April 27, 2013
Sharing the awesome
This is a commercial message.
Last fall I bought a new phone to check out Republic Wireless, which was doing its beta roll out at the time. Since then, Republic has gone into full production mode and we've moved all the phones in our family to Republic.
Why? Well, because...
The deal Republic offers is commitment-free service which includes all the voice, text and data you want to use. Pretty awesome -- it was just the deal I'd been looking for the last couple of years. We reduced our household cellular bill by 50% when we switched to Republic plus we ended up with more services on all the phones.
The only downside to Republic's deal is that you can only get the service on phones you buy from them. Those phones are Motorola Defy XTs, which are fully-featured Android smartphones. They've got good specs and they work great. I haven't found an Android app that I can't run on the Defy. But the Defy XT only comes in one size and it doesn't have all the bells & whistles of a Samsung Galaxy S4 or an iPhone 5.
If you like the idea of full phone service at a great price with no contractual commitment (and you can live without the latest bells & whistles) then Republic's deal can't be beat.
Republic is offering incentives for new customer referrals. People I refer get a $19 credit - and so do I.
Check it out. FTW.
(For more info about how Republic's service works, here's their What's the catch? page.)
March 20, 2013
Happy Equinox (4)
...even tho' it's still as cold as a mother-in-law's heart here in the central U.S.
Wenn der Südwind weht is one of those German phrases that an Anglophone can read pretty easily without a translation.
May 31, 2012
With Merle again
Here's one of Doc's numbers that I've always liked. I won't call it my favorite because it would be hard to pick a favorite among all the many songs he recorded.
February 27, 2012
May 02, 2011
I think I'll send him this mug.
February 27, 2010
A full lustrum
Back in February, 2005, I had no idea I'd be doing this for five years and roughly 5,000 posts.
It's been an interesting time and I've learned a few things. The first was: don't try to avoid e-mail by using a blog. The e-mail subscriptions (now handled by FeedBurner) still outrun the RSS subscriptions (barely). Go figure. Since one of the reasons I started this was to avoid sending e-mail to people, the experiment was sort of a bust from that perspective.
Here are the posts that have proved to be perennial favorites, based on search queries.
- Ursula Martinez' striptease magic act, August, 2006 (courtesy of Rob)
- The cruelest tattoo, January, 2007 (courtesy of Tucson John)
- One of the largest single-page image collections on the web. (Careful! It takes a lo-o-ong time to load.)
- Cute animal pictures. These came from many people, but Carol was probably the biggest contributor to this category.
- The ever-popular tattoo pictures.
To all of you who have been regular readers; a big Thank You is in order. And a very special thank you to everyone who's contributed regularly over the years. Here I have the usual problem: I don't want to name these people for fear I'll forget someone. So let me quote Eddie Murphy who said, without naming any names, "You know I'm talkin' 'bout you, baby."
December 25, 2009
Have a happy Christmas, everyone
This one's a reprise from two years ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as I.
December 22, 2009
I'm a day late - but the upside is that at least the days are already getting longer.
One Moment in Time: The Solstice Seen from Newgrange
Deep inside the world's oldest known building, every year, for only as much as 17 minutes, the sun -- at the exact moment of the winter solstice -- shines directly down a long corridor of stone and illuminates the inner chamber at Newgrange.
Newgrange was built 1,000 years before Stonehenge and also predates the pyramids by more than 500 years.
Lost and forgotten along with the civilization that built it, the site was been rediscovered in 1699. Excavation began in the late 1800s and continued in fits and starts, until it was undertaken in earnest in 1962. It was completed in 1975.
June 21, 2009
Happy Solstice V
'Enjoy the summer,' is my thought for those of you on my side of the equator.
April 26, 2009
Return of the hummingbirds
It's the time of year for the hummingbirds to return to our house, sort of a miniature version of the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano. That means it's time again for the hummingbird cam. Look in the sidebar for this image.
The bad news is that I'm using an old LinkSys cam (WVC11B) and its web server wants browsers to install an ActiveX control to display the video. That means you'll need Internet Exploder (with appropriate security) or if you run Firefox, an add-on that supports ActiveX (like IE Tab). If you're using some other browser you'll have to roll your own, more's the pity.
Here's a short video from August, '07 of half-a-dozen hummingbirds crowding around the feeder. (This did not come from the Hummingbird cam; it was shot with the Sanyo C40.)
