Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's All Taking Shape at TBird

Notice the integration of video and timing data. The cycling video is an AVI from Solvang TT at the Tour of California last year.

A rack mount holds all the guts.

This studly young feller is the boss of showjumping operations at Thunderbird

The "real" mounting hardware won't be here until tomorrow, so for now the display is strapped to a flatbed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Christmas in August. And it's 92 degrees. In Vancouver.

Overseeing delivery & installation of the new Signco-EDS video wall to Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC.

Instead of cold & drizzling, there's not a cloud in the sky and it's 92 degrees. In Vancouver?

Their old Daktronics Galaxy is looking like the middle-aged wife who's just been dumped for the hot blonde grad student.

Thunderbird has it's Grand Prix weekend next week, so this is all happening just in time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I love Nexus. I LOVE Nexus. I LOVE NEXUS!!!!!

Flew Seattle - Vancouver today on a Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 turbo-prop. Seating capacity : 76. At least 1/3 empty.

Unfortunately, we arrived YVR just after a China Air 747 and another big honkin' tin can from somewhere else. Customs wasn't exactly jammed to capacity, but the line stretched three lengths of the corral.

I started a stopwatch when I got within sight of Customs. I didn't check any bags, so I was going for a New World Record.

1. Bypass the line, go straight to the Nexus kiosks.

2. Stick my face in the Nexus kiosk super-shooter.

3. Poke at the touchscreen a couple of times.

4. Walk about 250 meters, past baggage claim, directly to the exit.

5. Hand my declaration and NEXUS receipt to Dudley DooRight.

6. Out the doors, into Canada. Bienvenue a Canada!

Elapsed time: 2 minutes, 41 seconds.

And that's why I love Nexus. I LOVE NEXUS!






I only wish a Nexus-like program was available from TSA. In this age of science & technology, where things like iPhones and Skype and Paypal change our lives overnight, I am infuriated that we still have to take our shoes off, take our laptops out of our roll-aboards, and do the TSA Barefoot Kabuki Dance in front of hourly workers who I wouldn't hire to empty my trash can.

And a huge, major-league FUCK YOU to the ACLU and the other lefties who are suing to halt the use of the new TSA full-body scanners. I would get on the damn plane stark naked if it would just speed things up and make the process scientific, effective, and objective.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


This week NPR featured an interview with a geeky, nebbish-y, Jewish, middle-aged, Russian-born literature professor from Columbia University by the name of Gary Shteyngart. Shteyngart is also, according to many, the greatest living American writer.

I love good satire (Carl Hiassen, for example). Shteyngart's latest book, Super Sad True Love Story, sounded wickedly funny, so I bought a copy.

SSTLS is kind of like a modern version of A Confederacy of Dunces.....on acid. America is a post-apocalyptic (financial apocalypse, not nuclear) wasteland owned, part and parcel, by China. The US buck is called the "Yuan-pegged dollar". All major US corporations have collapsed into bankrupt oligarchies, such as the airline UnitedContinentalDeltamerican. No Asians fly commercial because they're all rich enough to have their own private jets. All global citizens wear a device called an "aparat", which is a cross between a smartphone and the Big Brother channel from 1984. Upon walking into a room, one's aparat ranks everybody in the room according to their wealth, their attractiveness, and their health (bad cholesterol, genetic defects). People also use their aparat to communicate via a ubiquitous internet-based presence called GLOBALTEENS, which is sort of a global Twitter, Facebook, and satellite TV all rolled into one. Using their aparats, everyone has their own TV network.

SSTLS is a wild roller-coaster ride. I read about 100 pages (of 350) today, and I can't put it down.

Ironically, the main theme of Shteyngart's interview was that nobody buys books any more, because everybody wants to write. Nobody wants to read.

I do.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Ooma Telo VOIP

I bought one of these gadgets today:

I have been looking at VOIP solutions for a while. Cellular coverage near my house in Kula totally sucks, so I rarely use my mobile when I'm at home. My mobile winds up being strictly a business phone. I continue to have a home phone, really, out of habit. I do probably 75% of my voice communicating via SKYPE.

My monthly phone bill from Hawaii Telcom runs about $33. I also get a bill from ATT every month for about $12 for long distance access. So I was paying $45 a month for virtually nothing, except for calls from the occasional telemarketer. I looked at Vonage, which is about $30 / month. Oceanic Time Warner Cable has VOIP available, but it was also about $30 / month.

I heard about this Ooma Telo gadget, which has no recurring costs, and I found one online for $220. I figured what the hell, I'll give it a try. Ending my current arrangements with Hawaii Telcom / ATT will pay for the Telo well before the end of the year.

I hooked it up and it installed itself fine, first try. Voice quality is good. Probably not quite as good as a hard line, but as good as the best SKYPE calls. And I had SUCH fun calling Kumar from the ATT call center in Islamabad, and Vijay from the Hawai'i Telcom call center in Bombay, and telling them to cancel my service, effective immediately.

Ooma says for a one-time charge of $40 you can "port" your current number to the Telo. I found out that's true, but there's a catch, if your house is in Hawaii. Evidently Hawaii has so few phone subscribers that there is a substantial surcharge to use ANY 808 number. The charge, shockingly, is $20 a month in perpetuity. What kind of scam is THAT? It's not Ooma's fault. It's just another case of the paradise tax that's attached to pretty much everything in the State of Hawai'i.

I decided having an 808 number really has no value to me, so I got an (801) 337- number (Huntsville, Utah) because (A) 801 numbers are free (B) Utah has been my 2nd home for the past few years, and (C) I plan to buy a pied a terre in Huntsville in the near future, anyway. Why Huntsville? Because Huntsville, fellow powder skiing junkies, is the town in which the mighty, mighty ski resort of Snowbasin is located. Snowbasin is my "home" resort. I also consider Kitzb├╝hel to be my home resort, too. I'm a card-carrying member of the Kitzb├╝heler Ski Club. But it would be silly for me to have an Austrian (+43) home telephone number.

Utah has The Greatest Snow On Earth. Says so right on the license plates.

It turns out there is a small recurring monthly cost for using the Telo. You have to pay local 911 taxes according to your location as determined by your ZIP code. In Kula, the taxes run about $3 a month.