September 28, 2006

July 25, 2006

Learning is easier when you're focused on learning

News flash: Learning is harder when there's a bunch of other crap going on.

Posted by kstroke at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2006

Language Acquisition

If I were an AP language teacher, I'd make my students learn a third language via the language they're learning. That'd be true mastery.

Posted by kstroke at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2006

Yet more GDS plug-ins

An international clock here. A synchronized note pad here.

Creating plug-ins is like crack for this code-monkey.

Posted by kstroke at 01:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2006

Origami

I feel the need to get good at origami. My last squirrel was pretty hideous. He committed seppuku.
large index of diagrams
joseph wu's page
jason ku (mit nazgul) not many diagrams though

Posted by kstroke at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2006

Carcassonne & Hello Kitty Shadow Box

From trash to treasure. Check out the shadow box I made a little while ago.

Posted by kstroke at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

Green Light

New GDS plug-in that indicates whether a file exists.

Posted by kstroke at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2006

Timer v2

Version 2 of the Google Desktop Timer plug-in is available here. Fun new things like descriptions for the timer, stopwatch, icons, and being able to change existing timer settings.

Coming up, a couple of dumb, easy plug-ins: red light/green light (existence of a file, someone's request), international clock (been planning on this, but the dumbness of one that was published has given me motivation to finish this sooner rather than later).

After those, maybe something fun like a game.

Posted by kstroke at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2006

Mad Money

I think Mad Money's a fun show, but I'm leery of making any investments just b/c of Jim Cramer's recommendation. I think it's a good source for new ideas to investigate further. This article points out the madness of tons of investors who buy without looking. Alarming and predictable.

Posted by kstroke at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2006

Katamari Kool

Parsons students' Katamari project.

Posted by kstroke at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2006

Mighty Mouse Gets Revenge

Funny story here about a mouse burning down a guy's house. I'm all for getting rid of pests that invade your space (even if they are furry and cute), but I think it should be done in as humane a way as possible. Burning a live mouse is definitely not on the humane side of the spectrum.

Posted by kstroke at 05:44 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2005

401k + Laundry Plug-in

What've I been up to lately? Certainly neither exercising nor posting anything interesting. I've been focused on tying up loose ends. Finishing some projects.

I started work on analyzing retirement investment vehicles a while back and finally wrote up a little something. It didn't take me long to figure out that 401ks were generally the way to go, but it took me a long time to actually write it up. LaTEX is fun.

This past week, I was consumed with the Laundry Timer. This is a Google Desktop Sidebar plug-in that lets you go back to your computer after putting on a load of laundry without fear of being that jerk who leaves their clothes in the machine for hours, or conversely, being that poor victim whose wet laundry gets tossed onto some nasty table just because you were a minute late.

Now, on to starting some more projects!

Posted by kstroke at 12:29 AM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving

Woot! Another Thanksgiving down. The turkey skin looks burned, but I swear that it's 100% juicy deliciousness. I just need to work on making it look better. My second attempt at bread (melon pan) a little while back turned out pretty well. When broken apart, they looked and tasted like pineapple bun. This success emboldened me for my third try at bread. It was almost good. A little dense, but at least it didn't taste like cardboard like my first try. Either I over worked it, or I shouldn't have cut short the time for the second rise.

Posted by kstroke at 12:44 AM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2005

Money for Land

If you had a million dollars, would you rather buy a 165 acre Sri Lankan island or a 3 bedroom 1 bath house on less than 1/4 of an acre in Menlo Park, CA? I don't have a million dollars, but if I did, I'd have a hard time convincing myself that a little 3br/1ba is equivalent to a tropical island.

Posted by kstroke at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2005

Enron Email Dataset

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~enron/

Posted by kstroke at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2005

WOAH

World Organization for Animal Health

WOAH. Mmm... That doesn't look right. WHOA. That's what I was thinking. This isn't as funny anymore.

Posted by kstroke at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2005

Housing Bubble

Contrary to what some may say, housing prices can fall at a startling rate. Quite a bit more startling, both in speed and distance, than some would have you believe. Just check out the numbers in this article.

October 23, 2005
Slippery Devil, That Real Estate 'Bubble'
By MOTOKO RICH and DAVID LEONHARDT
JUST about everybody has taken to using the word "bubble" when talking about the housing market.

Among the optimists who have embraced the idea is a condominium developer in Miami who is running an advertisement for two new properties that shows a woman blowing an enormous chewing-gum bubble above the word "Boom!" And at the Mortgage Bankers Association, the chief economist, Doug Duncan, says he subscribes to the Don Ho way of thinking, referring to the singer's hit, "Tiny Bubbles."

But the pessimists aren't surrendering the metaphor they started. Robert Shiller, an economist whose 2000 book predicted the stock market crash, has re-released the book with a new cover warning of "the world wide real estate bubble and its aftermath."

All of which leads to the question: Does the word "bubble" have any meaning anymore?

In some cases, the word indicates a market in which prices have gone up so far and so fast that they are destined to crash, as some fretted when a recent report showed that Manhattan apartment prices had dropped 13 percent from July through September.

Others use "bubble" to suggest that prices could drift along for years to come. They might trail inflation for as much as a generation, even if the nature of real estate, with its slow and infrequent transactions, prevents a Nasdaq-like collapse.

To many developers, brokers and bankers - not to mention homeowners - who all have a big stake in the boom, the word has come to symbolize a fabulous market that is likely to slow eventually. The 15 percent annual price jumps of recent years will gently ease into 5 or 8 percent increases, they say.

Even some who insist there is no bubble in real estate use a similar metaphor. David Lereah, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors and the author of a recent book urging people to buy more real estate, said "air will come out of the balloon" in coming months.

It is still not clear who will end up being right about house prices, but the vast housing industry has already chalked up one victory by muddying the linguistic waters like this. If the true worrywarts convince you that there is indeed a bubble, but real estate agents tell you that it is not so bad, you might just go ahead and buy a vacation home with no money down.

Grant Barrett, a lexicographer for Oxford University Press in New York, compares this obfuscation to the linguistic tactics of politics.

"It's that weird behavior of trying to make a word mean what you want it to mean," Mr. Barrett said. "We call it the thesaurus defense: it's basically redefining a word in order to suit their own point of view and in order to make themselves feel right or sound right."

To be fair, there is no precise economic definition of a bubble, and uncovering one in the housing market is particularly tricky. When the same question came up about the stock market in the late 1990's, the terms of the debate were clearer. People who used the word "bubble" generally meant that stock prices would soon fall sharply, which they did.

But the real estate market is not nearly as volatile as the stock market. Deals are not done in a day. When house sellers cannot get the price they want, they often wait, instead of panicking. The worst declines in real estate values usually happen over years, often at the hands of inflation rather than in the form of a sudden decline.

That means that even popped bubbles do not always go by that name. During the most recent real estate downturn, in the late 1980's and early 1990's, prices fell by more than 10 percent in New York and more than 20 percent in Los Angeles, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Adjusted for inflation, the losses were far worse: about 30 percent in parts of the Northeast and even more than that in Southern California. Prices peaked in about 1988 and did not return to their highs - relative to the price of everything else in the economy - until about 2000.

In Boston, where prices fell 25 percent in the early 1990's, after adjusting for inflation, "people were bringing checks to the table" to cover shortfalls in selling prices because their mortgages were larger than what the buyer paid, said Robert Buckley, a real estate lawyer in Boston.

Yet there is far less talk today about the 1990's real estate crash than there is about the 2000 stock market crash, despite the current obsession with housing. Slow declines are simply not as memorable, and real estate agents like to talk in terms of list prices, which present a sunnier if less meaningful picture than inflation-adjusted numbers do.

"I don't believe real estate acts in any way that could be a bubble, because a bubble pops and real estate doesn't explode overnight," said Pamela Liebman, chief executive of the Corcoran Group, one of New York's largest real estate firms. What happened in Manhattan in the first half of the 1990's, she said, was "a slow leaking."

Adding to the current confusion is a flurry of recent statistics that have pointed every which way. The Commerce Department reported last week that the number of homes starting to be built last month surged more than 10 percent compared with a year ago, a sign of builder optimism. But the number of existing homes for sale in several markets, including New York, Boston and Washington, is also rising, as is the average amount of time it takes to sell a home. In Manhattan, the recent fall in apartment prices caused The New York Post to exclaim, "Real Estate in Bubble Trouble."

Taken as a whole, the numbers suggest that the hottest markets really are cooling off, in a way that seems more serious than other pauses of recent years. Still, both versions of the boom's end - the gentle one and the harsh one - look possible. So both definitions of bubble remain in play.

For the average homeowner, though, a definition of bubble that avoids all these subtleties might be the best one of all. "Anyone who bought after you bought," suggests Erin McKean, editor in chief of the Oxford American Dictionary in Chicago, "bought in a bubble."

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

October 20, 2005

No credit

Been hearing a lot of 'Listen to Your Heart' on the radio. It's a nice enough rendition of the Roxette song and the dance mix is pretty good as far as those things go, but I never hear any mention of Roxette. They made sure to attribute NIN as the orginal artist for the Johnny Cash remake so I wonder why they can't seem to do the same for Roxette.

Posted by kstroke at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2005

Wikipedia Critique

I think this guy's a little right, and a little wrong about the quality of Wikipedia. I think Wikipedia's greatest strengths are its breadth of information and its free access, and I think most people use it knowing that there's a possible trade-off with the depth of the information.

Most Wikipedia entries that are available in traditional encyclopedia probably don't describe the material nearly as well as the paper version. I'd be surprised and dismayed if they did. It's a bunch of paid editors and writers against a motley collection of random people who may or may not be knowledgable, objective, fluent, etc. The underpinnings of economics would be turned inside out if the professionals were worse on average than the amateurs about the same subject matter. The most benefit comes when the amateurs cover something the pros don't.

I'm fairly confident that the Encyclopedia Britanica doesn't have any entries on b-trees, and Encarta certainly doesn't (it suggested entries having to do with the lumber industry). I'd like to check Britanica, but you have to pay to use the online version and I don't feel up to jumping through the hoops for a 30 day trial. I doubt any general encyclopedia will ever have an entry for b-trees. It's really a subject for computer science textbooks, but even if you have one handy, it's nice to have an alternative resource with a different set of references. Wikipedia's breadth of topics is its quality.

The argument that Wiki-fans shouldn't respond with "if you see something broken, you can fix it" is flawed. You can argue that the Wiki-fans' view of the ecology of users is wrong, but to complain about the inaccuracies of entries without writing corrections is to simply be a part of the ecology. You pay restaurants to serve you and you have the right to complain, but if you told your mom that her food was terrible, she'd respond with "well, there's the kitchen." And you should count yourself lucky if that's all she responded with.

The Wiki ecology (really any collective) consists of a number of species including leeches and hosts (or more generally sinks and sources). Knowing that an entry is wrong makes you a potential host. Contributing solidifies you in that role. Complaining without contributing makes you a whining leech who's unwilling to be a host. The assumption is that there are enough hosts out there to cover any entry that any leech may want. This may or may not be the case, but regardless, it is entirely valid in this paradigm to say "if you think you can supply the leeches better, do it, or else quit complaining or quit leeching."

Incorrect knowledge masquerading as correct knowledge is really bad when combined with consumers who assume that everything is correct. For those who know that an entry may be incorrect and are willing to fact check, Wikipedia plugs important holes by covering uncovered topics and offering different/multiple perspectives.

Posted by kstroke at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2005

Musical Saw

Haha, musical saw.

Posted by kstroke at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2005

Straightening a Saw

This and this suggests that straightening a saw is as easy as whacking it with a hammer a couple of times. Who has an anvil lying around? I'll just have to try a table or the ground or something.

Posted by kstroke at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2005

Sheryl Crow bothers me

Heard a new Sheryl Crow song on the radio today. The refrain says something about hearing the rolling thunder and turning around before the lightning strikes. That don't make no sense.

Posted by kstroke at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2005

Puzzle Boxes

Dang. Them's some crazy wooden puzzle boxes.

Posted by kstroke at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2005

July 25, 2005

Picture Frames

Picture frame making reference. Illustration 1 and the preceding paragraph of rabbetting seems to have useful rules of thumb on depths and minimums.

Posted by kstroke at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2005

July 13, 2005

TeX, LaTeX, MiKTeX

I probably should have learned to use LaTeX during college, but I was able to get along with Word (except for that one time that Word barfed on a very large document). Going to learn now. Planning on using MiKTeX and TeXnicCenter.

Starting points:
Gentle Introduction' to Plain TeX
Getting to grips with LaTeX
Index of Tutorials
AMS Short Math Guide

Posted by kstroke at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2005

Kitchen Action

onigiri packet pizza squished smore

New food entries. Made a giant onigiri, some pizza from scratch, and some microwaved smores.

Posted by kstroke at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2005

Craftiness

Making fake tombstones. Tips on working with foam, Super 77 spray adhesive, and how to make your own wire cutting tools.

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

July 06, 2005

Hydro-Foam

Will have to check out http://michaelconnally.com/ later when its bandwidth is back for plans on the cool RC boat/plane.

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

July 05, 2005

Learnin'

Things I've learned over the last couple of weeks:

Cleaning wood and metal (hand planes):
-mineral spirits and fine steel wool is a good way to get rid of paint splatters
-mineral spirits and fine steel wool does so-so with light rust, wd-40 does better
-wire wheels must be used with caution, even fine ones
-a dry scotchbrite pad will eventually clean off anything; for deep rust, allocate a couple of months
-mineral spirits and fine steel wool does so-so with light rust, wd-40 does better
-a citric acid solution does wonders on deep rust. two nights of soaking will also eat cast iron (laminated iron seems to hold up well, though). try spot applications for a couple of hours at a time instead of soaking.
-breathing in wd-40 or odorless (not really) mineral spirits for a while really will make you light headed. open the door and turn on a fan.

Food:
-when you've got a couple of dots of flour on your shirt, resist the urge to dust them off. you'll end up with a big stripe of flour on your shirt in their place. your hands are floury.
-pizza's not so hard. success here will make you want to try your hand at bread.
-render your bacon completely or the fat will soak through your crust and make it soggy instead of crispy.
-get or make a peel. handling a 500 degree pizza stone is no fun even with welding gloves on. or my welding gloves aren't very good.

MovableType:
-using unordered lists causes an internal server error and will drive you batty for a day

Posted by kstroke at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2005

I like robots

This is a cool article about some illegal immigrant high schoolers beating MIT in an remote controlled underwater vehicle contest. Hopefully the beavers went home with some valuable lessons instead of just a mouth full of bitter.

Posted by kstroke at 03:32 PM | Comments (0)

Japan Quick Vids

Some digi-cam movies from our Japan vacation:

Kodama in the woods. Can you hear them?

Honenin

Assuring a space in paradise via a hole in Todaiji.

Todaiji

Prolly no one cares about this video of Aritsugu.

Aritsugu

Cool kids doing Taiko in Asakusa area.

Taiko

Posted by kstroke at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2005

finger joints and drawing


finger joints and drawing
finger joints and drawing
last sunday, tried my hand at finger joints and then did a lesson in 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain'. the box wasn't perfect (lots of oversaws and gaps and nothing's square), but the pieces fit. i'm satisfied with that for a first try.

this was a lot better than my first try at dovetails. that was just plain painful. since then, got a rigid dovetail saw, a marking gauge, and looked up how to chop with a chisel.

thought the book would give a sense of scale to the frame, but the frame looks huge. it's only 12" x 14" on the outside.

Posted by kstroke at 06:55 PM | Comments (0)

the making of...

If you haven't seen it yet, check out our little video.
the making of...
the making of...
this is a behind-the-scenes shot of the mamemomoko short 'a love story'

Posted by kstroke at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

oh daikon, my daikon

Did some knifework practice last week. Check out the series.
oh daikon, my daikon
oh daikon, my daikon
the daikon will be my primary partner in this dance.

Posted by kstroke at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2005

Casting

I've witnessed casting, but never tried my hand at it. I don't remember enough of the setup process to replicate what I saw as a kid, but this might be a good start. Cast aluminium... What common cheap things are cast in aluminium? Can you just add silicon to molten aluminium and get the desired effect? Reading pages 1-6 of this steam casting tutorial will also help.

Another link.

And another.

Info on alloying.

First link is promising.

Posted by kstroke at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

Flea Market

Thinking of going to a fleamarket in San Jose this weekend. Prolly Saturday. Ping me if your interested.

Posted by kstroke at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2005

Book Binding

I remember seeing some classes for book binding at a paper store. Sounded interesting, but by the time we found out about them, they had already happened. This seems like a useful tutorial.

Posted by kstroke at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2005

June 01, 2005

Blank Page, Copyrighted

The blank page has been copyrighted. What are all the paper makers and writer's block sufferers to do?

Posted by kstroke at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2005

Japan Pics

Japan pics available. Finally got them titled, tagged, and described.

Posted by kstroke at 04:58 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2005

Stupid

Tourist + SUV + Lombard St = stupid

Posted by kstroke at 05:03 PM | Comments (0)

Japan

Japan was cool. Pics coming soon.

Posted by kstroke at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

Japanese Cutting Techniques

After I get my knives, I'm going to practice all of these basic techniques. The katsuramuki may be the first one I try to master. If you get invited for dinner in the next couple of months, expect to eat lots of massacred daikon.

Knife care, initial and ongoing.

Posted by kstroke at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2005

Japanese Knives

Mmm... A nice knife would be a cool. Gyotou, Santoku, Deba, Yanagiba... Which one? Or two, or three. Definitely stop at 3. Excluding the ceramic one I might get.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=25958
http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=26036
http://www.japanese-knife.com/faq/
http://knifeforums.com
http://japanesechefsknife.com
http://foodieforums.com/resources.htm
http://www.korin.com/knives/knife_jp.php

http://www.lowermanhattan.info/assistance/business_spotlight/business_spotlight__korin_71177.asp (interesting story about korin)

http://watanabeblade.com/english/index.htm (custom made, have to consider the prices for these as a ceiling for shopping in japan)

Posted by kstroke at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2005

Time for Spring Cleaning...

I like the flickr zeitgeist thing (it's a little busy, though), but it does not have place in this blog's current layout. The CSS needs to be fixed to look right in Firefox anyway. I predict June will be a good time to work on making this site look better. Summer cleaning, I guess. Maybe I'll figure out a way to safely reenable comments, too.

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

April 28, 2005

Canada on Fire, Entire Continents Missing

I was looking for Tokyo, Japan to see how detailed the maps were. I was thinking of creating a mapped journal of an upcoming vacation there. According to Google maps, Japan has sunk into the ocean. I can understand not having detailed roadmaps for some countries just yet, but there should at least be a very general place holder there for the continent. Mexico has a place holder.

I looked around some more to see what countries outside of America are included so far, and I found that the UK has a very nice looking map. As does Canada. I think. Zooming in on the British Columbia area, it looks like roads are few and far between. Somehow, I think this is the way it actually is rather than a lack of detail on Google's part. To make sure, I checked the satellite image of the area.

I saw this interesting shot northwest of Prince George in British Columbia. something's burning Dang, that's a big fire...

Posted by kstroke at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2005

Upcoming Must See Movies

Saw these on Penny Arcade. Serenity looks like it might have some good fight scenes. Not expecting anything else from it. Night Watch just looks plain awesome. Out and out awesome.

Posted by kstroke at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2005

Word, quit snapping

Dragging around an oval to highlight an area of a picture in a Word document can be annoying. The durn thing snaps to an invisible grid (for both movement and sizing) and there isn't an obvious way to make it go to exactly where you want it. Curse you, MS usability people who thought that a magical, not-to-be-found-in-the-menu key combination was the way to go for this functionality! The Great Google Genie told me that holding down Alt while you resize/move the shape lets you move it anywhere. Thank you, oh Great Google Genie.

Posted by kstroke at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

Interesting things

Having just encountered the first work-related issue that required any thought in the last couple of weeks, he folded his arms against his chest. The crunching in his chest pocket was neither expected nor surprising -- surprisingly. It was kind of satisfying so he squeezed a little harder knowing that he was making it harder to clean. Inspecting the damage, he saw a pulverized potato chip. Salt and vinegar. Hawaiian-style. Somehow, it made sense that there was a salt and vinegar chip there. A little brain cell chimed in, "yeah, don't you remember? We were getting low on chips and that one was there to be eaten in case of a no-more-chips emergency."

