08/29/2007 11:26 PM -
i bought a new camera today, a canon powershot sd1000, and i was struck by how far digital cameras have come.
i remember over a decade ago seeing the large, bulky equipment that was used in analog applications: giant film cameras with equally large external flash; they were so large and awkward they came with a shoulder strap. i remember dad's old videocamera which took vhs tapes and had to be held with two hands and a shoulder.
i remember my first camera (i still have it), a smaller and much cheaper toy-looking piece of plastic. it was alot easier to carry and use, but it still had all the drawbacks of an analog camera: film, having to be taken somewhere to pay money to have the photos developed, no easily accessible mechanism to duplicate the pictures. additionally, it lacked the myriad configuration options you see on high-end analog cameras; though when i got it i would have been too young to appreciate them.
i remember my first digital camera (at least i think it was my first one): a sony mavica. still large and unwieldy, it featured a "4x floppy drive" and could take jpg pictures at the whopping two megapixels: 1600x1200. it goes without saying i never used the floppy drive; it came with an sd port so i got a 1gb card. then i got a smaller, more mobile version, which could take pictures at 3mp and featured a usb port.
this new one is unbelievably compact, measuring only 3.4x2.1x0.7 inches (58 x 53 x 19 mm) and weighing in at a mere 4.4oz (125g), it still manages to sport a 2½" screen. its bigger brother has a 3" screen on the same dimensions, but best buy was out of stock and refused to sell me the display model.
as seems to be the trend in all digital cameras (and most cell phones) these days, it supports video with audio. i can record 640x480 (higher than any low-def tv supports) at 30fps (ntsc standard framerate for video). with the 2gb card i purchased for $25, i can fit approximately 16 minutes of full-quality video (1.9mbps), or 72 minutes at low quality (373kbps). alternatively, the 2gb card will fit 1000+ full-quality 7.1mp images, or 17,268 tiny but crappy images. if their 4gb card were of a compatible format, i'd be able to sit in a movie theater and telesync the whole thing - but that would be wrong, and i'd never do that *wink*
with the lithium ion battery, i can keep shooting for hours. features include: 7.1mp, 3x optical zoom, iso1600 shutter speed (varies from 15sec to 1/1500 sec), red-eye correction, "face detection" (which i believe recognizes flesh tones and adjusts color accordingly), and a whole slew of other stuff i'll never use; like plugging it directly into a printer.
all this, and it fits in my shirt pocket. so yeah, cameras have come a long way.
08/29/2007 08:49 PM -
so the (big, fancy, secret) project i work on for the (big, fancy, secret) contract is done. test certified it ready for production and we deploy inside of a week. meanwhile, the dev team has turned our attention toward documentation for the next release.
we set up a basic demo for the dev lead and manager to show off some of the (big, fancy, secret) stuff we want to add to the next release. we'd love to use xaml, xbap, silverlight, and other shiny new microsoft technologies, but we're limited in that it sucks to require a local install on thousands of clients.
we showed it to the dev lead first; he was so impressed he verbally questioned why we were bothering to release the version we just finished (which we took over from a guy who basically codes vb6 and just calls it .net). when we showed it to the manager, he basically gave us approval on the spot to rewrite the whole damned project. sweet.
08/24/2007 11:20 PM -
this is "ode to my laser", which i purchased from thinkgeek.
on a night with clear black skies,
above the town an airplane flies;
it looms six miles in the air,
a sight that none would say is rare.
o laser, with your beam so green,
wouldst thou maketh thee a scene?
i point, i click, i count to five,
and the airplane takes a dive.
you light up planes, you light up clouds;
you make no noise, you are not loud.
five miles out, you hit pike's peak;
your beam visible, you are not meek.
i point at no-one, that is assault;
no other laws posted, it's not my fault!
o laser, with your beam so bright,
great fun with foil, cds, or night.
you melt plastic, you pop the corn;
yet others provide nothing but scorn.
08/24/2007 05:22 PM -
slashdot featured an article today about two hacks that successfully unlocked an iphone. no suprise there. one of the hacked phones has been put up for auction on ebay and currently has a highest bid of $12,000,100... you heard right, folks. twelve million bucks for a phone whose bidding started at $600.
edit: since it got slashdotted, the bidding is now up to $99,999,999.00! surely most of these high bids are fake and will be retracted.
edit 2: yep. the seller cancelled the listing early because of an "error in the listing".
edit 3: rumor has it the guy ended up trading the hacked iphone for a nissan 350z
08/23/2007 11:03 PM -
been busy looking around regarding pay-per-post and the complications therein. but it did motivate me to fix a couple things:
- articles now work, so you can see the "what are banlevels?" link from your profile page.
- formatted numbers in the sidebar to comma-delimit every third character.
08/23/2007 09:58 PM -
recently, during a google search for "geek humor", i came across a site that linked to a blog whose author was being paid, per post, to blog about some products and services he reviewed. so i was interested and drilled down further.
evidently, there are sites out there that pay people to talk about their products and services. we all knew that. the site i was looking at specifically targets blogs. we also knew that. however, what i didn't know, was that a blogger can be paid per post and not per hit. this way, traffic volume (while posted conspicuously) is irrelevant.
you can read my new disclosure policy (roughly translated "legalese i have to link to so you know i get paid per post") to learn more; or e-mail me if you have any concerns. rest assured my maximally verbose standards of content will not be (significantly) affected -- you'll be able to find these paid posts at a glance because (in accordance with aforementioned site's policies) i will be adding the following text to the bottom of each paid entry:
this is a paid entry. i am being financially compensated to disseminate the preceeding entry across the internet via this blog. if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to browse my disclosure policy or e-mail me.
obviously this is not the case on this entry, but that text will appear in paid entries in the future.
