Just reach for it.

I lost a college classmate this week.

We weren’t close, so I didn’t take it as hard as some of our newsroom-mates undoubtedly did. But at the very least, as a human being with a soul and with two kids, I feel bad for the wife and two kids he left behind. It shook me up enough that a couple of my coworkers asked me Wednesday morning what was going on. I told them.

“Don’t try to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense,” the smartest guy in the room said. Read more

Better than the shirt off my back

My oldest just started kindergarten, and he needed some school supplies, of course. Among those supplies was a paint shirt, and the instructions said an old adult-sized shirt would be fine.

We sent him with something, but he wanted a different one his second week of school–something bigger than what we sent him initially, so that it would cover his legs too. “I want a plain shirt,” he told me. “One with no writing on it.”

Then he paused. “The shirt you have on looks good.” Read more

Rob O’Hara on phreaking, Tesla coils and modems

Rob O’Hara posted a podcast about phreaking today. He explains in layperson’s terms how the phone system was controlled by tones, cites it as an example of security through obscurity, and he talks about his own first-person experience subverting the phone system. He was far from the only one who did that.

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Exploiting Twitter

It’s interesting that I read two things about buying Twitter publicity today: John C Dvorak’s experiment for PC Magazine and an interview with my classmate and friend Ken. The idea is that people buy Twitter followers to make themselves look bigger than they are, whether they’re celebrities trying to make themselves look like they’re on their way up rather than down, or, like the scam my friend discovered, indie book authors trying to build a following.

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What to do about a router dropping connections

A former classmate and coworker contacted me with a question.

My router is about 5 years old. I have a cable modem and a router. The cable modem is fine. The router keeps connecting and disconnecting from the internet…used to happen occasionally, now happens all the time. I reset it and it works for a while, then disconnects. Is it time for a new router or do you think something else is going on?

I see two options. Read more

Yes, ramdisks still make sense, especially with memory so cheap

A former classmate and industry colleague dropped me a line a few weeks ago. He pointed out that memory is dirt cheap, and he bought 16 GB of RAM, just because it cost him around $100 to do, and was wondering what to do with it. A ramdisk, perhaps?

My search logs prove that ramdisks are the best-kept secret in the industry (virtually nobody knows or cares about them), but they’re still the best way to increase the longevity or life expectancy of an SSD and an outstanding way to pep up performance. A ramdisk is 80 times faster than a hard drive, 60 times faster than a RAID array, and 10-20 times faster than an SSD.
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The best free e-book site I’ve found yet

I’ve been grabbing Project Gutenberg texts as I think of them, and prettying them up with an epub editor, but I learned today that I’ve been largely wasting my time. Manybooks.net is a site that has most of the Gutenberg collection available and has already cleaned up the formatting and added covers to make these old public domain books look better and more recognizable on an e-reader’s virtual “shelf.”

That’s not the only thing the site has going for it.

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Stan Musial and his frozen appendix

Cardinals beat writer Derrick Goold (who also happens to be a former classmate) dug out an interesting story about Cardinal great Stan Musial.  In 1947, he was diagnosed with appendicitis. Team doctor Robert Hyland was reluctant to recommend immediate surgery, as it would sideline Musial, the team’s best player, for nearly a month. So instead, he froze Musial’s appendix, Musial sat out five days, and played the rest of the season before having the appendix removed.

This curious, um, cure caused a lot of head shaking and questions. So I did a little digging. Read more