Saturday, April 27, 2013

Grungy Saturday Links

Here's a few things that caught my eye this week...

So I saw this review of CREE light bulbs which are a LED based light rather than CFC and found it intriguing. 10 year life, duplicating incandescent without the performance and environmental aspects of CFC make them tempting to give a try. We bought some CFCs a while back and I was disgusted by them and eventually got rid of them. With the intrusive and colossally stupid congressional mandated demise of the incandescent, this seems like a good replacement.

BeagleBoard now has come out with a contender for the RasberryPi in the $45 range. This looks interesting. My company uses BeagleBoards for their Linux device driver class so they are fairly bulletproof. This board is definitely on my list of things to get and play with.

So this study of 'roundabouts' shows that they are a good alternative to stop lights. Well duh! My objections are twofold. First, it's a 'traffic circle' not a roundabout! We are in America not the UK. The first time I saw them called 'roundabout' was on my TomTom GPS. It irritated me then and it irritates me now. That aside, I think it's just funny they call a trunk a 'boot' and a car hood a 'bonnet'. The second issue is while they are generally smoother to go through, redesigning and rebuilding intersections to use them is prohibitively expensive, so this is of no real practical use for 99.99% of the roads in the US.

Finally, this stands on its own (men reacting like, well men - no apology necessary):

Friday, April 26, 2013

Feel Good Story of the Week

Via Instapundit, Female sailor beats up drunk <religion not specified> Dubai bus driver that tried to rape her. He was charged with 'drinking illegally'...

Monday, April 22, 2013


Yea! Orbital finally got Antares off and Wallops Island actually working! Course, the part that I spent the last year testing and verifying was 'simulated', but still it's good to know they are finally moving tangibly in a forward direction.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Biased Nothings
So I had some time on my hands this morning, so I saw a blurb on Instapundit about an article about a HuffPost article about a kid who ended up in the hospital because of an allergy to the AXE body spray. For the record, what this is really about is a school principal asking parents to not let their kids wear deodorant to school.  Go Goth! the irony writes itself...

What adds another dimension of mirth to this nonsense is the feminist take on this by the article linked by Instapundit. Let's deconstruct that a bit. First there is the title:

Axe Body Spray Is Destroying Lives, Not Helping Men Get Laid
I am thinking that going to the hospital for a allergic reaction is hardly 'Destroying Lives'. As for 'not helping men get laid', i'd say that is a pretty subjective observation since there is nothing in any of this article, the HuffPost article, or even the root article that addresses that particular aspect. I suspect the esteemed author failed to interview even one teenage male at in the PA school as to the efficacy of AXE body spray and getting laid. After a misleading and inaccurate attempt to establish a factual basis for that title, there was this:
If this were five years ago, I’d exclaim, “Oh snap!”
Huh? I got kinda tired of the 'Oh Snap' thing quite a while back. 'House' is a dead series - get over it. That being said, I honestly did not understand how the preceding paragraphs were worth of a 'Snap'. Reading on, I came to an understanding of the writers point (the only <almost> clearly written sentence in the article):
a company that prides itself on such overt sexuality has created something that actually put someone in the hospital
 Ah - I see now. Since they sell their product in, what I must admit, is a slightly amusing nod to women being attracted to men, it is only right and just that they now will be pilloried for the faulty product sending some poor teen to the hospital, because, you know, acknowledging sexy is just bad. Thank God they are going to be sued out of existence.  Er. except they are not. There is no legal action pending, there is no condemnation of the specific product from anyone noted in the originating article, and the company is noted as responsibly 'looking into' the allergic reaction.

The article ends with this missive:
It’s totally going to fly off the shelves
 I am thinking the incident, the HuffPost article, and this one will have an effect on the product sales in the same way that M&M sales plummeted when reliable sources indicated that 'green M&Ms make you pregnant'.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Well good...

So they shot and killed one of the guys that did the Boston bombing, and are hunting down the the other one. I woke up way too early this morning and listened to the over-hyped reporters taking about the happenings at MIT and Watertown MA. From the last time I listened (around 6:30am) it was clear that a campus cop was killed in his car either before or during the time the two were trying to rob a 7-11, then they car jacked a guy (who was safely kicked out of the car after riding with them for 30 minutes), then finally, they were apparently cornered and got in a firefight with all the cops that were around, which included a transit cop who got critically injured. Somehow in this firefight, the second guy got away. The reaction to this was for the cops to shut the whole Boston area down and start busing people out of the immediate area because, this being MA and a Boston suburb, none of the citizens have the ability to defend themselves against this mad dog. Literally a wolf among sheep.

