Tuesday, November 15, 2011

boy have i been busy/slacking Pt 1

boy have i been busy/slacking.  what a funny dichotomy.

I've been slacking in that I haven't necessarily done the things I should have been, but busy because I've been doing things and haven't blogged in a while.

So, lots of things going on.  I cought up on my blogs last night and this morning.  300+ posts.  I won't cover everything in this one post, but I'll get started.  Part 1 will be about tech stuff/wierd.

The first thing I'll talk about will be a post from The Bytebaker.  He makes some good points about the future of interfaces and I like his talk about smart matter.  Go ahead and read the post.  Anyway, the post and the video in it got me thinking about computer interfaces.  This is what I came up with:

Three things popped out at me from this post.  In my view, someone should jump on them or at least discuss them because they seem big.
1) Between 3:05 and 3:15 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=a6cNdhOKwi0#t=187s ) there is an interesting interface labelled dashboard.  On one side of the current paradigm, you have touch typing and keyboards like the Das Keyboard Ultimate S with no letters ( http://www.daskeyboard.com/model-s-ultimate/ ).  In this case, the keyboard is strictly an input device.  Then at the other end, you have touch interfaces or mobile devices where you interact in close physical proximity or directly with an output device.  The dashboard idea in the video is a hybrid of the two that i think can be very useful.  If you just strap a short/wide screen to the top of a keyboard and equip the software with knowledge of the physical layout of the keyboard, you can create a context sensitive physical interface.  It also brings to mind the Optimus Maximus keyboard ( http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/ ) which is super cool but perhaps the wrong implementation, in that it is out of reach of the common man.  You have the Cool Leaf ( http://mashable.com/2011/04/27/cool-leaf-keyboard/ ) and the Optimus Tactus ( http://gizmodo.com/338553/optimus-tactus-touch-keyboard-should-be-called-optimus-retardus ) but they eliminate the arguably better physical interface of movable keys with their inherent haptic feedback in favor of a united input/output device.
A compromise that would be much less expensive and allow you the freedom to choose your keyboard would be an output device sidekick to the conventional keyboard that docks with or sits behind your keyboard that gives you cues or a context sensitive interface.  With interfaces that are well defined, well known, and in common use, this isn't that attractive.  But with one-off interfaces, new software, dynamic software that is feature rich, or with training new users, I feel this interface could shine.  Also, it would allow you to get information about a command or action before you activate it that help you decide whether to proceed, such as an unread email count for an email button for example.
2) The idea of homework points ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=a6cNdhOKwi0#t=268s 4:28) and making a game out of educating our children seems very beneficial.  Without knowing specifics, I am sure some work has been done in this direction.  The implementation embodied in this section of the video has other strengths as well.  The combination of educational gaming, social networking (friends' homework status and potentially competition or collaboration), and new interfaces (pen) could definitely revolutionize out of class education.
3) I kept seeing in the out-of-office sections of this video, touch and voice interfaces.  I thought that it might be a bit limiting that only office workers used keyboards.  Some mobile devices don't need any more than a touch/voice interface.  Other times, for example the newspaper-style device that comes with the hotel room ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=a6cNdhOKwi0#t=138s 2:18), you might want to do some work with a little better interface than touching and voice annotating to update a presentation.  The problem in this situation with current interfaces is that the interface is a device that sits on a desk.  A keyboard is fairly expressive in contrast to voice recognition being based on a dictionary of words that you adhere to or touch, being based on more constrained, designed interface.
Here's an experiment.  Imagine your dominant hand(for example) typing on a keyboard.  Pick whatever fingers you want and move them to the approximate location on your chosen keyboard layout of the key you want.  Keep typing something on your imaginary keyboard using whatever fingers and your imagined layout.  Given a way to measure finger motion, it doesn't seem too far out to design a heuristic algorithm to identify what imaginary key you're going for and use that information as input.  If you're just getting into the invisible keyboard business, this input method could have the same limitations as voice recognition - i.e. being limited to a dictionary of typed strings that could be based on what you have been known to type on a physical keyboard.  However, if you've been practicing, just as in touch typing, you'd get better at hitting your mark and the algorithm would have to rely less on guessing your intent rather than trusting your input.  This method could extend to two handed work just as well, but the idea is designed to eliminate the need for a dedicated input device/surface.  You could use this walking down the street.
Anyway, I hope someone likes my comment.  I think that these things could be successful and only hope that a) it helps technology evolve, and b) I get at least a mention for inspiration if someone builds something based on reading this.

