Friday, April 28, 2006

Mechanical Pong

Needless to say, I want one of these.

Web Cams

I don't know how many of you are trolling the underbelly of the internet, but over the past couple of years the web-cam video has become pretty much one of the most popular things out there. For those of you who don't know, for like $100 you can add a camera to your computer so you can video chat with others. You can also make recordings. What seems to happen is that young ladies (like 22 down to 18 or 19) seem to make these videos for their boyfriends or potential boyfriends or maybe even other girlfriends where they put on some music and then dance all sexy like. Is it any wonder these have grown popular?

This link is a video that plays on that concept. I love the end..

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Flight 93

There is a new movie coming out about Flight 93. I will tell you right off the bat that I believe it was shot down by a figher jet and the govt. doesn't want us to know (for whatever reason, probably becasue they think we can't handle it, maybe for some more nefarious reason). I don't care a bit about the film. What I think is that since the film is coming out we should take some time to do some research on Flight 93. I already sent you all to a great film about 9/11, you can see that and conclude what you'd like. Also, Will Bunch from the Daily News posted about Flight 93 yesterday and I think you should check that out too.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Hi, I'm Paris Hilton. I am a model. You can tell becasue I have so many different poses. "You're no model! I am!".

Opie and Anthony

So. Roth is out and Opie and Anthony are in. This is pretty interesting stuff indeed. First off, Opie and Anthony were fun to listen to a few years ago on the radio during drive time. When they got kicked off the air I was really surprised at how they just dissapeared without a fight. In a sense, they lost their street cred to me.

Then a few years later they show up on XM but the catch is that you'd have to pay for their show. Was XM kidding? That was a goofy move. Just put the show on its own channel and let it build subscribers. Alienating current subscribers was simply silly. It wasn't like O and A were Howard Stern (who's show you could actually charge for if you wanted). Whatever, I was done with them.

So now they come back to free radio, but get this twist, you get most of the same show (minus curse words I would guess) on free radio now. They're going to simulcast a 3 hour block of the show on XM and CBS radio. I wonder how all the XM subscribers who are paying to hear O and A feel about that.

Just one more example of really desperate and strange programming decisions by an outdated dinousaur (CBS) and a new company that doesn't fully get it (XM). But then again maybe I don't get it since Sirius stock is still stuck in the 5's.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Google Earth

You know, I've had Google Earth on my desktop for a few months now. I think I originally downloaded it to check it out, took a play for a few minutes, thought it was stupid and then forgot about it. A few months later I was chatting with a friend and he said something like "Yea, I was playing with Google Maps for a few hours today" and I was like : "huh?". Yet a few months more went by until today and I don't know why I fired it up, but I've been playing with it for a few hours now and I finally get it. This thing is pretty fricken amazing! I went to the Pyramids, I saw the Eiffel Tower, I found my house, I looked over Europe and Russia and Japan and flew in and over Bagdad. I just can't stop looking at stuff. And I've been doing it by using my mouse. Just scolling back with my mouse wheel and flying along, connecting locations like I was neo in the Matrix.

If you haven't tried this thing, you should. If you haven't spent an hour playing with it, you haven't had that "wow" moment. In that case I advise you play with it some more.

Dr. Who

When I was in 8th grade and in high school my favorite show was Dr. Who. I was in love with that show. I knew all kinds of trivia and had seen all the episodes. I was a crazy addict. And then for whatever reason, I drifted away from it. It may have been cancelled on channel 12. I can't rememer.

Well, as you may or may not know, it's back. SciFi Channel has been broadcasting new episodes with the 9th Doctor (well, it's last years 2005 BBC season). Let me just say that while it's not the most deep TV, it's certainly the most entertaining. I love the 9th doctor and Rose (his companion) is awesome as well. The plots of the episodes I've seen so far are pretty subversive statements about the state of our nation right now (news manipulation, the war on Iraq, etc.). Overall, I've been really happy with the show so far.

I highly reccomend you give the show a try (after you read the wiki article to get up to speed).

Cuban on Sirius

Apparently, my favorite rich guy Mark Cuban is getting a radio show on Sirius. I have been a reader and huge fan of his blog now for a while. I think he's really smart and he really gets technology and media and how they interact with society. As a Sirius stockholder I'm doubly happy about it!

