Wednesday, 12 December 2012

09:58 – I’m still working on building subassemblies for chemistry kits, but I’m also going to try to devote some time today to working on the documentation for the LK01 Life Science Kit, which we intend to start shipping in Q1 of 2013. I’ll also continue working on the reorganization of the upstairs and downstairs work areas.

I’m also going to play around with packaging of glass Petri dishes for the LK01 kit. The BK01 Biology Kit includes a sleeve of sterile plastic Petri dishes. That wasn’t an option for the LK01 kit because it has to fit in the smaller USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate Box A rather than the RRBB we use for the BK01. A sleeve actually fits the RRBA, but it doesn’t leave much room for anything else. So we had to go to glass Petri dishes. I actually prefer those because they can be sterilized in the oven and used indefinitely, but shipping glass is always an issue and Petri dishes are particularly fragile. We’ll wrap them in bubble wrap and tape them. But I need to figure out what kind of bubble wrap to use and do some drop-testing.

10:47 – While I was walking Colin yesterday, I had a long chat with Brian, who’s Steve’s son and Heather’s stepson. I asked him about his plans to join the Navy. He said those were on hold. He’d scored very well in the entrance exam, high enough to guarantee him his choice of specialty. But he said he was deferring his Navy plans in favor of going to work with his father, who’s a master mechanic at Merchant’s Tire and Auto, where we take our cars.

Brian is a bright kid, and he’s fully aware that getting a college degree is no guarantee of employment in this economy. On the other hand, becoming a skilled auto mechanic–or a skilled anything–is about as close to a guarantee as exists. Even more important to Brian is that he really loves fixing things. He commented that he wasn’t considering this only because mechanics make good money, but because he didn’t want to spend his life doing something he didn’t enjoy just to make money. As I said, he’s a bright kid.

12:58 – I see that Redbox/Verizon plan to introduce a streaming service to compete with Netflix. At $8/month, they’re matching Netflix. It’d be interesting to see what they have that Netflix doesn’t, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to use it. The supported devices list is pretty small, and I didn’t see the Roku box among them. At this point, it’s mostly mobile devices and a few smart TVs and Blu-Ray players. Still, if Redbox/Verizon expects this thing to fly, they’d better get it available on at least the major media boxes and game consoles that Netflix supports.

I’d be very surprised if Redbox Instant has anything near the selection of Netflix streaming, at least initially. Still, Verizon isn’t short on cash and connections, so it may expand the selection pretty quickly. At $8/month, we’ll probably sign up for it even just as a supplement to Netflix, assuming it’ll work on the Roku. There is supposed to be a free one-month trial.

14:08 – Hmmm. I just discovered that our new CK01B chemistry kit is not the only product with that number.

26 thoughts on “Wednesday, 12 December 2012”

  1. Do me a solid, Bob, and tell Brian he will be better off, most likely, by avoiding any mil-spec service these days, especially, and going to work with his dad. Especially if he loves fixing things; the Navy, like the other branches, may tell a kid that they will guarantee his choice of specialty (the USAF told ME that in 1971) but what they actually do may be entirely different (instead of AF Intelligence I got Air/Security Police, because they had a SHORTAGE at that time). At the exact moment Brian signs up, the Navy may have a shortage of shit-stirrers for the destroyer heads, or Hormuz Strait minesweeper guys. A toss-up, no matter how wonderful your test scores and academic prowess show up.

    My dad was a boiler and machinery engineer, a senior supervising engineer, but I scoffed at all that, and learning math and mechanics and all that boring old stuff and went on to study fabulous English literature. So I lost out on a chance, permanently now that my dad is gone, to do anything useful years ago, or at least learning it from him. Brian’s got a great opportunity down there; he should go for it and forget Anchors Aweigh and all that jazz.

    And look at me now: instead of ‘interrogating the text’ of some late medieval sonnet or something for a class of remedial English cretins and ESL kids, I’m baby-sitting machines for a huge corporation that manufactures cutting-edge chips for more machines. And I bet Brian can make more dough doing what he loves than I am making here just to pay the frigging bills.

  2. I don’t know any atheist who denies large-scale floods have occurred. What we have here may (I repeat, *may*) be the basis of the Noah myth, which is basically just Gilgamesh with the serial numbers filed off. It’s by no means certain that this flood even occurred. So far, we have one scientist who *thinks* this flood may have occurred.

    No one has ever denied that many myths are based on racial memory of catastrophic events in the distant past. That article has added no new information. On a geological time scale, breakthroughs of large lakes are not uncommon. This is probably just another example.

    But it offers no evidence to support the Noah myth, let alone “proof”.

  3. Oh, yeah. I should add that even if we take this article to be the absolute truth about something that really happened, it can’t possibly be the Noah flood. After all, that one was supposed to have wiped out everyone but those on the ark, right? On a planet-wide scale, this was pretty small potatoes. I doubt it would have wiped out even 1% of the world’s population at the time.

