What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Apple & Dell

Filed under: Computers — Tags: , , — dave @ 10:36 pm 2009/08/25

Pretty much, Apple and Dell are the only ones in this industry making money. They (Dell) make it by being Wal-Mart. We make it by innovation.

Steve Jobs.

This quote was found at a site I bumped into tonight; Minimal Mac. A little heavy on the hoity-toity Mac user stereotype, but they’ve got some good info.

“Amateur Hour At The White House”

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — dave @ 7:09 pm 2009/08/24

I love that title. I borrowed it from a RealClearPolitics article on the blunder that is the push to reform the healthcare system, which is an excellent read. Not that it’s hard to find Amateur Hour at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. these days; just about any time of any given day will do.

The article describes how Obama has flubbed this deal; he tasked the Democrat ‘leadership’ — dominated by “coastal liberals” — with writing the bill. They wrote what they would like to see in such a bill, but didn’t think to consult their slightly less liberal fellow Dems while doing it, and now everybody in the White House seems surprised at the current dustup going on over the “Public Option”. The author, Jay Cost, explains it much better than I ever could, so check out the real deal.

He ends the article with…

It’s almost as if the President has absolutely no experience in dealing with the United States Congress whatsoever.

… Gee; do ya think? I’ve been arguing that since Sarah Palin came on the scene.

The Cicada Killer Wasp

Filed under: Home Life,Just Stuff,Personal Growth,The Deep,The Kids,The World — Tags: , , , , — dave @ 11:01 pm 2009/08/20

For the last few summers we’ve had some scary looking bugs in our yard. Thankfully, they’re just scary looking, and nothing to really be afraid of, provided you’re not a cicada.

A female cicada killer wasp in flight, approaching a prospective nest site.

The lifecycle of the cicada killer wasp sounds like something out of a Ridley Scott movie… The female cicada killer wasp hunts down a cicada and stings it to paralyze it. When the cicada is safely immobilized, the wasp carries the cicada back to its burrow — a hole dug in loose soil. The cicada is placed in a dead-end chamber of the burrow; the female then lays a single egg (sometimes two) on the still paralyzed but very much alive cicada, and seals up the chamber. When the egg hatches, the larva gnaws through the exoskeleton of the cicada and feeds on its internal organs, saving the nervous system for last so as to maximize the length of time that the cicada remains alive. Gruesome, no?

The same female digging in the loose dirt for a new nest site.

The female cicada wasp killers are very large; up to 2 inches long. I’ve had them buzz by my head a few times and the sound is pretty unnerving if you’re not expecting it. The males are supposedly much smaller, but I can’t say that I’ve seen any.

Very scary looking, but very cool. It’s this kind of thing that makes me really question the theory of evolution. The evolution of physical body parts is only part of the equation; what about complex behaviors like this? So the larvae that just happened to leave the nervous system for last gained an evolutionary advantage over the others? And how did that “just happened” get passed on to the progeny of those lucky larvae? Nah; not buying it. I wouldn’t need to believe in an omnipotent, omniscient Creator to know that something like that doesn’t happen by chance.

God makes some cool stuff!

Yet Another Reason To Dislike Windows?

Filed under: Computers,Mac Stuff,Work — Tags: , — dave @ 10:43 pm

I titled this post as a question, because I’m not sure if I’m missing something or what; please fill me in if I am. Here’s the story:

Today at work I had a Windows XP Pro machine suddenly decide that the automatic login was too convenient; it’s attached to a piece of inspection equipment, and the manufacturer set it up to be on its own domain and log in automatically. But when it was booted up today it decided it needed to have a password. And nobody knew the password.

I was able to guess the password after a few tries (they’re so predictable), but the question then became, how the heck do I re-enable the automatic login? The users on this machine really didn’t want to have to mess around with a password, so I poked around for a while in the Control Panel & Help system, but didn’t find any answers. I resorted to checking Microsoft’s knowledgebase, and found this gem of a solution:

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
  2. Locate the following registry key:
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
  3. Using your account name and password, double-click the DefaultUserName entry, type your user name, and then click OK.
  4. Double-click the DefaultPassword entry, type your password under the value data box, and then click OK.

