Sunday, October 31, 2004

Tools for WMA and media players


Adam Meltzer suggests you can purchase MediaFour’s XPlay ( It will plug in to WMP and handle synchronization as well as transcode WMA into MP3 before transferring it to your iPod.

The Joy World Pacific $28,000 calorie counter

I wonder how this device works? I checked out the company's web site [Japanese], and it appears to be one of those small tech-oriented places with some kind of university connection. They offer no proof that the product works well, but who knows. Here's a chart they publish showing how much variance there is between two servings of sirloin steak from different sources.

Joy World Pacific have concocted “Calory Answer,” a microwave-looking calorie counter that can display a food item’s macronutritional content using near-infrared analysis. By placing a food item in the unit, one can get the protein, sugars, and fat content of any food. The unit runs on Windows, although it was initially intended for Linux. Cost is currently at $28,000 (do you really need to know there are exactly 48.6 grams of fat in that Cinnabon?), but Joy World hopes to bring that down significantly. Otherwise, we know of a couple personal trainers who will take significantly less than that right now, and they will even hang out with you and tell you if that crap you’re eating is bad for you.


Saturday, October 30, 2004

More online audio recording options

I've been enjoying Replay Radio so much, but now Engadget just published HOW-TO: Record all audio playing through your Mac. Here is a list of more audio recording options for Windows:

TotalRecorder (
Loop Recorder (from
Streamripper ( needs WinAmp
I Record Music (

Dremel Pumpkin Carving Kit

From Gizmodo: 

dremel_punkin.jpg imageIt's an idea so obvious that it's probably been around for years and I've just missed it. Dremel, makers of the "Tool Most Likely To Destroy Something That Was Working Fine Already," is selling a translucent orange pumpkin carving kit, with templates and tools to carve your own intricate designs. It looks like it's available at Lowes and other hardware stores, although you can try to order online if you want (it's a little late now, isn't it?)

If you can find them, they look to be about $20 for the whole kit.

Product Page [Dremel]


Friday, October 29, 2004

Finger length predicts academic aptitude

A report from Mark Brosnan, the lead author from the University of Bath, UK, whose work has been submitted to the British Journal of Psychology and reported in New Scientist says that men have slightly shorter index fingers than ring fingers, while with women the two are the same length. Finger length is known to be associated with the level of hormone exposure in the womb.

Interestingly, however, a study of academics showed that people with the "female" pattern tended to gravitate to math and physics, while those with the "male" pattern seemed attracted to social science departments.

gladwell dot com / The Ketchup Conundrum

Malcolm Gladwell writes about ketchup. How come there aren't any gourmet versions, like we get with mustard or spaghetti sauce?

Answer: Heinz ketchup is "high amplitude", with a broad appeal across all your senses, and it's associated with the broad, good tastes learned early in life. You can change it, maybe even make it taste better, but then it's not ketchup--it's sauce.

I don't quite buy this argument. I bet I would try a good gourmet ketchup if it existed.

HBR says creative people will rule

Tom Peters posts this clip from the latest Harvard Business Review

"America's Looming Creativity Crisis," by Richard Florida:

"The Dawn of the Creative Age": "There's a whole new class of workers in the U.S. that's 38-million strong: the creative class. At its core are the scientists, engineers, architects, designers, educators, artists, musicians and entertainers whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, or new content. Also included are the creative professions of business and finance, law, healthcare and related fields, in which knowledge workers engage in complex problem solving that involves a great deal of independent judgment. Today the creative sector of the U.S. economy, broadly defined, employs more than 30% of the workforce (more than all of manufacturing) and accounts for more than half of all wage and salary income (some $2 trillion)—almost as much as the manufacturing and service sectors together. Indeed, the United States has now entered what I call the Creative Age."

"The global talent pool and the high-end, high margin creative industries that used to be the sole province of the U.S., and a critical source of its prosperity, have begun to disperse around the globe. A host of countries—Ireland, Finland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, among them—are investing in higher education, cultivating creative people, and churning out stellar products, from Nokia phones to the Lord of the Rings movies. Many of these countries have learned from past U.S. success and are shoring up efforts to attract foreign talentâ€â€including Americans. ... The United States may well be the Goliath of the twentieth century global economy, but it will take just half a dozen twenty-first-century Davids to begin to wear it down. To stay innovative, America must continue to attract the world's sharpest minds. And to do that, it needs to invest in the further development of its creative sector. Because wherever creativity goes—and, by extension, wherever talent goes—innovation and economic growth are sure to follow."

