Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Okay, I promised more about circuses and steampunk today, but odd lots are piling up.
  • From the Words I Didn’t Know Until Yesterday Department: spudger, a small tool like a miniature putty knife that helps you pry the backs off of watches and electronics, like the monitor I repaired last month. (Thanks to Tom Roderick for alerting me to its existence.)
  • Also from the Words I Didn’t Know Until Yesterday (ok, last month) Department: algophilist , a person who takes sexual pleasure in pain. Broader and more ancient term than “masochist” or “sadist.” (One such appears in Drumlin Circus.) And to think I first thought it was a guy who liked algorithms…
  • Given that Amazon buries the cost of Kindle’s 3G connection in publisher content fees, the lack of graphics (big) within text (small) makes sense. I always thought it was about the crappy low-res e-ink display. It’s not. Here’s how it works.
  • Alas, this may be too late for me. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • From Bill Higgins comes a link to a list (alas, not searchable) of the 200 Borders bookstores that will be disappeared shortly. (PDF) Bogglingly, neither of the Colorado Springs stores are on the list, even the small, always empty, and mostly pointless one at Southgate. I will miss the one in Crystal Lake, though.
  • Guys who come up with schemes like this talk about avoiding government censorship and such, but what will actually drive adoption (if it ever happens) is anonymous file sharing. And nertz, I outlined a novel a couple of years ago describing a technology very much like it. The late George Ewing called this The Weaselrats Effect.
  • Years ago I remember reading somewhere that steam calliopes are hard to keep tuned because the metal whistles expand as steam passes through them, throwing their notes off enough to easily hear. Can’t find a reference now. Running a calliope on compressed air from a tank might be problematic as well, because air stored under pressure gets cold when it’s released. Surprisingly (perhaps unsurprisingly) good technical information on calliopes is hard to come by.
  • Whoa! If you’re interested in solar astronomy, do not miss this video of new monster sunspot 1158 forming out of nothing. It will give you a very crisp feeling for the tubulent nature of the photosphere. Those aren’t spots: They’re solar hurricanes!
  • If you’re reasonably high-latitude (45+ degrees) look north after dark for the next few days. That giant sunspot 1158 is spitting a great deal of energetic chaos in our direction, and the sky could light up as a result.
  • Samsung has announced a new, larger 10.1″ Galaxy Tab, running Android Honeycomb. Details are sparse, but I’m wondering if we’re not ultimately going to see the slate market divide into 7″ and 10″ form factors.
  • Beating cancer may mean we’ll have to be three and a half feet tall, like these mutant Ecuadorians. I’d be good with that–as long as everyone else was three and a half feet tall as well.
  • Gawker Media has a new Web UI that I find so annoying that I’ve mostly stopped reading their sites, which include Io9 and Gizmodo. I could do without sites like Jalopnik and Jezebel, but damn, I’m gonna miss those other two.
  • I have yet to find a good popular history of refrigeration. Somehow I doubt people are going to feel sorry for me about that.


  1. Aki says:

    “Bodily violence is a displeasure done with the intention of giving pleasure”
    –John von Neumann

  2. Oooh, thanks for the Borders link. Looks like the one closest to my house is staying, which is nice – I like Borders more than B&N.

  3. Erbo says:

    Looks like 6 Borders altogether are getting closed in Colorado, including the ones at Arapahoe Crossing and Southwest Plaza. (The latter is a shame; that’s where I got FARK’s Drew Curtis to sign my copy of his book.) I note that the Borders at Northfield Stapleton seems to have already been closed; I couldn’t find it last time I was up that way a couple of weeks ago.

    Escaping the chopping block: the Borders at Colorado Mills, and the big one at Park Meadows.

  4. Joe Goldthwaite says:

    I’d avoid any Samsung hardware if I were you. I purchased the Google Nexus S in December. It’s made by Samsung but they seem to treat it like a bastard stepchild. It started locking up daily. I have to pull the battery to get it to restart. I reset the phone to it’s factory settings but it didn’t help.

    The fun started when I tried to register the phone so that I could get support and get it fixed. The registration link from the site is horrible. It seems to be a badly written ajax application (things don’t scroll correctly and other odd behaviors).

    The real killer was when I tried to enter my serial number. The site has a text field with a lable of “Serial Number”. On the back of the phone behind the battery there’s a string that starts with S/N. I enter in the number but the application says it’s invalid.

    I finally notice that off to the left there’s some text in red saying that it want’s you to enter the IMEI number. Why didn’t they label the field “IMEI number” instead of “Serial Number”? I enter the (long) IMEI number and it still won’t accept it.

    There’s a link above the field that’s supposed to help you find your serial number. It doesn’t seem to work when I click on it with the mouse. After playing with it for a bit, I discover that if you position the mouse pointer just a little bit *under* the link, an underline shows up. Clicking carefully on the underline takes you to the help screen.

    On the help screen I discover that you are supposed to enter the IMEI number without the slashes. (Why not say that on the main screen)? I go back and enter the IMEI number again, this time without the slashes and guess what? Still invalid. I’ve been unable to register it.

    Trying to bypass the registration step and sending a request directly didn’t work either. To send a request you have to negotiate through some pull down lists of device type, cell phone company and model number. Guys which model isn’t in the T-Mobil list? You guessed it!

    Samsung may make a great screen and their hardware may be great when it works but dealing with the company when it doesn’t work feels like you’re trying to talk to an organization with one finger stuck up its nose.

  5. Lee Hart says:

    A friend of mine, Mike Shoop, is a professional photographer. The Northern Lights are one of his specialties. (There’s a small example at

    He says that the energy from solar storms can arrive with any magnetic polarity. If its magnetic poles happen to match the earth’s (N to N, S to S), then they repel, and we get no Aurora. If they are opposite (N to S, S to N), we get the strongest Aurora.

    Unfortunately the big sunspot you mentioned happens to be producing a storm of the wrong polarity.

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