Month: October 2009

America: One Tick Closer to God

It’s about time. Now we need to work on DADT. I suspect it will be the case since we need more troops in Afghanistan, and recall with U.S. CIA support for the mujaheddin when the Russians got their asses handed to them. Now of course we’re getting our ass handed to us by the very same mujaheddin.

And then on to DOMA. That’ll be all fine but I want to see the USSC restore the full faith and credit rule when it comes to marriage.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

RI Registration plates now six characters by default

They started going to an all number sequence starting with 700 000. The reason was, they wanted to stop re-issuing plates. I know part of the reason. One time I get a summons to appear in municipal court on parking charges.

I owned at the time a white Ford LTD, the car that got the ticket was a black Audi. Charge dismissed.

So the state moves to sequential registration. Withing about 1.5 years though they’d exhausted all number (999-999) and today I saw the solution. I saw the plate ABK-006. I imagine ABK-007 will be next until in a little less than 1,000 new plates it’ll be ABL-001

Of course it gets interesting because once they run into six alpha characters they’ll have to skip the ones that are assigned as vanity plates. I once had my Vax username (Username was comprised of your first name+first and last letters of your last name) so I had TONYPO on my plates.

But it does give RI a lot more of a domain for possible plate identifiers. Under the old system it was AA-NNN so you could have a optimal 676,000 plates but then take out the offensive ones like I-812 and OU-812 and you see it’s somewhat less.

The new system gives an optimal 2,176,782,336 or about a factor of 3,220 bigger than the old registration pool. Again, filter out the nasties and the existing strings and you still have a couple billion possibilities.

And when you exhaust that pool, add a character to the string length and then you get over 78 billion possible combinations.

But RI does this strange thing with plates and has type ID’s assigned to them. A regular passenger plate is a type 1, while amateur radio callsigns are a type 18.

I wonder if the local parking gestapo knows about that? I recall years ago a buddy of mine KA1RCI. He had a little Ford Ranger. One day I take a ride with him and I notice the glove compartment is bulging with parking tickets.

Now this is back in the day when the cops issued the tickets, before the whole system was privatized, something I vehemently oppose btw.

Thing was the stupid cop or meter maid kept writing KA1RCI and KAIRCI and the plate type as 01.

So now you had one character morphed and the wrong type. They never found him.

Tech: How Motorola could improve the S9 earphones

I have a couple of suggestions. First, I’ve read that sweat plays havoc with the controls. One person suggested getting a hairspray that doesn’t have the first ingredient of water and spraying it on. He says he’s gotten satisfactory results.

This could be something the Motorola does at the factory but no.

The other thing as I alluded to in a prior post, the Bluetooth frequency band is smack dab in with WiFi, microwave ovens, cordless phones, baby monitors, etc. The S9’s work well indoors but outdoors they stutter like mad. It would behoove Motorola to add say 512Kb of memory to the unit and use it to buffer 30 or 40 seconds of play. That’d solve the stutter and dropout issues when using the S9’s outdoors.

I guess I just demand a little too much from consumer electronic gear. Or maybe it’s because memory is so damned cheap that for some time Dell was just giving away little 512Mb MP3 players. Not to mention thumb/flash/stick drives are ubiquitous and cheap these days. You can squeeze a few gig on one stick that lives on your keychain.

So why did the ‘brilliant’ engineers at Motorola not figure this out?

More on Motorola S9 Earphones

Ok, I’ve had em’ for a few days and here are some more notes:

I’ve noted that if I slip my iPod in my front pocket I get serious drop outs. If I move it to my back pocket and point the rear of the iPod toward my ass, I get decent coverage.

Another note though. In urban areas with lots of RF sources I note more drop outs. I think that’s because in the U.S. bluetooth is allocated the frequencies from 2.402 GHz to 2.480 GHz. WiFi in the U.S. runs 2.401 GHz to 2.483 GHz and cordless phones run in the same ISM (Industrial, Scientific and Medical) band. That adds up to a lot of potential interference to something like the S9’s that only has a maxium output PEP (Peak Effective Power) of 100mW. Why the hell couldn’t they have stuffed Bluetooth in around the DECT band. There are far fewer DECT phones out there.

Once you’re indoors they work great. That’s because the walls in your home offer some attenuation to the outside signals.

Battery life is somewhere around 3 hours which isn’t bad, and isn’t particularly good.

Getting another bigot to turn off comments on YouTube

So I get sent all sorts of YouTube videos. The latest was this one:

Granted I think fundamentalist Islam is as ridiculous as fundamentalist Christians.

Anyhow there was a bit of a comment war going on. I love comment wars.

Go look at the comments here. I note he’s now disabled all comments. I suppose it was getting to the point where he was approaching psychosis because he felt responsible to respond to every comment. If you’re interested, in that above link, just search on kd1s. That’s me. I like to think I had this religious bigot foaming at the mouth.