March 20, 2009
February 27, 2009
The first of 3267 posts went up on this day in 2005.
June 21, 2008
Happy Solstice III
For those on my side of the equator: Enjoy the summer.
And a little retro music for the season
March 24, 2008
We now resume our regular programming
A few folks have asked why there've been so few posts recently. And the answer to that is: I spent the first two weeks of the month getting my ducks in a row so I could accompany Mom and the kids to Egypt during the third week.
There we saw many piles of antiquated masonry (like the two above), a horde of other tourists (from Europe and northeast Asia, mostly) and more street vendors than I've ever seen in one place. They were as thick as flies and harder to avoid.
It was an interesting trip - and not only for the 25 consecutive hours we spent in airports and on airliners yesterday (sigh). My elder son and I went to see an Arabic movie in Aswan one evening and we spent several other hours away from the tour group chatting up the Man On The Street in Cairo and Aswan. That worked surprisingly well, despite our ignorance of Arabic, but only because our Egyptian victims knew some English and wanted to practice it. The young men who weren't street vendors were uniformly pleasant to talk to. (We didn't try to talk to any young women because none approached us as the young men did.)
When I get photos & videos posted somewhere, I'll provide a link to them. But that won't happen for a week or two, I'm guessing.
January 31, 2008
Aside from a sporadic political opinion or two and an occasional spring travelog, I avoid personal topics on this blog. The goal here is simple: levitate the level of levity (when I'm not too busy with alliteration).
So what I've got is a case of the Page 123 Book meme. It has this protocol.
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.
Even though the house is packed with books and my mother-in-law describes me (accurately) as someone who'd take the want ads to bed rather than go to bed with nothing to read, this turned out to be a tougher question than I expected. The closest book to hand on my desk is Milton Berle's Private Joke File, a recent gift from my brother-in-law. If I followed the rules with that book, I'd be telling you the punchline to a fairly lame joke about Cajuns. Hmm... maybe not.
The next one in the stack is Hands-on Morphological Image Processing. I didn't seriously consider this one - but I did look to see that its page 123 contained only figures and didn't have five sentences on it.
The book on the nightstand is The Tao of Pooh, which I picked up when my wife finished it. That sounded a little more promising but, following the protocol, I discovered that the fifth sentence on page 123 was the beginning of a long quoted section from one of Milne's books (the scene of Roo's rescue from his swimming adventure). All right; scratch that one, too.
Which brings me to Louis Menard's The Metaphysical Club - A Story of Ideas in America. I started this one just before Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed the first third or so. Then I ran out of steam a little over half way through, when Menard started describing less and philosophizing more in his own right.
Counting the first five complete sentences, here are the next three from page 123 in that book.
A way of thinking which regards individual differences as inessential departures from a general type is therefore not well suited for dealing with the natural world. A general type is fixed, determinate and uniform; the world Darwin described is characterized by chance, change, and difference -- all the attributes general types are designed to leave out. In emphasizing the particularity of individual organisms, Darwin did not conclude that species did not exist.
And if that ain't enough of a leading quote to make you go find a copy to read, then I don't know what would be. What Menard is talking about at this point is how Darwin's Origin of the Species was being interpreted by the intelligentsia of the 19th century.
Now to the final step: doing unto others as was done unto me. Let's try this lot (in no particular order) and see what they come up with.
December 22, 2007
Abide The Winter by Will Ackerman
Stonehenge image from AllPosters.com.
October 01, 2007
JB left a comment today to last June's post about adding SnapShots to this site:
I'm really sorry but I detest, loathe and abhor the snapshots. It is intrusive and irritating and I have visited your fabulous site far less since you loaded it.
Back in June, I had some reservations about SnapShots but since then I've grown to like it. Sounds like JB doesn't share that opinion.
Since it was an easy matter to add the SnapShots widget that lets you disable or enable SnapShots to suit your preference, you'll find it in the sidebar just above the calendar. So feel free to turn it off if it bothers you.
June 02, 2007
I added Snap Shots™ to the site today, even though I'm of two minds about it. On the one hand, I like the look-ahead, see-where-you'll-end-up-if-you-click feature. On the other hand, I sometimes find this feature annoying because it clutters things and obscures something I'm trying to read.
And, naturally, that reminds me of Harry Truman's joke about the one-handed economist.