Just a couple of impressions here. The first thing that bugged me is how the reporters kept saying the Boston bombing is SOLVED! I would say that even if both suspects were on a coroner's table, this bombing is far from solved. The more interesting and vital question is who they were, who helped them, and what other 'cells' may be out there if they are not just a 'isolated' pair of sickos? There is almost nothing 'solved' here. The second thing that got to me is the almost anticipatory media reaction to their capture / killing. If there are any other players out there, this will only spur them on. What is more worrisome is if there were many more incidents like this one, there is a real potential for law enforcement being overwhelmed. Couple that with the media's over-hyped reporting quickly overwhelming their ability to perform their basic public safety role, and you have a recipe for chaos.

On a personal note, it now seems I have averted my person crisis for at least a few months. I will use that time to attempt to get my head out of my posterior and put some contingency planning in effect to avoid getting blind sided this way again. No - I still am not ready to talk about it here...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Even more hiatus

While I deal with a personal crisis - that I will talk about here in due time... Just one of those things that people face from time to time, just this time it reached out and kicked me in the teeth... I hope to be back on an even keel by the weekend..

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thirsty Thursdays...

First up in the modern angle to the old Baretta quote "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time". In this case, it's "Don't do the crime if you can't spell". It is really a sad state of affairs if your average bank robber is not literate enough to to write a simple note saying ''This is a robbery". Right.. I know these guys are probably some tweakers looking for money for their next fix, but it is really sad to think that the worst of society is that bad off.

So the post office is not going to stop Saturday deliveries (In August) after all due to sequestration. The interesting take on this is that the USPS is claiming that they are going to be insolvent, but Congress explicitly kept them from addressing that insolvency by cutting hours. At the end of the statement they said they would go back to their unions and ask for some relief. good luck with that. So what will happen when they run out of money? Will they be allowed to declare bankruptcy and get legal relief from their unions? Nope. I am guessing congress will just pass another 'temporary' bill and life will go on... at least for a while. I am thinking that I would be better off just taking the mailbox down and picking up my mail from the post office as there is very little I get in the mail anymore that matters.

So NASA and the current administration have put forth a plan to capture an asteroid.  I have always been a fan of NASA doing the heavy lifting on the theory of space flight. There is much that that they do in that realm that is invaluable and necessary. However, I am thinking that their structure has moved to the point that they are bureaucratically incapable of pulling off something this technically challenging. To capture a asteroid, you need dynamic, adaptable management structure. The kind you find in commercial world. Perhaps if they contract out the meat of this and get out of the way (they way they did with CRS and SpaceX) maybe it will work. Otherwise, it's just another hole to throw taxpayer money into.

It was bound to come to this. With budget being cut, real cops overburdened by regulations and unions, the only thing left is for communities to band together and hire their own cops. I don't see this happening where I am yet, or in rural communities, but there's a reason that 'gated communities' are becoming the rule in that sweet spot between the burnt out urban and traditional suburban domiciles.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Stuff you don't know

Often we just don't ask about things because we don't want to look stupid. Here's a primer on the acronyms that are thrown around about TVs

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Stuff & Nonsense

Stuff I had time to look at today.. first up MAN CARD REVOKED
I don't care how 'convenient' it is, this is just going full Emo. It is I think the 2013 version of a fanny pack.
So PETA is going to harass hunters with drones?  My first thought on reading that, was to wonder how in world could the FAA justify giving them a license to fly their own drone the perform what is essentially an illegal act? Of course, in this corrupt administration, such a permit would probably be just business as usual and it will be up to the States to enforce their own laws...


Eating guinea pigs is just gross. It's not that I am against eating rodents, but any animal that has been domesticated as a pet should never be eaten - end of story. I do freely admit to having eaten squirrel...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weekend Wacky Link Dump

It's been a pretty full week, so I didn't have time to gather up too many links for your amusement  Be that as it may, here is my collection...

