11/30/2005 04:51:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|"All your base" is now on one of my server's POST screens. The classic geek joke. I did this while working on an old HP server. What else would I type int he BIOS field 'Other text to show at boot'? My own little private joke when I have to reboot it... If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check this out.
|W|P|114159919741458337|W|P|"All your base are belong to us"|W|P|11/29/2005 04:50:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|Laser printers are tricky, but you can simplify things by breaking down the cost of a laser printer over time into three categories:

The trick to finding a good, but cost-effective, laser printer is to break down the cost of printing to a per-page cost. For example, I recently had to find a sub-$150 monochrome laser printer for my work. This falls into the small home office category. I found the following printers from my supplier: Samsung ML 1610 ($99.99) Brother HL 2040 ($119.99) Samsung ML 2010 ($129.99) OKI B4100 ($143.99) Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W ($149.62) My supplier carries toner for all of these printers, but no drum replacement kit for the Samsungs. So immediately we're down to three printers. Brother HL 2040 ($119.99) OKI B4100 ($143.99) Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W ($149.62) Next, I looked up the toner cartridges for each of these printers, and how long the toner lasts: Brother HL 2040 2500 pages $ 49.87 $ 0.020 per page OKI B4100 2500 pages $ 30.10 $ 0.012 per page Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W 3000 pages $ 78.84 $ 0.026 per page Next, I looked up how much the replacement transfer drums cost, and how long they last: Brother HL 2040 12000 pages $ 86.77 $ 0.007 per page OKI B4100 25000 pages $149.57 $ 0.006 per page Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W 20000 pages $ 99.27 $ 0.005 per page Then, when you combine the two, you have a total-cost-per-page number: Brother HL 2040 $ 0.027 per page OKI B4100 $ 0.018 per page Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W $ 0.031 per page Once you know this information, you can safely decide on what printer to get, once you take a look at the following examples: After printing 0 pages (printer/cost) Brother HL 2040 ($119.99) OKI B4100 ($143.99) Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W ($149.62) After printing 5000 pages Brother HL 2040 ($255.88) OKI B4100 ($234.10) Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W ($305.84 ) After printing 10,000 pages Brother HL 2040 ($391.78) OKI B4100 ($324.22) Konica Minolta PagePro 1350W ($462.06 ) As you can see, with a little work, you can save a lot of money in the long run by looking at all the factors involved in a laser printer purchase, not just the price. And in the case of these similar-performing printers, the more expensive printer doesn't always mean you will get more for your money!

|W|P|114159907406066279|W|P|How not to get ripped off on a laser printer|W|P|11/28/2005 04:44:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|Well, it's winter time here in Chicago, so I figured I'd post this little reminder: Keep your electronics out of the cold. When you leave your electronics in your car overnight, or anywhere else cold for that matter, they get cold. You know this already. When you use your electronics, they get warm. You know this also, so I don't need to explain it. What you might not realize is that parts of your electronics warm up at different rates. Some get very warm almost instantly. Some can take as much as 15+ minutes to warm up. When you have a temperature difference like this, you can get condensation inside of your electronics. You've seen condensation before. It's those drops of water that form on a cold can of, er, beverage on a hot day. You don't want water to form inside of your stuff. So what is it's too late, and you're reading this on a freezing cold laptop you just fetched out of your car? Shut down now, wait until the laptop is at least close to room temperature, and give it an extra hour to make sure there's no mini droplets inside your machine. As a side note, you can clean a keyboard by putting it through the dishwasher. Just don't use the dry part of the cycle, it'll melt. And give it a very long time to dry before using it. Whether or not you want that plaque in the same place as your dishes is a different story. I don't... |W|P|114159873628885077|W|P|How cold weather shorts out your laptop|W|P|11/25/2005 04:43:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|You may have heard of Google's attempts to digitize every book ever written, and offer it for free. They've recently run into a bit of trouble, because the publishing houses feel they might lose some money from this. This issue is ongoing, and reeks of politics, so I'm not going to get into it, since Google already is taking a fairly objective view of what is going on. Enter electronic paper Instead, I'd like to lay out what would be possible, using Google's technology, combined with the latest in electronic paper. If you've never heard of electronic paper, either wait 2 years, or check it out now. E Ink has combined this type of display, which can keep a black-and-white image on its screen using a tiny bit of battery power. They also envision a wireless connection built into the frame. Here's where I see Google's service utilized using electronic paper. Add a USB port w/ native drive No-one wants to sit and wait for each page to download. A USB port built into the frame of the page could hold a USB hard drive that could transparently be part of the frame. It could be used to either store downloaded content (downloaded at 54MB/sec if using 802.11g), or it could be removed from the frame and plugged into your computer, where content could be transferred to the drive at 480MB/sec. Also, by adding USB plug-and-play support, you open a world of possibilities. (GPS would call up a Zagat guide for local eateries from Google, for example.) Power needs Before we go any further, this stuff is going to need some power. Fuel cells, step up. Because no-one is going to want to plug in their paper. Wireless This will have to be 802.21 enabled. This gives us instant access to any content, anywhere. Bluetooth Link your phone to the notepad, use it for contact management. Pictures from your camera-phone could be linked to Riya, and after taking a picture of a product UPC, Froogle could alert you to any better deals in the area. RSS Built into the paper's embedded OS should be an RSS reader. Subscribe to your favorite magazine's feed, for a $10 fee per year. Get every article. Subscribe to your teacher's feed, get a copy of the book text, the assignment, and a copy of the teacher's powerpoint of the lesson. Color I mean, who really wants to look at black letters on a gray background. Protection No-one wants a half-inch black plastic frame around a thin sheet of E-paper. Let's build 2 sheets into a sleek portfolio. Stylin'. |W|P|114159866787110331|W|P|What books could be (starring Google)|W|P|11/24/2005 04:41:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|

