August 30, 2007

Hacking your email

Moving Outlook Express messages to your Gmail account

Let's say that you've been using Outlook Express for your email client. Let's also stipulate that you've been using it for a looonngg time and have a bunch of emails that you don't want to lose. However, you've finally reached a point where


  • You want to move to another email client.
  • You're moving to another OS *Linux, Mac OS).

More specifically, you don't want to use a standalone client anymore, but rather a web-based client like Gmail. What do you do? You can, of course, forward all of the emails. I've done it; it sucks. Your emails are no longer sortable by time and date. Threading is equally impossible. Again I ask, What do you do?

Fortunately for all of us, a bright guy named Mark Lyon created a tool called Gmail Loader, which can help. A lot. You also need to install Thunderbird, as Gmail Loader only works with emails in the mbox format, not the dbx format that OE uses. Anyway, on with the countdown, so to speak.

  1. Download and install Thunderbird.
  2. Import your OE messages into Thunderbird
    • Select Tools | Import... from the menu in Mozilla Thunderbird.
    • Make sure Mail is selected.
    • Click Next >.
    • Highlight Outlook Express.
    • Click Next > again.
    • Now click Finish.
    • Select File | Compact Folders from the menu. [Note: this is a MUST do before proceeding]
  3. Download Gmail Loader.
  4. Start Gmail Loader.
  5. Click Find under Configure Your Email File.
  6. Locate the file pertaining to the Mozilla Thunderbird folder you want to import into Gmail.
    • Find the files corresponding to your Mozilla Thunderbird folders.
    • Have Windows display hidden files and folders to see the Application Data folder.
    • Use the files that do not have a file extension (not the .msf files).
  7. Click Open.
  8. Make sure mBox (Netscape, Mozilla, Thunderbird) is selected under File Type: in Gmail Loader.
  9. If you are migrating sent messages, choose Mail I Sent (Goes to Sent Mail) under Message Type:, otherwise select Mail I Received (Goes to Inbox).
  10. Type your full Gmail address under Enter your GMail Address.
  11. Click Send to GMail.

The details were lifted in large part, amost verbatim, from About.com. Go there if you need more details.

I'll be honest: this is probably the first or second time that I've found something useful in the About.com domain of websites. The author was very detailed in his instructions about something that's fairly technical. I guess that I might have to give that section of the Intertubes a better look going forward.

Posted by Physics Geek at 04:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Well deserved kudos

I like to run. Not that anyone would confuse me with a real runner these days, as I'm older and slower-much slower- than I used to be. However, I move a little bit faster "running" than I do walking, so running it is.

Anyway. I have narrow foot (B width) and have had difficulty in the past finding a shoe that (a) fits and (b) provides sufficient cushioning and support to run in. I've been extremely satisfied with New Balance shoes and have been wearing them for more than 15 years. However, as others are likely to attest, New Balance suffers from the same diseased mentality that infects other running shoe manufacturers: "Hey, we've got a popular running shoe that everyone wants to buy. Let's discontinue it and make another less comfortable, uglier shoe!"

No, I'm not bitter. Much. I've merely learned over the years to buy at least two pairs of shoes when I'm in the market. If I don't, and I really like the shoe, I'll get pissed off when I can't get it anymore. Regardless, I've been buying my shoes from Road Runner Sports in San Diego for the last 20+ years. They usually have a good selection and decent prices. However, they've been awful lately in terms of running out of stock on shoes that I can wear. I don't pronate or supinate my feet; I don't need special support; I don't buy trail shoes; and I need a B width shoe, especially if I'm going to fork over $100 or more. And recently, when I went online to buy another pair of shoes, not only had they discontinued the shoes I'm currently wearing, they didn't carry any B width shoes in the style that had replaced my shoes. The shoes that RRS had that I COULD wear were horribly expensive and freakishly ugly. I mean, really: do they employ the blind and stupid in their marketing department? Eesh.

Regardless, I started searching around the web and stumbled across, via Amazon, If the Shoe Fits. not only did they have the style that I was searching for, the M881, they had it in my size. And it was marked down 25%. Yay!. So I ordered two pair of shoes. The next day, I received an email from customer support saying the following:

Dear ________,

We regret to inform you that we are out of stock in New Balance running shoe M881, in the width that you requested, 11B. However, if you are interested, we have the shoe which replaced it, the M882, in your size and would be glad to ship them to you and no extra cost. Please let us know if this would acceptable to you.

