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"Serial Bus is a place for me to dump interesting links that I find."

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Archives

I love it when someone else does this. Thursday, December 31, 2009 | comments

Since today's the last day of the year, everyone's saying happy new year as they leave the office. So you know:
"Happy New Year!"
"You too!"

Well, I was just talking to one of our older residents about her plans on New Years and she talked about how she and her daughter were going to go to Red Lobster and beat the rush. So on her way out I said "Have fun with your daughter" and she said "You too!"

Sorry Earth, but it's only 80 degrees in here Wednesday, December 30, 2009 | comments

Last week, I had a resident call up saying that they had a problem with their heat. You see, when they set the thermostat to 90 degrees, the heat was only getting up to 80 in the apartment (27 degrees Celsius).

So I let them know that despite the dial being able to go to 90 degrees, it wouldn't actually reach that temperature.

The other problem they had with the heat was that the main bedroom's heat didn't seem to be working well: it was always colder in that room. So I said we'd have someone come over to look at it. Sometimes in situations like that, there will be an outer storm window that is open or something like that.

So maintenance went over there and pulled back the blinds on the window only to find that the window was open about 6 inches. Like the actual window: cold air coming through the screen.

Sadly, this isn't the first time this has happened. We had another apartment last year where she would keep her upstairs window open about four inches for fresh air and keep her two main doors open (leaving it to the thin storm doors to keep the cold out). She would call and complain that it was "freezing" and they would go over to find it 80 degrees, the furnace chugging away trying to keep up with the heat escaping out the window.

This is what happens when you offer free heat.

Could be worse | comments



At least he didn't have these decals:

Updates about everyone's favorite resident Tuesday, December 29, 2009 | comments

Maintenance has been informed that satellites are watching everything. Therefore, one of the maintenance guys needs to tell "his people" to stop freezing the locks on her car doors.

There was also this exchange:

:You can't park your car here. It is a fire lane and your neighbors will have a hard time getting out of their spots. Please park in your reserved space.
:I have this permit to park here (pulls permit from car)
:That's not one of our permits
:Then how did it get it my car!

And another evening she pushed the buttons to turn off every circuit breaker in her place on purpose and then called emergency maintenance saying she had no power. They realized what had happened and told her to just push the buttons to turn them back on (it really is as simple as pressing a button). She said she tried that but it was too hard and then she threatened to call 911 if they didn't come out that instant to fix it.

Lease Terms | comments

Around here, you start out signing a 12 month lease and then, following that, you have the option of renewing for another year or going on a month-to-month lease. The MTM rate is at market rate + $50 per month.

While there are people that use MTM well and use a few extra months to buy a house or something like that, there are plenty of people that will live here for over a year at the month to month rate (a.k.a. paying $600 for nothing).

I get that the idea behind it is you have that added flexibility, but we have another guy who has been on a MTM lease for the past 3 years and refuses to consider anything else (even when, a while back, we offered a 6 month lease).

Male to male to male RCA converter / pirated music Monday, December 28, 2009 | comments


Commenters on the original post suggest that this will work (with loss of quality)

The deadliest place on Earth (other than swimming in magma I'd guess) Sunday, December 27, 2009 | comments

Quotes below from: http://derrenbrown.co.uk/blog/2009/12/deadliest-place-earth/

"I was dwarfed by a forest of giant gypsum crystals, some up to 12 metres long - the largest crystals ever discovered, some estimated to weigh as much as 55 tonnes. It was something that had to be seen to be believed and I was doing just that... however within just five minutes I had gone from a reasonably fit 30 year old to an asthmatic 60 year old – it is the antithesis to the elixir of life!"



“It’s [122 degrees Fahrenheit] and has a humidity of 100%, less than a hundred people have been inside and it’s so deadly that even with respirators and suits of ice you can only survive for 20 minutes before your body starts to fail. It’s the nearest thing to visiting another planet – it’s going deep inside our own."

Surprise! Your house has been foreclosed on and fire is raining down from the sky | comments

Karen and I were at Meijer yesterday and were checking out the box of Scrabble Slam. I do not want to play a game where "anything could happen". Still though Scrabble, I appreciate that you would suggest that we play the game with friends and family. Good idea: usually I play games with my arch nemesis and mortal enemies.


