August 14, 2007

Some things just go together

I knew that Alyssa Milano was an avid Dodgers's fan. What I didn't know was that she had a blog dedicated to her favorite team. She's even typed an open letter to manager Grady Little who, I must confess, I have some affection for, as he was the manager of the AAA franchise here in Richmond some years back, and a pretty good one to boot, although I'm quite certain that Red Sox fans would disagree with my assessment of his managerial skills. In any event, beautiful women and baseball belong together.

Alyssa, I'm a longtime fan of your's, but I have to express my disappointment with your choice of a team to back. The only real choice is, of course, the DEFENDING WORLD SERIES CHAMPION ST. LOUIS CARDINALS.

Yeah, I really enjoy saying that. It's just a pity that I won't be saying it for much longer.

Thanks to Jeff Goldstein for the link.

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I was wrong

This is, in fact, the stupidest USB powered invention. So far. The day isn't over yet.

Update: Mother of God. Just when I think that humanity has hit rock bottom in terms of abject stupidity, someone lowers the bar a little bit more. Right now, the bar is a line painted on the ground.

What makes me say this? This thing: a USB-powered Ghost Radar. Excerpt:

Now, SolidAlliance has come up with a GhostRadar USB flash memory that detects, well, ghosts. Basically, it responds to unusual magnetic waves with audible alerts and flashing red lights. This thing maybe useful for paranoid travelers who stay in all kinds of hotel rooms and need to check them out.

Remember my comment about lowering the bar to the ground? At this rate, we'll have to start digging the trench soon.

Thanks, I guess, go to Henry for emailing me the link to this thing.

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Interesting choice

I've viewed with some interest the release of Google's Google Pack, still technically in Beta release. Some pretty good choices of ostensibly free software, albeit with some odd exceptions. Excerpt(s):

My only problem with Google's choices is Norton. While the download includes a 6 month subscription to updates, what happens after that? Seemed like a strange choice as Norton isn't free if updates cost after a point. Plus new Dell machines come with McAfee which also nags you to pay for updates, which makes me nutso. ClamWin, in my opinion, would've been a better choice (not as pretty, but truly free and open source.)
In what looks like a direct jab at Microsoft, Google includes Sun Microsystems' office productivity suite Star Office to their free bundle of PC software called Google Pack.

StarOffice includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, graphics, and database applications, along with a library of images and 3D effects. Normally available for $70, StarOffice is free with Google Pack.

Star Office is the basis for the free and open source application suite. Unlike, Star Office requires the Java runtime to use. So why would GOOG choose Star Office over Open Office for the Pack?

Beats us, but since launch (and even through an iteration ) a couple of their app choices left us shaking our heads, like Adobe Reader and RealPlayer. (With the exception of Firefox, they seem to be open source-o-phobic.)

Obviously Google is trying to grab some of the desktop market from Microsoft which, I think, is a good thing. Competition is likely to make all vendors more responsive to the needs of its customers. However, I'm a bit puzzled as to some of the applications that Google chose. I'd have added Ad-Ware and Clamwin (or maybe AVG Free edition), as well as Open Office. And Real Player? Really? I think that VLC is the superior choice here. Regardless, it's a pretty decent software bundle, so check it out if you're so inclined.

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August 13, 2007

Free comic books?

Did you read comic books as a child? Do you read them currently? In either case, do you have any interest in finding electronic copies of them on the Intertubes? Here's how you do it. Excerpt:

For title specific searches, substitute the title for the word comics in your search.

-inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" "Last modified" spider-man cbr
and -inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" "Last modified" simpsons cbr

While some directories will only contain a few comics, there are others that will keep you reading for weeks and weeks.

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August 10, 2007

Sign of the end times

I swear that this should be a joke. Unfortunately, it isn't. I give you the USB powered, air-conditioned tie.

Next up: the USB powered, air-conditioned jock strap. Because no one wants to have their junk all sweaty and smelly. Simply ignore the electrical plug connected to your groin and move on.

Update: Ask and ye shall receive something close to what you asked for.

Update: I take a break from blogs to spend time with my family and I missed out on the Instalanche. Thanks to everyone for stopping by.

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I'm at a loss for words...

At the abject level of stupidty on display here.

Maybe next he can get his groinal junk trimmed down so that his pants fit better. Moron.

