Monday, May 31, 2004

128 Megabytes of Storage on my keychain (oops):

I now have a little fob on my keychain that plugs into pretty much any youthful PC. After I transfer files to and from the fob, I can forget that it’s attached to the computer and walk off leaving ALL MY KEYS BEHIND.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Sadly Leaving a new place:

When I left Destin Florida, I realized that I will probably never visit this part of the world again. My specific reason for coming will not recur; I know that most of the year, the weather there is no where near as nice as it was for me; and we have many touristy priorities that will take us elsewhere. But the calm air, the lovely surf, the variegated skies, the song birds, the flowers - all were such pleasures. Leaving a fond place and knowing you will never return is one of the universal sad experiences.

Friday, May 28, 2004

I don’t know how to pronounce your name, could you say it for me five times?

We rarely have the nerve to ask people to help us pronounce their names right. Too embarrassing! But you can call them when they are (probably) away and listen to their phone message a few times. “This is Jero Feketekuti. Leave a …” “This is Jero Feketekuti. Leave a …” “This is …” Too bad many people do not say their name in their message, and some people are too embarrassed to pronounce their own name distinctly.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Reduce Wallet and Keys for a trip – up to a point:

When I go on a (several day) trip, I thin my wallet and keyring, leaving home things I’d never need on the trip, like my local library card. But here’s what’s important: if you can’t remember what some of the keys on your ring are for, even if you haven’t used them for a year, take them with you! Otherwise (as Murphy’s Law implies) you’re going to remember what they were for in the worst possible way.

Monday, May 24, 2004

In Which I invent an entirely new profession:

People combine caller ID with cell-phone melody rings to know who’s calling. They have fun picking a melody for each regular caller. I think we have it backwards.

I should pick my own unique melody, and everyone I call should hear the ring I choose. “But they’ll all pick Pachelbel’s Canon” you complain. Not at all. People who have trouble choosing their unique ring will consult a Ringtone Guru, who will study your personality for an hour and design a unique ring that is truly you. If you’re feeling flush, you can pay extra to buy additional phone melodies that express your current emotions. After all, mobile phones will soon have mood ring interfaces to warn the person you’re talking to how you’re feeling.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

A few more days, please:

On May 20 I looked at the parking pass the hotel had given me. It was a form on which a clerk had written by hand that is was good until May 20. But I was staying to the 23rd! With a sinking heart I speculated why my pass was not good through the 23rd: Other guests had spoken of weekend parking permission problems. I went off to the desk expecting to be told to park my care elsewhere somehow.

When I showed my pass to the clerk, she said “I can fix that,” drew a dark 3 over the zero and handed it back to me. I looked dumbly at the handwriting, which now read “May 23”, and thought Gee, I could have done that myself.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

I bumped head-first into a plane this week:

Bumping into a plane (on foot) is just as difficult as it sounds, you have to be pretty spacey. I found an area in the hangar where the phone signal was strong. I was talking on my cellphone while walking around. The plane’s wing, just a few arc-seconds above my of sight, whacked my forehead. Fortunately it was a small plane. The plane’s okay, and so am I. … And I almost did it again, a few hours later.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Big City Dwellers, eat your hearts out:

Here in Western Florida I drive over a 3.5 mile bridge (that’s not a typo) every day. Crossing this beautiful finger of the Gulf of Mexico – the rippling emerald and blue waters of Choctawatchee Bay - costs only $2. A $2 toll for 3.5 miles of bridge! What a great deal. Oncoming cars’ windshields sparkle in the sun like diamonds.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

There’s a Walmart everywhere, but they’re not all the same:

In a Walmart in Western Florida, an expansive display of merchandise caught my eye. Before really looking at it I knew I had not seen the like in any New Jersey store. This aisle was full of packages each with a strangely shaped piece of metal: dozens of differently shaped custom fan blades.

Speed limits: continuous?

Driving in Florida, I remarked to my passenger that when I can see two speed limit signs ahead – say, 35 mph here, and 45 in the distance – I assume the speed limit is continuous: somewhere between the signs, the speed limit is 40.

My passenger disagreed. “The moment I see a speed sign in the distance, that’s the speed limit here and now. If I can see two signs, I ignore the first one. What’s the point?”

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

You’re the one!

So: I’m on a business trip. I’ve worked on, and learned about, part of a project to prepare an enormous demo. People have been swarming about to prepare the many systems, complex hardware, and much software. I was asked to join the team making the trip to do field integration and the demo.

A few days before the trip I said to the project leader, “Our team of people on the trip should get together and plan. We have to know who’ll do what and when!” He looked at me – sympathetically I must say – and said: “You’re the only one.”

