athelind: (Eye - VK)
Again, my prejudices are reinforced.

I now want to start a social networking site.

I'll call it "JumpOffABridge", and the tagline will be "Because All Your Friends Are Doing It."


athelind: (Eye - VK)
This is a follow-up to this post.

Following [livejournal.com profile] foofer's advice, [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia got me a wireless bridge for my birthday, so I could finally get my desktop system back online. (Thank you, sweetness!)


The specific unit is a D-Link DAP-1522, purchased new from Fry's after a recommendation from Buy More's Nerd Herd Best Buy's Geek Squad.

I cannot configure the wireless settings for it.

It hooks up fine to the computer, and the Setup Wizard sees. the household wireless network, but the settings the Wizard imposes don't seem to take. It tells me that it's connected when I go to the bridge's Status page, but it doesn't actually connect.

According to the manual, when I go to the wireless setup page, I should see a nice, long pageful of wireless settings. )

What I actually see is a pair of buttons, a header, and nothing underneath. )

Something Is Wrong, obviously. Is that Something in the Operator or the Device? Am I screwing something up, or do I need to just return this and get a new unit?


athelind: (Eye - VK)
Okay, here's the deal.

I currently only have wireless internet access -- which means that, for most of what I require, I'm limited to my laptop, and my desktop is a Giant Blue Paperweight. My laptop is doing a fine job as Primary System -- it's actually newer and faster than the desktop -- but having to rely on it exclusively means that I've had to load it down with a lot of extraneous applications, rather than keeping it the Lean Mean Portable Productivity Machine that would be my preference.

My birthday is coming up soon, and when Quelonzia asked me what I wanted, the only thing I could think of was a wireless card.

Now, Ubuntu has a long list of supported wireless cards, but it's a long and poorly-organized list, hinging largely on information about internal chipsets that doesn't pop up in most advertising copy. It's also a list of cards that Ubuntu will recognize during the installation of the operating system -- it doesn't really say if you can plug a new card onto an existing Ubuntu box and have the appropriate drivers pop up.

I am polling the LiveJournal Hive Mind for wireless card recommendations.



I need something that is:

  1. Ubuntu Compatible.
  2. Old-skool PCI bus: my motherboard is Vintage 2003.
  3. Reliable.
  4. Available new.


If folks who Know Enough About Stuff To Have Opinions About Brands And Models could peruse the list and make suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it.


athelind: (Default)
Why is it so hard to find a portable radio or, hell, even an entertainment center-style stereo that has a nice row of programmable radio buttons, so you don't have to twiddle up and down the dial every time some hockey game clutters up your classic rock station?


Comments from people who don't listen to the radio because of technology X, Y, or Z will be deleted. Do not open Pandora's Box.
athelind: (Default)
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At the moment, my Dream Car is the Aptera:




Every time I post a link to the Aptera, though, I get a lot of people whining about how impractical it would be in the snow, and that sort of thing. So, if money is truly no object, it would be sharing my garage with this cinematic classic ...



Yes, it still exists, it's been restored, and it's out there.

And if you make fun of my Aptera, I will take my Landmaster, run over your silly little SUV, and drive through your HOUSE.


athelind: (Default)
This post from [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking prompted this admission:

I still don't get Facebook. What is it? I can't see any pages, and all anyone will say is that it's a "social networking site".

I "get" LiveJournal. It's a blog site that makes it simple to aggregate blogs you like to read into a "friends" list, and allow certain levels of trusted access to the people on that list. I get what people DO here; it's a BLOG. Same with DeviantArt; it's an art site with interactive comments and journals. At its core, though, people post ART.

Hell, I even get MySpace: it's Geocities 2.0.

But I don't get Facebook. From all the descriptions I've heard, it's Links Without Content.

I've had a few people say, "why don't you just sign up and see for yourself?"

... is it just me, or is there something inherently cultish about that phrase?

Edit: BoingBoing just provided a link to an image that pretty much answers my question:


"Facebook: The Medium is the Message." Elegant.


athelind: (Default)
Mostly for my own reference:


Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design




While Dr. Akin is an aerospace engineer, most if not all of these Laws apply to systems design in general.

[livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty should take particular note of the following:


14. (Edison's Law) "Better" is the enemy of "good".



Snagged from [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking, whom I forgot to credit when I first posted this.

.
athelind: (Default)
Back in May, you may recall, [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia got me a toy: a refurbished Asus Eee 900a Netbook.

And then I said nothing about it.

Well, the reason why I said nothing about it was because, after a couple of weeks, the thing started locking up in mid-boot. It came with a recovery DVD that could make a bootable USB Thumb Drive or SD card -- but the software on the DVD demanded Windows, and, well, there's not a Windows machine in the house.

Please note that the Eee runs a Linux variant, yet did not come with Linux recovery tools. *headdesk*

So, I talked to technical support, and, lacking the ability to make a recovery drive, they had me send it back for a replacement.

When the replacement arrived, it pulled the no-boot trick on the first day. This time, however, I had an SD card* with Eeebuntu loaded on it.

(Eeebuntu, as the name suggests, is an Eee-specific version of Ubuntu, the Linux distro I use on my desktop. I'd been planning to put Eeebuntu on the Eee all along, since I wanted more flexibility than the dumbed-down Linux that's loaded by the factory. The stock Eee OS won't even let you install new applications, at least not easily.)

This was a Monday. The thing ran happily on Eeebuntu until that Friday... when it locked up in mid-boot again.

Eeebunto, however, is a bit more verbose than the stock Eee OS. It actually told me that there were bad sectors on the Solid-State Drive (SSD).

I tried a few more things -- including using someone else's Windows machine to make a Recovery SD Card. That actually worked -- once. I was able to install it and get it to boot -- but not to REboot.

So, I sent a very detailed description to Customer Service, and they had me send it back. They confirmed the problem... and said that they couldn't replace it right away, and would we accept a refund instead?

At this point, I'm gun-shy about old, refurbished Eees with Solid-State Drives. A refund sounds a lot better than getting another 900A and just waiting for the drive to fail again.

So I have no toy, and I am a sad dragon. =(

On top of that, I failed yet again in upgrading my old wheezer video card.


*While both the packaged and online instructions insist that the Eee can boot from a USB thumb drive, I was never able to make that work.
athelind: (Default)

Douglas Rushkoff insists that Google Chrome OS will CHANGE EVERYTHING.



Some of Rushkoff's arguments are less than convincing to a Linux user, I'm afraid. I'm not "locked into Microsoft Office". I use Open Office, and when an MS user simply HAS to see my work, I export -- which I'd have to do with GoogleApps anyway.


I'm simply not comfortable working "in the cloud". The privacy issues Rushkoff so cavalierly dismisses as "false" are still there; if I'm working on a confidential report, I don't want it on a drive whose access I can't control. I don't want to be dependent on the reliability of my Internet connection to access it myself, either. If I'm working on the Great American Novel, can I be sure that Google or whoever winds up running their servers will keep my file safe? Will I see it at Borders with someone else's name on the cover? If their system crashes so catastrophically that my work can't be recovered, will they be liable?

And gods forbid The Authorities should ever decide that I'm a Person of Interest. Shoot, I don't even have to assume they'll single me out; it's no great stretch to think that they'll decide that having the ability to pick through everyone's conveniently-accessible personal files is the same as having both the right and the obligation to do so.

It's not like they haven't before.

GoogleApps are convenient collaboration tools, but I don't think they can our should replace local computing.

This doesn't mean I won't try GoogleChrome if I can ever get a functioning NetBook (I'm about to send the second Eee back due to SSD failure). I can see a lot of uses for the paradigm.

I just don't plan to do anything important with it.


athelind: (Default)
A couple of years back, I made a few posts about Louis Michard's Atmospheric Vortex Engine, a plan to use the waste heat from nuclear power plants and other industrial heat sources to produce artificial tornadoes and harness them for energy.

(I'm sorry. That's just so over-the-top that I can't type it without italics.)

