The Open Cell and Crap in the Stream

I was reading about Verizon’s plan to open their network, and thought that it’s a great idea, both for business and for cross-compatibility. They are going to allow you to use the Verizon signal with any device. So if you are a DIYer, or get a google phone, or a linux phone, you would have their network as an option. This also allows people to develop other applications and devices to be used on the cell network that couldn’t have existed before. You also have the option by T-Mobile of using any open 802.11 wireless signal. So, taking the two ideas together, I have an idea for developing a system to be installed in cars that would have a couple of antennas and act as a repeater for both 802.x wireless and for the Verizon cell signal. The car would then have communications available for things like routing and traffic information via internet sites, be able to place phone calls, and would also give better range to others in the area using wither type of signal.

I saw some interesting anti-Vista, pro-Linux case badges yesterday. I’m wondering if people still use case badges, really, unless they are making some kind of statement. For those of you who don’t know, these are the domed stickers that go on the front of a desktop computer, usually with the brand of the company you got the computer from, like “Bob’s Computer Shop”.

Garagenous Zone (noun) – The area in which your garage door remote is effective. e.g.: Jaques liked to roll slowly up the block, groping for the outer limit of his garagenous zone.

Facebook released a new service that I’m sure seemed like a good idea at the time, but are now backpedaling on their “creeptech” ad system. Facebook users and privacy advocation groups alike were pointing out ways that the service could be used for adverse means. I’m sure that officials at Facebook wouldn’t have released it if they had been aware of its potential for misuse.

In a lot of ways, I’m glad that I don’t use cable service at home. I’ve been accosted with debates over speed, etc in the past. Since I do a lot of things online, the connection is important. One of the things I do a lot of is bittorrent traffic. I was reading an article just this morning about Comcast apparently blocking peer-to-peer traffic. They are denying this effusively, but the EFF’s data suggests they are. I’d like to invite all the ISP’s to do some self-examination. You charge as a service for access to a stream. We all have to crap. Why not crap in the bushes or dig a latrine, rather than in the stream that is generating your revenue?
When I am working on someone’s computer, and fire up a bittorrent so that I can get the latest Knoppix or Slax disc, I just want to complete the download and get to the task at hand. If I pay for a service and that service impedes me, there is always another provider of the service. Especially with ISP’s.

My Card or Yours?

I’ve had some instances lately where have been asked to write down my address here for others. I was thinking about having some personal cards made up with the address here, but kept putting this off because of the expense. A lot of times, it’s very handy to have preprinted cards to give to your acquaintances when you see them (in real life, that is) so that they have something with your URL on it, and it also serves as a good spot to make some small notes on the back for them like a reminder of a party, or maybe another site that you had been discussing. I found a site called ooPrint that offers 100 FREE business cards, where all you pay is the shipping. I’ve used a place similar to this in the past. One big twist is the “web 2.0″ designs that they have that are geared toward bloggers. These designs are listed in their online catalog as “blogger business card”, and there are four designs with varying colors and icons. What I really like about these is that they feature a slick-looking tag cloud at the bottom. Not only that, but you customize the words that make up the tag cloud, so your cards are fully customized to what your blog is about.

The site is easily navigated, and as you fill in the information for the cards, you immediately see a mini proof of how the cards will look. Besides the specials on business cards, they have a host of other printed solutions to choose from, including custom wine labels and neat-looking invitations.

Thanksgiving week catch up

Here are some stories that I was going to write about last week among the working, extra travel, and general lazing about:

