27 December 2006

The Bigger Loser Competition Tips

I'm going to post my two cents on dieting for the Bigger Loser Competition. I agree with much of what Dorothy said on her blog.
With that being said, one good thing to do if you are dieting (or even just generally) is to watch the fat content of the food that you consume. Besides saving on fat (a good thing), you also save considerably on calories, without having to go crazy counting them. If you get low-fat varieties of items, you may not notice much of a taste difference, but the food will inherently have less calories.
For example:
Nabisco Chips Ahoy Regular Cookies have 160 calories and 8 grams of fat. Here is a link to the nutrition facts page at Nabisco.
However, Nabisco Chips Ahoy Low Fat Cookies have 140 calories and six grams of fat. Here is a link to the nutrition facts page at Nabisco.
Twenty calories may not seem like a lot, but if you eat other low-fat or non-fat items, it can add up to a significant amount of calories. If you ingest less calories, then you have to burn less calories.
Using low-fat or fat free salad dressing may save even more calories than low-fat chocolate chip cookies.
Some fat-free items don't taste very good; I won't buy fat free cream cheese because I think it tastes like paste. But, I don't mind low-fat or non-fat salad dressing.
Obviously, drinking water instead of soda is a good idea, but keep in mind that even though milk is healthy, it is also 110 calories per cup.

21 December 2006

Boston During the American Revolution

Found an interesting blog about Boston just prior to the Revolution called Boston 1775. It seems like it is a pretty active blog; there are lots of postings. One thing I found out is that no one really knows who was involved in the Boston Tea Party.
While we're on the topic of colonial Boston, here is a web site about the Boston Massacre trial.

19 December 2006

New Google Toolbar

Google released a new Toolbar for Firefox last week. Finally, you can access your Google bookmarks from it. Before, you could still access your Google bookmarks, but it was a webpage, so it was slightly unwieldy, because you had to leave whatever you were doing to get to the bookmark webpage. Now you can do it all directly from the toolbar. Plus, if you go to another computer, you can quickly access your bookmarks on that computer on a website. Or, of course, you can install the Google toolbar on that computer.

18 December 2006

A Syracuse Photo

Syracuse City Hall
Originally uploaded by djboorstein.
This is City Hall in Syracuse around dusk.

Notary Publics Practicing Law?

In this week's Pennsylvania Bar Association email, there was a discussion of the PBA's feeelings on notary publics practicing law. Some notaries do other things besides just authenticating forms, and the PBA feels that this could constitute the unauthorized practice of law. Among other things, some notary publics use the Spanish term "notario publico." The use of that term is deceptive because in some Latin American countries, a "notario publico" is a person who is also an attorney. So, when someone says this, a person can be deceived.
This is a link to the PBA article.
Texas also has this problem. The Texas website actually has an interesting discussion of the history of notary public in Roman law and in English common law.
This statute shows how Texas handles the problem.

This post does not constitute legal advice. You do not form an attorney-client relationship with me by posting a comment on this blog, whether I respond to the comment or not. You should consult a lawyer if you have a legal question.

Syracuse and Back

I went to Syracuse this weekend to watch a cousin become a Bar Mitzvah. To go there and back, I took Interstate 81 straight up. It made it very difficult to get lost, because I just had to get on Interstate 81 and keep driving. And driving. I traversed nearly all of Pennsylvania. The drive between the intersection with I-78 and the New York border is pretty scenic. There were some wicked high cliffs along the way where the road had been blasted through rock. I felt like I was in the Lord of the Rings during the scene where they go on the boat through the Pillars of the Kings. The Bar Mitzvah itself was nice. Since I only see these family members once or twice a year, it was nice to see them.

16 December 2006

Basketball Shot Clock

I'm in Syracuse for a cousin's Bar Mitzvah and during some off time, we went to a museum about the Erie Canal. They also have exhibits relating to exciting happenings in Syracuse. And they had an interesting trivia item.
Why is the basketball shot clock 24 seconds? See the comments for the answer.

12 December 2006

Bar Admission Ceremony

Originally uploaded by djboorstein.
Like Rene, Gregory, Danielle, and Andrew, I was formally sworn in as an attorney today at the Supreme Court in Harrisburg. It was nice to see people from Dickinson, since I had not seen many of them since July. At our ceremony, each of us got to say our names to a Chief Justice Emeritus. Did those of you who participated in ceremonies do something similar?

11 December 2006

Happy Birthday Thomas!

Thomas talking
Originally uploaded by djboorstein.
On Saturday, 9 December, Thomas (not Tom) celebrated his birthday. I have posted some pictures on Flickr.

10 December 2006

Delays in Television

Right now I am waiting for Amazing Race to be over so that I can watch Cold Case. CBS does football every Sunday night, and, nearly always, it runs over. This night the run-over was half an hour, which is probably about average. What happens because of this is that Sixty Minutes starts at 7:30 p.m. instead of 7:00 p.m. and then every other show gets pushed back. This really irritates me. I'd like to be able watch Cold Case at the time it is scheduled to be on, rather than have to wait for CBS to get around to showing it because they've crammed too much into their Sunday night schedule. I also cannot set my VCR to record it, because I don't know when it will start. I could, of course, set the VCR to record a two hour interval between 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., I know that, but that's annoying too, because I have to search through the tape to find out when Cold Case starts.
And I'm sorry to all the football fans out there. I know football is an important sport to some people, but I'm looking forward to February when football will no longer interfere with my television.

07 December 2006


There is an article in the Times about the company my brother works for. He is an editor for articles for sports like sepaktakraw.
Besides sepaktakraw his company also does Track and Field.

06 December 2006

Mainstream Artists on Single of the Week

Normally I don't like the free Single of the Week on iTunes. I download it (usually) just to see what it is, but often it doesn't even get synced to my iPod. This week, Apple is offering a James Taylor Christmas song (Jingle Bells) as a download. I don't like it, but the price was right. If you have iTunes, try it and see if you like it. They are offering mainstream artists for the rest of the month each week, so maybe there actually will be a song I like. If there is, I will do my best to post about it.

Radio Stations

There is a country music station that plays old country music in Chambersburg, which is nice. The only problem is that they seem to be rather fond of playing the same selection of music over and over again. Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head seems to be a song they are especially fond of.
However, besides this, there is a neat website which I found that shows you the broadcast area for a given radio station based on FCC data. For example, here is a coverage map for WHRW 90.5 FM Binghamton (the State University of New York at Binghamton's student radio station) They base the map on the terrain around the radio station, which, for WHRW, makes the radio station's coverage area look (with some imagination) like a cat. The website is also useful if you want to find a radio station around you, although I'm not sure how up to date it is.

04 December 2006

Patent Code in Verse

For a laugh, check out the Patent Code. In verse. It sounds like a rap. I don't think it would be anywhere as funny if it wasn't in verse. I credit the legal thing (a blog by Sun Microsystem's General Counsel) for the link.

