In case you thought optimism was dead

The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser–in
case you thought optimism was dead. –Robert Brault, software developer,
writer (1972- )
[Courtesy of today’s AWAD.]

fun learning

What Your Freshmen Don’t Know

Every year, an updated list of things incoming college freshmen, or graduating high school seniors, know and don’t know circulate the Internet. Hugh points to the latest from Beloit College.
I won’t rehash the list here, but thought I would share some of my favorite points:
+ There has always been only one Germany.
Whenever I think about this historic event, I am always reminded of Dennis Miller’s (and there’s a personality a lot of these kids may be wholly unaware of) commentary on SNL’s “Weekend Update”, when he said, and I’m paraphrasing, except for the last line: “Today, East and West Germany announced their plans for unification. France has already announced its formal surrender.”
+ A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents’.
Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s much less so for them than their parents.
+ They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.
This has been true for a long while now, for many incoming/outgoing classes.
+ Milli Vanilli has never had anything to say.
Do they even know who Milli Vanilli were?
+ Reality shows have always been on television.
Unfortunately. Oh so unfortunately…
+ Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.
I don’t believe this is something that is new to this particular class.
+ Most of them have never had the chance to eat bad airline food.
Since when is there good airline food?
+ Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the national anthem.
And that is a crying shame. It was something of a rite of passage in my childhood to stay up so late that you were still watching when the anthem came on. Though these days, it’s mostly because there is no end to the broadcast day.
+ They have always “dissed” what they don’t like.
Do kids this age still use that word?

armed forces iPod Mac


  • The U.S. Army now has podcasts.
  • Picture Framer is one of myriad non-productive widgets, but it’s probably the first one of that category that I like.
  • There are new Get a Mac ads, and in “Trust Mac”, I swear Justin Long is about to truly crack up every time he has to look at John Hodgman wearing the glasses and fake mustache.

    [Via Paul.]

rant tech

And Sony wonders why they’re losing to Samsung and Apple

We have a Sony DirecTV/Tivo unit my mother-in-law gave as a Christmas gift to us several years ago. In techno-age, it’s ready to retire and move to Florida, but it still does the job, and the TiVo interface is still light-years ahead of DirecTV’s own DVR receivers, of which we have two.
Some of the buttons on the Sony remote have stopped working, however, and it’s finally gotten to the point where we need a new remote. A trip to Sony’s web site reveals they no longer sell the remote (shocker, I know), but there is an online form with which you can inquire as to parts. So I fill it out, noting we have the DirecTV receiver/TiVo DVR combo unit, as well as putting in the only part numbers I’m able to find any where on the remote itself.
This was a month ago.
Today, I receive a reply from Sony. Therein, I’m told:

I think you might have model SVR2000. If this is it, the remote is rmtv303 (147603612) which is nla. Please go on and type in either the part number of the model number of the remote and do a search. There still should be internet distribuors that carry it.
Fine and dandy, this was along the lines of what I was expecting. Except the genius got the model number wrong, and the part number for the remote wrong. I only discovered this after doing exactly what is suggested above, running a Yahoo search. On one page which listed several remotes, I discovered another part number for a Sony TiVo remote, and it turned out to be the correct one.
For the record, the SVR2000 is the Sony TiVo DVR; it is not the DirecTV receiver/TiVo combo. That is model SAT-T60. The remote part number for the SAT-T60 is RM-Y809. I found a new one for $55, with a 30-day, money-back guarantee (yay, Yahoo!). This is future reference for myself, as well as help for anyone else who may find themselves in a similar situation.
I just think it shows very bad form for a Sony employee to, (a) take a month to respond, and (b) when finally responding, providing the wrong information. I was very explicit in noting that we had the DirecTV receiver/TiVo combo, and not the TiVo-only SVR2000.
Sony has rested on its laurels, and formerly well-deserved reputation, for too long, and it continues to result in products no one are buying, and poor customer service after the fact.


Do you know what sucks?

Having a quarter bottle of picante sauce in the fridge, plus an unopened bottle in the pantry, and not a single tortilla chip any where in the house.

armed forces fun helping learning parenting tech


  • Thanks to the folks at Xerox, with help from Layer 8 Group, you can send a postcard, with original artwork by a child, to a member of the armed forces serving abroad: Let’s Say Thanks. I sent one, how about you?

    [Via Susan via e-mail.]

  • has some good advice in its Back to School section concerning backpack selection for students. The first tip they offer, to get a bag with two straps instead of just one, to help balance the load across the body better, is why I’m a dedicated backpack guy.
  • My new addiction is Armagetron Advanced, an open source 3D game of the lightcycle contest from Tron.

“I can feel it, coming in the air tonight…”

So with my spouse not all that interested in seeing it, I took in Miami Vice this afternoon. I went in with preconceived notions, thanks to hearing about/reading reviews and opinions from a couple of friends. I knew to not expect much character development, I knew to expect to not be able to understand every single word from the actors (they mumble a bit, especially in the early parts of the film), and I expected some decent action and good cinematography. After all, it’s a Michael Mann film.
Possible spoilers ahead. Do not click through to continue if you don’t want to know anything regarding the plot.

liberty politics

The Patriot Post at 10

One of my favorite online publications turns ten years old this month, The Patriot Post. (Formerly known as The Federalist Patriot, and for a long time before that, simply The Federalist.)
Publisher Mark Alexander has overseen a redesign of the publication’s web site, and it’s a big improvement over the previous design. You can now get notices of each new issue via RSS, and all issues since 2003 are archived online, with prior years to come.
A subscription to The Patriot Post is free, and the publication is solely supported through reader donations.


Thanks for the validation, compadre

Roxette IM conversation


“I love public transportation.”

500 points to the member of the Stevenson family who can correctly identify the movie from which the above quote comes, and the character/actor who said it.
I ususally don’t go for Internet memes, and Tom didn’t ping me with this one, but I thought it pretty cool nonetheless. How many public transportation systems have you ridden? Below are mine:

Got at!

Update, 11:00 PM: My wife notes that New Orleans’ RTA isn’t on the list. I thought maybe because RTA didn’t include some form of light rail that it failed to qualify, but then she reminded me that it has the trolleys, like San Fran’s MUNI. So even though there’s no icon for it, you can add New Orleans to my list.