Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hello, I'm Not Johnny Cash

My iPod did it again! Today, the same song, the second one a cover of the first, played in succession.
I'm sure Apple's engineers are messing with me. Why? Because it's the kind of thing I would do if I were writing software for music players (I have a degree in Computer Science and a wicked sense of humor. Anyone hiring?).

How Does Comcast Stay in Business?

All I wanted to do was to see how much it would cost to upgrade my analog cable to digital and the CSR couldn't even do that without trying to transfer me to Tech Support.

If they can't even tell me how much it would cost, how the hell can they run the rest of their company?

Addendum: After I hung up on Comcast, I went to their web site to see if I could answer the question, even though I no longer have any desire to upgrade my cable.  The CSR told me a cable-card, necessary for my TiVo to get digital cable, would cost $7.50 a month.  Holy crap!  My reaction was that that was way too much.  It really is too much.  Turns out - according to their own web site - that the actual price of the cable card is $2.50 a month.

Again I ask, if the CSRs - the public face of the company - can't get the basics right, how bad are things inside Comcast?  I can't believe I'm saying this: the day Verizon's FIOS is available on the poor side of Minnetonka, I'm signing up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homemade Marshmallows

Did you know you can make marshmallows at home?  It's not that difficult and they taste pretty good.  I shared some with a guy at work and he says they work better for Smores than store-bought.
You need patience and a high-speed mixer.  There are five basic ingredients but it's what you do with them that counts.  The first batch turned my kitchen into a sticky disaster zone, but with a few changes, the second one was neat and orderly.  Funny thing, that steep learning curve.

I got the recipe off the internet, but I wouldn't advise using any of the recipes out there (see disaster zone reference, above).  I'll post a recipe - and more importantly, a technique guide - when I work out a few details.

I'm going to try flavored ones next time, mint and chocolate being the likely choices.  I'll bring a bunch to our next family gathering, whenever that shall be.

Now I'm hungry.

Monday, August 23, 2010

If This Isn't Proof...

I've mentioned several times how I think that Apple's engineers put easter eggs in the software for iPods, eggs that play related artists or similar song titles in such a way as to defy the odds of a random playlist. Well, today they did it again.

I started out the day with 1385 songs in my daily playlist, set to play in random order. Not quite two hours into my workday, this happened:
These two Victims of Love (Victim of Loves?) have the same title but they are not the same song.  Yes, I know that the odds of two songs with some commonality playing together is the same as two songs with nothing in common but you can't tell me that there isn't something in the software making it happen more often than a truly random order would dictate.

Technically, this isn't proof that they're messing with me but it stokes the conspiracy theory part of my brain.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I was watching Jeopardy! the other day and neither I nor any of the contestants could come up with the answer for the clue: What type of simple machine is a doorknob? Turns out, it's a wheel and axle.

That got me thinking how I might be lucky to name even four of the seven types of simple machines but I could easily remember all seven of the dirty words you can't say on TV. And I don't think it's just me. How many of us forget the basics but can remember irrelevancies in great detail?

Monday, August 9, 2010


It's been a long time since my last post. Some of that can be attributed to my computer dying on July 10 and not being functional again for two weeks. The rest can be blamed on good old-fashioned procrastination and sloth. Really, I've spent two weeks trying to get my computer to behave the way I like it and it still isn't quite.

So, here we are on August 9 with the post that was meant for July 10. On that nice Saturday, I travelled to a St Paul suburb to have Saturday breakfast with my parents. Saturday breakfast is kind of a tradition with us, although we don't do it every Saturday.

When I pulled into their parking lot, the odometer on my Goldwing registered 19,999. I snapped a picture after I parked.

A few hours later, I left to go back home. A few blocks down the road, the odometer rolled over to 20,000.

I pulled over to grab that shot, by the way. I may not be the brightest bulb, but I'm not silly enough to take a picture while moving.

You can see I have a digital odometer. They don't actual roll over. They sit at one value for a mile then change instantly to the next, so I couldn't exactly predict when the digits would change but as luck would have it, I was watching as 19,999 became 20,000. What can I say? I'm a numbers kind of guy.

And looky here! I found these pictures from June 14, 2006, when my cycle's miles rolled on a previous milestone.

Interestingly - or maybe slightly interestingly - my Goldwing rolled to 10,000 miles not far from my current residence. I pulled over to snap the 9999 and 10,000 pictures in the parking lot of an office building on Wayzata Blvd. The same office building I have to pass to get out of my current neighborhood. Interesting and meaningless at the same time.

Any bets on when my bike hits 30,000? Let's see, April 2004 to June 2006 for the first 10k, or 26 months. June 2006 to July 2010 for the second decalog, or 49 months - not quite double the time. Do I hear a guess of September 2018 from anyone for 30k?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Apple's Engineers Are Still Screwing with Us

I've mentioned in the past that I think Apple's software engineers have put some easter eggs in iTunes and iPods that mess with the artists and songs, even though the machines are set to play in random order.

To wit, here are two songs that played back-to-back today.

An obvious theme, don't you think? My playlist had over 1200 songs in it this morning. I forget how to calculate odds, but I think the chances that two songs in 1200 will play sequentially is 1200!-1198!, or 1:1,438,800 (that's 1200 factoral - 1198 factoral). Or maybe it's 1:600. Don't care at the moment. I'm just trying to say it's mind-boggling that these songs with the same word in the title played back-to-back.

As for some completely unpredictable song order, how about some haiku-esque poetry from the machine?

Day by day, gonna move, so far away.