Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Holiday Season

[The following was written back in late November, but I forgot about it. Enjoy it, mid-January. -scikidus]

It's finally here.

The sun sets early over New Jersey, the trees are stuck in post-peak, so the yellow sunlight illuminates the yellow leaves.

Today's Thanksgiving, and it certainly feels like it.

For the first time in years we're making a large chunk of the feast, so the house is filled with the aromas of pumpkin, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon.

I'm sitting on my windowsill, and the cool crisp air of fall, air of the season, is lightly blowing in.

It's hardly 2:30, but already the afternoon shadows are long. Trace leaves litter the streets as pedestrians slowly amble down the West Side's characteristic wide sidewalks. The sky is a pure, lightened blue, with one or two faint, wispy clouds added in as an afterthought. The air also carries the faint scent of pine, wafting from the Christmas tree vendors from Canada setting up shop down the block.

Unlike most days in the City, quiet is noticeably more common today, instead of the norm of din. Relatives of strangers arrive, bearing flowers, bags of food, and the occasional headache. For a brief moment in a hectic city, NY license plates are less common.

People are walking slowly, cars are driving slowly.

I'm glad I'm not the only one absorbing the magic of the day.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

YouTube PM Trolling Fails

This is here to record a conversation between a creationist troll and 24 other YouTubers (the troll spammed us all).

Sent November 21, 2009 by Eye2EyeIIIV:
Think about it...

While many evolutionists cry out that a loving God is inconsistent with this world of cruelty we inhabit, they conveniently overlook other things. For example, how does evolution explain charity, and caring? If evolution is true, the driving force of nature is "survival of the fittest". Those less able to compete are destined to die. Any attempt to rescue these "less competitive" people would be to work AGAINST the most fundamental force of nature. The existence of doctors, hospitals, charitable organizations, and even police force is contrary to raw evolutionary forces.
The evolutionist has no basis for moral judgments. If man is just the result of millions of years of evolution, our behavior is based on random chemical reactions. There is no ultimate moral code. All morality is relative. So if a person needs money, why is it wrong to rob someone or a bank? According to evolution, the stronger person should succeed. Might makes right. So in the evolutionary view, such violence is a natural, and necessary, part of the world.
Those who have a worldview based on the Bible have a consistent basis for acts of kindness, charity, or caring. We are commanded in Scripture to love our neighbors as ourselves, to perform acts of mercy, and to care for the widows and orphans. If we take evolution to its logical conclusion, we will conclude that these widows and orphans should die because they are a drain on the resources of nature.
Only true Christians ultimately offer the world a basis to make moral judgments. Those who reject the Bible have no basis for morality.

Hit the jump for the responses.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Have I really not posted in two months? Wow. In case you're thinking that this blog is dead, you're wrong. From the very beginning I was dedicated NOT to try to follow a schedule, and instead post only when I felt like posting. And I haven't felt like posting. Much.

OK, I forgot. Sue me.

I've got Rocky Road ice cream melting int he kitchen. I'll post when I feel like it, OK?

Thanks again, internet.

Your friend,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

K-Mart Fail!

Epic K-Mart fail! (taken in downtown New York City by yours truly)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

YouTube's New Userpages: Crashing!

I need as many people as possible to check this.

1. Make sure you're not doing anything else in your browser (besides viewing this, of course).

2. Go to a user page on YouTube of someone who has the new YouTube layout and has a lot of videos. I know this happens on the vlogbrothers channel.

3. Scroll down in the user's list of uploaded videos, and click something from a while ago.

4. Watch in horror as your browser crashes.

5. If step 4 didn't happen to you, then you're lucky (or using Chrome, where Flash can't crash the browser). But in every browser I've used, YouTube's new flash program has caused an epic browser fail.

YouTube, you're going to force this crap onto us? Really?

Firefox 3.5's New Logo

So I've downloaded FF 3.5, and I've decided to run a quick run-down of what you get. (Yeah, it's been a while since I've posted here. Sorry.)

Most of Firefox 3.5's changes are under-the-hood, but there are a few changes, including much faster Javascript and Private Browsing mode. There are also some visual changes, including a + tab button in the tab bar, and, excitingly, a refresh on the logo!
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
It's really rather beautiful.

Friday, June 19, 2009

TwitterRep Bookmarklet

In support of the Iranian people, I've decided to help distinguish between the trustable users on Twitter and the non-trustable users. I built a bookmarklet to aide in this process.

FindTheRats, this one's for you.

TwitterRep <-- drag to bookmark bar

This code looks at a user's follower count, following count, and update count and alerts back a number. No saying how reliable it is (won't work for users with more than a million of any of those values, BTW), but it seems to do a good enough job of picking apart the wheat from the chaff.

Example time!

Good users:
mousavi1388 -- 712174233
iran09 -- 681975
TehranBereau -- 371922
persiankiwi -- 82745541
StopAhmadi -- 8964349
Change_for_Iran -- 149722592

Bad users:
simonjake -- 19
tahria -- 27
giti456789 -- 1
Toby1776 -- 18
iranianlecturer -- 174
serv_ -- 3898
Karmuk -- 89


As you can see, the users you should follow have TwitterReps several orders of magnitude larger than those you shouldn't follow.

And by the way, I've got a TwitterRep of 46. Stop laughing.