08/21/2007 09:00 PM -
i suppose the thing that caused me to submit an entry about the recent heat wave is that i came home for lunch, turned on a computer, and the lcd readout said 97f. the lcd temp readout initializes within seconds of power; this tells me the ambient temperature of the lab was 97f (36c)today. my comfort zone is 65-70f (18-21c), so you can imagine how uncomfortable my rubbermaid chair was through the denim. images of a slip-n-slide come to mind.
note to self: chairs made out of a plasticy, rubbery substance are bad. must get a new chair. this time check out office depot.
it's been in the 80's and 90's but it feels like the hundreds. depending on which weather site i check, it's currently somewhere between 77f and 87f. it's 9pm. needs more a/c.
08/20/2007 04:19 PM -
so i had played halo 1 awhile and was totally disappointed by the crippleware microsoft turned a once-promising bungie product into. based on my disappointment, i skipped halo 2. now, however, that i learned about the halo 3 beta being over, i kind of want to try it. unfortunately, it looks like that will be an xbox-360-only release. well, i'm an avid anti-console kind of guy, so i won't be going out and buying a $450 console just for a $40 game that's worth ten bucks and comes with a bad track record. sorry, microsoft, you just don't learn.
once upon a time, the original bungie developers intended halo to be a seamless inside-out ring world that could be explored seamlessly. beautiful idea; didn't go through.
08/20/2007 12:25 PM -
recently i learned some things while driving a friend's suv. first off, anti-lock brakes just plain suck. i could adapt to the ground clearance, the fact that a small car can hide in the blind spot even when you turn to look at it, the automatic transmission, bad mileage, and the fact that suvs are a hazard to everything else on the road - but the abs has gotta go.
according to the national highway traffic safety administration, "abs works with your regular braking system by automatically pumping them. in vehicles not equipped with abs, the driver has to manually pump the brakes to prevent wheel lockup. in vehicles equipped with abs, your foot should remain firmly planted on the brake pedal, while abs pumps the brakes for you so you can concentrate on steering to safety."
perhaps the nhtsa would be so kind as to educate me, how am i supposed to "concentrate on steering" when i'm being distracted by brakes that don't brake?
furthermore, "when abs is activated, you may experience a slight vibration or a rapid pulsation of the brake pedal—almost as if the brakes are pushing back at you. at times, you will feel the pedal suddenly drop. the valves in the abs unit may make a grinding, scraping or buzzing noise. this means your abs is working. continue to apply firm pressure and steer. do not take your foot off the brake pedal."
slight vibration? the entire truck was bouncing back and forth like a chinese hooker who just got punched in the stomach by a fat guy with sores on his face.
additionally, "when your wheels lock up on wet and slippery roads or during a panic stop, you may lose traction and control, causing your vehicle to spin. antilock brakes keep your wheels from locking up, so your car maintains directional control around hazards if you can’t make a complete stop in time."
somebody tell me, why should my driving in all other conditions be altered based entirely on an inclement weather condition that occurs less than 50% of the year? why not put a switch on the abs system so i could turn it on only when needed?
in a life-or-death, fight-or-flight situation, people don't always have the bandwidth to process pumping their brakes while steering away from an obstacle, nor to compensate for the lack of braking caused therein.
the point of brakes, as i understand it, is to stop the vehicle - usually to avoid a collision. how can i be expected to stop in a hurry if my brakes keep toggling on and off? in these cases, i want my brakes to lock. if it costs me four pads and a new master cylinder, that's cheaper than a new truck... or a life.
08/20/2007 10:12 AM -
an engineer, a physicist, and a statistician were moose hunting in northern canada. after a short walk through the marshes they spotted a huge moose 150 metres away. the engineer raised his gun and fired at the moose. a puff of dust showed that the bullet landed 3 metres to the right of the moose. the physicist, realizing that there was a substantial breeze that the engineer did not account for, aimed to the left of the moose and fired. the bullet landed 3 metres to the left of the moose. the statistician jumped up and down and screamed "we got him! we got him!"
08/20/2007 10:10 AM -
there was this statistics student who, when driving his car, would always accelerate hard before coming to any junction, whizz straight over it , then slow down again once he'd got over it. one day, he took a passenger, who was understandably unnerved by his driving style, and asked him why he went so fast over junctions. the statistics student replied, "well, statistically speaking, you are far more likely to have an accident at a junction, so i just make sure that i spend less time there."
08/20/2007 10:04 AM -
a biologist, a statistician, a mathematician, and a computer scientist are on a photo-safari in africa. they drive out into the savannah in their jeep, stop, and scour the horizon with their binoculars.
the biologist: "look! there's a herd of zebras! and there, in the middle: a white zebra! it's fantastic! there are white zebras! we'll be famous!"
the statistician: "it's not significant. we only know there's one white zebra."
the mathematician: "actually, we know there exists a zebra which is white on one side."
the computer scientist: "oh no! a special case!"
