Posted by: Osmyn | July 8, 2008

Ireland Vacation

We just spent a week in Ireland.  We stayed in Dingle, Kilkenny, and Dublin – here are some of the photos from the trip.

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Posted by: Osmyn | June 26, 2008

What Happened Now? June 26, 2008

The 4th Amendment reads:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Well, the House and now the Senate are poised to throw that out the window in the name of some formless boogey man that has them culled like sheep.

I have a dream, declared Driftglass…<<cut to Driftglass post />>

The house passed the FISA “Compromise” bill last week that not only grants immunity to the Telecom companies who let the Whitehouse illegally eavesdrop on all Americans, it legalizes eavesdropping by the executive branch in the future.

Furthermore, it nullifies all lawsuits currently filed against that Telecom industry that are our only chance and finding the truth about the Bush Administration’s participation in illegally listening in on our phone calls.

Did you grow up in the 80’s?  Because I did, and if you’re like me you’re just waiting for this movie to turn around and for the good guys to fight back. 

We need a Real Genius to thwart and humiliate the villains.

We need a Rocky Balboa to get up off the mat and fight for America with every last ounce of strength.

If we had someone like that running for president, you can bet that my generation would rock the vote.  But our great hope is Obama, who has flipped on his promise to stand up for American’s rights against illegal wire taps. 

Obama’s naieve position is basically, “Trust me with this power.”  He is going to vote for the Fisa bill: “My view on FISA has always been that the issue of the phone companies per se is not one that overrides the security interests of the American people.”

I wish we would have asked Dodd or Feingold to run for president <<cut to speeches />>

Thank you Senators for you passionate defense of our constitution.  And thank you for dropping in on What Happened Now.

Posted by: Osmyn | June 22, 2008

Hot Dice Rules

HOT DICE

Hot Dice Master

This incarnation of Hot Dice was invented in the mid-1990’s by Kelly V. Muller and friends while living in Minnesota. Hot Dice is very similar to other dice games, such as Farkle and Cosmic Wimpoout.

The game is played with 5 dice. Points are awarded for rolling ones, fives, multiples (3 or more) of any number, or five-straight (e.g., 1,2,3,4,5).

To begin a game, each player rolls one die and the player with the highest rolled die goes first; any ties result in roll-offs.

After a roll, a player must separate out a scoring die or dice combination and roll the remaining dice. If no score is made from a roll, then the player’s turn is over and no points are awarded. If all five dice are separated out as points, the player must pick up all five and roll again before their turn is finished. The player can pass the in-play dice to the next player to end the turn and collect their points. If the next player has a non-zero score, the in-play dice can be rolled and scoring will start at the previous player’s turn total; or the player can roll all five dice and start from zero points.

One-thousand points are required to initially “get on the board”, i.e. a player must earn at least that many points in a single turn before their score can be recorded on the score card.

Once any player reaches ten-thousand points, each other player will take one more turn to see if any can tie or beat the player. If successful, each player gets another chance to tie or beat that score. The game ends when the player who has scored more than ten-thousand is not tied or beaten after each other player gets one turn’s attempt – the player is then dubbed “The Hot Dice Master”.

Scoring

Individual dice values

For each roll, 1s are worth one-hundred points and 5s are worth 50 points. All other individual dice values are worth nothing.

Multiples

Three or more of a kind rolled at once (not combined with previously rolled dice) count as a multiple. Generally, three of a kind are worth 100 * dice value, except three 1s are worth 1000 whereas three 2s are worth 200, three 3s worth 300, etc.

Four-of-a-kind is worth twice what three-of-a-kind is worth (four 1s: 2000, four 3s: 600).

Five-of-a-kind is worth twice of what four-of-a-kind is worth (five 1s: 4000, five 6s: 2400).

Straights

A string of dice rolled all at once that are in order (1,2,3,4,5 or 2,3,4,5,6) count as a straight. A straight is worth 1,500 points.

Examples

Roll 1: 1, 1, 2, 3, 4 – Each 1 is worth 100 points and the player can separate out one or both of them and roll the remaining dice.

Roll 2: Holding one of the 1s from first roll and rolling the other 4 dice: 2, 4, 5, 6 – The 5 is worth 50 points, so the player separates that die out and now has 150 points.

