March 30, 2003

Top 50 pocket-sized gadgets for 2003

It's a little UK-centric, but a great list nonetheless. Yum, toys!

Posted by pmk at 5:41 PM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2003

Darrell Issa: Shameless Porkbarrel Politics

Darrell Issa, Representative for the California 49th, made the following statement today:

We have learned that planners at the Department of Defense and USAID are currently envisioning using federal appropriations to deploy a European-based wireless technology, known as GSM, for [the] new Iraqi cellphone system.

The U.S. government will soon hand U.S. taxpayer dollars over to French, German, and other European cellphone equipment companies to build the new Iraqi cellphone system. This is not acceptable.

CDMA and GSM are competing cell phone standards. Both CDMA and GSM are used in the US, while GSM is used throughout most of Europe and some of Asia.

Set aside, for a moment, the lunacy about worrying about the future Iraqi cell phone network while American and Iraqis are killing each other. Instead, ask yourself why Issa even cares? Not surprisingly, Qualcomm, which holds several key CDMA patents, is a quick 30 minute drive from his local office. In fact, Qualcomm was the sixth largest donor to the 2002 Issa campaign. While Qualcomm and other US manufacturers make GSM cell phones and network equpiment, Qualcomm doesn't get a patent royalty check from GSM products.

Issa's donors can rest easy tonight, knowing that their Representative will squeeze every last dime out of this war for them.

Posted by pmk at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2003

Funniest. Switch Spoof. Ever.

Mac killed my inner child.

Yes, even funnier than Anakin Skywalker's switch commercial

(Thanks Paul!)

Posted by pmk at 3:25 PM | Comments (1)

March 25, 2003

Cool Switch Form Factor

3com has released a four port Ethernet switch that fits in a standard wall jack. The network uplink plugs into the back of the switch, inside the wall, and can also provide the unit with power, if you are setup for Power over Ethernet.

One of the listed advantages of this wonderful toy is;

A network jack isn't easily damaged or disconnected, nor will it "grow legs" and vanish.

Kudos to 3com for using the phrase "grow legs" to push their product.

Posted by pmk at 4:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2003

Pizzeria Paradiso: The Revenge

I'm sitting in Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown with Andrew Curry, associate editor at U.S. News and World Report, mooching some random WiFi connection, waiting for our pizzas to show up.

This is Paradiso's second location -- the first is a tiny closet of a space in Dupont Circle. No reservations, of course, and wait times regularly exceeded one hour during the lunch rush back when I lived in Washington.

The Georgetown locale is huge in comparison -- probably 40-50 tables, plus a bar, plus a large counter. Paradiso2 also has a full liquor license, so they can serve all sorts of swanky cocktails. And, even late on a Saturday afternoon, every table in the place is filled.

The pizzas are here and they are tasty. Virtually indistinguishable from the pizzas at the original Paradiso. The only difference I could detect was slightly less rise in the crust, perhaps caused by the more rarefied air of Georgetown.

I would love to talk to Ruth Gresser about the trials and tribulations of replicating her initial success in Dupont.

Posted by pmk at 3:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2003

Groovin' to the Bach Cello Suites

The movements from Bach cello suites take their names from Baroque dances and dance metaphors are often used in their interpretation. So I was a little surprised and amused to come across a great article describing one man's quest to see if the Bach cello suites could actually be danced to. He dug up a renowned baroque dancer from the UK and tried to dance to movements from the various suites.

So can they be danced to? Not really...

Posted by pmk at 6:57 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2003

Star Spangled Ice Cream

Poltically conservative? Tired of throwing money at those aging hippies and their communist ice cream?

Never fear! Star Spangled Ice Cream is here! In such tasty flavors as "Gun Nut" and "Iraqi Road", it's sure to please any Freeper's sweet tooth!

(Thanks boing boing)

Posted by pmk at 11:08 AM | Comments (2)

March 18, 2003

Radioactivity: Our Forensic Friend

In this recent article, New Scientist reports that a British scientist, Stuart Black, has discovered how to use radioactive decay to determine the time of death of murder victims.

Black is using isotopes with shorter half-lives than carbon-14. He has found that the most useful are lead-210 and polonium-210, with half-lives of 22 years and 134 days respectively.

In addition to being able to establish time of death, Black is also able to determine where a victim lived by comparing the absolute and relative amounts of various radioactive isotopes in the victim's bones.

Posted by pmk at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2003

Flashy Goodness

I take this moment to highlight the spectacular Flash world vigil map put together by the inimitable Mr. Eric Rodenbeck.