Note: Just because you have a low TwitterRep does NOT automatically mean that you are un-trustworthy, as my account is an example. Just follow th converse: you CAN trust the sources with TwitterReps over, say, 50000.

Oh, and for the curious: aplusk has the highest TwitterRep (calculated manually) of 105,292,837,174.
Sorry, this is wrong. Both TheEllenShow and CNNBRK have higher TwitterReps, CNNBRK winning with a TwitterRep of 638,462,456,808, over 6 TIMES aplusk.

Also for the curious: the calculation scheme I use is:

b = # of following
a = # of followers
u = # of updates

TwitterRep = log10(10+u)*a*(a+1)/(b+1);

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ask Your Doctor! Do it! Do it NOW!

I've decided that I should take other people's advice more. And whom should I trust more than the people I see on TV in those advertisements for various drugs? They all tell me to "talk to my doctor" about their poison.

So I will. I'm going to make a list of every drug they advise me about. I don't care if the drug isn't meant for me; if the ad says "talk to your doctor" then I will.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Manhattanhenge 5.31.09!

Well, I'm back from 42nd street and 2nd. Tonight was Manhattanhenge, the magical day twice a year when the sun sets on the median of the Manhattan cross-streets, illuminating the length of the street with golden light.

Last year, we only had about a dozen people. But check out the turnout this year!

A police car stopped by to see what the commotion was about, and they ended up taking pictures along with everyone else. A lot of people simply showed up because they saw the crowd, and they walked away with a new tidbit of trivia about New York. Hooray!

Here are some pictures by yours truly:

See you all June 11!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Onion is Funny

The title of this post is a tautology. Here's is the proof:

Oh, No! It's Making Well-Reasoned Arguments Backed With Facts! Run!

I…I think it's finally over. Our reactionary emotional response seems to have stopped it dead in its tracks. If I'm right, all we have to do now is smugly reiterate our half-formed thesis and—oh, no! For the love of God, no! It's thoughtfully mulling things over!

Run! Run! It's making reasonable, fact-based arguments!

Quickly! Hide behind self-righteousness! The ad hominem rejoinders—ready the ad hominem rejoinders! Watch out! Dodge the issue at hand! Question its character and keep moving haphazardly from one flawed point to the next!

All together now! Put every bit of secondhand conjecture into it you've got!

Goddamn it, nothing's working! It's trapped us in our own unsubstantiated claims! We need to switch fundamentally unsound tactics. Hurry, throw up the straw man! Look, I think it's going for it. C'mon…c'mon…yes, it's going for it! Now hit it with the thing that one guy told us once while it's distracted by our ludicrous rationalizations!

Gah! It's calmly and evenhandedly deflecting everything we're throwing at it. Our deductive fallacies are only making it stronger! Wait…what on earth is it doing now? Oh, no, it has sources! My God, it's defending itself with ironclad sources! Someone stop the citing! Please, please stop the citing!

The language is impenetrable! For all that is good and holy, backpedal with all your might!

Where are the children? Someone overprotect the children! They cannot be exposed to this kind of illuminative reasoning. Their young, open minds are much too vulnerable to independent thought. We have to shield them behind our unshakeable intolerance for critical thinking.

What?!? Noooooooooo! Richard! For the love of God, it's convinced Richard!

No time for tears now. Richard's mind has been changed forever. But we mustn't let it weaken our resolve. Mark my words, our ignorance will hold, no matter the cost. Now, more than ever, we have to keep floundering ahead with blind faith in our increasingly fallacious worldview.

For Richard's sake.

What's that? Now it's making an appeal to reason? Never! Do you hear me, you eloquent, well-read behemoth? Never! We'll die before we recognize what we secretly know to be true! The cognitive dissonance only makes our denial stronger!

We have but one hope left: passive-aggressive slights disguised as impersonal discourse.† Okay, everyone, careful now…careful…if this is going to work, we have to arrogantly assume that it won't be smart enough to catch on to our attempt to salvage some feeling of superiority and—oh, God, it's calling us out! Quick, avoid eye contact and stammer an apology! Tell it we were just joking! Tell it we were joking!

Arrgh! Our pride! Oh, Lord, our pride! It burns!

All is lost. We don't stand a chance against its relentless onslaught of exhaustive research and immaculate rhetoric. We may as well lie down and—Christ, how it pains me to say it—admit that it's right. My friends, I would like to take these last few moments of stubborn close-mindedness to say that it's been an honor to dig myself into this hole with you.

Unless…wait, of course! Why didn't we think of it before? Volume! Sheer volume! It's so simple. Quickly now, we don't have much time! Don't let it get a word in edgewise! Derisively cut it off mid-sentence! Now, launch the sophomoric personal attacks! Louder, yes, that's it, louder! Be repetitive, juvenile, and obstinate! It's working! It's working!

We've done it! It's walking away and shaking its head in disgust! Huzzah! Finally—defeated with a single three-minute volley of irrelevant, off-topic shouting!

Ironic, really, isn't it?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun with Kings

"Kings", after only one season, is being canceled. The complex plot of the corrupt world behind a absolute monarchy actually makes for a great narrative. I'v eben watching the season on Hulu, and I've caught two things so far:

1. Kings runs Windows

Apparently, the press uses the Windows Logon screen and Windows Media Player 10 to take notes on the escalation of war with Gath.

