Spiral Layout for Hard Disk Drive Sectors0028 mar 2013

concentric vs spiral

If your computer has a hard disk drive, the smallest information that can be read from or written to it is a sector (in yellow above).
(A sector is a block of information about as big as a page of text.)
These are arranged in concentric circles around a spinning platter (say 64 to a full circle) and a head is moved in and out to access them.
Well, because actually moving a hunk of metal is so mind bogglingly slow compared to everything else in your computer, it is a big deal to speed this up.

I had an idea. (I know you saw that coming.)

What about arranging the sectors in a spiral, so that the next sector is always right after the one you just accessed? (Turns out the sector you want is very often the next one.)
I floated this idea on an engineering forum, and I ended up with positive enough (initially negative, but I wore them down) feedback, that I think I will take it to a local IEEE meeting of magnetic engineers and see what they think.

Small Homes0005 mar 2013

Update: Too small?0005 mar 2013
If i read this article and inferred from the photos correctly, a couple and their dog and cat live in a charming 120 sq foot home.

original post0009 jun 2011

Small Home Cube Project
Small Home Cube Project

3D-ish0018 feb 2013

3D-ish logo
Just a few days ago I finished my updated 3D-ish Android app.
Extracting frames from video turned out to be a big deal. Ug.
And the new in-app billing system turned out to be a pretty big deal too.



Wealth vs Longevity Over Time by Country0008 apr 2012

In just 4.5 minutes, watch 200 countries, from 1810 to now, as they become healthier and wealthier.
from BBCFour's "The Joy of Stats", by Hans Rosling

1, 7, 30, 3650018 mar 2012

Search for , changed in the last days

|_ | |\| |< <>0006 mar 2012

SmileyTube0028 feb 2012

SmileyTube bump for "Bon Iver - Holocene"


Quotes0025 jan 2012

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. - Helen Keller
Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it. - George Bernard Shaw
How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think. - Adolf Hitler
Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway. - Elbert Hubbard
To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. - Elbert Hubbard
The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason. - John Cage
The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not. - Mark Twain
Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart. - William Yeats
I for one welcome our computer overlords. - Ken Jennings (in response to losing to a computer at Jeopardy ( days ago ))
People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. - Soren Kierkegaard
We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people. - Arthur Schopenhauer
Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. - John Kenneth Galbraith
You will find that the State is the kind of organization which, though it does big things badly, does small things badly, too. - John Kenneth Galbraith
Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. - John Kenneth Galbraith
Washington is a place where people praise courage and act on elaborate personal cost-benefit calculations. - John Kenneth Galbraith
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. - John Kenneth Galbraith
The conspicuously wealthy turn up urging the character-building value of privation for the poor. - John Kenneth Galbraith
The salary of the chief executive of the large corporations is not an award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm gesture by the individual to himself. - John Kenneth Galbraith
The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking. - John Kenneth Galbraith
In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof. - John Kenneth Galbraith

Fine Whines0004 jan 2012

(a place for me to rant and rage)

Teaching and accreditation don't mix0004 jan 2012

Teachers and teaching institutions typically teach and accredit.
They feed the students the material and they grade/track/degree/certificate/graduate/credential.

They should just teach. Other institutions should uniformly credential.

Granted there is a practical simplicity and logic to teaching a unit of material and then immediately testing for degree of mastery, and this system grew out of historic necessity. But there are excellent compelling reasons to separate the teaching from the accreditation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in the U.S. there are roughly 5,800,000 teachers. Now, having millions of individuals and thousands of institutions with their various techniques and strategies seems to me to be a good thing. Different students have different learning rates and styles and strengths and weaknesses. This pool of diversity provides the possibility of superior pairing of students to teachers, or lessons, or learning environments, or learning institutions.

Having 6 million different standards however, seems to me to be a pretty bad thing for obvious reasons: there is a lack of uniformity, there is a lack of accountability, there is conflict of interest. It is also often a waste of a teacher's training to be administering tests. And it also feels unfair. A degree from (expensive) Harvard is considered more prestigious than a degree from (inexpensive) Snodhopper College, but in reality, there is very little we can know about the difference. Granted Harvard has some very well regarded professors, but shouldn't the superior training these superior teachers instill be somehow testable? Or let's say it is not testable. Fine. Allow a brilliant student to get a less prestigious degree through self learning or whatever means, without spending four years in a classroom.