  4. Doesn’t every culture have one? I have never doubted that there are elements of truth in the Bible. After all, it does make a lot of good sense to avoid shellfish whilst living in a desert with no refrigeration, and laying down with men isn’t going to do squat about the procreation bit.

    Just over 2000 years ago there was massive flooding in what is now Denmark. Perhaps in 2000 years, New Orleans will be considered a holy site due to the goddess of the ocean, Katrina.

  5. Relax, dudes; I’m not claiming we’ve hit upon the Grail here. Just funnin, y’all. Stories like this are Legion this time of year. You know, Jesus was really married and had a wife; they’ve got Noah’s Ark on top of Mount Ararat; the Ark of the Covenant is secreted down in Ethiopia by the Pentateuch Jews there; the Merovingian kings are all descended from Jesus directly; Mary Magdalene made it to France and Joseph of Arimethea got to England and planted that tree in front of Glastonbury Cathedral.

    There will be another Flood, ha, ha, of such stories this coming Easter, naturally.

  6. The linked article seems to be a PR piece for Christiane Amanpour’s special on the Bible and history. The story called it a show about “the history of the Bible”. Alas, it’s a show on the history in the Bible.

    A show on the history of the Bible would be interesting also. My mom gave me an interesting book titled “God’s Secretaries” that has biographies of the men that did the King James edition, the history of early English translations, and the process they used to come up with the text. No matter what you may think of the contents, the KJV helped to codify modern English and is an example of beautifully crafted English prose and poetry.

    (Dante codified Italian with his Divine Comedy, which is one reason he is venerated over there.)

  7. “Hmmm. I just discovered that our new CK01B chemistry kit is not the only product with that number.”

    Geez, what a funny looking tyre.

    That’s what it is, isn’t it?

  8. @ech; yep, I’ve read “God’s Secretaries” and several other fairly recent books on the KJV translation process; this book, along with the earlier BCP and “A Pilgrim’s Progress” were the touchstones for not only English literature but for British Protestant civilization around the world. I grew up with the first two, and though a Roman Catholic convert from the Episcopal/Anglican churches since 1996, I still keep them in preference to the bland contemporary New American translations that the RC Church uses.

    As for Dante, my aborted MA thesis was on the Commedia’s Inferno and Purgatorio and representations of fatherhood in regard to Virgil with a nod to Harold Bloom’s ‘anxiety of influence’ school of thought.

  9. Bill wrote:

    “…and laying down with men isn’t going to do squat about the procreation bit.”

    Does if you’re female.

  10. My own old days revolved around DEC PDP-11 machines, having just missed the punch card era. Then it was on to VAX/VMS boxen. And OpenVMS, which is still around via HP. My first “PC” was a DEC Rainbow, circa 1984, while my next-younger brother, who worked at HP then, had an HP Touchpad.

    Now we have Lenovo Thinkpads and Mrs. OFD has the Lenovo IdeaPad I gave her, which is running Windows 7 Pro now. My work Thinkpad runs RHEL 6.3 with Windows 7 as a vm on it. This machine I’m on now is an HP Pavilion running Ubuntu 12.10 with Classic Gnome, and about to double the RAM from 8GB. My HP Pavilion running Windows 7 Ultimate is sitting comatose now on the basement workbench.

    I will not buy a tablet, another netbook, a too-smart smartphone, or wear them funny specs that jack me in to the net or any of this type of crap. And I mainly use little paper notes for all my to-do stuff, not a damn PIM. Call me a semi-Luddite. And HATE talking on the phone or even hearing it ring.

  11. The Grinch and his minions are hard at work this Xmas season so fah up this way in Nova Anglia:

    And a newly decorated tree was stolen yesterday from our town common here in St. Albans, Vermont by person/s unknown.

    Meanwhile the local convenience stores and at least one Subway so far are getting robbed at gunpoint and knifepoint lately here in Retroville. Two scumbags were arrested for one of the robberies but they continue. I thought for a nanosecond about making the rounds of the local joints on my own hook at random times in hopes of bagging these bastards, but then it occurred to me that the responding cops would likely blow ME away if the storekeeper didn’t.

  12. How much $$ would it take to be happy? Survey of 4 continents—not including N. America, but in US $—by Skandia insurance and investment conglomerate.

    It is 6 digits everywhere but Germany, where they seem happy with only $85,781. Other surveys by Forbes of the US indicate that $75,000 is the magic number, so we actually may be better off than anywhere, but the Forbes figures are 2 years old, whereas the Skandia stuff was released in October.

    PDF of original Skandia report here

  13. Lyn wrote:

    “I miss the old days! Not!”

    Ever have an operator drop a tray of 2000 Hollerith cards? I have. Took ages to sort and check.

    I learned my trade with IBM model 26 and 29 card punches. Was very nice when I was allowed to use online terminals via Intercom, the Cyber NOS/BE interactive system. I could store my programs on massive 120 MB disk drives and just remotely submit jobs.