03 December 2006

Red Cross' Irresponsibility with Blood

The Red Cross is in trouble -- again -- with the Food and Drug Administration for not following proper safety procedures with regard to processing and screening blood. This time, the FDA caught the Red Cross with blood units that had failed testing that were mixed in with blood units that had passed testing.
According to the report, it was extremely unlikely that this blood would ever have made it into a person, because there are further checks along the way. The FDA fined them five million dollars for this offence. Although that seems like a lot of money, the reporter seemed to think it was a slap on the wrist, since blood donation is a multi-billion dollar industry. The Red Cross is responsible for 40% of the blood here.
The Canadian Red Cross has gotten into trouble too. In the 1980s, the Canadian Red Cross failed to screen people adequately for HIV. As a result, according to this article on the BBC's website, over 3,000 people died because they contracted AIDS from the tainted blood. The whole report (called the Krever Report) for this is published on a website set up by Health Canada. Although HIV was not as well known then, the Canadian Red Cross should have known about the risks at the time these tainted blood donations were accepted.
The Canadian Red Cross used to be responsible for blood donation and processing in Canada. Not anymore.
When I have donated blood, I have seen potential failures in the screening process too. For example, last year when I was donating blood at the law school, I sat down with a questioner who asked me the usual questions. However, the questioner was going through the questions really fast, so fast that I was just answering no to the question without thinking. Then I said no and realized that the proper answer to that question was yes and made him go back. My "yes" did not cause me to be ineligible to donate blood, but when the questioner is asking those questions so quickly, it encourages the person donating to quickly answer the questions without thinking. The questioner should go through the questions slowly and methodically.
The questioner also thought that a "Channel Island" (with reference to the United Kingdom) was the island of Britain. Not true. The Channel Islands are Guernsey and Jersey, according to Wikipedia. The questioner's knowledge (or lack thereof) in geography did not inspire any confidence in the Red Cross's screening procedures.
Another place that I have donated blood to -- the New York Blood Center -- also asks questions, but they switch the answers so that the "right" answer to the question is sometimes yes. This catches the people who just want to answer no to every single question. The other good thing that they do is that they allow the donating person to label their blood and indicate whether they want the New York Blood Center to use it or not. The questioner turns away while the donating person does this. If the person donating labels it and asks the New York Blood Center not to use it, the blood will still be tested for HIV, etc. If the person has engaged in risky behaviour and does not want their blood to be donated for some reason, then he or she can mark it accordingly and still appear to be donating blood if there are other people around who might be peer-pressuring them into donating blood. The New York Blood Center does this -- partially -- because blood tests won't always catch HIV in the early stages.
The Red Cross (and the Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank) don't do this. I think they should.
With all that being said, I think that blood donation is really important. If you can donate, you should. Although, of course, I cannot guarantee your safety, I have never heard any concerns about the safety of the donation process itself.
There's a Jewish saying "He who saves one life, it is as if he saved the world entire."
(Phew. Lots of links in this blog entry)
I heard the report about this on NPR.

30 November 2006

Thinking Better of A Book Title

My brother has an older edition of Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. It is entitled Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual.
Where before their book would teach you how to libel, now it teaches you about media law. That's an improvement in the title.

The Plunkett is Gone

As Lou points out on his AOL Instant Messenger profile, the Plunkett is gone. The new bar doesn't allow smoking, which I think is pretty cool. Here is a link.

26 November 2006

Email salutations and closings

There was an article in the Times today about email salutations and closings. I usually use Hi and Best if I am talking with friends, or Dear and Love if I am emailing family.
I disagree with the article, I think Best is very nice and warm, and isn't cold at all. If I am emailing a professor (not so much anymore) or someone I don't want to use Best on for some reason, I just use my email signature, and if I am emailing a potential employer, I use Dear so-and-so: and Sincerely, since I don't think you can go wrong with that.
I used to sign emails with a slash -- /Douglas -- but someone I knew did not like that, so I changed to Best.
I'd never use xoxo as this article says some people do. I think it could convey the wrong impression.
As a side note, I don't like the use of Very Truly Yours in legal correspondence. Yours implies that I belong to someone, and I don't. Sincerely serves its purpose as a closing just as well.
I guess maybe this all goes to show that one should not read too much into closings.

23 November 2006

Amaze your friends and scare your enemies

The quote is from Microsoft's System Internals Team.
Microsoft's System Internals team came out with a really neat screensaver. It simulates a Blue Screen of Death on Windows. I'll just copy and paste the sections on Windows XP and Windows 2000/98 functions (the exclamation points are Microsoft's, not mine).

On Win2K and Windows 9x it presents the Win2K startup splash screen, complete with rotating progress band and progress control updates!

On Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 it present the XP/Server 2003 startup splash screen with progress bar!

Here is a link.
Someone at the System Internals Team had too much time on their hands.
If you have Windows XP, then you should have no problem dealing with the zip file, but if you have Windows 2000 or Windows 98, you'll have to download a program to deal with the zip file.

22 November 2006

Check Out Gmail's Page

A reminder to check out Gmail's page on Thanksgiving Day, they usually post some cute things on it.

20 November 2006

Google Maps Will Call Businesses For You

Google Maps now has a neat new feature. You can now call a business using Google Maps. You find the business on Google Maps and then enter your phone number.
Google then calls your phone and then connects you to the business. I was expecting the call to appear on my display as a call from a phone number in Mountain View (where Google's headquarters is).
That was not the case though. The phone number came up as the business I was calling. Strange, because the business wasn't calling me at that point, it was Google, who was going to connect me to the business. After I picked up, it said "connecting" and rang the business. Having the number appear on my phone is useful because I would be able to capture the number of the business if I wanted to. I just thought that the caller id was set by who was calling you, so this was surprising. If I had a landline and paid for long distance, it would be more useful because it would save me on long distance bills.

18 November 2006

Free Backups of Your Contacts on Vz Wireless

I was logged on to Verizon Wireless recently and noticed that they have -- free -- if you use their online service called My Account, an address book backup system. You download a little application to your phone and you can use it to send your phone numbers. It is useful if my phone ever dies or I lose my phone, because I use my cell phone for nearly all of my numbers. The link for the backup service is here, although I was able to link to it from my My Account home page.
Update: What's especially neat about it is that you can do it automatically, so that in the middle of the night it will talk to Verizon Wireless and send your contacts without any intervention on your part.
As a side note, I never memorize people's phone numbers anymore. When I was in high school and college (and did not own a cell phone) I dialed nearly all of my friends' numbers, so through repetition, I memorized them. I even remember some of them to this day. But now that I have a cell phone, I just have to find the person I want to call in my contacts list and hit the send key, so I never remember the person's phone number.
As a second side note, over the summer (I think), Verizon Wireless started allowing you to see who you had spent money text messaging. That's useful if you wonder why your text messaging bill is so high.

15 November 2006

Updated MySpace

I updated my MySpace profile with a song by The Duhks. They are this really cool Canadian group that I heard on the Mike Harding Show on the BBC. The song is described by them as Zydeco, but they have an impressive mix on their CD. The repertoire ranges from Irish music to spirituals from the Georgia Sea Islands. I'm debating getting another CD from them. I'm intentionally not linking to my MySpace profile here. If you know me, look me up and add me as your friend to view my profile.
I know some people don't like my profile picture, but since that is one of the few things on my profile that comes up without my adding the person as my friend, I want to make sure that the picture is ok for potential employers.

Microsoft Blogs

One blog that I am subscribed to is a blog published by the Mac Office team called Mac Mojo. Blogs that are published by teams at Google tend to read like press releases and are usually not that interesting (with the possible exception of Blogger Buzz, whose team does not seem to be so censored). While I'm sure Microsoft has policies in place for blog posts by its teams, the blogs there seem freer. This post on Mac Mojo, for example, talks about their testing program for Microsoft Excel. Essentially, they have a giant spreadsheet on which they run calculations to make sure that the calculations that Excel returns are the ones that they expect it to return. They run these tests on both older Macs (with PowerPC processors) and newer Macs (with Intel processors). It wouldn't do if all of the PowerPC Macs said that two plus two equaled five. Sometimes the posts on the Mac Mojo blog are technically over my head, but it is much more interesting to read about how they test their products rather than read some blog entry that reads like a press release.
The Microsoft Security Response Center's blog is also pretty interesting.

