Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Guinness

Guinness likes pretzels.
Guinness

Guinness enjoys pretzels.
Guinness 2

Right now, I'm surrounded by a couple inches of snow and a good part of my family. Tomorrow we're looking at some sort of fury-of-God snow emergency... but at least I got my memory card and reader back before that happened!

I hope the readership (what little of it there may be left paying attention) is enjoying their winter!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thanksgiving - finally

I'm just going to post some shots without much commentary. Most of the photos came from the 16-45 or the 43. All natural lighting.

Rough estimate for attendance this year: 50
everyone

This is the dinner part of dinner. Not pictured: two varieties of turkey, ham, yams, potatoes, gravy.
feast

Uncle Dave decided the leaves needed to go. The most effective way to do this? Ride-on.
leafblower

Here's my brother looking at the dams we used to build up in the summer.
ponder

I think it was Conner's first time shooting a shotgun. Big deal, big whoop whoop.
first shot

The rest. A few were pretty bad because I forgot to pay attention to either ISO or aperture. Eh, at least it's something to look at.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hi!

I'm still here, I promise.

I might even have pictures by the end of this weekend!

Monday, November 10, 2008

On a Netbook

vs. powerbook

We got a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 on Friday, mostly because I was drooling over it when it was announced. Originally on hold until sometime this week, it actually arrived well ahead of schedule. I had the chance to take it home tonight, so I've collected my thoughts.

vs. powerbook 2
Size & build: Numerically, you ought to know this is tiny. All of the netbooks are, and I do know the Dell is one of the larger of the crop. That said, it's a very solid feeling machine; with the density inherent, it's pretty much gotta feel like a brick.

vs. powerbook
The 8.9 inch screen doesn't feel as cramped as 1024x600 would make it seem. Of course, it would be nice if the Windows system screens were aware of the aspect ratio change, but hey - it's XP home, we can't expect perfection. Seems bright enough. Using it and then switching to the PowerBook is like night and day in terms of immersion. I feel like I'm on the mini while I'm using it, and going to the PB feels like I'm just being presented with a wall of keyboard and monitor.

vs. emate
Vs. the eMate 300: For the interesting comparison - this is the mini 9 alongside the eMate 300. As you probably know, the eMate happened in 1996, a full 12 years before the mini. I don't know that you can say they're conceptually similar. We didn't have wireless internet in 1996, and it certainly wasn't necessary to do work or keep yourself entertained. By that same token, some of the elements are similar - look at the eMate's low weight, (extremely) low power consumption, high portability, and flash-based storage.

vs. emate
As far as working surface is concerned, there's very little appreciable difference between the two. The eMate's screen is a bit smaller, and there's obvious allowances for space for the tablet/handwriting recognition features, and the absence of the trackpad makes a big impact in the placement and layout of everything.


vs. emate
The difference in keyboard between the two is appreciable. While the actual caps are smaller on the eMate, the "traditional" key shaping makes it much easier to type at a long stretch - if your hands are tiny midget hands like mine. I've known I could type on one of those for years, though, so I was interested to see how the mini would go. The good news - letters are easy, so is tab. The bad news is that most people would probably have some degree of trouble with misfires related to the tiny size of comma and period. Also, if you're like me and you live on contractions, the location of the apostrophe will drive you insane.


vs. emate
Here's the real difference. Closed, the eMate is basically twice the size of the mini 9. The shot doesn't include the physical size cost of the 802.11b card I have, either.

What's the point? Well, the mini is a neat trick. After having spent all of the last week of October on the MacBook Air, I've grown to appreciate the small size and weight factor of these travel-sized computers. The screen on the Air is a lot easier to deal with, but the hinge doesn't go far enough for my tastes. Also, I hate the new keyboards. I get so many misfires that the correction process drives me insane.

Meanwhile, the Dell is enormously tiny and, while the keys are pleasing to use and fairly accurate for me, the placement of the apostrophe means "no writing. ever." Internet on it is good, battery life appears to be in line with 3.5 to 4 hours - the fact is it's really not much of a savings considering how hard the keyboard is to use.

That said, as a classroom support solution, it rocks. It drives 1024x768 just fine, and PowerPoint's presenter mode works great on both screens. Since the networking seems robust, it's actually shaping up to be the perfect addition to our projector bags.