At the moment, though, the positives have pulled ahead of the negatives and I'm giving it a try. If you have comments about it, either pro or con, please leave them. I'll be interested what reaction there is, if any.
May 06, 2007
One more time with comments
I persist in the belief that comments would be a nice feature to have here.
I tried the TypeKey authentication route once again recently and it works... but, still, it's still a PITA to have to register at another site just to leave a comment here. It definitely destroys the spontaneity and it probably aborts the whole process most of the time. It's not as though the topics on this blog are worth spending a lot of time commenting on, eh?
Then I ran across this simple hard-coded CAPTCHA approach at Stefan Geens' site. It's not very sophisticated but I think it will stop most automated Spam while still allowing comments from anyone when the mood strikes him or her.
So comments are enabled again. No need to get a TypeKey ID. You will need to follow the directions to post a comment, but those directions are simple. Comments will be queued for approval until I get your first one and mark you as a 'trusted' commenter; then your comments will be posted immediately.
Let's give it another go.
March 21, 2007
O the sun comes up-up-up in the opening
sky(the all the
any merry every pretty each
bird sings birds sing
gay-be-gay because today's today)the
romp cries i and the me purrs
you and the gentle
who-horns says-does moo-woo
(the prance with the
three white its stimpstamps)
the grintgrunt wugglewiggle
the speckled strut begins to scretch and
the no-she-yes-he fluffies tittle
tattle did-he-does-she)& the
ree ray rye roh
And for the Farsi-speaking readers among you:
February 26, 2007
2 years ago...
...this week the first post appeared here.
February 25, 2007
Deep in the Heart o' Texas
I finished another two weeks on the road on another agricultural project, as I did last spring. This time I was in Texas - and deep in Texas - west of Austin and north of San Antonio in an area known as the Texas Hill Country. I hadn't driven through Austin since 1981, when I used to visit my friend Mark there while living in Houston.
The Alvino Rey Orchestra
The stars at night were big and bright.
(More to come...)
The soil, though, was quite different than what you find in the Midwest. Here's the field where we ran equipment tests. People who lived nearby told me it had been a cotton field last year.
The white spots in the dirt are small stones (palm-sized, not gravel). I heard this is pretty common, even in well-worked fields. The color in this image is pretty accurate: the soil's not the rich, loamy black you see in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
Most of the surrounding countryside is hilly and the soil there seeme to be mostly stone and calichi. It didn't look like very promising farm country to me -- but I'm a city boy, so what do I know? I'd guess that most of the agriculture in the area involves raising livestock. I saw quite a few cattle, grazing among the prickly pears.
And I saw more white-tailed deer than I could count. But they were small; two or three of them might weigh as much as a single Missouri white-tail. It was pretty funny to see a six-point buck with a body the size of a large dog's.
This year's agricultural venture wasn't the big production that last year's was, for several reasons. There were a lot of long days but there wasn't any roadtrip part to this tour. The traveling part will come later and I don't expect to see much of it myself (assuming my prep work went as well as I think it did). I did get to see some of the people I worked with last spring, though, and I met several new folks.
One of the guys on the project brought me a jar of Kinky Friedman's Politically Correct Salsa after I wore my Kinky-for-Gov t-shirt one day. (Thanks, Allen.) Part of the money from sales of Kinky's salsa goes to the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch and there's a legend on the label reading: Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail. There's your thought for the day, animal lovers.
My base of operations this trip was a the biggest little town I've ever seen, a place called Fredericksburg. As you might guess from the name, many of the residents are descended from German immigrants. The local Chamber of Commerce makes much of this heritage and touts the area as a vacation and retirement spot. It's common to see references to 'Opa' and 'Oma' which, I gathered, are German terms for 'Grandpa' and 'Grandma'. I saw "Opa's sausage" on a menu and "Oma's Cake Kitchen" is a local bakery.
The C-of-C has been pretty successful in its efforts. The signs at the city limits say Fredericksburg has a population of 8900, or 1000 fewer than Monmouth, Illinois where I was last May. But the contrast between Fredericksburg and Monmouth could hardly be more marked. For example, I don't know how many restaurants are in Fredericksburg, but I couldn't visit them all during my two-week stay. In Monmouth, I could have visited every restaurant in town in a week. Fredericksburg looks like a town of 25,000 to 30,000. It even has a fairly respectable microbrewery called The Fredericksburg Brewing Company. Their dark was pretty good -- though a little too 'hoppy' for my taste.
