Thursday, November 12, 2009

visualize choose your own adventure

great writeup an illustration of a breakdown of the choose your own adventure books and changes over time.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

cpu index

makes for an interesting read. there are several search tools to find not-so-common processors. may be a good resource if you're trying to bring objectivity to your next netbook purchase.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

DTV map

We Still don't have a TV (gave our big one to kev)- internet pipe is all we use, but if you are one that uses it, check out this handy dandy map from the FCC to show you which direction to look to to fry your eyes.

from the looks of it, bad guys would only have to hit one mountain top to put this place is chaos. thats a little scary. the only station not effected would be the PBS station, and we all know no one watches that anyway.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Leslie says Hi!

now I haven't gone too far from the spirit of nerdy tales. I introduce to you our next star up and coming nerd, Leslie!


I have been really leaning towards getting a netbook, but truth be told, the peek may be a much better solution to what I want to do with it. just give me access to info. the site lists some behind the scenes info from the developers. looks like targets got one model old for $15 for the hardware.

there are quite a few email to network gateways, and if there was something else you wanted, its pretty trivial these days to make the bridge yourself. i could actually see myself with this thing on a backpack trip, where its unlikely i'd have a netbook.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I keep rediscovering MRTG. one of these days I'll have to put it to use. a little graphing utility written a language I now know a little about, perl.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

#twatch ethernet+LCD

I found some guys over at Dangerous Prototypes who seem to put out some pretty cool work. the latest, an ethernet enabled LCD for around $40 is very snazy. to bad the shipper seed studio is in china with paypal only (I hate paypal). I have nothing against china, just a lack of love for paypal.

Some of ians other work included a web server on a business card with an EXCEPTIONAL writeup on hackaday. it seems to have every thing in the writeup including do-it-yourself board etching and SD card FAT.

some where in all the clicking around I found HXD, a tool supposedly good for raw editing of SD cards with out a file system, something i have needed at work for awhile now.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

additional taxation

Those of you that live outside of ME HI OR CA or a few other states know who you are.. your the guys that get your cans and bottles for free. for those of us stuck in the good old C-of-A we are subjected to the CRV California Refund Value price addition to our beverage purchases.

now i'm not one to gripe. I have a recycling center only a few blocks away. They are fast, but they suffer the problem that NIST has plagued this country with.. the weight standard.

so get this.... new 'eco friendly' packaging ensures my 5cent bottle doesn't last as long (I do reuse and put other water in it by the way) but when I go to turn it in, this bottle is worth LESS than the taxation I Paid for. - since I suffer from making a point without making one, let me spell this out for the slower among you.. if some bottles weigh more than others, yet they all are worth 5 cents, only the heavy ones will be worth the full amount, the lighter ones will return less when you submit them if they are put on a scale. this begs the question what weight does the state define as a 5cent weight?

so california pockets the difference? with the recession and all, maybe they can make jobs like Oregon does with putting gas in cars... instead of weighing this stuff, pay a dude to count it and get me my whole 5 cents back.

so do I calculate the difference and put the appropriate water back in the bottles to throw the scales?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Missile Silo coordinates

over on they have a nice list of Missile silos. Wired has a nice writeup on a guy that converted one to living conditions. I always heard rumors of these around denver, and wanted to make time to go explore one growing up, but I never got around to it.

anyone wanna go halvesies with me and buy a silo? =)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

mini fix = 27.5cents

This looks like this is the 1,001 post for nerdy tales.

My mother in law has been here for a few months to help with the baby (its so cool having her). I promised a while ago to have a look-see at the mini to fix the interior door latch not working. finally, after getting an MBA, having a child, and having a weekend off from work I now have time to look.

Car: 2004 (or 5?) Mini Cooper S (S must be for Super, or sport, or superb or something)

Symptom: Driver side door opener (interior) will not open the door

Intermediate fix: roll the window down when you need out, and use the external handle.... not so fun in the rain.

Solution: The cable had stretched that actuates the latch. looks to be a common problem. Fortunatly the cable wasn't broken (looks to be around $12 if it was) so all that was needed was a shim, shameless fabricated from the first thing I could find, a mechanical pencil.

Mechanical Pencil:
Since this is nerdy tales, we do need to dive a little deeper into the fix. A little history on the pencil is warranted. The pencil came from a second story class room where I completed my MBA. This was about 6 months ago, and I was completing a final exam, on my own when I was interrupted by another student to look at my answers (leeches are hard to get rid of). I can't remember if she needed a pencil or not, but i did not give her this one. It was far to precious. you see, before i started the exam, I fished the pencil out of the trashcan at the door to use on the test.