    If there is no DefaultPassword value, create the value. To do this, follow these steps:

    1. In Registry Editor, click Edit, click New, and then click String Value.
    2. Type DefaultPassword as the value name, and then press ENTER.
    3. Double-click the newly created key, and then type your password in the Value Data box.

    If no DefaultPassword string is specified, Windows XP automatically changes the value of the AutoAdminLogon registry key from 1 (true) to 0 (false) to turn off the AutoAdminLogon feature.

  5. Double-click the AutoAdminLogon entry, type 1 in the Value Data box, and then click OK.

    If there is no AutoAdminLogon entry, create the entry. To do this, follow these steps:

    1. In Registry Editor, click Edit, click New, and then click String Value.
    2. Type AutoAdminLogon as the value name, and then press ENTER.
    3. Double-click the newly created key, and then type 1 in the Value Data box.
  6. Quit Registry Editor.
  7. Click Start, click Restart, and then click OK.

Cool. Edit the registry to re-enable the auto-login. Genius. And that isn’t even touching the reason why it got disabled in the first place. Isn’t there an easier way to do this? For crying out loud…

Contrast that with Mac OS X (10.5.7 to be exact)…

  1. Click the Apple Menu, pull down to System Preferences, & click on Accounts,
  2. Flip the Automatic login: from Disabled to the login account you want to use, and enter the password when prompted.
  3. Go about your work, getting things done.

Now isn’t that a lot easier?

A Cheapskate’s Paint Job — The Final Product

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars!,Just Stuff,PCH — Tags: , , , , , , — dave @ 11:44 am

This is the third and maybe final installment in my Cheapskate’s Paint Job series (click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2.) One thing is for sure; the “$50 Paint Job” is a bit of a misnomer; it’s a paint job alright, but I’m pretty sure I passed the $50 mark not too long after buying the paint for it. I didn’t keep very close track of things, but when it was all said & done, the paint & materials for the job cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $200. Still far cheaper than a professional paint job, but $50 just wouldn’t cut it! So I’ll just call it The Cheapskate’s Paint Job®!

The car is nearly complete — only a few niggling details to button up — and I have to say I’m impressed with the results. I am by no means an autobody guy, but I do know a decent paint job when I see one, and this one shines like a professionally painted car. And that’s with no clearcoat and no wax on it. There are little issues galore with the paint job, most of them related to my crappy prep job (which is directly related to my crappy/nonexistent autobody skills), and my inexperience with the entire process, and my rush to finish it up in the last week or so.

But the final product proves to me at least that the concept and process is sound, and can yield a nice looking paint job for someone on a tight budget but has a good measure of patience and some spare time. Another thing I like about this process is that repairing scratches or dings or dents should be much less painful. One of the things that happened to me is that the mystery of auto finishing is gone; it’s no longer a black art in my mind. If something goes wrong with it, I know what went into getting it to look the way it does, and repairing it won’t be as monumental a task in my mind.

I can also say that the next time I take on a job like this, it’ll be killer. Will I take on another job like this? Mmmmm… Not in the foreseeable future, but if the need presents itself, and I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on the car… And I have a better situation for garage space… And I have nothing better to do with a few weeks of my spare time… I might consider it. But not any time soon unless I want to be minus a wife!

The time involved was the biggest issue for me, but thankfully I had a spare car sitting in front of the house that I could use while the 528 was off the street. I don’t remember exactly what day I started this job, but I know it was around the beginning of July — about six weeks ago. It didn’t exactly take that long to complete, because there was a lot of downtime/thinking time/research time thrown in there, noodling out how to accomplish whatever the next step was. It’s definitely not a project to take on when you don’t have alternative transportation of some sort. If I were to do it again, I think I could be done — start to finish — in about a week. If I didn’t get sidetracked or distracted. As if that would ever happen.