So that's hopefully posted as a comment, though it wasn't showing up for me but it said I had already said that when I tried to repost, so who knows.  Next...

Apparently, if you practice enough and have a good sword, you can cut an airsoft bb mid-air.

I saw a Kinect commercial last night which ironically embraces the hacker possibilities even though initially they were not all about letting hackers in. Ladyada offered a bounty in November last year for reverse engineering and MS's reaction was "[we don't like it]".  Anyway, you can catch it here.  The thing i wanted to share was the song - a cover of Where Is My Mind.  So that's a funny story.

Here is an interesting take on bridges.

Sayuncle introduced me to a fleece version of the garment I am so enamored with: the coverall.

Herman Cain's website has a funny idea for a 404 page.

Racism sucks.  But still funny.

These stairs may or may not bey pleasurable to walk barefoot.

Star Wars Rap is classic.

Kind of like astronauts falling on the moon.

And here is a marvelous anachronism: a cell carrier ad on a crazy old tv.  Thanks to mental floss.

This is beautiful: Time-lapse video from ISS

Apparently Minecraft has lots of new things since last time I played.  Which brings me to this.

Here is some really nerdy news - Fedora might do away with the disparate binary directories that have been historically used in the Linux file system hierarchy.

This is very odd.

I aspire to have my living environment as well put together as Eric's.

Here is some good privacy invasion.

Hope you enjoy the links and stuff.  Chow.  Oh yeah that reminds me.  Trixy Stix.  Thought maybe it was a joke at first but they have recipes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

RCS Neck Holster


I opened the small box and out came an RCS Neck Holster!  It was like Christmas.  This thing is $40 well spent.  It is a two piece kydex job, held together with 4 eyelets.  I considered making my own, but I decided to just go with it and buy one.  The price didn’t seem too high compared to materials, plus I wouldn’t have to work up some kind of press or worry about learning technique.  I’m quite pleased with my decision to buy instead of build because I doubt I could have produced a finished product with as much polish and quality as this on my first try.  And I definitely don’t need to pick up any more hobbies.
It comes with 18-24 inches of paracord with the melted ends tied with what I’m told is a square knot.  My wife is a girl scout and while I never learned how to tie anything more than a granny knot, she taught knot day at summer camp for many years.  So when I asked her if she could retie it if I undid it, she laughed and asked “you don’t know how to tie a square knot?”  I shortened the cord a bit because I thought it hung a bit low.  The center eyelet contains the ends.  I’d like to pick up some paracord at some point and make a Merc-Harness, an $10 add-on option that I chose not to get.


The fit and finish of the holster is very good.  All the edges are smooth and the holster fits my P3AT like a glove.  If you look inside and the light is just right, you can see a mirror image of the manufacturer’s printing from the right side of the frame where it imprinted in the softened thermoplastic during molding.
It wears great.  I can throw it around my neck in the morning with just pajama pants to take out the dog or put it under my arm too for a little more concealment and a very convenient draw.
The RCS website says that “To draw, take a firing grip and pull the pistol strait[sic] down”, though I found that it helps a lot if you instead lever it out or pull the grip down instead of pulling the whole pistol straight down.
Along with the convenient and smooth draw, wearing it around the neck and under the arm keeps it from being used to choke you.  The trade-off is that the paracord rubs the side of your neck when you turn your head.  It is alleviated by a collared shirt.
Overall, it’s a great, light-weight way to carry a light-weight gun, and if this neck holster is any indication, I could see myself buying from RCS in the future.  This is a solid product.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Yay! New stuff!

