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

Happy Birthday Dr. Who, Plus A Bunch Of Jokes Really Fast

Filed under: Fun!,Geek — dave @ 10:16 am 2013/11/23

In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the first airing of Dr. Who, here is a goofy Dalek joke from the Vlog brothers, mixed in with a bunch of other goofy jokes. I was too busy laughing (at some of them) to pay attention to the count… I’ll take his word for it there are 53. And some are quite good.

Also, gotta love Google’s Dr. Who doodle for today:

More Vlog Brothers’ Joke Videos: 31 Jokes for Nerds, 50 More Jokes, 50 Jokes in 4 Minutes and 50 Jokes.

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Ride The Booster

Filed under: Geek,Space,Travel — dave @ 7:25 am 2013/08/05

Stuff like this fascinates me. The video is made from actual footage from cameras that rode along on two different shuttle flights, and shows the view from one of the booster rockets. The sounds I think are artificial (added after the fact by Skywalker Sound) but still add a lot to the effect of the video.

Hat tip to Break.com (for this one, and lots of other entertaining posts!)

YouTube link

Lunar Lander

Filed under: Cool Technology,Fun!,Geek — Tags: , , , — dave @ 11:34 pm 2011/05/30

Ian and I were watching 2001: A Space Odyssey just now, and the scene where the ship lands on the Moon reminded me of the old Atari Lunar Lander game I used to play (and play and play) at the arcades. (strangely, I seem to remember playing the game in my early high school years, but according to the Wikipedia article above, it didn’t come out until 1979. Hmmm…)

But after playing the online version on Atari’s site I wonder why I have such fond memories of it; it’s not easy. And the games are over pretty quickly. Back in the day you’d be plugging a quarter in it for every play, and you only start out with enough fuel for one or two landings. Maybe I liked it because I had so much invested in it. Or maybe it’s just my memory on its way out.

Much easier to enjoy now that there’s a Flash version online that’s free to play. And there are lots of other spin-offs from it as well, like this one from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Cool stuff.

Any chance I can have my quarters back?

It’s The Geeks’ Fault

Filed under: Geek,Just Stuff,The World — Tags: , , — dave @ 3:59 pm 2011/05/27

At least in Italy anyway…

Italian government officials have accused the country’s top seismologist of manslaughter, after failing to predict a natural disaster that struck Italy in 2009, a massive devastating earthquake that killed 308 people.

Enzo Boschi, the president of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), will face trial along with six other scientists and technicians, after failing to predict the future and the impending disaster.

The seven scientists were placed under investigation almost a year ago, according to a news story on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) — the world’s largest general-science society and a leading voice for the interests of scientists worldwide.

Alan Leschner, chief executive of AAAS, said his group wrote a letter to the Italian government last year — clearly, to no avail.

“Whoever made these accusations misunderstands the nature of science, the nature of the discipline and how difficult it is to predict anything with the surety they expect,” Leschner told FoxNews.com.

The case could have a “chilling effect” on scientists, he noted.

“It reflects a lack of understanding about what science can and can’t do,” he said. “And frankly, it will have an effect of intimidating scientists … This just feels like either scapegoating or an attempt to intimidate a community. This really seems inappropriate.”

Judge Giuseppe Romano Gargarella said that the seven defendants had supplied “imprecise, incomplete and contradictory information,” in a press conference following a meeting held by the committee 6 days before the quake, reported the Italian daily Corriere della Sera

In doing so, they “thwarted the activities designed to protect the public,” the judge said.

Can these people be serious? Do these government officials be so clueless as to think that the field of seismology is precise enough to predict accurately when major natural events like earthquakes will happen? Seismology, like much of science, is more of an exercise in observation and hypothetical correlation; watching what the earth does and making guesses as to what made it do what it just did. I would think that if the technology existed to predict earthquakes, wouldn’t it have been used in an earthquake-prone place like Japan?

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Yet Another Reason Windows Blows

Filed under: Computers,Geek — Tags: , , — dave @ 3:13 pm 2011/02/11

The PC users at work are pretty much standardized on Windows XP, but a couple of people use applications that are slated to be upgraded soon, and one of the requirements with that upcoming new version is Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. I had zero seat time on Win7, so to prepare for that upgrade I installed it on my computer a few months back. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to XP just yet, so I thought I’d be smart & set it up to dual-boot between XP and 7. That process went pretty smoothly — so much so that I don’t even recall how exactly I did it. After a few initial glitches, playing with testing 7 went pretty well, and it’s now been a long time since I’ve needed to jump back to XP. I’m finding that 7 is much more stable and user-friendly than XP (go figure… I’m even liking some features, like the one-key jump to the Search Programs & Files thing, which is very similar to QuickSilver’s app launching feature on the Mac) so it’s here to stay on my desktop.