The Rustoleum paint turned out pretty well, but one thing that might be an obstacle for some people is the limited number of colors, and the fact that there are no metallic colors; just solid colors. While I was painting I wondered whether this method would maybe work with standard automotive paints. I don’t foresee myself jumping into trying that any time soon, but I also don’t see why it wouldn’t work (as long as the paint doesn’t eat the foam on the roller.) Might be worth a try for someone who has a quart of automotive paint sitting around doing nothing. The Rustoleum is probably a lot cheaper than automotive paint, but I would hazard to guess that you’d use less by rolling it on vs. spraying.

After completing the job, if someone were to ask what is the secret to getting good results with this method, I’d have to list three things; prep, wet-sanding, and buffing. Skimp or screw up on any one of them and your final product will show it. (More on each of those topics at the end of this post.)

Make the jump to see a few photos of the car in process and as it stands today. You can’t really see the deficiencies in the paint, but if you saw it in person they’d be pretty apparent. It’s definitely about a “20 foot” paint job; looks great from a distance, but don’t look too closely. I’ve also added a checklist and step-by-step for the process with some hints from what I learned through the job. Hopefully someone can learn from some of my mistakes.

So That’s Why The Internet Is So Disfunctional!

Filed under: Personal Growth,The World — Tags: , , , , — dave @ 11:58 am 2009/08/14

“By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,
but the lips of the wise will preserve them” – Prov. 14:3

I was reading from Proverbs this morning, and that verse made me think… that first line explains in part why discussion forums on the Internet don’t work very well. When I was a kid in school, if someone lipped off, said something stupid, there were consequences. If what was said was stupid enough, or the kid was just a little obnoxious but persistently so, the consequences often involved a good beatin'; the proverbial “rod for his back”.

Even in adult life, when people are talking face to face they tend to be more civil than the discourse you usually find on the Internet. People tend to be incredibly rude in what they write in comments on blogs, on YouTube, in discussion forums, emailed correspondence, etc… On the Internet, there is a level of anonymity and an unnatural buffer between the ‘speaker’ and the ‘hearer’ that makes people say things they wouldn’t necessarily say in person. It’s a lot harder to be a jerk when you can see your victim’s reaction, or be subject to their temper.

I’d like to think that I’m above that. That I’d not say anything here or in a forum or in an email that I wouldn’t say to someone face to face, but I know I have. And once it’s out there it’s difficult if not impossible to retract. So I guess the solution is to be more self-disciplined in what I write and say, no matter whether I’m online or sitting across the table from you.

Now, how do I get that message across to the rest of the Internet?

Call Me Un-American Then

Filed under: Media Bias,Politics — Tags: , , — dave @ 1:21 pm 2009/08/12

Congress’ August Recess is turning out to be quite interesting. Many Representatives and Senators supporting the Obamacare legislation that’s being ramrodded through Washington have gone home to their constituents & have held “Town Hall Meetings” to help sell the plan to all of us… But it looks like the less-than-cordial reception they’re getting is taking them a bit by surprise. Here’s a video clip of Senator “Agile” Arlen Specter, the Senate’s newest Democrat, & Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius at one such meeting in Philadelphia:

This is fantastic… At least I think it is. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) the President and the leadership of the Democrat majority in both houses of Congress don’t seem to share my excitement. Nancy Pelosi & Steny Hoyer co-authored a post on USA Today criticizing those who would dare to oppose Obama’s health care plan, labeling them as ‘Un-American’. Well, if that’s how the word is defined, call me un-American as well. The funny (sad) thing is that the Democrats were complaining about being labeled un-American & unpatriotic back during the Iraq war; they said then that it was their duty as American citizens to stand up against an administration that was going against the will of the people. Isn’t that exactly what’s going on now, or am I missing something? The big difference between then and now is that their grandstanding actually put the country and our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan at risk. Now it’s their proposed health care reform that’s putting us at risk.

