A "Hot Dish"

Susan-cooks informs me that, in Minnesota, what we know as a casserole is known there as a "hot dish." Add that to your Hoagie/Pop debates.


Google Wave

This post got some lively responses as my Google status message, so I am just going to copy that here:
Google Wave. The Company that perfected email just killed it.

I Couldn't Do It If You Paid Me.

A CA court has ruled that Lifelock's practices violate fair business practices. This could sound the death knell for this company and any others like it.

The company, which famously lists its owner's social security number in its ads and dares people to try to steal his identity, places fraud watches for its clients every 90 days with various credit agencies. Fraud watches require anyone trying to open a credit line for the person in question to take additional steps to verify that the person knows and consents to the credit line. This, of course, costs financial services companies money, which led Experian to sue Lifelock. Experian claimed that Lifelock was placing Fraudwatches on accounts by posing as the consumer. I don't know more than is in the story, but it seems to me that anyone acting as my agent should be able to "pose" as me, particularly where I have given the credentials they need in order to do so.

We'll see how this plays out.



Zune HD has been announced with multitouch, web browsing, etc. Great, give MS a few more years and they'll make an iPhone. Why not kill the also-ran?

Seen on the street.

Radio Shack's sign read: Summer Starts Here! Really?! I just don't see how.


Good Racing Weekend

Two great racing stories this weekend:

NASCAR had a rain shortened Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte. As a result, I watched 20 minutes of non-racing with cameras trained on David Reutimann. He and his much older teammate (and team owner) Michael Waltrip were leaning on their draped faux-Chevys parked on pit road while a jet-engine clad emergency vehicle caravan tried to dry the track. Then it started raining harder and NASCAR finally called it. The win represents the first for Reutimann and the shortest Coke 600 ever run. Reutimann broke into NASCAR at 39 when Waltrip hired him and hasn't won in 76 starts. This one isn't perfect, but it certainly shows that is pays to lead.

Then there's Indy and Helio Castroneves. 7 weeks ago he was acquitted of 6 counts of tax evasion. 6 weeks ago he was cleared to race. 5 weeks ago he got back in the car. 2 weeks ago he qualified on the pole for Indy. And Sunday he was number 1. He was beside himself, which is fine if you can draft from that position at 220 MPH through the turns. Sorry, couldn't help it. You can't make this stuff up.


Star Trek

*Spoiler Alert * (and you won't much enjoy this if you haven't yet seen the movie anyway.)

1. Dr. McCoy = Al Gore. Listen to him as he hustles Jim aboard the Enterprise.
2. Scotty of the Dead, Simon Pegg. Awesome.
3. This was clearly an excuse to set up a series of movies, with an obvious intro every 15 minutes or so.
4. I see why Trekkies might be upset, being that they completely rebooted the series by having Spock travel back in time to create an alternate universe. In general, alternate universe, lame. The last time it was ok was when "Mahtty" had stop Biff's universe in BTTF. Seriously.
5. Still, I am not a Trekkie, so I thought this ridiculously fast-paced romp through the solar system was a lot of fun. Hey! Isn't Michael Bay supposed to be making these movies? Oh, right, he's taken his career in a new direction: total crap.


I'm Crafty. And I'm just my type.

I was inadvertantly crafty this weekend. Cleaning up from a meal, I was bleaching our linens in preparation for the washing machine. Little did I know that had also bleached a new H&M polo; that is, until I looked down as I was doing dishes. I was not happy.

15 minutes later, I was resigned to the fact that I would have to buy a new shirt and this one was a 'house' - or in the near future 'burp' - shirt. Five minutes after that, I thought, "You know? I bet I could just paint a design with bleach to hide the spill. Two small brushes and five minutes later, there is a small, organic design on the bottom left of my polo.

To be honest, I am not sure how well this will take. It's getting it's own run through the wash tonight to test for color-fastness. I have already soaked the area twice in cold water to deactivate the bleach. For those in the area, see if you can tell which shirt it is.


What is a Boy to Do?

I want a netbook, but not just any netbook. Originally, I wanted a full keyboard. Those have arrived. Then I wanted a tablet. Those have not arrived. I mean, heck, they've been around for almost a decade and they STILL have not "arrived."