08/20/2007 10:03 AM -
i heard this joke years ago, and found it again with minimal googling:
there was once a group of biostatisticians and a group of epidemiologists riding together on a train to joint meetings. all the epidemiologists had tickets, but the biostatisticians only had one ticket between them. inquisitive by nature, the epidemiologists asked the biostatisticians how they were going to get away with such a small sample of tickets when the conductor came through.
the biostatisticians said, "easy. we have methods for dealing with that." later, when the conductor came to punch tickets, all the biostatisticians slipped quietly into the bathroom. when the conductor knocked on the door, the head biostatistician slipped their one ticket under the door thoroughly fooling the layman conductor. after the joint meetings were over, the biostatisticians and the epidemiologists again found themselves on the same train.
always quick to catch on, the epidemiologists had purchased one ticket between them. the biostatisticians (always on the cutting edge) had purchased no tickets for the trip home. confused, the epidemiologists asked the biostatisticians "we understand how your methods worked when you had one ticket, but how can you possibly get away with no tickets?" "easy," replied the biostatisticians smugly, "we have different methods for dealing with that situation."
later, when the conductor was in the next car, all the epidemiologists trotted off to the bathroom with their one ticket and all the biostatisticians packed into the other bathroom. shortly, the head biostatistician crept over to where the epidemiologists were hiding and knocked authoritatively on the door. as they had been instructed, the epidemiologists slipped their one ticket under the door. the head biostatistician took the epidemiologists' one and only ticket and returned triumphantly to the biostatistician group. of course, the epidemiologists were subsequently discovered and publicly humiliated.
moral: do not use statistical methods unless you understand the principles behind them.
08/18/2007 04:17 PM -
so today we went to lenscrafters and j and d pressured me into buying new glasses. not a damn thing wrong with the old ones, but they insist i need to be more stylish.
so i go through the eye tests:
- they make me read letters. okay, i knew that one was coming.
- they shoot air at me.
- they make me read light-green letters on a teal background to make sure i'm not colorblind.
- they take pictures of my corneas. the flash blinds me for a few seconds; then they warn me that bright light can cause temporary blindness.
- they run the "one, two" test on different refraction indices.
- they make me pay twice because the people who test eyes aren't the same company.
- they make me look into a giant hollow egg and press a button when a flash of white light occurs anywhere within my field of vision.
so i pick a frame. more accurately, they pick a frame and i just go along with it because i can't see any difference except these frames are smaller and thus provide less field of vision. the frames are ungodly expensive.
so i pick the lenses. they're half off, but still cost more than an autographed photo of jesus. all in all, i paid $400 for a pair of glasses when there was nothing wrong with my old ones, and i still have to wait up to two weeks. it used to be i'd pay $100 and have them in an hour. what has happened to this country?
08/17/2007 11:58 PM -
some of you will recall the compact fridge i was planning to buy. well, i bought one. it wasn't one of the aforementioned models, but it's close enough. i got a pretty decent deal at $125. i've placed it directly to my right, as you can see in the cgi image to the right (pic is clicky).
the image was rendered using high-tech, state-of-the-art software that came out about 10 years ago. whoever guesses the software first wins five "cool points".
the wierd small object seemingly hovering above the corner of the left desk is the webcam; the positioning of it will easily explain to you why all the monitors aren't visible.
08/17/2007 10:36 PM -
last time we spoke regarding my intermittent internet connectivity issues through comcast, we were waiting for an lmc escalation to occur from any of the contact line asap customers on my node. lo and behold, i ended up being the one to complain.
i called call center supervisor kieth when my connection dropped this afternoon. in an unusual change in service, i had a network technician at my house within an hour (i was quoted 20 minutes, but i won't complain...). he ran his tests on the biaxial cable from my tap to the node, which i learned today is #cs53 - though they have identical problems with node #cs64.
the verdict was that there is a team of comcast engineers roaming my city in hopes of determining what's causing the intermittent failures on these two nodes; the network technician hypothesizes it's a problem with rattlesnake itself. rattlesnake is basically a giant fiberoptic network switch which used to be a head end when adelphia ran things. when comcast took over, they converted it into what the net tech referred to as a "giant splice".
so apparently there is no way to get a hold of these (big, scary) comcast network engineers. the net tech doesn't know how, and kieth didn't answer his phone after he left. i know i could probably go up to rattlesnake (i know where it is) and sit around waiting for a group of techs to show up, but my interest in the situation has begun to wane.
man, this guy liked to talk. he talked about the 5tb server he has at home, the 100gb of music he has, how he rips dvds straight to video (but he rips the trailers as well); he even told me that his p2p app of choice is bearshare and that it combines nicely with bittorrent and his uncapped cable (he does work for comcast, after all). there's gotta be something wrong when the cable guy is telling his customers about his illegal ventures in cyberspace in such a blatant manner.
so i'm just gonna keep calling comcast and supervisor kieth when my connection drops. eventually they'll collect enough information to fix the problem, or i'll learn to live with it, or i'll get dsl (my bones shiver just thinking of it).
