Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Robot Overlords

These bad boys are pretty scary.  Armed with rockets and hunting humans bombs.  Better than a person loosing their life to the munitions I suppose, but man this little robot will never be the adrenaline junkie from The Hurt Locker.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Sprint Hero USB Host mode

Interesting read on someones livejournal (seriously?!?)  I suppose it goes to show its not the medium, but the author that counts, but livejournal is not the place I would have thought to have a technical discussion about kernel patching for android. 

If its over your head it wasn't for you, I mostly wanted to have a bookmark of sorts to find it again later.

Google Groups link

XDA link

Syncing Itunes VS itunes portable

I've written a few times about the idea of making itunes portable 1, 2, the idea keeps circling my brain even if I don't know that you can pull it off and distribute your results

For PC's and Mac's that you have the ability to install itunes on a different option to the Portable iTunes may be to use a piece of software called MediaRover.  This would allow you to at least keep all of your PC's up to date with the latest library information.   This is obviously not ideal given that you are adding information to all the hard drives of the computers that you choose to make use of this software, but it may help some people with a different problem.

Lifehacker has a quick write up on the software for those interested.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Adobe you son of a bitch worthless fucking software company

So I updated my flash player on firefox and in addition to having to install that getplus plugin rather than being able to directly install the damn plugin, I get the New York Times Reader installed.  Fuck you Adobe, you don't get to install more programs on my pc.  Best part for me, no opt out.

Absolute bullshit, I am going to be adding your Times Reader to our corporate blocklist, auto quarantine.  I think it is beyond lame that iTunes wants to install bonjour and Safari, by default on updates, but thus far neither of those has been known to completely compromise systems.  Adobe your software has and continues to be the weak link in the web chain as far as vulnerabilities are concerned.  You

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Crazy cooking eggs

I have never been one to consider eggs that fancy, the link below has changed my mind.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cider Making

So this weekend we made it out to the Grandparents to check out the cider press that they purchased for my Aunt several years ago.  It is quite the contraption, and with a single 20is pound box of Gala apples we managed to make a pretty nice tasting single variety apple cider.  In all I cannot complain about the machine, though the apple macerating hopper leaves some rather large chunks in the pomace.  The press is a Happy Valley Ranch homesteader press.  The Jaffrey Cider Press looks very similar. 

All in all the press worked pretty well, though I do think that it would have been more efficient if I had some HDPE press rings in the layers of pomace.  The drainage tray that we had is pretty old and needs to be resealed as it leaked in several places and would have wasted 1/3rd of the yield, but with the use of many small cups to catch the runaway drips we managed to salvage the majority of the juice.  For only about $12 worth of apples we managed about 1 gallon worth of Juice.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Business Porn

Hugh, I feel like I just got busted.  I love reading Techcrunch its like vicariously being creative and successful.

Hugh would say that's business porn, damn it I look at porn almost every day then!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Beer Brewing

A friend of mine and I have been talking about brewing beer for the last few months, each of thinking that it would be a fun thing to try.  I personally was hoping not to have to purchase everything as the process can get fairly expensive quickly.  Each of us have received gift certificates to a local brew store and last weekend I went in and bought the beginning brew kit to kick-start the process.  I also bought it because the family is all heading out to Eastern Oregon this fall for what we are calling Harvest.  My aunt and uncle have several old apple trees on their property and we will be making cider for all the families, but we also want to try making hard cider. 

After considering several options I also decided that the only way that I can control the temperature of my fermentation process is to purchase a Johnson Controls Manual Thermostat Control Unit.  I looked for quite a while and though there may be some cheaper units from other brands online, this is the cheapest I could find this unit anywhere.  Some brew shops that carried it had it listed for $75+.  This allows you to tightly control the temperature of a fridge or freezer by cutting the power to the unit when the probes monitored temperature reaches the set point on the unit.  I have a chest freezer that has not been getting enough action to justify me buying a new fridge to dedicate to this project.  In the fall my basement may be cool enough to just air cool the beer, but until I get some way to measure the temp down there I have no way to know.

All in for the beginners kit and the temp monitor I am only at about $170 to get started brewing beer, which I don't think is too high for trying out a hobby.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Odd music post

-----Updated below --------
I spend a good deal of time listening to Slacker.com internet radio, here is some oddities that I like and since I don't have the ability to embed LaLa links the current best I have is amazon MP3 store links.  Suck on that Apple.

