Archive for February 2009

Theme Thursday: Toy   6 comments

Today’s Theme is “Toy”.

Here’s some of my favorites from when I was a kid, in no particular order.  I picked these for particular memories, some of my other favorite toys that were more “workaday” are therefore left for some other post.

DARK TOWER – Mentioned for Greg

Greg Riopel owned this.  I can’t count the number of times we played it.  I still remember these sounds.

LAZER TAG – Mentioned for Andy

I even had this one:

I still have the pistol (I think it might even work), but the rifle is long gone.  I wonder what happened to it?

TINKER TOYS – Mentioned just for Me

I loved these, I must have made a million improbable constructs out of them.  They’re still available, some day I’ll get Jack a set, methinks.

THE GUYS – Mentioned for Megan

I had quite a few Star Wars Action Figures.  Megan and I invented somewhere on the order of 50 different games using them as pieces.  I had a bunch of the vehicles, as well, from the AT-AT to the Falcon, and even at one point the Death Star (which was destroyed rather rapidly).  Oddly enough, Greg and I had almost no intersection when it came to the ships, he had the X-wing and the Tie fighter and the landspeeder.  Funny, I don’t know that we ever put them all together and played with them in a bunch.


Stupidly entertaining.  One of the best games that bridged the gap between my younger brother and I with our almost 5 year age difference.  Tom, we’re going to have to buy one of these and play again!

M.U.S.C.L.E. GUYS -Mentioned for Marc

Another toy that was usable in a bunch of various organically grown games.  Marc and I played with these silly things for hours, we had a rather involved set of rules about stats and combat abilities involving bags of dice.  I wonder if Marc still has any of these?  They’re apparently a collector’s item now…

EAGLE-1 – Mentioned for Doug Wedge

Quite possibly the coolest toy ever.  It was HUGE, two and a half feet long.  I watched the show because of this toy, even though the show was largely incomprehensible to someone who was five at the time.

I’ve spent about an hour trying to dredge my brain for toys that remind me particularly of Ann, and I can’t think of one.  That’s actually unsurprising, since Ann was either playing with Sara or Caitlin (with whatever toy was popular for their age group at the time) and ignoring the boys altogether, or the older kids were off ignoring the youngest kids.  By the time Ann was old enough to savvy games that I found fun, I was off on my bike at Greg or Andy or Marc’s house.  Still, that makes me sad.  I feel like I owe Ann a fun toy memory.

Posted February 26, 2009 by padraic2112 in Theme Thursday, Uncategorized

I’m Not Dead   1 comment

I’ve just been here:

More photos of the kiddos enjoying the snow here.

Posted February 25, 2009 by padraic2112 in family, noise

F is for Funkalicious   3 comments

From Meg, something she picked up on over at Life in Progress. Simple rules – the blogger provides you with a letter, and you have to come up with 10 words starting with that letter that mean something to you.

Without further ado…

  1. Frankenstein.  One of my favorite old-timey horror movies.
  2. Frisbee.  I tried to get Duffy to be a frisbee dog, it failed miserably.  He likes chasing balls, though.
  3. Functional.  I like objects that not only have a purpose, but are designed well.  Features aren’t as important as function.
  4. Fireworks.  Next to astronaut, pyrotechnician is the coolest job ever.
  5. Flapjacks.  I love my wife’s pancakes.
  6. Fantasy.  I’m immensely practical when it comes to work, school, and home life.  When I’m looking for entertainment, I usually want an element of fantasy.  Give me something unreal.
  7. Fan.  I don’t like still air.  When it comes to my personal space, I’ll often have a fan running unless it’s going to bother someone else.
  8. Frammistat.  I make up words a lot, especially when goofing around with the kids.  I think it might be a genetic disease, Dad has a fairly advanced case.
  9. Firefly.  I’ve never seen one.  I’ve always wondered what a small swarm of them would look like.
  10. Family. Kitty suggested this, as I was having a brainfreeze (“f” is harder than I thought) … but it’s perfect. I’m close to my siblings and my parents, I adore my wife and my kids, and I’ve melded in with my in-laws. Family, extended or otherwise, are an immediate part of my life. I always feel for people that have trouble dealing with their own families.