2. Gossip website!
In Episode 3, the princess clicks on a link to and sees Captain Shepherd kissing outside a nightclub.

As it turns out, someone at NBC actually registered, and set it up for Kings. That's actually rather cool.

EDIT: But did I mention that she opens in INTERNET EXPLORER 7? No wonder there are so many problems!

Atheists and Kiva

You know what warms my heart? This warms my heart.


Thursday, May 21, 2009 Download Bookmarklets

More fun with bookmarklets! This one lets you download videos (.flv format) from download


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha: Hope you liked your soul.

Yesterday Skynet 0.1 Wolfram|Alpha went online. I have been trying out different searches, and it's very cool. It was cool, at least, until I saw this:


Friday, May 8, 2009

Interesting combination

emo + hemophilia = emophilia?

I'm terrible.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sweet, a Proxy -- Bookmarklet!

I wanted one, so here is a bookmarklet which will automatically change your links to redirecting through proxy!

You're welcome, world. I also made a program which gets around my school's idiotic nanny system, but since it won't work for 99.9% of nannified users, don't bother to use it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sweet, a Proxy!

My current favorite proxy: "**". Basically, take the URL:

and add the "" after the .com suffix but before the /whatever subdomains:


Monday, May 4, 2009

Come Explore the Future with Me!

I recently read that our Local Group of galaxies is moving towards the Virgo Supercluster at 375 miles per second. That's very fast. After doing the calculations, I came to the conclusion that due to time dilation, every day on earth we move 0.7 seconds in the future relative to the rest of the universe. That means in the 4.6 billion years the earth has been around, it has catapulted itself a whopping 37283 years into the future.

That's not all. Universal Time was defined by the International Meridian Conference on October 20, 1884 as GMT. However, in the 45,487 days between October 20, 1884 and now, the earth has jumped 8 hours, 50 minutes, and 53 seconds into the future ahead of actual universal time! Therefore, at time of posting (10:30 PM EST) UT should actually be Monday, May 4, 2009 at 6:39:07 PM.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Viva la Evolution! Update

Hooray! Although I originally lost it, I have been reunited with the .fla file behind my Flash program! In a fit of joy, I added a population size slider, which lets you choose between 4, 16, 36, 64, and 100 creatures. (Two points if you can figure out why I used those numbers. One point if you can figure out what the smallest population size follow 100 I could use.)

Also, I have now uploaded the .fla file for all to enjoy! Go forth and spread the good word! (But still, please, lemme know what you're gonna do with it.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

A little swine humor

First, a note: Texas refused "porkbarrel" spending to fight "swine" flu.

Also, I made this:

Friday, April 24, 2009


My school is old. Very old. Through its long existence, it has built upon its past, which remains strangely visible generations later.

I am walking out of my last class of the day, Latin class, when something strikes my eye in the next room over. I look inside and discover a humongous old wooden cart. On the front of the wooden cart are two mounted cassette players a dashboard with lots of little buttons, and an old headset with microphone. I look on the back, and discover a cabinet filled with two dozen other numbered wireless headsets with knobs and switches on their sides. Intrigued, I look to see that no one is coming, plug in the cart, and turn it on. The little red and green lights on the dashboard flicker to life. I put on the main headset, and hear faint static. "Hello?" I say, when a voice answers me: my own. I look on the side of the cart, and see built-in speakers. Neat.

I decide to read the knobs and buttons in closer detail. I have a number pad, and a main knob labeled with settings such as "teacher all-call" and "student response." I turn a few of the knobs, and hear some changes in the static. I then decide to check on one of the numbered headsets. Do they communicate? I slide on a pair numbered "12" and speak out loud. My voice doesn't come out of the cart speakers. Hmm.

I go back to the dashboard and look at the keypad. Does it have to do with the headsets? Curious, I input "12". Headset 12 springs to life! Plus the main headset and my headset can now talk two-way. Interesting.

I read the patent number off of the dashboard and pull up the patent info, patent #4048729: "Electrical teaching system". Apparently, the numbered headsets were to be given to students and the teacher would speak to all of the students one-way. When she wanted a student to answer a question, she could activate his microphone. The cassette players allowed the students to listen to different lessons wirelessly. The whole system was pretty cool and extremely ridiculous. The best part: the patent was filed in 1976. My school has has one of these things for 30 years. I go and find a few teachers who have been at my school since the 70s. I learn that the machine is still in use: it is used to record the oral section of AP language tests.

So there you have it. My school, not willing to learn how to record the oral tests digitally onto computer still records them onto cassettes using this machine.


Sunday, April 19, 2009


I referred to in an earlier post half a dozen sites which allow you to download YouTube videos. Now I've found the best one yet: KeepHD.

You can now download high quality or even HD videos from YouTube, just by changing the URL of the YouTube video from "" to "". You can even download them as mp4 files, and it doesn't require any site registration (like does).

