Just realized it is Saturday and I haven’t done my news chum stew post, even though I’m likely to have stew for dinner. I’ve been too busy updating systems and installing the new version of Acronis, my favorite backup software. So here are some stew items for you:
It’s Saturday, and you know what that means: Time to see what sort of a tasty stew we can make of the articles that I’ve saved over the week. Let’s see how flavorful this one is:
- Changes In Music. Here are a couple of articles on changes in music. The first, naturally, has to do with the iPod Classic. Popmatters had a nice requiem for the iPod Classic: As Apple couldn’t improve on perfection, they had to kill it. It talked about what the iPod Classic meant to obsessive-compulsives, especially OCs about music. I know the feeling; with iTunes 11 I’ve been finding myself fixing composers on songs, and cursing iCloud because it keeps the Apple versions of the metadata, which I no longer want. Another article I found explores the death of the fade-out at the end of the song. It used to be very popular in music, but nowadays is gone. This reflects a lot of things: the fade-out no longer represents technical excellence, and bands want to have something they can replicate on tour. Fade-outs also used to be the place to hide lyrics you didn’t want on the radio.
- Restaurant News. Two articles of interest to Southern California folk: Hamburger Hamlet is back in Van Nuys with much of the original menu intact. I must go try it. On the other hand, Roll N’ Rye in Culver City has closed. Yet another Jewish deli goes by the wayside. It is getting to be a disappearing type of cuisine.
- There is a Connection Here. Yes, there is a connection between these three articles, although most folks won’t know it. First, an interesting article on the secret Yiddish connection to Scotland. Next, an article about a fellow bringing high fashion to knitting. Lastly, an article with some facts that anyone taking “the pill” should know.
- A Work Connection. Here are two articles that have a work connection. I’m not sure if I should be scared. First, it appears that SAP has purchased Concur, and on-line travel management software portal. Secondly, Concur now has a connection to Airbnb for business travel.
- Finding Hidden Things. Two articles on being able to find hidden things. The first is about a connection between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer. Luckily, I”ve shown no signs of male pattern baldness. The second article is about the development of a gluten sensor for food.
- Abandoning It All. And lastly, an article about 10 abandoned International airports. I particularly like the mention of Stapleton, and how there are a few signs of it left. Speaking of abandonment, it looks like Toshiba is slashing its consumer PC division. That’s too bad; I’ve liked Toshiba PC products since my indestructable Toshiba T1600 with a 286. With the exception of my daughter’s ASUS and an early Sager 486 system, all of our portables have been Toshibas. I hope they keep a few lines around.
It’s Saturday at lunchtime, and you know by now what that means — it is time for some tasty news chum stew. Let’s see what we find floating in the broth this week:
- The Perils of DNA Testing. All of our new technology brings with it risks that we often don’t think about until it is too late. We’ve seen that with privacy and the Internet. Here’s another: DNA testing for geneology. This article from Vox has been circulating: “With genetic testing, I gave my parents the gift of divorce” What happened is this: one man got genetic testing for fun and geneology from 23andme. Through it, he discovered an unknown-half brother. The result of investigating this surprise tore his family apart.
- Go Jump in a … Pool. Those of us living in the West know about the drought big time. Some of us live in houses with pools, which creates the question: How much water does a pool waste? Here’s the interesting results of an investigation that show that a typical pool (presuming no leaks) uses less water than a traditional lawn, but a drought-tolerant lawn does better than a pool, … but a pool with a cover does better than a drought-tolerant lawn.
- Theater of Note. Yes, I used the movie spelling, because I’m referring to the Beverly Theater, on Beverly Blvd in the Fairfax district. Once a 2nd run house, later a revival house, it is now being programmed by Quentin Tarantino. He aims to show movies as they were meant to be seen: projected from film, not digital. In fact, much of the programming will be from his own film-print collection.
- Politics and Bedfellows. A couple of interesting political items. It is increasingly looking like Barbara Boxer will not run for another term. This could lead to a nasty political campaign in California. Speaking of nasty, a new reality program aims to strand a Republican senator and a Democratic senator on a deserted island for a week to see if they survive. At least they aren’t on Naked and Afraid.
- A Mental Mindfuck. Anyone who has read the Illuminatus trilogy knows about Markov Chaney, who would go around playing with people’s minds. Mel Brook’s just did a mental mindfuck. He left his handprints a TCI Chinese Theatre, but with a prosthetic finger on one hand. Years from now, Wikipedia will note that Brooks had 11 fingers, and that’s why he made such great comedy.
- Not Vegas. You probably know I like Las Vegas History. So you know I will like this site that allows you to read about Vegas projects that never happened. Alas, they don’t mention the Viva Casino (which I think inspired a hotel in Colorado Springs).
- Leaving a Bad Taste. My favorite apple is the Pippin. Alas, I can rarely find it these days — it’s been pushed out by the Granny Smith (which is markedly inferior). Here’s another history of a bad apple: In this case, why the tasteless Red Delicious has become the most ubiquitous apple. It’s almost as tasteless as an iPhone as a music player for people with large music collections. But I digress.
- Some Useful Info. Here are some useful things to know. Berkeley is going to offer a mobile option for paying for parking. That should be handy for people going near campus. Second, if you use Gmail or (ugh) Yahoo, here’s info on how to make webmail your default mail in a number of browsers. Lastly, here’s a guide to Mongolian BBQ in LA, but (alas) they leave off the valley.
It’s Saturday, and it’s hot outside, so what better than some nice cool, umm, stew that’s been simmering on the stove all week:
- On The Wings of Ada. When I was getting out of college, object oriented programming was just entering the lexicon, primarily through the facility of Ada, the supposed DOD standard programming language. Here’s an interesting article on the Boeing 777, and how it flies on 99% Ada… and why Boeing feels that was a great decision for the aircraft. Here’s an interesting line from the conclusion: ” The trend towards more reliable hardware and software are revolutionizing aviation and can be found in aircrafts other than the 777. The systems in the cockpit talk to the other systems through the programming language, and in new airplanes, such as the Beechcraft 400A, the Learjet series, and some English jets, the language of choice is Ada.”
- Branding Ain’t Just For Cattle. If you grew up in California, you knew there were two state University systems: The University of California (which were all UCxx, except UC Berkeley, which views itself as the University of California), and the California State University. It seems that the Cal State campuses are now concerned with branding, and each has their own identity. Some are xxxx State (e.g., Sac State, Long Beach State); others are California State University xxx (e.g., CSUN), and others have other identities (Cal Poly, California State College, and the Maritime University). Others are confused, such as CSULA which is worried about being confused with UCLA, at least in terms of acronyms. Of course, no one asks the California University in Pennsylvania.
- In The Pipes. What’s something you depend upon everyday, but probably never think about? The answer is the sewer system, and here’s an in-depth exploration of the Los Angeles sewer system. The city alone has over 6,700 miles of sewer pipes, some going back to the 1880s. More importantly, the city doesn’t know where all the pipes are. Archival data is being gradually imported into a publicly accessible online directory called Navigate LA, which is managed by the Bureau of Engineering, but there are still plenty of gaps. One major part of the sewer system that has not been accurately mapped is the only way to access them: manholes (or the more proper term, maintenance holes). (Note: the site displays a lot better in Chrome)
- Be a Dentist. If you recall the song from Little Shop, Dentists love pain. People still thing of the dentist as painful, but they don’t realize how good they’ve got it. Here’s an article that explores what it was like to go to the dentist in the days before Novacaine. There was the belief that cavities were caused by worms. Often, practitioners would try to smoke the worm out by heating a mixture of beeswax and henbane seed on a piece of iron and directing the fumes into the cavity with a funnel. Afterwards, the hole was filled with powdered henbane seed and gum mastic, which may have provided temporary relief given the fact that henbane is a mild narcotic. Many times, though, the achy tooth had to be removed altogether. Some tooth-pullers mistook nerves for tooth worms, and extracted both the tooth and the nerve in what was certainly an extremely painful procedure in a period before anesthetics.
- Quitting Smoking. This week, the CVS Drugstore chain stopped selling cigarettes. Given that they make 3% of their profit from ciggies, one might wonder why? The simple answer is Obamacare. More specifically, there’s more money to be made from healthcare than nicotine. This article has more. In short, CVS is rebranding as CVS Health, expanding its “Minute Clinic” network, and making groups with doctors to package prescription coverage with health plans. This emphasis (which is growing) is undercut if they sell cigarettes. So out go the cigarettes. Now, if they could only get their pharmacists to be efficient!
