Archive for category Things that aren't busted

Review: E-Flite Blade 350 QX Quadcopter

The Blade 350 QX quadcopter is an almost-perfect example of its class. Three flight modes provide almost the perfect range from well behaved and safe to crazily agreeable to any insane set of control inputs you supply.

Blade 350 QX

Blade 350 QX

It is light, provides a reasonable flight time with the supplied battery, and you’re pretty well guaranteed to have more fun than you expect fooling around with it.

But that’s not all. The 350 is powerful enough, and stable enough, to carry a Go Pro camera and take awesome HD movies and stills from the air. You can spin the quadcopter in place and create a fabulous pan, or fly right up to something you otherwise can’t get to and take a closeup. Or just fly around and take a look at the countryside.

Everything you need is supplied in the package; the quadcopter, the hand controller, batteries, a charger (12 vdc… meant to hook to your car’s electrical system so you can recharge in the field), and you even get a set of extra blades. Which you are unlikely to need if you are even just a little bit careful. The manual is a little dense, and because of that you’ll have to read it carefully, but everything you need to know is actually in there within twelve pages.
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Buitoni Toaster Pizza

Buitoni Toaster Pizza.

Buitoni Toaster Pizza

Buitoni Toaster Pizza

Seriously? Yes, seriously. These were amazing frozen little za’s you put in, heated a bit, let sit so they’d defrost all through, then put in for a final heating, and finally let sit for a minute after that, and then you could eat them. Oh, man were these amazingly good. A great sauce, excellent cheese, and the shell came out as a lightly browned, delicious crust.

You could do it wrong — over- or under-cook, not let it defrost completely, not wait that extra minute and burn the heck out of your mouth… all risks eminently worth taking.

Ever think you might like to do me a favor if it was easy? Then please go to Buitoni’s facebook page and nudge them about this. Or search Google and find the Buitoni Toaster Pizza page, join, “like” them, and say something nice to encourage them. I guarantee the odds are very high that if you love good pizza, you’d like these. It wasn’t fast food. It was something else entirely. Call it an accident, or a fortuitous event in frozen foods, but don’t write it off.

Buitoni Toaster Pizzas. Oh, man.

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Credible Feminism and “Being Nice”

The following is taken verbatim from a letter I wrote to the New York Times on July 31st, 2013, in response to an article where the author spoke to the desirability of asexual dressing and avoiding being nice just for the sake of smoothing social interactions:

Credible feminism drives equality of power, pay, opportunity, and recognition. It’s not about wearing pants to deny or distance gender. Men and women are naturally and irrevocably different in their sexuality: behavior that celebrates this — including that which drives sexually tuned plumage — is not only reasonable, it is healthy.

Women will never bridge the very real gap by attempting to subvert their own sexuality, because in doing so, they cede many cues of desirability to others.

The same thing applies to “nice.” Nice people are selected ahead of others for many roles simply because it is perceived that it will be more pleasant to be around them. If you eschew “nice”, you cede yet another social slice of desirability to others.

In either case, such a choice is completely up to the individual — but the consequences won’t be.

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Just a story from /dev/random

the-zaWhen I was a kid, we had a wonderful, wonderful pizza place about 9 miles away from home. It was in the little town of Port Jervis, NY. No tables; strictly order in and carry out. This pizza was, and I am so, so serious here, just the best. Perfect every time.

So this one time, my mother and I were out in the car waiting for our order, across the street a little bit diagonal to the pizza place, right next to the Texas Hot Dog emporium. A roller grill, the usual range of hot dog goodness, but after all… hot dogs. We were not there for hot dogs. It was summer, and our windows were down.
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The 2012 Election – I Surprise Myself

8142797777_17cc1e55ec_nDeb and I had the pleasure of meeting some of the key democratic candidates for office for, and within our state (Montana) today. Each spoke for a few minutes about their aspirations, and spent some time “working the room”; I bent a couple of ears, as anyone who knows me might expect, and got some fairly good answers, actually.

I don’t normally jump on a soapbox, politically, but this year… here we go.
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Easily manage PDFs from the web on the iPad, iPod and iPhone

Ever run into a PDF with information you actually need while surfing the web on your i-device? You can read the PDF, but that’s it… when you leave the web page, you’ve left the PDF behind as well, and there hasn’t been much you could do about it.

That kind of thing was really a problem for me, as I’m often surfing technical and/or reference documents and these are commonly in PDF format.

Well, problem no more: Here is a simple app for IOS that adds the ability to email yourself (or anyone else) any PDF you encounter while surfing with Safari.

Once installed, a simple touch on “Open In”, then “PDF Emailer”, and off the document goes — making surfing the web for information a great deal more productive. All for just a few pennies. This kind of productivity enhancement is why I own a tablet in the first place.

That’s not all, either; the app keeps PDFs until you tell it to get rid of them, so you can review the document later on your IOS device — two extremely useful and productive additions to the IOS platform.

All it takes is one use to justify the tiny price. As far as I’m concerned, this is a can’t-lose proposition. Highly recommended.

Requires iOS 5.1 or later. 17.9 mb. 99 cents.

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Maxwell’s Daemon rolls over in grave, finds pea

So, perpetual motion… nah. Of course not. And therefore, no device can have an efficiency over 100%. Right? RIGHT? Well, apparently not. Follow that link. Read. Imagine the consternation of the scientist upon determining the first results. I’ve been smiling ever since I thought about it that way.

There, wasn’t that interesting? Physics is COOL. huh. huh.

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Marantz AV7005 – Home Theater

6527948817_ace4721f6b_mFunny (short) story: I wasn’t actually ready to step up to the AV7005, but our Denon receiver in the library was “gifted” with some cat vomit through the top cooling vents; I didn’t know it had happened, because the back of the receiver was through-wall and sort of invisible inside a closet on the other side of that wall. So the Denon just kept on working until eventually, the acid in the vomit actually ate through some of its wiring. Nice, eh? Silly cat.

So the Denon went downstairs into my shop, where it will likely sit until the weather warms up (our basement is cold!) and I”m willing to sit there, rip it apart and fix it. My Sony 7.1 receiver then moved from our home theater to our library (and I built an anti-cat cover for the unit, there will be no more “vomit surprises”), and then I picked up the Marantz AV7005 and some MA-700 amplifiers to serve in our home theater — I’d been eying this specific unit for a while, and well, as I told She Who Must Be Obeyed, “the cat made me do it.” I can’t say I’m depressed over the upgrade, but this wasn’t exactly how I thought it would come about.
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