I want to see what's up with their mini 12 whenever it gets around to coming to this country, but more importantly, I want to see what Ubuntu and Netbook Remix are like on this thing. It's already reasonably snappy with windows except for when it comes to I/O.

Recommended? Well, depends a lot, but if you're after a netbook, I can say it'll probably please. I don't have much experience with competitors, but someone had a different brand (probably Acer or Asus) at a special event a couple weeks ago and the two just weren't in the same league at all in terms of construction.

Slightly larger shots here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

On Values

[08:59] Nat: freitag lawl
[08:59] Nat: i stole ur typing
[08:59] Lauren: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_1uQwe9lNs
[08:59] Nat: no can do, chiefette
[08:59] Lauren: ph boo
[08:59] Nat: phboo
[08:59] Nat: that is funny
[08:59] Nat: not as funny as values
[09:00] Nat: values is a weird word when you type it a lot
[09:00] Nat: u gets to step up to the plate and be phonetic
[09:00] Nat: word manager baseballman said "U! you are not carrying your weight around here, go hit a home run please"
[09:00] Nat: and u was all "I cannot do that because I do not have arms :-( "
[09:01] Nat: so baseballman said "okay, sound like yourself for once instead of o. o gets a lot of attention anyway."
[09:01] Nat: and u smiled and yelled out "U!"
[09:01] Nat: the end :-)
[09:01] Lauren: whut

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trip to the Land of Twinkies, Day 4

So, I've been kind of light on content this week.

Part of this is because I made the decision to leave my camera in a safe in College Park. This was a wise choice from a logistical standpoint, as I had to walk over 2 miles from the West Natick MBTA commuter rail station to the Hampton Inn.

That's fine - I haven't been able to go anywhere, and the only thing I've wanted to take a picture of are the bright red trees out in the parking lot. Little maples, very pretty.

Anyway, I was planning on doing some google maps editing and uploading my GPS log from the trip up here. We hit 151 miles an hour at one point, and apparently the whole notion of lining out the train route up the Eastern excited me. Or something.

Unfortunately, here's what I've been dealing with since I got here Monday night:

Macintosh-4:~ natkuhn$ ping 128.8.76.2
PING 128.8.76.2 (128.8.76.2): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=0 ttl=47 time=203.091 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=1 ttl=47 time=999.273 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=2 ttl=47 time=394.044 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=3 ttl=47 time=839.724 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=4 ttl=47 time=419.128 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=5 ttl=47 time=1003.461 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=6 ttl=47 time=1004.051 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=7 ttl=47 time=1003.662 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=8 ttl=47 time=954.812 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=9 ttl=47 time=1010.508 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=10 ttl=47 time=1003.984 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=11 ttl=47 time=1003.854 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=12 ttl=47 time=1003.493 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=13 ttl=47 time=1003.364 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=14 ttl=47 time=1003.827 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=15 ttl=47 time=1003.112 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=16 ttl=47 time=1008.885 ms
64 bytes from 128.8.76.2: icmp_seq=17 ttl=47 time=1002.986 ms
^C
--- 128.8.76.2 ping statistics ---
19 packets transmitted, 18 packets received, 5% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 203.091/881.403/1010.508/248.835 ms


The values <1000ms are cool; the internet works when that happens. Even the values > 1010ms are generally cool; I've had working internet here when it gets up to 2200ms - working, but slow.

It's all those values - sometimes hundreds in a row when I have non-working internet - that hit between 1002 and 1004 that are convincing me there's some kind of artificial packet shaping at work here, and that it's horribly broken.

I tried to find the Hampton Inn tech support contact number, and instead, I found installation/configuration guide PDFs meant to be used by contractors installing this stuff in all kinds of hotels. In them, it says that Hampton Inn (and its parent, Hilton) asks the contractors to prevent contact between user computers.

Hmm... bonjour, anyone?

I turned off mDNSResponder and mDNSResponderHelper using launchctl and actually got working internet. It's been worse today, but still up more than down. (of course, as I type this, I appear to be stuck in a good stretch, with over 60 pings <30ms.)

Anyway, the situation is affecting all web traffic, including Hampton Inn websites, and all traffic associated with IMs, and most traffic associated with IMAP. SMTP is out completely when this happens.

