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New Home

Posted on 2007.03.29 at 00:20
Ok, I decided to start from scratch on the blog, since I probably won't be staying with the style of this one.  I have no idea what the new blog will be about, but feel free to check it out in a few weeks once I've put a few posts up.  I'll probably move a few of these posts over just so it's not so spartan.  Here's the new address

All the cool kids are doing it

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Shhhhh, I might be blogging again

Posted on 2007.03.26 at 01:18
No promises of course, but I found a nifty firefox plug in that makes blogging stuff you find around the web, very easySo what's that mean for you loyal readers?  (And if your checking this blog after roughly a year of hiatus, you're very loyal)  Nothing like the big posts of yore, but I'll definitely be directing your attention to some of the cool stuff I find.

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Some really cool stuff

Posted on 2006.06.18 at 19:03
As promised yesterday, here's some cool stuff I've come across with all my free time (mostly at work unfortunately........)

EPSON digital paper:  (found at DailyTech.com)  Remember that movie with Val Kilmer, where they went to Mars and their robot got all wacky and started hunting them down?  Me neither, it was pretty lame, but they did have some cool gadgets, including these flexible computer displays that they could roll up.  Epson's one step closer to them with their digital paper.  Here's the run down;  it's a thin sheet of flexible plastic that can display a black and white digital image.  It only requires power while the images is changing, and even then it's only 6 volts.   There's so many uses for this thing it's ridiculous.  Imagine not having to get a paper copy of the newspaper everyday,  carrying around your current reading material on something slightly larger than a single piece of paper, or being able to download a map of your next hike that was more durable than paper, but not locked in a fragile, and expensive, PDA.   I've been intrigued by e-book readers in the past, but the sheer bulk (ok, and the cost) have always turned me away.  If they could make the screen touch sensitive, you could cram it full of crossword puzzles and sudoku.........

REAL life alien...uh... life:  (Popsci.com)  Ok, it's not much more than some unidentified dust, but as potentially the first evidence of life from a non-Earth type place, I'm really surprised this story hasn't been more widely published.  It's not definitive, but it does open up some interesting possibilities about the origin of life on Earth.  Did life develop here because of the hospitable climate, or did it merely survive here after being carried from somewhere else?  It's one of those questions that's really fascinating but has an answer that has practically zero bearing on your day to day life, which are just about my favorite type of question. 

Monkey man:  (Boingboing.net)  Ok, this may fall into the category of "stupid" more so than cool, but it made me laugh, so it's in the mix.  Apparently, intrigued by the idea that the dietary needs of a primate and the needs of a person wouldn't be that far off, this guy decided to subsist on nothing but zoo grade primate chow (PDF file) for one solid week.  (According to him, the manufacturer add the phrase " non-human primates" after he began the experiment.)  It is economical, I'll give him that.  And looking over the ingredients, there's not much there you don't find in stuff you eat every day.  I'd like to see how this stuff stacks up against a good ol' MRE.   Of course, the zoo doesn't have "Chili Mac" flavored primate chow, so there's no danger of me switching.


Scott and Steve

Posted on 2006.06.17 at 09:58
Current Location: Hannibal Missouri
On my playlist: No time for music, must watch more 24
    I've been meaning to write about this for a while now, but paradoxically, it seems the more bored I am, the lazier I become.  I know you're saying to yourself  "Wow, Kip must have spent a large portion of his life extremely bored."  Not really, it's just that my zero-point on the lazy scale is already pretty high in comparison to most productive members of society. 

So anyway, the thing that caught my eye in the news a week or so ago was Bill Bennet's interview on "The Daily Show".  Go ahead and watch it, I'll wait.

Wow, I love John Stewart.  Why do we have to rely on a comedy show to get such an aggressive debate?  Some have argued that it wasn't a true debate, and that Stewart just makes quips and smart ass remarks.  I'm almost tempted to agree.  In fact I will agree, it wasn't a debate, but only for one simple reason;  There can't be a logical debate on the subject, because the argument against gay marriage isn't based on logic.

