Cunts

Driving along I-25 and a pick-up’s tyre burst (it looked like a retread) and a piece landed really close to my car. On further inpection when I got home, the side of the car is scratched really badly through to the primer. Can I just say that you people who use retreads to save yourself a few $$ are a bunch of cunts.

Thought for the Day

Antimatter

If equal amounts of matter and anti-matter were created in the beginning, where is all the anti-matter? If light from an anti-matter universe set off towards us, how would we see it? Since their light would consist of anti-photons, would they ever reach us, or would they just annihilate photons along the way?

Headphone Amplifier

I have a third generation iPod. It still works, so when its battery died, I replaced the battery myself. It still works well. However, this generation has a problem with sound quality due to low quality components used in the internal amplifier. So, I decided to make myself a decent amplifier to connect to the line level output of the iPod. I just had to build it into an Altoids case.

Amplifier

I based it on the popular CMoy amplifier circuit design, and it uses a stereo Burr Brown operational amplifier with high quality support components.

Headphone amplifier

It sounds amazing, and I can’t wait till my new Sennheiser HD-595 headphones arrive. In fact, these headphones require an external amplifier. The iPod just won’t drive them.

Outlook

Can I just say that Outlook is a steaming pile of useless shit?

I get a lot of email every day, mostly from various mailing lists, and I have to sort the mail based on who the email was sent to. I.e. if it was sent to linux.kernel, I would have a rule saying that it should be moved into the Linux folder. This does not work every time, and I find myself having to sort mail manually. Thanks, Microsoft.

I’ll show you.

Outlook 1

Above: the email in my inbox. Notice the sent-to address. 

Outlook 2

Above: I select a rule to run now. 

Outlook 3

Above: I run the rule, and nothing happens. 

I have tried changing the rule to use specific words in the recipient address instead, and I’ve also tried making the rule client-only. No cookie.

Oh, and there’s no way to make Outlook show the time that an email was sent when using the vertical preview pane mode. Great.

Siggraph

San Diego

I’m in San Diego for half this week for the Siggraph 2007 computer graphics conference. This is the view from my hotel room in La Jolla; no idea why it is so orange out there but I thought it looked cool. As usual my flight was delayed and I got here really late, but on the plus side I blagged myself into driving away in a Prius rental car!

This weekend was pretty random. On Friday we went out on the town for Joe’s birthday and Scott caught his hand on fire with Bacardi 151, shortly after Joe set the bar on fire. Then Scott set a pile of napkins on fire but miraculously managed to blow them out with barely a singe. On Sunday I attacked the huge weeds in the garden with the lawnmower, which worked, but it was a bit wetter out there than I expected and now I have a tonne of mud to remove from the poor mower.

Comcast Strikes Again

You know what really pisses me off? Comcast. Oh, you already know this, but I thought I’d share with you another reason why they piss me off:

Flood

Picture this: we are watching a movie, and this shows up on all channels (analogue and digital). You cannot switch off the digital receiver, and it stays on for five minutes. The TV programmes currently being watched are not paused, and recordings that are in process get gaps in them. A sharp tone is played at maximum volume, easily able to damage speakers that are turned up loud. The information is not localised in any way; the entire of Colorado sees the same message. It goes away, and then it comes back ten minutes later.

Fox occasionally issues “storm watches” to tell people that they may issue a “storm warning”, which is itself a notice that they may issue a “storm alert” at some point in the future. The annoying thing is that they play a very weird tone over the programme being watched and squash the programme into the top half of the screen so they can show these messages.

Yes, in a state prone to tornados and flash floods, this can be useful, but please localise the information. I wonder if they have ever read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”.

PS. It’s not raining (yet).

Flood

We had a lot of rain in Colorado last week, and the ground on the left side of our house settled a bit. It was just enough to break the PVC sprinkler pipe off the end of the copper water supply pipe, and the whole side of our house (outside) flooded. It took two whole days to shift the stones from on top of the weed barrier sheet, pull up the sheet, dig down to fix the pipe, and then pack the soil down using dirt I obtained from the building site across the road. The ground had sunk 4-6 inches in total.

Fixed sprinkler pipe

No More Radon!

Earlier this year, we found we had an 18 pCi/l (pico Curies per litre) reading of radon in our house. The EPA recommended limit is 4 pCi/l. For those who don’t know, radon is a colourless, odourless radioactive gas that comes from the ground and can increase the risk of getting lung cancer. A few weeks ago we had an extractor fan hooked up to the basement sump (like a moat going around the perimeter of the house for water to drain away). Here are the results:

Radon test results

Yay, no horrible slow death by cancer!

Scooba

We have a new addition to the family – take a look:

Scooba

His name is Scooby and he likes chasing cats and nice clean floors. Our kitchen floor accumulates cat hairs at a tremendous rate, and I am terribly allergic to them. So, when I saw him in Target for half price, I had to have him! “He” is an iRobot Scooba, in case you want one too.

The Scooba managed to clean the floor far better than we can. The proof was in the sheer amount of grime it got off the floor just days after we manually mopped it.

Snowboarding

Snowboarding at Keystone

I went snowboarding this Saturday for the first time since early 2000 – that’s seven years ago! The photo above is of me at Keystone, the last time I went snowboarding with Gav. I have a snowboard in England, but unfortunately I kept forgetting to ask my folks to bring it over for me, so I had to rent one. We went to Copper Mountain, about 2 hours away from home and near Breckenridge. To my utter disbelief, I actually remembered how to snowboard! I am far better at turning on my toes (that’s when you pivot your ankles and legs so the edge of the board along your toes digs in) than turning on my heels, so I spent a lot of time practising the latter.

One thing I learned how to do this time (thanks to help from Scott, Hamzeh and Mark) was to link my left and right turns, instead of stopping and/or crashing all the time. It went pretty well, and on the last run I managed to make it all the way down a slope without stopping, falling or generally looking like a fool. 🙂