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Odd Lots


  1. TRX says:

    > an app that watches the other apps and
    > logs what connections they make

    Back when I ran Windows I used a nifty little program called “Zone Alarm.” It would let me know when a program tried to talk to something over the network. Later updates got bulky and intrusive, and I’d quit using it by the time I made the final jump to Linux in 2003.

    So far I’ve found nothing even remotely as useful as the old ZA that runs on Linux.

  2. TRX says:

    > Correia

    I’ve read most of Correia’s stuff now. “Urban fantasy” isn’t my favorite genre, but the Grimnoir and MHI books turned out better than I expected.

    The one I liked best was “Dead Six.” “Military adventure” isn’t my favorite genre either, but that turned out to be *much* more complicated than that. The sequel wasn’t up to maintaining that standard, but that’s not unusual.

  3. jimf says:

    Thanks for letting me know about the 3 bk MHI bundle… I had just purchased the first one…returned it and bought the bundle.

    1. This is going to become a trend in ebook publishing, I think, especially as series begin to dominate. It’s a great way to pull in readers who react well to a book bomb or some sort of freebie. I paid $3.33 each for three damned fine adventure stories. That was an utter no-brainer, and would be even if I weren’t enjoying them as much as I am.

  4. Brian Tkatch says:


    Actually, other than coffee candy, can;t say that i ever had it. I wonder if it can be bundled in a pill. 🙂

    1. Caffeine can be had in a pill; I keep a tin in my drawer. They’re called Penguin Peppermints. Those were especially useful during the long, long project that revised my assembly book to make it all Linux, all the time.

      1. Erbo says:

        Penguin Mints are great, and their popularity among geeks is only enhanced because of the association with Linux, which uses a penguin as its mascot.

  5. Ed says:

    As far as Apple, I think it took 7 years for Apple to crater after he left the first time. He’s not around to pick up the pieces this time…

    Regarding the e coffee thing, meh. I direct your attention to the replica bility study in Naure that just came out: only 39% of 100 studies tested were replicable! This is a horrendous, terrible, agonizingly bad result, mitigated only by the fact that this study hasn’t, itself, been replicated yet – maybe the situation isn’t that bad 😉

    Stephen Hsu has a brief post on it, with a couple good links to other articles & posts.

    1. TRX says:

      Failure of replicability is a painful issue with a lot of what passes for “research” nowadays. That’s assuming that a paper’s own data even supports the paper’s claims.

      The “refereed journal” concept was supposed to handle this, and it actually worked for a while. But now that publication is more or less a job requirement for tens of thousands of college employees, the avalanche of new papers seems to have overwhelmed the old system. And so many of those papers are behind paywalls or on private collegiate networks, the perpetrators can get away with bad papers for an entire career if they’re lucky.

    2. Erbo says:

      As far as Apple, I think it took 7 years for Apple to crater after he left the first time. He’s not around to pick up the pieces this time…

      I’ve compared Apple to the Soviet/Russian space program in the past; they both make hardware that’s perfectly serviceable and in some cases quite good, but you can still see the dead hand of their top innovative mind (Steve Jobs for Apple, Sergei Korolev for the Russians) in all of it, and you can also see that neither of them has another innovative mind of that caliber to carry them forward.

  6. Lee Hart says:

    Re: The NASA EM drive article. Wow! I hope this pans out, and isn’t another cold fusion debacle. If it works, we could at last have our first ultra-crude “steam engine” to get to the planets and stars!

    The fact that we don’t yet understand how it works is a good thing. It’s going to inspire lots of R&D. After all, the most important words in science are, “Now THAT’s interesting…”

    Wouldn’t it be great if a home-made contraption could be built out of an old microwave oven so we could try it ourselves (like C.L. Stong’s “Amateur Scientist” articles in Scientific American?

  7. TRX says:

    > digital natives

    Maybe ten years ago I mentioned I still had a DOS VM with QModem, an RS-232 breakout box, and various serial adapters. The millennials laughed and laughed.

    Not long after I got a call; a client knew somebody who knew somebody who’d heard about the guy who was willing to work on weird old computers; would I be willing to come out to their plant and have a go at wiring up an elderly CNC plasma cutter? I went out there, the controller ran one of the real-time DOS workalikes and it talked to the rest of the machinery over serial connections. And it even came with a booklet with pinouts and signal levels. Which might as well have been heiroglyphics to the factory tech who’d flown in to look at it; all he knew was the newer machines that ran Windows.

    I had to go back home and get my soldering iron, but I had it up and running by lunchtime. And it made me a nice chunk of money.

    Serial communication may be old-fashioned, but it’s certainly not dead yet.

  8. Larry Nelson says:

    I’m five chapters into the MHI bundle. It is engaging. Thanks for the recommendation. It has been a while since I’ve done pure fun reading.

    1. My friend Pete Albrecht took Hard Magic out of the library (they didn’t have any of the MHI books) and told me, “You MUST read this. Because The Cunning Blood. No more spoilers. Just read it.”

      I’m most of the way through my third MHI book. Monstrous good fun. It’s been interesting watching his writing improve as he goes. And there’s some humor, as in the “real” lawn gnomes who are in fact miniature gangbangers, right down to the hiphop talk. Wonderful stuff.

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