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Really Long Title for a Really Good Book December 30, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words.
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Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson is a nifty dive into the waters of the history and theory of innovation.  That said, it’s my favorite kind of history: like James Burke’s Connections , it illuminates the way connections of various kinds foster, feed and foment innovation, invention and disruption. He digests several popular tropes regarding the sources of innovation and ends up comparing them all in a rational sort of way, with the idea of truly understanding what circumstances foster the greatest creativity (never mind what the tropes themselves say—what’s true and demonstrable?  Show me the numbers!).

This task cannot be properly conducted without a fair number of historical anecdotes, which are nearly as diverting as the premise of the book itself.  Indeed, this book is nothing if not a delightful history lesson, with dissection of the main influences on Darwin, DeForest, Gutenberg and Berners-Lee.  All are very, very relevant, as you will see upon reading this book, I swear.  Who would have thought that tracking Sputnik would lead to lunch decisions fifty years later (if that teaser doesn’t make you want to read this book, I may stop writing reviews.  Oh, who am I kidding.  I love the sound of my own voice)?

At the moment, Amazon shows the Audible version as five cents cheaper than the hardback, a good value by my lights.  The reader makes it seem like an actual conversation with someone in the room, which is sort of hard for history books, and worth it as far as I can see.

I’m So Jealous December 30, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Video.
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These guys are having much more fun than I am.

When I get Home My Cats Just Want Petting December 30, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorizable, Video.
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I can’t imagine a more terrifying job, except maybe feeding sharks by hand.

Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold December 28, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words.
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I can’t help but enjoy any book that starts out with a really good hallucination.  Cryoburn does, and it just gets better as it goes along.  The hallucination is a allergic drug reaction and the protagonist really isn’t any kind of addict (I know you think this will be dull, but trust me).  He’s an interstellar diplomat named Miles Vorkosigan making an exploratory foray into a world his Emperor (and cousin, if I remember right) is interested in. 

The whole world is nearly a giant frozen mausoleum.  Seriously.

It’s run by a cryonics corporation consortium who freeze the old or sick and keep them pretty much forever.  You can imagine the susceptibility to abuse a frozen person may have…Miles starts looking into the place and the companies that run it and the people owned by it and, well, let’s just say that Miles is lucky to have an armsman named Roic to help him with the rough spots.

There are quite a few rough spots.

This would be depressing if it wasn’t so adventurous and so many great characters pop up in unexpected places, like the well-oiled machine of the shantytown where Miles’ hallucination ends.

For once, the Audible version is cheaper than the CD, so get that and enjoy.  It is a stand-alone read, but part of the huge Vorkosigan Saga which is over a dozen books (or is it two dozen?).  This is the first one I have encountered, but it sure won’t be the last.

I Don’t Have a Category for Scary December 28, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Toys, Uncategorizable.
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Except for the photographs of relatives, this tree has only owl ornaments.

Looking South at the Bay Bridge December 28, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography.
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I like sunrises.  Sue me.  This bit of Bay is the Sausalito estuary, taken from a freeway overpass while dodging a CHP guy writing a ticket for some other poor schlub.

Exciting update!  I got a request for the full-sized picture for the desktop from someone who doesn’t even know me!  My gods, someone does read this!

My Commute Doesn’t Suck December 28, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography.
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Across the water, from a moving car on the Richmond Bridge, a view of the Marin hills.  More correctly, the skies above said hills.

Getting Closer December 28, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Geek Stuff, Star Trek Technology, Toys.
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Like many people, I sometimes would like to have a phone on my person.  And a camera. And a computer.  And a tricorder while I’m at it.

Nobody is yet offering this magic gizmo, but some people are putting pressure on manufacturers  to come up with these gizmos by hacking existing products to greater usefulness.  One of these folks is at www.cmw.me, and has a delightful hack of the Morotola Actv, a “fitness tracker” (i.e., a pedometer with some recording software) and MP3 player.  Like most of these devices, it is actually a small computer.  This one has pretty nice specs for a MP3 player:

  • CPU: omap3 (3630) – 600Mhz
  • Ram: 256MB
  • Nand: 8GB
  • Wifi: 802.11n
  • BlueTooth: Yes
  • Fm Radio: Yes
  • GPS: Yes
  • LCD: 1.6" QCIF+

Well, it doesn’t have a camera or a phone, but it is a wrist-mounted computer; it just doesn’t have a useful operating system to let it be more than just an exercise-time encumbrance.  He fixed that:

Follow the link above to get the details (he includes the little bits of code you need to do the hack).  I do like the GPS part; that’s something that lots of people find pretty handy.