Now it looks like there is a chance for these bad boys:

EXHIBIT A: The apple tablet. You know things are moving when the financial analysts are hearing noises from the component manufacturers about a coming product. I am sure Apple rues the day that their suppliers got email. The company has managed a fair amount of secrecy in the face of such close scrutiny. (Like when people thought the glass touch screens apple ordered were for iPhone nanos and they turned out to be the touchpads for the unbody MacBooks). There are few details, though the money is on a fall release.

EXHIBIT B: The new Dell Latitude 2100. Actually a cool idea for classrooms (with a centralized, networked charging dock, etc.) is also getting a touchscreen. I don't what kind of touchscreen, and, in fact, the screen won't swivel like a tablet, but it is coming very soon for a lot less than the mac tablet, so it is - at the very least - titillating.

Then, of course, there's the Asus T91 - progeny of the EEEPc. That's giong to the UK in a month. Lord knows if and when it will make it here.

Like I said, what is a boy to do?

I suppose I owe ya.

I had a bunch of things bouncing around in my head yesterday, but I didn't have time to get them down, so we'll have some extras today. First up, from the TV show (www.topgear.com). Not new, but it doesn't get old.

[HT: www.bitsandpieces.us]


Google + iPhone, together at last.

I already get my google mail on my iPod Touch (same as the iPhone minus the phone), but I wanted to sync my calendar and contacts too. There are few apps out there that provide this information, but that means having an additional application instead of just using Apple's onboard apps.

Enter NuevaSync (www.nuevasync.com). The program acts as a Microsoft Exchange Server for your calendar and contacts. You sign up at nuevasync.com and give the site access to select parts of your Google account. Then, on the iPhone, you add a new Exchange account, enter your nuevasync sign on information and put in the website as a server - voila.

Here are detailed instructions on how to perform this function. Ironically, they are not on the nuevasync site. NuevaSync is a great product with lowsy instructions; still, that's better than great instructions with a lowsy product.

External Hard Drive

This Maxtor is just $40. 320GB is plenty for most people. I have encouraged you out there to get a backup for your backup. At this price, isn't it worth making sure you don't lose 10 years worth of photos?

Here is the direct Staples link.


Keep Digging Watson.

All I can think is: "Is this a parody?"

I Know I Do It Every Week, But It Scares me.

This is the definition of irrational fear. Tony Kornheiser - half of ESPN's sports blitz known as Pardon the Interruption (PTI to the initiate) - is quitting the color commentary spot on Monday Night Football citing a fear of flying. Tony held the job for the three years, jetting to cities every single week. Not to mention that he also travels frequently as part of PTI. How did he make it all that time? That's over 150 flights? Is it getting worse? And so on, and so on. Bottom line - cite personal or professional reasons and move on. This reason just opens up a ton of questions you don't want.

Oh, and he's being replaced by Jon Gruden, fmr. head coach of the Tamba Bay Bucks. A man lovingly known as "Chucky" from doll horror fame.

And a final sports thought....maybe jockeys do have an effect. Mine that Bird won the Derby at 50:1. A few weeks later, Alexandra won the Preakness - the first filly either ever or in a long time. Both were ridden by the same jockey.


National Council of Teachers of English

On a road trip a while back, RSC and I spotted a sign for this organization. I thought it was read like a nomenclatorial stutter. "Of" after "of." We set about testing manipulations and found that every other option of which we could think lent itself to misinterpretation. The National Council of English Teachers might be teachers from the UK. English Teachers Association - same problem. Society for English Education - again, not clear if it meant English the language vs. literature vs. that particular breed of education found with the Brits. This is all due, of course, to our silly decision to associate political/social grouping with language names. If the Brits spoke Flipity and we spoke Floppity, we wouldn't have this problem. Of course, we'd have the American Floppity Teachers Association, and that might just be worse.

And, in case you were wondering, yes, 'nomenclatorial' is a word.

[HT to McCloskey for the idea]


The Emperor Is Wearing a Sash

This is the Moby Wrap (http://www.mobywrap.com/) yuppie baby wrap system for newborns through preteens. It comes in 12 colors, you can get an organic one, and it has about a million configurations. Front, back, side, sleeping, nursing, "women's size", twins, you name it. Oh, and you can get one that supports some nature organization. Oh, and it's a breathable fabric. And it's $40-70.
It's a piece of fabric. There, I've said it. Correction, it is a piece of fabric and a set of origami instructions. In the interest of full disclosure, we might get one of these, but am I crazy, or can I just get a 1' x 10' stretch of Jersey cotton and check out the video on YouTube.com for about $15?