    I'm sure some of you are saying "But Kip, marriage between a man and woman is one of humanities oldest traditions".  That's very true, but so are slavery, genocide, exploitation of the lower class, and religious persecution.  Sorry, but status quo isn't a logical argument for continuing a social policy. 

    Most social conservatives have have used the phrase "Defense of Marriage" as the basis for their argument.  What the hell does that even mean?  Defense from what?  I would love a good explanation of this.  In my opinion they just slapped two words that people are inherently supportive of together to make a nifty catch phrase.  How does extending the right of marriage to same sex couples weaken or change the marriage of the traditional heterosexual union?  Technically, all a marriage is, in a legal sense, is a piece of paper granting the couple involved certain rights, (and defining certain obligations).  Anything beyond that is defined by the couple themselves.  The law doesn't affect what vows you make, or don't make, it doesn't define your commitment, and makes no guarantees on the strength of your union.  So if Steve and Scott get a piece of paper too, does it somehow cheapen your commitment to your better half?  Does it nullify your vows, or make your marriage weaker?  If you answered "yes", I'd really like to know why (and hear what your spouse has to say about your reply). 

    I realize that a large percentage of the people that are for an amendment banning same sex marriage base their opinion on religion.  That's fine.  I respect your view.  That doesn't mean it needs to be federal law.  There's lots of things in religion that make poor social policy, and people seem to base their enforcement of it on convenience.  For example, the Bible says that the Sabbath is a day of rest.  Some people I knew growing up wouldn't even mow their lawns on Sunday, let alone go to work.  You know what they would do though, right after church even?  Go out to eat, then maybe stop by Wal-Mart or the mall.  So because it was convenient for them, they weren't advocating that nobody work, they just weren't going to work themselves.  Pretty clever how well that works for them. 

    Wait, I've figured it out.  The whole amendment thing is being secretly sponsored by commitment phobic homosexuals.  "Sorry Steve, you know I'd love to get married and spend the rest of my life with you, but you know, there's that damn amendment."  Pretty clever guys (and gals).  Ok, that was a joke, but at least that would almost make sense. 

    I'm sure somebody out there is just dying to argue with me, and I hope somebody does.  I've yet to hear a rational argument that didn't involve some sort of pseudo logic.  I'll be back later today with a list of cool stuff I've been meaning to direct your attention to.  Right now though, laundry calls.


On the road again.........

Posted on 2006.06.03 at 21:31
I only thought my traveling days were over.  For those of you out of the loop, I"m spending my summer in tropical Hannibal, Missouri, boyhood home of Samuel Clemens.  Please, please, try to contain your jealousy.  If you'd like to live vicariously through yet another adventure of mine, you can play along at home.  Put in your Andy Griffith show dvd, and make sure to hit repeat.  Now, watch it till your eyes start to scream.   

Not feeling up to it?  I don't blame you.  Anyway...

It took a while to get settled in here, and to get my internet up and running, but  I'm finally back in business.  All this free time prompted me to start rummaging through my music collection.  I don't have the extensive catalog of albums that some of you have, I've only managed to half fill my iPod, but I get into musical ruts, and some good stuff can easily get ignored.  Here's some musical gems I uncovered.

Willie Nelson - Teatro  -  You can't help but love Willie's voice, and when Emmylou Harris drops by,  I'm sold.  The drums add a lot more energy than you might expect, especially on "Darkness on the Face of the Earth".  There's a few tracks that drag a little, but all in all, a pretty solid album that sounds a little different than the regular Willie.

The Beatles - Anthology 1-3 - I know you're saying to yourself "Kip, it's the Beatles, of course it's good."   Well, you're right of course, but I throw this in here because I always have to be in a special mood for the rough edges of studio outtakes and alternate renditions that fill this compilation, and it's usually easier to just pick another Beatles album instead.  To be honest, I haven't really listened to this set that much since right after it came out in '95, aside from the occasional track here and there.  The other day I just left it running in the background most of the day, which is how I recommend listening to it.  Something about hearing the evolution of some of their greatest songs really illustrates their genius.  The downside would be that often, the difference between a demo and the final cut would include Ringo's work getting watered down and reigned in.  Regardless, if you haven't sad down with this set in a while, do yourself a favor and set aside a rainy day for it.

