Obama's Immigration Order To Give Tech Industry Some, Leave 'Em Wanting More

ackthpt Re:I bet Infosys and Tata are dancing in the stree (183 comments)

Seriously - the two biggest (ab)users of the H1B system are Tata and Infosys... and they're both Indian corporations.

{rant}I guess in fairness to Obama, he managed to screw both blue and white-collar workers in one fell swoop...{/rant}

Anyone know the lobbyist money trail for this bit of it, or can I safely guess Microsoft, Apple, Google, Intel, etc... ?

Hard time following this. The potential 4.7 million people contribute billions to the economy and without them we'd tank again. I heard the same screwing the american worker and milking entitlements myths repeatedly. It puts me in mind of what one commentator once referred to as "Factoids", arguments which have no truth at all, but people repeat over and over in hopes they will become true. Well, some of that is working, because some people are believing these tales as truths and would happily cut their own throats (mustard and onion extra) to act on these fantasies.

Tech, agriculture, service industries, foot services, etc. all benefit from the well behaved illegals. And we, the people who buy goods or services from these people benefit, as well. It's a mystery to me that so much untruth is accepted these days. I figure it began with Rush Limbaugh and is now carried out by hundreds of others since, who wind up people for profit. Nothing seems to sell like telling people what they need to fear and whom they need to loath.

3 days ago

Steve Ballmer Authored the Windows 3.1 Ctrl-Alt-Del Screen

ackthpt Anthill Inside (169 comments)


about 3 months ago

Did you use technology to get into mischief as a child?

ackthpt I was the very embodiment of Dennis the Menace (231 comments)

Frogs, mud, slingshots, wrong words and awkward times, etc.

All part of being a kid.

Now I'm older I realize more fully the grief I gave my parents.

about 3 months ago

How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

ackthpt Re:so, I'm in the more than 8 yrs ago camp (391 comments)

I generally will upgrade some component(s) over that time frame. I built my first desktop back about 2000, using a Lian-Li case, which I still use (modular aluminum) the PSU has been upgraded 3 times, mobo 3 times, CPU 4 times, memory several times, video several times, storage several times and the OS twice.

Originally a 32 bit system with 256MB RAM and 1 80 GB HDD, it's now 64 bit, 6 cores, 32GB RAM, 256 GB SSD boot drive and 6TB RAID 5. Still screwing around with cheap video cards as I can do everything I need with a $49 card.

about 4 months ago

The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000

ackthpt Re:It was pretty cool in its day (192 comments)

I still like mine. It's got some cool stuff on it, available on no other platform and one of the biggest pluses is I don't go on the internet with it, so that distraction and annoyance isn't an issue. :)

about 4 months ago
top Thinks Depictions of Pi Are Protected Intellectual Property

ackthpt Re:Prior Art Exists. (264 comments)

Actually, the greeks invented the symbol being held as IP.

Well, the Greek alphabet is based on the Phoenecian alphabet, so possibly even older than that.

Nearly as old as Beer?!? That's awesome.

about 6 months ago
top Thinks Depictions of Pi Are Protected Intellectual Property

ackthpt Re:Prior Art Exists. (264 comments)

No, No: somebody should do a little research on this Ingrisano character and let him know that we know where his kids go to school and the route his wife takes to work (if no wife or kids, mom and dad would do, too).

Then smile.

Scum like this deserve no better

From the pictures you can find I dunno if he's likely to have a wife or kids...

about 6 months ago
top Thinks Depictions of Pi Are Protected Intellectual Property

ackthpt Re:Prior Art Exists. (264 comments)

Paul desperately needs to be kicked into a large, deep pit while someone shouts, "This is Sparta" or suchlike.

about 6 months ago
top Thinks Depictions of Pi Are Protected Intellectual Property

ackthpt Re:Prior Art Exists. (264 comments)

Greeks invented the Pi character, it's in their alpha bet and much older than Paul the Trademark Troll.

about 6 months ago

In First American TV Interview, Snowden Talks Accountability and Patriotism

ackthpt Re:How does one determine the difference... (389 comments)

Shouldn't be much of a problem here. Snowden's already shown all the cards the NSA didn't want anyone to see.

about 6 months ago

US To Charge Chinese Military Employees With Hacking

ackthpt Re:Oblig frosty (225 comments)

I'm more disposed to this particular view...

You put your secrets on computers which are exposed to the internet? STUPID!

I can't blame the Chinese or the Russians or some school kid in Vallejo, California, for prying in and having a look around, if companies are so damn stupid about erecting barriers between Trade Secrets hosting systems and an outside world. How about building an intranet, encrypting resources, creating VPNs which require a key, employing something like Kerberos to verify some user on a workstation should have access?

All down to laziness and paying the executives too much for their massive blind spots.

about 6 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Tell a Compelling Story About IT Infrastructure?

ackthpt Re:Save your breath. (192 comments)

I usually start by telling where I've buried the bodies.

about 7 months ago

UK ISPs To Send Non-Threatening Letters To Pirates

ackthpt Re:Avast! (93 comments)

Nope. Your not cynical enough.
Did you not catch the part "alerting users to legal alternatives"

This will be a whole new stream of advertising revenue for the ISPs.

