Thursday, August 28, 2003

More Than You Need to Know About Manufacturing

Stanford's Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing provides educational flash/video site explaining various manufacturing processes. So far I've only watched the videos on airplane and motorcycle manufacturing (provided by Boeing and Harley-Davidson, respectively), but if these are representative, then the site is a good way to waste time learn more about how this stuff works. It's like on-demand Discovery Channel videos. Hmmm, maybe the Discovery Channel's site already provides that.

I found this from Lockergnome.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Auto-delete Subject Lines

Every few months, the Washington Post's Style Invitational runs a contest that generates some wonderful entries. It has happened again. In this contest, they "asked you to come up with Subject lines guaranteed to cause a person to delete an e-mail, unread." For example:
  • Teach your pet monkey to yodel
  • An important message for you from Lyndon LaRouche's nephew.
  • First time ever, the 1936 Republican Convention on CD!
  • Please help me check my computer: Is this attachment a virus?
(The two entries that mention colorectal cancer neckties refer to the prize for this contest as described in the contest announcement some weeks earlier.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Calculations with Google

Google has added calculator functionality to their array of services. Or course it'll do simple math, but it also knows how to do conversions such as "how many kilograms is 32 lbs?" (my daughter's approximate weight) or even more complex calculations using standard constants like, "what is the speed of light in furlongs per fortnight?"

My guess is that they've used code from the units program that has been around for a long time. Before you download from there, check your distribution (of linux, *BSD, OS X, etc.) for a prepackaged version. It's pretty common, but I've been surprised by the number of old-time un*x people who have never seen this before.

Friday, August 15, 2003

RSS feed now available

Thanks to the free services provided by BlogStreet, I've added an RSS feed to Cognitive Overflow. To make this all look a little better in aggregators, I've enabled Blogger's title field and added the standard orange XML icon on the left side of the page. [Note: this feed seems to be held in cache for a while, I'm trying to figure out exactly how often it reloads.... more info when I find it.]


...or don't. This service is not really ready for use. I can't figure out how often it updates (if it updates). A friend gave up on the feed saying "it kept reposting all of your messages...fooled my aggregator".

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Silly Clothes for Kids

In an unrelated discussion on slashdot, a reader linked to a shop selling many silly outfits for very small children. The shopkeeper politely divides the clothes into three degrees of offensiveness. There are only a few of these that I'd consider putting on my kid (e.g. "You're just jealous that I can still crap in my pants" or "") and lots more that are funny (e.g. "Living proof: Tequila works", "I'm VERY special because birth control is 99.5% effective").

Monday, August 11, 2003

Via Slashdot, two interesting articles by Grant Barrett about doing freelance technical support successfully. In the first article the author "basically cheer-leaded the dispirited by trying to convince them that there was an opportunity to be had, that, with only slightly better-than-average computer skills, out-of-work folks could take a shot at building a freelance technical support business.

The second article delves more into "knowing if this work is right for you, marketing yourself, learning on the job, handling and educating clients, managing the business, the temperament required, and the negative aspects of the work." This article also addresses some questions and concerns raised in slashdot discussions of the first article. If you want more commentary, see the slashdot discussions of the second article.

While I think that doing technical support full time might just be my definition of hell, I still recommend these articles. In addition to being quite readable and occasionally hysterical, he has a very good perspective on client relations and business building which can be useful for any sort of freelancer.

Monday, August 04, 2003

It's been nearly a month since my last post. Here's a quick summary of what I've been up to:
  • Working way too much as we prepared for a major rollout of new hardware for our database servers and the first rollout of a part of our site in our new Java framework.

    This was all happening as I was...

  • Preparing our house for some major remodeling. This preparation included packing up the entire contents of our kitchen, dining room, and coat closet, moving these contents to various places (e.g. storage area, adjacent rooms on the same floor, non-adjacent rooms on different floors, the (detached) garage), and moving some of the bigger things that we wanted to save (like moving the refrigerator to the basement).

    This had to be done in a speedy fashion because I was also...

  • Preparing to go on vacation in Spring Lake, NJ. See the archive from this time last year for links about this lovely beach-side town. We've been here about a week now and I'll be here for another week.
In the meantime... shortly before I left town, I heard a truly hysterical bit on an episode of "Prairie Home Companion". This page is the run down of the full show. The funny bit I heard is the Bassoon Orchestra script (RealAudio link). I can't vouch for the rest of the show.