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Another Sunday Stealing – on a Sunday even October 12, 2014

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Who were you with yesterday?

That would be Keyron. 

What woke you up this morning?

Nothing – I just pop awake at 5AM every day. This is what happens when you commute.

Where are you?

In my home office at home.

Is tomorrow going to be a good day?

Yep – I got the day off for Columbus Day.
What’s on your mind RIGHT NOW?

That I don’t have to go to work tomorrow. If old Columbus is good for anything it’s the time off.
Do you listen to music every day?

Yes in fact I do. It’s a survival tactic on public transit. In fact were it not so I’d be one unhappy camper.

Are you a fast typer?

Very fast. Everywhere I’ve worked someone has said to me that I fly on the keyboard. And I do, last time I checked I was up at about 90WPM.

Whats your favorite type of soda?

Black Cherry!

Have you ever won an award?

Not that I’m aware of but I did win a book once.

Are you listening to music right now?

Yep, got Pandora streaming in the background.

How long ’till your birthday?

42 days. Hey, that’s the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.

Do you use ebay to buy or sell?

Not so much anymore. I was both buying and selling on there.

 Who makes you mad?

Stupid people.

 What do you do when you’re mad?

I curse a lot – and I get pretty loud.

Do certain songs make you cry?


 Are you usually a happy person?

Yes I am.
 What makes you the happiest?

Time away from work.
 Do you believe in yourself?

Of course I do.

Yet another week where the MBTA Commuter has lead in it’s ass October 11, 2014

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So this past week  was interesting. The train coming into Providence has been consistently late by a few minutes. Ok that I can almost accept.

But then it’s equipment problems – for two days in a row. Same problem, same train. This time I got off the train at Back Bay, hopped on the Orange Line toward Oak Grove, got off at Downtown Crossing and then hopped on the Red Line toward Central Square, my stop. It’s good to know that the both the Orange and Green lines intercept the Red Line, one at Downtown Crossing, the other at Park Street. So in essence from Back Bay you either come up, then down again to the Orange line, or you exit the building, walk down to Copley and get on the Green Line.

Still it’s annoying. I’m almost ready to spend $378 for an Amtrak pass and just buy the $70 subway pass from MBTA. At least the Red Line for all it’s faults, namely the 015 and 016 series cars that are rickety buckets, it runs ON TIME.

But the MBTA has to maintain it’s commuter trains a little better. In fact if they really want to serve the Providence Line it’s time to consider electric power cars versus the diesel hybrid engines they use. Of course it will require buying whole new train sets too. But the last time the MBTA bought new passenger cars for the Providence Line was in 2005. You can tell – if you head toward the front of the car and look up and to your left the manufacture plate is RIGHT THERE. It lists the locations the car was manufactured, the year and the serial number of the car. There are still some cars from the late 1980’s on the line.

PBS The Roosevelts October 11, 2014

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PBS is re-running it’s documentary on the Roosevelt family today. They’re mostly on the Teddy Roosevelt era. And it hit me – this is circa 1904.

The U.S. then was a VASTLY different place 110 years ago than it is now.

Think for a moment – the automobile or at least a major mass production of such didn’t exist yet. That would be another four years.

Electrification throughout the U.S. wasn’t even a glimmer at that point. And in fact our electric infrastructure of today still dates back to that time.

Telephony was still connected by an operator and not in all areas or as ubiquitous as it is today. In fact all the communication technology we have today owes its existence to the conquering of noise. Recall too that Lee De Forest‘s  “audion” didn’t happen until two years later. And the first transcontinental telephone call didn’t happen until 1915. Now of course we can call around the globe from the palm of our hand with no wires.

And commercial radio didn’t yet exist in 1904. It was the newspapers and telegraphs that ruled the day. That and oil lamps, coal heating, etc.

But let’s go further – no hot water heaters in the homes. Cold showers! Which btw aren’t too bad. But still warm water is comfortable. So is central heating.

Better for the more tropical areas of the U.S. home air conditioning didn’t yet exist.

Food must have been interesting, we’d have had no exposure to mangoes, kiwis, or the fare plethora of fruits we take for granted today.

And the average life span in the early part of the 20th century was 46.2 for men, 49.1 for women. In that parlance I should be dead by now. But I’m not – advances in medicine, dental care and improvements in food safety are to thank. Even Penicillin – the overused antibiotic didn’t exist in 1904!  And vaccinations were pretty uncommon then too. You’d die from diphtheria, measles, scarlet fever aka strep throat.

So the fact that life spans are now into the 70’s and 80’s is quite the achievement for public health.

That’s just a century worth of progress. And now we’re in the early part of the 21st century. Where will it go from here?

Sorry I haven’t been visiting October 6, 2014

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Blogs that is. My machine had a hard disk crash and so I lost all my RSS feeds etc. The machine is up and running again but I’ve not had a chance to restore all the data to it. I did manage to snap an SSD in place of the electro-mechanical drive that had failed. Much faster! And I did get a network crossover cable to be able to move files off the old computer to the recent restored one.

Just not enough time – my schedule has been full!

