Saturday, May 19, 2007

How to be green .... Forever ....

I was listening to the Weekly Scientific America podcast: Science Talk when a story came up about "out of the box" (pun intended) thinking on burial rites and how to make them "greener." Some people believe the cremation is a very un-green way to dispose of your remains. There is the issue of the carbon given off by the burning process plus all of the fuel needed to cook you at 800 degrees C for 90 minutes. As far as burial is concerned ... that's just a waste of space ... plus pretty morbid ... I mean who likes cemeteries anyway ... rows and rows of gray tombstone ... just seems so sterile and unnatural.

How about this as an alternative:

This process saves space by using a vertical approach and your remains through natural decomposition will feed the tree, in fact your atoms will become part of the tree. When people want to visit, rather then looking at gray headstones they can sit under the shade of a beautiful tree and remember you. Imagine if it were a fruit tree ... gives new meaning to the phase: "eat me"

Here is a link to a site that mentions how to be green in the afterlife
and here is an oposing view point that says cremation is the greenest approach

Problem I'm having is this goes against my original plan to have myself turned into gemstones and given to my grand kids.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 2:38 PM


I've specified that my entire (deceased) body is to be used for organ donation, medical science, research and education, with only the bits that no one wants disposed of as medical waste (or fed to zombies, as needed).

Why waste a perfectly good dead body? Recycle!

# posted by Blogger Mace @ 11:45 PM 


Recycling ... now that's the way to go ... err ... no pun intended. Yes, organ donation is on my list as well .... but I never did consider what to do with the leftovers. Hmmm medical research ... could be an option.

# posted by Blogger Rob Roschewsk @ 8:21 AM 

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

110 Volts ... 220 Volts ... what's the difference ??

A new entry in the "You can't make this stuff up" file:

Back in January I spec'd out a system to go in an office in Denver. The system requires TWO 220V/30A circuits. I could swear I told the locals there but I can't find an email to confirm it so assume it never happened. You would think this story would end there with a "Bad, Bad Rob! You need to document these things!" But no, I work with insane people so it can't stop there. It seems the "computer room manager" took it upon himself to replace the 220V plugs with 110V plugs and plug in the device underpowered.

Mind you it took a while to get to the bottom of this since it's in Denver and I can't see this work of art. We even put in service calls to the equipment vendor. It wasn't until the vendor said we "should really be using a larger PDU" that I said ... "fine we'll ship back the small ones and exchange them" then I was informed that we can't exchange them since they've been modified. "huh, wha???" Who would do such a thing?? If you were an installer and faced with the classic "square peg, round hole" problem wouldn't you pick up the phone to call someone ... if only just to bitch and moan???

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 1:33 PM

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It's Official: DIRECTV Sucks!

Seems my joy was short lived. Got a call from Lisa while I was packing up to leave work yesterday .... a package came .... another DIRECTV R15 receiver! The comments that followed are NSFW. Already packed with laptop case in hand I sat down to call my old friends at DirecTV. I spoke to a front line person, who transfered me to a supervisor, who transfered me to another supervisor. It seems the person I spoke to on Sunday was wrong, they don't have any more refurbished TIVO units.
Fine, I know when I'm beat. I asked them to take back the TWO R15 units I'm not using and remove the 2 year commitment from my account. Nope, not doin' it. Apparently, the instant I activated the new receiver I agreed to the contract where in consideration for giving me a new receiver I commit to two years of service or an early termination fee of $12.50 per month unused on the commitment (about $240). I was told I could write their "billing disputes" department and complain. That sounds so much like "tell it to the hand." I'll probably do that, and keep one receiver hostage until they agree ... but that seems unlikely. The irony to this whole thing is if I could get a working TIVO I wouldn't consider canceling my service.
The problem with the receiver is one of the tuners is acting up ... on some channels the picture will pixelate and break up. I've swapped the connection going to the LNB but the problem stays with the receiver. Also, the R15 did not exhibit any reception problems. So I'm pretty confident of the actual satellite connection.
My contingency plan is to purchase a refurbished unit from a company online: they make all sorts of refurb DTV TIVOs as well as upgrade kits. Also, I think I've seen satellite distribution amps at radio Shack or some such place ... I may try one of those to see if it helps any.
Stay tuned ... I'm sure this isn't over yet.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 8:52 AM