08/16/2007 09:49 PM -
man, i gotta come up with some better titles; that one sounded almost profane.
so, google has done some serious revamping of their webmasters' tools. used to be all i could see was which pages they had indexed and how many clicks they sent me. hell, i could tell that with a quick google query and my comprehensive set of homegrown ip logging tools.
there's much more now. most other webmasters know that googlejuice (read "pagerank") is largely determined by the number of incoming links (that is, how many sites link to your pages), and the pagerank of the pages that link to your pages.
so, for example, let's say i get linked to by some old lady's sewing blog. if and when google spiders her site, they will see a "vote" for the page she links to, coming from a pagerank of probably 2. her vote didn't help much. on the other hand, if i get a link from the homepage of microsoft, google will see a vote for me from a pr10 site. the math comes out to 5x, but a vote from microsoft is much bigger than a vote from some old lady's sewing blog.
anyway, the point there was that now i can see every vote for my site that google is counting (a lousy 470 external in total... internal links totaled 2137!). most of them are coming from channel9. c9 links to me alot because every time i post there, a link to my site is added to the post automatically by the c9vip engine at orcsweb. c9 pages vary from pr2 to pr8, so sometimes those votes help my googlejuice. now i can tell.
additionally, i can see where i appear in average returns for popular queries. for example, if you google lord of sealand, i average position 9; however, if you google intel 21140 drivers for virtual pc, i average #1 on the returned list of hits.
these results are very similar to my own conclusions when i ran my statistical analyses on my iis logs. evidently, alot of people have the same issue i had with installing windows server 2003 datacenter edition on a virtual pc. the problem there, of course, is that microsoft windows server 2003 datacenter edition doesn't come with a driver for an intel/dec 21140-series nic, and microsoft decided that would be the perfect device to emulate on their virtual pc platform. sounds like a corporation with some major communications problems if you ask me.
google's webmaster suite also allows me to see how many of my indexed pages have a low, medium, or high pagerank. they don't seem to provide a way to tell which page fits into which category, and i'm even more disappointed that i can't get to a table of pages and their pageranks.
i can also access and change information about how google spiders me. for example, in addition to telling google to spider me less or more often, i can see the following information as text and with graphs:
- google will crawl 1-336 of my pages a day, averaging 85.
- google will download up to 17022kb from me daily, averaging 4024kb.
- google will spend 147-6159ms downloading each page, averaging 1230ms.
oh, and it's free. webmasters, you may want to take a look.
08/15/2007 10:36 PM -
so, today i watched a korean movie called "the host ". however, the korean name translates to "monster"... why the name was changed when they did the voiceovers, i couldn't tell you. from what i can tell, it was supposed to be a horror/comedy movie, but i think i'll file this one under "sci fi" because it wasn't really good at providing horror or comedy.
"the host" is about an incredibly dysfunctional family that gets split apart (in every sense of the term) by a giant amphibious trout that got mutated by illegal chemical dumping of formaldehyde into the han river in the capitol of korea - and as you may have heard, korea's got seoul.
the cast consists of:
- a man who isn't too bright and sleeps in five-minute intervals,
- a wacky, prideful father who has good stories and the kind of wisdom that comes with age,
- a snobby brother who has the book-smarts and attitude of a college graduate in a poor country, but lacks the real wisdom of his father,
- a sister who failed in olympic archery, yet never fails to appear in a scene without her track uniform and compound bow,
- and a daughter who gets captured by the mutant fish.
the movie is just shy of two hours long, but seems to drag on for ages. the suspense manages to build somewhat, toward what i believe to be a good ending. it's a blend of adrenaline, humor, and humanity that forms something that feels like it was half an hour long and got stretched out for the b-movie big screen.
acting: 60% - though most of this goes to the side characters, whose shrieks of impending doom far outperformed the main characters.
plot: 80% - since we're calling this sci fi, heck, anything's possible. at least they were consistent throughout the movie.
graphics: 70% - the mutant was highly detailed, and the camera moved around more than in most cgi scenes. this added to the perceived realism. plus they set the mutant fish on fire, which is always fun.
total score: 70% - while i hardly have a formal rating system, the movie is definitely worth the watch... though i wouldn't recommend paying 40 bucks for a copy of it.
08/15/2007 06:21 PM -
i ordered a sub yesterday from ss subs, a popular sub sandwich restaurant that offers delivery until 2pm. two things about this really bothered me - the first was, who stops delivering at 2pm? the greatest demand for delivered fast food is ~5pm-10pm, extending to 2am on weekends.
i can't count the number of times when i've wanted subs delivered to me after 2pm but couldn't get it done. well, okay, six times; but it's still a convenience i prefer to have available.
the second thing that annoyed me was how they collect their tips when charging delivery to a credit card. usually, they have you add the tip on the receipt upon delivery, and charge it when they get back to the restaurant. not these sneaky bastards.
phone lady: would you like to add a tip to your total?
me: oh, you sneaky bastards!
okay, so i didn't say it, but i was sure thinking it. is the tip not designed to be based on service? how am i to judge the service before i've received it? what's to stop them from spitting in my food if i don't tip?
08/15/2007 12:10 AM -
this thursday i'm planning to pick up a new mini-fridge for the lab; haven't had one since two apartments ago. currently i'm considering the haier 2.7 cu ft compact combo fridge for the low price of what i make in 2.8 hours.
looks like it can hold nearly a week's worth of mountain dew, plus ice cubes in case i fail to purchase replenishments in an adequate timeframe. plus, there's a perfect location for it 135 degrees to my right - i'll have to roll the chair a few feet away, but one can't have everything.
i'll beta test the fridge in-store by placing some in-store 12-packs in it. if it fails the test, i may have to upgrade to the 4.4 cu ft designer compact fridge for 50% more. the larger model features 8 easily-accesible soda can holders, which are effectively useless, but with one strip of duct tape it becomes another 12-pack area.
i'm also in deep contemplation over the possibility of a 125-can cabinet beverage center. granted, that's only enough for 3-5 days with this house's throughput, but it gets the job done. the only major turnoff from this product is having to load the cans one at a time.
any of these fridges will move easily to my next apartment (est timeframe april 2008), and will go nicely with my soon-to-be-downgraded george foreman "next grilleration" grill and still-need-to-buy microwave.
while the beverage center is more efficient for my current setup, i am concerned about complications when i move next year. if i slouch back into my old ways, my george foreman grill will end up on my desk again, and i won't want to go all the way to the kitchen just for a lousy burger. i have about 1.5 days to decide which is more important to me: flexibility or capacity.
what is it these days with such a big deal over the ability to store a 2-liter bottle but none over the ability to store multiple 12-packs which were specifically designed to fit in the fridge? i must insist the internal trays reach a minimum of 18" deep.
so thursday evening, i will sit back with my nearby supply of mountain dew. i will glance at my multimon setup, server rig, and pocketpc, and revel in the goodness therein.
