Earth II, LOL

Special update of STUPID HEADLINES!!!

Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet

And I quote,

European astronomers have spotted what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet outside our solar system, with balmy temperatures that could support water and, potentially, life. … This one is the first one that is at the same time probably rocky, with water. … We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius. … ‘Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial life’

And now the clincher

They have not directly seen the planet, orbiting a red dwarf star called Gliese 581. But measurements of the star suggest that a planet not much larger than the Earth is pulling on it

I don’t care what sort of observations they have made, there is no way to tell the temperature on one planet orbiting a sun just by watching it.

Air dusters with Bittering Agent

Because we humans are utterly incapable of controlling ourselves, manufacturers of product with the potential for abuse often take it upon themselves to protect us.

Case in point – manufacturers of Ar dusters. It has become trendy to inhale the fumes from these dusters to get a bit of a buzz. Because kids are doing this, rather than finding a better formulation, they are adding a “Bittering Agent” to discourage huffing.

I recently purchased a 6-pack of 3M Dust Removers from Sam’s club – they are just about the cheapest you will find. When checking out, I learned that you must be 21 years old to purchase them…
Drinking age… You can smoke cigarettes at 18, hold a full-time job at an office, be married and have kids (although you you are under 21 and doing all things things, I doubt it would last long…) but you would not be allowed to purchase a can of compressed air.

Ok, no biggie, I’m over 21.

So I get home and I get to using the can. I clean out my laptop keyboard, and desktop keyboard. I blow the dust from my motherboard. Occasionally, the can releases some liquid, since it is so very full.

Later on, after using my latop a bit, and most likely wiping my mouth with my hand, I notice that my lips are bitter. I remembered about hte bittering agent, and tasted my finger a bit. GAAAH!!!

My mouth was filled with a terrible bitterness that water would not relieve. I tried soap and water – no good. Nothing seems to take this stuff off.

So now my keyboards and a number of other items have bittering agent all over them, and there is nothing I can do to remove it.

Do me a favor – do not buy any dusters containing a bittering agent, and send the recommendation to everybody you know. Complain about it to the manufacturer and store owner. Using these products will make your hands bitter, and I can not find a way to remove it. Hopefully 3M has a solution. I wonder if this could be grounds for a lawsuit :-D…

Death and…

Taxes! Oi!

25%. Can you believe that? I fall into a 25% tax bracket, along with everybody else making over 30k and less that 70k (who isn’t married). What the heck.

I ended up having to pay $600 to the feds, but good old Wosconsin is giving me back $400. So all in all it will balance out ok… I’m just really ticked off that they didn’t withhold enough. I should probably check my setup.

Vista = Milennium Edition

******* UPDATE ********

It turns out my slowness issues were related to Nvidia’s drivers. After a few months, I tried again, and what do you know – I could watch those demos at full speed.

I’m back to Vista, and enjoying it.


I just figured out what Vista is. Vista is a mondern day Windows Milennium edition.

You may recall the short-lived “upgrade” that came between Windows 98 and Windows XP. It was intended to be user-friendly and more foolproof. To that extent, Microsoft removed a lot of flexibility – the greatest of which was the ability to access DOS.

Microsoft claimed that DOS did not exist in WinME, but this was only partially true. Windows ME was still an aplication running on top of a minimal version of DOS, and it was possible to hack the full DOS functionality back into it.

The next problem was that it was slow. On a given peice of hardware, Windows ME was noticably slower. It took longer to install, required more memory, took longer to boot (in theory it was supposed to be faster…) It had driver compatibility issues for no good reason.

The end result: Windows Milennium Edition was a flop. Users (who had a choice) stuck to Windows 98 or Windows 2000.

I sure hope Microsoft comes out with a better solution, perhaps a service pack that strips out the DRM garbage.
Since upgrading back to XP, my computers are quite a bit faster – disabling Aero and the sidebar did not grant me anywhere near the performance boost I got from switching to XP. (I should also mention that I tried both the x64 and x86 using all fully supported hardware – this was no compatibilty issue, it is a crap code issue)

For example, playing a windows media stream. In Vista, playing anything through Windows Media Player invoked a 15% processor penalty from the process that ensures the sanctity of the secure path.
Now I am playing a Windows Media 9 Audio stream in WMP11 on XP, and my CPU is below 1%.

This is all very unfortunate I must say. I like Aero. I like the new start menu. I like the new search facility. I like the sidebar. I like bitlocker and speedboost. I didn’t really mind the UAC warnings “Confirm or Deny…,” when they worked correctly that is. I like Media Center and Internet Explorer Protected mode.
They got a lot of things right, and I miss these new features already. But as soon as I play a song, watch a video or play a game, I remember why I switched back. (IT’S SO FAST!!!)

So anyway, hopefully somebody will stumble across this and not support Microsofts great folly.

Does Vista Suck?

Sort-of. While I’m not happy with the DRM situation, it is performing better after upgrading my drivers.



Don’t let any Microsoft fanboys convince you otherwise: Windows Vista is no good.

They crippled the sound system:
** They removed all support for existing hardware audio acceleration – no 3d sound. Why? DRM.
** Digital outputs no longer work correctly – volume cuts out, certain sounds do not play, you cannot get surround. DRM.
** All music played through WMP is piped through a process that ensures the protection of the audio path, and consequentially uses up 15% of my dual-core, 4600+ athlon 64 x2 cpu. You guessed it: DRM.