Cell Phones in New York City Schools

There has been a debate for a number of months about the ban on cell phones in New York City's schools. Parents talk about how it is important to contact their children or for their children to contact them. I agree with Jerry's earlier comment on this post. Because of cell phones, people do not plan things in advance.
When I was in school (before cell phones were really popular), I would use a payphone to call my parents when I needed to be picked up from school. If I got sick, the nurse would call a parent at work or home. Cell phones are not absolutely necessary for children in school. With that being said...
I'd hope that if someone at the school decided I needed a cornea transplant (as apparently happened according to this article), the school would at least try to talk to me about getting in touch with my parents, rather than leave me to try to contact them surreptitiously with my cell phone.
I also do not understand how a mother whose daughter broke her arm in a fight would not be able to get through to the school.
As far as the child who was unable to call for help when he was arrested for disorderly conduct, my bet is that one of the things that gets taken away from you when you are arrested is your cell phone. So I don't think the cell phone ban hurt that young man.
If the school does not answer the phone, does not have adequate track of its students, or sends them to hospitals for corneal transplants without consulting a parent or making a reasonable effort to contact the parent, then that is a serious problem which must be fixed. I think cellphones can be useful to students and convenient for them. If they are in lockers throughout the school day, I don't really see a problem.
However, students can use payphones to inform parents of their whereabouts, just as students did for years before cell phones became widespread, so I'm not sure if cell phones are absolutely necessary. Maybe an absolute ban is a good idea.

11 November 2006

New York State Pavillion

There was an article in the Times about the New York State Pavillion. These are structures that were built for the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. They might have been a nice tourist attraction (but for the fact that they are in Queens, pretty far from Manhatttan) but the city allowed them to become dilapidated. They're in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, near LaGuardia Airport and Shea Stadium. I usually see them when I get off the Long Island Expressway onto the Grand Central Parkway. It's too bad, because they sound like they would have been really neat to go the top of, and I think that you might have had a clear view to Manhattan (and certainly out to Long Island) from there, but I'm not positive, since I have never been up there.
As a side note, if you have been to Disney World, you may have seen a part of the 1964 World's Fair. In Tomorrowland, there is something called Carousel of Progress (that's the ride where you go into a theatre and then it rotates around in a circle through various scenes of American life) This is its page on Wikipedia; and this is a link to Disney's official page for it. I noticed from its Wikipedia page that Disney only opens it in season. That's unfortunate, I think it is a neat ride for its historical perspective.

10 November 2006

Mobile Service Spikes in University Park During Football Games

Saw an article in the Daily Collegian about various mobile phone carriers and their efforts to remedy service spikes during football games. When I was there for the Youngstown State game, I had no problem contacting René/Richie to meet up before the game. That, I realize, was a minor game and I also was not trying to call during halftime.
I realize that it is difficult for providers to be able to provide service of this nature, especially when they only need it for a few days a year. On the other hand, I'm glad they're looking into it. I don't think text messaging is a valid solution, since it costs extra money.
As far as people complaining about meeting up, prior to the game, they could arrange a meeting place before the game. This is what people did before the invention of mobile phones.

08 November 2006

For Grammarians

I discovered this site the other day on the web. I am linking to the site's homepage (as the site owner requests). If you click on the link to go to the list of errors, there are a ton of them, so don't be discouraged by the homepage. It's mostly text, and therefore is quite fast. The entry on apostrophes is especially interesting.

07 November 2006

Rene's Blog Post on EZ Pass

René recently posted an entry on her blog about EZ Pass and the bar exam. I disagree with her on EZ Pass being just as neat as passing the bar exam, although I do think it's neat. My family has had it for a number of years -- at least five years, probably more. In any case, it really saves us time (and sometimes money) at toll plazas. When I was younger, we used to have to wait in long lines at the toll booth to go across the Throgs Neck Bridge. Now, it is very rare to have these long lines. We just go straight through the EZ Pass lanes, and it takes a minute or so. The neatest EZ Pass lanes are the ones on the New Jersey Turnpike, where you can go through them at fifty-five miles per hour. There are also some areas around New York City where they gauge how long it takes a person to go from point A to point B by capturing the EZ Pass information at both locations. They then post that information on a wizard sign. They could use that to catch speeders, of course.
For example: If Pierre travels from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Waterproof, Louisiana in 1 1/2 hours, and the cities are 118 miles apart, Pierre must have gone faster than sixty miles per hour at some point on his journey. Therefore, if the speed limit is fifty-five miles per hour, Pierre must have sped at some point on his journey. This journey is not apocryphal, there really is a Waterproof, Louisiana. Here is a link to Google maps so you can see this journey yourself. (And yes, I know that EZ-Pass does not exist in Louisiana, I just wanted to talk about Pierre and Waterproof)
EZ-Pass does not do this. However, if you exceed the speed limit going through the toll plaza, they can photograph your license plate and potentially mail you a ticket or take away your EZ-Pass privileges. I would not want my EZ-Pass privileges taken away; I've seen the lines for non-EZ-Pass lanes at the toll plazas and am glad I never have to wait on them.
And René, you still might want to make sure you are fully clothed while going through EZ-Pass lanes. Sometimes there are people in the booths. Particularly on the I-78 crossing over the Delaware into Pennsylvania, there are often people in the booths. I guess people crossing there have trouble understanding the signs that say "EZ-Pass Only" lanes, so they need people there so the people who don't have EZ-Pass can pay the toll.

31 October 2006

Rabies and Bats

A public service announcement:
Some people that know me know how I feel about bats and rabies.
I heard a piece on NPR's This American Life show which told the story of a woman who was attacked by a rabid raccoon. In it, he mentioned the fact that bats can carry rabies and that if you sleep in the same room with a bat, you need to consult a doctor about getting a rabies shot. One thing I did not know is that you don't even have that long to get a rabies shot, only seventy-two hours. I did know that if you wait for rabies symptoms to occur, it's too late and you will likely die. The discussion of rabies in bats starts at 14:40. The discussion of the rabid raccoon starts at 6:10.
If you use iTunes, this is a link that will allow you to subscribe to the This American Life podcast.
If you just want to download the episode as an MP3 file, this is a link.

My Foolishness on a Halloween Past

So, I don't usually blog about personal stuff, but I figure that since this incident happened eleven years ago, it's ancient history.
The Halloween that I was in grade nine I went trick or treating with three of my friends from high school. We went around the neighbourhood and collected candy from the various different houses. One house had a box of candy out front that said "help yourself" Surprisingly, there was still candy left in this box, and we each took a snack bag of M & Ms. That's not the main part of the story.
After this, we continued to trick or treat in the neighbourhood until we eventually came to a house, knocked on a door and a man answered it. I do not think any of us knew him. He then told us that he had crystal figurines that he wanted to show us and that we should come in and look at them. Foolishly, the three of us went in. The crystal figurines were pretty neat, and he did have a lot of them. I don't remember that much of them because as soon as I went inside I realized that I probably should not be going inside. There were four of us and one of him, but he could have pulled a gun on us and held us for ransom if he had wanted to. Nothing happened, and perhaps this man just wanted to show us his crystal figurines.
Entering the house was probably an error in judgment on my part.