Time... Never enough.

Starting with Gear:
SRM Arms built a auto loading shotgun that is a cross between a Saiga and a normal shotgun with an XRAIL.  The big version has 16-round magazines and there are two shorter versions with 12 and 8 round magazines.  It is like a Saiga in that it has detachable mags and like an XRAIL in that they are of a rotary tube configuration.  They built it a few years ago - it debuted at the 2008 shot show - but now they are in production and already one has made it to Gunbroker for $2800, a bit over the ask price of $2399, but that one is already out of the factory.  I wouldn't be surprised if there was a big wait on production like with the recent Keltec guns.  Steve at  The Firearm Blog posted the gunbroker find here.  There are more pics and vids of the gun and an online store here.


SayUncle reports that Tam at View From The Porch got a Raven Concealment holster for her M&P-9.  Its kinda funny because I just got my RCS neck holster for my P3AT in the mail a week or so ago.  I ordered it back at the end of June, a little bummed about the wait time, but heard good things and knew it would be like Christmas when I finally got it.  Arguably the best $39.99 I've ever spent - it means that I really don't have an excuse not to be carrying.  Even when I take the dog out in just gym shorts.  Anyway I'm going to post a review here Saturday (not likely) or Tuesday (way more likely).  I don't want to give too much away, but I like it.


Also I read somewhere about how bangin 10-8 sights were.  I'm putting them on my Amazon Wish List.  Maybe if I'm super lucky, I can get some from them for T&E.  Speaking of T&E, Farnell, the parent company of Newark Electronics, sent me an email offering to give me some T&E stuff.  I let him know that I was interested in some current sensors from Allegro Microsystems.  They're pretty cool and I intend to set them up in our breaker box to watch current usage.  I've received some of the promised samples but I don't know if i'll get the others.  I'll get to work in the next week or two on trying them out.


Something indirectly gear related: BoingBoing linked an excellent vid on cord bundling technique.  It has many applications and looks like a valuable addition to your skill arsenal.  Real short and sweet, go on and click it.


On into politics/news (my apologies if it's old, maybe I don't blog enough):
Have you heard of the man in the California Republic (great illustration which reminds me of the NCR flag) who lives as an adult baby?  I think I caught a piece on TV about it a while back.  Its messed up.  Anyway, the guy gets like $900 a month in disability checks.  Apparently he has been triple-cleared of accusations of disablility fraud.  Even though he has a van and drives and can make his own baby furniture.  Doesn't makes sense.  Thanks for the update SayUncle.  I too weep for the country.


I picked up my wife's Rolling Stone the other day and found a few interesting articles in it.  There was something about one of the 2 Broke Girls chicks, something about David Guetta and something else, and then an article about Rick Perry.  Here it is on the website.  It's a good read.  I didn't do any research and am taking it at face value, but even if half the things in it are true, Rick Perry definitely should be out of the running.  There has to be someone better in the race.


I found this article in The Nation.  I don't know where I found it but it's ok.  The best part was where it points out that:
The government [] charg[es] students nearly 7 percent while it charges the banks nothing and can itself borrow for less than nothing?

That seems like a problem to me. Even with those advantages, the national debt is huge and the economy is in the shitter.


So Anonymous is going up against the cartels.  Not all of Anonymous - just like last time, they're not all on the same page, but still, good for them.


There was a gun buyback (dumbest idea I've ever heard of) in Oregon.  Collectors diverted 10-15 of the 55-ish guns away from senseless destruction.  Reminds me of the one in Texas where activists intercepted bunches of them to get them into the hands of those who couldn't afford to defend themselves.  My wife made a good point when I told her about it.  She said that the only people who benefit from perfectly good guns being destroyed are the gun manufacturers, who have to produce and sell more to replace them.

Cops are still somewhat shameful:
Couple forgets to pay for a $5 sandwich. Kids taken for 18 hours. You’d think at some point someone in position of authority would stop and realize how stupid this whole thing was. You’d be wrong.
Couldn't have put it any better myself SayUncle.


