[Design] Alarm Clocks


The sheer lack of good sense of the human race can be summed up with the alarm clock. Here is a modern device which is practically neccesary for a rigid time schedule of work and life (and bane to sane and relaxed existance), and yet in shopping for a replacement clock, I cannot find anything that gets more than in the vicinity of what an alarm clock should be. Here are a few suggestions.

* The top casing should be like Nerf foam. The top of the clock should have only one thing only: a Snooze button the size of my fist. Combined with a structual rigidity and soft top, I should be able to, upon hearing the alarm go off in the morning, hurl my fist atop it with sufficient force to cave it in (and the table it sits on) and yet it should continue to function. The first thing a lot of people think about in those bleary few seconds after the alarm goes off is how to shut the damn thing up for 10-30 minutes so we can go back to sleep. Alarm clocks are an obscenity, but a neccesary evil sometimes. Snooze alarms are for when you realzise that getting up at that appointed time was a dreadful, unneccesary mistake.

* The snooze button should allow for multiple taps (fist pounds) so that if I hit it three times in succession, it shuts up for a half hour, and so forth.

* It should wake me up ~gradually~. Anything that wakes me up instantly better be a burglar alarm or the smoke detector. Gently rising volume of alarm buzzer, radio, chime, or whathaveyou, is a good way to do it. Same deal with gently brightening lights, although I've taken to wearing a sleep mask, so I won't see a damn thing.

* It should have a display with numbers about two inches high. When I'm bleary and half-asleep and my contact lenses are out and my glasses off and I'm generally blind, I'd like to be able to read the time without them.

* Just as importantly, the display should be fairly DIM, or at elast especially dimable. I have seen alarm clocks you could use as backup stadium lighting, or with bright green or blue LEDs that are like slivers of sunlight they are so damn bright. Vampires shrink away from them as if burned. The mark of any good sleeping area is that it is "cool, dark, and quiet" (and with adequate ventilation). Blazing LEDs destroy the 'dark' portion of those criterion.

* It should have two, if not three, seperate alarms.

* It should have a battery backup that lasts at least two days. Hello, Sony? 60 seconds is not a battery backup: It is slow bleed capacitors.

* I should be able to choose between loud klaxon, soft klaxon, radio, and maybe a gentle sound like birds chirping or a waterfall or something. Or maybe The Ramones. "Good morning, sexy" wouldn't hurt either.

* It should have a radio link to the atomic clock frequency to auto reset itself.

* A temperature function would be nice.

* It should not be very high. A lot of alarms are like towers. Sleek and low is good.

* It should have a 99.99% reliability. Missing your wakeup isn't much of an option nowadays.

* It should not have a THX certified amplifier and speaker system. For goodness sakes, this is an alarm clock, not an audiophile rig.

* It should not have anything even approaching simulated woodgrain. Plain blacks, whites, and silvers are good.

* I should be able to change what color the display is.

* It should have a nightlight button on the side. Low intensity.

* 24 hour format as an option.

* It should be compliant with whatever new daylight saving time changes we decide to make.

* It should be able to detect my brainwave patterns from a short distance away with no sensors attached to my head or anything, and determine the best possible time to rouse me from sleep and not interfere with my natural REM cycle and lead to a jarring awakening, based on a predetermined window of time (wake me between 730 and 820, whenever I'll be least annoyed)

* It should cost less than $100.

* It should bring me breakfast in bed including hot coffee when I wake up. (would be nice, eh?)

* Mostly, I'd like to have a job where I didn't ever have to deal with alarm clocks ever again or even better have a gf that likes to gently wake me up by 'getting amorous' in the morning.



[Musings, Science, Politics, Religion] F*ck the Creationists

I think E=mc Hawking sums up my feelings pretty well with his song "Fuck the Creationists".

Creationism (or Intelligent Design if you want to candy-coat it) upsets me, deeply. Now that is not to say whether (g|G)od(s) created the universe. I have no proof (either positive or negative), who knows? But we can prove, using the tools of science that the earth is a helluva a lot older than 10000 years and underwent distinct geological periods full of variances of life almost inumerable in permutation. We have proof that organisms adapt to their environment. We can witness mechanisms of mutation and selection. Why?

It's evolution motherfuckers.

We no longer live in the fucking Dark Ages.

Why is evolution taught in public schools? Because it is grounded in science, not faith. It has facts. Public education, because of the wisdom of the separation of church and state, is grounded in the basis of non-religious teachings. Why? Because we are a nation of many, we do not discriminate or select or favor one culture, one race or one religion over all others. The bible is for church, it is not a textbook (for science at least, philosphy, anthropology, sociology, maybe, but not science).

Don't player-hate science (science can admit when it is wrong, if there is proof and evidence to show it, and no faith is not proof, if you have proof, then faith is irrelevant, thus eliminating the need for faith and making (g|G)od go poof in a cloud of logic).


[R.I.P] James Doohan, age 85

Warp speed Mr. Scott. Warp speed.

Star Trek is one of my earliest memories of any TV shows (along with Dr. Who). My favorite characters were Mr. Spock and Mr. Scott. I have always felt they had an influence on why I became interested in Science and Technology.

