February 27, 2007

Please use caution

Filed under: humor — Brian @ 9:03 pm

Neither should one choke one’s self in front of an inverted trapezoid – not even one with safely rounded corners – nor should babies look sideways if they have Mary Tyler Moore hair.

Forewarned is four armed.

Mythbusters Scorecard

Filed under: pointlessness, reference — Brian @ 8:59 pm

A seemingly complete record of the Mythbusters’ accomplishments to date. 308 myths tested in total.

Well done.

(via Bearskinrug)

Recommendation: Copilot

Filed under: recommendation, software — Brian @ 7:01 am

Through Joel Spolsky’s “Joel on Software” column, I learned a while back of Copilot – a service that allows you to control another person’s computer remotely across the internet, even through firewalls and NATted IP addresses (e.g. behind a home router). I was curious, and have been looking for the chance to try it.

Last night, I got my chance, and it was everything it promised to be. It was simple to set up, the free two-minute trial was fully functional and easy from both sides. The 24-hour pass worked like it said, and the $5 fee wasn’t charged to my card until I and my “helpee” made a successful connection.

The product is just about perfect, and the company behind it is exemplary, if you believe anything Joel writes.

If you have a need to control someone else’s computer across the Internet, give it a try. At least go watch the demo & see what it’ll do for you. Beats the pants off of “OK, now tell me what you see. OK, click on “Start, Search, and then click on the third green button from the top in the window that pops up…”

I think I’m supposed to say here that I have no financial interest in the company that makes Copilot. I don’t. I just found it to be very simple to use, and it a huge time saver.

February 16, 2007

From my son, on his fourth birthday

Filed under: fatherhood — Brian @ 7:59 pm

I took the day off from work to hang around with him for his birthday. As I tucked him in for bed, I told him that I think four is a pretty good age. He replied, “Yeah. Four’s a good age for pretty much doing what you want.”

February 14, 2007

Watered Bottle

Filed under: advertising, Art — Brian @ 8:46 pm

This dates from 2005, but I just noticed it, so I’m telling you about it now.

There is a new brand of water in the Netherlands. Sold as an empty bottle, it requires the buyer to fill up from his own tap.

Neau is being sold in the form of a firm, clear blue plastic (PET) bottle of 33 centiliters at the price of regular mineral water, € 1.80 (US$ 2.23). However, the bottle is empty. Instead of water it contains a rolled-up Neau flyer, a message in a bottle that explains Neau’s position. By not selling water itself, but by branding the water that people are filling the bottles with, Neau is a product and a campaign in one, Liauw explains. “When you drink a bottle of Neau,” he continues. “You indirectly provide a refugee camp in Sudan with seventeen liters of clean drinking water. Every draught for you is ten draughts for them. Drinking here is drinking there.”

Takes the “refill an empty bottle from the tap” thing a few steps further. I’ve never understood why someone would pay more for water than for, say, pop, but they do. I’ve bought bottled watter a few times, but it’s not for the water – it’s for the handy bottles.

Nine quarters is a little much for an empty bottle – but I’d buy a few of these. If I didn’t have to go to the Netherlands to do so. Can you even bring bottles on airplanes now?

(33 centiliters is 0.33 liters … just under 12 ounces)

February 9, 2007

Not only am I a girly fish, but I’m also learning to knit.

Filed under: knitting — Brian @ 8:38 pm

But it’s not like I use pink knitting needles or anything. Jeez, that’d be like asking to be made fun of. My needles are totally blue. Anodized aluminum, if you must know.

Bear in mind before you comment that I am a certified Unix System Administrator, and I know how to solder. And change oil. And catch fish. And build a fire without matches. And copper-plate things in the kitchen sink.

Here’s Dishrag 1.0, alpha 1. I need to work on my tension, and get a better idea of size. This was meant to be square, but it’s 13 inches across, and nobody need a dishrag that big square, so I stopped halfway there. Think of it as pre-folded-in-half.

dishrag1 front

dishrag1 rear

Choosing Movies

Filed under: fatherhood, reference — Brian @ 8:17 pm

I don’t remember where I found this today, but I’m making note of it so I can find it again.
It’s called Kids In Mind and it’s a kind of movie-rating site.

It gives moves a numeric score of 0 to 10 in each of “sex and nudity”, “violence and gore” and “profanity.” And it backs up the score in each area with fairly detailed but factual (I assume) descriptions of the scenes that contribute to the score in each area.

