The art of soldering

As a friend pointed out to me recently, most people are rotten at soldering (you know who are are, gloppy blobbers). I am included among the lame solderers, and decided to say “bullshit – this is a skill I can acquire”, so my first stop, as usual, was wikipedia. Their article, while informative, was not as helpful as the first external link they pointed to:

Soldering 101.*

Very good stuff and ad-free, which is surprising. BTW, wikipedia is having another fundraiser and it’s a good cause so if you can, go donate blah blah etc. Oh and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – I have a feeling it’s going to be a very good year.

* Update 12-15-2016: Time keeps ticking, and that page above is no longer active. This page is just as good or better, and some nice helpful guys there, too (Hi Sam and Max!):

The Art of Soldering.

Send the crew of the I.S.S. a postcard for Christmas!

We sent the I.S.S. crew a greeting card, and you can, too – just go here:
Here’s the one we sent (the back of it anyway – there are 4 fronts you can choose from, we picked the floating spaceman):
The back of the postcard we sent the crew of the I.S.S.

When you click the [SEND] button you get this message, which is cool – it’s like it’s actually uploading the card to the space station heh:
Uploading directly to the I.S.S. computers

Muggy said we forgot Hoppy (our dog) so we sent them one from her, too:
Arrrffff!! Arrrrfffff!!

Ha, my lame Ascii art reminds me of K-9 :rotate:

The humor of GNU GPL

Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the program
`Gnomovision’ (which makes passes at compilers) written by James Hacker.

[signature of Ty Coon], 1 April 1989
Ty Coon, President of Vice

Google Flu Trends – (Me and Muggy got our flu shots)

Infuenza Virus

“What if Google knew before anyone else that a fast-spreading flu outbreak was putting you at heightened risk of getting sick? And what if it could alert you, your doctor and your local public health officials before the muscle aches and chills kicked in? That, in essence, is the promise of Google Flu Trends, a new Web tool … unveiled on Tuesday, right at the start of flu season in the US. Google Flu Trends is based on the simple idea that people who are feeling sick will tend to turn to the Web for information, typing things like ‘flu symptoms; or ‘muscle aches’ into Google. The service tracks such queries and charts their ebb and flow, broken down by regions and states.”

Here’s the full article

Here is the google app:

Wow it’s kind of scary, google is not only big brother – it’s big mother. Soon it will remind me to wear my coat if it’s chilly and find the best deals for chicken soup when I’ve got the sniffles.
big brother is watching

Christmas Time

Don, Kent and I wrote a Christmas song (called Christmas Time)* last year, a collaborative effort that has languished (for the most part) forgotten until now. There were quite a few editing and mixing issues that I hadn’t had time to tackle until recently, and after all (I thought to myself), what’s the hurry? Christmas is months away…months I tells ya….


Guess what? There are only -357 days left until Christmas! AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!
(That’s a little php script that will update with the correct amount of time left, cool huh.)

Anyway it’s really amazing and dark, and probably the second saddest Christmas tune ever written – THE saddest Christmas song is this one. I like Perry Como’s version, but Bing’s is all right, too.

Merry Christmas!

Session Notes: For those interested Don came up with the piano part, then we all sat around bouncing lyric ideas around – the majority were written by Kent (if I remember correctly), which is only appropriate as he also sang it. Then me and Don laid down some overdubs (eerie, spaced out guitar and synth guitar by me, and muted trumpet by Don). Then I mixed it and made a few edits and viola! – instant Christmas classic…I remember a strong feeling of happiness and goodwill during the session, as well as the sense that we were doing something very special.

And I thought Talkie Toaster was cool

I’ve always wanted a Talkie Toaster (with a volume knob, of course), but I could settle for this:
I find your lack of toast disturbing...
[This is the mouseover text for our RSS via email readers: “I find your lack of toast disturbing…”]

First degree toaster-cide

  • I toast, therefore I am.
  • Thank you, Captain Voorhese. One final question – would you like some toast?
  • Bread provisions will only be provided to registered crew members. Are you a registered crew member?
  • XKCD DRM-free comic: piracy or lunacy?

    This XKCD comic makes you think, and then makes you angry:
    I spent more time trying to get an audio book playing than it took to listen to the book.  I have lost every other piece of DRM-locked music I have paid for.
    [This is the xkcd mouseover for our RSS via email readers: “I spent more time trying to get an audio book playing than it took to listen to the book. I have lost every other piece of DRM-locked music I have paid for.”]

    This fits in with my PIRATE ME policy, and is why I have only 3 DRM Mp3’s in my entire collection (which I stupidly purchased from crApple iTunes a long time ago). They only play on the PC I used to download them (it is the only PC I have that has iTunes on it). Needless to say, this pisses me off. Of course, I could burn the songs to a CD then rip them as mp3s, but technically this is against the law WTF.