The past view days have been full of interesting things. I saw a little black bird hop into the front passenger-side wheel of my car and come out with something in his mouth. I didn't realize there were bird goodies there, but that's good to know.

After a vitamin-grease filled meal at Kentucky Fried Chicken, I saw this. I've been by this area at least a couple of dozen times over the last year, and I never noticed the Wonderbread/Hostess Outlet before. A loaf of Wonderbread is $0.69, and 30 Twinkies are $5.99. Yeah, I got 30 Twinkies. And a bag of hot dog buns, and some special hot dog chili (Texas Pete, or something. don't ever get it. it was kinda gross.). KFC lunch, followed by a hot dog lunch and a chilli dog dinner the next day. I'm totally going to have a heart attack before 30. But not before I eat my 30 Twinkies.

There was also a plastic Twinkie the Kid Twinkie holder. Took me a second to figure out what that was for. Twinkies are already individually wrapped, so it's not to keep dirt off it. The cellophane doesn't do much in the way of squish protection, though.

I also discovered how to make my wrist guard angry.

Flowers are in bloom everywhere. Too bad I only see these when I'm all grumpy and on my way to work.

Posted by kstroke at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2005

Narutrix

For some reason, I think I've heard of this before, but saw it on boingboing and thought it sounded like it had great potential. Waiting to go home to watch it. Tap, tap, tap. Tapping my feet in the mean time.

Posted by kstroke at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2005

Programming

Better programming through process. (courtesy joclin)

Interesting article on processes and structures to increase software development productivity and quality. Going to read some of the branching articles now.

Posted by kstroke at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2005

Office Move

I've been moved from one office building to another on the same campus. Where I used to have my own office, I now have a cube. It's not all bad, though.


  • I have a window now. +2

  • The window sill is a super reflective, blinding white. -1

  • I don't have a door, and people can sneak up on me. -1

  • No more jet engine noise from the air system. +1

  • Keyboard clatter, phones, and talking noises from a floor full of neighbors. -1

  • Smaller area. 0 (I didn't use much space in the office either)

  • More desk space. +1

  • My optical mouse doesn't like the new white desk. -1

  • The entire building is better lit. +1

  • The bathroom is almost twice as big. +1

  • The bathroom is laid out such that the only difference is one extra urinal and a lot more room to stand and wait. When designing a bathroom, why would you put a higher priority on the waiting area than the do-your-business area? -1

  • The bathroom soap dispensers are not broken. +1

  • Duplex printer. +1

  • The printer's far, far away. -1

  • No office chair. -1 (hopefully this will get fixed soon)

  • The previous occupant left me a No Doubt poster on the wall. +1

  • The parking area by this building is covered. +1

  • My desk is not level. -1

Posted by kstroke at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2005

PSP Sweetness

Flickr and my new PSP have been verified as the cat's pajamas. Lumines is a great puzzle game and sucked up most of my weekend. PSP home dev seems to be well under way.

Posted by kstroke at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2005

Independent Theater

The Moxie looks like a cool project. I want to be a theater owner one day...

Posted by kstroke at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2005

Redhat Fedora

As of this moment, Fedora FC3 can suck my balls. It consistently freezes at the 'formatting / file system' stage of the installation. I don't know what's going on. Does it just not like my old PII and all the other old stuff attached? Maybe I'll try FC4.

Posted by kstroke at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2005

For Software Engineers and the Dedicated

Ira Glass has a great story on some software people at Apple from back in the day. Look in the 2005 archives of This American Life for "Should I stay or should I go?" and start listening at 25:33. Direct link to the Real audio file. The story as written by the lead conspirator. This sort of love of one's work is the envy of overqualified workers employed by uninspired companies -- or at least me.

Posted by kstroke at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2005

Woodshop

Man, I want a woodshop one day. And a killer homemade router table.

Posted by kstroke at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

Making things

Cool Media Lab grad who makes cool things and documents well (the couple of pages I've seen so far).

Heard about Make for a while. Didn't bother to visit until today. Some pretty interesting stuff there so far.

Posted by kstroke at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2005

RSS

Huh. It turns out that I have an RSS feed automatically generated for me (without any setup) courtesy of MT. I only found out b/c of Firefox's little orange icon thing. Live bookmarks are cool.

Posted by kstroke at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2005

Genius

Great song, great video. Courtesy of courage. Brilliant. I really want that song now. I've been bopping to it for a little while at work now. Apparently this is the title: "Dragostea Din Tei," or "Love From the Linden Trees" - http://www.c895fm.com/forum/post.asp?method=ReplyQuote&REPLY_ID=15978&TOPIC_ID=2883&FORUM_ID=1 lyrics or here

Another work of genius are these fox-dogs. I want.

Posted by kstroke at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2005

Bathroom Chatter

This afternoon in the stall to my right. I recognized his voice. He was on my old team.
--------------------------------------------
Ding-ding-ding-da-ding.
Yes, sir.
I'm in the bathroom now.
(fart)
I'll be there in 5 minutes.
Ungh. (fart, fart)
Maybe sooner.

Posted by kstroke at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2005

Great Design

Hahahaha.

Posit: I am what I eat
Hypothesis: If I stand in the path of that building's destruction, I will become fried spam

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

Buy this Monitor

I have the Dell 2005FPW monitor, and you should, too. SlickDeals.net just posted a $75 coupon that brings the price down to $487 + tax. Tax + and environment fee is added for CA, but I hear that no tax is applied for NY.

"But what about the dead sub-pixel? And aren't you bitter that it's $100 cheaper a couple of weeks after you bought it?"

I called Dell customer support on the off chance that I'd be able to get some sort of price match. I figured this would be another example of the big company squashing the little guy. It wasn't. I lean a little anti-big corporation these days, but I now think Dell is one of the few good guys. Either that, or they're one of those bad guys that hides their badness by being really nice. Really really nice.

Suman (I'm on a first name basis with the customer support guy now) credited most of the price difference. It was actual money back instead of the fake money back where they give you a coupon or something so that you have to buy more stuff from them to sort of get your money back.

Then he asked how I liked the monitor. I said it was great except for the dead sub-pixel. He said he'd send a replacement right away. Bonus. I hadn't called to replace it before because I thought it was going to be a hassle. It turns out that it's so easy that you don't even have to be meaning to do it and it'll happen.

In exchange for 18 minutes on the phone, I'm going to get a second chance at a perfect monitor, and I'm getting it at pretty close to the price available today.

In summary, Dell rocks, GreatAZO sucks, and Meritline sucks for carrying them and advertising them as being "highly compatible". See how I didn't link to the suckas? That's how cold I am.

Posted by kstroke at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2005

Firefox Stuff

Will have to look through these tips. IE View looks especially useful. Also have to figure out how to get to the Google search box using a key command...

Posted by kstroke at 07:23 PM | Comments (0)

GreatAZO Warning

Man, I wish I'd known about this review site before I'd purchased. The comment about data being lost after 3+ months is really scary. The review is for the 4x media. 8x isn't listed, and I bet the quality hasn't improved between the versions. The rest of these babies are going up on eBay. And just to reiterate, Meritline sucks for pawning them off onto unsuspecting consumers with claims of how great and compatible they are.

Posted by kstroke at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)

Firefox

Been trying out Firefox over the last couple of days. It's pretty nice. Overall, it's mostly the same as IE.

There are some annoyances. I can't use some pages to their fullest extent. In MovableType, I can't see the editing buttons on the entry page so I lose the convenience of higlighting a word, pasting in a link, and having the anchor tags automatically generated around that word. One big problem is that I can't enter in text into an "enhanced" text box at work intranet site. That's a show stopper. Until that gets fixed, IE will still get used. Whether the problem is with Firefox or with people writing non-cross-platform compatible javascript, I don't care. I just want stuff to work. Right now, IE does that for me.

Firefox has one killer feature - opening all the links in a bookmarks folder into their own tabs. Now I can go to all the sites I visit daily at the click of a single label. When one site is being slow, I can see that right away and just start reading a site that's already finished loading. So cool.

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

February 26, 2005

Price List

Memory - $443
http://www.monarchcomputer.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=140215&AFFIL=pg&NR=1
2 GB DDR (2 pcs 1GB) PC-3200 (400) OCZ Dual-Channel (OCZ4002048PFDC-K)

Motherboard - $188
http://www.futurepowerpc.com/scripts/details.asp?PRDCODE=MBAS-A8NSLIDLX&REFID=PG
ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe Socket-939 nForce4 SLI ATX
setup notes

Processor - $278
http://www.futurepowerpc.com/scripts/details.asp?PRDCODE=CPAM-R643500BI&REFID=PG
AMD Athlon 64 3500+/2.2Ghz/512K L2 CPU(Scoket-939)

Storage (option 1) - $205/drive
http://www.monarchcomputer.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=150561&AFFIL=pg&NR=1
Maxtor (6B300S0) DiamondMax Plus 10 300GB SATA 7200 RPM 16MB Cache

Storage (option 2) - $120/drive
http://www.futurepowerpc.com/scripts/details.asp?PRDCODE=HDWD-I2000JD&REFID=PG
Western Digital 200GB (8MB / Serial ATA150 / 7200 RPM)


Video Card - $450/card
http://www.monarchcomputer.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=M&Product_Code=190482
BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC 256MB GDDR3/PCI-E/TV-Out/Dual-DVI

Dual video card + power supply bundle - $850
http://www.chumbo.com/Info.aspx?id=244958

Case - $110
http://www.spacecentersystems.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/272037

Case - $111 (incl. sh)
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=141613&affiliate=froogle

Some different scenarios (blegh, expensive):
188 + 278 + 443 + 120 + 450 = 1479
188 + 278 + 443x2 + 205x4 + 450x2 = 3072
188 + 278 + 443 + 205x2 + 450 = 1769

2/26/05
NV Silencer 5's - $21 each
http://www.jab-tech.com/customer/product.php?productid=2441&cat=0&page=1

Waiting has already paid off. Memory and graphics cards have already gone down in price on the order of $40.

Posted by kstroke at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

DVD R Media

When I've bought blank DVDs (I'm tempted to put an "in the past" clause here, but it's already implied by the tense; less is more; or not), I've gotten them from Supermedia or Meritline. These places seemed fine enough to me. I got my stuff, and the price was reasonable. However, the most recent 8x DVD+R discs I got from Meritline blow. I can only burn at 2.4x even after upgrading my firmware to the latest release. I'm splurging on some purportedly "good" media that's listed by Plextor as known to burn at 8x - Taiyo Yuden. This time I'm going to rima.com. They have excellent reviews on resellerratings.com. I figure only sketchy outfits peddle sketchy sub-standard media and advertise it as premium. Also, don't buy Great AZO - I can actually see through the disks!

Posted by kstroke at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2005

Wiki

Wiki reviews. Debating between MediaWiki, PHPWiki, and PmWiki.

Posted by kstroke at 10:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2005

LCD Testing

http://www.gdargaud.net/Hack/DeadPixels.html - 1 dead pixel found this way. Makes it a lot easier to see. 1 isn't so bad out of the millions, I guess. It's not in a terrible spot either.

http://www.monitortest.net/monitortest.asp - better test. Can do full screen colors. The pixel is pretty much only dead for light blue, and yellow. Must be a dead sub-pixel or something.

Posted by kstroke at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2005

Falling off the wagon

Maybe instead of a new computer, I'll get a new car and install a carputer like this guy's.

I'm in the boring section of The Millionaire Nextdoor.

Posted by kstroke at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

Spendthriftiness Quelled

Man. I was getting all caught up with the thought of upgrading my computer. I was getting kind of stupid there for a second. I started listening to The Millionaire Nextdoor again and I'm feeling better. Some may consider my $20 monthly membership to Audible an extravagence. This audiobook choice has just saved me about $3.5k by reminding me that there's no point in having a big hat but no cattle.

Posted by kstroke at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2005

Stupid Raccoon

Nearly ran over a stupid raccoon on the exit on the way home. Stupid, suicidal raccoon. If any of the cans of Coke I was carrying had exploded (they fell from the seat to the floor), then I would have gone back and run over him for sure.

On an entirely different note, the other day, I saw a fat rainbow that looked really close. Made me wonder if I had ever bothered to try to find the end of a rainbow when I was a kid. If I had, I'm sure that I wished that I had been able to drive. I imagine chasing ranbows is easier in a car rather than on foot.

Posted by kstroke at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

Cool Commercial

Cool Target commercial. The "see more" link leads to a site with an interesting take on how to advertise. Lots and lots of interaction. Loads of clicking and scrolling and stuff. Fun.

Found via moleskinerie.

Posted by kstroke at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

Al Franken Radio

Stumbled onto Al Franken and his radio program the other day. All of my FM channels were playing boring stuff so I decided to breeze through the AM channels. I visited a couple of channels of people speaking nonsense, and finally found a channel with someone who seemed both logical and humorous. Later realized it was Al Franken. They have an internet stream available. I will be listening often.

Posted by kstroke at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2005

Gates Photo Update

Those Gates photos seem to be from something other than "Teen Beat" magazine. And he's 30 in them. He looks like a kid.

Posted by kstroke at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2005

Housing Bubble

Fatalistic view of the housing market out here in CA. Some of it makes sense, some of it seems a little extreme. Either way, unless I win the lottery, I can't afford a house any time soon anyway. I'm saving to sweep up a foreclosure brought on by ARMs and people who don't understand numbers as well as they should.

Posted by kstroke at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2005

Great pictures

These are great. When you follow the link to the original site, you have to scroll down a little to see the pics. Bill Gates as a younger man. Hahahahaha. I wonder what made the photographer think that those were cool poses for a software company executive?

Posted by kstroke at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2005

Online Drawing Tutorial

In addition to working my way through the Drawing on the Left (Right?) Side of the Brain book, I'm going to peruse this site. Haven't looked at it at all so I don't know if it's worth the effort, but I'll skim the site at some point. Don't even remember how I ended up there. Wasn't looking for drawing related stuff...

Posted by kstroke at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2005

Gunbound

Since my little brother introduced me to it over Christmas, I've been playing a LOT of Gunbound. It's like Scorched Earth with cutesy characters, online, and a purchasing system. I hear it's also like Worms. Everybody has a tank and controls angle and power to lob shots at each other until one team wins.

Many of the people on the servers are immature little kids (lots of 'lol', 'omg', l33t speak, and talk of gayness and moms), but it's still fun and you can turn your interactions with them into a side game - a 'how much can I mess with these guys' kind of side game. Note: if you choose a girl avatar, you'll have people asking you your age, where you're from, and permission to be added to your buddy list. It's annoying when they won't stop messaging you, but it's easier to mess with their heads.

Posted by kstroke at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2005

Senate Confirmation Fun

Been listening live (from what I can tell, it's scheduled to go another couple of hours, so you can still tune in!) to the Senate confirmation hearing for the Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales. It's both entertaining and sad. Senators are asking tough questions (after blowing a bunch of sunshine his way), the nominee is doing plenty of ducking, and senators are calling him on it. Very fun to listen to. The sad thing is that even though there are significant questions around his judgement and ability to be a servant of the people and not just a puppet of the President, it is a given that he will be the new attorney general. I've heard several senators say something to the effect of, "I'd like the record to reflect that you're a pinhead for giving the green light to torture people, but you'll get confirmed anyway."

I don't know enough about him to have an opinion as to whether he should be confirmed or not, but the purpose of this hearing seems to be to help decide wether or not to confirm him. With so many concerns voiced, why is the confirmation a given? If the information that comes out as a result of the hearing has no bearing on whether he will get confirmed, is this just a stage for people to make some statements "for the record"? Some of the concerns raised have been with the administration and those shouldn't have a bearing, but some are with his judgement of what's right and wrong and his denial of responsibility for the consequences that his decisions have had. That's some serious stuff and you'd think that even if it wasn't enough to keep him from being confirmed, it would be enough to keep his confirmation from being a forgone conclusion.

Posted by kstroke at 01:22 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

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 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)

November 29, 2004

Sql Tutorial

Not bad. Intro to SQL here. Only skimmed it while I was looking for something else, but seems pretty decent.

Posted by kstroke at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2004

Comment Spam

Got crushed by comment spam the other day. Account got suspended. Have to figure out a way around the spam. Will look into the solutions presented here: http://www.elise.com/mt/archives/000246concerning_spam.php later. Until then, comments are closed.

Posted by kstroke at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2004

Web Hunting = Bad

This is just one of the many reasons why this other thing is a terrible idea.

Posted by kstroke at 03:12 PM | Comments (12)

November 16, 2004

Frequent Flyer Board

From wanjen, http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=1

I'm turning into a frequent flyer fiend. Not the flying, just the signing up and the reading about it.

Posted by kstroke at 12:38 PM | Comments (12)

November 10, 2004

Their CarPuter Needs Help

From jocy, an article about how bad software design and process is frustrating and endangering police officers. I need to get going on my carputer so I can have some good experience for building a good version for them. After I fix Koko. So sad. Koko died. Have to figure out why. Either a virus or extended EM exposure got to her.

By KATIE HAFNER

Published: November 11, 2004
TOUCHY - After complaints about the police computer system in San Jose, Calif., a screen displaying activity and orders was changed to reduce clutter. A Code 99 call for assistance, above, requires two keystrokes.


SAN JOSE, Calif.

SAN JOSE has a reputation as one of the safest large cities in the nation, with the fewest police officers per capita.

Yet a number of the 1,000 officers in this city of 925,000 in the heart of Silicon Valley have been worrying about their own safety of late. Since June, the police department has been using a new mobile dispatch system that includes a Windows-based touch-screen computer in every patrol car. But officers have said the system is so complex and difficult to use that it is jeopardizing their ability to do their jobs.

Officers complain that routine tasks are so difficult to perform that they are discouraged from doing them. And they say that the most vital safety feature - a "call for assistance" command that officers use when they are in danger - is needlessly complicated.

"Do you think if you're hunkered down and someone's shooting at you in your car, you're going to be able to sit there and look for Control or Alt or Function?" said Sgt. Don DeMers, president of the San Jose Police Officers' Association, the local union and the most vocal opponent of the new system. "No, you're going to look for the red button."

Officers also say they were not consulted about the design of the user interface - how information is presented and how commands are executed using on-screen and keyboard buttons. Many have said they wish the department had retained and upgraded the old system, in place since 1990.

Such complaints have a familiar ring. Anyone who encounters technology daily - that is to say, just about everyone - has a story of new hardware or software, at work or at home, that is poorly designed, hard to use and seemingly worse than what it was intended to replace. Yet because the safety of police officers and the public is involved, the problems in San Jose are of particular concern.

At the heart of the dispute is the question of how much the technology itself is to blame, how much is a training problem and how much can be attributed to the predictable pains associated with learning something new.

Any new technology, whether it is a microwave oven or the controls of a Boeing 777, has a learning curve. And often the user interface, the all-important gateway between person and machine, is a dizzying array of buttons or keys that have to be used in combinations. It can take weeks, sometimes months, of training and adapting for people to become comfortable with a new system.

Police department officials in San Jose have acknowledged that the off-the-shelf system, which cost $4.7 million, has had some bugs, yet they say the software vendor, Intergraph Corporation, of Huntsville, Ala., has fixed many of them.

"The city and Intergraph have worked together to iron out the software and work-flow issues that sometimes accompany the introduction of a new system," said Alice Dilbeck, vice president for customer services at Intergraph.

And at public safety agencies elsewhere in the country where similar software has been introduced, employees have eventually grown used to the new technology.

Still, questions and complaints remain, not only among patrol officers but among dispatchers who say that with the new system, unlike the old, they are unable to perform several tasks at one time.

With the system, officers in the field can receive orders, send messages, write reports, call up maps of the city and, using the Global Positioning System, see not only where they are but where other patrol cars are at any given time.

When first installed, the system was unstable. A day or two after the new system went into operation, it crashed, and for several days it was periodically down. "That didn't engender a lot of trust," said Sergeant DeMers of the police union.