Like the separation of church and state, the separation of teaching and accreditation is an attainable and worthy goal. It levels the playing field, improves accountability, and wastes less time and money.

Steps in the right direction:
Khan Academy - thousands of high quality free video lessons
Stanford online Intro to Artificial Intelligence experiment - 30,000 students taking the same material as the campus course
Western Governors University- relatively inexpensive university that charges you for the time you need their services, and fully credits you for what you already know

Punctuation Rules for Quotes0008 jun 2011

Current proper punctuation rules for quotes are ludicrous.
Please join me in a tiny revolution to rationalize them.


I said "Now.".
I said "Now?".
I said "Now!".
I said "green".
Did you say "Now."?
Did you say "Now?"?
Did you say "Now!"?
Did you say "green"?
"Now.", I said.

Thank you for your support.

8 1/2 x 110002 apr 2011

This is not so much a whine as a lament. Ahem. I hearby lament the forced formatting of my word processing documents into a format that could be squirted onto chopped paper. I have no intention of squirting most of my documents onto chopped paper, so I would like my documents to be displayed as one continuous column. You know, like those hip new web page thingies.

daylight Shifting time

Today is the beginning/end? of Daylight Saving Time. It's hard to remember whether it is the beginning or the end as no daylight is saved in any case, is it? I'd like to hear someone argue vehemently for "Daylight Saving Time". Really chew me out. Put me in my place. Show me why i'm an idiot for not realizing why it is essential, helpful, necessary, worth the bother/upset/confusion. grrrrr.

super critical people

I do not like super critical people.
Medium critical - A O K.
(And yes, the irony of being critical of them is not lost on me.)

2 wheel drive SUVs

Only Hertz thinks I might need to know whether my
ski week
Lake Tahoe
during "chain restrictions"
just after receiving 30 inches of SNOW
SUV rental
will be 4WD/AWD or 2WD.
And guess what? All Hertz 4WD/AWD SUVs are booked.

Photos0017 dec 2011

You asked for this one. Here is the roast suckling pig that I brought to our holiday PTSA meeting.

My cousin Jim forwarded these Easter 1965 family photos to me, and asked me to send them on to kin, so...
(I'm the guy in the dark bow tie.)

\/|D30$0014 dec 2011

John Lewis advert for 2011 A Lioness with her cubs and human
John Lewis Christmas advert for 2011 A lioness with her cubs and human friend
Sal on Khan Academy ♫ ♪ A Modern U.S. President ♩ ♬
Video of Sal Khan talking about Khan Academy I Am the Very Model of a Modern U.S. President
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On Danny MacAskill - April 2009
to The Funeral by Band of Horses
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On Danny MacAskill April 2009 to The Funeral by Band of Horses
ProtonJonSA's YouTube
review of Don't Eat the Mushroom
ProtonJonSA's YouTube
review of Don't Eat the Mushroom (2)
Don't Eat the Mushroom Don't Eat the Mushroom (2)

Free Ideas0012 dec 2011

Ideas! Free! You're welcome!

Noise UNcanceling Headphones

I appreciate that my son wears headphones partially so that I do not have to listen to YouTube or the latest first person shooter, but when I need to call him to dinner is when I need noise uncanceling headphones. By reversing the miracle of voice canceling headphones (possibly by a switch), these would play through the sounds from outside the headphones so that he would hear a balance of computer and real world sound waves.

The "Pinch" Test   (Works great)

The next time someone (your kid for example) is hurting, ask her to pinch herself till it hurts the same amount, then pinch you the same.
It actually works pretty well. I can imagine a device that lets you pinch yourself and the other person at the same time, for an even better ouch reproduction.

Hmmm...0010 nov 2011

hmmm 1: (1st time ever) i know where there is superhigh quality information
i want but
i won't try to get it because
i know
i don't have enough time. (frowny face)0010 nov 2011

hmmm 2: I wonder whether "dyslexia" is normal (other) species pattern matching,
and so lexia is a human evolutionary (though mighty useful) aberration.0007 jun 2011

Upgrading my Brain Extension0010 nov 2011

The leading contender to replace my current brain extension, my Google-branded HTC-built Nexus One, is the Samsung Galaxy Note.
Important (to me) features are:
  Nexus One Galaxy Note
Night Stand, Car Dock ✓,✓ ???
Gorilla Glass
Metal Case ???
WiFi Hotspot ???
Carrier T-Mobile AT&T
Front Facing Camera No Yes
Application Storage 190 MB ~700 MB
Screen Size 800x480 1280x800
Device Size OK kinda big
Stylus No Yes

2-Ingredient Recipes0018 sep 2011

Anyone will tell you that I hate to brag, but I do consider myself a master chef in the two ingredient recipe realm. Without further adieu, here is a subset of my repertoire.
Bon appetit.