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

Broken Social Scene -Forgiveness Rock Record
Holy Fuck - Latin
Chloé - One In Other

Broken Bells - The Hight Road
Thievery Corporation FT Notch - Amerimacka
Ted Leo and the pharmacists - woke up near chelsea
Florence and the Machine - Rabbitheat "Rize up"
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fancy
Doves - Kingdom of rust
Gil Scott-Heron - Your soul and mine


Holy fuckbats Cholé is terrible, I must have been out of my mind when I wrote that down.

Making yogurt

I have been jealously reading urbanfarmhub.org for a while now, and think that this post onmaking yogurt seems like fun.

I don't have a sources of fresh milk, but am still envious of the idea of artisan style home made foodstuffs. Seems like an excuse for a fancy book or two.

The Complete Guide to Making Cheese, Butter, and Yogurt at Home: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply seems like a good start for this. I have made some homemade butter before from heavy cream, and a mixing machine.

Another book that caught my eye though is How to Make Homemade organic Yogurt in Your Crockpot. I have a crockpot and can follow instructions.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Oil Spill Live stream

I am posting this so I can find it quickly, but also so I don't have to tolerate that stupid live updating social stream widget.

Live Broadcast by Ustream.TV

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Facebook, Privacy and the Alternatives

A crazy amount of digital ink has been spent lately taking Facebook to task, and demonizing Mark Zuckerberg, calling for a boycott of the site in response to the privacy changes.  (Random side note Engadget hasn't said a peep about this it seems, either that or they pulled the content.)

The boycotting and leaving Facebook is an interesting cunundrum given that Facebook actually provides some value to many of its users.  That value may just be satisfying their voyeur needs into the lives of their "friends", but it is a way to maintain some level of contact with those that are far away from us.  Every now and then you learn things that you might have not known, or encounter very odd situations with divorces or fighting couples.  Is any of this useful, valuable, or worthwhile?  I don't know that it isn't.

I thought that this was an interesting alternative design to counter Facebook's Monolithic scale, the idea is to give you a higher degree of control over what you share.  I think that they certianly choose the best possible time to launch, but given the time it will take them to get off the ground it likely will have fallen off of people radar by then.  People have short attention spans and the news doesn't know what a follow up report is, so I don't expect to ever hear about this "Alternative" again.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Biotower project

image via Philips

The idea of a biotower in your home helping you grow herbs and vegetables is interesting.  The idea that many if anyone would be interested in growing fish to eat in their home seems less likely to me.  I will give them that it is an interesting design.  I would prefer to see some options on how you configure it, maybe there is a way to grow sea life like lobster and clams. 

via gizmodo

Friday, May 14, 2010

Windows 7 toy

image via ehomeupgrade

I am sure the implementation of this will be crap, but why does everyone just come out with reference designs now. It seems like everyone wants someone else to license and manufacture the products that they develop, rather than developing and manufacturing. The idea of having a smart picture frame that supports DLNA and has a touch screen interface to browse through your media in any room seems like a no brainer, but as far as I know this product has yet to be released.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Square TOS seems agressive

I was reading the Terms of Service on Square

Emphasis mine. Does the section we are not responsible if we get hacked seem like they are reaching in there TOS? I cannot image that this would hold up in court, and if it did I think that TJX wishes that they had this in their contracts.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Couchdb isn't making fun

My only comment in months thinks this is making fun of me.

I guess miss how he is making fun, but given that he used a medium that I am positive is a waste of electricity to do it, meh.  I imagine that he would disagree with my opinion about his product, and I am sure that CouchDB isn't a one trick pony so if he doesn't see it as a threat to his business model good for him. 

The first time I heard of Couchdb was in relation to its offline capabilities, so that is really the only thought/impression of the software I have.  With all the more press I see about CouchDB it is probably the only opinion others have too.  I thought that since Google is more or less abandoning Gears in favor of supporting the standards process with HTML5, I though that the offline capabilities of CouchDB would be an obvious next to fall.

Either way, Damien Katz visited my blog that makes me feel special.  I suppose I managed to heckle Hugh into commenting here too, so apparently you never know how much vanity searching is going on on the web.