Ms. Dilbeck acknowledged, "That was a really bad start."

When the system was running again, a number of bugs were discovered, said Aaron Marcus, president of Aaron Marcus & Associates, a user-interface design consulting firm in Berkeley, Calif., that studied the new system at the request of the union.

Some of the map information, it turned out, was inaccurate, screens were cluttered with unnecessary information, the on-screen type was difficult to read and officers could not easily perform one of the most basic tasks - the license-plate check.

"This is almost a casebook study of what not to do and how to do it wrong," Mr. Marcus said.

Perhaps the biggest misstep of all, Mr. Marcus said, was that the officers themselves were not consulted beforehand, especially when it came to the design of the interface.

Jakob Nielsen, a principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, a technology consulting company in Fremont, Calif., agreed.

"It's a prescription for disaster to develop a big system without testing it with users before it's launched," Mr. Nielsen said. "There are always issues in the user interface that need to be smoothed over."

The San Jose police chief, Rob Davis, said that those who were in charge of planning for the new system "have reviewed it and in retrospect would probably agree that if they had involved more of the end users during the planning phase it would have made the rollout easier."

Since the complaints first arose, Intergraph has fixed bugs and streamlined some of the more cumbersome tasks such as the license plate checks. Ms. Dilbeck and others have spent weeks at a time in San Jose working to eliminate bugs.

"I'm getting very good feedback about the upgrades," Chief Davis said.

Part of the problem stemmed from the fact that the San Jose officers had grown used to the city's 14-year-old text-based system.

"It's a debatable issue as to whether you should fix the old or go for a new paradigm," Mr. Marcus said, "because the old software wasn't off the shelf, it was customized."

The amount of training that was initially given to officers, three hours, was considered by many to be inadequate. "You expect our officers to be able to operate in life-and-death situations with three hours' training?" Sergeant DeMers said.

Sgt. Thomas Navin, supervisor of the department's systems unit and the person who has been most responsible for training on the mobile systems, acknowledged that training was "bare-bones basic." Additional training has since been offered.

But the fact that the system is based on Windows complicated the issue, since not everyone was familiar with pull-down menus and other basic features. "There are people who are Windows savvy and those who aren't," Sergeant Navin said. Officers in their late 50's and early 60's tend to resist the new system more than younger officers do.

Also, officers were trained on desktop computers with track pads on the keyboards, not the touch screens they would eventually be using.

Another point of controversy was the red Code 99 command, used when an officer is in danger and needs help. Originally the system had one key for Code 99, but it was later changed to a two-key combination because the single button code was resulting in too many false alarms. Now it is the two-key method that prompts some complaints.

Over all, the new system is an improvement over the old, some department officials say, in part because it contains a mapping feature based on global positioning data provided by the city. But the maps contain errors, Sergeant DeMers said.

Officers say they are being distracted by the tasks they are expected to perform on the new system when their full attention should be given to what is happening outside the patrol car. Sergeant DeMers said one officer recently was so distracted by what he was doing on the 12-inch touch screen that he crashed into a parked car.

During a recent tour of the system with a reporter in the passenger's seat, Sergeant Navin typed in a message to another officer, Sgt. David Bacigalupi, asking his opinion of the Intergraph system. "You can't print what I think," came the officer's response.

Later, as Sergeant Navin drove through the streets of San Jose, his taps on the screen inevitably led to some swerving, inadvertently bearing out his colleagues' claims - even though he was clearly well versed with the ins and outs of the system.

"In practical reality, especially when responding to an emergency call, they have to do some of these things while en route," Mr. Marcus said.

The fact that the officers and police dispatchers were not consulted about their preferences and requirements has come back to haunt the city. In July, the union asked for meetings to discuss the new system, saying it was having an adverse impact on officer safety. "Legally, they can't just implement something like this unilaterally," said John Tennant, general counsel for the union.

Even after some extensive tweaking, there still seem to be some fundamental bugs, Mr. Marcus said. "Much of the design was incorporating a Windows desktop graphical user interface with complex menu hierarchies, which just doesn't make sense in a vehicle."

Dispatchers have been similarly unhappy, citing delays with the new system that could endanger officers.

It takes longer to give officers information about the prior arrest record of someone they have just caught, said Melissa Albrecht, a San Jose dispatcher for 15 years. "Does that two extra minutes make a difference when they're standing there with a felon?" she asked. "It could.'' In September, Ms. Albrecht sent a six-page memorandum to the police chief listing her concerns.

She credits Intergraph with many improvements. But the system still does not allow dispatchers to perform several tasks simultaneously, and this causes delays. "What they keep throwing at us is that the system works as designed, and my question for them is, 'Does this design work for us?' " she said.

For perspective the San Jose department might do well to borrow a page from a city to the south.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department has had the Intergraph touch-screen system in place for six years, and although there were bugs and resistance at first, the kinks have been ironed out and the deputies are now used to it.

"Some of our people had never done anything with a computer," said Hanan Harb, who manages the department's dispatch center. "We had to do basic Windows training, and it's hard to make that leap if you're not computer literate to begin with. It's a big learning curve." Now that people have grown used to it, and now that this is what they know, "it's very easy for them," Ms. Harb said.

Dr. Nielsen said the Chicago Police Department had similar problems in 1999 when it rolled out an ambitious computer system without having tested it with on-the-beat police officers first.

"Chicago learned its lesson and now has a much better system, developed with user involvement," Dr. Nielsen said. "It's sad that the San Jose Police Department had to learn the same lesson all over again. Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it."

Posted by kstroke at 06:14 PM | Comments (12)

Jeez

Pharmacists refusing to dispense (birthcontrol) drugs on "moral values" grounds. And states are proposing laws that protect such decisions? Ridiculous! Think. For one second would you please think?!? That also means that pharmacists can refuse to dispense AIDS drugs because that's God's wraith on gays and those who commit grave iniquities. They could also refuse to dispense any drugs at all on the basis that sickness is one of God's tools and taking drugs would be interfering with God's will.

I think it's also questionable from a theological standpoint. Posit: God is omnipotent. Conclusion: since neither pill nor wall of latex can stand in his way, it doesn't matter if you dispense them or allow their use. If you were meant to have a baby whether you wanted to or not, God would do the immaculate conception thing all over again. Else, God's leaving the choice to you.

To these pharmacists and their supporters, use your God-given brain for a second. Just one second. Blargh. This kind of thing makes my head hurt.

Another thought - I bet you wouldn't be able to get people to shut down fertility clinics. That's more like playing God than trying to prevent pregnancy.

Posted by kstroke at 12:17 PM | Comments (12)

November 09, 2004

Marvin rocks

Marvin is the man! Flawless execution and follow through.

Posted by kstroke at 11:27 AM | Comments (12)

November 07, 2004

The Incredibles

The Incredibles rocks. So well done. Love the Bond feel. A lot of movies, even the ones I really, really like, have at least one scene that's bleh. None of that here. Fantastic. I think it's my new favorite movie.

Posted by kstroke at 07:25 PM | Comments (13)

November 04, 2004

So Sad

Bush's victory makes me sad. This seems to prove that all that matters is your ability to put together the better ad campaign.

I have no beef with what I believe the Republican party stands for. I don't agree with the social conservatism, but I am a big supporter of fiscal conservatism. I do think that the party seems to have been taken over by people who are not in their right mind, though. I heard the RNC chairman talk about how the elections dealt a "demoralizing" blow to the Democrats. Is that really the point?

People of differing opinions vie for elected positions. Though they differ in their beliefs, I believe it's important to realize that everyone is on the same side. "Demoralizing blows" should be dealt to enemies (like Al Qaeda) not to other people who wish to help fellow citizens (via a different path). I don't think the ultimate purpose of either party should be to eliminate the other party. It should be to make your community and country better. In fact, competition should be welcomed.

Different opinions let you know how other people think and feel. Opposing ideas help you refine and evaluate your own. On occassion, you may even realize that you are wrong. The point is to serve the public. They should welcome anything that can help them do that better.

Posted by kstroke at 01:15 AM | Comments (13)

November 02, 2004

Election Day

Cool poem found on NPR. Text of it is in extended entry.

Hopefully you get to vote today. Nefarious forces (search for Swing Set) are out there trying to stand between you and your rights. It seems the Republicans are evil, and the Democrats are incompetent (though possibly just as evil). And who know what side the hackers are on. The electronic voting machine companies are clearly on their own incompetent side. Jeez. What sort of evaluation did all these government agencies do? Reminds me of a story a co-worker told me a while back.

There was a company that had important stuff on servers and had emergency generators that would theoretically kick in if there was a power failure. They tested this system at regular intervals (every six months to a year) by shutting off the power and making sure the generators kicked in and ran fine for five minutes. One day the power went out for real and the generators kicked in like they had during the tests. Somewhere between five and fifteen minutes after the generators started up, they were overloaded and all power was lost. Oops.

The Poor Voter on Election Day
The Proudest now is but my peer
The highest not more high.
Today, of all the weary year,
A king of men am I!
Today alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known.
My place is the people's hall,
The ballot box my throne.
Who serves today upon the list
Beside the served shall stand;
Alike the brown and wrinkled fist,
The gloved and dainty hand!
The rich is level with the poor,
The weak is strong today.
And sleekest broadcloth counts no more
Than homespun frock of gray.
Today let pomp and vain pretence
My stubborn right abide.
I set a plain man's common sense
Against the pedant's pride.
Today shall simple manhood try
The strength of gold and land;
The wide world has not wealth to buy
The power in my right hand.
While there's a grief to seek redress
Or balance to adjust,
Where weighs our living manhood less
Than Mammon's vilest dust -
While there's a right to need my vote
A wrong to sweep away,
Up! Clouted knee and ragged coat -
A man's a man today!
- American poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Posted by kstroke at 04:17 PM | Comments (11)

November 01, 2004

Smart Monkey

Imo is so cool.

And the little monkey holding the snowball is really cute.

Hey, they swim, too! (search for "swim", w/o the quotes)

Posted by kstroke at 03:38 PM | Comments (12)

October 30, 2004

Casshern

Just saw it. It had potential, but overall, I nodded off 3 times.

Posted by kstroke at 11:35 PM | Comments (14)

October 29, 2004

Nintendo Rocks

Talk about really good customer service. They aggressively pursued a course of action they felt was right, made a mistake on the way, admitted it, and offered a real apology (i.e. a system and a game). Cool.

Too bad many other people, companies, and politicians don't seem to have even this level of decency. This isn't even the ultimate. One step better would have been if Nintendo had discovered the mistake on their own and had taken corrective action on their own. There probably wasn't enough time for this to happen. The best would have been if they hadn't made the mistake in the first place.

My guess is that someone created a crawling program to generate a list of sites. Then the people going over the list weren't careful enough, or they hoped that enough intelligence was built in to filter out false positives. Silly people, it'd take a ton of ai to figure that out.

Posted by kstroke at 01:42 PM | Comments (12)

October 28, 2004

OneTwo

Move your hip. Hear a cool song and see a funny video here. Click on the 300k or the 500k to play the video. I must own this CD. I wonder if the CD will have the music video for this as a part of the package?

Posted by kstroke at 01:46 AM | Comments (11)

October 26, 2004

New Anime

Yakitate Japan and Bleach (thanks to nokii for the rec). They're both great! Only a couple of episodes of each out so far. Dah! I hate waiting. Dah! Dah! So frustrating.

Posted by kstroke at 09:49 PM | Comments (13)

Busy

Whew. Finally have time for a breather now.

Been watching American Chopper recently. It's pretty entertaining. A tiny bit repetitive with the yelling and the yelling. I don't know how they keep it together wtih all the fighting. Enjoyable. Like a train wreck, as they say.

Posted by kstroke at 09:45 PM | Comments (12)

October 19, 2004

Ads That Never Made It Out

Some of these ads are hilarious.

Posted by kstroke at 05:04 PM | Comments (12)

OPS

Other People's Socks.

I ran out of socks last Friday so I took a pair of Jocelyn's. It looked pretty much like mine except for the pink stiching across the toes. As the day wore on, I realized that wearing other people's socks can be weird.

They ride. In reverse. It's not that the socks are small. They just don't seem to have any desire to stay on my feet. As I walked around in them, they'd work their way to halfway off my feet in my shoes.

The holes are all wrong. Holes in socks don't really bother me. Some of my socks are so worn through that just about all of the bottom of my feet stick through. Jocelyn's socks didn't have a lot of holes, just one where the middle toe is. It felt all wrong. My feet knew they hadn't created that hole and for the whole day they let me know that something wasn't right. Distracting.

Posted by kstroke at 04:23 PM | Comments (15)

Lost Koreans

On the television show Lost, it started out not subtitling what the Koreans were saying. Even though my Korean's terrible, I understood most of what they said and I felt like I belonged to a special secret club. Then they subtitled for an episode. I felt cheated. The last episode I saw, they went back to not translating and I felt better.

Posted by kstroke at 04:15 PM | Comments (12)

October 13, 2004

Grumpy Gamer

Grumpy Gamer has a funny post about Katamari Damashi. Seems like it might be worth checking out. I especially like how he acquired his copy.

Posted by kstroke at 05:43 PM | Comments (12)

Tech Nation

Cool audio diversion. Tech Nation does interviews with technology entrepreneurs, scientists, authors, etc.

Posted by kstroke at 04:14 PM | Comments (12)

October 12, 2004

Log Entry

jog - 15 min @ 5mph
calf raises - 3x15 @ 110#
side bends - 20 @ 40# (was thinking about something else and forgot to stop at 10, but somehow remembered to keep counting in my head), 10 @ 40#
cross-over crunches - 2x25

breakfast - 2 slices of wheat toast w/ a hunk of cheddar
lunch - big mac meal w/ a Coke icee. mmm... Coke icee so good. banana. took a bite of a quaker very berry muffin bar. nasty. spit it out. it was that bad. and it doesn't hold together very well. was all broken to pieces when i opened it even though it's a soft bar.

2 Cokes. More at StarCraft later tonight.

Posted by kstroke at 04:58 PM | Comments (12)

Through the Windshield

Ahead, there's a forest green, boxy VW. Nothing out of the ordinary. As I start to pass it, I see a Sponge Bob Squarepants (what is the appeal of that guy, anyway?) window screen attached to the rear. Then I see an arm repeatedly hitting the driver on the head. Man, if I was that kid's dad, that kid would be... Wait a second. The dude is hitting himself. His car is going straight as an arrow while he beats himself silly with his right hand. Wham, wham, wham in the head. Dude. Weird.

Posted by kstroke at 03:33 PM | Comments (12)

October 08, 2004

Obscene

The Bush campaign's suppression of freedom at speeches is revolting. I can sympathize with the fact that they don't want to deal with hecklers, but that's part of the job. Not everyone is going to like what you do, and part of your job is to make your case -- not to ignore different views.

Denying Kerry supporters entrance to campaign-funded events is cowardly and un-American. Frankly, most of these Kerry supporters are probably mild-mannered people who are barely in favor of Kerry and just want to be able to see an American President in person. If you really believe in your message, these are exactly the people you want to speak to in order to bring them over to your side.

Denying people entrance to public, taxpayer-funded events because they happen to have a Kerry sticker on their wallet (not even publicly displayed!) is absolutely illegal. Threatening these people with arrest (or outright arresting them) and having the Secret Service put some real scare into them sounds like something another era's SS or the KGB would do. Even VIP guests who were attending events from both campaigns and happened to pick up some free stuff from the Kerry campaign were denied entrance. Ridiculous. I mean really. Who can resist free schwag?

Posted by kstroke at 01:25 PM | Comments (13)

October 07, 2004

I Like These Guys

Generally, I don't watch the news on TV. I try to inform myself via radio and online articles. I guess that's because when I think of the news, I think of the local 11 'o clock drivel. Maybe the prime time national news programs are better. The most famous anchors (Brokaw, Rather, Jennings) seem like really decent and reasonable fellows to me and I'd like to believe that they are trustworthy. Here's a Fresh Air audio segment of them at a panel sponsored by The New Yorker. I found it both humorous and thoughtful.

Posted by kstroke at 02:21 PM | Comments (12)

Albertson's Food

After the surprisingly decent roasted pork loin sandwich yesterday, I returned to Albertson's today to try some of their other fare. I decided on a box of salmon maki.

- goodly pile of edamame included. +1
- 12 pieces for $4.99. +1
- rice in the rolls tasted watery and mushy. -2
- there was no balance between vinegar and sugar. only tasted the sugar. -2

Overall: -2 (bleh)

Posted by kstroke at 02:13 PM | Comments (12)

October 06, 2004

Free Anti-Virus Program

Been thinking of updating my anti-virus stuff. Have been pretty unprotected for a while (other than never opening suspicious attachments), but didn't feel like paying a regular subscription fee to a place like Symantec. Figured there should be something free out there (or possibly even open source) and found Computer Associate's eTrust (free for a year) and Grisoft AVG (totally free). The CA eTrust link to their free trial wouldn't work for me last night, so tonight I'm going to look into AVG.

Posted by kstroke at 03:16 PM | Comments (12)

Next Vegas Trip

An NYTimes article about Vegas. Copied here b/c might need to reference it after they archive it for profit.

In Las Vegas
By LAURA M. HOLSON


as Vegas long ago put aside the image of the gambling mecca that flourished under the mob when Nevada legalized casinos in 1931. Since then, it has evolved from seedy gambling town to glitzy showgirl glam-a-rama to family vacation destination spot, and now has returned to the nicely naughty image with a campaign coyly promising that whatever happens here stays here.

The home of the $5.99 buffet is now famous for celebrity chefs who have opened outposts of their more famous siblings - including Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame who recently opened Bouchon at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. And the entertainment has had a significant upgrade: Celine Dion and Cirque du Soleil have replaced classic camp acts like Liberace.

But it is still the sin in Sin City that most tourists come for. From the strip clubs to the casinos, vice is doing its usual brisk business.

As any gambler will tell you, though, your luck is not always good. The Las Vegas Monorail, which opened to much fanfare in July, was shut down Sept. 8 because of mechanical bugs; for information, see www.lvmonorail.com.

Events

Some critics complained when "Claude Monet: Masterworks from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston" opened at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in January, saying a for-profit gallery should not charge tourists to see paintings on loan from a public institution. But that hasn't deterred the 250,000 gallery-goers who have paid as much as $15 each to see the 16 original Monet paintings on view. The gallery is open daily 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the show runs through Jan. 9. Tickets are available at (702) 693-7871 or www.bgfa.biz.

When Celine Dion is out of town, what better replacement than Elton John? He will take the stage at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Ms. Dion's usual haunt, Oct. 12 to 31. All those hits do not come cheap, though. Tickets are $100 to $250; (888) 435-8665, www.caesars.com.

Losing at poker isn't the only way to get the money shaken out of your pockets. This month, 45 of the world's best bull riders will compete for a $1 million prize in the 2004 Professional Bull Riders World Finals, being held Oct. 22 to 24 at the Mandalay Bay Resort, 3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South, and Oct. 28 to 31 at Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Parkway. Tickets cost $40 to $162; (877) 632-7400 at the Mandalay or (866) 727-7469 at U.N.L.V.

Las Vegas is a fast town; if you don't believe it, head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 7000 Las Vegas Boulevard North, on Nov. 5 and 6 as the World of Outlaws, the nation's top sprint-car series, takes to the dirt oval. Tickets start at $26.25; (800) 644-4444.

Who didn't love Debbie Reynolds in "Singin' in the Rain"? See her sing and dance (in drier conditions) from Nov. 25 to 28 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino at 4500 West Tropicana Avenue. Tickets: $34.95 to $44.95; (800) 675-3267, www.orleanscasino.com.

Sightseeing

Bypass M&M's World on the Strip and head southeast to the nearby town of Henderson for a tour of the Ethel M factory. Chocolate enthusiasts can watch the candymaking process up close from behind large glass windows. After the self-guided tour, guests can sample the product and take a walk through the nearby cactus garden, with more than 350 species. The factory, at the intersection of Sunset Way and Mountain Vista, is open daily 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free; (702) 458-8864.

