Revolt In 2100 And Methuselahs Children

Revolt in 2100 & Methuselah\'s Children Revolt In 2100 And Methuselahs Children by Robert A. Heinlein.

I’ve always enjoyed Heinlein’s works – his libertarian ideals and positive, if not conflict free, future visions have always made for appealing literature. Also, I really like the fact that much of his work is based in a consistent universe where one work leads into or foreshadows others.

Sometimes the writing can be a little pedantic, especially where he’s trying to draw distinctions between the sexes, but this is just a ‘nit to pick in an overrall enjoyable science-fiction tale.

Posted under Books

This post was written by Marc
on December 21, 2005 at 10:52 am

Origami from Robert Lang

I was listening to an IT Conversations podcast on Computational Origami by Robert Lang and the designs sounded interesting so I checked out his website, Robert J. Lang Origami and was amazed at the complexity and richness of designs that can be obtained using a single, uncut sheet of paper.

Keep in mind that many of these designs take hours to fold not to mention to come up with the design in the first place. But, in making use of computers to help calculate how to work the paper, he shows here designs that were once thought impossible. Especially the insects.

If you have a moment, check this out. It’s truly amazing.

Posted under General

This post was written by Marc
on December 15, 2005 at 11:46 pm

Some perspective on Wal*Mart

An excellent write-up on some of the issues facing Wal*Mart by Paul Jacob.

I was watching on the news yesterday how various groups were upset with Wal*Mart and are trying to get bills passed to force the retailer to provide health-care plans for its employees. Since when is a company obligated to provide such? Sure, plenty of companies do as a perk. Health-care plans are nice-to-have options that supposedly make some companies more attractive to work for than others. But using government power to force companies to provide this benefit is simply another example of government vastly exceding its mandate.
I have no problems with folks boycotting Wal*Mart, that’s their right and they are free to shop wherever they choose and to encourage others to do the same.

Posted under Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on December 10, 2005 at 11:29 pm

Roku M500 Soundbridge

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This is a slick little device that allows me to pull iTunes songs wirelessly through my home LAN network and play them on any stereo in the house.

Here is Roku’s website if you want to take a peek.

The unit is functioning properly and so far I’m quite happy with it.

All was not perfect however, I had some issues that I eventually tracked down to a, presumably, longstanding issue with my venerable WRT54G Router.

Here is the chain of messages that I left on the Roku Soundbridge Set-up forum. This is probably only of interest to you if you are having the problems I was experiencing.

Initial Post
Soundbridge works fine, talks to network and acquired IP via DHCP with no issues.
Able to identify available library from iTunes.
Can play, shuffle, acquire Internet time, works normally for a while.
After an indeterminate amount of time, begins to exhibit symptoms similar to those specified for Firewall issues (Buffering… (0%) but does not play the 10 seconds or so of songs before failing) just fails and moves to next song .
Disabled XP’s firewall and WRT54G’s firewall with no change.
Restarting the Soundbridge yields “connection to server failed” message.
– Note that inspecting the WRT54G’s ” Wireless Client MAC List” shows the Soundbridge as still being in contact
Unplugging the Soundbridge, waiting for a minute or so yields same result.

Unplugging the Soundbridge removing the Wi-Fi card (which is quite warm) and allowing it to cool resolves the issue.

Next post after suggestion that I try hardwiring the Roku unit and see if the problem persists

Per your suggestion I removed the Wi-Fi card and plugged in the ethernet cable and let her go. The unit has been running all day now and, while quite warm, is still performing flawlessly.

This may not be the best test in the world, I have the unit sitting with me on my computer desk so I can see that it’s playing the songs, but I am not able to keep it plugged into the stereo and hardwire it to my WRT54G at the same time. So two variables have changed. I’ll Reconnect the Wi-Fi card and leave the unit on my computer desk to see if / when it begins to fail.

Next post

After about 1/2 hour after switching from wired to Wi-Fi and the SoundBridge began misbehaving again (Buffering (0%)).