29 October 2006

MySpace vs. Facebook

I've been using MySpace and Facebook for awhile now. As some people know, I have only been on MySpace for a little while.
I can say that, as of right now, I like Facebook much better. It doesn't have garish advertisements, and also works more reliably. I've had a number of instances where various parts of MySpace did not work properly. I also get spam on MySpace. The only thing I get on Facebook is requests to join groups, but these appear to be legitimate groups and not webcam groups. The webcam group emails are really annoying. Lately MySpace has been assassinating the accounts of people who have been sending out spam, so that's good.
The other thing that I don't like about Myspace is how people use it as a subsititute for email. It's hard for me to keep track of MySpace emails because they don't stare me in the face like emails do. Plus, I sometimes like to flag messages for follow-up, and Myspace doesn't let me do that.

27 October 2006

Despite René's post...

(I obtained permission prior to posting this conversation)
A conversation that I just had with Thomas on AIM:
Me: just so you know, you're on rene's blog
Me: [Link to René's blog]
Thomas: haha.
Thomas: You don't call me Tom though.
Thomas: So tell her to give you a break.
Me: do you mind that i don't call you Tom?
Thomas: No.
Thomas: It would be weird if you did.

So there.

19 October 2006

Finding contacts by phone number

One of the features that I liked on my Virgin Mobile phone was a feature that you could use to find a phone number's associated contact that you had called if you wondered why you spent half an hour on the phone with that number. My Verizon Wireless Nokia did not have that feature and I missed it. However, I just discovered that my new (Samsung) Verizon Wireless phone has it and thought I would post instructions on using it. These instructions should work on a lot of Verizon Wireless phones because Verizon uses the same operating system (if it can be called that) for a lot of its phones.
To do this:
From the main screen of your phone:

  1. Type in phone number you are searching for.
  2. Press the options soft-key.
  3. Select search and press ok.
  4. It will list the numbers that it found.
  5. Press ok to view the contact information for the phone number.
You can also see all of your contacts in a given area code by typing in only the first three digits.

16 October 2006

L.L. Bean in Hagerstown

I went to the L.L. Bean outlet in Hagerstown yesterday. It is hard to find clothes there that actually have the L.L. Bean logo on them. If I'm going to be buying clothes from L.L. Bean, I'd like to have my jacket/fleece/whatever actually have the logo on it, so that it is not some non-descript jacket. I did not buy anything because nearly nothing fit me, and as far as stuff that did, it did not have a logo on it.

12 October 2006

I added (to the sidebar) a listing of blog posts that I think are interesting. I had done this before, but when I had to redo my template, I lost this. Now I have it set up again, though.

09 October 2006

Puff the Magic Dragon and Pachelbel's Canon

Did you know what Puff the Magic Dragon (besides talking about marijuana) also is based on the same chord progression as Pachelbel's Canon? Neither did I. Up until I heard the story on NPR, I could not sing Pachelbel's Canon if you asked me too, even though I had heard it before (as you probably have too). It's neat how music is interconnected.

Googlers Use Flickr

I was surfing the Google Reader Blog today and discovered a picture of them launching the newest version of Google Reader. They used Flickr to post the picture. Flickr is a competitor to Picasa Web Albums. Flickr is much better than Picasa Web Albums, so I am glad to see that the Google Reader Team is willing to use a competitor's product. I also like how the phone has the Google primary colours on it.

05 October 2006

More monarch butterflies

There was an article in Tuesday's Times about Monarch butterflies. They are pretty neat, because they migrate across the country, and are the only animal (other than humans) who can navigate by both longitude and latitude. Bees, incidentally, can navigate based on the sun, they do a dance when they return to the honeycomb to indicate where good flowers are. The butterflies are even neater, I think, because they are able to navigate across the country. If you move them (say, from Kansas to Washington, DC), they are still able to reorient themselves and figure out where they are and fly off in the right direction.

30 September 2006

Flying on Three of Four Engines Across the North Atlantic.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal two Fridays ago about a British Airways Boeing 747 plane that, after departing Los Angeles, had a flame shoot out of one of its four engines. The engine then stopped working. I am not an airplane pilot, but I think this is a Bad Thing. If I were the pilot, I would have turned around and returned to Los Angeles. Instead, the pilot decided (after consulting with British Airways) to continue on, across the continental US, and then onward across the North Atlantic to Heathrow. Apparently British Airways did not want to dump fuel in order to land the plane safely in Los Angeles. There was also some concern that they would have to compensate passengers for failing to get them to their destination on time. I think that they should have landed in Los Angeles. So did the air traffic controllers, they said: ""If you would have saw what we saw out the window, you'd be amazed at that."
The passengers were delayed anyway when the plane had to land in Manchester instead of Heathrow because the crew did not know how to manage the fuel so that it was spread evenly across the aircraft. The Wall Street Journal charges to access its archives, the BBC does not, so I am posting a link to a BBC article which summarizes it.
It was not just as safe to continue on three engines, because if a second engine on the same wing failed, the plane would still be able to fly, but would have to use its rudder to steer. A rudder creates drag, and the plane might not have been able to reach an airport safely if an engine had failed while they were over the middle of the North Atlantic. It also has to fly lower if it has fewer engines, and so cannot cruise as efficiently because the air is denser. In any case, here is a link to the report, published by the United Kingdom's Department for Transport, Air Accidents Investigation Branch. There is a brief one page summary, and if you would like to read the whole thing in all its detail, there is a PDF of it which you can download from that page as well.

25 September 2006

A New Driver License

New York State sent me a new driver's license the other day (even though my old one is still valid). They are changing their driver licenses to make them more secure. These new licenses have a wavy line that goes across the whole license that appears to float above the picture. If you are under twenty-five, they are mailing you new driver licenses even if your old one has not expired yet. I guess they want to make it more difficult for people who are underage to get alcohol. I actually like the new one better. The old ones had pink as their predominant colour. If you're curious, you can see the old ones and the new ones here. The old one is at the bottom of the page in the fan of licenses. And speaking of old licenses, this new license still has my picture from my sixteenth birthday on it, so don't worry if you are worried you won't be able to see that picture again.

19 September 2006

India Bans Rickshaws, London Licences Them

I was listening to the BBC last night and heard a piece about how New Delhi is banning rickshaws from certain areas because they slow down the traffic. The people who use these rickshaws for their livelihood are (justifiably) upset. On the other hand, London is licencing rickshaws. This link has information for it. I wonder if they will make the pedicab drivers take the Knowledge.

18 September 2006

Some Free British Folk Music

I found a website (owned by an artist) that has some free music by him on it. It's British folk music from the 1960s, but the quality is decent. The link is:

I think the song is older than the 1960s. I suggest Raynard Fox and Sally Brown if you're going to download either of them.

10 September 2006

Fresh bagels at Weiss Market

So, unlike Giant, Weiss in Chambersburg says that their bagels are baked fresh in the store. That makes it pretty clear that they are not frozen bagels.

07 September 2006

I'm going to post about the Facebook controversy. I think it is a bit creepy to have all of this information so readily available. Before, it is true, as this Facebook blog entry points out, that all of this information is visible to a person viewing the profile of the person that it is reporting. The big difference, though, is that now the user does not have to make any effort, the information is sitting there in front of him or her. It makes it a bit too easy to find out information about people, in my opinion.

04 September 2006

A trip to Ikea

My new apartment does not have overhead lighting. So, yesterday I went to Ikea and picked up two Basisks for it. I got a floor uplight and a table lamp. The only problem with them is that they have glass shades, which will make them difficult to transport if I move. Otherwise, they are very nice.
The only thing I don't like about Ikea is that sometimes they only stock things for a little while. For example, I have a case that I use for my CDs called a Brana, but they don't make it anymore. It's a fabric case that is rigide which opens so you can use it to hold CDs but also zippers for easy transport (like if I move)
I really like Ikea, because many of their items are priced cheaply. I also enjoy assembling the products I get from them.

