Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

August 25th, 2009:

Odd Lots

  • I just missed seeing a nice article on the current sunspot dearth before posting my entry for August 20, 2009. The longest stretch this solar minimum is 52 days back in 2008, and we could well exceed that come early September with no additional spots. (We’re now at 45 consecutive spotless days.)
  • I’m practicing rolling my eyes for the latest showing of the Mars hoax. On August 27, multitudes of people who are rumored to posess something close to human intelligence are claiming that Mars will appear the size of the full Moon. (This does the email rounds every couple of years.) Note well that if Mars were the size of the full Moon in the sky, we’d be living a disaster movie, so be very glad it’s a hoax.
  • Stanford University reports that media multitaskers do not in fact multitask very well. I liked this refreshingly straightforward quote in the article: “We kept looking for what they’re better at, and we didn ‘t find it.” More details here from the Beeb.
  • ZDNet reports on a virus, named Win32.Induc, that pulls a trick I’ve never heard of before: It looks for the Delphi programming environment, and infects Delphi such that any apps built by that copy of Delphi will carry the virus. I can’t quite see how this manages to propagate in a herd as thin as the Delphi programming world has become, unless Delphi programmers tend to use a lot of Delphi utilities obtained from places like Torry’s. (I know I did, so that’s my theory.)
  • Maybe you had one: A die-stamped thin steel rectangular lunchbox, usually (but not always) with completely inane artwork, often branded to TV shows, toys, and other pop-culture phenomena. The Denver Westword has a “10 worst” feature on tin lunchboxes that’s worth a look. I never carried a tin lunchbox to school (we used paper bags from Certified) but I have one now very much like #1, purchased at a hamfest years ago, filled with FT-243 ham-band crystals. I’ve always wondered why the boxes always had little vents punched in the short end sides.
  • Here’s an interesting 2-tube minimal broadcast-band superhet, using 12V space-charge tubes. It’s interesting enough that I might even build one, though my own holy grail is a 2-tube FM receiver. I’ve got the schematic (courtesy John Bauman KB7NRN) and lack only the time to hack it together.
  • I’d never heard of morning glory clouds, probably because they mostly happen in a certain part of Queensland, Australia. The bigger question is why they get all the truly great Weird Stuff down there, and we have to settle for minor-league weirdness like Michael Jackson.