Dealing with monkeys

There is a problem with monkeys in Delhi.

The deputy mayor of the Indian capital Delhi has died a day after being attacked by a horde of wild monkeys.

Now we at the Blahg don’t normally make light of the suffering of others (yes, yes we often do), but that’s got to be one hella tough story to tell when arriving in the after-life.

Experts in the area are searching for a response that will curb the monkey problem. I have an idea what NOT to do, but the so-called experts are going to try something I’d recommend not trying:

One approach has been to train bands of larger, more ferocious langur monkeys to go after the smaller groups of Rhesus macaques.

Jeff Goldblum would disapprove in a Jurassic Park universe, I think. And as brilliance expert Bill (of DQ fame) pointed out – That has Kim Possible written all over it.

[tags]Monkeys, Bad dates, Death by monkey, I know an old lady who swallowed a fly[/tags]

Build your own Sputnik

It’s been 50 years since the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, shaming the American government into taking the space race seriously. In part of a look back BBC News has a retrospective on the Sputnik launch and a guide in brief on building your own satellite.

“Technology now is way ahead of what was available in 1957, and making your own fully functional Sputnik would now be very simple indeed,” says Jan Buiting, editor of Elektor Electronics, a hobbyist magazine.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you could build one in a container smaller than a matchbox, weighing about as much as a wristwatch. The components, including a transmitter, battery and the sensors you’d need would probably cost less than £50,” he says.

Of course, launching it into space, getting it to the right altitude to orbit, and keeping track of it might all require a bit more. However, the basics of building the device are clearly easily achieved in modern times.

[tags]Sputnik, Space race, DIY, Build your own Sputnik[/tags]

Potential universal installer for Linux

The pessimist in me expects this will become just another Linux/Unix/BSD installation tool, thus diluting the pool of installation and update offerings for the 27 gajillion Linux distributions. Maybe this time, however, the hoped for universal cross-distro package management tool and software installer will be found with recently updated Nixstaller tool that has been under-way for the past year and a half or so.

Nixstaller is an Open Source project with the goal to create user friendly and flexible installers that work on various UNIX like systems.

Main Features

  • Three different installer frontends, powered by GTK+2, FLTK and ncurses.
  • Support for many common UNIX like systems (see table below)
  • Can be fully translated (English and Dutch translations are already provided)
  • The installation files can be compressed with lzma, gzip and bzip2.
  • The installation files that should be used can depend on the current system.
  • Lua support is provided to configure the installer and to program the installation procedure. This allows very flexible configurations.
  • Very few dependencies: the end user and install creator only needs one of the supported systems. For compilation SCons (and python) is also required.

It’s an interesting project, and certainly not the first such undertaking. Given the slow track of progress, I’m extra skeptical, but I fully support any efforts to more closely unify Linux distributions. I feel anything that legitimately makes using Linux easier while not taking away capabilities from power-users that know their ways around is a good thing to have.

[tags]Linux, Universal installer, Nistaller[/tags]

Happy belated 2nd anniversary Modern Mechanix blog

I missed this a few days ago while my own site was suffering some internal errors, so couldn’t post this until I got everything back up and running. As of October 18th, 2007, the Modern Mechanix blog was two years old. Catch up with the site, see the first article posted there, and learn some of the statistics and operations that keep this amazing resource of yesterday’s tomorrow running so well.

I want to give a huge thanks to my roommate Simone for all of her help on this site. Without her there really would not be a Modern Mechanix blog. When I met Simone my magazine collection consisted of a few old Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines from the 1950’s. I had bought them simply because I loved reading them. Originally my idea for the blog was only to post early articles about things that had become everyday. Basically, the whole blog was meant to be what is now the Origins category. I was thinking of naming the blog “Prior Art” or “You heard it here first”, both pretty lame. Simone and I had talked about my idea for the site and for my birthday she got me a pile of Modern Mechanix mags from ebay and Modern Mechanix the blog was born. Later she came up with a name I liked a lot better, “Retrospectacle” but we had already developed a small following and I didn’t really want to change the name midstream. I noticed recently that someone else came up with that name as well. I actually still own the domain.

I sit here in envy of what MM has achieved in two years of existance. With nearly the same run time for the Blahg, my best day ever for the Blahg saw just over 600 visitors, and recent downtime and a slow posting period have cut my readership at least 75% from that high. Hopefully MM will not let up and will keep posting some of the great insights of what we should be living with today according to the experts from 30 to 100 years ago.

