Sunday, December 22, 2013

Old School: Pager Code


There are/were several types of pager codes in the 1990's before cellphones become common with inexpensive data/text plans.

Calculator Method
The simplest (and prolly earliest) pager code was the Calculator Method.  This method replaced letters with numbers that resemble those letters when held upside down (similar to how you'd create words using upside down numbers on a calculator).  These were typed backwards so that the effect was easy to read.  Examples:

  • HELLO would read 07734.  4 kinda looks like an H, 3 is clearly an upside down E, 7 is clearly an upside down L and 0 is O in either direction.
  • GUESS WHO would read 04177*553176.  6 kinda looks like a G, 17 looks like an upside down U, 5 looks like an S, * is a space, 177 looks like an upside down W.
Beeper Codes
Another common pager code system consisted of a string of numbers that were typically 3 letters long used to represent specific words and phrases. Though I doubt there is consensus regarding a name for the collection of these pager codes, these seem most closely associated with the term "Beeper Codes".  Beeper codes were really a collection of many individual codes that were derived from several cipher methods.  Many codes used letter count, but other methods were also employed.

  • I LOVE YOU was commonly typed as 143.  This required foreknowledge of the code, as any combination of words can share common letter counts.  143 could've easily meant I CAN'T FLY if you didn't know the established meaning. 
  • I LOVE YOU was also 831 from the phrase, "8 letters, 3 words, 1 meaning."  Again, foreknowledge is necessary to decipher the code.  
There were a lot of these individual Beeper Codes.

Number look alikes
The most versatile pager code was a slightly more formal substitution method.  Letters were represented by a look alike number or string of numbers. This is similar to the Calculator Method, but can be read rightside up and used to spell any word without a lot of forethought (or turning your phone upside). Different varieties existed, but the most common was this:


Pager Code

LetterNumber Look Alike
A8
B8
C6
D0
E3
F4
G6
H4
I1
J7
K15
L7
M177
N17
O0
P9
Q0
R12
S5
T7
U11
V11
W111
X25
Y4
Z2
Spacebar- or *


With this method, complex messages could be sent without a lot of effort. Even after texting and cellphones become more common, this was still a good system to encipher messages from casual interloping.

  • HELLO becomes 43770
  • WISH YOU WERE HERE becomes 111154 4011 1113123 43123 (a special symbol for spacebar wasn't necessary once texting was available)
  • FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN YEARS AGO becomes 401112 560123 8170 5311317 438125 860
Pager codes were still used by some people even after texting become available because most early texting-capable cellphones didn't have an alphabet keyboard.  Typing words was still tedious using the texting system.  It was prolly around the time when type-ahead appeared that use of pager codes finally become uncommon.  Once smartphones become common, there was really no need for pager codes anymore at all, except for fun.  I still find myself using some of the old 3 digit beeper codes if I don't feel like typing out a common phrase.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Infinite Universe

Deep thoughts by me, "If the Universe is infinite, then all possibilities will be a reality, which means the Universe was simultaneously created by a God and came into existence without a god. The Universe itself becomes its own quantum superpositional object between all possibilities." [There is a flaw with this logic (infinity does not mean all things that can happen will happen), but it's still a bit of a mind-trip.]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This is America! Wait, what? [Infographic]




It is funny how many people are taught that "The Americas" is one continent.  Oh, and some people are bugged by the "arrogance" that Americans have for being the only people to call themselves "American" when there is a whole bunch of other countries here too.

Tuesday Two: Tracking balls

Bounce, bounce aroundThe aptly name  Bounce Imaging Explorer is a throwable camera that allows you to see around corners simply by rolling or throwing it into the area.  Great for cops, firefighters, and military.

trakdotYou can track yourself, your kids, your phone and your car.  Now you track your luggage with Trakdot.  This device can send  text messages, emails or updates to an app.  This allows you to know where luggage is, even if the airline doesn't.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Who needs privacy?

