, why not?" sez I!

I thought the noodles I had gotten were Japanese soba noodles with taro root, but it turned out they were just regular Chinese noodles with food coloring.

As well in the bottom one, I put about two tablespoons of sake in my miso soup but it still came out tasting like bean and bacon soup.

Snake Booze

I think I've mentioned that Japanese snake liquor before, but it bears repeating: DISGUSTING:
Freaked out by the worm floating in that bottle of mescal tequila?

Then you’re probably too squeamish for the snake coiled up in a bottle of Okinawa awamori.
I wonder how 'popular' a product this would be were it not for the large number of Americans on Okinawa looking to buy something freaky.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Business Math

One way to tell how well run a place is, is to divide their revenue by their number of employees. On news that Microsoft had hired a bunch of people I decided to work their numbers, $44.3B a year in revenue divided by 71,553 = $618,121 generated per person (though I'd imagine that most of them don't see nearly that amount). I hopped over to GM to use the numbers from a notoriously poorly run company to compare; $205B / 335,000 = $611,940 - hardly a big difference, except for the fact that M$ had an outrageous net income of $12.6B (a 28% profit margin?!?! Holy Cripe...); while GM had a net loss of $11.2B (which roughly 100% of which can be traced to their ridiculously generous medical plan and ill thought out retirement plan).

More ratios:
Apple - $1,229,729 per employee (!)
Sony - $427,635 per employee (and they made money, Microsoft would be losing money if their employee output was that low).
P&G - $494,202 per employee (lower than I figured it would be, but P&G operates in a lot of low revenue places using inexpensive local labor)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

MLB Stats

Despite being a stat driven game, I don't get over to look at the MLB standings all that much. I went to check to see how the Reds are doing, and although they're still in the division/wild card race, the team records are tight, much more tight than I ever remember seeing them this late in the season. In the NL there are realistically 10 teams (out of 16) still in competition for the four playoff slots. It's less so in the AL with about six teams, but it's interesting that Cleveland in the AL Central considers their season to be somewhat of a failure even though they only have five fewer wins than the Reds who are playoff contenders in the NL central. Or how about Detroit in the AL with 82 wins, and with thirty games left to play they could theoretically only win 1/3 of their remaining games and still make it into the playoffs; if they keep up their current win percentage they'll clear a remarkable 100 wins for the season.

On a different note, why is the number of teams in each league so goofy? Why does the NL have a division with six teams while the AL fields one with four?

And another thing, when are American teams going to start being named after ham production companies like they are in Japan? And better yet, when are they going to cheerleaders as well? Maybe I'd check their 'stats' more often...


I love their team motto: "Continue buring the soul"

Monday, August 28, 2006

Titan Coach

Some interesting fun last week. The company I work for gave a sizable donation to a local charitable organization (God bless 'em) and I got to go to the receptions that were given for large donors. The first was a luncheon where the keynote speaker was Coach Herman Boone, whose coaching experiences were dramatized (some have said overly so) in the movie "Remember the Titans".

Before I level any criticisms to some of the things coach Boone had said, let me say that he appears to genuinely care about helping disadvantaged kids. Even later in the day, when he was obviously under the influence of more highballs than I'll drink in my life, he was quite adamant about the need to help kids and to keep them on the right path. I plan on putting him in my "very well intentioned, but mildly misguided" file.

However, in the course of talking up betterment of kids at the luncheon, he made disparaging remarks about Daniel Patrick Moynihan's The Negro Family: the Case for National Action, a report Moynihan had written up while working at the department of labor under the Johnson administration. The basic gist of the report is that the high rate of out of wedlock births in the black community was/is going to cause grave social ills for American blacks.

Coach Boone went into how Moynihan had bad mouthed black women in his report and how it was long on racism and short on solutions (I greatly paraphrase). He then went on to detail issues facing the black community including high crime*, poor education, lack of ambition, etc., in other words, the very things that Moynihan had predicted in his report! How would the coach rectify this I wondered? It was obviously a huge hole in his logic, but since he had blabbered on for about fifteen minutes since last mentioning the report I figured he'd drop it. However, he knew that he'd left the main topic of his discussion weakened (how to best help kids in bad environments) by bad mouthing one of the main things being pushed in order to help (responsible, family behavior)**. He then continued to paper this hole over by accusing Monyiahn of pushing a stereotype of unsuccessful blacks that both blacks and whites decided on their own to accept. I couldn't help but to roll my eyes, at which point I noticed that most (all) of the audience had long since tuned him out; his argument being too stupid for the more learned and too boring for everyone else.