Childhood dev

image via WSJ
The article was sparse, but the info graphic was interesting.  Basically compares the Mothers of children born in May and January. The WSJ article linked conjectured it wasn't just the babies born during different times of the year, rather it may be the means of the mothers giving birth in that time frame.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seattle Hacker Spaces

Metrix - This seems to be pretty active, they at least have events scheduled.

Hackerbotlabs - doesn't seem to still be meeting, or at least their blog has been silent since the end of 2009

Saturdayhouse - I cannot see any recent or future events, but their mailing list still seems to be getting hits.  This may not be actively meeting anymore.

Ignite Seattle - not really a hackerspace, but nerdy and interesting talks.  They meet every so often.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Wow,  this has been sitting in the drafts folder for so long that it looks like there is a new tech that will make both Google Gears and CouchDB irrelevant.  HTML5 is supposed to ship with the ability to cache data offline natively.  I almost feel bad that CouchDB came out to fill what is an obvious gap to the worldwide Web with a tech that was simple enough to scale only to have their lunch stolen by the standards community.

CouchDB article
GoogleGears shutting down

Friday, May 07, 2010

It seems crazy to me that this product even exists.  For the crazy laptop users, it would give you a way to get that content off your Laptop onto the DVI sporting TV without having to get off your ass.  Neat idea, ok implementation.  $240 doesn't seem too bad.

Toshiba Dynadock Wireless U Universal USB Docking Station [?]

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I'm an Amazon Associate

So I took the plunge and am now an Amazon Associate.  In the interest of full disclosure, when I post a link to Amazon it will be with an affiliate link embedded.  This is advertising, plain and simple and I should you follow that link and make a purchase I receive compensation for those purchases.

Why am I disclosing this?  Well the answer is really kind of clear, the FTC decided that failure to disclose the incentives you receive for "word of mouth" marketing is an actionable offense.  My traffic is really low, but I don't want to find out how actionable it is. 

Monday, May 03, 2010

The World Conspires to Make Us Less Than We Are

A great quote from Hugh MacLeod's email list.

Success for me was a log time coming. It probably took three times as long than it should have, maybe. "Better late than never" and all that...

That "the world would ALWAYS conspire to make me something less than I am", was something I learned very early, the hard way.

Fort the longest time, I was quite angry and bitter about that. I was young and stupid then, of course.

But eventually I realized, hey, it wasn't just me. It conspires against everybody.

Knowing this allowed me to not take it personally. Not taking it personally allowed me to act.

It's one of those lessons that in an ideal world, it should take you a minute. Instead, it often takes decades.

Again, better late than never...

Hugh Macleod

Friday, April 30, 2010

childhood development

The thought of children has had me interested interested in childhood developement and child rearing theory. We aren't pregnant again or anything, its just on my mind.

These are some books that Emily inspired me to take and interest in. I hope to get around to reading at least a few of them. These are amazon links just because it was the best I could come up with for links to the actual books.

LaLa I will miss you

Man the internet is dominated by 800lbs gorillas lately. I was just starting to use LaLa to share links with people so they could listen to the song online. I setup an account a few days ago and now not only has Apple bought LaLa, they are shutting it down on May 31st of 2010.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Good business manuver Nord

I work as the technical contact for my home owners association, and we where unsatisfied with our vendor Nord Enterprises Inc hosting our Association website. It was setup by the Realtor, and was acceptable for the initial marketing of the facility, but the whole framework is clunky in its attempts to be Idiot-Proof™ and the anemic storage offered in the package was far less than I found to be reasonable. We continued with them for a total of 2 years because of some mis-communication between the Treasury Secretary and me, but in the end we made it clear that we intended to transfer out our domain name and take over hosting ourselves. The contract expired, and I began the process of transferring the domain only to be told that for reasons that make a good deal of sense I could not initiate the transfer on my own instead needing the Chairman or several of the Board-members to let Nord know that we wanted to start a domain transfer.

This is not completely unreasonable, but really was just a play in my mind to make renewal the easiest thing. Part of the service that Nord offers is they bundle hosting and Domain Registration into one package, but their site makes it clear that they will transfer the domain (that you own and are paying for) should you be unsatisfied with their service. Relevant quote included below:

Our interest in managing your domain name registration is simply to be a full service vendor and to make having a web site for your community as easy as possible - HOA volunteers are busy enough as it is. So, there is no need to worry that we would ever "hold your domain hostage". We would always make whatever configuration changes are requested, even if it meant pointing your domain to a competitor if we ever failed to keep you completely satisfied with our service.