28 August 2006

It's that time of year again...

It's the Jewish holidays again, and that means that, as far as Giant is concerned, everything that is Jewish is on sale. Matzah? On sale. Gefilte fish? On sale. I don't eat matzah for Rosh Hashana, and you're not supposed to eat anything on Yom Kippur. Both matzah and gefilte fish are for Passover.
I do like that they have Kedem chocolate tea crackers on sale though...they're good, and low in calories, sixteen calories each.
I'd by matzah ball soup mix (it's on sale too), but I have about five boxes of it in my cabinet right now, so I don't think I need any right now.

26 August 2006

Monarch Butterflies

This summer I've seen a lot of monarch butterflies, including this one in a garden outside the Assemblee Nationale in Quebec City. I looked, and according to this website, http://www.monarchwatch.org/index.html , this has been a big year for monarch butterflies. This has more information than you would probably ever want to see about Monarch butteflies.

PMBR Found Liable for Copyright Infringement

This post has something to do with the bar exam.

PMBR was sued in the Eastern District Court of Philadelphia for copyright infringement. The judge (in a non-jury trial) found them liable for copyright infringement.
The judge says that: "This is the rare case in which there is direct evidence that [PMBR] copied [the National Conference of Bar Examiners]'s work.
And no, I am not so geeky as to surf around the Eastern District Court's website looking for opinions. I saw an AP posting on the New York Times's website, found the opinion online, and then decided to blog about it. The opinion is actually interesting reading, although it does contain at least one multiple choice question, so for people who want to avoid flashbacks to the bar exam, this might not be a good thing to read.

25 August 2006

Writely - A Useful On-The-Go Word Processor

I'm typing this post on Writely, at www.writely.com. Writely is an online word processor that is pretty cool. Google bought the company a few months back. It is open to anyone that wants to sign up, and will allow me to post directly to Blogger from within Writely. It is useful because Blogger sets the time as when I first start working on the post, which means that if I want to draft the post later on, I have to reset the post. It's a slick interface. Not as slick as Gmail, but still pretty slick. I wouldn't use Writely for my resume, but for text documents, and even minimally formatted text, it is pretty good. You can download files as a PDF (readable in Acrobat, or, of course, a Word file, among other formats).

22 August 2006

NPR Stories

The first story is about Geico's advertising campaign. There was an actors' strike when they were first starting the ad campaign, and so they decided to use the Gecko, and the rest is history. There have been a series of ads on Geico's motorcycle insurance which I've found funny recently.
The second is about a water rescue, and is sad, but very powerful.

16 August 2006

I Hope You Had The Time Of Your Life

For the last week I was hanging out -- for the last time for a long time -- with people from the law school. As we were leaving the bar on Friday I heard the song Time Of Your Life by Greenday. That song is a really cool song, particularly for ending phases of my life. At Binghamton during orientation someone quoted that song for us. They played it at my senior dinner when I graduated college, and now, again, on the last night of hanging out with people in Hyannis, I heard it again. Music can be really powerful sometimes.
Thanks, John, for hosting us.

24 July 2006

Bar Exam in less than 24 hours

Here we go, less than twenty-four hours to go. Good luck to everyone reading this blog. Hopefully I know enough to pass.

30 June 2006

Recipe for Sour Cucumber

Here is a recipe for sour cucumber, which is actually my grandmother's. It's easy.

The ingredients are: one cucumber, half an onion, and vinegar to taste. My grandmother adds a little bit of sugar, I don't. You'll also need a jar to put the finished product in. I use a salsa jar and a peanut butter jar, but you can also use tupperware.

1. Peel the cucumber and slice it thinly.
2. Peel the outer layers off the onion (I presume you start with a whole onion), and cut off the ends. Slice the onion in half, and then cut it lengthwise and cross-wise.
3. Put the cucumber and onion into the jar, and fill it about 1/8 of the way up with vinegar.
4. Fill the rest of the jar with tap water.
5. Seal the jar tightly and shake it to mix the water and vinegar together.
6. Taste the water/vinegar mixture and see if you think it is sour enough. If it is, reseal it and put it in the refrigerator and leave it there for a day. If not, add more vinegar (or if it is too sour add water), seal it and shake it again and taste it.

19 June 2006

Maple Leaf Cookies

I was at Deal$ yesterday (the dollar/discount store near OfficeMax) and discovered, much to my surprise, that they were selling maple creme cookies (sandwich cookies with creme inside that is made in part from maple syrup). Normally you can only buy these in Canada, so I was pleased to see them here. I bought one package, even though the cookies are absolutely horrible for me, they have 100 calories for each cookie, plus a lot of fat. I'm limiting myself to two cookies per day.

18 June 2006

Fate and the Music I Listen To

The other day I realized that a lot of the music I have in my collection is not the result of listening to it on mainstream radio. Instead, it is dependent on fate and also my listening to music that was not on
I'm sure that I would have encountered Irish music even had I not gone to Newfoundland in 1997, and had my brother Thomas not found a CD of Newfoundland music. However, I don't think that I would have approached it in the same way or gotten CDs of the same bands that I have today.
I have a CD by a Quebecois band, Mes Aieux, which I discovered entirely by chance.
We were in Quebec City, and it just so happened that they were playing at a festival in a park, and I liked their music (even though I did not understand the words) and when I got back home, ordered a CD by them. I can't really describe their music, other than to say that it might be a cross between old Quebecois music and modern pop music, but that's not really doing it justice.
I have other music that I encountered through non-mainstream radio, like either an Australian Country Music station or a folk show I listen to on the BBC, for example. The only problem with non-mainstream music is that sometimes I have to order the music from overseas, which ends up being somewhat more expensive, especially because of the shipping.

27 May 2006

Mount Everest and Ethics

This apparently must be the climbing season for Mt. Everest. My understanding is that it is rather short, because once the monsoons come in, you cannot climb anymore.
In any case, climbers have been leaving their fellow climbers to die as they ascend to the top.
This article from the New Zealand talks about one climber who was passed by forty people on their way to the top (and I presume, also, on their way back from the top).
On the other hand, this article from the CBC describes a climber who aborted his ascent to help them.
I understand from reading Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air (an excellent book by the way) that the less time you spend at the higher altitudes, the better off you are, but this definitely raises moral questions. I think they probably ought to have stopped and helped this man.

18 May 2006

Cleveland Rapid Transit Brochure

I was looking at a Cleveland Rapid Transit Brochure that I found lying around my house. It's also online, here:


It has step by step instructions for riding the bus (or train, if you click the link at the top) including:
going to your bus, waiting for your bus at the stop, getting onto your bus, and then getting off your bus (I suppose this last step is pretty important), but it really makes people from Cleveland look pretty stupid (and I am sure they are not), if they cannot figure out how to ride a bus.

26 April 2006

Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs, author of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" died today. She was eighty-nine years old. This book, which I highly recommend as summer reading, was about her solutions for the cities in the United States, and how she thought that cities should be developed.
She writes about the neighborhood around Columbia, and, even today, I can still see precisely what she is talking about.
Lest you think it is just me that likes her writing, my brother made a point of calling me today to tell me about this.
Her obituary is here:
The New York Times has their original book review of it here (it is a PDF):
If I had to guess, I would imagine that the PDF of it will stay posted longer than the obituary, but I don't know for sure.

Anzac Day

Yesterday, 25 April, was Anzac Day. Anzac means the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, who had their first offensive against the Ottoman Empire. Although they had expected it to go quickly, it went on for months, and 8,000 Australians lost their lives. There is a considerable amount of information on it here:
It's a very important holiday in Australia.