The problem of course, is that Obama and his sycophants in Congress & elsewhere see this as an either/or issue; they offer their version of health care reform, and act as though we either choose between that or the dreaded status quo. Their plan is the best plan — Period. End of discussion. — and no other plan should even be considered. They seem to be holding these Town Hall Meetings more to ‘educate’ the masses and explain to us that they have only our best interests at heart rather than how you’d expect such a meeting to operate, where they’re open to hearing people’s concerns about the health care reform plan and answer questions. We just need to trust them! The problem is that many of us have seen the contents of the bill that “three House committees have passed” already, and we have found much of it to be unacceptable. I’m afraid the level of trust they think they should have just isn’t there.

And all the while Obama is also out there trying his darnedest to sell this package, and his credibility problem is growing even faster than Pelosi’s. He’s out there naming the things in the bill that people are having trouble with, like Federal Health Boards, and end of life counsellors, and the lie about being able to keep our current insurance, and much more, trying to convince people it’s all not true. That it’s not in his plan, when it actually is in the House plan. I can’t figure out if he’s talking about the House version of the plan or some other plan. If he’s got another plan, the rest of the country would sure like to see it; it must be pretty special for him to keep it so secret. So as far as this un-American is concerned, President Obama is lying through his teeth every time he tells us that something isn’t in the plan when we can recite to him chapter and verse to show him where it is in the plan.

Adding to his credibility problem is his attempts to distance himself from what he’s said in the past about his strong support of a single-payer health system; he said it numerous times during the Presidential election campaign and earlier. Yet at every opportunity he says this health plan is not about a single-payer health system and he’s not a proponent of such a system. All you’ve got to do is go to YouTube and type in Obama single payer health care to hear his own words on the subject. Did he change his mind? I don’t know, but I really doubt it. Even his cronies, like Barney Frank, are on record saying that the House plan, with it’s Public Option and provisions to eliminate private options, is a prelude to a single-payer health system. And every time Obama denies it his credibility drops even further.

The Democrat leadership — which is of course being echoed by the mainstream media — is saying that these meetings are being overrun by “angry mobs” that are not only encouraged by the RNC and talk radio to show up and cause trouble, but bussed in and paid for their troubles. Right. (Isn’t it funny how the Democrats accuse the Right of doing the exact things that they are known to do?) Nothing could be further from the truth; these people are hearing what Congress is up to and are truly concerned, and are voicing their frustration about Congress plowing ahead with this plan in spite of the strong opposition they hear from their constituents. I’d be right in there making noise if Tim Johnson or Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin were to hold such a meeting here. These ‘disruptions’ at the Democrats’ Town Hall Meetings are only a taste of what members of Congress can expect to hear from people across the country on this subject if Congress presses ahead and passes this legislation in spite of what they hear from us. I believe our form of government is still known as a Representative Republic, where Representatives are elected to go to Washington to Represent the will of the people; not to go there and decide what’s best for us, based on what the President tells them, what to do.

I’ll admit that the health care system in the US needs some help, but it’s not so far gone that it needs the complete overhaul that Obama and Co. are prescribing. There are other options, and they are acting as if there are only two; go with their nebulous plan or do nothing. If we go with their nebulous plan, with the government in charge, the cure will surely be worse than the disease. In my opinion doing nothing would be by far the more preferable choice, and I’m not alone in that assessment; far from alone.

Maybe this hullaballoo is a good thing overall; we get to see their true colors. Too bad they can’t be at least a little truthful about it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to send an email to flag@whitehouse.gov and turn myself in.

Josh Wilson — Amazing Grace

Filed under: Cool Technology,Faith & Worship,Gadgets,Mac Stuff — Tags: , , , , — dave @ 9:14 pm 2009/08/06

I almost set the title to Josh Wilson — Amazing Guitar, but that’s not the name of the song…

Yvonne & I attended the Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit today (tomorrow too), and after our lunch break we were treated to a couple of songs by Josh Wilson. Josh is an incredibly talented guitarist who does some simply amazing things with his instrument (and some sort of foot-controlled electronic sampling gizmo on the floor.) Here’s a video of the same song, but in a different venue; have a listen, and enjoy!