This is absurd.  The Miami officer is going 120mph because he's late for an offduty job.  Trooper gives him whats coming to him.


Murdoc posts a good one about corrupt NYPD:
So to summarize: Some cops have been breaking the law for their friends. Other cops are standing with them publicly. At the behest of the union, who supplied them with signs using the same excuse used by concentration camp workers.
Yeah - he went there.  And for  good reason.


Where do they get this behavior from?  Maybe it's because Federal Government is a role model for stupidity and corruption.  BoingBoing points out stupidity:
Turns out that the legislation that established America's drug czarrequires the office-holder to oppose all drug legalization efforts.

Rob Allen is absolutely right that everyone needs to be held accountable to the law.

Entertainment!  Yay!
Halloween rundown:
Great flasher costume!  Great dog costume!  Great pumpkin-based decorations(click all three)!  New camouflage pattern!  Nice hat!


A Coke machine with "no less than eleventy billion flavors of cool liquid refreshment"? Holy Crap!


Great video my buddy sent me.  Check out his pictures.


This commercial is gross.  For me to say that, you have to respect it.  Maybe I only find it disgusting because I imagine what's going on in those explosions.  Doesn't matter, still gross.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fun

Here are some fun links.  Who likes high speed video?  Rather, who doesn't like high speed video?  Weerd linked this Smarter Every Day video about eye-pro.  They suggested this group.  Give both their channels a browse.  Soccer/football full of water to the face = classic.

Saysuncle makes a catty (lol, I kill me) political commentary.

This is just odd: beached Lego not-so-minifigs.

This one is sneaky.  You think it's just going to be a normal campaign ad and then it's over and you have to laugh.

Monday, October 17, 2011

rite aid funny and honey badger funny

this makes me laugh.  oh rite aid, why do you do this to yourself?
and this makes me laugh.
this is a version with less noise and more lethality and concealability.  p.s.: did you know randall has a youtube channel?  here's a different honey badger.

republish of airwick odor detect teardown

So I accidentally deleted this post but for some reason it appeared in Reader so here is a lucky recreation: I’ve been meaning to post this for about a week now. My wife got a whole bunch of these Airwick Odor Detect things for free with her coupon voodoo. So naturally, I was compelled to take apart at least one. Here’s what I found:Inside the case, which was interestingly fastened with melted snap-tabs instead of screws or regular snaps (you’ll see if you open one, just use a knife to go in through the side and cut through them), was a built-in holder for the three included white-label AA batteries.
Also the ARNIE COMPACT3 ISS.4 controller board

the wired-in ARNIE SENSOR Rev0

board and a momentary SPST switch like the power button on lots of computers. Also, a solenoid with a built-in nozzle


was the only thing that used a connector (a JST, like LiPo’s) to connect to the controller board.So the really interesting bit was the ARNIE SENSOR Rev0 board. I did a little digging to see if anyone else had figured out what the deal was with that part. I had expected a typical gas sensor such as a http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9404 but since I didn’t know how they worked until a moment ago, I didn’t realize that I'm pretty sure they work the same way but just look radically different. I didn’t find anything documented about a teardown (didn’t look terribly long, feel free to update me on a previous posting) but I did stumble upon this: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/03/prweb5115684.htm which put me on the right track. Allied sensor makes some parts and this seems to be the mystery part on the board: http://www.appliedsensor.com/pdfs/APS_MOS_1109.pdf
A related sheet has this interesting note: Do not operate gas sensors in the vicinity of silicone and polysiloxanes. I’m guessing it has something to do with this document: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/pubs/pdfs/svpoc.pdf, apparently they can poison catalytic methane sensors which I feel confident now are similar. So yeah, the meat of this system is this nifty little sensor chip which has 4 leads. Two power a heater and two give you a resistance based on the chemical activity on the chip and you measure this to get air quality. Cool huh?