Brain Dead Pulled Pork   (from my buddy GRS)

1) Pork Butt - the same volume as you want finished pulled pork
2) BBQ Sauce - about 1/3 the volume as the finished pulled pork

Cut pork into pieces, removing any large sections of fat.
Put in crock pot with enough sauce to almost cover.
Cook on high for about 5 hours or low for about 8 hours till the pork pulls apart easily with two forks.
Continue separating the pork till it is shredded, discarding bones and fat.
Add more sauce and optional brown sugar to taste.

Brain Dead Broiled Salmon

1) Salmon Fillet
2) Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning or Lawry's Seasoning Salt (or both)

Preheat broiler.
Coat skinless side of salmon with seasoning.
Place in broiler on aluminum foil skin side up.
Cook two or three minutes, till the you can easily pull the skin away with a fork.
Remove skin and scrape the blood line and possibly some of the dark meat off with a fork onto the foil.
Cook two more minutes. Flip the fish over.
Cook five more minutes or so till the top is slightly dried out.

Brain Dead Tortellinis in Broth   (from chef MW)

1) Refrigerated Tortellinis or small Raviolis
2) Beef or Chicken Stock

Bring stock to boil. Add pasta.
Boil for 4 minutes. Serve in bowls.
Top with optional parmesan cheese.

3D-ish0005 mar 2011

large 3D-ish Viewer app logo

Its about time put a link here to one of my babies, 3D-ish.
I posted version 3 a couple days ago on the Android market.
More info here.

John John John0016 feb 2011

I wanna establish my presence on the internet.
So, to that end, imma gunna try to claim the easy-to-remember-and-spell-and-type "John John John" as my internet "tag".
I expect Google (and Bing) to index this and lead all who seek me via "John John John" here.
(wish me luck.)
There. I said it. John John John. (Also claim JohnJohnJohn.) Finders keepers, losers weepers.
To see how i'm doing search google for
John John John.
(As of 16feb11, i of course am not even listed.)
Note: a couple of years ago, I mentioned to friend Ted Kuster that "John John John" was relatively unique on the web.
He checked his name and then snagged "Ted Ted Ted".
You can see his success by searching google for
Ted Ted Ted

Camp Mather 20110025 jan 2011

Camp Mather 2011 anyone?

To Do BEFORE Feb 4th
This can be slightly confusing and time consuming,
so DO IT NOW or you don't go!
Go to and click the Account tab
Friends of Camp Mather link
SF Rec and Park Camp Mather link
Some nice family's YouTube video
YouTube video of the dark side of Camp Mather

Note: To be in the lottery Proof of Residency Info physically turned in AND Application must be in by February 4th!!!

Camo Cleats0021 jan 2011

A good idea. Free to good home. Camo cleats.
If you were facing this, wouldn't it help to see his cleats clearly?

Beckham in regular cleats  VS  Beckham in camo cleats

(Camo socks would help too.)

Slowfish - the slowest encryption algorithm ever!0012 dec 2010

Countries by date of metrication

Update 13-jun-2011: So the basic idea is already well known.
See Key Stretching and Key Derivation Functions

One of my many character flaws is that i think i have good ideas way more often than i have good ideas.
This is probably 1.
If you are non-nerdy, you will want to skip this entry, as it is mightily nerdy.
If you are a security algorithm expert, you will want to skip this, as it is almost surely well known and/or amateurish and/or wrong.

You're still here?
I want to propose a new algorithm without actually having to write it.
You're STILL here?
OK. Here goes.

When you write it, you can rename it, but for now i'm calling it "Slowfish".
The idea is an encryption algorithm that allows for a widely variable number of rounds with the intention of allowing a choice of speed.
For a sanity check on the notion of intentionally slow algorithms see:

So the whole deal is...

Slowfish 1616relatively fast
Slowfish 100k100,000less vulnerable to exhaustive/semi-exhaustive/dictionary/etc. attacks

(That's it. I know, huh.)