And so it is. I figure, if I do anything right, great. If I make a mistake, well, um, (looks over his shoulder), um, …

Second Guessing, Third Guessing...

Do you sometimes feel that our country is too busy post-morteming what we should have done, and not spending enough effort to decide what to do next? Well here's an anecdote:

I used to work for a certain manager. If you told him about a new, serious problem, he immediately called a group meeting to determine whose fault the problem was. An hour or so later, when he had decided whether his own group or another was at fault, he was willing to start thinking about how to deal the matter.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Movies, get your movies:

In five to ten years it will possible to make a cube that fits in your hand and contains 1,000 full length movies. If you charge $10,000 for it no one will buy it. If you charge $100 for it no one will make it. (I’m ignoring inflation.) The in-between prices probably won’t work either.

By the way, I may be off-net a lot in the second half of May, Posting irregularly.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

You might enjoy reading about “Déjà Vu”…

Here’s an explanation of Déjà Vu on the web. Please accept my apologies if I’m repeating myself. I don’t see it in my files, but I’m afraid I’ve posted this blog entry before.

By the way, I may be off-net a lot in the second half of May, Posting irregularly.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Armhole respectfully requests your attention:

Would you open a (spam) email from (I’m not making these up):
Pui Lrdwglue
Armhole F. Brahman
Pratfall U. Holidayed
Peacefulness Q. Manor

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Oops, down the drain...

You may never thank me for this little kitchen tip. My fear is that you will remember it someday:

Before you pour something through a strainer, stop and remember: are you planning to throw away the liquid or the solid?

Monday, May 10, 2004

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A: To get a better wireless phone signal.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Blake Patterson's theory of fixing Everything:

When I knew Blake Patterson, he was a bassoonist and music theorist. He helped me fix two TV sets, and I have since resorted often to his method of repair:

Take it apart. Clean the insides. Vacuum the insides, wipe off dust. Put it back together.

Obviously this system does not deal with tired motors, loose wires, blown circuit boards and the like, but it is remarkably effectve. When you take somthing apart, note what you're doing so you can do it backwards later. If you lose parts, or have parts left over after reassembly, the thing may not improve.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Delete my file, Bro:

If computers could think more like humans, would we trust them? We might, if they acted like a sort of person we found trustworthy. I imagine the computer of the future trying out a British accent, then talking trash, acting the Limey, then trying perhaps a Russian accent (complete with newly-learned English spelling errors) and so on, until the machine sensed it had found the personality to win its owner's trust.

I can also imagine us users getting tired of the charade, and hitting the "Stop That" key.

Dear computer company, I am returning this computer for warrantee repairs. It insists on using the word 'like' in every error message.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Minaturization (not Moore's Law):

People mention Moore's Law when they talk about any trend in miniaturization. Hardly anyone knows that Moore's Law is simply an observation about the economics of shrinking computer circuitry over time.

Most of the miniaturization that we enjoy results from shrinking logic. People make new things by assembling components and writing algorithms to control them. When it becomes routine to solve a problem this way, it's then economical to make a chip containing the equivalent of all those components and logic. That chip is then used as a component in another product, starting the next shrinking cycle.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I like to Fool Myself:

Steve Martin used to do this bit in his comedy routine: “Oh my shoe’s untied!” and he would bend down to his shoe. The TV camera would zoom in on his perfectly tied shoe. Martin would then stand up and say “I like to play tricks on myself.”

A lot of us probably enjoy playing tricks on ourselves, but I never noticed until Martin pointed it out. One of my personal favorites is misreading a newspaper headline. When I take a second look, the reality is much less interesting than my initial reading. For example, this morning I saw a recipe headline: Glass Noodles with Carb. Seemed anachronistic, but a closer reading found: Glass Noodles with Crab.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Reach to the Back of the Bin:

If you’re taller than average or have long arms, you should be able to select better than average produce in a supermarket. (This idea does not apply if you’re already an expert at picking the best.) I figure the experts have already removed most of the best items from the front of the bin. I make my selections as far back as I can reach, where the random probabilities are more in my favor.

Monday, May 03, 2004

An arrow spinning round and round...

It's well known that if you need to remember a set of unrelated things, you can improve your recall by imagining a picture of them all. For example, if you need to buy a steak, popsicles, garbage bags and a staple gun: just imagine a popsicle with its stick stuck through a steak that's inside a garbage bag that you are stapling shut.

This weekend I thought of a good idea to blog about, and I made an image to remember it: a man with an arrow inside his head, the arrow curved round on itself, spinning ceaselessly round and round.

I'll get back to you on that one when I remember what it was about. Maybe.