Update:
it looks like those crafty germans beat me to it as far back as june.  go google translate!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

23 tabs need to go away

would you like to hear about them?  lets start with cool stuff.

here is a video about just one of the strange things your mind does.  you may have heard about it.  it's called the placebo effect.

matt posted a bit about cyalume's idIRt.  it is infrared luminescent dirt you can put down for marking things that pass through an area.  you could also use it for other things i'm sure, but that is the pitch.  if your squad had nv gear or ccd's, you could draw in the idIRT for a field briefing.  or you could mark a trail or path.  very interesting product.

i could really go for a $150 mosin w/ ati sporter stock.  i've been meaning to put a rail on my 91/30 but it would go better on this.  too bad i'm not buying guns right now.


so.  politics time.
steve bartin points out that fox news says that that the end of the chicago handgun ban has been coincident with a 14% drop in murders.  this shouldn't be surprising considering the data in such reports as i have posted about previously in last thursday's link dump.  oh and surprise, fbi stats support this (thanks murdoc)

also, i did a bit of light reading on libertarianism(overview section) because of robb's post and realized two things.  1) the land of the free seems like a good home for a libertarian society.  2) most people probably don't even know what it is, much less what dems or reps believe in besides that one side is good and the other bad.  kevin is absolutely right in pointing out what john dewey stated: "Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone is interdependent."


next we move to insanity, which i guess is what alot of things on this blog are about because i see fucked up things and think more people should know about them.  for starters, wizardpc ends his post on waiting for a new can with an excellent point: "All for a safety device."  mufflers are mandatory safety equipment on cars, but on guns, they require a $200 tax stamp and much legal bullshit.

wow.  so there is apparently a history of operations involving walking guns.  i didn't know that.  thanks for the update on atf shenanigans, sayuncle.  and there is talk about getting rid of atf.  that may be a mixed bag, but i think joe is right that it would probably be best for the sake of downsizing government.

so this is some Mass. craziness.  they want to implement microprinting: making the gun stamp the casings during firing.  this is stupid because a) if you keep your casings, you make the law pointless.  b) the NY gun fingerprint database has helped solve 0 crimes.  c) the canadian gun registry is crap.  d) if i was a gun manufacturer and this law passed, i would just not bother selling Mass. legal guns.  microprinting is all kinds of crazy.

it seems like there should be a line, an extra step, a distinction between enemies of the state that are US citizens.  citizenship should mean something, unlike in Mass.  but apparently, it's ok to assasinate US citizens if they are unpopular or out of the country or whatever fucked up reasoning they used.  i'm not saying killing our enemies without a trial is necessarily wrong, but citizenship should mean something.

ok so this takes a few click-throughs to get to the source(i started here, but am now adding volokh conspiracy to my blog reading list because he has good stuff), but the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of four New York state senators has published a report on cyberbullying and in it actually use the phrase "a more refined First Amendment."  eugene volokh prints "The sentence reads, in a context that shows the authors agree with the argument: 
Proponents of a more refined First Amendment argue that this freedom should be treated not as a right but as a privilege — a special entitlement granted by the state on a conditional basis that can be revoked if it is ever abused or maltreated."
 the boing boing article has a few more tidbits about the absurdity of the document, but the most profane part is that they are actually suggesting the first amendment needs to be changed.  sure we have the means to amend the constitution, shown by the fact that it was an amendment and not originally in there by design, but that principle is a pretty core belief for the country.  going back on that is insane.  anyone else think so?

italy is working on laws that are similarly crazy and close in subject matter.  a wiretapping law is causing wikipedia to get rid of its italian site because any yahoo can make a claim of offense to get something removed, which is obviously not practical on wikipedia.


now the infuriating stuff.  bad cop time.  this guy is a douche, which you can see in the video.

in missouri, a dog gets shot twice for being vicious, but not vicious enough to prevent the complaining mother from chaining it to her truck.  when the cops get there, the dog is docile and they fuck with it until it's demeanor changes at which point they shoot it.  i don't think this is a black and white issue, but i think the situation was definitely handled incorrectly.  here is a news story about it.

enjoy.