- [ETA] Looking at the Stars. [When I wrote this up earlier today, I knew there was one article at work I had forgotten about. This is it…] No, I’m not referring to the nude pictures unleashed this week on the Internet. Rather, I’m referring to an article I saw earlier this week about UC defunding the Lick Observatory, and how it has got astronomers pissed. This includes the brother of a co-worker, and someone that my wife did science camp with when she was younger — Alex Fillipenko. Basically, the UC budget has been cut, and so UC is cutting funds for their only student-operated observator. This is the only observatory where UC students can schedule time and do research, and learn about the stars. As someone who works in the space field, this has me annoyed; as a UC grad and the parent of a future UC grad (although different UCs), it expresses a wrong attitude.
Music: Latin Brass: Barrippi Mompo (John Evans)
I was on vacation last week. This meant that I was out doing things — or more purposefully, not doing things — and not on the computer. There were a few articles that caught my eye… and most are worthy of some discussion:
- What’s A Matter With Kids These Days. I was really taken — and saddened — by this opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times. It talked about how camp counselors these days can no longer hug our kids. It made me long for the simpler days of my childhood — when children could run around neighborhoods, and emotion could be shown. I was a camp counselor, and there were times you hugged your kids because there was that strong relationship, or they needed comforting and you were the ersatz parent substitute. But the fear of litigation and the fear of predators — and in general, the whole business of promoting fear — has made us afraid to do it, and afraid of the litigation that might result if the child tells their parents. It’s sad that our society today is like that. But, on the other hand, do I want that simpler society? On vacation, I read the book “Space” by James Michner, and it was a bit prescient in predicting the growth of religion, the growth in the people who believe that the Bible is science, and the growth of the hatred of others. Wanting simpler days is code for not wanting the complexity and difficulties science brings. Technology — either in the form of the Internet or TV reporting — has brought the predators out into the open. Whether there are more now than before is unknown, but we see them now and we talk about them more. We’re still on the fear side of the pendulum swing, but I hope the day will come when we don’t have to worry about the predators, and those who are caregivers to children can feel safe comforting them with a hug. A fist bump just doesn’t cut it.
- With Money Comes Water. California is in a bad drought. We’ve had them before, and this is likely cyclical, but the situation seems worse than before. This is likely because there is a greater awareness of groundwater depletion — in previous droughts, we just worried about the reservoir levels and assumed there was plenty of groundwater. We now know this isn’t the case; wells in East Porterville CA have already gone dry and they are living on bottled water. Further, there is the quest for oil and the use of fracking to get it — they believe it is safe, but it has contaminated ground water before. Just imagine how bad a drought would be if we couldn’t augment reservoirs with groundwater. So it is a little galling to read articles like this one: “Lifestyles of the Rich and Parched: How the Golden State’s 1 percenters are avoiding the drought.” They waste the water because they can afford to waste the water, or they pay to truck in additional water so they can continue their profligate ways. This is wrong. We hope that the people we tend to present as celebrities will also serve as role models; it is sad when they do not.
- Ah, for the Days of Bratskeller and College Books. There are many who feel that one of the factors leading to the demise of Westwood as a college town was the rebirth of the Third Street Prominade in Santa Monica (others blame it on the gang violence that overtook Westwood in the 1990s, or the outrageous rents that are charged). We forget that the Prominade was once as forlorn as Westwood. Here’s what the Prominade looked like in the 1960s and 1970s, before the days of the Gap and Santa Monica Place. Let’s hope that the community in Westwood can revitalize that community as Santa Monica did.
- Drilling Down This last article is a little less thought provoking, and a bit more referential. However, some might call it revolutionary, and others might just say I should chuck it. I fear that if I keep with these puns, someone will give me the shaft. But I make them still, because the guide is a guide to drill bits and drilling. That reminds me… I’m seeing the dentist on Friday.
OK, so I’m nowhere near Benji Franklin or Norm Rockwell. But it is Saturday, and that means it is time to bring out the “mag”… otherwise known as the stew of articles that caught my eye over this busy week:
- Jews in the South. If you get Reform Judaism magazine (as I do), you’ve seen those ads where the community of Dothan AL offers to pay Jews to move there. Ever wonder if it works? Here’s an article from the Forward that looks at the program and its successes… and failures.