Roll 3: The player rolls the three in-play dice: 4, 4, 4 – A multiple is rolled worth 400, now the player’s score is 550 and all dice are out-of-play. The player must pick up all 5 and roll at least one more time before the turn can be ended.

Roll 4: 1, 3, 4, 4, 6: The player separates out the 1 and has a score of 650. At this point, the player can end the turn and collect the points if he or she is already on-the-board (has at least 1,000 points on the score card), or continue rolling. (As an aside, if the player hadn’t scored any points on this roll, his or her turn would be over and no points would be awarded – a “cosmic wimp-out”)

Let’s assume the player is on the board and takes the 650 points. The points are added to the player’s total on the scorecard and it is now the next player’s turn. If this player is on-the-board, he or she can optionally pick up the remaining 4 dice that are in-play and roll them adding to the 650 points from the previous player. Otherwise, all 5 dice can be rolled and turn’s points start from zero.

Roll 1: Assuming the player decides to build on the 650 points: 1, 1, 5, 6: The player can take up to the full 250 points and add it to the 650 for 900 points. He or she can then pass to the next player or roll again. Let’s assume the 250 points are taken and the player rolls again.

Roll 2: 4 – The player did not have any scoring dice on this roll, so the turn is over and no points are awarded or recorded on the scorecard for the turn. The next player’s turn begins with all five dice and at zero points for the turn.

Posted by: Osmyn | June 18, 2008

Biketown Contest

The cyclist pushes his way through the morning light

like an Osprey inches above still water.

His powerful legs alternating: strain and relax

in harmony with breath and heart.

 

On the deck of a lake tying east to west

commuters in still life stare jealously.

 

That’s my submission for the 50-word Biketown USA contest that chose two of the towns I call home (Seattle and Lincoln) for the best biking cities in America.

 

***UPDATE 6/25/08***  I won!  I can get a free K2 bike at REI tomorrow at 11.  Unfortunately, I’ll be leaving for vacation and asked them if my brother could participate in my stead.

Posted by: Osmyn | June 5, 2008

In the news

 

“I want a news service that tells me what no one knows, but is true nonetheless. That’s what I would value.” – Michael Crichton, interview with Slate.

Couldn’t agree more, Michael – that’s what I love about This American Life.  I’ve stopped watching the local/national news and get my news from subscribing to blogs including Fark.com and listening to NPR. 

Scott Adams recently posted on the difference in headlines between newspapers and the internet; read more on his blog.

Posted by: Osmyn | May 29, 2008

Quit Smoking

<Disclaimer>If you are considering quitting smoking, talk to your doctor.  Don’t take the advice of anyone from the Internet, including myself.  The following relates my own experience, and I have no medical background or other authority to be giving advice.</Disclaimer>

I was never a heavy smoker.  In fact, there’s a term for the type of smoker like I was who smoked fewer than 5 cigarettes a day, a chipper.  I still smoke a pipe; sometimes daily, sometimes going without for weeks at a time.  Smoking a pipe can lead to cancer just as using any form of tobacco can, but I find it less addictive than cigarettes. 

During the decade that I smoked cigarettes, I tried a few techniques to kick the habit.  I had some success with each of these:

Rule 1:  My best and only rule for quitting smoking is to never smoke indoors, including inside a car.   I forced myself to smoke outside, which immediately cut down on the amount I smoked, not to mention improving the air quality indoors and eliminating second-hand smoke.

Technique 1:  Smoke partial cigarettes.

I rarely really needed the whole cigarette, just a few puffs.  I found that relighting a cigarette tasted bad though, until I learned this trick: If you do smoke half a cigarette and put it out for later, make sure to blow back through the filter after the cigarette is extinguished to get the smoke out of it, otherwise the smoke will get stale and make the cigarette taste terrible.

Technique 2: Switch to another form of tobacco to break the physical habit. 