Well, as it is, FileMaker training is going well. I've learned a lot of optimization tips for the database work I've done over the years, and also learned that nothing I was doing was outright incorrect in the professional sense - they live by the rule "if it works, and it does what you want, it's right." Today was calculations, tomorrow will be scripting. I've spent a lot of time in these, so it's actually been easier for me to deal with than the database planning stuff we did yesterday and Tuesday. An aside - Did you know that FileMaker has average and mode functions, but not median? We learned how to reinvent that wheel today.

So yeah, that's the story. Sorry for the blank slate. Again. Or as always.

Edit:: as if that weren't bad enough, it would appear there is a configuration error on our xserve. Now, my website is ugly. This is because everything lives on that xserve.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Unboxing of a different sort

We have something called a Super Grand Mart up the street from me now. When first I went, I had absolutely no idea it was an Asian market, or at least, primarily an asian market. That said, I chose to go back to raid the snack and beverage aisles for comedy's sake. Not much comedy, mind you, but hey.

So here's my bag:
bag

Inside, we begin with a bag of spice that came from a section of only bags of spice.
chili
So, either ground up spices are snacks, or Super Grand carries 40,000 different kinds of this company's products without getting into the snack section of the catalog.

Next, Jasmine tea. Whatever.
jasmine tea

Now, this amused me...
blood pressure tea
This tea tastes awful. I choose to blame the ingredients list, the last item of which is Horny Goat Weed.

On to the snacks!

My mom taught me many years ago to eat Pocky.
bag pocky
All of the white nerd in me, however, cannot possibly imagine the need to buy a bag of Pocky this big. Equivalent to five boxes of regularly packaged Pocky, the price of this magical item is about $4. Regular Pocky is not. I moved on from the bulk pack of Pocky to get some of my favorite variety, the comically named Pocky Men's.
pocky men's
Dark chocolate, dark pretzel, all tasty. A lot of people refuse to believe that such a product exists, but if the marketing wizards at Glico are to be treated as authorities on the matter, Japanese women are not allowed to eat Dark Chocolate. I was reminded that dark chocolate is seen as an aphrodisiac, and I can only imagine that it's a cultural belief that women who eat dark chocolate will turn into a Hello Kitty doll with tentacles for hair and unicorn genitals for everything else. Said demon attends a girls-only high school as a 10th level student preparing for college when it encounters trouble with its higher level maths. The placement test is so hard! Then it has a run-in with a gang of miscreant garage workers on the way home. They steal its mother's lunchbox and throw its sandals at it. Crying furiously, it goes super saiyan and destroys the whole of Tokyo, then, in a mixture of pride and shame, retreats to its cave to enjoy its own company. Also, its eroticism level is over 9,000, or something. Bow chicka mow bwow.

The most elusive and, despite the fact that I already knew of its existence as well, most amusing product of the haul, though, is the box of Pocky Giant.
pocky giant
I haven't opened it yet, so I have no idea what awaits me. $12 dollars for that box, though... it should be like unwrapping chocolate-covered pretzel rods of gold. Or at least tasty.

As I left the store, I was offered a door prize for shopping. Do you know what that was?

This.
door prize
Note it's not even iodized salt, and I don't use salt for anything, so I couldn't help but walk home with a giant stupid smile on my face for having been handed a can of salt.

Bonus: Look at the sticker on the bananas I bought at Giant earlier...
banana lol

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today's hike took me over Buzzards Rocks trail. About three miles and change, and I only took 17 pictures.

the perspective shot

down the valley

fallcolor

The rest with two pictures of cat.

Friday, October 17, 2008

BASK IN MY NERD GLORY

nerdglory

My optiplex, fine. Two monitors on that.

Then there's the MacBook Air I'm taking with me to Boston receiving software updates, the extremely early PowerBook G4 (Aluminum, 1 GHz) in the middle dealing with an Office 2008 installation, and the one on the right (Aluminum, 1.5 GHz) getting both system updates and Office 2008 updates at the same time.

NERRRRRR!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hurf durf - update

plant 1

White flower

Fountain

More in the gallery, and with commentary (sort of). I guess I figure you put up with infinity days without any activity, the least I can do is try. These are from the national botanical garden.

edit: Here's this thing, too. This is from Theodore Roosevelt Island, taken on Sunday.

leaf alone

wolfspider

shield bugs

The gallery be here. Again with the commentary. Woop woop!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pictures coming

I have pictures from Sunday - probably about 50 - from the botanical gardens just down from the Native American museum on the mall.

