Archive for March 25, 2013

New Landsat satellite returns first images

Ah! I’ve been waiting for this.

When I was a boy (all boring stories start this way), my Uncle, who was keen on me getting a good scientific education (which was successful) gifted me a variety of books and experimental tools. One of these was a beautiful large-format book of satellite imagery from the Landsat 5 (I think) satellite. I was enthralled. The high resolution (for the time), top down, false-colour images kept my attention for hours as I saw the physical planet in all its awe-inspiring beauty.

The area around Boulder, CO taken 03/18 by LDCM

Just last month, the latest satellite in the series: the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) otherwise known as Landsat 8, launched. Today we are treated with the first images while it undergoes a three month test phase to calibrate its instruments.

I can’t wait to see more!

NASA – A Closer Look at LDCM’s First Scene

Fax machines must die

A client recently offered to ‘fax’ something to me. Yikes. In his defence, he’s old school and wanted to send me the latest batch of changes to a visual product we are producing. We settled on the scan-and-email solution, which I prefer and has been the only proper way to do it since the year 2000.

The first fax machine, as we know it today, was made by Xerox in 1966 and could send a letter-sized document in blistering six minutes! Wikipedia has the whole sordid tale if you’re bored. Anyway, to the particularly beaurocratically obsessed office workers of that time, it must have seemed like a tech-filled wonderland future-world would soon blossom, where you still had to write your friggin letter out with a pen in handwriting no one can read especially after the mojo-wire mangles it and sends it to the recipient by sometime next month.

Or it could just have been the harbinger of a dystopian nightmare future played out in office scenarios around the globe featuring normally level-headed corporate drones who suddenly lose their cool and become violent animals when the damned thing malfunctions. We all saw that scene in Office Space so don’t tell me its not true.

Did you know a certain precursor to the fax machine was a German invention aptly named ein “Hellschreiber“? Serious, here it is:

The dreaded “Hellschreiber”

Fast forward to a few nights ago. I’m sleeping. For those who know me, I’m a light sleeper and really resent anything (or anyone) who disturbs my precious slumbers. So you can probably guess about how I feel about my cellphone going off at 3:19am. Of course I ignore it, and check the voicemail next day amid mumbled promises to break the legs of whomever called me. Great. I hear the tell-tale “beep….beep” of some douche trying to fax me.

That’s the worst. If some poor person calls me at three in the morning and merely has the wrong number, he’s going to feel bad about it. Especially after the hot dish of burning fuck I’m going to inject in his ear for doing so.

With a fax machine, there’s no human to beat up. Especially one coming from a blocked number. WTF. Isn’t that illegal or something? Why is someone trying to send a mysterious fax to my cellphone? If they had the caller ID programmed, I could call them back on their voice line and deliver the aforementioned burning dish.

The hell does not stop there. Pop quiz: what does a fax machine do if it cannot connect to another fax machine on the number its trying to dial? It calls back. THREE FUCKING TIMES.

So lets take this in stages for the unbelievably dim-witted. Here’s ten good reasons not to use fax machines. I’m not one to limit myself, so if you know of any I have forgotten, please feel free to add in the comments.

  1. They waste paper, a shit-ton. Especially in printing out those useless tx/rx reports that no one ever reads.
  2. They make annoying noises — beeps squaks and squeals, both when you are standing beside one, within earshot and trying to concentrate on something, and shouting at one through the phone to stop calling and hoping the douche who’s sending it can hear you through the crappy little speaker.
  3. The fax machine has no way of knowing its a voice line or a cell phone, and yes you are bloody well disturbing someone.
  4. No one ever cared about fax marketing. It moved to email once the Nigerian princes of the word caught up to 1995. People used to care about it back in the day though, for the exact amount of time it takes to curse it for wasting paper.
  5. It eats more documents than it sends or receives. Serious, why do they have the crappiest sheet feeders?
  6. Its always out of paper anyway (pilfered for the actually-useful laser printer doubtless) and probably has something like 12kb of memory — which doesn’t hold dick.
  7. It ties up an expensive phone line, sometimes helpfully answering it for you. When it does, the potentially large client on the other other end is greeted with “beep” instead of hello. He then hangs up the phone and NEVER calls you back
  8. A cheap piece of crap scanner you can buy from anywhere can scan your document at much higher resolution, in full colour, and in a tenth the time
  9. There is not a single place on this earth you cannot get to the internet somehow (there are satellites) unless you are at the Earth’s core or something, then you have other problems
  10. Scanner + email = something that not only completely replaces the fax machine, but is superior to it in every way imaginable (and is constantly improving, which the fax machine has not done in decades)

So you can see, any argument you could possibly have is completely invalid. You may try and post them in the comments below if you dare. I will use them (and you) for my amusement.

