Firefox plugin of the day: PicLens will let you launch a nice full-screen gallery of images from within Firefox, from many common sites. It seems to preload them, too, so moving between them is nice and fast.

The Real World

Kyle responded to one of my e-mails the other day, at about 5:30 am. (Kyle has a ‘real’ job this summer.) We concluded that that is what the real world is like: waking up at times that are a couple hours after we’d normally be going to bed.

I don’t think I like the real world.

Also, it turns out that jobs in the real world apparently don’t have a summer break that lasts several months.

Maybe I should go to grad school?

Body for Life

Are any of you guys familiar with Body for Life? It’s kind of like Getting Things Done in that it has a slightly creepy cult-like following. It also seems almost too good to be true. But I’ve read so many positive reviews that I picked up a copy. Currently I’m just reading it, not doing anything in it. (But I’m only like 30 pages into it, too.)

I’m worried in trying to describe it, because I don’t want to shower it with so much praise that people are repulsed. Cynicism is always appropriate, IMHO. But there are a lot of reviews from people who talk about how it not only helped them get into good shape, but it also ended up giving them so much more energy and so much more self-confidence. While I’m not in nearly as bad shape as some of the people who have gained from it, I still think I could get a lot out of it.

As I said, I’m currently just reading it, but I’m thinking that I’d like to begin following it. But I think it would make the most sense to do it in a place where I can walk to the gym, where I don’t have exhausting labor to do, and where I have friends who can help keep me motivated. (The more people I know who are involved, I think, the harder it is to drop out of.) So I have it in the back of my head that it’s something I should take up when I get back to school.

BTW, I think fair use allows me to quote a paragraph, so I want to quote something in it that blows me away. He talks about how, before beginning, you should set some specific goals and review them every day. And then:

Back in 1953, a Harvard University study showed that three percent of the students graduating that year actually wrote down their specific career goals. Twenty years later, a team of researchers interviewed the class of ’53 and found that the three percent who had written down their goals were worth more financially than the other 97 percent combined.

Anyone else want to browse through a copy and consider doing it at the start of next semester? (Before you buy the book, I have a copy you can borrow.)

Delayed Processing

Do you ever have a nonsensical thought, but take way too long to realize that it doesn’t make any sense?

I just got some ice from the freezer, and noticed out of the corner of my eye that the tub of ice cream in there says, “Runs UNIX!” I thought it was really cool to see UNIX expanding to other markets, and was proud in some strange way.

As I was pouring my drink, though, it suddenly dawned on me that despite the power and versatility of UNIX, it most certainly doesn’t power the cardboard tub of ice cream in my freezer. The tub of ice cream, as hard as it is to believe, doesn’t run any operating system, because it’s a cardboard tub of ice cream.

FWIW, I went back in and looked, and the text isn’t even close to “Runs UNIX!”


(I’ve put asterisks after a few words/phrases, and added a sort of glossary to the end.)

Tonight I left for work a bit early, and decided to bowl a game. I think the thing that separates bowlers from people who bowl sometimes is that bowlers just have an urge to move their arm. Even if there hadn’t been any pins, I’d have enjoyed just practicing throwing the ball.

But alas, there were pins. My first few frames, I was getting between seven and nine pins, but it was always an easy leave*, so I was able to convert them to spares. In the fourth frame, I’d ‘warmed up’ enough that I could hit my mark* consistently, and from there, it was just fine-tuning. My fourth frame was a strike, but in the fifth, I left the five-pin. (Center pin.) I had a couple more easy leaves.

As I entered the eighth frame, I was kind of depressed. I’d been having a clean game* so far, and yet I wasn’t even on pace to hit 200.

In the eighth, I managed a strike, albeit Brooklyn*. (Brooklyn isn’t necessarily bad, but since I wasn’t going for Brooklyn, it meant that I still didn’t have great accuracy.)

I ended up pulling four spares in a row. On my next ball, it didn’t hit quite right, and I ended up with a nasty split, I think the 2-6. Really advanced pros can pick something like that up fairly consistently, but for people a little less Godlike, it might as well have been the 7-10.

I kind of sighed, my clean game ended. But then I looked up at the monitor and realized my luck: it had been the third ball of my tenth frame. I didn’t have to pick it up. The game was over, still considered clean. (As I didn’t have an opportunity to pick it up, the fact that I surely couldn’t have picked it up is irrelevant.)

I ended up with a 217 game. Not something I can do consistently, but it’s certainly a “You can do it” pat on the back for me.

* Leave: Refers to the pins left after the first ball of a frame; an easy leave is one that is easy to pick up.

* Mark: Refers to a certain spot on the lane, such as one of the seven arrows about ten feet down the lane. Many bowlers prefer to look at these as opposed to looking sixty feet down the lane at the pins.

* Clean game: A full game in which each frame is filled with a mark (strike or spare), i.e. there are no open frames (frames that aren’t either a strike or spare). (A clean game isn’t necessarily a good game: in theory, you could have a clean game as low as 100 [zero on every first ball, 10 (spare) on the second].)

