Thursday, September 30, 2004

Cool Tech Gadgets

Some gadgets I think are cool:

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Bullshit Wars

Al Lorentz is an Army Sergeant currently serving in Iraq who had the courage and intellectual integrity to write "Why we cannot win" for which provides a vivid explanation of why the entire Iraq exercise will ultimately accomplish nothing.

Of course, because the U.S. Military and the Bush Administration have no need of truth or reality Lorentz is now facing a bevy of criminal charges including "inciting insubordination, disloyalty and mutiny, promoting disaffection towards members of the United States military, and conduct of partisan political activity." Remember kiddies, when you're serving in the U.S. Military your constitutional rights are null and void. You have no freedom of speech, even when speaking the truth.

Al Lorentz is what every American should be: honest, brave, and ethical; he's a true patriot. The cowards who got us into this mess rightly feel his words of truth are a threat to their lies. In all likelihood he will be yet another of our great nation's soldiers who will be sacrificed in the name of meaningless bullshit. He could spend the next 20 years in a federal military prison for his "crimes," imprisoned by the whores who sell America's soul to stroke their egos and increase their power.

Laura Bush has said that she has seen the president agonize over his choices involving Iraq. I'm sure that agonizing was over the effect this insane war will have on his chances for re-election rather than his sadness at sacrificing so many lives for nothing. So far, 1054 US soldiers have lost their lives and many times that have been seriously injured and permanently disabled. That doesn't even take into account the live lost by our few allies (namely the UK) and the Iraqis, including the civilian "collateral damage."

Don't think for one minute that these sacrifices accomplished anything. Mark my words, in less than fifteen years and perhaps as little as five, Iraq will be in the hands of some other dictator and those people will be no better off than they were under Saddam. Worse yet, if history repeats itself, (as it so often does) the United States will assist that dictator in his rise to power.

Meanwhile, these people ARE DEAD!

Every name on that list was not only a human being but a citizen of the United States of America. They had hopes and dreams and they sacrificed EVERYTHING for their country, in the hope that it would mean something.

The horror is that their sacrifice won't mean or accomplish anything. As so many times before, it will only lead to new enemies for us to fight. There are many parents out there right now with young children aged 0-10 who will never see their sons grow up to have families of their own--not because of a horrific turn of fate but because they will die fighting the enemies our leaders create today.

And that is the essence of every war and offensive military action the U.S. has undertaken since the end of World War II: fought the wrong way, for the wrong reasons, with the wrong goals, resulting in unintended consequences. They are not principled, ethically justified wars; they are Bullshit Wars.

Upgrade Your Dog

This Engadget HOW-TO article almost has me wanting a dog just so I can make it wear cool tech gear. But I really like this "James Bond" digital camera they put on their dog. I want one.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

One long Star Wars review...

Check out this really long review of the new Star Wars trilogy DVDs at Warning: it's over 11,000 words long.

Monday, September 27, 2004

A Solution to Nuclear Waste

Although nuclear power plants have been made reasonably safe, the remaining problem has been what to do with the radioactive waste they produce. If that problem could be solved, nuclear power would be fully viable.

Now there may be a solution. Amec has purchased the rights to a refinement of a process called vitrification. This improved technique, called geomelting, creates a kind of glass which is 20% waste with 80% sand and is far more resilient than concrete. This glass should last 200,000 years, which is long enough for the radioactive material contained inside to decay down to safer elements.

Mount St. Helens Is Getting Grumpy

Mount St. Helens is showing increased seismic activity. Although a major eruption is not imminent, smaller explosions are possible over the next few days. Read the USGS notice and/or the Wikipedia article for more information.

Cemex Buys RMC Group

CEMEX, the third-largest cement producer in the world is going to buy the number one ready-mix concrete producer, RMC Group. So what's the significance? Well, I work for Jobe Concrete Products, which is owned by RMC, which means that in about six months when all the regulatory B.S. goes through and the deal is final, I will work for CEMEX.

Since the deal just went public today, I'm not really sure whether this is good or bad for me and the rest of Jobe's employees. It seems that Jobe Concrete's president has a pretty good existing relationship with CEMEX USA's executives so it will probably be ok. Based on what CEMEX has done elsewhere though, I expect the name of our company will be changed at some point to CEMEX something-or-other. However, it will almost definitely be bad for RMC USA's corporate management, since CEMEX already has a substantial presence in the United States, that portion of RMC will be rapidly made redundant.

Here's a few articles about the merger in the news:
Mercury News

CEMEX's corporate website is at and the USA division is at An overview of CEMEX's current USA operations is available here while RMC Group's website is here and RMC USA's is here.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Naked Wookiees and broken R2-D2s

CNN reminds the Star Wars fanboys to lighten up.

Watching the main documentary on the special features disc included with the trilogy DVD set certainly gave me a whole new respect for George Lucas.

A liquid that becomes solid when heated!

Normally, as a compound gets hotter it goes from a solid to liquid to gas. However, there are evidently solustions which behave in a slightly different fasion, such as the one described in this article.