(image taken from http://www.boingboing.net)


[Religion] Ultra-$uper-Mega Church(c)(tm)(sm)


This article disturbs me. Not because this church is a nexus point between Christianity and Capitalism (although that also disturbs me). It disturbs me because of the message the pastors are saying to their congregations.

But first, I must inject:

1) Patriotism is not a bad thing. (Note though that patriotism is NOT jingoism, it includes healthy debate and questioning the gov't, a lot if necessary. Wrapping your ass in an American flag and singing 'God Bless America' does not make you a patriot.)

2) Spirituality is not a bad thing. (Note though that spirituality does not equate to religion. One person's spirituality and relationship with (g/G)od(s) is a personal thing, not all people believe the same thing, and that's ok. Religion is when a large grow of people who share similar beliefs come together.)

3) You can support the troops and not the war.

4) You can question the President, see point 1). (and I seriously doubt he is doing (g/G)od(s)' work)

What disturbs me about this article is what the pastor's are saying. Specifically this point:

First we get the military, then we get the nation.

What is he implying? Is he implying that if we convert/subvert a national military, they will perform a military coup and institute a christian gov't (in essence a christian theocracy)?

Personally I want my military secular (like my government).


[Politics] Norm Coleman, he's not my Senator

Senator Norm Coleman is a disgrace to the peoples of Minnesota. As a Bush lackey he does not have the people of this great state in foremost concern.

Your speech opposing the amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill revoking the security clearance of any persons disclosing the identity of undercover operatives makes me embarassed to be a Minnesotan.

The Republicans closed ranks and shot the amendment down in a party-line vote, but just remember, a new election is coming.

2008 your time is up Norm.

Go Al Franken! (please please please run)

People of Minnesota, Mark Kennedy is making a bid to replace Mark Dayton as Senator at the end of Dayton's term. Don't let this happen, remember this is the person who did a smear campagin against Jacob Wetterling's mother Patty Wetterling. Mark Kennedy, like Norm Coleman is a puppet for the GOP, these people do not have the best interests of Minnesotans or this nation in mind.


[Musings] Work

Work since I switched jobs has been going well. I like my new job and my new team. I miss my old team members very much, but I do not miss the work.

I am oncall again, which is always more stressful than usual. Oncall has been getting better as the team gels more and things are improved.

I just finished upgrading one of the major core components at work here, without incident. It took months of planning, preparation, coordination, and work, but it paid off. The systems were upgraded, the OS was upgraded and the clustering software was upgraded. In addition the dependency layout within the cluster was re-arranged and made more robust (and complex).

I've worked 7 out of the last 9 weekend. I need to change that. But the work that is being done will make it less likely to need to do more weekend work in the future, so I guess it is worth it.


[News] London Bombings...


I woke up this morning, fed the cats, cleaned their litter and stepped into the shower. Part of my morning routine is to listen to MPR. What I was greeted with was BBC News coverage that London had been bombed.

The Guardian has had good coverage.


[Musings] General ramblings from a far off land...

I am a terrible blogger. I do not update as much as I should, but I only feel a little bad, I move at my own pace on my own time.

I have been on vacation for the last week. Welcome, blessed vacation. The last truly big vacation Nerdwife and I had been on was our honeymoon. Others have been too short or for very specific reasons (i.e. work, visiting family, etc.). This one was for fun.

San Francisco has been a muse.

San Francisco is like no other city.

San Francisco is dirty, it smells, yet is also clean and refreshing.

The vast diversity of peoples from all parts of the world is simply amazing. From the loud vendors of Chinatown, to beach bums on Stinson Beach. From the ubiquitous homeless to the morbidly wounded pigeons that scratch out livings. The million dollar condos to majestic redwoods, this place is simply awesome.

We have spent the better part of a week (six days) getting to know San Francisco, the touristy sides to those off the beating path. We've witnessed the change in flavor of downtown, the shift from the ebb and flow of daily worklife during the week to the energetic nightlife of Friday nights to the tourist choked swells of the weekend.

We soaked up the sun. Waded in the Pacific Ocean. Looked out of the deck of a fully rigged windjammer. We ate Dim Sum in Chinatown. We touch redwoods. We felt the wind on our faces, the salty tinge to the air. We rejoiced in the liberalism of this great city. Its tolerance of all. We had a quiet dinner in a small town called Fairfax that we happened upon by accident while meandering along and off of Hwy 1. Fairfax, a liberal, progressive, green-eco friendly town. We sipped coffee in Union Square. Supped while overlooking the Bay. Wandered through Wine Country. Ate at a cheesy, kitschy restaurant in Sonoma. Sat and contemplated in the Poetry Room of the City Lights bookstore, where the spirits of Kerouac and Ginsberg still echo. I have sipped Illy espresso in perhaps one of the coolest Internet Cafe's (http://www.goldengateperk.com). We've watched the fog roll in to engulf downtown. We have seen the Sun set on the Bay. Our minds have been altered by SFMOMA.

The salty air and the rolling ocean has been a salve to sooth the wounds of my mind and body. I feel alive.

I have come to understand parts of myself.