21 November 2008

Facebook in Pirate

If you're bored, you can try going to Settings|Language in Facebook and picking English (Pirate) as your language.  You'll have to scroll down through the languages, but it is there.  Facebook's developers apparently had a lot of time on their hands.  It looks like they rewrote the entire interface in Pirate.

17 November 2008

Runners and Cars, as well as a Useful Link

There was an article in the New York Times a little while back about runners and cars.  When I can, I like to avoid running with cars, but, unfortunately, living in an urban area, that's sometimes difficult.  I usually try to defer to cars, but it can annoy me when cars don't yield to me when I am in a cross walk.  Right now, on weekends, I like running in Rock Creek Park on Beach Drive.  At least a portion of that road is closed to vehicular traffic.
I also discovered a useful link, that lets you see what your pace is based on mileage run and distance traveled.

16 November 2008

A Musical Examination of Buddy Can You Spare A Dime

There was an interesting piece on NPR yesterday which was a musical analysis of Buddy Can You Spare A Dime -- a depression era song.  Even though my musical knowledge is pretty limited, I was able to get a lot of what the analyst was talking about.
I also didn't know that the lyricist for this song also wrote Over the Rainbow of Wizard of Oz fame.

06 November 2008

Hobo Stew

A few weeks ago when I went camping, I made Hobo Stew over a campfire.  The meal is readily transferable to non-campfire cooking. 
What's nice about this recipe is that you can use pre-cooked items, so you don't have to worry about cooking things extra thoroughly.
So, without further adieu, here is the recipe:
In a non-stick frying pan (although you can use a regular frying pan if you want), combine:

  • Random vegetables of your choice (I use broccoli, celery, mushrooms, and peppers).
  • Some variety of pre-cooked sausage.  While camping, we used kielbasa sausage.  At home, I used Trader Joe's chicken sausage.
  • A medium potato, sliced thinly.  (You can cook the potato with the rest of the food if you want).  Or, if you're like me, and are impatient, you can just cook the potato in the microwave and add it to the pot.
  • Simmer this whole concoction for a little while.
  • After simmering, put it on a plate, and season it to your taste.  I use Montreal Steak seasoning, but you could use pepper, or really anything.
You're done!

16 October 2008

How To Lose A Customer By Suing Them

A customer went to his local Chevrolet dealership and, while his car was in for repairs, borrowed a loaner car from the dealer. The car was insured under the dealer's insurance policy. The customer was involved in an accident, and the dealer's insurer then turned around and sued the customer for the damage sustained to the vehicle.  As the customer was a permissive user of the dealer's loaner car, an appellate court in New York ruled against the insurer.  I would imagine, however, that this customer will not buy a GM car ever again.

20 September 2008

Apple Is Sneaky

Apple is being sneaky, sneaking applications onto people's computers without their consent.   They say they're installing only iTunes, but then lots of other applications find their way onto the computer.

16 September 2008

On Why People Didn't Evacuate During Hurricane Ike

NPR had a good commentary by someone on why people did not evacuate during Hurricane Ike.  While I don't really agree with their reasoning on not evacuating, the essay is, nonetheless, very good (in particular the last paragraph).  I think it's more powerful listening to it than reading it. 

13 September 2008

Update on Virginia Spammer

In March, I wrote how the Virginia Supreme Court upheld a criminal sentence of a spammer from North Carolina who used AOL's servers.  The Virginia Supreme Court issued a new opinion on Friday, vacating the convictions based on the First Amendment and the spammers right to free speech.  Here is a link to the summary (search for Jaynes within the page if you don't see it at the top).  Here is a link to the opinion (a PDF).

02 September 2008

Switching Easily Between Desktops on Windows

I found a utility, aptly named Desktops, which allows you to easily switch between desktops on Windows.  So, if you wanted to switch between one Desktop where you had Word set up and another desktop where you had Excel set up, you could do so easily.  It's published by Microsoft, and it looks like it will run on most versions of Windows.

