Archive for February, 2010

Kwik Hits

Random things of – hopefully – interest from around the globe:

How bad are the roads in the Twin Cities? Bad enough that the local newspaper is publishing haikus about potholes. Presumably, not fixing the roads is part of the “stimulus package” for auto alignment and wheel-repair businesses…

I shoveled the driveway and sidewalk yesterday morning, and hurt my back while removing several inches of built-up ice from the driveway with a crowbar. When one of my roommates asked why I was hobbling around like an invalid, I meant to say that I’d “gone Gordon Freeman” on the ice. What I actually said was that I’d “gone Gordon Ramsey” on it, leaving them with the brief impression that I’d melted the snow with a blistering series of dirty words… or had slipped and fallen, hit my head, and simply wasn’t making any sense at all.

In retrospect, crowbars work better on headcrabs than on ice…

Two interesting tidbits from Russia:

Russia is set to deploy combat aircraft to Abkhazia, the disputed territory on the Georgian border. Needless to say, this isn’t being well-received by Georgia, who probably have something of a vested interest in Russia not having ground-attack aircraft based just minutes from their border…

Also, Russia plans increased fines for manufacturers who make “inferior” quality products – fines as high as $16,000. Yeah, that’ll teach ’em, right? What I find most interesting is that this apparently comes hot on the heels of Moscow’s elimination of mandatory quality certification of, among other things, food. It’s almost like some of Chicago Mayor Daley’s relatives are in Russia, or something, isn’t it?

Over the long holiday weekend, we had another compact fluorescent bulb catch fire. I’m really getting tired of this. Fortunately, this one was in the laundry room, and merely dripped molten ash and plastic goo on the concrete floor before we smelled smoke and came to the rescue.

Wikileaks, reportedly, have (finally…) hit their fundraising target of $200,000, proving that there’s a sucker born every minute. I’m not the only one who is completely unsurprised that they have still yet to return to service, but merely continue to promise to return… “soon”.

Published in: General | on February 16th, 2010 | No Comments »

A (Nearly Perfect?) Modern Intelligence Report… On Haiti

One thing that has often amused me about the guidance offered to novice or would-be employees in the intelligence field – be it national security intelligence, law enforcement intelligence, or business or competitive intelligence – is that there are any number of books, websites, classes, and other resources that tell you how to produce a good final product, but there are almost no good examples of actual final products to use as examples.

Intelligence relies greatly on the written word, and while everybody has their own idea of what formats should be used, and so on, there are a lot of more fundamental things that are somewhat universally considered “best practices” – the use of words of estimative probability, for example. There are some very good books that will teach you most of the fundamentals, but they all either leave it to the reader to put all the pieces together, or use samples or examples that are dated and don’t fully reflect modern practices.

If your job is to write, say, press releases, I can assure you that there are lots of classes, books, and resources that show you examples of successful, recent, real-world press releases. If you spend a lot of money to learn to write screenplays, you’re going to learn by looking at real, honest-to-goodness screenplays.

If you’re supposed to learn how to write intelligence reports, you’re given some vague guidance on what’s in vogue just at the moment, and kind of left to fend for yourself.

Strange, isn’t it?
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on February 12th, 2010 | No Comments »

Pain and Agony

Went to a hockey game last night with some coworkers. Oooh, the Coyotes are in town, they suck, let’s go see the Wild win. I hadn’t been to a Wild game before; I probably won’t go again.

Scalped tickets in the last row of the upper deck: $25
Uncomfortable seats that cram you together like sardines: Free.
One order of lackluster nachos: $6
One bottle of water: $4
Being violently ill the next morning: priceless

Seriously, one person had a sandwich, one person had two hot dogs, one person had a kielbasa, and I had nachos. We’ve all spent most of the day on the toilet.

Not doing that again anytime soon.

Oh, and the Minnesota Wild lost, too.

Published in: General | on February 11th, 2010 | No Comments »

The Bravo Audio 6DJ8 / 6N1 Headphone Amplifier

Over the last year or so, some merchants – on eBay and elsewhere – have been selling some very compact – and very heavily hyped – headphone amplifiers designed around the 6DJ8 vacuum tube. Despite their low costs – usually around $50 USD – they’re touted as being high-quality audiophile devices for the discerning listener.

Are they? Yes and no.
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Geekiness, General | on February 10th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

Blinded Me With Science – And Tears of Laughter

While one of the unabashed joys of the ABC comedy Better Off Ted is the interplay between the reasonably normal underlings and their not-quite-human boss, Veronica (played by Portia de Rossi), let’s face it, everybody loves a science nerd, right? Or, as is usually the case, two science nerds, like Ted‘s Phil and Lem.

There may be no new episodes of Better Off Ted just at the moment – save Better Off Ted! – but if you’re looking to get your comedic geek on – or your geek comedy on – well, I have a little something for you…
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Geekiness, General | on February 9th, 2010 | No Comments »