Category Archives: Misc

Ladybug Marker Holder

I finally busted out some of the tools I’ve been collecting with the hopes of doing some woodworking.  I’m working on a toy tree house for my daughter, something that goes with the doll house she got from her grandma, and when it’s done, I’ll post some photos on here.  I had an extra half-sphere and, inspired by a groundhog I’d seen on another blog, created this.  Nothing too fancy, but starting with half a sphere, drilling some holes, adding a few dowels and small wooden balls, then dremeling some detail, a ladybug emerged.  Lisa then painted it, bringing it to life and giving it character.

I think it turned out great and I’m planning on making some more, though just not ladybugs.  I was thinking a porcupine or a dinosaur might look good.

Blu-ray blues

We recently got rid of our cable TV (keeping the internet of course) and wanted to get a set up where we could stream Netflix and other video sources directly to the TV.  Of the various options, it seemed that a blu-ray with built in WiFi would be best, and we started with the Samsung BD-C6500.  This claimed to be able to connect wirelessly, stream Netflix and Hulu Plus, and had a bunch of other internet-ready content via apps.

Most of this is true.  We were able to hook it up no problem, got it connected to our wireless network and streaming Netflix, and were able to browse other internet content such as YouTube.  However, one major glitch:  the blu-ray player lost the network settings each time we powered it off.  We’d have to re-scan and enter the password for our network each time.  This makes using it almost unbearable.  Further, Samsung customer support was not very helpful, suggesting a few things that made no difference.  Finally, the apps available were meager at best, with no Hulu Plus or ESPN apps, and the few apps that weren’t there by default were not very interesting.

Contrast this with the Sony BDP-S570, which at Best Buy cost the same.  This blu-ray player set up as easily as the Samsung.  However, it kept the network settings no problem.  No re-entering the network password.  And the number of apps that come installed with it is much greater than the Samsung, with maybe 5 times as many.  I haven’t found yet if it is possible to install new ones, though I assume there must be some way.  Hulu Plus is not available on the Sony, but in contrast to the Samsung, it seems that there is a plan to get it soon.  This one is even 3D-ready (it isn’t 3D capable yet, but with a firmware upgrade expected to be available soon, it will be).  This isn’t something I care much about, but it just points to the overall better product this player is for the same price as the Samsung.

I’m not sure how much of the issues with the Samsung are specific to our setup.  Our router is an Apple Time Capsule, and I saw online others with that setup having the same problem.  It is just odd that this day and age this kind of thing doesn’t work better.  And that Samsung didn’t have a better response suggests they are ignoring the problem.

I’m very happy with the Sony.  And if anyone else runs into these network issues with the Samsung, I would highly recommend taking it back and getting the Sony instead.

More tops

100103_7882TopsOver Christmas break, Lisa’s dad let me use his lathe again, and I made a few more tops.  I made 4 in all, but two of them we gave to friends before we snapped a picture.  In any case, here are two of the new ones with the old ones.  One of them, the one on the right in the first picture,100103_7887Tops I also gave to a friend, Bob.

The handles aren’t quite as polished as I would like and the tips that they spin on aren’t as smooth as I would like to give the whole top a nice smooth look, but overall they turned out alright and do a decent enough job of spinning.  I was maybe a little aggressive trying to by fancy by carving out towards the inside of the volume, which made it a bit difficult to sand them properly, so that is why in the second photo the third top has a bit of a rough edge.  I started to lose a little patience with the sanding.  But, still, they look good, were relatively easy to make, and were fun to make too.

Analyzing the Election

Here are some different ways of looking at the US Presidential election:

Correlating the election results with the lighting of the night sky.

Drawing the US by scaling the size of each county not by its land-mass but by its population.

Another population analysis where the brightness of each county is determined by population.

Correlating the election results in the South with cotton output in 1860.

A map showing shifts in voting behavior, places that were more Democratic or Republican than last time.

More later as I find them.

Did CSI: Miami jump the shark?

I’ve never been a huge fan of CSI: Miami. First, I’m a Law and Order fan. There are three things I like about Law and Order: 1) the characters are entertaining and seem real; 2) there isn’t so much drama in the personal lives of the characters, the drama is about the crimes and the cases, not the people (for the most part); and 3) they often make me think, at least a little, about social issues and how justice is carried out in the US.

The CSI franchise, in general, doesn’t have any of this. It seems to me to be more brain candy than Law and Order, with the point being just to show how cool forensics can be. But, then they don’t even do the forensics right. They never wear hair nets, for example. The same people do every single task in the lab, which, for such a large lab, seems unlikely. And, there is lots of personal drama; half the stories are about the characters, not about the crime.

But, CSI: Miami has been my least favorite. Partially, because I think David Caruso’s Horatio Caine is just down right annoying. His one-liners, the attitude with which he gives them, just annoy me. And I think they have even more filler than the other versions. They spend a lot more time showing multiple angles of the crew taking tires off a car for analysis with some high-powered sound track than the others do. Much more fluff. Much more annoying. And I especially hate that nothing gets done in the lab until Caine is there to tell the supposed-expert on whatever technique du jour is going to solve the case how to do their job. Shouldn’t they be going to him with answers, not waiting for his play-by-play on what to do?

But, I wonder if they finally jumped the shark. The last episode Lisa and I watched had these “bullet points”. I’m not sure if they are a permanent feature, but they were sure damn annoying. Little pop-ups, inspired by VH1, complete with sound effects (of a firing gun). And the pop-ups contained facts that didn’t seem to add to the story. Lost is doing something similar with their repeated episodes, but without the sound effects and they are actually informing you on the story. And, it seems that the latest episode of CSI: Miami had even more of the filler I was complaining about above. If you took out all of the filler that just showed the characters pretending to do analysis and just had the bits that actually advance the plot, I bet you could squeeze the episode to a half or third of the total running time.

So, I’ve never been much of a fan, but it seems like CSI: Miami is getting even worse. I just don’t understand why it is the most popular of the three CSIs.