Update: Turns out that I've been punk'd. In this particular instance, I'm actually glad that that turned out to be the case.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 09:38 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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August 09, 2007

And the reclamation is complete

Readers of this blog will have noticed that I'm a big fan of the DEFENDING WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS ST. LOUIS CARDINALS. This year has been a struggle, but hope springs eternal. An even in a so far dismal season, I can find things tthat make me smile. Like the following excerpt from tonight's recap:

Failed pitcher Rick Ankiel hit a three-run homer to cap his debut as a major league outfielder, and Joel Pineiro worked seven scoreless innings in the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-0 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.

The Cardinals took three of four from the NL West-contending Padres, spoiling the return of Chris Young in the finale.

The day began with utilityman Scott Spiezio going on the restricted list for a substance problem that the Cardinals did not specify, allowing for the callup of Ankiel to take his spot on the roster.

Ankiel, who led the Pacific Coast League with 32 homers for Triple-A Memphis, launched a 2-1 pitch from Doug Brocail over the right-field wall in the seventh with an effortless swing that put the Cardinals ahead 5-0.

The drive merited a standing ovation and a curtain call for the once-troubled left-hander, who quit pitching in spring training 2005 to begin the long climb back up the ladder as a 26-year-old minor league outfielder.

I remember all too well Ankeil's meltdown against the Braves in the 2000 playoffs. He threw 5 wild pitches in an inning and he never recovered as a pitcher, seemingly unable to find the strike zone. A couple of years ago, he gave up his comeback as a pitcher and started over as an outfielder. Tonight, he returned to St. Louis in a big way. Apparently he's got some pop in his bat, so he might kick the Cardinals' offense in the bottom.

Anyway, it's kind of a feel good story. The fact that it happened to my favorite pro baseball team is gravy.

Update: Dean Barnett also posted on this story. The image below is courtesy of him.


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Assholes do vex me

I swear to god, if I ever get my hands on the motherf*cker who has been spamming my comments, I will rip out his eyes and shit on his brain. I just deleted around 100 and found out that I've just dipped my toe into the "Great site! Agree with everything you say!" bullshit.

Hey, here's a thought: since you agree with everything I say, I say that you should go stick your head in a blender.

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Browncoat alert

It appears as though the SciFi channel will be airing a Firefly marathon tomorrow. However, I'll be at work AND I own the DVDs. Might be a good way to pass the time if you're at home, though.

Tangentially related updated: Nathan Fillion decides to play house in Season 4 of Desparate Housewives. He will do so opposite the always yummy Dana Delany. Lucky bastard.

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An idea whose time should never have come

I will admit to, once in a while, chatting on my cell phone while driving. I don't like to, but sometimes I do it. Also, I have a rechargeable razor that I, once in a while, shave with on the highway while cruising in to work. However, there are things that maybe, just maybe, you should never do while driving:

1) Read a book. And I've actually seen some dimwits driving down the road with an open book sitting on their steering wheels.

2) Typing on your effing laptop. I mean seriously, WTF? But hey, you can now save $10 on your mobile suicide device so, you know, weed yourself out of the gene pool if you see the need. Just do it on a lonely stretch of road so as not to take anyone else with you.

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August 06, 2007

Tastes crappy, but definitely less filling

So the world's first virtual poured beer will appear sometime later this week. Color me unimpressed. What will impress is when a click of the mouse fills my actual mug with actual beer. Until then, go away and play with your silly computer graphics. Crap, it's not like there are any naked women or cool D&D characters being animated.

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For sale

Received via email:

I am selling one of my Barry Bonds rookie cards to the highest bidder that I bought in 1986. I for one do not believe that Barry took steroids at any point in his career and believe he will be in the Hall of Fame someday. A copy of the card is below the fold.


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There's a new sheriff in town

So Mountain Dew is no longer the king of soda pop caffeine. The winner? The new Pepsi Max. I was also completely amused by the number of commenters going WTF?! on the inclusion of Diet Cheerwine. Growing up in NC had its advantages, and Cheerwine was definitely one of those advantages.

Actually, I call complete bullshit on this list, as neither Jolt Cola nor Double Jolt Cola made the list. Trust me: those cans of No Doz enhanced glucose are much higher in content than any of those colored bubbly waters listed.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 08:18 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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Repairing a scratched CD or DVD

Pretty interesting article over at Wisebread. I've tried the toothpaste method before, with mixed results. Might be time to grab a bottle of metal polish.