Monday, October 25, 2004

Keyhole: interactive satellite maps

Keyhole is a very cool site that outdoes MapPoint or MapQuest by giving you a satellite image instead.

Social-network sites scramble for prosperity

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Social-network sites scramble for prosperity: " Nice summary" of the state of sites like LinkedIn and Orkut. They need to decide whether or not to repeat the "Get Big Fast" strategies of the dot-com days or find more efficient ways to make money.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Bush has a higher IQ than Kerry

George W. Bush got a 1206 SAT, or roughly 97th percentile of the US population as a whole.

While GW is a famous ‘C’ student, John Kerry’s grades at Yale are unknown, as are his SATs. However, Kerry has released his military records and you can see his score on the Navy Officer’s Qualification test: 58 out of 115 questions correct, which maps out to roughly the 50th percentile. Although that's nothing to be ashamed of, especially considering the test is only administered to a select group of people, GW by contrast scored 67% on a roughly comparable test.

See the NY Times article here.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Set Windows Time

Cool!  An XP Home machine can set its time automatically every week with the super-accurate NIST time server.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Replay Radio - Internet Radio Recorder

After knowing about it for months, I finally bought a copy of Replay Radio, basically a Tivo for Internet radio streams. It comes with a huge database of all the times/URLs for any radio program you'd want to record (from NRP to Rush Limbaugh).

I programmed it this morning to record Morning Edition for my commute to the office, and I have to say it was amazing. I was able to listen to a full hour of NPR in less than 15 minutes through a combination of skipping segments and using the double-speed playback option. Talk about efficient!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

New magazine for DIY technology

Make is the title of a new magazine/book that will specialize in do-it-yourself technology projects around the home. How to make a video camera stabilzer, etc.

Wired has a story about the magazine.

Social Software metalist has a huge list of sites useful for finding people you want to associate with. Everything from LinkedIn and Orkut to photosharing and pets.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Am I at my desk?

Click here to see live video from my office.

Make your own photo mosaics - Engadget -

How-To: Make your own photo mosaics - Engadget -

Hey, this looks like fun.

Anonymously access registration-required sites is an idea whose time has come. If you need to view content on one of those sites (like NYTimes) that requires registration, type the URL into bugmenot instead. They enter a fake ID for you so you can view the content without telling the site who you are.

I don't mind registering at NYTimes or other places I use a lot, but sometimes I don't want to be bothered with entering fake info about myself just to view something once.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

the friend of a friend (foaf) project and other social networks

the friend of a friend (foaf) project is something I need to look at more closely. I'm told it's a way to set up a peer-to-peer social network without using a service like Friendster, Orkut, or LinkedIn.

Another similar one is XFN:

Household wealth: median for white families is $80K

The New York Times: and others report on a "Pew Hispanic Center study, being released Monday", that calculates the amount of household wealth (i.e. savings, homes, etc.). I'd like to know more about how they did the calculation and what other groups they may have surveyed (e.g. by education, geography, etc.)

Use Gmail as an extra hard drive

Here is - GMail Drive shell extension. I haven't checked it out yet, so I don't know if it's got spyware or anything. I saw it referenced at Techbargains.

But if it works it's pretty cool.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Japanese blog site from MSN

Richard Sprague is the name of my new Spaces account on MSN-Japan. You have to read Japanese to see it. I'm told that MSN-Japan is testing some photo-blogging software there too, so when I get some time I'll check it out.

Sunday, October 17, 2004 - Digital Focus: The ABCs of Scanning Old Photos - Digital Focus: The ABCs of Scanning Old Photos

Stowe wants to put some of her old prints into digital form, and has asked me to look into buying a scanner. A couple of observations:

1. The size of each scan is enormous--at least 10MB and maybe way more if you want high quality.
2. Will she want to scan negatives? or prints?