KeepHD page


Monday, April 6, 2009


Sometimes I feel like I'm missing something, like I'm just clueless about anything and everything social.


scikidus._alpha = 0;

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Upright Position

I look out the window. The yellow "13R" sign outside has remained in the same position since I last checked. I sigh. It was supposed to be a 6:30 flight. I check my watch. The later 8:30 flight my father and I declined to take left the gate five minutes ago. Oh well. I check my watch again and run a quick mental calculation. It has been 31 hours since my grandfather passed away, two months shy of his ninetieth birthday. The funeral is in Los Angeles in 17 hours, assuming the plane takes off by then. We were on line for taking off when a passenger became seriously ill. Since the evening is a particularly busy time for an international airport, we spent 45 minutes finding and parking at a gate, while the ill passenger was unloaded and the lavatory was disinfected. It's also the week before Passover, so the plane is packed with Orthodox families trying to get to their holiday destinations ahead of the Orthodox families trying to get to their holiday destinations. Normally, the large numbers of young children clamoring for attention would be soothed by the draw of a seat-by-seat personal entertainment system, naturally assuming that the entertainment system was not experiencing technical difficulties. As I sit in my chair, the stewardess is trying for the fifth time to hard reboot the system, leading me to the pleasant discovery that Delta runs Linux. How about that?

Finally, we accelerate down the runway. As the jet engines under the wings increase the relative air speed over the wings, physics kicks in, and the force of the lift from teh wings negates and finally overcomes the weight of the aircraft. We're airborn. As we lift off, I'm treated to a view of a cross-section of the air and weather systems around JFK International Airport. We climb through 1000 feet of low-lying clouds. Outside my window, I watch how the fog distorts as it flows over the streamlined wings and how it forms a compact tail leading off the light on the edge of the wing. The time is now 8:55, and I'm staring out the window into the surprising brightness of the evening shy. Below us is the cloud cover we just passed through, and above us are the great rain clouds, which are only surpassed vertically by wispy cirrus clouds dusting the sky. The fog beneath us has an otherworldly glow to it, brought to you by the light pollution of tens of millions of light bulbs illuminating the Big Apple. Far off on the horizon, a distinctly warmer light is reflecting off of distant clouds basking in the light from their local sunset. Dozens of stars appear above the horizon as crisp points. Among them, another set of dots move, blink, rise, and fall: airplanes. In the daytime, the global network of air traffic remains invisible to those not in a cockpit or a control tower. By night, however, the airplanes' flashing lights reveal an intricate, three-dimensional network. Oh, and after the umpteenth or so hard reboot of the Penguin, the entertainment system is back online.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Official Youtube Downloading

YouTube in the past few days has cleaned up their UI. Although their font is a little small, it seems overall to be an improvement. Anyway, I was watching a video by KipKay (who is really amazingly awesome), when I noticed a new button on the "Favorite -- Share -- Playlist -- Flag" bar: "Download ($0.99)". Apparently, YouTube partners can now provide the option for viewers to download the videos for a dollar.

YouTube, this is idiotic. Here's why:

1. It's too narrow.
I can only download videos in MP4 format. What about MOV? AVI? FLV?

2. It's too late.
Is YouTube somehow oblivious to the existence of hundreds of websites that already do this? Here are just a few websites that let you download a YouTube file:
The last website is my personal favorite, due to ease of use and variety of download formats.

3. 99 cents? Are you kidding me?
First off, all the websites I list above are free to use. Second, who pays a dollar for media anymore? Movies are pirated, music is internally recorded, and YouTube videos can be downloaded in a bazillion other ways.

I can hardly see anyone paying for YouTube videos anytime soon. YouTube, go back to ads. This won't work.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


David Axelrod, Obama's Senior Advisor:

The "Lorax", the eco-loving star of Dr. Seuss' hit 1971 children's book:

Coincidence? This would explain the environmental side to Obama's campaign.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Node 3 Poll Final Tallies

According to AP, Colbert won the Node 3 naming contest. They say that Colbert shut out Serenity by over 40000 votes.

Let's take a look at the real numbers in play here. We'll be using this page's poll results and source code.

In total, 1190437 votes were cast in the poll. If you enter in the address bar

javascript:alert(document.getElementById( 'hiddenTotalVotes' ).value)

you'll see how many votes were cast for one of the four given options. I see that value as 265594. If 265594 votes were cast for the given options, then the remaining 924843 votes were for write-in suggestions.

Now Serenity received 70% of the given votes, or 185916 votes. If Colbert beat Serenity by 40000 votes, then Colbert had about 226000 votes.

How do those numbers stack up? Well, if you do an actual poll, Serenity received 15.6% of the vote, and Colbert received 19%.

At least it's now over until NASA announces their choice in April.

EDIT: Somehow, I missed the part of the AP release stating that Colbert got 230539 votes. OK, I wasn't too far off.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Google Voice's Future

I was talking with a few people about Google Voice, and it seems that many people are worried about the future of Google Voice. According to a few sources, Google will be opening up GV to the public within a few weeks. There is concern that Google will make GV a pay service, making certain people (well, me) unhappy.

Here are my thought on what should happen with Google Voice.