08/14/2007 12:36 PM -
sunday at 3am, i finished some bugfixes and pushed code to test. apparently test was unprepared for it and flew off the handle as a result.
tester lead: "there was a code drop at 3 am last night!"
dev mgr: "so?"
tester lead: "don't you think that's a little unusual?"
dev mgr: "well, try as i might, i just can't get these guys to stop working."
so my boss comes over and asks me about it...
dev mgr: "there was a code drop at 3 am last night?"
dev mgr: "why?"
me: "that's when i got done."
based on the fact that i didn't do these things at previous jobs, i suppose it would be safe to call me "money-motivated". anyway, these events reminded me of a similar event that happend last week:
test lead: "i can't get this new code to work. it works fine on the old code."
me: "so it works fine up until you overwrite the old stuff with the new stuff? did you get the data too?"
test lead: "yes. i just can't figure this out. the data goes missing when i put the new stuff in."
me: "yeah, overwriting the database will do that."
test lead: "wha what?"
me: "when you overwrote the database, you'd lose the data from the previous version as it has been cleared for next test phase."
test lead: "why would i overwrite the database?"
me: "because of the new database drop."
test lead: "i didn't know there was a database drop!"
me: (pause for effect) "there was a database drop."
08/12/2007 06:09 PM -
last i heard from comcast, i was being considered for contact line asap pending an escalation to lmc. there was to be some deliberation and i was to be contacted within 24-48 hours of thursday 2pm.
48 hours passed, and i called to check. no progress had been noted on the account. finally today (sunday at 5pm) another tech arrived. this one was not only a line tech, but a supervisor as well.
i let him in, he gawks in awe at the raw beauty of the upstairs computer lab, and he runs some tests as they always do. yet this time he found a distinct spike in packet loss (recorded as "bit error rate"). evidently they strive for a ber of
08/12/2007 01:42 PM -
i came across this image from a link at channel9, a popular microsoft-hosted .net programming forum. you can download it here, but be warned the picture measures 4096x4096 pixels.
finally, an image large enough that i could scale it across my eight-foot-wide desktop without much pixelation. i cropped out a 4096x512px area over north america and blew it up to 8200x1050 and it perfectly spans my entire work area. sweet.
08/11/2007 11:02 PM -
as implied in the title, my 1tb hard drive arrived yesterday and i've finished reassigning drives and moving my files around. haven't quite figured out what the m: drive will be assigned to, but i'm sure i'll come up with something.
for those of you who are counting, the formatted space totals 3,409.37gb (3.33tb)! so far i have 1.67tb (1,841,438,485,459 bytes) of content spread across 259,168 files in 13,365 folders. honestly, the 1tb drive was mostly for organization and expansion.
thumbnail is clicky. keep in mind that none of these drives is partitioned; that's the number of physical drives in the server. awe ensues.
08/10/2007 11:58 PM -
as many of you are aware, japan has one of the hottest street-racing scenes in the world. this is due to a variety of factors as i have witnessed in person: in japan, cars are much more lightweight due to fewer unneccessary safety devices; cops rarely patrol the highways (at least on okinawa); citizens are less uptight; and other drivers know to stay out of the way.
due to this combination, along with the excitement of street-racing, i was involved with a drifting club known as the wrecking crew (kadena airmen, mostly). for the uninitiated, drifting consists of turning at speeds in excess of the vehicle's ability to adhere to the roadway. for the layman, it can be defined as "driving sideways without hitting things".
this results in an intentional spin, which is to be controlled, countered, reversed, and repeated for best results. several issues arose from this habit. obviously, when reckless driving becomes your standard mechanism for transit, driving bears some resemblance to a video game. other drivers and pedestrians become merely obstacles to avoid.
generally our club frequented locations such as aja port, an industrial complex north of naha; as well as a low-traffic set of roadways just outside of torii station, the army base on okinawa. during a busy night, the japanese would be the predominant entity there - this added both excitement and security. japanese drifters generally have higher skill and they set up recon units to watch for cops.
we picked locations that were difficult to access and had fewer than 4 ways in. there would be a car stationed at each entry point with a radio, and if a cop or similar vehicle showed up he would key his radio and his buddy (at the drifting area) would sound his horn. upon the horn sound, everyone would scatter. the phenomenon bore a resemblance to people leaving a parade, except everyone is in a big hurry and doesn't care about getting a scratch on their cars.
one time during a premature evacuation due to police interference (someone sounded the cop alarm), i was in the middle of a convoy headed for highway 58. about ten cars in front of me and 15 behind me all ran the red light. a cop was sitting on the opposing road and sorted through all the other drifters to get to me. that's right, i got the ticket - because i was the only one in the convoy with american / sofa "a" plates.
another time i was driving along the northern part of highway 58 just out for a ride. i was driving fast, of course, about 120 kph in a 60 zone. i slowed down for a town that was on the other side of a sharp curve. this curve was bordered by a large mountain and a cliff facing the east china sea. the danger of the curve didn't bother me, but the oncoming traffic inevitable with a nearby city did. so, i slowed down and was pulled over on the other side of the curve. the jp's (japanese police) issued me a warning for going 103 in a posted 50 zone. a warning for going over twice the speed limit! not much of a deterrent if you ask me; except i always slowed down around that city from that point on.