I .. I suddenly have the urge to buy all the soundtrack music played over the tannoy at Tesco.

about 7 months ago

Court: Oracle Entitled To Copyright Protection Over Some Parts of Java

ackthpt Re:lesson to be learnt (303 comments)

There is a lesson to be learnt here: Never depend on programming language, which is not under appropriate free license.

Apache Foundation, do you hear me?

Once the ballyhoo and excitement at the birth of a new language have subsided it is quickly supplanted by the motherly urge to control and protect.

about 7 months ago

UK ISPs To Send Non-Threatening Letters To Pirates

ackthpt Re:Avast! (93 comments)

More like...

Dear Valued Customer,

Please try not to be noticed, but do continue to use a lot of bandwidth to protect our revenue stream.

There's a good chap.

Your ISP

PS If you do get noticed we, most regrettably, shall be forced into the position of writing a stern letter to your mum.

about 7 months ago

Netcraft: Microsoft Closing In On Apache Web Server Lead

ackthpt Numbers do not reflect quality (102 comments)

I once lived in the heart of the US auto industry. Anonymous tin-box Chevy and Ford cars ruled the roads by shear numbers. Not many people remember these high volume cars, the Vega, Maverick, Nova, Fairlane, Granada, Chevette. And the Pinto is only well remembered due to an engineering oversight which made it a mobile crematorium.

So Microsoft has higher numbers, yeah? So who is using these things? Quick and dirty websites or real e-commerce, media, commercial/industrial?

Numbers alone aren't very meaningful.

We demand, lies, damned lies and statistics

about 7 months ago

Apple Can Extract Texts, Photos, Contacts From Locked iPhones

ackthpt Re:alt: guys who built iphone know how it works. (202 comments)

MS on the other hand, really don't know how to build a filemanager for their phone, so they gave up.

I'm honestly surprised when someone on MSDN knows the precise reason something works or does not, their own code probably looks like muck to them, too. Keep going through these exercises of "try this..."

OT - I'm not surprised. Is anyone surprise? Apple is the private sector equivalent to the NSA.

about 7 months ago

The Strange Death of Comet Ison

ackthpt Second most spectacular Comet Death (49 comments)

First, of course was Shoemaker-Levy 9.

And we're not counting people who don tracksuits, Nikes and scarf deadly pudding whenever they see a big comet scooting by.

about 7 months ago

Favorite Star Wars Movie?

ackthpt Re:Get off my effin lawn! (457 comments)

When I saw Star Wars in the theatre when it was released, it was call Star Wars. None of this "New hope" BS. And it was the one where Han shot first!

And lets also not forget Kurosawa's "Hidden Fortress" (which I never saw in theaters but I *have* seen)

So get off my lawn you young whippersnappers.

When I watched Star Wars, the first film, I was perched in a seat with a massive bucket of popcorn in my lap (as I wasn't very tall, yet, it nearly obscured the screen, such was my love of popcorn.) When that Imperial Star Destroyer cruised "overhead" the piece of popcorn on my tongue rolled out and fell back into the bucket. I was floored by the visual effect. I think I scarcely touched the popcorn throughout the rest of the film and was surprised to find I had a bucket of popcorn at the end. Gripping.

It hasn't aged well, though. Characters, Luke and Han among them, have a decided 70s look about them (the Dry Look) other things, like computer displays look pathetic next to what my mobile phone can do. A keener eye shows how slapped together some things look upon later viewings, as well. Lucas' addition of CGI in later DVD releases are a poor fit for some of the gritty shot locations, such as the dock on Tatooine.

Viewed through the lens of my memory, I still love it and recall the thrill of watching it the first time and standing in my home drive, staring upward, trying to visualize how an Imperial Star Destroyer would look in the sky above our house.

about 7 months ago



Surfing Robot Tracks Great White Sharks

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "A network of fixed buoys and solar powered surfing robots called Wave Gliders are set to track Great White Sharks in the Pacific, off the California coast near San Francisco, between Monterey Bay and Tomales Point.

The self-propelled wave and solar-powered glider is part of a new network of data receivers on fixed buoys will pick up signals from acoustic tags on animals passing within 1,000 feet and transmit the data to a research team on shore, led by Stanford University Marine Sciences Prof. Barbara Block.

Related to the project is "Shark Net," a new iOS app available free of charge at the Apple app store, was created by Dr. Block and her colleagues with developers from TOPP, EarthNC and Gaia GPS to enable a direct, personal connection between the public and wild marine animals and to raise public awareness of the ocean wilderness teeming with life just off North America's West Coast."