------

Later that evening, the charitable organization held a smaller get together at The House of Blues in downtown Cleveland. Since I went with Mrs. Sandmich and I was nominally a representative of my workplace, I decided not to take advantage of the open bar (oh the pain!). As a bonus though, Coach Boone and some of the players from his old team were selling posters that had been signed by all the members of the team that the movie is based off of. In the process of obtaining the autographs, Coach Boone (who had taken advantage of the open bar in my stead) was kind, and drunk enough to get his picture taken with the Sandmich:



*He repeated the canard of there being more black men in prison than in college; I'll not get into it now, but that's akin to saying that there are more oranges grown than there are cars produced - the two are, for the most part, unrelated.

*Favorable interest in Moynihan's report isn't a monopoly held by conservatives. Moynihan himself was a lifelong Democrat of course, but
this article details just a little of the favorable press it has gotten:
Both the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times ran series on the black family in 1983, followed by a 1985 Newsweek article called “Moynihan: I Told You So” and a 1986 CBS documentary, The Vanishing Black Family, produced by Bill Moyers, a onetime aide to Lyndon Johnson, who had supported the Moynihan report. The most symbolic moment came when Moynihan himself gave Harvard’s prestigious Godkin lectures in 1985 in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of “The Negro Family.”

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bento - Variations





I've eaten so horribly lately (again) that I decided to try to do more bentos (again) . My first attempts were veggie centric and left me starving by the end of the day, the last attempt worked best (as far being filling) by rounding it out with a bigger bit of meat and using kim che for a 'vegetable'.

Also on the last attempt, I (mostly) followed a miso soup recipe out of my cookbook and put in a cut up slice of bacon instead of bonito flakes (flaked, dried fish). Along with a slight bit of sake I figured it was going to be a fairly revolutionary miso; it would change miso history and have the appeal of crack cocaine! When I finally got to taste it, it tasted like....bean with bacon soup, oh well.

On a side note, I stopped by the local Korean grocer expecting to find a treasure trove of kim che, but instead found a lame selection that was about the same as might be expected from a regular grocery store. I guess real Koreans make their own. One interesting tidbit is that although Koreans have been making kim che since the 7th century (supposedly), hot peppers didn't make it to the region until the mid-1600s. Before this time kim che would have been just regular old sauerkraut.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Standing on the Corner...

Looks like more than one elected official is happy with the idea of the U.S. becoming a third world backwater, from here:
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others got it right—the knaves have, by and large, behaved, and their actions largely reflect in some way the will of the American people. Americans do not need to engage their politicians in an uncivil way—as happens most elsewhere—since the ballot box, the media, and other constitutional tools largely suffice. Indeed, the American political system works remarkably well. However, there are a handful of topics where the elites do not act in the interests of those they govern. Of these, the most notorious is the contentious issue of immigration. Why are politicians so keen on mass immigration while the common American is not? This has perplexed analysts.
Whole thing is worth a read, but it will hardly tell you anything you don't already know, so maybe not.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Remote Sticker Shock

A $400 Universal Remote.
Maybe there's something to all that noise about a decadent society.

Friday, August 11, 2006

New Error

I was in Excel and got this error, which is a new one on me!

I'd relate the task I was performing when I got this error, but I think we can all agree that Excel doesn't suffer from any failures that the average human would consider 'catastrophic'.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Whores

I sat down to bore myself to death with one of my trade mags when I came across an article on the front page (which is about as far as I usually get into this mag) that noted a business by the name of Banyan Technology that resides in a Cleveland suburb. The article made note of how difficult it is for tech startups in the midwest to get venture capital, but somehow Banyan had the good fortune of coming by a couple hundred thousand in cash.