08/11/2007 07:31 PM -
during a standard occupational readiness excercise at kadena, i was tasked by eagle-eye to "infiltrate the heavies side" of the flightline. i was allowed to go in any attire i saw fit, as i was expected to be caught. i was given an ore card, which identifies me as an excercise member and not a real-world terrorist. i adorned my standard crew chief gear: bdu pants, black t-shirt, blue coveralls folded at the waist so as not to cover my shirt, and a line badge holder on my left arm - although i wasn't permitted to bring my line badge (which identifies my authorization to be there), i was allowed to bring the badge holder.
with that, i walked directly across the flightline, strutting as if i had every right to be there. ducking behind the paint barn, hardened aircraft shelters, and other buildings, i walked right across the radio-controlled area and runways, which were not in use at the time.
i entered the heavy airframe area by walking directly over the red line, walked right up to an awacs and touched the landing gear. for the uninitiated, touching an aircraft in an ore is how an "exercise terrorist" is defined as having "stolen the aircraft".
at the time they were under an exercise ground assault, so i sheltered inside the landing gear door for about 10 minutes. after the all clear was sounded and the e3's ground crew went back to work, i emerged form the belly of the aircraft. walking up to a tsgt crew chief, i displayed my exercise card and informed him his aircraft was now stolen. i was exercise-apprehended (placed in a taped-off area on the flightline) and released once my role was confirmed, and given a ride back to my side of the base where i caught another exercise terrorist trying to steal my f-15.
08/10/2007 11:45 PM -
during the last few months of my tour at kadena ab, while i was waiting for my discharge to finalize, i was placed as airman in charge of some of the 67amu's side activities; apparently the military has the same policy as big business when it comes to people who are about to leave.
one of my "other duties as assigned" was to accompany my supervisor (msgt hearnes) to the wash rack to wash the captain's truck. it seemed to me to be an unethical use of aircraft wash facilities, but i wasn't about to go questioning a guy who had 3 lor's with my name on them waiting to be signed (he douchebaggedly used them as a deterrent rather than a disciplinary tool). on our way back, the good sergeant decided to "cut across the flightline" rather than driving around it as we are supposed to.
the speed limit for vehicles on the flightline is 15mph, or about 24kph. msgt hearnes didn't seem to notice that his vehicle measured speed primarily in mph, as do most american vehicles; he was used to his pov which measures kph. i pointed out to him he was speeding at 25mph but he simply dismissed my point without checking. we were subsequently pulled over crossing a taxiway at 25mph / 40kph. the sra from security forces ordered the msgt to surrender his flightline driving license immediately pending a driving course. trying my best to stifle an outburst of laughter, i agreed sheepishly to drive the vehicle back to our unit. the funniest part of this story is that msgt hearnes was the ncoic of flightline driver training for the 67 amu.
08/10/2007 11:31 PM -
during my 1yr stint at tyndall, i was at roll call at my shop. there was a pa announcement "msgt minefeld, msgt minefeld, please report to the chief's office". we went on with our business and briefings, and a few minutes later the announcement repeated with the word "now" at the end. several minutes later, a rather amusing announcement read "technical sergeant minefeld; technical sergeant minefeld, please report to the chief's office - now!". there was a round of laughter across the hangar, followed by a streak of green whooshing past our office door.
08/10/2007 10:59 PM -
it has been said that a man's stories make him immortal, as they can live on far longer than any one of us ever could. furthermore, i've seen it documented somewhere (albiet probably in a movie) that a person's stories tell a great deal about them, and compose a great deal of how they are perceived.
to these ends and more, i'll be posting some of my better stories. they may not all show me in the best light, but they're good stories. for interested parties, you can access them now and in the future simply by accessing the stories category.
some of my stories are recalled from my short and undistinguished air force career in detail; others in approximation, and yet others from civilian life.
long story short, i was active duty air force for about 3 years. i trained at lackland afb, tx, sheppard afb, tx, and tyndall afb, fl. i served tours at tyndall and kadena ab, okinawa, japan. my afsc was 2a353a, tactical aircraft maintenance journeyman" or simply crew chief. i crewed f-15 c/d models on the flightline. i had no experience in phase dock, ems, cms, backshops, etc etc - just flightline, baby.
all stories on this page are true unless my memory eludes me or i just decided to lie. if you want to comment, add, subtract, divide, factor, or simply bs, feel free to add comments to the posts or e-mail me. nothing here is classified (to the best of my recollection).
08/10/2007 10:18 PM -
stuffs got done today in addition to installing the 1tb hard drive:
- implemented search functionality (look below the video feed in the sidebar)
- corrected position of live video and chat applets on live.damnednice.com
- corrected a bug whereas when i edited an entry, the title was overwritten with the entry id and i had to edit it manually in sql server management studio
- corrected a bug whereas when i edited an entry with no categories, a null reference exception would result.
- added whatnew.txt text file so you can keep track of what's new, if you care.