I don't like marketing departments. It seems like they never stop trying to make their product better than what it really is, while staying technically accurate. What ever happened to having a great product, and just saying 'we have the best product out there, and this is why:'. Not 'you need this' or 'this unit is the brightest', (when brightness actually has nothing to do with the product. So basically, throw the marketing aside, and look into it yourself.

I took this advice in looking into a new TV for myself. I found that marketing departments are getting away with promoting qualities in their TV's that aren't even desirable, such as contrast ratio. They want you to purchase their unit based on contrast, because it is the easiest thing to improve on, not because it actually means anything.

And as long as we're on the topic of false-but technically-not-false advertising, I'd like to bring on my most major finding in my own investigations.

I have a 32" Sony Wega. I'm looking into moving from this 4:3 aspect unit to a 16:9 aspect unit.

Here are the stats for my TV:

32-inch diagonal

4:3 aspect ratio

24 inches wide

18 inches tall

432 square inches

(also 163 pounds. That doesn't have to do with anything, it's just fun to point out how ludicrous moving it around is...)

Now, the HDTV signal from comcast is coming in at an aspect of 16:9. That means on my TV, it is displaying an image that measures 18 inches tall and is 32 inches wide. But my screen is only 24 inches wide. So the TV just cuts 4 inches off of each side and you miss out on that part of the signal. That signal you're paying for. Well that won't do...

So if I wanted to keep the same square area of screen, but in 16:9 so I don't lose anything, I would have to do the following:

31.8-inch diagonal

27.7 inches wide

15.6 inches tall

432 square inches

So now that we're viewing the HDTV signal from Comcast in 16:9, I can see the entire signal being sent to me. In the past, where my TV would have been cutting off the sides of the signal to show it in 4:3, it now shows the entire signal being sent in its native 16:9.

But wait! Something's wrong here. Because this is 16:9, my "32 inch" 16:9 TV displays people in the movie 2.4 inches shorter!

In effect, a person on my 16:9 TV is the same size as on a "26 inch diagonal" 4:3 TV. I gained extra picture on the sides of the 16:9, but the actual size of what's being displayed gets smaller on a 16:9 if you compare the 16:9 and 4:3 "32 inch diagonal" TV's next to each other. This is because the TV's are still being marketed by diagonal size, but have changed dimensions!

I want to keep the same image height I'm used to, but just get the extra inches on the sides that I've been missing. In order to replace my 32" Sony and keep the same image size, but add the extra picture on the sides, I would have to look into a 16:9 TV with the following specs:

36.7 inch diagonal

32 inches wide

18 inches tall

576 square inches

Whoa! A "36.7 inch diagonal" TV? Yep, if I wan to keep the picture I am used to, but get the benefit of the extra picture on the sides, that's what I'm looking at. And that's what you should be looking at if you're thinking of switching from a 4:3 TV to a 16:9.

So what if you don't have a 32" TV? Well, with the help of Excel, I found a shortcut for converting from 4:3 to 16:9, here it is:

It just so happens to work out that no matter what size diagonal your 4:3 TV is, if you take the inches diagonal of the 4:3 (32", for example) and multiply it by 1.2238 (22.3837% or so), the number you get will be the size diagonally that you will need in your 16:9 so that you have the same screen height as your 4:3.