Of course it didn't take much of an investigation to discover that ol' Banyan got their cash from one of the various corporate whore funds that's been propped up with taxpayer money. Here's what our esteemed governor said about Ayalogic, another Ohio corporate whore:
“We’re committed to creating the conditions for entrepreneurial success in Ohio,” Taft said. “But it is only through technology pioneers like Ayalogic with the ingenuity, innovation and entrepreneurial energy to create a new generation of products, and venture capital firms like JumpStart, Draper Triangle Ventures and Early Stage Partners willing to place a bet on promising entrepreneurs with great ideas that we will reach our full potential.”
Some 'bet', nothing beats gambling with other people's money! However, I'm sure the governor went out of his way to appoint top notch people who would insure a highly ethical and upstanding process, right? Yeah right:
In November, 2003, Gov. Bob Taft made seven appointments — including Terrence Gasper, the chief financial officer of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation — to a new state board designed to spark investment in firms started by Ohio entrepreneurs. In October, 2004, Gasper was forced to resign from the bureau because of the bureau’s $216 million loss in a Bermuda-based hedge fund. But Gasper remained a member of the Ohio Venture Capital Authority until June 6, 2005, when he submitted a resignation letter as the bureau disclosed the hedge-fund loss in the wake of the scandal over its rare-coin investment with Tom Noe.
...
Three weeks ago, Gasper pleaded guilty to public corruption charges, admitting that he traded investment business for personal gain, including use of a Florida condominium from two brokers and $25,000 from Noe, whom he helped get $50 million from the bureau to invest in rare coins.

Geek to Me

And technical security people wonder why no one listens to them, from here:
During her talk, she described how scripts can be used to allocate excess amounts of memory to a process, forcing the target system to page out unused code and drivers. At this stage, Rutkowska showed how shell code could be executed inside one of the unused drivers, completely defeating the new device driver signing policy being implemented in Vista to only allow digitally signed drivers to load into the kernel.

Rutkowska created a one-click tool to plant the rootkit and used special heuristics to automatically find out how much memory should be allocated to "knock the unused driver."

The shell code used in the demo successfully disabled signature checking in the rooted machine, rendering the system vulnerable to the loading of unsigned drivers.
...
Rutkowska said Microsoft should consider forbidding raw disk access from user mode, or encrypting pagefile to keep it in kernel non-paged memory. This may cause some performance impact, she said.

A third possible solution is to disable kernel memory paging entirely, Rutkowska said.
It's a nasty, complicated subject that most people don't have the time to worry about. Most people have a profession apart from from computers and they'd sooner live without them than have to worry about all the intracacies of a product that grows more complicated every day.

On a related site I caught the following pic:

I was looking this picture from top to bottom and I was like "oh yeah I like Coke, and mmm fired rice, that's what I ate all weekend, and that chair looks exactly like my office chair, and OMG my game!" I knew right away that I needed to post a disclaimer noting that this is not my office. My actual office is mildly more presentable.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Safety First!

I don't think I've posted this before, but this is a pic of an industrial safety poster that I have hanging in my office:

Although gross at first, it's actually 'C' grade horror movie cheezy since you can see there is nothing in the sleeve that is in the machine, and the guy's arm is clearly visible inside his shirt. That hasn't stopped many a person from being shocked upon seeing it (apart from the shop floor manager who thought it'd do good posted out on the factory floor).

It's from a series of posters from ERI Video and I was fortunate enough to mooch this one before our last safety inspector left. She had a whole stack of them (including that nasty 'eyeball' looking one), but I think she threw them all out (the content, whatever it's appeal, is no doubt quite reduced for women, I'd imagine). The place that made the poster makes it's main money by selling cheezy videos, the plot on this one couldn't help but draw a chuckle from me:
This compelling new meeting opener shows how taking a shortcut to save time can have devastating consequences for you and your loved ones. Every Saturday, Ted missed his son Brad's little league baseball games because he had to work. When Brad's team made it to the championship game, Ted promised Brad he'd be there. On the day of the game, Ted had to decide whether to bypass a series of safety rules during a maintenance procedure so he could get to the game on time or follow the rules and arrive late. Viewers will see how the right choice allowed Ted to see Brad play and how the wrong choice cost him his life.
The right choice was, of course, calling in 'sick' to work.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ka Boom