This is not a change that was made to pave the way for revolutionary new features. The only reason they destroyed the audio subsystem was to invade our privacy, treat us like criminals, force us to buy new expensive hardware that is no better than the old hardware, and keep the entertainment industry happy. These changes were not designed to improve performance or features – they quite literally intentionally removed features and performance.

They crippled the video system:
** Not sure how they managed this one, but no single 3d game performs as well in vista as it did in XP. There is an inexplicable drop in framerate with accompanying audio studdering on games made a year before the hardware being used.

They crippled bluetooth support:
** The included bluetooth stack only supports OBEX and serial port – no support for audio of any kind. How much do you want to bet this happened out of fear that people could use bluetooth to violate the protected digital path (DRM)?

Digital Rights Management ruined Vista. What should have been an improvement has become a giant step backwards. The operating system is no longer there to let you work and play as efficiently as possible; now it is there to make sure you aren’t violating any copyright pseudo-laws at whatever cost necessary. The OS is not monitoring your system to ensure it is running at peak performance, or stability, or safety; it is monitoring your actions for signs of pseudo-illegal activity, and it can pull the plug on you at will.

Availablity and performance are out the window. Hollywood own Vista, and doesn’t care that it broke everything.

I want a refund.


So I got fed up, and I am going back to XP. Upgrading to XP, if you will.

When MS went from 98 / 2000 to XP, memory was the big issue. A slower CPU could run it fine with enough RAM. Especially if you disabled Visual styles.

It was possible to strip down XP a bit and get performance equivalent or better than 98 / 2k.

No such possibility exists with Vista. It is a giant leap backwards in performance.

Suddenly, it all makes sense, maybe.

I’ve never been good at distinguishing between right and left. If I haven’t prepared myself for it, I have to think about it first. If something tells me to make a left or right turn, I have on numerous occasions turned the wrong way.

People have provided me with ways of figuring it out. I am left-handed, so I should be able to know that the side I write on is the left side. But when unprepared, I cannot recall which hand I use for writing right away – it takes a second or two to figure out.
Another method – hold out your index finger and thumb with your palms facing away – the hand that makes an “L” is your left. Here again, they both look like an “L” to me…

After talking to a few guys at work, I learned that this may be out of the ordinary – so I shoved off to the internets for some diagnosticizing.

Here is a little more background:
When I write using pen and paper, I very frequently get my g’s and q’s mixed up – to the point that I will repeatedly do it wrong, and repeatedly correct. I very frequently switch the order of two commonly occuring letters (like “ng” or “th”).
If I am not careful, I can get confused about the direction a letter or number should face. E and 3 for example: I have on several occasions not been able to remember which one faces which way.

The self-diagnosis condition of the day is: “directional dyslexia” aka “directional confusion”

I was, like everybody else I know, under the impression that dyslexia meant you saw things in reverse. I suppose if I had given it some thought, the title should raise some suspicion: “lex” means word, and “dys” means bad.

What do you know, dyslexia is a reading disorder – where a person simply has trouble understanding and processing words and language.

My reading speed and comprehension are juvenille. I cannot read things that don’t interest me, and even with things that do, my reading is slow. I cannot read without pronouncing the words in my head. I have had to drop classes in college because I simply couldn’t read well enough to keep up with the requirements.

I have always assumed that my writing difficulties stemmed from being left-handed. This new-found information provides an alternative explanation.

BUT WAIT!! There’s more!

Out of my entire edcational career, I had to quit two classes because of reading load. It is very possible and likely that this is more related to ADD than anything else (lack of attention)

There is another, related problem that I have had all my life that had convinced some teachers that I was just no good math.

I cannot do math in my head. At all. I can sort-of add (as long as one of the two numbers is 1 or 2), but I can’t subtract, multiply, divide or anything else in my head. I cannot remember numbers. I can barely tell the greater-than and less-than symbols apart.

So, in 3rd through 8th-grade math, I barely passed. Math was a nightmare for me – I hated it, I feared it, I didn’t get it. Calculators were stll generally forbidden at my school – particularly on tests – and when allowed they could not be graphing.

There was a change in the tides in high school. Graphing calculators were being allowed. Graphing calculators can remember numbers very well. They can remember formulae, and sequences. And they can perform those darn calculations I cannot.

Math was no longer so scary, but I had to have to calculator, and I HAD to “cheat”. (Cheating means storing formulas because I was practically incapable of remembering them with any accuracy)

I learned early on to count using my fingers. I’m just slightly able to remember smaller numbers, so I found I could add numbers whose sum was larger than 10 by counting fingers more than once. Additionally, I learned to count my fingers without looking at them. In this way, I was able to avoid being chastized my by 3rd grade teacher whose responsibility it was to break us of the habit.

And so it is that even today at 25 years of age, I cannot add 23 + 5 without counting up, and I cannot tell how many numbers I have counted up without using fingers. (I’m not kidding. I have to either look at my hands, or move the fingers, otherwise I could not do it)

Totally by accident, I stumbled upon the explanation for my number problems: Dyscalculia.
(Unfortunately the wikipedia article has some validation issues, but you can get the basics)

Even my left-right confusion is included in the list of symptoms.

So now when people at work give me heck for not being able to perform simple mathematical calculations, I’ll give them a silly sounding latin condition that means “counting badly”.