brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell



Allright, allright, I'm getting too fascinated by these tiny computer things, but I was reminded of these guys - all things small. Cute thing: it includes a 400 Mhz processor, a Bluetooth module and an MMC slot for flash. For $214. Neat!


Carmen eating Dim Sum

Carmen eating Dim Sum

This is mostly just a test designed to try out Flickr's Post-To-Blog functionality. Still, it's a nice picture of my lovely wife munching Dim Sum at the King of Kings in Oakland. I'm not the biggest Dim Sum fan, but this place is among the better I've visited.

And of course, my wife is spectacular! Everyone congratulate her on starting her new job today!

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Kids don’t understand the First Amendment

CNN is running a story about students' lack of knowledge about the First Amendment that is getting quite a bit of blog space. Short excerpts:

Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

Of course the really tragic thing is that most adults don't understand our basic freedoms either.

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Hey Garmin, Learn from Apple

Garmen just released a new product: the GPS 10, a simple Bluetooth GPS that you can use with your PDA or laptop. A great idea, except that the price is $267. C'mon. You can get a GPS with a nice display for about $100: why so much for the stripped down model without a display? At least Apple had the sense to make the iPod shuffle cheap...


TiVo’s Home Media Engine launched | PVRblog

Those guys over at PVRblog are on top of everything TiVo, and today that includes news that they've released TiVo's Home Media Engine. You can get the developer code at sourceforge, and they are apparently going to run a contest for the best applications that can run on the TiVo.

What's it all about?

You can now code simple games, audio applications, video applications, and utilities in Java that will run on your computer and communicate with any TiVo with the backdoor enabled on your network (you can share your code with others if they want to run the apps too)

Cool! May give me incentive to actually learn Java finally. 🙂


SHOUT OUT – A Kid’s Guide to Recording Stories

This link is a guide for kids, but us adult podcasters can certainly learn a thing or two from this article. Transom Tools: SHOUT OUT - A Kid's Guide to Recording Stories Link courtesy of I Love


Brainwagon Radio: New, but Still Noisy Recording and the NSLU2

Wherein your host tries out his new Behringer UB802 mixer (with mixed results) and goes on about his new project: hacking on "the Slug", a Linksys NSLU2 network storage device.

For all the enthusiastic support that I've read for the Behringer as a decent mixer for the beginner, I'm still getting a substantial amount of noise from the mic preamplifier, and the simple noise reduction filters in Audacity really is not very good at removing. The result of not running them is that occasionally the noise pops on and off as the quantization of the mp3 encoder either decides to encode or discard it. The result of running the noise reduction is a warbly, chirpy quality to my voice which is even more distracting. Are people really having good results with mixer? What am I doing wrong? All comments and advice on my audio quality are cheerfully accepted.

Oh, incidently, you can read this skeptical view of who will make money doing podcasts. Frankly, since I don't view my podcast as a revenue stream, I hardly care whether what he says is true or not.

You can see a page hosted on my slug or even a simple weblog written in perl that can be hosted on the slug. Nifty huh, for a gadget which cost $80 and runs on about 1 watt of power. This hardware can serve as the prototype for my "digital homesteading device", an idea I've been trying to refine. Imagine a device which you could carry with you. Imagine that it could attach to your home broadband, and would register itself with one of the dynamic DNS servers so that everyone could find it. Imagine it had lots of flash storage, and could serve as your weblog server, your wiki server, your photo gallery, serve your podcasts and maybe even stream audio to other servers. Imagine further it was a simple, inexpensive, worry free device. That's what I think of as my digital homestead. Not a server which can handle a slashdotting, but just a little place to hang your digital hat, which lowers the barrier between content creation (in other words, living your life) and sharing it with the world at large.

Is there a market for such a thing? I have no idea, but it is a fun thing to think about and try to build.

Addendum: For some strange reason, the initial version of this podcast was borked in some strange way: at two points during the podcast an annoying blast of noise occurred. I pulled it within the first twenty minutes (I usually download and listen to podcasts after publishing them, and discovered this annoying noise relatively quickly) and have replaced it with a new version. I apologize for anyone's problems.


Gutenberg Gem: The Moon Pool

Science fiction entries in Project Gutenberg are fairly hard to find, but here is one I haven't read in a very long time:The Moon Pool, by A. Merritt. I'll have to reread it again, my recollections are that it was vaguely reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft.

Check out a more well-informed review.

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FM 34-40-2 Basic Cryptanalysis

Interesting link of the day, courtesy of Boing Boing: FM 34-40-2 Basic Cryptanalysis. The truth is this kind of cryptography is pretty much of historical interest only, but I find historic codes to be, well, interesting.


The Sound of iPod

Awesome hack, courtesy of Ran on the front page of slashdot, but they don't need my link.



Wikipes is a cool site which creates a global cookbook using Wiki technology. There aren't a whole lot of recipes yet, and they seem to be less sophisticated than those on epicurious, but I like the idea.


Tasty Musings on Blogs

Thanks to Doc Searls for pointing me at Jack Shafer's article Blog Overkill at Slate. I think Shafer makes some excellent points. I do feel that many bloggers have overplayed both the idea of blogs and their own skills in an attempt to promote themselves as being as legitimate and as important as the more traditional media. There is no doubt that some are, but there is also significant evidence that most are not.

The media revolution, if it occurs, will not be plotted out by people attending conferences, and in the end I suspect the pivotal players will not be the ones on either side who proclaim triumph for either traditional or new media. After all, that isn't the story. It might be a story, but I assure you, it isn't the most compelling one.

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Music Thing: The ToneCrafter Universal DIY Stompbox – Engadget –

Keeping with a musical theme, Engadget had a nice nice entry with lots of cool links. Try checking them out, including this wacky instrument, complete with Quicktime Video, and the cool sounding homebrew SoundLab Mini Synth, a $30 circuit board that you can turn into a $60 synth. It sounds pretty cool.

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Hormel can ukelele

A Canjo!Those clever BoingBoing-ers found another cool item for you "music" loves: a Hormel can ukelele. It doubles as a lunchbox. It's a pity that they don't include a link to how it sounds. This is just the kind of impromptu folk instrument that I'm beginning to find fascinating.

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Fun with SLUGs

Linksys NSLU2Well, I couldn't resist. I went ahead and bought one of the aforementioned Linksys NSLU2 boxes (colloquially referred to as a slug) and began tinkering. It's a fun little box, and along with the help of guys on the irc channel #nslu2-linux I've got it running with a 20gb drive attached. In fact, I even moved one of my web pages over to it to show how it can serve files (yes, I know, many of the links there will be broken, it was a proof of concept thing).

The machine has a 266mhz Intel XScale processor, which is a variant of the ARM chip. Many similar speed chips are used in middle of the road PDAs right now, and using such a chip to run gcc is kind of hilarious. It takes quite a while for things to compile, but nevertheless I've managed to get vim, tcsh and a couple of other fairly hefty programs to compile and run. I'll go on about why I think this is cool in an upcoming podcast.

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