I met a guy named John where I was working and he told me that while Fredericksburg itself isn't very big, there are many retirees living in the surrounding county and that they're the ones who provide the demand for the businesses in Fredericksburg. In this vein, I heard that this town of 9000 has four nursing homes.
It looked to me like Fredericksburg would be a nice place to spend a week or two in April. But I wouldn't want to be there in August.
November 17, 2006
Courtesy of FeedBurner, you can now get your daily dose of within the crainium in HTML-formatted e-mail. FeedBurner's service sends you one (and only one) message any day there are updates to the blog. The message contains all the posts for the day, with links back to the blog.
You can find the sign-up widget in the sidebar between the Font Color and the Feedback sections. It looks like this image.
Try it -- it works pretty well and IMHO it looks better than the plain text e-mail I send now. Since FeedBurner's willing to handle this little task for me, my text messages will stop at the end of the year. If you want to keep the e-mail coming in 2007, sign up with FeedBurner.
July 31, 2006
Vote early & often
Steve R (our aviation correspondent) sends this request: "If you’re of the mind, please consider (my brother) Don’s request for a vote for his little girl Kylee."
I have to admit she's one of the best-looking candidtes I've seen in a while. His brother writes:
Please vote for our little girl starting August 1st. Kylee's photo has been posted to www.evenflo.com for the "Baby, You're a Star!" contest. Kylee is one of the contestants for the month of July. She has the possibility of winning a $10,000.00 scholarship and become a face for Evenflo.
Click here to see Kylee's photo and vote.
To ensure fairness for each contestant, voting for "Baby, You're a Star!" July contestants will begin on August 01 and will last until August 16. Once the votes have been tallied, a semi-finalist will be chosen and go on to the final round in September.
Remember, you can vote once per day, so please vote each day. Every vote counts!
May 27, 2006
I'm back home in the Missouri hills after another two weeks on the road. Since the project I've been working on involved a large utility vehicle, I'm reminded of the Grateful Dead song Truckin'. And "what a long, strange trip it's been," indeed.
Luckily, we skipped the "Livin' on reds, vitamin C and cocaine" part of that song.
This (pop-up) image of me climbing down from the cab of the vehicle was taken at the start of the day near Wapella, Illiniois. The Panasonic Toughbook I was using is visible to the left of my head. I was very happy with the Toughbook's performance; it took a lot of rattling and bouncing around during the last month and it never faltered. And it's pretty snappy, to boot. If you ever need a ruggedized laptop, check out the Toughbook.
But the best news was that we had a great team. We had a lot of sharp eyes and level heads in our group, especially given the often frustrating circumstances. A big shout-out to Allen, Alan, Amy, Brian, Kyle, Sean, Stacy and Steve for keepin' it right.
This last two weeks saw us visiting several more rural locations in the Midwest. If you're up for more prattle about the prairie, as in my last post on this topic, then read on.
Since all the work we were trying to do on this project was - literally - in the field, we were subject to the weather. Rain was a Bad Thing if it occurred while, or just before, we planned to work. Since it was rainy in Monmouth when we reconvened after Mothers' Day, our client decided to take the show on the road.
Our first day out, we visited Newton, Iowa. Here's a view from the field we were working in, taken not long after sun-up.
Since morning is my favorite time of day and since I like being outside, it was usually a treat to get out in the country early. The part I didn't like was the staying out there until 8 or 9 PM.
After an afternoon and most of a day at Newton, we spent an evening and a morning traveling to Kerkhoven, Minnesota. We had a long first day at Kerkhoven when we discovered a problem with one of the electrical subsystems late in the evening. So we were in the equipment shed until after 10 PM trying to troubleshoot it. Luckily, our client had the foresight to bring an ice chest full of frosty cold ones with him.
Don't be misled by the word shed. This "shed" is a fairly new Morton building: it's fully insulated, it has a full concrete floor with radiant heat and it has one of the most interesting doors I've seen.
This big door folds in the middle horizontally and the halves are pulled together by cables driven by an electric motor. When it's open, the doorway is tall (and wide) enough to admit a small airplane. The small doorway for people (at the left) will give you a sense of scale. It's quite a building, for an equipment shed.