There is something almost eerily exciting about "O," the popular Cirque du Soleil show at the Bellagio. Perhaps it is the stage, which alternately serves as a floor and a diving pool. Or the white-wigged performers in red coats riding carousel horses in the air. Whatever it is, tickets, $99 to $150, sell out as much as three months ahead. There are two shows nightly from Wednesday to Sunday. Tickets: (888) 488-7111.

On Nov. 26, Cirque du Soleil will begin previews of a new production, "KÀ," at the MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South, (800) 929-1111. Tickets for the preview performances, which will run Friday through Tuesday through Feb. 2, are $99 to $150; call (800) 929-1111 or go to www.mgmgrand.com.

If you are looking to party all night, Rain Las Vegas at Palms Casino Resort, 4321 West Flamingo Road, is the place. The club, which vibrates to hip-hop and dance-club music, holds up to 1,800 guests in 25,000 square feet. There is a $20 cover charge on weekends, when the wait can top three hours. Big spenders can rent one of six skyboxes for $1,000 to watch the dance action. Open Thursday 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., and Friday and Saturday 10 p.m. to 5 a.m; (702) 940-7246. For a nightcap, head to the roof to Ghostbar, which has one of the best views of the Las Vegas skyline. It opens nightly at 8.

After too many dizzying hours at the craps table, even the most avid gambler may crave the outdoors. Less than 20 miles west of the city on Route 159 is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, (702) 515-5350, www.redrockcanyon.blm.gov, a serene landscape of desert valleys and rugged sandstone cliffs. Rock climbers and hikers abound, particularly in spring when wildflowers blossom. Go early when the morning sun highlights the red rocks. The area is open daily from 6 a.m. till dusk; admission is $5 a car.

Where to Stay

On weekdays, even the most expensive resort can be priced like a budget hotel. When picking a place to stay, ask about promotions.

The Palms, (866) 725-6773, fax (702) 942-7001, www.palms.com, is a mile off the Strip at 4321 West Flamingo Road. It is a place where celebrities like Britney Spears stay but where mere mortals can have a good time, too. Down comforters are enveloped in 300-count Egyptian cotton duvet covers, the mattresses are comfortably plush, and the televisions play the latest hits from artists you might see in the lobby. The 425 rooms range from $69 to $499.

Don't expect much in the way of frills at Bally's, 3645 Las Vegas Boulevard South, (888) 742-9248, fax (702) 967-4405, www.ballyslasvegas.com. The 2,814 rooms here have very little personality, but make up for it in location: across the street from the Bellagio and adjoining Paris Las Vegas, where a great lunch value can be found at La Creperie, a walk-up window serving fruit-filled or savory crepes for $6.50. Prices at Bally's, depending on availability, are $69 to $169 for a standard room.

Budget: At the Travelodge, 3735 Las Vegas Boulevard South, (702) 736-3443, fax (702) 736-1356, or at www.travelodge.com, the 126 rooms are spare, offering little more than a bed and nightstand, although rates include Continental breakfast. Reserve online for a 10 percent discount. Rates start at $39 weekdays, and go up on weekends.

Luxury: You can't beat the Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South, (888) 987-6667, fax (702) 693-8585, www.bellagiolasvegas.com, for sheer luxury, from the big, deep bathtubs to the window sheers that open electronically so guests don't have to roll out of bed to watch the sunrise. But the real reason to stay in one of the 3,005 rooms is the service. Big spenders can request their own butler. The standard rooms are pricey: $159 to $799. Ask for a room facing the hotel lake to watch the nightly fountain shows.

At the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, 3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South, (877) 857-1861, fax (702) 414-1100, www.venetian.com, every room is a suite with a bed, couch and two plush chairs, and marble sinks in the bathroom. The furniture is Italian, and carved armoires conceal televisions. The hotel has 4,049 suites, and a standard costs $169 to $899.

Where to Eat

The red and blue tile floor, the crisp white table linens, and the wall paintings of baguettes, corsets and the like set the tone: Bouchon, at the Venetian Resort, 3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South, (702) 414-6200, is as close to a Paris bistro as there is in Las Vegas. The restaurant, opened early this year by the French Laundry chef Thomas Keller, who also opened Per Se in Manhattan this year, serves breakfast and dinner daily. The menu is traditional French fare, including roasted leg of lamb in thyme jus and roasted chicken with garlic braised Swiss chard. Dinner for two with wine is $120. The bar is open from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 10:30 p.m. to midnight, with salads, raw oysters, lobster and other offerings; prices range from $10 to $90. Reservations recommended.

An inexpensive meal is easy to find in any of the casinos famous for their bargain buffets and free drinks. But if you are looking for a cheap and tasty sit-down dinner, Los Angeles's well-regarded Chinese restaurant Chin Chin, (702) 740-6300, has an outpost at the New York-New York Hotel, 3790 Las Vegas Boulevard South. What it gives up in its cafeteria-like style, it more than makes up for in selection and price. There is a variety of dim sum, including potstickers and chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves, as well as a large array of entrees. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Lunch or dinner for two with wine is about $55.

If you miss the Monet exhibit but still want a bit of culture, Picasso at the Bellagio is a gallery unto itself, its walls lined with original paintings by the artist it was named for. Oh, and then there is the food. Picasso offers two prix fixe dinners, one of four courses for $85 a person and one of five courses for $95. Among its signature dishes are a roasted foie gras served with peaches, Muscat and peach jus; and tender pan-seared scallops atop a creamy potato mousse. Guests who get a table near the window can watch the nightly fountain show seen in the remake of the movie "Ocean's Eleven." It is open for dinner nightly except Tuesday. Reservations are required; (702) 693-7223.

One of the most recommended buffets in a city that elevates them to a culinary art form is Le Village Buffet at Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South; (877) 796-2096. Dishes like crepes, grilled meats accompanied by rich sauces and bananas Foster for dessert are served in copious quantities in a room modeled after a French country village. Open daily for breakfast, for $12.95 a person; lunch Monday to Saturday, for $17.95; and dinner nightly, $24.95. Sunday brunch, with unlimited champagne, costs $24.95.

Many of America's finest chefs have opened restaurants in casinos and hotels, but the Strip is not the only place to find a good meal. In 1999, Michael and Wendy Jordan opened Rosemary's Restaurant, 8125 West Sahara Avenue, (702) 869-2251, about 15 minutes from the Las Vegas gambling hub. The Jordans, who learned to cook in New Orleans, serve dishes like pepper seared sea scallops and herb-crusted veal tenderloin. On Sunday night, wine is half price, and the restaurant offers a nightly three-course prix fixe dinner for $39.95. Local artists' work decorates the walls. It is open for lunch weekdays and dinner nightly. Dinner for two with wine: $110; reservations are recommended.

Simon Kitchen and Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, off the Strip at 4455 Paradise Road, (702) 693-4440, is one of the toughest dinner reservations. Celebrities come for the expensive comfort food and industrial-chic touches like the silver metal bar. The restaurant serves a popular meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes, and heaping sides of creamed spinach, twice-baked potatoes, and macaroni-and-cheese gratin. Dinner for two with wine is about $130; dinner nightly.


LAURA M. HOLSON is an entertainment reporter for The Times, based in Los Angeles.

Posted by kstroke at 11:49 AM | Comments (12)

October 04, 2004

Vegas

Went to Vegas for the first time (as an adult and for longer than an hour layover) and it was pretty cool. Thanks to Danny for organizing everything and to Spencer for playing tour guide.

The Venetian was a nice hotel, but it's waaay expensive to gamble there. And there's no poker. The Belagio has a really tasty dinner buffet, but it's also waaay expensive to gamble there, too. The mirage has a goood Brazilian BBQ restaurant. We liked the $5 roulette tables at Paris. The rules at their tables also make it more fun. Bally's was ok in terms of their rules and minimum bets, but I didn't really like the people who gambled there.

Started off the weekend by losing a good bit on slots while waiting for everyone else to arrive. Played a little poker at Harrah's. Lost a little. Played some blackjack at Aladdin and ended up breaking even. Played a little poker at Bally's. Ended up a little bit. Played lots of roulette. That helped balance out the losses on slots and video poker.

Man. I understand the math and all, but playing roulette just makes you want to throw all that learning out the window. It's extremely tempting to come up with lots of little random and senseless theories based on what's come up before and who the wheeler is. It's fun. Especially when you end up winning overall. You have to have enough money to last through the down swings, though. You also need to have enough sense to stop on an upswing. Sometimes I'm lacking in that area.

To anyone who's planning on going for the first time, I'd recommend going with people who have been there a number of times before. I think it's also worth it to check out the Brazilian BBQ and the Belagio buffet. Next time I go, I'll probably opt for cheaper fare and save the money for gambling, but it was totally worth trying out.

Next time, I might also explore areas outside of the strip. It's a pretty big place...

Posted by kstroke at 09:42 PM | Comments (12)

October 01, 2004

Cats Are Funny

Haha, look what this cat did. That cracks me up.

Posted by kstroke at 02:34 PM | Comments (12)

September 30, 2004

Log Entry

bench - pyramid
decline dumbell flies - 3 x 10 @ 30#
abs - 3 x 25 decline crunches
curls - 3 x 8 @ 30#, 25#, 25#
side lateral raises - 3 x 10 @ 15#
dips - 3 x 10

lunch - in 'n out double double animal style
dinner - planning on having fried plantains plus something else

Posted by kstroke at 01:47 PM | Comments (12)

Jon Stewart Rocks

Haha, Jon Stewart is hilarious. I've enjoyed The Daily Show since the latter days of Craig Kilborn's reign and I think Jon Stewart is greatest news comedian ever. Stephen Colbert and Steven Carell take second and third, respectively. These guys are even better than the Not Necessarily the News crowd and the news anchors on Saturday Night Live's news bit.

Hear Jon on Fresh Air here.

Posted by kstroke at 01:44 PM | Comments (12)

September 29, 2004

Portrait Avatar

Check me out: kstroke_cartoon.gif

Discovered this via honeybee_mucha.

Posted by kstroke at 01:33 PM | Comments (19)

September 28, 2004

Brown Rice and Fullscreen DVDs

Got some brown rice from Ranch 99. I'm not giving up on white rice, but I've decided to give brown rice a try since it's supposed to be so healthy. I don't think I've like much of the brown rice I've had in the past, but I had a feeling that stuff came from Uncle Ben's.

It's actually pretty good. I'm planning on alternating between white and brown. I thought it would be difficult to cook (in a plain rice cooker, it takes an extra 50% more water than white rice), and I was afraid I'd end up with super tough grains of undercooked rice. My first batch cooked up without a hitch. For a little while, I was tempted to get one of those fuzzy logic rice cookers since they have a special setting for brown rice, but my regular old rice cooker seems to be doing just fine.

Unrelated.

Went to Fry's the day Star Wars was released on DVD b/c they were selling it for about $36. It turns out that was a one day sale, and by the time I got to the store, there were only fullscreen copies left. Tons and tons of fullscreen copies. Who gets those, anyway?

Fullscreen is especially bad with Star Wars. For several seconds in one scene, all you see is desert. It's boring and pointless. Then, you finally see someone walking in from the far edge. In the widescreen version, you see the person from the beginning. I didn't see it on the big screen until way after the first billion times I watched it.

I was tempted to not buy the Star Wars DVDs at all because the new scenes and the obvious CG additions make me want to barf, but I hear this remastered version looks really sweet. I don't mind that Lucas wanted to touch some things up, but he should have at least blended the CG stuff better with the original. The new stuff is SO obviously new and bolted on. And pointless. I think he should have also included the original theatrical release.

Posted by kstroke at 04:44 PM | Comments (14)

Fun Boing Boing Stuff

Hilarious breast enlarging ringtone. Link to actual sound.

Windows and airplanes don't mix.

Interesting topic to read later - p2p legal issues.

Posted by kstroke at 12:32 PM | Comments (12)

September 27, 2004

CIA World Factbook

Wow. This is really cool. And it's all public domain! Dang. Talk about a great use of tax dollars. So much cool info and map graphics!

Posted by kstroke at 05:38 PM | Comments (11)

It Happens Sometimes

I skipped last Friday's workout because I felt like going home. The Friday before that, however, I was planning on working out, but I didn't make it to work that day. Gasp. What was the cause of such truancy? Perhaps I was abducted for ransom, or broke a leg or something. Nope. I locked myself out of the apartment.

Most of the motions of my usual routine were followed that morning. I did the morning hygiene routine. I got dressed. I packed some food for lunch/breakfast along with some clothes for the gym. I grabbed my laptop bag and my gym bag and headed out the door.

As my left hand closed the door, my right hand reached down to my pocket for my keys (to lock the deadbolt). The door clicked shut and locked just as the emptiness of my right pocket registered with my brain. I had forgotten the part of my routine where I grab all the stuff off the shelf by the door.

Standing there with neither keys, phone, nor wallet, I considered my options. I could break a window and get back into the apartment. I could wait around all day and just sit. I could try to contact jokie and ask her to drive back to let me in. That sounded like a good idea.

I didn't have my phone, and I didn't know her number (technology's purpose is here to make us stupider) so I couldn't borrow a phone and call. I had my laptop and thought of using the nearby Starbucks' wireless network. But I'm not a member of that network and I didn't feel like joining and paying just to send a quick message. Flipping through the files in my brain, I remembered that the local library has a free wireless network. Then I remembered that I didn't have a wireless network card for my work laptop. Doh.

But I was on the right track. The library was a little bit of a hike away, but not so bad. They had public computers there (up to an hour a day for each library account) and I was hoping to convince a librarian to let me on even though I didn't have my card with me.

The librarians there are nice. Yay!

Posted by kstroke at 03:09 PM | Comments (16)

Stupid Executive

A quote from the chief strategy officer of RealNetworks in a NYTimes article:

"I bought the Eagles 'Hotel California' on vinyl," he said. "Then I bought it on 8-Track, really, then on a CD, and now I've bought it as a download."

I understand the vinyl, 8-track, and CD purchases, but I don't understand the download purchase. Once you've bought the CD, you're totally free to turn it into a digital copy on your own. This sounds like a phoney marketing plug reminiscent of those 30 second elevator pitches some corporations make their employees memorize.

Posted by kstroke at 02:08 PM | Comments (12)

Looks funny

Haha. The Yes Men looks like a funny movie.

Posted by kstroke at 01:22 PM | Comments (13)

September 24, 2004

Traffic

Man. Traffic was just really bad all day today. This morning there were the 3 accidents spread out such that the average speed was about 25 mph for half the way. This evening, there was some moving van that flipped over onto the center divide (according to the radio traffic report) and that caused a 5 mph stop and go situation that was even worse. Bleh. I wonder if the ppl driving were moving themselves or if a professional driver was behind the wheel. I hope no one got hurt. It sucks that all their stuff is broken now.

Posted by kstroke at 07:47 PM | Comments (13)

A Sale Worth Checking

This USB stick 802.11g adapter from Surplus Computers looks cool. It's a sale. They also mention $0.49 hot dog and soda. Mmm... hot dog...

Fry's has a Netgear 802.11g USB stick adapter for $19 after a $30 mail-in rebate... The rebate's a risk and an extra hassle, but it might be more worth it... Could go to Surplus Computers just for the hot dogs and soda.

The adapter could be the first component I buy for the upcoming car computer I plan on building.

Also, Fry's seems to be having a sale this weekend. Have to remember to thumb through the ad to see if there's anything worth picking up. (1GB DDR400 Memory for $120 after rebate, 200GB Seagate HD for $70 after rebate)

Seems like good prices on mini-itx board. Also need to look into the regulators it offers.

Posted by kstroke at 04:33 PM | Comments (12)

On the Road

Yesterday, there was a guy in a car behind me reading a book. We were both going at least 60 mph. I'm not talking about glancing quickly at a set of directions. I'm talking about a full-on paperback novel of some sort. He should die. Alone, of course.

Today, there were three different car accidents that caused traffic jams on the way to work. There was another broken down car, but on 580, people seem to be smarter and less inclined to rubberneck than on 880.

Posted by kstroke at 10:54 AM | Comments (14)

September 23, 2004

Cat and Girl Stickers

The bumper stickers by the Cat and Girl creator are hilarious. I'm going to have to start reading her comic.

Posted by kstroke at 12:37 PM | Comments (14)

September 22, 2004

GPS Mapping Stuff

Post about possible mapping source.

"Actually, the data's not so proprietary.

All of them derive their data files from the US Census Bureau TIGER Line database files. Simply put, there IS several moving map programs available for Linux right now: HUGO, qtGPS, Gnomad and others. You can download the raw datafiles that everybody and his dog uses from the US Census Bureau's website. I just pulled the roughly 4 or so GB of ASCII text data just recently to see what I can do with it on some of my GIS projects."

Another starting point for more research.

Might be useful to look at the map downloading part of this program.

GPSDrive looks cool.

Details on the map downloading bit.

More stuff to research.

2002 info on SVG and GPS stuff.

Posted by kstroke at 04:52 PM | Comments (14)

Flossing Works

Went to Family Dental this past Sunday for a routine cleaning and checkup. This place was recommended by both Justin and Spencer. If you go to this place, you should really do the referral thing. I knew they'd get some sort of credit if I referred them (out of courtesy, I made sure they got credit for the referral even though I didn't think I'd get any benefit), but I didn't know that I'd get a credit too. $20 each for the referrer and the referee.

The Setting
The office is really nice. There are SyncMaster lcd panels mounted in each booth/room so you can watch TV while you wait for the dentist/hygienist. Their x-rays are digitally scanned in, and the dentist puts them up on the lcd for you to see. I think that's pretty slick.

The History
I haven't been to the dentist as regularly as they recommend.

  • some cavities filled (and presumably a cleaning) in second grade

  • a really tough molar pulled some time in middle school* (no cleaning)

  • an extremely excruciating cleaning some time in late high school or early college

  • a handful of moderately excruciating cleanings through the first couple of years of college

  • some wisdom teeth taken out a couple of years after college

  • several years of brushing twice a day, no flossing, and drinking nothing but Coke, and lots of it**

  • a month of flossing most days of the week

The dentists always told me that my teeth were in great shape but that I needed to floss or else I'd have strong, cavity-free teeth falling out of my head.

*I pulled pretty much all my own teeth except that one and the first couple. My grandma did the first one or two. After going through her method, I decided I would do the rest of my own teeth. I won't go into all of the details now, but her method involved thread, lots of tries, bleeding, crying, a door, and a salt-water cocktail to top off the experience.

**nokii sent this story about a legal proceeding concerning Coke and tooth decay. I whole-heartedly agree with the court's ruling in favor of Coke. The condition of my own teeth should be proof enough.

The Cleaning
After going through this a couple of times, I had a good guess about how much plaque should have built up given the length of time since my last visit. I was expecting the usual scrape-so-hard-it-feels-like-they're-pulling-out-your-teeth thing followed by an extended rinsing routine with lots of blood. There was none of that. So either that month of flossing helped quite a bit, or the water pick is far superior to the metal one (first time I've had one of those used on me). I like to think it was the flossing.

Did years of massive Coke consumption have any effect on my teeth? Are my teeth now completely full of holes and without enamel? No. My teeth are fine with the exception of one very tiny cavity in the upper back. Considering how hostile I've been to them, I take pride in the strength of the Song family's teeth genes. However, part of me is forlorn that I let a small cavity develop. Song teeth are supposed to be "strong and cavity-free", not just "strong". Oh, the shame!

The Conclusion
I had a good experience with them. I'm going back in next week to get the cavity filled and to get fitted for a night guard to protect my teeth from all the grinding I do when I sleep.

The Experiment
Now that I have a clean slate from which to start, I'm going to try flossing every night. The expected result is that when I go in next time, they'll say, "Why, your teeth are so clean that we don't need to do anything. No charge for this visit. Thanks for stopping by."

I'm also trying out some of those whitening strips. My little cousin told me that my teeth were yellow. Doh. Pics to come once I'm done with the set.

Posted by kstroke at 12:06 PM | Comments (18)

Have to subscribe to

Have to think of something to review to get on this Cool Tools mailing list. Sounds like a service very much aligned with my interests.

