Archive for December, 2008

Making a Difference (or, A Miracle on Blogosphere Street)

By one way of thinking, a blog like this one makes a measurable difference in the life of many of its readers – cynically, one could cite things like “wasted time” and “lost productivity”; less cynically, one could point out that readers occasionally learn things from blogs. Thanks to the power of Google, this is frequently the case, but as nice as it is to educate people about Funistrada or show them how to do computer stuff, most of the time it’s hard to feel that one has really, truly, made a meaningful difference.

Every once in a while, that changes.
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Published in: General, History, Meta | on December 22nd, 2008 | 1 Comment »

Catblogging, 1940s Style

Look, I know the whole “Friday catblogging” thing has been done to death, but I hope you’ll forgive me for, just this once, combining two of my favorite addictions: the Life magazine photo archive and adorable cat pictures. Not only does this post contain your recommended daily allowance of 1940s cat pictures – ten of them! – but it’s even fortified with a useless bit of wartime trivia! So, yes, you might learn something while you’re pondering what captions to add to these monochrome lolcats-to-be…
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Published in: General, History | on December 19th, 2008 | Comments Off on Catblogging, 1940s Style

History is Fickle

So, let’s put this in simple terms: How many notable FBI cases can you think of? I can probably come up with two dozen, on short notice; maybe twice that with some effort; less than a hundred, even if you could vague ideas like “that one guy who…” or “the thing where…”. I’m sure that, over the years, there have been a lot more than most people realize – many of them basically ephemeral, here-today, gone-tomorrow bits of excitement. (‘fess up, how many of you counted the manhunt for Andrew Cunanan in your total, or even remember who he was?)

Well, I was a bit surprised to recently learn that, by one yardstick, the Bureau itself might reckon the total number of notable cases north of 12,000.
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Published in: General, History | on December 19th, 2008 | Comments Off on History is Fickle

Taking “Own a Piece of Movie History” a Little Too Far?

We all know that the market for movie souvenirs is nigh-bottomless; every imaginable prop or piece of ephemera attached or connected in some way to just about any movie can, and does, get sold to fans and collectors.

Thing is, usually you wait until the movie is actually done to start getting rid of stuff, right?

Next year will, hopefully, see the release of a movie called Dark Moon Rising, some sort of supernatural love story turned horror movie, or something. I’m a little sketchy on the details, to be honest. What I do know is that you can apparently buy several reels of film from the movieexposed and undeveloped, apparently – on eBay just at the moment. Suspicious, no?

I mean, okay, I guess it’s a fairly unique “collectible”, and could have a certain cachet, even value, if the movie does well – but, come on, assuming those cans of film are what they say they are, what are the odds they’re not lost or stolen property?

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on December 18th, 2008 | Comments Off on Taking “Own a Piece of Movie History” a Little Too Far?

A DIY Computer Sound Card – With Tubes

A year and a half ago, I built my own USB soundcard, combining a do-it-yourself USB DAC and a simple headphone amplifier. Quite aside from the performance – which was very good – the whole project had a pretty awesome retro appeal, at least to me: there isn’t a lot of hardware the average person can build that interfaces with a modern computer, and the whole process is a throwback to the days of Apple IIs and Ataris. Besides, it has great nerd-snob-appeal: Oooh, you modded your PC case with a window? You put a text LCD display in a drive bay? Bah; I assembled my own sound card.

Yeah, it’s nerdy; I admit it. It’s also cool. And, while the combo I build last year works very well, it’s still pretty low-end, as these things go. I could do better, I figured; I’d make another one, with a more advanced design, and better performance.

Oh yeah – and a vacuum tube.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on December 18th, 2008 | 2 Comments »