08/10/2007 10:00 PM -
as implied herein, the 1tb drive has arrived. one quickformat later, i started reassigning my drive letters. they go up to m:.
08/10/2007 11:01 AM -
this hp flatbed scanner has been hacked to play beethoven's fur elise. play däs video and check it out!
08/10/2007 08:20 AM -
need i say more? i ordered a 1tb hdd yesterday to replace two existing 500gb volumes which are both full of "public domain media governed under the fair use act; which appears similar to a television show without actually being a television show".
i ordered it 18-20 hours ago, and it's "out for delivery" in my city right now! jeez, that was fast. my thought was, if i'm gonna pay $400 for a hard drive, what's another $20 in shipping and $3 in rush delivery?
the site will be down for at least an hour or two tonight while i upgrade and reassign the drives. i think one will still have to be a tv2 drive (as one 1tb drive doesn't have more space than two 0.5tb drives); the other one will probably replace the 250gb drive which is being moved into the downloader.
08/08/2007 11:00 PM -
rwhod who art in /etc, well-known be thy port; thy packets come, thy protocol be done,
in user space as it is in kernel. give us this day our daily dump,
and forgive us our bugs as we forgive those who submit pr's against them.
lead us not into address resolution, and deliver us from iso.
for thine is the transport and the session and the physical forever, eof.
08/07/2007 07:01 AM -
ugh, i hope that title didn't get anyone thinking the wrong thing. i did some blog work last night and i think you'll like the results. here are the changes i made:
1. launched live.damnednice.com, a site just for the live video and chat. some irc commands work in the live chat, so you can type "/nick name" to change your nick in chat.
2. added rss feeds for all categories and tags. a few are currently broken because i need to edit the individual entries for xhtml compliance (i.e. the aggregator looks for a /img tag), but the feeds themselves are working. click the rss icons on the right to access the feeds; the titles to the right of them are ajax links directly to the articles.
3. added admin features for myself, which allow me to:
-- edit existing posts
-- delete posts (since i create entries in testing)
-- re-tag all entries when i add a new tag
-- rebuild all xml files manually
4. added permalinks to view all entries alphabetically by title, chronologically, or by popularity. each is available in summary or full views. check the sidebar under "permalinks".
5. corrected a bug where some ajax links weren't making proper use of ajax and caused a full-page postback. the hidden buttons i use to accomplish this functionality weren't in an updatepanel.
08/07/2007 01:23 AM -
as most of us know, mozilla is the organization that created firefox, a popular open-source web browser. at a recent blackhat conference, their director of ecosystem development announced that they could "roll out any critical patches within 10 days". there have been several responses (here, here) to these claims, and it even got slashdotted.
what bothers me isn't that they made the claim, nor that it took two weeks for some critical patches to roll out in july, thus rendering the aforementioned claims untruthful in nature. what bothers me is that these people have a director of ecosystems development. as if we needed more proof that these open-source advocates were hippies.
08/06/2007 03:32 AM -
so i moved the webcam over to \\lefty, a secondary system over to my left. previously, it had been on \\cerebrus, my primary productivity machine; the camera sat atop my right-most monitor and you could see two or three screens with me in the shot. i moved the camera over for multiple reasons:
1. this vantage point better showcases my multiple monitor goodness, depite the fact that four screens and a pocketpc remain out of view.
2. reduces the workload of cerebrus, while giving me more desktop space where i need it most.
3. lefty wasn't doing anything else but monitoring ping latencies to the router, the server, and the google.
anyway, lefty (athalon xp 3200+, 2gb ddr) is the system formerly known as "the jew", because it doesn't work very often. keeping with its namesake, i've noticed it keeps dropping connection to ustream and has bad latency issues. sometimes it won't update for a minute, and then give me a minute's worth of frames in two seconds. perhaps that function can be outsourced to one of my toshibas (p3-450mhz), they'll probably do a better job. shame.
08/06/2007 02:19 AM -
a few years and websites ago, i recorded a couple podcasts about synergy and google earth. my podcasting ventures never took off for a variety of reasons:
1. i was using crt monitors, which are notoriously bad for pointing cameras at.
2. my cameraman / interviewer was using a handheld videocamera with no tripod, so the video jumped around alot.
3. poor lighting and the old technology we had at the time didn't properly represent.
so, i'm thinking these issues are all resolved at this point; i've upgraded to all lcds and a stationary camera, and i'm not to worried about the lighting.
i dunno, maybe. i think i'd have trouble coming up with fresh content and i have bad public speaking skills. put a comment on this post or e-mail me and let me know what you think.
08/05/2007 01:12 AM -
there must be a clause somewhere that i missed during my customary thorough examination of the eula... free? professional? maybe it's just because it's beta 2... dunno. but sweet. google "orcas" to find it. dev tools ftw.