By the way, when I look at warningsinners profile I see SoutherPreachers is one of his ‘friends’. I should have known.

So this is standard tactic of religious bigots. Refute them with hard data, ridicule them and their god, and they shut off comments instead of engaging in debate.

Such fun!

Doh! Now Remote works with iTunes

So at one point I got my iPod Touch running the iPhone 3 software and the Remote app to work with my library. That was until I saw an iTunes update that included Bonjour. I saw the description included an indexing service and I know indexing services hammer the crap out of WinXP so I shut the service off.

Turns out that’s what iTunes uses for things like the Remote app on the Touch. Doh!

Switch the service back on and all works well now.

Regarding the Motorola S9 earphones. I note it’s very sensitive to interference or drop outs when conditions aren’t pristine. And I cannot get the phone segment to work with Fring. It expects a specific phone only bluetooth signal. Has to be a way to spoof it though so I’ll be looking for that.

The truth about the opposition

I’m speaking of the opposition to gay rights and marriage equality.

Here is what I see as the real truth. The opposition numbers far below supporters. For example today at the Maine State Peter LaBarbera (aka Porno Petey) of Americans for truth against Homosexuality (ATAH), was having a little pre-voting speech. Of course the entire content of LaBarbera’s speech was filled with religious biogtry.

The real issue is how many supporters of LaBarbera and ATAH showed up. There were about 36 people from what I read over at Pam’s House Blend.

Per the breakdown only 9 of them were part of Porno Petey’s Posse.

I’ve seen the same thing here in RI when NOM does a dog and pony show. They get maybe five or six of their ‘friends’ to come out. Here is one example from a Marriage Equality RI gathering back on June 6, 2009.

They’re to the center left in the above photo, all five of them including Chris “The Whore” Plante, NOM RI Director.

What I’m trying to say is this, those who oppose us are a vocal minority. It isn’t easy being a bigot. That’s why you’ll see several hundred supporters and maybe a dozen opposition if you’re lucky.

Same was true at the National Equality March in D.C. You had the usual crazies like the WBC but the opposition was maybe 0.00000001% of the total crowd.

And then let us look at the Catholic Church in Rhode Island.

How many people still attend church? I know when I go by Holy Ghost church down the street from me on a Sunday morning I don’t see a full parking lot nor do I see a lot of people in there.

Nope, instead who do we hear from? That dwindling class, the clerics who oppose marriage equality. They’re loud about it too. You get bigots like Malone in Maine, or Tobin here in RI. They are bishops but I refuse to respect use of the honorifics for the religious. And I’m sure we’ll hear from John Codega or Bernard Healey at the next round of hearings. But the reality is, they’ve lost this battle and they refuse to admit it. Instead they’ll beat around biblical passages to try and prove that their god is in the right.

Their god has been wrong before (Need I mention slavery? Or the other Levitical passages regarding grooming and eating habits?).

But we on the side of equality will prevail. We are learning how to outshout the opposition without having to raise our voice because of the sheer numbers we have that support us.

And I’m putting Speaker Murphy and Senate President Paiva-Weed on notice once again. You’re both playing with fire. You don’t want to see what happens when the body you lead goes against your wishes.

And to Governor Carcieri, hugs and kisses! It is now my prime mission to not only aggravate you but to annoy you so much that the real bigot in you will shine through.

Product Review: Motorola Motorokr S9 Headphones

I ordered a pair for a very good price ($33) from on The price was right, I’d seen this same model priced at $80 or more on other sites. The seller was CCMAccessories.

Motorola Motorokr S9 earphones

The first pair I got didn’t work. Seems Motorola still has issues with the AC adapter. I contacted CCM and they issued an RMA. Took about a week but I got the new pair today. Charged them up, paired them with my iPod Touch and I’m loving them so much that I now have to get the bluetooth module for my computer.

I used to be in the camp that wondered what the hell good bluetooth was except for those asshole earphone/mic aka Uhura units. Now I know.

They sound pretty good. I haven’t yet become accustomed to wearing them but from all I’ve read I will. So far, so good. I have to figure out how to get Fring to work with them. It expects a cell phone but there has to be a way to trick it.

Some thoughts on the marriage equality issue

I’ve noticed that the tactic has changed in the fight over marriage equality. One consistent theme has always been about the children.

But I do know one thing. Knowing that homosexuality exists, or that people of the same sex can be married is pretty much accepted by kids. And that’s what the religious bigots are concerned about.

They’re concerned that you’ll see greater acceptance and tolerance of gay people. This is already becoming an issue. Just here in RI the age group 18 to 29 years supports marriage equality by an overwhelming majority of 82%. Sure that means 18% of them don’t support it but when you think about it, that tracks with the percentage of religious dipshits in this area.

And I can tell you, more of those same young people are embracing the concept of atheism too. The churches and the bigots are in for a rude awakening very soon.

And it won’t come a moment too soon for me.