Posted by kstroke at 11:28 AM | Comments (14)

September 20, 2004

Things I Saw

Some things I noticed before I forget them.

There was a guy walking his golden retriever and the dog started squatting for a poop. This normally woudn't be all that remarkable except that it was a very large poop. Even the dog looked back in surprise.

I drive a lot faster when I really have to go. When I left home, I felt fine. About a third of the way into the journey, my stomach started hurting and it just kept getting worse and worse. My commute was about 20 minutes shorter than usual. If I had been 2 seconds later, there would've been a really, really bad, have-to-move-out-of-the-state sort of incident. And I would've lost my favorite pair of pants to the trash heap.

There were one or two other things, but I can't remember them. Darn.

Posted by kstroke at 11:37 AM | Comments (16)

September 17, 2004

Too Cool

I wanna work on robots like these.

Save money on books using this.

Damn this looks like a cool movie. Awesome name. Also director of Shaolin Soccer. Another great movie.

Posted by kstroke at 11:30 PM | Comments (14)

September 15, 2004

I'm Sorry Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola said it would miss it's 3rd quarter earnings estimates by about 24%. They blamed "poor weather in Europe and problems executing its business strategy in North America."

I never realized I was so important to it's North American strategy. For the good of the global economy, I'll ease up on my cutback of Coke.

Posted by kstroke at 12:58 PM | Comments (16)

September 14, 2004

Free Wireless in the Area

Free wireless internet access in the area.

Posted by kstroke at 01:06 PM | Comments (14)

Random Food Thoughts

Marble Rye has some redeeming qualities. The loaves are short enough that it gets eaten before mold sets in.

We've been having a lot of ants visit us lately. Tossed a tupperware container that had some roasted seaweed bits left in it into the sink. Turns out that ants like that stuff.

Posted by kstroke at 12:01 AM | Comments (16)

September 10, 2004

Just 2 Guys

Hahahahaha. Hilarious stuff. BoingBoing link. The music video cracks me up. The Nintendo one has some classic moments, too.

Posted by kstroke at 02:06 PM | Comments (14)

September 08, 2004

Marble Rye

This particular loaf of bread is rather poorly designed. Most of the characteristics are probably common across all ryes.

First gripe - the packaging. The loaf is wrapped in thin, easily torn cellophane with heavily overlapped ends that are either glued or melted together. I found it difficult to open this in any reasonably anal sort of way that would lend itself to reclosing the package in an airtight manner. I tried to rip the plastic as little as possible and taped the end back shut. Even this would have left large, staleness-inducing gaping sections if I had removed only two slices instead of four.

Second gripe - the shape and size. The bread will not fit in my toaster. Wonderbread fits fine, but about a third of each of these slices sticks out and stays soft and flappy while the rest gets nice and crunchy. Man. I could flip and give it a second pass, but then the middle third would get burned. And it'd take me longer to make my sandwich before heading off to work. I think all of the loaves of rye were pretty much of the same shape and size. There's a fundamental design flaw with this bread.

Posted by kstroke at 05:46 PM | Comments (13)

August 23, 2004

Cool Free Music

http://hebb.mit.edu/FreeMusic/ classical type stuff.

Posted by kstroke at 05:25 PM | Comments (13)

August 21, 2004

Alton Brown's So Cool

Woot! Got to meet Alton Brown today! I was so star-struck that I could only manage a crooked smile. Man, Good Eats is just too cool.

IMG_1365.JPG

If Jocelyn hadn't stopped by the Stanford Shopping Center yesterday, we never would've known that he was coming. We got there at 11:30 AM and immediately jumped into the book signing line. The event started at 11, Alton's bit wasn't until noon, and the book signing wasn't until 12:30. I'm really glad we got there when we did and decided to go straight for the signing line. We didn't get a great view of Alton on stage, but the line was huge by the time the book signing actually started. We saved ourselves a couple of hours that way.

Posted by kstroke at 04:09 PM | Comments (19)

August 20, 2004

IPod Battery Life

Man, I really want to like my IPod, but this battery thing is making that hard to do... I fully charge it one day, use it for half an hour, and turn it off. Two days later, I turn it on again and it tells me there's no more charge in the battery. The first couple of times this happened, I thought maybe it had hit a button and turned itself on while it was in my bag, but I've been leaving the switches on hold and it still happens. Here's a discussion I'm going to explore later. It sucks to run on a treadmill without some good tunes.

Posted by kstroke at 10:33 AM | Comments (16)

August 12, 2004

Craigslist - scarily efficient

At least in major metropolitan areas, Craigslist is a frighteningly efficient marketplace. Frankly, if you want to sell locally for a particular price, it beats the pants off of eBay (and I'm a big fan of eBay).

Last night around 9:30, I finally got around to listing my poor broken Civic on Craigslist. I got a couple of emails before I had even seen the listing published (and I was clicking refresh a bunch after posting). Within 30 minutes, I probably had about 15 emails - for a 1991 Civic in need of a new engine!

I figured I'd give the interested people a call and show the car the next day (today) after work, but the first person I called wanted to take a look right then. By about 11:15 PM, the car was sold. Total time between listing the car and having money in hand with the car out of the driveway: 1 hour 45 minutes. Craigslist rocks. Include the time it took me to get around to listing it: ~ 4 months 1 hour 45 minutes. I suck.

Posted by kstroke at 10:25 AM | Comments (16)

August 07, 2004

Auto Auction

Just got back from visiting the Alameda County Auto Auction. Pretty interesting. You can just walk right in and sit down and watch if you want. Registering to bid is free. If you win an auction, you pay a 10% commission on top of the winning bid price plus outstanding DMV fees (around $100-$500). You can check out the cars (visually inspect and start, but no driving) during designated preview times early that morning or the day before.

I think it is very possible to get a decent deal assuming you come into this knowing what you want, how much it would cost you to get it via classifieds, and how much you're willing to pay. As shown in the table below, some people got good deals, and some didn't. For those that got seemingly good deals, the question remains as to whether or not they got a sufficient discount for the added risk of buying it from a source other than a dealer.

For example, for the 1999 Lexus RX300, I did a quick search and found a dealer listing one for about $18,000. Let's assume that the dealer could be talked down $1500 for a final price of $16,500. Add 10% to the final bid price, and the auctioned Lexus went for $14,410. That gives us a $2090 discount. If you would gladly pay that to a dealer to recondition a used car you just bought, go ahead and buy directly from a dealer. If a dealer would have to pry that money from you cold, dead hand, then consider taking on the uncertainties around a car bought at auction and save your money.

Here are my notes (assumed 20k miles/year, clean condition, no extra options, no turbo - a lot of these had options, so the prices below err on the side of caution):

Description Winning Bid Edmunds - Private Party Kelly Blue Book - Private Party
2001 Lexus ES300 $13,900 $18,431 $17,200
2001 Infiniti I30 $14,800 $14,898 $14,600
2000 Mercedes Benz C230 (65k miles) $14,000 $16,205 $15,350
1999 Lexus RX300 (plus screens installed in headrests) $13,100 $15,937 $13,935
2000 Land Rover Discovery $11,500 $13,439 $11,825
1999 Volvo S80 $13,300 $10,441 $10,520
1999 Mercedes Benz E320 $13,900 $20,398 $15,575
1999 Mercedes Benz C230 (35k miles) $15,000 $15,770 $15,300
1995 Mercedes Benz S500 $12,300 $13,414 $11,710
2000 Ford Expedition $10,400 $10,182 $12,875
1999 BMW 528I $13,300 $15,903 $15,200
1997 Mercedes Benz E320 $12,600 $14,954 $10,925
2002 Ford Explorer $9,900 $10,596 $15,680
2001 Volvo S40 $10,600 $12,066 $9,920
1999 Mercedes Benz C230 $11,300 $12,824 10,900
1996 BMW 740IL (some small dings) $10,300 $11,373 $10,700
2001 Acura 3.2 TL $11,500 $16,509 $16,050
1999 Audi A6 Wagon $10,100 $12,922 $12,340
2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS Standard $9,400 $12,166 $13,435
2002 Kia Sedona (33k miles) $9,100 $10,710 $12,320
2002 Honda Civic Si (43k miles) $9,700 $11,510 $11,340
2000 Honda Accord Coupe Automatic $9,500 $9,251 $8,900
1996 Mercedes Benz E320 $8,900 $12,037 $9,500
2000 Volvo S40 $8,600 $10,121 $7,970
2002 Jeep Gr Cherokee $9,100 $13,318 $16,595
1995 Mercedes Benz E320 $8,000 $9,048 $6,825
2000 Chevrolet Tahoe $12,000 $11,602 $14,000
Posted by kstroke at 12:09 PM | Comments (279)

June 17, 2004

Camping

Let's go camping next Friday.

Posted by kstroke at 01:08 PM | Comments (320)

June 16, 2004

Shirt Folding

I like for my shirts to be folded in a particular way. I may just have to change it to this way. Brought to my attention by niffie.

The more I think about it, the more I think the Japanese must be planning to create an entire race that has expert knowledge of topology. Like the pencils.

Posted by kstroke at 12:32 PM | Comments (291)

Print to File

So there's this "Print to File" checkbox on the print dialog. You play around with it and send your print job to a file. That's cool. Theoretically, you can send this file to the printer without having to open the application. That means you can possibly save time when you need to print something, and you can send the printed result of an application to a person who doesn't own that application (assuming they do own a printer that uses the same sort of driver as yours). But how in the heck do you actually print the output file?!?!

Dragging and dropping the file into the printer's status window doesn't do anything. Right-clicking on the file doesn't give you any option that says "Print" or "Send To -> Printer". Looking around on Google gives you a bunch of places that say to use "print " or "copy /b /b". These didn't work for me. The fact that I use a network printer might have something to do with it, but I'd like to think that those people are pure evil. I found the proper syntax here.

copy \\where\your\printer\is\_\not\the\damn\port

And the binary flag seems useless.

Posted by kstroke at 11:46 AM | Comments (38)

June 03, 2004

GameCube Mod

From kuoj, a site that suggests how to mod the GC to play both Japanese and US games without having to remove the heatsink.

Posted by kstroke at 05:35 PM | Comments (323)

Audible

Had a little issue with getting Audible to work on my new work laptop. Went through their Live Chat customer service, and they fixed my problem right there, right then. Went from not being able to listen to being able to listen in about 2 seconds. Awesome! That's a good system (both the software and the customer service setup together).

Posted by kstroke at 11:14 AM | Comments (27)

May 30, 2004

Not The Only One

We have free cans of Coke and little juice things at work. I was thinking of taking some V8 and some fruit juice for coctails over the holiday weekend. It seems that other people had the same idea. The two bottom drawers of the refridgerator are restocked everyday and are alway full of apple juice, orange juice, V8, grapefruit juice, and grape juice. When I went to stock up on V8, both drawers were barren. A couple of lonely cans of grapefruit juice were all that were left.

After this incident, I know that I'm not the only one who considers it okay to take a couple of juices and sodas home from work and I will continue that practice guilt-free. Yay. I am absolved.

Posted by kstroke at 05:12 PM | Comments (17)

May 26, 2004

Driver

In case I decide to try to make the ps/2 cuecat work via the usb adapter by writing my own driver:

http://www.adp-gmbh.ch/win/misc/writing_devicedriver.html

Posted by kstroke at 10:36 AM | Comments (40)

May 23, 2004

Sake Slushie

It turns out that a 15% alchohol solution isn't concentrated enough to keep it from freezing in my freezer. The vodka stays liquid (40%), but the sake turns into a large block of ice (presumably the water) floating in a small bit of liquid (presumably the alcohol). Give it a good shake (the ice breaks down from a block into little bits pretty quickly) and pour out a super-concentrated sake slushie. Mmm. Just don't choke on the ice bits.

Posted by kstroke at 11:27 AM | Comments (16)

May 19, 2004

Fuel Economy

I like the Prius. I think it's a great big step in the right direction. It's made by a big car company, it's getting a big marketing push, and it's serving as a great ambassador for ecologically sensible vehicles. Even considering all there is to like, and how cool I think it is, I will never ever buy a 2004 Prius. I am thoroughly unimpressed with its fuel efficiency. It's a farce.

60 miles per gallon (in the city, 51 on the highway which is most of my commute) sounds good when you're driving a 17 miles per gallon SUV beast, but considering the fact that Honda Civic VX's were getting 56 miles per gallon in 1994 (it's a regular 100% gas car), you'd think that a decade later they'd be able to crush that. Here's a brain-scratcher: even Honda's 2004 Hybrid Civic only gets 48 miles per gallon. How could they add all that technology and fail to even reach a benchmark they set 10 years before?

Posted by kstroke at 08:48 PM | Comments (29)

May 18, 2004

Stupidity knows not of Darwin

Stupid high school kid.
Stupid adult.

Posted by kstroke at 03:51 PM | Comments (16)

May 14, 2004

Small Business Reading

Want to finish reading the stuff here later.

Posted by kstroke at 01:56 PM | Comments (26)

May 13, 2004

Glengarry GlenRoss

Just started watching this. It's GREAT so far. Great start. No wonder it's a classic. We'll see if I still like it when it's through.

Posted by kstroke at 08:50 PM | Comments (33)

May 12, 2004

Time to take it in

Dear Mr. Guy Driving a Busted Dark Green Jeep Grand Cherokee,

When your car's missing its front bumper, grill, and both its headlights, the hood's being held down by a piece of twine, and the engine's making a growly "I'm broken" noise, it's time to take it in to a mechanic. I imagine you're flirting with the law by driving a car in that condition.

Sincerely,
Someone who cares, but not really, and kinda hopes that you'll crash and die because of your own stupidity (without hurting anyone else, of course)

Posted by kstroke at 11:07 AM | Comments (19)

May 11, 2004

Full Metal Alchemist

Looking around for other things to watch while waiting for new eps of my current stable to come out. Following nokii's lead. Found Full Metal Alchemist.

Posted by kstroke at 10:44 PM | Comments (24)

Cool House

I want one. An affordable housing option in this area without having to resort to hoping that someone else goes bankrupt and can't afford their mortgage payments.

Posted by kstroke at 11:30 AM | Comments (16)

May 07, 2004

Naruto

For Naruto fix later tonight: http://www.animesuki.com/series.php/3.html

Posted by kstroke at 02:42 PM | Comments (17)

April 26, 2004

Car

When your car breaks down in a spectacular fashion, a week of your life falls into a void never to been seen again. So does a good bit of money. And time to sleep. So tired. And poor. But happy. Different car. Just got. Still used. But better. Serendipity. Lucky. Chance. Love. And. Peace. Sleep.

Posted by kstroke at 06:09 PM | Comments (26)

April 16, 2004

Japanese Audio

Have the 3 Pimsleur Japanese courses now. Also compiled some other Japanese audio stuff that I had. Yay, time for Japanese learning fun.

Posted by kstroke at 02:18 PM | Comments (23)

April 12, 2004

AIM down?

I seem to be disconnected from the world. Is it just my computer/network, or has AIM been down all day?

Posted by kstroke at 03:21 PM | Comments (17)

April 06, 2004

New English Teaching Method

So funny. Esp. if you're a Penny Arcade fan.

Posted by kstroke at 03:35 PM | Comments (17)

April 05, 2004

I Like Arby's but...

It turns out that the half-life of an Arby's roast beef sandwich is some time less than nine days. Even in a refrigerator that's kept at stiff 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Ugh.

When I couldn't pry the top bun off, I should've stopped and tossed it. Instead, I microwaved it (the top came off nicely after that), sauced it, and ate it. Ugh. Next time, I'm just going to eat it fresh even if I'm already full.

Posted by kstroke at 09:25 PM | Comments (19)

Biz Books

Been listening/reading a bunch of money-oriented books lately.

The Millionaire Next Door gets an "eh, blah". It's worth a library checkout but not a buy. There are some good lessons, but a lot of the stuff resonates of "the C student will rule the world". I'll put up a detailed review that will negate the need for you to actually read it.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship gets a "yay". Drucker is awesome. He presents innovation as a regularly reproducible and necessary occurrence for thriving companies. Drucker offers insights into how to nurture innovation and, equally important, how to kill it.

Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money and Investing gets an "eh". It's a look at how the stock market works through 6th grade civics spectacles. The information is very basic and the layout gave me a headache after a while. It's a loud 100+ page pamphlet. As a primer, it serves its purpose. Check this out from your local library and give this a read-through if you don't know anything about how money/investments work. After reading this, you won't know how to pick stocks, but you'll know what they are. One semi-major complaint is that this book doesn't cover compound interest. Any basic finance-oriented book needs to go over the idea of compound interest because it is THE motivation for putting your money into investments rather than your piggy bank.

Posted by kstroke at 05:10 PM | Comments (29)

April 04, 2004

Hummus

Hummus -
2 cans garbanzo beans, 4-5 cloves of garlic (minced and mushed in with a teaspoon or two of salt), a couple of dabs of peanut butter + a couple of dashes of sesame oil (or tahini if you have that), some lemon juice, some olive oil. Blend. Easy cheesy. Too thick? Add some more olive oil and lemon juice and salt (the added oil will prolly cancel out the saltiness of any salt you've added so far).

This turned out pretty well, but I put in a little too much peanut butter... Got the peanut butter substitution idea from Alton Brown's use of cashew butter as a substutution for the tahini. Substitution of a substitution. Not exactly like the stuff I've bought from stores, but I won't blame that on the peanut butter quite yet.

Posted by kstroke at 06:58 PM | Comments (17)

April 01, 2004

Grody

The toilet paper dispenser squeaked. Flush. The stall door opened. The bathroom door opened. I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be a sound of splashing water from the sink before the bathroom door opens. Gross. I wish I had seen who it was so I'd know with whom to avoid shaking hands.

Posted by kstroke at 05:22 PM | Comments (28)

Sleep

This should be a part of a post-college get-ready-for-the-real-world kit.

Posted by kstroke at 12:10 PM | Comments (16)

March 31, 2004

Wow

Cool new robots from Sony. Their mobility is impressive, but the choice of dance style is questionable. I would have chosen break dancing power moves (popping would be too easy for them and wouldn't show off their smooth mobility). The first move my robots are going to learn is the windmill.

Posted by kstroke at 02:10 PM | Comments (17)

March 29, 2004

Glad I don't Work There

I often get gas at the local cheapo place. I noticed a little hole in the glass from the first time I got gas there, but I didn't really think about it much since that robbery attempt could have happened 20 years ago for all I know. The last time I got gas there, I noticed a new bullet hole in the glass. This reinforced, in my head at least, the common knowledge that gas stations get robbed a lot.

The funny thing about the new hole, though, is that it's covered by a small square of duct tape. I'm no materials scientist, but unless that tape is made with kevlar and has a super duper strong adhesive, it serves no purpose. Another odd thing is that only the new hole was covered by duct tape. What about the old hole? You already have the duct tape out...

And what kind of bullet-proof glass lets bullets make neat, circular holes straight through it? That's what you get for buying generic...

Posted by kstroke at 11:43 AM | Comments (27)

March 26, 2004

Statistics Fun

This is a criticism of fib-by-numbers. There's a little bit of white vs. non-white in here, but that just relates to one of the fibs.

According to Bush, 68% of Americans own their own home. If you look at the Census Bureau breakdown towards the end of the same story, over 75% of whites own their own home and less than 49% of minorities own their own home. Bush is using the 68% home ownership figure to rally the minorities around his "ownership society", but the details of the numbers don't paint such a rosy picture for minority homeowners.

According to the Census Bureau population estimates, whites make up 68.9% of the American population. 75% of them own their own homes so that means that 51.7% of the population (75%*68.9%) is made up of white home owners. 15.2% of the population (49%*31.1%) is made up of non-white, a.k.a. minority, home owners. Comparing apples to apples, this means that 77.3% of home owners are white and 22.7% of home owners are not. This implies that the wealth distribution (assuming a direct relationship between wealth and home ownership) is still skewed towards whites. If the wealth were distributed equally among the races, home ownership percentages should mirror the race percentages. Of course, the wealth distribution is probably actually more skewed than this. We haven't considered the ownership of multiple homes, incomes, and other assets.

