Monday, November 25, 2013

At Last!

It's good to have low friends in high places (Thanks Dave, if you're reading this!).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Unboxing

So now I've got a total of 30TB of online storage. Actually, it's effectively more like 18TB, as a fair amount of it is devoted to redundancy / backup. I'm sure that in 5-10 years 30TB will fit on a keychain in my pocket. But stories like this one make me think that disks aren't going to be growing in size as fast as we'd like for them to grow. This article talks about upcoming "HAMR" technology that could enable up to a 100x increase in storage density - but notice that the article is from 2011. Right now it looks like HAMR might arrive sometime in the 2014-2015 timeframe. So I'm sure that disk technology will improve - but it's going to require some patience.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Days of the Future Past

I'm feeling nostalgic for the "good old days" of space travel.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Innovations in Music Marketing

More than ever, television is being used to introduce new music to the world. More subtle than MTV: a television show will have one or more 'miniature music videos' embedded in them. It's a bit of a 'game' - sometimes Googling on the song lyrics will locate the song, but often one needs an app like Shazam to track it down. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before you'll be able to speak to your television and say "buy that song".

Lest I sound overly cynical, I don't think this is a bad thing. Especially since I've noticed how as I've grown older I have less and less time to follow the music world - which has itself grown unbelievably huge.

The new NBC series The Blacklist is fast developing a reputation for featuring new and really well-done music. For example:

"Here With Me" by Robot Koch and Susie Suh

Caught in the riptide
I was searching for the truth
There was a reason
I collided into you

Calling your name in the midnight hour
Reaching for you from the endless dream
So many miles between us now
But you are always here with me

Nobody knows why
Nobody knows how or when
This feeling begins just like a spark
Tossing and turning inside of your heart
Exploding in the dark

Calling your name in the midnight hour
Reaching for you from the endless dream
So many miles between us now
But you are always here with me

All inside me I find my way back to you

Calling your name in the midnight hour
Reaching for you from the endless dream
So many miles between us now
But you are always here with me

Two worlds in your hands in your heart
Its one universe
You are always here with me

[edit 21 October 2013: updated with correct lyrics]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

This is not a dream

Let's take a trip back in time to 1987 ... or maybe 1999? ... to St. Godard's church.

"This is not a dream... not a dream. We are using your brain's electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream. We are transmitting from the year one, nine, nine, nine. You are receiving this broadcast in order to alter the events you are seeing. Our technology has not developed a transmitter strong enough to reach your conscious state of awareness, but this is not a dream. You are seeing what is actually occurring for the purpose of causality violation."

-- John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness

[It's something of a "cult classic" - a movie that bombed when it was first released, but 20+ years later it's just bad-ass. The dream sequence above is one of those things that has become - like Freddy Krueger's razor fingers, or Jason's hockey mask - part of Our National Horror Film Heritage]

Friday, August 30, 2013

Back, Jack, Do It Again

Don't fret precious I'm here
Step away from the window
Go back to sleep

Lay your head down child
    I won't let the boogeyman come
Counting bodies like sheep
    To the rhythm of the war drums

Pay no mind to the rabble
Pay no mind to the rabble

Head down, go to sleep
    To the rhythm of the war drums

Pay no mind
    What other voices say
They don't care about you
    Like I do
    Like I do
Safe from pain
    and truth
    and choice
    and other poison devils
See ... they don't give a fuck about you
Like I do

Just ... stay with me
Safe and ignorant
Go back to sleep
Go     back   to    sleep

Lay your head down child
    I won't let the boogeyman come
Count the bodies like sheep
    To the rhythm of the war drums

Pay no mind to the rabble
Pay no mind to the rabble

Head down, go to sleep
    To the rhythm of the war drums

I'll be the one to protect you from
    Your enemies and all your demons
I'll be the one to protect you from
    A will to survive and a voice of reason
I'll be the one to protect you from
    Your enemies
    and your choices son
One and the same
I must isolate you
Isolate and
Save you from yourself

Swaying to the rhythm of the new world order and

Count the bodies like sheep
    To the rhythm of the war drum

The boogeymen are coming!
The boogeymen are coming!

Keep your head down, go to sleep
    To the rhythm of the war drums

Stay with me
Safe and ignorant
Just stay with me
Hold you and protect you from
    The other ones
    The evil ones
    Don't love you son
Go back to sleep.

