Grapes of Wrath

I can’t say I’ve ever read Steinbeck, but based on a few Youtube videos, I’m pretty sure I get the idea.

The Grape Lady is probably one of the top 100 videos on Youtube, to the point that a local radio station sampled the sound she makes and I think I was with most listeners in cracking up, knowing exactly what it’s from. Sure, I feel kind of bad laughing, especially since it’s totally something I’d do. But her transformation from a professional newswoman to someone falling out of a pit of grapes and making sea lion sounds is astonishing.

If you take it as an isolated incident, it seems that it’s her, and not a vicious grape attack. But you begin to get the real picture of just how dangerous grapes are in a video aptly named Grape Safety Fail. The problem is that he fails basic grape safety: staying far, far away from grapes.

I Should be Mayor

I’ve got my police scanner on, and overheard the snow plows in Manchester discussing that there’s a parking ban in effect due to the snow. From the sounds of it, a lot of people either don’t know or don’t care.

Being a geek, instead of thinking, “I don’t live in Manchester, so I don’t care at all,” my first thought was, “The city should really have a Twitter account to disseminate information like this.” Technology would also make it pretty easy to send e-mail (or SMS!) blasts to residents. I’m sure most people wouldn’t use it, but the overhead would be minimal. And a city using Twitter to communicate would probably get enough press such that local residents who used Twitter would start following the city’s account.

But alas, I’m not a mayor, so I’m resigned to posting on my blog about how Twitter could help snow plows.

Spammers get profound

“Hi there, It has been long time since we did not meet.”

It goes on to pitch me some sort of medical site, but I can’t help but think that “It has been a long time since we did not meet” would be a memorable line in a poem or something. But instead, it’s trying to hock me their meds.

Sorry, cindy88, it’s going to be even longer until we don’t meet. Whatever that means.

Corporate Charity

A lot of companies give to charity, and it’s a great thing. Some match what their employees donate, and others just donate some of their profits to charities.

But a trend that drives me insane is when companies ask if you want to donate money to them to donate to charity. The “Product Red” campaign is a great example. It seems that you can pay, say, $50 extra on a product, and have $25 donated to charity. Plus, I’m sure the company receives a tax advantage when donating your money.

It’s sort of like the telemarketers for charities, which are usually run by companies that skim at least 50%, if not more, of your donation. In a way, they’re doing a great thing, but bringing in record donations to charity, simply by getting people who wouldn’t seek out a charity to donate. But at the same time, I can’t help but think that companies letting customers donate, indirectly, to charity are doing something insidious. Instead of giving a company money to donate to charity on your behalf, give it directly.

Review This Build?

I’ve been thinking of building a new desktop… I was hoping for some peer reviews to see if I’m missing anything. I’m not positive what this will run, but I’m trying to favor OSx86 hardware in case. This machine will probably house some virtual machines, hence the quad core and generous RAM. I’m not going dual monitors yet, but I’m trying to find a video card that will support dual monitors.

  • Gigabyte GA-EP45T-UD3P motherboard. (Onboard SATA RAID, dual GigE, USB and Firewire.) It only supports DDR3.
  • Intel Q9400, quad-core 2.66 GHz, 6MB cache. It’s about $40 more than a Q6600, which I think is worth it.
  • 2x of these 2x2GB DIMMs, for a net of 8GB RAM. Substantially cheaper than some of the other RAM out there.
  • Zalman CPU Cooler. I’m not planning on overclocking, but I think a CPU heatsink is an area to pay for quality. Comes with thermal grease.
  • Asus EN9800GT video card, aka a Radeon 9800GT. On the OSX 10.5.6 compatibility list, and pretty fast. I know there are better cards out there, but I don’t intend to do much intense gaming. Looks like this card will support dual monitors at some point.
  • A pair of 640GB SATA disks, to be mirrored. I wanted RAID 1+0 across 1TB drives, but I’m trying to keep the price down.
  • The Asus 21.5″ LCD I blogged about the other day. 1920×1080 will be a nice step up.