Link to Original Source

$6 Trillion in Fake US Treasury Bonds Siezed in Switzerland

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "If you're going to steal, steal big, right? Italian anti-mafia prosecutors announce seizure of $6 trillion of allegedly fake U.S. Treasury bonds, an amount that's almost half of the U.S.'s public debt. The probe focusing upon money laundering has also include financial dealings alleged to direct money to Nigerian sources to buy plutonium. Sound like a movie plot, yet? $6 Trillion, that's a lot of lettuce."
Link to Original Source

Eolas 906 Patent struck by Tyler, Texas jury

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes ""All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing" — Edmund Burke. Sir Tim Berners-Lee did something — he traveled to the courtroom in East Texas to give his testimony on how, if upheld, the Eolas Technologies & University of California patent on Web Interactivity if upheld could prove to be a major threat to the Internet as it's known today. The Jury deliberated only a few hours before invalidating the patent in question. In a victory Tweet Berners-Lee said, "Texas jury agreed Eolas 906 patent invalid. Good thing too!" Google, Amazon, Apple, Adobe and a host of other companies, with representatives present, must have given a Texas-size sigh of relief."
Link to Original Source

The Light Stuff

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  about 3 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "A team of engineers claims to have created the world's lightest material. Made from a lattice of hollow metallic tubes, the material is less dense than aerogels and metallic foams, yet retains strength due to the small size of the lattice structure. Projected as useful for insullation, batteries electrodes, sound dampening."
Link to Original Source

Salman Rushdie wins name battle with Facebook

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  about 3 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "Salman Rushdie, no stranger to controversy, is well known throught the world by his middle name, Salman. When the Facebook police suspected the Salman Rushdie on Facebook was a pretender, they closed his account. Salman contacted them with a passport photo as proof of his identity, alas it also showed his actual first name Ahmed, which the reactivated the account with. Unhappy with being stripped of his identity, Salman Rushdie took his case to the twitterverse. Eventually prevailing."
Link to Original Source

AT&T Terminating iPhone Pay-As-You-Go

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "Users of the popular iPhone are now receiving text messages informing them they will need to upgrade to 2 year commitment plans. According to PC World "AT&T currently offers two types of prepaid plans: GoPhone, its "pay as you go" plan, and Pick Your Plan, its "prepay once a month" plan. AT&T's statement says that GoPhone will not be available for either original iPhones or iPhone 3Gs; Pick Your Plan will only continue to work for existing subscribers using the original iPhone, as long as they have an unlimited data plan. Current Pick Your Plan users who don't have an unlimited data plan will be asked to add one. iPhone 3G users are not eligible for Pick Your Plan.

According to Erica Sadun at TUAW, who's been investigating this issue, all pay-as-you-go users are being strongly encouraged to sign up for a postpaid plan, which includes making a new two-year commitment."

Looks like I'll be waiting a year for the Apple/AT&T agreement to time-out. I'll not do a two year agreement again, ever."

Terry Pratchett Knighted

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "Headlines have been popping up on Google News, again abruptly yanked from news servers, such as Times Online and International Herald Tribune. A Google News snippet for The Times Online states, "Terry Pratchett declared himself "flabbergasted" to receive a knighthood as he led a group of writers, actors and performers honoured today." The Discworld author and stalwart adversary of Alzheimers Disease has been a member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for Services to Literature since 1998. He will be entering the new year as Knight Commander. Well done and Oook, Sir Terry."

NASA Ikhana Assists SoCal Firefighters

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  about 7 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "Discovery News has a nifty article on NASA's Ikhana drone. Ikhana designed for suborbital earth sciences missions, may be fitted out with a variety of sensors, the same as deployed on satellites to study atmospheric conditions up close. Wednesday, Ikhana took off from Edwards Air Force Base for a 10 hour mission to observe forest fires, scanning the terrain from 23-25,000 feet using a variety of sensors for visible and IR light. Able to remain aloft for up to 30 continuous hours without break and view during night, Ikhana serves up information in minutes, which required hours by manned aircraft observation. "The data is processed on the aircraft, up-linked to a satellite and then downloaded to a ground station. From there it's delivered to a computer server at NASA Ames. The imagery is then combined with Google Earth maps. Command center personnel can view the images on their computer screens and then delegate local firefighters accordingly." Now how cool is that?"

Favourite phrase for Talk Like a Pirate Day

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "Avast, here be a poll suggestion for the 19th of September (Talk like a pirate day)
  • Arrr!
  • Shiver me timbers!
  • Ahoy, maties!
  • Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
  • Avast thar ye scurvy dog!
  • Prepare to walk the plank!
  • Give us all yer booty!
  • The map is tattooed on CowboyNeal?!?

Death Knell for FASA Studio

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "It seems ages and indeed has been since I obtained an illigitmate game by a Ralph Reed called BattleMech, which ran on the Amiga. Ironically FASA, the holder to the rights of things BattleTech, MechWarrior, etc. objected to the games existance and it mysteriously vanished. Oddly, BattleMech was my gateway to FASA's BattleTech, the fiction (around 40 novels in my library,) the tabletop game and the computer games. Several years back FASA sold off the games (as FASA Interactive) to Microsoft, the tabletop games went to Wizkids FASA Interactive became FASA Studio and went through Shadowrun and MechWarrior title for Windows, Vista and XBox. Now comes news that FASA Studio is shut down. Where the game properties land is anyone's guess, though I expect them to languish. Someone needs to tell these people to turn out the lights and close the door."

