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June 22, 2005

Disc Jockey

This morning my son was pulling CD jewel cases off of the shelf one by one and playing with them on the floor. This is not new, and though it's not encouraged I was busy enough getting ready for work not to stop him. When I briefly left the room I was startled to hear music coming from somewhere. I peered around the corner and sure enough he had turned on the stereo. And while he hadn't actually tried to put a CD in he had removed one from its case, and was lifting it up toward the player. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a person not yet sixty weeks old. He was most distressed when I pried the CD, somewhat the worse for wear, from his eager hand. How to explain to him that he shouldn't really be trying to do this just yet?

June 21, 2005

Happy Boy

At the tender age of thirteen and a half months my son is in great spirits despite new teeth on the way. Yesterday I introduced "This Little Piggy" to great acclaim, and this afternoon he was so tickled to have both mommy and daddy home and playing with him that he walked across the dining room grinning with his eyes closed.

Bon Voyage

In just under four hours Cosmos-1, the first solar sailer mankind has ever launched on a controlled flight, will launch from a submarine in the Barents Sea. The main link is being hammered, so I refer you to this Space.com story. Cosmos-1 may well be visible as its large sail array catches the sunlight in polar orbit 500 miles (800km) above the earth. You can find out when it will be in your sky at Heavens Above. And if you want a closer look you can print and build a scale model of Cosmos-1.

Correction: I called Cosmos-1 the first solar sailer mankind has ever built, but that's not correct. Japan and Russia have both built and launched solar sails in preliminary, uncontrolled, tests.

Update: There's no good news yet for Cosmos-1. Its signal has not been received for a while and radar scans were not successful, but nothing is conclusive yet. If it's on the expected flight path the craft will pass ovre a ground station after midnight and with luck they'll find it then. Cross your fingers!

Update: As of 1:11AM EDT (5:11AM UT) they still have received no direct telemetry data from Cosmos-1 and its fate is unknown.

Update: 2:23AM EDT (6:23AM UT): The Cosmos-1 crew believe they have a signal. Keep those fingers crossed!

Final update: Cosmos-1 crashed due to a failed booster. I don't know what signal they found last night. Perhaps they meant they'd found a trace of a signal from earlier in the day. Oh, well. Try and try again.

June 20, 2005

Goodbye, Knowspam

As summer begins this year I have to bid goodbye to a service that has served me very well indeed. Knowspam, the excellent spam-blocking service created by Tom Burns and colleagues, is closing its spamproof doors. Over about a year and a half Knowspam has blocked over two hundred thousand spam messages that were headed my way, saving me enormous amounts of time, frustration, and general disgust. Knowspam was never perfect, and its developers were often too busy to add much-requested features, but even as it was I could never find anything better. Like many Knowspam refugees I'll be trying out Spam Arrest next, and if it's half as good it will be a wonder. But if it's even a hair less good I'll still pine for the old service, and long for what could have been. Goodbye, Knowspam! I'll miss you!

June 10, 2005

Can anyone help me open this window?

I have a window that's troubling me:

Inside, upper left corner Inside, upper right corner Inside, whole window Outside, upper left corner Outside, upper right corner
Inside, lower left corner Inside, lower right corner Outside, lower left corner Outside, lower right corner
(Click any image for a larger view.)

You see, I'd like to get this window open so that I can put an air conditioner in it. There's a handy outlet very nearby, and it's right over the desk with my fire-breathing computer equipment, currently the most sweltering spot in the apartment. The trouble is that the window wants to stay where it is. I am 99% certain that this window once held an air conditioner belonging to previous tenants, individuals who I now aspire to emulate. Can anybody help? Read on for more details.

Inside the apartment the bottom of the window is about six feet off the floor. Outside the building the bottom of the window is maybe eight feet above a walkway so taking those outside pictures was interesting. From the outside there is no good way to grip the window. from the inside there are handy grips at the top and bottom. The window will happily slide up about half an inch (1cm) but that's it. I've tried prying it with long-handled screwdrivers to no avail. I thought perhaps the window would pivot outward from a well-hidden hinge but it doesn't seem to, and indeed a vinyl strip at the bottom out side impedes its progress.

On the inside of the window frame is a sticker (not shown above) bearing the company name "All Metal Industries". The only online reference I've found for this one is a fabrication company in Bangalore, which doesn't surprise me much.

The inner dimensions of the wooden part of the frame are roughly 17 inches (43cm) in height and 36 inches (91cm) in width. The window itself appears to be built of vinyl, although exterior parts are most definitely aluminum.

I've never seen another window quite like this, or at least I've never tried to open one. I'm at a loss. A hot, sweaty loss. Please help!

June 08, 2005

Blue Velvet Morning

On the train platform next to me this morning a woman stood digesting the New York Post for her traveling companion, a seated man who seemed to be trying to read Investor's Business Daily. "Oh my God," says she, and proceeds to relate the news of a woman discovering a severed body part in her back yard, along with the gristly details of how it got there. "Isn't that morbid?"


"Oh, look at that, just because he's an actor: 'Russell Crowe teary-eyed.'"


"Look, the new Brad Pitt. Look. Look!"

June 02, 2005

Babies in the Groove

A recent study by MacMaster University psychologist Laurel Trainor suggests that babies learn to differentiate rhythms when they are just a few months old. It seems to be based on the way rhythm is used in play by the baby's parents and caregivers, so this weekend I plan on dancing around with my son, and maybe a toy drum isn't the worst idea in the world. We could keep it at his grandparents' house!

Looking For a Reason to Get Out of New York City?

Hurricanes. "When, not if," according to this LiveScience article, in which we also learn that there is such a thing as a forensic hurricanologist.