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


Vonage Doo-Hickey Arrived…

I finally had it with the phone company. I end up spending close to $100 most months with minimal long distance charges, and that seemed like way too much. So, I got my brother to refer me to Vonage (good for a month's free charges) and ordered their service.

Today the Linksys RT31P2 arrived. It looks just like a traditional Linksys router, except that it has 3 ethernet ports instead of 4 and two phone jacks. I was concerned that it would interact badly with my existing WRT54GS router, but I decided to just try the stupidest thing imagineable: I plugged the RT31P2 into my WRT54GS on an open port, powered it up, connected the phone, and voila! I have dialtone!

I'll probably have more to say about it later, but so far, I'm fairly impressed.


Giant squid ‘taking over world’ | Giant squid 'taking over world'

According to scientists, squid have overtaken humans in terms of total bio-mass.

That means they take up more space on the planet than us.

The reason has been put down to overfishing of other species and climate change.

Or, it could be Lord Cthulhu, rumbling in the underwater city of R'lyeh. There are many signs for those who are watchful.

Filed under: Science Comments Off

If you thought $0.10 a message was expensive…

If you thought $0.10 was expensive for an SMS message (and it is), for pity's sake, how bad is $3.95 per message?

Holy crap, how pathetic do you have to be to use a service like this?


Jumping on the Bed Stories…

Apparently over in Lisa's world, her little one took a header off the bed and bumped his noggin. All seems to be well (phew!) but it put me in mind the story of my little sister (now, not so little, with four boys of her own). When she was little, she used to like jumping on the bed. My dad would hear her bouncing, and of course come storming back to her room and open the door. Upon seeing him, she would launch herself into the air, and Dad would catch her, scold her, then give her a hug and a pat on the butt, and send her on her way.

This happened probably dozens of times, until one day when Dad wasn't quite so coordinated.

She landed flat on her butt.

And after that, she didn't jump on the bed so often. 🙂


Steve Jackson Games’ electronic publishing venture is brilliant

If you haven't figured it out by now, I've been a geek for a long time. Twenty five years ago, my geekdom took the form of "gaming geek". In high school this meant a mild spate of RPG games, but mostly wargames from Avalon Hill and a fair number of games from Steve Jackson. I loved Steve Jackson games because they were cheap and fun. I played Ogre, Car Wars, Illuminati the classic Tom Wham games Snit's Revenge and The Awful Green Things from OuterSpace. Good stuff, Maynard. Lately some of us at Pixar have gotten into lunch time games of Munchkin, keeping the spirit alive.

That's why it is so cool to read Cory Doctorow's posting claiming that Steve Jackson Games' electronic publishing venture is brilliant. SJ Games now has an electronic publishing arm that sells games and game related materials as PDF files which are not copyprotected by DRM. And you know what? If you lose the files in a disk crash Steve Jackson Games will let you redownload the ones you bought for free. Take that, iTunes music store.

They have four samples you can download, including GURPS Lite, a streamlined version of their popular roleplaying system. Break open a can of Zygwortz, pat Ook on the head, and enjoy.

Filed under: General Comments Off

Gathering Statistics for Your Weblog

Visits to brainwagon.orgI have to thank Russell Beattie for writing about, the service that he uses to monitor his website. In the days immediately after the Apple Keynote, his website showed a significant bump in traffic. Neat. I decided to give it a whirl (for the level of traffic that I use it for, it is free, and presents no annoying ads or popups for my readers). I'm only a week into using it, but it's really very helpful, and now it's part of my daily "web maintenance" routine. It filters out spiders like Google and leaves you with raw counts on numbers of visitors, where they came from, and what search terms they may have used to find your website. All it requires is the addition of a small chunk of JavaScript to your webpage, and no muss, no fuss, you can access your account on and find out just how few actual readers you actually have. 🙂

One small thing that could be improved is that it doesn't do any monitoring of RSS feeds, so I can't use it to monitor who is downloading my podcasts or reading brainwagon just on an aggregator. The reason is of course that even if you put JavaScript in the feed, no aggregator would know what to do with it. It would be nice to have an all-inclusive solution to monitoring downloads, but that would almost certainly require direct access to the Apache log files.

Incidently, I have no interest in this company other than as a satisfied customer. Give it a try if you like.