Friday, September 24, 2004

El Paso 2600 Is On!

Well, it looks like I actually pulled it off and El Paso's first 2600 meeting will be next Friday.

What: 2600 Meeting
Where: Sunland Park Mall, food court
When: Oct 1, 5:30 PM

Thursday, September 23, 2004

USB Flash Drives

I remember the first time I saw a USB Flash Drive in a computer catalog around the end of 1999. I knew instantly that this was the way of the future and have maintained that position ever since. Nearly five years later, the New York Times agrees.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Why Computers Suck.

I think this article pretty well covers it from a user's perspective. The other major problem with computers is the lack of longevity of stored data, covered by this other article and even more insightfully by this piece from the Long Now Foundation.

Spirit and Opportunity Keep On Roving!

The two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have had their missions extended for another six months, which is good news for space buffs and taxpayers alike. The space buffs will get even more data from the red planet now instead of much later and the taxpayers get a better return on the $400-million-plus spent on this mission already. Considering Earth's dismal track record where lobbing expensive hardware at Mars is concerned, that's a good thing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Gateway Releases New Butt-Ugly Profile

In some kind of lame attempt to compete with Apple's new iMac G5, Gateway released the new Gateway Profile 5.5. Look at this slideshow if you enjoy vomiting. It's like the computer equivalent of a photo spread of a 700 pound bikini model.

I found some of your life... and wimped out.

Well, the guy behind "I found some of your life" wimped out and deleted all of his posts. He still hasn't made contact with the card's owner. I guess it was fun while it lasted.

Star Wars Original Trilogy on DVD

The Star Wars OT is out on DVD in the US today and it seems that it was out in the UK & France (and possibly other European countries) yesterday.

Here are some pages showing some of the changes between the Special Edition versions and these new DVD's:

Seems like most of the changes are just cleanups and a few minor continuity fixes. While that scene with Han and Jabba is still in ANH, the Jabba animation has been cleaned up and no longer looks like it was rendered on a PS2. Han still shoots last. :( At the end of ROTJ, (on the DSII, not Endor) Vader/Anakin is even paler and lacks eyebrows, making him look even more dead and giving him an appearance closer to Hayden's version of the man.

I ordered my copy from Amazon and right now it's somewhere between El Paso and Dallas. With some luck, maybe I'll get it tomorrow night.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Liberty For Dummies

I found this this cute little flash animation buried in a slashdot comment: The Philosophy of Liberty. It's about 10 minutes long but it pretty well covers the basics of the subject.

Slashdot Asks, Badnarik Answers

Slashdot's users asked Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate Michael Badnarik 15 questions and Mr. Badnarik responded. Although Michael is neither the man nor the candidate that Harry Browne was, I would be much happier with him in the Oval Office than either of the other guys.

I found some of your life.

Once upon a time, if you lost, say a roll of film filled with boring pictures from your life, there was a limited set of consequences that could come from that. However, now if you leave your digital camera's memory card in a NY taxi, you can become famous!

The short version, if you're too lazy to read the explanation is this: Someone finds a camera's digital memory card in a taxi which contains a year's worth of pictures and decides to post them on the internet and mock the people in the pictures. Yes, it's evil but it's still amusing.

One of the people in the photographs has been identified, so I don't know how long this will last.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Reason #1 never to visit the UK.

The British are a bunch of pud-pulling pussies. Their national policy on being a victim is to not fight back and take it in the ass, because if you resist a criminal you might get hurt. After you've been robbed, raped, or beaten within an inch of your life, you're supposed to call in their law enforcement who might be able to find your attacker. I'm telling you, my eyes can't roll back far enough for this crap.

For those who don't know, the Assault Weapons ban sunset on Monday (9/13/04) here in the US. This was an incredibly stupid law which basically just outlawed guns based on the way they looked, not the way they worked. It also banned the manufacture of several items, most notably new high-capacity magazines for civilians, but not the possession of pre-existing items. In other words, this law served no purpose other than to piss off gun collectors.

Now this law is gone and that's a good thing. However, you wouldn't think so from reading the BBC's article on the issue. Visit the island of cowardice? No, I don't think I will.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Poor Martha

Well, Martha Stewart wants to begin her prision sentance sooner rather than later, saying "I want to put this nightmare behind me." Personally, I feel terrible for Martha, her whole "nightmare" is a complete line of government BS and just goes to show how much our government sucks.

Don't believe me? Think Martha is some kind of hell-bitch who deserves to pay? Please read Harry Browne's two articles "Free Martha Stewart!" and "What the Martha Stewart Case Means to You" and then decide.

Another good article is Reason's "St. Martha: Why Martha Stewart should go to heaven and the SEC should go to hell." from the Oct. 2003 issue.

Cyborg Search 0.14

I've updated Cyborg Search to version 0.14. This update adds support for Amazon's search engine.

Version 0.14 will form the basis of the 1.0 version. However, there is much work to be done before that can happen. For some time I've been trying to decide what would constitute 1.0. Today, I finally made up my mind.