[Image ripped from BGG

Given these Star Wars shoes, I'd say Adidas employs at least one nerd | comments

Check out how the shoe side matches the side of the TIE fighter.
[more]

Fark is working on its annual headline of the year contest | comments


People that submit links on Fark.com often submit them with funny little headlines. They're in the process of picking out the best here, here, and here, and here [portions probably NSFW in there somewhere].

But let me save you some time and highlight some of my favorites:

Man finds ten human teeth in wallet at Walmart. That's just decadent

80-ton wave generator works briefly as advertised when it falls into the ocean

Toddler falls into baptismal font. To answer the obvious question: Yes, he was saved

Police find severed head, will later reveal whether it's "linked to body parts found in Hertfordshire." Submitter suspects the answer may be "Not any more"

Lucky 19 year old on the Price is Right Friday, December 25, 2009 | comments

Price is right video. You already probably know if you'll enjoy this

[via]

Merry Christmas! | comments


[source]

Giving you some Christmas knowledge on Christmas Eve. Thursday, December 24, 2009 | comments

So you know how every year NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) tracks Santa across the country? Well it all started with an accidental wrong number as mentioned on the google blog:
NORAD's Santa-tracking dates back to 1955, when a Sears and Roebuck magazine ad in Colorado Springs accidentally directed readers to call NORAD instead of the "Talk-to-Santa" hotline they were advertising. Embracing the holiday spirit, the folks at NORAD provided callers with Santa's location according to their radar and have tracked his journey ever since
Perhaps I can start giving people MRIs here at work since I get wrong numbers for Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC all the time.

Snowflake is actually made up of doves and olive branches Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | comments


Paper snowflake by Thomas L. Clark, M.D., a.k.a. Dr. Snowflake.

On view in "Exodus and the Flood: Storytelling Snowflakes" at the University of Michigan Health System through February 8, 2010.

See also: ark animals snowflake

I'm sure this creepy mannequin is there to give a sense of scale in the real estate listing | comments

but it just gives a sense of creepy horror movie

[via lovely listing]

Random images from a random folder on my computer | comments

Sources unknown


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Dutch listening devices Monday, December 21, 2009 | comments

"I need to hear if any planes are coming so think I'll stick my head in a big metal parabola." [I bet some of the models shown in the source article probably worked pretty well actually]

Money sure does go quick once you start spending for a wedding Sunday, December 20, 2009 | comments


[These hasty spenders were originally over on AA.com]

See if you can enhance that image Saturday, December 19, 2009 | comments

Compilation of "Enhance!" scenes in movies and TV.


Good, yes, but when I want to see the best enhance joke on the internet, I click this image below to make it bigger:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

For anyone that's ever put together a model car or plane | comments

Someone made a lifesize model boat. Original source has more pictures and info.

Men's Health Runs Same Cover Twice Friday, December 18, 2009 | comments

Ever do one of those spot the difference puzzles in the newspaper? Well, for your consideration, I present to you magazine covers from two different months of Men's Health as highlighted on the Consumerist. But if you think that's good, you have to go see the animated gif versions of a whole bunch of covers.

Game Review: Aquarius Card Game | comments

In searching through quick-to-teach games from different companies, I noticed that Aquarius from Looney Labs didn't have a lot of reviews online, so I emailed them and they were kind enough to send me a review copy of the game that I could check out.

What stood out to me first (and inspired me to seek out more info from them in the first place) were the cards. I mean look at them: As far as cards go, they're as bright and colorful as they come. I realize that "art" isn't a game-mechanic, but it's the art that really makes this game fun to play [what would Carcasonne be without its theme for example]. I believe it was Karen who said "I like it because it's pretty"

At the start of the game, everyone gets a secret goal that shows one of five elements on it and the object of the game is to link 7 panels of that element together. A majority of the cards show different grouping of elements, and there are other cards thrown into the mix that allow you to move cards.

The game is for two to five players. Karen and I played it together a number of times and had fun doing so, but you can tell that the game is really designed for more people, so yesterday Brian, Demoree, and Ciara were kind enough to playtest the game with me.

The two player game is fun, sure, but the game best shows its stuff with more players. In a four player game, we spent the first part of the game watching what kind of connections people were making to see what other people had and the rest of it trying to manipulate the game-state to reach our goal. The way the game is balanced, everything feels neck and neck to the end. Sure, Brian may have 6 meadow cards together, but by the time it's his turn, someone may play a card that moves one of those meadow cards to the other side of the board. Or, better still, someone may play the card that allows them switch goals with Brian, meaning now they are 1 card away from winning. But of course they have to keep that meadow goal until next turn and be able to put another meadow in their chain to pull off the win. Aquarius is one of those games where, no matter what's happening, you still could be just one card away from coming back into the lead, so it makes for an interesting finish since you can't be assured victory until that seventh element hits the table.