    -- A Perfect Circle, "Pet"

Saturday, August 3, 2013


I got an orgone accumulator
And it makes me feel greater
I'll see you sometime later
When I'm through with my accumulator

It's no social integrator
It's a one man isolator
It's a back brain stimulator
It's a cerebral vibrator

(It's made out of orgone)

Those energy simulators
Just turn your eyeballs into craters
But an orgone accumulator
Is a superman creator

      - Hawkwind - "Orgone Accumulator"

I've had this song running through my head all day. Which is not a bad thing.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I ♥ Keanu

Dead as dead can be
The doctor tells me
But I just can't believe him
Ever the optimistic one
      - A Perfect Circle - "Passive"

I'm finally reading Devil Said Bang, the latest of Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim books. It's pretty much impossible to read any Sandman Slim novel without one's mind wandering to Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden and John Constantine, Hellblazer (or, if you prefer, John Constantine, Asshole.) And Keanu makes a damned -- ha ha -- fine Constantine. And I think Peter Stomare is Lucifer:

Next, I'll either move on to Simon Drax's A Very Fast Descent Into Hell, or drive myself insane attempting to design a na'at. From the first book, Sandman Slim

A na’at is sort of like a spear, but it morphs and changes into a lot more than a spear if you know how to use it right. Like everything else down there, the name is a Hellion joke. They call a na’at a ‘thorn’ because its full name, na’atzutz, is the kind of bush they used to make Christ’s crown of thorns.
And what does this have to do with A Perfect Circle? Watch and see.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Surviving Edged Weapons

I collect knives. I'm pretty sure it's a "design" thing and not some kind of macho "self-defense" thing: I just think they're neat. Some of them, anyway. Over time, my taste has matured: I'm less into 'fantasy' and more into 'interesting design'.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise that exactly zero of these items are allowed on an airplane under current TSA rules. Not that the proposed (but recently discarded) "relaxed" restrictions would have made any difference.

I won't get started on the TSA. Except for one comment: I fly more frequently than I would like to as part of my job, and I always "Opt Out" on the PornoScanner. I guess I've been through their body-search process maybe 25 times now, and every time the pat-down has been conducted quickly and professionally. No unnecessary roughness, no intimidation (verbal or other). Maybe I've just been lucky, but I'm beginning to suspect that the secret to a Painless Opt Out is to keep one's mouth shut. Which is what I always do: I just say "I'm opting out". On a few occasions they've tried to convince me not to, saying stuff like "you know these are 100% safe?" etc. I just say "I'm sorry, I'm opting out." What I suspect sometimes happens is that some travelers see Opt Out as an opportunity to start an obnoxious political argument. It's not hard to see how this could lead to a less-than-mellow search experience.

Now, without further ado, here are the knives!

Edit: I just looked at this post again, with fresh eyes, and ewww these pictures are awful. I'll replace them with better pictures when I can.

Mantis MU5 Jyro
[10.16cm / 5.08cm blade]

A nifty little locking blade. I can't deny I was attracted to it because of its unique design.

Heckler and Koch Instigator
[19.76cm / 8.58cm blade]

Probably my favorite day-to-day carry. A bit heavy for a necker but I wear it anyway. I frequently use it in the kitchen to chop vegetables.

ESEE Izula Fire Ant Red
[15.87cm / 7.31cm blade]

An Izula in red; rather striking, I think.

ESEE Izula Venom Green
[15.87cm / 7.31cm blade]

An Izula in green. I wrapped the handle with some paracord. Wrapping knives with paracord is the "in" thing to do these days in knife-enthusiast circles. I've used this in the kitchen but it's really not well-suited to slicing and dicing.

Boker Plus Newton Martin K-Bit
[10.16cm / 4.12cm blade]

With its sheath it makes a nice necklace. A small, extremely light, extremely sharp little blade that deploys very quickly.

SOG JB01K-CP Snarl
[10.92cm / 5.84cm blade]

As small as it is, it still has a good solid feel to it.

Boker Plus MA-2
[20.32cm / 6.35cm blade]

I'm still not sure what to make of this one. Works pretty well in the kitchen.

Hibben Generation 2 Throwing Knife
[18cm / 8.68cm blade]

I have no idea where I picked this up. Poor li'l thing, it looks so lonely.

Dark Operations Vendetta
[17.14cm / 8.89cm blade]

Another knife that caught my eye with an attractive design. It's a bit heavier than it needs to be. Not so great in the kitchen: I thought maybe the rounded blade would make dicing things a bit easier. I was wrong.

