Stop Lights for Hot Wheels

I played with Hot Wheels a lot when I was a kid, and I bet that at least a few of the people who read this blog did also. If you’re one of those people, imagine how cool it would have been to have a working traffic signal for your Hot Wheels.

The next obvious step is to create four syncronized sets of signals so that you could build a complete four-way intersection. Then you can teach your kids about running red lights, failure to yield while making a turn, etc.

[Thanks to Hack a Day for this one.] read more

More Dahlias

I added a half-dozen more photos of dahlias to my flickr set here (same place as before).

EDIT: sorry, I thought I added those photos to the same set, but it seems that I uploaded them without actually placing them in the set. I just moved them into the set, so if you looked for them earlier and couldn’t find them they’re there now.


I’ve just posted a set of photos of dahlias currently blooming in our yard on my flickr site. I’ll probably add more photos to the set in a week or so; many of them are still opening.


Is Your Cell Phone Calling Big Brother?

Here’s one for the paranoiacs in the audience. It’s come to light that the FBI has successfully used cell phones to eavesdrop on their owners, even when their owners thought that the phones were turned off. It’s not even necessary to have physical access to the phone to turn it into a “roving bug”. It’s done by downloading software to the phone with the help of the cellular service provider.

Privacy’s shaping up to be a strange issue in the 21st century. On one hand we have technological invasion like the technique described above. On the other hand we have people loudly carrying on cell phone conversations in public and voluntarily posting vast amounts of personal information online in the form of blogs, Facebook pages, etc. We even have people agreeing to install spyware to collect and report all manner of information about their online habits in exchange for a mere ten bucks. read more

Nerf Turns 40

Various blogs on my RSS feed, such as Hack a Day, have brought it to my attention that today marks the 40th anniversary of Nerf–yes, Nerf as in squishy foam footballs, etc. When I was much younger I had a purple Nerf football and a Nerf basketball hoop on my bedroom door. My sister had a set of Nerf rockets with launcher, which I believe must have been the first Nerf projectile product. Apparently ballistic Nerf things are the mainstay of their business these days. Clearly I need to visit toy stores more often. read more

Stoopid Hoomans

It’s always amusing when your cats remind you that they are, in fact, smarter than you. We’d noticed on several occasions that Zed gets all excited when he hears the sound of the little safety strip being removed from the neck of a new gallon of milk. (It’s a plastic strip attached to the base of the cap with a number of small tabs. It makes a distintive zipping sort of noise when you pull it off.) He’ll actually get up from a nap and run to the kitchen when he hears it. We had always figured that this interest was because Zed had been fed milk in his previous residence and associated the sound with milk. Zed doesn’t get milk in this residence, however. Tracie would explain this to him every time we opened a new gallon of milk and eventually he’d wander off with a faint air of disappointment. read more

Today is’s 10th Birthday

It was 10 years ago today that I registered the domain name 10 years ago the web wasn’t as widely used or as sophisticated as it is today but it still seemed useful to have my own domain name. The main motivation at the time was being able to give myself a permanent email address that I could retain when switching ISPs. Apparently that was fairly smart of me; I’ve switched ISPs four times in the last ten years, I think.

Completely by coincidence, yesterday was the 40th birthday of the Internet itself. read more