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

Spooky Tooth Death Race

Filed under: Bikes,Fun! — Tags: , — dave @ 9:01 pm 2010/03/27

Here’s an event I’d love to attend, just for fun; the Spooky Tooth Bike Shop’s annual Death Race! Not an actual death race (as in the really bad movie with the same name) just a fun annual event which is pretty much just an excuse for a customers together to show off their wacked out motorized creations. And an opportunity for Spooky Tooth to say thank you to their customers, and for their vendors to show off some of their new stuff. But it looks like a total blast!

death_race

I stumbled across their website a while back whilst shopping for an electric motor for my bike, and have been getting their newsletters ever since. Spooky Tooth specializes in retrofit kits to add a gas motor to a standard bike; they also sell some pretty funky bikes, and of course they sell funky bikes with motors on them too. I’ve got an electric motor on my bike, but have considered a gas engine as well; they’re a bit louder, and you’ve got the exhaust smell to deal with, but what you’d gain in range might be worth the tradeoffs. Harlan’s Bike & Tour in Sioux Falls sells some bikes that are similar in design, and I’ve seen some motorized bikes running in & out of their parking lot, so I’m sure there would be some local help in getting things rolling.

But the ultimate cool would be one of the crazy fat-tired retro monstrosities you see on Spooky Tooth’s site. One of these days…

Happy Tolkien Reading Day!

Filed under: Favorite Things,Fun! — Tags: , , — dave @ 3:28 pm 2010/03/25

Today is Tolkien Reading Day; go enjoy your favourite J.R.R. Tolkien book for a while today!

I’ve read Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy a number of times, but I think the book of his that was most enjoyable was The Hobbit. I’ll have to sit down with a copy tonight… And maybe a pint of bitters lifted in memory of old Tollers!

hobbit_cover

I’ve also read The Children of Húrin and The Silmarillion; the latter is almost necessary background reading in order for The Lord of the Rings to make sense. The Children of Húrin is sort of an oddity in that it was never completed during Tolkien’s lifetime; his son, Christopher, used the original manuscripts to build the final work which was published in 2007, almost 90 years in process! It’s a bit of an odd story too; the Wikipedia page has a good summary, although I’d recommend avoiding the spoiler if you’re going to read the book.

Whatever your favourite, be sure to pick up a volume and spend some time in Middle Earth today!

It’s A Passing Lane, Not A Parking Lane!

Filed under: Cars!,The World — dave @ 9:33 pm 2010/03/24

This YouTube video is a great reminder of why it’s a good idea to stay in the right lane unless you’re actually passing another car:

Yes, it’s true we don’t typically have Corvette’s screaming down I-90 or I-29 at around 160 mph (actually, that’s not outside the realm of possibility during Corvette Classic Rally week) but I’d still argue that it’s a good idea to reserve the left lane for passing. No matter how fast you travel, whether at the speed limit or a few miles over it, it seem that there’s always someone going faster. Driving the freeways around Sioux Falls, it’s not uncommon to find some yokel lollygagging along in the left lane while people are passing him on the right. More common though is to come up behind someone driving alongside another car at the same speed, creating a rolling roadblock.

I encountered this not too long ago… A pack of four cars driving about 60 (in a 65 zone where most people drive just under 75); three in the right lane and one in the left. I came up behind the car in the left lane & flashed my high-beams to let him know I’d like to get through. The guy in the driver’s seat turned himself almost completely around & to show me his middle finger! After that demonstration of civility, he did move out of the way, but swerved his car at me a bit as I passed him. I was able to resist the temptation to return fire.

Me; I try to stay out of the left lane on the highway whenever possible. Of course, there are times when not always possible to get out of the way as quickly as some people would like… But that’s their problem!

What Changes Will The Next 18 Years Bring?

Filed under: Computers,Cool Technology,Geek,Mac Stuff,Old Things — dave @ 10:01 am 2010/03/23

I was digging through my Sitemeter visitor stats a few days ago, and noticed again with a bit of wonder that one of the posts that consistently sees a fair bit of traffic is the one about the 68000 dash 30fx computer I have at home. The dash 30fx a monster of a Macintosh clone that was built without Apple’s blessing in the early ’90′s. The manufacturer got away with it by building the computer around the logic board of a IIfx purchased from Apple. The IIfx was no slouch in its day, but the 30fx stepped things up to the next rung, but at a high price.

dash_30fx_front_sm.jpg

You can read more about that relic in the old post, but seeing a bump in interest on that page made me wonder whether some of that traffic might be driven by some new chatter about those computers. So I did a little searching, and came up with several Google Books hits that I hadn’t seen before. One of them was a Network World article from June 15, 1992:
network_world_29_1992_06-15

The part that got me…

The network had to be Ethernet-based in order to accommodate the Macintosh equipment. But the bandwidth constraints of a conventional Ethernet LAN were insufficient for transmitting images ranging from 100M to 300M bytes in size.