I caught the movie Sahara a while ago and found it groan inducing and painful to watch. The gist of the story is that some deep sea naval salvage experts (who are of course former Navy Seals, or something) go to some African country in search of a gold coin laden, Southern ironside from the U.S. civil war and then stumble upon the worst polluting solar energy plant ever devised (?!?!?). Towards the end of the movie, when the hero is attempting to shoot down a helicopter with a civil war cannon and ordinance, I wondered how stupid the target audience would have to be; but I guess they out-thought me on at least one count! From here:
The casualty count from the American Civil War just increased by two. Two American Civil War collectors were recently injured when an 1860s era explosive shell, did just that as they were trying to remove the explosives. This is one of the oldest dud shells to injure someone, in this case nearly 150 years after the shell was manufactured.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Two Things

Could sanity on the horizon for online music distribution? Yahoo is distributing a album without DRM in the MP3 format. There's been many a time when I've mulled over buying digital music from legitimate sources but have been turned off by the work involved in doing the ol' rip and burn (it's easier, I've found, to just buy the friggin' original CD). Leaving it in it's DRM format really isn't an option. What if your system dies, will the backup work on a new system? What happens in ten years when you find yourself on your fifth or sixth computer, will it still work then? Or even better, what happens when the company that DRM'd it doesn't support it or goes belly up and doesn't support any new codecs, players, etc.? You'd have a couple gigs of very expensive, worthless crap, that's what.

On a completely different subject Cox and Forkum point out an article that laments the fact that Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was unable to convince the U.S. to push for a permanent security council seat for the Land of the Rising Sun. This points out how worthless the U.N. is when it doesn't consider a country with one of the largest economies and one of the largest militaries worthy of consideration. It also points out how diversity often equals lethargy since the U.N. is pulled in so many directions (mostly bad ones) that it's ability to do anything worthwhile is bound to offend someone. I figured if it meant that much to Koizumi though, then he could have the U.S.'s 'security council' seat.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Kerry Krap

Doesn't this bumper sticker just say it all? I snapped the pic on a car yesterday...


Lezzee: Union, Spanish, in mint condition despite being on the car two years after the election.

While I was looking at other Kerry Krap, I came across these two gems, first one for the Mac users out there:


Oye I kid, I just can't help myself!


And then I kid you not, this is NOT a photoshop:


Of course the site sports a button for the opposite group as well.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Full Final Fantasy Panic!

I've had this last Microsoft test hanging out over me for a couple months. It's structured differently and I figured I'd have a rough time of it, so I kept putting off the hardcore studying I figured was required to get through it. I slowly soaked up info here and there; but then over the July fourth holiday my brother came over and he got me into playing Final Fantasy X (yes I blame him :) ). Needless to say, studying and much else took a back seat to leveling up characters, riding chocobos and whatnot.

I had logged about, oh, 35 hours into the game (it helpfully keeps track of how much of your life you've p!ssed away playing it). I had a memory card for my FFX and my twelve year old son has one for his. You can see where this is going, he called me this past Thursday to let me know that he had gotten the cards backwards and had nuked all the saves on my card.

O-M-G

I figured it was a sign from God telling me that I should quit screwing around with Japanese anime-ware* and crank out that last test - to which I said 'screw that' and went out and bought a uniquely colored memory card that would ONLY be for my FFX saves and I bought a walkthrough manual as well and then I started back into it at the beginning.

Now I dutifully have my last test scheduled on some date on which I have no intention of taking it of course; and the night before I'm scheduled to take it for these past several months I log onto their site and punt the date down another two or three weeks. So I'm leveling up my FFX characters like mad last night on the Thunder plains and I determine that I would really rather play FFX than study for that test I have scheduled for the next day. I log onto their site and the test date is locked, cannot reschedule, cannot call since it’s the weekend. Welcome to Screwedville, population me.

So I cram like there's no tomorrow (after playing another half an hour of FFX) with the expectation that this will be the hardest test yet (70-298 for those keeping track). I'm nervous as hell going into it since I planned on cramming 15 hours and I spent maybe two, two and half hours looking over my notes.

The result: Crappiest, and thus easiest, test ever. I wish I could get that two and half hours back so that I could put them into my game. I've said it before on other Microsoft tests, but I mean it this time, half the test was "who is buried in Grant's tomb" B.S. type questions that someone who has never seen a computer could have gotten right. The other half were an amalgamation of ‘greatest hits’ questions from previous (sometimes two previous) exams. So easy were the first few questions that I determined after answering only half the questions that it was mathematically impossible for me to fail.