Note: I should probably have a category for Star Trek, since the original series turns out to have been quite prescient with regards to technology.  However, going back over all my posts to find all the tech scattered through my writings which is Trek-like is way too much work for someone with as many interests and as little time as I have.  Go find it yourself.

Mystery Gift December 25, 2011

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The mystery is why my wife didn’t want to be seen with me wearing this.  I can’t understand it.

Stupid User Tricks December 22, 2011

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This is the level at which most smartphone users apply the wonders of advanced technology…tricking innocent creatures.

I weep for our children.

Merry Xmas for Him, at Least December 18, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorizable, Video.
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Most people discourage this kind of thing in kittens they are trying to adopt out.

But we were never like the other kids.

Why You Should Always Have a Camera Handy December 17, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Photography, Star Trek Technology, Uncategorizable.
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To take pictures of UFOs for non-believers, of course.

KanaFlash, a WinCE Kana Flashcard Application December 15, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Japan, Toys.

KanaFlash displays hiragana and katakana characters and shows their English equivalents, and even pronounces them for you unless you toggle the sound off with the English/syllable name button.  An updated version will have pronunciations of yet more syllables…really it will.  I promise.  Honest.


Win CE 5.0 Dictation Application December 15, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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I never found an application which would automatically take a note for me when I would just talk to it (without having to push a button first), so I wrote one.  Be happy for me; this is my second useful application for WinCE and I’m actually quite thrilled.  I have a long commute and often think of little notes I should jot down, and have no hands-free way of doing this…until now.

Dictation gives me sixty seconds of WAV-file goodness, with the recording beginning as soon as it opens.  I used the “Voice Speed Dial” in the Settings menu to record my voice saying “Dictation”.  This device opens the application for me, and the app does the rest, leaving the WAV file with a timestamp-based filename in the Dictation directory when the Save button is hit (take your time; it won’t go more than sixty seconds).  I can then restart the recording and get another WAV file with the second button for the next result and so on, but this requires button pressing.  A third button closes the app, which is oddly enough required for this application so Voice Speed Dial can automatically reopen the application later1, when inspiration and/or regret strikes.


1 WinCE applications do not usually close by themselves, which can eat up a lot of memory if you don’t manage that yourself.  Of course, this comes in handy if you want the FlashCards application to keep your place, as I do.

Octopodian Cuteness December 14, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Octopus, Video.
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The follow-on suggestions from Youtube after this video are delightful, as well.

The Power of Papercraft December 13, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Toys, Video.
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NSFW- Octopus Sex! December 12, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Octopus, Video.
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We will discreetly refrain from rude remarks, as befits this august journal.

I Feel Your Pain December 9, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Uncategorizable.
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Stephen Sondheim on Satyagraha December 8, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words.
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"When I first heard that the libretto of Philip Glass’s 1979
opera Satyagraha was written in Sanskrit (by him and Constance
de Jong), I giggled inwardly at what I deemed its
pretentiousness and, delightedly reverting to my snotty
adolescence, made many a witty remark at its expense. Then I saw
it. Not only was I mesmerised for most of it, I was brought up
short by the realisation that Sanskrit was the best possible
language for an opera libretto.
"It has the two necessary qualities: it utilises predominantly
open vowel sounds (listen to the title), and it doesn’t invite
you to try to understand the language, which is something you
automatically do at the opera if you know a smattering of German
or Italian or French. With Sanskrit, you are relieved of every
bit of concentration except where it counts: on the music and
the singing and, if you’re interested in the story, on the
surtitles. Even librettos in English need surtitles, since
distended vowels, vocal counterpoint and the over-trained
diction of many performers make it difficult to
understand. Every librettist should have a smattering of
Sanskrit. It will save them, and their audiences, a huge amount
of work."

From The List Which Cannot Be Named

Dawn of the Disney Dead December 6, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorized.
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D. ON ICE from Ale on Vimeo.