May 12, 2012

eHow = garbage, junk, crap and worthless content

For a fairly long time now I've avoided clicking on any eHow links in my search results.  This is because I had formed an impression that I would be unlikely to find what I was looking for on their site. Today I indulged and looked at the site a few times.

Wow -- and I mean this -- total junk.  I did a search on the site itself and and read the Wikipedia article on it and it is so obvious in retrospect.  The site is a content mill.  They don't care or even attempt to offer useful content.  Their goal is to show up in search results to generate a click-through... and that is how they make their money.

To their credit, the search engine DuckDuckGo filters out (eliminates) results from eHow.  Hopefully Google will get on this soon as well.

Dec 9, 2011

Message to Trump

Mr. Trump,

Please don't give up on the idea of having your very own debate among the potential GOP presidential nominees. You are so close to achieving your goal of turning the election into your very own reality TeeVee Show that it would be a shame to stop now -- even if there are only two nominees willing to participate.

I was so looking forward to this first step being followed up with other "debates" around the board-room table where you systematically eliminate a nominee each week thereby sparing us all of that tedious primary election and convention stuff.

Donald, be assured that we all eagerly wait the day when the president of the USA is selected by being the last person standing on an island after proving that he, or she, can walk more rope-bridges and eat more worms than anyone else.

Sep 16, 2011

Fashion Trend - Bicycling

Finally, a bicycling helmet with style!

Not really, this is just an adverstising for Electra brand bikes. Maybe it's not too late to start marketing my own line of bike helmets I've been designing.  So far I have prototypes of yarmulke and beret helmets.

I'm still looking for crash test volunteers.

Jun 9, 2011

Extremely Seedy

For all of you who might see this potentially scary name on your caller ID unit -- I just received a call where the caller ID says VISA LOST-STOLEN.  When I picked up the phone it was just a recording (not from my bank either) blindly offering lower interest rates.

May 13, 2011

Cha-Ching -- Palin Style!

Cashing in like a pro, Bristol Palin joined a teen pregnancy prevention nonprofit foundation in 2009. Via Think Progress I read that the AP has found and published the foundation's 2009 tax information. Here is a quick break down:

  $35,000:  grants to teen pregnancy health and counseling clinics (the purpose of the "non-profit"?)
$165,000:  TV advertising
$262,500:  18 year old Bristol Palin's salary

Wow.  Just wow.

Apr 23, 2011

Trump Candidacy

I'm no fortune teller but I have a vision and I want to go on record now (before it becomes all too obvious).

Here's the spoiler -- he won't run.  Not now, not ever.  But I think he pull this shtick every 4 years for the rest of his life.

Here is how I think it will play out:

He'll hint at it more and more as the season of Celebrity Apprentice winds down.  Then he'll announce that he is about to announce.  In fact, it will turn out that he will announce his decision during the last 10 minutes of the season finale of Celebrity Apprentice.  Between now and that day he will call into radio and TV shows and he will grant exclusive and long interviews.  He will speak at special events and he might put out a book about something or other.  As the big day approaches teasers and promos will remind viewers to tune in to the season finale.

At long last the finale will arrive... and the viewership will be huge. In the end Trump will say that he loves what he does too much, and like Sister Sarah he can do more the save the world from outside the system. The next day we'll hear how big the viewership actually was, but from Trump you'll hear that his show was the most watched show of all time -- regardless of what the truth is.  He will say it is because of him and he will be right.  Then the next day he and his team will start negotiating his fee for the next season.  Based on the huge ratings increase it will be a lot more than this years take. And it will all be thanks to the airtime given to him by Fox and other outlets that certainly know that Trump wouldn't stand a chance in hell in the face of the scrutiny that comes with a real candidacy.

Update:  Well, it's two months later and this, from today's NY Post:

 ...sources said he will personally pocket $65 million a year, 
a substantial increase on his previous deal...

Even Later Update:   It's about eight months after this post was written and sure enough, Trump's new book is out. The man who was born rich, and still managed to have two bankruptcies all by himself, lays out his plan for making America great again.

Jan 31, 2011

Anthony Milano, on keyboard...

Me and the squeeze went out for our Jazz fix last night at a local place that features a Django-esque trio on Sundays. The trio has one consistent member who goes by the moniker Chico Malo and each week he brings two others along to join in. Last night I noticed that the keyboard player looked a bit young.  For that matter there seemed to be a lot of young people in the place last night.  I found out later that the keyboard player is 14 years old!  I commented to the waitress that he'll be famous some day and she assured me that he already is.  

Here is an older video of him playing some Honky Tonk, when he was 11 years old.

Jan 5, 2011

What's in a name? Sync vs. Sink

When Xmarks announced that they were closing shop a few months ago I decided to use a different utility to keep my Firefox browser bookmarks in sync across the multiple machines that I use. Man, am I glad that they merged with whoever it is, and decided to stay around for a while.

In the interim I was using the Firefox Sync plug-in.  It worked OK for the most part but yesterday it behaved more like Firefox SINK, if not Firefox STINK.  After spending lots of time cleaning up bookmarks on my desktop machine I instructed it to stink up sync up my bookmarks to their server. Then I went over to my laptop and deleted all bookmarks so that it did not attempt to merge the sloppy collection of bookmarks over there with the clean collection. Then I told the browser on the laptop to sync up with the server.  The intent here would have been obvious to Xmarks but what do you think SINK decided to do?  Yes, it synced the empty list of bookmarks to the server then synced the empty list on the server to my desktop!