On to another topic: look at the photo below. How incredibly satisfying is it these rainbows can link together, building a chain across the board? Very. That's my biggest complaint with the game: I would have loved if the other items had art that was able to link up as well so that you got to craft this giant chain across the board. But oh well, I guess that's something for the next printing of the game.

I asked people what they thought of it and everyone liked it. If you yourself are intersted in it, you can buy it and get more info on the Looney Labs site.



In the mean time, I'm working on a Moses variant for the 2 player game in which you play cards that allow you to split the board in two halves to add some extra drama to the 2 player game.

Visual confusion in photography Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | comments

This and more like 'em at the original post.

Good thing winter is only 8 months long in Wisconsin Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | comments

Via Fark, a Wisconsin town switched their traffic lights from incandescent to LED traffic lights. This saves them $100 per month on each of the city's 24 intersections in energy costs. The problem is, however, the LEDs aren't warm enough to melt snow that accumulates on the traffic lights, making it so drivers can't see the signals. Already there's been one accident.

Full story: http://www.fox6now.com/news/witi-091211-led-lights,0,3727265.story

[To be fair, however, the city has had these lights for 7 years]

Wikipedia didn't consider what articles its donation quotes might match up with Monday, December 14, 2009 | comments


[more]

Optical illusion creates animation using lines and masking (aka scanimation) | comments


Whoever figured that out was pretty smart. I've seen a book of these at the bookstore and there are more videos online if you search. Each animation is 6 frames long.

If only we had a psychic phone that knew when things broke Friday, December 11, 2009 | comments

There are two main reasons that I'm glad I don't work in maintenance.
1) Clearing snow at 6am
2) Last minute calls:

Our maintenance team is here Monday-Friday 8-5 plus is on call for emergency maintenance and snow removal whenever it may needed. I had someone call in late November just before six o'clock on a Friday saying that she knows she should have called about this earlier but that her friend had messed with her thermostat and now she hasn't had heat for two weeks and it was starting to get colder. So, since no heat is an emergency, maintenance had to come in special on the spot within the hour to fix it when they could have more easily fixed it any time in the past two weeks.

Worse still though is when people try to use how long something has been broken as a bargaining chip, even though we can't fix things unless they call us that something is broken. I had someone call at 5:50 on a Friday, wanting somone to come out that evening to fix her clogged sink (not an emergency). I let her know that I would put it in so they could get to it first thing on Monday. "But that's a long time" she said, upset, "It's been broken since Thursday morning!"

Chicago Transit Authority, you are great Thursday, December 10, 2009 | comments

Chicagoans are lucky people. One day you might be heading into work to find out that your regular train has been replaced with the holiday train. It's got lights on the outside, decorations and free candy canes inside, and one of the cars has been replaced with a flatbed car that has a real life santa all day.

Photos below all stolen from Amber, who told me about this awesome thing:


docx is a horrible idea. | comments

Have any friends that recently got a computer? Hope they don't have any office documents to send you anytime soon because they will screw it up.

In newer versions of office, docx is the default file format. Here's the problem: it doesn't open up in old versions of office. Yes, they have a plugin, but your average person doesn't know where to download it and when I tried it, it still didn't work on the document I was trying to open.

I feel bad for IT guys and the techy-person-in-the-family who has to try and explain this to untech-saavy people. What were you thinking, Microsoft?

Sure I use Photoshop to edit my photos, but I would never send people photos as .psd files. I get that you're probably doing something to advance the office file format, but it it really worth making Grandma's recipe file completely unreadable to 90% of computers? What kind of bells and whistles do you need for a recipe?

'Road map to those who would do us harm' free for the taking [quick link] Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | comments

Someone leaked the TSA screening handbook for airports and now it's all over the internet. There's also images of what proper credentials to get through security with guns other weapons would look like.