Burning Seawater Made Possible

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "An Associated Press/Google article tells of a process discovered for burning hydrogen released from seawater using radio frequencies. I've been around long enough to hear of a few perpetual motion machines and mysterious black boxes which harvest energy from Earth's magnetic fields and I'm wondering if this really is just another one of these stories. From the article: "John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn." "Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, has held demonstrations at his State College lab to confirm his own observations." Sounds possible, but ultimately this means purification of seawater, the question of the machines efficiency (how much energy is put in to how much is taken out,) byproducts and, should the thing work out, will the world be overrun with vehicles and devices which consume more cheap energy?"

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 8 years ago

ackthpt (218170) writes "Following up on court actions regarding Take Two Interactive's game Bully, Miami-Dade County Judge Ronald Friedman has reviewed about 2 hours of footage from the game, using cheat codes to accelerate the process. After doing so he has decided the game can go ahead and be distributed in the State of Florida. From ars technica "Judge Friedman reportedly commented that the footage wasn't much different from what is seen on prime-time TV. While he didn't think he wanted his kids playing it, he found nothing in Bully to keep it from being sold to its intended audience." Jack Thompson, after early crowing of victory was to file a writ of mandamus with an appeals court, claiming he was denied due process."



The Good Slashkeeping Seal of Approval

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Coined this today. Sounds like a winner - an award for the coolest application of technology. Doesn't have to be useful, just very, very cool.


Even Caffeine Is Failing Me Now

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Who wants post caffeine withdrawals? Not me. So I drink watered down coffee. It only takes a small amount of caffeine to kick-start someone, anything after that is wasted and makes coming down off it that much more regrettable. I also like to sleep at night, not twitch and throw all my covers on the floor.

I'm tired. Bone tired. Caffeine can't do anything about that. Need to hit the hay earlier. Stop eating junk, too.

Gonna be a challenge though. Got an Android tablet today. Want to try all sorts of fun stuff. Install Apache and PHP on it. See if I can make it wireless server. That'd be killer fun.

Ah. But need sleep.

Decisions. Decisions.


Trapezium 6

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  about 7 years ago

[Here's a 2nd try, as the first attempt evidently went to bit heaven.]

Saturnday night I went out with other Santa Cruz Astronomy Club members to the Bonny Doon airfield. I live about 15 miles from the site and was a bit put off when upon unpacking found the power cord had left its storage compartment on my portable power pack. I'd been there before, leaving it home, but this time it appears well and truly lost. (Sunday I picked up a new cord at Radio Shack and used a tie-strip to secure it to the eq. mount.)

So muscling the LXD-75 10 inch SNT around was the order of the night. Not terrible, but it meant no tracking, which is the feature I depend upon most. Around midnight Orion cleared the trees and I swung the tube over to examine the Orion Nebula (M42), in Orion's sword. It's one of my favourite sights and this evening would be one of the best for viewing.

Early on I could easily make out the four brightest stars in Trapesium and continued to check up as Orion progressed higher. About 1:00 AM I was easily able to make out five stars, by 1:30 AM I was able to clearly see six, which is the full known compliment of blue stars in that stellar nursery. Cue massive geek astronomical excitement!

After a bit I swung the scope over to Fornax and Eridanus to scan for galaxies, which were in abundance. About 2:00 AM I was still wide awake, thanks to my 1L Sigg full of green tea, but knew I'd need to head home eventually or be the worse for it while unpacking and transporting all this wonderful dead weight back into the house. After returning home I was still pretty awake and enthusiastic enough to plan my viewing for the next week while downing some soup.

Sunday proved to be a difficult adjustment, even with the extra hour to sleep in.


Whine Country Safari

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 7 years ago

I've been living in California for just over 10 years. Prior to moving here I visited friends, Mark T. (game designer/producer who lived in Sacremento for a while before moving to the bay area then back to the midwest) and Paul Z. (Stanford grad and worked in silicon valley for a variety of network companies) and got a little look at the Napa county scene.

After moving to California in 1997 I made a few trips up to Napa and one Sonoma visit with Paul. On these trips we visited well known and lesser well known wineries. Generally the more 'successful' turned me off with all the clothing, kitsch and food related items they carried, along with some prices which defied my taste for their wines.

I'm no wine connoisseur, I simply know what I like and don't like. I have found inexpensive wines in the past I liked fine. They usually came from unpretentious rustic wine tasting rooms. I took a trip through the Russian River wine country on Sunday and revisited some of these places I had in the past to see what they had and if I could score a couple bottles of something decent for not much scratch. Shock. Rochioli, which has IMHO a good chardonnay which was $11 or $12 a bottle last time through was now up to $30 a bottle and had a book on the counter showing how fabulously their wines had been received at the White House. Oof. Time to go.

Around the corner is Hop Kiln, which had some decent reds the last time I visited was now selling all the merchandise lamented above and their wines had also gone up a lot. Bye.