On the backend, we generate a handful of XML files to tell the flash app where the meetings are and which countries have images and/or comments. The whole mess is served up by the Tux kernel-accelerated webserver. Very fast.

Geolocating the meetings in the US was trivial. We've got a cheap, accurate database of zip code to longitude/latitude mappings.

Doing it internationally took a bit more clever. Ironically, the US Military helped solve the problem. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency provides a database of international (read: non-US) place names with latitude and longitude. After massaging these files into something a little more usable, we did best-effort matching on the country and placename and got over 90% of the vigils matched.

Posted by pmk at 10:06 AM | Comments (2)

Ironic Title Goes Here

Posted by pmk at 9:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2003

More Achatz

Grant Achatz of Trio has been nominated, for the second year running (!), as James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year. Woohoo!

Posted by pmk at 9:01 PM | Comments (2)

March 13, 2003

Jelly Danish

From Peter Unold, Danish programmer, kayaker and all around good guy:

Echoes of Clinton/Lewensky! The chairman of the Danish parliment died yesterday while visiting his secret mistress - the minister of agriculture. Both were married and well over 60+. While the "serious" papers have tried to cover it up, the tabloids and most of the Danish populace are talking about it nonstop.

At least it's not just us.

Posted by pmk at 3:09 PM | Comments (1)

Underwater Basket Weaving

Yet another class that my stodgy old school cheated me out of. Once you've completed UBW 001, you can move on graduate level instruction.

(Thanks Eli!)

Posted by pmk at 8:16 AM | Comments (1)

March 12, 2003

Mormon Romance Novels

Anita Stansfield, queen of Mormon romance novels. My favorite bit is where Anna describes LDS censorship:

In a book published in 2000, Stansfield was forced to delete the one sentence that described a couple's wedding night. The sentence said merely, "He laughed and kicked the door closed," she said.


Posted by pmk at 8:59 PM | Comments (0)

Icelandic Ducks

An entire collection of Icelandic ducks. Including some nice shots of ducks at what like to be geothermal springs.

Posted by pmk at 4:14 PM | Comments (0)

Instant Girlfriend


Posted by pmk at 9:00 AM | Comments (3)

March 11, 2003

Where are FedEx's expenses?

I shipped four boxes to San Francisco from Chicago on Friday. They were shipped "FedEx Express Saver", their three-day service, which means they should be there by Wednesday, the 12th of March.

The boxes actually got to SFO on Saturday the 8th. They sat around there until the 11th, when they were moved to South San Francisco, which is where the stuff actually gets put on trucks for final delivery. The South San Francisco station looked at the packages, said "Hey, don't need to deliver this until tomorrow" and put them on a shelf.

I wonder where FedEx's costs are. Warehouse space is expensive, especially in the Bay Area. Do they really save more money by hanging on to my packages, tying up space, risking damage and loss, etc., rather than getting rid of them? I can see it making sense for FedEx to hold them in Chicago, if adding my packages to the SF flight would mean that they would need an additional plane that day. But holding them once they get there seems odd.

For the record, this is not a complaint about FedEx -- I am getting the service that I paid for, I'm just curious.

Posted by pmk at 1:39 PM | Comments (0)

Snipers, what snipers?

A great little nytimes "tweak" posted by the folks at Memory Hole. Snipers at a peace protest? What snipers?

Posted by pmk at 9:52 AM | Comments (0)

Seal > Gaijin

So there's this seal. In Japan. No, not that kind of seal -- the kind that goes 'orf orf' and bounces a ball on its nose.

Anyway, its name is Tama-chan, apparently since it first popped up in the Tama river in Yokohama. The seal is a national icon. Where it is at any given moment is tracked in actual™ newspapers.

All of this serves as introduction to this stunning fact: Yokohama has granted this seal residency. For a foreigner to get residency in Japan, they need to jump through a variety of hoops, not the least of which is having lived in Japan at least 10 years. The outrage was immediate and immediately ignored.

Which leaves us with the question: Do the Japanese value lost seals more than taxpaying foreigners?

Posted by pmk at 8:11 AM | Comments (1)

March 10, 2003

The Ultimate Lightbike Game

This is the best Tron lightbike game I have ever played. I nominate this as king of the genre, until we get goggles and gloves. Anyone else thinking of making a lightbike game can just stop now.

It pops up a warning, because it tries to access a counter on a different host than the one where the swf is -- Just hit cancel when the warning pops up and it should start up.