I finally got my Chairman to request the transfer, on the 16th of July and received the following email.

Joe Driscoll, Nord Customer Support to me Jul 16

Hi Josh,
Sorry for the delay- the domain transfer process is actually out of my hands. I have notified my boss and he will be in touch to give you access to control the domain (and transfer it as well if you'd like).

Thank You,
Joe Driscoll, Nord Support- West Region

I never received an email from his supervisor </shock!> so I sent to following email.

you Joe Driscoll, Nord Customer Support July 31


Unless our contract specified otherwise, your company is in position of a holding domain that does not belong to you. It has been quite some time since we first initiated the request to get the domain transferred, and aside from my daliance in getting a hold of my chairman I have not felt any eagerness on the part of your company to complete this transaction. We are set in our decision to not continue utilizing the service that your company has offered, and would like to move forward with our plans for building a site that meets our needs. Currently I find your company the impediment to those wishes.

My delay aside, I am concerned that I still have not heard from your boss. I would hate to have to press the matter too many more times, I am sure that you know it is bad business holding domains that don't belong to you.

<redacted contact info>

Probably somewhat juvenile of me, but I did ask before and here is the reply I got.
Carl Nordhielm to Joe, me July 31


I’m sorry I have not gotten around to completing this task. I’ll try to get you out of the line of fire.


Please do not pressure Joe. He is not authorized to release domains or take other actions related to non-renewals. That is my duty as owner of the company.

I understand that you will not continue service with us and there is no militant in my not getting to the task. I’m just very busy and also very disciplined that tasks related to current clients take precedence over tasks related to former clients. I will not forget but do point out that responding to threatening emails takes time and motivation away from the task at hand of gifting you a domain name that is legally ours.

Have a good weekend!


Carl Nordhielm

Independent HOAs may utilize our www.pmlocater.com site to locate a quality PM in your market.

From: Joe Driscoll, Nord Customer Support
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 1:09 PM
To: Carl Nordhielm
Subject: [Fwd: Re: Website]

Carl FYI,
Josh is pressing for the cedarheightstownhomes.com domain name- see below.

-------- Original Message --------
 <redacted my message for brevity>

At this point Carl has gotten my goat the rest of the emails happened pretty quickly

From me to Carl July 31 10:53am

I hardly saw a threat in the previous email, and I also don't appreciate your back-handedness on the matter. As I didn't know whom to contact Joe was my contact, so I asked for follow up. I did however read a threat to drag your feet in completing the task in your email. Completing tasks prevents you from having to answer emails from previous clients, just a thought no?

excusatio non petita accusatio manifesta?


From Carl to me July 31 11:51am

This is what I took as a threat:

I would hate to have to press the matter too many more times, I am sure that you know it is bad business holding domains that don't belong to you.

In any event, your interpretation of MY email is accurate: the more you distract me from my work (or to use your words, press that matter too many more times), the more I will drag my feet. Giving you something that is legally mine is an act of kindness. I do not feel any reason to be kind to you right now.

If you do choose further communication (I don’t recommend it—it will only cause me to delay even more), please restrict you emails to English. I am ashamed to say I only speak one language.


I had left the house at this point, and stewed on this email for a few hours. I had already registered another domain, but given that I felt we had paid for this one I wasn't about to just let this one lay. After researching the domain expiring procedure, I decided to finish the argument and pick it up in the drop (which is what probably would have happened had I not sent any emails in the first place.

From me to Carl July 31 9:54pm


I suppose if you fail in English you would struggle mightily with Latin. The phrase had to do with defense where there was no accusation, only you accusing yourself. I never suggested you had militant[sic] or ill intent as I am sure that spell check fixed that for you. I did suggest that you hadn't fulfilled your final act of service to a canceled account. Pressing the matter is reminding you that you have not finished your duties. As to your kindness and ownership, if your service is as it says, just minding the domain for the convenience of your customers, and will transfer and not "hold my domain hostage" should we be unsatisfied with your service I would say that fulfilling that would be meeting an obligation, not kindness. If our organization was charged monthly for the service of you maintaining it for us then I think there are very few that aren't Internet bullies that would find your claim of ownership defensible.