It was then that I realized that in addition to this poor interpretation of what the user (that's me) was trying to do there was no recovery features and no support at all! It seemed that all of my bookmarks on both machines were gone.  How's that for automation?!

Thank goodness that my, long unused, account on Xmarks was still active.  I reinstalled the client on my browser and logged in.  They first thing Xmarks did was issue a warning that basically said: "Hey, there is a lot less data on your machine than there is on the server. Do you want to proceed or restore?"  It didn't say it in those words but when I clicked the appropriate options to restore my bookmarks it actually gave me a choice of restore points to go back to.  A few clicks more and I was restored to the state I was in when I last used Xmarks.

Even though it is a free service I will sign up for a "premium" account as a thank you.

Dec 24, 2010

Left hand doesn't know from the Right

This blog is hosted by which is a Google entity. 

Just now blogger sent me an email describing new features, etc.  As it
turns out I received this email via another Google service -- Gmail. 
And wouldn't you know it... Gmail marked it as spam and moved
it to the spam folder!

Nov 30, 2010

I'll "give it a try"

No! Try not.  Do... or do not. There is no try.      -Yoda 

Sep 12, 2010

World's Sexiest Radiators

Painted a few radiators with Hammerite "Rust Cap".  It's expensive stuff but I'm really happy with the results.

Jul 8, 2010

Google Maps does Bicycling Directions!

I don't know how long this "beta" feature has been available but I just noticed it. I was using the usual "driving directions" feature to get an idea for a bike route between Chicago and Kenosha Wisconsin.  I hadn't noticed this before but there are now four icons above the area where you enter your starting and ending points.  The icons correspond to: driving, public transport, walking and bicycling.  This is brilliant!

Why Kenosha?  Well, there is a commuter train stop near where I live and the end of the line is Kenosha.  Since Metra allows bikes on trains I think it would be cool to take the train to the end of the line and bicycle back.  As most of you know -- it is much harder to get lost when heading towards home.  Anyway, the route Google gives me includes bike paths were they are available.  This is such a great idea.

Jun 28, 2010

Green - Cargo via Bicycle

A small effort to get a little "greener" has lead to a short-term OCD-type thought-binge on the best way to carry cargo on a bicycle.  The effort started with attaching a grocery pannier to the rear rack of my bike.  As I headed out to the store each pedal rotation had my heel bumping against the pannier.  Once I got up a little speed my heel launched the pannier right off the bike. 

At first I thought about different bikes and different racks and so on. I decided that if I was going to start buying things I better figure out exactly what I want in terms of where I ought to carry a load on a bike. A small series of experiments was in order.

For the first test, the panniers had to be either be moved back somehow or replaced by a way to carry a load on the top of  the rack.  I found these collapsible steel rear baskets (made by Wald) on Craigslist.  Being steel, I was able to mount them about 6 inches back on the rack.  That gives me the heel clearance that I need.

For "cargo" I used two empty cat litter containers and filled them with water. The containers were about 2 gallons each so they each made up a 16 pound simulated load. The ride was not bad and handling was hardly affected.  It did take a little extra distance to stop after braking with the 32 lb. load.

I used I used an old milk crate attached to a front mounted "porteur" style rack to test out the potential of a front delivery basket. This might not have been a good test as the load is so far forward.  As I started to ride it was reminiscent of first learning to ride a bike.  The front wheel wiggled a bit until I got up some speed then it settled down.  The handling of the bike felt strange but I got somewhat used to it after a while. When stopping, planting a foot solidly on the ground right away was more important than usual. Riding this way would require extra diligence.

I thought part of the problem was that the load and the handlebars were both forward of the head tube of the bike, basically, ahead of the steering fulcrum. I turned my "bull horn" style handle bars around to simulate a set of touring handlebars.  Unfortunately, the short "horns" and the long extension of the stem did not move my hand position to the other side of the fulcrum. The ride seemed better but maybe I was getting more used to the load.  Something I did during all test drives was jiggle the the handlebars left and right to get a sense of the bike's handling.  In these configurations doing so caused a noticeable torsion in the stem itself!

I went back to testing the load at the rear of the bike, now with it on top of the rack. I expected bike handling to be just like with the panniers.  However, this configuration had some of the uneasy handling as was the case with the front load.  Not bad, but noticeable.

Front and rear crates where attached to the racks using plastic tie-wraps.

For now I will probably go with some compromise.  Heavy loads will go low, on the rear on the bike. I like the convenience of carrying some things on the front but that will have to limited to lighter loads.  Maybe I'll get a small wire basket or a handlebar bag, perhaps with some upright touring handlebars.

Jun 24, 2010

Meet the Fawcetts

Our neighbors had their basement laundry room remodeled recently.  When they put these faucets out in the alley they still had the plumbing attached to them.  But still -- they spoke to me.

I happened to have a few pickets left over from a fence I built a long while ago...

Jun 8, 2010

Bikin' in the Rain

Today was the first time I can recall -- in a long time -- that I started out to run errands by bicycle when it was already raining.  I've been caught in the rain before but I don't know if/when I ever started out when it was already raining. I know this is no big deal to hard-core cyclists, but I am just getting back into it and using the car as a last resort rather than the other way around.

The interesting thing is that... it was fun.  Sort of like being in on some silly secret.