Next to last visit of the day was Ridge/Lytton Springs. Reknowned for their Zinfandels, I recalled a couple very good bottles several years ago and thought we might visit their rustic steel pole barn, which was inhabited by several large wooden fermenters and a number of cats. Shock. All new building, fancy stuff all around. The Zins were still good, still reasonably priced, but it's obvious success has hit these places. Further someone mentioned how good a year it is supposed to be fore Pinot Noir. I don't know Pinot Noir from Guinness, but evidently the film Sideways branded the variety a hot property and novuea riche (or wannabes) were swarming around looking for it.

We elected to search for one of Paul's favourites, Rochambeau and found an empty lot. Looks like they're going to put in a spiff new tasting room etc. We'll see. Last visit on the road was Rabbit Ridge which featured some very good moderately priced wines. I wish them success, with moderation ;-)


Viral behaviour of Ideas and Deja Foobar

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 7 years ago

On Feb 14, 2002, to the best of my knowledge (and Google searching at the time) I coined the following from the All Your Base meme:

Rose are red
Violet are blue
All my base
Are belong to you

A variation I could find I had posted on the occasion of Rob Malda proposing in a most geekish fashion, using his own /. web site.

Now it seems to be everywhere, even on shirts at (I didn't think to submit it to them so haven't seen a penny of that.)

About 4 years ago I adopted my current sig.

A feeling of having made the same mistake before: Deja Foobar

It was common to refer to a programming error as a foobar in one place I worked, as they were usually the result of testing, rather than the older acronym fubar which I felt carried a stronger definition of erring.

The sig actually was born when I was reminiscing about Deja News, perhaps due to Google's revival of the Deja archives for Google Groups and coined the term deja foobar without particularly attaching it to anything. Eventually I would associate the term with the feeling of making the feeling of repeating programming mistake. And wanting a new, more original sig for my slashdot account made it such.

This is more easy to track than the AYB poem. I was almost immediately set upon by people pointing out I had it wrong and it should be fubar. As the original meaning was rather private I didn't care and shrugged off these "correction attempts" over the years. I recently wondered if anyone had picked up the sig and posted it anywhere.


Indeed it has been, spelled foobar and fubar. Some others have even gone so far as to use it in their sig as well. The number of matches is surprising and shows how far an original idea spreads. Both are found with the core idea of 'feeling of having made the same mistake before' Interesting. I should probably post it to before someone else nicks it. :o)

Google results for
Deja Foobar
Deja Fubar


Proto Boards!

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 7 years ago

So this MIT student walks through Logan (Boston, MA area) airfield terminal with a Proto Board on her jumper and the cops jump Her. Many that's lame, as lame as the half a fibre drum of nail trimmers I saw at an airport a few years ago. It doesn't smell like explosive, does it? I bet terrorists just laugh themselves sick at how jumpy they've made everyone. Like the british security agents who slaughtered the brazilian electrician.

Got me thinking about Proto Boards though. I was just thinking about getting a tiny one yesterday. I'm converting a webcam to an astro-imaging camera, by changing colour CCD to B/W CCD and adding some solid-state cooling to it. I've got a circuit board to make, but a small Proto Board would probably work as well and give me some flexibility the soldered PCB wouldn't. I'll have to see what sizes I can find.


ITLAPD as it were

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 7 years ago

A funny old fing. I got into the pirate character for all of my posts on the 19th of Sept., "arrrs" here, "avasts" there and such. A bit of mental gymnastics trying to fit it all together and try to contribute to discussion.

Oddly, most of my posts which were modded were modded Funny, not insightful or informative or even interesting. Oh a point here or there, but still 80%+ funny, though the content wasn't meant to be. I'm sure it'll all come out in a month when someone metamods these things and thinks 'wtf!?!' since they probably won't make the International Talk Like a Pirate Day connection.


Wind Scorpions/Sun Spiders

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 8 years ago Climbing the stairs at work I spy what looks like a VERY large spider, stranded between steps. I prod it with a pen and it proves to be very quick and agile, capable of leaping several inches. I empty a water bottle and catch it in the bottle. It's clearly pissed and adopts a threatening stance safely behind a few mills of plastic. It looks like it has 10 legs and has a pair of beaks rather than the usual aparatus. I quick search on google for 'spider 10 legs' brings up some promising results, family solifugid - commonly called Sun Spiders/Wind Scorpions. A little reading yields the information this is no true spider, but is an arachnid, somewhere between spiders and scorpions. After a bit more searching I find this site which is a pretty good read. I work in an area which is near-desert so this shouldn't be too surprising, but it's a new creature to me. About 20 years go, living in Michigan, which is frozen about half the year, I found something else which was quite a surprise, climing the wall of the bath, a pseudoscorpion. Tiny, but unmistakeable pincers. Neat stuff.


Well, Dang!

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 8 years ago Years ago I adopted the stance that "everyone has to be somewhere", when confronting a coincidence or chance meeting.

