Thursday, June 21, 2007

What to do when encountering snakes on a beach

I would like to promote the adjective laocoonic, meaning one who seldom speaks except to say 'aaah, get them off of me, get them OFF!' Have we not all had days like that?

Laocoon and his Sons
Laocoon and his Sons,
originally uploaded by Schumata.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Another stroll down the boulevard of broken hardware

I picked up my Treo last Saturday to find that instead of having its screen in the customary off state it was already turned on, and looking distinctly odd. The camera operation would not work, and a cursory examination indicated that none of the buttons were working quite right. When I had a chance to look at it more closely, I found that it was completely discharged, and plugging it into its charger did not bring things back to life. Ooh, bad news, for aside from being my mobile phone it was the only place I'd recorded a bunch of login passwords for machines I'd been setting up at work over the last several weeks.

We took a trip to the mall to pick up an inexpensive GSM phone from T-Mobile (unactivated), and popping the SIM chip out of the Treo and into the new one was all it took to do a phone account transplant. The new phone is about a quarter the weight of the Treo, and I made sure to purchase a secure case for it, for I blame most of the trouble with the PDA on worn-out Velcro on the flap on its belt case, which would come loose and cause the unit to tumble onto the tiles many more times than I wished.

Back at home where I had access to my small hand tools, it was time to see if anything at all could be pulled off the dead palmtop. I determined that part of the problem with the Treo had something to do with one surface-mount capacitor soldered directly above the power connection which came off - I was able to reattach it with the same conductive ink pen that I'd done my previous bit of Treo surgery with. Then after numerous trials, I found that if I tipped in the battery while holding the sides of the case just so, then plugged in the power connector, I could get it to boot up, then use my one free hand to get into my encrypted password application, then jot down as many of the critical items until my hand would slip and the thing would freeze or die again. Persistence finally paid off and I was able to get all of those off of the Treo before I could no longer pull off the trick of getting it to power up at all. Though I had not by that time retrieved my recent address book entries or memopad entries, it was still a sort of victory.

So while I've long been a champion of the high-end gadget which does everything for you, I'm going to take a different course now and hold off on an electronic organizer for now, relying on this new phone and a low-tech PigPogPDA to hold the many activities which need my attention. I think it will be fine as long as I don't lose either of these items.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Show your axes

People don't know just what to do with the metaphor of the learning curve, speaking of it in such a variety of terms:











Type of learning curveHits in Google (13 June 2007)
steep90700
high41900
fast28700
sharp22300
shallow19700
slow12800
gradual
9290
excellent
4490
gnarly
5
grotesque
2


I think everyone agrees that the horizontal coordinate is time, but the confusion is whether the vertical coordinate is effort or results. The Wikipedia article suggests that the original sense had to do with the outcome of the learning rather than the difficulty of it, which seems to be the more prevalent interpretation these days. My idea is that anyone throwing around the metaphor ought to provide an actual picture of the curve they have in mind, with labels along the axes, so that the person hearing the phrase knows which sense is intended without having to resort to context.

Monday, June 11, 2007

With this entry, the meme has officially passed its peak


attribution

I once was blocked, but now can save

The blogger/Google spam-prevention robots have withdrawn and it's back to blogging as usual. Or, I hope, better than usual.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Locker room talk

Lockers
Lockers,
originally uploaded by milkfish.
(Composed while locked out of Blogger by the nefarious spam-prevention robots.)

I have been spying on conversations in the men's locker room over the last few months and present these excerpts as close to verbatim as I have been able to record them.


  • 6/5/07 Man those f*cking ridiculous people with their f*cking ellipticals (lipids?)

  • 5/22/07 One man owns a restaurant and works 10am to close 3-4 days a week. Another has a friend with a restaurant, works 12noon to 2am six days a week, no AC in the kitchen with hot ovens.

  • 5/19/07 Incoming phone call regarding an appointment, nature unspecified. “No, it wasn’t for this Saturday…next Friday is okay…do you want us to call?...no, it’s okay, it’s all part of what we do.” Pause to pull on shorts. “Okay, next Friday. Congratulations on the new baby.”

  • 5/15/07 An account of an accident while stopped at a light, a “lady” rear-ended him while he was taking his kid to school. Noww has to go to the auto body shop.

  • 4/14/07 A fellow talking about one Christmas Eve years ago, when he was called in during a storm which had dropped 8” of slow to operate on a fellow who’d been out riding his bike. Said he’d needed some wine for dinner, and knew he was too drunk to drive to the liquor store. Claimed he wasn’t stupid, spoke six languages. Just before putting him under, told the patient that if he really knew all the languages he claimed, to talk to the Chinese anesthesiologist. A conversation in fluent Mandarin ensued.

  • 4/10/07 A discussion of the old days when the Atlantic City casinos were something special.

  • 4/8/07 With a Tenafly bike-riding club during the warm-weather, which has organized a trip to New Mexico this year as incentive

  • 3/20/07 Bragging that his resting heart rate is 66 “after 20 ounces of Starbucks.”

The robots! ah they are cruel

Robot Attack!
Robot Attack!,
originally uploaded by Dan Coulter.
Day 2 of the lockout by Blogger's spam-prevention robots.