Mike Beversluis

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

It's Spring, so it's time for Mariner lightbulb jokes.

How many Mariner fans does it take...

Update: This top ten list goes to 20: " 17. Heard captain goes down with ship, not a big fan of Tannille either."

Monday, February 27, 2006

PS, DirectTV

If you are going to get Cable TV + TiVo, I also like Direct TV's all digital TiVo. Direct TV isn't perfect either, but like mobile phones and airlines, you have to judge them against their peers. Which is using a limbo stick for hurdles, but whatever.

From a technology point of view, using TiVo with a pre-compressed signal has important quality advantages - analog TiVo's have to digitize on the fly, and don't do nearly as good a job even with the Best Quality setting. Digital cable signals were compressed before they got to your wall plug, by big iron sitting in front of the satellite uplink. All the TiVo has to do is stream it to your hard drive. The quality is DVD-ish at an hour per GB.

Second, dual tuners rock.

Third, TiVo still sweeps all other DVR's before it. Except for the lamentations of their women, it is what Conan the Barbarian thinks is good in life.

Come to TiVo - It's Bliss...

I can't think of a reason not to use TiVo except that you hate convienient, well-designed, and reasonably priced electronics ($13/month). TV viewers of the world, unite. Soon, you will have only a modest monthly payment to lose.

Kings are a transient condition

"There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob."
- G. K. Chesterton

Optimus Prime Keyboard

The keys are OLED displays, and can be programmed with whatever images you like. It's going to be stupid expensive, and yet...


Today's big question

What vacuum cleaner should I buy? Vote early and often.

If you really insist on making an informed decision, here are the candidates:
  1. Dyson DC07.
  2. Vax X3 (and X5).
  3. Oreck XL (I used to vacuum cafeterias with it - it's okay).
  4. Swiffer CarpetFlick.
My sister Laura has been pushing the Dyson like she's expecting a pink Cadillac to show up if I buy one. I'm reactively against it, though, because the Dyson guy seems like a twit, it's expensive, and she won't buy a TiVo and I'm petty like that.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pulling Vista's Pig-Tails

Oh, Microsoft, we're only teasing you because we like you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Old Tech Books

Suppose civilization collapsed, and you survived. As an over specialized modern, it would be a struggle to rebuild civilization - up to that apocalyptic moment at least. If you wanted to, you could read these old books and learn how to make vacuum tube amplifiers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Computer bugs

Computer generated bugs - possibly not what you expect.

Monday, February 20, 2006


File PaperBackSwap.com under "Things that are not NetFlix." As it's name implies, you are trading paperback books online, in a somewhat fungible way. You don't get your books back, but for $2 in stamps, you can get something different. Which might be enough - I'm hoping Second Sex will be snapped right up.


"Bring it on, mofos."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Possibly the coolest car garage ever

Q would approve: The ST2-4/C.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Signal Processing Tutorials

Just what you were looking for, right? Well, I was, and the free online tutorial at http://www.complextoreal.com/tutorial.htm is great. Very intuitive.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

NetFlix - Won't get fooled again

I subscribed to Net Flix back in 2000 or so, but quit when the mailing cycle for a DVD started taking more than a week. That worked out 4-5 DVD for $20, which was the same as Blockbuster. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: This is an official NetFlix policy. Maybe they changed the thresholds/rates since I was young, but I will not subscribe to them again. No soup for you, pal.

Updt: Sorry 'bout the malformed link. If you're interested in nifty sinks, let me know, though.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The heart is a lonely graphics designer

"Why you should continue to date me; A series of charts and graphs."

SatireWeb is defunct, but

Interview with the Search Engine is pretty damn funny.


Friday, February 10, 2006

The New World

The New World, by Terrence Malick (USA 2005)

I must be one of the few people that thought that in some points of this movie Malick has been quite too much in a hurry ... I am completely satisfied by the movie. I don't feel equal to writing a review, therefore I shall limit myself to underline two scenes and add a little comment.