Death and almost Death

Saw two interesting things in "The Week" yesterday. First was a pice about a student that was almost killed. I have to fully copy it over for you to read:

A University of Georgia student was swarmed by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms when he left a costume party dressed as a ninja. Sophomore Jeremiah Ransom had a pair of bandanas around his head when agents yelled, "Freeze!" and surrounded him with drawn guns. "I was in shock, to say the least," said Ransom. ATF special agent Vanessa McLemore said the response was proper. "Seeing someone with something across the face-from a federal standpoint, that's not right," she said.

Ok. Now what do you think I'm going to say about this? First off, the obvious, what the fuck are ATF agents doing on a college campus staking out a costume party? Second, this civilian almost got killed for no reason. It reminds me of the guy in England on the Subway. Lastly, what the hell is that agent talking about? Should I be careful next winter when I wear a scarf across my face? What about all the Muslums wearing berkas? Are they "not right from a federal standpoint" ?? Insane.

Now, talk about insane, the second piece I found painful to read was a piece about this Canadian guy who went across the border into Maine and shot and killed 2 sex offenders. He got thier name and addresses from the online registry. Look. I've posted a number of times about sex offenders and the facination the police have with these people, but I don't get how it is a good thing to allow the general public to have access to these peoples addresses.. do you?

Friday, April 21, 2006

New York

Yay.. going to New York in an hour or so. I am the best man at a wedding. I've spent the last month or so stressing over what I will say during my toast. See, I hate public speaking. We'll see what I come up with.

In more interesting news, the NHL playoffs start tonight! The series I'm most into watching (other than the Flyers) is the Devils and Rangers. I think the way they are playing together and the goaltending they are getting makes the Devils a lock to make it to the cup round. But boy I'd love to see NY beat them. See, I think the Flyers can beat NY but not NJ.

In either case, here are my first round picks:

Flyers over Buffalo
Devils over Rangers
Montreal over Carolina (in an upset.. 7 games)
Senators over Tampa Bay
Wings over Oilers
Dallas over the Avs (should be a great series)
Calgary over the Ducks
Nasville over the Sharks

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

WiFi - blah

I'm a tech guy as most of my friends can attest. So this statement may come as some surprise: "I hate WiFi (with one exception)". In my experience (and it is long and extensive) with 802.11 is that it isn't ready for prime time yet. From its inception, every company has come out with their own variant and often they really aren't compatable. The security is sup-par and totally crackable. The signals sometimes pass through walls and floors, sometimes they don't, sometimes it depends on the atmospheric conditions.

In my old apartment I had no choice but to use WiFi. I had a base station, two tivo's, one remote pc and a wireless hub to get all working at once. It took me days to get it all working. That includes firmware updates, buying and returing different access points and bridges, careful positioning and just flat out frusteration. I'm glad I own my new home. The first thing that I did was do end run cat6 cable runs everywhere. Guess what? I could never be happier. (well, I could be happier if I was able to do fiber).

Seriously, have you ever tried to get a powerbook working in a linksys environment? Hell, total hell. Anyway, I mentioned one exception and that is the IBM ThinkPad. for some reason, my girlfriends ThinkPad picks up and connects to everything and anything I want it to. I don't know how it works, but it does.

So, lets talk about security. I don't have the time to look it up right now, but there is a guy in federal prison becasue of crimes that were comitted over his WiFi network. What's the problem here? Well, the guy was a computer illiterate and the crimes were comitted by someone outside of his house in a car. After raiding his house and taking his one PC, the feds admitted that this guy probably didn't do anything wrong other than leave the WiFi unprotected, but since his was the connection, he was liable..

Anyway, the reason I'm writing today is that I'm concerned about Philadelphias WiFi project. I'm concerned about 2 things. First is of major importance to me: nobody has done a study on how all this additional RF radiation will affect our health in 10-20 years. City wide WiFi is not as simple as putting up some WiFi routers. We're talking about some huge transmitters putting out tons of Watts of energy and I for one am concnerned that it will increase our susceptability to cancer over time. I have this same concern about weather radar systems put in place by our TV networks. You hear a lot about the "Doppler 10000" or whatever it's called. The more power they put into these things, the more raditation is beamed out and into and through our bodies. Nobody seems to care one way or another and I don't get it.

The second issue with ciry WiFi is one that I'm looking forward to since it will casue all kinds of anarchy and chaos. See, there is a really good chance that the high powered city-wide WiFi network will interfere with all of the home WiFi networks and make them in-operable. I can't wait to see that mess.