Don’t you dare give me that crap that starts “I’m a lawyer…” or realtor or government worker. The only reason you use the damn things is because there are a thousand other neanderthals out there who use insist on using it. It’s like crack or Microsoft Word — all pain and peer pressure. If everyone insisted on using scan-and-emailed document, no one would have any reservation about consigning the fax to whatever hell it came from.

World, stop using fax machines and let me have an uninterrupted nights sleep. Now, some catharsis:

Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

Happy Spring! From the satirical genius Tom Lehrer:



Have had this stuck in my head for two days… it won’t leave :)

Season 5 is coming….

I can’t wait!!



May 19 can’t come soon enough!

Netflix uses HTML5 streams

But only for ARM devices and Chromebooks. Stumbled on this article from Slashdot:

HTML5 Brings Netflix to Samsung’s ARM Chromebook

Could this mean that someday, in this universe, Linux may take its place among the platforms served by Netflix? Better be fuckers. I’m so tired of hooking my laptop up just to use Netflix, when I have a lovely media pc that runs XBMC over Ubuntu. No, installing windows is NOT an option :) .

So Netflix, support Linux already! You are out of excuses. Oh and drop Silverlight, its buggy and annoying.

 

Clearomizer showdown

OK! So I’ve had this stuff for about a week and played with them a bit, so I thought I’d do a bit of a review.

To preface, I was looking for a solution whereby I could vape on the road and not have to drip every four pulls. Normally this would mean using a cartridge and atomizer combination, as is traditional, however I thought I’d take a dip in the cartomizer pool – specifically clearomizers.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about them and there are really some elaborate designs coming down the pipe these days. I pretty much skipped the traditional boge-type fill cartomizers as I never did like the idea of putting my juice in some poly fill, always found it left too much behind and muted the flavour. Enter the clearo.

A clearo (or clearomizer) is a cartomizer without the fill. A clear plastic tank that holds your juice and wicks it to the atomizer part. Pretty cool I guess. They come in two varieties: bottom coil and top coil. As far as I have read, they both have their pros and cons. Top coils, for example, give a rich warm vape and solid throat hit, but have wicking issues. Conversely, bottom coils suffer no wicking issues but the flavour tends to be more muted and the vapour cooler in addition to sometimes gurgling when they flood. I decided, for all my reading, to try a bunch of bottom coils before going to top coils.

In the last month, I have bought and tried three different bottom coil clearomizers and am generally happy with them. Specifically, I purchased the Firebird (phoenix), the Vision Nano, and the EVOD.  I’ll take them one at a time.

The Vision Nano Bottom-Coil Clearomizer

Vision Nano Clearomizer

Vision Nano Clearomizer

This one I wanted to like. Truly. They are thin and stylish and come in an array of colours. Handy for telling which one has which juice in it. Pretty solid construction, hard acrylic-type plastic and a 510 connection. Filling is a snap – simply unscrew the lid, fill down the side, re-assemble and vape. Simplicity. Or so one would think. The day I bought them, I filled one up and gave it a go. It worked, but not well. The flavour was … absent. It crackled and produced vapour but even my strongest juices were wimpy and half-hearted. Not a good start. In my reading, I learned that they required a “break-in” period of a 3/4 of a tank before they really started to sing. “OK” I thought, I’ll give ‘er. I must have vaped two tanks and it was still muted. What’s more is the initial plastic flavouring, which I assumed was the manufacturing oils on the coil, persisted. Disgusting. I tried to like it while my juices tasted weak and acrid. Wondering if it was perhaps a dud clearo, i opened the second one up and filled with my “breath freshener juice”. To my delight, this one worked better and needed only a brief break-in before vaping properly.