Since then, I had emptied my backpack onto my workbench (I need a pack to carry my lunch to work while riding the motorcycle). now, today naturally, the first place I look for a solution is on the workbench which is where I found the pencil.

estimated value $0. estimated replacement cost: 27.5cents. Sams club has 32 of the BIC® Matic Grip for $8.84.

writeup with pictures at: broken car latch

'net Resources used should anyone else need to replicate this fix:
Factory Drawing
Locked in
Remove Door Panel
YouTube door panel removal

Hint: on this car, you need to wedge something in the end of the arm rest to release it so it can slide off, thus revealing the 4'th screw. that took about an hour to figure out, and fortunately, no broken plastic in the process.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I've heard of alot of opensource stuff, but can you believe sun opensourced 2 generations of the SPARC processor? and this isn't old 1985 stuff, its from 2006-2008, pretty modern. its only about 500meg for the design and tools to view it. check it out here

Sunday, August 30, 2009

moving golf

I helped a friend move this weekend, and this is what it looks like when you put a queen bed on a golf. roof rack says rated for 75kg.

-yes, thats a folding table in there.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I saw this in class a few years ago. I thought it was pretty funny then, and still think its funny. all it can make me think of is that famous quote from George Santayana - Reasons in Common Sense - 1905 "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" . yeah, I'm sure most of you will argue that is a miss application, but I dare say its relevant.

Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock

from thinkgeek, game described at sam kass

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

mba = DONE!

yippeee.. I have received grades for my last 2 classes that I took this summer, and It looks as though I have passed. now to start the process to get the paper certificate!

To hold me over, I'm thinking of going with a T-shirt.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

big bug

living in California allows you to see some really weird bugs. check out this guy sitting on the Cantaloupe.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

motorcycle south america

over at they have a nice log of taking a KLR650 through south America. how inspiring!

ancient ancestor

There is a nice little database that allows you to search through to see if you have ties to an ancestor soldier in later medieval England. the closest I have been able to find is Mr. William Hebille, an archer in 1417 that fought in France? how exciting.

search wild card work. I found him with heb*

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nerd Poster

about time they finally made a nerd poster. you can see the full res version here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mooning of Amtrak

Mooning of Amtrak seems to be a pretty big event. maybe, just maybe, this is the answer to get more people to use public transportation. It got shut down this year after 8,000 (yes, thousand) people showed up. And here I thought burning man was the only significant group of crazies.

Monday, June 29, 2009

There, I fixed it

There, I fixed it, a website for all those Ghetto zip-tie and duct tape jobs everyone has done.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Google Voice

The other day I filled out an request for an invite because i heard they were getting close to releasing google voice (thats the new and improved grand central if any of you remember back that far) and low and behold, only a few days later I got in! how cool is that. I am so looking forward to being able to screen my calls and listen into people while they leave a voice mail, and choose to pickup in the middle of the voice mail or just let them ramble on and read the transcript later. read the feature list for other cool things like 3-way and transferring to a new phone in the middle of a conversation.

i may use something like this if I need an automated script to notify me when its fallen and cant get up.

if you want to forward to google talk or something, try GroovyTel. I saw it, haven't tried it yet.

Monday, June 15, 2009

WolframAlpha names

has anyone else tried the new modern day equivelent of 'googling yourself' on WolframAlpha? this whole terribly burdeonsom task of choosing a name has me looking at any and all possible sources for a mathematical maximization to the quality of a name, and the better half disagrees what that criteria is.

check out our good buddy on WA, the cool thing is it shows you the distribution by age! it really is quite fun to look at the different distributions by age.

WA requires you to cite the source, as if it wasn't obvious so the graph is from WA.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Guns Germs and Steel

I had a debate awhile ago with a fellow engineer. which is better, to specialize in a very specific area.. focus, devote all your time and become the worlds best at the most microscopic of tasks, or to diversify a little, take the Swiss army knife approach so you can apply basic skills to a vast array of work? this show may help you answer.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Halo Ballooning

over at natrium42 they have a nice little home project, with electronics tied to a personal balloon. this should be our T-day project some year.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


I need to print a T-Shirt that says MBA on the front, and then on the back says 'been there, got the T-Shirt'. 2 more classes this summer, and i'm DONE! I'm in the bulletin for graduation, but am not planning on marching. no time for that nonsense with the kid coming and all. See the posting here

Saturday, May 30, 2009

bump up

wired has a fun read about a dude committed to cracking locks for over 40 years.

I've often wondered what the big deal is all about. It seems like a cutting torch could go many places too.

water battery

watch the freaky haired physics teacher (that gives him added credibility) demonstrate his water battery.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


turns out, a nice little ping command can be used to hang up a good old fashioned modem. (no, my modem days weren't 45 years old)wow... I wish I had known that awhile ago! my AOL days would have been even more entertaining.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

my new computer

shocked arn't you?