- Perhaps the Older Ways are Better. If you’re like me, you dutifully rerecorded your records onto each new medium. I had a large cassette collection, which I rerecorded onto CDs. I’ve also added a large number of purchased CDs. But are CDs the best way to store things? It turns out that not all CDs last the same, and most don’t last anywhere near forever. Good thing I’ve got my music on my hard drive in a format that will never go away – MP3s
- Eating Food Right. Here’s a list of 25 foods that (supposedly) we’ve been eating the wrong way. Some of these I’ve seen before (such as the cupcake sandwich). Others are useful information for my daughter, such as using a waffle iron for pizza or hash browns. Others are cool, such as putting bacon in your cinnamon roles. I like the salad in a jar, m’self.
- Sound in a Bowl. From salad in a jar to sound in a bowl. The Hollywood Bowl, to be precise. Here’s an interesting article on the job of the sound technicians at the Hollywood Bowl. Most people don’t think about the sound designers … and that’s how they would like it.
- Tracking You. Perhaps you’ve heard that Google is tracking every move. Here’s another one: The new Corvette tracks everything that a valet driver does in the car. Now when you hand over your keys, you can know if they are going on a joyride. Let’s add one more to the tracking: DirecTV and Dish are teaming up to send political ads to just your television.
- I Don’t Recall. Speaking about vehicles, the government has released a useful new tool. Enter your VIN, find out if there are any recalls for your car.
- It Adds Up. Ever wonder about those partially used bars of soap from your hotel visits? Think they go to waste? Nope. Hotels recycle them to make new bars of soap for the homeless.
- Unknown Features. Here’s a useful list of the top 14 hidden features in Windows, iOS, and Android. I particularly like Win-X on Windows. I’ll have to explore developer mode on Android (of course, they don’t mention the most useful feature that is non-obvious: how to do cut and paste on Android). Since we’re talking computer stuff, here are 26 favorite fonts you can get for free (such as the Disney font).
- You Go Girl. And lastly, some good news. Women are dominating science and math at Cal State Northridge.
It’s Saturday, and that means it is time to clean out the links. This week is comparatively sparse compared to last week, the result of a busy week at work combined with the news cycle being dominated by celebrity deaths (the shock of Robin Williams, which overshadowed Lauren Bacall’s death the next day, just like Michael Jackson overshadowed Farrah Fawcett Majors) and police actions (with people acting surprised that racism exists in America… alas, it goes hand-in-hand with similar attitudes towards religion and sexual orientation — America isn’t perfect folks — it is our job to make it better). In any case, here are a few, perhaps less controversial, subjects that managed to catch my eye:
- Is There A Movie on This Flight? On a recent 737 cross-country to Baltimore, I noticed that there were no longer shared movie screens. Instead, there were individual seat back TVs, and although there were more entertainment options, none were free if you were in coach. Gee, just like the old days of the 1970s (when you had to pay for movies). But I was lucky — we had seat-back TVs. Here’s why, more and more, your airplane just might not have seat-back entertainment.
- Just Like a Fingerprint. Digital is dull and boring. The studios hate the fact that every digital copy of a song is unchanged from the original. That’s every different than the old days. Here’s an interesting article that notes how every audit recording of a vinyl record is different. This makes sense — turntables have variations in speed, there are different needles with different audio pickups, scratches and noise accumulate at different points. We don’t love analog media for the quality; we love it for the imperfections. Just like we love people.
- That Is Something I Will Never Do. Mental floss explores what it is like to be the person who repairs the antennas at the top of skyscrapers. Excuse me while I cower on the floor for a bit.
- Quilters in Powerful Places. My wife is a quilter. This is a dangerous thing, because it just adds to her fabric stash. This weeks’ news brought word of another quilter: Gloria Molina of the LA County Board of Supervisors. She’s part of the East Los Angeles Stitchers, TELAS for short, a group that Molina and a few friends founded three years ago to share their love of quilting with a larger, particularly Latina audience.
- How They Work. Here’s an article I’m linking simply because I want to read it: How modern browsers work.
- A History in Signs. At the Caltrans building downtown, there is evidently a display of Los Angeles street signs over time. Cool.
- Vegas Items. Two interesting items about Las Vegas. First, another piece of old Vegas is shutting down: the KOA campground at Circus-Circus. This goes back to the 1960s and the first post-Sarno owner of C-C. As for opening up, next week the new SLS opens up on the site of the Sahara (1952). One thing it will feature is very see-through bathrooms. At least that is better than what you will find in Berlin.
