Friday, March 31, 2006

It's been vewy qwiet awound here...

It's been very quiet around here - there have been no "war of art" fireworks - probably because JM and JC are on the left coast today. (Occasionally the rumors posted here turn out to be not true).

Since Smashed will not be around this coming week, having arranged to be available to cruise the caribbean, any reportage of the goings on in Waltham will have to wait until his return.

Trolloping Cats

Trolloping cats are a real problem in some households.

Their gamboling around the floor at all hours can lead to lack of sleep, their cantoring about can lead to complaints from the neighbors, their trotting around can really mar the hardwoods.

A gal might pull out her hair over all this cavorting, were the dang things not so cute!

Luckily, there are no dogs around, or it could lead to mass hysteria.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

30 nm is an enormous amount

30 nm is an enormous amount.

It's 300 Angstroms.

It's 6 ten-thousandths of the diameter of a 50-micron human hair.

It's 50% larger than the width of a bacterial flagellum.

It's smaller than 1/3 the size of 90% of the particles in wood smoke.

It's shorter than the wavelength of extreme ultra-violet light.

30 nm is an enormous amount.

For the Record...

CC has apparently not been paying very close attention to this space. Though she noticed that she's had one prior mention, she did not notice previous entries, and so thought that it was her first. (As a consequence, she complained bitterly about having been around so long without notice here - while AO merited a mention on his first day).

Not so! There are other mentions here and here. (and now HERE)...

So much for thinking that being a consultant would allow you to have a low profile, CC...

The game is afoot

For reasons yet to be determined, it seems that the war of art has started.

The Head-Smashed-In poster is back in its rightful place, and the very expensive / very corporate press release and newspaper articles framed thang is nowhere to be found. (At least, it's not where it's supposed to be. Someone can see it).

Stay tuned - Smashed's bet is that the fireworks will commence on Friday.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sequestering from the gimmish?

Sequestering from the gimmish? What does *that* mean?

I mean it's bad enough that we've got to learn and use terms like "aliquot", and "incubate", and "measure", but gimmish?

And how would one sequester something from this gimmish...

A few of the minor web dictionaries have it - but they seem to have it wrong...

gimmish - Irritating minutia, trivial nonsense, often used to minimize the importance of another's request or concern.

ex. Don't bother me with that gimmish right now. I'll finish the quarterly report after I'm done with this game of Tetris.

A cursory google search reveals that the sense in which this was meant was gimmish as "soup", as in "no gimmish for you"!

And sequestering from this gimmish has to mean to not add to this soup - to keep the other elements of the gimmish from corrupting this tender element.

Well, obviously the jury is still out on this one. But remember, if this phrase makes it big, you heard it here first - whatever it means.

Friday, March 24, 2006

One Year

As noted below, today we celebrate one year in the new suite of offices.

Champagne is rumored to be involved in this afternoon's festivities, as well as the now de rigeur bean dip.

Hope to see y'all there.

AO, AO, it's off to work we go!

The band is definitely reforming now - seems that AO will be joining us on Monday to help out around the place. He'll do a little of this, a little of that. It'll make for a nice summer gig, or perhaps the long term continuation of a beautiful relationship.

I hope he and CC get along...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The War of Art

It seems the gauntlet has been thrown down. Though RD insists that he is merely an observer, it's only a matter of time before hostilities break out.

Be ready to take cover and nobody'll get hurt.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Superchip must die!

Superchip must die. It must be hunted like the animal that it is, and wiped from the face of the earth with extreme prejudice.

Violent? No.

We fear the things we do not understand.

Moving on up

One year ago this Saturday (3/25/05), we moved into our new digs.

Yep, one year of driving those few extra miles to the new building. One year of beautiful new white walls. One year of not having a snarling receptionist.

Good times, good times.

(Note that this is something to celebrate - and this Friday is as good a day as any, and better than most. Perhaps details will be forthcoming).

Monday, March 20, 2006

Oh, and Welcome Back, DC

We hardly missed ye.

Spring (1:26PM EST)

Spring is about to have sprung!

Happy Spring ever'body! Only 2 more months until the threat of blizzards is well and truly gone!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Tiger Team

Rumor has it that we've established a tiger team to teach us to be less insensitive.

Thank goodness, I was beginning to wonder if with growth we'd become just another large company, getting bigger and bigger, crushing everything in our path, eventually ruling the world.

Come to think of it, maybe this tiger team isn't such a good idea after all.

Bon Voyage, DC

Bon Voyage, DC, it's been good to have you around. We hope that you enjoy cruising to your new destination, and that you won't need one of those lifeboats.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Tomorrow Today is pi - 2006

Tomorrow Today is pi day (3/14), and so the super glamorous types at the office are planning a celebration of some kind. Smashed does not know exactly what that might entail, as he and NR have been and will be off-site through tomorrow. This news via WL, who is probably the inspiration for the festivities RS's son, who wanted to bring a pie to math class. Hopefully Apple.

Next up, the ides of March - perhaps we should all dress in togas.

UPDATE: Some Pi links of interest from the beeb.

Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is set to make a movie of Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi.

A Japanese man breaks the world record for reciting pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, from memory. (7/2/2005) He managed to recite 83,431 digits.

An epileptic "savant" from Kent recites pi to more than 22,500 places, breaking the European record. (3/15/2004) He said: "It literally took me a few weeks to learn the number, and that was backwards as well as forwards, it wasn't a problem for me at all. I would even go so far as to say it was actually rather easy."

Friday, March 10, 2006

Software Lab Ergonomic Redesign

The software lab has undergone a bit of an "ergonomic redesign" this morning. JU got sick of stretching out his back trying to get to his development kit, so he rearranged the furniture a bit.

Believe it or not, all of us now have at least two monitors accessible to us at all times. Progress, progress.

As an added bonus, we now have enough room to hold a dance in the added space! (Not that we're likely to ever actually hold one).

Spring Returns to Waltham

Spring has returned to Waltham (to the chagrin of NT who had to cancel his Wachusett Mountain ski trip scheduled for last night). The good news is, though, that our very own charismatic mega-fauna have returned to our neighborhood! White-tailed deer can be seen nonchalantly cruising by the building, most any day.

I guess RN will have to be extra careful in the parking lot for the next couple of months.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Cuba Libre

So, the Social Committee held a meeting at which quorum was established. It was unanimously decided that the theme of this week's soiree is "Cuba Libre". We'll be staying with a "South of the Border" motif (at least this week), and continuing our break from vodka.

Next week, green beer? or green whiskey?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Que es mas macho? Crazy Horse or The Old Man of the Mountain?

The old man of the mountain was 40.5 feet tall, by 25 feet across - approximately.

The Old Man is formed on a shoulder of Profile Mountain, which juts out abruptly into space, some 1200 feet above Profile Lake. It is composed of five layers of granite ledge, one exactly above the other, the lateral distance being 25 feet. Of these five layers one forms the chin, another the upper lip, a third the nose and two layers make up the forehead. The Old Man has been measured as being forty feet and five inches in height.

Crazy Horse's head is 87.5 feet high.

When completed the Crazy Horse mountain carving will be 641 feet long by 563 feet high. Crazy Horse's completed head is 87 feet 6 inches high. The horse's head, currently the focus of work on the mountain, is 219 feet or 22 stories high.

The Old Man of the Mountain is no more. Crazy Horse is just getting started.

Que es mas Macho? Definitely Crazy Horse...

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Going through Winter Olympics withdrawal? Well, the Iditarod may be balm for your soul. Today marks the start of the 34th Iditarod dogsled race, leaving from Anchorage, Alaska.

HSI may be covering this year's race - if anything interesting happens, we might let you know.

If dog sports aren't your cup of tea, perhaps you could check out the Idiotarod. Unfortunately, this year's has already been held.

Blackberry Saved

Well, CEOs all over the world (not to mention our own) can heave a sigh of relief. As ZDNet has it, "The long-running BlackBerry saga appears to be over."

Research In Motion and NTP have agreed to settle the patent dispute over the BlackBerry device for $612.5 million, the companies announced in a press release on Friday. Under the agreement, RIM will receive a license to NTP's patents going forward, they said.

The agreement involves a one-time payment to NTP, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said during a Friday afternoon conference call. Even if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office eventually overturns NTP's patents, NTP will not have to repay the $612.5 million. "There is no provision for the PTO re-exam. This is a full and final settlement," he said.

"It's very important we got the scope we wanted. The scope relates to all of NTP's patents and relates to all of RIM's products," Balsillie added. "We really did this to give certainty, and calmness and comfort to our ecosystem."

Great - now we don't have to worry about RD missing important messages from RS or JTC.


Well, Semaine Gras is over, thanks to JT, who hosted our blowout Vendredi Gras celebration, ending the week.

He provided margaritas (both frozen and on the rocks), complete with salt and limes. Accompanying the libations were a gienormous bag of corn chips, salsa, cheese, and spinach dip.

Truly a fine way for a woofa-goofa to obtain green teeth, and wonder how he "musta got lost" the next day.

Since in the opinion of some this event has outclassed recent Friday celebrations, the Committee is taking suggestions (here or elsewhere) on what sort of theme would be best for the next bash.

Of course, two (2) weeks hence is St. Patrick's day, and the theme is probably taken care of there.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Snow, wonderful snow

Sometimes, nature doesn't come through. Since there'll be a crowd of us at Mt. Wachusett a week from tomorrow, the topic of man-made snow achieved some currency among us at Mercredi gras today.

As the google-jockey of the group, I was assigned to research the topic and report back. Here's what I (and NT) found.

Critical to snowmaking for skiing is getting the right combination of temperature and humidity--the lower the humidity, the higher the outdoor temperature can be to form snow. With untreated water, an air temperature of about –8 °C (18 °F) is needed. Another important factor is the need to generate sufficient nucleation sites for ice crystals to form. Nucleation sites can be a few water molecules that coalesce alone; calcium, magnesium, or other ions; or an impurity such as a clay particle or organic matter.

