Tools Never Die

Heard this story on NPR this morning: Kevin Kelly, of Cool Tools, opines that anything we ever invented is still in use somewhere on the planet.  Robert Krulwich worked pretty hard to disprove that notion, and in the end, could not.

It is a sign of my particular nerdiness that I immediately thought of an invention we had completely abandoned: the Saturn V rocket. But even then I forgot about hobbyists and museums. The Cosmosphere in Kansas will build you an Apollo capsule if the price is right – as they did for Apollo 13 (indeed, they restored the original Apollo 13 capsule Odyessy). And a number of hobbyists have built or are building working models – both emulated and in hardware – of the Apollo flight computers. Indeed, I have this emulator right here on my Mac.

So old tools never die. I find that comforting.

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I know I promised a MonkeyServants cartoon on Friday. I even posted a cell-phone picture of it here. Not the same as actually scanning it, of course.

I blame my sinuses.

In the meantime, a Car Talk Puzzler, or would be had I sent it to them:

Back in the 1980’s I saw a car on the road. The license plate was “ML8 ML8”. I read the plate, looked at the car and broke into a big grin. It made perfect sense.

What color was the car?

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I voted for human beings

I voted for human beings.

I might not agree with them all.

Not all of them ran for office with completely noble motives.

Every one of them will make mistakes.

But they’re all human.

No monsters, ogres, zombies or demons.

I voted for human beings.

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Lies, Damned Lies and Politicians

NPR broke a story today on Morning Edition digging into the background of the infamous SB1070 immigration law. I am appalled. One thing is obvious to me: private prisons must go away.

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My Holiday Wish List

I’ve been asked about my holiday wish list. Since many things are online, I’ll post it here:

I have a Barnes and Noble wish list.

I also have an Amazon wish list. Search Patrick Connors and look for this picture:

Me n Trouble

And the non-Amazon list:

A favorite cartoon of mine: XKCD Car Talk T-Shirt

Or almost anything from the XKCD Store

Blinky Lights for the Arduino (got them; need to build the kit!) (which reminds me of this cartoon)

7 Segment Display

E-Books: I’m on Nook, so Barnes and Noble gift cards are always appreciated.

And a few things it’d be super cool to have, but may be out of your price range. I list them here for my own reference:

I am slowly but surely working through the excellent Make:Electronics book, so the prepackaged components kits would be a godsend. Make:Electronics Components Packs One and Two. Also the tool kit.

Something else from ThinkGeek. Cool USB display.

More as I find them.

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Facebook for Old Farts

Because all of the people we know are on Facebook, my wife and I have migrated there as well. But there appear at first to be no instructions. So here’s a few tips to get you going.

Please add your hints to the comments.

About Facebook
Facebook is a very popular social networking application which was written by folks who don’t seem to believe in providing instruction manuals, on the theory that nobody ever reads those anyway.

So this is a quick, very unofficial guide that should help you get started.

Getting Started and Leaving Facebook
To get started with Facebook
You need to sign up for an account. It’s free and easy.
Type Facebook in any web browser and you’ll likely be taken directly to the sign-up page. At that point fill in the absolute minimum of information about yourself. You’ll be able to edit just about everything later on. Facebook will walk you through setting up your initial batch of contacts (“friends”). I did not use the option to let it search through my email accounts.
Once you’ve picked your friends, Facebook will send them a message asking to confirm you as a friend.
You’ll also have to go to your email account and open a message to confirm you requested the account.

To leave Facebook
From your Account settings, go down to Deactivate Account. Follow the links and the instructions.
Now here’s the tricky bit: Wait 14 days. Do not touch Facebook in those 14 days.
Facebook keeps your account around for 14 days after you deactivate it. Any activity that logs you in to Facebook reactivates your account.
After the 14 days, your Facebook account will be gone and you’ll have to start over. Even then, if you create a new account with the same email as your old account, Facebook may try to set up your account as it was before.

Getting help
There actually is help built in to Facebook; it’s just not on the front page. In the upper right of the screen, click on Account, and the help center is one of the options.

About Texting to Facebook
I’m told by reliable sources that old farts can’t text.

Your Profile, Privacy, and Monsters
Facebook lets you show as much or as little as you’d like about yourself in your profile.
I’d recommend keeping what you show to a minimum. Indeed, a good rule of thumb for posting anything on the Internet is to ask yourself the following question, every time you post:

Do I want this information to be seen by the entire planet?

Every single time you post, ask yourself that and if the answer is NO, then back away slowly and don’t post.

Facebook was created by a modern teenager who seems to have very little sense of personal privacy, and the website seems to assume that you don’t care much about your privacy. Setting for new features routinely are automatically set to share information with the widest possible group of people.

But there is some information you’ll want to share. Just share the minimum you need to share. If you look at my Facebook page, I don’t share much – mostly about the comic strip I draw.

Some hints:

  • Check the following setting, which will make your connections to Facebook more secure: Account -> Account Settings -> Account Security, then check “Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) whenever possible”.  This logs you into Facebook with a secure connection (when possible), same as when you connect to the bank or pay bills online.
  • If you have a Website, the web address (also called the URL by web engineers) – not the name of the site – is the only thing you can post. This is actually the safest way to display a web address.
  • Look at all of your account settings, and turn off anything you’re not certain of.
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Just Curious

I am limited to 50 megabytes of Stuff in a Microsoft Office e-mail account. This causes me to spend a certain percantage of my work week juggling large documents to areas outside the e-mail system. Switching is not an option; nor am I a Microsoft admin. A question for you: Is there a legitimate technical reason for the 50 MB limit?


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Zombies Of Portland!

A car full of zombies flipped over on I-84 near Portland last night. No serious injuries, reanimations, Kellis-Amberlee amplifications or deaths occurred.

Details here at IO9.

Kellis-Amberlee details here (

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Must obtain book, grasshopper

Mix martial arts and a killer sense of humor and what do you get?

Fudebakudo: the way of the exploding pen

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Chamomile Tea Party

A voice (and artist) from the center has spoken. Here are the posters from the Chamomile Tea Party, urging cooperation in Washington.

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