Wed, 20 Jul 2005

Gadspot IP Camera

— SjG @ 8:27 pm

How could I resist a $150 wireless network camera? Well, the answer is I couldn’t.

This is one of the NC1000-W10 systems. It has, according to this site, an embedded Linux kernel running on an ARM processor.

It seems pretty slick. It has dual network interfaces, and, web-based access. The image quality is acceptable for a security camera, or for doing long-term timelapse (my purpose). It’ll do short-range IR illumination, will email images if motion is detected, etc. It requires Windows for its initial setup, but once you get network access, it will work and be further configurable with any Java-enabled browser.

One quirk is that you seem to have to power cycle it (or perhaps reboot it) to get it to utilize any new Network settings. The one snag is that if you configure it to listen on both wired and unwired networks, and it’s unable to connect to the wireless network, it seems to stall out and fail to boot correctly. This is a problem when I have wired and wireless connections out in the office, but only wireless (on a separate wireless network) in the eventual destination. I’ll have to run a long cable to configure it for its final use.

Sun, 17 Jul 2005

Ban Snicker’s Bars!

— SjG @ 12:41 pm

Snicker’s Bars are Dangerous, and could be used by Terrorists!

Yes, it’s a little known fact that your average Snickers Bar could be used as a Weapon of Mass Destruction by our Enemies. How, you ask? Well, there are a variety of ways. One, Enemies could use them as a part of a campaign to damage our healthcare infrastructure and national morale through pervasive obesity. But there are far more sinister possibilities. Consider the explosive potential of a single, snack-size Snicker’s bar:

A snack-size Snicker’s Bar is 280 food calories, which is 280,000 energy calories, or enough to heat 280,000 liters of water 1 °C at standard temperature and pressure.

Now, the standard Olympic pool is 25 by 50 meters, 2 meters deep at the shallow end, and 3 meters deep at the deep end. Assuming a linear slope, that’s 25 * 50 * 2.5 = 3,125 cubic meters = 3.125 mega-liters. One liter is 0.264 gallons, so that’s roughly 825,000 U.S. gallons. When calculating terrorism risks, it’s imperative that we use good, clean, American units for the final calculations; otherwise, people may think we’re French.

So, back to our Snicker’s bar: raising 280,000 liters of water by 1 °C is the same as raising our Olympic swimming pool 0.0896 °C = 0.16 °F. Now, you all have personal experience with heating water in kettles or microwaves. You know what kinds of energy we’re talking about here. Imagine releasing the kind of energy that could heat up an entire Olympic swimming pool (even just a little) in the middle of a crowded sports arena! Clearly, we’re talking grave danger to society.

But this is just the tip of the threat iceberg. We’ve only looked at chemical energy contained in one of these perilous candies. The true threat is much, much worse. So much worse, in fact, that we strongly feel that such bars must be immediately banned!

Consider: a snack-size Snicker’s bar is 2.07 oz. Where did the 0.07 ounces come from? Imprecise calibration? Seems like an awfully un-American weight to me. Regardless, 2.07 ounces is 58.68 grams, or 0.05868 kilograms, so the nuclear energy in the bar is 0.05868 kg * (2.998 * 108 m/sec)2 = 5.2738 * 1015 joules = 1.26 * 1015 calories. That’s enough to heat our Olympic pool 4.03 * 108 °C = 7.258 * 108 °F.

Check the math! Our national security may depend on it!

You see, if a single Snicker’s bar could be used to raise the temperature of our Olympic swimming pool by 725 million °F, it’s only a matter of time before the Terrorists use them against us.

The cost of doing nothing is far too high. We must act! Therefore, it’s imperative that all Patriotic Americans join our call to ban Snicker’s bars.

We must act; if not just for ourselves, for our children and future generations. We must petition Mars candy company. We must call our Senators. But for the sake of the children, we must do something before it’s too late!

Fri, 15 Jul 2005

Shah Nameh (Book of Kings)

— SjG @ 12:04 pm

by Firdusi (Abdul Kasim Manur), written circa 1000, translated and abridged by James Atkinson circa 1832, read as an ebook from

Before I read this book, I was completely unaware of its existence. While this is not altogether remarkable in and of itself, it should be in this particular case. Not only is it referenced in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (which, embarrassingly, I thought was “Arabic” rather than Persian before reading this), but the Shah Nameh is really, in many ways, the national book of the Persian people. It’s a history, a collection of legends, and, most importantly, a beautifully written collection of stories.

Atkinson, in translating, abridged the work and transformed it from verse into more concise prose, but retained the poetry for the moments he thought most important. Skilled though he must have been, reading the portions left in verse gives the impression that this translation leaves out a substantial portion of the magic of the work.

And it is a magical collection of stories. We learn of the sad fate of Jemshid, whose hubris destroys his glorious kingdom; of Zohak whose corruption by demon spirits resulted in two serpents growing from his shoulders; and of exploits the mighty Rustem, who singlehandedly conquers the demon country of Mazinderan.

As a history, we learn of the endless warfare between the neighboring kingdoms, between brothers, between fathers and sons. We are witness to many, many battles, to the deaths of thousands, to the destruction of cities, dynasties, farms, and families. We read of the spread of Zoroastrianism (although, strangely, not of Islam, except in Firdusi’s invocation at the end). We get a history of Alexander, who we are told is actually descended from the Persian royal house.

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