Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Finally, the epic review of the Motorola Xoom that we assumed we’d eventually see from Ars Technica. My only gripe is that somebody over there needs to learn how to take sharp, close-in photos of hardware.
  • While we’re talking Xoom, I learned that my Degunking collaborator Joli Ballew is doing a Xoom book for Wiley. According to Amazon, it will be out on June 7.
  • Ibuprofen (Advil etc.) may provide some protection against Parkinson’s. It may also tear up your stomach lining, as happened to me in 1999. Be careful.
  • And damn, I shoulda gone to Polish school when I was four, like my mom wanted. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • Here’s a list of the ten most powerful earthquakes since 1900. (They have not yet included the Japanese quake, which has recently been promoted from 8.9 to 9.0.) I remember the stories in the papers about the 1964 Alaska quake. Man, that was ugly. Let’s be glad it wasn’t in the Cascades.
  • My assembly language book is now for sale on both the Kindle and the Nook stores. Kindle: $36.86. Nook: $52.00. Print: $65.00. (But nobody pays cover anymore.)
  • I’ve been called a crank for my position on this, but I don’t care: Sleep is more important than food. (If you won’t listen to me, maybe you’ll listen to Harvard.)
  • Here’s a nice page on magic eye tubes, which are remarkably little-known (especially among the young) given their off-the-charts coolness factor. And another photo page. Some of the miniature types were used well into the 1960s. We had a Grundig tape recorder from 1961 or so, and it incorporated a DM70, which I still have in a box somewhere, along with a 6AL7 and a couple of 6U5’s.
  • From the Ideas You Can Have For Free And Are Worth Every Nickel Department: Somebody should start a Wikipedia extension wiki that automatically grabs and posts anything deleted from Big Wiki for that peculiarly intense Wikipedia fetish, non-notability. In this era of pervasive broadband and $50 terabytes, why shouldn’t the 6U5 get its own page? It’s certainly notable to me.
  • From the Law of Unintended Consequences Department: Scrupulously green San Francisco is turning brown because government-mandated low-flow toilets aren’t moving solid waste through the system quickly enough to forestall clogging. Be glad you live in New Yawk, Ed. (Thanks again to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • Although I’ve always known what hops are used for (beer, basically) I realized this morning that I had no idea what a hop looked like. Now I know.
  • has evidently been bought out by a nostalgia site called Memory Lane. I haven’t gotten any email pitches from them lately, so I’m quietly hoping that either Memory Lane has reformed their fraud-laced marketing practices (telling me of girls who supposedly attended my all-male high school back when I did) or that the whole mess will soon sink into bankruptcy and vanish.


  1. Tom says:

    “To sleep, perchance to dream..” Welcome back Jeff and congratulations on getting Drumlin Circus in the can, so to speak.

    My one serious experience with sleep deprivation was when I was in the Military in the early 1970’s and had to stay awake almost continuously for about 60 hours. No, we were not under attack or anything like that, but I was trying to get home from “over there” on emergency leave and catching flights as best I could. I may have caught a few winks on the aircraft when I did get a flight, but those airplanes were not made for sleeping in either. My mind WAS doing some really funny things by the time I got home and after seeing my Mom in the ICU I slept for about 14 hours. My mom did pull through and I went back a month latter with only 83 days left over there!

  2. Paul says:

    My Wife bought the family a Nook for Christmas. My biggest problem with them is the relative price of these ebooks to their paper counterparts. I’m assuming that the retailers do not want to cannibalize sales of their paper versions, but in my mind it puts the e-readers, if not in a niche market, at a disadvantage. I see fiction doing okay on them, but for the pricing, I’d rather get my technical books in paper format.

    1. The big publishers are terrified of “training” the market to expect a much lower price point for ebooks. The indies are the ones doing the $5 novels, and then there are outliers like O’Reilly who are happily selling individual chapters of their tech books. $52 for a tech ebook is nuts, especially when you can get the print book new on Amazon for $43. That said, the Kindle and e-ink Nook and their kin are not good platforms for tech books generally, so until our e-readers evolve a little bit (and things like Nook Color are moving briskly in the right direction) technical books will not be a big part of the ebook market.

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