This one was taken in mid-afternoon, the day we arrived at Kerkhoven.
Kerkhoven looks a whole lot like Newton, doesn't it? Part of the reason for this is that the places we usually worked were the bottom lands that are good for agriculture. The other part is that there's a big old mess of prairie in the middle of North America: from eastern Colorado to western Pennsylvania (north of the Ohio river) and north from Oklahoma into the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. There's a reason they call it the Great Plains: there are thousands of square miles of mostly flat grasslands out there, with the occassional river valley.
When we left Kerkhoven, we traveled south to Mapleton, Minnesota where we worked last Saturday. Mapleton's not far south of Mankato, Minnesota. I don't have any photos of Mapleton, but by now you know you're not missing much. It looked much like the other photos above.
From Mapleton, we returned to Monmouth. Since we had equipment following us from Minnesota back to Illinois, I had some free time on Sunday to drive to Champaign-Urbana and visit my foster mother.
To her happy children of the future
those of the past send greetings
The statue of Alma Mater at Illinois was made by Loredo Taft, who was a well-known sculptor in his day but who doesn't even seem to rate a Wikipedia page these days. The university's motto is "Learning and Labor" and I believe that the other two figures in this statuary group are intended to represent those virtues.
It was a beautiful day in Urbana; bright and sunny with a temperature in the high 70s. The campus had that lazy, uncrowded summertime feel to it that I recalled from the summers when I lived in Urbana year-round.
The next week, we spent three days working in the Monmouth area. This is the Warren County courthouse which sits at the northwest corner of the Monmouth public square.
Our final worksite was at Wapella, Illinois, where this post started. We spent most of a day there and then we headed home. Here's a picture, taken at Wapella, of some fellows loading a soybean planter before they start a day of planting.
This particular machine will plant 23 rows of soybeans at a pass, with each pass being 28.75 feet wide. They can plant many acres of beans pretty quickly.
And, having just got back from Illinois, I believe I'll lock the front door because I got to sit down, take a rest on my porch, and look out my back door.
May 13, 2006
Light posting and a little prairie nostalgia
Since May 1st I've been putting in beaucoup hours working on a technically interesting project at a rural site near Monmouth, Illinois. Though the location's remote and the hours have been extremely long, one bit of good fortune has been the excellent restaurant across the street from my hotel. If you're ever in the area, check out Cerar's Barnstormer: great food and great service.
Monmouth is an interesting little town about 50 miles west of Peoria, where I grew up. Being out on the Illinois prairie again brought back a host of memories from my teen and young adult years, before I left Illinois for Arizona. There aren't many man-made elements in the prairie landscape -- just enough to highlight the open expanse. We downstaters will tell you that's a big part of the prairie's charm. And, man, is the air sweet.
The town itself reminds me of parts of Peoria; I spotted some old brick sidewalks like the ones I grew up with. Monmouth is pretty small, with about 9900 residents. It's not big enough to have any outskirt, so you're out in the farm fields practically as soon as you leave the city limits. One of its touristy claims-to-fame is that it's the birthplace of Wyatt Earp. Who knew?
Another thing that struck me about Monmouth was the Maple City logo and tagline you see around town. I'm not an arborist, but I didn't notice an overwhelming preponderance of maple trees. Maybe it's a historical thing (or maybe I need to pay more attention).
Monmouth appears to be still pretty much as it was originally laid out 150 years ago. In the middle is a town square with its traffic circle. Main Street runs north and south from the square and Broadway runs east and west. Driving west along Broadway from the square, the streets have letter names (A Street, B Street); driving east, the streets have number names (1st Street, 2nd Street). Driving south along Main, the streets are named with numbers again (1st Avenue, 2nd Avenue) and driving north, the streets appear to be named after people. The city fathers ran out of naming schemes, I suppose.
Monmouth College is a a few blocks east of the town square. Driving a dozen blocks north, south or west of the square brings you to the edge of town; it extends a little further if you drive east, past the college.
Update: I spoke too quickly about the Monmouth city founders and their running out of naming schemes because I noticed that the streets you cross driving north along Main Street also follow the A,B,C pattern used on west Broadway. They're named Archer, Boston, Clinton, Detroit, Euclid, Franklin...
I expect another week or two away from home on this project and some travel to other rural locations in the Midwest, so posting (and e-mail responsiveness) will continue to be spotty. Back in the daily dose business by Memorial Day, I hope.
