Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Birthday To The Bar Code

In one of my first posts on this blog, I mentioned the Law of the Unattainable Triad, which says that you can only have 2 of the following 3 qualities: Good, Fast, and Cheap.

But, like every law, there are counterexamples, I discovered one in an article in yesterday's New York Times. The article was about the 35th birthday of the bar code. June 26, 1974 marked the first time the barcode was used, when the 67-cent price of a 10-pack of Juicy Fruit gum was correctly scanned.

The barcode works every time, is cheap to use and operate, and helps both the consumer (speeding through the checkout line) and retailer (efficient inventory management).

Bar coding has been replaced by newer and more sophisticated technology, RFID (Radio frequency identification) chips, in some applications. But this technology is more expensive. When Wal-Mart tried to force all their suppliers to adopt the use of RFID technology, the suppliers successfully pushed back. I definitely like that pushback against the neighborhood bully. According to the Law of the Unattainable Triad, it only makes sense.

As an aside, companies like mine, which supply the automotive industry, have received many expensive mandates (such as the creation of quality certification bureaucracies) from the automobile manufacturers. Most of them were neither good nor fast nor cheap. We should have pushed back against them. If we had, maybe we wouldn't now be wallowing with them in the current economic morass.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today's Oneword - Fake

Go to the OneWord website and write about today's word.

Tomorrow I go to Tae Kwon Do camp. It's camping with 4 workouts a day + discussion or class. Even as a black belt there, it's easy to feel like a fake. I hope I do well. I know I'll learn a lot.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today's Oneword - Match

Go to the OneWord website and write about today's word.

I don't need to use a match to light my grill anymore. Finally set the Weber kettle grill aside and got a decent gas grill. Key word being decent. I had an
el cheapo gas grill a few years ago and it was junk. I'm really enjoying the gas grill, now, especially when my son cooks on it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rain, And Rumors of Rain

According to an article in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, One of America's Great Newspapers, Pittsburgh has once again taken weather forecast paranoia one step too far. A concert featuring The Birdie Busch and Luka Bloom was canceled at 5:15 this afternoon based on a forecast. Never mind that, as of 1:05 am next day, there's still no rain in sight, and any severe weather is not a possibility until something like 3 am.

The weather map is the current lead story on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website.

This is a typical Pittsburgh reaction to a weather forecast. I remember one time, before my kids were in school, that there was a forecast for some snowfall, and our school district canceled - not delayed - canceled school on the basis of that forecast. The night before. The following morning, there was not one flake of snow, and, if I recall correctly the skies actually cleared up a bit that day. But that's OK - we took precautions, and that's what counts.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today's Oneword - Daily

Go to the OneWord website and write about today's word.

I try to get to the Oneword site daily, but it doesn't always happen.

Space Shuttle Endeavour - Repairs Underway, but Cause Unknown

The Space Shuttle Endeavour was to have blasted off last Saturday, but the launch was scrubbed due to a hydrogen leak.

The leak, in a line releasing excess gas pressure from the liquid hydrogen tank, was almost identical to one that delayed the launching of the shuttle Discovery three months ago. After replacement of the seals, the Discovery took off without a problem four days later.

“The repair is going well,” said a shuttle test director, Steven J Payne at a news conference.

Engineers found some small gaps in the seals that the hydrogen probably leaked through, but they do not understand the underlying cause of the problem.

Personally, I would not characterize not understanding the underlying cause of the probem as "going well." But that's just me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Todays Oneword - Streak

Go to the OneWord website and write about today's word.

When I was in high school and early college streaking was the thing to do, or so it said on the news. I heard tell of it but never actually saw anyone streak.

A Demilitarized Palestinian State As Part of a Two State Solution?

Is anyone as flabbergasted as I am by Sunday's speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? According to articles on CNN and Yahoo, Netanyahu said that Israel could accept a peace agreement with a "demilitarized Palestinian state" as its neighbor.

Netanyahu's conditions are as follows: Unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish national state with Jerusalem as its capital, and full demilitarization for a Palestinian state -- no army, no rockets or missiles, no control of airspace.

So, a castrated state with conditions dicated by a major power armed to the teeth with American weapons.

Sounds like Netanyahu not the least bit interested in a Palestinian state, nor in Middle East peace.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sit still and stop exhibiting flashes of genius, kid.

Every parent's tightrope!

As seen on the Indexed website.

Texting Meets Its Match!

Out with the new - In with the old!

Morse Code-Leno - Watch the best video clips here

Swine Flu Pandemic - It's Official

Forget about SARS. Forget about Bird Flu. It's Swine Flu that's grunting at our doors. A pandemic, which is a shortened form of panic-demic, has been declared by the World Health Organization. We urge everyone to stock up on water and toilet paper before the store shelves are emptied.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sen. Jane Orie Negative on Tests

If Pennsylvania state Senator Jane Orie, R-McCandless, gets her way, Pennsylvania students won't have to take or pass any of the state's proposed high school graduation exams. Her bill opposing such exams was just approved by the state Senate.

While that's great news for Sen. Orie, who can put another notch in her belt in her partisan bickering with Democratic Governer Ed Rendell, it's bad news for the state's students. The schools test for every thing imaginable. We have the PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) Tests, which play a major role in securing school funding. Since money is involved, the PSSAs are important enough that they provide the focus of the entire year's educational program.