Today, I found an article on Inhabitat from about the same time period. It's the only one that points out the possible flaw in this system that pushes it into True Mad Science territory:

A 200-meter wide tornado might just have enough power to start absorbing heat from the surrounding area all by itself (something which would be a problem if one is hoping to keep it contained, as once the tornado achieves enough energy, there would be very little to stop it from escaping, so says Nilton Renno a professor at the department of atmospheric, ocean and spaces sciences at the University of Michigan).


And remember, the optimal place for an AVE is right next to a nuclear reactor.

Wheeeeeeee!

The hallmark of the best mad science is when making a disaster movie about it becomes redundant, because the whole thing plays out in everyone's mind as soon as they hear about it:

Dr. Renno: "You've got to stop this project! My calculations indicate that the vortex could become self-sustaining and break free of its confinement!"

Dr. Michard: "Nonsense! You're just one man flying in the face of progress! Increase the power!!"

(Indicator lights rise on the status board. Howling winds increase outside. The technicians spout technobabble. And then... red lights flash and klaxons sound.)


athelind: (Default)
Your Obedient Serpent just got a spam call on his cell phone.

It wasn't one of the scam calls about my "automobile service contract" expiring, the ones that everyone was getting for a while there. This was a local carpet cleaning outfit.

I assume that it was a spam call, and not a wrong number. I hung up as soon as she identified herself.

You know, I've heard that there are some providers that let you customize the incoming ring on your cell -- the one that people hear when they dial your number.

I want to do that, and have a EULA as the ring for any unknown number:

"Unsolicited callers are advised that, by dialing this number, they have agreed to be invoiced for Mr. Stormdancer's time and attention. Billing amount is entirely at Mr. Stormdancer's discretion, and will commence as soon as the call has connected; this includes leaving messages on Mr. Stormdancer's voice mail. The use of an automated calling system is considered to be automatic consent to this license agreement. Thank you."


athelind: (Default)

Cyborg Arm Plugs Directly Into Bone.



I'm not sure if this is "wow, awesome" or "ack, squick".

Have I mentioned that I'm a little squeamish? Working in a hospital for four years did nothing to alleviate that.

I'm leaning toward the former, of course, but there's just something about pin in bone sticking through flesh that makes me squirm a little (and not in a good way). "Osteocutaneous integration" is a magnificent buzzword, but I want more details about just how they're going to keep the flesh-to-metal interface intact and prevent infection.


athelind: (Default)

Nanomaterial turns radiation directly into electricity - tech - 27 March 2008 - New Scientist Tech



Can we get a "whoa"?

Combine this with the nantenna, and it's looking like nanotech is going to bring about dramatic transformations in energy production and distribution.
athelind: (Default)
Follow-Up to the Tornado Master post of 23 July 2007:

Louis Michard has his own website, where he explains the Vortex Engine without all the fluff of the new article.

Found at FUTURISMIC.
athelind: (Default)
I pointed the Vortex Engine out to Technovelgy.com, a blog that looks at ideas and inventions from science fiction that come true in today's world. They very kindly looked up the reference from The Space Merchants, along with additional material on the Vortex Engine specs that weren't in the original article.

Link here: http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/Science-Fiction-News.asp?NewsNum=1134

(I wonder if you could use a Vortex Engine to create the wind pressure you'd need to run a terraforming-level Hirsch Tube?)

I should also give credit to where I originally found the article: The usually-comics-related blog of Ami Angelwings.
athelind: (Default)
Tornado Master!

Ontario Louis Michard proposes using the waste heat from a conventional power plant to create a tamed tornado, and generating far more power using turbines that tap into the vortex's energy.

On the longer term, he proposes setting up vortex engines in the warm seas around the equator, providing not only a ready-made, inexhaustable source of heat to sustain the vortices, but also taking the waste heat building up from greenhouse impacts and channeling it into the upper atmosphere to cool off the whole damned planet.

I remember that Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth used a very similar process to both generate energy and vent massive amounts of heat to terraform Venus in The Space Merchants and The Merchant's War.

This is so utterly over the top, and fraught with so many delightfully cinematic ways to go horribly, horribly wrong, and yet it's packed full of SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK goodness.

But, seriously, atomic-powered tormandos? Calling Doctor Neil "Storm" Cloud!

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