Allie said just now, "I don't know why people post everything on Facebook. ...there's no privacy." I couldn't help but post this quote on Facebook just to be ironic.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Yahoo's Blunder with unnecessary changes to their services is well explained on slashdot.org

Yahoo's blunder with unnecessary changes to their services such as Yahoo! Groups is well explained on slashdot.org by anonymous poster.

If you have no userbase, the Agile concept of ship (garbage) early and ship (garbage) often even before you really have an MVP actually makes some sense. If you have a 6-month runway of capital before you go belly-up and start over (oh, I'm sorry, "pivot"), there's no point in wasting another month to get it right.
But if you already have a userbase, the developer-centric attitude of leaving what, to users, is core functionality in the backlog while you release half-assed stuff that merely shows off how good you are with AJAX, or how quickly your UX people can change the design from one week to the next, doesn't work. It's bad for your customer base, it alienates them, and it eventually drives them to your competitors.
More of this person's comment can be found here. If you are interested in exploring the topics brought up by this person, click on the links I added to their quote above.  That will take you to Wikipedia articles that will explain each of the terms.  

Senseless Sunday: Mort fog tail

  • Micromort is the unit of measure assigned to determining the risk of mortality in terms of one-in-a-million chance of dying.
  • The invention of the toothbrush has no well defined origin, but the first bristle toothbrush has been discovered in China from the Tang Dynasty (circa A.D. 619–907).  It used hog bristle.  Not quite the same as brushing your teeth with bacon flavored toothpaste, but close.
  • A cubic mile of fog is made up of 56,000 gallons of water.
  • The word coward original comes from Latin word couda, meaning "tail".

Monday, November 04, 2013

Stupid press and their stupid ways (Facebook haters)

From time to time there are articles claiming the end of Facebook.  These articles are all pretty much the same, saying how "kids" are using other social media sites now, such as Vine, Snapchat, Ask.fm, and Instagram.  Really?

Vine is not used instead of Facebook.  Vine is used instead of Youtube.  It's a video app.

Snapchat is only being used for sending sexy videos that cannot be stored.  Again, not something that was ever really Facebook's thing.  Facebook might be losing some use to Snapchat, but I don't think it's much.  Youtube is losing more than Facebook.

Ask.fm is really competition for Reddit and Yahoo! Answers rather than Facebook.  Maybe Reddit is stealing time away from Facebook, but ultimately, even these individuals end up on Facebook for social networking (even as they pretend to hate it).  Reddit doesn't have a strong social interaction and is mostly just strangers posting for strangers.

What about Instagram?  People use Instagram instead of older services like Flickr and Photobucket.  It's a photo app.  There is a stronger social aspect, but photos aren't really a replacement for communicating on Facebook.  It's more like one-way bragging, which ultimately doesn't promote long and engaging interaction.  When people respond to someone else's brags, they are trying to make themselves relevant in the context of the braggartry, and that's what tends to happen on Facebook.  That's something that just isn't possible on Instagram.

You know what kids are using instead of Facebook?  Nothing, ...kinda.  They are using text messaging.  Texting is why Facebook is seeing a small decline in usage in the younger demographics.  Aggressive use of texting is temporary for people, though.  Textings doesn't grow as your network grows.  There's a certain point where texting becomes intrusive.  When that happens, people move their social networking to a more broad service.  When they do, that service still tends to be Facebook.

I'm not a Facebook pumper.  I can live with or without it.  I do know it is the most convenient service right now.  There is just something about it that makes it more usable than Google+.  Anyone that thinks that Facebook will go the way of Myspace and Friendster just isn't paying attention or only seeing what they want to see.  Until something that is actually better comes around, Facebook isn't going to die from a supposed mass migration of its user base.

There is merit to all the services mentioned above.  Some services appeal to certain people more than others.  Facebook's success is that it is a generalist that covers all the bases.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Amazon.com's double-whammy for Massachusetts comes in one more day (Nov 1)

Whammy #1

Despite the illegality of applying a state tax (of any kind) to an interstate purchase (in direct violation of U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause found at Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3), Amazon.com has capitulated to Massachusetts' harassment.  As of November 1, 2013, Amazon.com will begin collecting the state's sales tax on purchases sold by Amazon.com.  This does not include third party vendors which sell their product through Amazon.com's website, who are responsible to handle their own taxation (if any).

