Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What kind of Training? Army Training, Sir!

I have avoided posting this, in part because I thought I might be able to change things, and in part because I wanted to avoid dealing with it.

Geoff has finally managed to cajole his way into the Army. He is canceling his co-op work and starting ROTC next semester, joining for 2 more years after he graduates in June 2008. Short of poisoning him and causing him to have a massive asthma attack, there is little I can do to change this course of events.

I’m happy for him in that he’s found a way to do what he wants to do in a way which will make him happy. I am… somewhat less than thrilled that he’s risking his life in a war started for the sole purpose of expanding presidential authority, but it’s his choice.

My advice to him was this, “Negotiate your position up front. Tell them you’ll join but you want to come in as a Major. Now, in the back of your head, be prepared to take Captain or something. Do they still have Sergeant Major?”


“I’m just saying! It much harder to negotiate after you’ve signed a contract. Do the work up front. You wont regret it it”

“No Dad. I will be a second Lieutenant. That’s how it works”

“Screw that! That how it works for other folks. Negotiate now!”

“No. It’s non-negotiable”



“Oh. Then we’ll go with plan B. I’ll get the paper work started”

“No! What’s plan B? What paper work? No! No!”

“You can’t say ‘No’ before you hear the plan!”

“I can with your plans Dad”

“I’m not sacrificing my only son to presidential power-grabs…”

“Fine! Fine! Not again with this! What’s your plan?”
“It’s simple! We’re going to change your name!”


“ You’ll like it, it’s very clever!”


“Very clever…!!”

”Change it to what?”

“Colonel Powers”

“I told you I can’t be a Colonel! I’ll be a lieutenant.”

“Yes!, but yout first name will be Colonel! They will call you Lieutenant Colonel Powers! Then later, Major Colonel Powers, then Colonel Colonel…”

“Dad! No!”

"Why not? That one guy chnages his name to Optimus Prime for Christ's sake!"

"... you have a valid point but ..."

“Oh! Wait! Forget that! I have a better idea! We’ll change it to General Relativity! That works even better!”

We debated this pros and cons’ of this a while longer. The name change will not be occurring immediately, but I am still hopeful.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It Brings All the Boys to the Yard

And they're like, it's better than yours.

Damn right! It's better than yours!

Rolling My Own

My current computer is almost 4 years old (which nearly 106 in human years!). Moore’s Law seems to have broken down, so there hasn’t been the usual pressure to buy a new machine. My current server is a 3GHz Powerspec box with a lot of trimmings, 1GB mem, 600GB storage, Nvidia 7300 graphics card etc. Not bad at all by current standards, but not the powerhouse it was in 2003. Given the processor speeds are “supposed” to double every 18 months, I expected to be at 10-12 Ghz now. Instead processor speeds are still hovering between 3-5Ghz for single core systems. There are many reasons for this, but from a physics point of view, I suspect the pseudo-optic limit has finally reared it’s head and quashed further progress . The limit occurs when the frequency of electronic signals (usually in the 10s of GHz) implies a wavelength which starts to be of scale with electronics themselves, i.e. the point where things are fast enough that you need to switch from wires to wavesguides.

Intel came out with their new Duo technology which effectively skirts the issue by adding a multiple processors linked together through a high speed bus. This has a number of architectural advantages for multiapplication systems, although 2 3Ghz chips put together is not the same performance as a single 6Ghz chip. There are volumes of reasons for this, but the new technology is pretty good.

In my usual way, I designed up a state of the art system with new process, lots of memory plenty of disk space, a top-of-the-line graphics card etc.
Net cost for the system (via Dell, Gateway and HP) ~$5000

My reaction: “hmm… that’s kind of higher than I wanted to pay”
Geoff’s reaction, “No way! You’re out of your fucking mind! I *need* that money!”

So I challenged Geoff to come up with a spec that met all my criteria for less.
And… he did!
The catch: I have to assemble it myself. From scratch.
Now I haven’t actually done this since …. 1998. A while.
Can I? Probably? Should I? Definitely!
Cost of Geoff’s spec (with 2 day shipping) ~$2500

So, I am going to build a PC sometime in the next few weeks.
Spec below: I’m looking for comments or (god forbid) mistakes of commission/omission



Processor Cooling:





Video Card:

Sound Card:


How Big is the Earth?

Delightful illustration from a co-worker:

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Armor of God

This is eventually going to cost you or your children (or more likely Blue Cross/Blue Shield) quite a bit at $100/hour as they explain to the therapist, "yeah, my parents dressed me up in felt armor every night to make me feel better. Why do you ask Doc? Do you think that has anything to do with me being a Furry?"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

World's Rarest Pez Dispenser

Up to $25,200.00

Isn't the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville TN the home of the famous Wigsphere?