Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

April 23rd, 2009:

Odd Lots

  • SRWare Iron was doing a peculiar thing: When I used it to view my main page, the title image was broken. This was not the case using IE, FF, or Opera. Nor was it true of the several other images on that same page, but only that big main one. An intuition led me to look up the name of the image file: junkboxmainbanner.png. I renamed the file “junkboxmain.png” (that is, removing the substring “banner” from the filename) and the image began rendering normally. I guess there’s a downside to adblockers as twitchy as this one.
  • From Bruce Baker comes a nice chronological screenshot survey of computer GUIs since the primordial Xerox Alto in 1973, up through Windows Vista and KDE 4. No judgements are passed on the products, and not much history is offered, but it’s unusual to see them all lined up in one place, and one definitely gets a sense for the way it all evolved, and especially for the immeasurable debt that Apple owes Xerox.
  • On a tip from Pete Albrecht, I’ve learned that the Progressive Insurance girl Flo and one of the Geico cavemen shared a scene in the short-lived 2007 TV sitcom Cavemen . Here’s a YouTube clip of the scene. This was sheer coincidence; the Progressive ad campaign did not happen for at least a year after that and Stephanie Courtney just happened to get the part. I tried to like the series and failed, but I’ll admit that it had some surreal moments, a few of which we evidently didn’t appreciate at the time. Now, cavemen ate geckos. (Cavemen ate anything they could catch.) Dare we hope…
  • Here’s an old article from Popular Mechanics on building your own Geiger counter. Michael Covington reminds me that there was a circuit in Alfred Morgan’s book The Boys’ Second Book of Radio and Electronics, though it had a peculiar power supply and didn’t work when I tried to build it in 1966. (I may still have the G-M tube somewhere, but I can’t find it and in truth haven’t seen it in decades.)
  • Yet another one, this time from Popular Science, March 1950.
  • Todd Johnson suggests using scrounged or surplus fluorescent lamp supplies from computer scanners for homebrew Geiger counters. I’ve got two defunct scanners on the woodpile downstairs, but if you don’t, Todd also sent along a pointer to a surplus source, for only $5.
  • Today is Ubuntu 9.04 day. It’s like the Day after Thanksgiving at Marshall Fields up there, so don’t expect much in the line of download performance. I’m going to wait for the dust to settle a little (and maybe for my assembly book to be done) but it will happen here sooner or later. If you want it, look for torrents. And come with a backpack of patience.
  • Do you have Linux running on an Intel DQ35 motherboard. If so, be careful.
  • Finally, this clever food hack reminds me vaguely of something. I don’t know what. That’s probably just as well.