East of the Sun, West of the Moon


Today’s Mail

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 8:02 pm

How bad does your financial situation have to be for Loans up to $710.00 (from one offer) or … when you need up to $500 (from another) to sound appealing?


I have no clue why these people think we might be even remotely interested in them.



Filed under: Family,Technology — Erwin @ 3:21 pm

So recently M started a new job in a new location which among other things means she’s driving about 70 miles a day, 5 days a week, sometimes more. Doing that with the one vehicle we own, a Mazda MPV, didn’t seem like the smartest thing in the world, given that its average MPG is somewhere between 18 and 24 depending on what kind of driving you do. On top of that it was becoming apparent that it would probably be a good idea to have a 2nd car so that I could get things done occasionally without having to wait until 8-9pm when she’s home, the kids have been fed and are in or close to bed, or to wait for the weekend, which we’d like to spend on fun stuff, not has-to-be-done stuff.

So the past month we’ve been looking around at cars. New cars, used cars, more used cars, and then new cars again. Initially we really had our eyes on a hybrid, but with the waitinglists that Honda and Toyota have on theirs that seemed to demand more patience than we had. Then using fueleconomy.gov I put together a list of the most efficient small cars in 2001-2005 that fit our practical wishes (regular gas, automatic, not a hybrid, average mpg over 30).

The one that stood out quite favourably was the Honda Civic in any of the past 5 years, and a nice looking car at that. Long story short: As of yesterday we own one ourselves, a 2006 model even (Back To The Future anyone?) that should do 40 mpg in highway driving, 30 in city driving. With the kind of commute that M is driving that ought to save us about $50 per month on gas, more when the gas prices go up again!

So while it is obviously an investment that we’ll be paying for the next couple of years, I like to think that it’s one of the best investments we could do given the circumstances. 😉 In a year or two we’ll probably get rid of the MPV as well and get me something smaller and more efficient, but that has less urgency unless I suddenly land a job where I need to leave the house. Shocking thought!



Filed under: Software — Erwin @ 3:04 pm

I’d really like it if people would take the few minutes it would take to write an announcement when they switch software that causes their (RSS/Atom) newsfeeds to change location, or to be removed entirely. Even leaving behind a dummy atom.xml or rss.xml with some heads-up entry in it would suffice, anything that prevents readers like me wondering 2-3 weeks later what the hell happened, browse to the original website, only to find that life continued without me. Hrmpf.


Filed under: Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 2:02 pm

I’ve been subscribed to the Coverville podcast ever since I heard about it. It’s a reliably entertaining, often amusing, and generally well put together podcast/show that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to try out some podcasts.

Yesterday I listened to episode 139 and the first track had me laughing so loud I was close to tears. You probably need to know the original to really appreciate the contrast with the original but it’s a good sound track either way that fortunately can be downloaded legally from the creator’s website.



Linkage (21)

Filed under: Linkage,News,Software,Technology — Erwin @ 5:56 pm

Ars Technica reports that the EFF has cracked the code:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the nonprofit organization formed in 1990 by Lotus founder Mitch Kapor to champion users’ privacy and information rights in the digital world, has cracked an undocumented set of codes used by all Xerox DocuColor laser printers.”
The top and left rows are used as parity bits, for error correction. The remaining dots in the grid are used to convey information about the document and its source, including printer model, printer configuration, printer serial number, and the date and time the page was printed.

I recently put several (noisy) feeds on probation, as 43folders calls it:

I actually had a folder called “Sequester” where I’d throw any feed that was starting to get on my nerves (too many [kitty photos | jokey memes | posts about the salvation promised by Longhorn/Vista]). In NetNewsWire (and probably others) you can set a custom refresh time for a feed or its parent folder (cf.) to, in this instance, ensure you get a nice break from the bothersome content.

So, for example, you could say to check your “Sequester” folder just every 72 hours. When the updates pop up, you can decide whether your ardor has truly cooled enough to unsubscribe (at which point, if you’re like me, you move the feed to “Deleted” with “Don’t Refresh this Feed” selected).

I toss such feeds directly into a Disabled folder which has a no-refresh setting as described for the Deleted folder. That way I can find them again without having to check online what the RSS/Atom feed was, but they don’t bother me otherwise. Of course it does distort the picture somewhat to state that I have 173 feeds in NetNewsWire, but only about 30 are disabled so there are still quite a few feeds.