Fast forward several weeks. The original one I complained about has ceased to produce any meaningful tasty product. It still fires, but now it tastes burnt, weak and plasticy. Also, I did notice on occasion that it leaked several times for no real reason and the centre post-poitive terminal kept wiggling up preventing a good battery connection. “I’ve had it with this one” I thought, as I chucked it in the bin. The other is still working beautifully.

But for how long? At $4 a pop, these aren’t the cheapest clearos and considering I bought 2 and one did nothing more than put a bad taste in my mouth and waste precious juice… well you get the idea. 50% success ratio is hardly encouraging. I doubt I will buy these again.

The Firebird bottom Coil Clearomizer

Firebird (CE3) Clearomizer

Firebird (CE3) Clearomizer

This one (also known as the Phoenix or CE3 clearo) comes highly recommended, by none other than Steel Jan of YouTube fame (for those who haven’t seen her, check her out, she is a DIY wizard). With its top-coil sibling, they seem to be somewhat of a standard in clearos.

Although a literal pain in the butt to fill, requiring a syringe (thoughtfully included in the package), the pay-off is that they are virtually leakproof. If filled properly (upside down) the juice will stay in there. For real. It seems that no break-in period was required as it started vaping like a champ the moment I started on it.

Though admittedly ugly, being plain plastic and metal, they are superbly functional. I have not used them long enough to test their longevity but hope they live up their claim of “long lasting”.

I like them. They are cheap as in 5 for $8 and the stupid rubber cap mouthpiece can be tossed and fit a your favourite drip-tip – very much unlike other clearos!

I have 10 more on order, I like these.

The EVOD BCC (Bottom-Coil Changeable Clearomizer)

EVOD BCC Clearomizer

EVOD BCC Clearomizer

This one is fresh on the market, apparently the successor to the much loved T3 clearo.  Everything I heard about them was great so I thought I’d give them a shot.

So I get it in the mail, fill it up with my favourite juice and go to town. Result: fantastic.

Despite a built-in mouthpiece, the tip serves well and I find it quite comfortable to use. I guess the trade off here is solid construction versus modularity. Also, the design is quite sleek with it.

It holds more than the other two – about 1.6mL – and fits beautifully atop an eGo style battery. Its easy to fill like the Nano, though this time it fills from unscrewing the bottom rather than the top which stops flooding issues during filling.

The construction is solid as can be, smooth and durable.  Some have complained about its “airy draw” from its four air holes in the atomizer base. Personally I find this ok, and even if I didn’t, I could always plug one or more holes with a dab of glue or what-have-you.

Unlike the other two, it is not 510 compatible as it lacks the threads on the inside, eGo only. This is not generally a problem as I use mostly eGo compatible batteries and can use a 510-eGo adaptor for the rest.

So far, I’ve vaped about 5 tanks through the thing with zero problems – no leaking, dry hits, gurgling whatever. Once I got a bit of juice in my mouth, but that seemed an isolated incident. I guess keep it vaping and don’t pull to hard.

Here is the best part though – even though the unit is $6 a pop, more expensive than the others, it features a coil that is CHANGEABLE. Yes, you can buy new coils for it for a pittance. Instead of junking the whole clearo, just get a pack of coils and pop a new one in. It will even accept a T3 coil apparently though not vape as well.

All in all I’m most impressed with this one. Great all-around performance.

Conclusions

I think it was a good idea to get into clearos. One cannot always be messing with dripping and bottles and tissues all the time when out. It’s too distracting and messy. They sure as hell beat the traditional cartridge and atomizer systems too for both usability and convenience.

As for our three contenders, I would have to say that there is no clear winner in this “showdown”. Both the EVOD and Firebird have performed exceptionally and I will continue to use both for the proper circumstances.

If I were to make a knee-jerk choice though, the EVOD takes it. Convenient, functional, stylish, durable and changeable. It has it all. I’ll be getting more of these, in differing colours, and coils etc. They are a fantastic vape.

 

vapemail! yeehaw!

I just love getting vape-mail. For those of you who don’t know, vape mail is the delivery of electronic cigarette supplies since the best parts and juices can be had for the best price online.