1. Keep it free.
Seriously, Google: you've set the standard for a company which turns out free products yet makes an outrageous profit. Google bought GrandCentral in 2007 for 95 million US dollars. How can Google recoup that cost? The answer lies in looking to another product which Gogole bought but released as free: Google Earth. After Google acquired Keyhole, they were smart enough to release Google Earth as free, but they still made profit b creating advanced versions. This leads to my second thought:

2. Make a pro version.
More specifically, a business version. A quick search on Google (duh) shows that there are a few features GV does not currently have, but would not be impossible for them to add on -- for a nominal fee. If Google released a Google Voice Business Edition, they could market it the same way they sell Google Earth Pro: throw in some extra juicy pieces businesses can't live without. Some ideas include:
  • There's a lot of interest in making people's pre-existing phone numbers GV numbers. If Google makes that available for some amount, people will line up for GV.
  • GV does not currently support extensions (e.g. (555) 555-5555 #1234). Finish this thought for yourself.
  • More than 4-way conference call support, adding and dropping callers, increased bandwidth for conference calls
I'm sure the guys over in Mountain View can churn out a few more selling points, and GV will be practically self-sufficient -- whatever GV loses can be balanced by online advertisements.

3. Team up with Skype
Google, eBay. eBay, Google. Now that you're acquainted, consider your cards. Google, you are an internet-based company with a phone proxy service which makes calling people locally, domestically, or internationally very easy and cheap, but you lack the ability to place calls directly from your computer.

eBay, you own Skype, which allows people to place calls through the internet (thank you VoIP), but your internet-to-real-world calling rates are rather steep.

Seriously, Skype and GV make natural allies. GV provides the Skype user with a phone number. When people call the GV#, it will forward to their Skype account, letting people answer their calls from their computers. conversely, when Skype people SkypeOut, Skype will run the call through GV, saving Skype and the Skype user money. Either way, it also cuts out the middle man: if eBay ad Google aren't connected, users must SkypeOut or SkypeIn, travel on the phone networks, get to GV, go onto the internet, VoIP, and go back down again to the connection. It's much more effective for everyone if the call doesn't make that extra hop.

4. Don't Team Up with Skype
...are the Skype-lovers gone? They are? Good. Google, listen: you don't need a partnership. The only thing you'd get out of Skype would be computer-phone capabilities, something you're totally capable of building on your own. eBay. Who needs 'em?

5. Be smartphone-friendly
I want to see a Google Voice iPhone app and a Google Voice Android app. You'll do even better if you can make it look seamless.

6. Weld it in with the rest of Google's products
Speaking of seamless, here are some things which would make Google Voice even more amazing:
  • Google Earth, Google Maps: you have phone numbers in business info listings. If the person's logged in and is accessing the page from a computer, prompt them and ask if they wan to use GV.
  • Gmail: you've already released a neat video chat feature. Merge that with GV! Add in the transcriptions, recording capabilities, etc. and you'll have a wonderful UI on your hands. Plus, can you say "call-in memos and to-do lists"?
  • Google Desktop: transcriptions in archived index. 'Nuff said.
  • GOOG-411: Unlikely, but it would be awesome if you could dial into your GV account through GOOG-411, and even place calls. Hooray for free calls!


Google Voice is an excellent product. Google: keep GV free, integrate it, and blow the pants off of the telecommunications company.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Birthday Present from Google: Google Voice!

I checked today...and I was accepted to upgrade from GrandCentral to Google Voice! I'm really excited about this service.

For those of you who don't know GrandCentral Google Voice (GV) is a service from Google which provides the user with a phone number. Other people can call that number, and it will forward to any number of your own phones, allowing you to provide one number which you can access from anywhere. On your side, GV will record your voicemails (you can view them online later or access them on your phone), and best of all you can place calls through GV. This means that you can call anywhere in the US for the cost of a local call.

By the way: it's still in private beta, so no, I can't give you an invite. Not yet, at any rate.

I'm going to review some of the features now.

Layout: 10
Google voice's layout is very similar to that of Google Reader or Gmail. It makes use of AJAX, like in Gmail -- ever notice how clicking on "New Message" doesn't refresh the page? Really, it's extremely easy to navigate, which is a big improvement over Grandcentral's slow and clunky layout.

Placing a Call (from Online): 10
Google made this stupid-proof. No matter what you're viewing on the GV page, there's a big button in the upper-left labeled Call. Click it, and you're given a spot to enter your number to call, and a number you're calling from. When you enter in the to-call number, Google provides number suggestions based on your Contacts (think Gmail's "from" address bar in a new message). you can call from either one of your pre-chosen phones or from a temporary phone (think hotel rooms). Really, it's amazing.

Placing a Call (from a Phone): 9
I recommend you add your GV# to your speed dial list on your main GV phone(s). When you call your GV#, press 2 to enter a phone number to dial. The connection is fast and easy. It would be nice to see the ability to simply speak a person's name and have Google use their speech-to-text technology (see below) to place your call automatically, and their interface is a little slow, so you sometimes have to sit through an explanation of what to do before you can actually type the number to dial.

Call Quality: 9
No matter who called whom from where using GV, the quality was fantastic, and the phone delay was about a second, which is great for a double-hop system. However, GV itself seemed to have a hard time understanding me: when I entered my name and personal greeting, the result was very poor quality. This might be because I was on a cellphone -- I'll check and get back to you.

Other Features: 10
The people over at Google are really brilliant. I have a rather old phone, so GV's extra features give my phone capabilities not dreamed up until years after my phone was shipping from China. With GV, my phone can now do up to 4-way conference calling, I can record whole phone calls (OK, that's one's kind of creepy), and I can listen in when people leave a voicemail and decide to interrupt them. I can even block unwanted callers, and they'll hear a "Number not in service" message the next time they call. Voicemails are stored online and transcribed automatically. Really, it's like Gmail audio edition.