November 26, 2005
Regular visitors may have noticed the addition of "Ads by Goooooogle" to the side bar about a week ago. I decided to add those on a whim when I clicked a referral button for Google's AdSense at another site.
My motive wasn't to see how much money I could make - though I'll be happy to rake it in, if it turns out there's any to be made. Instead, I'm running an experiment to see what sense AdSense makes of this nonsense.
And it's been fairly amusing in a dry sort of way: when Your pet's blog was one of the most recent entries, the ads were about dogs, cats and pet paraphernalia. When the Redneck one-liners was near the top, there was an ad for "Redneck Singles." (For those girls with names on the backs of their belts, I suppose.)
Recently the ads have been for airline jobs and flight attendant-related things - presumably making sense of the Solidarity post. I have to admit that AdSense is doing as well as could be expected.
That's the story. I'm not sure how long they'll stay up. If the pace doesn't pick up from its current 62-cents-per-week I'll probably use the space for something more interesting. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to click through if anything piques your interest. I promise not to spend it all in one place.
November 18, 2005
For Firefox users
The Image Collection page has become surprisingly popular over the last month, so I moved the images to a different server - with a different URL - to reduce the bandwidth usage on crainium.net's server.
This may cause you a problem if you use the Firefox browser. By default, Firefox disallows loading images from a URL different than the URL for the page you're viewing. So if you can't see images here and you're using Firefox, then change your settings in Tools/Options - Web Features to match the image below.
The defaults for I.E. and Opera don't cause this to happen. I don't know what happens in other browsers such as Safari, Netscape and Konqueror.
May 03, 2005
Does anyone know where I can find (*coff*) a digital copy of Creedence Clearwater's Lookin' Out My Backdoor? Just about any encoding will do, but MP3 would be preferred.
If you do, post a comment or drop a line. Thanks.
Update (5/9): Got a copy by mail.
Posted by joke du jour at 09:06 PM
May 01, 2005
Happy May Day
For years now, I've been intending to put up a web cam outside our house, but Internet bandwidth and camera capabilities have both been obstacles. Who wants to see a 320 x 240 image delivered over a dial-up line?
Recently, though, I got both a low-end broadband connection and a high-res webcam. And the cam's up now. After a lot of tedious fiddling with its settings (while on a ladder), it seems to be delivering decent images. You can view them here.
Naturally, Mr. Murphy wouldn't be happy unless there were some caveats. Those are:
1. The image is large: at 1280 by 960, it's pretty mambo. So it can be a little slow to load. In addition, the page is set to refresh at a short interval; this will make your bandwidth problems on a slow connection even worse.
UPDATE 05/04/05: The tech support guys at StarDot Tech advised me that I'd get a sharper image with a smaller size, due to the type of CCD they use in their Netcam. So I've changed the size to 640 by 480, which is just over 25% of the 1280 image. It's correspondingly faster. We'll see how much sharper it looks.
2. Because of its size, the image will fill (or be too large for) most displays. So you will need to scroll within the browser window to see the whole image unless your display resolution is 1280 by 1024 or higher.
"Oh," you may be thinking, "the image-size control in Internet Explorer will adjust the image size for me." Nope. That won't work because of the way the page's CSS is coded. (Bwa-ha-ha!) However, you can save an image you like and edit it later to suit your tastes.
3. You will not be seeing Yosemite, the Champs-Elysées, or even the St. Louis arch. What you'll see is a rural setting in a river valley in east-central Missouri. If you like pastoral pix, you're in luck. You can count the cows.
4. Adjustable size and refresh rate have been deemed "revision II features." They're on the list. (But there is no schedule.)
5. Unfortunately, the cam shows only about 20-25% of the valley. (There's more to see than cows.) I may be experimenting with a wide-angle lens, or I may add another cam, or I may do both. Things Will Change, in other words.
6. I added a permanent link to the sidebar on the right so it'll be easy to find again (assuming you want to find it again).
7. Since we turn the lights out at night here in Missouri, the image is only available between 4:00 AM and 9:00 PM, US Central time (1000Z to 0300Z).
Sunrise, when the fog comes up out of the valley, and sunset, when the shadows crawl across it to the east, are the most interesting times, IMO. You can get local sunrise and sunset times from the St. Louis weather forecast.
