Archive for October, 2010

One Final Injustice From Our Combine Overlords

Damn, I’ve been sick the last couple of days. I’m still not recovered, but…

So, anyway, one of my aunts is a nurse, and I sort of accidentally got her hooked on Half-Life. See, she’d heard about Portal, so I got her a copy of The Orange Box and installed it for her. After she beat Portal, she turned to Half-Life 2, Episode 2… decided it was interesting but didn’t make much sense, so went and bought all the earlier games on Steam, and quickly turned into an addict.

Oops.

Anyway, we recently had an interesting conversation about an unforeseen side-effect of the Combine’s oh-so-benevolent actions here on Earth…
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on October 18th, 2010 | No Comments »

Some Random Anime Reviews From A Very Boring Person

With television, it seems like – for me, anyway – it’s always feast or famine as far as good new shows go.

This autumn, alas, looks set to be firmly on the side of “famine”, at least here in the West. There’s Mythbusters, Outsourced, and The Big Bang Theory, and… that might be it, right now. Detroit 1-8-7 is entertaining, but not (apparently) getting very good ratings, so its future is… iffy. Eureka, Southland, Rizzoli and Isles, and Dirty Jobs are between seasons; pirating overseas television nets a mere six episodes of The Inbetweeners, as Sea Patrol and Rescue: Special Ops are also “between seasons”, alas.

Looks like I’ll be watching anime again this season.

Unfortunately, the selection this fall is pretty lackluster there, too…
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on October 13th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

And Now, Open Source… Underwear

Some techno-activists have banded together and tried to create some vaguely Socialist declaration of principles surrounding “open source hardware”, couching the whole thing in incredibly meaningless and obfuscatory terminology burdened by a vaguely starry-eyed idealism that is palpably out of touch with the real world.

It’s not that I think this is a completely terribly and pointless idea, because it isn’t. But when you start talking about electronics – as most people involved with OSHW are – I can’t help but feel that ideological fervor has completely overtaken reason and practicality.

What people seem to want to do is create a (mildly draconian) framework under which the world would benefit (somehow…) from complete and open transparency regarding the design of, say, an open source computer, or cellphone, or electronic fuel-injection system. On paper that looks good, at first.

How “open source” is something that includes extremely specialized components available from a single commercial source, though? Sure, with the CAD files and so on, anyone with access to the right equipment can produce PCBs and whatnot; producing a transistor or a microprocessor or an FPGA is another matter entirely.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on October 11th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

Farmers Markets and Inexpensive Food

The city of Saint Paul, like a lot of other good-sized cities, has a farmer’s market. Actually, quite a number of them, which is both a blessing and a curse.

The big and heavily promoted ones are downtown, on Saturday and Sunday mornings. They’ve been completely co-opted by a combination of yuppies and special-interest lobbyists, with the net result that everything sold there is locally-grown (within forty or fifty miles, or somesuch) and organic. And, because it’s all local and organic, all the yuppies come, so everything is priced accordingly, i.e. expensive. Also, the quality is frequently frankly crap, probably because of the yuppies, again. (Surely anyone gullible enough to spend fifty cents on a tomato will spend fifty cents on a b-grade tomato, right?)

To my mind – because I don’t really care about whether something is a certified organic heirloom strain – that sort of defeats the whole point of having a farmer’s market, which I always thought used to be to get reasonably fresh food reasonably cheap.

Thankfully, there are other, lesser-known, mostly yuppie-free farmer’s markets around town, usually on weekdays. There are no restrictions at most of these as to whether food is certified organic or not, or grown within so many miles; most of the vendors tend to be southeast asian, either families who farm a couple of acres out in the suburbs, or folks who buy stuff from local produce wholesalers and sell it in usable quantities at ridiculously modest markups.
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Published in: General | on October 7th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

Kwik Hits

Random bits of uselessness:

I was at a store the other day, and the two female employees behind the counter were discussing a third, male, employee. “Why does everyone call him Arrow?” the apparently new employee asked. “Because he’s got so many freckles,” the other replied, to the apparent satisfaction of the first.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “Freckles, arrow?”

“Think about it for a minute,” the lady said. “It’ll come to you.”

Forty-eight hours later… I don’t get it. Anyone?
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Published in: General | on October 6th, 2010 | No Comments »