The problem I have with this is that is really is illegal.  Until such a time that Congress actually passes a law granting states the authority to apply their intrastate taxes to interstate sales, these states are in willful violation of our Constitution.  There are exceptions this that have been allowed by Federal Courts, but Amazon.com (nor most online retailers) does not have a business that operates in such as way as to fall under these exceptions.  Besides that, there are ambiguities that Congress needs to resolve.  Allowing taxation of purchases that do not originate within the state may be an open door for states to outright tax purchases that have no origin or destination within their own territory, but are rather just passing through.

There are a lot of nonsensical justifications for taxation of interstate sales, and there are a lot of good reasons to not allow such taxation.   I would go into detail here as to why, but I've actually covered this pretty well in a previous article about California's similar attempts to harass Amazon.com and other online retailers.

Whammy #2

Not quit as annoying, but still bothersome is that last week Amazon.com raised their minimum purchase for free shipping.  Instead of the $25 threshold, the minimum purchase for free shipping is now $35.  What does this mean for most casual shoppers who don't buy into the Amazon Prime plan?  There may be some short term gain in sales from customers who are not aware of the change and planned on making immediate purchase.  But over the long run, my guess is that many will wait longer between purchases rather that purchase more each time.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday, October 04, 2013

Portland, ME

Allie and had a nice weekend in Portland, ME in Sept.  Beautiful town with friendly people, fresh seafood and nice weather.















Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Seriously, who thought of this? Let the rhymes commence

There really is a website for everything.  Well, there is a site for word rhyming called Visual Rhymes. This site is so smart that it can even find rhymes for orange.  I always believed there are no English words that rhyme with orange.  Of course, the website shows the closest rhyme, but I think it is a bit rough, though it is technically correct.  Let me try to use the rhymes with orange in a bad poem that only Vogons will love.

Let me say how I love your skin orange.
Random pieces dogs will scavenge.
Keep your dogs away from that syringe.
Oh, o'er there the bad dogs whinge.
Watchout for the skintle to avoid a cringe
face from roughed up skin.  Oh, I love your skin orange.
Orange, orange, Oh, orange of color grand, 
sometimes impinge.

I did warn that it would be bad poetry.  As bad poetry goes, I'd say that was pretty good attempt and being really really bad.  So bad.  So very very bad. Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Sussex might be proud. Anyway, I'm not convinced it is a good idea to try to attempt rhymes with the word orange, even if there are words that are available for such as task.

Valuable lesson from my first professional job, or how much is a brownie point worth?

My first professional job was in Silicon Valley for a laser company.  My boss was Bob.  Based on my take of things, Bob was stereotypical for a guy named "Bob" in the professional realm.  I'll just leave that to your imagination.  Anyway, Bob was wise and taught this young pup a few lessons.  One that has proven exceptionally valuable is the concept of brownie points.

Brownie points are earned one at a time for doing someting that impresses the boss.  The first time I earned a brownie point for being cleaver (I can't even remember what about), Bob said to me something along the lines of,
Congraluations!  You've earned one brownie point.  It takes 1000 to cancel-out one "Oh Shit".


There it was; the formula that explained everything that happens on the job. 

1000b = 1M 

Do something impressive and you get quick praise "b".  Make one mistake big "M" and you are in trouble no matter how much good you've done.  Unlike your 401K, brownie points don't carry over from job to job either.  Get a new job - start over.  I hope this helps! :)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Senseless Sunday: Dog's life

  1. A dog was killed by a meteor at Nakhla, Egypt, in 1911.[1]
  2. The tallest recorded bamboo is 130 feet high.[2]
  3. World's longest beaver dam is found in Alberta, Canada with a length of 2790 feet.[3]
  4. Adwaita, an Aldabra Giant Tortoise died at the age of 255 in March 2006 in Alipore ZooKolkataIndia. It was recorded the oldest Terrestrial animal in the world.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Opinion about epinions.com decline

epinions.com used to be a great resource to get real world, vetted and high quality customer reviews for all sorts of products from books to cars.  Contributing to epinions.com was actually minimally lucrative, as you got compensated for your product reviews.  Fellow members of the website would critique submitted reviews to help others improve the quality and review writing skills.  The higher quality reviews earned a larger share of whatever earnings were made.

