Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 4th, 2008

Percentage of adults with jobs

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Since 1993:

Percentage of adults with jobs

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 7:57 pm

Fun with Sears

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From the Consumerist:

Want to see all the major appliances and repair services that your friends and neighbors… (and anyone else who you can look up in the phone book) have ever purchased at Sears?

Want to know what your mom might have purchased for your birthday? Want to know which houses in your neighborhood have really nice expensive TVs?

Sears provides a website, www.ManageMyHome.com where anyone can look up anyone elses’ entire purchase history at Sears—using only their name and address. This is especially convenient because these strange men keep dropping off huge lists of names and addresses on our door every year (we think they’re called “phone books”) and we never really knew what to do with them.

Apparently, all you need to do is create an account at www.managemyhome.com, click “Find Sears Products” and enter a name, address and phone number.

From the CA Security Advisor Research Blog:

With their consent we have tested this technique with other individuals and have received reliable results every time. If they’d had major dealings with Sears, that information is now available to the public, from a television bought in 1978 to a stove which was purchased elsewhere but had been repaired by a Sears technician.

Says Kurt, the reader who sent this tip in: “I was able to look up my entire family’s purchases. This is a scary one.”Is Sears evil or what?

www.managemyhome.com

UPDATE: Rumor has it that all you really need is someone’s name and phone number.

Maybe NSA will offer a similar service: enter a phone number and listen to all the recorded conversations made through that number…

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

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Long power outage

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It began around 1:00 p.m. I called the Power Outage number at PG&E: you enter your phone number and get an estimate of when the outage will be fixed. Response was that “the outage is widespread, and we expect to have an update on Saturday, January 5, at 12:00 a.m.” Hmm. Not so good.

At least The Wife and I have phones that plug into the phone jack and get power there: our emergency phones, which we bought to supplement the cordless phones we normally use. Good thing, too.

My power’s back, and I’m shopping right now for a battery-operated LED lamp so with the next outage I can at least read. And I’m enjoying a cup of tea.

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Daily life

Small domicile

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Small domiciles are fascinating—how to fit comfortably the essentials of home living in a small space—and is extremely interesting. More here.

Small domicile

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with

Want to adopt a child?

with 2 comments

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Daily life

Fascinating composite photos

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A commenter points out this fascinating site.

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life

Parrot gets down

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Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 11:00 am

Posted in Daily life, Music

Unbelievable sums of money, visualized

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The US military budget is currently 623 billion dollars a year, as noted earlier. Here you can see various amounts of money visualized. The 623 billion is just about twice the 315 billion shown (the largest amount in the visualization).

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 10:55 am

Windows Mobile: Pocket Informant free on Jan 4 and 5

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That’s today and tomorrow:

There are two complaints we’ve had with Windows Mobile since before the operating system was even called Windows Mobile:

  1. The X button at the top of a screen doesn’t close a window, it just minimizes it.
  2. The calendar/contacts/notes applications are horrible.

There are plenty of free third-party add-ons that address the first issue. But if you want a better personal information management suite than the one that comes with Windows Mobile, you’re going to have to get out your wallet. Agenda Fusion, Pocket Informant, Agendus, and several other applications are excellent PIM replacements. Each has enhanced search features, a more useful calendar week-view, and better integration of tasks, notes, calendars, and contacts. But each of these applications also costs a few bucks.

Pocket Informant has long been one of our favorites, but the latest version costs a whopping $35. Sure, it’s worth it, but if you’re on a budget, you might look at the price tag, look at your Smartphone and decide the built-in calendar isn’t that bad.

But Jan 4th and 5th you can get Pocket Informant for free. The makers of Pocket Informant have partnered online PDA software retailer MobiHand to give away free copies of the software for the next two days. Just use the code PIFREE at checkout to get your free copy. Be forewarned, when we tried to download the application this morning, MobiHand’s site was performing very slowly, but slow and steady wins the race. We were able to download and register Pocket Informant 7. The software should work with all Windows Mobile 2003 and newer devices.

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 10:50 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

Free PDF physics book

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This looks good:

This is not your father’s physics textbook. It is the self-published 1,500-page (!!), still-unfinished physics textbook written and designed by your polymath genius uncle who dwells on a mountain with the spirits of departed philosophers (whom he quotes, in German). It’s what a physics textbook would be like if a poet wrote it and made no mistakes. The book is massively visual. There is minimal math. It’s a textbook with soul.

The guiding metaphor of Motion Moutain, and thus its name, is to frame physics as varieties of motion and change. When it gets to quantum mechanics it considers this in almost Taoist terms, as the “smallest change.”

This textbook is a work of art. Unlike standard texts, it is an enthusiastically personal masterpiece, yet still has exercise problems for students to practice. It sprawls across topics you won’t find in any other physics textbook: semantics, lying, color theory, the physics of pleasure. In many ways it reminds me of Godel, Escher, Bach in its witty brilliance, stupendous range, and self-designed idiosyncrasies. Motion Moutain is an amazing portrait of the physical world as flux. It has the power to equip you with the intellectual tools to work with, and love, this flux. Studying it is an adventure in understanding.

