Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category


That store is ripe for a hooligan to change the P to a B.

Ever since I struggled to write a paper for a physics lab class and my friend introduced it me I have been a fan of LaTeX. Since that moment I have written everything that needed any sort of typesetting in TexShop for OS X.

Recently I needed to organize several papers for their references, I conveniently found in installation of BibDesk. This was a wonderful find. BibDesk was able to create my BibTeX file for my references as well as organize all of the PDFs for papers. With it I am able to now start a centralized organization for academic papers, something that will hopefully help me in the long run.

Furthermore it has helped me write my papers. I was able to load in a dozen papers related to my topic (Ganymede) and systematically read through the papers adding more information to my paper. The simple addition of a read checkbox to BibDesk makes the whole thing just work perfectly.

Of course after talking to a Windows using roommate about this I was only able to recommend LaTeX and BibTeX and not any neat front ends.


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iPod Touch Alarm

Falling back to my phone.

Falling back to my phone (Franz Ferdinand in concert).

I really like my iPod Touch, I never knew how much I needed to check my e-mail when I was away from my laptop but could access wifi. The Maps are handy to have if preloaded and being able to somewhat estimate a location based on nearby wifi is neat, I have used it to find the right place to get off a bus.

The alarm clock feature has been disappointing. Namely an alarm does not go off if the volume is set to 0. I have also had an alarm simply not go off before. Fortunately in both cases I woke up on my own near the time I had set the alarm, but it is still disconcerting to have an unreliable alarm clock.

So I have reverted back to my phones alarm clock. The thing I loved about the Touch’s alarm was the many different ones I had, the snooze system and the ease of use. The reliability is causing me to revert to another system.

Admittedly it could be user error as I have been sick and have set the alarms when I was very tired. Maybe in a week the reliability will get better.

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Tech Support

They tend towards overripe, under ripe or already eaten by hikers.

They tend towards overripe, under ripe or already eaten by hikers.

XKCD is a great webcomic, I would say one of the best.

And this one in particular should be spread around as much as possible. Every parent, relative and computer user out there needs to see it.

Just so we can increase computer literacy.

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Pile of Nintendo DS game cartridges.

Pile of Nintendo DS game cartridges.

Note: If this is posted twice it is because the first one was eaten by WordPress and it may or may not post along with this rewrite.

About a year ago I bought a CycloDS Evolution for my Nintendo DS Lite. I wanted to check out the homebrew scene and look for a free web browser for the DS. Nothing really jumped out at me from the world of DS homebrew but I found a better use for the Micro SD adapter card.

Nintendo DS ROMs. These are the contents of the DS game cartridge that are put onto a computer into a .nds file. Conveniently cards like the CycloDS can play them when they are put onto the MicroSD card. This of course leads to many of the games being pirated. I try to avoid that and only download the ROMs of games I currently own.

Or games that I am thinking about owning. With a lot of DS games they are either fun (Super Mario 64 DS) or have the fun potential but for some reason it does not follow through (the new Pok√©mon). Tired of buying games that don’t interest me I saw the usage of ROMs to be the perfect answer, an opportunity to demo a game for an hour or so and then decide if I want to buy it.

The temptation of course is to not buy it since one already has a copy of the game. Recently I downloaded and tried out Knights in the Nightmare by Atlus, I liked it and the next day I bought the game. Even though I now own a legitimate copy of the game I am going to keep playing it solely on my CycloDS.

Why? Mostly because I already have an hours worth of game on the ROM version and because it is so much more versatile. I can back up my savegames to my computer along with the game itself, I don’t have to carry the game around with me and there is a much smaller chance of losing a digital copy.

If there was an easy way to get the saves off of the DS games I bought prior to the CycloDS I would not need to carry around any of the game cartridges with me and could rest them right next to my original brick of a Gameboy.

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An scanned slide from a Imagelab FS5C05 35mm slide scanner.

An scanned slide from a Imagelab FS5C05 35mm slide scanner.

I received an Imagelab FS5C05 slide scanner in the mail earlier this week. Finally a chance to scan some of my family slides but first I should test it out before getting excited.

I opened it up carefully, plugged it in and got out one of the slide trays. Easy enough. I put a slide (that I have imaged before) into the machine, centered it and clicked the scan button. Fast, easy and not at all complicated. I took out the SD card (not provided) and put it in my laptop to take a look at the quality.

Well it is not so great. In fact it is just bad. Over saturated, noisy yet blurry, muddled and not even the full 35mm frame. While the slide fits into the scanning tray the device itself does not image the entire slide, rather just the center part (unless moved) and crops off the edges. It took a 3:2 image and reduced it to 4:3 image.

I returned it today and hope that the next one I try will work better and give better results.

Now I will admit there is a chance that this was a defective scanner, however I am not willing to try for another one. Especially since I would not be able to scan the full frame anyway.

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Keeping Time

An superb pocket sundial.

An superb pocket sundial.

Cell phones run off a network time.

My computer runs off a network time.

High precision watches and clocks are constantly corrected by radio (I think NIST does this).

And yet I want a pocket sun dial.

I just wish I could combine a compass and a sundial. Get a foldable light fin to put on top of the south part of the needle (the one that points north) so it auto-aligns for the right time.

There is a definite market for this, namely myself and maybe a handful of others.

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Some translations are hard.

Some translations are hard.

When first exploring the majesty that is the internet oh so many years ago I discovered online translators. This always intrigued me and I sought to find the most roundabout why to translate a phrase for spanish class. Usually I used german, japanese, chinese and maybe russian as intermediaries. Then taking the final spanish phrase I would run it through to english to see what it said. Occasionally it was humorous but more often then not it was just bland.

I went on with my life and occasionally needed something translation but more often then not it was something to english or a phrase into another language (for spelling things like gute nacht). I forgot completely about my attempts at iterative translations, until today.

My friend posted a link on Facebook to Translation Party, a site that takes an english phrase, translates it (via Google I believe) to japanese, back to english and so on until an equilibrium phrase is reached. This is a simple but wonderful idea and it is fun to play around with. After a few minutes I discovered that it is possible to break the site in two ways.

1. Find on unstable phrase that cannot reach equilibrium (What is on second).

2. A phrase eventually degrades into a string of non-sensical letters (My hovercraft is full of eels).

Here are some results from it:

  • Good sir, this is a wonderful idea -> Well, it’s a good idea (Some become internal conversations)
  • Never memorize what you can look up -> How do I know my heart? (Unstable)
  • Where is my hat? -> Hat? (In this case it actually worked as an equilibrium phrase between the two languages)

Automatic translations are just fun to play with. It would be neat to choose a third intermediary language (English -> Spanish -> Japanese -> Spanish -> English). Then again that might not give sensical results.

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