So basically, Bush is running around trying to rally minority voters by using numbers that really say "whites still have way more homes and money, proportionally and otherwise, than you".

Outside of the whole minority thing, Bush's use of the record high 68% overall home ownership rate is still misleading. That 68% figure is very tenuous and like to drop quite a bit within a few years. Home ownership rates are high because interest rates are at record lows and people are buying based on how much mortgage payment they can afford. Low interest rate driven demand has helped push housing prices way up. See the irony?

If rates go down and prices go up, you basically get the same house/mortgage payment for an overall higher price tag. What was a $300k house with a $3000/mo mortgage becomes a $500k house with a $3000/mo mortgage. For the higher price tag, you don't get any more land, rooms, bathrooms, fireplaces, etc. You do get higher property taxes, though, since property taxes are basically pegged at the buying price and moved incrementally from there and not necessarily in step with the market value of the house. If you went for an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) or an even more risky interest-only mortgage, you're screwed and totally screwed, respectively.

The interests rates are going to jump higher. You kind of want them to. The interest rates are low now because the Federal Reserve thinks that the economy is weak and needs the help. Interest rates get bumped up when the economy is doing really well and needs to be slowed down a little so that it doesn't get tired out early like the hare. You want the economy to get better than it is today, right? Doesn't that seem inevitable?

When the rates go up, the people with ARMs will find that it's much harder to make their mortgage payments. The housing prices will probably also drop because of cooled demand caused by higher interest rates and the fact that many of the new home buyers today are people that would have bought homes later if it hadn't been for the attractive interest rates (and therefore won't be in the market to buy a home later [even if they are, it's presumably with the sale of their existing home resulting in no net change]). This is when the people with interest-only loans will commit seppuku.

Their interest rates will go up when their interest-only payment period ends, they will have no equity in their home, and after years of payments, they will be looking at refinancing a $500k loan (the full amount, remember that none of the payments applied to the priciple) for a house now worth $300k. "Oh ... the agony ... I didn't realize-this-would-hurt-so-much-please-chop-off-my-head-now..."

Inevitable. I'm going to start learning about how to buy foreclosures.

Posted by kstroke at 01:59 PM | Comments (20)

What the?!?

We're supposed to be the most industrialized nation in the world and yet we can't seem to supply our soldiers with essential equipment. What the hell is that? And the reservists get second-rate equipment? Isn't the defense budget really huge now? Is all that money allocated towards the Star Wars program and pay raises? Not that pay raises are bad (Stars Wars sure is), but a couple of extra bucks in the pocket probably don't stop bullets nearly as well as an armor vest... The Star Wars technology sure isn't going to zap those bullets.

"Uh, we made an error in judgement with this whole liberation thing. It turns out that they don't really like us over here. Oh, and by the way, we don't have our supply chain set up correctly so you'll have to have your family buy your armor and mail it over.

And for you reservist volunteers who aren't career military people, thanks for leaving your much higher-paying jobs to help out. You're going to be out here a lot longer than we said you would be. Hopefully, you'll still have a job when you get back. We don't have any armor for you either. And you'll have to make due with these muskets. Good luck, soldier."

Posted by kstroke at 11:43 AM | Comments (17)

March 25, 2004

Blowfish

In the Gellar article here, it mentions that her castmates stopped her from eating a 3rd serving of blowfish because it was $85/plate. Don't you die from eating more than a couple of servings even if it's properly prepared? I'd think that would be a greater concern than the cost. Especially for highly paid movie stars.

Posted by kstroke at 03:58 PM | Comments (17)

w00t it's here!

Yay! MobilePlanet wasn't lying. It was shipped when the guy said it was and it's here now. This thing is so cool. I'm so glad it's here for my grubby fingers to go over. I don't have a Firewire port on my work computer so I have to wait until I get home before I can actually load songs. All I can do now is charge it up and touch it. Grub, grub. The packaging is so well thought out. I'm not a Mac fanboy, but I have to give them kudos for their smart designs from the product to the packaging. I think I'll set up a little review page that chronicles our journies together. Me and my new little friend.

Posted by kstroke at 12:40 PM | Comments (17)

March 23, 2004

IPod Deal with Audible

I ordered a 20GB IPod from MobilePlanet.com ($271, $300 after tax and shipping) through an Audible.com deal for $100 off if you agree to subscribe to their service for a year. I'm excited. Downloaded an Audible audiobook already. It's pretty good. I've used a process I found on Google to convert them to MP3 format and it seems to have worked really well. There was a little lag between Audible and MobilePlanet's systems that gave me some concern this morning, but I called and everything is supposedly hunky-dorey. We'll see.

Posted by kstroke at 04:05 PM | Comments (17)

March 22, 2004

Bored in class?

Nothing to do while the teacher drones on in a useless way rather than feeding your hungry mind? Try this. I'm going to try this one day. If I succeed, my stuff is totally going up on eBay - or in a glass box under some museum-style spotlights.

Posted by kstroke at 12:09 PM | Comments (29)

March 18, 2004

Mario Movies - Flash

Cool-ass Mario Bros. Flash movies. For the movies in the first group, click the down arrow to view after you click the link. And the third movie goes with the first group.

Posted by kstroke at 02:10 PM | Comments (18)

March 17, 2004

Go Figure

I was downloading something off SourceForge, and it was way faster to get it from the Ireland mirror than any of the three US mirrors.

Posted by kstroke at 02:52 PM | Comments (17)

I want Chickens

One day, I wanna have chickens and a nice garden like this guy. There are some links there on how to raise poultry. I have to remember to check those out later.

Posted by kstroke at 11:13 AM | Comments (18)

March 16, 2004

I'm Jetpac Man


What Video Game Character Are You? I am Jetpac Man.I am Jetpac Man.


I love the outdoors; the sense of freedom, of adventure. I love the sensation of free-fall, and would parachute and bungee jump on a moment's notice. I know where I want to be, and I strive to get there, making great effort to collect what I need. I let nothing stand in my way. What Video Game Character Are You?

Posted by kstroke at 01:15 PM | Comments (17)

Clean up on Aisle 3

I just wet myself. Check out the trailer for I, Robot. I loved the Asimov short stories, and I love Will Smith as an actor. I have high hopes.

Man. I didn't even know this was coming. I just happened to see it mentioned on boing boing. I guess that's what happens when you mostly don't watch network tv and when you do, you have commercial skip on.

Posted by kstroke at 01:09 PM | Comments (17)

Paper, The Toy of the Next Generation

This is awesome! Found it off boing boing. Turn 3D drawings and models into real-life paper models. Very Eames-esque.

Posted by kstroke at 12:31 PM | Comments (17)

Kids

I bet this would get blamed on video games if it happened in the US.

I think that the kid never would have done that if corporal punishment had been in effect. Not that corporal punishment is a cure-all, but it sure seems to work in Korean households. In the past, I guess Americans have taken that way too far, though. I'm not talking about beating your kids black and blue for accidentally spilling milk. I'm talking about spanking them when they've been evil and they need to know that what they did was wrong and shouldn't be repeated. Otherwise, you need strong-and-silent parents who have sensitive kids who notice and are affected by disappointed looks. Yeah, that combination's likely.

Posted by kstroke at 12:13 PM | Comments (13)

March 15, 2004

There's Hope

I'm a huge fan of cool inventions. In fact, I fancy myself a talent at the art of invention. Penny Arcade's Tycho posted something that gives me a small bit of hope to conquer the cat pee and poo market. I will invent something better and be known and the Cat Poo King.

Posted by kstroke at 10:54 AM | Comments (19)

March 11, 2004

Asterisk (*)

When you're sitting by the front desk of an auto mechanic's shop, you might be so lucky as to hear how funny other people can be when they don't take the time to pause for a moment and consider the possible consequences of their actions before they proceed. A lady pulled into the parking lot in her SUV. She comes up to the desk and asks the guy for a quote on an tire alignment and the conversation went something like:

"blah-budi-blah, I drove over a curb."
"Once? That's probably not going to require an alignment."
"Um... about 12 times."
"By accident?"
"No. On purpose. I figured it was okay to cut the corner since they drive over big rocks in the commercial."

Ha, ha. As far as the average suburbanite is concerned, those SUVs aren't really for going off-road. They're for killing people in smaller cars. Get it straight. For the people who really do need to use them to travel through rough terrain, they know that it's hard on the vehicle and that the vehicle will require regular mechanical maintenance. Jeez.

Posted by kstroke at 03:14 PM | Comments (20)

March 10, 2004

Tasty Smoothie?

Had a weird dream last night that I just remembered. It had to do with a smoothie someone else made at some party. I don't really like smoothies so it was kinda weird that I was having one, but that isn't the really odd part of this dream. The smoothie was brownish so I guess the main flavor was chocolate, but the thing I really remember about it is that there were chunks of stuff in it. They were the cause of the tingly, gee-is-this-refreshing-or-painful feeling in my mouth and throat. The chunks turned out to be those dried, spicy, red peppers that you see in Kung Pao stuff sometimes. Someone go and add some of that to a smoothie and tell me if it's any good. Sweet and spicy are supposed to complement each other.

Posted by kstroke at 02:35 PM | Comments (15)

March 08, 2004

Meximelt

In case you've been finding yourself standing in front of a Taco Bell menu wondering this same thing a surprisingly often number of times lately, a meximelt is a beef soft taco that's been heated through to make the cheese melt. It also has monterey jack (or some other white cheese), tomatoes, and cilantro. Is it better than a regular soft taco? Yes. Is it worth $1.09 + tax? Debatable. I'm going to try for even longer starting sentences.

Posted by kstroke at 12:30 PM | Comments (14)

March 04, 2004

Options

If this whole software engineering thing doesn't work out, I have options for other careers - poker player, English tutor in another country, model, etc.

After last night, I can add another option to the list - bowler. I've always been a sucky bowler. Sub-100. I'm usually pretty pleased with myself if I break 100. Last night, something clicked and I finally understood how to throw the ball straight. I started off with the usual sort of score (81) while I tried out balls with different weights and size of finger holes. Next game, I got 101. Then 121. After that, I played another 3 games where I didn't score below 120. These 120s were all personal bests until I bowled a 163! That game also included my first Turkey (3 strikes in a row).

Let's say computer programming becomes a commodity and quits paying well. Everyone would still pay to see some pro-bowling action, no? Long live sport.

Posted by kstroke at 10:43 AM | Comments (16)

March 03, 2004

Compulsion

I put some stuff up on eBay, and I can't stop myself from checking on the auctions every couple of minutes. I just put them up, and I know that even if there are people who want to buy this stuff, they'll probably wait until the last day to bid. I still can't suppress this urge to know, in real time, what happens to the auctions. I keep track of the counter and hope that the counting service is smart enough to count me only once. I think it does.

Posted by kstroke at 12:50 PM | Comments (26)

March 02, 2004

Samoas and Tagalongs and Trefoils, oh my!

We got our girl scout cookies, mm mm!

They went back to the old-fashioned names and box colors for the cookies this year, which makes me happy. Why did they change the names in the first place? These past few years, it just went against the grain to have to order boxes of "Caramel deLights", "Shortbread", and "Peanut Butter Sandwiches". Don't Samoas and Trefoils and Do-si-dos sound so much more interesting?

{random aside: For a $3.50 box of cookies, $.81 is the actual cost of the cookies, and the rest go to various girl scout things. Those girl scouts sure know how to work it. The ones in Boston were particularly evil/clever -- they would set up tables right at the busy T-stations around rush hour (Harvard, Porter...), and stand there screaming at the top of their lungs. It was pretty funny to see the stream of people veering off from their usual exit route straight to the table.}

Posted by jocy at 10:52 AM | Comments (14)

March 01, 2004

LG VX6000 Software

Other than its use as a charger, without software, there's really no point in having the cable. Install the BitPim software and the patch from here.

Posted by kstroke at 10:36 AM | Comments (14)

LG VX6000 USB Cable

The cable I got from TangShop.com hasn't disappointed, yet. I was getting worried b/c I was looking around and saw people having issues with it, but some of those posts seem out-and-out false. Having ordered the charging cable (it has a box in the middle of the wire, the picture on the site doesn't show it so make sure to read the description), the cable does, in fact, charge the phone. My phone went from 3 battery bars, to 4 battery bars in the time it took me to figure out how to install the drivers. The drivers from FutureDial do work, but it took a little bit of installation gymnastics to get them installed. I installed them on a Dell Inspiron laptop running Windows XP Pro.

The "advanced" installation where you can download just the drivers you need doesn't work at all. Those drivers are absolutely useless and you shouldn't bother downloading them.

The "automated" installation where it's supposed to install the proper drivers after you pick your phone doesn't quite work either, but you should open and install this program anyway. When you plug in your phone, your laptop will say, "Huh? What's this?" and you'll say, "What the hell. I thought the thing I just installed was supposed to tell the laptop that what I just plugged in was a phone." Relax, it's going to be ok. When the "Add New Hardware" wizard comes up, tell it you're going to find the drivers yourself in the FutureDial folder that the auto-installer created. Root around and select the drivers directory for your operating system (probably something like c:\Program Files\FutureDial\USB Installer\Drivers\LG5350\win2k). Assuming the wizard likes your choice, it'll move on to do the same thing another couple of times. Choose the same directory each time and you're all set.

Posted by kstroke at 10:28 AM | Comments (19)

February 27, 2004

Toilet Paper and Pay Raises

We got an announcement the other day that our company was going to thaw the year-long freeze on pay raises. That same day, I noticed that the toilet paper in all the stalls had been changed from decently soft stuff to the standard, rough, thin, standard institutional stuff. Toilet paper that thinks it's sandpaper. I guess between the two, I'd rather have the opportunity to get a raise, but couldn't they have a stockpile of soft toilet paper for us new hires that won't be getting a raise?

Posted by kstroke at 10:52 AM | Comments (14)

February 26, 2004

Auto Parts

After the recent car repairs, I started thinking about fixing a couple of other things that I know should be fixed, but didn't feel like paying (and being carless) for them to be professionally fixed. As I was looking around to see what it took to replace an axle and install a camber kit, I noticed that the recommended procedure for replacing an axle includes buying a refurbished axle. You're supposed to give them your old axle, but it's still cheaper. Then I started thinking about the parts that were replaced on my car.

I don't know if a catalytic converter can be refurbished, but I don't see why the radiator couldn't be repaired and resold. What happened with my old radiator and tires? Did they get scrapped? Do the mechanics make a little extra money by selling these things to people who are in the business of refurbishing/recycling them? Obviously some of the money should go to the mechanic since they would be acting as brokers, but if they do this, shouldn't part of that money come back to me?

Posted by kstroke at 10:11 AM | Comments (17)

February 25, 2004

Packages

Getting packages is so fun. You can give yourself a mini-Christmas with just a few clicks online. Even though you know what you ordered, it's still fun to get the package and open it up.

I got a USB cable for my LG VX6000 from here. It's also supposed to charge the phone. Can't wait to try it out. Heard about it here.

Also got some poker books from Overstock.com. They have some really good prices. What they carry seems to change quite a bit, though. And the site could use a few extra features, but so far, I like them. w00t.

Posted by kstroke at 01:27 PM | Comments (19)

Citibank is on the ball

I got an automated call from Citibank this morning. It was a fraud detection thing. They confirmed my transactions yesterday to make sure my card wasn't stolen. I like that. I like that they have a system to detect possible fraudulent transactions, and I especially like that it's an automated system even through the phone call. That's the way I'd do it.

Posted by kstroke at 10:33 AM | Comments (14)

February 23, 2004

Animals on the Road

I saw a dead kitty on the side of the highway today. Black cat. Not turned into hamburger, just laying on its side by the road. I saw it at each end of the day so there's no way it was just taking a nap. Sad.

In other news, there are wild boars getting hit on the road in Carmel, CA. Oink, oink, BAM!

These stories remind me of a really crazy turkey scene that unfolded right before my eyes. That's a story for another day.

Posted by kstroke at 09:48 PM | Comments (21)

February 20, 2004

Car Repairs

Bermico Auto Repair in San Carlos, CA has really nice people working there. Who knows if they're pulling the wool over my eyes, but they seem really reasonable so far.

Man, my radiator sprung a leak during the smog test. It was going to fail anyway. So I need a new radiator, catalytic convertor, and new tires. $1600. Man. On the up side, the guy said my car would prolly go for another 100k miles without anything else major after this set of repairs.

Posted by kstroke at 02:33 PM | Comments (21)

February 19, 2004

Little things lost

So many little thoughts. Lost. Gone. Not via technical error, but through the hole in my brain. Probably all the Coke. I keep drinking. Oh, they're coming back. Self-promotion, that's what it was.

If you like money, sign up for an ING Direct Savings Account. They'll help you make more money. They consistently have the highest interest rates on savings accounts (2% at this moment), and it's a breeze to zip money back and forth between it and your regular checking account. Email me and I'll refer you. You have to sign up via the referral email for this to work so email me first and go from there. If not me, but golly have someone refer you! You'll get $25 and the referrer gets $10. Free money all around.

If you like money and you like poker, sign up for PartyPoker.com. I'll refer you there, too. Same thing about signing up after you get the referral email from me. You get $25 and I get $50 (after you've played 125 raked hands - about and afternoon of play). Yeah, the referrer gets more of a benefit here (I would have structured it the other way), but it's still good for you.

Posted by kstroke at 12:03 PM | Comments (17)

February 17, 2004

Paranoia

Something struck me today as I was installing Microsoft SQL Server at work. I made sure I had the latest patch after I thought of that worm that works through SQL Server and slowed down the internet big time a while back. What if that worm wasn't created by mischievous hackers? What if it was a corporate-sponsored assault?

Pulse-check:
I work at a big company so there's a structured system for installing software with the proper licenses and all that jazz. I'm sure there are tons of people and little companies out there with illegal copies of SQL Server. What if Microsoft was running a test to see how many unlicensed copies of SQL Server were out there? Microsoft knows how many licensed copies of the software are out there, and it probably had a good idea about how many had installed the patch before the worm was released (and made sure key customers had installed it). With these pieces of information, they could make an estimate about how many illegal copies were out there by using both the extent of the spread of the worm as well as the number of times the patch was downloaded. The downside would be that it would further legitimize Microsoft's reputation for putting out shoddy software, but that never kept people from buying before. The upside would be that Microsoft would have more information about the illegal copies out there (amount and geographical at least) and would have a better idea about how to steer its anti-piracy efforts.

Pure evil:
What if Microsoft was nudging customers towards installing the update notification software and that software acts as a backdoor for other things to get in?

Posted by kstroke at 12:10 PM | Comments (17)

February 13, 2004

Nasal Sprays

I seem to be getting sick again (which is very strange since I usually only get sick once or twice a year and I just got over a nasty flu a couple of weeks ago). This morning, I was rummaging through the medicine cabinet and encountered bottles of jocy's Flonase and Nasonex. The names sounded promising. I had a stuffed up nose, and they sounded like they fixed nose issues. I now know that these things are supposed to be for allergies and not colds, but we won't dicuss that oversight.

I question the delivery method and the documentation. If you have a stuffed up nose because of allergies, how is something sprayed up the offending nostrils supposed to get where ever it's supposed to go? I could sorta breath out of one nostril, but the other one was totally blocked up. After spraying the Nasonex up that nostril, the stuff (medicine) immediately dripped out.

What's up with the documentation on the box? There's nothing on the outside that says when you're supposed to use it or how. Is this stuff for allergy relief or for blocked up noses from anything? Are you supposed to try to breathe in and get the medicine into the lungs, or just spray it up the nose? Are you supposed to stick the thing up your nose then spray, or spray it while it's just outside of your nose?

Posted by kstroke at 10:02 AM | Comments (15)

February 12, 2004

LA Restaurants

I remember seeing an NYTimes.com article before, but this is the best I could find w/o having to pay to see the archive. Will have to look into it more later. Next LA trip, hafta go check out some of those "cheap but good" restaurants.

Found a copy of the article. Thank goodness for little papers that subscribe to other papers' services. Copied the contents onto this site just in case they make their archive available only via subscription.

