Monthly Archives: December 2008

Watch our dogs

Olive and Jeffrey, live on vacation

I set up my netbook as a webcam to watch the dogs during the holidays. It uploads fresh pictures every few seconds. It’s not making me feel any better about leaving them at home with three daily visits from a pet sitter.

Maybe you can help. Bookmark this photo and refresh it frequently for the next week. Thanks for watching our dogs!

Do you live where the stars at night are big and bright? Do you want to pet Olive and throw the ball for Jeffrey? Ask me how!

My portable office

Every week I spend several days at coworking. I have been known to work in coffee shops, too, and I rarely travel without my laptop. It’s important to be comfortable wherever I happen to be working. Over the years I have collected a few small items that turn my laptop into a portable office.

The first thing I pack is my Griffin Elevator laptop stand. This elevates the display so I don’t hunch quite as much compared to using the laptop directly on the table. It also places a large empty space next to the bottom of the laptop, helping it stay cool with less fan noise.

Griffin Elevator in backpack

The stand is made of three light-weight parts that fit in the front pocket of my backpack. The aluminum legs act as rigid compartments for other gear, like my power supply and mouse. Since I plug in at home most nights after coworking, I keep a second power supply at my desk to save time.

Logitech VX Revolution laptop mouse

My favorite mouse is the Logitech VX Revolution laptop mouse, which I also use at home. I bought many mice before this one, and I haven’t tried a new one since.

Apple USB Keyboard

I also carry an Apple USB Keyboard. It’s thin, durable, and reliable, and it goes everywhere with me. I chose USB instead of wireless because I like having a numeric keypad. It also has two USB ports. This lets me install the mouse dongle just inches from the mouse so I never have RF interference issues.

Wacom Bamboo Fun Medium pen tablet

When my wrist hurts from repetitive strain, I also pack a Wacom Bamboo Fun pen tablet. It’s not as good as a mouse for most things, but it’s a capable and comfortable alternative for those bad wrist days. The Bamboo tablet is both inexpensive and slim, making it a fine travel companion.

My bag? It’s a Timbuk2 Hacker Daypack in ballistic nylon. I carry two laptops (a 15-inch Mac and a 9-inch netbook) everywhere in this bag, and I still have room for other gadgets and accessories. All I need is a table, a chair, and maybe a 24-inch monitor.

Paid Straight

There is so much talk about how the government must fix the economy. The teetering corporate giants loom over our vulnerable cities, foretelling the doom of everyone who lives in their shadow. Woe is us, brother. We put too many eggs in too few baskets and now look where we are: proving once again that we would sooner repeat our mistakes than take the consequences and learn something. Are we really too far advanced to learn anything?

I’ll tell you the truth in the next paragraph. First let me tell some lies. Nobody is happy with the situation. Nobody is immune to it. Nobody wants to see good people take the fall. Nobody is seeking to profit from disaster. Nobody elected to their office would take this opportunity to suck federal money into their local communities to guarantee their election for another term. Nobody on the public payroll would take a bribe. Never forget those lies.

Now the truth. To get your way in this country you have to pay for it. To get your way in this country you have to pay for it. To get your way in this country you have to pay for it. To get your way in this country you have to pay for it. To get your way in this country you have to pay for it. To get your way in this country you have to pay for it. Always remember that truth.

Now a fresh idea. Let’s start bribing our politicians openly. We could take up a collection to pay our representatives to balance the budget, for example. Would that even be a bribe? A reward for the correct performance of a sworn duty… why, that sounds to me like the definition of fairness. But isn’t that why we pay them in the first place?

Feline Amplifier

A tiny motion induced in a cat’s epidermis, or an even smaller vibration induced in its eardrum, will produce a reflexive reaction in the cat’s nervous system and that in turn will be amplified into muscular contractions involving a quantity of energy several orders of magnitude larger than the energy of the input. The reaction manifests every time the stimulus impinges on a living cat. The magnitude of any single reaction is the result of an unknown function ranging from barely perceptible up to the maximum muscular exertion threshold of the cat. An effective amplifier would be rated according to the accuracy of the system, measured by the span of time required to achieve certainty of the correctness of any output for a given input, and the simplicity of the system, measured by the number of cats involved.

Big Lebowski Easter Egg

Character wardrobes are either memorable or forgettable. I can’t catch a glimpse of a red-haired woman in a green robe without being reminded of Maude, yet a man wearing a white suit over a red shirt probably wouldn’t make me think of Jackie Treehorn. What was the Dude wearing when he crashed into the dumpster? Probably he had on a grungy V-neck and a sweater, but that’s because the Dude abides. Maybe my noticing the robe is a personal fixation. I’m okay with that. This isn’t my thesis, it’s just conversation.

Most of the wardrobe design in The Big Lebowski is subtle, though I believe it was nearly all intentional. During a recent viewing, I noticed that two characters had swapped shirts. Have you noticed? If so, did you find it significant?

If you intend to look for it, don’t decode this rot13-encoded clue: “fvp frzcre”.