So I get the improved version of the shoe that I like best for a price substantially less than I would have had to pay anywhere else, delivered right to my door. I'm quite pleased with the customer service at If the Shoe Fits. I highly recommend them if you're in the market for running shoes.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 29, 2007

More geeky tools

PDFs are quite helpful for distributing information and it's a fairly easy task to convert most documents/spreadsheets/presentations/images into the portable document format; you can find that software yourself. However, being able to extract individual pages, or combine multiple PDFs into a single document can be tricky. Adobe, I'm certain, would love for you to pay $500 for Acrobat Writer. However, if, like me, you're a little short on funds, I've got a somewhat cheaper solution in mind. Okay, much cheaper. Alright, it's free. I give you the PDF Toolkit. Excerot:

If PDF is electronic paper, then pdftk is an electronic staple-remover, hole-punch, binder, secret-decoder-ring, and X-Ray-glasses. Pdftk is a simple tool for doing everyday things with PDF documents. Keep one in the top drawer of your desktop and use it to:
  • Merge PDF Documents
  • Split PDF Pages into a New Document
  • Rotate PDF Pages or Documents
  • Decrypt Input as Necessary (Password Required)
  • Encrypt Output as Desired
  • Fill PDF Forms with FDF Data or XFDF Data and/or Flatten Forms
  • Apply a Background Watermark or a Foreground Stamp
  • Report on PDF Metrics such as Metadata, Bookmarks, and Page Labels
  • Update PDF Metadata
  • Attach Files to PDF Pages or the PDF Document
  • Unpack PDF Attachments
  • Burst a PDF Document into Single Pages
  • Uncompress and Re-Compress Page Streams
  • Repair Corrupted PDF (Where Possible)

Pdftk allows you to manipulate PDF easily and freely. It does not require Acrobat, and it runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD and Solaris.

Pretty cool, huh?

What's that? You don't like working with the sometimes cryptic, albeit well documented, command line instructions to perform the above tasks? Turns out that you're not alone. Someone built a GUI for the PDFTK; it's called the PDFTK Builder.

PDFTK Builder is a free graphical interface to the Windows version of PDFTK making it much easier to use.

pdftkb.gif

Collate - allows you to rearrange (reorder, delete, & duplicate) pages in a single document and/or merge pages from multiple PDF documents. Multiple documents will be merged in the order they are listed in the 'Source Documents' window. If page ranges are not specified, PDFTK Builder will assume all pages for that document are to be included. Page ranges can be indicated by using a single page number, or a hyphen between start and end pages (reversed page orders are allowed). Multiple ranges are indicated by using commas or semi-colons between ranges.

For example: if you wished to insert pages from one document into the middle of another, then the primary document would need to be listed twice, once before (listing pages to appear before) and once after (listing pages to appear after) the document containing the pages to be inserted.

Split - allows you to separate each page of a PDF document into its own file.

Background or Stamp - 'Background' enables you to add a background to each page in a document or just the first page. The 'background' (eg a company logo, or a 'draft' watermark) must be another PDF document (the first page of that document if it has more than one page). 'Stamp' is very similar to 'background' except that the 'stamp' is placed on top of the source document.

Rotate - 'Rotate' enables you to rotate a range of pages in a document.

There's more, of course, but that should be enough to whet your appetite. Now go forth and compute.

Posted by Physics Geek at 12:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Must not see TV

Maxim has compiled a list of the Top Ten Shows We Won't Watch during the upcoming season. Excerpt:

9. Dr. Steve-O (USA Network)

Whoa—Jackass’s Steve-O and Trishelle from Real World/Road Rules: Whore Olympics…in the same show! In Dr. Steve-O, the grizzled reality-TV pair will make their way from one viewer-nominated sad case to another, attempting to de-wussify (their word, not ours) the poor blokes before the hour is out. A press release notes that the show will also feature “shockingly hilarious stunts” and “embarrassingly funny and demented dares.” And to think that we used to dump on USA for its thrice-daily Walker, Texas Ranger reruns.
...
2. Cavemen (ABC)

We’ve always found Geico’s “Caveman” commercials moderately entertaining, even if they never prompted us to purchase insurance or ridicule a specific racial or ethnic group. This show, however, appears to be setting its sights a bit higher, billing itself as “a hilarious and thought-provoking social commentary on race relations in today’s America.” Are networks allowed to cancel a show mid-episode? We’re about to find out.

1. The Return of Jezebel James (Fox)

This one doesn’t debut until November-ish, so there’s plenty of time for somebody to tweak, rework, or euthanize it. Suffice it to say that Parker Posey will have to appear in 47 New York-based indie films and date 226 indie singer/songwriters to restore her street cred. To view the worst trailer in the history of the genre, click here.

Thank goodness I have lots of DVDs and books lying around the house. Eesh.

Update: Consider yourself bitten.

Posted by Physics Geek at 10:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy b-day

QandO celebrates its 4th anniversary today. Very cool. Here's to many more years.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Reality: it's not what you think

Good article by Noemie Emery over at The Weekly Standard. It chronicles at some length the mental game of Twister that leftists have to play for their non-stop parade of anti-Bush assertions to make sense. Excerpt:

God sometimes seems to be toying with the Goracle, scheduling frigid weather and ice storms on the dates of his speeches about global warming, but his fans have an answer for that: all weather changes, if they are dire, come from global warming. Here are some other choice fancies that the Party of Reason believes:

* Global warning causes both hot and cold weather, just as elections are stolen when the Democrats lose them, but are stolen too when they win.

