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You can’t tell me destruction is the only answer (Ear problems) August 17, 2013

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So I’ve written of this before. As a kid I had some pretty bad ear infections and back then they really didn’t believe in putting in drainage tubes. Oh they went so far as to remove tonsils and adenoids but the ears – it was pretty much the medical dark ages when I was a kid.

But as a result the scarring is causing major issues. Mostly manifested by serious reduction in hearing acuity and volume, but by balance issues, etc.

Been a long time since I’d had one but I know the triggers now. And made an unfortunate decision the other day. I skipped taking my allergy meds. And we’re heading straight into ragweed season. So all sorts of swelling of things that shouldn’t and fun abound!

The solutions for this are chemical or surgical destruction of the inner ear or severing of the nerve. This to me is UNACCEPTABLE. You cannot tell me that with the advanced robots and biotech we have today you can’t excise scar tissue and rebuild the structures?

When I have health insurance again I’ll go see the ENT and elaborate on the point I made above. Instead of simply alleviating a symptom, why not look a little further and make it whole again? To quote that famous line from the Six Million Dollar Man (Who in modern dollars would probably cost $15 Billion Dollars): “We have the technology!”

Interesting email spam statistics January 4, 2013

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So I was looking at PopFile‘s statistics page.

Messages Classified

Bucket Classification Count False Positives False Negatives
other 0 (0.00%) 0 0
personal 34,557 (89.30%) 60 94
spam 3,978 (10.28%) 79 108
work 39 (0.10%) 6 2
unclassified 122 (0.31%) 59

This is really interesting. Of my entire email volume of 38,596 emails (and this doesn’t include Gmail!) only 3,978 were spam – or about 10% of incoming messages are spam. But the word counts are more interesting:

other 0
personal 10,113
spam 10,313
work 699

Notice the distinct words in Personal and Spam are only off by 200?

But the best part:

Classification Accuracy

Messages classified: 38,696
Classification errors: 204

Accuracy: 99.47%

99.47% – so .53% error rate. Not too bad. I use PopFile and it uses a Bayesian methodology to classify messages. See the link above and you can download and configure it.

Polyester I hardly knew ya December 29, 2012

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So the other day Keyron brought home this nice fleece robe. I tried it on, nice and comfy. But immediately upon donning the robe I said “It’s polyester!”

You see, my ass has been clothed in nothing but cotton for a very long time. But this robe – dear non-existent deity it’s warm!

So I did some research on Polyester, or as it’s otherwise known PET or Polyethylene Terephthalate, the same thing plastic drink bottles are made from.

Then of course I got a pair of fleece pajama bottoms too. And they’re polyester too!

But the other fascinating thing about polyester/PET is that they recycle plastic bottles into polyester yarn and fabric. That part is so cool!

So it’s not the polyester leisure suit of old anymore. And if you’re interested in the process of how polyester fleece is made I suggest you read this.

Cox incoming email down December 15, 2012

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So last night I noted Thunderbird kept telling me it couldn’t connect to Cox’s email server. Now I run a spam filter so I telneted to the spam filter and it responded. But then I tried initiating a POP3 session from the command line to Cox’s smtp.east.cox.net.  That failed spectacularly.

So now I know Cox proxies all web connection because I occasionally get a web pop-up stating they know about the issue and are working to resolve it.

I can give them a hint, ditch InterMail and go with Qmail.

Facbook Android App Saga and other news December 13, 2012

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So I noticed this past weekend that the Facebook app for Android was clunky. As in the news feed wouldn’t load. I’d get notifications but clicking got the little spinning icon and no update.

So I did what I normally do with tech that doesn’t work.  I bitched – I googled the issue and found a forum for Facebook. I told them that they didn’t UAT their latest Android app or that they were having problems because I could access via web browser but not their app. For those unfamiliar with SDLC and PM (Ok – UAT == User Acceptance Testing, SDLC = Software Development Life Cycle, and PM = Project Management) it’s a big no-no in project management or PM not to build in an acceptance phase.

So today I fired up the app and wonder of wonders, it worked. I’m know I wasn’t the only one having the issue, as the Google search had yielded a ton of people complaining about it.

And in other news – I hear Google has just released a new maps update that will work on IOS-6. Now all Apple has to do is fix the cluster fuck in IOS 6 that lets it work with other peripheral docks.

The Evolution of the Telephone December 4, 2012

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A thought occurred to me. The evolution of the telephone is fascinating. It was established in 1876. By this point a hard waging battle over the type of current transmitted to homes would be, Direct Current favored by Thomas Edison, and Alternating Current favored by Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse.

The telephone system of course uses a 48V DC circuit.

But the phone started as an instrument first in a common area of the home, one where you had to stand in front of the device to speak to the distant party.

But by the start of the 20th century – phones were rapidly evolving. It became readily apparent early on that you couldn’t hire enough switchboard operators to handle the rising call volumes seen by the early Bell System.

The dial telephone was invented by Almon Brown Strowger in 1891. But the Bell system didn’t fully adopt it until the late teens of the 20th century.

But adopt they did – using Strowgers Step by Step (SxS) system. You literally manipulated the switch train as you dialed. It was sort of a horribly inefficient system though.

SxS maintenance

Anyhow back to the 1920’s we started to see the phones with handsets and dials on them. But those phones required their network and ringing components to be located separately from the instrument itself.

