Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

August 11th, 2008:

Odd Lots

  • I'm a sucker for a Depression-era railroad oddity called the Galloping Goose, which is a stitched-together Frankenrailcar made of bus and truck parts and other odd bits. Pete Albrecht sent me a link to a nice history/photo site, revealing something I had not known: That there's a Goose still running and giving rides, down in southwestern Colorado. Won't happen this year, but next year fersure!
  • The Perseid meteors hit their peak tonight; they're very reliable and I've watched them pretty regularly for almost forty years. As with most meteor showers, they're at their best in the very very early morning, within two hours of when the sun rises. However, there will be little skysplatters going off all night long, and after the moon gets down in the west, you'll see more of them. Whenever you can get somewhere dark, break out a lawn chair or just lie back in the grass and look generally toward the east. I doubt you'll be there more than ten minutes without seeing at least one, and they can surprise you by coming in bunches. It's not as mathematical as an eclipse or an occultation. You just won't know until it happens. (PS: The Sun is still blank!)
  • I accidentally deleted a bunch of fonts that I was bringing back from Chicago, but a nice free undelete app named FreeUndelete saved my clumsy bacon. It's not a no-install app, but it's pretty lightweight, and works like a champ. Free for personal use. Recommended.
  • Several people have mentioned Lexcycle's Stanza ebook reader app to me in recent days. I downloaded it earlier today and installed it downstairs on the XP lab machine (it's another app that claims not to support Win2K) and I will say, it has some promise. It does require the Java Runtime, and it certainly needs to do a little growing up, but I'm glad to see any serious effort to build a universal reader app for ebooks.
  • And while we're talking books, take a look at Zoomii, a Web front end for Amazon that shows books on shelves bookstore-style, though every one is face-out. (Now that's a switch!) You can zoom around and click on a book to get the details. The shelves come up zoomed back enough so that the covers are undiscernable smudges; make sure you click on the plus sign in the navigation cluster to bring the display in close enough to read them. I found this fascinating and fun (at least for the ten minutes I spent on it) though I don't know whether I'd use it except for the serendipity value. However, given that Amazon sells books that will never see the inside of a bookstore, Zoomii may bring back the importance of cover design to small and very small press books.