First up is this that talks about something that is perhaps new in the Islamic world - Halal Easter Eggs and Cat Food. Easter eggs I can kinda understand. I mean really - everybody likes candy, and if you are strictly religious then you want to know the candy that you give your children is not been soaked in pig's blood. Am I right? I am a little baffled why it would be ok for your kids to eat it when they have to remove wrappers that talk about 'Happy Easter', a Christian celebration, but who am I to judge?

That does raise the question of just how much of the whole halal thing is a scam to funnel money back to some possibly questionable groups. The market does seem to be ripe for that sort of thing. A somewhat deeper issue is why it would matter that a cat eats halal food. I found a possible explanation here:

Firstly, there is of course no obligation in Islam on a cat to eat Halal food. The obligation is on Muslims themselves not to handle haram foodstuffs or feed it to either other humans or indeed animals. Muslims would also not willingly want to store haram food in their house.
So the idea is that just being around the 'haram' food is bad. Ok - it seems a little silly to me, but again - who am i to judge. That made me wonder, if the Muslims went this far with their food taboos, would that other religious group that also had strict food taboos likewise have such - er - entrepreneurial aspirations? While there were a few kosher cat food companies, this is the explanation that I found:

In general, the laws of kosher are for (Jewish) humans, not for animals.
There are, however, two sorts of non-kosher food that we are not only forbidden to eat, but we are also forbidden to derive any benefit from...
So the distinction here is not that contact is bad, but benefit from the food itself is bad, even if it is only a benefit of feeding the family pet.  Compare and contrast...

I saw this about Obama making a speech in front of a Chinese made crane via Instapundit. So I got curious  I looked up the company and found them here. Impressive company. You know when I think about China, I think of billions of poor people eeking out an existence in rice paddies. That is just not a true representation of what China really is. Look at Shanghai where the above company is located, they have a bustling economy and even their own stock market - more closely related to what Japan used to be than austere Maoist society that I had imagined. It doesn't mean they are a free people, it just means they are perhaps more ruthlessly efficient and ambitious than I could have conceived. A thing to keep in mind considering how much of the US debt they hold.

“He ended up with a verbal warning and an explanation of the safety factors for riding without a helmet.”
Seriously? The fact that the rabbit head had to be really restricting his vision didn't matter? They guy has a freaking side car, yet he could not take the head off and put it there? I smell a conspiracy here!


So the parents of Trayvon cashed in and got a million dollar settlement from the homeowners association? How is the homeowners association complicit in his death? Or are they the only ones with insurance money to go after? This truly is insane..


So the government is going to do away with Butt? Really? I be damned if I will change. I mean, I will still be saying - "Gotta check my butt", and "going down to the store to grab some butt", and "check out this butt!". Boston pork roast my a$$!

Just Another Pretty Protocol

So where i've been all week? I was attending some internal training on IPv6. The awesome company I work for does some terrific training on all manner of of things, and this was a 'dry run' for one of their new offerings, and a chance for me to fill in some knowledge gaps. If you want to know more about them e-mail me.

To bring the non-techies here up to speed. There are all these wonderful bits and bytes whirling around this thing we call the internet. The way all the machines that pass them around know how to get all those cat pictures (and porn!) to you is by the addresses contained in those groups of bytes (called packets). The definition of what those addresses are is known as a protocol. To greatly simplify, every PC, android phone, and MAC on the internet has an address - that is how the other machines on the internet know how to get stuff to you. Back when I had no grey in my hair, the industry agreed that such addresses would look like this:
Each number between the dots there can take a value of 0-255, ignoring 'special' numbers like 0, or 254-255, that means that all the possible addresses encompass the range from: -
That leaves the range of possible addresses of something like 4,294,967,296 unique addresses using this protocol call 'IPv4' or Internet Protocol version 4. This sounds good, except when you take into account that there are a few ranges of 'special' addresses that are unusable or reserved for special uses. Count in the explosion of internet ready devices, and you can see that in today's world, all those addresses will soon be used up. In fact, Around April 15, 2011 the last of the addresses were given to the sub-level  agencies that dole them out to the internet providers and other interested parties.