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Monday, May 14, 2007

I'm getting my TIVO back :-)

Things have not been well in Pabut-ville since the TIVO was replaced .... and it's more than me! Even Lisa and the kids have been feeling the pain. Again, it's like a cheap knock off .... the menus are hard to navigate ... there's no audio feed back when you push a button ... worse there is a lag with menu response time ... so you keep pushing a button on the remote thinking that the box didn't hear you the first time ... and when it finally catches up you're all screwed up doing something you didn't want to do.

You can't set up a season pass for the same show playing on two different channels ... for example Lisa loves the old series "Homicide" it's on both "Sleuth" and "WGN" the old TIVO would record episode from both networks but with new DIRECTV R15 DVR we must choose one or the other ... I can't even trick it by trying to set up two separate season passes. It's hard to tell what the box is doing at any given instant ... one scenario ... TWO shows are being recorded and you want to watch a LIVE TV show ... with the TIVO I could pop back and forth between the two tuners to see what want to cancel ... with the new DVR there's no easy way ... you need to go into the program list and search for the program with the little "R" on it indicating it is being recorded.

We all had enough ... we all collectively mourned the loss of our TIVO. I was at a point I was willing to PAY MONEY to make this all better .... but as far as I could see there was no way out of this mess. DIRECTV was no longer selling the TIVO. TIVO the company from what I could see was not selling a DIRECTV model. There was no going back. We even considered putting the old broken box back in .... at least it worked better that the new one.

There was nothing left for me to do but to pitch a holy fit to someone at the other end of a telephone. I called DIRECTV and said I was taking this piece of garbage, putting it back in the box and shipping it back to them ... and I wanted to be released from my 2 year commitment ( the piece of flesh I needed to give to get the new box at no cost ) so I could be free to explore my options. Their first reply was ... uh NO .. you already agreed to the "contract" ... I told them I didn't agree to a lesser quality of service .... eventually they transferred me to a supervisor ... who also said it would be "impossible" for the 2 year commitment to go away ... however ... what they could send me was a reconditioned TIVO unit! A real TIVO! The supervisor even commented MANY people in my situation have complained .... and she was surprised they didn't send me a reconditioned TIVO in the first place.

So stay tuned ... new TIVO should arrive in a few days ... I've got my fingers crossed that this all has a happy ending. It only needs to last two years ... at which time I'll probably be ready to upgrade to something HI-DEF anyway.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 2:05 PM


Sheesh, what a mess they've made of their product! Kudos for hanging in there. Just played with my first DVR this past weekend, as part of an integrated HD Cable Box offering. Nifty features... I see why people get so hooked on these things.

# posted by Blogger Mike @ 4:15 PM 


I've always said they're life changing. Oddly I find I watch TV less now than I did before. It's like "no pressure" if it's something I want to watch it will be there waiting for me. It's not like in the old days when you had to camp out every night in front of the tube so you wouldn't miss something.

# posted by Blogger Rob Roschewsk @ 1:32 PM 

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I miss my TIVO :-(

The DIRECTV TIVO I've had for a few years was starting to death spiral .... it would crash occasionally ... one of the tuners wasn't working right ... finally gave DIRECTV a call. At first they wanted to send me a new DVR and charge me $20 for shipping ... after I said "Gee that's funny ... DISH Network is going to give me a DVR for free and install it" all of the sudden the $20 charge turned into a $60 credit.

Installed the new DIRECTV branded DVR this weekend. It's not a TIVO ... It's not the same. I miss the automatic suggested recording that TIVO did .... the menu navigation was much crisper ..... there was plenty of audio feedback when pressing buttons (bee doop, bee doop.)

The DIRECTV DVR is like a cheap knock-off.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 9:12 PM


Wait, people still watch TV that doesn't come from the Internet? That's so 20th century. :)

# posted by Blogger Mace @ 2:24 AM 


Was thinking of using the OLD DTV TIVO as an IPTV box ..... just seems like a lot of work. If I could find an inexpensive and QUIET x86 box I would use that instead.