Look I'm all for Philadelphia being progressive and all, but why couldn't they instead use the Septa subway lines to run fiber through the city instead? Why not become a city-wide ISP like other cities are thinking about and doing?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Triumph of Professor Peeps

So I get this email about a week ago from a friend of mine. One of his buddies organizes a Peep eating contest every year after Easter. This year would be the 4th annual event and he wanted to know if I'd like to come along. The rules were pretty simple: Enter with $20, you have 20 minutes to eat as many Peeps as you could, you then had 15 minutes where you could not throw up. If you made it to the end, the person with the most Peeps down is the winner.

I actually like Pink Peeps, I've had the Yellow ones and I really don't dig the taste that much, but I told him: "I'll go, but I'm going to enter as well.". Now for anyone who knows me, entering an eating contest of any kind is simply not something I would ever do, but something about this one sounded good to me. I was confident I could eat at least 40 and maybe even 50. I was told, however, that the two time champion "Sgt. Peepers" set the record last year with 75. That would be tough to beat.

So, last Friday my friend Kanabul and I bought about 40 Peeps and began experimenting on how to win. We tested them in water and in soda and then came upon a breakthrough: Vinegar. See, there were two main problems that we could see. First was that the Peeps had an insane amount of sugar in them and the second was that they tasted awful. The sugar problem was so far unsolvable but the taste problem was countered by the vinegar for some reason. With the right ratio of vinegar and water we were able to neutralize the taste. The sugar was another issue.

See, ingesting all that sugar and marshmallow was bound to make you throw up at some point. We were warned that 100% of the entrants threw up either during or right after the competition. We needed a way to counter the sugar and a way to counter the effects of the marshmallow. Enter the blender. Against the wishes of my girlfriend, Kan and I put our vinegar mixture into the blender with about 10 Peeps. We set it to Liquify and gave it whirl. What came out was not appetizing at all. Back to the drawing board. We started brainstorming...What is the opposite of sweet? We wondered. And then it hit us: Sour! Back to the blender was a mixture of water and lemon juice and Peeps. Out came a thick, creamy Lemonaide drink. Kind of like an Orange Creamcicle but with Lemons instead. We had our solution.

So, to the event we went yesterday with a box full of supplies. I had mixed the lemon juice into two bottles with food coloring so my mixtures would look mysterious. I also had a big beaker thing that I was using to drink out of and mix with. That and the blender and a bottle of water and "Professor Peeps" was ready to rock.

I was the only one using a non-traditional (ie. Not stuffing my face) method and in a way I felt a bit bad, but innovation is the key to progress and the judges agreed that my method was totally cool. Since I was blending I didn’t need to ingest anything right away (pointed out by another friend of mine) so when the event started I just chilled and filled up the blender, grinding away 5 peeps at a time. I stopped after 60 had made it into the blender and poured it into my beaker so I could drink it at the opportune moment. 16 more Peeps went into the blender as a backup reserve.

It was chaos at the event. Everyone was screaming and yelling and taking photos. There was a fair amount of yelling at me for having my blender but there was also a fair amount of people supporting me as well. Most everyone was waiting to see what I would do next. One of the most common things I heard at this point was something like "Well, he still has to drink it!" which was a good point since the most I'd drunk was 10 Peeps during our test. I had no idea what 60 would do to me.

So one of my friends yelled out that there were 7 minutes left. At that point, the most I could tell that the others had eaten was about 40 so I felt like I was going to win. I picked up the beaker. Everyone, including the other contestants turned to look at me. All I heard was "Oh my God! He’s going to drink it!" I started drinking away to choruses of "Ugh!" and the like. I was committed so I just kept chugging away. I got half done and took a small break. It was great. People were convinced at that point I'd made a horrible mistake and would puke right there and then. But I was totally fine. I went back for gulp #2. As I finished it, people were amazed and I was the new leader with 60 Peeps down.

To be honest, at that point I felt pretty good. I didn't think I was going to throw up at all so I sat back and waited for the clock to stop and the 15 minute waiting period to begin. I looked up and asked for a time check and guess what? 11 minutes to go! My friend was off by 5 minutes and I was fucked. I wasn’t sure I could last that long. The plan was to finish my gulp right at the buzzer. I got nervous a bit and sat back to think and see how I felt. About 3 minutes later I felt something coming up. And then it did. A huge belch. And then another, and then another. Ahh! I was ready to rock again.