Last week I ordered a couple of new Dell machines to replace some older hardware elsewhere in the building, and both of them arrived with Win7 already installed. Both had more horsepower than my (then) current desktop machine, so I decided exercise my prerogative as Preventer of Information Services to shuffle my year-old desktop down to one of the other users and drop one of the new machines on my own desk. Migrating my stuff over to the new machine — Windows 7 to Windows 7 — was pretty slick (another nice Win7 feature, but what about moving apps?), but when I set about ridding the machine of the dual-boot situation, I ran into a snag…

When I set up the XP/7 dual boot, I installed 7 on a second hard drive, thinking that when I decided to either go back to XP or stay with 7 I could just pull the other drive and sail along on my happy way. After all, it’s worked that way with the Mac OS since about forever… (must’ve been lulled into thinking the guys at Redmond had made some legitimate advancements to the Windows platform.) I shut down, pulled out the XP disk, and the computer refused to boot. Fantabulous.

So to Google I goed, and found lots of help to get me where I needed to be, but it was far from easy… The short of it is, I had to boot up in XP, copy the boot record files from the XP drive/partition over to the Win7 drive/partition, boot up with the Win7 installer disk, go into the Repair mode, jump into the command line and enter some magical incantations, and finally it would boot up from the Win7 drive. Of course it took me quite a while to actually get there… The video below was the best set of instructions I found to get the job done, but because that tutorial deals with a dual-boot setup on one disk and deleting the XP partition, I had to make several adjustments along the way. Plus, setting this computer up was one of those peripheral tasks I was doing while doing a couple of other things, so it was more of a minor annoyance; I was about this close to just nuking the disk and reinstalling from scratch when the planets aligned and everything came together. All’s well that ends well, I guess.

Windows 7 is definitely an improvement over XP, but it’s still no Mac OS X.

“It’s Precision Technology!”

Filed under: Gadgets,Geek — Tags: , , , — dave @ 8:12 pm 2011/01/30

Here’s something fun; a ‘manual’ straight from Haynes on Wallace & Gromit’s Cracking Contraptions!

I’ve probably enjoyed the Wallace & Gromit claymation movies more than the kids; Gromit is probably the most entertaining of the pair, even though he never speaks a word.

A few favorites from YouTube
The Tellyscope
The Bully-Proof Vest
And The Turbo Diner“That’s 300 horsepower of pure suck! Not bad, eh?”

Gawker FAIL!

Filed under: Geek — Tags: , — dave @ 5:26 pm 2010/12/15

Gawker Media is the 500lb gorilla of the blogosphere, owning a pile of very popular websites. One of my favorite websites — Jalopnik — belongs to them. I’ve followed Jalopnik since long before they were swallowed up by Gawker, and while the format has become a little too… Gawker-ish in recent years, I still visit once in a while. The commenting system now used on Jalopnik is part of the Gawker family commenting system, and it absolutely bites, and is the target of many complaints by the Jalopnik crowd, but it is what it is, and I put up with it.

Sometime last weekend the Gawker commenting system got hacked and their user information was “compromised.” So every time you go to a Gawker website you see dire warnings about the problem and that you need to reset your password right frickin away! Being the good netizen that I am, I did that. Or at least I tried to did that. But in order to change your password you first need to enter your old password, and since I cookied mine long, long ago, I don’t remember what I entered as a password.

The password change dialog has a reset password button, but when I hit that & entered my email — the one that I originally associated with my Jalopnik account — I would get a new password, but the login name differed from the one I had originally set up; it was the same as the first part of my email address. And when I would log in with that name, it was a brand new account with zero comment history and zero friends and zero everything. Great.

Subsequent password reset requests were entered, but they all pointed back to that new account that I wanted to forget instead of my comfortable old account. I wasn’t happy. I got really unhappy when I hit the log-out button then tried logging back in to reset the password; now I was apparently locked out of my account and couldn’t get back in.

I read through the Gawker apology a number of times trying to figure out where I went wrong, and in the end I figured it out on my own. It turned out the problem was that my account had been grandfathered-in from the old Jalopnik system, and didn’t have my email address on file. Thankfully, even though I had logged out a few days ago, when I went back to Jalopnik today it showed that I was indeed logged in! And my work computer was apparently set to log me in automatically too, so that was another gateway I had to my original account.