The Myth that you need advanced math for computer programming

So the other day I was asked to do a program review for an educational entity. One thing that struck me is that they’ll teach them about nested IF statements in an Excel worksheet, but won’t take the logical jump to a VBA script using a CASE statement, or using DLOOKUP in Access, etc. Especially since they were doing payroll worksheets that could have benefited greatly from VBA for the tax calculations.

I should define VBA, it’s Visual BASIC for Applications. Note the BASIC – that stands for Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. Some command keywords, LET, DIM, IF, CASE, DLOOKUP, and math functions like +, -, *, /, and MOD. some string functions like RIGHT, LEFT, MID, INSTR (In String, it returns the position of the first occurrence of the character in the function parameter.)

One interesting little piece I wrote took a 10 character UPC code, and then calculated the check digit. The algorithm is to sum up the digits, then round to the nearest 10’s unit and the difference between your sum and the nearest 10’s unit is the check digit.

That works out to a function that looks like this C = (UPCSum MOD 10) – in essence it give you the remainder which is useful for finding how close you are to the next tens unit. So now we land at C=10-(UPCSum MOD 10) which gives us what we need to add to get there.

Here’s another snipet of code, one that prepends “00” to each value in a column of data:

 Public Sub FixUPC()
    Dim dbs As Database, rst As Recordset
    Dim strSQL As String
    Dim UPC As String
    Dim PLU As String
       Set dbs = CurrentDb
       strSQL = "SELECT * FROM pre-export-frz_veg"
       Set rst = dbs.OpenRecordset(strSQL)
              With rst
            UPC = .Fields("UPC")
            UPC = "00" + UPC
           .Field("UPC") = UPC
        End With
    Set dbs = Nothing    
 End Sub

Ok now I’ll explain what it all does:

First let me explain this was used to pad UPC numbers out to 14 characters. Standard UPC without check digit is 10 characters, with check 11 characters and GTIN (Europen code) 14 characters. You see where I’m going here.

1. Public Sub FixUPC() – all this does is define a subroutine or section of code. The Public keyword says it is accessible to all other subs, the FixUPC is the name of the subroutine, while the () is the default for closed parameters.

2. Dim dbs As Database, rst As Recordset – Here we see Dim which Dimension or Dimension a variable of type. So dbs is defined as the variable Database connection descriptor. rst is defined as the variable to contain the records returned by the query.

3 through 5. These dimension string variables for various things like the SQL language string, or the the UPC string to contain the UPC number we’re going to perform the operation on. You may note that PLU isn’t used anywhere in the code. It’s a relic of modular code. In other words, I have this saved so that I could re-use it later in other modules.

6. Set dbs = CurrentDb – Simply sets the dbs variable to point to the database in use at current

7. strSQL = “SELECT * FROM pre-export-frz_veg” – Defines the SQL (Standard Query Language) to get the data you want. The way it’s defined here it just gets everything from the table pre-export-frz_veg.

8. Set rst = dbs.OpenRecordset(strSQL) – rst contains the record set returned by the SQL statement referenced in line 7.

9. rst.MoveFirst – Moves to the first record in a recordset. Notice the rst+dot convention. MoveFirst is a method of the object rst.

10. rst.MoveLast – MOves to last record in a recordset. This is sometimes required to get the database result set to fully load. See note 9 above.

11. With rst – In other words, do this until we reach the end of the recordset (rst).

12. .Edit – this allows you to edit the contents of a database row/column cell. Notice the dot in front, that’s a reference to the rst object.

13. UPC = .Fields(“UPC”) – This is a meaty part. It says assign the variable UPC with the value from the field in the record called UPC.

14. UPC = “00” + UPC – This adds the string literal “00” to the front of the UPC code.

15. .Field(“UPC”) = UPC – Again we see the dot operator, here we say to replace the content of the field UPC with the value of the variable UPC.

16. .Update – This commits the record.

17. End With – outer boundary of the With statement.

17. rst.Close – Closes the recordset. This further commits the change.

18. Set dbs = Nothing – Just good practice. This is useful when you’re dealing with multiple database tables.

19. End Sub – End the subroutine. Required for every one.

See, very simple.

During the open discussion I explained that during my I.T. career most of the programming I did was either BASH scripting, or VBA scripting with a smattering of modifying PHP scripts. Never ran across C though did hit C++ a couple times, and even a little COBOL.

Instead they reserve the C++ course for math whizzes. Even if you do games programming and even now 99% of that is flash/ActionScript based (Been there, done that, got the t-shirt) most of the physics is built into the language already. And that’s what you need, a good physics course, not so much any math beyond intermediate algebra.

My friend says I’m being subversive by proposing this. That I would give people better data skills to the point where they’d tell their bosses to go to hell. If so, I like it!

But the myth still exists in education that you can’t take a programming class until you’ve taken high end math classes. I can tell you that this is as far from the truth as you can get.

It’s ridiculous.