In one of the scenes the Powhatan are fishing in the river. It is evening, and the eyes can get lost in the deep sky. The apparent infinity of the sky evokes a sense of mystery. Using modern language we could describe this feeling in the following way: in order to live, it is necessary to extract informations and resources out of the surrounding environment. Not all of the relevant information is equally accessible, neither it is possible to trace the whole path of every resource. The fact that some resources are available without being completely in man's control (the fish, which is carried by the river) is a first source of the sense of mystery. There are then intuitions that help to get informations which are somewhat more hidden (as for example regularities in the behaviour of animals), and these are a second source of the sense of mystery: at the same time, one can understand that a much larger amount of information exists that remains completely inaccessible (to conclude the series of examples, these inaccessible informations could be represented by the sky).

Thoughts similar to these are, IMHO, a central component in Yeelen (a movie that I liked a lot, see IMDB for details), I would be interested to discover them in other movies as well ... there will be occasions, I believe.

In another scene a warrior dies. It seems to me that my own identity is built up, among other things, on a sea of words that constantly flutter in my head; most of the words are just below the threshold of my conscience but form a background which I am used to and I usually consider to be "myself".
In this scene the death is waited in silence. I should see the scene again to make sure, because I got carried away, but for sure there was not much chattering. The silence and the final farewell, together, are a sharp contrast with respect to words and this, I believe, can lead to a reflection on how solid is the identity that is built upon words.

I also would like to underline that noises and music in the soundtrack alternate each other and combine together in a surprising and I dare to say wonderful way.

Thursday, February 09, 2006



Everest Panorama View

"Made it, Ma! Top of the world!"

Post #650

"The time will come when Winter will ask you what you were doing all Summer."
- Henry Clay


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sa mariposa - the moth

It happened on a stormy night
The charcoal brazier is glowing
A beautiful moth
Flies exhausted in my house
At once she starts flying frantically
Staying close to the lamp
She flies round it again and again
As though playing blind-man's buff

Paulicu Mossa (1821-1892)

I got the english translation out of the documentary "Tempus de baristas" by David MacDougall

Sleep like a baby

Hopefully not. From this HHMI virtual museum on biological clocks (of all sorts, and not just the Marisa Tomei variety), comes this figure [1]:

It looks to me like the parents reach exhaustion about 12 weeks in and stop caring if the baby wants to sleep or not.

[1] Adapted from Nathaniel Kleitman and T. Englemann "Sleep Characteristics of Infants," Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol.7, 1953

My spun glass ego was ground to dust years ago

But there's still hope for the children, at Camp Falsehopes:

... At Camp Falsehopes, our mission is simple: Reward every single child with an endless stream of praise so that they develop an overwhelming confidence and sense of ability. Equip an entire generation with the can-do attitude that outshines the dim realities that they might find troubling. Make sure every child knows we're all equally smart, attractive and share the same unlimited potential. Simply wanting to succeed is enough. Effort and ability should never be part of the entitlement equation - and at Camp Falsehopes, they never are.

Our Philosophy:

You are the smartest, most talented, most beautiful young man or woman to ever grace us with your presence. You poop gold.

The connection is tenuous, but I'll take this opportunity to say that the Army's "Army of One" slogan needs to be replaced.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New Car Smell

Turns out, that new car smell is mostly glue fumes. Click here if you want to know what is in lipstick, cheese whiz, kava ("Kava kava, man."), food preservatives, etc.

Waste 120 seconds

Michael Dirda writes a nice review of Javier Marias's Written Lives, a collection of vignettes of our literary betters. Money quote:
The one thing that leaps out when you read about these authors," writes the acclaimed Spanish novelist Javier Marías, "is that they were all fairly disastrous individuals..."

Again, the moral is that genius is best appreciated from a distance. The prosecution would like to introduce the following pieces of evidence:

ITEM A: Mari­as reminds us that William Faulkner, who once worked for the University of Mississippi post office, hated to be interrupted in his reading by "any son-of-a-bitch who had two cents to buy a stamp."

