10/31/2005

Interesting things are afoot in the far dark reaches of the solar system.

Scientists (including my friend Andrew) have announced the discovery of two more moons orbiting Pluto. They’re very small and hard to spot, but they’re real. As our ability to see things in distant space increases, so does the number of new and often amazing things we find.

I wonder what my kids will learn in school when they talk about the solar system. For all of my life, we had this comfortable notion that there are nine planets, and everything was orderly. But now we’ve learned there are other planets on the fringes: Sedna and Quaoar, to name two, and probably many more. They’re bigger than Pluto, and if we call Pluto a planet we must rightfully do the same for them. But some astronomers say Pluto isn’t really a planet– it’s a “Kuiper Belt Object”. There’s no rigid definition of what a planet really is, making the debate quite lively.

I always love seeing scientific knowledge expand, and watching as we change our view on the world to match it. My kids are definitely going to learn some new things…

10/30/2005

I’m poking around on Amazon looking for a few new books, and saw this banner ad.

Now that’s a scary item to have to own. I wonder if I should put it on my Wish List or something? Because, as they say, “every minute counts!”

10/23/2005

“When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken.”

— Benjamin Disraeli

10/22/2005

Since I had a spare LCD screen (it had been Craig’s, but now he’s working from his house instead of mine) I thought it would be super geeky– but also cool– to buy a second video card for my main development computer and set up a dual-head configuration.

The video card was a cheap $30 deal, and after a bit of twiddling I was able to get both screens working nicely. As it turns out, having that much real estate is a boon to productivity. I’m amazed at the usefulness of a setup like this… I really feel like I can do more because I can scatter windows all over the place while I’m working. Keep in mind that I also have ten different “desktops” I use within my windowing system, switching between them on a minute-by-minute basis as I hammer out software and databases.

Truly, a geek nirvana.

10/21/2005

I just skimmed a fabulously funny list at TV Cream that reminisces about the top 100 toys of yesteryear. It’s not only a trip down Memory Lane, because I remember many of these goofy toys, but also a hilarious look at some of these games.

Take, for example, the write-up about Mastermind:

It was always a slow Sunday at grandma’s if the Mastermind had to come out.

Or Sorry:

The politeness of the title is only a front, as this otherwise unremarkable plastic pawns ‘n’ Ludo-style board game holds an appeal to the nastier side of childhood nature. It’s gloriously mean-spirited, in fact. Kind of Lotto meets Russian Roulette. The magic ingredient– the ability of players to directly, deliberately and with malice aforethought, bugger up the game for their opponents by– in the words and typography of the instruction leaflet– BUMPING their pawns all the way down SLIDES back to the START– a hugely satisfying aspect which, short of kicking the table over and sodding off home, is sorely lacking from most other board games.

How about Perfection?

Where Perfection really scored was with the inclusion of a distractingly loud clockwork timer. If you hadn’t got all the shapes safely home before this thing wound down, the board would ping up, spewing plastic stars, circles, squares and pieces of cheese all over the shop. And that’s when the screaming would start.

Good times.

10/21/2005

Justin Mullins is an artist who considers mathematic equations so beautiful they can properly be called art. To this end, he’s created framed prints of famous equations. While many would consider this to be geeky beyond compare, I find it strangely fascinating.

The print shown on his home page, appropriately titled Beauty, is my favorite equation (if one can have a “favorite”). The relationship between one, zero, pi, e, and the imaginary base i is perhaps the most sublime of all equations:

10/21/2005

Back in college, my friend Andy convinced me and a roomfull of friends to watch the Adam Sandler movie Billy Madison. The entire movie was just a train wreck of stupidity, and as I recall all of us– except Andy– watched in pretty much in silence, stunned at how terrifically awful it was. Andy, on the other hand, was busting a gut. I guess it just takes a certain sense of humor to appreciate Adam Sandler.

Nonetheless, here’s a great quote from the movie that I just stumbled across:

“Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

10/19/2005

Craig and I were lamenting today about how our clients tend to send screenshots and other images in one of two ways: either a gigantic (3 MB) Windows bitmap file, or pasted into a bloated Word document. Either way it’s a real pain to download and read the e-mail.

His comment:

I just saw some one came out with a “how to” book for becoming microsoft free.  I imagine it’s very similar to getting rid of warts or jock itch.

Amen, brother!