I was never really sure just how the compensation worked, but over the years, I made less than $100 total from my nine posted product reviews.  My first review was posted in 2002 about my old Acura TL Type-S, for which I earned the coveted "Very Helpful" rating.  Over a period of one decade, that review has earned me a whopping total $20.

In the past, I've endorsed and recommended the use of epinions.com.  I frequently went there for reviews of products in which I was interested.  Then something starting changing in 2012.  I stopped using epinions.com.  I didn't really know why at the time.  It just happened.  Looking back, I believe it may have been because reviews were getting harder to find.  It was not that there was less of them, but rather the structure of the website had started changing for the worse.

Sometime this summer of 2013, I was writing a review for another product on Amazon.com and figured it was good enough to add to epinions.com.  I thought I might as well make my 3¢ a year. So, I went back to the epinions.com website and searched for the product.  It was a book.

I searched for the book and found a webpage that listed a bunch of sites that sold the book.  There was no product page.  In the past, the product page would come up as the search result.  This is where one would go to add a review.  But now, there was just a listing of other websites.  Sure, older products still had product pages, though you'd have to surf through the myriad of links to other websites in order to find them.  Much to my dismay, epinions.com had become an inferior online mall.  There isn't even a rewards program, like with higher quality online malls such as MyPoints.com.  epinions.com made itself completely irrelevant.

I guess some areas on the website are still maintained, such as electronics, where it appears to be a little easier to find the product pages for newer products.  It's just not enough to justify giving the website a second thought anymore.

Monday, September 02, 2013

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope hits stores

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope is a thing. Someone thought it would be funny to convert the first Star Wars movie into a William Shakespeare style play.  Old style prose is included, including the rather annoying "o'er".  It took me years to learn "o'er" is a contraction for "over".  Really?  Just say the "v".  It's not like you are actually shortening the word by not saying the "v".  It's still two fully pronounced syllables.  But I digress.

The book is is pretty funny (including the use of o'er). They really nailed the R2D2 dialogue!




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Toby relaxing



Toby being a good Tobster

It's not necessarily a world invention, but it's a personal invention

Last night, I intended to bake some chocolate chip cookies.  I had the store-bought Pillsbury cookie dough in the back of my fridge for awhile, and it was time to use it...many months too late.  The expiration was back in March.  Apparently, the dough has been at the back of my fridge a bit longer than I remember.  Not to be deterred from enjoying some sort of cookie based after-dinner snack, I start thinking about ingredients I had around the kitchen.  (No way was I going to make cookies from scratch at that point.  Maybe some other day, but not last night.) 

Nillas!  I have Nillas!  And large marshmallows!  OK, I can make a kind of a smore with some chocolate that doesn't need melting.  Chocolate Syrup, I have that too!  Hmm, there's something missing still.  This endeavour isn't quite decadent enough just yet.

Think.  Think harder!

Coolwhip!

I piled these all together and had an awesome treat.

To repeat this achievement, take 3 large marshmallows and tear them in half.  Briefly roast each marshmallow piece, one at a time over a stove burner.  When just slightly burnt, mash the marshmallow between two Nillas just like smores.  After making 6, add a dollop of Coolwhip on each, and then drizzle chocolate syrup on top. 

Glorious!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Boston talk


Learn Boston as a second language, repeat after me, "I luhnd on Shahk Week tha electric eels rahly shak shaks in shaks."