* A country in which dissent is a flourishing industry is on the brink of a great fascist crackdown, as you can tell by all the books written attacking the president, the plays put on that call him an idiot, and the movies that call for his death.

* When exit polls indicate a different result from the actual vote count, the polls are correct and the vote count is fraudulent, a fact covered up by journalists who are (a) Democrats by something close to a nine-to-one ratio; and (b) dying to uncover a huge government scandal, so that they too can be famous like Woodward and Bernstein, make millions of dollars, and be played in the movies by Hollywood stars.

* That the Presidents Bush, from Yale and a long line of Yankees, who made the careers of the first black secretaries of state ever named in this country, are secretly longing to bring back the South of 1859.

* And, that the Republican party, whose frontrunners are a once-divorced actor (just like Ronald Reagan), a Mormon from Massachusetts by way of Michigan, and a thrice-married Italian Catholic from the streets of Brooklyn, is a shrunken husk of a regional faction, punitive, narrow, and wholly obsessed with extreme social mores, relying on extralegal repression to perpetuate itself in power. To the more intense members of the reality faction, all of this makes perfect sense.

Ah, reason! How sweet it is, and to what lengths it can lead you, when you think that you have a monopoly on it. Political parties are coalitions of interests, fighting it out in a series of struggles, in which no side has a patent on wisdom and virtue, and no wins are ever complete. People who understand this maintain their own balance and bearings, but those who insist they are fighting for reason lose what remains of their own.

Over and over, they do what they claim their opponents are doing, want to do, or have done: make vast leaps of faith on almost no evidence, get carried away on large waves of emotion, build towering edifices on small collections of factoids, omit, deny, or denounce all contrary evidence, build fantastical schemes which they project on the enemy, put two and two together and get 384. People are entitled to say what they want, but it takes something other than reason to look at raging debates and discern in them fascistic oppression, to look at large Republican losses (wholly in line with a sixth-year election) and see massive fraud on the part of the losers, to look at today's South and see John Calhoun's, to draft both the Bushes (and the entire Republican party) into the Confederate Army, 150 years after the fact. Facts on the ground have no effect on their fantasies, which exist in a realm of their own.

Posted by Physics Geek at 07:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 24, 2007

)(*$&( on a fucking pogo stick!

Look at the title of this article and tell me what's wrong with it? Take your time; no rush.

Okay, time's up. Here's the title: Stanford EyePassword Protects PIN Numbers.

How stupid do you have to be to print a headline like that? What's worse is I will guarantee you that no one even thought about the abject stupidity inherent in the title. For the last time, PIN stands for Personal Identification NUMBER!. A PIN number is a Personal Identification Number Number. I mean really, WTF?! Does that even look remotely sensible to you?

Don't even get me started on the "VAT Tax" commenters. They're too stupid to have their own sign.

Update: Arrrggh! I just read the comments and someone mentioned another one: ATM machine.

Shit, I really picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

Update: Heh. A friend of mine just emailed me this:

My pet peeve is the “word” coconspirator. Do I have “coclassmates” or “cofriends” as well?

Final update: I watched Monk last night. Entertaining as usual, except for one thing: the police kept referring to the VIN number of the car. The vehicle identification number number.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to pour Chlorox into my brain to remove the memory.

Posted by Physics Geek at 11:55 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 22, 2007

A worthy roundup

John Hawkins has compiled a list of what he believes are some of Ann Coulter's best lines during the past year. Yes, she says asinine, dick things to promote her books, but she still gets off some of the best one-liners around. Here's one of my favorites:

I'm astounded that debate has sunk so low that I need to type the following words, but: No law is ever enforced 100%. We can't catch all rapists, so why not grant amnesty to rapists? Surely no one wants thousands of rapists living in the shadows! How about discrimination laws? Insider trading laws? Do you expect Bush to round up everyone who goes over the speed limit? Of course we can't do that. We can't even catch all murderers. What we need is "comprehensive murder reform." It's not "amnesty" -- we'll ask them to pay a small fine.

If Ann would stick with her strength, which includes caustic bon mots, she'd be fine. However, you and I know that she'll say something even more offensive this year, because I'm guessing that she has another book in the works and she'll want to gin up sales.

Note to Ann: Not everything that offends and infuriates the left is wrong. You might check once in a while to see if your ideological brothers and sisters are offended, too. That would be a sign that maybe you are actually wrong.

Posted by Physics Geek at 12:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Replacing a turd

I know that tons of people use Microsoft Project. I, too, have been forced to use that piece of crap scheduling software in the past. Since I'd rather gouge out my eyes than be forced to do it again, I've left others manage project deadlines for me.

Anyway. If you want to manage your projects via some ::gag:: nifty Gannt charts and PERT charts, but you don't want to fork over the money for Microsoft's version, let me point you in the direction of OpenProj, a robust open source version.