Some awesome friends snagged one for me from a university that was restructuring. a 20" aluminum Imac, 2.00ghz due core duo, 2Gig-ram, 128meg ati, 250gig HD, usb, FW400, FW800, gig-ethernet, HDMI, 802.11N, bluetooth, webcam and mic. (and integrated speakers that arn't half bad). S/PDIF that I'll have to convert from optical back to coax to run my old speakers.

They felt sorry for me upgrading the old P4 to win7. For the record, I did get it running, sound, video --64-meg Geforce2-MX (a miracle). As I was finishing my upgrade the friends stopped by and drop this monster on my desk. dual booting win7 and leopard. a sight to behold.

ohh, by the way, if you install win7, goto C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT to see the rest of the wallpaper for different regions. the elephant for (ZA = South Africa) is particularly impressive!

shockingly, the MSDN blog has nice primer on windows 7 secrets.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

An Interesting Read

keith and i routinely have odd conversations...

one recent conversation was regarding how much the banking system isn't designed for the modern methods... or well pretty much anything.  
i was clicking around cleaning up my amazon wish list for not good reason other than adding a vacuum attachment to clean my keyboard and was reminded of a book that i want (i should just get it on my next amazon order instead of wishing for it... yes, i shall) anyways the author (have you totally forgotten how i started this post yet?) is a really smart guy that i admire and so i went looking at his web page. the web page is ugly, but has a lot of good stuff. including this rant about the modern banking system and also how he rewards people for finding errors in his book. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Joule Thief

I've been looking for an ultra low forward voltage drop diode to use for a little project I've been working on (in my head) and so far, the best candidate is probably a mosfet-- DS junction. doing design work in your head eventually needs practical (working) designs to give motivation, check out this Joule Thief circuit to steal the last bit of juice from your battery, down to about 0.35V to power an LED. pretty snazzy huh? you can see if hooked up to a Peltier (called a seebeck when used as a source) at instructables. I miss the days of having the time to actually do fun stuff. we have alot of these TEC (thermo electric cooler) junctions at work, so I'm going to start harvesting out of scrap units for projects at home.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

work update

I was reading over at and this post from them inspired me to NOT say anything about a possible change at work until its complete. I'll give everyone an update when the smoke clears. not that I would bad-mouth anyone at work, but other changes...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fools

Google has another new feature for gmail... autopilot.... hahahah i could really use this for students =)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I do a little reading for my lunch hour time. I read the usual gadget blogs and tech news. I want to share with you my latest finding, This software developer is a superb writer! for starters, check out an old article The Larry Test which talks about the underpinnings of an engineers mentality to never ever really be done. its well thought out, and straight forward, but when you get to the end I was left with a realization about myself that I had truly never considered. Randsinrepose may just be so good as to get a permanent link from nerdy.

check it out, I bet ALL of you will like it.

the icing on the cake? a nice little review of cloud computing and dropbox

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

better off ted

Have any of you guys seen better off ted? a new show over on ABC. the show is pretty hilarious and I had major flashbacks of my time with General Electric. ABC is TOTALLY making fun of NBC with this one. I particularly enjoyed the part of the into that makes fun of pretty much ever business arm of GE (you can almost see the Enron wind in one shot), and made reference to the very thing I had hanging on my wall for a while while employed there. for a time I had the slogan 'we bring good things to life' next a picture of the 1946 vulcan gun. for all my old friends still employed by the collective... check out better off ted.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

gave in to a deal

after eyeing dad's 10" acer aspire one netbook over christmas and not thinking too much of it I saw an MSI wind this past weekend and was quite impressed.

Then I saw a craiglist spokane ad for a 'new in box acer aspire one 8.9" with 8gb sshd, 1GB ram' for $200.
Turns out it was a model about 3 months newer without linux, but with a 160gb HD and XP HOME

It was not only in the box, it had never been opened.  the ~1" smaller screen is noticible, but does not detrack too much from the functionality.  cheapest I think I could get this elsewhere would be before tax referbished at tiger direct for $240 or costco $300

I beleive the touchpad is aware of multiple fingers, as you use two fingers spreading or joining to zoom in and out (webbrowser) - pretty cool.  and draw a spiral from top right to middle of pad to activate scrolling from the pad.  I actually with is was more like a mac (GASP!) and it just had two finger scroll - mayber there is a hack.

long term, 20$ to boost the ram to 1.5 gb (max MB supports) and to a 32GB SS HD wiht 90MB read and 55MB write a second may be intersting.  I'm not in too big of a rush.  Really only thing it's missing is bluetooth and a tv tuner.  I've even got wireless mice and keyboard sets already that work just great (usb) and the tiny usb mouse that came with it works great.

specs AOA150-1555 black chasis

Saturday, March 21, 2009

mechanical > chemical

I love having guests, it forces you to get the place in order and presentable! it really is a good thing, or i'd revert to my slobish ways like a college student.

