Monday, October 29, 2007

Not Paying Attention, or just hoping that No one Else is?

The Onion usually writes funny stories, but one recent one has me stumped as to why they wrote it: Roomba Maker Unveils Military Robot.

So, iRobot has made military robots for years. I'm fairly sure that the military division came before the Roomba division. Maybe I'm just more aware of this fact since I'm in Computer Science or because I saw a speech and movie at Grace Hopper in 2006 by one of the founders of iRobot. But I have a feeling that it's not just Computer Scientists or Grace Hopper attendees that know about iRobot.

If so, were they just trying to poke fun of a Roomba outfitted with guns? I think I would have written it differently if they were going for that, since then maybe some of us wouldn't just assume they have no idea what they are talking about. At least then it would just be funny instead of confusing and maybe funny.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ever heard of Charity??

Apparently it was recently discovered that a factory making clothes for GAP used child labor, which the company does not tolerate. They are taking action against the factory involved, and are pulling the piece of clothing off the shelves and will not be selling. This part I agree with, as forced child labor is basically slavery and shouldn't be tolerated nor should the company benefit from it.

However, what I disagree with is the fact that they are destroying the garments that were created by children. OK, so it's good that they aren't selling them. But destroying them? Yes, it was bad that children were forced to make them, but they are already made. Why not donate them to people who can't afford the clothing? They have piles of sweaters they can't sell, you would think that someone in the company would think about putting them to a good use. Making something good out of something bad, as the saying goes.

It seems like such a waste, and makes the company seem even more irresponsible to me. Since I don't like shopping there anyway I can't say I won't shop there anymore, but my opinion of them just dipped even lower (didn't know it was possible!).

Why I will one day be DEAF

Smoke detectors are loud. Well, VERY loud and VERY shrill. Of course I highly approve of smoke alarms that can wake you up and save your life when there is actually a fire. In fact, I sleep more soundly knowing they are there.

However, it is not very useful when they go off every few days. The past few months it has mostly been when someone is cooking, although contrary to popular belief the boys I live with actually can cook and aren't creating lots of smoke. Often there is no visible smoke or reason to suspect that smoke is being created. Sometimes, there is merely steam leaving a pot of boiling water. I suspected that it was due to crap that had fallen under (or on) the burners and henceforth burned when the burner was used, so after thoroughly cleaning the stove and finding these pieces severely damaged I bought new ones and "installed" them.

One would think that the problem would now be solved, but it is not. Last year they went off every night around 4AM for about a week when the entire house had been asleep. Creepy? yes. Useful? no. I'm not sure they would have left the house by the end of the week even if had been a real fire, they were so used to waking up and just waiting for the to shut off since nothing but unplugging them seemed to help.

I'm not sure if it's faulty wiring, ultra sensitivity, or complete randomness, but it's pretty damn annoying and loud. I know the house is old, but how can that affect smoke alarms that are younger than any of the occupants? I am starting to feel less safe, knowing that we are more likely to assume the beeping is for nothing than actually for something. Perhaps we are all turning into the stupid college kids we never quite were...

Lars and the Real Girl

Last night we saw Lars and the Real Girl. I hadn't heard about it until the day before, and the preview only made it look marginally interesting. However, this movie was absolutely hilarious. The whole theater was cracking up during much of it. Other parts were sad, touching, and otherwise dramatic. It was definitely worth seeing though. The story is fantastic, and isn't similar to any other movies that I remember. The acting is phenomenal, I really loved the reactions that all of the characters had to the girlfriend throughout the movie.

This movie is basically about a man who has been lonely and very introverted. He orders a full size love doll and then talks to it as if its alive, treating it as if it's his girlfriend. He really seems to believe she's alive, and it's very interesting to see the progression of his delusion as well as the townspeople's opinions.

If you like funny movies, romances, or especially a combination of the two, you absolutely have to see this movie. It's one of the best movie comedies I've seen for quite some time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Madrid - Palacio Real

Palacio Real in Madrid

Palacio Real in Madrid

Our first evening in Madrid we walked around and ended up near the Palacio Real. We couldn't go in, but noticed that it was very nice architecture with golden accents (obviously). We put taking a tour on our list of possibilities for our few days there.

Inside the palace

Before we left Madrid we did indeed go on said palace tour. It was very interesting, especially because we decided to wander the palace instead of being in a tour group. This meant that we could go at our own pace, and usually ended up around a tour guide speaking a language we at least marginally understood so we could find out more if we wanted to.

Palacio Real in Madrid

As one might expect we weren't allowed to go everywhere in the palace, but we saw many different rooms including the throne room, dining room, sitting room, and a spare bedroom. The decorations were always extravagant but still beautiful.

