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I've just put up pictures from this weekend's Thunderhill driving school with the BMW club.

If you don't see yourself in the pictures, it may be because you were too chicken to come drive with us. Maybe next time, eh? Thanks to Lisa, for letting Eric come out and play with us!

Don't quit your day job

Microsoft Sharepoint's tooltip designer should probably go back to working at StarBucks.

MRF redeems himself

With a somewhat unfortunate book recommendation debacle on his record, you'd think I would stop taking my Media Recommendation Friend's advice. But I generally enjoy sci-fi more than "literature" so I was willing to give MRF's gift of two of Vernor Vinge's books a try, despite the record.

And I'm happy to report that they were both great! I couldn't put them down, and my productivity at work suffered greatly from them. Definitely the mark of quality fiction.

Thanks, Media Recommendation Friend. You know who you are.

A bit of math

My Subaru gets bad gas mileage. It's 4 wheel drive, which doesn't help. I have sticky tires on it, which doesn't help. I, um, drive it to its fullest potential... which definitely doesn't help. (I have a performance software package that boosts its horsepower, and that, ironically, improves its gas mileage, but that's not the point.)

So you might imagine that with gas prices being what they are, I should ditch the thing and buy a shiny new Prius because the mileage is so much better. (Let's assume that I were lobotomized so that I could somehow live with a car with less than 300hp.)

Well I thought that too, except for the power of spreadsheets. Because the thing is, my Subaru is almost paid off, so within a few months it's going to be costing me zero ... except in gas.

So if we compare two scenarios, one where I keep my current car with its bad gas mileage, and another where I get a shiny new Prius (which I somehow find in the corner of a bathroom stall such that it only costs $299/month to own), I would still need gas to cost over $6 per gallon before that would be worth it.

Don't get me wrong, I want to use less gas. But when the economics are that far away from working out, it's pretty hard to justify right now. Perhaps if I made a kajillion dollars I would feel differently--- or perhaps I just need to wait 6 months and gas prices will be in that neighborhood.

Are we tired of these yet?
While procrastinating on an extremely awful task at work, I saw this boingboing post about a company called "steorn" in Ireland saying it has invented a perpetual motion machine.

What I find stunning about this isn't that it's clearly a fradulent claim, even though it is. What's stunning is how anyone would engage these claims at face value, when a 3 second look at their web site would tell you that the entire thing is a scam to get your email address. (I presume the ultimate motive is to launch a video game or something.)

Here are some clues:
  • Why has the website only existed since 2004, and why does it look like a Web 2.0 portfolio showpiece?
  • Why is the front page of the site and all of its supporting content geared around the product controversy, instead of the product?
  • Why would a legitimate engineering company want your email address? Or take a poll of the public? Or have a forum filled with fake science debate? Or have a forum at all?
  • Where are the company's other products?
  • Given that the website was recently and professionally designed with state-of-art web standards that wouldn't be followed by some technology company's IT intern, where is the web designers' "Designed By" mark?
  • Why is steorn.com a redirect, instead of the main site content, unless it's going to become something else after some kind of press hit?
(I'm not going to provide a link to their website, because I'm not interested in helping the pagerank of spammer/scammer/publicity stunt wankers.)
Pho Toes

Introducing zerotrickpony.com, my personal photo gallery:

At the moment there are some vacation snaps in there, so if you were part of the Spahr Family Reunion or Dave's Bachelor Party you can see the pictures that I put up. I'll put up more albums as I get time.

You might wonder why I refuse to use Flickr, and the answer is that I hate their software, and I wanted an excuse to make a project that would let me flex some different w3b sk1zlz.

Granted, currently my viewer widget doesn't work so great on Safari, but it should at least limp along. Let me know what bugs you find, and then I'll not bother fixing them. Just like Flickr!

Now it gets interesting
This year's autocross season is going to finish with a bang. I'm in the lead, but this year my competition made me work uncomfortably hard for it, and fling even more money at my car to stay ahead. Chief amongst my PITAs is Paul, who is a really fun guy, a pleasure to compete against, and (I am convinced) is the fastest Taurus driver in the known Universe. Lord knows what he'd do to us if he had an actually good car. He's one of only two people who I haven't beaten in their own cars, so I know he's at least a better driver than me.

So with one event left in the championship season, here are the point standings:

Competitors are scored by the best 11 out of 15 events, 1st=200, 2nd=160, 3rd=110, etc. And yes, I am the leader, but here's the twist: because of a scheduling change, I'm going to be on vacation for the final event. So I'll need to win on my best 10 (1620), but Paul could still improve his best 11 if he can beat one of his previous scores (like the 5th place finish he got in Round 13.) So here's what could happen:
  • If Paul can win round 15, he'll replace one of his 70s with a 200, netting him 130 points. That's enough to beat me to first place, and he would be the season champion.
  • If Paul gets second place, he'll replace one of his 70s with a 160, netting him 90 points. That would tie me exactly in points, and we would share the season championship.
  • If Paul gets anything lower than second place in round 15, he will take second place for the season. Again.
I want to win, because I'll get a neat trophy and another snazzy jacket that boosts my ego with a big "CHAMPION" patch on the back. (Remember, I've never won anything in my life other than Autocross, so my ego wants all the boosting it can get.)

But in a way I would be happy if Paul won--- he's been doing this a long time, he's shown up every event, he drives the wheels off of his car, and he hasn't won a championship season yet. (And I think he would really, really like to beat me. I'm honored.) But to get it, he's got to finish first in the final round, which he's only done once so far this season.

No pressure, Paul.
It's still funny

I must admit that Penny Arcade has been waning in consistency in the last few months--- I think I'm at the periphery of their fandom because I basically know nothing about video games. I still read it, although not quite as fondly.

But I feel like this comic shows that they can still zing out a classic when they want to.

I am now a customer of DreamHost (the reason why being the subject of a future post) and I've just received my first DreamHost newsletter. Now, ordinarily I am as likely to read a newsletter as I am to win the lottery, but I had happened to overhear that DreamHost's newsletter is amusing, so I hung in there.

Admittedly, I might be annoyed with the despondent, unprofessional tone if they had actually cost me money with all their downtime. But I'm not a serious user, so mostly I found it refreshing, and pretty amusing. In fact, the main effect of this newsletter is that I feel strongly that I should contact my hosting provider and comfort them as best I can. Here's a snippet:


Whoop-dee-doo. Another Month, another DreamHost Site of the Month. This
one is a little out of the ordinary however, as it's only HALF flash.


is the personal site of Sanithna Phansavanh, an artist/designer who must
like it hot/muggy because he/she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

It's pretty and all that, but not worth using an exclamation point. Next
month I may be back to my disgustingly upbeat self, so if you want a
chance to get YOUR site essentially spammed to hundreds of thousands of
web hosted people like yourself, and with exclamation marks, submit it
now at:


Josh Jones!

Oh crap. Well, now that the aura of desolation and despair has been
shattered, I totally understand if you want to unsubscribe. Do so here:


The views expressed on this site are mine personally, and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.