When the temperature isn't quite cold enough--above about –5 °C (23 °F)--snowmakers need little helpers in the form of seed materials added to the water to generate nucleation sites. Silver iodide, kaolin, soaps and detergents, and fungi or lichens are among the materials that have been used.

Currently, the most popular additive is Snomax, a freeze-dried protein powder sold by York Snow, Victor, N.Y. Snomax is derived from Pseudomonas syringae, a common bacterium found on grasses, trees, and vegetable crops. In the 1970s, plant pathologists studying the frost sensitivity of corn plants at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, discovered that the bacteria were responsible for initializing ice crystallization [Nature, 262, 282 (1976)].

[It also has its own web site. Ed.]

A newer seeding product taking the market by storm is called Drift, a liquid polyether-substituted trisiloxane produced by Aquatrols in Cherry Hill, N.J. Drift works as a surfactant to decrease the level of hydrogen bonding in water so the water can freeze more quickly, according to the company.

Well, that's probably more than you ever wanted to know about making snow.

Stolichnaya Gold

NR came through with a nice black and red labelled bottle of Stolichnaya Gold to top off our Mercredi Gras today. Also provided were some pickled garlic sprouts (so good!) and some smoked meat.

Since we've had our Vodka quota for the week (and since NR's been so generous), JT has offered to provide the libations for this Friday's fest. Margaritas all around - long live the agave!

Smash Wednesday

Today is Smash Wednesday, so in honor of that, and because today is the beginning of month 3, HSI presents this blast from the past, the John Belushi March weather report - available variously around the web:

Chevy Chase:
Last week we made the comment that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Now here to reply is our chief meteorologist, John Belushi, with a seasonal report.

John Belushi:
Thank you Chevy. Well, another winter is almost over and March true to form has come in like a lion, and hopefully will go out like a lamb. At least that's how March works here in the United States.

But did you know that March behaves differently in other countries? In Norway, for example, March comes in like a polar bear and goes out like a walrus. Or, take the case of Honduras where March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a salt marsh harvest mouse.

Let's compare this to the Maldive Islands where March comes in like a wildebeest and goes out like an ant. A tiny, little ant about this big.

[holds thumb and index fingers a small distance apart]

Unlike the Malay Peninsula where March comes in like a worm-eating fernbird and goes out like a worm-eating fernbird. In fact, their whole year is like a worm-eating fernbird.

Or consider the Republic of South Africa where March comes in like a lion and goes out like a different lion. Like one has a mane, and one doesn't have a mane. Or in certain parts of South America where March swims in like a sea otter, and then it slithers out like a giant anaconda.

There you can buy land real cheap, you know. And there's a country where March hops in like a kangaroo, and stays a kangaroo for a while, and then it becomes a slightly smaller kangaroo. Then, then, then for a couple of days it's sort of a cross between a, a frilled lizard and a common house cat.

[Chevy Chase tries to interrupt him]

Wait wait wait wait. Then it changes back into a smaller kangaroo, and then it goes out like a, like a wild dingo. Now, now, and it's not Australia! Now, now, you'd think it would be Australia, but it's not!

[Chevy Chase tries to interrupt him]

Now look, pal! I know a country where March comes in like an emu and goes out like a tapir. And they don't even know what it means! All right? Now listen, there are nine different countries, where March comes in like a frog, and goes out like a golden retriever. But that- that's not the weird part! No, no, the weird part is, is the frog. The frog- The weird part is-

[has seizure and falls off chair]

March Day

Today is March 1st, which is the day that the company went from 5 employees to 8, (effectively) doubling in size instantaneously. On that glorious day, WL, NR, and HD joined the illustrious band that would become what we've become today. Talk about inauspicious beginnings...

Anyway, today we're holding our own sort of Mardi Gras, albeit a bit late. WL brought in some bagels and various cream cheeses, and NR murmered something about doing her part later. Those surprises tend to be very pleasant, so stay tuned.

French Roast Emergency Ended

Thanks to an anonymous donation of one (1) bag of Starbucks French Roast, the crisis has been averted for now.

Catastrophe is just one failed delivery away, however, so we shall have to keep watch more assiduously next time.

Eternal Vigilance is the price of adequate supply of French Roast.

French Roast Emergency, Day 8

We've now broken the one week mark, and there's no end in sight.

I guess we know now what Rumsfeld was talking about.

There certainly are unknown unknowns, like when we'll have more French Roast, and who will retrieve it for us. Should we continue on in our work while being undersupplied? Should we continue to drink the non French Roast coffee, knowing that as its levels also drop, that this could lead to all out civil war?

We've already had one terrorist incident - an IED explosion in the lab. There was no provocation for that attack. How much more likely is all out conflict when natural resources are unavailable or imbalanced? What will happen if caffeine levels start to drop? It is of utmost importance that leadership is established and the flow of French Roast is restored.

Respect for the standards of basic human rights will help to defuse what is obviously a volatile situation. Continued basic supply disruptions can only lead to more unrest, and the widening of the emergency to neighboring states.