You might ask, if you hate Project so much, why did you bother to tell me about OpenProj? Well, I just wanted to share my pain with you. No need to thank me; that's what I'm here for.

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 21, 2007

You can't stop the signal

Or, apparently, the merchandising. Now I will take a backseat to no one in my admiration for the movie Serenity, but it's a movie with mediocre box office receipts based on a failed TV series (no comments about how Fox fubared it, please). And it came out on DVD less than 2 years ago. Is it really necessary to create a special Collector's Edition? It's not like there will be nude pictures of Morena, Jewel, Gina or Summer. Trust me: I looked. Instead, they've added some more blah blah blah "features" to the disc to try and entice people into springing another $20 for it. Who would be that stupid?

Oh piss off. Of course I'll be buying one.

Posted by Physics Geek at 02:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

For all you BSG fans out there

Looks like you might be forced to sit through some episodes of The Flash. Okay, it doesn't entirely suck, but it isn't very good. Anyway, excerpt:

Beginning in October, SCI FI will air Battlestar Galactica "mini-sodes" entitled "Razor" during episodes of the hit series Flash Gordon, Fridays at 9 p.m. The two-to-three-minute shorts will lead into the Nov. 24 premiere of "Razor," the two-hour Battlestar special TV movie, which will tell the story of Lee Adama's (Jamie Bamber) first mission as commander of the Battlestar Pegasus and will reveal the story of how Adm. Cain (Michelle Forbes) served her ship during the original Cylon attack on the Colonies. "Razor," which airs at 9 p.m., will provide a backdrop to events in the rest of Battlestar, which returns for its fourth and final season in early 2008.

Hit series The Flash? What, exactly, constitutes "hit" ratings for a SciFi original series? Mind you, I've liked quite a few of them, but I think that it's a question worth asking. Whenever a series is touted as "must see" or "surefire hit" on network TV, I can almost guarantee that it's destined for the round file.

Posted by Physics Geek at 12:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Possible good news for Buffy fans

Joss Whedon might finally make that TV special chronicling the exploits of the Taster's Choice guy, err, the Ripper. Only a few years overdue, but it'll probably be pretty good.

Posted by Physics Geek at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why you should embrace the Penguin

Here's a pretty good website that extols the virtues of Linux. The author does a pretty thorough analysis of Why Linux Is Better. Excerpt:

Does your digital life seem fragmented ?

If you already know what fragmentation is, and are already used to defragmenting your disk every month or so, here is the short version : Linux doesn't need defragmenting.

Now imagine your hard disk is a huge file cabinet, with millions of drawers (thanks to Roberto Di Cosmo for this comparison). Each drawer can only contain a fixed amount of data. Therefore, files that are larger than what such a drawer can contain need to be split up. Some files are so large that they need thousands of drawers. And of course, accessing these files is much easier when the drawers they occupy are close to one another in the file cabinet.

Now imagine you're the owner of this file cabinet, but you don't have time to take care of it, and you want to hire someone to take care of it for you. Two people come for the job, a woman and a man.


  • The man has the following strategy : he just empties the drawers when a file is removed, splits up any new file into smaller pieces the size of a drawer, and randomly stuffs each piece into the first available empty drawer. When you mention that this makes it rather difficult to find all the pieces of a particular file, the response is that a dozen boys must be hired every weekend to put the chest back in order.
  • The woman has a different technique : she keeps track, on a piece of paper, of contiguous empty drawers. When a new file arrives, she searches this list for a sufficiently long row of empty drawers, and this is where the file is placed. In this way, provided there is enough activity, the file cabinet is always tidy.

Without a doubt, you should hire the woman (you should have known it, women are much better organized :) ). Well, Windows uses the first method ; Linux uses the second one. The more you use Windows, the slower it is to access files ; the more you use Linux, the faster it is. The choice is up to you!
...
Are your tired of restarting your computer all the time?

Have you just upgraded one or two little things on your Windows system with "Windows update"? Please reboot. Have you just installed some new software? Please reboot. Does your system seem unstable? Try to reboot, everything will probably work better after that.

Windows always asks you to restart your computer, and that can be annoying (maybe you happen to have a long download going on, and you don't want to interrupt it just because you updated a few pieces of your system). But even if you click "Restart later", Windows still keeps bothering you every ten minutes to let you know that you really should restart the computer. And if you happen to be away from your computer and you didn't see the question, it will happily reboot automatically. Bye bye long download.

Linux basically doesn't need to restart. Whether you install new software (even very big programs) or perform routine upgrades for your system, you will not be asked to restart the computer. It is only necessary when a part from the heart of the system has been updated, and that only happens once every several weeks.
...
Jump into the next generation of desktops.

You have been impressed by the 3D and transparency possibilities first introduced in Windows Vista, and decided that these unique capabilities were worth a few hundred dollars? You even bought a new computer so that you could meet Vista's (very high) requirements? Fooled you: Linux can do better, for free, and with much less demanding hardware requirements.