The failings in overall service while you had our business are thrown in sharp relief given the outright mistreatment you have afforded me now. Mind you this is not Joe's service, I mean the service you charged us monthly for, that was an utter disappointment of a hosting platform. Joe is without reproach.

Keep the domain, I would hate for your twisted sense of pride to believe that you had done me some kindness by following through.


I never received a reply, and several months later picked up the domain in the drop. I am sure that I could have handled it differently, but given that we paid monthly for their time I think they could have handled it better. I am sure that there are people that appreciate their service, though I cannot imagine who. The HOA's that are hosted with them have to build their own site from the ground up any way, and for what they charge you can get multiple years of hosting on some of the low cost hosting providers with about 10x's the storage. In the end I sat on this post for nearly a year so that I could get the domain picked up and not goad Carl into registering it for the next 3 years just to spite me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Media Center Addons

I haven't played with any media center related gear in a while now, and my vista machine is starting to need the old windows 7 upgrade I have been sitting on for about 4 months now.  I thought I would look around for a better solution than the ugly  Microsoft IR remotes

Electronista had an article a while back about inserts for front side bays to give a more finished media center look, so I thought I would look in on how well received they where.

The highend Antec 30126 VERIS Premier Multimedia Station only had a rating of 2 stars and based on the review of one particularly motivated reviewer I think Antec should have learned that pc enthusiast is an exceptionally hard to please target market.

Next up the middle tierAntec 30125 VERIS Elite Multimedia Station is well liked by the one person that seems to have purchased this item ever, but I am not sure that that is the type of ringing endorsement I would want if I where Antec.

Finally the low end Antec 30124 VERIS Basic Multimedia Station seems like a decent product despite the 3 star rating. In short it looks like the software is terrible, but the product is ok when you let windows find drivers on its own.

Yikes, I was actually excited by these products when they where announced. Glad I didn't buy them I guess.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Parking lot security

The parking lot for my Townhouse Community has been suffering a rash of car prowls of late, and the idea was floated to point a camera at it to try and see what is going on over there. The idea, while great in theory just sounded like a lot of work to me. The parking garage for the building I work in has been suffering lately as well, and given the it needs to the security team I have been seeing first hand the amount of work that goes into identifying a person and tracking suspected prowlers, let alone reviewing footage to find evidence of break ins. To say the least when they asked me for a computer to look at the lot, my fist question was "Who will be reviewing the footage of the lot?"

No one strictly speaking wanted to tackle this one.  I think everyone thought the geek would take care of it.

Great, the camera and machine that records will likely not be setup in my home as I am about as far from the lot as it is possible to be, so I needed a way to remotely view recordings, and check in on the machine from time to time. That of course after I find a software package that can be configured to ignore certain areas of the frame so that trees and road traffic don't trigger the motion tracking and cause the software to record much more footage to be reviewed. After a little bit of testing I found Vitamin d and it appears to meet my needs pretty well. The software assumes a fairly stationary camera, and allows you to define motion areas, and filter the type of activity that will trigger the motion. I plan on using a HP KQ246AA 8.0 MP Deluxe Webcam that I had previously purchased, and run it on the very old and retired media center pc rocking a 1.8ghz Celeron. The machine seizes a little under load, but appears to be able to handle the task.

Having decided on the recording software, I figured I would be remotely controlling it via Logmein, but was stumped how to remotely view and delete the recordings that had been reviewed. I played with the idea setting up a webserver and writing my own app to play and delete the reviewed content, configuring a dynamic dns address, but in the end realized that just designing it was exhausting for something I didn't really want to do anyway.

Enter Orb. All I needed to do was setup an account, and then I could view the recordings online and delete the ones that where not interesting. I was most happy that it even supports the native mp4 video container vitamin D records in. Not too bad, free software and services enabling an ad hoc security service so that the reviewing duties can be shared amoung several people.