Monday, August 12, 2013

The River of No Return book review

The River of No ReturnThe River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Though the concepts introduced in this book are an inventive twist on the time travel idea, the character dialog and motivations are dreadful.  In this story, there are competing time travelling organizations struggling for control of time travel throughout human history.  Nick, an English nobleman who fought in Spain in the early 1800's finds himself in the 21st Century just before he is about to die.  This is the story of his struggle to dance between these two organizations while sorting out his own role both in the 21th Century and the 19th Century.
I did enjoy reading much of the book as the plot unfolded, but found myself suffering through some dreadful character interactions. Some of this was due to character development that was somewhat engaging, but drowned out by the chorus inauthentic thoughts and experiences. The leading male character, Nick, was a noblemen from the 19th Century and only spent 10 years in the 21st Century, but somehow seemed more in tune with 20th Century social and entertainment elements than us normal people that lived through that time period, even though he did not. His experience with the 20th Century would've have been more authentic if it had been taken from the approach of a child growing up in the Aughties (2000-2010). Also, the characters of British origin often felt more like Americans, often using Americanism and seemed both out of place globally and chonologically.  Additionally, the writing of the characters while in the 19th Century felt more like rejects from Jane Austin novels rather than real people.
This book appears to be the first of a new series. Will I look forward to the next book? Eh. The author has to polish her skills of writing for characters with more authenticity, as her first attempt to do so is a distraction from an otherwise good concept and plot.


View all my goodreads.com reviews

Monday, June 17, 2013

Notion of Creation is not a theory, and scientific theories aren't proposed notions

Bible based knowledge does not lead to new scientific knowledge.  People used to think the Bible was useful to learn about nature.  They did try to use it as a guide to make new discoveries.  However, over time, scientists started finding out that the Bible just gets so much wrong.    The Bible literally has almost every major point wrong about the universe, from its description of Earth as a flat world with a tent over head to its description of rabbits as cud chewers. The value of the Bible is it's a general moral guide taken in the context within the times each portion was originally written/re-written. Taking it for more than that is truly grasping as straws.  People discovered the hard way that the Bible was not a good starting point to learn about nature. That's why the practice of referring to the Bible as a source for science was stopped over time.
So, to that point, Creationism based on the Bible isn't a theory. It is a failed notion. A theory isn't just a proposal. It is a proven working model of the Universe with a lot of peer reviewed data, from which accurate predictions can be made. To extend this further, those predictions often create new areas of exploration and further growth of knowledge, directly leading to new technologies, either in the exploration of the theory or as a result of knowledge learned from the theory. Last major invention spurred by Bible belief was the telescope, and use of that technology disproved that belief; the creator being forced to recant his statements about reality and live under house arrest for the remainder of his life.

On the other hand, Darwin didn't create the Theory of Evolution, he proposed the core concepts based on his observations. Evolution was born out of the peer review process with much more independently collected data. Evolution wasn't a theory until there was a massive amount of data and extraneous amount of analysis of that data, from which the natural model was molded.

Why is Creationism not a theory? Because it doesn't have one iota of this. The supporters want a magical shortcut, using circular arguments and cherrypicked research of other people's works in the form of anecdotes and impressive looking fake equations. No actual proven predictions come from Creationsm nor from its child contrivance called Intelligent Design. Creationism is the end of knowledge, not its birth. That is why is it not a theory and it is not science. Now, that said, the challenge is always there for Creationism supporters to objectively collect data and test hypotheses. Even if they don't prove their hypotheses, at least new knowledge would come from that. This process has yet to be undertaken by Creationist (and Intelligent Design believers), or if it has, results have been hidden.