21 April 2006

Dandelion Recipe

So I am subscribed to an e-mail list that talks about environmental happenings on the Hudson River. One person posted a recipe for dandelions, and I post it here:

"4/1 - Croton-on-Hudson, HRM 35: I took advantage of the balmy weather to harvest a great crop of dandelion crowns. One of our favorite salad ingredients and a sure spring tonic, we hope they will be served with the first herring roe of the season.
Recipe: Search out a patch of dandelions in an areas not frequented by automobiles, pet walkers, or other obvious sources of contamination. With a sharp knife, sever the root beneath the ground, under the green crown. (Harvest before the plant blooms if possible.) Trim the root at the base of the crown and trim back the leaves about an inch and a half. Drop the crown in a bucket of water; the crowns will be washed as you wander in search of more. They are wonderful as a sauteed vegetable or raw as salad.
- Christopher Letts"

I'll comment that I do not think it would be prudent to pick dandelion plants around Carlisle, as there are too many people/dogs, and even if there are not people (like a unfrequented park), weedkiller/fertilizer would probably not be healthy to eat.

HRM 35, incidentally, refers to Hudson River Mile thirty-five, or thirty-five miles upstream from the Battery (the southern tip of Manhattan, where one would catch the ferry for the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island). An interesting factoid is that the Hudson is still affected by tides all the way up to a dam at Troy, New York, 153 miles north of New York City. This is north of Albany, NY (which is at HRM 145).
I am posting the subscription information in case anyone is interested in subscribing. Most of it is about wildlife sightings, but it is pleasant reading nonetheless.
To subscribe, just send an email to hrep at gw dot dec dot state dot ny dot us with E-almanac in the subject line. (where it says dot, just put in a period, and for at put in an @ sign)

Edit: Said Statute of Liberty instead of Statue of Liberty. I suppose this may mean I have been in law school too long.

18 April 2006

Dueling Google Talkabout Posts

I read the following two posts on Google's Talkabout blog. Both are pretty interesting, they talk about Google Talk and why they do not have it set, by default, to pop up a message telling you when a friend is available you can do this in Settings|Notifications
I've actually set this up so that it will not tell me if I have any new messages. I'd like to see a feature that allows you to do a buddy alert -- once -- for a specific friend when he or she signs on/changes their away message/becomes not idle.
Added: One thing that I like about Google Talk is that it does pop-up notifications with IM messages, which is good because I don't have to interrupt what I am doing to dismiss the window.

17 April 2006

Taps were early tonight at the War College

Today I heard them play taps at the War College. They were early, by the official clock at www.time.gov, they were playing taps at 10:58:48 p.m., not at 11:00 p.m. It's a good thing that I don't set my watch by them.

14 April 2006

National Anthems Online Free

Although I talked about the Star Spangled Banner a long time ago, here is a link to lots of National Anthems from around the world. The link also has ceremonial music, so if you ever would like to hear what bugle calls sounds like, just click on ceremonial music and then click on bugle calls. Or, if you would like to hear taps and you live in Carlisle, just go outside and face towards the War College at 11:00 p.m., and you can hear it.

10 April 2006

Did you ever read about Ramona, Henry, and Beezus?

NPR did an interview last Sunday with Beverly Cleary (who is age ninety) about her books. I thought it was kind of neat to hear the voice of an author whose books I read when I was much younger.
Here is a link.
My favorite book when I was younger was The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare. Another favorite book of mine was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, which my teacher read to us in grade five. Hopefully, in between studying for the bar exam, I'll get some reading for pleasure done over the summer.

08 April 2006

New Links on the Blog

Google Reader recently came out with a new feature that allows me to share certain blog entries that I find interesting with other people. First, I can share by publishing a link to view it. But second, I can share by setting up a dynamically updating box on a website which will update based on what I add to it. So, on the right hand side, I have added a new set of links for blog items that I think are interesting. You can click "Read in Google Reader" (or on the link above) to open a session of Google Reader (you will not need to logon) which will allow you to view all of the entries on one page.
Sometimes I may just add these links without posting a blog entry, but other times I will post a blog entry with a small blurb about them.
Today, I'll type a short blurb about the links that I've just posted. First is a link about the upcoming security updates to Windows. The person in this entry, who is a vice president in charge of security at Microsoft (or something to that effect) posted his email address publicly but also talks frankly about how Microsoft develops patches for Windows. In any case, The Microsoft Security Response Center blog is really well done, they talk frankly about security updates for Windows there. Sometimes it gets kind of technical, but I think it is worth reading. Second is a funny video of a deposition, which was done by a lawyer we learned about in Advocacy. Last but not least is a blog entry about someone teaching about Firefox to fourth graders in California; the fourth graders made some funny comments about Firefox.

07 April 2006

Flying Southwest Airlines

So I flew Southwest airlines for the first time last weekend, and they were pretty nice. I discovered, though, that key to flying Southwest is to print out your boarding pass as soon as possible before you fly, that is, 24 hours before you fly. This is because Southwest does what could be called "Stampede Boarding," but they call it free seating. Instead of being assigned a seat, you are assigned a group letter to board in -- A, B, or C. A goes first and gets their choice of seats. B goes second, and then C goes last. If you are in group C, you could end up with a middle seat, which is no fun. And lest you think that I am the only person who is geeky enough to care about this, I overheard two other people talking about how they were always in Group C when they returned home because they had not printed out their boarding pass the night before on the Internet, but had just printed it off shortly before their flight. Overall, I was impressed with Southwest, my flight out departed five minutes late, but it only took them ten minutes or so to board the plane. My flight back departed five minutes early. My only complaint about Southwest is that they do not have video or audio entertainment. I like to watch the map to know where we are flying over, although I suppose with my short flight from Baltimore to Providence, it did not really matter anyway. I liked them otherwise, and would definitely be "free to move about the country" with them again.

23 March 2006

The College Board and the SAT

So, the College Board, as you probably know, has had problems scoring the SAT. I'm several years away from the SAT by now, but I still think that it is really scary that it took a student's complaint to raise red flags regarding incorrect scoring of the SAT. Today, the College Board explained that they were going to raise the scores of 375 more students. By now, high school seniors have had their applications read by the schools that they are applying for. A lot of schools plan to release admissions decisions on 1 April. That means that there is a very short time period to reevaluate any students that were affected. I'm not sure what I would do if I were an admissions officer, but I think it might be fair, if possible, to postpone the admission decision by a week or so.

20 March 2006

Domain Name Suggestions

So I signed up for Office Live Beta, and as a result get to pick a domain name. Does anyone have any suggestions? If you do, please post them in the comments.

07 March 2006

Windows Live Mail Beta

So I signed up for Windows Live Mail beta (the successor to Hotmail) a few weeks ago, and if I liked Outlook, I would really like it. It is certainly better than Yahoo! Mail (plain), and looks and acts like Outlook, you can right-click on a message and bring up a pop-up menu to forward, reply, reply, all to a message, just like Outlook or Outlook Express can. They also have a really good blog which does not appear to be as subject to the censors at Microsoft as Google's blog is subject to the censors at Google. Microsoft bloggers, in general, post pretty freely (while I'm sure they can't say totally negative things about the company, they do explain their rationale for why they do things. For example, on the Windows Live Mail blog, here, they post actual problems that they are having with the service and say when they plan to fix them. Google (Gmail), on the other hand, never says when they are having problems or what they plan to fix. I like Gmail otherwise (it is fast and efficient), but the fact that they never post when they are planning (or having) an outage annoys me. Yes, I know it's free, but I still think they should say something when they know it is broken (or going to be broken)
Windows Live Mail not as fast as Gmail is though. Plus, it only saves sent messages for thirty days. Gmail saves messages forever, which is much better.
I'm still waiting for an opportunity to try Yahoo! Mail beta, which I signed up for last fall. They sent me an email in December saying that I was on their list of people waiting to test it, and that I should be patient. I think I've been pretty patient by waiting three months.