My particular choice is Canvape who have been nothing but stellar. I believe this is my fourth(?) order from them and they always have super-fast delivery, super reliable, best prices and awesome customer service. They should be set as an example of what online retailing should be!

My new vaping tools and supplies

My new vaping tools and supplies

Anyway, here’s my loot.  I now feel I have a complete set of tools to enjoy my vaping and give the proverbial middle finger to the analogs (euphemism for ordinary cigarettes).

Here’s what I have:

  • 1x debranded 1300mAh “spinner” (variable voltage) battery in blue. I already have another in stainless steel that I’ve been using regularly for a month. Good to have two batteries in case one dies. Seriously, the charge on these lasts forever.
  • 1x eGo “mini” battery for maximum portability and stealth-vaping (vaping in places where I don’t want to attract attention to myself). 3.7V “stabivolt” which means its output is regulated, ensuring the last vape on the charge is as strong as the first.
  • 30mL of RY4, classic tobacco flavour Ruyan 4
  • 30mL of 555, classic american tobacco flavour
  • 30mL of Dr. Pepper flavoured e-liquid (i hate pop, but like the flavour of Dr. Pepper)
  • 10mL of TPA Lemon flavouring (for DIY eliquid)
  • 10mL of TPA Earl Grey flavouring (as above)
  • 5g of Ethyl Maltol crystals (for DIY eliquid, its a flavour additive to add a touch of sweetness and make flavours “pop”)
  • EVOD BBC clearomizer, looks like the lexus of clearomizers
  • Pack of 5 CE3 clearomizers, a standard in bottom-coil clears. These last two continue my exploration to find the best clearo for my taste
  • An eGo steel atomizer cover (for looks)

It will take me some time to try and review all this stuff, so I’ll post a separate review for each when I’ve properly tried them.

 

Nifty inset effect for divs

Just messing about with my stylesheets as usual. Always loved the CSS3 box-shadows and was looking for something to replace the lame blue borders I have on my divs. So I came up with a qickie universal box-shadow inset effect that can be applied to any div (indeed, any block-level element). It does not use inset so you won’t have to adjust your inner content, but it will take up more space around the div so you might want to watch your crowding. Anyway, here’s the code:

box-shadow: -4px 0px 4px 2px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.25),4px 0px 4px 2px rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.25),0px -4px 4px 2px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.25),0px 4px 4px 2px rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.25);

Since it uses only 25% black and 25% white as colours, it will go with pretty much anything. Of course play with the parameters and your background colours to suit your taste.

Truckules

I admit I have rather strange tastes in cartoons. There’s nothing better than sitting back, turning my brain off and watching some ridiculous animated serial that involves recycling or satirizing some serious comic book or classic television superhero cartoons. All that with some obscure pop-culture references, adult themes, and random weirdness thrown in for fun. Lots of giggles to be had.

In this seeming ever expanding genre, I floated around from Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, and more recently Archer (to which I have tasted only one episode).

None of these can hold a candle to my favourite: The Venture Bros.  I swear this stuff is GENIUS.

I’ll spare you the premise (which can be had from the above link and a million other places) and submit exhibit A:

Truckules! In all his glory!

Truckules

Who the fuck is this guy supposed to be? Apparently the love child of Optimus Prime and Hercules as far as I can tell. The show has featured him in a number of episodes in minor roles to the point where I can’t figure out what this guy’s super power is supposed to be. Does he just … run over people? What happens when he runs out of diesel? Does he stink up the house? Can he tow a building down or something?

Only the creators know.

All I’ve seen him do so far is mix at super villain socials, making grandad jokes about truckiness.

The mere thought of this guy has had me in giggle-fits for the last three days. The name is enough, just say “Truckules” in my presence and I’ll rolling around the carpet in hysterics. It is the most lovingly demented idea for a cartoon character I’ve ever seen, and that’s counting Japan’s menagerie!

Applause to the creators. You guys broke my brain in the best way possible.

For those who haven’t seen the show, see it all ready, you have four seasons to catch up on.

Best of all: it’s scheduled to return May 19, 2013 for season 5, after an agonizingly long hiatus.