Mick Jagger - Wandering Spirit -  Amazing collection of stuff.  Just Stones-ish enough to get your attention, but still uniquely Jagger.  It also can't be contained by any one particular genre, ranging from rock to blues to country to funk, sometimes all in the same song.  I may not always be in the mood for every song on the album, but every song has it's place at some point. 
Well, that's it for this round-up.  What's hiding in your music collection that hasn't been getting the attention it deserves?

Ok, first I must be honest and admit that I'm a little conflicted on this story for two reasons. One, I love technological innovations. Anything that leads to smaller, faster, shinier gadgets for me to obsess about, or pushes the limits of our knowledge is ok in my book. The bad part is, I hate rats. Mice, hamsters, gerbils, any non-rat rodents, are fine. I blame their naked little snake-like tails. (The fact that they carried the bubonic plague throughout Europe didn't do their reputation any good either)  I'm not even afraid of them, they just fill me with disgust.  I even respect them in a weird sort of way for their adaptability and amazing success as a species, I just think they should all die horrible little rat deaths.

    So here's the scoop. Researchers in Germany have succesffully grafted a rat brain cell to a computer chip, and passed a signal both ways.  This has all kinds of implications for computing and treatment of various nerve disorders. They hope that eventually a similar process could be used to allow paralyzed patients to directly control prosthetic limbs.  Their next step is to attach an entire rat brain to a computer, and to perform simple computations.   And we all know where that leads - CYBORG RATS. 

    I  don't take any comfort in the fact that one day a rat may be able to perform lightening fast mathematical computations.  With even a limited amount of computer power to back up their natural cunning and resource-fullness, it won't take long for them to overcome their lack of opposable thumb, and after that, the world is their oyster.  Door knobs will no longer be an obstacle, they'll be able to utilize simple tools, and potentially even small (admittedly very small) firearms.  As you can see, if steps aren't taken, things are going to get ugly.

    To combat the cyber-rats, we'll have to install chips in cats (and I can tell you from experience with normal cats that that's only a marginally worse idea), then to combat the cats we'll need cyber-dogs.  (I'm not sure that a chip would help a dog too much actually, but it can't be a good idea.)  To combat the dogs we'll need some kind of enhanced primate I'm sure.  Then we're pretty much one step away from Planet of the Apes.  So please, do your part, and speak out against the coming cyber-menagerie while there's still time to stop it. 


The Truth ™ Revealed

Posted on 2006.04.17 at 22:46
On my playlist: The Blanks
Ok, I was a little disappointed with the low voter turn out, and kept hoping the numbers would go up, but I know how easy it is to get lost in the black hole of blogs. I wasn't exactly providing a lot of new content last month to lure you in with either. Well, here we go anyway.

Do they arrest you for "solving" it by pulling off the stickers?
T RUE 2 votes.  This one is almost too ridiculous to discuss.  I hate hearing how the war on terror is still on our doorstep, how we must remain ever vigilant, and then when billions of dollars of tax payers money are invested to protect us, THIS is how it gets spent.   It's enough to make me want to buy a ticket on Oceanic Air.

If there's not enough for them to do, why have them around?  TRUE 1 vote.  See above.

But do they know what the numbers mean?
FALSE 1 vote.  This seemed pretty likely I thought, and subconsciously I may have pieced it together from other news items I've seen in the last couple of years.  Plus I just think thermite is wicked awesome.  If you don't believe me watch this.

Let's hope I get a little better turn out for the next round, I'd hate for this to get canceled for the same reason my High School reunion did (lack of interest).

Oh, and if "The Blanks" raised an eyebrow, check them out here.


Behold my psychic powers!!!!

Posted on 2006.04.11 at 19:27
I've been saying for  months now that television networks should let you download shows for free, (Valerie can back me up on this) and that most people would be willing to sit through the ads for a free product if the quality was high enough.  The only way the networks will get rid of piracy, or more feasibly, lessen the impact of piracy,  is to directly compete with it.  With the resources they have, they could decimate the pirate groups, many of whom are operating on very limited budgets.  They just have to find a way to make a profit.  Well, it looks like Disney, owners of ABC, are giving it a go.  They'll be releasing several of their hit shows over the internet, with commercials.   (I wish they would have waited to release this until I had my research paper turned in, because this is my main topic.  It's not as impressive to predict something that's been in the news for a few weeks.)