ITEM B: "Any writer who leaves behind him sealed envelopes not to be opened until long after his death is clearly convinced of his own immense importance, as tends to be confirmed when, after all that patient waiting, the wretched, disappointing envelopes are finally opened. In the case of Mann and his diaries, what strikes one most is that he obviously felt that absolutely everything that happened to him was worthy of being recorded. . . . [The diaries] give the impression that Mann was thinking ahead to a studious future which would exclaim after each entry: 'Good heavens, so that was the day when the Great Man wrote such and such a page of The Holy Sinner and then, the following night, read some verses by Heine, that is so revealing!'


"Most of these pages, adds Mari­as, chronicle the state of Mann's stomach and bowels or include plaintive entries like: "Sexual disturbance and disturbance in my activities when faced by the impossibility of refusing to write an obituary for Eduard Keyserling."

Cough, blogging, cough... [via Arts & Letters] BTW, my anti-procrastination efforts are proving ineffectual. Nothing wrong with my stomach, though.


Waste 30 seconds


"My two-year old can do that."

Monday, February 06, 2006

18000 rpm Weenie Roaster

Sorry for the low postage rate, but I'm writing. In almost all cases, this results in more blogging due to strong procrastination urges. But I need to get this done, as I've been sitting on it for a year and it's killing me. That, and I'm all bummed out about the Super Bowl. My boss asked me if I:
  1. I felt good about the 13-3 season and going to the Super Bowl.
  2. Felt bad about the officiating.
  3. Felt bad about Hasselback's struggles.
  4. Felt bad about the horrible time management at the end of the first and second halves.
Pretty much all of the above. Anyway, this link of an F1 engine roaring flames still brought a smile to my face (Holy Crap!). Back to the grind stone...

Friday, February 03, 2006

"Cookie Monsters of death-metal music"

This article on Death metal vocals can be read over at the WSJ. Several things jumped out:

Death-metal singing takes a toll on vocalists, according to Ms. Gussow, who joined Arch Enemy in 2001. She says that despite the characteristic rock-salt-and-razors growl, the sound doesn't originate in the throat. It gets pushed up from the abdomen.

"If you use the right abdomen muscles, you get a lot of power," she says. "It's a primal form of vocalizing, but it's also a very controlled style of singing. You can get weak if you don't have muscle power."

She does vocal exercises to keep fit, some of which she learned from Melissa Cross, a New York-based voice teacher whose instructional DVD "The Zen of Screaming" is a favorite of extreme vocalists.

More like X-tream Vocalists, dude. You can buy the "Zen of Screaming" over on Amazon. Second, apropos of nothing, why is this in the Wall Street Journal? Weird. Not as weird as the couple who got together back in graduate school over a shared affection for Mexican Death metal, I mean, Spanish Cookie Monster...

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Da Vinci Coupon Code

Money Saver Tip of the Day: You can save a lot of money by going to look at these Leonardo da Vinci drawings for free instead of trying to buy them for yourself.

W Speaks

George W. Bush Speech Writer.

Random Gadgets

LED Block Clock ($470 is ridiculous - But using craft paper or even a thin veneer to make your own seems straight forward.)

Speaking of making things yourself, take this, Kangaroos:

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Best Pick-Up the Book Lines...

They say breakfast is the most important meal, and that you only get one first impression. With that in mind, check out these 100 Best First Lines from Novels [via SG]:


6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.
—Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

31. I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man.
—Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground (1864; trans. Michael R. Katz)


I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane;
—Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962)

47. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
—C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

58. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
—George Eliot, Middlemarch (1872)

98. High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. —David Lodge, Changing Places (1975)

I like number 1, but no way can I steal their thunder and quote it to you.

Now, what about last lines? But does anyone care? If there's any climax the last few pages are going to hang around making small talk like the last guests at a party. If the novel is unfortunately fashionable and there's no real point, well, those last few pages are going to suffer from the realization that noway is the author going anywhere good with this, and so you might not even read them. Any suggestions?

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