Friday, April 23, 2010

If you cannot open it you don't own it

Continuing in this mornings fear of the unknown,  ifixit.com has repair manuals for everything, or at least that is what their goal is. They have historically focused on mac products, but are looking to extend that to everything.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fear and Hacking

Slowly I get around to reacting to things on the internet, This article is from January, but I don't think that it is any less relevant several months later. Some time ago Americans started to fear creativity, anything that required skills that where odd was not to be trusted. Growing up in Idaho offered me some very interesting experiences that I am not sure the more gentrified of the suburban city dwelling people all around us had. I have played with Black Powder bombs, helped make cannons, known people with coal forges. In High school I had the opportunity to take intro to electronics, learned to solder and built an FM transmitter. I don't find anything about creating just to learn how to as odd. Learning new skills, pushing to combine those skills is not only normal but a habit that we should be encouraging in our children. The boy referenced in the story is likely to continue creating, but his peers are not. The crisis that likely convinced the boy he was onto something made him an outsider, something to be feared, not something to be emulated. Its a shame.
I remember in college buying Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineeringmy girlfriend at the time (now wife) thought that I had lost my mind because I wanted to softmod my Xbox. Most of the time the devices that we buy are purposefully limited in what they can do, the urge to create the world that we want to be is noble. I hope that the efforts of Hackaday, and Make Magazine can help to educate that boys peers that what he was doing is neither too complicated, nor to dangerous to seriously pursue as hobby and life path.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The theme of my life for the last decade has been expanding. Be it my home, possessions, friends, or waistline, everything has been more, more, more. Sometime last year it was about expanding my family, in the time since I would say the theme has been receding. My wife and I have been discarding the things that we no longer use. Emptying out our home. By the box or car load clothes, electronics and sports equipment have been leaving out into the world. The trappings of former lives. I don't miss anything that has left. I wonder if any of them are represented by a balance on a credit card somewhere? Perhaps they aren't really gone yet.

The dream of a family is being released in tearful nights. Slowly realizing that what was almost there, isn't. The stages of grief, fighting recriminations of should haves, and what if's. There does not seem to be right any answers, nothing to convince my wife she didn't fail. Nothing to stop the hurt of a baby she did not get to hold.

The gym and the couch seem to be where we pass our time now, and at least the positive of going to gym is the body I was having a hard time recognizing is shrinking back in on itself. Even the wife is feeling more content with the shape of herself in the mirror.  Riding the stationary bike in spin class at 5 in the morning focusing on the next breath, next pedal, next song.  I am finding it a quiet time, other than the chatter of those around me and the music inside I don't hear myself. 

What I hadn't expected was the shrinking of my circle of friends.  I have never been one to be terribly social, V moved to Texas, several others seem find reasons to not be around couple that with my natural internal focus and I sometimes go weeks without seeing anyone but coworkers and J.  Even as that recedes,  I am not sure I specifically miss it.  The best friends I have had now live States away, and I can't muster the effort to decide if I care.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Daily posting, why I cannot

My friend V manages to post something almost every day, complete with an image that relates directly to the post. I do not. I expect my postings to be profound, but given that I lead a pedestrian life it shouldn't surprise me that the I record mundane events.

I suppose the reason so few journal is they don't want to be reminded how dull their lives are. The process of recording requires reflection, and that may be too much to bear. We have been watching Mad Men: Season Two[?]lately, the last one we watched was the episode with Freddie wetting himself. While Donald was talking to Sterling, Mad Men dropped this pearl of wisdom.

..its your life, you don't know how long its going to be but you know its got a bad ending. You have to move forward, as soon you can figure out what that is.

I suppose that can pass for reflection for today.

Kurt Vonnegut

Well, the telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.
Kurt Vonnegut, Interview, Mcsweeneys.net
US novelist (1922 - 2007)

If you have not read it, I recommend Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel. It captures the crazed writing, humor and story telling better than some of Vonnegut's books do. It at least offers it in the context that can be grasped, a man struggling with what he saw during the war.  Slaughterhouse, Paths of Glory, and All Quiet on the Western Front shaped my views on the horrors of war, and the disconnect warriors must feel coming back and receiving praise for they had been through.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Leave taking

In fitting tribute, the last bolt holding my Idaho license plate to my truck was so rusted on that I had to cut it off. The last vestige of living in Idaho wouldn't go quietly into the night. Though I have been in Washington in body and mind for the last 10 years I have yet to license my vehicle here. It was a last tenuous hold the that land I called home. I have had the new plates for about more than 2 weeks I had not yet attached them, always delaying just another day.

