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September 2006 – Stephen Skory

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Month: September 2006

Mud Machine

Mud Machine

I went over to a nearby bike shop to get a quote for my damaged bike (ask if you're interested), and I had some time to kill while I was waiting for the manager, so I wandered over to a nearby dead-end street. Parked there was this very odd machine (which I took photos of, now that my cell phone has been fixed):


The only hints I can provide is that this machine is parked next to a marshy area, and a 40 food deep hole in the pavement with a pump pumping water out of the hole. Perhaps the machine is a mud processor/filterer/cleaner of some sort?



Can you guess what this machine does? I can't. If so, post a comment!

[W]hack a Phone

[W]hack a Phone

Motorola E815

I've had my Motorola E815 phone for about a year. It has bluetooth, a camera, and other cool features, like many modern phones. Bluetooth enables you to transfer photos, movies and ringtones on and off a phone. All these things seem like a useful feature set for a phone. However, Verizon, the carrier for my current phone, disabled a number of bluetooth features, such as file transfer.

Why would Verizon intentionally cripple a phone? Money, of course. Turning off the file transfer abilities of a phone means that if I want to get the photos I take using my phone onto my personal computer, I need to use their not free services. Also, if I want to get a new ringtone, I need to pay for them (often over a buck for 30 seconds of music!), instead of uploading a simple, free, MIDI I found on the internet.

Ever since I got my phone, I've been aware that it is easily hacked to allow all bluetooth function, but it required a special USB cable. I never got around to buying the $10 cable, and hacking the phone, until now.


The camera actually takes farily decent photos in a wide range of light conditions considering it's just a pinhole lens. It also takes short movies, with sound. I can also upload MIDI sound files, or even MP3s, and make them my ringtone. I've always wanted to pull out my camera phone whenever I saw something cool, but never bothered because I couldn't get them off the camera for free. Now that I can, I'll be more willing to snap a pic of whatever.


UCSD Celebration of Abilities Month

UCSD Celebration of Abilities Month

I got this in my 'Bulk' mail folder today:

University of California, San Diego


September 28, 2006


SUBJECT: UCSD Celebration of Abilities Month

I am pleased to announce and encourage faculty, staff and students to participate in the Celebration of Abilities Month events during the month of October 2006. Featured events will be held at the Price Center Plaza on October 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and consecutively on October 5 at the grassy area between Torrey Pines Center North and Torrey Pines Center South.

The purpose of these activities is to increase the awareness of and sensitivity to the abilities and needs of people with disabilities at UCSD. Details and a complete schedule of events can be viewed at: http://blink.ucsd.edu/go/disabilityawarenessmonth

In recognition of this annual event, I am approving one hour of administrative leave with pay that employees may apply to their
attendance at a Celebration of Abilities activity. Supervisors are encouraged to allow employees one hour of administrative leave with pay to attend a Celebration of Abilities event when the absence does not infringe upon the performance of required job duties.

Inquiries regarding the events may be directed to the Human Resources Department, Employee Rehabilitation Program at (858)534-6744.
Marye Anne Fox

Now read this excellent article from the Onion: Congress Passes Americans With No Abilities Act. Now go back and re-read the above email. If you've ever dealt with Academic Computing Services here at UCSD, you'll know who will be getting the biggest cheers at this celebration.

9/11! Terrorism!

9/11! Terrorism!

Five years ago, I was not yet a college graduate. Now I'm beginning my fourth year of graduate school. I have a masters degree in physics, I'm on my way to a PhD, I'm more or less self sufficient and I am in a stable relationship. I can safely say that I've learned much in the last five years.

This cannot be said for the DHS. It is run by a bunch of morons. Take this news peice from today: "Cell phone makers fight resales". People are buying cheap handsets meant for by-the-minute cell plans and shipping them to foreign countries for resale at higher prices. The US is one of the few places in the world where cell phone companies subsidise the cost of the handset, hoping (rightly) to recoup the cost in the monthly service charges. However, because these phones are sold without a contract, and are not yet activated, there's no assurance that the person buying the phone will have to make monthly payments. Clearly, and logically, the phone companies are bothered by this.

So why does the DHS care about this? Why, terrorism, of course! 9/11! Terrorism! All these phones could be used for remote detonation devices. Yeah, and so could a Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR® Radio Controlled Car for $9.95 at Radioshack. Seriously folks, if a terrorist wanted a cell phone to detonate a bomb, does he need to buy dozens at once from one store? No. Terrorists want to act on the down low, which means buying perhaps one or two at any one time. They don't want to attract attention because they're doing illegal things. The people buying 20 phones at once don't care about seeming out of the ordinary because they are breaking no laws. It seems the en vogue thing to do that if your business model is in jeopardy, cry "terrorism!" and hope the DHS and their bad logic comes to the rescue. In this case, the DHS proves once again, they are unable to recognize legitimate threats.

Gohan, South Korea

Gohan, South Korea

According to the comment on my last post, my brother is not actually going to teach in Jeongseon. He's in Gohan, a few valleys over from Jeongseon. Interestingly, it's the home to the only casino in South Korea that South Koreans can gamble in. It's also going to open a ski resort in December which has made him happy, no doubt. Here's a map of Gohan. I can't find a suitably close city from this list. Can you?

Go 'n' check out 37° 12' 09" N, 128° 51' 06" E - if you dare.

Hopefully he'll post something about the hamlet soon.