Now gluten-free!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Star Trek Meets Monty Python

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cop Busted for Stealing Donuts


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big Brother Riding Shotgun

Imagine getting a speeding ticket. Yeah, been there. Done that.

Now, imagine getting stopped at a random checkpoint and ticketed for speeding five days ago. Think it can't happen? The technology that would allow this is already being installed in new cars.

Michael Malone, in a recent column, tells us about a guy named Scott Weires who just canceled his order for a brand new Nissan GT-R:
    Why? Because he found out that the GT-R is going to have tucked away deep inside and attached to its chassis a black box similar to the ones we always hear about after airplane crashes. Yeah, that's right: an electronic data recorder (EDR) that keeps track of everything from air-bag sensors to throttle controls to engine performance gauges.

    Worse, at least to Weires, was that the GT-R contained an even more sophisticated version of EDR called a "Vehicle Status Data Recorder" (VSDR) -- this little baby not only activates when a crash is imminent, but runs all the time.

    Think about that for a moment, and then think about your driving history. ...

    ... Think of the worst possible scenarios, and whatever you come up with has a good chance of happening. For example, you know those random checkpoint stops that the police set up every year around the holidays to catch drunks. I've never been a big fan of them, mostly for civil liberties reasons, but like most people I endure this little inconvenience for the perceived larger good.

    But what about a checkpoint where the cop walks up, plugs his laptop into your car and then tickets you for going over the speed limit three times last week? Put up some "smart" speed signs that send out signals to your car's black box and it would be simple to make the comparison. Like that one?
Does this mean we can protect our privacy by simply not buying a Nissan?
    Well, no. In fact, most U.S. carmakers have already, or are about to, install EDRs. If you've got On-Star in your car, you certainly already have it. And if a car has an EDR, a new federal mandate requires that it monitor 30 different data points by 2012. Take a Ball-peen hammer or a jumper cable to your car's black box and you will be breaking the law.

    The good news is that some carmakers have no plans to install EDRs. For some, such as Kia, it's a cost consideration on their low-priced cars. More interesting is at the other end of the spectrum, where Mercedes and other German cars don't carry black boxes because they are deemed to violate privacy laws.

    Shouldn't that be some kind of clue? When the Germans -- who, after the Gestapo and the Stasi, know a little something about surveillance and the loss of privacy -- ban these devices, why should we let them into our daily lives?
Remember the good ol' days when the worst thing you had to worry about when driving a "smart" car was getting a lot of sarcastic back-talk?

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Know Disco, Can I Help?

Now if somebody had just thought of this tip while we were abusing those "Resusci-Annies" in high school health class, I would have passed the CPR tests a lot easier!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. doctors have found the Bee Gees 1977 disco anthem "Stayin' Alive" provides an ideal beat to follow while performing chest compressions as part of CPR on a heart attack victim.

The American Heart Association calls for chest compressions to be given at a rate of 100 per minute in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). "Stayin' Alive" almost perfectly matches that, with 103 beats per minute.

Read the full story here.

Now you know what to do the next time you hear someone say, "Somebody help me, somebody help me, yeah!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Your Best Sound Now

We broadcasting and pro audio types have a new ally in the effort to prevent consumer wireless devices from being permitted in the "white space" between TV channels. This found today in an online update from the trade magazine Broadcast Engineering:

Megachurch minister joins white spaces debate

Senior Pastor Joel Osteen has expressed concern that the FCC consider the consequences to wireless microphone users in the agency’s pending white spaces decision.

Joel Osteen, senior pastor of the Lakewood Church in Houston, said to be the nation’s largest megachurch, has sent a letter to the FCC in opposition to the proposed use of white space frequencies by unlicensed devices. As a user of both broadcast airwaves and wireless microphones, Osteen said that such usage is a threat to his ministry, which hosts more than 40,000 attendees for weekly services.

The letter states, in part, "I am concerned that should the FCC turn a blind eye to wireless microphone use in houses of worship and open these respective frequencies to new unlicensed devices, the commission will cause immeasurable damage to our ability to minister. Static and audio dropouts due to interference from an unlicensed mobile wireless device would create a devastating distraction.

"From what I have read about the testing conducted by the FCC, there is clearly no reliable technology that can protect wireless microphones from the interference that comes from new portable devices operating in the same or adjacent channels as wireless microphones. We have worked diligently to coordinate the use of the wireless microphone systems that we deploy in each of our services. Adding new electronic devices to the mix would make our audio programming and coordination virtually impossible," he said in the letter.

This letter comes after a hectic period of lobbying in Washington by the Wireless Innovation Alliance, a group that strongly supports opening of white spaces to unlicensed usage, and opposing groups, including the Microphone Interest Coalition and NAB.

Well, he sure knows how to pick his spiritual battles! I wonder what Mr. Osteen's text will be this coming Sunday when he preaches on this topic?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Simple Explanation

I don't know why this digital TV thing has to be so hard for everybody.

Whoops, gotta log off now, the phone's ringing again with another confused viewer on the other end.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The War Really Isn't Over

The War of Northern Aggression claimed another casualty. First, there was the guy killed by an exploding shell. This past Saturday, someone was shot. (He's OK, though.) From the WAVY TV in Virginia:
    A man participating in a Civil War reenactment was shot Saturday afternoon, according to the Isle of Wight County Sheriff's Department.

    The incident happened around 12:30 p.m. at the fairgrounds, about three miles outside of Windsor on Route 258.

    This wasn't your typical reenactment. Tom Lord was one of many men acting out a scene for a film being made about the Civil War. During that filming, Lord was shot...for real.

    Speaking only to, Tom says he isn't as worried about the damage done to his body. He's more concerned with the damage this could do to the reputation of reenactment.
Hmmmmm... Posing as a reenactor and shooting Yankees... Lee should have tried that ruse at Gettysburg.

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