Another development of the teens were the development of Panel switching. This was the very first of the common control types of switching equipment. In essence, everyone shared the same major elements in the switch train.

But Panel couldn’t keep up. In the mid 1920’s the started developing the #1 Crossbar. It was an ungainly beast of a switch but had capacities that far exceeded what Panel and Step by Step switches could handle. In addition, the #1 Crossbar introduced the element that you could use a specific switch element multiple times to complete calls.

By this point newer telephone with all components internal including network and ringer and handsets versus a separate ear piece and transmitter.

This is when you started seeing phones move from the common areas to the bedrooms, offices, etc.

And it carried on like this for another 50 years with moderate improvements in the telephone instrument. The 500 series represented the last great breakthrough in modern telephone service. And the Touch Tone derivative, the 2500 is still seen today.

And switching technology improved dramatically. The toll routing network was vastly improved in that time, to the point where it got so inexpensive that Bell couldn’t keep charging the exorbitant rates for long distance. This is what ultimately destroyed the Bell System. The MCI law suit challenged them on interconnection and they won.

Some of the notable switching improvements was the invention of the #5 Crossbar for local service, and the number 4A Crossbar for the toll network. Those increase the amount of common control and automation in the phone network.

But then, in the late 1950’s the Bell System started working with Electronic Switch Systems (ESS). The first ESS was a test in Morris, IL. They had to rework the whole system – the phones were different, the method of connection was different. But the key thing was, it proved advanced features like call waiting, Caller ID, three way calling, call forwarding, Centrex, etc.

But here’s where it gets interesting. The Bell System came up with the idea for cellular telephony back in the late 1930’s. They just lacked a critical element that we take for granted, widespread computing hardware in order to implement a cell system. It would take 40 years before they’d try again and this time with wild success.

Telephones then started moving from every room of the house to your cars and trucks.

But then micro-miniaturization gave us something luggable, then a brick, then a tiny brick, etc. so you could put the phone in your pocket.

But then the microprocessor revolution happened and now what we carry in our pockets has more computing power then some of the big main frame computers of the 1950’s and 1960’s. You most definitely have more computing power in your current phone than they did for the Apollo moon missions. In fact more than the computing power on the Space Shuttles.

Now we use our phones EVERYWHERE. We use them to talk to others and not just over the phone. I have an app called Echolink that lets me talk over amateur radio repeaters all over the world. And the phones have gained a measure of utility, like texting, web surfing, facebook, kindle and they’ve also become our music libraries.

So there has been progress made on the phone front. I suspect if A.G. Bell himself could see it he’d be astounded at what his simple invention has become.

My thoughts on the Windows Phone November 20, 2012

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I can’t stand it. Those fucking tiles – really, who thought that would be a good idea? I like the icon view in Android much better.

So you can tell – I won’t be getting a Windows phone. Nice try Microsoft but I’m even dreading jumping to Windows 8 because of that tiled interface. It’s ugly, cluttered and not what I want.

Guess who applied to be a member of the local School Board? October 21, 2012

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I did. The invite was on a Facebook group I am a member of. They were looking for someone in the area to represent so I stepped up.

Looking at it, I figured now was the time. I’ve long read a lot on education theory, done program reviews at schools around the state, and griped about failing education on this blog quite a few times. So it’s damn well time I do something about it.

We’ll see if I get accepted. My technology background plays into this – I want to see our kids learning more about science, technology, engineering and math. I want them to be able to navigate the challenges of a world that is rapidly changing.

I suppose I’ll have to upgrade the wardrobe a bit but that shouldn’t be an issue.

They meet about four times a month and it’s a one year term.

RasPi First Boot October 19, 2012

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After the trials and tribulations of stuffing the Debian Wheezy operating system image onto the SD card I finally got it to boot.

And it hit me – this is Debian – which means all I need now are a long Ethernet cord, got the keyboard and mouse on it already and the power – get this, the front of my Motorola Cable box has a USB port on it. So I plugged into that and lo and behold, it puts +5V and GND out! Yay!
And it got me to thinking. Right now I’ve only got an 8GB card in there. But people have used 32GB and 64GB cards. I can use RasPi for the wireless MESH I’m putting together. I’d have to get a USB hub so I can create a second network adapter but one of these little RasPi’s could be the SquidProxy and DansGuardian server. All solid state, nothing to really wear out. And it costs $35, with the external net adapter it goes to maybe $55. That isn’t bad – < $100 and you can just flash the whole thing on an SD card.
Very cool!


Another way to flash an OS onto your Raspberry Pi SD card October 19, 2012

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So since my last post I found out dd did not want to place nicely. I had thought about booting the computer with a Knoppix disc but meh, pain. I also downloaded win32diskimager – piece of shit. It didn’t even see the SD card.

So finally I did some searching. First I found this disk erase tool and wiped the SD card clean.
Then I downloaded another nice program called Flashnul.

Once you’ve got flashnul installed execute the following, though the path to your image file may vary:

flashnul F -L L:\2012-09-18-wheezy-raspbian\2012-09-18-wheezy-raspbian.img
And off you go. Mine is flashing it onto the SD card now. Taking awhile but it works! The -L option means LOAD. So I told it flashnul F – that’s the drive I want the image loaded onto, in this case F: in windows parlance. That path that starts with L:\  – that’s where my source file lives.







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