i really hope somebody got fired for that blunder

Are those meat-eating…Meatasauruses?

It’s deplorable to create a child’s toy that is grossly inaccurate to the point of skewing a child’s view of something as fundamental as diet. I’m sure you’ve heard of this from all the major news outlets by now…Gamestop is offering a bonus LEGO set for pre-ordering the game LEGO Jurassic World. This set depicts a trap set for the elusive Gallimimus, a creature whose name (“chicken mimic”) reflects its close resemblance to a modern ostrich. And a creature depicted in the LEGO set with a short neck, an elongated head and snout, and, of course, rows of razor-like teeth, presumably for shredding the drumstick found as bait in the trap.

In reality, Gallimimus (like the ostrich) had a small head atop a long, slender neck, with a beak, with no teeth…and ate plants.

I agree with your indignation at this atrociously fallacious playset. But before you write your senator, I’ll propose a simple fix: don’t call it a Gallimimus. Call it a Compsognathus, or even an infant dromaeosaur – you know, something that eats meat. Problem solved.

…Or just give a big “screw you” to any dinosaur fan over the age of four and change the name to Stegosaurus. Whatever.

xperia z3 compact

I like sticking it to The Man. In this instance, The Man is all the cell phone manufacturers that decided the populace only wanted phones with 5.5″ screens. So when I saw a need to upgrade from my Galaxy S4 to a phone that would not turn off or reboot without warning, I chose the only sensible device: Sony’s Xperia Z3 Compact.

from sony

The Z3 Compact is not just small, but powerful. While Google was releasing a Nexus phone with a stinking 6″ screen that requires two hands, one foot, and a backpack to properly transport and use, Sony did the world a favor and made a compact phone with some actual guts. Yes, Samsung and HTC have smaller phones in their lineups, but they’re under-powered or have pathetic cameras or other grave drawbacks. The Xperia Z3 Compact actually has everything the big boys have, in a device the size of a phone.

Power? Check: a 2.5 GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB RAM and Adreno 330 graphics. Camera? Check: a 20.7 MP Sony shooter with HDR and 4K video modes. Battery life? Check: this thing packs a 2600 mAh battery that can make it over two days of use without recharging. Let’s just throw in expandable memory via microSD, water- and dustproofing, magnetic charging, dual front-facing speakers, and a more-than-acceptable 720P 4.6″ display.

Let’s talk about that last point a bit. Not only are companies driving up the girth of phones unnecessarily, but thanks to the iPhone’s “Retina” display they’re competing against a false perception for the award of “most useless pixel density.” As the resolutions push into the stratosphere, we’ve long surpassed the point where even the most visually acute can distinguish a difference and instead traded off performance and battery life for theoretical one-upmanship. I applaud Sony for realizing that a 720×1280 resolution looks beautiful on a 4.6″ screen.

It’s not all rosy, though. The Z3 Compact lacks a removable battery, and it has a glass back, which is reportedly scratch-prone. The Z3 Compact must be bought unlocked from Sony as it is not tied to any carriers in the U.S., and there is a lack of really nice case options for it at the moment (the Cruzerlite Bugdroid case is probably the best, but it’s not high-class). However, its camera, battery life, and expandable storage make it better than the Motorola X, and its compact size and less-invasive (or gimmicky) software put it atop the Galaxy S5.

(I guess the iPhone 6 is a smaller smartphone too…if you’re counting that.)

and you wonder where your taxes go


Congress recently passed a $1,010,000,000,000 spending bill, which, among a few other things, sets aside $1,000,000 for ranchers to replace livestock killed by wolf attack.  Now I’m not a fancy big-city lawyer, but I have to side with the sheep and cattle life insurance companies on this one; why should a farmer get to have his cake and eat it too? All these carpetbagging ranchers with their flights of fancy setting up shop in wolf-infested regions with nothing to lose? Maybe the sheep gets sheared and the ranchers kick back, wealthy from the wool, or maybe the sheep’s carcass is found mutilated and eviscerated by lupine raiders and the rancher gets some cool cash. Either way, it’s good times for the cowboys.

And I have a feeling wolf attacks are going to spike toward the end of the year when there’s about $925,000 left unclaimed in the fund.

On second thought, it’s policies like this that push me even harder to start my emu farm. I want me some of those sweet, sweet wolf monies.

flying high

I never fully grasped why people would use Twitter to solicit “retweets” or recognition of any kind from a celebrity or group. But I’m pretty proud of this:

The official Broken Lizard group Twitter account has shared the screenshot of the album art from Coconut Pete’s “Spanish Fly Fisherman” album that I made eight years ago. In the “Club Dread” film, they never show the whole album cover in one frame, so I had amateurly assembled and roughly straightened it for posting. It’s a fine work of art, I must say.

Let’s give thanks for life, liberty, and Coconut Pete’s paella this Thanksgiving. And if you’re bored, check out the full Coconut Pete post here.

cyclone, revisited

It seems so self-serving to check back in after months of absence, in the midst of rapacious Ebola and global tumult and – I can only assume – a catastrophic exacerbation of global warming, only to delineate the changes I’ve made to my computer, but what is this site for if not self-servitude?