The current javascript-based version of Cyborg Search was only ever meant to be a prototype as the ultimate goal of the project is to have a multi-engine search interface optimized for linux-based wearable computers. To further that end, 1.0 will be a *nix command-line application. This should allow me to more easily produce two GUI versions: one for MacOSX and one for GNU/Linux. At some point, Cyborg Search will be open source.

However, as I expect to be forced to continue to use Windows for some time yet, the 0.x line will probably still be minimally maintained for the next couple of years.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Digital Music Continues....

Some items on the digital music front:

  1. Yahoo bought MusicMatch
  2. Slashdot has an interview with Rob Glaser (of Real Networks)

As yahoo already has a music service the MusicMatch deal can be seen as the loss of a competitor in the market. The interview with Glaser just shows that the water continues to rise on Real's shores.

Our spoiled kids.

Food for thought for the parents out there: The Power of No.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Possible Photograph of Extra-solar Planet

Taken in the near-infrared, this (if confirmed) is the first photograph of a planet orbiting a star other than our sun. This planet is approximately 5 times the mass of Jupiter and orbits a brown dwarf. More information can be found here.

Over 120 extra-solar planets have already been detected, however those detections were via non-visible techniques. There are no photographs of those planets. This is the first planet to be photographed. Check out the Wikipedia article

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Why We Fall Apart

In this extremely interesting article aging of the human body is looked at through the lens of engineering's reliability theory. It treats the body as a complex set of redundant parts which fail over time until a critical system finally collapses causing death. It also discusses the idea that we don't start out factory perfect but are instead defective from the start. The potential here is huge. Someday, humans may live thousands of years.

Is The iMac G5's Price Right?

Quite simply, the 20-inch iMac G5 is a good deal ($1899US). The "it only costs $600 dollars more than Apple's $1299 20-inch LCD monitor" argument is somewhat simplistic, but valid overall. Go see the specs on the 20-inch iMac and you'll see that you get one awesome computer for that money.

But what about the low end? I loaded up the lowend iMac's specs and then I went to in search of something similar. I chose the Dimension 4600C, a compact desktop model and started rasing it approximately to the iMac's specs, including software where possible.

I bumped the processor to 3.0 Ghz. Considering that my 400Mhz iMac DV performs competatively with my 2400Mhz PC at work, I think this is fair. I swear that I'm serious. In daily use my iMac is slower, but not but not by much and I find that the PC slows to a crawl at far more annoying times. Add $27

I upgraded the OS to XP Pro. XP Home is hobbled, MacOS X isn't. Add $71

I added Microsoft's Plus! Digital Media Edition for $18. Considering the power of Apple's iLife, I figure the Dell got off easy here.

RAM is the only place I can't make the machines equal. Dell is running a free upgrade to 512Mb, and there's no way to reduce it for a price cut.

I had to upgrade the 40Gb hard drive to 80 Gb. Add $27

I had to upgrad the 24x CD-ROM to a combo drive (CD-RW/DVD-ROM.) Add $116

Gotta put on that 17" display, $368.

Can't forget firewire: $63.

Gotta updrade that useless "Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics" to a 64Mb NVIDIA card: $63.

Crap, the Dell doesn't come with speakers, add $9.

Bah, it only comes with an old-fashioned mechanical mouse. Upgrade to an optical mouse for another $9.

What's the total? $1607. But you can't forget that you still have to pay shipping, which Apple provides for FREE but for which Dell charges $99.

Is this comparision fair? I could probably build a comparible PC for less, but that's not a real comparison. The iMac is a name brand computer so to compare it to a PC you have to buy name brand. Maybe a buyer will decide they didn't need all the options the iMac includes. Still, my point isn't that the iMac is even more of great deal than a Dell, only that it's price is right.

I agree with this article where he says that people complaining about the iMac G5's specs are crying that Apple isn't selling them a PowerMac G5 with a monitor at the iMac's price.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Some weird stuff...

  1. For those of you lucky enough to own a penis, here's the manual you didn't get from the dealer.
  2. What does this thing remind you of? Freaky, no?

Give Me Liberty Or Eat Lead!

I'd like to point out some invasions of our 1st Amendment Rights. To start, there's this article from John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute. Entitled "Moving Toward a Fascist State" it highlights the reality of the First Amendment in today's America.

Second, the folks at are running several e-mail campaigns relating to current free speach issues. Their system is very easy to use so if you're a voter and you agree with their positions, please take a few minutes to send your congress creatures some e-mail.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

More Apple-related Stuff

A few more Apple related tid-bits:

1) According to, "Apple's claims that its new iMac G5 computer is the worlds thinnest desktop computer, but it may also be the most user-serviceable." Based on the images that are available on the web of the iMac G5's guts, I'd have to agree.

2) There's the whole deal surrounding the launch of Microsoft's music store. It seems like the current incarnation of the store is generally inferior to Apple's, but Microsoft's MO is to start off with a crappy product and then gradually improve it until it can compete with the other major options. The question here is whether Apple can continue to improve the iPod and iTMS so that Microsoft never gets ahead. That's a tall order but Apple may be able to pull it off.