International System of Units0026 nov 2010

Countries by date of metrication
 (Countries by year of adoption of the Metric System)

Doubtless thousands of people have suggested that
Recovery Act dollars should be spent to convert the US to metric.
So why isn't it happening?
Quoting Wikipedia, "The system has been nearly globally adopted.
Three principal exceptions are Burma (Myanmar), Liberia, and the United States."


Gnome de Plume says:
November 27th, 2010 at 10:04am

While I respectfully agree that funds should be allocated to the metric issue, I disagree that they should be spent on converting us to the base 10 system, but instead that we should invest in converting everyone else to our cup, ounce, liquid ounce, gallon, teaspoon, tablespoon, Calorie/calorie, foot/yard/acre/mile/inch, pound system. We should hold a summit with the other non-metric countries (Burma and Liberia), first to convince them to use our system, then to wield our combined influence to pressure the world, perhaps levying sanctions against countries that refuse to acknowledge the superiority of our system.

i think i'm funny0018 nov 2010

Equation indicating that the difference between a Democrat and a Republican is less than 2%

Rejected by GraphJam. A serious blow to the nerd political humor community.

Bad Goods Tax0007 nov 2010

Here is my list (so far) of items that i think should be taxed. Not done away with. Taxed.
You CAN buy them. I certainly buy some. They're "good for me, bad for everyone else" items.

• incandescent light bulbs • plastic bags • paper (time to start moving on) (is this one controversial?) • two-stroke engines • aerosol air fresheners • paper plates • styrofoam • disposable razors, batteries, watches, cameras • electronics that last less than a year • printers that only print on one side of paper • "Happy Meal" toys

C2H5OH0005 nov 2010

Though ima red wine fanboy, i occasionally branch out.

Tullamore Dew blended Irish whiskey Tullamore Dew blended Irish whiskey - want to try.
Saison pale ale Saison pale ales - thumbs up
Pousse-Café Pousse-Café - purdy. wanna try several recipes. with straw please.
Negroni Negroni - a spritz of orange oil fire!
Absinthe Absinthe - wormwood! more fire!!
Blue Blazer Blue Blazer - want to try. most fire!!! Harrrr!
Watch the video!

I propose a VNAT Tax and an EI Tax0012 oct 2010

Cartoon man pushing a percent sign

In his October 11th Marketplace editorial, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt presents four options to bring down the federal deficit. He said, in part...

So here's a little rule: If you want to be taken seriously when you rail against the deficit, you need to support one of the following four policies. Better yet, support more than one.
Ready for the four? One, cuts to Medicare. Two, cuts to Social Security. Three, military cuts. Four, tax increases.
So which of the big four do you choose?

... and i have been wanting to rant my rant on taxes for a while, so I replied...

By John Oberschelp

From San Francisco, CA, 10/12/2010

Since taxes as a share of GDP are at their lowest level in 59 years, we can probably bare higher taxes. But instead of increasing taxes on buying or working, I propose a VNAT Tax and an EI Tax as palatable rational responsible new taxes.

VNAT: That's a Value NOT Added Tax. The “taxable events” would be any time value is transferred inequitably. Some examples: You charge $6 for a bucket of popcorn at your movie theater; it costs you $1 to produce. That is probably a smart business move. You are required to pay a VNAT tax of $1 which is 20% of the ($6-$1). You buy a million marbles for $10000 and then sell them for $25000. Good for you! But the $15000 profit is subject to income tax AND a VNAT.

EI Tax: That's an Ecologic Impact Tax. Some examples: That box of 100 Styrofoam coffee cups costs $4; each will be used for 5 minutes and then be waste for 500 years. (They are handy, though.) The box is EI Taxed $1. You buy a $10 box of disposable AA batteries for the Wii remotes, because the rechargeable ones are a pain in the neck. I agree. The box is EI Taxed $1.

u 2 can Comment.

3D-ish Viewer for Web Pages0011 oct 2010

I wrote this dandy code soze people can put 3D-ish Photos in their web pages.

Link to web-based 3D-ish Viewer

Live Traffic0010 oct 2010

Google maps with live traffic.

San Francisco Live Traffic Link  

Is this not nerdy slick?

Live 71 bus at Lincoln & 7th

Live 71 Bus Link  

or watch the whole 71 line!

Live 66 bus at Kirkham & 6th

Live 66 Bus Link  

or watch the whole 66 line!