Benchmade SOCP Dagger
[18.42cm / 8.18cm blade]

Deploys very quickly from its sheath. Probably best if mounted on a boot or belt. The point is sharp but the edges are remarkably dull, so I'll have to sharpen it up myself before I can test it out on the kitchen. Because it's a dagger, it's illegal to carry it around in public. In the house, in the car, walking to/from the car, employing the blade in lawful hunting, fishing, or my occupation -- that's all a-okay. Just don't get caught walking down the street with it. You'd think a state that allows concealed carry of firearms would have a more liberal (and sensible) set of laws on knives, wouldn't you?

Red Guardian "Ninja" Sword
[71.12cm / 45.33cm blade]

Sometimes I stay up too late and order stuff from Amazon. This is what happens.

Gil Hibben Dragon Lord
[36cm / 21.5cm blade]

I've read that most 'fantasy' knives are really just pieces of metal that look like knives. I won't argue the point, but some of them are just so darned pretty.. This is one of them.

Gil Hibben Griffyn
[39cm / 27.94cm blade]

And this is another. It has four separate blades, none of which is particularly sharp. Which is a Good Thing, because I think that if you tried to use this in a real knife fight, you might unwittingly bleed yourself to death just picking it up.

Kit Rae Fang of Baelin
[19.68cm / 12.38cm blade]

It's unique, but there's probably a reason that more knives don't look like this. In case it's not obvious from the picture, the outer edges of the blades are flat, not sharp. I think that if I found myself in an actual knife fight with one of these, I'd throw it at the other guy's head and run.

[32cm / 19cm blade]

Another knife that I don't know who made it or even where I picked it up. There's a slider button that spreads open the pommel, which is kinda neat, but the handle appears to be made of blended plastic and beeswax.

Pic coming soon

El Cid Colada Miniature Replica Sword
[57cm / 45.5cm blade]

My son brought this home for me from Spain. A small decorative blade that has a surprisingly nice weight and balance. If the blade were sharpened, it could probably be used to discourage any random zombies that wandered into the house.

Rambo II Survival Knife
[39cm / 25.4cm blade]

This was on sale so cheap I couldn't pass it up. What it lacks in actual knife-i-tude it makes up for in sheer intimidation factor. It's supposed to be a "Rambo" knife, but for some reason everyone I've let hold it makes with their own Crocodile Dundee "That's not a knife. This is a knife!" schtick.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2013 Valedictory Speech at NYOS HS - Miranda Becker

My daughter Miranda delivered the valedictory speech at her high school graduation this past Saturday; my son Aidan introduces her. Alas, they grow up so quickly ... But I'm extremely proud of my (not-so) little girl.

Skinny Love

My son Aidan and a friend playing Skinny Love at the NYOS Band Concert last Thursday.

NYOS Guitar Trio

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Vanilla VISA Gift Card Considered Harmful

I did it to myself: I was in a rush and I bought a $100 "Vanilla VISA Gift Card". In December I'd been a victim of credit card fraud (nothing extremely painful, but enough of a hassle that I want to avoid having it happen again) so I had the genius idea of buying a "one-shot" credit card to use for an internet subscription service. I know what you're thinking, but no, it was not pr0n. My first experience with these things -- and my oh my it was a learning experience.

This is a Vanilla VISA Gift Card: the ideal gift for
someone you don't like.

Turns out that there are numerous restrictions on the use of these stupid gift cards: you can't use them for international purchases, you can't use them to fund a PayPal account, you can't use them for a subscription, etc. It was like everything that would motivate a sane person to buy one of these damn things was against the rules.

I was reminded of "Itchy & Scratchy Money" from The Simpsons: "It works
just like regular money, but it's, er...'fun'." D'oh!

How I Got Out Of Vanilla VISA Hell

I found I was able to use the card to buy things at the local Walgreens. Big whoop. Then I got smart: I bought an Amazon Gift card for exactly $78.24 (the balance that was left on the card) and then used it to pay for an Amazon order: you redeem your Amazon gift card, that money gets applied to the total - let's say it's $100 - and the excess balance of $21.76 gets charged to the (real) credit card of your choice.

Like I said: 'a "learning" experience.' Actually, I really did learn some useful stuff about BitCoin. But that's another post.

I like BitCoin. VISA and Mastercard and PayPal can go suck it.