Robert Heinlein, an author I admired for a few of his works I read in high school, SIASL not among those, actually lived near where I do now. He and his wife had a house up Bonny Doon Road, near Santa Cruz, from 1967 to 1987. I've ridden past it countless times on my bicycle and never knew it. I suppose what's also an interesting coincidence is that as a member of the Santa Cruz Astronomy Club, I set up my telescope in a private airfield not far from that very house and marvel at the heavens not unlike I did his science fiction.

It's just kinda neat. That's all.


4 Times the Light

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 8 years ago

The ETX125 has got a workout already this year. Several times in the morning I've hauled it out before sunrise for a peek at Jupiter and I've gone up to the old airfield for a dew-shortened viewing. Also, set it up on a street corner downtown, where about 100 people viewed either Saturn or a portion of the Orion Nebula (M42) which was visible in city light.

Now I move up to a 10" newtonian, with 4 times the amount of light. It's a beast and I'll have to build a cradle to haul the OTA around it. The tripod alone is about 30 pounds, plus there are three 10 pound counterweights.

The ETX will still get around, thanks to its portability and quick setup, where the newtonian will be for those outings for which I have sufficient time, energy and desire for.


Hardware Failure

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 9 years ago After two years of struggle with my ATI RADEON AIW Pro 9800 video card, the fanciest features of which I've never got to use, it flaked out in a new direction. Vertical bars mapped from obviously in-use memory. I have all the up-to-date drivers and have even monkeyed with the AGP voltage, upping it to 1.7v and still it goes nuts from time to time.

Meanwhile my reading lamp has flaked out and isn't working and seems to be a wiring problem. Also, the left turn signal on my pickup is continuing to make the point there are more intermittancies in the wiring, after finding a faulty ground on a cross threaded stud for things, including the wipers.

Must be gremlins.


Another 35 Km

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 10 years ago Fog was heavy in the morning, traffic slow and I passed at least one accident. Stupid the way people drive in pea-soup without headlights. On the way home it was fog again, not as thick, but enough to slow traffic. It was clear around home and I'd actually made the return commute in fair time, with a quick change I could get a bike ride in.

I changed and was in full kit, with arm and leg warmers and out the door by eleven after six, not too shabby. The start of the ride went smoothly, escaping city traffic to the entrance of North Rodeo Gulch and I motor up the lower grades comfortably, getting legs and all else warmed up for the task ahead. I used to call this climb the Col du Merde, because the last steep bit was all suffering. It's about 9 Km to the first real percentages, just enough to warm up for some real work. I'm out of the saddle a bit and turning the pedals smoothly, wind in my face and the odd small fly in my eye or mouth, I spit them out and take a drink from my water bottle -- or bidon, recalling the road ahead and which gear to be in, depending on how I feel. I'm in the big ring and feeling strong. I'm in the small ring when the road turns more steeply upward.

The first turn isn't the steepest but it's the worst, in the transition from moderate to higher grades it's mostly mental, convince myself it's hard and it is. It climbs a short ways and becomes moderate again, just before a turn with a fifteen percent grade, it's short but can hurt if I've overcooked myself getting there. I drive up the middle of the road to where it flattens a bit again, sit down and take another sip of water, the last grade is coming and it's tough, it's where I know my form, good or bad. I push my pace and hit it at about ninety percent effort and roll up well. I approach a gated driveway where there's sometimes a dog. The dog isn't there, but it usually worries me because it barks, it's never chased, but I don't know it won't ever. It's much harder to outrun anything going uphill, particularly when you've been climbing for a while.

I crested the mountain with speed and power to spare, just in time to catch the dying embers of the day. Fog or marine layer often make for dramatic colors as is the case. Amber, magenta and silver, in streaks and ribbons fading into an inverted sea of azure.

I turn on the LED bike light and head down the dark back side. Nothing like fresh blacktop with no lines or markers in the dark. The descent on Mountain View is fast and bumpy and I try to remember where the particularly rough bits are. Rounding a curve a pickup comes up in the middle of the road and I nearly buy it into an eight foot ditch, but again skirt danger and make the way to Branciforte for the dash back to town. There's a 60's hotrod behind me grumbling about being behind a bicycle, but that's only because they caught up at the stop sign, on these roads a car like that couldn't follow a good cyclist and through the pitch I had flown.

I turn left and the car finally growls past me onto the darkening road. Out here the asphalt is pretty beat, tirebiter holes dot the shoulder of the road and I take it easy covering the stretch, a good time to check the light and catch a drink. Back on good pavement I wind it up and jet along the winding road toward town. Muscles not quite aching, lungs not quite burning, just below the threshold of pain and moving at an exhillerating pace. Swift, strong and sure, I carve through turns and over rises, a roller coaster has nothing on this thrill ride. One last gradient I strain up, maintaining velocity, catching the top as my quads protest in full flame then rocket down towards the stop as pedestrians dash across the road ahead with flashlights. What are they doing? Must be some pre-Halloween ritual or secret society thing. It takes all kinds to make Santa Cruz, as the bumper stickers say, "Keep Santa Cruz Weird"

