December 21, 2004

Log Entry

2 miles @ <10:00 min/mi (9:30 for first mile, 12 for a little while, then back to 9:30)
4x15 pushups (1st was 20, forgot that I was supposed to do 15)
4x20 situps
9 pullups (did it all after the other stuff, another guy was using the station)

Lunch: Q-Cup fried chicken bits and sweet potato french fries + sweet iced green tea
Dinner (prediction): leftover lunch + leftover curry and pad thai from last night. mmm...

Posted by kstroke at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2004

Log Entry

2 miles @ 10:00 min/mi (9:30 for first mile, slower for the second)
4x15 pushups
4x20 situps
3x3 pullups

Lunch: In-n-Out double double animal style?
Dinner: sushi? (this is what I get for not writing this stuff down when it happens)

Posted by kstroke at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2004

December 15, 2004

Coffee

I'm not much of a coffee person ($3.60+ per cup is like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day), but I do drink it occasionally. I like the concept of mocha (coffee plus chocolate), but the last couple of times I've had it at different places, it's been disappointing. Not enough of the flavors of either chocolate or coffee. This time I wanted it the way I wanted it.

I went to the local Starbucks and asked for a mocha with half the milk and double the chocolate. The nice barrista lady (or whatever they call themselves) informed me that the cup would be pretty empty and suggested making it a double shot to fill some of the space even though it'll still have a gap at the top. I figure that she's the expert so I take her advice. Awesome. Exactly what I wanted (except for being expensive). Liquid chocolate-covered expresso beans.

Double tall mocha with half the milk and double the chocolate. Optional top-off of whipped cream to fill the gap.

Posted by kstroke at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2004

Log Entry

2 miles @ 10:14 min/mi (9:30 for first mile, slower for the second)
4x15 pushups
4x20 situps
3x3 pullups

Lunch: pad thai
Dinner: Boston Market - most of half a chicken, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a little cornbread

Coke: around 4 or 5. maybe a little more. it was a StarCraft night.

Going to do this for the next couple of weeks as a prep for the SEAL-inspired workout I'm trying out. I figure that the holiday travel is going to break up any chance of a regular workout routine so I'll just do this one when I find the time. The start of the new year will begin the progression from these easier workouts to the more difficult ones.

Don't know if it was the long break in my workout routine or just being weak, but this workout was deceptively difficult. Looking at it, I knew the run would be hard (target pace is 8:30 min/mi) because I've never been much of a distance runner even when I was in shape. I expected the rest of it to be a breeze. Back in middle school when we had those national fitness test days, I could do 60 situps in a minute without really getting tired, and I know I was able to do about 75 pushups straight. The last set of pushups and situps today was kinda hard. It's kinda sad when you realize that your eighth grade doppelganger might be able to beat up your current self. I guess PE was actually useful.

Posted by kstroke at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

Dip Pen

I'm the proud new owner of some nibs and some of this india ink that people talk about. One day, I'm gonna be able to write like the guy here: moleskinerie: Speedball Workshop Video

Posted by kstroke at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2004

JOGL

JOGL (Java OpenGL) looks interesting.

Posted by kstroke at 01:53 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2004

Percolation

Read more on this guy's use of percolation later.

Posted by kstroke at 06:13 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2004

Graphs

Been interested in graph theory lately for some reason. We went over some stuff in 046, but I don't remember any of it. And it all had more to do with finding paths than really covering graph theory, if I remember correctly. This site deserves more investigation. From there, found a path to here and I'd like to continue going down that path later.

Posted by kstroke at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

Sketch Dude

website. I've enjoyed the Sketchbook section and some of the penmanship links (Pens section, then Reference). My handwriting's terrible (I think it was my only B in elementary school), and I think it'd be cool to write all cool-like. I've tried adding curls here and there, but it ends up looking stupid. There must be a system for figuring out where and how to embellish.

Posted by kstroke at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2004

New Routine

Been on a bit of a workout holiday for the last month or so. This might be a good new routine to try out. No weights, lots more aerobic activity.

Same workout, different format.

Posted by kstroke at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2004

National Treasure

National Treasure was not a disappointment. I've seen better movies, but I've also seen worse. I have a soft spot for action/adventure movies especially when they have a puzzle element. One thing that excited me was a Moleskine spotting. On the Charlotte, Nicholas Cage was holding a Moleskine book and printed out the secret pipe message on it. Cool. I'm totally bought into all the hype. I go willingly.