And now a rant...

Have you noticed that the "Back" button on you browser doesn't work any more? Actually, it does work, but you have to click it 2-3 times to get back to the previous page. The interim pages are usually ads loading from a provider like doubleclick. Can't you people get the ads to load with the page? Lord knows the page won't display until the ads are in place anyway. The only purpose this serves is to slow down my system, remove a basic piece of functionality, and, oh yeah, render my history basically useless due to all the extraneous entries.

Better Living Through Windows

Here's a quick clip of the computer fun I have had in the past 24 hours:
  • 1 all out system crash severe enough to require a restart into chkdsk (a program that goes through and automatically verifies the integrity of the disk). The computer equivalent of, "Holy crap! Ok. Ok. First thing - did I break anything?"
  • Apparently copying 70GB or so from one USB 2.0 drive to another can take 1 day. And you have to babysit it.
  • What in the name of all that is holy could make IE decide that, when I clicked on a link on the Wall Street Journal site, what I meant was, "Please open that in a new window, and then do it again and again and again and again..."

There's a little dose of reality for those of you who believe that I might know more than you do about computers. I still have the same anomalies.


Too Pretty Not To Post

This is Atlantis taking off yesterday as seen through an IR camera. Yeah, this is too small, so you simply MUST click here and check it out.

When Worlds Collide

I spend about 1/3 of my daily reading on professional (read: legal and financial) materials, 1/3 on news, and 1/3 on tech/miscellaneous. This blog represents stories from each of those slices, though the three remain largely distinct. So imagine my surprise when www.Gizmodo.com, my tech blog of choice, blogged a story out of Wisconsin about GPS and the Fourth Amendment.

Wisconsin cops wanted to track a suspected stalker, so they attached GPS to his car while it was parked in his driveway and recorded it for five weeks. Thing is, they didn't have a warrant. The defendant cried foul under the Fourth Amendment (search & seizure), but the court (and the court of appeals) thought otherwise. The 3-judge panel unanimously held that police didn't need a warrant to obtain what they could have otherwise obtained by public suveillance. You only need a warrant to enter a location where the suspect would have an expectation of privacy, such as a home or office. To their credit, the jurists were uncomfortable with this result and requested that lawmakers consider limiting the practice. After all, police can slap hundreds of these bugs on trains, planes, and automobiles and track them all at one terminal, greatly increasing their surveillance capacity. Sure, it makes catching bad guys a cinch, but it also has a bit of that detached, big-brother quality that makes us all a wee bit uncomfortable. (Not Justice Scalia, of course).

The ironies of this story are not lost on me. First, defendant here complained that the police should not be allowed to do to him what he was doing to the woman he was stalking, and, second, how is it illegal for a private citizen to track another's movements in public when police can do exactly the same thing without a warrant? (The second point is actually moot; stalking usually requires that the party have intent to cause alarm and does, in fact, cause alarm - from CT).


Wanting It This Instant, And Getting It.

If you go to Google's technology page, they will tell you about "pagerank," which basically sorts search results by the number of people that link to each page. The more links, the more important it is to the web.

But that doesn't interest me as much as the hardware problem. How do you store this much data? On what? Where? The answer is thousands upon thousands of "commodity servers" - basically the same low-cost desktops you and I use strung together to operate as a single server. Google developed the Google File System to store files across these servers, taking into account the need for data to be close to users across the globe to reduce access time and the need for redundancy as hundreds of computers drop off line each day. (There are over 20 huge Google data centers around the world. They are top secret.) On top of the file system is the database that stores the pageranks. That too, is absolutely huge. So huge that its name, "BigTable" doesn't seem to capture it.

Google also has an affinity for fun names. If two users/servers/etc. try to access the same file, the system needs a locking mechanism so that the two users don't edit the file independently with one saving its version only to have it overwritten soon after by the others. At Google, this is called the "Chubby".

I know this is really high level, but I think any more would cause people's eyes to glaze over.