In Los Angeles, strip mall food is way cool

By JANELLE BROWN

c.2003 New York Times News Service

In the back of a dingy strip mall in Hollywood, between a discount cigarette store, a coin-op laundry and a 7-11, sits one of Los Angeles’ most revered restaurants: Zankou Chicken. Its walls are plywood, its tables are orange Formica, the floors are sticky, and the fluorescent lights are unflattering. The menu consists of a plastic-laminated poster with faded photographs of some suspiciously pink-hued meat on a rotating spit.

Essentially, Zankou, an Armenian restaurant, could not be farther culturally or aesthetically from the trendy eating places just down Sunset Boulevard. Yet it is a legend in Hollywood, packed at any hour by Armenian families and industry up-and-comers willing to drive a half-hour to eat its $4.29 signature dish, chicken made with roasted garlic.

"Zankou is the greatest chicken ever," declared Andrew Miano, 29, a film company executive. "I’d probably eat it out of the garbage can."

Zankou, memorialized in the Beck song "Debra," is Exhibit A in a curious dining phenomenon found mainly in Los Angeles: strip-mall cuisine. Little-known hole in the walls, lurking on just about every major intersection in town, are the antidote to everything flashy and velvet-roped, which is why they remain so popular with Hollywood’s next wave, even as trendy boites come and go.

"It’s fun to eat without pretensions in a city that has so many," Jeffrey Lieber, 34, a screenwriter said. "It’s a relief: no valet parking, no dress code," adding, ... "and a Slurpee 15 steps away."

Strip malls are a dominant architectural feature of the greater Los Angeles landscape, drab buildings in an L-shape where dentists and dry cleaners sit cheek by jowl with generic-looking establishments serving food from far-flung locales.

Although high-concept restaurants do, on occasion, plant themselves in strip malls (like Michael Ovitz’s high-priced Japanese endeavor, HamaSaku), most of these restaurants operate on the cheap: immigrant-owned, low-budget and minimally decorated (plastic signs, faded travel posters, fake flowers in jelly jars).

Not that this makes a difference: on a typical night, Mario’s Peruvian on Melrose draws a dozen patient customers loitering between the cars in the parking lot, gazing plaintively through greasy windows at diners lucky enough to have secured a table and a plate of fried seafood. Aficionados of restaurants in strip malls tap into a pipeline of inside information about which of them is worth a special trip and which is just a dive.

Since half the appeal of this variety of dining is being in the know, newcomers can catch on quickly as almost everyone — starving artist and million-dollar director alike — is eager to share information about favorites.

Although bulletin boards on Web sites like Chowhound and Citysearch offer mind-boggling numbers of recommendations, the best inside sources generally come by word of mouth. (Miano was introduced to the joys of Zankou chicken by his employer, Paul Weitz, director of the 2002 film "About a Boy." )

"You move out here, and people are immediately like, have you tried that place in the mall? That little place between the doughnut shop and the 7-11? said Lieber, whose favorite strip-mall spot is an Italian place in Marina del Rey called Alejo’s, which is famous for its shrimp pasta. "You feel like you have a neighborhood secret. Then you give it to the people you like, and keep it from those you don’t."

The result of this cult of underground cool is that the dingiest, most unassuming restaurants often have long lines to get in, and the person at the next plastic-topped table is just as likely to be Christina Applegate as a struggling student or actor drawn by the rock-bottom prices.

True food fans will seek out those little-known places frequented by locals, whose presence both attests to the authenticity of the cuisine and provides a fashionably anti-hip atmosphere. Such is the scene at Palms Thai in Hollywood, for example, where an Asian Elvis impersonator, with jeweled belts and mutton-chop sideburns, sings karaoke while Thai families shovel down tom kha gai at long banquet tables. The smattering of 20-somethings are willing to wait an hour for a table so that they can revel in the ironic obscurity of it all.

"There’s the complete cool quotient of going to those places," said Alex Tse, 26, a screenwriter. (Favored place: Mario’s Peruvian.) "When you go to a place that’s kind of ghetto, it’s like you’re part of a secret club — you’re really down, you know where the joints are."

Strip mall pilgrimages, however, are, as much about the food as the atmosphere, or lack thereof. Occasionally, meals can even be of high quality. The wildly popular Mexican restaurant Alegria in Silverlake, for example, is not popular because of its colorfully funky decor. Instead, it is the menu of inventive and delicate dishes like Budin Moctezuma, a savory tortilla-based lasagna, and perfectly grilled tiger shrimp sopes that lures diners like the actress Patricia Clarkson, who won an Emmy for her portrayal of Aunt Sarah on an episode of "Six Feet Under."

Most strip mall meccas have perfected one hearty ethnic dish, which inspires fanatically devoted followers. There’s Zankou’s chicken; at Mario’s Peruvian it is saltado de mariscos, a curiously addictive concoction of shrimp and squid sauteed with tomatoes and French fries. At Versailles, a Cuban chain, it is crispy garlic chicken with onions and plantains.

"That’s what a makes a hole in the wall worth going to — it has something you can’t get anywhere else," Miano said. "Chicken at Falcon" — a current It spot — "can taste just like chicken at Spago, dress it up any way you want. But what you get at a strip mall is something unique."

Unheralded sushi restaurants inspire particular fanaticism. Many locals argue that the best sushi in Los Angeles is not at the renowned restaurants with celebrity chefs and designer lighting but at bare-bones strip-mall places like Sushi Ike or Hirozen. Cast members of the television show "24," for example, regularly stand patiently in line for a table. Devotion to these restaurants may be a matter of thrifty economics: with strip-mall sushi your money is going mainly for fresh fish.

Occasionally, a popular strip-mall restaurant misinterprets its success and upgrades to a more stylish address. That was the case with Ita-Cho, a restaurant that served Japanese appetizers like sweet eggplant and lotus root for years before it outgrew its dingy and diminutive space.

Now, Ita-Cho offers both interior decor and valet parking: which, in turn, deters former regulars like Nicole Barnette, 30, a director, who frequented the restaurant because of everything it was not.

"I loved Ita-Cho for years," Barnette said.

"When it moved, it lost the charm of being ‘that great place in the minimall on Highland.’ It was way too hip."

Posted by kstroke at 01:58 PM | Comments (17)

February 11, 2004

Crystal Chronicles

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles has arrived. Go get it (and some friends with GBA's and game link cables). Played it for a couple of hours last night. It's a really fun action game (even though it's FF, it's not the standard RPG you might expect) that requires some real teamwork in multiplayer mode. Besides having to stay together because of the crystal chalice, maps are split so that one guy has the topological map while another person has the radar showing the location of bad guys. Since spells are spread out to players via items and can't be carried from town to town, you have to coordinate both item collection (if one person has all the spell-casting items, no one else can cast spells) and melee actions (spells take a little while to charge up). There are other things that promote team play. The personal objective and item rewarding system offers some balance by injecting some incentives for individual play/greediness.

The graphics and character designs are sweet. Although, I'm kinda ticked that my Racoon Tail guy looks like a girl AND doesn't have a racoon tail. Maybe I'll evolve one later? So far, I've played this in 2P. I can't wait to get the 4P action going.

Kuoj, go get a game link cable!

I'm also playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and it is fun as well.

Posted by kstroke at 10:21 AM | Comments (18)

February 10, 2004

One Good Thing

The whole Jackson/Timberlake thing is stupid on a number of levels and has moved our society backwards a half-step or so, and that's all I'll say about that. One good thing has come out of it, though.

NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., last week edited out a brief glimpse of an elderly woman's breast in an emergency room scene on the hit hospital drama "ER."

Who really wanted to see that, anyway? =P

Posted by kstroke at 11:14 AM | Comments (17)

Traffic Report

When I listen to the radio, the traffic report is always, "there's an accident on the first leg of your commute, and since you're lucky today, there's an accident on the second leg, too. Good luck trying to make that meeting."

Why is it so hard for other people to keep from crashing on either of the two highways I take to work? That first highway has a really slow spot/accident EVERYDAY in the section I take. Man.

Posted by kstroke at 09:03 AM | Comments (23)

February 09, 2004

Attic Cat

From noki to jocy to me to you: Attic Cat. A hilarious Korean drama that jocy and I started watching yesterday. It's seriously one of the best shows I've ever seen. Of course, it helps that I'm somewhat Korean and the cultural references really resonate for me.

The dude with the earring looks like a Korean version of the evil Terminator in T2: Judgement Day. Run!

Posted by kstroke at 10:16 AM | Comments (18)

February 07, 2004

Every Dog Has His Date

Hahaha. If you have a chance, you should watch the movie Every Dog Has His Date. I just saw it on the International Channel. I think it's a Hong Kong flick. It's pretty funny. Would I buy it? Nah. Would I rent it? Not based on the description. Was it worth watching on I Channel? Sure. Turn your brain off and enjoy some silly stuff.

Posted by kstroke at 08:49 PM | Comments (19)

De Anza Flea Market

Went to the De Anza Flea Market today. Eh. It was so-so. You have to pay $2 for parking. That's not cool. It also doesn't especially seem like the place where you can find a hidden treasure or anything. Hardly any of the vendors were selling old things. It was mostly new cruft. If you want Beanie Babies, though, it's the place to go.

Posted by kstroke at 08:39 PM | Comments (18)

February 06, 2004

In-n-Out

In-N-Out makes a tasty burger. Apparently, they also pay well, too. I saw a sign today that said they pay $9.25, have paid vacation, and free meals. This is a way better deal than when I worked at Burger King. There I got paid minimum wage (~$5.25), no vacation (paid vacation? hahaha), and free meals were only given if you were closing that day. Otherwise, it was half-price.

Posted by kstroke at 01:58 PM | Comments (19)

February 05, 2004

Snickers with Almonds

Thumbs down. I like Snickers a lot and I like almonds a lot, but along with the rest of the Snickers' stuff (nougat mainly), the almonds just get lost. The peanuts in the regular version work just right.

Posted by kstroke at 12:54 PM | Comments (23)

Verizon

I now have a Verizon cellular plan. The phone I have is the LG VX6000. It doesn't have Bluetooth, but other than that, it seems pretty cool so far. Verizon customer service has been great. T-Mobile customer service was nice, but not as great in helping me actually solve issues. My reception is way better in the places where I most wanted improvement. Verizon is evil in the way they have little charges all over the place for the "get It Now" applications, messaging, and mobile browsing, but as long as you're careful not to dig your own grave by messing around too much with the extras, Verizon is an awesome choice as a cellular provider.

Reception in my apartment (CA, Bay Area, Peninsula) -
With T-Mobile: might be able to make a call and get fuzzy reception if you're by the window in the back.
With Verizon: pretty doggone good. full reception in most, if not all, of the apartment.

Reception at work (CA, Bay Area, East Bay) -
With T-Mobile: none in my office. spotty reception (1-2 bars out of 5) possible in certain conference rooms.
With Verizon: half to full strength (3 bars out of 6 at training center, 6 out of 6 bars in office). in office, get full strength even when it's in my pocket or at lease right when i pull it out. with t-mobile, it seemed that my body was some sort of void for em waves (thus, a strong preference for using the bluetooth headset and keeping the phone far away).

Posted by kstroke at 12:46 PM | Comments (14)

In the Rearview Mirror

There was a dude picking his nose big time - leaving the responsibility of directing his 80 MPH vortex of death to his otherwise unoccupied hand. I don't have anything against clearing out nasal cavaties. Breathing is important. However, I think that, while driving, a quick pick is more appropriate than an extended dig. The same idea goes for cellphones.

Posted by kstroke at 12:31 PM | Comments (24)

January is Gone

Uh... Suddenly the server blasted away anything added in January and restored itself to the way it was as of Christmas time. The posts are gone, and a couple of useful comments are gone (most notably the ones on the Sony DVD C:13:00 problem). To anyone who cares, sorry. This host (volumehosting.com) is in the negative on reliability... I'm going to try to setup an automatic backup mechanism when I get the time.

Posted by kstroke at 10:27 AM | Comments (22)

January 23, 2004

This Could Be You

See what'll happen to you if you don't save enough money for your old age. You'll have to rely on the state for room and board. He's totally doing the crime just so he can do the time.

Posted by kstroke at 03:48 PM | Comments (14)

The Flightless Fly

Nothing is as fun as penguin batting. I got 321.1. I heard someone got 329. Man...

Posted by kstroke at 11:12 AM | Comments (18)

January 22, 2004

Something Useful?

I've been thinking about writing up a program to help me keep track of Animal Crossing stuff. Yeah, that game came out a while ago. I've been thinking about this for a while. The thinking has gotten bigger. It's expanded to being able to keep track of any sort of RPG info. In fact, it's grown to an application that takes the place of static game information/walkthrough channels like GameFAQs and the Brady Games guides. So that's become the ultimate goal. Soon, I will start taking baby steps and creating something that helps keep track of just Animal Crossing stuff. Even if I don't get around to creating the ultimate version, this first version should be useful for when Animal Crossing 2 comes out.

Have you ever wanted anything like this? Am I the only one who prints out GameFAQs inventory lists and marks down the items I've gotten?

Posted by kstroke at 02:55 PM | Comments (17)

January 21, 2004

Exactly

People need to learn about investing their money. It should really be a high school class taught right after algebra. The importance of basic knowledge in this area will continue to grow as the national debt gets bigger and social security becomes more of a myth for today's young professionals.

We're financing today's old people, and I'm okay with that, but the government should drop the sham that we'll be able to get money from the SSA when we get old. From pensions to 401(k)'s and Super Bowl beer commercials to Super Bowl online trading commercials, all signs point to us providing for ourselves in retirement.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that's the way things are in my imaginary ideal world where everyone knows how to manage their money. Without a national sense of forethought and investing savvy, the imaginary world crumbles and the need for a safety net like social security becomes painfully evident. Since the inevitability of that net not being there for us is...well...inevitable, we have to shore up the issue of getting people to think about their future and how to invest for it.

Posted by kstroke at 12:37 PM | Comments (17)

Parking Lot Rules of Engagement

When you work at a large company that has just enough parking for everyone, you learn some things. You learn that almost everyone seems to come in at the same time. The parking lot either seems full or nearly empty. Five minutes on the wrong side of the threshold time (about 9:30 for where I work) can mean parking so far away that you're almost still on the highway.

You also learn that lunch time is the great equalizer. Muhuahaha. Prime spots open up at lunch time. You just have to get back before they do. Even a scrub like me who wakes up late can end up with a primo spot right by the door. Love it.

Posted by kstroke at 10:57 AM | Comments (15)

December 25, 2003

A Christmas Story

Randy lay there like a slug. It was his only defense.

Posted by kstroke at 04:28 AM | Comments (24)

December 24, 2003

Happy Holidays

I've got 24 cans of Coke, chips and salsa, and a pile of games and anime. I'm all set for Christmas.

Ho, ho, ho. Green giant.

Posted by kstroke at 05:38 PM | Comments (17)

December 22, 2003

I think we're alone now

On Squawk Box (CNBC) this morning, they started making jokes referring to the movie Deliverance. The conversation went from a company that does business in hogs, to several variations of "boy, you got a purty mouth." Is it just me, or is that a sign that they think no one is watching?

Posted by kstroke at 05:16 AM | Comments (23)

Wallace was right

Wensleydale cheese is great. Picked some up from Draeger's yesterday. Saw a wedge of it randomly, then saw a Wallace and Gromit brand (that was twice as much). Jocy reminded me that Wensleydale is Wallace's favorite cheese so I decided to give it a try (the cheaper, generic stuff, of course). It's a really good snacking cheese. I might buy some of that Wallace and Gromit brand once just to support the franchise, but I'll probably be buying the cheaper stuff on a regular basis.

Posted by kstroke at 05:05 AM | Comments (16)

December 19, 2003

Goodness

Haven't seen Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, yet? Go see it. It rules. More of the same cool ass stuff as the first two movies. They did a great job.

Haven't played Final Fantasy X-2, yet? Go play it. It rules. Full of the standard great FF-style RPG play you've come to expect. More geared towards girls without really being offensive to the football lover in me. New battle system again and it seems pretty cool so far.

Posted by kstroke at 12:29 PM | Comments (15)

December 18, 2003

T-Mobile Sucks

I use T-Mobile. I'll probably be switching to Verizon soonish. Why? Because T-Mobile's signal isn't good enough around here for my cell to be a landline replacement. The service is ok on the highway, but the reception is unbearable in at least three different major residential areas on the peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area. ATT seems a little better, but still spotty where I live now. Verizon seems to be the only one with strong signal around here. I didn't like any of the phones I saw on their website, though. Oh, well. Signal matters more. They better have a phone that supports Bluetooth. I don't want to give up my wireless headset.

Update - 12/19/03: Verizon might be out of the running. They don't seem to have any Bluetooth phones. I've heard that ATT GSM might be a little better around here than the ATT TDMA. If that's the case, I might just switch to ATT.

Posted by kstroke at 06:14 PM | Comments (18)

December 17, 2003

Windows File Search Sucks

I've used the Windows file search before. It seemed to work fine then. Perhaps the last time wasn't on XP. Usually, I search for terms within a file and not just for a filename. I tried it just now. It failed miserably. I looked in some files in the directory I was searching and found the term I was searching for. But the stupid search dog couldn't find it. It just sits there with its animated wagging tail. Windows, you make me mad sometimes.

Posted by kstroke at 11:32 AM | Comments (14)

December 16, 2003

7 Days Intro

I like Seven Days and all, but the new intro with Frank Parker's voice isn't very good. I liked Talmudge's intro better. Frank's voice is a little nasaly for the intro. Booming bass is nice in an intro.

Posted by kstroke at 01:26 PM | Comments (23)

December 15, 2003

CSS Lists

This site is a great resource for understanding how to manipulate lists with CSS.

Posted by kstroke at 04:32 PM | Comments (17)

December 14, 2003

Po Man's Crabcakes

Tuna Cakes (a.k.a. breadless tuna fish sandwiches)
-2 cans tuna
-2 whallups of mayo
-1 whallup of relish
-little bit of chopped onion
-pile 'o bread crumbs
-2 eggs
-couple dashes each of mustard powder, paprika, ground black pepper, and salt
-dash of cayenne

Mix everything together (use about a 1/4 cup? of the bread crumbs in the mix, we use panko). Dump out a large-meatball-sized bit of mix onto the pile 'o panko. Pack on the panko, and form into roughly round shapes in the x-y plane (can be squished in the z-axis after you put them in the pan) and repeat. As for size, when you're done, they should all be able to fit into a 10" skillet. Get some butter/oil (1 tbs butter + 2 tbs canola) ready in a frying pan and fry all the cakes on both sides until golden, brown, and delicious (GBD). Remember to lay them in s.t. any oil that might splash splashes away from you.

Serve with some cocktail sauce and enjoy.


tuna_cakes_lost_small_web.jpg Dropped one on the way from the pan to the plate.



tuna_cakes_small_web.jpg The rest of the tuna cakes with some lemon wedges as a memorial for those lost but not forgotten.


Posted by kstroke at 10:32 PM | Comments (17)

December 12, 2003

New Section

Yay! Finally got around to putting up a projects page. Not much content now (only one article so far), but definitely more to come.

Posted by kstroke at 03:21 PM | Comments (23)

December 10, 2003

Captain Picard Day

I like the way the "Captain Picard Day" episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation starts. Lots of little kids' drawings of Picard. And even a stuffed doll that Riker puts a voice to.

Posted by kstroke at 04:08 PM | Comments (25)

December 08, 2003

Emacs + PHP

HTML Helper Mode claims to handle PHP. I used the latest version to date (3.04jolly), and it was not good. Found something else that works well so far.

Don't forget to add something like the following to your .emacs:

(autoload 'php-mode "php-mode" nil t)
(setq auto-mode-alist (cons '("\\.php$" . php-mode)
auto-mode-alist))

Posted by kstroke at 09:19 PM | Comments (22)

December 05, 2003

ANT + JUNIT

I end up not liking most technical books. I have shelves of disappointing programming books. If I didn't feel bad about sitting there and reading a whole chapter in the book store, I'd probably have better books. Since then, I'm on a personal boycott of tech books unless they're way on sale or I know for sure they're great.