- Problematic Patch Tuesday. It appears as if a few updates in the last patch Tuesday were problematic. So far, I haven’t seen the problem on my Toshiba laptops (but I was worried); then again, I seem not to have the font registry entries that could be problematic. Still, you might want to read about the problems; you might even want to read the Knowledge Base article and uninstall those patches.
It’s Saturday, and that means it is time to clean out the links. This has been a busy week: I finished my year-long analysis of the 800-53 controls at work; our daughter returned from her summer on the East Coast; and there was the usual MoTAS work. I collected a number of links, but forgot to send them all back to me on Friday, so I couldn’t theme them as I wanted to. Oh well. I still think there are some really taste nuggets in here:
- And Ode to Tom, and Tom, and Jess. Back when I was really young, I wrote a poem about the TV news scene at the time. It started as follows:
Tom Snyder‘s here on NBC
Bob Hale’s the weatherman
ABC’s got Joe Benti
5′s got George Putnam
An ode to Tom & Tom & Jess
Jerry and Utley
Walter, Barney, Clete, & John
More we do not need
Well, one of those names just passed away: Jess Marlow, who was a fixture on the local news scene — on KNBC, KNXT (now KCBS), and KCET. Here are some moving tributes.
- Designing It Right. One of the podcasts I’ve gotten into of late (thanks to a recommended Kickstarter) is 99% Invisible, which looks at hidden design issues. This article is right down their alley: An article on the design of signage for bathrooms, and the question of how do you design a sign that accomodates gender non-conformists best. There was a second article I saw on Friday, but forgot to send the link home. But the question raised here is similar to the issues surrounding design of the handicapped symbol. Wait… (rummages around). I found the article. It was an article from Vox on how casinos specifically are designed to get you to play more, and this includes how slot machines are programmed. It reminded me of a 99% Invisible story earlier in the week about how the Atlanta airport was deliberately designed with wayfaring indicators to speed you in the right direction.
- Matadors in the News. Two articles this week highlighted some interesting Matadors. I don’t mean the type that deal with bulls (although they likely deal with bullshit); rather, I’m referring to students at Cal State Northridge. In the first, a CSUN grad student did her Master’s History Thesis on the 1928 St. Francis Dam disaster, uncovering the names of all the victims. Really interesting work. In the second, ACSA (the organization that sponsors ACSAC; I’m the secretary of ACSA), CRA-W, and HP announced the winners of this year’s Scholarship for Woman Studying Information Security, and both of the California winners were from the California State University system, not UC. One of was from CSUN; the other from CalPoly SLO. I took a little time Friday to talk to the CSUN winner (she’s an intern where I work), and we both agree: CSUN needs a stronger cybersecurity program.
- Food for … umm… Food. A few interesting food related articles. In the first, NPR highlighted a growing need in food banks: a gluten-free section where GF items can be segregated. In the second, it was pointed out how many of our dark leafy greens are actually the same plant: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kohlrabi, mustard. Just as we breed dogs for various traits but they are all the same species, so has Brassica oleracea been bred for various traits. The last was more of a local item about a good Argentinian dive in Van Nuys.
- The Times They are a Changing. In this item, I’m not referring to the App from Footlights — which I currently find to be pointless*. Rather, changes in times are forcing companies to change. Technology is particularly forcing change. This week, P&G announced it is downsizing its portfolio of brands. Here’s an interesting analysis of why. In short, brands proliferated because more brands equaled more shelf space. But as we’ve moved to the technological marketplace, shelf space is meaningless. More brands make your product harder to differentiate in search, and to promote on social networks. And thus: brand consolidation. Another example is the upcoming death of Radio Shack. Technology stores are hard put to keep up with the Internet; increasingly, they are just showrooms for stuff ordered online — and that doesn’t pay the rent.
- And the Rest. Two additional items of interest. First, a history of the dark rides at Disneyland, which concentrates most on Haunted Mansion. The second comes from this week’s DEFCON — an article on the vulnerability of our traffic control systems.
*: OK, addressing the item from Footlights. I understand the desire for an app, but I’m not seeing what’s unique here. I learn about my theatre from Goldstar and LA Stage Tix (and I’d love a Goldstar Android app — they only have iOS). Bitter-Lemons will eventually come out with a rating app (I participated in the Kickstarter). So why do I need an app to see what LA Theatre is around. What I need is an app that combines Amazon and Foursquare — looking at my theatre history and what I have liked or dislikes, and recommending particular shows in an upcoming time frame that will be of interest to me. That’s the app I want.