Getting back into town is cause for more caution than required on the backroads, there are cars here, piloted by people who are in a rush to get somewhere. Home, store, bar, club meeting, running around with flashlights, whatever their mind is on and not some dude on a bicycle they have to grudgingly share the road with, trying not to hit, even if he's going the speed limit and obeying all the traffic signals. I usually take the lightest travelled route to the coast. Soquel at this hour and with this traffic is, in my humble opinion, asking for a trip to the the emergency room, court and months, if not years of physical therapy. I opt for Seabright and wind it up, going at the same rate as traffic. People seem eager to pass me, even though there's clearly a car just ahead of me and they'll have to wait at the same yellow, now red traffic light, for the full rotation anyway. Seems a few drivers like to get bicycles behind them and out of mind.

Across Murray I'm out of busy traffic I can take it easy again. The goal is not to get home in a sweat, that's what climbing the mountain and tearing down Branciforte are about, this part is about warming down and getting home in once piece. I leisurely coast around the harbor and onto the cliff drive, it's cake from here. Only one pickup on the road and they turn off and I can enjoy the luxury of the full street, noodling along and looking at the lights along the Monterey Bay. Stars are out and surfers are pretty much all home by now, Pleasure Point has a few dog walkers and others like me taking in the twilight.

Along Opal Cliff a figure with a shopping bag staggers in the middle of the road under a streetlight. I give her most of the road while passing. She calls out, "Please, sir!" in a pleading european voice. I slow and turn back, "Which way to 41st Avenue?" A moments thought, I know the roads well and were they go, but have difficulty remembering names, even a main artery which I go along on a daily basis. "It's back that way, toward the stop and go right, it is the quickest way there." A thank you and we're both on our way again. If I had my mountain bike I'd have offered her a ride, but the road bike isn't cut out for that duty and I'm not sure I have the skill to take a passenger while clipped in.

An hour and forty minutes later I roll down the alley behind home, unclip my left shoe, pull up behind my filthy pickup, dismount and stretch. I'm looking forward to a warm shower and dinner, I hope there's some warm water left, the kids in the back apartment are swimming in the shower again. Singing Culture Club and other hits from the eighties. They seem odd to say the least, but I wish they'd take it easy on the water.

I take my kit in the shower with me, giving it a rinse or good cleaning, depending upon expected need for cleanliness and hang it in the doorways to dry. In my place upstairs looks like open air closets for cycling apparel -- hangers covered with socks, gloves, shorts, jerseys and all -- I'm not proud.

I sit down at the computer with a bowl of minestrone, pita bread and some Trader Joe's Spicy Hommus and check the latest news, what's up on slashdot then cruise over to homestarrunner and read some Strong Bad email. He's funny. Strong Bad, yeah, I should rename that mountain Mt. St. Rongbad, that'd be good. Something to smile in humor about when slogging up the more difficult grades.

It's been a good evening and I turn in early. My faithful steed parked by my bed -- I check the tires quick and they're still fine. It's a good feeling to get in a ride before the weekend. This was for myself and to keep in form. Saturday and Sunday are another matter, those are unspoken races where the strong survive. I'll be there. I'll be ready. I turn out the light and I'm asleep almost as soon as I close my eyes.


ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 10 years ago Bent the bank account to my will and bought a Meade ETX-125EC. It sat indoors for a month while clouds obscured pretty much everything. On Feb. 8, I dragged it down to the local pub and waited for the sun to set while tipping a couple pints. First sighting was Saturn, viewed more from a pole the rings were brilliant and visible around the planet. It looked like a big comic eye staring back. Pretty cool. Then Mars, a big orange spot, and Venus a bright blurry spot. Eventually Jupiter rose and I saw the four galillean moons and could make out 5 distinct bands, a real treat. Next came the moon and a look at craters and mare. All this time dozens of people came by and looked through the scope and were dazzled. It was a pretty fun outting and now I'm thinking where to go next. Obviously I need to go to a Star Party, but I'm interested in snapping some pics for my website, so a camera adapter is called for. They seem pricey for what you get. I'm still shopping around.

A good site for Astronomy and Meade ETX scopes is Weasner's Mighty ETX Site There are recent pictures posted, too. Neat stuff.


The Matrix Reloaded

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 11 years ago I should have checked out The Matrix and watched it before seeing this film, however, as an author books in a series pointed out, each installment should be able to stand on its own. TMR stands on its own, weird story which smells like it should be shallow behind special effects; good special effects, though fight scenes got tedious (ah, they're fighting, a good opportunity to nip out for a pee); chase scene was OK; characters and acting were at least much better than tiresome B5, DS9, Star Trek anything, but the sunglasses I forget the point of, was there one(?) same for all that action in a long coat, riiiight.

I couldn't help but think the point of the whole sequence was to meet Colonel Sanders. The architect struck me as someone who might offer Neo a bucket of fried chicken parts at any moment.