Now one solution to this problem is the ad-hoc one that is already happening. Most people reach the internet from behind a router (the box with all the pretty blinking lights). When you connect, that router gives you an internet address to work with. No, that address is not one of the 4 billion mentioned above. It is an address for just your local network. When you send stuff to the internet, your router will wrap your packets in another source address that it gets from your provider. The web site at the other end will use the router's address in the wrapped packet to know how to send you the packets that make up all those lovely cat pictures (or porn!). This wrapping process is known as NAT or Network Address Translation.

Since internet address are getting scarce  and frankly you are just not paying your provider enough money, chances are the address your router is getting is probably not one of the sacred 4 billion either. Instead, your router is probably getting a NAT address for a subnet that the provider creates for you and your neighbors. This method of wrapping an address in another address, itself wrapped in another address, can proceed up many levels, until you get to a top level router somewhere in the bowels of your provider's infrastructure that is one of the worthy few with a 'real' address.

So, you are still getting your cat pictures (and porn!) and will get them for the foreseeable future with your internet provider taking care of it - what's the problem? The problem is, that every time a NAT is wrapped, the ensuing packet takes up space on the internet, slowing everything down. The second problem is the routers at every level have to do this wrapping and unwraping for every packet that passes through them. Even though these routers are highly optimized to do this, it takes time. Finally, The way NAT is structured, the routers can only handle a certain number of clients behind them. After that, certain parts of the protocol become 'shared' among the pool of users, and the packets (and cat pictures / porn!) slow down, or streams (like cat videos) just get dropped and have to restart.

The solution to this problem is a new protocol called IPv6. This is not really that new a protocol. The pointy heads had it defined back in 1996. What is new is that the industry is starting to roll out this new protocol now. Source providers like Google and Microsoft are starting to stand up servers using this new protocol, and the people that build the infrastructure are also starting to roll out live hardware using the new protocol. In fact, chances are that the router that you are currently using (as well as your current PC) has hardware that supports IPv6. This protocol uses 128 bits of address. To illustrate the difference, an IPv6 address looks like this:
 That means that problem of address exhaustion now goes away for the foreseeable future. This is illustrated by this IPv6 Exhaustion Counter. The problem with the rollout is similar to the Y2K problem - it's the software. The complexity of how to make the transition mostly transparent to end users (both corporate and private) is non-trivial. As you would expect, that is what the pay us the big bucks for, and I will leave the discussion of that for another time.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Short Hiatus

Doing training at work so no time for much else. Will hopefully have some time this weekend for free ice cream...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Not so Chavez

So the powers that be at Google decided to just flip off millions of Christian users on the eve of their most important religious holiday and put a thug as the fist thing they see on Easter? Angry about that and not sure what to do about it?

Here's what i'm doing. Since I am slow to make any changes, i'll admit that I haven't really given Bing a try, especially since it has matured. So this finger in my eye gave me sufficient motivation to change my home page from Google to Bing. In Chrome it's really not that hard. There are three places to do this. First you select the options menu in the top right corner, then select 'Settings'. Scroll down to the "Appearance' heading, and where it says 'Show Home Button', click the 'change' button and put in ''. The other place to change is the 'On Startup' heading, where it says 'open a specific page or set of pages' and select 'change', delete the default page that is there and again replace it with bing. Finally, by the 'Search' heading, select the pull down and pick 'Bing' as the search engine. This way when you type a query on the address or 'omni' box, it will go to Bing.

I'll see how that works for a while. Yes, I switched from Firefox to Chrome a while back, and enjoy the speed increase I got from that, but I will probably not change web browsers for now. I will start looking for alternatives and note what I find here. I obviously am using blogger, but I will be looking for some alternatives for that too, though the chore of moving all this content is daunting.

The second thing I did was to thank Google for giving me the motivation to change. It takes a bit of searching to find someplace where you can send feedback to Google as the don't really have a consumer complaint email. They do however have this place where you can give feedback on their web search tool. My guess is they are about to receive an unprecedented amount of feedback. Here's what I sent:
This seems the only place to send you feedback about your web search page, so here you go. I have to thank you for putting the Chavez link on your default search page. That obvious and offensive slur to Christians on our most important holy day gave me the motivation to try Bing as my default search engine. Thank You
The offending Google Doodle which triggered all this can be seen here. To paraphrase Ed Driscoll - they're 'special'. Thanks Rodger for pointing out the need for this reference.