If negatives, then the quality is much better, but the cost is at least $300.

Fahrenheit 911 makes me want to vote Bush

Some friends lent us their DVD last night, and we finally watched the Michael Moore film to see what all the fuss is about.

Frankly, we were disappointed. It's so over-the-top slanted and biased that you leave feeling like "what's this guy's problem".

I watched it with my laptop open to a web site documeting all the mistakes in the film.

I respect bias as much as the next guy, but I left with the same feeling I get when listening to Rush Limbaugh: yes, lots of humorous slams on the other guy, but at the expense of really getting to the bottom of the issues.

We concluded that the movie would have been a lot more effective in the hands of somebody like Oliver Stone, who would have made it far more subtle, and dangerous.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Data recovery services

I have a hard drive that failed last month. Nothing super important on it--it just has some old video .avi files that I can recreate if necessary. But it would save a lot of time if I could somehow retrieve it.

So I called diskdoctors, which has a office in Bellevue. They say it would be at least $500.

A1-Best Computer in Seattle says they'll charge $60 for one hour of labor. If they get the data in one hour, that's all you pay. They're open till 5pm on SAturdays (closed Sunday).

PC Doctor, in Bellevue, charges $75

Millionaires for Bush, Billionaires for Kerry (Slate)

Why the super-rich favor the candidate who will raise their taxes. By Daniel�Gross

This Slate author shows just how out-of-touch some writers are. He thinks millionaires and billionaires base their political opinions on who will give them more take-home income. There's another explanation: maybe self-made people prefer less regulatory government policies and they support Bush in spite of his failings because they feel that, all things considered, the Republicans are less likely to interfere with an entrepreneur's ability to create new things.

And maybe many of the super-duper rich prefer Kerry for a totally different reason: they inherited their money and, because entrepreneurship and industry doesn't matter to them, they think of the government as another charitable organization doling out unearned gifts on little people in need.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Test web site: Squarespace

I'm going to try hosting a few pictures at this new hosting site I found: Sprague Topics a>

Secret to world's nicest coffee revealed

Secret to world's nicest coffee revealed

apparently you get a different, chocolaty taste when the beans pass through the digestive tract of a civet.

Sells for something like $45/lb.

Maven review sites

Maven reviews Kevin Kelly is a Wired editor who wrote this helpful summary of the best review sites on the Web. Look at all the geeky details for new products ranging from coffee machines, bird watching equipment, etc. etc.

My wife also suggests this site for
Web Reviews of community data sites.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

92% of new hard drive-based MP3 players sold are iPods - Engadget -

92% of new hard drive-based MP3 players sold are iPods - Engadget -

You wonder why I'm having a hard time deciding which MP3 player to buy. I hate iPod -- it only plays AAC, only works (well) with iTunes. I want WMA, I want a choice in music sites. But when something's so popular, you don't want to be left behind.

Watches and other supplies for geeks

ThinkGeek :: Gadgets :: Watches

But I still can't find a decent calculater watch, like the kind I bought back in the 1980s. I want something that can do logarithms on my wrist.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Predicting California earthquakes

Scorecards is software from NASA for predicting earthquakes in California. So far it's predicted 15 out of 16 magnitude 5 quakes.

But I couldn't quickly find a list of where/when they expect the next ones to happen.

Tom Peters recommends self-help books

Tom Peters says you should read these three books:

GETTING TO YES ... Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton.
LEARNED OPTIMISM ... Martin Seligman.
CRUCIAL CONFRONTATIONS ... Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler.

CoffeeGeek - News, Reviews, Opinion and Community for Coffee and Espresso

CoffeeGeek - News, Reviews, Opinion and Community for Coffee and Espresso

Kevin Kelley thinks this is the best coffee site out there.

Podcasting with Windows Media Player

Jake Ludington's MediaBlab - Podcasting with Windows Media Player - Podcasting

I'm still trying to decide whether to get an iPod (the market leader) or something based on Windows Media. This how-to article may make the difference for me, since one of my main reasons for getting a portable player is to do podcasting like this.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Peers determine your behavior - Science Journal: discusses how "the National Science Foundation gave anthropologist Scott Atran, a research director at the National Center for Scientific Research, Paris, emergency funding to study groups that sponsor suicide attacks".