I learned from some football players in high school that you can put chewing tobacco between your big toe and second toe and absorb the nicotine through your feet (they would then tape their toes together).  Your feet are really good at absorbing chemicals, and you have to be careful because you can get nauseous from the nicotine.  (On a side note, if you ever get your boots or shoes immersed into a chemical like fertilizer, throw them out – I’ve known of farmers who died of cancer for wearing their old fertilizer-dipped boots.  This also suggests one can get cancer from putting tobacco between one’s toes, much like any chewing tobacco cancer of the mouth.)  This technique worked pretty well for me; I didn’t like putting the stuff in my mouth and spitting constantly, and it gave me the nicotine I craved without the habit of smoking.  This was all before nicotine patches and gums, which I’ve never tried.

I made the switch from cigarettes to pipe tobacco and found that it was so much cheaper to smoke pipe tobacco than cigarettes; I think partly because it isn’t as heavily taxed (?).  For example, 2 ounces of pipe tobacco costs me around $4 and lasts me two months.  Pipe tobacco doesn’t have any chemicals in it to keep it burning like a cigarette does.  While I still inhale some pipe tobacco smoke, I inhale less and often just blow it back out.  When I smoke a pipe, I usually just put a pinch of tobacco in and smoke a few puffs then set it back down; relighting it later works fine without giving hardly any stale smoke flavor.  I’ve used traditional pipes and water pipes, but I like the traditional pipes more because a water pipe forces one to inhale the smoke.

Technique 3:  Learn to satisfy a craving with something other than nicotene

When I was most addicted to nicotene, I noticed a strange mix-up of signals in my body.  For instance, if I was actually thirsty I would crave a cigarette.  If I was anxious, I would crave a cigarette.  So, I learned to feel a craving and then ask myself if my body was actually trying to tell me something else.  I found that drinking ice water would satiate the craving a lot of times.  Other times I’d notice that I had an excess of energy, so I’d go for a jog or do some push-ups.  I think this same reaction is why some people gain weight after quitting smoking; their body is telling them it needs something, and eating probably does quiet that signal, but so would a glass of ice water or some exercise, most likely.

Technique 4:  Never smoke your last cigarette

There was nothing more challenging to my cessation than telling myself that I had quit forever.  The more you are told you can’t do something, the more your inner child, your Id, wants to do it!  I still will bum a cigarette from people occasionally, and even buy a pack about once a year.  And when it comes up, I say I don’t smoke because although it may not be precicesly true, the impression left anwsering yes to that question would be even less true.

I swear right now after writing this, I am going to have to go smoke my pipe!  It was worth it though to get my story out so that it gets other folks to see what it’s like to quit and maybe inspires some who would like to quit to try some new techniques.

Posted by: Osmyn | May 16, 2008

What Happened Now – May 16, 2008

Transcript:

<<video of cup stacking>>Here’s World Cup-Stacking champ Steven Purugganan performing the difficult Cycle Stack<//video>>

Welcome to this week’s edition of What Happened Now, I’m your host, Osmyn, and today is May 16, 2008. 

Today we’ll talk about the new book Little Brother that just made the New York Times Kid’s Best Seller List, an underground graffiti trend called throwies, and some highlights from this year’s Webby Awards.

Cory Doctorow’s new book titled Little Brother is a young adult novel about a group of teenagers who are fed up with America’s post 9/11 infringements on civil liberties and decide to strike back to take down the Department of Homeland Security.

It has already become a best seller thanks in part to Corey’s involvement with the popular blog BoingBoing.net and ironically to the fact that the book available for free.

<<cut to website>>Cory has licensed the book under a Creative Commons license that allows anyone to download a pdf of the book, share it, and remix it.  There is also an unabridged audio book available for $20.  He says that obscurity is a bigger problem for an author than piracy, so it makes sense to create a viral marketing campaign to get more exposure for a book.  If people like what they skim from the ebook form, chances are they will buy the paper copy to read.<</cut>>

The book addresses current trends in America and around the world for the increasing police state growing under the banner of terrorism. Trends that include the growth in surveillance cameras taking pictures of people and ironically, the restrictions on people taking pictures of those same cameras or any public building.

<<cut to web>>The book has spawned a weekly HOW-TO series for resisting the current police state.  Recent topics include how to anonymize a digital photo – every camera has a noise signature that can tie all of its pictures to the camera and back to you – and how to encrypt a GMail.<</cut>>

Although I haven’t read the book yet, I have downloaded the eBook and intend to browse it soon.  Does all this talk about counter-culture make you want to go out and do some graffiti?  Well, if you do, do something cool and not permanent, like some Throwies.