28 February 2006

Google Pages

So I set up Google Pages the other day, and created a small website. It is here.

It's ok, but there are a number of faults with it, when I have more time I will talk about them.

24 February 2006

NBC and Journalistic Integrity

So, there has been some controversy regarding doping at the Olympics, in particular, the Austrian biathlon/cross-country ski teams. I have not seen NBC mention this at all on their Olympic broadcasts. NBC has a history of not reporting negative news. During the Thanksgiving Day Parade last November, they did not report that a balloon had hit a lampost and caused an injury. Although I cannot be absolutely sure that NBC has failed to report this, if they did not, they are violating, once again, the public trust. While reporting on the Olympics, NBC has an obligation to report on the bad things that happen at the Olympics, not all the good things. NBC should not have its head in a bubble.
As a side note, I do not have much sympathy for athletes who complain that they are getting jail sentences for doping. I imagine Italy has a fair judicial system, so they will get a fair trial. Doping is cheating. Period. If the enhanced penalties deter an athlete from cheating, then that's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. Although I am not an expert on Italian doping law, I imagine that accidentally cheating would not get you prosecuted. (Under Olympic rules, if you have an illegal substance in you, you can get in trouble regardless of how it got there, even if you did not know that a drug you were taking contained it)
Besides, as they say, when in Rome (or I suppose in this case Torino)....

19 February 2006

Published in The New York Times

So, last Sunday, I was reading this article, about a man who decided to jump down to the subway tracks to retrieve his iPod. I thought that this was really foolish, and decided it merited a letter to the editor. Sunday night, I wrote an email and sent it off to The New York Times Letters Department, never expecting to hear back again from them. Instead, I got an email from them on Wednesay at 5:30 p.m. telling me that they planned to publish my letter Sunday. True to their word, my letter was published today.

18 February 2006

Snowboard Trick Costs Jacobellis A Gold Medal

I will preface this by saying that I cannot even snowboard. Last night I watched the Olympics, and saw Lindsey Jacobellis snowboarding in the snowboard cross. She was very good. However, at the end of her run, when she had apparently clinched the gold medal, she decided to a do a trick -- (called a "Method") on her snowboard. As she was doing this trick, she lost her balance and fell, and a Swiss snowboarder flew by her to claim the gold medal. I think doing a trick -- that costs you time -- while you are in an Olympic competition is in poor taste. (Doing high jumps, necessary to do tricks cost you time in snowboard cross, you need to stay on the snow as much as possible) It's as if your opponents are so bad that even if you slow yourself up by doing a trick, they cannot catch you. It's one thing to raise your hands in victory after the race is over, but quite another to do something during the race. And, the Swiss snowboarder proved to Ms. Jacobellis that, actually, she could catch her, and not only that, but pass her to with the gold! Besides, until she fell and people started analyzing the jump, no one even noticed the trick. The announcers on NBC watched her fall, but it wasn't until they watched the replay in slow motion -- twice -- that they realized that she had done a trick.

16 February 2006

Reviews of New Things Google

So, last week, Google came out with two new items: Desktop Version 3, and Google Talk embedded within Gmail. Google Desktop is nice, I installed the Calendar plugin, which is useful, not so much for scheduling -- it doesn't do that too well -- but if i need to look at a calendar quickly, it's handy. (I know you can double-click on the clock in Windows, but I'm always afraid I'm going to accidentally set my clock to the wrong day when I'm skipping around looking at the calendar.) So far, at least, Google Desktop Version 3 does not have the charming habit of crashing when I expand it to the sidebar and losing all my panel settings.
Google Talk is also nice. Unfortunately for Google, though, I think they are going to have a hard time converting people to it. Almost everyone I know uses AOL Instant Messenger (although a group of people here at the law school have started switching to Gtalk, at least as a secondary client). While with email, Google was able to get a following by having such a huge amount of storage, with Google Talk, that's not going to be so easy, because the only thing most people want to use chat for is, well, to chat. Maybe they want to transfer a file or two. AIM does all those things quite well, and, right now at least, GTalk is not anywhere as sophisticated as AIM (it doesn't transfer files for one thing). On the other hand, Gtalk is much smaller than AIM -- 900k vs. some huge amount for AOL Instant Messsenger. Plus, it's a slicker interface than AIM. Last, it embeds itself into your email when you sign onto Gmail on the web, so that, in a pinch, you can chat with someone even if you can't install programs/don't want to bother downloading AIM Express. Plus, Google Talk shows you precisely how much time you wasted chatting with someone online.

13 February 2006

New Figureskating Scoring System is Problematic

A statistics professor at Yale University has done a statistical analysis and determined that the new figureskating scoring system is problematic. Under the new scoring system, there are twelve judges. Nine of those judges are randomly selected as scores that will count. The high and low scores are discarded, leaving seven judges, whose scores are added. If the computer randomly picks scores that add to a different aggregate, the skater could lose or win simply because the computer picked a different group of judges. See this link, which has more information on it, and a graph showing how the results of the European Figure Skating championship could have differed. To view the graph, it looks like you need to use Internet Explorer. What I don't understand is how the figure skating assocation missed this, because even I could see that when different scores were used because of random selection, the results could differ.

Update on Sonnet USB Adapter

Sonnet Fed Exed me a new USB adapter, it does the exact same thing. They also Fed Exed it to Douglas (without my last name) at the law school. Luckily, the mail room people figured out who it belonged to.
It still seems to charge the shuffle, so I'm going to keep it, even though it has this problem. By the time I ship it back to Buy.com and get a refund, it's not worth it. Plus, it comes with an iPod USB cable which costs $19.99 from Apple.

12 February 2006

Be careful how you shush someone in a movie theatre

After reading A Glance Askance's post, I saw the following article in the Daily Telegraph. Apparently, an Australian, after shushing a woman who was talking on a mobile phone during a movie, decided to touch her with three or four fingers on her arm. Mobile Woman didn't end her call, and the Australian tapped her again. Then, Mobile Woman screamed profanities at her and then left the theatre in a huff. Mobile Woman then apparently called the police and accused the Australian of assault. The police tried to dissuade Mobile Woman from pressing charges, because they would charge her with disorderly conduct and using a profanity. Mobile Woman could not be dissuaded, the Australian is now facing an (apparently) minor charge, and Mobile Woman is facing charges as well. According to the article, the Australian will not be deported, nor will this affect the Australians ability to enter the United States in the future. I certainly hope not, as, frankly, I think this woman should get a free ticket to see the movie again and a medal. I think that tapping a cell phone user on the arm in a movie theatre does not constitute a crime that should be grounds for denial of re-entry into the United States. Maybe the Australian government sould put Mobile Woman on their list of people banned from entry to Australia. That would teach her to talk on the phone in movie theatres! (Yes, I realize that is perhaps a bit harsh)

08 February 2006

One gets what one pays for

So, after looking online, I found an alternative charger for an iPod Shuffle (and regular iPod) by Sonnet Technologies that cost about $15 less than Apple's charger, and also included a USB cable with it. I ordered it, but it did not work properly, because it lit a red light while charging and continued to light the red light charge even when the charge was complete (it is supposed to change from orange to green). So I had to ship it back to them, which cost $4.00 or so. By the time I got done with shipping , as well as the time spent on the phone with them and at the post office, I think it may have been worth just getting the regular iPod charger direct from Apple. I also think Apple's is higher quality generally.
To Sonnet's credit, the phone call (while long distance to Irvine, California) put me through to a system that did not require me to navigate through voice menus at all. I was immediately placed in a call queue, and was put through to someone pretty quickly on both occasions when I called them. If they send me back a charger that works properly, I suppose I'll be satisfied.