Posted by kstroke at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2004

Art Tutorials

Glanced at one of the lessons. Looks interesting. I draw poorly. I plan to restart the drawing book jocy gave me and work through it in earnest.

Posted by kstroke at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

Gel Ink Woes

Numbered my pages last night. Did the first few with a couple of Pilot gel ink pens (my current daily one - Dr. Grip Gel, and a G2). The ink takes a little while to dry on the pages and smears on the facing page if you're not careful. I numbered the rest of the pages with another Pilot that just uses regular ink. I'm not sure if my Dr. Grip is using a fine or extra fine tip. I'm going to buy an extra fine refill and see if the line is thinner (nicer looking and faster drying time, I hope).

Thinking about pens reminded me that the Dr. Grip is only my second favorite pen. My favorite is the Sakura PQ. The first gel ink pen I ever saw that didn't have a kiddie look to it and that had a super fine tip. I always liked the way the gel pens felt while writing, but I like really thin lines, and those things just write way too thick. They say fine, but they don't really mean it.

Sakura discontinued the PQ right after I emptied the one I bought. I think that was the first pen I ever emptied. I usually lose them. Or decide I don't like them anymore and get a new one. Then lose them. I liked the PQ so much that I even looked around and sent emails to Sakura asking what happened to them. They sent replies telling me I was out of luck. Dammit.

From that point on, I was always on the lookout for the survivors. Then a couple of years later, I see something that looks just like a PQ (from Sakura, even, I think) in a Japanese stationery store. It seems like they decided to revive it under a different name. Cool. I got a couple. They're empty now.

I started using the Dr. Grip because it was the only acceptable looking pen available via my work office supply ordering place. It's nice. The wide rubber grip is easier on your hand muscles. I forgot about how much the thicker lines bothered me after a while b/c most of my note taking these days is on a legal pad.

The 3x5 size of the Moleskine (I read somewhere that the pronunciation is mol-a-skeen-a, since it's Italian. I appreciate this and all, but it's kinda pretentious so I'm just gonna pronounce it moleskin. Unless I'm talking to an Italian. No, actually, probably not then either.) made me long for the days when I had a writing instrument I liked that would write nice thin lines. Proportions matter. I think I might go visit another Japanese stationery store soon.

Parenthetically offset paragraphs often interject themselves in the middle of the sentences of my thoughts. I could edit, but then I'd want to edit all over, and brain dumps are just so much easier.

Another thought: writing feels kinda foreign. I type. (Skill-level: between moderately poorly to fair. I taught myself in college using a cheesy Typing Tutor program I picked up from Staples. It helped a lot. I stopped doing the lessons after the alphabet was covered. At the time, I only really needed the letters, semicolon, and parenthesis.) I do take notes by hand at meetings, but since they're just for me and very temporary in nature, I let myself write as sloppily as I want. Writing in a bound notebook makes me want to write more neatly. And at greater length. The muscles in my hand have been spasming recently, this will be good exercise. For the brain, too. I won't be able to try out a spelling to see if it looks right. I could, but there'd be a record of failed attempts.

Posted by kstroke at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2004

Moleskine

I just got one. A small, lined one. I wanted a blank one, but Borders only had this one. Literally. Other than this, there was a large diary, and a million memo pocket ones. Read more about these books here. Now, it's time to go and make my first mark in this book.

Posted by kstroke at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

Must Move Quickly

Similar goals, different approach. This guy's made something that allows you to watch TV that originates from where ever. His system is expensive, though. For the last couple of months, I've been noodling on an idea to allow people/companies reach a wider broadcast audience via software. Got to get moving on that.

December 2, 2004
I Want My Moscow TV
By SETH SCHIESEL

KEN SCHAFFER doesn't like blind spots. Never has.

On Oct. 19, 1957, days after Sputnik became Earth's first manmade satellite, Mr. Schaffer, the son of a Bronx truck driver, received a Heathkit radio for his 10th birthday. Inspired by the chirping from space, he soon became a world-class ham-radio operator, adept at Morse code.

"It was compelling that I could just go beep-beep-beep, the smallest possible muscle group movement, and I could send a signal that goes to China," he recalled recently. "I would never answer people from New Jersey or Long Island or anything. I wanted Mongolia."

Years later, in 1981, after detouring to invent a wireless microphone, travel with the Rolling Stones and make guitars for John Lennon, Mr. Schaffer installed a satellite dish atop his Midtown Manhattan apartment building and was soon pulling in broadcasts from the Soviet Union.

