Archive for August, 2011

Double First Cousins

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

I learned a new term today. “Double First Cousins”. From an officialistic-looking web page:

“Double first cousins occur when the couple is related through both parents. For instance, Jerry marries Sally and Jerry’s sister marries Sally’s brother. Their children are double first cousins.”

In the State of NC, double first cousins are not allowed to marry. But (regular?) first cousins are free to get hitched.

Eww.

Stay Classy, GM

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Now that Government Motors has cost the taxpayers billions of dollars, they’ve decided to repay the favor by denying any liability for products designed in the pre-government takeover era.

“…the “new GM,” formed after the company’s Chapter 11 reorganization, can’t be held accountable for the “old GM’s” liabilities. These liabilities include design choices made by General Motors prior to its Chapter 11 filing, which means that GM only has to honor its warranty obligation for cars built before 2009, not correct design defects.”

In other words, If your Corvair flips over or your pickup’s fuel tank explodes or your Impala’s tires get torn to shreds in 5000 miles, well, tough titty. 

We The People, in order to better get screwed over by Corporations and the Government, have allowed them to form a Perfect Union of greed, moral corruption, and disregard for the General Welfare. That to secure this Union the Judical System shall be erected to shield them from all consequences of their actions, giving the Individual Liberty to shut the hell up and take it up the corn hole.

QUAKE!

Friday, August 26th, 2011

I’m assuming everyone here survived The Great Virginia Earthquake of 2011! On one of the forums I’m on, a California fellow piped up and said “So, I hear you guys back east got a 5.9 quake. You know what we call that? An average Tuesday.”

Jokes aside, I know folks up and down the East coast are now living in terror that NJ will suddenly break off and float out into the Atlantic, so I thought I’d post something motivational. Here you go:

Four Day School Week

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Many schools in South Dakota are saving money by switching to a four day school week, giving students every Friday off.

Interesting idea. I don’t know how well it gibes with the tendency for most two-income families to use public school as free childcare, though. I suspect a lot of people will have trouble finding Friday babysitters.

Camry Combos

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

While those of us on the automotive fringe love to drive cars with “soul”, the rest of the population is out cross-shopping cars based on the number of cupholders. It’s a marketing fact- most cars don’t sell to enthusiasts. They sell to people who need as big a box as they can get that rolls down the road using as little fuel as possible, and keeps them safe. Toyota, apparently, has taken this to heart:

“The current-generation Camry has a theoretical build of 1,246 combinations. The 2012 Camry will be available in a startlingly meager 36 combinations, because consumers have told Toyota they want a simpler ordering process”

Frankly, I’m surprised the current Camry offers over a thousand possible build combinations. My understanding of How the Japanese Conquered the American Auto Market was that, realizing it took 2 weeks to get cars from port to port, they decided rather than appointing cars with individual options (which used to get you weird combinations like fully loaded Caprices that didn’t have A/C), they’d just offer 3 or 4 trim levels, with minimal options, so people could drive off the lot. Sure, they might live in Pheonix and have a car with heated seats, but that just meant if the owner moved to Wisconsin they didn’t have to trade the car in. Value.

Toyota needs to just give it up altogether and sell “Beigecar”. No options, nothing to stir up passion or controversy. Just build as vanilla a car as they can possibly muster.

Nostalgia Technology

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

An interesting article on Etsy I found about the history of technology, how quickly new replaces old, and the roles of that now-outmoded technology. The article itself focuses on journalism, and how we’ve all but abandoned the printing press and film cameras to work in the digital realm.

“While archeologists try to recreate what life was like 10,000 years ago, and historians try to recreate what life was like 1,000 years ago, journalists can’t even recreate how they published a newspaper 20 years ago. No one documented the details or saved the old equipment. Journalists may write history’s first draft, but when it comes to covering their own history, they don’t even take notes.”

The article doesn’t get too sappy emotional over it, but does pose the question, do we define progress simply by how efficient we make certain tasks? Should we neglect the history of technology? And, obviously, how does this apply to technology in a broader sense?

PIN Harvesting

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Sure, if you want to steal someone’s ATM PIN, you can shoulder-surf it, or use a pinhole camera, or even compromise the ATM itself. But why bother when a thermal camera is so much easier?

The Vinyl Taliban

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

In all the years I’ve been plugged into ‘teh intrawebz’, I’ve discovered one immutable fact: For every potential group, for every interest, for every hobby or pasttime, there is a sub-section of that group/interest/hobby/pasttime that is so fastidious, anal-retentive, and pathologically obsessive about their knowledge of this topic that they will vent ad nauseum about it on the sundry forums that ‘teh intrawebs’ provide which elevate them to esteemed positions of nobility within their tiny realm of specialization.

It is my humble opinion now, that the group with the greatest predillection towards this behavior is audiophiles. Specifically, a subgroup I call “The Vinyl Taliban”. (“Turntable Nazis” would also be appropriate, ‘cuz you know, no internet discussion is complete until one person calls another “Hitler”.)

I’ve always been a fan of vinyl- while using, storing, and caring for records is a verifiable pain in the patootie, I genuinely do believe they have a sound quality that is fundamentally different from CDs. Note that I did not say “better”, simply “different”. Personally, I prefer this different quality, and so I’ve decided to drag my ancient Technics deck out of semi-retirement, polish it up, install a new cartridge, align it as best I can, clean my records off, and convert them to mp3 so I can listen to them in my car. To start with, I began searching ‘teh intrawebz’ for some information on the above topics.

Oh. My. God. The vinyl forums are crazy. “This is the best way I’ve found to do “x”, don’t do it any other way!” – claims one person. “YOU STUPID FOOL!!! YOU’LL RUIN YOUR RECORDS FOREVER IF YOU DO “x”!!!” interjects another. And back and forth they go. Its seriously enough to make a body go out and buy the cheapest Sounddesign turntable from Goodwill, put a virgin copy of an obscure first pressing from the 1960’s on it, drop a brick on the tonearm and post a picture to the forums to hear all the nutjobs howl with contempt.

Google++

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

A new piece of Android software, which installs itself as “Google++”, is a true bundle of joy. Not only does it steal data from the phone, it is also capable of answering phone calls from a predetermined number (after setting the handset to silent and turning on the speakerphone) to allow the attacker to eavesdrop on the surrounding environment.

Much as I chafe at the restrictive nature of the Apple App Store, it really is a model that makes sense for an appliance like a phone. It’s nice to have the added flexibility of a platform like Android, but it also imports all of the security problems of a general computing device along with the capabilities.

Don’t Shoot

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Earlier this summer, the London Street Photography Festival sent six photographers out to shoot various locations in the city. Six videographers tagged along and filmed the interactions that ensued. The result—a 16-minute film called Stand Your Ground—gives us a fascinating look at the privatization of our public spaces.

All six of the photographers were especially careful to stand on public ground. All six drew the attention of private security guards. In three cases, the police were called out; happily, the cops were on the photographers’ side each time. And yet the film is disturbing. Watching it this week, we couldn’t help but see the encounters as eerie preludes of the riots we’ve been reading so much about.