Also see Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University, whose research says that the peer group you identify with--not your individual personality--determines your behavior.

What Paul Bremer Really Said About Iraq

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: What I Really Said About Iraq

Paul Bremer is annoyed that the media thinks he says there aren't enough troops in Iraq. He believes that America will win the War on Terror by being on the offensive, and that our enemies are not limited to Al Qaeda.

George has something on his back and others are gossipping about a photo of George W. in the first debate that shows something apparently under his suit jacket. Of course the implication is that he has a tiny radio transmitter and that he's cheating on the debate questions.

Spread the news! George W Bush is so dumb he has to cheat! Don't take him seriously--he's not very bright. Yes, that's right: his IQ is lower than Kerry's! Repeat as needed.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Recruiting at Google

There's a huge billboard in downtown Seattle that says:

{ First 10 digit prime in consecutive digits of e }.com

If you look up the answer and go to

you get:

Congratulations. You've made it to level 2. Go to and enter Bobsyouruncle as the login and the answer to this equation as the password.






If you solve this you get the following URL:

Project Ocean: Stanford University And Google

Apparently there is this thing called Project Ocean: Stanford University And Google where the two orgs are teaming up to digitize the entire collection of the Stanford Library published before 1923 (books that are now copyright-free).

Google already has that can search books for you.

Measure how much electricity an appliance uses

Here's a device for calculating the amount of electricity a product actually uses: Kill a Watt (Killawatt) P3 - Reduce your power bill and save money

Cost is $25.50 after a coupon.


SCREEN IT! PARENTAL REVIEW: THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN Washington Opens Digital Archives Washington Opens Digital Archives

Cool! The documents go all the way back to "the state's territorial period."

Personal blog by Pyra Labs founder

evhead might be an interesting personal blog. It's by Evan Williams, founder of Pyra Labs, the creators of Blogger.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Physics Illustrator for Tablet PC

Hey cool! Looks like Microsoft makes a free Physics Illustrator for Tablet PC. Reminds me of the old Macintosh program, Interactive Physics that let you draw various objects on your screen and give them a push to see where they land, all following the laws of Newtonian physics.


Obesity: the next big drug target - New Weight-Loss Drugs Are Under Development gives a list of new drugs under development to combat obesity:

Meridia: Abbott Laboratories Appetite suppressant
Xenical: Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. Blocks the absorption of fat
Acomplia*: Sanofi-Aventis SA Reduces overactivity in the body's system that regulates food intake and energy expenditure
PYY (3-36) Nasal Spray* Nastech Pharmaceutical Company Inc. Binds to receptors in the hypothalamus of the brain to signal satiety

Supplements to avoid (R) has this handy list of "nutritional" supplements that have been linked to various physical problems. They're not really "nutritional" of course, but many people take them, thinking they are natural or organic remedies to various aches and pains.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Celsius 41.11

Well lookee here, somebody finally made a movie to counter Michael Moore's: The Celsius 41.11 Interactive Media Center - A Citizens United Production.

Celsius 41.11 is the temperature at which the brain starts to die.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

NYTimes about companies that do home video editing

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > For Neglected Video, a Hollywood Touch

lists Pergamon, in Portland Ore., plus FamilyMemoriesVideo as examples of a cottage industry of companies that will edit your home videos ($50-$2000 depending on the amount of time in the finished product).

Other companies: YesVideo and

Amazon adds $1B to the Variety Revolution

Virginia Postrel of says what I mean: the variety revolution is making us all richer in ways not usually reflected in mainstream economic statistics.

She shows calculations about the "consumer surplus", the extra benefit to consumers when the precise item they want can be purchased for less money than they're willing to pay, is $1B at In other words, there are obscure books for which I'd be willing to pay extra to buy, and I only found them because of the Internet, where I'm able to buy them at the normal price.

You can find the author of the paper, Erik Brynjolfsson from MIT, at

Friday, October 01, 2004

Kerry Wins Debate

Kerry Wins Debate according to the instant polling conducted by Gallup last night. But interestingly, the very same polling shows that the debate viewers still think Bush would do a better job in Iraq or as Commander in Chief.