  14. OFD wrote:

    “I thought for a nanosecond about making the rounds of the local joints on my own hook at random times in hopes of bagging these bastards, but then it occurred to me that the responding cops would likely blow ME away if the storekeeper didn’t.”

    You know how to use a rifle, don’t you?

  15. OFD wrote:

    “My own old days revolved around DEC PDP-11 machines, having just missed the punch card era. Then it was on to VAX/VMS boxen.”

    VAX 11-780s running VMS arrived just as I was leaving Adelaide Uni (in 1979), so I never really got to use them. We had a number of PDP-11s but mostly ran PDP stuff on emulators on the Cyber. I was always a bit fond of DEC, after Control Data, of course. I really hated IBM in the Eighties, although I’ve calmed down now. Their job control language, assembly language, online system, etc were the pits. Plus their unethical trade practices against CDC.

  16. “You know how to use a rifle, don’t you?”


    First of all, homes, I would be inside the store; rifle not really conducive there, better with shotgun or handgun.

    If I was outside the place with a rifle that would be great for nailing the sons of bitches through the glass and all, but the main objective here is to keep the cashier/s and/or other customers from being hurt first. And if the bastard has his back to me, I can’t tell if he’s pulled a weapon yet or not.

    My weapon of preference would be a 12-gauge with minimum legal barrel and Number Four Buckshot. Small enough for me to hide on my person and still get it up and out mucho rapido, senor. Mr. Junkie Robber would get a huge surprise once he pulled iron. And I’d get applause from one end of the state to the other. And free Slurpies for years.

  17. I was fond of DEC, too, and liked working there; but the engineers running the place successfully for years were replaced by bean-counters and MBA marketing slobs wearing their trademark red power ties and talking bilgewater acronyms constantly. They drove it into the ground, sons of bitches. But I fault the late Ken Olsen for letting it go down like that; he had choices and he made the wrong ones. Also said the PC was going nowhere. But the DEC Alumni, of whom I am one, worship the ground he used to walk on.

    IBM is doing cutting-edge science fiction stuff now and the engineers are gods again there, but lower-level drones who support them and the manufacturing divisions are treated like serfs. And they’re playing games like all the other corporations with various retirement “packages” and buyouts and hiring part-timers, contractors and temps at every opportunity.

    I’m just trying to make a buck now to support the family and trying also to keep up with the technologies, but my heart ain’t really in it anymore. Like the old Piano Song dude, for old OFD, there’s someplace that he’d rather be…

  18. If an order for the “other” CK01B-item should get mixed up with the chemistry kit, I would like to see the expression on the guy’s face when he receives a whole laboratory of scientific stuff.

    Would he know where to begin?


  19. “…and still get it up and out mucho rapido, senor. ”

    Too much information Dave.

  20. IBM 360, ah, that’s where I cut my programming teeth. No to mention killing lots of Klingons!

    I try not to be a packrat, and I threw out all my card deck decades ago. Now I’d kind of like to have them, to use as note paper – that would be a nice, geeky kind of thing. But…have you seen the prices on eBay?

  21. Yeah, they did make good bookmarks.

    I still have quite a few of my CDC manuals from the Eighties. Happiest time of my life, and the Cybers had Star Trek too, and Colossal Cave.

  22. And if the bastard has his back to me, I can’t tell if he’s pulled a weapon yet or not.

    If only there were some way for you to jack into the store’s security cameras while you were lying in wait. Something like … hi-tech specs which let you display imagery as an overlay to the real scene you’re seeing.

    My weapon of preference would be a 12-gauge with minimum legal barrel and Number Four Buckshot.

    You’re talking about unsanctioned vigilantism, which as you note is always frowned on by the stupid pigs, and now you’re worried about F-Troop’s unconstitutional rules? Going by my own experience, the stupid pigs will be utterly against you no matter how legal your firearms, or even if you just crush the mingy little twerp with your bare hands. You’d be better of doing whatever necessary for your own protection and for accomplishing the mission with no regard whatsoever for stupid, unjustified, and unjust laws (which is about all of them) and beating feet out of there when you were done.

  23. The jacking-in to the store’s cameras is a very good idea; I imagine a fairly trivial exercise to do it, too.

    And yes, I realize that The Way Things Are Now means I’d maximize my own chances of staying alive and outta jail by whacking the perp by whatever means and then immediately disappearing. Except I’d be on those cameras, too, unless I ripped them out on my way to beat feet. So actually I am better off just minding my own biz at home, while keeping my eyes wide open and my wits about me, always a daunting exercise, when out and about and buying Rolled Gold stick pretzels at a Champlain Farms convenience store at 22:00. When I am not normally carrying the 12-gauge. On me, that is.

  24. I’m skinny but have broad shoulders, so when I wear a long coat I can carry my 12 ga. on a strap under my armpit. If I’m careful, no one realizes it’s there, with “no one” including police, gangbangers, and bail jumpers that I’m hunting. (Grammatical ambiguity is purely intentional.)

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