Cyclone was humming along with no major issues, but with its processor and meager RAM becoming long in the tooth, an upgrade was in order. In order to upgrade the processor, I had to upgrade the motherboard, and if I was going to upgrade the motherboard, I might as well upgrade the case. So now Cyclone bears little resemblance to the machine it once was, having had most of its core components (including its namesake graphics card) replaced. I’ve incorporated the original RAM, 2 TB hard drive, disk drives, and power supply, for what it’s worth.

cyclone_revisited Continue reading cyclone, revisited

android self-destruct

i spent a long time thinking of a fitting image, then just grabbed a kitten instead

We’re reaching smartphone critical mass. Last year, smartphones outsold “dumphones,” or feature phones, for the first time. Today’s smartphones are fast and capable of doing everything anyone could want from them for the next few years. And the phones should be able to survive that long, barring extreme abuse.

But that poses a problem for smartphone manufacturers – their devices are too good. If users see no compelling reason to upgrade, only the tech-savvy will do so – and maybe even they won’t, which brings me to my personal situation.

Years ago, I was forced to prematurely upgrade from the original Motorola DROID when the touchscreen’s digitizer died, through no fault of my own. My DROID 3 became unstable and sluggish over time, so I upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy S4. I have had few nits to pick with the S4 (aside, perhaps, from its overall dimensions), but now it’s randomly restarting itself, which is pretty infuriating.

This seems to be a relatively common occurrence, based on an anecdotal Google search. Now, I’m not necessarily positing that Samsung is deliberately debilitating their devices a year after purchase in order to induce an upgrade, but…well, it does work out for them, right?

We’re at a point where, for the last couple of years, smartphone innovation has been lacking. Until the real “next big thing” is here (and I don’t just mean a phone with an even more gargantuan screen size), all manufacturers can do is hope users drop their phones on railroad tracks. Or the manufacturers could just flip their magic switches, forcing phones to restart for no apparent reason mid-use, killing productivity and inciting rage and triggering aneurysms and…

Man, this really grinds my gears.

P.S. I’ve tried to troubleshoot the restart issue to no avail. It’s too random. I thought I’d fixed it by reformatting the SD card and moving most of the apps from the card to internal storage, but it still occurs. 🙁

checking back in

Oh wow, they made my movie! …Well, almost.


Seven long years ago, I wrote about how fascinating it would be if a fictional film were recorded with a twenty (actual) year gap from beginning to end. Apparently, I wasn’t the first one to come up with this idea (of course, because there is no way to be original anymore). The film Boyhood was made over a twelve-year span, which is still pretty impressive…even if the protagonist didn’t lose an arm. Now that’s dedication to one’s craft.

fedex-failIn another case of inane ramblings becoming reality, the late Mitch Hedberg’s joke about FedEx drivers dealing drugs was funny at the time, but the U.S. government isn’t laughing anymore. They’re going after FedEx for their part in distributing drugs from illegal online pharmacies, which is about as silly as Mitch’s original joke. To recall a line from my youth, “Don’t hate the playa – hate the game.”

mlb 14 rears its head

mlb 14 jimmy rollins dive

The developers of MLB 14 The Show for the PS4 are going about its advertisement the wrong way. Instead of promoting its photo-realistic lighting, grass, facial hair, and crowds, they should be talking up its alternate-reality mode, which is apparently enabled by default. In this mode, we witness all kinds of fascinating twists on reasonable expectations for this dimension.

Continue reading mlb 14 rears its head

belden’s book

belden's guide

The Layman’s Library

There was a time when it was not easy for the farmer to know the nature of science, or to stay abreast of modern – or even more ancient – history. His library consisted of the Bible, Magner’s Farm and Stock Book and Complete Instructor, and perhaps just one other volume – one which could convey succinctly and with clarity all knowledge heretofore worth knowing. With the Bible, man’s spiritual purpose and the foundation for his life would be elucidated. With Magner’s, he would be ready to tend the soil and care for livestock – and practice law on the side. But what would be the final book, the one which completed the human condition? It must explain our understanding of the natural world, and of great figures in human history, and works of high esteem in artistic, poetic, and philosophic circles.

It is Belden’s Guide to Natural Science, History, Biography, and General Literature.
Continue reading belden’s book

mobile computing’s past, revisited

Mobile PCs grabbed my attention around the turn of the millennium. As I matured, so too did computer technology, and I loved the idea of taking the power and flexibility of Windows with me on the go. It began with a palm-sized PC (never a Palm Pilot!), the Uniden UniPRO PC-100. This was followed by a series of Windows Pocket PCs, with color screens, faster processors, and enhanced multimedia capabilities.

But while these devices seem limited by today’s standards, they really were quite powerful. With a voice recorder, touch screen with handwriting recognition, speaker, removable memory card slot, PC synchronization, and the ability to add third-party applications, they truly were handheld computers. And there were also the so-called “handheld PCs,” which ran on Windows CE and had integrated physical keyboards. I never did dabble in these, mainly due to the steep, $1000 price tag. I could only afford to upgrade to a new Pocket PC by selling my old devices.

A few months ago, I binged when I found that people were selling these once-prohibitively-expensive gadgets on eBay for a small percentage of their original worth. As any reasonable person would, I set out to rebuild my collection by purchasing devices that met one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Either I originally owned the model and it held nostalgic value, or it was a slightly-upgraded version of the model I did own
  2. It was unique in features, appearance, or power among its class of devices
  3. It was very, very inexpensive


Let’s look at some representatives from a bygone era:

Continue reading mobile computing’s past, revisited