    Just say no to DRM
    I wish everybody would JUST SAY NO TO DRM-LOCKED MEDIA, but you know what?

    Ain’t gonna happen.

    It turns out the masses of humanity are simple sheep easily led around by the corporate dogs who decide these things for them. Except for the comparatively few sharp persons who say, “fuck THAT noise” and ONLY obtain DRM-free media, pwn.

    WordPress Drop Caps Plugin and Search and Replace Plugin

    I have been manually inserting drop caps on the first letter of my posts for some time now, just because I like the look – it reminds me of some of my favorite books, especially when they get all elaborate with calligraphy. But frankly it’s a bit of a pain, I have to insert this markup:

    <strong class="dropcaps">X</strong>   

    (where “X” is the First letter of the paragraph, duh), and so I put this in my theme’s style sheet (style.css):

    .dropcaps {  
       font-family: Georgia, Times New Roman, Serif;  
       color: #126126;
       padding: 3px 3px 0 0;  

    Which made for a nice boring drop cap, but I’d frequently forget to do it and would have to edit the post later. So I started using this nice Drop Caps plugin by Thomas Milburn which has a cool drop shadow effect (done with CSS!) which I really like, plus it just automatically puts dropcaps at the beginning of every post. Sweet.

    BUT, when combined with my CSS, all of the post that already had the dropcaps look HUGE (and horrible. Not so sweet). So I wanted to edit the posts to remove my markup, but the prospect of editing 50 posts sucked. So I found this REALLY cool plugin – Search and Replace, which lists these credits: Original plugin ist von Mark Cunningham and was advanced (comments and comment-author) by Gonahkar. More increments by Frank Bueltge.

    It’s a little scary, it actually replaces strings in your database (SO BACKUP YOUR DATABASE BEFORE USING IT IN CASE SOMETHING GOES HORRIBLY WRONG GAHHH!) but it worked beautifully, and I’m glad I have it installed in case I want to change something site-wide.

    Say, for instance our drummer Kent changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol – all I would do is search for the word “Kent” and change it, piece of cake. Here is what Kent’s symbol should look like:

    Old Bend Bridge

    I have driven across Old Bend Bridge at least a bajillion times (at least), and I know a lot of readers have, too. So it was kind of interesting to read this article about attempts by the city of Pacific to organize a committee to try and have it replaced.

    Good luck with that.

    It’s not the bridge so much that would be the problem, it’s the approach – cutting a wider road on that cliff-like escarpment that the road manages to cling to (on the Pacific side) would cost so many millions of dollars I can’t see them getting the funding. And don’t forget that lovely 90° angle you have to make to actually get on the bridge – it’s an engineering nightmare.

    Although Ed Hillhouse gives it the old college try with this political crock of a statement, “We still have what is basically a one-lane bridge with wooden trusses”. Uh, it’s a steel bridge Ed – no wooden trusses. Retard.

    I kind of hope they just leave it alone – put the money into our schools, or a tax break (ha! unlikely).

    Anyway, here’s a bunch of cool info and pictures of it from :-) . BTW, one of the neat facts is the estimated traffic – 1600 cars a day (I can’t decide if that seems like too many or too little to be accurate).

    Old Bend Bridge

    Steven Brust, Firefly and The Fickle Finger

    Steven Brust is one of my all-time favorite writers. I heard of him from another of my favorite writers, Roger Zelazny. Anyway, he’s having a tough time right now (Steven, not Roger. Roger passed away in 1995. Wow it seems incredibly sad that he’s been gone that long, it seems only very recently that I heard of his passing).

    Anyway, some friends of Brust talked him into putting a donation page up, and I’m just kind of spreading the word, in more ways than one…(I can almost hear my friends thinking, “huh? what does THAT mean?).

    Well if you like Firefly (and I actually don’t have any friends who don’t like Firefly, now that I think about it), you’ll be pleased to find that Mr. Brust wrote a wonderful story of our friends Mal, Zoe, Wash, River, Simon, Kaylee and Jayne having a typically hair-raising adventure, and best of all IT’S FREE. Click Here to read it.

    AND THEN GO DONATE SOME MONEY, BITCH. ‘Cause when the fickle finger of fate decides to strike YOU, it’d be nice to have some good karma built up, wouldn’t it?

    So here’s a picture of this awesomely talented dude, wow he looks like a biker, doesn’t he? Well you know what they say about judging a book by it’s cover, heh….anyway Good Luck, Steven and get well soon!
    Buy his books, too - they're bad to the bone, I mean I actually put this guy in the same class as Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe and Frank Herbert. And Zelazny, of course.
    Mouseover text for our RSS readers: “Buy his books, too – they’re bad to the bone, I mean I actually put this guy in the same class as Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe and Frank Herbert. And Zelazny, of course.”