LED Throwies were invented by Graffiti Research Labs back in 2006 and made the rounds at this year’s Maker faires.

<<web clip of using throwie>>They’re made from an LED, a 3v battery, and usually a rare-earth magnet all wrapped up in tape.  <</clip>>

A blog post on Dan’s Data has an interesting mash-up of throwies and networking – he envisions small solar powered Wi-Fi repeaters that could be thrown on roofs or attached to trees in the neighborhood to create a pirate Wi-Fi network.

Unfortunately the components are available yet for Dan’s idea, but we’ll be keeping it in mind.

Finally, the 12th annual Webby award’s were recently announced.  The award honors excellence on the internet and has over 100 categories.  Some of this year’s nominees:
• National Geographic Online with their wonderful photographs
• Post Secret with funny and disturbing anonymous revelations
• Ted.Com with inspired talks by the worlds greatest thinkers and dowers

I’m Osmyn, and thanks for … what’s that say?  Bill O’Reilly is going to play us out today?  What does that mean?

 

Posted by: Osmyn | May 14, 2008

What were you thinking

Scott Adams blog invited readers to submit their Secret Thoughts:

“The hardest part about writing is capturing your own (or someone elses) inner thoughts. For example, if I ask you to tell me something funny or frustrating about your job, you’d give me tales of coworkers eating your food from the break room fridge, or tell me your boss is incompetent. But those aren’t thoughts, just observations. We seem to store memories in terms of actions and some broad emotions, but not thoughts. And it is the thoughts you generally don’t voice that make writing interesting.”

That advice on writing really struck a chord with me.  It more elequently explained to me how to write “truthfully”, how to write something that just rings true.

My submission, below, got 4 thumbs-up from the blog readers :)

“I was replying to an overnight email from my boss who claimed he got an error message that does not exist in the software. Like walking on eggshells since he’s a bit high-strung, it took a while to phrase it so that it pardoned him from culpability, was helpful and insightful into what might have happened, and left the door open for him to try to reproduce it while hinting at my inferiority at not being able to solve the problem. I was pitying him for embarrassing himself by firing off an email late at night when the brain isn’t rational and inwardly cowering slightly wondering if my reply would aggravate the situation when I just want to work on the new feature today that I need all the brain power I can spare.”

Posted by: Osmyn | May 2, 2008

What Happened Now – May 2, 2008

Transcript:

<<video of space boomerang>> Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency posted this video of astronaut Takao Doi throwing paper boomerangs inside the international space station.  The boomerang works because there is air inside the space station for it to act upon.  Outside the station it would travel in a straight line, much like any boomerang I’ve ever thrown here on planet Earth.<</video>>

Welcome to this week’s edition of What Happened Now, I’m your host, Osmyn, and today is May 2, 2008. 

This week in the news, Microsoft is shutting down Windows XP; Mazda destroys <<close up with pinky in mouth>> $100 MILLION DOLLARS <</close up>> of brand new cars; and to round out the show, why your boss should be embracing a culture of quitters.

On June 30th, Microsoft will be end-of-lifeing Windows XP, meaning all new computer systems will ship with Vista; no ifs-and-or buts.

But, Balmer has said he may reconsider if the customers demand it; which he says they have not.

Oh, except for the 170,000 customers who have signed Info World’s save windows XP petition….and the thousands of google hits on “save windows xp”…yeah, those probably are *nix users in disguise stirring up trouble.

<<on phone breaking up with Vista>>It’s not you vista, it’s me, really… we just don’t work… together… there’s that whole shut-down menu thing that I just can’t get past, and how you just refuse to cooperate with my iTunes… and you’re kinda pushy, you know?  Always saying you know what’s best for me.  I wish you’d just back off already!  Geesh!  That’s right, I’m going back to XP!  You bet I’ll be happy!<</phone>

OOO-kaay.  If you thought that was uncomfortable to watch, wait till you see what Mazda is doing with 5,000 brand new cars:

<<mazda video of cars crushed>>The vessel transporting these cars rolled over on its side for several weeks before it could be righted and helped to port. 