But graduation exams? Let's just skip them. Who cares if we put unqualified graduates out onto the street?

Sen. Orie's bill would still need to pass the state House, which is far from certain, and would be certain to be vetoed by Gov. Rendell. So the whole thing is just a political play by Sen. Orie.

You can read all about it in an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, One of America's Great Newspapers.

Have A Coke And A Smile

It turns out that Tom Boonen may be able to race in this year's Tour de France after all, according to an article in Velonews. It had appeared that the Belgian, who rides for Quick Step, would not be able to race following last month's revelation that he had tested positive for cocaine for the second time in a year.

Uh-Oh! Hampton Not on Newsweek List

According to an article in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, One of America's Great Newspapers, Newsweek magazine has announced its 2009 list of the top 1500 U.S. public high schools. The following are the Allegheny County (PA) schools making the list, followed by their rankings: Pine-Richland, 814; Upper St. Clair, 917; Quaker Valley, 1,163; Mt. Lebanon, 1,181; North Hills, 1,317; and North Allegheny, 1,326.

Hampton Township will no doubt be smarting, having made the Newsweek list the past 2 years, and having placed a high value on appearing on such lists.

The ranking is based on a Challenge Index devised by Jay Mathews, education writer for the Washington Post. The index is a ratio of the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge tests given at a school to the school's number of graduating seniors. But actual performance in the AP classes or on the exams doesn't matter! All that's really needed for the index is fodder for the exams.

Look for some expensive programs to be developed to increase AP enrollment and exam participation.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Virginia Democrats Nominate Gun Zealot For Governor

State Senator R. Creigh Deeds won Virginia’s Democratic primary for governor today. He beat Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Brian J. Moran, a former member of the state’s House of Delegates, who spent all their money beating up on each other.

Now, Mr. Deeds will go up against Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican who defeated him in the 2005 election for state attorney general.

Mr. Deeds is a gun zealot and even supports proposed legislation permitting concealed weapons in bars. Virginians get to choose between that and Mr. McDonnell's support of Big Oil's drilling off the Virginia coast.

Progress in the War on Terror

The U.S. has kept hundreds of terrorism suspects jailed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facilitating their, at best, questionable treatment and interrogation. The incarceration, interrogation, and potential trial by military tribunal are practices which cast doubt on the legitimacy of our means of bringing terrorists to justice, and these practices need to be changed. The entire process must be brought into the light of day to demonstrate, at home and abroad, America's commitment to the rule of law

Today we learned that this change may finally be beginning. Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian national, is the first detainee held at Guantanamo to be transferred to the United States to face criminal prosecution. Ghailani has been indicted in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, in which 224 people died.

''With his appearance in federal court today, Ahmed Ghailani is being held accountable for his alleged role in the bombing of U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the murder of 224 people,'' Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press release. ''The Justice Department has a long history of securely detaining and successfully prosecuting terror suspects through the criminal justice system, and we will bring that experience to bear in seeking justice in this case.''

We hope that the process of trying terrorism suspects in U.S. courts will both bring terrorists to justice and enable the U.S. to reclaim the high moral ground on prisoner treatment that it once occupied.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Canada Geese, Migration, and Jet Engines

Today there was an interesting article on the CNN website about the ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 in New York's Hudson River on January 15. It turns out that they were able to determine that the Canada Geese that slammed into the engines of the aircraft were actually migrating from Canada, rather than local birds just up for a joyride.

The disturbing thing about the article is that it said that jet engine designers would be relieved that the geese that hit the engines were 8-pound Canada Geese and not mere 4-pound Brant Geese, because the engines are designed to survive strikes from 4-pound birds.


Friday, June 05, 2009

Worst President of the Last 3 Decades

There was a Facebook link where you could pick the worst president of the last 3 decades. Here's what I posted regarding my selection of George W. Bush:

George W. Bush was presented with a singular challenge, and, with it, a singular opportunity, in the attacks of 9/11. At first, he appeared to exhibit an extraordinary degree of leadership. But he soon surrounded himself with advisors who pursued their own agendas, and he became unable to distinguish fact from fiction. The war against a true purveyor of terror was made a sideshow to a war against a petty dictator, with the result being a destabilized the Middle East and a much greater foothold for terrorists. He eroded confidence in American justice by detaining suspect terrorists without charging them with any crimes, in a foreign prison without a chance to let their cases be tried in the light of day. He undercut the liberties of law abiding citizens domestically and damaged the prestige and moral leadership of America to the rest of the world. His economic policies of lower taxes coupled with drastically increased spending, along with his unwillingness to properly regulate the financial markets, led to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Windows 7: Christmas Gift or Halloween Trick

Microsoft has announced that Windows 7, the latest and greatest new version of its computer operating system, will go on sale October 22. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (not billed as One of America's Great Newspapers) noted that Windows 7 would be out "for holiday." We're guessing that they mean Christmas, the HWMNBN (Holiday Which Must Not Be Named.) But With a release date of October 22, it may be just in time to be this year's biggest Halloween trick.

Microsoft also didn't say how much Windows 7 will cost. Looks like an all-around bad Christmas Winter Holiday season is on the way.