I’ll leave it at that today. Apologies for the silence, again, but it’s been rather busy lately in several ways and the blog was one of the victims, so to speak. 🙂



Filed under: General — Erwin @ 4:23 pm

For anyone reading this out there, rest assured I’m fine, just busy and focusing my energy into other projects, reorganising the time spent on newsfeeds and blogs, work, etc. There are also a couple of transitions lined up in the near future, but more on that in another entry. Now back to some old fashion fun:

./configure && make && make install

All this while making and drinking coffee, of course.


News on news

Filed under: News,OS X,Software — Erwin @ 11:35 pm

Looks like the big Mac fish just got swallowed by the bigger fish:

Now, you can get your content on the premier desktop RSS reader for Mac OS X – announcing NewsGator’s acquisition of NetNewsWire.

Congratulations, Brent, may this be a change for the better for everyone involved. 🙂

Update: This is the actual press release.

Linkage (20)

Filed under: Linkage,News,Technology — Erwin @ 1:42 pm

Is Finland really part of the rest of the world? Sometimes I wonder. Then a site like this comes along and I wonder some more. Cool to see though and have to admit I can imagine seeing people dressed like that in, for instance, Amsterdam just as easily. (link from Northernlake)

Do you like podcasts? Do you like NPR? Cool, then here’s a nice big directory of NPR podcasts! I have been subscribed to The World for some time and have now added some short news/music sections now.

The Australians correctly realise that any sort of whitelist is a bad idea (Guardian Unlimited) for security (link from Bruce Schneier):

The Duke of York was involved in a wrangle with security guards after he refused to be screened at Melbourne airport.

Prince Andrew was prevented from boarding a flight to New Zealand last week and during a tense stand-off, officials explained that no one was exempt from Australia’s airport security procedures.

No offense to the prince but what makes him think that he is immune to, for instance, being blackmailed or otherwise convinced to do something stupid?


Linkage (19)

Filed under: Humo(u)r,Linkage,News — Erwin @ 2:49 pm

I must’ve missed the news that the new planet was named Xena. Anyway, this followup (The Register) gave me a big chuckle:

Astronomers at the WM Keck Observatory have identified a moon orbiting Xena, a body they argue is the 10th planet in our solar system. They have called the moon Gabrielle, after Xena’s sidekick in the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess.

The Wikipedia has a page devoted to correcting the Encyclopedia Britannica (CNet):

The collaboratively assembled encyclopedia maintains a page devoted to correcting errors in its chief offline competitor, the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica.

This doesn’t prove Wikipedia’s superiority, of course, but it does underscore one crucial advantage: An online research tool can at least issue corrections after initial publication, in real time–even if they involve mistakes made by somebody else.

Indeed. As a friend put it:

Cute. But no more than cute. <…> It’s just more self-congratulatory stuff, articles written for people who want their world view confirmed.

It’ll become more than cute if we start seeing signs or otherwise get confirmation that the Britannica people are reading the corrections and applying them. 🙂

Nielsen claims that people watch more TV (Reuters) than ever before:

U.S. TV viewership climbed again last season to a record household average of eight hours, 11 minutes a day, Nielsen Media Research reported on Thursday, challenging perceptions that Americans are watching less than they once did. <…> Moreover, Nielsen said the average individual watched four hours and 32 minutes of TV last season, the highest level in 15 years. The figures include in-home viewing levels for broadcast, cable and satellite TV during all parts of the day.

Don’t confuse household with individual, by the way. Given how you calculate an average and knowing that I know quite a few people that watch a lot less TV, that makes me wonder about the extreme couch-potato cases out there.

Friday entertainment (4)

Filed under: Movies — Erwin @ 1:41 pm

Better late than not at all?

Firefly - The Complete SeriesLast Friday we saw Serenity in the theatre, the movie based on the Firefly TV-series.

It probably helped that we’ve watched and enjoyed the series, but given that, the movie was entertaining from start to finish!

Beforehand I had been wondering if Ron Glass was going to make an appearance, because I’d seen a cast picture at GenCon without him in it, but thankfully he was there along with everybody else (yes, I probably could’ve found that out online but…).

Thanks to MythTV we got to see two more episodes from the TV-series after we came home, so it was an entirely Serenity/Firefly oriented evening. No points for guessing that we’ll buy this one on DVD once it comes out! 😉

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