Archive for October, 2007

How? 2

After days ago, I started reading up on carbon dating (or radiocarbon dating) because it was something I’d discussed with my atheist coworker. Neither of us knew any specifics. My brief research has only brought up more questions. Specifically, the Wikipedia page on radiometric dating claims:

The uranium-lead radiometric dating scheme is one of the oldest available, as well as one of the most highly respected. It has been refined to the point that the error in dates of rocks about three billion years old is no more than two million years.

How do you determine the average error of a device that is quantifying an unknown value?

The most obvious solution would be to derive the error by using the same device to simultaneously calculate a known value. But it would seem that there are far too many variables occurring between the known values (for instance, the oldest known trees are ~7,000 years old) and the unknown values (in this case, 3 billion years), especially given an outlook that the world has been undergoing near constant change for the past several billion years.

Back to the Google.

Knowledge Acquired 0

Things about that New England Patriots that I didn’t know, but learned today:

  • They’ve scored in every first quarter this season
  • Their defense is 4th in the league; their offense, 1st
  • They’ve only punted only 7 times this season, with only two being returned
  • Defensive linebacker Mike Vrable has 10 offensive receptions in his career, all for touchdowns

It looks to be a very good year for New England sports, what with the Sox in the series, the Pats well into an 8-0 season, and the Bruins turning a respectable 6-4 start. Now my only problem is catching those games on TV.

The Classics 0

My dad sent me a link today to a new photo gallery he’d posted (he uses phanfare). It had a few videos in it, too, so I put my headphones on. Then I noticed that there was music playing. Vivaldi. Four Seasons. Download, listen. Excellent.

New Hire 2

I’d like you to meet my new coworker. We just started working with together yesterday (Friday), but we’re getting along famously. I’ve found that bouncing my code off him is increasing my productivity immensely, and — this might sound a little weird — I just can’t stop looking at him.

New Coworker

Forget the lame attempt at humor. Yes, that’s a Dell 24″ LCD. I’m quite excited about it, if you couldn’t tell. Makes me feel important or something.

Check out your Pipes 2

While we’re on the topic of the Linux command line, I figured I’d highlight a useful tool that I accidentally discovered a few days ago. I don’t remember what I was searching portage for, but I happened across Pipe Viewer, or pv. From the website:

Pipe Viewer – is a terminal-based tool for monitoring the progress of data through a pipeline. It can be inserted into any normal pipeline between two processes to give a visual indication of how quickly data is passing through, how long it has taken, how near to completion it is, and an estimate of how long it will be until completion.

And using it? You just insert pv anywhere you’re piping data between processes — it simply passes the data from stdin to stdout — and you get a nice little wget style progress bar. For instance, I could insert it in Matt’s previous example, and I’d get something like:

# pv /var/log/messages | grep bumttwagnerfor 
>  | awk '{ print $10}' | sed "s/[/ /g" 
>  | sed "s/]/ /g" | awk '{print $2}'
94.5MB 0:00:03 [34.3MB/s] [=======>            ] 41% ETA 0:00:04

The only thing I’ve noticed is that you really need to be working with a lot of data to make the information it provides useful; most of the time the piping is completed by the time you even get any output. But for situations where you’re dealing with a lot of data (like log files), it’s golden!

In the Hotspots 0

As I was traveling and attending ZendCon earlier this week, I realized that it would be mighty handy to have a T-Mobile Hotspot account. There was a hotspot at the hotel that I ended up charging to my room (the conference wireless was incredibly spotty and I needed to get on the VPN, so my company paid for it), and there were hotspots in various other places we wandered through, like the San Francisco airport.

In the past, I’d seen a flyer advertising an upgrade to my phone data plan that included unlimited wifi access for an additional $10/month (my unlimited data plan is $20/month). I decided to look it up while at the hotel, and, much to my surprise, I discovered that T-Mobile is now offering combined unlimited GRPS/EDGE data and Wifi access at any of their hotspots for just $20/month (what I was already paying).

My current theory is that this is a (pretty smart) stopgap to compete with the 3G networks while they build out one of their own (having somewhat recently acquired airspace for it). I think it’ll work for now.

CAPTCHA — not just for the heck of it 1

Making lemonade from lemons? Here’s a way to put something annoying (CAPTCHAs) to excellent use (digitizing old manuscripts). Ingenious.