I plan to re-use my old case and power supply (300W), along with the DVD drive, keyboard, and mouse. Thoughts?


From Ask Metafilter: Did Pythagoras actually exist? It seems that a number of historians and mathematicians have argued that he was more of a mythological figure that led a cult of people, rather than an actual mathematician.

Also, while learning that a2 + b2 = c2, we definitely never learned that he founded a religion based on reincarnation and not eating beans. There’s an interesting mix of brilliance and lunacy with Pythagoras. From Wikipedia: “He was one of the first to propose that the thought processes and the soul were located in the brain and not the heart. He himself claimed to have lived four lives that he could remember in detail, and heard the cry of his dead friend in the bark of a dog.”

He also, perhaps, inspired Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “One of Pythagoras’ beliefs was that the essence of being is number.”

Math class would have been much more interesting if we discussed Pythagoras as a religious leader, ate some beans, watched HG2G, and then argued that Pythagoras never actually existed.

Weekend Tech Deals

I’m still conflicted as to what I want for a machine; I sort of want a desktop, sort of a laptop, sort of a Mac, sort of not… But as I was checking out FatWallet and Slick Deals, I wanted to point out some highlights:

  • ZipZoomFly has a 320GB, 7200 RPM SATA laptop drive, $75; $55 after rebate.
  • Sam’s Club has the Dell Mini (9″), 1 GB RAM, 8 GB SSD, for $245 shipped. Non-members pay 10% extra. This isn’t in stores; I checked. Word on the street is that this model does an excellent job of running OSx86.
  • has a de-badged, recertified 24″ (1920×1200) LCD, for $210 shipped. I’m very tempted.
  • NewEgg has an 800×600 projector for $420, or $370 after rebate.
  • Amazon has a 5-port Gigabit switch for $15. Description mentioned jumbo frame support. NewEgg matches.
  • No link, but 550VA UPS (APC) at Staples for $40, before $10 rebate.
  • 21.5″ Asus LCD (1920×1080) at NewEgg, $170 shipped. This thing has excellent reviews, too. I think this might be more tempting than the 24″ ‘recertified’ one.
  • $50 each buys a Visiontek ATI Radeon HD3650 or Sparkle GeForce 9400GT. Both are 1GB graphics cards, which is twice what one of my laptops has…

I’m having a hard time not buying that Asus LCD. DVI, HDMI, and VGA inputs. And it’s got nothing but good reviews. But it’s also tempting to upgrade my laptop to a 320 GB hard drive.

Oh, fellow T60 owners: in addition to the spiffy 320GB SATA disk for notebooks, I’ve been thinking of upgrading to 3GB RAM. The Bentley-issued T60s have two slots but a single 1GB stick. Looks like we want 200-pin, PC2-5300 memory. Most reviews say that a limitation in some low-level hardware (descriptions vary?), the Thinkpad is incapable of seeing more than 3GB RAM, so a single 2GB DIMM is in order. We can Upgrade to 3GB RAM and a 320GB disk for under $100? Still thinking I might sink my money into a desktop instead.

Microsoft Shops

I’ve been wrong before, but my gut is telling me that Microsoft’s physical stores are going to end badly. Though I confess to being somewhat ignorant here: I’m not sure why it’s being done at all, but now seems like a pretty bad time to launch a brick-and-mortar store, particularly when you’re selling things found in every computer store in the country.

Judd Gregg

I was disappointed to hear that Judd Gregg had withdrawn from consideration as Secretary of Commerce. (The position is cursed?)

Even though I typically vote blue, I’m a big believer in ensuring that the minority party still has an active role, and really liked the idea of a fairly fiscally-conservative Secretary of Commerce. (And a New Hampshire resident!) Having him on a Democrat’s Cabinet would have forced something rare to happen: the two sides would have to to work with each instead of working against each other.

I’m curious what’s next, though. I can’t help but read between the lines and suspect that the RNC was privy to the decision, which makes me doubt that any Republicans are going to jump up for consideration. Which is a shame, really: now more than ever, we need to stop worrying so much about party lines.