Pricing: 10
Good news: GV is currently free, AND you get a free dollar for international calls, which gives me 50 minutes to talk to Israel. :D
Bad news: I'll be amazed if Google doesn't eventually charge for this.

Overall: 10
This is one of the greatest things Google has ever introduced. If they fix the on-phone interface, I'll run out of bad things to say. Google, I applaud this product, and look forward to using it. If you keep it free, I'll also be your best friend forever.


One thing I'll be very interested to see will be how Google merges its work with GV with Google's mobile OS, Android. Here's my dream: Google teams up GV with the Android carriers, making the price of every call to a US number equivalent to that of a local call. Meanwhile, Google and Skype team up, allowing Skype users to use their GV#s, and people everywhere can now make much cheaper calls.

Maybe someday.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


In four hours I will be one year closer to not qualifying for the Fields Medal.


Taxing AIG's Bonuses

Since some crooks over at AIG got some huge bonuses, Congress is now trying to get that money back through a tax -- a 100% tax on all bonus money from AIG.

Some people have said that this 100% tax is unconstitutional. Are you kidding me? The 16th Amendment clearly states that

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Boom. Right there.

Now here's my question: who the fuck said that taxes can only go up to 100%? I propose that we put something like a 500% tax on bonuses over 100K to employees in companies with government bailout money. Let's see how they like that one.

My other idea was to tax them enough so that everyone working in the company makes exactly as much money as person with the lowest salary employed at the company. You got a janitor making federal minimum wage? Here's your $6.55, Mr. CEO.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Impromptu Picnic

Remember that dust? It's everywhere. I'm currently typing this post sitting outside on a park bench eating a delicious sandwich. There's a smokescreen in the living room. Thankfully, people near the park don't seem to know how to secure their Wifi connections, so I'm on a connections creatively named "linksys." I'm just hoping my iMac doesn't die from the pulverized pre-WWI brick.

Then again, it's a beautiful day out. It's spring break. The birds are chirping above my head. From this vantage point, it seems that the workers are finishing up. The dust will settle, and then we'll size up the situation. Hey, at least it gives me an opportunity to clean my room.

Right Now

I'm currently sitting in my favorite chair browsing the interwebs and reading Waiter Rant (which is completely awesome). Outside, the exterior masonry work on my apartment building has reached my floor, contaminating the air with dust and noise. I'm getting vision's of a dentist's chair form the drill outside. But it's Spring Break. I'm happy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Expanding the Domain of Theism

[Below is a joke I came up with, so sit back and enjoy the convoluted processes of my brain.]

We tend to categorize people by how many gods they believe in, such as atheist, monotheist, and polytheist.

That covers 0, 1, and 2+. What about people that believe in a negative number of gods? An imaginary number of gods?

There are no prefixes for negative numbers, so I'll invent some, using negative prefixes (e.g. im-):

-1 gods: immonotheism
-(2+) gods: impolytheism

Wow. That concept hurts the head. A negative amount of gods? As in a void where god(s) should be?

And now, an imaginary/complex number of gods.

There's nothing even close for this. Any proposals?

"ij-" prefix, perhaps? Or "j-"?

In that case...

I think all imaginary numbers should be represented as complex here. Order:

(real part)(ij-)(imaginary part)(-theism)


-(2+)-(2+)i: impolijimpolytheism
-(2+)-1i: impolijimmonotheism
-(2+)+0i: impolytheism
-(2+)+1i: impolijmonotheism
-(2+)+(2+)i: impolijpolytheism
-1-(2+)i: immonojimpolytheism
-1-1i: immonojimmonotheism
-1+0i: immonotheism
-1+1i: immonojmonotheism
-1+(2+)i: immonojpolytheism
0-(2+)i: ajimpolytheism
0-1i: ajimmonotheism
0+0i: atheism
0+1i: ajmonotheism
0+(2+)i: ajpolytheism
1-(2+)i: monojimpolytheism
1-1i: monojimmonotheism
1+0i: monotheism
1+1i: monojmonotheism
1+(2+)i: monojpolytheism
(2+)-(2+)i: polijimpolytheism
(2+)-1i: polijimmonotheism
(2+)+0i: polytheism
(2+)+1i: polijmonotheism
(2+)+(2+)i: polijpolytheism

I think I've just violated reality.

"Guess what? I'm a immonojimmonotheist!"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's Wrong with This Picture?

The following partial screenshot is taken from VenomFangX Site Forums.

I, for one, cannot stop laughing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Firefox is on the Fritz

Anyone know what's up? If I close two tabs too quickly, FF crashes. Seriously, it's really annoying.

Don't Hack the Vote.

It's been pointed out to me by one of the only people ever to actually read this blog that cheating is bad. This is true. However, it's quite clear that NASA isn't taking the poll very seriously either. If you read the Contest Rules, it becomes clear that NASA has included enough escape clauses to prevent any part of any NASA spacecraft from ever being named "Colbert," "Xenu," "Myyearbook," or anything else the public dreams up. NASA is not totally stupid, and is well aware of the legions of people who could destroy their polling system by brute force alone if necessary.