Posted by pmk at 8:24 PM | Comments (2)

Valenti: the remix

A remix of the recent Jack Valenti "Moral Imperatives" speech.
(Via boingboing)

Posted by pmk at 10:11 AM | Comments (2)


Just finished Jennifer Government by Max (nee Maxx) Barry.

Funny. Scary. Very quick paced. Sort of Christopher Brookmyre meets Neal Stephenson in an almost entirely privatized near-future. Barry gets bonus points for creating a little geopolitical game as a promo for the book. George Clooney's production company has bought the film rights, however, so watch out for potential lameness in the future.

Posted by pmk at 7:37 AM | Comments (2)

March 9, 2003

Trio KT on 3/1/3

My obsession with Trio and Chef Grant Achatz was fed again on the 1st of March at Trio's kitchen table. The menu follows:

  • Grapefruit-Sencha
  • North Atlantic sea urchin with parsnip milk, frozen banana and puffed rice
  • Puree of celeriac soup with black truffles, pears and celery branch (one of my favorite dishes on the menu right now!)
  • Gold beet root with soy and pumpkin seeds
  • Shaved bottarga over a parmesan "custard' with bread tuiles, diced tomato and grated bottarga
  • Loire white asparagus progression
  • Cream of mussel soup with madras and mint
  • Apple and olive oil gelato "lozenge", served on an apple
  • Maine diver scallop with orange rind vapor
  • Guess What!
    Tiny postage stamp sized "food". They take a small piece of vegetable-based edible paper and put a combination of ground, dehydrated spices on it to simulate the taste and, in some cases, mouthfeel of various foods. We had the now-familiar "pizza" and cinnamon pancakes, which was new to us. The pancakes were particularly clever, since they included a little bit of honey or maple syrup, which added a cool textural dimension.
  • Maryland striped bass with Meyer lemon, rye, cauliflower and brussel sprouts
  • Sauteed Duck Foie Gras with sardines, mango-basil and lime mist
  • Poached loin of Elysian Fields farm lamb with Thai flavors
  • Maine sweet shrimp with carmelized dairy and red wine
  • Braised short rib of prime beef with root beer flavors
  • Maytag blue cheese with white chocolate, mint and dried bananas
    Tastes just like milk chocolate -- This dish amazes me every time
  • Sunchoke parfait with tangerine, mate and crispy sunchoke
  • Pushed foie gras with pears, Sauternes and salt roasted pear sorbet
  • Ginseng fizz with blood orange and grains of paradise
    Interesting change on this one -- Every other time I've had it, I've been able to taste the baking soda which gives the dish its "fizz". This time, instead of mixing the ingredients together before presentation and bringing the dish to the table already fizzing, we were told to mix it together ourselves. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but it meant that signficantly less baking soda was needed to get the effect and the baking soda taste was greatly reduced.
  • Carrot fennel cake with black pepper-pine nut, fennel caramel and couscous
  • Trio tarte tatin with porter ice cream, winter fruit compote and chevre anglaise
  • Oaxacan "hot chocolate" with tres leches and ancho-vanilla ice cream
  • "Bacon & Eggs"
    A little shot of egg cream, served with a bit of pulled sugar "bacon", topped with bits of bacon.
Posted by pmk at 7:16 PM | Comments (4)

Found Slides

These folks have collected 35mm slides that have, supposedly, shown up on city streets, in people's garbage, etc.

They provide a 100% guarantee that they are all found art, so I'm taking them at their word, but some of them seem almost a little too weird...

Posted by pmk at 8:14 AM | Comments (1)

March 8, 2003

HP Procurve 2650

The HP Procurve 2650 is a sexy little piece of hardware. It's a 1u high Ethernet switch with 48 Fast and 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports. The gig ports are copper, but have mini-gbic slots if you want to use fiber instead. It's basically a Cisco 2950-G, but costs about $1,000, versus Cisco's $3,000.

Did I mention it supports basic layer three routing? For $1,000? We live in good times. Now all I want is a cheap managed 24 port Gigabit switch with basic layer 3...

Posted by pmk at 5:15 PM | Comments (0)

Everything old is new again

Well, I blogged a bit in 1999 and 2000, using a creaky old hand-built system of Mason templates and Berkeley DB. It worked, though, and I will probably import those entries into MT at some point.

But now that blogging (is hot hot hot|has jumped the shark), I figured I'd resurrect mine. Plus, redirecting to steal people's brains was fun, but 65,000 brains is probably enough for even the most hungry zombie.

Posted by pmk at 1:58 PM | Comments (1)