I looked around and saw some folks catching up to me so I said to myself : "Fuck this. I'm either going to win or loose horribly" so I grabbed the blender again. People all went crazy: "He's going for more!" was all I heard. I poured the rest into the beaker and gulped it down. 76 Peeps in my belly. I sat back and immediately realized that I had made a very grave mistake. At this point everyone was going crazy. One contestant had grabbed my beaker and thrown up into it, the crowd was calling for my blender to be filled with puke and one or two wanted them to puke on me instead. The crowd was going crazy and all I cold do was sit there and calm myself and not allow myself to get anymore sick than I was at that moment. I was convinced I was going to loose it and look like a fucking moron.

And then the clock stopped. If I could hold on for 15 more minutes I was going to not only win but set the record. About 30 seconds later with everyone convinced I was going to loose it (I probably looked miserable and white as a ghost), I stood up and burped again, and again, and again. That made me feel a bunch better and although I felt like shit, I knew that if I threw up, it would be a complete surprise to me. And then came the cigars. 3 guys with huge cigars headed to the table and started blowing the smoke at us, me in particular it seemed. This was going to be hard.

The crowd was growing restless. They would take any movement or look as evidence that someone was going to loose it, and some did. Most all of them used my damn beaker. At the 5 minute mark, one of the girls behind me grabbed my shoulders and started vigorously shaking me. "Puke Dammit!!". I stood up (not a good idea when your belly was filled with 3 liters of Peeps and Lemon Juice) and grabbed the puke filled beaker and menacingly held it near her. I honestly couldn't speak. I was convinced if I'd opened my mouth I would indeed loose it entirely. There was a story of this happening last year where a contestant opened his mouth and spontaneously projectile vomited a stream of fluorescent yellow liquid which bounced off of something and flew backwards over his shoulder and covered his girlfriend. I had no idea how much time was left (in me and on the clock) so I sat back down and began to tune everything out. Soon I heard "2 minutes to go" and I knew I was going to win. I started counting in my head to 120. Then I heard the announcer say "and the unofficial countdown begins now! 10-9-8…." And the crowd joined in.

Now I was worried. Was he trying to trick me in some way? Why was the countdown "Unofficial"? When they got to 0 and he called me the winner I was skeptical. I was convinced he wanted me to loose it right there and then he was going to say "1 minute to go". I wasn’t until my friend Anthony (a contestant and judge) shook my hand and gave me the winnings that I knew for sure.

And then it was time to puke. There was a tradition that on the road behind the bar, everyone purged themselves into a huge swamp of Peeps. I walked over to it and couldn't do it. I guess I had spent so much time meditating that I wasn't going to throw up that now I couldn't. But I needed to. I was really full and I felt miserable. So I leaned over and gave it my best shot. After about 3 tries it came out. In two huge events my stomach was cleared out. The second one was so strong I fell over and almost into it. I had to brace myself my grabbing the ground. After that was over I laid on the back in the street and relaxed.

When I looked back, my puke wasn't yellow at all, it was all clear. I'm not a chemist or doctor, but the blending and the lemon juice made a huge difference in how my body delt with it. I'm sure they will ban the blender next year but Professor Peeps will again use science to beat all comers. Prepare for the defending champion to come kick some ass next year!

Seems like there are others out there as well.

Update: Here is some other press on my victory.

Monday, April 17, 2006

DEA Officer Shoots Himself

Yea.. This is pretty sad but actually quite funny. I feel bad for this DEA guy, but on the other hand I'm sure he's arrested tons of innocent people in his life so too bad. On the video he is teaching a group of students about gun safety and is showing off with his glock that he believes is not loaded. Dumb ass.

I'm the only one in this room who's professional enough, that I know of, to carry a Glock 40

Netflix issues

For some reason I remember writing about this before. But like most posts I can't find it when I do a search for it so I'm not sure that I have or not. Well, in either case, it deserves a repost.

Lately (and in this case I'm talking about the past 6-9 months or so), every other DVD I get from Netflix has a scratch or is unplayable for some reason. It seems to me that for some reason I have the kind of luck that renders this unplayability as happening during the final 3rd of the film.

This is really starting to piss me off. What really makes me mad is that the folks at Netflix (originally one of my favorite companies) don't seem to care at all. I mean, they gladly rush me a new DVD with no questions asked, but when I write them, they never reply to me. See, for me, getting a replacement disk 3 days later is not a good way to make me happy. Now I loose the continuity of the film, I loose the experience.

What I would like is for them to do some kind of better quality control and stop sending scratched disks in the first place. I switched to blockbuster online as a protest but that lasted about 2 days until I realized that blockbuster was a company that censored films without telling anyone (now I know I wrote about this somewhere!).