To my vagabond and transplant friends that I am sure know what I mean, I let go just a little bit more last night.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home Coming

Today is electric, today V comes home. I haven't seen her since before we lost our baby, and the distance of the only person other than my wife I feel open to has been a small weight on my mind. A tickling itch, with no satisfaction to be had. The week visit will be over all too soon, and she will be back in that other country Texas.

V coming made J cry. Every friend that she hasn't seen since the baby forces her to re-acknowledge what happened. The tears could have been from her long day too, most of the time I feel like I don't know what stabs at her core anymore. There is some depth to her now that she chooses not to share anymore and I don't know how to get back into that space. I gave J a homework assignment to try find an opening even thought I think it is very unlikely she will do it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eco Kitchen concept

I don't know why I find this so interesting, even when some shortcomings jump out quickly. The smell of decomposition is very hard to contain, especially if you continue to add to it over time. Even with great venting, and tight seals there will be some smell. The compost tea harvesting for watering plants is really a neat idea, and as drawn might even be workable. I am less sure about the integrated recycling, especially the glass breaking part. I just see that piece needing very careful maintenance, and I don't believe that my recycling provider would appreciate the broken glass. If the broken glass went into some sort of container that was refillable or replaceable that I could put into my recycle bin that might be more tolerable for current urban recycling programs. Either way I think it looks neat, and think some of the ideas could be rolled into real kitchens with a little work.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Working from the inside

image via Gapingvoid

Hugh was recently writing about the way that blogs where considered boring, but how he had never been making more money from his blog now than back when blogs where exciting and sexy. I didn't really ponder on the post itself, but the print he chose really stuck with me. I suppose it was mostly the post just before it talking about purists being the only ones without any skin in the game, that really set me to think about a teacher friend of mine in Texas. She and I where chatting about how discouraged she was feeling about how her school didn't have any school spirit, or investment in their identity as a group and that was part of why the students had no interest in school or even graduating. She was feeling penned in because the State is amazingly narrowly focused on teaching to pass the standardized tests, and she wants to try to take steps to help the culture of the school to encourage interest, rather than alienating the students. Her administration told her that when the students reach their desired levels of achievement on their testing they would consider different approaches to improving the school spirit, until then her job was to get the children to meet state testing requirements.

She finds this to be soul crushing and is lamenting not only wandering from her friendly Blue State into the buckle of the Bible Belt, but her career and the interminably long road it will represent for her. I asked about working with in the system for change, and she pointed out that all the "Great" teachers that they make movies about finding and overcoming adversity work so hard they burn out and move on to other careers before those movies are made about them. Maybe teaching is too big of a problem to tackle on her own, but I suppose I am pushing my own rock up a hill here with State Government. I am a firm believer in change from the inside, and all you can do is pursue what you believe to be right.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Design for Dissasembly: Why it doesn't happen very often in America

I was linked to this article about Designing for the afterlife of a product from one of the blogs I follow and I was struck that by how unlikely it was to happen in America.

The tenants and ideas are simple enough to understand, and the advice offered is reasonable enough I could see it showing up in a business class book sort of like the Book "The Goal". The trouble is that this sort of design run against many manufactures ulterior goals. HP et al don't want you to repair (in this case refill) their cartridges. The have a vested interest in you not doing so, and design their products as such. They thrive on the repurchase of their highly priced ink.

Similarly the iron company that made the iron that the article was based around probably thrives not by making the best quality iron, bur rather by selling a lot of them at a low enough price that the consumer doesn't mind that they have to buy another one every two years or so. Designing an iron that is maintainable, would require that they have to charge more for the iron in the first place, in a price obsessed markets such as America, that don't have a strong ability to fix things doesn't place value in maintainability of items and will choose items that don't carry that added cost.

Given that value of the future costs versus the current costs are hard to determine for most people given options consumers often choose the least expensive or one that is in the middle of the pack. Given that consumer behavior, and given that Executives listen to finance people about maximizing profit by reducing costs rather than to designers or production staff on how to make better products there is an constant race to the bottom.

Likely the only way to reverse this trend is to retrain the public on the value of maintaining the things you own, rather than the over emphasizing the cachet value of new.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pocket Doors

image via Andenbathrooms

Toolmonger reminded me of how badly my house needs pocket doors in a few locations. These marvels of innovation can help to fix terrible layouts and make rooms that would otherwise feel quite crowded seem less so.

