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Needs a Beer Cooler Under a Bench Seat June 30, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Toys, Uncategorizable.
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I saw this divine dream in the parking lot of the grocery in Chester, California last Sunday.  Never saw the owner, but I would like to suggest he remove the bucket seat and put a beer cooler under a bench seat. CIMG0264 CIMG0263

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That would make it just perfect.

Henry Banister June 30, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Uncategorizable.
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Henry Banister was a friend, a co-worker and co-conspiritor in a number of shady enterprises, like that 3D printer I still intend to build.  Now I’ll have to write the code for it myself. 

He taught me to make an excellent martini, a skill which every adult should have mastered by my age. 

He taught me by example to never be an early adopter and to keep all my packing materials from Amazon.com (sorry, honey).

More seriously, he never purposely hurt another even verbally, and was appalled by those who could even consider it.

Near the end of his life he had really undergone personal transformation, having shed most of his material possesions and his acquisitive habit.  He had built up a frankly frightening collection of books, CDs, DVDs and Renaissance Fair acoutrements, shed them by necessity and finally embraced the freedom of the freedom from possesions.

My Buddhist advisor tells me this was perhaps his reason for being this cycle, his lesson to learn this incarnation, and I know he was actually happy to have finally learned it.  I saw this coming, but in the words of Heinlein, "Being right too soon is socially unacceptable."  I never said anything to him about it…and I’m glad.  There’s no lesson learned except by personal experience and I am happy to tell you he learned his.

I’m sorry I didn’t have any pictures of Henry with his two cats because quoting Heinlein again, “If you would know a man, observe how he treats a cat.” 

His cats were the oldest cats in Alameda; he wept when they died, and never replaced them.

So, I propose a toast to Henry Banister, a friend to me and mine.  May he in his next incarnation have an easier lesson, and so may we all.

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A Sexy New Implant June 30, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brain, Science.
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Researchers have developed the first memory prosthetic device—a neural implant that, in rats, restored lost brain function and improved short-term memory retention, evidence that the brain’s complex neural code can be both interpreted and reproduced to aid memory conversion from short-term to  long-term storage.

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Neurophysiologist Samuel Deadwyler of Wake Forest University first trained the rats to press two different levers in succession. The animals learned to press one lever as it was presented to them and then, after a delay, remember which they’d pressed and choose the other one the second time around while the two sets of tiny electrodes recorded the activity of individual neurons on the right and left sides of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that consolidates short-term memory by processing information as it passes through multiple layers. Another set of electrodes—eight on the right, eight on the left—monitored signals being sent from neurons in the CA3 layer area of the hippocampus and another 16 monitored the outgoing signals received by neurons in the CA1 layer.

Biomedical engineer/neuroscientist Theodore Berger (U. of So. Cal.) and Deadwyler decoded the neuron’s activity during a correct sequence, hinting at the formation of a real short-term memory. They then stimulated the nerves with the implant in the same pattern and retested the rats. This time, the animals made fewer mistakes and could remember which lever to press even after long delays. The researchers blocked memory formation with  drugs, and found that the rats could still remember which lever to press if they were juiced with the correct neural impulse pattern—nice proof of concept.

The chip (and its set of electrodes) holds an program that deciphers and the reproduces the neural messages that the CA3 layer of the brain sends to CA1. Its creators believe that an implant built on the same principles with gnarlier hardware could improve memory in people with brain damage.  And, of course, there’s the Jeopardy! show.

Berger and Deadwyler plan to move their research into nonhuman primates.

Another Goal of 3D Printing June 30, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome.
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3D printing is all about making things rapidly for relatively cheap and is still referred to as “rapid prototyping”, which is what it is.  It’s an iterative design-manifestation procedure.  It can be more, however. Engineers at Oregon State University have discovered a way for the first time to create successful “CIGS” (copper, indium, gallium and selenium) solar devices with inkjet printing.  This turns out to be a very cheap way to get the alloys right, because you make a layer that’s two microns thick instead of fifty microns thick.  This makes it much cheaper to manufacture than methods like vacuum sputtering, and allows much more complex wiring at smaller dimensions. Researchers were able to create an ink that could print chalcopyrite (CIGS) onto substrates with this inkjet approach, resulting in a solar cell with a power conversion efficiency of about 5 percent. The OSU researchers say that with continued research they should be able to achieve an efficiency of about 12 percent, which would make a commercially viable solar cell…at a reduced cost.