01 September 2008

The Yellowstone National Park Fires -- Ten Years Later

There was a piece on NPR about the Yellowstone National Park Fires, ten years later. This is the first part of a five part series.
I also found more than you ever wanted to know about how the National Park Service manages fires.

Useful Plugins for Firefox

I discovered a few plugins for Firefox, two of which are from Mozilla Labs. A disclaimer: These are all non-final versions, and therefore might be buggy. However, I have not had any real difficulty with any of them.
Ubiquity allows you to use the keyboard to quickly Google something, select text and email it to someone, or insert a map into an email and email it to someone, and more. But hitting -, you call Ubiquity, which then will do your bidding.
Second, a program called Auto Dial, which, based on your web history, builds a custom web page that opens each time you open a new tab, so that when you open a new tab, it will
Finally, a program called Ctrl-Tab allows you to switch between tabs easily, all the while seeing what tab you will be switching too.

20 July 2008

Red Cross Has Problems Again

I've written regarding the Red Cross's blood donation problems before.  According to an article in the Times, they still continue to have problems.  The article discusses a specific procedure for disinfection prior to inserting the needle to donate blood (swabbing antiseptic and such).  I didn't know there was a separate procedure, but I'll bet that other blood donation services that I've given to have not followed that rule. 

07 July 2008

Le Vent du Nord

I was listening to NPR recently and heard a Quebecois group called "Le Vent du Nord" or "The Wind from the North."  The band plays traditional Quebecois music.  The neat thing is that they play songs that date from the founding of Quebec and came across from France.  Meanwhile, these same French songs have become extinct in France.
There are songs to listen to both at NPR's website (where you can hear the report) and also at the band's MySpace page.  They're also on iTunes.

24 April 2008

Metro Wasting Money

What's one million dollars to fund a mystery rider program on Metro???!!!
What a waste of money. Especially because I can tell you about Metro for free, as can many other customers.

26 March 2008

Front Pages from Around The World

I have been going to concerts at the National Gallery of Art recently and, on my way back to the Gallery Place China-town Metro, I've been stopping at the front of the Newseum to view the newspapers that they have on display from across the nation and world. But, you don't have to make the trek to see them, because you can see them online too. Hopefully they'll keep this up after they open on 11 April, but it looks like they may not.

25 March 2008

Apple Forcefeeds Software to Users

On the Windows version of iTunes, Apple is, by default, disguising an installation of Safari (their browser) as an "update" to iTunes. It takes advantage of users who are told to install security updates religiously and forces an update on them. Microsoft does not take advantage of security updates to install new software onto people's computers.
See this blog entry for more information.

23 March 2008

Blog by TSA on Airport Security

I don't fly that much, but I have had some experience with TSA, so I've found this blog interesting. One entry discusses the Macbook Air and an experience one traveler had when TSA was suspicious of his Macbook Air because it did not look like other laptops. Another entry discusses how, after implementing lanes for different types of travelers based on ski slopes (black diamond = expert, blue square = intermediate, green circle = inexperienced/family), they have seen a decrease in the amount of banned items that they see in the green circle lane at security checkpoints. I find this somewhat surprising, since I would have thought that by the time someone arrived at the checkpoint, they had already packed their bag with items they think are ok. I guess maybe someone who isn't feeling rushed by the people behind them may take the time to read the signs and realize "Oh, wait, I can't bring that shampoo on the plane with me!"

22 March 2008

Mount Everest and the Olympic Torch

I heard about China asking Nepal to close Nepal's face of Mt. Everest from 1 May to 10 May last week on the radio. Nepal has acquiesced. They want to run the Olympic torch to the top of Everest. This article has more information.
I think Nepal shouldn't have acquiesced, as it will deprive all of the people who have planned their years around climbing Everest from climbing it.
As for China, I don't know much about climbing Everest, but one thing that I do know about it is that it is not easy and is not something that should be rushed. Yet, China seems to want to rush someone to the top of Everest and do it sometime between 1 May and 10 May. I understand that China may want to show the world that it can climb Everest, but, in reality, they're depriving people who have planned for years to attempt Everest of that chance so they can put on a show for the world.

