Tuesday, August 31

Sleep, the final frontier!

ECG leads
Originally uploaded by bigyahu.

Last night I checked into a sleep research clinic for a night on the monitors. I was there to establish whether my persistent snoring was a symptom of sleep apnea, and if so, whether it was doing me any harm (other than affecting my relationship with my wife.)

They put electrodes on my scalp to monitor brainwaves, electrodes next to my eyes to monitor REM eye movement, elecrodes under my chin to monitor mouth muscles during snoring, electrodes on my chest and back to monitor my heartbeat, electrodes on my calves to see whether I suffered "restless leg syndrome" (which really does exist), tubes in my nose to monitor exhalations, another on my upper lip to monitor humidity, and a blood gas monitor on my index finger.

Then they turned the lights out at bedtime and watched me through an infra-red camera as I took about an hour to finally get to sleep.

As you can imagine, with all that hardware and wiring, it was hard just to get to sleep at all. And when I needed to go pee in the middle of the night, I had to page the attendant to unplug me from the wall and into a portable monitor box. Oh, the indignity!

They woke me up at 5am, sent me home, and in about a week I have to go see the specialist to review my results. All the attendant would tell me this morning was that I was OK to operate heavy machinery for the time-being. Off to the bulldozer rental shop for me, then!

More pictures...

Tuesday, August 24

Recycle your business cards

This chapter begins:

Troy knew he'd worked for technology startups long enough when, for the fourth time in a row, his employer went bust before he'd worked his way through his first box of business cards. Matt-coated, heavy stock, and wide enough to accomodate the ridiculously obscure job titles of the modern technology startup, nearly a third of a box of unused cards still mocked him from the box he kept in the top drawer of his desk. He'd barely made it to five industry breakfasts in this current persona; barely got his usual circle of professional friends to update their addressbooks; barely learned to roll off his own polysyllabic job title in a casual manner, as if he'd been in the job for more than six months. As if the company was actually a company, rather than a good idea in search of a customer.

He picked up a card and ran it over his fingers, really feeling the rough surface for the first time. It felt like recycled cardboard. Maybe from recycled business cards. Maybe even recycled from the three other companies where he'd worked, and failed to use all his business cards. Maybe there was a business in this - recycling business cards - picking them up in special branded bins from companies that had hit the wall, putting them through the recycler, and printing new cards cheaply for new startups. It would need a website. It would need a great brand. It would need some capital...

He slammed the card down on the desk so hard his fingers hurt and the lid of his laptop juddered for a second. God, what was wrong with him?

Monday, August 16

A thought on sharing iTunes on a network

This occurred to me while listening to another iTunes user's collection
on our office network: it would be cool if someone else's music was
slightly quieter than your own, the volume varying according to the
network 'distance' between you and the other person. Or perhaps it
would be better to add a little bit of echo to it. Obviously it would
be something you'd want to be able to turn on and off as a preference,
and it would be off by default, so as not to annoy anyone.

I would also like to try doing some personal broadcasting, using my
iTrip FM transmitter module, and get a few friends to try and tune in
via FM radios in the same room. Everybody on headphones, and me the DJ.
Totally quiet in the room but everyone listening to the same music.

Only problem is: where am I going to find that many people who like ELO
and Boston on the same mix? ;-)

Note to Alexander: don't forget to bring a missile back with you

Mike Carlton, weekend columnist in the Sydney Morning Herald, calls him "Lord Downer of Baghdad", which apparently makes our foreign minister, Alexander Downer, seem less stupid than he really is. How else to explain Downer's ridiculous and inflammatory outburst that North Korea has long-range missiles that could hit Australia, on the eve of his embarking for a trip to Pyongyang for talks?

What a tool! What a plonker! The Defence Dept analysts really have to be more careful when they're making jokes around Downer, because he's clearly not getting the joke and thinks they're being serious.

Here's somebody who actually knows something about whether it's possible, and some analysis about whether the North Korean test facility would even pass muster as a temporary field for crop dusters if it were Australian, much less a long-distance ICBM test facility.

Really, what's the chances of a missile hitting a populated region at all along Australia's northern coast? Assume a missile would be at maximum range, basically falling randomly out of space, and this would be an untested launch - the North Koreans never having fired anything even half that far ever before. The North Koreans would have to weigh up the risks of accidentally hitting South Korea (meaning: World War III), Japan (ditto), Hong Kong and Singapore (whoops-a-daisy!) or Indonesia (on pretty good speaking terms) en-route. We'd certainly have to piss them off mightily before they'd give it a crack. Granted, Lord Downer's doing his best to do just that. I take it these won't be peace talks!

No, the only way the North Koreans could get a missile as far as Australia would be if Lord Downer were persuaded to bring one home in his luggage. Which, considering the size of Lord Downer's retinue on such trips, and his evident gullibility, is probably possible. "Oh that?" says Downer to the customs officer, "The Korean ambassador told me it was a jumbo-sized cocktail shaker!"

Besides, the way the Howard government keeps redefining our northern territorial limits to ward off the evil Muslim terrorist boat people, North Korea's missile designers better keep adding more mileage pretty fast. Australia shrinks with each passing year of Howard government.

Dear Kim Jong-Il: in the interests of international peace and harmony, do us all a favour and hang on to our idiot foreign minister. Next time you do get a chance to test a missile, strap him to the top of it. He's a "warhead" in the worst sense of the word.

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