  • Schoolboy’s lifesaving MythBuster moment The importance of separating true science from collective Hollywood fiction has come into its own. After revealing positive aspects of playing video games (including venting your aggressions, building problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination), we are now finding good excuses for watching geeky shows on television. Having seen the episode of Mythbusters dealing with the idea of getting electrocuted by the Metro track, this kid knew exactly what not to do, and saved a life. He was very brave, even at the peak of geekery.
  • Babbling Babelfish sparks international incidentTechnology can help us in a lot of ways, especially when dealing with hard science, mathematics, etc. There are some areas that aren’t nailed down quite as well, and one of those areas is in language translation. The dictionary translation software can help you out greatly, but one really should at least know some of the basics of the target language, especially if the communication is legal, governmental, or really, has anything to do with business. These guys were down a translator, and decided that Babelfish would make a good stand-in.
  • Clean, carbon-neutral hydrogen on the horizonAn exciting 288 percent efficiency gain has been made by a new process for creating clean hydrogen from cellulose. I’m stoked about this!
  • If Gmail Had Been Designed by MicrosoftA fun look at a screenshot of Gmail, walking through User interface traditions used by Microsoft to create something awful. This is brutally truthful and rather hilarious, especially if you have ever done web design.
  • Residents reject rude roadTo the road signage crew: Thou shalt check thy spelling before placing road signs henceforth! By the way, you will all need to update your address books. I now live at 2389 Dolphin Waxing Lane.
  • Quaid’s scareDennis Quaid’s newborn twins got a horribly large overdose at the hospital, which is incredibly scary. The article says that they will be alright. As a parent, I know that something like this can keep you up at night for years afterward. I hope that they are well and safe, and that nurses everywhere are mindful and alert when metering out meds, and also that Dennis and Kimberly have patience and understanding in their hearts.

Amie Street Wednesday

This week, I’ve gone through my catalog of music on Amie Street, and found some fun stuff… Evil Weiner may be dubiously named, but their songs are just laid back and fun… The lead guitar has a bit of a surf-guitar sound, and the vocals and lyrics have a self-effacing, life-embracing quality that is in good fun.

I’m highlighting the Space Girl song, but don’t forget to hit the “more by this artist” button here. My other favorites from Evil Weiner are Turn Green, Topsy Turvy, and you absolutely must give a listen to Laughed at My Heart. Fun stuff!

The band reminds me of other fun bands like The Refreshments, Southern Culture on the Skids, and They Might Be Giants.

Amie St. Music Wednesday
Why Amie St. Wednesday? Music is in everyones lives. It surrounds us even when we do not hear it. This is a way to discover new artist, and share the artist that you enjoy listening to on AmieStreet.com. If you enjoy the music please support the artist. Amie St. Music Wednesday has no affiliation with AmieStreet.com and the opinion about the music and/or artist is that of the blogger.

Generations: belief systems

I was reading an article by Jenny about the possibility of your kids choosing to follow a religion that is entirely different from your set of beliefs.

I’m pretty sure that this comes up with every parent, and has been going on for a long time. The phases that kids go through as far as trying to find their identity socially, and trying out lifestyles of friends that they make along the way, and out of just plain rebellion just seem to call out for trying on psychological and religious worldviews that seem to counter what has been set forth in the home… Especially if it is done rigidly.

We are entering the second generation of kids that will have our highly advanced mass communications available. It was a big huge deal when my dad was young to know someone who had their own television set, even though there were only three channels, and those only broadcast a signal for a few hours a day. Now there are hundreds of 24/7 channels, movies, recorded programs, and the the whole digital gold mine of the internet. If someone has thought or believed something, you can bet that there is something out there, and it’s a billion percent easier to find and explore than it would have been 40, 30, 20, or even ten years ago.

When the kids decide to explore another religion (and they WILL), I would say that it’s a good idea not to overreact. As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or others, it’s a good exercise. If you are incredibly strict about your belief system at home, this will not deter the kids in the least. It will only make them careful to hide it from you. I’ve seen that one a million times, and that was back in the youth of my generation.

When I’m thinking of these kinds of questions, I try to remind myself of my primary function as a parent. That helps to keep things in perspective. That primary function is to nurture them, and to help them attain all the skills that they will need when they are on their own in life.

If they are not allowed to explore themselves or their environment, they will not be able to grow. Simple as that. I hope that all of your kids at least read about other belief systems.