# posted by Blogger Rob Roschewsk @ 8:23 AM 


An old laptop with TV-out works well. You can run MythTV on it (or just the MythTV front-end connected to a MythTV back-end on another machine in the house), and use something like the Gyration Media Center Remote to control it. Or whatever the Windows/Mac equivalent functions are.

# posted by Blogger Mace @ 6:01 AM 

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Extra Clean

On my way to work I passed a used car dealer. On the windshield of one of the cars for sale was the sign: "Extra Clean."
I started to ponder whether I had stumbled onto another abuse of the English language. Then again who am I to talk.
Be that as it may, I started thinking about "Extra Clean." Does this mean the other cars for sale are not as clean? I've never considered varying degrees of clean. Clean, cleaner, cleanest .... doesn't make a lot of sense. Wouldn't you always want the cleanest possible ... if it's not the cleanest then isn't just dirty? Clean should be a binary condition, it's either clean, as clean as can be, or it's just dirty.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 9:03 PM

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Farewell Wally Schirra

Wally Schirra passed away today at the age of 84. Mr. Schirra was the only astronaut to have flow in Mecury, Gemini and Apollo missions. Oddly Wally Schirra might be best known for his Sudafed commercials in the 80s.

Wally along with Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham flew the Apollo 7 mission, the first American manned space flight after the Apollo 1 tragedy claimed the lives of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.

If there's any truth to the HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon" Schirra was constantly haunted by the tragedy of Apollo 1 and was determined to do everything in his power to see to it that it wouldn't happen again. In the episode about Apollo 7, Schirra is portrayed as a hard nosed commander constantly raising safety concerns and pushing back on NASA administration.

During the mission Schirra and his crewmates came down with colds (hence the sudafed tie in) and refused to where their helmets during re-entry operations. Schirra has stated had they worn their helmets in their congested state they would not be able to equalize sinus pressure and the pain would have been unbearable. It is believed this act of "insubordination" kept the three from flying on any further missions.

Godspeed Wally Schirra.........

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 7:12 PM

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bush VETOs Iraq funding bill, does this mean the troops come home anyway?

The President has VETOed the now famous Iraq spending bill. His reason being any time table for withdrawal would be a “prescription for chaos and confusion.”

Did president Bush ever go to any of his classes at Harvard Business School. I'm not a business major but I'm sure there's some rule about knowing how you're going to finish what you start. This guy seems to think that if you don't stop fighting the war you can't be charged with losing it! Then again .... he did declare "Mission Accomplished" already :)

So if we don't have money to fund the war ... does that mean it's over?? Do we just stop sending the folks over there food an bullets and say find your own way home. I doubt it.

So all in all this is just more political drama.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 10:59 AM

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Do you wanna be a kernel newbie ???

I was listening to an interview with Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman on the Linux Link Tech show (Episode# 185) where I heard there is demand for Linux kernel developers. When asked how to go about becoming a kernel developer Greg suggested the site

Also, as a goof, Greg put together a LINUX Device Driver Kit (DDK) so Linux has a DDK just like all the other operating systems. (For those of you who don't get it: Linux is totally open source so why would you need a DDK???) In any event ... It's a great collection of all the documentation you might need to do Linux kernel development on one CD.

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 3:31 PM


After doing kernel development for 15 years (VM/CMS), I thought I could do kernel level work in Linux. Not even close. Five to seven million lines of changes every two to three months, with two thousand active developers! And that's the kernel alone. I am properly humbled.

# posted by Blogger Mace @ 12:11 PM 

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New life for AT&T CallVantage??

lying dormant since the SBC takeover everyone assumed AT&Ts VoIP offering CallVantage was dead on the vine. Now a USA TODAY article indicates new life for the obscure service. The plan seems to be to offer the service as part of a cell phone package at Cingular Wireless stores in markets where AT&T is not the dominate local phone provider. Could we actually get the competition in telecom we've been promised???

#posted by Rob Roschewsk @ 8:25 AM

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