[tags]Modern Mechanix, Happy anniversary, Yesterday’s tomorrow today[/tags]

Site update mostly complete

I have finished most of the necessary steps to rebuild the Blahg. I’m now running under the new setup. If you notice any broken images or links back into the site, please let me know in the comments here or via the Contact Me page. There are a couple more things which I know are not currently implemented, and will work to correct them. Look for real site activity to return tomorrow afternoon and pick up steam again beginning Monday or Tuesday.

Damn leprechauns

I know many of you will read this poor gentleman’s sad tale of Irish tragedy and think “There but for the grace of God.”

I, however, read it and realize that some day that could be my picture in the paper. I can’t tell you how many times leprechauns have tricked me in to cars that weren’t mine.

A man was caught Tuesday morning inside a car with his pants down.

. . .

Investigators said Leblanc told them he had done drugs and believed that a leprechaun had let him into the car.

Oddly, the leprechauns only open car doors for me when I also am wandering through the streets without any pants on. (via boingboing)

[tags]Leprechauns, Always after me lucky charms, Pantless, There’s an explosion – IN MAH PANTS[/tags]

Staying on the down-low on P2P

All the cool kids are in to peer-to-peer filesharing these days. Estimates suggest anywhere from 30% to 90% of all internet traffic (depending on which source you believe) is P2P filesharing traffic, so this is clearly something that a lot of folks online are using. Naturally, the companies responsible for distributing physical media resources for distributing this information (here I’m thinkg of companies like the RIAA and MPAA since they are the most visibly affected) want to stop this online trading, and have taken steps to disrupt the data-streams.

Recently, University of California, Riverside researchers studied filesharing traffic, looking to see how much those sharing files are watched. Condensing that report to a highlights summary, PhysOrg has this brief article about the results of the filesharing observation work.

“We found that a naïve user has no chance of staying anonymous,” said Banerjee. “One hundred percent of the time, unprotected file-sharing was tracked by people there to look for copyright infringement.”

However, the research showed that “blocklist” software such as (PeerGuardian, Bluetack, and Trusty Files) are fairly effective at reducing the risks of being observed down to about 1 percent.

Read the linked PhysOrg story for a little more information, or download the full PDF paper, titled P2P: Is Big Brother Watching You? to see what the researchers found. This should help you understand how to protect yourself and minimize your exposure to the industry watchers who are looking for downloaders.

While I don’t propose folks start stealing songs, movies, TV shows, and so on from the content producers, I agree with one of the researchers who points out that this technology is not going away, and these industries would have a much better future if they worked to leverage the technology and offer reasonably priced options to users rather than trying to just shut down P2P.

[tags]P2P, Peer to peer, Filesharing, Is big brother watching you, Big Brother, MPAA, RIAA[/tags]


Fox sports usability

While catching up on with the latest news about the worthless fuckers who shot a man in an attempted robbery at the university where my wife works, I saw the following three indecipherable links to sports stories. Can you tell WTF they are supposed to say? If you were in charge of the Fox Sports web site, would you have a talk with your site layout designers?

fox-sports-01 “Another early playoff exit, another off-season of questions, Ken Rosenthal says. The big one? Who’s seen their last days in N.Y.?”

fox-sports-02“Which star do you want on the mound in October – Schilling or Clemens? After Sunday, Mark Kriegel thinks the choice is clear.”

fox-sports-03“The Lions have looked like contenders at times and pretenders at others. Alex Marvez breaks down the inconsistency.”

And those images showed up the same in Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer. It seems that someone needs a little lesson in CSS or usability and user interface design.  Sure, with squinting and reaaalllllly focusing on the images, you can just make out the text.  Personally, I think better coloring on the background would work that problem out just fine.

[tags]Fox Sports, User interface design, Usability, WTF[/tags]

Stupid people doing stupid things

I’m certainly no fan of President Bush and his war-work, but really, can’t we do something to get rid of the folks who go overboard like this? (absolutely NSFW Let’s go ahead and start with folks like this:


I can understand some of the sentiments expressed by protestors in some of the photos, but very few and I don’t think the excessive stances help anything.

And my goodness, why can’t we have more hot chicks at the nude and topless protests instead of the androgynous freaks seen in almost all those photos?

[tags]Overboard, Overreacting, Me thinks thou dost protest too much[/tags]