Even though they were strapped down inside the carrier, Mazda decided to scrap the lot of them fearing that corrosive liquids could have leaked into vulnerable parts of the inner workings.
<</video>>

Mazda was approached by many wanting to make lemonade out of the potential lemons by using the cars in Hollywood stunts or for drivers ed.  Mazda turned these down for liability reasons and for fear that the cars may end up on the market as some Hurricane Katrina refurbs did.

Finally, let’s talk about the elephant in the cubicle next door.  You and your boss both know that you won’t be working there until you retire, but if you’re like most of us, you better not vocalize that truism for fear of resentment or retaliation.

Well, what if instead of stories about past traders and quitters, your employer spoke of alumni employees?  How would it feel if on your first day your boss told you that it’s fine if you stick around for just two or three years and then move on to other experiences?

<<chart of value apex>>That only happens when your boss understands the Cravath system and Value Apex:

On day one, you’re value to the company is as close to zero as it will hopefully get.  But with learning the business domain and applying your fresh ideas, your value grows quickly.  After a few years, you’ve learned the domain and are starting to repeat your work.  It’s either time to push hard and make partner, or think about moving on to a new challenge at a new job where you can apply the ideas and lessons from your current job.<</chart>>

Embracing quitting fosters a healthier corporate culture and encourages employees to document their job responsibilities for the benefit of thier successor. 

So, isn’t it about time you quit and looked for the next challenge?  I’m Osmyn, and thanks for dropping in on What happened Now.

Posted by: Osmyn | April 25, 2008

What Happened Now – April 25, 2008

Transcript:

Do you know Somm?  Do you _really_?  I mean do you really _know_ him?  Well if you’re a l33t gamer, you just might know of him.  But what’s he like in RL?

Welcome to this week’s edition of What Happened Now, I’m your host, Osmyn, and today is April 25, 2008. 

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, made waves this week when the revamp of his popular website and blog went live before all of the kinks were worked out – especially affected were the *nix users.

The website now features the day’s full-color strip and a collection of animated strips featuring voice actors for the dialog. 

A new attraction for the site is called Punch Lines where fans can add the dialog to the final panel of the strip, making up their own joke in an attempt to be funnier than Scott. 

These Punch Lines can then be voted on so that the best ones float up to the top. 

<<EXAMPLE PUNCH LINE COMPLETED ONLINE>>

Scott blogged a few months before the site’s revamp that ad revenue was low because no one visited the site, instead using their feed reader’s to get the latest content. 

Around the same time, he posted that he would stop blogging regularly because he had become dispirited with the quality of the comments and return-on-investment. 

With the new site revamp, it looks like we don’t have to worry about losing Scott anytime soon.

In other news, Google announced that their Website Optimizer tool, previously available only to AdWords subscribers, will now be open to everyone for free.

The Optimizer Tool allows a website to host multiple variations of a page, each with special metadata embedded that ensure a user always sees the same page, but different users see the different variations. 

Google will then track which version of the page yields more click-throughs, potentially leading to more revenue for you.

Another free service made headlines recently – Flickr is now supporting “Long-Photos”.

Or, another way to say that is, you can upload short videos now – up to 90 seconds.

The Long Photos concept fits nicely in with everyone using their digital cameras or phones to record quick movies, but it also makes me smile because it reminds me of the moving photos in the Harry Potter series…When will we have those??

Finally, I know Somm….really, I do. 

I recently discovered that my long time friend, an avid video gammer, has his own button available on CafePress.com.

<If people who know him online get a button, shouldn’t I have a friggen medal for knowing him for 20 years?  That’s like a medal with two chevrons or something…>

The description promises you will “score points with l33t gamers in RL.” 

Well, if a button can score you some points, then here’re some fun facts that can take you to the kill screen of coolness.

1. Somm’s RL name is Justin.

2. He lives in Nebraska.

3. He enjoys flying a scale-model turbine RC jet.

4. He hates to have his picture taken, but here’s one I shot at a bar where I used to work.

5. An autographed copy could be made available for the right price *rubs thumb and fore-finger together and winks*

I’m Osmyn, and thanks for dropping in on What Happened Now.

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