I promised myself that I’d take some extra tests this year, but I think me and my brain are done for now. Of course all it takes is a mild business downturn and the possibility of missing a meal to refocus the mind!

*(From what I’ve read, this game had strong(er) religious overtones in its original Japanese iteration. I dare say that if the country of origin wasn’t taken into consideration and a more faithful port was performed that it might be viewed as having a very strong Christian (albeit anti-Catholic) storyline)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Goodhearted Idiots

Someone needs to put this on billboards placed every twenty feet on every major highway:
Honesty and truly I say, there's nothing special about pull tabs [on soda cans] which makes them exchangeable for time on a dialysis machine. These bits of metal are worth nothing more than the ordinary recycle value of the aluminum they contain. Though rumor claims pull tabs are made of a special metal or have a "higher aluminum content" than the cans they accompany (thus accounting for their imagined greater value), there's nothing to this notion — the tabs are made from the same material as the cans.
A million pull tabs have a recycle value of just under $300 U.S. And that's before you factor in what it costs to collect, store, and transport them to a recycling center which will pay cash for them. When you consider the time and effort it takes to collect a million of anything, it's a wonder anyone would go to all that trouble for a mere $300. Far better to ask everyone you know for a penny in place of each pull tab they would have given you — at least then when you were done collecting your million, you'd have $10,000 to donate to your charity.
This is one of those things that I never bother to quash since, it doesn't make sense on it's face; I figure the person telling me this doesn't believe it themselves. I remember being told this yarn back in the sixth grade (twenty some years) and thinking it was a load of bull.

But it still comes up, so at least now I'll have URL to point people to; people are always grateful to be told their good intentions are a crock, right? I'll be the most popular person in Northeast Ohio, prepare to be jealous!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Free Time

Dvorak notes this video where someone edited the skateboards out of video. Although a technical feat, I have to wonder there the creator got the time to make something so frivolous.

As well, I was NASA again today for an event, and the presenter was having issues with the playback on the projector of what was obviously an encoded video of some sort (probably DivX). The other presenter cracked about how the pause in the action is no doubt thanks to Microsoft. I cracked semi-silently to myself that they couldn't fool me; it was no doubt a Mac up there that was choking on the video*. Then the woman in front of me turns around and says "no, that's why we have Macs!"

WTF? A friggin' Mac zealot! I felt the need to stand up......for.....Microsoft? Screw that says I. The Sandmich refuses to be a whore for any corporation (except for maybe that Skyline Chili place and whatever place I happen to be working for). Where do these Mac people get off thinking that it's a worthwhile pursuit to plug a multinational corporation, for free? Don't they know there are real religions out there with much more well meaning dogmas?

However, along those same lines I occasionally see (typically Japanese) artwork of OS-chans which are inspired mascotts (typically scantily clad anime girls) based upon a particular (typically Microsoft) OS. The whole idea leaves me puzzled. Is there so little in the world from which to draw inspiration from, and so much free time that there's nothing better to do than make your own ads up for Microsoft? I caught a picture of some girl though who took it to the next level and made her own cosplay outfit based upon the idea, oy!


I got that pic from this cosplay site. Go on and click it you perv, I know you like girls that dress up like Sailor Moon!



*The joke being of course, that a Mac would only be able to play back video that's been encoded by some software that only three people on the planet own. Usually Mac people have more humility than to whip it out in public.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Valuable Fortune

I loved these two cookie fortunes so much that I taped them to my monitor, the lucky numbers are provided free of charge!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Random Pics

I had some family come and visit and I took some pictures of some landers that are docked downtown near a Coast Guard facility. Kind'a a pain since they sit back at a weird angle behind a fenced barrier. I guess they keep them on hand in case Canada needs to be invaded (though they probably have two too many):

I've taken pictures of the landers and the nearby anchored U.S.S. Cod, but these seemed to come out particularly well:

And lastly, I finally got off my lazy butt and took a picture of my unlicensed Counterstrike toys that I picked up from some unscrupulous Chinamen: