Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How Good is Your Algebra?

How good is your algebra?
Solve for x:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Great AT&T Experiences

I shouldn't always complain about things - that's just unhealthy; so, here are three things about AT&T that impressed me.

1. Business Class Broadband
I've been using AT&T's (formally SBC) top of the line business class DSL with five static IP address since 2002 and it's been rock solid. Outages have been virtually non-existent. Occasionally, the bandwidth drops which can be fixed simply by power-cycling the router. There's probably a firmware upgrade that might fix this problem, but it happens so infrequently that I don't have the guts to try it out and risk the downtime if there's a problem.

2. iPhone Upgrade to 3G
This experience went very smoothly. I was most impressed with the fact that our family plan's roll over (RO) minutes remained. I really expected to lose those 4000+ of RO minutes.

3. Prepaid Cell Phone (Go Phone)
My mother has the bottom of the line cell phone plan. She hardly uses her cell phone - maybe 15 minutes/month, but it still costs her about $30/month which is more than $360/year with the fees added in. So, last month, we moved her to a pre-paid option. She got $100 of service minutes that will last a year (plus a sign up bonus of $5).
She had a choice of paying 25¢/minute or 10¢/minute with a daily $1 charge on the days she uses it. Which plan to choose? The key is: will you use your cell phone for more than seven minutes on the days that you do use it? If so, then go with the 10¢/minute and the $1 charge; otherwise, go with the flat 25¢/minute. Regardless, text messages cost 15¢ to send or receive unless they're free marketing messages from AT&T which can be stopped simply by replying with the world Stop.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Personal Hero: Wynne M. Trenholme (W2LDK)

This is a personal hero of mine who I visited with earlier this week. Wynne is 94 years old and still lives across the street from where I grew up on Long Island. He's in excellent health with very low cholesterol and blood pressure of 110/70 (the secret to longevity?). He lives alone and he still drives around town.

After my father, Wynne taught me more about electricity and electronics than anyone else. He worked for Grumman for nearly 20 years. In the 1960s he worked on the LEM, training the astronauts on the spacecraft's communications systems. The radio signal to communicate from the moon to earth was about six watts which is the same of an average CB radio, except the LEM signal was highly directional compared with a CB's omnidirectional signal. He gave me a few of the LEM's amazing training manuals.

During WWII Wynne served in the U.S. Merchant Marines (starting in the enlisted ranks and working up to LCDR) so we frequently talk about the ship's steam cycle. But, my knowledge can't compare to his years of experience working in the engine room. He has some great stories including one time when he was in a tsunami out at sea. The ship's captain received warning of the coming wave and simply turned into it as the ship rose and dropped more than a hundred feet. After all, as long as a tsunami is in waters deeper than its wave height it won't "trip" as it does when reaching the shore.

In high school, he taught me about firearms. We used shoot .22s in his basement against a steel bullet trap and we'd usually end a shooting session by firing black powder after casting the musket balls or minie balls ourself with a lead melter. A couple times we went to Maine to shoot his M1911, made in 1917, and his 45-70.

About once a year he sends me books on the Marine Corps or Annapolis with personal inscriptions on the inside cover. This week he gave me The Few and the Proud, Jarhead, and One Bullet Away.

I can only hope to live as long and be in great health as he is at 94.

Monday, October 27, 2008

He-Ne @ 632.8 nm

Click to enlarge

My First Laser & Holography Kit
When I was in 8th grade (1981) I took a trip to Bellmawr, NJ (not far from Edmund Scientifics) to buy my first laser from Metrologic Instruments. Back then, laser diodes didn't put out much power so helium neon was the only practical option I could afford from delivering Pennysavers and newspapers.

The laser in this photo is a modulated laser which means that you could plug in a crystal microphone and talk over the beam of laser light. I purchased this one, and a few months later I purchased polarized laser, to make holograms in my basement.

Originally, I intended to build a sandbox to make the holograms but I found a clearance holography kit at Edmund Scientifics. The kit was basically 2' x 2' piece of black Plexiglass on black foam with some screw holes to hold an optical diffuser (not a lens), front surface mirror, and film holder.

My first hologram was my best because I didn't know that you shouldn't recycle photographic developer chemicals. It was a hologram of Boggle cubes (dies with letters on each side) that misspelled Hologram. (I originally spelled it correctly, but when I moved the holography kit to the darkroom lab I hastily set up the cubes incorrectly.)

I was definitely the only kid in school who owned a laser... actually two lasers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Amazon's SimpleDB is to a RDBS as...

It took me a little time to wrap my head around Amazon's new web service: SimpleDB. But, I think I've finally fit it into my RDBMS brain.

RDBMS     SimpleDB     OOP
Table  =  Domain    =  Class entity
Row    =  Item      =  Object  
Column =  Attribute =  Attribute
Value  =  Value     =  Value

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Down Markets are a Beach

It's not that I don't care about the down markets, but sometimes, a little change of pace can be a nice break. After working out this morning I took a couple hours and went to the beach – it was in the 80s, again, today.

After taking a refreshing dip in the ocean I just laid out, in the sun, for a nice bit.

Yes, life is always better when the NASDAQ's at 4,000, Dow's at 13,000, and AAPL's at $200. But, hey, I can't control that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Busy, Busy

Sorry, folks. It's been busy since we launched Adjix in August. I'll write when I have some time.

You can always follow those happenings at

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Amazon Web Services Down Again!

I really love Amazon's Web services. But, they're down, again, this morning, bringing our Web app to a screeching halt.

It looks like we need to have a contingency plan built into our Web app's start-up config to check for AWS down time and fall back to an alternate plan.

At least now, with Cloud Status, I can get independent confirmation.

Click to enlarge

Amazon's official AWS status board says:

9:05 AM PDT We are currently experiencing elevated error rates with S3. We are investigating.

9:26 AM PDT We're investigating an issue affecting requests. We'll continue to post updates here.

9:48 AM PDT Just wanted to provide an update that we are currently pursuing several paths of corrective action.

10:12 AM PDT We are continuing to pursue corrective action.

[ digg this ]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

iPhone Screenshot

Here's a neat trick with the iPhone 2.0 software.

Press the sleep/wake button and the home button, simultaneously, for about half a second and the iPhone will take a screenshot and stick the image into your Camera Roll.

[ digg this ]

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

20 Year Reunion

My mother-in-law and I pushed my wife to go to her 20 year high school reunion this past weekend. It was a three day event, drinks on Friday, formal dinner on Saturday, and a picnic on Sunday. After Friday's mixer she was hooked and couldn't get enough. Tonight, she's back out with her high school friends.

I'm amazed how many people don't want to attend their high school or college reunions until they actually attend and love it.

Monday, June 30, 2008

iChat and MobileMe

The e-mail addresses went live a few days ago.

Does that mean you can use in iChat?
Yup, you sure can.

In iChat, simply add a new account (iChat –> Preferences –> Accounts) by clicking on the + symbol in the bottom left.

Instead of adding a .Mac Account, choose AIM Account and add your

Saturday, June 28, 2008

GoDaddy Affiliate Program

I've been using a GoDaddy reseller ( to register domain names with GoDaddy at a cheaper price than ($6.95 vs $9.99 for .com).

However, once I was logged in through the affiliate I couldn't change the DNS. When I clicked on "Total DNS Control and MX Records" to change my DNS I got the following error message:
The Total DNS Control Manager for this domain is temporarily unavailable. Please try back later.

After noticing this problem for several days I called GoDaddy. They told me it was a browser issue. While the rep had me on hold I googled the error message and I noticed some other people having the same, undetermined, problems.

I then noticed that the page was actually framing the GoDaddy affiliate page. Once I removed the GoDaddy page from inside the frame the problem went away.

I ran into this problem on OS X Leopard with Safari and Firefox 3.0. However, on Windows XP with Firefox, the page worked inside the frame and I could change the DNS. So, for some reason, framing a GoDaddy affiliate page doesn't work on the Mac.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Google Street View

Google Street View came through my neighborhood the other day and snapped this photo of my house.

This is my photo of the Google Street View car.

And this is Google's Street View photo of my car.

View Larger Map

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sunspots and High-Tech

This morning, our Web server went down for no real reason.

This morning, my my wife's hard drive died for no real reason.

This morning,'s Web site went down for several hours for no real reason.

Coincidence? Sunspots?

At least the markets had a reason to go down, today.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Inventor Of Sideburns

Yes, sideburns are really named for this guy (Ambrose Burnside)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The pre-taped call in show

Sunday, April 6, 2008

La Costa Short Sale + MLM

Here's a short sale in Carlsbad. This house is about two years old yet the owners still hadn't landscaped the front yard. After taking a tour of the house it looks more like a HUD foreclosure – the rugs were stained, the floor was dirty, and the walls needed paint. Although the owners moved out it looks like they left behind a bunch of junk in the garage. They really let the house go to pot. It a shame since it's such a nice, new, house.

On top of all that, it looks like someone was trying to sell a MLM (multi-level marketing) diet program in the driveway.