Best of all, it is a free PDF book. A PDF means that it is hyperlinked to footnotes and intensely cross-referenced. And it is easily searchable. Every student — anywhere — can download a copy. — KK

Motion Mountain: An Adventure in Physics
By Christoph Schiller
2007, 1498 pages; Free; Available at Motion Mountain

Sample excerpt:

Why do change and motion exist?
How does a rainbow form?
What is the most fantastic voyage possible?
Is ’empty space’ really empty?
How can one levitate things?
At what distance between two points does it become
impossible to find room for a third one in between?
What does ‘quantum’ mean?
Which problems in physics are unsolved?

More excerpts at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 10:48 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Science

Friday cat-blogging

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Megs Megs Megs

Megs, hanging.

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 10:41 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

Warming buildings with body heat

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Humans do put out a lot of heat—auditoriums have to take this into account, for example. And now the heat is being put to work:

Want to keep your house warm without your furnace? A 30 person dance party is pretty much the only way to do it. By the end of the evening, you’ll be opening windows.

Now imagine that your house is Stockholm Central Station, where 125,000 hot bodies hustle to and from their commutes every day. All that body heat has traditionally been somewhat of a nuissance. But now, the city of Stockholm is actually going to capture the body heat, and use it to heat a nearby office building.

Apparently the system is fairly simple. Just a bunch of pipes that will collect the heat, and pump it out of the too-warm train station and into a new office building being built nearby. Body heat from Stockholm Central Station will provide roughly 20% of the heat for the new building. For a system that will only cost about $30,000 to build, it’s a no brainer for the City of Stockholm.

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 10:09 am

Learning through narrative

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Something in the human mind is highly attuned to narrative and narrative structure. When I was listening to books on tape, it was ever so much easier to focus on and listen to a novel than to a non-fiction work. Gossip is attractive in part because it’s a narrative. When we want to describe someone we know, we tend to think of stories that involve him or her.

Given that our minds find narratives memorable, it makes sense to construct a narrative from what you have to learn and remember, even if what you’re studying is a collection of chemical formulae. Here’s a good post from Lifehack.org that details the process:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 9:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

The race to the bookshelf

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Google, Amazon, Open Content Alliance: what’s happening?

The Race to the Shelf Continues
The Open Content Alliance and Amazon.com
by Beth Ashmore, Cataloging Librarian, Samford University &
Jill E. Grogg, Electronic Resources Librarian, University of Alabama Libraries

Internet giants such as Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Amazon are in the middle of nothing short of a modern-day space race: Who can scan the most and the best books in alliance with the biggest and brightest libraries in the U.S. — nay, the world! — while simultaneously providing print on demand, “find in a library,” and “buy the book” links as well? The amount of press and controversy surrounding the Google Book Search Library Project tends to overshadow one detail — while these companies may have begun the race to the shelf, they certainly did not invent book digitization. Look no further than Michael Hart’s Project Gutenberg, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2006 and expanded its reach to Canada in July 2007, to know that book digitization is nothing new. But, as with almost all things these big internet companies touch, the stakes have been raised significantly.

While Google seems to rack up an increasingly impressive list of library and industry partners [See “Google Book Search Libraries and Their Digital Copies: What Now?” for a description of the Google Book Search library partners — then], the Open Content Alliance, or OCA, is giving Google a run for its money. OCA comes armed with an open access philosophy and its own impressive stable of partners, including Yahoo! and, at least initially, Microsoft. Amazon, the dark horse in the race, as scanning and making books available for free online would seem antithetical to its book-selling roots, has gotten into the act, offering to partner with libraries to help scan and sell rare and hard-to-find books from library collections. Under Amazon’s model, the libraries retain their own digital copies along with a portion of any print-on-demand profits. Ultimately, librarians now have choices when it comes to large-scale digitization partnerships.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 9:38 am

Wow! Two power outages.

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The storm is here, I guess: dreary and rainy, and already noted, but also windy. Twice a power outage, though thankfully I have an uninterruptible power supply—I can’t continue on it for very long, but it allows time for an orderly shutdown. And, of course, it protects against the surges as power comes up again.

Back up again.

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 9:27 am

Posted in Daily life

An even better shave

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Today’s shave was clearly going to be good from the first stroke of the razor. The lather was from Taylor of Old Bond Street St. Jame’s shaving cream, and the brush was the Plisson horn-handled High Mountain White.  Very nice lather, and the fragrance was pleasant on a dreary, rainy morning.

Then a Gillette Diplomat with a brand new Treet Blue Special blade—a smooth, flawless initial stroke, and it just got better. Three passes, all effortless and a perfectly smooth skin was revealed, with nary a nick or cut.

Aftershave was TOBS St. Jame’s aftershave. And I’m set.

Written by Leisureguy

4 January 2008 at 9:07 am

Posted in Shaving

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