Removing the Wi-Fi card and allowing it to cool and then re-inserting it resolves the problem. I cannot yet guarantee that cooling the card is what allows the soundbridge to function correctly or if it’s simply the time I have the unit powered down that causes it to work again. This time I how long it took to cool the card and restart the unit (about 5 minutes). The next time it fails I will simply power it down for 5 minutes and restart. The unit remains hot enough that the wi-fi card will not cool down during that interval and, I predict, will continue to fail.

then

*Sigh*
Letting the unit just sit for 10 minutes has also temporarily resolved the issue. So I’m not sure if it cools down enough or maybe there is something else going on that allows it to reconnect with my Wi-Fi network.

Hopefully I can get some good suggestions from email support. I like the unit and the theory. Now if only I can get it to work…. 🙁

Final Post

OK, I just wanted to end this saga and let anybody else who may be having this issue know how I resolved it.

I’ve had the WRT54G for just under two years now and it’s performed pretty well. My main computer is hardwired to the router as it is right next to it, but my wife’s computer is connected wirelessly. She leaves that machine on all the time and uses MSN Messenger – I’ve always noticed that her MSN messenger periodically logs her in (I see a pop-up that this “buddy” has logged in) and wasn’t sure if it was an MSN thing or a symptom of something else. Her machine is in the next room and is always reporting an “Excellent” wireless connection.

Anyway, after this problem with the M500 started, I found I couldn’t rule out the WRT54G as a possible cause. So yesterday I switched the “Wireless Network Mode” from “Mixed Mode” to “B-Only”. The M500 has now been playing solidly for over 18 hours with nary a hiccough.

So it seems the problem has two parts, the WRT54G is partly the cause because of intermittent drop outs – These probably impact my wife’s computer’s performance but it doesn’t complain and we have never noticed. The second part appears to be an overly sensitive Wi-Fi connection from the Roku M500 unit. It just doesn’t seem to be able to recover from either a single drop out or maybe there is some combination of drop-outs that mess it up. I’m not really equipped to say. I can only black-box it and tell you what I see.

Anyway, I hope this helps anybody else. For me, the increased stability is worth the Wi-Fi speed hit so I’m going to be leaving the WRT54G’s Wireless Network Mode at “B-Only”. I have another computer in the back of the house that never really attained much more than 11 Mbps anyway.

**Addendum** I had disabled WEP encryption while doing all this as I’ve found it to behave rather erratically in the past. Once everything had settled down I re-enabled Wep (128 bit) and found my wireless devices started dropping off periodically – no rhyme or reason. They would connect and acquire an IP and then, after some period minutes of use just drop off.. or not… WEP is disabled until either Linksys or the folks responsible for implementing these technologies get their act together. 🙁

All is stable now – just a bit more exposure than I’d like.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on December 8, 2005 at 6:00 pm

Canon 15×50 Image Stabalized Binoculars

Canon 15x50 Image Stabilization All Weather Binoculars w/Case, Neck Strap & Batteries I was over at a friend’s house the other day and he was pointing out an owl (one of several) that he had in his backyard. From his deck I could eventually see the owl perched up 50 feet or so in one of the trees at the far end of the yard. He handed me a pair of Canon 18×50 IS binoculars and said “You can get a better view through these.”.

Anybody who has ever used binoculars knows that, without a tripod or some sort of bracing, looking through any pair of binoculars with over 10 times magnification is an exercise in jerky frustration. And these were no exception… until I pressed the IS button. WOW! The image suddenly calmed right down to a pristine, still image that impresses. The owl was visible in all of his slumbering glory and the view was spectacular.

Now, I’m not the worlds greatest ornithologist. Truth be told I’m not particularly interested in bird-watching. But I am interested in astronomy and a good pair of binoculars is great for someone who has such an interest – they are handy and powerful enough to see some very interesting celestial items but they are not so unweildy as telescopes and tripods tend to be. You can just grab your binoculars and head outside, no setup required.

I did some research and decided that, as lovely as the 18x magnification of the binoculars that I’d sampled was, that needed to be tempered with a reasonable field of view. It’s challenging enough finding something as big as an owl in a backyard tree through an 18x pair of binoculars but trying to zero in on pinpoints of light dozens to thousands of light years away can be pretty difficult. After doing some research (thanks Google!) I determined that the 15×50 IS binoculars would suit my purposes nicely.

I ordered them from Amazon a few days ago and am eagerly awaiting their arrival!

Posted under General

This post was written by Marc
on December 7, 2005 at 7:53 pm