Thursday, 18 November 2004

Recently I described how, due to unexpected circumstances that unfolded over the past week or so, I had to find a new vehicle. Well, I did my research, made up my mind, and bought one.

I decided to go the Big-Ass Honking Truck route. A Dodge Ram truck. With a Hemi. With heated leather seats. With cup holders. And with Bluetooth.

Yeah, I said Bluetooth. Built straight into the truck.

That's right, my Big Ass Honking Manly Ranch Truck has the ultimate geek-out feature: Bluetooth built into the rear-view mirror (cabin microphone, computer and two push-button controls) and the stereo system (for high quality audio output to the speakers, text menus that compliment the female voice that prompts you to speak your commands, and more computer stuff). So, I have complete speakerphone voice-recognition and command control of my mobile phone.

I'm talkin' geek-out in a big way, heheheh... It's awesome.

The system is called U-Connect, and Chrysler has taken it from being an add-on knock-off style option to a fully-integrated system. It's all part of the car's fine fit and finish. In fact, if no one told you it was there, you'd probably never notice it til the phone rang and the system switched the audio from your in-dash stereo system over to the phone.

U-Connect is very cool. Friendly voice prompts walk you through the menus, and voice recognition software allows you to set it up, pair it with your Bluetooth phones (yes, you can use multiple), create speed dial voice entries, and all the other nifty stuff you'd expect from a relatively high-end piece of software and hardware that does the Bluetooth boogie. And the audio is very good, even when driving down the road. It's really quite cool, and on top of that it's extra safe - two small buttons on the rear-view mirror and your voice are all that's needed to make the system work.

Oh, and the rest of the truck is great, too. Did I mention it's got a Hemi? Woah, dude, a Hemi... Heh... Sweet...

Yeah, sure, the gas mileage kinda sucks, but everything else about it is awesome. As much as I drive, comfort and convenience matter these days, so I am glad for the extras. It's the best of both worlds: Geeky and Tough. So, it's all good.



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Thursday, 18 November 2004 01:23:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 17 November 2004

West Burnside (in Portland, Oregon, where I live) seems to have a recurring problem with sinkholes magically appearing under the pavement. Typically they are huge. They can easily become potholes. Big-Ass Honking potholes if not caught in time.

And in classic Portland fashion, we can blame the problem, like all the other problems in the city, on the sewer system. Butt, of course we can.

Well, it looks like there may now be a solution to the problem of massive caves of poop water, oh ye engineers, and high school kids are the inventors:

Engadget: "Some high school students near Boston have figured out what has eluded transit agencies for hundreds of years: they have come up with the Road Iron, a device that detects and repairs potholes before they have a chance to form. The device looks for cavities below the pavement and then drills in and fills them, fixing the problems before they occur...

[Read more here]



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Wednesday, 17 November 2004 01:01:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 16 November 2004

Five years and millions of dollars spent, and finally the unlocking has begun:

November 16, 2004, 12:07 am · valve

Half-Life 2 is available now for purchase and to play. Those who pre-purchased their copy via Steam may access the game by double-clicking on the Half-Life 2 icon in their Steam Games directory. To purchase your copy via Steam, get Steam now.

We hope you enjoy it!

I probably should have pre-ordered, but hey, I already played early, so I can wait. I think... Heh...



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Tuesday, 16 November 2004 00:03:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 15 November 2004

Mark Tuesday, November 16th down as the only day in the history of G4techTV that they did something (potentially) right. Let's face it, that network pretty much sucks now.

BUT, credit where credit's due... On Tuesday evening, they are doing nothing but "Half-Life 2 Day" on their channel:

We took a crowbar to G4techTV's schedule to cram in as much Half-Life programming as we could. The result: on November 16th, you can catch special Half-Life and Half-Life 2 segments on many of G4techTV's fine shows, including an entire episode of Icons devoted to the Half-Life phenomenon.

So, even if you scrapped the network like me, you might be interested in checking out what they have to offer on Tuesday.



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Monday, 15 November 2004 23:42:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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News is that Half-Life 2 will be released tonight at midnight Pacific time. W00t!

I had the privilege of play-testing a pre-release version of Half-Life 2 for a little while up in the Seattle area while visiting a friend who works for Valve. He sat next to me and watched how I played (not very well I think, heh) and what all I did. Since that release candidate version, they have worked out bugs and - I am certain - created a completely awesome game. For obvious reasons I have not written about that experience, albeit short-lived, here.

It was awesome when I play-tested it, so I have no doubts people will enjoy the new game. Great characters, great story, great new physics, super graphics, and just a general WOW factor.

Midnight... That's just 28 minutes away from the time of this writing. Woo hoo!



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Monday, 15 November 2004 23:26:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 14 November 2004

Spaceweather PHONE is a geek's after-hours gem, a nerd's nirvana. Subscribe for a small monthly fee, and you'll get phone calls and accompanying emails to notify you when an event is about to happen that you'll want to step outside and watch in the night sky.

I linked through to this site last week when Doc Searls wrote about the Auroras that were taking place and linked to spaceweather.com. I had just taken some pictures of the event near my home. I signed up for the phone/email notification services a few days back, and sure enough, tonight I got my first call and email at about 5:20 p.m. - The International Space Station was about to pass overhead:


Nov 14, 2004: Space Station Flyby Alert

The International Space Station is about to fly over your location.

It will reach a maximum elevation of 61.6 degrees at around 06:14 PM.

To be on the safe side, go outside 5 minutes early and watch the sky for 10 minutes. If the sky is clear, you'll see the ISS rise in the WSW and move across the sky to the E.

Note: To be sure you can see flyovers, Space Weather Phone only sends alerts for visible flyovers that are above 45 degrees elevation.


And here is a recording of the phone call: swp-station.wma (43.23 KB)

If you're an astronomy or science geek, or maybe you're interested in evening and night watching with the family, here is what you can get notified about:

Space Weather Alerts:

  • Aurora warnings (early notifications)
  • Geomagnetic storms (in progress)
  • X-class solar flares
  • Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and solar wind gusts
  • The Interplanetary Magnetic Field changes
  • Solar radiation storms

Backyard Astronomy Alerts:

  • Space Station Sightings
  • Moon and Planets
  • Meteor Showers
  • Comets
  • Other Unexpected Events

So - Geeks and Nerds who want to see the night sky's events, there ya go. Enjoy.



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Sunday, 14 November 2004 21:45:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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