Posted February 11, 2009 by padraic2112 in memes

Best. Advertisement Copy. Ever.   3 comments



The Computer wants you to be happy. If you are not happy, you may be
used as reactor shielding.
The Computer is crazy. The Computer is happy. The Computer will help
you become happy. This will drive you crazy.
Being a citizen of Alpha Complex is fun. The Computer says so, and
The Computer is your friend.
Rooting out traitors will make you happy. The Computer tells you so.
Can you doubt The Computer?
Being a Troubleshooter is fun. The Computer tells you so. Of course
The Computer is right.
Troubleshooters get shot at, stabbed, incinerated, stapled, mangled,
poisoned, blown to bits, and occasionally accidentally executed. This
is so much fun that many Troubleshooters go crazy. You will be
working with many Troubleshooters. All of them carry lasers.
Aren’t you glad you have a laser? Won’t this be fun?
There are many traitors in Alpha Complex. There are many happy
citizens in Alpha Complex. Most of the happy citizens are crazy. It
is hard to say which is more dangerous – traitors or happy
citizens. Watch out for both of them.
The life of a Troubleshooter is full of surprises.
Stay alert! Trust no one! Keep your laser handy!

Posted February 10, 2009 by padraic2112 in humor

Theme Thursday : Statue   4 comments

Today’s theme is “Statue”.

This is my America.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


Since September 2001, she’s been off-limits. That implies we’re still losing the “War on Terror”.

Posted February 5, 2009 by padraic2112 in Theme Thursday, Uncategorized

Hey, Buddy, Can You Spare $15,602,022,489,829,821,422,840,226.94?   2 comments

A very oversimplified cost estimate for the Death Star over at Gizmodo.

Of course, this is ridiculous.  If you were building a Death Star, you certainly wouldn’t bother trying to schlep the raw materials up out of the gravity well of the Earth.  You immediately cut $12.79 septillion out of your cost estimate if you just start mining asteroids.  That’s an almost 82% reduction out of this budget, right there.

Come on, Gizmodo.  You can’t give a guy huge nerd points when they miss such a blatantly obvious scrounging opportunity.

Posted February 4, 2009 by padraic2112 in humor, noise, web sites

Niel Nickolaisen is My Hero   Leave a comment

I have a pile of “CIO Decisions” on my desk.  They’re good bathroom reading for IT people.  The content is not what I would call deep and rigorous, but even when it is just complete fluff it is interesting to see what sort of complete fluff other IT people are currently thinking about.

The September 2007 issue had a final article entitled “How I Fixed My Telco Billing Problems”.  Full article is available online here (you need to register to read it).  From the article:

What am I mad about? Invoices from telecommunications providers (voice, data, cellular). It seems to be standard industry practice for their invoices to be wrong. Not marginally wrong, but very wrong.

No kidding!  When I ran the phone switch and took care of the telco billing at Idealab not a month went by that I didn’t find something wrong, somewhere.  For example, a vendor who shall remain nameless simply forgot that they had provided us with a DS3.  Of course, it was several orders of magnitude more likely that they’d charge us for something (or charge us at some rate) that was incorrect.  Slogging through those bills was a huge time sink.  Niel’s solution?

I am changing the relationship (and my contracts) with my telco providers. A few weeks ago I started the process with one of my major providers. Instead of having someone on my staff scrutinize their bills to ensure they are accurate, I told this provider that it is their responsibility to send me an accurate invoice. If this requires them to hire additional staff to replicate what my staff is doing (or even to hire one of the cottage industry vendors), so be it. Rather than scrutinize their bills for accuracy, I will do some sampling. The first time we find an error, I require the provider to give me a 10% credit, recalculate the invoice, and try again. If the rebill still contains errors, the provider gives me another 10% credit and tries again. Perhaps this will give the providers a financial incentive to get things right the first time.

Brilliant.  Niel, you deserve a bonus.  If I was stuck running telco again, renegotiating those contracts would be job #1.

Posted February 4, 2009 by padraic2112 in management, networking, tech

New Blog   1 comment

I’ve started a new blog over here.  This one will still be running, of course.

Posted February 4, 2009 by padraic2112 in information science, news, research, science, security

Time to get your Velociraptor coverage   2 comments

Now, while it’s still cheap… before our dinosaur overlords are cloned.

The Pyrenean ibex, a form of wild mountain goat, was officially declared extinct in 2000 when the last-known animal of its kind was found dead in northern Spain.

Shortly before its death, scientists preserved skin samples of the goat, a subspecies of the Spanish ibex that live in mountain ranges across the country, in liquid nitrogen.

Using DNA taken from these skin samples, the scientists were able to replace the genetic material in eggs from domestic goats, to clone a female Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo as they are known. It is the first time an extinct animal has been cloned.

Posted February 3, 2009 by padraic2112 in noise, science

Exception Scenarios   1 comment

From XKCD:


Of course, a *good* security system takes such a case into account… but then, good security systems aren’t necessarily created by crypto nerds.

Posted February 2, 2009 by padraic2112 in humor, web sites