I have no recourse. Netflix is my only choice. Perhaps that's why they don't feel the need to improve their quality. Well, fuck them man. If you don't have netflix and go to get your DVD's the old fashioned way, I say, stick with it for a while. No recommendation from me for you to move.

Friday, April 14, 2006

DRM is coming man..(and it aint gonna be pretty)

Seems that building my own PVR box isn't really going to work out for HD since I forgot about the up and coming Digital Rights Management schemes that are going to be all over the place.

For the home brewer, this means their solution won't work if they upgrade to high-definition cable, because the cable box won't send a readable signal to any tuner card that isn't part of a locked-down environment, such as TiVo or Windows Media Center.

You could always unplug your cable box and record free HDTV off the public airwaves, but perhaps not for long. The industry is trying to get Congress to make it illegal to build TV tuners that record broadcast HDTV without including DRM on the recording.

from wired news.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

All I can think is poor Cat Stevens..

By now you all know the story of Abdul Rahman. He's the guy who while living in Germany converted from Islam to Christianity and then when he came home to Afganistan, was facing the death penatly for his actions. Those of you who read here regularly know that I'm pretty much against all forms of organized religion because I feel that they all are fronts for mass mind control and political power. Islam, from what I've learned in our media is a peaceful religion but I'm not sure that killing someone for converting seems that peaceful, not to mention rational.

Orson Scott Card, one of my favorite writers took a stand here and wrote an excellent essay on the Rahman situation and talked a bunch about how Islam could be promiting itself better. I think you all should give it a read. I agree with most of what he says.

Here are 2 excerpts:

Of all religions, Islam, with a firm belief that all that happens in the world happens as a result of the will of God, should accept that when someone leaves the faith, it is clearly permitted by the will of God, for God is not so powerless as to need bloody-handed men to enforce his will!


So I am waiting for American Muslims to band together to stand openly and bravely against the anti-freedom doctrines and laws within Sharia. I am waiting for them to establish the councils that would give official authority to a body that could renounce and excommunicate any imam, here or abroad, who taught that any Muslim has a right to kill or exile anyone over matters of faith and conscience.

Only Muslims can change Islam. And Islam must, for its own sake and for the sake of peace and freedom throughout the world, change on precisely this point of law.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Sex Offender Next Door

I've written about this subject before. I'm glad that Phildelphia Magazine is concerned about the same issue. They had an article this month about two sex offenders, both the same in the eyes of the law in NJ but totally different to most people.

In the case of Steve Elwell, nothing could be closer to what I was talking about 6 months ago. Something really should be done about this issue. I know it's not something that any politician wants to touch, but they should becasue it's the right thing to do. All you and I can do is complain and home that Steve wins his case.

Klosterman on Barry Bonds

I'm not a fan of baseball by any stretch, but I have been a huge fan of Chuck Klosterman since I read "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs : A Low Culture Manifesto". A friend sent me a link to an article Chuck wrote about Barry Bonds that was an excellent read (and I'm not saying that because he tooled on "Crash" in the middle of it).

Drugs again

While on the subject of drugs, here is another drug related story that I found interesting today. A student had his cell phone confiscated. That makes sense, its a stated school policy. But, the part I take offense to is that the teacher not only took the phone, but snooped around on it and read the students text messages. I'm not sure that is legal and if it is, I'm not sure that it is right. But, what do I know?


Hmn.. You know what's great about local news? How they keep you hip on new things to try out. There is supposivly a new (new to the country at large) hallucinogenic that is legal. I for one aim to try it out at some point.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Voting Machines Again

(above photo from Wired, Nov 2004)

I still swear that I could build a reliable voting system... light years better than better than Diebold and better than Sequoia and all the others. My system would be secure, have open source code, be seperate from the user interfaces, and of course have paper audits.

Today I came across a piece from the Inky last week that talks about problems with the new system going into Montgomery County:

Michael Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said in an interview he was able to hack in and change totals during a state test. The machines are also being purchased by Allegheny County.

"I found that by altering one file I could change vote totals from 10 to over 8,000," he said. "It easily let me do that, so the security mechanisms associated with county central are deficient."

Why is the public not more worried that the basis of our democracy is being chipped away with this crappy technology? Why aren't there more people donating to the one and only org that is fighting this crap?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Interesting tidbit

Having internet connection issues galore here. All the fault of Comcast. But I think it may now be fixed after a looooong 5 days w/o the net.. Anyway, a friend sent me this :

On Wednesday, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.
That won't ever happen again.