All that said (whew!): Enjoy! If you like it, post a comment and let me know.
If you're interested in the technical details, this is a NetCam Megapixel camera from StarDot Technologies. It runs uClinux, a Linux flavor for embedded systems. You can telnet into the cam and run vi, if you like. (Timo, he just smile.) You can also run shell scripts and awk to control the serial I/O and relay ports.
The downsides are...
(a) no pan,
(b) no tilt,
(c) no zoom,
(d) no remote focus control and
(e) no remote iris control
...which explains all that time on the ladder. Neither is there any audio capability nor any streaming video mode. Luckily, I don't care about either of those.
When you buy this thing for the resolution you pay a price. Axis and Sony cams have a lot of features this one doesn't. But those two don't come close to StarDot's NetCam for image size and resolution.
Well, let me amend that. I couldn't find a cam that would do all that for less than $1,000.00. I know someone will send me a link to a camera that does everything I want, including hi-resolution - but it will cost $5,000.
Posted by joke du jour at 06:09 PM
April 23, 2005
Welcome CFG visitors
If you're visiting from the Club for Growth blog, take a look around; you may find a laugh or something else to pique your fancy. Eclectic's the word for this blog.
And a tip o' the hat to Andrew Roth for the link. If you're not familiar with the CFG site, Andy has a good political blog there. Check it out.
Posted by joke du jour at 12:00 PM
April 05, 2005
It's been a little over a month since the JDJ blog experiment began (on February 26). Many thanks to everyone who's dropped a line since then.
Because it's a new toy, I've been watching the blog's stats. Here's a list of the top 10 pages, ranked by number of hits. These are all video clips, not too surprisingly.
Thanks to Scott, Steve, Robyn, Mike, Carol and Paul for sending these in. (And if I missed anyone, let me know.) Karaoke for the Deaf was a big hit, particularly in Europe.
And here's traffic broken out by top level domain.
Posted by joke du jour at 07:50 PM
March 27, 2005
Ask, and it shall be given you
Seek, and ye shall find;
Whine, and the video shall be reformatted.
In response to one of the video clips posted a week or two ago, someone left this comment (his <whine> tags, not mine):
Ya know, I'd love to be able to watch videos from here ... but alas! My machines (Mac and Linux) just refuse to recognize the "wmv" format, and my sole remaining Windows box refuses to play them, probably because I've de-fanged Windows Media Player after a virus attack was lauched through it.
So I'll just sit here ... in the dark...
While I usually ignore whining on principle, I agreed that video posts could stand looking into - and for other reasons than just one person's PC configuration. So I looked into and I've made the following changes.
1. Reformatted all but two of the video clips to Flash Video (FLV) format. Future clips will also be in this FLV format. The player you will see now is actually a Flash. This (a) removes all of the codec dependencies at the browser end and (b) it provides "progressive" viewing (which is not quite streaming video, but is probably as close an we can get without a streaming video server).
Obviously, you'll need the Flash 7 player. But the odds are pretty good that you already have it and, if not, it's a simple matter to get it.
2. Added a link to each video post where the file is available in the format I received it in: WMV, MPEG or QuickTime MOV. The FLV works pretty well, I think, but it does involve recompressing the video. There is sometimes a little more 'aliasing' visible than in the original format. So you can view the file in its original format if you choose to - or you can copy it and use it to clog up mail servers. Knock yourself out.
Feel free to comment on this change. But I'll warn you that the first person who whines about Flash may become the butt of the next joke.
Posted by joke du jour at 07:01 PM
February 27, 2005
2005 marks the 20th anniversary of the the Joke du Jour, known in earlier days as the Joke of the day (JOD) and - originally - as Every Good Boy Deserves Humor (EGBDH).
When JDJ began, proprietary e-mail systems ruled the earth and private networks all over the world echoed with their horrifying roars whenever they met. But now all the VMSmail headers have become petrified and it's time for a reload.
Taking Dave Haxton's suggestion, a blog seems like a good way to teach this old JDJ dog a new trick or two.
The first goal of this exercise is to distribute by syndication, so we can drop the e-mail distribution list. There won't be any sudden changes; I'll keep sending e-mail notifications (unless you tell me to stop).
So start looking around for a news aggregator that you like (maybe the one that comes built into Opera?) An aggregator will let you get the updates to the JDJ blog without the clutter in your e-mail inbox.