More info [and, suprisingly, a download link to the pdf] at:
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/massive-tsa-security-breach-agency-secrets/story?id=9280503&lolwut

Recognize this location? | comments

As posted on iotd, the location at right is where the default windows XP background photo came from. Now it's grape vines, but you probably know it as the grassy rolling field. It's in California and Wikipedia has all the details

1000 Awesome Things | comments

There's plenty of negative things out there on the internet [plenty of 'em right here on this site undoubtedly], so sometimes it's nice to have some positivity. Consider subscribing to 1000 Awesome Things, a site counting down awesome things one day at a time.

Today's awesome thing, for example is when you're playing tennis with someone and the ball hits the net and just barely falls onto their side.

Thought I'd leave the studio and be a cameraman for a while | comments

You remember the resident from yesterday of course. Well Tuesday the resident informed me that Shepard Smith from Fox News was in the community taking video during the day.

Is the resident that bad of a liar or is this an actual belief?

Things get a little crazy Monday, December 7, 2009 | comments

I officially have my first mentally unstable person that moved in. It's going to be interesting to deal with and I'm glad he lives on the other side of the community.

This weekend he called the cops twice saying there was illegal wiring. He also came by the office and pretended to want to see an apartment for his friend, but he really did it to move the blinds in the apartment since they didn't look good from the road and newspapers from around the world were going to be coming to interview his about a CD releasing in January.

He also called the cops saying that a Canadian was watching him.

edit: and today he called to have us look at the illegal wiring (a comcast line) and told us he was an undercover government agent. It would seem that he isn't very good at staying undercover.

I was talking with the maintenance supervisor this morning and he said that we've had worse: there was once someone, when they went to service her apartment, would have her oven exhaust fan covered in tin foil and have post-its on her walls reading things like "I know you're watching me"

Guy finds poker deck where dealer always wins Sunday, December 6, 2009 | comments

Check this out. Ben Joffe wrote a computer program that, no matter where it is cut, always results in the dealer winning the hand when playing Texas Hold 'Em. How cool (and complicated) is that? All you'd have to do is perform a deck swap and you have one guaranteed win per game. Deck arrangement for four player game below.



[source]

You are taking it too far, marketers and twihards Friday, December 4, 2009 | comments

Karen and I saw this at the airport. A publisher is marketing 1847's Wuthering Heights to twilight fans since Bella and Edward have to read it for school, making the book cover match the Twilight book covers.

In other ridiculous twilight news, there's a new site out there called My Life Is Twilight where people share their addictions to the book. One post:
"i had a test and i took out a pic of edward to stare at while i worked. i turned bright red when the teacher came over to see if i was cheating off it and when she took it away to show the teachers at the front i nearly cried. MLIT"
Or:
Today I asked my boyfriend if he would hold ice to his lips for a minute before he kissed me, so I could pretend I was kissing Edward. He did. MLIT
And finally:
Today I had twin boys and named one Edward and the other Jacob. MLIT
If you want to read their top posts, they have conveniently ranked them for you and they're all as ridiculous as the ones above.

This book cannot be stopped.

Photoshop Fridge Magnets are Genius Thursday, December 3, 2009 | comments



[source via GReader]

Lego Matrix Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | comments

This has been making the rounds on the internet, but maybe you're like me and haven't watched it yet. If Core77 hadn't posted the photo below, I probably wouldn't have bothered watching. So thanks, Core77.




Here's it is compared to the original. The flashes of the guns even match up.


These people love time lapse. There's even a time lapse of their time lapse movie.

Talk to Strangers Tuesday, December 1, 2009 | comments

Talk to Strangers is a local project that collects journal entries from people on the street. Here's the synopsis from their about page:
"The project began in July of 2009 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Brandon (Ehdom) began the project spontaneously one evening by purchasing a blank notebook and writing a sign with a Sharpie marker inviting strangers to sit down and share their story. Within minutes people began stopping by and sharing stories from their lives."
The entries are anything from Postsecret-style confessions to funny stories like this one:
One day, I was walking back to my dorm in a bad mood. I looked up and saw a man heading in the opposite direction. In his hands was what appeared to be a live lobster. He held it the way you’d hold a cat, sort of under the armpits, and when he saw me looking, he raised one of its claws in a little wave (I waved back).

This is why I love this town—it seems like, whenever I start to get really discouraged, the city of Ann Arbor steps in and says, “Here, have some whimsy on the house.”

Zeitgeist 2009 | comments

Google has its yearly roundup of 2009 as told by search results. Full report at
http://www.google.com/intl/en_us/press/zeitgeist2009/overview.html