So why don't the marketing/advertising departments show this information? Because there's no way they want to have a "Compare with a 26-inch standard TV" sticker on their expensive "32-inch" 16:9 HDTV. They'd rather have to say 'Hmm...the "32-inch" 16:9 TV isn't that much more expensive than the "32-inch" standard TV, I'll pay a few bucks more and get the 16:9"

But, as I've shown, you're not getting more, you're getting a TV that, while wider, gives you a picture about 13% smaller than you are used to.

|W|P|114159854273497901|W|P|Avoid disappointment trading up to an HDTV|W|P|11/23/2005 04:40:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|This one falls under the 'Otherwise' category. I made dinner the other night, and I had a taste for Mexican food. I threw together some stuff we had laying around, and the end result looked like an envelope, and was very good. You will need: - a #3 Burrito Tortilla (the big ones) - 1 cubic inch of cream cheese - 1 chicken breast, thawed - a handful of shredded taco cheese - a bunch of your favorite salsa, the less watery the better How to make it: - preheat oven to 375 degrees (Fahrenheit, please... :-) ) - spread the cream cheese in the center of the tortilla to the size of a postcard - flatten the chicken to the size of a postcard by putting plastic wrap and using a mallet (this isn't therapy time, take it easy or you'll pulverize the meat) - put the chicken on your bed of cream cheese, cover with cheese and salsa. - fold the tortilla up around your postcard-sized pile of stuff, short sides first - turn over and put on a cookie sheet. This keeps it closed while it cooks. (turn over slowly, do your Risky Business impression and you'll fling ingredients) - Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is done. The tortilla will turn a nice brown, too. Tip: don't use the side of your fork to cut bites off, use a knife. The melted cream cheese makes everything too slippery for something that dull to cleanly cut it... Have at it, let me know if you like it, or if you add anything in there that works out
|W|P|114159846367330699|W|P|Mexican Postcards|W|P|11/22/2005 04:39:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|I already wrote about this new facial-recognition technology on the web called Riya. I started getting into a bit of a discussion on the Riya blog about possible uses for Riya beyond just photo albums, such as combining it with other web services like Mechanical Turk for distributed "Intelligence Engineering". Amazon's Mechanical Turk is an interesting concept. These days we're trying to use computer for a lot of things, but some things computers just can't do. What Mechanical Turk does is pays people a small fee to do small tasks that require human logic. These tasks are then fed back into our computer programs, and the programs are more complete in the end. One thing about Mechanical Turk that is annoying is that it doesn't pay enough for your time. Now I don't think people with jobs would consider the Mechanical Turk as a source of revenue, unless they're really bored. However, if we can take the mechanical turk (7 seconds per job, 3 seconds between jobs, 3 cents per job, 4 hours per day = $43.20 per day) and make it easier/less stressful so we can boost output and have a user work longer (since less brain power is needed), we might be able to make it a viable income...? (3 seconds per job, 2 seconds between jobs, 2 cents per job, 4 hours per day = $57.60) (or 6 hours @ $86.40) Of course, there would need to be much more use of the MT API, as all of the jobs would soon be used up. ...but anyways, I'm sure that $432 per week for a 30-hour work week would be welcome somewhere on earth... In addition to making MT for feasible as a paying job, I'm sure we can find a better use for MT. Instead of posting pictures so someone can have an accurate idea of what the front of Jon's Bait Shop in Van Nuys, CA looks like, why not post jobs on MT that will actually help us? If we can take the programming of an Artificial Intelligence program, say, for a fire-fighting robot, as post 100,000 pictures of fires-in-progress, we might be able to use MT to gather the intelligence of thousands of fire fighters and build a pretty good AI. For another example, why not use MT to program the AI for the vehicles in the Grand Challenge? We all know how to drive (most of us). If a computer could learn from 1 million our visually-based decisions and learn how to navigate the desert, at $.03 per MT job, $30,000 would be a small price to pay! Add in the functionality of Riya, and you would have the added ability not only to stay on the road automatically, but also be able to read signs and symbols (i.e. if Riya sees 'Railroad Crossing', pan camera to left and right, take another shot left and right 10 seconds later, and compare to see if train is coming) This is just the beginning, any other ideas? |W|P|114159840809206214|W|P|Combining Riya with other web services|W|P|11/21/2005 04:36:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|If you subscribe to Wired magazine, there was a small article about an emerging service called Riya. Riya takes your pictures and arranges them online. No big deal here, I even set this up with my own family with the open-source solution Gallery on my own web site. What makes Riya different, however, is that it contains facial-recognition capabilities. That means that is I upload a picture of me and my brothers, I can tell Riya who is who, and the next time I use a picture that contain one of my brothers, it will tag the picture and label it with who is who. Not only that, but Riya learns as it goes along. When I upload a picture of my parents, it can tell the similarities between me and my parents, and tags the picture as containing someone that is related to me! Very cool. |W|P|114159829406370028|W|P|Using Riya|W|P|11/01/2005 03:04:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P| |W|P|114220130795078176|W|P|Img holder post|W|P|