Sunday, February 26, 2012

Get it together Windows!

Come on Windows - who is the boss of you?

Here is what it says:
(Waiting for) Shut Down
 This program is preventing Windows from shutting down.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Growing kidney beans

This is a long-overdue post, but better late than never. Last summer I accidentally started a science experiment with my son. A few kidney beans fell into the dish-drying rack, and picked up enough water to start sprouting. So, we decided to plant the beans to see what happened. It turns out, when you plant kidney beans, you get kidney beans:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Master of Engineering

This is a momentous occasion, all three Lansey brothers now have pieces of paper conferring on us Master degrees in our respective fields.
I just wish they had added "The" before Master of Engineering.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How to get past Capitalone Image Censors

tl;dr; Leave the image blank.

I have previously failed to get my custom credit card designs through the strict Capitalone censors, see tries onetwo and three-four. I honestly thought my fourth try was not the least objectionable because I used an image clearly in the public domain without any text at all.
But when I called, he said that they cannot accept any images from the public domain - because they never know if it is has secretly been copyrighted. You are required to have drawn, or taken the photograph yourself. He then suggested that the image:
"... should not appear in a Google image search."
Aha! I thought I had discovered their secret method for doing these screens. My previous example was easily found all over the web by Google's image recognition software, but now the task became simple:
Create an image with the following:
  1. Will not be recognized by Google image search
  2. Will be recognized by a human as the meme you want.
Behold: My "Buy all the things" credit card picture.
Google image search cannot find it, I thought it was different enough from the inspirational meme the X all the Y meme.

And to top things off, I left the reviewer a note:
I drew this picture of a cute monster myself in MS Paint 1/21/2012 -

There was only one thing left to do, submit untitled.png below:

SUCCESS! Pretty soon I will be receiving my blank canvas of a credit card on which I plan to draw whatever I choose.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What's inside a Box O' Joe? Project

Some time ago we had a leftover Dunkin' Donuts "Box O' Joe." None of us here drinks coffee, and certainly not in "Box O'" quantities. So, rather than just throwing out the thing, I decided to begin a:

What's Inside a Box O' Joe Project!
The first thing to do was to open the Box:
You'll note that I basically reversed the numbered and illustrated instructions designed for the Dunkin' Donuts employee to follow.

Upon opening the box, I discovered a Mylar bag, which can only be described as a "Sack O' Joe":
The reflective Mylar insulates the Joe from radiative heat loss, and the air inside the Box and within the cardboard walls of the Box insulates the Joe from conductive heat loss.

Before continuing my dissection, I drained the sack to minimize the likelihood of having a Lap O' Joe. I then found that I could peel back the Mylar from an internal plastic Sack:
which holds the actual Joe. I refilled the innermost sack with Joe just to see what it looks like full:

So, there you have it. What's Inside a Box O' Joe!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tufts Health thought I was a baby

I had a surprisingly hard time convincing my old health care provider that they had my birthday entirely wrong. Their date would have put me at around 2 years old.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Extremely temporary

We noticed this truck on our commute across the George Washington Bridge one morning:
In case you can't see that license plate, here is a cropped version:
Not only is that a cardboard license plate, but they didn't even spell "Temporary" correctly. It says "Tempory plates" and it's clear that the "o" was added as a correction after they first tried spelling it "Tempry."

Personally, I'm amazed that this truck was not pulled over coming out of the tolls.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Bugs in the Human Software

Humans are amazing machines but I think evolution QA team actually missed a few minor software bugs (as apposed to hardware bugs).

Here is what I've noticed so far

A single or a series of breathing diaphragm spasms, of variable spacing and duration.
Most people have no control over hiccups. They eventually stop on their own, but why? ... does something reboot? (Alert blogger Greg P also noticed this too).

Hypnic jerk
Involuntary muscle twitch which occurs during just as a person is beginning to fall asleep
This is a slightly more serious bug that most people have experienced. Just as we are about to enter sleep-mode, some neural signals are misinterpreted by the brain as "falling, oh no!" The resulting muscle twitch awakens the person. Stress and other conditions can cause an infinite loop of consciousness. More info on Hypnic jerk.

Pee shiver
A phenomenon in which one feels a shiver running down the spine following urination
Formally known as Post-micturition convulsion syndrome, it confused me a lot growing up. It seemed to happen completely at random; I tried without success to replicate it, or predict when it would happen. It happens mostly in males. I didn't know it was a whole phenomenon until I Googled it this year.

Any more bugs you can think of?
Comment away.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A small correction

Last week I spoke at Photonics West in San Francisco, CA.

So, you know what that means, right? Yup! More vacation pictures! Except, that I spent my time at the convention center, so these pictures are mostly the view from the hotel room:

One afternoon, though, I was able to make the pilgrimage to the Exploratorium, which I think may be the best science museum I've ever seen.
I remembered a few exhibits from when they brought them to the Museum of Natural History in NYC six years ago, and they are still great. And, I saw only a tiny fraction of their exhibits in the short time we were at their actual location. I hope they don't ruin things when they move to their new building...

Finally, at Photonics West there was a trade show, with all sorts of freebies (well, mostly tote bags, but the occasional pen or kite). I picked up this bag from CVI Melles Griot, but I felt the need to correct their equations: