Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • At our most recent nerd gathering here, four of my friends and I managed to carry our 1997-vintage, 198-pound Sony CRT TV set up our precipitous stairway out to the 4Runner, and a few days later I paid Blue Star recycling $37 to see it to its final rest. Many thanks to the guys–we had been pondering how to get rid of it for the past several years. Friends are most excellent to have, especially for people like me who can’t lift 100 pounds anymore.
  • And this means we’re shopping for a downstairs TV. I came across a good site focused on plasma TVs, which as a class may be problematic at our current altitude of 6600 feet. Apparently they buzz and run far too hot, though the physics of the phenomenon remain obscure to me.
  • I’ve found the first (thin) review of the Motorola Xoom. Few details yet, but I will say up front that the cloud-based ebook system doesn’t thrill me. Early releases of Honeycomb may not support the XD card slot, but Motorola hints that an OS update will take care of that. That’s important here: Given that 16GB MicroSD cards are already down to $35, sideloading my entire ebook library would be a snap, with room left over for lots of music and videos.
  • I also recently found out that the Xoom GUI borrows from the quirky but interesting BumpTop, recently bought by Google and then pulled from general distribution.
  • I may be too old to appreciate the BumpTop 3D metaphor (I always think it looks like working inside a refrigerator box) but some good themes have been created for it, including this steampunk specimen.
  • Xoom has a “barometer.” Most commenters, including the LA Times , don’t seem to understand that a barometer can measure altitude with more accuracy than GPS. I doubt that the Xoom’s barometer will have anything to do with weather reports. (Else there’d be a thermometer and a hygrometer as well.)
  • There’s a long-running feud between Samsung and US cell carriers over who pays for Android updates, with the result that many Samsung phones are stuck at Android 2.1 and may never get an update from the vendor. (Applying the update yourself is not for the squeamish.) Yesterday afternoon, of course, Samsung denied it all. As intriguing as the Galaxy Tab looked when I played with it back in November, issues like this may keep me away from Samsung wireless products entirely.
  • Some images speak for themselves. Like this one. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • Oxytocin may be the biochemical basis for tribalism, racism, political parties, and just about everything else that the human species would be better off without. “Cuddle hormone” my ass.
  • Good-bye to seigniorage, not that one person in ten thousand ever knew what it was–or how to spell it.
  • Ahh, well. I may have eaten my last pistachio.


  1. re: Oxytocin

    It sounds very much from that article that Oxytocin does exactly what we’ve been told it does: increase the bonding of individuals to those they are /with/. It intensifies the us/them dichotomy.

    I would assert that its presence in romantic and familial relationships is entirely consistent with this.

    Still, fascinating stuff, and even more awkward for the dunderheads who robbed the drug store for oxycontin and got oxytocin instead…

  2. Jack, K8ZOA says:


    If you plan to be active on 80 meters, you do not want a plasma TV. They are notorious, high level noise generators in the 3.5 MHz range, and can be heard a quarter mile or more distant with a good antenna.


    1. Wow. I think I may be hearing the neighbors’ big screens up and down the band. This is less of a tragedy for me, as my antenna is a little short for 75m, but there are noise sources higher than that that I can’t identify. Less broadband than the Woodpecker, but still annoying.

      And of course, the TV is on here relatively rarely.

  3. Inocencio Tato says:

    A barometer cannot measure altitude with more accuracy than GPS. To do that, the barometer needs to be calibrated at a known altitude, and then, during a relatively short time it measures with reasonable accuracy variations in altitude. A GPS instrument measures Cartesian coordinates relative to a geodesic reference such as WGS84. The instrument transforms cartesian coordinates to latitude-longitude-altitude. GPS instruments normally refer altitude to the ellipsoid defined in the geodesic system it uses (WGS84 or something very close to it). Barometric and geographic altitudes are referred to the geoid, which is the equipotential surface of the Earth and shows gentle ondulations with respect to the ellipsoid. The distance between geoid and ellipsoid is quite important (in Spain around 50 m), and is most probably the main source of error when GPS is misused to measure geographic altitude.
    Incidentally I wonder why (or whether) modern GPS instruments are not fitted with a numeric GPS grid to correct this effect (IMHO it is not an error).

  4. Erbo says:

    Ah well…one of the interesting facts about the pistachio is that it is one of only two nuts mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 43:11). The other is the almond, which gets a fair number of mentions, including in the same verse with the pistachio.

  5. Bob Fegert says:

    Jeff, have you seen this gizmo that simplifies converting books to pdf files? Looks like a fast way to expand your ebook library to include all your old paper books and magazines.

    From the site.
    “Quickly create a digital library from your entire print collection.

    With the growing popularity of e-readers and digital books, ION has created the fastest and most convenient system for transferring novels, textbooks and periodicals to the digital realm. Book Saver allows everyone to easily transfer their favorite stories directly to a convenient SD card”

  6. Andy K says:

    A friend is someone who will help you move. A good friend is someone who will help you move a body.

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