Unfortunately, I left them at home, I was busy Sunday night, and I spent most of the day yesterday trying to not get an ear infection or playing A-10 Attack! on my Power Mac while running Mac OS 9.

It's a tough life.

At least I'm out using my camera again, now that it's not as awful outside!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Research Refuge 2

pinecone

plantfromtop

this thing

damselfly

Well, there you go. I walked around Cash Lake at the National Visitor Center in the research refuge. Not much worth looking at, but at least I did get 39 sort of okay pictures out of it. See also this thing.

Aside - OIT changed my links on me. glue.umd.edu redirects to terpconnect.umd.edu now. I'm not sure how long that'll last, but it's possible that my base URL in the stylesheet will, one day, fail to work without warning, thus ruining my internet website again.

Maybe it is getting on to time to find another solution for this.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Butterfly garden - MNH

Out of midday boredom comes photography:

lilypad
An aquatic flower in the butterfly habitat next to the Museum of Natural History. This taken with the 43 somewhere near wide open.

skipper
One of the many skippers around these plants. I love the way these butterfly species can hold their wings; they remind me of the F7U Cutlass, a plane that was atrocious in the air if I remember correctly, but quite cooly looking otherwise.

that thing
This is the first dinosaur replica in the dinosaur haul as you walk in from the elephant room. EXIF says: 43mm, f1.9, 1/6s, ISO 800. Who needs shake reduction! Actually, I was pretty on when it came to standing still in dim light.

questionmark
I have this amusement obsession with question marks. I especially like the ones on the highway, where it has a question mark on a blue sign with an arrow pointing toward an exit - it's like "What's over here? We don't know, but we're GIVING IT AWAY!"

diorama
I'd been looking for a good excuse to take pictures of tiny things with a wide aperture lens. It's got that whole photography-of-a-miniature thing going, mostly cause that's what it is.

turtle
This is a turtle skeleton, obviously. It looks so happy!

Here are the rest. This has been a fun exercise, the whole "using thousands of dollars of equipment for its non-paperweight purpose" thing... most of my camera gear has been living in a pile at the base of my bookshelf since I moved in here, after all.

hey look at that

I got the stuff from .migration_temp moved over, and I've changed the template to reflect the new location of the stylesheet. That, of course, means that the site looks right again.

Unfortunately, I now have a google/blogger toolbar up there, which I see as detrimental to the viewing experience. Not that I have much to view, but as soon as I'm done trying to fix my catalog of posts to remove specific references to WAM, I'll get that fixed.

I also have 51 pictures from downtown today that I need to post. I have them processing in jAlbum, so that'll be good for eventually. Oh, motivation - you come in the form of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Edit: Okay, I've updated all posts from 2008. I was going to try to get back to 7/2007 tonight, but I've just flat out lost interest in deleting "http://www.[wam or glue].umd.edu/~natkuhn/" from links. Actually, given that I also deleted all galleries older than 2008, I may just get rid of posts that had pictures from before 2008.

I've learned an important lesson - when you bother to specify a base URL, use it. If I had done that in the before time, back when I was actually posting this stuff for the previous three years or more, I wouldn't have been in this situation in the first place.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

On the true meaning of pain

I just made chili that was actually physically painful to put in my mouth.

I made a stab through the end, it took me four ounces of milk per forkful of food.

Something tells me I'll need to buy ingredients to dilute this one a little bit when I stop at the store tomorrow to buy more milk.

Update on the Content Vortex's Current Sad State: Well, I haven't done much of anything, as is clear. I did, however, find all of the stuff I had lost in a folder called .migration_temp that was buried somewhere in my directory structure to which I did not previously know I had write access. As awesome as that is, replacing my stylesheet and background graphic is easy enough - replacing all of the inline links to everything in the posts will be horrible and time-consuming, however, and may take me several eternities to fix.

We'll see how I do on all that, what with the busy season for school coming up.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's pretty clear the content vortex needs help

They killed WAM for me, finally, and in the process of ensuring that all references to WAM still exist, the directory they created for the material from my pub space is not accessible to the public, and nothing I've been able to do to it so far has made it work correctly.

I'm investigating alternatives now, I'll keep you posted on what I get going.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

teeny tiny monkeys

The first few aren't great, but I think that's understandable, given the light and the fact that I was shooting wide open. Hopefully. Well, anyway, we have three week old tamarin babies. They are tiny:

tamarins

tamarins

tamarins

tamarins

tamarins