Palacio Real in Madrid

Palacio Real in Madrid

Many of ceilings were painted with different scenes, usually related to gods or angels (And yes, in the second photo that is indeed a security camera). It was very nice to have a decent camera with me, especially when trying to zoom in on ceiling details. Even the larger rooms like the throne room had the ceiling covered in a continuous painting. Unfortunately none of the pictures in the throne room turned out well since we weren't allowed to use a flash and it was very dimly lit. Many of the people in there used a flash anyway and nothing happened except that they got yelled at, but we decided not to further increase the damage to the old items in the room. Those hooligans.

Palacio Real in Madrid

Across the courtyard from the inside rooms that we were allowed to visit was the armory. The top floor showed all of the horse armor from the many centuries, and the lower floor showed the human armor and weapons. There were some very interesting swords, and even armor for small children. It felt very much as though I had stepped onto the set of Bednobs and Broomsticks, only it was just not quite the right nationality.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Madrid - old meets new

During our Spain trip in March we also visited Madrid. I found that it was much colder there than it had been in Barcelona, that people were less likely to speak to you in English (fine by me), and that the general feeling was a little less fun and a lot more rushed.

Church in Madrid

Walking around Madrid did give me a great sense of the country's history and it's current state. It was interesting to see old buildings next to busy roads, and plazas in the middle of streets and every intersection. In the middle of the day as well as in the evening there were plenty of people bustling around.

Statues lining walkway

There were many statues throughout the city. The ones above were lining a pathway in a garden outside of the Palacio Real (the Royal Palace). Other statues were in parks, plazas, outside of museums, and outside buildings. It felt like the whole city was alive in art. I really enjoyed that aspect of the city.

lake at park
nice park area

There were also many parks in the city, but one particularly nice one. This park was quite expansive, with gardens, fountains, benches, statues, even a very old tree. It also had a lake area where people boated. This area of the park seemed very popular as there were many people walking, running, and generally enjoying themselves. Of course what would a Spanish park be without the obligatory statue? Although I was quite chilly by this point, we still spend a little while here just generally relaxing and enjoying ourselves.

glass wall

When we were walking over to the Palacio Real from a park, we crossed a bridge that had glass walls along the walkway. It's rather windy, so I definitely felt safer. But it did seem that one of the main reasons the walls were there was to help deter jumpers. I was however immediately amused by the prospect of a photo with the Madrid crest hovering in the middle on it without any editing required. Too bad I was too cold to try to take a really good one.

I really love the pictures from parks and old buildings, so I will end this post with just a series of them. One of the best parts of Madrid was the scenery, especially how parks could just randomly appear (same as statues). I could comment on all of them, but would you want that? No, I'm fairly sure you'd rather just see the pictures!

And that's the end of the short version of around the city Madrid pictures!

Watch out for falling...cameras!

Apparently at the Seahawks game on Sunday a camera almost fell on their quarterback. I know that football can be a hazard to your health, but this seems a bit silly. Who knew you needed to watch out for falling cameras? I think everyone has wondered at one point or another what would happen if a camera fell at a game. I don't know if it's happened before or not.

Apparently it fell twice before they decided to just string it up above the sideline and decommission it. At least the players were smart enough not to stand underneath of it just in case. It definitely would have been horrible if it had hurt someone. I wonder if insurance would cover that as a playing injury? Do football players even use insurance for that sort of stuff or does the team just pay for it? I have no idea.

Ironically, the quarterback it nearly hit is related to the lady on the View who is taking maternity leave now. I only know this because I was taking a break earlier this morning and read about that on MSN. I guess today is just a Hasselbeck kind of day for me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Teaching" the Youth

It's great that the boxes of food that kids eat all seem to have educational material on them. Sometimes it's a puzzle, other times it's a lesson on eating healthy, and occasionally it's even a combination. Usually these box backs are more exciting than the boxes of cereal I eat, since my cereal usually tells me how I'm lowering my cholesterol by eating it.

So of course if I'm eating breakfast with a house mate and their cereal has puzzles for kids on the back, I'm going to read it. A few days ago it was exciting, because one of the puzzles was about computers! We were looking at it, and immediately noticed that one of the words to find in the word search was "softwear." Of course we were mortified, and we looked at the rest of the words to see if they were indeed talking about technology you wear, but no, they just can't spell. It was also misspelled in the word search itself.

Any spell check should be able to find this error. Even the Blogger spell check yelled at me for typing "softwear," not that I'm implying that Blogger software isn't topnotch. I hope that whoever designed this box was around the age of the target audience, both for the lack of spelling ability and for the lack of forethought in double-checking the spelling.