Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • This morning, Slashdot aggregated two articles representing both sides of the Google Books settlement: The Authors Guild arguing for it, and the William Morris Agency arguing against it. My thoughts: Since nobody knows where this will lead, but it will happen whether I opt out or not, I’m in. It’s not like I’m making money on books like Turbo Pascal Solutions anyway. If they can wring a few nickels out of my old material, I for one will be glad to have it. (This is worth a whole entry, but I just don’t have time today.)
  • Old Catholic geek bishop Sam’l Bassett sent me word of Micro-Rax, a 10mm version of the well-known 25mm or 40mm 80/20 system for industrial prototyping. I’ve held off fooling with T-slot projects because the stock was out of scale for what I was trying to do, but this could be just the thing. The company (owned and run by a pair of identical twins) is just getting underway with Micro-RAX, and it’s worth watching. I’m may buy a set just for the helluvit.
  • Leave it to Lileks to find a matchbook from The Griddle, billed as The Scientific Restaurant, which boasts an automatic griddle cake machine that looks like it should be a fusion reactor of some sort. Close Cover Before Ignition…
  • And speaking of nuclear, I spaced on this back in late June because my site got hacked, but Pete Albrecht pointed out a whole site devoted to nuclear yield and exposure slide rules.
  • Wait! There’s more! If you want one of your very own, you can buy one from Don Lancaster. (Yes, that Don Lancaster!)
  • From the Words I Didn’t Know Until Yesterday Department: Shoegazing is a musical subsubsubgenre that existed for a few years in the early 1990s, and sounds like, well, nondescript rock music. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for pointing it out.) The name comes from a tendency of some shoegazer bands to stare at the stage while they played. Apparently the movement died when it became “…over-privileged, self-indulgent and middle-class.” Damn. The nerve.
  • GM is now selling cars on eBay. It sounds ridiculous at first blush, but what piques my interest is the de-emphasis on face-to-face dickering, which I absolutely cannot stand. When Carol and I bought our 4Runner in April 2001, the sales experience was so hideously unpleasant that every time we think about buying a new car these days, we shiver and stick with what we have.
  • Spaceweather has a wonderful animated gif of Jupiter’s moon Io crossing its disk at opposition, meaning that Io’s shadow is immediately below it on Jupiter’s disk and gives a 3-D effect to the photo that you generally don’t see.
  • And if that weren’t enough, the same site has an animated gif of Io’s shadow passing over Ganymede!
  • Here’s a Web site I could have used back when the Lord of the Rings film trilogy was in the theaters:, which makes suggestions as to when you might miss less of the film by taking a bathroom break. Very important for certain old guys with certain oversized glands.
  • How did Benjamin Frankin manage his time on a typical day? Here’s a page out of his daily scheduler, though Outlook was still a couple of centuries in the future. Ben’s day is amazingly like my day, save that I generally stay in bed a little longer. But I too hit the sack at 10 PM or before–been doing that for five decades and then some. Thanks to David Stafford for the link.
  • And in in reading about Ben’s day I found this article by Paul Graham, about the differences between managers’ schedules and what Paul calls “makers’ schedules.” Definitely worth reading. The two cultures need to understand one another, and generally don’t, with much anguish and lost productivity resulting.


  1. Erbo says:

    RunPee is also available as an iPhone app…which is exactly where you want that information, right at your fingertips during the movie.

  2. Pablo says:

    I’ve purchased 2 new cars in the last few years and with the advent of the internet the process is much improved assuming you know precisely what you want (or if you don’t you can still visit your local dealer). In both cases I requested quotes for a specific year/model/configuration from some random website (can’t remember if it was manufacturer’s site (unlikely) or something like / I received confused quotes because nobody bothered to read, and after I reclarified what I wanted I had 4 competing quotes.

    Now the process does still take an hour or so (especially if you’re financing) and they try to sell you the add-ons, undercoating, extended warranty, etc. But the haggling is minimized.

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