Dear Amazon

Please create the following Java MIDP application for my phone: When you run the application and take a picture of a barcode using the phone’s camera, it decodes the barcode, and adds the item to my Amazon wish list or some other Amazon list of my choice. If Amazon doesn’t carry the item, it should add an “unrecognized item with UPC code xxxxx” item instead. Thanks. P.S. Please don’t try to patent it.

Watches I have known

I got a new watch. Again. I bought my last watch in 2001. There was nothing wrong with it. However, Casio brought out a new version that drops the moon phase and tide graph, and instead has 5-band radio atomic clock synchronization. As you can see, it’s not a major departure, visually speaking. The function of the buttons is slightly rearranged, the actual time is larger and easier to read, the time zones don’t have editable names, and the alarm now has a snooze function.

Interesting dead end in computer evolution

Someone noticed that had a picture of some kind of computer. Turns out it’s the Parametron. Not a Futurama character, but instead an early (1950s) computer from Japan that I’d never heard of. There doesn’t seem to be much on the web about it, but from what I gather, it used a really freaky design with no valves or transistors. Instead, the fundamental unit involved two magnetic coils and a capacitor, with the binary 0 and 1 values being represented by the phase of the AC current.


J2SE 6 has some interesting new XML functionality called JAXB. Using JAXB, you can take an XSD file and compile it into Java classes. You can then add those classes to your project, create an Unmarshaler object, feed it some XML which meets the XSD, and it will pass you back a tree of appropriate POJOs you can mess with.The only problem is that the XML file my source application generates refers to a DTD which JAXB tries to load via xerxes, causing epic fail.

Quote of the week

The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel. It is not up to us to pick and choose from among the political parties.” —former White House official Ann Lewis, Senior Advisor for Hillary Clinton for President. [Washington Post]


We went out in search of some music on Saturday night. 8bitpeoples were having a label party at Molotov’s on 6th. When we got there, it became readily apparent that the best sound was available by standing on the sidewalk outside the venue, and looking through their open windows. We had a pretty good view of the stage too. Later we went in search of Chris de Luca vs Phon.o, the former being half of Funkstörung.

Rite of passage

Last night, the spouse hit a kerb. Didn’t think anything of it. This afternoon, she went to drive to the museum, and discovered we had a flat tire. I tried re-inflating it to see how badly punctured it was. Once the pressure reached around 10psi there was an audible hissing noise, and the tire went flat in about 5 minutes. So, no going anywhere on that. Hence, I have just changed a tire on a car, for the first time in my life.

Top 10 rejected Windows Vista font names

Calumny Candelabra Colonic Cabalist Canker Capitulate Cadaver Cornhole Catamite Colostomy Seriously, though, who thought it would be a good idea to give them all nondescript one-word names beginning with ‘C’?

The war on small ziplock bags

Chicago Sun-Times: Tiny plastic bags used to sell small quantities of heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana and other drugs would be banned in Chicago, under a crackdown advanced Tuesday by a City Council committee. Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) persuaded the Health Committee to ban possession of “self-sealing plastic bags under two inches in either height or width,” after picking up 15 of the bags on a recent Sunday afternoon stroll through a West Side park.