14 March 2008

Skittles Leads to a Suspension

In New Haven, although the school district eventually backed down, an eighth-grader was suspended from school for a day for buying Skittles from someone. He also was stripped of his eighth-grade vice president title, and was not permitted to attend an honors dinner.
I don't think the suspension was fair, and I also don't like the idea of the adults interfering in the political affairs of 8th graders, although I imagine sometimes it is necessary.
I've always wondered what purpose suspensions serve, particularly out-of-school suspensions. For the students who get them, it translates into a day off from school.
Apparently "dealing" Skittles also earns a suspension, although the story doesn't say whether that merits more days.
Here's the story.

03 March 2008

Virginia Nabs a Spammer

If you're going to spam people, don't use Virginia ham in your spam. A North Carolina man who spammed people using AOL's servers had his sentence upheld recently. AOL is based in Virginia, which is how Virginia got jurisdiction over him. For those who don't want to read the opinion, there is a short summary here (search for Jaynes on the page if you don't see it at the top). Here's a link to the court's decision.

27 February 2008

When to Call Animal Control

Don't read this if you've just had dinner, it's slightly gross.

Now, that being said, if a python starts sleeping in the same bed as your chihuahua, and other animals have been killed by snakes, it might, perhaps, be time to call animal control. This family apparently did not know that. Although the python was in the dogs bed and their cat had recently died under suspicious circumstances, the family did not call animal control.

17 February 2008

Voting in Maryland

Last Tuesday I voted in Maryland. This was my first time voting there, and it was a different experience from voting in New York. Maryland uses touch screen voting machines, whilst New York uses huge lever-operated voting machines that have been in use for decades. Personally, I like the old voting machines better. There is something anticlimactic about pushing a button to finally cast my ballot and see a screen informing me that my vote had been cast. I liked New York's voting machines much better, with the huge lever that you had to pull. I actually felt like I was accomplishing something in New York. I also don't like a computer counting my vote to begin with.
I would also feel more comfortable if they asked questions about one's identity that could not be obtained from a Facebook profile and the phonebook. (like the date and month of one's birth and one's address). I'm not sure if they even checked my signature against something. While I don't think that they should be asking for ID to vote, I do think that they could at least compare signatures (since that's available from the voter registration form)

28 January 2008

Carlisle in The News

There have been two instances where Carlisle has been featured in the news.
First, pastors are visiting Market Cross to talk to people who may be drinking their troubles away. Here's the article. I'm not sure if the Patriot-News keeps its articles up forever, so I don't guarantee how long the link will be valid for.
I'm also not sure if the pastors are visiting the right bar. I wouldn't visit Market Cross. As Carlisle bars go, Market Cross is, at least in my opinion, one of the classier ones.
Second, NPR wants to learn about truckers, so where do they go? The Flying J truck stop. They could have visited Dickinson, right nearby, and gotten a legal perspective. Here's the story.

20 January 2008

FM Radio Reception Tips

This website has some information on receiving FM radio stations in general, and receiving WAMU (Washington's NPR Station) in particular. One thing I had not realised was that you should put an antenna in a T formation against the wall that faces the direction where you know the signal is coming. I had thought, that since FM radio was line-of-sight, that it would be better to keep the antenna away from the wall.

02 January 2008

Information on Working Out

This article in the New York Times discusses the most efficient calorie-burning methods for using various machines in the gym. Some take-away points:

  • Not entirely a surprise, the calorie count on the machine is inaccurate.
  • Hanging on the rails of a treadmill reduces the number of calories burned by 40 or 50 percent.
  • It looks like it may be better to run on a treadmill than to use a bike.