What I did to fix it is this…

  1. Went into the new account (using Firefox instead of Safari) and changed the email address to something other than what I wanted to use on the real account.
  2. Went into the real account and set my email address — that field was empty — to the address I wanted in there.
  3. Clicked on the Password button in the real account,
  4. Clicked on the Password Reset button; that triggered an email to be sent out with a new password and my old login name!
  5. With that fresh password, I was able to go in & set my password to what I wanted.
  6. Whew!

I guess I need to take some responsibility in this; how long has my account been without an email address? That’s something I probably should have checked right away. But isn’t the missing email address something that the Gawker overlords could have easily picked up on? And how easy would it have been for them to narrow down which accounts were missing the email address and alert those account owners on their next visit to a Gawker-owned site?

So if you’re having problems getting your Gawker password changed, click Edit Profile on your account to see if there is a password there; if not, put one in there. And if you’ve already tried changing your password and ended up with a worthless new account, do the same with that account and give it a different email address. But if you’ve managed to lock yourself out of your account, and can’t get back in… I’ve got nothing but sympathy for you as you try to get back in. Good luck!

A Nocturnal Work Aid

Filed under: Cool Technology,Gadgets,Geek — dave @ 1:18 am 2010/11/29

I picked one of these headlamps up on sale at Lowe’s yesterday for $12 — it was the last of a Black Friday special on the shelf — and it’s already earned its keep, although my neighbors must think I’ve lost some marbles… Tonight Bryce & I spent the last hour of the day (11 to midnight!) hanging Christmas lights on the outside of the house (before the weather turns sour tomorrow) and yesterday I used it to finish up the front end rebuild under the 735i; finished that one up about 10 pm.

These headlamps are just a huge help in working on a car, and so much better than the old-fashioned trouble light. Wearing it on my forehead, it puts the light right where it needs to be without a light fixture getting in the way, as is the case with a trouble light. I turn my head, the light goes with it so I can see what I’m looking at. I haven’t used it during the day, but it would even being a huge help then; if I’m under a car it seems the light is never good, and this thing will do the same trick then.

My new headlamp has three lighting modes,

  • Bright 1-watt LED spot; ~ 45 lumens, 11 hour run time
  • 2 bright Nichia LED’s flood; ~ 28 lumens, 50 hour run time
  • 2 bright red night vision LED and 75 hour run time

About the only thing I don’t like about it is the switch; it’s a push-button switch on the top of the lamp. One click turns on the 1-watt LED, second click turns on the red LEDs, third click turns on the flood light, and the fourth turns it off. The switch is also a bit difficult to click, which may be a defect of some sort with my particular unit. But the don’t-likes are pretty minor issues; all in all it’s a great little tool.

I do think I’ll put some day-glow orange or pink paint on it though so it doesn’t get lost like my last headlamp did.

The Importance of Multi-Platform Browser Testing

Filed under: Computers,Geek — dave @ 8:41 pm 2010/11/02

The SD Secretary of State’s office put up a nice reference to display election results tonight, Election Night 2010. Must be a new system because I don’t remember the look from the 2008 election. But when I pulled it up in Safari (5.0.2), it was obvious that somebody didn’t do their homework. I was pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to look like this.

Now here is the same page, as viewed in Firefox 3.6.8:

I’m not sure what the Secretary of State office’s annual budget is, nor what they allocated for this website, but you would think they would’ve spent a little time to make sure it displays properly in a browser that probably comprises ten percent of the hits they’ll receive tonight. One can only guess what it looks like in IE 6 & 7; I’m guessing it looks worse, and they’ll make up another 20 percent.

The sound you hear is my eyes rolling.

Vox Day

Filed under: Geek,Links,Politics — Tags: , , — dave @ 8:35 pm 2010/08/18

I’ve never heard of this guy before, just bumped into his blog while Googling for something totally unrelated. But after reading this paragraph — a comment on wildly inaccurate temperatures recorded by NOAA — VOX POPOLI may be added to my blogroll, and my daily reading list…

Needless to say, restructuring the global economy on the basis of conclusions drawn from data of this sort wouldn’t be so much stupid as absolutely and certifiably insane. As for the so-called “scientific consensus”, remember two things. 1) Most people are idiots. 2) All scientists are people. Ergo, it is safe to assume that most scientists are idiots, especially when one takes into account their apparent inability to understand either a) that science depends upon capitalist wealth not government largess, and, b) that the basic laws of supply and demand apply to their profession as well as their academic credentials.

Reading through some of the background stuff on his site leads me to believe that he is the anti-xtcian. Seriously.

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