He's pretty fair about the whole thing, going so far as to explain the reasons why you probably should stick with Windows. Check it out.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 20, 2007

Bus ride

Two bowling teams, one of all Blondes and one of all Brunettes, charter a double-decker bus for a week-end gambling trip to Louisiana.

The Brunette team rode on the bottom of the bus, and the Blonde team rode on the top level. The Brunette team down below really whooped it up, having a great time, when one of them realized she hadn't heard anything from the Blondes upstairs.

She decided to go up and investigate. When the Brunette reached the top, she found all the Blondes frozen in fear, staring straight ahead at the road, clutching the seats in front of them with white knuckles. The brunette asked, "What the heck's going on up here? We're having a great time downstairs!"

One of the Blondes looked up at her, swallowed hard and whispered... "Yeah, but you've got a driver."

Posted by Physics Geek at 02:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Trust us: we're professionals

Via McQ comes a tale of delicious irony. I won't bother to excerpt; you simply have to read it for yourself.

Posted by Physics Geek at 10:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 16, 2007

Mark your calendar

The Great American Beer Festival, 2007 edition, will occur on October 11, 12 and 13 this year. It's located at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. Individual sessions can be a bit pricey, but there's a way around that: volunteer. And if you volunteer for 3 sessions, you get into the 4th one for free.

If anyone in the MuNu family- or anyone else, for that matter- wants to drop by the Denver area for a beer or 1200, I'll be there. Drop me a line if you think that you might be interested. I'll be easy to find, as my volunteer group is in the Mountain section this year, and I'll be wearing either my SciFi Book Club hat or my Cheerwine hat.

Posted by Physics Geek at 07:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 15, 2007

Free design software

snap2objects has compiled a list of the 45 best freeware design programs. Included are such stalwarts as GIMP, GIMPshop (for all your Photoshop enthusiasts) and Picasa, as well as a bunch that I've never heard of. Well worth checking out.

Posted by Physics Geek at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An oldie

But still a goody. I give you Icon Wars!

Posted by Physics Geek at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2007

I have been sorted

Via CalTech Girl and SarahK comes this non-automated, Amish type quiz, wherein you use check boxes to determine which house you should be assigned to at Hogwarts. Since the quiz wasn't animated, I had to think for a while before I remembered that I could actually type my answers. Anyway, my answers are below the fold.

GRYFFINDOR: [X] You’ve never done drugs. [X] You have a lot of friends. [X] You get along with everyone. [X] You love football. [X] You love baseball. [ ] You’re into writing and art [x] One of your favourite music genres is rock. [x] You believe in “innocent until proven guilty” theory. [ ] One of your favourite colors is red or gold. [x] Good grades at school. [x] One of the worst things you can do is lie. [x] You plan on going to college. TOTAL: 10

HUFFLEPUFF:
[x]You’re content with mostly everything in your life right now.
[x] You laugh a lot.
[ ] You like to follow trends.
[x] Politics suck.
[x] You love to swim
[ ] Water polo is awesome.
[ ] Pink is one of your favourite colours.
[ ] Black is morbid & depressing.
[ ] You’re an optimist.
[ ] You’re very emotional.
[ ] You believe in going steady at a young age.
[ ] You haven’t made fun of anyone this month.
[x] Loyalty is the MOST important thing in a relationship.
TOTAL: 5

RAVENCLAW:
[ ] You’re depressed to a certain extent.
[x] You love to read.
[x] You appreciate theatre & arts.
[ ] Sports suck.
[ ] Hate is completely unneeded.
[ ] Indie is one of your favourite genre of music.
[x] Every once in a while you have little anger outbursts.
[x] Lying is sometimes okay.
[x] Blue is one of your favourite colours.
[x] Knowledge is the key to power
[ ] Sarcasm is the best kind of humour
[x] People should know what they’re talking about before they talk.
TOTAL: 7

SLYTHERIN:
[x]There’s at least one person you hate.
[x] Basketball is a good sport.
[x] Football is amazing.
[x] Black is a cool color.
[ ] You’ve lied about something serious
[ ] You’re a very deep person
[ ] You are not very loyal.
[x] You like heavy metal.
[ ] You make school seem more important than it is.
[ ] You’re scared to grow up.
[ ] Anger is one of your primary feelings.
[ ] You have trust issues.
[ ] Guilty until proven innocent.
TOTAL: 5

So I'm apparently the lovechild of Gryffindor and Ravensclaw. That's okay. I'm just glad that I wasn't assigned to Hufflepuff. Those fellows are the most masculine guys at Hogwarts.

The "It's Lyle!" skit on SNL? Totally based on a Hufflepuff boy.

Posted by Physics Geek at 03:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I have a musical regret

No, not the fact that I own some Debbie Gibson compact discs. What I'm referring to is the fact that I gave up playing the cello after putting in 8 years of practice, practice, practice. I'm considering picking up an inexpensive one and have seen several within my price range at Amazon. I might nudge the spouse into putting one under the Christmas tree for me.