Still, I'd like to add that wonderful protection clause, in case NASA doesn't like what I've done:

THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. Please don't actively try to ruin or tamper with the poll.

Hmm, I feel better. Cool.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Hack the vote: In-the-Moment Running Vote Tallies

It turns out the Javascript running the vote results' frame on NASA's site is flawed too.

Open the frame in its own page (or just click here) and open up the page's source code. Scroll about a quarter of the way through, and you'll see some lines of code which look like this:

var totalNumVotes = eval(totalOpinioVotes)+eval(totalCommentsCount) ;
document.getElementById('totalNumVotes').innerHTML = totalNumVotes + totalVotesText ;

If you play around a little bit in the Javascript, you'll discover that "totalOpinioVotes" is the number of votes for one of the given choices (Earthrise, Legacy, Serenity, Venture), and "totalCommentsCount" is the number of votes for a write-in suggestion. These numbers are great, but they're a little hard to find. To solve this, scroll a little farther down the page, and you'll see a link to If the page loads correctly in your browser (which won't be particularly happy, just so you know), you'll see a low-quality version of the poll and two boxes containing the two vote counts in the hundred thousands.

As I make this post, the numbers stand as 176257 votes for givens and 387731 votes for write-ins.

You know how NASA is setting up the poll so it looks like Serenity is way out in front with 3/4ths of the vote? It's almost certainly not. Serenity has 75% of 176257 or about 132193 votes. A write-in suggestion can beat that with 35% of the write-in votes.


A side note: I talked to Dr. Tyson this evening, and I asked him about the Node 3 effort. He responded by saying that he wished Colbert would mobilize his viewers more productively, like to lobby Congress for increased NASA funding.

[Disclaimer: THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. Please don't actively try to ruin or tamper with the poll.]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Colbert Bump Bot

I ended up building an Applescript which will vote for Colbert once every two seconds. Behold, the Colbert Bump Bot:

tell application "Safari"
do JavaScript "window.location = ''" in document 1
delay 1
do JavaScript "document.frmcomments.submit();" in document 1
delay 1
end tell
end repeat

Note that it will bring Safari into window focus every second, so don't plan on working while this is running.

[Disclaimer: THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. Please don't actively try to ruin or tamper with the poll.]

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Colbert vs. Xenu

It's been a long time since I've posted (spring break is soon, so there should be a flood of posts), but I just wanted to add my two bits to a current hot topic: Colbert vs. Xenu.

It all began when NASA decided that it was going to open up voting to the public for choosing the name of Node 3 on the ISS. Many /b/tards and wanna-/b/tards caught hold of this, and XENU quickly rose tot he top of the list of Top 10 Suggestions.

On March 3, 2009, Stephen Colbert said this on his show:

Link (click it now)

Then, on March 4:

Link (click this one too)

Later that day, Anonymous responded:

And so the battle begins. Personally, I support Colbert, but only because I feel like I'd rather have someone win for a humorous purpose than for a humorous purpose at others' expense. (Remember, even though I hate the Co$, the people still inside the Co$ could easily be hurt by this.)

Regardless of what you support, there is an easier way to vote. Apparently NASA didn't think too hard about the voting system, as it seems to simply be a form which sends a string to a server.

I'm going to set this up for Colbert. If you're a die-hard fan of Xenu, you're probably tech-savvy enough to replace the name of a faux-conservative talk show host with that of an intergalactic overlord.

The key link is here:

After you type in your suggestion for Node 3's name on NASA's website, this box is what pops up, with a word verification CAPTCHA.

Unfortunately, someone made a rather large mistake when they put together the voting form, because it turns out that the CAPTCHA can be by-passed.

If you open up the vote verification page's source code, you see that the variables in the URL are actually part of a form document named "document.frmcomments". If you know some Javascript, you should find it rather easy to follow the source code and discover that the submission process of the form is only based on the passing of an "if" clause.

if (data==1) {
document.getElementById("imageResp").innerHTML="Word Verification Matched.";
alert ("Word Verification Matched. Comment Submitted");


The NASA programmer behind this voting program forgot to install a second verification that the user actually entered the CAPTCHA! Therefore, we can skip entering the CAPTCHA over and over again, and simply enter the following code into the address bar:


We can verify that it accepted this code two ways: one, it didn't bounce an error message (as it does when you simply click the SUBMIT button), and two, it brought us to the URL which it brings you to after you complete the word verification normally.

[Disclaimer: THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. Please don't actively try to ruin or tamper with the poll.]

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Apparently that was my last post for a while, too

Whoops! What happened to February? Oh well, No one really likes February anyway.

Then again, no one really reads this blog, so I suppose I'm just saving time and effort this way. :P

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Last bit on Internal Recording for a while, I swear

So I went ahead and put the tutorials up on Instructables. It should be easier now. (Note: the PC one still needs some work.)

Mac Version
PC Version

I must get this.

If you can read this, click here.

That amazing 1474-megapizel picture was taken with the help of this incredible machine. I must have one. Buy me one. Now.

Captchas Gone Wild

"Type the characters you see." Seriously, what the fuck?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

.sit Files on a Mac

Running .sit files requires StuffIt Expander, a program which you can get for free on their website...but only after you subscribe to their newsletter.

