Thursday, 31 May 2012

07:40 – Illustrated Guide to Home Forensic Science Experiments is officially complete and off to O’Reilly’s production folks. I’ve already issued several purchase orders for the forensics kits, and will be putting together and issuing more of them over the next few days.

10:08 – I’ve enabled registration for this site, which I’m hoping will allow registered users to edit their own comments, at least for a short time after they post them. If you’re a regular here, please go ahead and register and let me know if you can edit your own comments.

16:44 – That loud sucking sound you hear is the sound of people withdrawing their money from Spanish banks. The MSM hesitates to call it a bank run, but what else would you call a net withdrawal of about $125 billion for the month ending today? Like all other eurozone banks, all Spanish banks are not just bankrupt but zombiefied. Their net worth is so far into the red that there’s nothing to be done. The Spanish government, bankrupt itself, can’t help them. The EU can’t help them. The IMF can’t help them. The ECB has already put more than $1 trillion in funny money into the EU banking system. As I predicted, that’s actually done more harm than good. It delayed the final collapse, of course, but at what a price. Spain is very close to following Greece down the tubes, and there’s nothing anyone can do now to stop it. Expect severe capital control measures to be implemented, possibly as soon as tomorrow. Not that those will do any good.

Even EU, ECB, and IMF officials are now speaking openly about the collapse of the eurozone, and “collapse” is one of the kinder words they’re using. This is a real train wreck, not just for Greece and Spain, but for the rest of the eurozone. The UK, Sweden and other EU nations that are not members of the eurozone will also suffer heavily, but nowhere near as badly as those in the eurozone. Germany has to be very near the point of abandoning the euro, if only in self-preservation.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

09:01 – Okay, this is really strange. When we did the first draft of the forensics lab book a few years ago, we recommended one of those small portable BLB fluorescent tube UV light sources. Since then, technology has moved on, and UV LED flashlights have become commonplace and inexpensive.

So, on March 23rd, I ordered this 9 LED 400 nM UV Ultra Violet Blacklight Flashlight 3AAA, 7301UV400 from an Amazon Marketplace vendor, for $3.59 with free shipping. (The price has since increased to $3.79.) I wasn’t expecting much, especially with shipping included in the $3.59. On the other hand, I think I mentioned that a couple of years ago I bought a package of 10 six-LED white flashlights at Lowes or Home Depot for $9.99. A buck each, including the AAA batteries, albeit cheap zinc-carbon ones.

When I got the confirming email from Amazon, I was surprised to see that it showed the expected arrival date as “Wednesday April 18, 2012 – Friday May 4, 2012”. I figured they must be back-ordered, but I really wasn’t in any hurry. Then, three days later on March 26th, I got email from Amazon saying that the product had shipped, but that the expected arrival date was still April 18th through May 4th. I wondered how it was possible to ship something on March 26th that would take three to five weeks or more to arrive. Slow boat from China?

Well, yes, as it turned out. Or at least a slow plane from China. The flashlight arrived yesterday, with a Par Avion label and customs sticker. It was shipped from Hong Kong. How in the hell can you ship anything from Hong Kong for $3.59 and not lose money on the deal?

The flashlight itself is of surprisingly good quality, at least on superficial examination. I was expecting plastic construction, but it’s made of machined metal, apparently aluminum. The switch is in the base, and seems solid. And the nine UV LEDs put out a lot of light. I suspect the 400 nM label is accurate, because the output is right on the edge between visible deep violet and invisible long wavelength UV. In the dark, ordinary white objects are lit in deep purple and fluorescent objects, including most white paper, fluoresce brilliantly. I suspect this unit would quite useful for scorpion hunting, as well as all the other things a UV light source is usually used for. For $3.59, I’m happy with it.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

08:50 – I finished the QC2 review on the biology book and sent off my comments to the production editor. We’re finished with this book. It goes to the printer on 3 April. Barbara and I are doing final preparation on the biology kits this weekend, and will start assembling finished kits next weekend. And I just got email from my editor yesterday asking about image(s) for the cover of the forensics book, which they’re fast-tracking.

My new cell phone showed up yesterday. I put it on the charger, but I haven’t yet activated it. It’s a cute little clamshell unit. It reminds me of my first cell phone more than 20 years ago, a Motorola clamshell model, although of course the new one is a lot smaller.

I have about had it with DreamHost, which had yet another major outage yesterday. Their promise of 99.9% uptime has become a sick joke. This is about the fourth major outage so far this year. As always, they claim that only one small datacenter was affected and that only a small percentage of their customers were affected. By some coincidence, every time they have have an outage, I’m one of that small percentage of affected customers, as is everyone else I know who uses Dream Host. The major outages would be bad enough, but even when their service is working it’s often so slow as to be almost unusable. My annual renewal is coming up soon, and I think I’m going to move to another hosting company, probably

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

09:13 – Geez. Anyone who’s even slightly aware of what’s going on believes that the crisis super-summit tomorrow is the absolute last chance the EU has to prevent the collapse of the euro and the disintegration of the EU. And yet the actions of the leaders of the top four EU countries are reminiscent of the Animal House food fight. We have Merkozy lobbing vicious verbal grenades at each other, both of them publicly making fun of Berlusconi (who richly deserves it, actually), and Sarkozy telling Cameron that Cameron “has missed an opportunity to shut up” and that he’s “sick” of Cameron “interfering” in the discussions. It’s fortunate that European countries no longer have much in the way of military forces, or Germany would probably have invaded France by now. And France would have surrendered. And yet, by tomorrow, these “leaders” are supposed to agree to terms that none of them are willing to agree to and by so doing save the euro and the EU. Not bloody likely.

Not that there’s actually anything that can be done to save the euro or the EU anyway. The euro itself has a fatal design flaw, and no amount of gerry-rigging can fix that permanently. The problem now is that the EU is running out of temporary patches, each of which was extremely expensive and ultimately futile. All of the argument now isn’t about how to save Greece and the euro and the EU; even the politicians by now realize that is impossible. What they’re arguing about now is who will pay the costs of the collapse. Everyone except the FANG nations wants the FANG nations to take the hit, cutting them down to size. The FANG nations aren’t willing to do so. The only thing they’re seriously concerned about is how to minimize the damage to their own economies from the collapse. They’ve already written off not just Greece, but Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and France.