* Brooklyn: A strike on the ‘wrong’ side of the headpin. (As a right-handed bowler, I’d ordinarily go for the 1-3 pocket, so for me, a Brooklyn strike is when I hit in the 1-2 pocket and get a strike.)

Computer Storage Tip

Before putting any laptop into ‘long-term storage’ (or throwing it in the basement to forget about for five years), write the username/password on it.

We’re going through the basement decided what to keep and what to toss (before July 1st, when the town will charge $10 for each device we drop off), and I’m struggling to get into some of the machines to decide if there’s anything worthwhile on them.


There’s a new consignment gallery in town that I’ve been meaning to check out for a while. Tonight they hosted a speaker on a topic that interested me, so my mom and I dropped in.

In addition to some cool lamps and a few swords, they have a case full of watches, bearing a sign: “All watches: $30.”

At least half of the watches are Rolexes. (Some Movado watches, too, which are also ludicrously expensive.)

It didn’t take too long for it to dawn on me that the reason they were $30 each wasn’t that they were insane, but because they were most likely all fake.

I toyed with buying one anyway (along with an ancient rangefinder camera), because it did look cool, and besides, who’d know if it was the real thing or not? I ultimately didn’t, but I’m considering going back.

It turns out that fake Rolexes aren’t the exclusive territory of guys in New York with trenchcoats. They’re sold online, but are generally sold under the euphemistic term, “Replica.” This alone isn’t too shocking (although their honesty is.) What’s shocking is that the fake Rolexes are still going for 4 digits.

My only concern (well, besides legal ones) is that none of the watches were ticking; I assume they just need new batteries, but can’t really be sure.

Ham Radios

For many, many years the ham radio to have was Icom’s 781. (I think it actually cost a bit less, but there was a saying, “Just add a zero to it and you have the price.”) Among the hardcore contesters, it was sort of like Photoshop: incredibly expensive, and yet ubiquitous.

The 781 is no more, and has been replaced by something even more incredible: the Icom 7800. (“Just add a zero” indeed.) They’re selling for a little over $10,000, and they’re apparently selling well, too. Besides an amazing LCD, it mostly boasts technical improvements: a non-ham probably won’t be interested in knowing that it has a +40dBm Third-order Intercept Point, for example.

They’re not one of the “big 3” manufacturers, but TenTec has nonetheless been a pretty popular radio manufacturer over the years. (Especially with those who don’t have $10,000 to spend on a radio.) Enter the TenTec Omni VII, which jumps on the big LCD bandwagon, apparently boasts incredible performance in tests, and finally brings a new concept to ham radio: it has an Ethernet port. You can control it from a computer remotely. Computer-controlled rigs aren’t new, but until very recently they were kludgy serial-port based ones, meant to let you use a computer-based logging program to query the frequency, or to let the computer tune the radio for you. Routing audio (including transmit audio!) over Ethernet, and allowing (apparently) full control remotely is something that no other radio on the market can do, or even come close to.

Of course, Yaesu has entered into the fray, with their line of ‘luxury rigs,’ such as the FTDX9000D (that’s a mouthful) with the obligatory big LCD. (Yaesu’s been a little less eager to throw huge LCDs into all of its radios, though.)

Of course, a great HF rig can still be had for under $1,000… But now you have the opportunity to spend an order of magnitude more.

Aircraft Enhanced SSB

As much as I respect the “old way” of ham radio, I’m continually amazed at the new developments, and just plain interesting things people come up with.

Australian ham VK2DJG posted about Aircraft Enhanced SSB: bouncing VHF radio signals off of airplanes. It’s sort of like the way most long-distance ham contacts are made, via sky waves, except that they’re reflecting their signals not off of the ionosphere, but off of airplanes. It looks like they’ve had good success with the mode, too.

Ham Radio

I ended up making some progress in the General Class study manual, and also spent some more time on the radio. I spent some time on 6 Meters (the only ham band that I have permission to use which really stands a shot at DX (long-distance) communications). I could hear some great stuff, including a strong signal from Illinois (1,000+ miles), North Carolina, and, oh, New Hampshire. The Illinois station practically had a pileup going; I tried to get through, but realized that all we have is a vertical antenna tuned for a different part of the band, so it’s no surprise that I didn’t get through.

I then did some listening down on 17 and 20 Meters. On 17 Meters, I found a nice strong signal coming from Arizona. He was working some people out my way, and I probably could have worked him, if only I were licensed to transmit on the HF bands.

But then, I dropped down to the magical world of 20 Meters, and listened to an a station in the Virgin Islands. Not only could I hear him, but he was S9. (Very, very strong.) Off our vertical antenna. (As opposed to a high-gain directional antenna.) Even more impressive, I was able to hear, at S7, a station in Northern California working him.

Have I mentioned that I really want to upgrade my license to be able to work these guys?