Archive for June, 2010

Gimme Some Water

For… almost as long as I can remember, really – various groups up to and including the government have been urging “responsible” and “efficient” water conservation, for economic and environmental reasons.

This desire to use less water is undoubtedly good and noble. It’s brought us reasonably water-efficient toilets and shower heads, and mildly annoying phrases like “if it’s yellow, let it mellow”.

It’s possible we’ve even gotten garbage disposals that require less water than their predecessors. I don’t know, as I’ve never lived in a house with a garbage disposal.

But it seems to me like most of the innovations in domestic water conservation have been very bathroom-centric. This may not be a bad thing – we do dishes twice a day, and we do laundry twice a week, and we collectively go to the bathroom probably, um, twenty times a day, between everyone who lives here. So that seems kind of logical, I guess.

But, out in the kitchen…
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Published in: General | on June 21st, 2010 | No Comments »

Facebook’s Random Number God

Earlier today, I “friended” MythBusters on Facebook. (And yes, I hate the verbing of the nouns as much as you do.) As you may know, if you have the misfortune to use the hellhole that is Facebook, when you “friend” someone, you have to fill out a CAPTCHA thingy to prove to Facebook that you are, if not human, at least reasonably sentient.

I tend to assume that these CAPTCHAs are served up randomly, at the whim of Facebook’s Random Number God. Sometimes, though, you have to wonder…
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on June 18th, 2010 | No Comments »

The Death of Bittorrent Ratios

I don’t use bittorrent much, because it annoys me in a lot of ways, and I have a painfully slow home internet connection (On a bad day, 800/240 kbps) which goes down a lot. (Thanks, Qwest.) I also believe that 99% of the supposed technical “advantages” it provides are illusory. That said, I am for some strange reason a member of a couple “private” trackers, where one is either strongly encouraged or in fact required to maintain a positive “ratio” – bytes received divided by bytes shared. If you go onto bittorrent forums, everyone and their little brother is constantly whining about these sort of requirements – waaah, I don’t think my ratio is being calculated correctly. Waaah, there’s nobody to seed to. Waaah, I have some sort of special circumstances which prevent me from seeding at all, please exempt me from the rules. Waaah, this is too hard.

You’d think that somehow either moderating your consumption of pirated movies, computer games, and porn, or alternatively leaving your computer on to seed even when you’re not watching movies, playing games, or fapping was the hardest thing since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the way these people complain.

And sometimes, albeit rarely, they might have a point. Bittorrent clients, from what I’ve seen, have ideas and priorities about what to seed and what not to seed that really do not take this laughable idea of “ratio” into account at all, either overall or on a per-torrent basis.

But, still, I’ve got one compound word for you all: Seedboxes.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on June 17th, 2010 | No Comments »

Random Inanities

Sorry for the lack of substantial posts. Work + migraines + allergies + food poisoning does not a happy camper make.

Random MythBuster-ish thought for the day: I sometimes play a video game which we’ll call Blur IV. In this game, one can, if one is incredibly irresponsible and just generally not a good person, drive a, say, 2000-pound car down city streets at irresponsibly high speeds – say, 120 miles per hour – and do ridiculously antisocial things like mow down pedestrians while cackling maniacally.

Not that I have, or anything. But you get the idea. Other people have, and they’ve posted video on YouTube. Or something. Or so I heard.

Anyway, this sort of tomfoolery is usually fatal for the virtual pedestrian, and not so damaging to the virtual vehicle, which I suspect is, um, “not prototypical”. Actually, having seen the aftermath of some much, much slower car v. pedestrian showdowns, I’m positive it’s nowhere near prototypical. But, hey, it’s a game.

Here’s my question, though, in true MythBusters fashion: If you hit a stationary, free-standing 180-pound human analogue with a car at, say, 90mph, does this have a reasonably identical effect (on the car) as if you hit a stationary car with a 180-pound human analogue traveling at 90mph?

My gut says yes. The science nerd part of my says no. My migraine doesn’t care.

Random just-downright-random thought for the day: Come the zombie apocalypse, I think a water tower could make a seriously badass fortress for human survivors, you know? Forget bandages and MREs and stuff, I think every disaster-survival plan should include an acetylene torch, extra fuel, and some dude who’s good at welding and torch cutting and stuff.

The skeptical side of me, however, wonders whether putting survivalists – complete with guns and ammunition and propane tanks and all sorts of other dangerous things – in what is basically a giant, bullet-resistant lightning magnet is really a wise plan for long term post-zombie survival. You’re all “neener neener, stupid zombies, can’t get me in here!” and they’re all “hnur, I cut the ground wire to your ground wire, sucker, just wait until the next thunderstorm and then it’s fresh-roasted brains, braaaaaaains…..”

Published in: General | on June 15th, 2010 | No Comments »

On Writing: Composition and Layout are Two Different Things

I write a lot. Seriously. I tried to work out my monthly output once, and it was kind of scary – between work stuff, personal stuff, this website, forums I’m on, and all the email I send, I sometimes write the equivalent of a short novel every three to six weeks. (I average around twenty-thousand words a week, give or take.)

This doesn’t make me good, or anything approaching an expert, but it does lend me a certain amount of jaded experience…

One of the things I have very much noticed is that people tend to conflate composition and layout when writing, or thinking about writing. My take is that, no, that way lies madness.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on June 10th, 2010 | 2 Comments »