"I wasn't interested in HBO and free Showtime," he said. "It was not interesting to me. I was watching Russian feeds from Moscow to Cuba - and what they used to do after they finished the feed is, the Russians would send porno to Havana, or American films. And this was before Gorbachev and all that kind of stuff."

Inspired by the potential of satellites to open up communication, Mr. Schaffer soon built a satellite telephone operation connecting the Soviet Union with the West, a venture that he sold for millions in 1995.

Now, Mr. Schaffer, 57, is trying to abolish yet another blind spot. In short, he has devised a way to make home TV reception portable - with high-quality pictures to be watched, and channels to be changed, from anywhere in the world that the Internet can reach.

So far, he has put his PC-based innovation into the hands of a few dozen others willing to pay several thousand dollars. But he aims to reduce the price to less than $1,000 within a year.

"Kenny is not your everyday eccentric," said Jonathan Sanders, a consultant to CBS News in Moscow who has known Mr. Schaffer for more than 20 years. "Kenny is an explosion of genius wrapped in a very unconventional package that is bursting with energy. This is somebody who is doing the kinds of things that you read about at one time only in science fiction, things that no one else thinks are possible but that he is able to pull off."

So much was clear one Tuesday afternoon last month.

"So this is like the Russian version of a cross between 'E.R.' and 'Law and Order,' " Mr. Schaffer said. He was sitting at a desk in the apartment next to the Plaza Hotel where he has lived, at least part time, since 1968. Spread before him were computer monitors. On one was a live cable television feed from the apartment he keeps in Moscow. On another, a live London feed was displaying a somewhat risqué commercial for a British cellphone carrier.

The quality of the full-screen images bore no resemblance to what the rest of the world thinks of as streaming Internet video. It was not quite real television, but there was very little of the pixilation and none of the incessant stuttering familiar to anyone who has watched live video over the Internet. The main character appeared on the Russian medical drama, and Mr. Schaffer jerked back a bit. "Arrgh! That's my ex-wife!" he said, pointing at the actress, Alla Kliouka.

Mr. Schaffer popped out of full-screen mode, clicked, and switched the channel to MTV Russia.

In fact, Mr. Schaffer was controlling a dedicated computer terminal back in Moscow that was simultaneously connected to his Moscow cable box and a D.S.L. data line. The terminal, which Mr. Schaffer calls TV2Me, uses a small infrared emitter to tell the cable box which channel to display. Inside TV2Me are special computer cards that allow the unit to send high-quality video over a routine broadband data connection.

In his bedroom is a huge Sony plasma flat-panel television. He puts up the same Moscow channels that were on the laptop in the living room. Even on the big screen, the images are fluid and clear.

It was an impressive demonstration, but a somewhat ironic one as well. Sony, it turns out, has just developed a similar product, called LocationFree TV. Both TV2Me and LocationFree TV allow a user to view their home television from anywhere in the world that has a high-speed Internet link, even a Wi-Fi connection outdoors. The Sony unit is cheaper. The home base station of the Sony unit is smaller. Sony's user interface is slicker. But for all that, Mr. Schaffer's unit transmits a clearer picture over the Internet.

So how did he do it? And why?

Mr. Schaffer has always been a TV guy, and a stickler for picture quality.

"We had one of the first televisions in the Bronx," he recalled. "I remember vividly standing in the living room in front of this round-tube TV thing, this huge console, watching the first transmission of 'The Huntley-Brinkley Report' in color and screaming to my mother, 'I can see the colors, I can see the colors!' "

In 1975, Mr. Schaffer bought one of the first big-screen projection televisions in New York City, an 84-inch monster made by Advent. He had been working as a rock music technician and publicist, and Mr. Schaffer said that Ron Wood and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones would sometimes come over to review concert tapes on the big screen.

Also that year, Mr. Schaffer was living with the band's tour director when he noticed that whenever Mick Jagger would switch to a wireless microphone, the sound quality collapsed. "Sometimes the police radio would bleed through and it would be, 'There's a body floating in the East River' or something, in the middle of a show," Mr. Schaffer said.

Mr. Schaffer set about inventing a wireless microphone that would actually work well and came up with a system that lent itself to a wireless guitar as well. His customers ended up including not only the Stones and John Lennon, but also Pink Floyd, Peter Frampton, Fleetwood Mac and others.

