Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • It’s been a rough week here (hence the current post paucity) and I just got Carol on a plane to Chicago to look after some unexpected family issues. As we left the driveway it was snowing like hell again, this on the morning of May 15. Even today, halfway to lunchtime, it’s still gray-grim and 39 degrees. I guess it’s going to be another indoors week. Much planned for coming days, including the ebook release of Cold Hands and Other Stories. Stay tuned.
  • I stopped in Denver on the way home from the airport to pick up some Elfa parts to expand the shelf system in the back of our garage. It’s an Erector set for storage, and if you don’t know about Elfa I think it would be worth taking a look. I have a hodgepodge closet in my workshop downstairs that desperately needs to be Elfa-whacked, and it’s on the project list for this summer.
  • I used to spend a lot of time poking around in Google Earth, mostly looking for abandoned railroad right-of-ways near where I’ve lived in the past. Since then The Daily Google Earth has appeared, full of interesting things visible from space. Today’s desert triangles post intrigues me, since my parents bought land in that general area in the 1960s and I still own it.
  • Carol and I have moved incrementally to CFLs as our incandscents have died, but the can fixtures we have in our ceilings are too narrow to pass the necks of CFL floods. Alas, this promising new technology won’t fix that (the necks are, if anything, wider) but it’s a promising alternative to incandescents and doesn’t contain mercury. As the author suggests, it won’t be long before the Maker community figures out how to focus the output into a beam and perhaps even scan it across the bulb’s face.
  • I’m not generally one for weird case mods and exotic custom cases, but this Priarie School item engenders a certain amount of lust. I also realize that I could easily make a case of Stickley-style dark-stained quarter-sawn oak–not that I need another thing to do. Would be killer cool, though.
  • As a programmer guy with old roots in embedded systems, I feel a very deep itch to try the Android Open Accessory Kit. Alas, as an SF writer with only so many hours in the day, I may not get to it soon. But I greatly rejoice that it’s even possible.
  • The data caps issue has gotten to the WSJ, which probably means that it’s off geek turf and Really Quite Sincerely Real. What few people are talking about with respect to ISP data caps these days is the perverse incentive they present for video piracy: Why pay an additional “bandwidth tax” on your favoite films each time they’re streamed when you can download them once and watch them any time you want without further payment? This has always been the case, but moving to a metered Internet only makes it worse.
  • From the ‘Bout-Damned-Time Department: Samsung’s Galaxy line of phones and tablets will be getting its Gingerbread update any day now. We hope. Any day now. Guys, really?
  • Bruce Baker sent me a link to sculpture made of books, sculpture as I suspect termites understand it. The last picture made me cringe a little: It’s a carved-up copy of all three volumes of the 1936 New Century Dictionary, which has been my go-to word source now for almost thirty years. What other dictionary (none here!) can show you drawings of a wanderoo and a wanigan on the same page?
  • Not all engineering problems are nice and clean and up on top of a well-lit bench. Especially this one.
  • If ebook readers ever push print books over the edge of the world, it’ll be due to much higher resolution displays. This one, at 458 DPI, is very close to what you see on mass-market four-color interior printing. At 600 DPI (and we’ll be there in a few years) the war will be over.
  • Boy. Here’s a kind-of-a-sort-of-a-thing-a-ma-jigger. A display that hinges in the middle? As a friend of mine once said: “Laugh or lust? Flip a coin.”
  • Inevitable: I Can Has Zeppelin.


  1. Carrington Dixon says:

    I count three spines; so, it looks like all three volumes of the New Century Dictionary were carved..

    (And I had to look up wanderoo and wanigan. I don’t think they’ll be coming up in (my) conversations anytime soon. Of course, I bet you could work both into a story with no great difficulty.)

    1. Fixed.

      One could imagine taking a wanigan down a tropical river and having a troop of wanderoos bouncing around the boat, making a mess. “Wanderoo” may be an archaism; a little research seems to indicate that they’re properly called gray langurs. But “wanigan,” albeit uncommon, appears to be current.

  2. Jonathan O'Neal says:

    Another (similar) fun site is Google Sightseeing (, which has been presenting spacecraft, crop circles, naked people, shadows, crowds, and other interesting quirks and oddities for six years now – almost as long as Google Maps itself has been online.

  3. Aki says:

    “Not all engineering problems are nice and clean and up on top of a well-lit bench.”

    The New DARPA Grand Challenge – Dogpoopfighting Robotics? 😉

    “Robot Lessons”

    “By Ed Nisley, August 01, 2003”

  4. Rich, N8UX says:

    We tried a couple Roombas in our house a few years back. Good idea, but they do require care and feeding (read – emptying and maint.- charging, corralling), and they just flat out did not do as good a job as our dirt devil vac. And they scared the crap out of the cat.

    Reminds me of the central vac system we had installed when our house was built. Pegs the cool meter for a while, then you realize the cost/convenience was just a “pipe dream” (pun intended).

    1. Rich, N8UX says:

      Re: the cat – Fortunately we did not experience the “engineering problem”.

    2. We actually like our central vac, and it’s especially useful in my workshop, because the motor’s a husky one and it pulls like a shopvac. We have a biggish storage tub in the pantry with the hose in it, and keep the wand in the broom closet. We keep a second hose and wand downstairs. Works well; no lugging.

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