Archive for February, 2007

I’m in Biscuit Heaven

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Tim Tams

Chris is currently working on a project at work that will be deployed in Australia. The Australians are in town this week for a design review, and one of them brought us a gift of 20 boxes of Tim Tams in assorted flavors. Between this and the girl scout cookies, my sweet tooth (and the baby’s) should be satisfied for the next three months. Thanks Steve!
If you’ve never had a Tim Tam, I highly suggest you run out to your nearest Cost Plus World Market and pick yourself up a few boxes.

Nursery Progress

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Well, we have finally begun to make some progress on the nursery. The room has been emptied of everything, which mainly resulted in large piles of junk in other rooms in the house. Chris has begun priming the walls and woodwork in preparation for the painting. We still need to do some patching of nail holes, but the spackle we had was all dried out.

The Nursery will be done up in an underwater theme, with the walls painted green on the bottom and blue on top, with a white chair rail dividing them. Other plans include ripping out the carpet and putting in hardwood of some type, but we haven’t picked that out yet.

Knowing how long it normally take us to complete a home improvement project, let’s hope that this one is done by the time the baby arrives.

Somewhat old news….

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

K&I were reviewing our web site logs (yes you are being watched) and noticed that my posts about Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series were coming up related to several articles on Slice of SciFi. When I investigated, my track-back had long since expired. In exchange I found a post stating that the 4th book in the Temeraire series is due out in the fall.
I’m looking forward to it, although I’m apprehensive.

Signs of the Times (or should I say Post?)

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Nice one Jim. The Physics is Phun blog recently identified the silliness of the Washington Post with regards to listing voting results sorted by – yes, can you believe it – astrological sign.

What does this lead to? Undoubtedly… campaign ads:

Coming to your TV soon:

“…but Optimus, what about the Quartus Megacore!?”
We will return to Transformers: The Next Generation after these messages.

***Fade to Black***
***Image of a cheerful politician appears.***
A deep voice begins: “Senator Blowhard claims to be for social security reform, lower taxes and cute, cuddly puppy dogs…”
***Image changes to Senator in a menacing pose***
“… but he’s really a Pisces and Pisces vote for nuclear waste and cat hunting.

Would you take his word for it?”

Perhaps this ‘service’ by the Washington Post is being provided to allow us to analyze how voting preference is completely NOT functionally related to astrology. It might be fun (in a data-geek sort-of way) to see if particular signs favor membership in Congress, or in a particular party.

SO since I’m pretty much a data-geek, I decided to dive into the pseudo-science:
(more…)

Wow.

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

This is quite possibly the most beautiful astronomy picture that I have seen in a very long time. Bad Astronomy queued me to Dr. Travis Rector’s Astrophotography Digital site. Dr. Rector has several phenomenal images in his gallery. He captures most of them with the MOSAIC instrument at the The National Science Foundation’s 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. (I had a chance to visit Kitt Peak while living in Tucson, AZ. Unfortunately, it was cloudy the night we went up and we never got back up for an observing session.) The MOSAIC-I CCD camera is 8192 x 8192 pixels by 16 bits. This image had an exposure time of 25 minutes in each of 3 filters. That would be a whopping 402 MB for the raw image (and 75 minutes of exposure time!) If you are similarly inspired, you can download a 113 MB TIFF image from Dr. Rector’s site on the NOAO space.

AE Aurigae
T.A.Rector and B.A.Wolpa/NOAO/AURA/NSF

SETI Finds Something!

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

To all of my fellow tech geeks, I am highly amused at this discovery.

Courtesy of Slashdot.

A SETI user managed to track down a stolen laptop by watching the status on the SETI@Home server.  Apparently the laptop called in for more data and the original owner was able to have it tracked through the reported IP address.  Pretty cool.

The article is here. 

The Moderate Majority

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Since it seems that now that the 2006 election is 3 months behind us, the 2008 election is in full swing. I won’t claim to be particularly politically aware, but I have become more an more motivated in the last 12 years to do something.

For starters I am going to investigate a premise that I have toyed with for a few months, but first I will identify some interesting sites I have come across in the process of researching for this premise.

The first has the same name as the title of this post. The Moderate Majority is a web site that states:

Our hope is that partisan people on the far Right and the far Left cannot leave this site without getting mad at something we’ve written (which means they’ll probably think we favor the “other party”).

I like that approach. It sort-of follows the concept that “A compromise is an agreement whereby both parties get what neither of them wanted” (Author Unknown). My corollary is that the majority of people will be best served by the approach that most perturbs the ends of the political spectrum.

Unfortunately the site appears to be somewhat dated in several areas. The supporting data for the Budget area appears out of date, although I think the premise holds. The International section is clearly out of date. Although the proposed middle east plan is intriguing, it is clearly impossible now that a Palestinian government has asserted itself (however unsuccessfully).

The allegory used to explain the current health care crisis is both amusing and revealing. It shows just how ridiculous the current situation of “insurance” really is. Clearly the current approach is unsupportable and some radical changes will be required to straighten things out. With a baby on the way, I’m not eager to give up my cushion of employer paid health-care, but sacrifices will certainly be needed.

The Evil Eye?

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

This one is for Bill over at The Evil Eyebrow, and because I found it to be a fascinating read. The discussion is about the Yiddish custom of The Evil Eye (spit spit spit). For some reason this all sounded vaguely familiar to me despite my complete and utter WASP upbringing. I can’t exactly recall why, but it’s like something from a book I read or a dream.

Evil Eye: Is the Universe Really Out to Get Me? by Dr Lynette Davidson

I found this article from Skepchick magazine which I found from Memoirs of Skepchick which I found via Bad Astronomy. I was also amused by the T-shirts sold through the Skepchick site which include the winners from the “Best Darwin Pickup Lines” contest.

Edit: Oops… forgot the link to the article.

Drive life…

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

As queued by Slashdot, I found an excellent summary (thanks StorageMojo) of a paper presented at the USENIX conference. The paper, which wonthe Best Paper Award, is titled, Disk Failures in the Real World: What Does an MTTF of 1,000,000 Hours Mean to You?.

A summary of the summary:

  • Vendor MTBF numbers can be off by as much as 15 times (on average 3 times)
  • Consumer drives and enterprise drives have similar failure rates (despite very different advertised failure rates)
  • Drive failures don’t follow infant mortality or burn-in patterns, but increase as a function of time
  • Complex RAID systems are not as secure as you might think, since the failure of one drive is likely to indicate that the failure of another drive is coming soon

An overdue product

Monday, February 19th, 2007

I’m not usually the type to endorse random products, but I’m pretty impressed with this one. Not only does it sound and look pretty cool, it’s surprisingly functional. I described it to a friend at work and he said something like “that’s probably the coolest thing that was needed years ago.” He said it much more elegantly than that, but I forgot.

So what is it? It’s a Power Squid. Here’s a picture:
PowerSquid Image

It’s basically the same as any other power strip, but they’ve solved the annoying transformer problem in a truly exceptional way. And of course it sort of looks like a squid, for which it is named. We bought a 6 tentacled version. It rocks.