My current employer has an electronic bulletin board wherein us worker bees can post classified ads. Someone recently posted that she had some reconditioned violins, violas and cellos for sale. As it turns out, she was a professional violinist for 20 years and only deals in absolutely the highest quality instruments. Her prices for cells started at $15,000. After I pulled my tongue back out of my throat, I wrote her a thank you, but no thank email.

Yes, I'm aware that a better instrument will cost more. It's also true that I was a pretty fair cellist at one time; I went to NC Governor's School because of it. However, I wasn't the best at the time I quit playing, and I'm willing to bet that the decades long layoff hasn't improved my skill any. I'm simply looking for something serviceable.

Posted by Physics Geek at 02:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Some things just go together

I knew that Alyssa Milano was an avid Dodgers's fan. What I didn't know was that she had a blog dedicated to her favorite team. She's even typed an open letter to manager Grady Little who, I must confess, I have some affection for, as he was the manager of the AAA franchise here in Richmond some years back, and a pretty good one to boot, although I'm quite certain that Red Sox fans would disagree with my assessment of his managerial skills. In any event, beautiful women and baseball belong together.

Alyssa, I'm a longtime fan of your's, but I have to express my disappointment with your choice of a team to back. The only real choice is, of course, the DEFENDING WORLD SERIES CHAMPION ST. LOUIS CARDINALS.

Yeah, I really enjoy saying that. It's just a pity that I won't be saying it for much longer.

Thanks to Jeff Goldstein for the link.

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:12 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I was wrong

This is, in fact, the stupidest USB powered invention. So far. The day isn't over yet.

Update: Mother of God. Just when I think that humanity has hit rock bottom in terms of abject stupidity, someone lowers the bar a little bit more. Right now, the bar is a line painted on the ground.

What makes me say this? This thing: a USB-powered Ghost Radar. Excerpt:

Now, SolidAlliance has come up with a GhostRadar USB flash memory that detects, well, ghosts. Basically, it responds to unusual magnetic waves with audible alerts and flashing red lights. This thing maybe useful for paranoid travelers who stay in all kinds of hotel rooms and need to check them out.

Remember my comment about lowering the bar to the ground? At this rate, we'll have to start digging the trench soon.

Thanks, I guess, go to Henry for emailing me the link to this thing.

Posted by Physics Geek at 07:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Interesting choice

I've viewed with some interest the release of Google's Google Pack, still technically in Beta release. Some pretty good choices of ostensibly free software, albeit with some odd exceptions. Excerpt(s):

My only problem with Google's choices is Norton. While the download includes a 6 month subscription to updates, what happens after that? Seemed like a strange choice as Norton isn't free if updates cost after a point. Plus new Dell machines come with McAfee which also nags you to pay for updates, which makes me nutso. ClamWin, in my opinion, would've been a better choice (not as pretty, but truly free and open source.) ... In what looks like a direct jab at Microsoft, Google includes Sun Microsystems' office productivity suite Star Office to their free bundle of PC software called Google Pack.

StarOffice includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, graphics, and database applications, along with a library of images and 3D effects. Normally available for $70, StarOffice is free with Google Pack.

Star Office is the basis for the free and open source OpenOffice.org application suite. Unlike OpenOffice.org, Star Office requires the Java runtime to use. So why would GOOG choose Star Office over Open Office for the Pack?

Beats us, but since launch (and even through an iteration ) a couple of their app choices left us shaking our heads, like Adobe Reader and RealPlayer. (With the exception of Firefox, they seem to be open source-o-phobic.)

Obviously Google is trying to grab some of the desktop market from Microsoft which, I think, is a good thing. Competition is likely to make all vendors more responsive to the needs of its customers. However, I'm a bit puzzled as to some of the applications that Google chose. I'd have added Ad-Ware and Clamwin (or maybe AVG Free edition), as well as Open Office. And Real Player? Really? I think that VLC is the superior choice here. Regardless, it's a pretty decent software bundle, so check it out if you're so inclined.

Posted by Physics Geek at 06:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2007

Free comic books?

Did you read comic books as a child? Do you read them currently? In either case, do you have any interest in finding electronic copies of them on the Intertubes? Here's how you do it. Excerpt:

For title specific searches, substitute the title for the word comics in your search.

Examples:
-inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" "Last modified" spider-man cbr
and -inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" "Last modified" simpsons cbr

While some directories will only contain a few comics, there are others that will keep you reading for weeks and weeks.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 10, 2007

Sign of the end times

I swear that this should be a joke. Unfortunately, it isn't. I give you the USB powered, air-conditioned tie.

Next up: the USB powered, air-conditioned jock strap. Because no one wants to have their junk all sweaty and smelly. Simply ignore the electrical plug connected to your groin and move on.

Update: Ask and ye shall receive something close to what you asked for.