02 February 2006

More Mine Stories

So, in Canada last week, a group of miners survived a fire in their mine, by going into an airtight emergency room. I think the US ought to have something like that safety regulation, as it makes sense, and could save miner's lives.
According to today's Times, the Governor Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has asked coal companies to cease operations, because two more miners were killed in separate accidents yesterday.
There was a story on PBS's News Hour yesterday evening. In it, they said that the Bush administration discarded seventeen safety initiatives, including one that would have provided for nonflammable conveyor belts, which might have stopped the disaster in the Alma mine (where two miners were killed).

Consumer Council of Norway Complains about iTunes

So the Consumer Council of Norway complained about iTunes to the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman, alleging that they violated (what I gather is the Norwegian) Marketing Control Act. They say that first, the contract can be changed by Apple after you have downloaded the music, which they say violates a basic principle of contract law. This is true for the United States terms as well. See paragraph 9(c) which says that "Apple reserves the right to modify the Usage Rules at any time." The Usage Rules include things like how many computers can be authorized to play a song, how many times you can burn a cd, etc.
Next, they make a Conflicts of Law argument saying that they cannot use English law because the iTunes song uses the Norwegian currency and you have to be from Norway to use it. Therefore, one cannot apply English law.
I had actually noticed the ability of Apple to change the terms whenever they want to, but I didn't care about it, because I decided to risk it and assume that Apple would not change the terms. So far, it looks like I have been right.
Disclaimer: My interpretation of Apple's contract is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult a lawyer for legal advice. You do not form an attorney-client relationship with me by reading this information on my blog or if I respond to your comment on my blog.

30 January 2006

New Google Toolbar

Google came out with a new version of their toolbar today. Unfortunately, it only works in Internet Explorer, which means that although I have installed it, I won't be using it, since I do not use Internet Explorer as my browser. Once they come out with a Firefox version, I'll use it.
Since a technically inclined person is more likely to be using the Google Toolbar (particularly the advanced features in this version) (you can program buttons on it), and since a technically inclined person is more likely to be using Firefox, I'm a bit surprised they don't have a Firefox version ready already. If they did, I'd install it. However, as of right now, I'm stuck with an older version of the Toolbar which doesn't do the neat things that the IE version does. I suppose its better than no toolbar at all though.

26 January 2006

Happy Birthday René

Happy Birthday to René, of The Sweetest Things, a fellow law student.

25 January 2006

Mozart or Not?

Mozart or not?
The BBC posted a quiz where you can decide whether or not a song is Mozart's or not. This procastination moment was brought to you by the letters A and M, for Amadeus Mozart.

24 January 2006

Why I will never look at TV the same

I was watching an episode of The Simpsons where Manjula is thinking of divorcing Apu. At one point in the episode, she hands him divorce papers and says, "consider yourself served." In Pennsylvania, that would not be proper service. Under Pa.. R.Civ. P. 1930.4, service in person must be made by a competent adult. (in Domestic Relations cases, there are other ways to serve people than in person) A competent adult is defined by Pa. R. Civ. P. 76, as "an individual ... who is neither a party to the action nor an employee or relative of a party." So, since Manjula is a party to the action, she cannot serve Apu in person.

Edit: This is not intended to be legal advice, nor do I form an attorney-client relationship with you by you reading my blog. If you want to get a divorce or otherwise do something legal-related, you should consult an attorney.

Update on the Mine Story

So the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill that provides:

  • For a new system of caches of self-contained rescue devices (which sound like air masks) inside the mine.
  • A wireless communication system so that people can communicate with the surface.
  • That the mine companies not drag their feet about contacting the authorities after an accident, and that they do so within fifteen minutes after they hear about an accident.
There are other provisions as well, if you want to read the whole bill. I'm sure more can be done, but this looks to be a decent start.

22 January 2006

Fresh (pre-frozen) Bagels

So I was at Giant today, and they were out of sesame bagels in the bakery section. I asked the clerk whether they had any more. She said, "I can check, but they'd be frozen. " In the course of the conversation with her, I learned that this is how all their bagels arrive. They are all frozen and then defrosted and sold as "fresh" bagels. I think this is deceptive. I think that if something says "fresh," that means that it was not frozen.

Miners in West Virginia

Two more miners have been killed in a mine in West Virginia, after a fire in a mine in West Virginia. A group that I listen to, Solas, has a song, "A Miner's Life," whose lyrics are very apt.

The beginning stanzas of it are:

A miner's life is like a sailor's
Board a ship to cross the waves
Every day his life's in danger
Many ventures being braved
Watch the rocks they're falling daily
Careless miners always fail
Keep your hand upon your wages
And your eye upon the scale

And the chorus is:
Union miners stand together
Do not heed the Coal Board's tale
Keep your hand upon your wages
And your eye upon the scale.

The song is a union song, but definitely conveys how dangerous mining is.

According to the article in the New York Times on 21 January, the mine had been cited twelve times for safety violations regarding fires since June. And, on 23 December, a miner told a supervisor about a fire on the same conveyor belt (when the fire suppression system didn't work) His supervisor ignored his complaint. If his supervisor had listened, then maybe these lives could have been saved.

11 January 2006

Microsoft's Rationale for Security Updates

So I discovered a blog operated by the Microsoft Security Response Center, which is the branch of Microsoft responsible for dealing with viruses and such. The corporate vice president responsible for security posted an interesting entry that talks about the process Microsoft goes through for releasing a security update. It's very tricky, because they of course do not want to release an update that crashes lots of people's computers, so they have to move slowly but carefully.
Here' s the link to the blog.
If you use blog reading software, it is probably worth subscribing. They don't post that often, and when they do, it's usually interesting reading.

09 January 2006

Weird Signs on the Interstate

As I was driving back to Carlisle on Friday, I noticed some interesting signs on the Interstate. First was one of these portable construction signs that that said "Live EZ-Passes" would be available on January 13 from 7:30 a.m. until some other time at the PA Welcome Center. I think the use of the word "live" was odd. I mean, what were they going to sell? Dead EZ-Passes?! Maybe they meant that you could get your EZ-Pass on the spot, rather than waiting for it in the mail.
Another sign was a sign featuring Shrek, saying "Be an Ogre Achiever," and then "Pass it On." I could not see who was sponsoring it, although there was a sign that said "brought to you by..." I couldn't read it, and it was in extremely small type. My other favorite sign is one that says "Burgers Fit for a King, not a Clown"

08 January 2006

Roller Skating Kids

So, over break, I went to the New York Historical Society and saw this kid, probably about ten or eleven or so, using these new shoes which have a wheel on the bottom of them, so that he could skate around the museum. While I definitely think the shoes were neat, I also don't think that it was entirely appropriate for him to go skating around a museum where there are irreplaceable historical objects. I mean, you would never allow someone to go roller skating in a museum, so why should he be allowed to use these quasi-rollerskates which do the same thing? I think his parents should have been exercising more control over him. I'm not being a spoilsport here, if the kid wanted to go rollerskating on a sidewalk, I'd have no problem with that, so long as he did not pose an unreasonable hazard to other pedestrians.