All in all, it was above average, but far from the best I've seen. Trailers before the film suggest few interesting films on tap for this summer. May have to resort to watching some old classics on DVD, as too many look like the same old Attitude, Preposterous story and Overuse of SFX conglomerations which mark the limitations of Hollywood imagination.


Confessions of a Neo Geo Cache Addict

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 11 years ago Less than a week after my first GeoCache outing my friend (he whom talked me into grabbing the eTrex and joining him and his son in the hills) has a Magellan SporTrak on order, to be delivered today, and I've ordered labels for creating GeoCaches and some Travel Bugs. The bug has not only bitten, but the teeth have sunk in deep. Summer will be a series of weekends plodding fireroads, tramping through thickets and mazes of twisty little passages-all alike.

Our initial caches (we plant) will be close to home, but I already have begun planning a cache deep in a southwestern US desert.

I've got my trusty eTrex on my hip, batteries charged and it's about 2 PM on Friday. Two more hours then I'm outta here.

Calvin was right, there's treasure everywhere.



ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 11 years ago A friend hears about this, and I've heard about it for about a year in various articles. GeoCaching, a social activity of planting little treasure boxes, or in some cases virtual treasures, around the world and providing coordinates, clues and instructions on He picks out 5 likely candidates squirreled away in Toro County Park near Salinas, California, and we set out, a party of three (He, his ~12 year old son and I) take off in search of our first cache with compass, map, clues and my Garmin etrex GPS.

Getting the hang of finding a location in a park crossed by canyons and ridges can be trying. We first tried to get the north coordinate, which was easy enough. Homing in on the west coordinate, while maintaining the north one involved crossing a couple ridges and a ravine. Ulimately returning to the picnic area, accessible from the main entrance road, and a short hill climb yielded the cache.

Clearly establishing ahead of time the compass points and getting a feel for how rapidly N-S (latitude) degree changes versus E-W (longitude) can keep the activity from the realm of masochistic endeavor. Learning from our first mistakes, we located the next two with little difficulty and nice hikes, although some spilled rootbeer made the papers a tad messy.

Our second cache we pursued through a thicket and collected a number of ticks, which were quickly encouraged to rejoin their cousins in the grass. A different approach through a grassy field would have saved us the worry. The third was cache was offset slightly away from the central reading amid a thick clump of poison oak. We searched a while, with a few red herrings before locating it stashed neatly under a bush.

The fourth and our last was in high country and quite a hike to get to, hence we elected to leave the fifth for another day. Logs indicated it was located in a spot with a beautiful view, which was on the money and quite breathtaking. I held the etrex at arms length, as we zig-zagged though sparse, high brush along a fence-line and located within a small clearing nearly the exact coordinates. My friend's son scanned the undergrowth and exclaimed with excitement, it had been found. After a quick signing of the log and exchange of treasures we headed back out of the park considering our next opportunity to GeoCache and creating a few of our own for others to find.


Lord of the Rings:The Two Towers

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 11 years ago LoTR:TTT and many days of vacation, so go and see it twice. Which I did and it was great the second time, and gave me a chance to pay less attention to the dialogue and more to other stuff. Only downside was Gollum/Smeagol's voice sounded too cartoony.

Found something very humorous, Saruman's Diary

Another year and then the Return of The King, I suppose.


It's up, it's running, it resets sometimes, but it's good

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 11 years ago ASUS A7V8X SATA/RAID/LAN/Sound/etc.

AMD 2600/333

GEIL 256MB CAS=2 3500 DDR

Seagate Barracuda 80GB and WD Caviar 80GB HDs


Samsung 172T LCD monitor

USRobotics 56K modem (no DSL or Cablemodem yet, for a few months anyway)

Wacom mouse/pen pad

Cheepie Nvidia graphics card, of some ilk, just enough to get up and going.

CA cheepie $19 set of speakers with a sub, from Circuit City, which work pretty good.

WinXP is installed, and yeah, it's a pain, but it's for work. During a few days off from work I'll get Mandrake 9.0 installed on the WD drive and figure out how to set up dual boot. I can hardly wait to get past this stage of installing drivers, downloading patches, installing software, copying stuff from my old laptop and get to working on some projects which have sat on the back burner so long the pot has all but rusted through. Now if the power just doesn't go out. Big storms passing are passing through and some people have spent 5 days without power.


Serial ATA Pushed Back?

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 12 years ago With the flood of recent motherboards featuring Serial ATA, I've decided to give it a try, as the cabling should be simple. Drives targeted are Seagate's ST380023AS, but as I've noted on Pricewatch, a vendor listed then with Late Oct. shipping date. Now they're showing up as Late Nov.

There seems to be a rash of pushing things back, by various manufacturers, possibly attempting to squeeze the last few sales out of their existing line?


Sneaking up on it

ackthpt ackthpt writes  |  more than 12 years ago PC Power & Cooling Silencer powersupply on order. Check.

Plextor 48x24x48x CDRW on order. Check.

Teac 3.5" diskette drive on order. Check.

Keytronic keyboard on order. Check.

Monitor, HD drives, Mouse, MB, CPU and memory yet to go. :-)

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