Two decades later, after Mr. Schaffer's venture into satellite phone service - an endeavor that brought him a 14,000-word profile in The New Yorker - he started playing around with Internet and Web systems. He took a look at what was being called Web video and was not impressed. "I saw what was presented as Internet TV on Yahoo," he recalled. "It was the equivalent of the microphone Mick Jagger was using when I said I could do better than that. It's a one-to-one equivalent."

All the while, Mr. Schaffer was shuttling between New York and Moscow, where he estimates that he has spent a total of perhaps four years out of the last 20. Russian television improved through the 1990's, but he still could not get what he wanted. "I missed 'Seinfeld,' " he said. "I wanted to watch Ted Koppel and 'The Sopranos' and 'Saturday Night Live.' "

He started working on TV2Me in earnest in 2001, and he has ended up using the same basic compression technology that Sony is using, called MPEG-4. But while Sony is essentially using standard MPEG-4 by itself, Mr. Schaffer and his team of Turkish and Russian programmers have developed circuitry that allows the MPEG-4 encoder to operate more efficiently and to generate a better picture.

"All of his projects have to do with connecting people and also something beyond the norm," said Robert E. Bishop, an old friend of Mr. Schaffer's and a managing partner of Tekseed L.L.C., which is developing a separate video system for security applications. "For him, it has to be something that is advancing technology. I think he was trying to take existing hardware and put it together in a way that really improved the science of moving video from Point A to Point B."

The engineering has always come naturally to Mr. Schaffer. The business side is another matter. He built a big business out of the wireless music technology in the 1970's, but never patented his inventions. He sold his satellite company for millions to a company now part of the military contractor Lockheed Martin, but he lost much of the proceeds in bad investments during the 1990's technology boom.

This time, Mr. Schaffer is trying to play by the book, a change he attributes to an enhanced sense of responsibility after having a child with Ms. Kliouka in 1995. He has patents pending. He has lawyers.

For now, he has sold only a few dozen TV2Me units, at prices ranging from $4,800 to more than $6,000. Many of his clients so far are well-heeled sports fanatics who simply must get their games when on the road. One client is a University of Oklahoma football fan. Another, a British rock star, needs his soccer.

Within a year, Mr. Schaffer hopes to reduce the price to less than $1,000. Right now, the product is based on a high-powered Pentium 4 PC running Windows, but by building special chips that can focus on only the tasks required for TV2Me, such a product can be made lighter, smaller and cheaper. The use of such chips is a big reason Sony's product is so much less expensive than TV2Me.

In fact, Mr. Schaffer says he may end up selling his entire technology. "I'd like to see this go to a company," he said, indicating that he already has buyers in mind. Mr. Schaffer is keenly aware of the copyright and other legal issues potentially posed by his technology, which does, after all, retransmit cable or satellite television signals over the Internet. He insists that each customer put his systems only to personal use.

"I want to stay absolutely within the law," he said. "On a personal level, I paid for this cable." What separates him from other cable subscribers, he said, is simply that "I have a long extension cord."

But he said he had turned down overseas sports bar owners who want to show American football to attract expatriate customers. And he has built roadblocks into his system meant to prevent users from sharing their video feeds with others.

For now, he says he has not heard from any unhappy networks or satellite or cable television operators. A spokesman for Time Warner Cable, the main cable carrier in Manhattan, declined to comment on either TV2Me or Sony's LocationFree TV.

But just as television companies at first largely ignored digital video recorders like TiVo, only to wake up later, devices like TV2Me may offer new challenges and opportunities to the entertainment industry sooner than expected. TiVo users sometimes refer to their practice as "time shifting," that is, watching television on their own time.

Mr. Schaffer refers to the use of his product as "space shifting," as in watching television in one's own space. (His Web site is www .spaceshift.net.)

More broadly, Mr. Schaffer hopes that his life of eliminating blind spots has done just a bit to make humanity safer. "I think the more that you eliminate borders between countries, people, ideas, the more likely it is that we're going to make it another couple of hundred years," he said. "That's what my motivation is."

Posted by kstroke at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

Paper Airplane

Have to try this out some time. Man, I haven't built a paper airplane in a long time. Not sure that I ever really graduated from the simple plane and glider designs. Did mess around with stuff like weighting it w/ paperclips, but I don't think I had enough of a sense of topology to alter the basic design in any way.

Posted by kstroke at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2004

Poetry

Very nice. I think the poem, the visuals, and the music all match really well. I wish it was longer.

Posted by kstroke at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)