It’ll be helpful in picking family movies, but I imagine also fun to play with. Let’s see:

Let’s just get this one out of the way early – Pulp Fiction: 9,10,10 (That first 9 shows some thought in the ratings. Except for a brief flash of Harvey Keitel’s rear, there is no nudity, so it’s not just a skin-or-no-skin number). Quentin Tarantino films were a staple of my college experience – I could give a dissertation on Reservoir Dogs – but not so appealing these days…

Finding Nemo: 0,3,0 – with 943 words to explain that “3”:

A barracuda with very long and pointed teeth snaps viciously at two fish, one fish is knocked unconscious, and the other fish along with many eggs are gone when he comes around (the barracuda apparently ate them although we do not see it). A fish is hit in the nose, her nose bleeds, a shark gets a whiff of the blood and goes into a frenzy…

Good Will Hunting: 3,2,10.

Napoleon Dynamite: 3,4,3

I could spend a lot of time gathering more, but my Internet is slooow tonight…

Much more interesting than the numbers, I think, are the descriptions that go along with them. Gives you an idea of what you’re getting into before you go. And – in the ones that I’ve read – it does a pretty good job of doing it without spoilers.

I am a footless creature of the deep

Filed under: pointlessness — Brian @ 7:36 am

These quizzes are dangerous. First I see that Jim’s a pretty little fish. Then my wife ends up being a centaur, so I wonder what I’ll be.

I’m a mermaid like Jim. So I decide that this quiz – unlike some others – is flawed, and I won’t publish the result.

Then I notice my wife has already done it, and I can’t resist poking fun at Jim over there.

Now Gwynne throws out the “real men” line…

So, here it is. I, too, am a pretty little fish.

You Are a Mermaid

You are a total daydreamer, and people tend to think you’re flakier than you actually are.
While your head is often in the clouds, you’ll always come back to earth to help someone in need.
Beyond being a caring person, you are also very intelligent and rational.
You understand the connections of the universe better than almost anyone else.
What Mythological Creature Are You?

February 7, 2007

Superfluous Obfuscation

Filed under: english, pedantry — Brian @ 7:42 pm


Meaning: “clarify”

February 6, 2007

Dogs, Prayers and Possibilities

Filed under: dogs, fatherhood, God — Brian @ 8:21 pm

When our dog Carla stopped eating and started laying still for hours on end, our vet found an enlarged spleen. She suggested the cause might be hemangiosarcoma – a cancer that’s claimed a dog each from two familes we know recently. Other, less serious possibilities were mentioned, but it seemed as though their purpose was to offer hope, not suggest probabilities.

With some medication, a change to tastier food, and prayers from family and friends, her demeanor improved while we waited for the abdominal ultrasound that would tell us more conclusively what was the cause.

At the ultrasound appointment, the news was that it would be lymphoma – still deadly, but somehow less frightening. Maybe because it’s a more familiar term. Certainly not because it’s good. They took some sample tissue through a very small incision for a biopsy.

We waited and prayed some more for a little more time with this dog who’s been so good to us. More time with her in relative comfort before the end that we’d come to expect would be within sight.

When word arrived with the results of the biopsy, everyone was puzzled. No lymphoma.

Nothing seems to be very wrong at all anymore. Her fever is gone, her personality and energy are back. She is as she was before. Same dog again.

We’ll go in for another blood test next week and see if there’s anything to be found in the comparison.

It got me thinking about God, and where He does His work. I don’t know if He intervened for our dog, but this is exactly the kind of situation that strengthens my faith.

Here was a sick dog, with symptoms that several very good veterinarians believed to have dire implications. We had accepted that our time with her would very likely be cut short, and we’d started to prepare our boys for the loss that the science told us was coming soon.

And in the time between “this looks bad” and “here’s the cause of the problem,” we prayed, and friends and family prayed.

And she got better.

Now, we’re still in that “between” time. We still don’t know what caused the symptoms or what made them stop, and it’s still within the realm of possibility that she has a terrible illness. But these things are certain: her pain is gone and our fear of losing her has given way to gratitude for the time we’ve had.

If God was going to heal one regular dog in one regular family – and if for reasons beyond our grasp he wanted to do it in a way that would hint at his hand without proving it – is this not the way it would happen? Could happen? In the time between “this looks bad” and “here are the test results,” is that not a perfect place for God to reveal Himself in the hearts of those willing to see?

Nothing is proven. Nothing is certain. Nothing is even testable. Is it there that we can see a little bit of God?

I don’t know. But a world without that possibility is a dark world, indeed.

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