Examples of observations that would grow knowledge along the Creationist track:
  • Find DNA in mammals that cannot be traced back to a common ancestor or introduced by some other natural process.
  • Show completely distinct lifeforms with no ancestry at all. 
  • Find data that offers new evidence to reinterpret apparent evolution in our own species, from malaria resistance to lactose persistence.
  • Additionally, find data that better explains why pre-agricultural humans did not have cavities and modern humans with no cavities is almost unheard of? (Hint, that has been very well explained with a recent study of mouth-dwelling bacteria and their evolution to adapt to our changing diets, along with our own evolution for such too.)
These examples cannot be explained with anecdotes.  Hard evidence has to be presented from scientific studies using the Scientific Method.  Research doesn't count for this.  New evidence has be presented.  That evidence must be collected and peer reviewed.  Until that happens, Creation Notion can never be put on equal footing with any Scientific Theory, especially the Theory of Evolution.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Article from Northwest University sites big breakthru for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Big Multiple Sclerosis Breakthrough - Phase 1 trial safely resets patients’ immune systems, reduces attack on myelin protein


From the article:
A phase 1 clinical trial for the first treatment to reset the immune system of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients showed the therapy was safe and dramatically reduced patients’ immune systems’ reactivity to myelin by 50 to 75 percent, according to new Northwestern Medicine research.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

WP on MJ legalization; and the prohibition

The article Five myths about legalization of marijuana has a lot of interesting points about legalization of marijuana and what is likely to really happen.
When the United States’ 40-year-long war on marijuana ends, the country is not going to turn into a Cheech and Chong movie. It is, however, going to see the transfer of as much as 50 percent of cartel profits to the taxable economy.
I don't really agree with the tone for the conclusions about the 5th myth in the article regarding the politics of the matter. The Marijuana Prohibition (and prohibition on all drugs for that matter) is neither a liberal or conservative battle.  Many individuals from both camps have reasons to support the Drug Prohibition. And, many individuals from both camps have reasons to end it.

For me, these are reasons to end prohibition:
  • personal liberty
  • disproportionate application of the laws massive federal investment into the Drug War has not decreased drug addiction nor substantially affected overall use
  • expensive drug related battles (literally) that only make our enemies stronger and us weaker by the day
  • allows focus on treatment for those are prone to addiciton rather than turning them into career criminals
  • better use of local funds to help other areas of society and infrastructure
  • tax money from the regulation of drugs, etc.
These issues cross the political spectrum.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Radioactive, radioactive radio edit controversy


There's a bit of a controversy about a popular song right now called Radioactive by Imagine Dragons.  There's a lot of complaints by fans who bought the album about how the song quality on the album is inferior to what's been playing on the radio and in trailers for movies and on commercials for new TV series.  (Seriously, this song is everywhere right now.)  The complaints are pretty consistent by fans, not even haters.

Distortion was noticeable on digital format as well as CD. Very poor quality on car stereo really drives home the point.
Somehow, producer Alex da Kid thought that intentionally introducing that awful, cheap sounding distortion (several tracks, most notably beginning on 'Radioactive'), was somehow "artistic". What a stupid idea.
What's this about distortion?  The bass in the song Radioactive has been distorted to sound like subwoofers maxed out.  It's a rough and gravelly sound that doesn't sound good on good stereo systems (such as the stereo systems in the average car these days).  I got the CD, and I agree with the criticism.  It's OK, but not good.

Theres something called the radio edit version of the song, which I like, but it also seems like it's distorted too much too.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New England Condo Expo

I am on the Board of Trustees for the condo association that governs the community in which I own my home.

Today, I attended the New England Condo Expo at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA.  The convention was surprizingly crowded with a lot of vendors, including condo management, painting, gardening, insurance, pavers and high-end locksmiths to name just a few.  The swag was great, including some high-end items like cooler bags, water bottles, tons of pens and various tools; not to avoid mentioning the motherload of candy and baked goods.

I attended a very informative seminar about the "Good, Bad and the Ugly" of condo association challenges.  A panel of three lawyers discussed various issues, such as the recent legalization of medicinal marijuana and how that might affect communities, handling discord on a Board of Trustees, current legislation being proposed this year and how that might impact condo contracts, addressing rules for attending board meetings from a remote location via online, and recent changes in law that prevent local governments from banning specific breeds of dogs.  The information was valuable, but of course, if any of these situations arise, legal council would still be preferred in many cases.  Even still, this seminar made was worth the trip into the heart of Boston.

New England Condo Expo ...my swag bag is heavily loaded. #Massachusetts #Boston