08/04/2007 06:32 PM -
following up on the saga of the comcast internet connection, yet another comcast technician was sent to my house today.
as some of you will recall, comcast bought adelphia in late 2006. comcast has replaced everything from my network to the backyard cable tap. the house is filled with brand-new coaxial cabling, and we're on our fourth modem and second router.
our previous visit on the subject resulted in a line escalation to a network technician. he evaluated the situation in a consultation with a few of the technicians who have been sent out here. the diagnosis is that we are victim to a faulty cable node which may be affecting up to 800 customers.
because comcast's local city wan operates on a tiered-star network topology, they are unsure which node is the problem. it may be our direct feed node a few hundred feet away, or another one between there and the head end. the head end is a large network routing system with full server racks inside a building; it's called rattlesnake. however, it could also be a problem with the fiber from rattlesnake to the first node or from the first node to ours.
as i had mentioned in my earlier posts, i needed a line escalation to a network technician. i finally got one today.
the notes on the work order indicate that this is the 4th technician to be dispatched on this issue; however, as the problem has been going on since last year, it adds up to more like 15.
so back in may, i was talking with one of their friendly-but-ignorant call center csr's and managed to escalate to a supervisor named kieth. he gave me his cell phone number and told me to call back if the issues continued; and they have.
so the network technician seemed well-versed in the problem at hand, but could offer no course of action except that someone should really fix it. the problem is that the network technician has to be at a customer's home during the outage to run his tests; but they can't stay here for four hours waiting (and it usually goes 4-6 hours between outages). he waited 20 minutes; yesterday's technician waited a full 30.
so today i called kieth's cell phone and advised him that the issues have continued (keeping in mind they started in december 2006 after comcast bought adelphia). he promised to "make some calls" and call me back within 30 minutes.
kieth called back, having spoken with comcast lmc (read: "noc"). lmc was suprised to find that none of my 15-20 service calls resulted in an escalation to lmc. so now we have to escalate to lmc, which unfortunately involves another service call on tuesday from 5 to 7 pm. fortunately, that's a little closer to when the outages generally occur more often (7-10pm). the technician will determine my eligibility for something called "contact line asap", which is a bad name; it should be "asap contact line".
if i am determined as a good candidate, which is likely, i will be given contact info for comcast lmc and "priority access" meaning when i call they will depatch a tier 2 network technician immediately, even if it means waking someone up to come over. this way they have a better chance of seeing the outage and thus determining exactly where the problem lies, and it's alot better than the 3-day delays i've been dealing with all year.
amusingly, i found the phone number for lmc with a quick google search: 866.292.9711. my google search also revealed that this is not an unusual problem for comcast. the linked comcast review on dsl reports indicates others may be having problems with comcast during the same time, on the same wan segment.
08/02/2007 08:27 PM -
it was only a matter of time - we've deployed rampaging kill-bots to iraq. armed with anything from an m-16 assault rifle to a 50 caliber sniper rifle to a freaking rocket launcher, these remote-control ground units will add insult to injury as the iraqis realize they have nothing to shoot back at but solid steel. sweet.
08/02/2007 07:13 PM -
as many of you know, i've been having trouble with my comcast internet connection since comcast bought adelphia sometime in late 2006. this post follows up on my progress, or lack thereof.
yesterday, a comcast technician arrived for a service call and replaced the exterior coaxial cable and placed us on a different port on the cable tap. he believed this to be the final resolution, though the connection dropped again 15 minutes later and four times within the hour.
so yesterday we called and spoke with some comcast call center supervisors, who are evidently empowered more than a standard phone lackey only in that they can add "as my rep informed you". i demanded a network technician be dispatched as yesterday's home technician informed me i would need. they denied my demand, insisting that a network technician can only be dispatched by a home technician. there was discussion about setting up a follow-up appointment today, though it was never confirmed.
so today i was home for lunch and the same comcast technician knocked on the door just as i started typing out a blog entry on the subject; damn the timing. this time he thought he'd be original and ran some signal tests - as they do upon every visit - though today he got creative and hooked his signal tester up to the coax through a splitter to monitor the network as it went down, while we took it upon ourselves to crash our own internet connection through a variety of simultaneous methodologies:
- downloading a 30gb file from a major telecom
- 47 non-stop pings to different parts of the world
- downloaded windows server 2008 june ctp from microsoft connect
- downloaded several generic linux images, then deleted them immediately afterwards as they're useless except for testing the connection
- ran simultaneous speed tests on speedtest.net and dslreports.com
- turned on the webcam stream for lunch
- downloaded the results of a google search using a trial version of teleport pro
we were able to sustain 2mbps (yes, that's mega-bytes -- 20mbps (mega-bits) if you throw in a stop bit and parity bit), with bursts up to 4.1mbps (41mbps - i pay for six!). the test ran continuously (and continually for those which had to restart) for 30 minutes. the best we could induce was consistent ping timeouts and a modem reset. we did not manage to cause the cable light to go out (taking service with it) as generally happens in our tetra-hourly outages.
the techie suggested it may be due to the splitter he added and an adjustment he had to make to the amount of resistance on the line. he also planned on a meeting with his supervisor regarding this very issue, and how it doesn't reflect poorly on one technician when he has repeat service calls when other technicians get repeat service calls for the same address. he also reiterated his position from yesterday that it may be a network issue.
i just hope i manage to fit a digital camera into my budget before they start tearing up the neighborhood. that'll be great; the biaxial cable from the tap to the local node is 200' long and goes under two houses. furthermore, based on the shape of our backyard, parts of it must be at least 10' deep.
regardless, for those of you who have noticed occasional site outages, that's why. i serve this website directly from my home.
08/03/2007 01:00 AM -
so, i had just parked my car and was walking toward the house when a neighbor said "nice car". j hypothesized that the neighbor must have bad eyes, being old, and must have thought it was a lamborghini. so there i was thinking i have a car that may or may not look like a lamborghini.
man, it's hard to find two similar shots of two very specific vehicles of the same color. i had to flip one across the y axis to align them. what do you think? do they look alike? i won't mention which is which; if you can't tell then i guess he was right.