This book seems like a winner on the subject of Ant (or at least Ant and JUnit). That link is a download for chapter 4 of the book - the one that counts for those of you out there with basic familiarity with Ant and just starting to learn JUnit. The chapter is so good that I'd actually consider buying the book full price.

Posted by kstroke at 02:23 PM | Comments (14)

November 27, 2003

Bananas Brulee

Alton Brown almost made me sad again (that pie crust is still a sore spot...), but persistance ruled the day. Bananas brulee is a success! Cut a banana in half, then half again (but this time lengthwise). Put cut side up on a rack over a cookie sheet covered in aluminium foil. Stray molten sugar and burn marks are things you'd probably rather wrap up and throw away rather than try to scrub off. Cover cut side liberally and evenly in sugar. Apply flame (propane torch in my case, but I hear a broiler will work as well) and proceed to melt sugar as you would with a creme brulee.

There are some gotchas. Unless your bananas are under-ripe, you need a good bit of sugar. Alton just dipped his. Mine soaked through the dipping of sugar and needed another heaping. After one melting, if your banana tops look clear instead of brown (as mine did), wait for the sugar to cool, apply more sugar, and melt again. I could tell that first heating was wrong because the sugar was bubbling as it would if you were making candy by boiling sugar dissolved in water - not as if you were finishing off a creme brule. Clearly the moisture from the banana was coming into play. A second application of sugar and melting works quite well since the first application acts as a small barrier to the moisture.

Add ice cream and enjoy.

Posted by kstroke at 03:52 AM | Comments (18)

November 26, 2003

McNuggets

I just saw a McDonald's commercial announcing that McNuggets are now made with white meat. Doesn't that sound suspiciously like "now made with meat rather than feathers and bone and other stuff like that"? Scary.

Posted by kstroke at 02:38 PM | Comments (22)

November 24, 2003

Whoa

I'm seeing people from minor movies all over the place. First the Better Luck Tomorrow guy in the Dell commercial, and now the guy who played Teddy Chin in Antitrust as a non-speaking, in and out Chinese food delivery guy in 7 Days.

[added]
He speaks! Later on. Girl trouble. Ha ha.

Posted by kstroke at 02:16 PM | Comments (14)

Teen Titans

Teen Titans is a show that's back on the watch list. It didn't fall out of favor - it just didn't come out with new episodes for a while. Luckily, Monkey was paying attention and grabbed the latest new episodes while I was busy with Twin Peaks.

I think Teen Titans is superb through and through. Can't beat the heavy anime-influence and the J-pop girl band singing the intro. My cartoon show is SO going to have a J-pop girl band sing the intro.

I hope they don't pair up Raven and Beast Boy. There was a little flirtation going on today. She needs to actively supress desires in order to conform to the cool character they started out with. And I hope they bring back the Japanese version of the theme song. I swear that early on they were alternating between the English and the Japanese version of the theme song every other show, but I haven't heard the Japanese version in a while...

Posted by kstroke at 01:49 PM | Comments (55)

November 21, 2003

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks rocks. I remember friends liking it when I was in middle school, but I never got around to watching it. At the time, our tv barely got the major networks, and I think even those channels came in fuzzy. I got a copy of the pilot and the first season from my local library. Check to see if yours has it. Get it. Watch it. Love it.

Man, I really need season two. The first one ends on the typical tv show cliff hanger.

Posted by kstroke at 05:22 PM | Comments (14)

November 19, 2003

Inadvertent Atkins

The bagels don't have any visible mold. They've been around for a while. They should have mold. They scare me. I'll eat my pepperoni and cheddar without the accompaniment of this scary bread. Bread should not be so invincible. I need to write the purchase date on all of my groceries when I bring them home.

Posted by kstroke at 04:20 PM | Comments (25)

Better Luck Tomorrow

I think I just saw the Better Luck Tomorrow main character on a Dell commercial. No speaking, just playing the part of a customer service rep. on the phone in the background.

Posted by kstroke at 04:13 PM | Comments (19)

In The Rearview Mirror

At a red light yesterday, I saw a young woman knitting something pink from the driver's seat of a blue BMW X5. I had sort of thought knitting was all but extinct -alive only in the elderly and the crafty. Elderly she was not. She was anywhere from late teens to mid-twenties. And crafty is not something I would automatically associate with a driver of a shiny new BMW SUV. But these are minor ironies. Who in the world thinks to while away red light time knitting? I can understand other things I've seen in the rearview mirrow (makeup application and shaving come to mind) because they help prepare the driver for his/her destination. Was she on her way to a knitting club meeting and frantically trying to finish her assignment for the week? Is this hobby limited to the car? How long would it take to knit a sweater if you only knitted during red light time?

Posted by kstroke at 04:11 PM | Comments (29)

November 13, 2003

Who knew?

For most of today, I was lamenting the fact that my physical fitness is the worst it's ever been. I've know for a while now that I've been getting fatter and losing muscle, but my shirt was especially tight around the stomach and loose around the chest today. Good posture (thanks to my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Eberhart) had helped me deny my decline by making t-shirts fall in a flattering way. As long as your chest sticks out past your stomach, you look fine. Today, that wasn't the case. Then I noticed that I had my shirt on backwards, flipped it around, and the world was right again. Until today I had thought that t-shirts were fairly symmetrical between front and back, but they're not. I'm still fat, but at least I don't look as much so. Back to eating my Twix.

Posted by kstroke at 08:08 PM | Comments (20)

My Childhood Crumbles

Everytime I check something out that I loved as a kid and haven't experienced in a while, I find it to be terribly disappointing. Buck Rogers is the latest casualty. I just finished watching an episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century where he's accused of being a traitor in the 20th century and starting the nuclear war. It was an unimaginative, predictable story that was poorly acted and produced. Painful. I can't believe I used to like this drivel. I still think Twiki is cool. Maybe that's the only thing I liked about the show when I was a kid. The way he walks and says "bigi, bigi, bigi, bigi".

Posted by kstroke at 04:07 PM | Comments (16)

November 12, 2003

Insomnia

I'm more productive when I'm tired. I don't know why. Do I have ADD and I need to be tired to focus? Is my brain so big and active that it just can't help solving things quickly, getting bored, and moving on to thinking about other things? I used to think that I liked working at night because the world was quieter, but now I think that it has more to do with being just the right amount of tired. Mmm... Btw, creating custom Swing components isn't so bad. There just aren't any great tutorials out there. You have to piece things together from all over the place.

Kit Kats are great. TheyaresodeliciousespeciallywithabigglassofCoke.

Posted by kstroke at 04:35 PM | Comments (16)

November 07, 2003

Resin Casting

Gave polyester resin a couple of tries. It blows. Polyurethane resin is much better. No stinky smell and quick curing time.

Posted by kstroke at 12:01 PM | Comments (23)

October 31, 2003

Ikea Serendipity

This was going to be a post about how good Ikea meatballs are. And how lucky I am that someone pointed out a coupon for free meatballs from Ikea for the month of October. I was afraid the coupon was too good to be true so, idiot that I am, I didn't bother going to check it out until yesterday. Ikea meatballs are still tasty, and the coupon does work. Quick, today's the last day and the cafeteria closes at 8PM!

But something so great happened yesterday, that it warrants a great big "Lucky chance!" (or "raki chansu").

I happened to stop by the scraps section to check things out even though last time it was full of overpriced crap. Stumbled onto a pile of good stuff that wasn't tagged, yet. Two tabletops and five 2'x2' real wood boards in excellent shape. I was stoked. I've been wanting to build a new desk and a new coffee table, and seeing real wood in Ikea warehouse of particle board nearly brought a tear to my eye. We asked a guy how much the pieces were and he said $9 each for the table tops and $3 each for the little boards. $9 sounded fair for the table tops, but $3 sounded a little steep for such a small piece.

I debated. In the time it took for me to decide, the guy that gave us the quote went to do something else and I asked a different guy to put prices on the stuff. I was going to take it all and I was expecting to pay $33. The guy priced the little boards at $1 each and the tabletops at $10 each. Overall savings of $7. Word. The first guy came back and saw the prices, but all he did was joke around with the other guy about the different quotes and he didn't raise a stink.

Going into the checkout line, I'm feeling pretty good about the $7 I just saved so I don't mind when a lady with a kid cuts in front of me. I look around and there's another line that is open so I go there. The lady's ringing the stuff up and points to the tabletops saying, "these are $10 each, right?" I confirm, notice a $2 show on the cash register display and decide to check out the receipt later. In fact, she must have rung up the pieces as $1 instead of $10 by accident. That makes $25 savings and $7 spent on two tabletops and five 2'x2' boards (the guy said they're hardwood).

Let's summarize the lucky coincidences:

  • went to Ikea because of impending expiration of meatball coupon
  • checked out scrap section even though it was crap last time
  • found good, untagged pieces
  • indecision led to the pieces being priced by a nicer guy who lowered the price on one kind from $3 to $1, and raised the other from $9 to $10 (wait, that's lucky? read on...)
  • had a lady cut in front of me and ended up in this particular lady's line
  • lady rang up $1 instead of $10 (see? if it had stayed $9, she prolly wouldn't have mis-typed)

Will post pics of the finished stuff when I'm done. Coffee table should be done pretty soon.

Posted by kstroke at 03:35 PM | Comments (19)

October 28, 2003

I Love Arby's

Heaven = an Arby's roast beef sandwich with 3 packets of Arby's sauce. And some curly fries. I'm so glad we live close to an Arby's. There aren't many around. The local grocery stores have Arby's coupons on the back of reciepts. Buy a meal, get a sandwich free. I got two of those on either end of one receipt today. It's obscene how giddy that made me. I even picked up someone else's discarded receipt in the parking lot. The fact that it had been driven over didn't bother me b/c there was another Arby's coupon looking up at me. I had forgot to get mustard so when I went back in I knew the receipt was going to be short and I probably wouldn't get another coupon, but I did. Four coupons in one grocery trip. What a great afternoon.

Posted by kstroke at 05:58 PM | Comments (25)

TV

I like TV. Even though 95% of the time there's nothing on but the most inane shows you can imagine, that last 5% is compelling enough to make me keep watching new shows in search of the next thing I can get into. Inevitably, even my favorite shows get boring and fall out of my favor until some time when I don't remember the formulas - Alias, Scrubs, Friends, etc. Here's what I'm watching now. I'll probably make this a permanent section on the site at some point.

Nip/Tuck (FX) - Wow. I was afriad it was going to be stupid like Breast Men (a bad HBO movie starring David Schwimmer about plastic surgeons in the early days of breast implants), but it's not - it's sooo good. Graphic scenes of surgery and sex (for basic cable, at least) and great material. Taboo* subject material brought to the fore (transgender, teen sex, three ways, child molestation victims) and given serious treatment. The graphic content works well the make the material real. Sure, the graphic nature is appealing on its own (especially to guys like me), but it's the mix of the content and it's presentation that kept me watching all the episodes that my Replay recorded during the recent marathon.

Speaking of which, monkey (my Replay's name is monkey), I know you can't hear me, but you piss me off when you get the schedule wrong and start recording late or cut off the end of shows (that's really bad). Cutting off the last bit of the season finale of Nip/Tuck so that I couldn't see what happened to Escobar almost made me very angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. Good thing Al Gore invented the internet. Though even that almost didn't help. Billions and billions of pages, and only 3 said what happened in the finale.

*taboo meaning it'd never show in network programming unless as a vapid joke or an overly dramatic made-for-tv movie

7 Days (SpikeTV) - Surprise hit, in my book. I ignore most of what shows up in the Spike bar of monkey's channel guide - a philisophical decision*. In a desperate moment after days of searching for something good on in the middle of the day, I turned to Seven Days and now I'm hooked. It's about an NSA group that uses Roswell alien technology to go back in time to undo catastrophic events. It's got a little bit of sci-fi, a good bit of military action, and also a good measure of comedy via diamond-in-the-rough main character Frank Parker. There's a lot of things to work with and different episodes focus on different aspects. Some focus on sci-fi themes like parallel universes, and some focus on military themes like going back to give a spec-ops team updated intel to keep from screwing up.

*"The first network for men." How preposterous. I'm no TV historian, but my guess is something like The Playboy Channel or Spice owns that title. Even assuming that the subtext is "that you don't have to pretend you didn't order when your mom comes over and turns on the tv and it's tuned to us", TBS has a better claim. I remeber as a little kid thinking that TBS was always showing some Clint Eastwood or Death Wish or Rambo or Rocky flick. Always. But it doesn't show much in the way of skin. Ever, I think. FX could be considered a network for men. It's got shows with action, sci-fi, and loads of skin (at least in Nip/Tuck).

Good Eats (FoodTV) - Greatest show ever. It's going to get a special section or at least a permanent link on this site somewhere. Sure, I think shows like West Wing, X-Files, Alias, Scrubs, and Friends were really good shows, but they were all about being competent in producing shows around proven themes. It's like being told to make a meal out of some pasta, cheese, cream, and some spices. The creators of those shows made some really tasty mac and cheese and pasta alfredo. Alton Brown saw the same materials and built a space ship.

Imagine you're given the task of making a cooking show. How do you make a cooking show? How can you make the show appealing? On what aspect of meal preparation would you focus? If you're the Cajun Chef (thanks for the link, Toni!), you walk through a recipe for a dish or two (we'll call this format a "regular cooking show"), have the catch phrases "ah garontee" and "oooh, wee" (used when tasting), have a cajun accent, drink a lot of wine, and focus on cajun food. If you're Emeril Lagasse, you copy the cajun chef's show almost exactly, but you change the catch phrases to "kick it up a notch" and "bam" and move its usage from tasting to seasoning. And yell a lot. Wolfgang Puck came up with a regular cooking show with an Austrian accent. Rachael Ray came up with a regular cooking show, reality style. Everything done in real time, 30 minutes start to finish. Watching a regular cooking show means watching a lot of water boil, things fry, and stuff chopped. The only thing they offer over a recipe card is a visual presentation of the methods for those who aren't familiar with cooking lingo. Once you get familiar with that, you'd save a lot of time by sticking to recipe cards.

Alton Brown came up with the idea of making a cooking Show. That's show with a big "s"... and bold. What an amazing way of breaking down the question "How do you make a cooking show?" Instead of immediately jumping to "What can this cooking show focus on? (i.e. italian, quick preparation, elegant)", he asked "What is a show?". A show is a package of entertainment. For Good Eats, it's a package that's funny, lively, and educational. And it just happens to be about food. It's like the Simpsons (parodies of other shows, cultural icons are everywhere) mashed in with Bill Nye**. It's all sciency. It tells you why things happen and why certain processes/techniques are used and when they're important or just tradition and can be tossed out. Recipe cards would be hard pressed to serve as a substitute for this show.

**I liked his show and all, but it really is just Mr. Wizard's World with an MTV-idolizing production team. Mad props to Mr. Wizard. That link is a random one I found off a search. It seems like an official Mr. Wizard site, but an nslookup on the ip doesn't reveal anything so it's hard to tell if it's real or not. Can't seem to find Don Herbert's email (Mr. Wizard's secret identity, shh). I think he's still alive. If you know how I can send him a message lemme know. I'd really like to thank him for being an inspiration.

Martha Stewart Living (CBS), From Martha's Kitchen (FoodTV) - Martha's scary. Most of the recipes and craft ideas are ones I'm not interested in (but I'm not her target audience so that's ok), but there's the occassional gem. I'm big into doing/making things myself and segments on practical crafts go a long way with me*. Like the stuff the Shakers made. Yeah, the Shakers really ruled. I think they deserve more attention than they get. Their ingenuity makes me think of them as a community version of Thomas Edison.

*How come there isn't a good show dedicated to that? Another thing to add to my todo list...

Posted by kstroke at 01:42 PM | Comments (28)

October 21, 2003

Funny Commercial

Wallace and Gromit rule in this Japanese commercial for a packaged pudding.

Posted by kstroke at 01:11 PM | Comments (22)

October 15, 2003

Ikea Meatballs

I really like Ikea's meatballs. If you can get to the Emeryville or Palo Alto Ikea before the end of October, use this for a free meatball plate. Thanks to Sprout.

Posted by kstroke at 05:10 PM | Comments (22)

It Lives!

My cast iron skillet was as good as dead. A bunch of gunk was stuck to it from the last time I cooked. I tried cleaning it using the salt and oil method Alton Brown recommends, but the gunk just would not come off. So I put it in a plastic bag and waited for my conscience to quit screaming that it was a waste to throw the skillet away.

Fast forward a few months, my conscience convinces me to give it one more go before tossing it, and magically almost all the stuck crud comes right off! Moral of the story - cast iron rocks.

Posted by kstroke at 04:30 PM | Comments (22)

English Tutorial for Japanese Speakers

Ha, ha! So funny. If they put up some more lessons, I'll move this over to Links.

Posted by kstroke at 04:17 PM | Comments (25)

October 13, 2003

Garden Patch Fence

To keep out the pooping cats and the sprout-eating squirrels: picture coming soon.

They could jump over it, but I'm betting that they'll just find an easier bathroom to use.

  • 1.3 hours
  • $0 in materials (hardware cloth leftover from chinnie cage project, wood leftover from makeshift shoe shelves)
  • $0 tools (already had a saw, wire snips, and a staple gun).
The posts are in about two inches in the dirt, and a couple of really motivated ants could probably knock each one down, but the hardware cloth gives a good bit of support. I'm confident this can withstand the occasional gardener, poopy cats, and hungry ninja squirrels.

Posted by kstroke at 07:07 PM | Comments (22)

Poker Stories

This American Life produced an interesting piece in 2001. Look under "Meet the Pros" and fast forward to about 21 minutes into the program. Ira also wrote a little extra something (the link there was broken but not impossible to guess) and there's also a link to an article by James McManus.

Posted by kstroke at 03:11 PM | Comments (26)

October 08, 2003

Sony DVD C:13:00

My Sony dvd player showed this error yesterday and wouldn't play a particular dvd though it had no problems playing other dvds. Looked around and a lot of people were saying stuff about switching around components on the dvd player's circuit board. Since I didn't like that answer, I stuck my fingers in my ears saying, "nyah nyah nyah" and kept looking until I found an answer I liked. I did, and it worked.

Get a laser lens cleaner and let it work its magic.

Posted by kstroke at 10:58 AM | Comments (33)

October 07, 2003

Pride and Predjudice

The BBC production of Pride and Predjudice is great entertainment! Very well done. The costumes, settings, casting, and acting are all fantastic. I remember hating the book in high school. I thought it was an annoying piece of soap opera drivel, but the mini-series is really good.

Might even go back and read the book to see if I gave it a bum rap back when I was an ignorant child.

Posted by kstroke at 01:39 AM | Comments (26)

October 06, 2003

MovableType :: Entry If Comments

Stepan Riha has also created a most useful MT plugin. Directly available here. This plugin allows you to condition action based on the number of comments for an entry. It doesn't make as much sense as it could to say "1 comments".

Posted by kstroke at 04:45 PM | Comments (54)

MovableType :: If Empty Tags

Brad Choate has created a most useful MT plugin. The MTIfEmpty and MTIfNotEmpty tags allow for some programmatic control in template files using only MT-style tags.

Go to the discussion topic for details on how to use it. Some things aren't entirely apparent after reading only the readme.txt.

Posted by kstroke at 04:15 PM | Comments (59)

October 04, 2003

School of Rock Rules!

If you're a fan of Jack Black, you'll enjoy this movie. Between the trailers and the music video, there are no surprises in the movie, but it's fun and entertaining and it plays it easy on the cheezy.

Posted by kstroke at 01:02 AM | Comments (43)

October 03, 2003

IE .hack

Getting back into the HTML saddle. Been messing around with CSS today. Man, it's come a long way since 1997. Apparently, Internet Explorer doesn't support 1px dotted borders. That took a little bit of messing around with to figure out. IE displays them as dashes instead. 2px dots, are rendered as dots, but they just don't seem right in the head.

One description and viable solution can be found at kalsey consulting group.

If you're looking at this site in IE, and it looks like everything's in dots rather than dashes, then I've probably taken their advice.

Posted by kstroke at 01:01 PM | Comments (40)