That’s a blast from the past. I remember the days of 10baseT ethernet all too well, when pushing a 100MB file over an AppleTalk network would take a matter of minutes, and 300MB… Start the transfer and go take a coffee break! It makes me feel a bit old. The digital prepress shop described in the article sounds amazingly similar to to our shop at CCL where we used the dash 30fx along with a IIfx, some Quadra 950′s, a LaserWriter, a couple of Sun SPARCstation 2s (which served as raster image processors (RIPs) for a DuPont Crosfield imagesetter). Our operation was a lot smaller than the one described in the article, as we only had one Crosfield — they had ten. They may have had more equipment, but still dealt with the same constraints in moving data around the network.

I started work for CCL in 1991, and moved to the graphics department about a year later. I worked in traditional stripping, proof & platemaking for a while before transferring to the digital art department. Not long after getting in the door, the department’s tech guy decided to venture out on his own & started a digital imaging company. I was “promoted” to fill his shoes, providing tech support for the department in addition to my regular duties. In that position, one of my first tasks/learning opportunities was to move a couple of pieces of equipment around in the department, which involved making a couple of changes on the old thinnet daisy chain network. I started the job on a Friday afternoon after everybody else had left, and could not get it working again. Thinnet was as quirky as it gets; throughput may have been slow, but reliability & configuration flexibility were awful. That made the speed less of an issue I guess.

One of the projects my predecessor had started but hadn’t finished was upgrading the network in the department to 10Base-T twisted pair ethernet. The network drops were in place and most of the pieces were there, but we were still waiting on a few last pieces so we weren’t quite ready to pull the trigger on it. The trouble I had that evening helped me decide we were ready enough, so I blasted forward with the 10Base-T and figured I’d deal with the missing pieces afterward. I didn’t see much hope in getting the thinnet working, so even if I spent the whole weekend finishing the project up, I figured I could spend the same time with the thinnet and still end up with a slow dodgy network that might still not work. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I had everything installed and working in less than an hour (after screwing around with the thinnet for four hours just trying to get it to work.) The few devices still on thinnet stayed on a little sub-network, with a Mac bridging the two segments. We limped along like that for a week or so until the rest of the equipment showed up, but just having things working — and working at five times the previous network speed — made it more than worthwhile. My boss was impressed!

I learned a lot on that first 10Base-T ethernet network; the 10 megabit speed in AppleTalk, combined with those early machines made image processing pretty time consuming. In 1992, pushing a 100MB file around the network indeed took a while, plus disk space was very expensive, so all kinds of extra work went into making things as compact as possible. Even on the state-of-the-art RIP running on that 90MHz Sparc 20 workstation, an eight-page layout literally took hours to process before it would begin imaging. A lot of times, we’d set up a layout, send it to the RIP and let the RIP chew on it overnight; if we somehow made a mistake somewhere along the line (it happened; not often, but it happened) we’d have to fix the foible & start all over again. Even before the job went to the RIP we’d examine the Quark, Illustrator & Photoshop files trying to find places we could streamline things a bit; Photoshop images that were scaled and/or rotated in Quark or Illustrator would take extra RIP time, so we’d take the time to re-do those files in Photoshop so they would be placed at 100% with no rotation.

Now though, eighteen years later, with RIPs running multiple 3GHz processors (with multiple cores), 4GB of memory, and gigabit ethernet, that same eight-page spread takes a matter of minutes to send to the RIP and for the RIP to process it. And modern operating systems, gigabit ethernet NIC’s and faster hardware make file transfers of several gigabytes pretty much a non-issue. Then there is disk space; one of the first purchases I had to make was a 1GB SCSI hard drive to replace one that had died in a Macintosh Quadra 950. I don’t remember exactly what I paid for it, but I know it was in the neighborhood of $1,000. Now you can buy a 1 terabyte drive for under $100! So with disk space so cheap and network transfer speeds so fast, the time we spent trimming file sizes and optimizing placement seems a total waste.