Update: I take a break from blogs to spend time with my family and I missed out on the Instalanche. Thanks to everyone for stopping by.

Posted by Physics Geek at 02:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I'm at a loss for words...

At the abject level of stupidty on display here.

Maybe next he can get his groinal junk trimmed down so that his pants fit better. Moron.

Update: Turns out that I've been punk'd. In this particular instance, I'm actually glad that that turned out to be the case.

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:38 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 09, 2007

And the reclamation is complete

Readers of this blog will have noticed that I'm a big fan of the DEFENDING WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS ST. LOUIS CARDINALS. This year has been a struggle, but hope springs eternal. An even in a so far dismal season, I can find things tthat make me smile. Like the following excerpt from tonight's recap:

Failed pitcher Rick Ankiel hit a three-run homer to cap his debut as a major league outfielder, and Joel Pineiro worked seven scoreless innings in the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-0 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.

The Cardinals took three of four from the NL West-contending Padres, spoiling the return of Chris Young in the finale.

The day began with utilityman Scott Spiezio going on the restricted list for a substance problem that the Cardinals did not specify, allowing for the callup of Ankiel to take his spot on the roster.

Ankiel, who led the Pacific Coast League with 32 homers for Triple-A Memphis, launched a 2-1 pitch from Doug Brocail over the right-field wall in the seventh with an effortless swing that put the Cardinals ahead 5-0.

The drive merited a standing ovation and a curtain call for the once-troubled left-hander, who quit pitching in spring training 2005 to begin the long climb back up the ladder as a 26-year-old minor league outfielder.

I remember all too well Ankeil's meltdown against the Braves in the 2000 playoffs. He threw 5 wild pitches in an inning and he never recovered as a pitcher, seemingly unable to find the strike zone. A couple of years ago, he gave up his comeback as a pitcher and started over as an outfielder. Tonight, he returned to St. Louis in a big way. Apparently he's got some pop in his bat, so he might kick the Cardinals' offense in the bottom.

Anyway, it's kind of a feel good story. The fact that it happened to my favorite pro baseball team is gravy.

Update: Dean Barnett also posted on this story. The image below is courtesy of him.

tx_rick_ankiel_3.jpeg

Posted by Physics Geek at 10:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Assholes do vex me

I swear to god, if I ever get my hands on the motherf*cker who has been spamming my comments, I will rip out his eyes and shit on his brain. I just deleted around 100 and found out that I've just dipped my toe into the "Great site! Agree with everything you say!" bullshit.

Hey, here's a thought: since you agree with everything I say, I say that you should go stick your head in a blender.

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Browncoat alert

It appears as though the SciFi channel will be airing a Firefly marathon tomorrow. However, I'll be at work AND I own the DVDs. Might be a good way to pass the time if you're at home, though.

Tangentially related updated: Nathan Fillion decides to play house in Season 4 of Desparate Housewives. He will do so opposite the always yummy Dana Delany. Lucky bastard.

Posted by Physics Geek at 11:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

An idea whose time should never have come

I will admit to, once in a while, chatting on my cell phone while driving. I don't like to, but sometimes I do it. Also, I have a rechargeable razor that I, once in a while, shave with on the highway while cruising in to work. However, there are things that maybe, just maybe, you should never do while driving:

1) Read a book. And I've actually seen some dimwits driving down the road with an open book sitting on their steering wheels.

2) Typing on your effing laptop. I mean seriously, WTF? But hey, you can now save $10 on your mobile suicide device so, you know, weed yourself out of the gene pool if you see the need. Just do it on a lonely stretch of road so as not to take anyone else with you.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 06, 2007

Tastes crappy, but definitely less filling

So the world's first virtual poured beer will appear sometime later this week. Color me unimpressed. What will impress is when a click of the mouse fills my actual mug with actual beer. Until then, go away and play with your silly computer graphics. Crap, it's not like there are any naked women or cool D&D characters being animated.

Posted by Physics Geek at 01:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

For sale

Received via email:
=============================================

I am selling one of my Barry Bonds rookie cards to the highest bidder that I bought in 1986. I for one do not believe that Barry took steroids at any point in his career and believe he will be in the Hall of Fame someday. A copy of the card is below the fold.


BarryB rookie.jpg

Posted by Physics Geek at 09:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

There's a new sheriff in town

So Mountain Dew is no longer the king of soda pop caffeine. The winner? The new Pepsi Max. I was also completely amused by the number of commenters going WTF?! on the inclusion of Diet Cheerwine. Growing up in NC had its advantages, and Cheerwine was definitely one of those advantages.

Actually, I call complete bullshit on this list, as neither Jolt Cola nor Double Jolt Cola made the list. Trust me: those cans of No Doz enhanced glucose are much higher in content than any of those colored bubbly waters listed.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:18 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Repairing a scratched CD or DVD

Pretty interesting article over at Wisebread. I've tried the toothpaste method before, with mixed results. Might be time to grab a bottle of metal polish.