It’s funny that this comes up, because as the holiday displays show up all over the Retail Kingdom, My girls have started asking questions about different holidays that they are hearing at school…. and I have been using these questions as a launching board into (very brief) overviews of different beliefs. Thursday evenings’ discussion was on the ride home, after K asked, “Do we celebrate, um… Hanukkah?” I know a lot of parents whose answer would either be a simple “No”, but I take these as good opportunities for growth for the both of them.

Spidering for Gadgets


With November comes the season of bundling up every place we go, and a nonstop rush for year-end and holiday gift-giving occasions. Being a tech geek, I’m always watching for deals on personal electronics and discount computers, and all things computer-related. Yes. Even if I personally am not in the market for these things at the time, because I try to help people find deals on technology. And I tend to watch the pricing fluctuate, so when I do find a need am in the market, I will have an idea.

This is especially true of buying memory upgrades for PC’s and laptops.

I’ve found that the site, TechBargains can come in very handy. The site has good navigation and a series of RSS feeds, and is updated 24/7, even on weekends and holidays. It’s not an online store, though. They keep up with the specials, coupons, deals, and pricing at all the online retailers. It “web spiders” for me, and gets all the information in a usable format.

Like I was saying, if you are in the market for RAM very often, you will know that the price fluctuates wildly, so knowing when to strike can save you a fat wad of cash. Right there on the left side of the front page, there are boxes that show the current pricing for the most common sizes and speeds of RAM, and another box for CPU’s. It’s beautiful. There are good search options to help you find a coupon code to use on a purchase you are already to make, and also to locate the best price on anything they track, which includes a ton of non-computer stuff, too (I saw a deal for Aéropostale and Wilson’s Leather just a few minutes ago that might come in handy for a couple of cold-weather outfits for the girls).

There is a page to see just the coupon codes that can be sorted, and always shows the expiration dates of the codes, with a neat “Expiring!” icon showing up in orange to help you locate those last-minute codes.

The site also offers comparisons and reviews, and it is also mobile-friendly, so if you see a deal and have internet access on your phone, you can do a quick lookup to see if it’s the best deal.

quick, cheap, and easy

While I’m on the spiel of telling horror stories (a little late for Halloween, I know), I have been doing some reading on toxic chemicals. It all started with a simple discussion on recycling and vegetarianism that then stemmed into natural soaps. Curiosity got to me in the shower, as I quickly ran down the list of ingredients in my shampoo…

“Yikes. What is all that crap in this?”

The first few web searches got me results like this one, pointing out that the ingredients are often chosen by their being easy to store and use, and cheaply available in bulk. Turns out my shampoo is loaded with garage floor cleaner and coal tar, with a smattering of pesticides. It’s a good thing the bottle is almost empty.

Then the story came out about the E.Coli in the frozen pizzas. That’s poo. In the slaughterhouses, poo is getting into the meat. They try to speed up production, and it happens even more. The meat is cheap, so the demand goes up.

So, out of making things cheap, easy and quick for the consumer, and for the manufacturer, I’m finding that the vast majority of things that we use on and in our bodies are toxic, dangerous, and in a lot of cases doesn’t contain what you would think. There are whole sections of the supermarkets loaded with non-food parading around as food.

And then you go out to eat. Check out some of the stuff you are getting in that quick lunch at the fast food place. “Hmmm. Hey Lady… can I get more titanium oxide in my salad? If I collect just a bit more, I’ll be able to make my own toothpaste, paint, and tattoo pigment!”

I also found these haunting gems:

  • cosmetics are harmful?
  • Toxic parabens Have been industry standard in deodorants, shampoos, and skin creams for decades. They are finding that absorption through the skin are leading to high levels of estrogen, and could possibly be a link to breast cancer. They use these as fillers, and to preserve the products, so that they can be shipped long distances and also have an amazingly long shelf life.
  • Still not scared silly?

  • Have a look at your average daily toxins….

Out of honest, innocent cost-cutting, and looking for the cheapest, quickest, and easiest answers, modern society has created an existence that feels like the whole planet is trying diligently to kill us at every turn, if you go and look at it all.