The years I’ve spent in this business have pretty much flown by At this point in my career, I’m probably in it for the duration. But thinking about how much things have changed since I started back in 1992 really makes me wonder what kind of changes and improvements the next 18 years will bring; cheaper, faster, smarter…

Crap

Filed under: Media Bias,Politics — Tags: , — dave @ 11:58 pm 2010/03/22

It’s been a crazy-busy day for me today, one that followed by an even crazier day for the folks in our nation’s capital, and that one word title kinda sums up my reaction to the day.

Crap.

As in what I said when I heard Obama’s poorly named “Health Care Reform” bill barely got the votes needed to pass it.

Crap.

As in what the politicians supporting this bill are full of and are spreading around thick. Example: Our Glorious President said last week that this bill will add “almost a decade of solvency to Medicare;” wonderful, but what happens after that? And does anybody else notice the irony in a statement like that being used to defend a program that will make Medicare look like a first-aid box by comparison? How long will Obamacare program stay solvent? And what new and bigger-still program will be proposed to extend Obamacare’s solvency when it’s suffered a few decades of expansion and three card monte at the hands of politicians?

They say it will ‘only’ cost just shy of a trillion dollars, but it will reduce the deficit by hundreds of billions in the first ten years. Bull crap. What they don’t tell us is that “$53 billion of the $118 billion “lower” deficit over the next 10 years comes from Social Security payroll tax revenues that result from the increase in wages that employers will offer employees instead of health insurance.” Horse hockey. But what about the burgeoning number of Social Security recipients that will be on the government dole in the next ten years? Seems like the CBO might have missed that little detail.

There’s also the matter of some $463 billion in cuts to the Medicare program over the next decade. While Obamacare essentially adds how many millions of people to the Medicare rolls? The cost to run Medicare isn’t going to magically shrink in the coming years; it seems like every day you hear something about some pharmacy chain or hospital or group of doctors that refuse to see any new Medicare patients because when they bill Medicare for services rendered, they either don’t get paid or get paid a fraction of the bill. It also looks like the Feds will just push some of those costs off to the states and make them worry about where it comes from. Can you say “unfunded mandate”? Last I heard there were already eleven states lining up to bring suit against the Federal Government once Obama signs this thing into law. (and what do you wanna bet that nobody in Congress or the CBO took legal costs into consideration.)

Crap.

As in what this bill is worth.

If you listen to the Democrats and the mainstream media, this bill is full of Sunshine and Rainbows and Puppy Dogs. It’s passage is important not only for the President’s Legacy, but it will also reduce the deficit, be revenue-neutral, cure blindness, eliminate hunger, cool the climate, slow the rise of the oceans, heal the planet… (sorry; different speech.) Meanwhile the Republicans counter with their own version of what this bill will accomplish, and paints a somewhat less rosy picture. Somehow I think the reality of the thing be somewhere in between, but as trustworthy as the Democrats have proven to be since taking control of Washington, I’d say the Republican version is closer to reality. The good that’s in it is more than outweighed by the bad in it. Like a pan of brownies made with all the best ingredients, but has had a half cup of dog crap mixed in. I don’t care how great the other ingredients are, you won’t catch me eating one.

Yup. Crap is the word.

It’s Not If We Will Worship…

Filed under: Faith & Worship — dave @ 10:20 am 2010/03/21

but what…
   or who…

A short but excellent video was shown leading up to today’s worship service at Central. You can view it for free at SermonSpice.com.

Wonder is the basis of worship. Worship is transcendent wonder.
— Thomas Carlyle

Worship can never be a performance… [but] an overflow of your heart.
— Matt Redman

Express the same delight in God which made David dance.
— C.S. Lewis

Payless Text Spam. Grrrrrrrr

Filed under: Just Stuff — Tags: , , — dave @ 1:44 pm 2010/03/19

Since getting a cell phone a few years ago, I’ve received a number of unsolicited text messages. There haven’t been a lot of them, so dealing with them is little more than a minor bother, but because my plan with Verizon doesn’t include unlimited texting each one of them costs me fifteen cents. Again, not a huge deal, but the fact that their spam is costing me money (even a little bit) is more than a little irksome.

Today I got a spam from PAYLESS INSIDER.

From: 242-424
PAYLESS INSIDER: Take
20% off during the Easter
Sale @Payless! Use codo
3XXXX thru 4/4. Txt END1
or 866-746-5923 to
Opt-Out. Msg&Data rates
may apply. Not@Shopko

I can remember receiving about a half dozen messages from Payless before, but never did anything with them, fearing that following their opt-out instructions might just make matters worse (with a lot of email-based spam, the opt-out instructions will only serve to confirm to the spammers that your email address is legitimate and make it that much more valuable.) I hadn’t bought anything from Payless for years, and even if I had, I certainly wouldn’t have given them my cell number, nor any hint that I was even remotely interested in their pseudo bargains.