Posted by Physics Geek at 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 02, 2007

Nifty free bit o' software

If you've got a dual boot Windows/Linux system, there have probably been times when you wished that you could retrieve/copy/open your Linux created files while working in Windows. Instead, you had to shut down and reboot into Linux, save the data to a FAT32 device and then reboot back into Windows. Well, you no longer have to do the OS hokey pokey, at least in this instance. I give you Ext2 Installable File System for Windows. Excerpt:

It installs a pure kernel mode file system driver Ext2fs.sys, which actually extends the Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 operating system to include the Ext2 file system. Since it is executed on the same software layer at the Windows NT operating system core like all of the native file system drivers of Windows (for instance NTFS, FASTFAT, or CDFS for Joliet/ISO CD-ROMs), all applications can access directly to Ext2 volumes. Ext2 volumes get drive letters (for instance G:). Files, and directories of an Ext2 volume appear in file dialogs of all applications. There is no need to copy files from or to Ext2 volumes in order to work with them. ... Detailed list of features of the file system driver Extfs.sys:
  • Supports Windows NT4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows 2003 (x86 processors only).
  • All operations you would expect: Reading and writing files, listing directories, creating, renaming, moving and deleting files or directories, querying and modifying the volume's label.
  • Files larger than 4 GBytes. (Please read the FAQ section, too.)
  • Paging files are supported. (A paging file is a file "pagefile.sys", which Windows swaps virtual memory to.) Users may create paging files at NT's control panel at Ext2 volumes.
  • Specific functions of the I/O subsystem of NT: Byte range locks, notification of changes of directories, oplocks (which are required by the NT LAN manager for sharing files via SMB).


Posted by Physics Geek at 12:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

There are alternatives

To Windows, that is. InformationWeek has an interesting point-counterpoint, in which two writers separately extol the virtues of Linux and and Mac versus Microsoft. Pretty good level of detail from both authors.

Posted by Physics Geek at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DataPilots: the Open Source equivalent of Pivot Tables

In my previous incarnation as a programmer, I used pivot tables in Excel quite extensively. They're quite useful in my current career as an engineer. In fact, there were times when summarizing data tables in any other way would have proved exceptionally difficult, if not downright impossible, which is why I've been loathe to give up using Excel. And now I can do the same things using Open Office's Calc. Excerpt:

Creating a DataPilot

To begin creating an datapilot, highlight the range of cells you want to base it upon, then select Data -> DataPilot -> Start to open the DataPilot dialog window. Alternatively, choose the same menu item, then select a data source that you have already registered with OpenOffice.org using File -> New -> Database and a range of cells from it.

The DataPilot window gives you a diagram of the DataPilot that you are creating, and a list of columns from the data source. To create the general layout for the DataPilot, all you have to do is drag the columns to one of the blank spaces on the diagram. If you drag a column name to the Column fields or Row fields space, then it becomes the first cell in a row or column, just as you might expect from the name (in the first DataPilot above, Quantity was selected as the column, and no row was chosen). Similarly, if you drag a column name to the Data fields, it becomes the data in the DataPilot (in the first example above, the Price). The only potentially puzzling choice is the Page Fields, which is actually just the custom filter for changing the contents of the DataPilot on the fly (in the first example, the Country). If you make a mistake, you can drag the column back to the list of column building blocks on the right.

Once you have done the basic setup, you can also choose what function to use in the DataPilot. In the examples above, I simply used the default Sum function, which for many purposes is all that you need. However, you can also use another ten basic functions: Count, Average, Max, Min, Product, Count (Numbers Only), StDev (Sample), StDevP (Population), Var (Sample) and Var (Population). If necessary, you can find details about what these functions do in OpenOffice.org's online help.

Again, I can't stress enough how useful this tool can be to anyone who wades through piles of data. I plan on asking management if I can teach a short class on pivot tables here at work, as people simply blink and stare at me when I mention them. Okay, more than they usually blink and stare at me.

Posted by Physics Geek at 11:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 01, 2007

We take time out from our busy schedule of sniffing glue to tell you...

I won't be advertising on the O'Reilly Factor either.

Posted by Physics Geek at 03:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PSA

Sorry about the sporadic posting lately. Between caring for my wife and kids, a quarantined dog and 5 more pets besides, I've been cramming for some challenge tests to prevent my having to drive waaay the heck out to the middle of nowhere for classes. So far, so good: I've passed my first 3 tests. One more and I'll have a break for a couple of months which will allow me to do some actual work. Regardless, I'm appreciative to all who still drop by.

Posted by Physics Geek at 03:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Club versus baby seal

And the winner is... Jeff Goldstein, of course. It helps, of course, that his opponent is an illogical, lying, hypocritical sack of horse squeeze, but Jeff would have whipped his ass anyway. Just my opinion; I could be wrong.

But I doubt it.

Posted by Physics Geek at 03:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack