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Archive of June, 2007

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[Permalink 2007-06-26] Tidbits

June 26, 2007:

A few items not worthy of their own posts.

Nice, Round Number: My weight's been holding steady at 196 or so, meaning I've now lost 40 pounds. Of course, that does mean I have 21 to go. But I'd be willing to settle for 176, so I'm 2/3 of the way there.

Paying the Idiot Tax: I usually go to IHOP for "breakfast" (at 2 in the afternoon, I'm not sure the term applies) on Saturdays. Their thick French toast is usually good for my breakfast and a snack for a day or two afterwards -- it's surprisingly good in reheated in the toaster oven. I requested a box to take the toast home in... and left it on the damn table. 8.0: That redesign I talked about last year? I took another look not too long ago, and it's total ass. I don't blame the friend who helped me with the design; my original was even worse. Garbage in, garbage out, and all that jazz. I'm going to start scoping out some other blogs I read for UI elements I can steal use for inspiration.

[Permalink 2007-06-25] The Weird Stuff My Brain Keeps

June 25, 2007:

Sometimes I wish I knew the algorithm my brain uses to decide what gets placed into long-term storage and what gets thrown out.

I understand that some of it has to do with repeated exposure: I've seen The Wrath of Khan enough times to know all the important dialog and most of the almost-important dialog. Likewise for the original Star Wars trilogy and 80s music.

I'm thinking more of other stuff though. I've forgotten more than half of all the college-level physics I learned, and almost all the calculus. History classes -- even the ones I liked -- barely exist as fragments that might fill a single lecture if I pasted them all together.

But while I was watching the original Star Wars * last week, I remembered an off-hand comment about how two of the girls that used to come by Sig Tau somehow got the nicknames C3PO and R2D2. Now keep in mind that I only met these two because I liked my senior year so much I decided to show up for a third semester of it.

I barely talked to one of them to begin with; the other I hadn't spoken to in more than seven years (I was at Brady but I vaguely remember e-mailing on CMU's system, which means my CMU account was still active, which puts it sometime before the end of the Spring 2000 semester). But once something gets into my head it'll bug the hell out of me until I track it down (thank Og for Google) so I found her MySpace page.

Turns out she has a Masters degree from CMU's School of Computer Science, thus adding her to the (extremely long) list of people who are much smarter than me.

Silly nicknames I can keep indefinietly. But I have to write myself a note to remember to shut off the air conditioner before I leave for work in the morning.

* The good version, with Han shooting first and not stepping on Jabba's tail (because there's no Jabba). The opening crawl doesn't even have "Episode IV: A New Hope" at the beginning.

[Permalink 2007-06-19] Why DVRs Were Invented

June 19, 2007:

I need to start watching Robot Chicken.

Edit, Thursday evening: The movie's been moved to the Adult Swim web site. Dunno how long it'll stay there.

[Permalink 2007-06-11] Weird, Random Interference In Speakers

June 11, 2007:

I've been thinking for a while now that I'd have to replace my clock radio. Every once in a while, in the morning, I'll get a weird series of ticks that I couldn't pin down the source of. Well, I've had the thing since high school, so it's probably just on its last legs. It also works well enough and I don't listen to it for more than a couple minutes at a time, so it's not high on the to-do list.

This weekend I bought new speakers for my computer. After an unrelated failed attempt at getting the bluetooth connection to work so I could download some pictures from my cell phone, the new speakers started doing the exact same ticks.

I noticed something in the speakers I figured I was going to be replacing: The ticks always happened at 17 minutes after the hour. Even weirder, that would also be about the time my clock radio does the same thing, even though it's not even in the same room.

Obviously, there's something going on at x:17 that's causing this interference, but what?

After my hourly dose of "tick tick-ti-tick tick-ti-tick" I finally had enough: I looked online. After some rooting around in Google, someone mentioned that their cellphone did strange things to their radio.

Cell phone. My cell phone's been sitting on the desk near the speakers since I futzed with bluetooth. And that's when the new speakers started ticking. I don't know exactly what the thing's doing every 60 minutes, but if it's close enough to the speakers it manages to induce a current and cause the ticks. Maybe re-registering on the network?

Anyway, it seems the new speakers aren't shielded very well; the phone can mess with them when it's a foot or two away, whereas it has to be within a few inches of the clock radio. (And I have to listen to Elliot In The Morning babble for more than a couple seconds before I hit the snooze bar.) Doesn't surprise me, really... I bought the speakers for their price, not their quality.

Ah. Now that I have an idea what to google for, I find the following:

Your speakers are detecting data bursts from the phone. GSM data bursts are at 217 Hz which is in the range of human hearing.
( alt-cellular-cingular/ t162446-moto-v551-hourly- interference-computer-speakers.html)

A different phone on a different network, but T-Mobile is GSM (as far as I know) and I doubt the make of phone (Nokia vs. Motorola) means anything. Oddly enough, I never notice this when the phone rings, but that may be because I don't get calls very often.

Solutions include shielding the speaker wires (too expensive and annoying) or keeping the phone away from them. I'll go with option B. That also explains why the clock radio is less affected: It doesn't have external wires so the body of the radio acts as a partial shield.

Edit, 9:00 PM: Experimented with the phone and the clock radio this morning, and the clock radio's as bad as the new speakers. I just rarely listen to morning radio long enough for the re-registration to happen. The old speakers worked just fine, so I'm guessing they were at least semi-shielded, but the power switch was broken, making them kind of tough to use reliably. I'll just have to remember to keep the cell away from the desk.

[Permalink 2007-06-07] My Sunroof Peed on Me

June 07, 2007:

Still getting used to the new car and its amenities. A few days ago, when the last bits of the tropical depression were coming through, we got rained on while I was at work. With the skies clear at 5:00 I opened the sunroof to get a breeze. Seemed like a good idea, until I came to the stop sign on Euclid Ave. and the water on the roof slid on the clearcoat/wax and through the nice big hole I'd opened up in the roof. Oops.

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