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August 02, 2007

Nifty free bit o' software

If you've got a dual boot Windows/Linux system, there have probably been times when you wished that you could retrieve/copy/open your Linux created files while working in Windows. Instead, you had to shut down and reboot into Linux, save the data to a FAT32 device and then reboot back into Windows. Well, you no longer have to do the OS hokey pokey, at least in this instance. I give you Ext2 Installable File System for Windows. Excerpt:

It installs a pure kernel mode file system driver Ext2fs.sys, which actually extends the Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 operating system to include the Ext2 file system. Since it is executed on the same software layer at the Windows NT operating system core like all of the native file system drivers of Windows (for instance NTFS, FASTFAT, or CDFS for Joliet/ISO CD-ROMs), all applications can access directly to Ext2 volumes. Ext2 volumes get drive letters (for instance G . Files, and directories of an Ext2 volume appear in file dialogs of all applications. There is no need to copy files from or to Ext2 volumes in order to work with them.
Detailed list of features of the file system driver Extfs.sys:

  • Supports Windows NT4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows 2003 (x86 processors only).
  • All operations you would expect: Reading and writing files, listing directories, creating, renaming, moving and deleting files or directories, querying and modifying the volume's label.
  • Files larger than 4 GBytes. (Please read the FAQ section, too.)
  • Paging files are supported. (A paging file is a file "pagefile.sys", which Windows swaps virtual memory to.) Users may create paging files at NT's control panel at Ext2 volumes.
  • Specific functions of the I/O subsystem of NT: Byte range locks, notification of changes of directories, oplocks (which are required by the NT LAN manager for sharing files via SMB).

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There are alternatives

To Windows, that is. InformationWeek has an interesting point-counterpoint, in which two writers separately extol the virtues of Linux and and Mac versus Microsoft. Pretty good level of detail from both authors.

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DataPilots: the Open Source equivalent of Pivot Tables

In my previous incarnation as a programmer, I used pivot tables in Excel quite extensively. They're quite useful in my current career as an engineer. In fact, there were times when summarizing data tables in any other way would have proved exceptionally difficult, if not downright impossible, which is why I've been loathe to give up using Excel. And now I can do the same things using Open Office's Calc. Excerpt:

Creating a DataPilot

To begin creating an datapilot, highlight the range of cells you want to base it upon, then select Data -> DataPilot -> Start to open the DataPilot dialog window. Alternatively, choose the same menu item, then select a data source that you have already registered with using File -> New -> Database and a range of cells from it.

The DataPilot window gives you a diagram of the DataPilot that you are creating, and a list of columns from the data source. To create the general layout for the DataPilot, all you have to do is drag the columns to one of the blank spaces on the diagram. If you drag a column name to the Column fields or Row fields space, then it becomes the first cell in a row or column, just as you might expect from the name (in the first DataPilot above, Quantity was selected as the column, and no row was chosen). Similarly, if you drag a column name to the Data fields, it becomes the data in the DataPilot (in the first example above, the Price). The only potentially puzzling choice is the Page Fields, which is actually just the custom filter for changing the contents of the DataPilot on the fly (in the first example, the Country). If you make a mistake, you can drag the column back to the list of column building blocks on the right.

Once you have done the basic setup, you can also choose what function to use in the DataPilot. In the examples above, I simply used the default Sum function, which for many purposes is all that you need. However, you can also use another ten basic functions: Count, Average, Max, Min, Product, Count (Numbers Only), StDev (Sample), StDevP (Population), Var (Sample) and Var (Population). If necessary, you can find details about what these functions do in's online help.

Again, I can't stress enough how useful this tool can be to anyone who wades through piles of data. I plan on asking management if I can teach a short class on pivot tables here at work, as people simply blink and stare at me when I mention them. Okay, more than they usually blink and stare at me.

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August 01, 2007

We take time out from our busy schedule of sniffing glue to tell you...

I won't be advertising on the O'Reilly Factor either.

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Sorry about the sporadic posting lately. Between caring for my wife and kids, a quarantined dog and 5 more pets besides, I've been cramming for some challenge tests to prevent my having to drive waaay the heck out to the middle of nowhere for classes. So far, so good: I've passed my first 3 tests. One more and I'll have a break for a couple of months which will allow me to do some actual work. Regardless, I'm appreciative to all who still drop by.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 03:20 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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Club versus baby seal

And the winner is... Jeff Goldstein, of course. It helps, of course, that his opponent is an illogical, lying, hypocritical sack of horse squeeze, but Jeff would have whipped his ass anyway. Just my opinion; I could be wrong.

But I doubt it.

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