From now on, just go here. Someone screwed up when they designed the site, and now you can just go directly ot the download page.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Notes on Inauguration

1. Joseph Biden was sworn in as Vice-President of the United States of America at 11:57 AM EST. Although Barack Obama was sworn in at 12:05 PM EST, the Constitution states that his Presidency officially begins at noon. That means between 11:57 and 12:00, George Walker Bush was President of the Untied States, and Joseph Robinette Biden was Vice-President of the United States. So, did everyone enjoy the three-minute Bush-Biden presidency?

2. Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution states:
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

If we follow the letter of the law, Barack Obama said today:
"I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear, that I will execute -- the office of the President of the United States faithfully, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

He moved the faithfully! He hasn't officially taken the oath of office! He's not the president! He's a witch! Burn him! [Just kidding.]

3. ABC News: you fucked up, big time. Seriously, what the fuck? This is one of the biggest stories of the decade, and you fuck it up. Skipped audio and video, botched footage, mangled transitions, interrupted speeches, annoying inappropriate graphics (I'm watching Obama right now; no, I don't want to go to, corny America shots (you show the Golden Gate, the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, but where was Mount Rushmore?): all these and more tied together to show that really, ABC was not on its game today. Then again, Obama did stuble a tad as well, so no harm, no foul.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Inaugural Insurance

The world currently sits and waits until Barack Hussein Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States of America. In less than 38 hours, a black man will become the leader of the free world.

I find this truly incredible. However, I find it important to take out a This post is an attempt to bottle up some of the current emotion running through he country, should that emotion ever be needed again.

Nanotube Radio

This is amazing.

These scientists have bult a radio out of a single nanotube.

Also be sure to clikc the video, which shows the nano-radio in action.


Unrelated: After a little computation, I ahev discovered that I am Jesus' 117th cousin, 80 times removed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

iTunes Simplification

While you're exploding your iTunes library with your newly recorded music, you'll inevitably face the daunting task of matching album art and lyrics to those songs. Here are two Dashboard widgets that makes that process much, much easier.

quickly and easily finds lyrics for all of your iTunes music, and displays the lyrics for the songs playing.

widgetFoundry has made a wonderful little widget that makes it stupidly easy to set album art. Believe me, you'll be using this one a lot.

A friend sent me this

I learned a lot about MS Paint. It's awesome.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

In other news

My "Days Left in the Bush Presidency" counter in my browser has switched to counting in hours, minutes, and seconds. Huzzah!

Also, /b/ had DDoS'd itself. The internet is better now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Internal Recording for the PC

Finally, I've found it! (This has been around for a while, but whatever. I just found it now.)

How to internally record audio on a PC:

1. Make sure you have Audacity on your computer.

2. Go to Recording Controls (Control Panel --> Sounds and Audio Devices --> Audio --> Sound Recording --> Volume...)

3. Click Options --> Properties, and make sure that Stereo Mix is checked in the list of available recording inputs, and that Volume is adjusted for "Recording."

4. Click "OK," and under the Stereo Mix slider, click "Select" and raise the Stereo Mix volume all the way up.

That's it! You can now record internally.

For more help, click here.

Have fun!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

How Copyright Should Work

1. Copyright, as it is currently understood, should be abolished.

2. An internationally-recognized organization is set up, named perhaps the International Copyright Bureau (ICB).

3. When an artist makes a piece of artwork/music/software/whatever, he/she can decide to apply a copyright to it. If he/she decides to apply a copyright, he/she sends a copy of the artwork (hi-quality photographs of 3d-artwork are fine) to the ICB, along wiht contact information and other important info (like a title, description, tags for easy location in a database, what information may be allowed to be made public, etc.)

4. Much like an ISBN number, the artist in return receives a ICB-copyright number. These numbers should encode within them certain information, such as what # copyright this artwork is, and the time and date the artwork was copyrighted. (Perhaps some kind of hash could be used?) Anyway, Wherever the artist publishes the artwork/music/software/whatever, they should include a copy of this ICB #.

5. The ICB's database could be placed online, allowing anyone to locate and submit copywrited works and get in contact with artists.

6. Here's the controversial part: the artist has no rights controlling non-commercial distribution of the artwork. If, however, commercial distribution takes place, it can easily and quickly be shown that the artwork is copyrights and has been copyrighted for a period of time. Furthermore, companies interested in using the artwork commercially could quickly find out where they should send royalties and obtain permission from.

7. The ICB could employ pattern-checking software on incoming work with similar tags to make sure that it's unique.

8. The ICB would settle all disputes over copyright claims, therefore acting as an international copyright court.

9. Artists can still make money off their work: think about all of those artists that make money even though they release their music for free online. (Examples: The Capitol Steps, any band on MySpace, etc.)


Best. Response. Ever.

So I took a nerd test

I don't normally take these kinds of quizzes, but I was curious about how I would score.


Linky to quiz

Friday, January 2, 2009

Internal Recording - Update

I've managed to hack together an application (for Macs only, sorry) which automates most of the IR process.

You still need Audacity and Soundflower in order to run the program, but now try my app, downloading it from here.

Lemme know if it doesn't work. That's certainly possible.

UPDATE: It's up and working! Yay! *parties*