The findings have been published in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, which is pretty instructive reading.

A Modest Achievement June 30, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Science, Uncategorizable.
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Just kidding—this is real news.  Researchers at St. Michael’s have reversed Type 1 diabetes in mice by injecting them with GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid); not a small thing.  Now a mouse is not a man, but this looks really promising.

In Type 1, beta cells in the pancreas are attacked by the immune system.  Dead beta cells do not produce insulin, hence diabetes. GABA apparently signals the immune system to leave the beta cells alone, restoring life and function to them.  It also signals the pancreas to grow more of them.

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A team led by Dr. Qinghua Wang, in the division of endocrinology and metabolism, and Dr. Gerald Prud’homme, in the division of pathology, studied the role of GABA. Drs. Wang and Prud’homme are both clinician scientists in the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital. Their findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Seriously, remember these guys.  They will be in history books and your kids will need to remember this to pass middle-school biology class.

This Time, a Seagull June 29, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Uncategorizable, Video.
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Anybody who has been following this august journal knows why this is here.

Distilled Quentin Tarantino June 15, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorizable, Video.
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NSFW, headphones only, etc. Three minutes and twenty seconds of distilled Tarantino.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This is here only because I enjoy ragging on Tarantino, a hack director if ever there was one.

Teach Yourself Visual Basic 2008 in 24 Hours June 13, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books, Brilliant words, Toys.
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James Foxall’s book, Teach Yourself Visual Basic 2008 in 24 Hours: Complete Starter Kit , is a very helpful introduction to persons like myself who have no background in programming, programming for Windows, programming for Windows in .NET or, in fact, any skill in the art whatsoever.  It’s that basic and for that reason I heartily recommend it.  I’m a complete novice in the programming world (unless you count a semester in 1984 and a six-week course in 1997).  And after using this book I still can’t do much, but at least I know where to start.

Foxall’s approach is to assume you can install software on a Windows box and take it from there.  The starter’s copy of Visual Basic is on a disk supplied (as is Visual C#, my next project in this vein), and it’s pretty much just your ability to follow instructions and pay attention to get through the book.  You will still have a lot to learn, but at least other books in this subject won’t be completely greek to you. 

And there is the sublime glow of accomplishment.

So, do it like the book says: one hour a day.  Take Sundays off.  You’ll be done in a month and ready for the big time books.

Misuse of Slang June 13, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books.
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This Dame for Hire by Sandra Scoppettone isn’t bad for a detective novel, I guess; it may just be that I’m not the detective novel-reading type.  The reader, Laura Hicks, really breathes life into the characters, what with characterization, accents and nifty changes of register(!).  I really enjoyed the sense of time and place (New York during WWII, when she is forced from secretary to detective because the boss is drafted).  And the pacing is probably standard for a detective novel, although I can’t be sure because I don’t read them (Raymond Chandler aside).

The thing that throws me is the use, misuse and abuse and above all, overuse of slang. “’Putting on the feedbag", "freeze my tootsies", "fell on my keister", "a cigar clenched between his choppers", "eyeballed my gams", "opened my big yap", "coppers", "hooper dooper", "John Q. Public", "ankling down the street". And that’s just a partial list from the first 10 pages.’” to quote a bookworm from Amazon’s review page.  Normal people don’t use slang that much when telling a story; Damon Runyon didn’t, and he was famous for slang use.

Seriously, the only people who use this much slang anywhere are rappers, who really are trying to be something out of (bad) fiction anyway (if I want to hear someone shout obscenities at me in an incoherent manner I only have to cut one off in traffic).  Sandra Scoppettone should try to seem more real, rather than less.  I am willing to bet she moderates this in her next Faye Quick novel, although I’m surprised her editor didn’t put a stop to it in this one.

Microdrones of the Serengeti June 3, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Video.
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I found this on Gizmodo.com which I realize my mother does not read, so I put it here.

Interview Technique June 1, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Uncategorizable.
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A firmware engineer observes a project manager candidate being interviewed.  Several other project managers in the group interview him, one at a time.  Later in the day, the engineer notices two project managers interviewing the candidate.  The candidate is escorted out by one of the interviewers, so the engineer asks the remaining project manager:

“Does the interview go faster if you add another interviewer?”

She did not seem to understand the implication of that question.