It looks like you won't be able to save the shows to your computer, and instead the show will be streamed to your browser.  I'm glad they're at least trying it, but I'm afraid that this won't be successful and scare them, and other networks, off the whole thing.  Who can sit at their computer and watch an hour of television?  I'm assuming you'll have some kind of pause functionality, but you won't be able to fast forward, and I imagine you won't be able to rewind either.  The quality will have to be relatively low to stream to your computer without stuttering.   It's almost like they're trying to fail.

I really hate to see them half-assing this.  I can go and download a DVD quality (pirated) version of any episode of  Lost, right now, in under 2 hours.  I can then burn it to disc, give it to a friend, watch it whenever I want.  I'm not sure why they don't want you to be able to save this, you would think they'd be encouraging it, and encouraging you to share it with your friends.  Then they could justify charging their advertisers more.  I guess they're afraid of cutting into their DVD sales revenues, but I personally think it wouldn't have that drastic of an impact.  In effect, you'd be paying to get rid of commercials, plus whatever bonus features they decide to add.  That's worth $30 bucks to me.  I have every episode of Lost, Scrubs, and The Office sitting on my hard drive.  I also have all the available DVD's sitting on my shelf.  Part of the reason I have both is convenience, and part of it is the bonus features.  The biggest part is that I like these shows, and want them to keep generating money so that they keep making more shows.

Here's how they make money, minimize the effectiveness of piracy, and make their viewers happy.  Use the same methods they do.  Right now, Bit Torrent is probably the most popular method for downloading television, and while not as simple as Limewire, or Kazza, or any of the other P2P networks, it offers the potential for the highest download speeds, and isn't rife with viruses.  Because of the structure of Bit Torrent, popular downloads spread exponentially.  The more people downloading the show,  the faster everyone receives it.  The way they can beat them at their own game is in reliability.  The downsides of piracy are that there's no consistency in quality, you're basically relying on the "goodwill" of others to actual digitize the show, and you never know how soon after it airs that it will be on the internet, and where exactly it will be.  A company with the resources of Disney could eliminate all of those.  They'd also have a concrete number of downloads that would be easy to track, allowing them greater bargaining power when they negotiated advertising rates.  (right now for instance over 700 people are downloading last weeks epsisode of Lost, and that's just from one of dozens of sites)

Would I rather have a video with no commercials?  Sure, who wouldn't?  Would I tolerate commercials for a quality product that was easy to find, easy to download, and was as flexible as its illegal counterpart?  In a heart beat.  While I'm disappointed in their methodology, I'll definitely check it out when ABC makes them available in May.

I'll try to get back to News From the Net soon, it's been a rough couple weeks.  I can also do a Bit Torrent tutorial if enough people express an interest. 


Need your help

Posted on 2006.04.10 at 09:11
Ok, if anybody wants to contribute to my research project with a short donation of time, it would be greatly appreciated.   My paper is on digital media, specifically copyrighted video. and how it's distributed.  I tried to make this super easy and put up a multiple choice quiz, but pollhost.com is being fickle, and some of the questions would be better served by a short answer anyway.  So please comment and answer as many or few of the questions as you care to, and be as brief or as detailed as you like.  Thanks in advance.

1.  Have you ever downloaded a television show from the internet?

2.  Do you own some type of portable video player (i.e. video iPod)?

2b.  Where do you get the videos for it?

3.  Have you ever copied a dvd that you didn't own?

4.  Have you ever copied a dvd that you did own?

Feel free to be anonymous, and I promise not to turn you into the Feds, or worse the MPAA.


Doot da-doot da-doot, doot doot doot doooo

Posted on 2006.03.23 at 01:44
Here's an entertaining little mp3 of President Bush singing a mix of "Imagine" and "Walk On The Wild Side". Ok, he's not really singing, somebody with a lot of time and patience just took snippets from his speech and mixed it with music. Aside from the humor value, I'm always impressed with the technical skill it takes to pull something like this off.

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