What were they thinking?

Marketing at its Finest

Doesn't this make you want to drop by the garage sale?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shuttle Launch

This is one of my favorite photos of the space shuttle launching.

You'd think that the shuttle goes straight up, but that wouldn't put it into orbit. Getting into orbit it like firing a cannon ball that "misses" the Earth and just keeps missing. For every 10 feet the Earth's surface curves down, the shuttle drops 10 feet. So, astronauts on the shuttle aren't floating because there's no gravity, but rather because they're in a constant free fall called microgravity.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The High Cost of Being Poor

This is funny.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Oath to the Constitution? No kidding.

I still think Sara Taylor is confused.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Friday, March 7, 2008

iPhone Revenue Sharing: Is 30% a good deal?

In one word, "Yes!".

A 30% revenue sharing deal is great. Yesterday, Steve Ballmer implied that it was too much at Mix 2008 in Las Vegas.

Today, if you develop a mobile application which you want delivered over-the-air (OTA) to a mobile handset your only choice is premium SMS (PSMS). For example, if you buy a game or a ring tone the charge will show up on your cell phone bill.

Here's the part no one knows unless you've dealt with wireless carriers and PSMS: the wireless carrier and the SMS aggrogator, which is the middleman between you and the wireless carrier, will keep 50%-60% of the revenue collected.

Yes, that's right - the developer collects less than half of the revenue. Not to mention the fact that the company selling their apps and media must pay for the short code (five or six digit phone number) which typically runs about $15K-$30K/year ($500 or $1000/month to lease the short code, which is akin to buying a domain name, then another $1000/month to host the short code with an SMS aggregator plus the developer has to pay for each text message they send, too.).

The current OTA solutions are not cheap which makes Apple's 30% solution extremely appealing to mobile handset developers.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

AT&T iPhone Activation Down for 12+ Hours

Get a new iPhone today, come back tomorrow to activate it. That's a tad disappointing.

On a side note, Phil Schiller was in the Apple Store, today, while we were picking up the phone. Most of the employees definitely did not recognize him.

click to enlarge

[ digg this ]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


There's a great restaurant, across the street from our place in Capitola, called Shadowbrook, which has been around for more than 60 years. It's located on the base of a river bank about 90 feet below street level. You can walk down the stairs or take the "hillavator".

It's great for casual drinks and food at the bar or a fancy dinner in one of its many dining rooms. I highly recommend the crepes for dessert.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Improv Everywhere

I love Improv Everywhere.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


We're getting ready to launch a new Web site this weekend and it looks like two blogs have already picked up the same article here and here,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

iPhone Prediction

Here's a great iPhone/AT&T prediction I ran heard today:

iPhone will lose its AT&T Mobility exclusivity in the U.S. Not due so much to the hackers unlocking the iPhone to be used by other carriers, but Apple will realize the five-year exclusivity window is too long to forego potential revenue from non-AT&T customers stuck in the middle of their service contracts. A substantial payment from Apple to AT&T and things will loosen up.

iPod Growth Approaches 0%

Last month, AAPL was around $200/share. In today's aftermarket, it's around $137 due to today's earnings call.

Although the drop, over the past month, was precipitated by the slowing economy. Today's drop was due to the fact that the iPod's year-over-year growth is approaching 0%; it was not due to Apple's conservative guidance for the next quarter.

Now, don't get me wrong. Apple's revenues will continue to grow and they could even surpass Microsoft's revenues in the next couple years, but iPod growth, in terms of absolute numbers, can't continue forever.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Faulty Cell Sends 4,700 Text Messages

A faulty cell phone sent 4,700 text messages on New Year's Eve. The total charges came to $42. Obviously, since the bill was less than $700, it wasn't a mobile phone in the U.S.:

Interior Courtyard

Nice model home with courtyard.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Real Price Of Gold

Here's an interesting graph showing the price of gold since 1450, adjusted for inflation.

In 1980, gold reached a 2007 inflation adjusted price of $2,150/Troy oz.
Click to enlarge.
Gold Prices

[digg this]

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Test Post

This is a test for SMSPal, Inc.

Web Site Performance Using Safari

Some how I missed the fact that Safari provides performance statistics.
What an incredible wealth of information. However, I couldn't find this feature on Safari for Windows.

Simply right-click (control-click) on a Web page and choose Inspect Element from the contextual menu. From there, click on the up arrow disclosure icon in the bottom left of the inspection window to reveal Console and Network and then choose Network.

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Don't Mess With People's Whoppers


A domainer grabbed