At $62 for the pocket hardware these are a very attractive thing to me right now. I suppose right after I finish up that birch butchers block from a leftover scrap of an NUMERÄR countertop from Ikea I will get on convincing my wife this is something we should do. I really want it in the master bedroom, but start with the closet in the basement.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Beer brewing on the way

Recently a friend that lives close by proffered the idea of brewing beer to me, and the idea has stuck. It looks like we are going to start gathering supplies and knowledge to make that amber stuff, and here are some links to local Seattle Home brew stores.

Larry's Brew Supply in Kent

The Cellar in Greenwood

Gallagher's Where you brew in Edmonds

Larry's and The Cellar look like standard supply stores just local, but Whereubrew has an interesting service model added to the mix. They have recipes and professional equipment that you can pay to use and they guarantee your batches. For someone that doesn't want to have to buy all the supplies to get started, it seems interesting if not a touch expensive way to brew 12.5 gallons of beer. It is slightly cheaper than buying 12 gallons of growlers at The Ram, but not significantly. The real benefit is that they have worked out the recipes for you, and have nice equipment and storage space to take care of the "waiting" stages of brewing.

Wireless video transmission

After watching the Engadget Show EP5 I was reminded of the Intel wireless display technology demoed at CES recently. This is using some custom drivers for the wifi chip in the laptop to switch quickly between the Wireless network for internet access and a PAN link to a television set/ or display device. There are have been some rumblings about the limitations of the 2.4ghz spectrum being saturated, but I think that this technology shows that there is still a ton of opportunity for innovation in how we use that spectrum. Saturated or not, the ability to sling the images from your laptop to your tv without having to purchase another STB ala The Boxee Box or a popcorn hour is a pretty neat feature, but it would make it hard to surf the while you are image slinging. So rather than getting a dedicated box to use while you surf the internet, you have to get another laptop. Oops, guess Intel forgot that people actually watch tv with a laptop on their lap now to distract them from their distraction.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

DVR scheduling app

Not to be out done by Comcast Fios users can schedule recordings from a dedicated Android application. For some reason I think this is cooler than the web portal version, but that would be my Android bias kicking in.

via Engadget via Zatz not funny

Comcast dvr scheduling

Comcast's Motorola Crap DVRS catch up with functionality that Orb users have had on Window Media Center since 2004. Way to listen to the people Cast. Now all we need to do is get MS or Comcast or Verizon or even Tivo to copy the Replay TV "federated recording" feature and DVR's will finally catch up with where they should have been in 2005. I think DirectTV owns the ReplayTV intellectual property and have squandered their chance to make that blockbuster feature a reality. Imagine multiple DVR's on your network, and they decide if one of the DVR's is in use when it needs to be recording to have one of the other DVR's record it for you. Another bonus is you don't have to worry which DVR has your content because it streams around your network for you!

Gizmodo via ZatzNotFunny via Comcast

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Airstash external storage for wifi equiped devices

As someone that recently passed on the Palm Pre because it lacked the ability to expand it storage I can personally attest to the importance of ever growing storage options for your mobile experience. In my case it was a phone, but with the Airstash I think that we could see a day when you load your media, neigh your whole computer environment and run it from a device that can be connected to sans wires. I really dig this devices potential for other markets than the Cellphones, but think that the expanding iPhones and Pre's will be the first order of business for these devices. Breaking into that market would give them a lot of clout to pursue other markets with this class of device. If the experience can be as slick as the Zune wireless sync is (not the slow social, but the home syncing) this could easily be a hit.

Gizmodo via Engadget

Mobile DTV for wifi devices

There you have it a device that gives Wifi Devices access to DTV, is it me or does this tech seem like a solution looking for a problem? I have watched daytime TV and lets just say it leaves much to be desired, I suppose it could really kick up the rerun market on some stations, but the times that I would use this are in the morning, sometime over lunch and in the early evening. Currently there is basically nothing interesting on the TV at those times, but the existence of the potential market could push some demand for good daytime television.

If your interested in watching DTV on your mobile here is the link via Engadget

Hopefully this proves to be the egg to the metaphorical chicken of good daytime programing.