Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

May 29th, 2010:

Odd Lots

  • As I polish up this Odd Lots, I see that is down, which is significant to me since they host and Have no idea what’s going on yet, nor how long the outage has existed. (I was over at one of Carol’s friends’ rebuilding some very ad-hoc tomato shelters in honor of George Ewing until an hour or so ago.) If some of my pages are inaccessible, it’s not about me; it’s the whole damned hosting service.
  • We lost Martin Gardner the other day, at 95. Amazing man, something like a technical Colin Wilson, who wrote the “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American for 25 years, edited Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine for Little Children (which I read circa 1957-59) and cranked out books for most of his life. Every one I’ve read has been terrific, and I especially endorse Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science (1957) and The Annotated Alice (1960.) I should look for a few more.
  • Art Linkletter too, who made it to 97. It was in Linkletter’s very funny book Kids Sure Rite Funny that I found the wonderful kid-quote: “Now that dinosaurs are safely dead, we can call them clumsy and stupid.” The book’s copyright was not renewed and it is now in the public domain; you can read it online or get free ebook copies in various formats here.
  • The problem with how to carry your iPad made it all the way to the Wall Street Journal, which devoted an A-head story to the issue. My correspondents (including a couple who have the iPad) think a belt holster is unrealistic. Best iCartage solution I’ve seen so far (including a photo endorsement from Woz himself) is the Scott eVest, with 22 hidden pockets, including one custom-designed for the iPad.
  • Then again, there’s some unexplored form factor territory between smartphones and iPads. I find the Dell Streak (formerly the Mini 5) intriguing for its size/shape alone. (Here’s an interesting perspective on display size from Engadget.) The 5-inch model that will launch later this year (and in the UK on June 4, I hear) is about the size of an old HP scientific pocket calculator, and in the fevered days of my youth alpha geeks carried those around in leather belt holsters. Even the rumored 7-inch version could be belt-holstered with some care; beyond that it gets dicey. (Dell supposedly has a 10-incher in development.)
  • After asking mobile developer David Beers about his thoughts on the Android OS, I discovered that Google will let you download an Android LiveCD so you can mess around with the OS on an ordinary Intel PC without having to lay out for an actual mobile device.
  • That unpronounceable volcano in Iceland, perhaps fearing that the world was starting to get bored with it, blew a volcanic smoke ring the other day. Many people, perhaps thinking that smoking may be hazardous to a volcano’s health, are cheering it on.
  • After several calm days here, the winds came up again yesterday morning. As Carol and I were driving back from Walgreen’s, we saw dust clouds crossing Broadmoor Bluffs in front of us on several occasions. It’s dry here, and construction sites generate a lot of brown dust, true. But then the winds calmed for a few seconds before starting up again, and when they did, we saw a large pine tree shake in the wind and let go a thick cloud of yellow dust. Pine pollen by the pound. No wonder I can barely breathe.