Poor Persnickety Prejean

Miss California USA - I assume there is a Ms. California Baja in the Mexico pageant, hence the need to be specific - claimed she had one lingerie photo taken. Now there are two, and the media is loving the slow death of another "famous because the flameout" figure. I don't care if the photo is no racier than her swimsuit segment performance, and I don't care that her boobs were courtesy of the pageant (wow, I can't get free breakfast at my Holiday Inn!).

What I care about is her decision to come to Washington and decry the ills of gay marriage. Before any of the photo scandals, I was tired of being preached at about moral values by a single chick seeking TV time on the basis of her sex appeal. Yeah, gay marriage goes against God's intentions, but so do premarital sex, immodest dress, and, for that matter, a lot of modern women's' rights. Any plans to come to Washington and credibly argue for those causes, Ms. Prejean?


Kindle DX

Bezos just stepped off the stage after announcing that Amazon would drop the Kindle DX this summer for $489 - about $150 more than the smaller Kindle 2 released just a few months ago. I watched the live blog and left, on the whole, disappointed.
I love e-readers and want to see them succeed. Same with newspapers, so I think the NYT, WaPo, and Boston Globe subscription options are great, particularly with the larger screen. Gizmodo noted, and I agree, that this needs WSJ to become a serious player in the newspaper market.
There are two downsides: A lot of people just shelled out for the Kindle 2. Given the price and popularity of Kindle 1, I think a lot of people would have just waited it out for Kindle DX had they known it was coming so soon. Second, fine, so there is a bigger screen and PDF support, but to be a business tool this needs to permit annotation. iRex offers a touchscreen version of the machine for just $600. You can take notes directly on the PDF docs and transfer them back to your machine. You have "Whispernet," but they will really permit us to go paperless.


When the Dashboard Costs More Than the Car

Sounds like an idiom for useless extravagance, doesn't it? That would likely make Paris Hilton happy. Her custom pink Bentley has a $400K diamond inlaid dashboard. Those diamonds can't be very big or numerous at only $400K, but still, the Continental GT retails for $200K and it, y'know, drives around and stuff.

Another Reason to Visit Chicago

What has four sides, is 2 inches thick, and will make you find religion? The new observation ledge at the Sears Tower, or whatever its NY owners renamed it, in CHI. 1,353 feet of awesome.


Magic Johnson in a Tough Spot

Magic? You mean Magic Johson? He hasn't been in the news for who only knows how long. That was my reaction too when I saw Magic in Jackson Hewitt's new ads for payday loans. JH is one of the largest providers of the service, which charges customers a few percentage points in interest for a loan to cover the few days between when they get paid and when the money becomes available in their account.

There is a long argument we could have about whether such operations should be legally permitted. It is the ultimate free enterprise on the one hand; on the other hand, you're lending to the people who can least afford it money at rates well above (like 1000% above) the norm.

I was disappointed to see Magic in these ads because his other work, the Magic Johnson Foundation, Magic Johnson Theaters, and investments in local food service restaurants, etc., were all efforts to bring quality goods and services to black and other minority communities. This does the opposite - taking a money out of those communities. If there is any ideology to Johnson's business, I thought this would conflict with it. Magic isn't commenting...but I sure hope he does. The rest of his brands rely on that sterling image.


How Not To Set Up a Menu

I have changed the ring tone on every phone I have ever owned, including my blackberries. But it was not until I had to explain to someone else how to do this that I realized how poorly this feature was designed. To get to the ring tone selector:
  • Select "Profiles" from the home screen
  • Scroll down to "Advanced" - which isn't intuitive -
  • Select the profile you want to edit
  • Select the ring tone option
  • Scroll to find the ring tone.

Five steps just to select a ring tone. The funny thing is that my first change would be to make "Ring/Vibrate" part of the "Settings" menu, which would serve to bury it one step deeper. Still, having "Profiles," whatever THAT means, separate from "Settings" makes little sense. Indeed, I didn't remember it when I was asked. I had to pull out my own BB and scroll around.

Another thing iPhone does better.

Tell Everyone. This is Pizza Here People. Pizza.

Seriously, though. This is "Greenbox" - pizza box, storage, and serving all in one recycled and recyclable container. Lets make them a success! Tell everyone!