But today my sore back made me grumpy enough to want to do something about this one, so I went to the Payless Shoes website looking for contact information. The Customer Service link lists an email address, so I clicked on it & drafted a short but terse note asking if they were responsible for the unsolicited text messages. I didn’t really expect to hear back from them, but hitting send (forcefully!) made me feel a little better. My back still hurt, but it helped a little anyway.

Much to my surprise, I did get a response about an hour later:

Dear David,

Thank you for contacting Payless ShoeSource.
We apologize that you were inconvenienced by our message. Please rest assured that your comments have been forwarded to our marketing staff.

All of the phone numbers called during this marketing campaign were collected at the time of checkout in our stores. These numbers have not been bought or sold through any outside marketing firms. You may remove your phone number from this database by calling

1-866-746-5923.

Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback.

Tyler
Payless ShoeSource Customer Support Center
1-877-474-6379

Well isn’t that dandy? If what’s said in that note is true, someone other than me gave my number at the time of checkout; sure as heck wasn’t me. That (on top of my still-sore back) ticked me off enough to chance a call to that number, halfway hoping to get a real person just for the chance to vent a little. Un(?)fortunately, calls to that number end up in an automated answering system where one of the options is to have your number removed from their call list. I clicked a few buttons in response to the queries, and the pleasant female voice assured me that my number has been removed. Time will tell. Either way, it’ll be a long, long time before I consider buying anything from them.

Now, time to look for a little something in the medicine drawer — or the bottom of a bottle — to help dull the hurting in my lower back…

Oh No! Not Mr. Bendo!

Filed under: Fun!,Just Stuff — Tags: , — dave @ 11:23 am 2010/03/18

It’s a sad day. Mr. Bendo, a Sioux Falls landmark since 1963, fell victim to a drunk driver last night. Some bozo who’d had a few too many tried to take the corner at 12th and Cliff Ave. a little too fast and knocked Mr. Bendo’s right leg out from under him. According to a story posted at ksfy.com, the owner plans to fix the leg and put him back up.

Mr_Bendo_2 Mr_Bendo_1

I took a little detour past Buck’s Muffler on my way to work this morning, hoping to get a photo of the carnage, but all I saw was two guys with a hose & a broom cleaning up the mess. I hope they get Mr. Bendo put back together and back in place just as quickly!

Magical Economics

Filed under: Media Bias,Politics — Tags: , , — dave @ 10:18 am 2010/03/17

Wow; this guy is in-stinkin’-credible! Now he’s telling us that if his Health Care Insurance Reform somehow makes it through Congress, we and our health insurance providing employers will see 3000% reductions in our insurance premiums. Three thousand percent!

Of course, it was a slip of the tongue or more likely a teleprompter miscue, but still… If it had been George W. Bush making a mistake like this, the media would be all over it, but again, our President can do no wrong. This guy is supposed to be the brightest bulb to grace the White House in centuries; shouldn’t he have caught that flub or at least corrected himself after he said it? And what about the adoring crowd? Was no one listening to what the man actually said and applying any critical thinking before cheering madly?

It seems the man is in permanent campaign mode, constantly trying to sell us something, even when polls show that we don’t want what he’s selling, and the facts show him to be dead wrong. Even Congressional Democrats are afraid to vote on it fearing a backlash come November.

Twenty K!

Filed under: About This Site — dave @ 9:05 am 2010/03/16

A milestone slipped by me over the weekend; 20,000 visitors to this site, as measured by my Sitemeter account. Fifteen thousand went by without much hoopla, but thought I’d at least mention it for twenty.

Looking back at my other posts celebrating other milestones, the pace is picking up a bit; 10,000 was towards the end of June last year, so it took about nine months to add 10,000. Before that, I hit 5,000 in early December of 2008; adding 5,000 took a little over six months. We’ll see how quickly 30,000 comes. The one constant is that Google is my best friend; direct hits to the site are few & far between, but there’s a pretty steady stream of referrals from Google searches. The most recent favorite is my post on the Citroen CV2 Rat Rod, but the Ford Freestar trailer wiring post and the Plymouth minivan instrument cluster post remain perennial favorites.

At the risk of letting the exuberating get out of hand, I celebrated the occasion by picking up a roll (chocolate-covered Bavarian cream-filled Long John!) from Sunshine on my way to work today.

choc_long_john

Yeah; I really know how to live.

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