Please let it be October 5, 2014

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So it seems Bernie Sanders is mulling a run is 2016. Look, my two ideal candidates to replace President Obama in 2016 are either Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. Hell even a combined ticket with one as President and one as Vice President would be fantastic.

In the case of Sanders he’s doing the lap – appearing all over Iowa, New Hampshire, etc.

Meanwhile the Republicans are spinning their wheels. So much so that they’re considering Rmoney again. Yes the mis-spell is deliberate.

Now we can only hope the Democrats keep the Senate and that the House flips too. Is it too much to ask?

I believe I’ve solved my problems with UPS October 3, 2014

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it came to me when I bitched out the agent at the UPS depot, refused to identify myself or sign for the package.

One of the things I said to her was “What, do I have to paint the house number in big neon numbers so the driver can find the place?”

So I printed out an 8.5×11 sheet of paper that said:

“Attention UPS Driver”

“This is”

“My address”

And I tape it inside the window that faces where the driver pulls in to the business next door. And sure enough I’ve had THREE packages delivered by UPS without issue.

I guess they now know that I’m not fucking around. I expect the packages to be delivered.

But again, I had to go to what I consider extraordinary measure to get those packages delivered.

MBTA slow as shit past few days October 3, 2014

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This isn’t the MBTA or MBCR’s problem though. The issue is with Amtrak and more specifically their signalling system.

Apparently there was a failure of the switch elements near Canton Junction – at least judging by the number of Amtrak vehicles and personnel I saw this morning.

Now what I suspect caused the problem – we had three straight days of rain. Water and electronic and electric gear do not play well together.

But this told me we’ll never see true TGV or Shinkansen like speeds on the northeast corridor. The switching network is far too fragile.

Of course there are also co-workers of mine who say the tracks are too curved. But that’s the thing, the Acela trains were built with the ability to tilt into curves. ANd the power car is more than capable of speeds exceeding 200MPH. As I may have said before the power car is built by the same company that built the TGV in France, a company called Alstom.

So almost all the elements are in place for true high speed – but today I was reading that the next phase of the Japanese Shinkansen line will be a Maglev or Magnetic Levitation system. The thing about Maglev is that it has to be in a straight line, so they’re tunneling underground to build the new system. And it’s top speed will be somewhere in the 300MPH+ range. That is awesome. But we’ll never see it in the U.S. because for one, our politicians have no vision. And for two we insist that speeds below 200MPH are high speed. No they aren’t.

And the high speed – not just limited to the Acela trains. The big locomotives are more than capable of hauling ass at 150MPH themselves. It’s what you get when you hybridize a train.

Rediscovering Punk Music September 28, 2014

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My favorite of course from Punk’s conception in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s.

That was back when The Clash and The Cure were still sort of punk sounding.

But then there were The Misfits:

The Dead Kennedy’s (The name of the group alone was pretty tasteless!)

Suicidal Tendencies

The Ramones of course!

Amateur Radio: Stealing the Thunder – Cheap DMR radio coming September 20, 2014

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I’ve been watching the digital modes on VHF/UHF shift around past couple years, WIRES, D-Star etc. But the radios are too expensive. I don’t want to ever pay close to $400 to $1,000 for a handheld radio.

t’s coming from Baofeng of course.  The new DA-77 is a full up DMR radio. And the price – $129. So I’ll jump in.

Now on to what DMR  – it’s a digital encoding based on 12.5KHz channels. It stands for Digital Mobile Radio. A bit of misnomer but then a handheld is in fact a mobile radio. If you want to go you can read the protocol specifications here.

It’s interesting that the ETSI who controls the DMR standards insists on calling it a “…licensed land mobile…” service. Amateur Radio in the United States isn’t just restricted to terrestrial use – there are a number of satellites whizzing around in the sky right this moment. Plus there is an amateur radio presence on the International Space Station. So Amateur Radio in the United States isn’t a land mobile thing.

But for the capabilities and price – once the DA-77 is available I’m buying one. The reason I think DMR will win in the long term is that the others I mentioned are WIRES (Yaesu) and D-Star (Icom). But they don’t play because they are proprietary protocols. But DMR is open in the sense that ANY manufacturer can use the standard. So there will in fact be a whole lot more DMR radios than WIRES or D-Star out there. if price is the driving factor that is. And believe me, it is!

How to destroy a hard drive September 19, 2014

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Or more specifically after you’ve used some Torx head screwdrivers and extracted the platters from you hard drive.

Anyhow smaller drives tend to use glass platters. And sure as shit the dead hard drive I removed from my Linux box had glass platters. You can test this – just hold a magnet to it. If the magnet is attracted to the platter it’s metal, otherwise glass.

In the case of metal – a 20 to 50 grit sandpaper is your friend. In fact for both metal and glass a vigorous rub with sandpaper will render it unreadable.

But in the case of glass you can go one step further. Smash the shit out of it with a blunt object. You’ll end up with something similar to this:

20140919_221947[1]Of course afterward I used a metal rolling pin to further turn it to dust. If you can recover data from that I’d like to meet you.


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