(And hey; isn’t that a Mac Pro (or G5) in the background?)

When he was first introduced, I had no idea who he was, but I recognized his second song — Savior Please — just a few measures in. It was just him on stage with his guitar and the same sampling gizmo for this song, but he used a microphone to lay down background vocals with his own voice while performing. The sounds coming from just one guy and those two instruments was just… Wow! Here’s that song, again in a different venue and with his band playing along.

Even though he’s put his music up on Tangle and YouTube, I think I’ll have to go and buy it anyway, just to say thanks. I’d suggest you do the same; here are the iTunes links for Amazing Grace and for Savior, Please.

The Secret Life Of Birds

Filed under: Fun! — Tags: , , , — dave @ 9:25 am 2009/08/04

Here’s a super-cute ad for Robinson’s Squash(? I’m guessing that’s UK-speak for ‘juice’). Why don’t we see more clever ads like that (and like the ones for the Sport Ka) here in the US?


What Are The Chances…

Filed under: Fun!,Personal Growth,The Deep,Travel — Tags: , , , , , , — dave @ 10:19 am 2009/08/01

Had a weird one happen yesterday…

Caleb & I drove up to the Twin Cities to go to the Mall of America & goof around a bit. Actually, the Mall thing was more of a secondary excuse for going there, as I’d arranged to buy some needed BMW parts from a guy in St. Paul who was parting out a 528e. But we had a great time at the theme park inside the mall, so it was a great excuse to get us up there!

Anyway, when we finally got to the mall, found a parking spot and walked into the building, we bumped into my niece Kelsey and her mom, my brother’s ex-wife. Wow; what ARE the chances of that happening? For us to be walking in the fourth floor east parking ramp entrance at the same moment that they were walking out the same entrance… It kinda boggles the mind.

We didn’t exactly get to the mall directly… We drove up 35W, and I was looking for signs along the freeway that would tell me which exit to turn off to get to the mall, and didn’t see anything. When I finally decided we’d gone too far north, we were at the University of Minnesota (go Gophers!) Checking the map, I saw that where we were was directly north of the mall (way north, by about 15 miles!), so rather than taking 35W back south, we took the more circuitous route through the city, following Cedar Avenue, which connects directly with Minnesota 77, which passed right by the mall.

That took us to a side of the mall that I hadn’t been to on my previous few visits, and that put us in the east parking ramp, which I guess is a mirror image of the west ramp, which I was originally aiming for. We made a couple of sorties into parking areas only to be frustrated by finding no empty spots. Caleb suggested that we go to the top floor, and I suggested the one just below so we’d be in the shade, so we ended up near the fourth floor. Then we couldn’t find a couple of things in the van and had to hunt around a bit for them. Then we headed into the building for the surprise…

It makes me wonder how things like that come about, and why. All those delays put us in the right place at the right time for something wonderful to happen. I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as a ‘coincidence’. Things happen because they are allowed to happen and we’re guided to appointments that God has arranged for us. We don’t always know what the purpose of those appointments is, nor should we be consumed by trying to interpret what they’re all about… I just have to sit, slack-jawed in awe of the Master of the Universe who can coordinate things so… beautifully.

That incident reminds me of something minor that happened years ago; I happened to look out the back window of our house on Norton at the very moment that a leaf fell from our neighbor’s Silver Maple tree. It was a solitary leaf falling after most of the others fell, and that leaf fell in such a manner, and the wind guided it just so that the hook of the stem caught on a branch of a smaller tree at the back of our yard. Like yesterday’s ‘coincidence’, that made me sit back in wonder at how intricately woven our lives are, and how awesome is the God who orchestrates this marvelous tapestry of our lives.