I was put on bathroom detail.. i'm sure it was so I would be forced to come up with a solution to the hardwater ring. they sell all kinds of junk for this in the store. wimpy little things, and harsh chemicals that NEVER EVER work. I believe the only intent is to poison the family cat, and to challenge you to surviving chlorine fumes while cleaning.

I devised my own solution - the electrical engineers toilet brush. ok.. it really is more a mechanical solution, but since i'm an electrical engineer i get to take a little credit. I gave my wife a hard time (a chemist) that today... mechanical is greater than chemical.

Friday, March 20, 2009

sci fi = syfy

yeah, I didn't make that up.

the press release announcing the change confirms that SyFy is "phonetically identical" to Sci-Fi. Honestly, that was actually pointed out.

nerd name

head on over to the nerd name generator my favorite is so far from my bro - k1h = Guido, the Wii Collector

recession central

My employer let 25% of the workforce go today in the classical way. take the management team send them out to the effected employees at 9am on a friday, tell them to put their crap in a box and walk them to their car. very few in the business had any advanced warning, and those in the know were guessing a few people, maybe 5 tops. but almost 20 employees?!!!!! nice..

it happened so fast I only got to say good by to a few.

welcome to the recession.

I'm glad to say I was not effected and thats the scary part. maybe my number is up next friday? I waited for my boss to say something reassuring to me, and give me some hope about my continued employeement, but his reply was a little weak.

bottom line, i'm glad to have a job, and so should all of you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


kevs little post on the OPOC engine (from the 50's look it up) got me to again wonder why VW keeps lying about their W engines. turns out I just misunderstood how they were put together. not quite as cool as the OPOC, but really nice writeup of how the VR6 technology was developed.

see a straight 4, and how it results in an offset 6 in a single block. genius.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

tire fire

We went and watched a fire burn a few blocks from the house for our saturday night activity. We presume it was a tire shop, cause the fire was so black. the fire got way huge, probably 30-40 foot flames but by then the battery was dead in the camera, so these shots from earlier in the fire will have to hold you 'all over until some better ones come out in the paper.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Big Buck Bunny

I know I need a new video card when my Geforce2-MX-64meg just can't render streaming HD. now thats so sad. you to can test your video card with this entertaining little short animation... its funny, you'll like it.

Big Buck Bunny from Blender Foundation on Vimeo.

Friday, February 27, 2009

magic / more magic switch

This is a nice little tale about a magic switch. the EE side of me really enjoyed it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


you can watch the 'traveling buddy' worm on hulu jonah

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


how many of you would have passed your 8th grade civics exam in 1954 if it had looked like this? I know I wouldn't have.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

euro coin

read about its creation here

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Embedding Fonts in PDF using

i am at a workplace where i can afford to use a non-mainstream product for things that i want to do. because, well i don't get paid enough to tow the line to standardization and i have enough power to control the destiny of my job to some extent.  one of the products that i choose to use is for my word processing needs (for small documents, large or complicated documents get LaTeX).  i still use excel and powerpoint because well excell rocks and powerpoint doesn't but at least powerpoint works really well with the tablet.

but back to writer.  last week i wrote a lab for organic chemistry that taught students to draw chemical structures and also to embed them in microsoft word.  i wrote the lab in because it is so much easier to control various things like outline format and picture layout in  one thing i didn't anticipate is that embedding the drawings in writer and then exporting to pdf meant that the fonts in the drawings were still fonts in the pdf.  this is a good thing in many ways probably but it had one unintended consequence.  one student opened up the pdf and printed it (good thing) but in the process some piece of equipment (either computer or printer) didn't have the symbol font.  (i know... what doesn't have the symbol font?) so my letter pi curiously turned into a q (not sure what alternate font it chose). so i went looking for how to embed all the fonts in a pdf and yup it is there. writer does rock.  so the way to do it and i'll probably do it with all pdf files that i post from now on given the variability in people's computers, is when you click on export to pdf it pops up a menu.  one option is PDF/A-1. this is an archive format that anticipates that someday everyone will have different fonts so it forces the fonts to embed.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

gps coordinates from google maps

it looks like you can get google maps to tell you the GPS coordinates of a location. just center it on the page, and then put the following in the address bar and hit enter.


I found it over on

Monday, January 05, 2009


did you guys see that the device driver that crashed the zune 30s was posted over on the driver was only mildly interesting, but I do like the context highlighting.

Friday, January 02, 2009

script language performance

There was a study done in 2003 to test the 'efficiency' of scripting languages. efficiency in terms of program execution speed, time to write the program, etc. the study, a tad informal, is still very interesting and concludes that since the number of lines of code a person can write efficiently is independent of the language, the denser script languages can be more optimal and depending on the task, the performance hit (speed of execution) can be small enough it really doesn't matter.