Enjoying life, and sometimes posting about it. @bwianews is for Broadband Wireless, @bsianews is for Broadband Satellite, @N8GNJ is for Ham Radio.
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→ It’s Cheap, But Is It Overpriced?

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The best car review I’ve read in a long time.

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stevestroh
1483 days ago
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Oh, I agree! VERY good car review!
Seattle, Washington, USA
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“It Snowed Last Night!”

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20130227-195114.jpgNo other words can be spoken in the winter that bring more joy to my daughter’s faces except, “Wow, I guess Santa must have accidentally dropped off all the presents for the neighborhood here.” My children greet snow more fondly than drug addicts greet ‘snow.’ The white powder has a similar control over them, they pine to run among the white capped pines. They lust for disturbing the shiny luster. They pee themselves with excitement, or will need to at least try before we go outside.

Taking your kids out in the snow is an experience all parents embrace, especially new ones. When you’re a new parent this is a picture worthy moment, like meeting the Easter bunny or having a face covered with birthday cake. It’s not all picture perfect though.

The younger they are, the less they understand that snow is cold. They look out and see soft powder, like a million pillows exploded for their enjoyment. They would run out in their pajamas but as the much wiser – or at least taller – ones, we bundle them up.

I’ve never worked in a sausage factory but I image the job of stuffing hot dogs is similar to that of getting children dressed for the snow. The last time my daughters were this packed into something was during their entrance to this world. As parents then, we focus on getting every part of soft pink skin covered which means of course that once they are nearly dressed,  they will need to pee. Undress, bathroom, redress and then finally we’re ready to head outside.

My children love to play two games outside, snowball fights and sled rides. For the former they ask me to make them snowballs so they can throw snowballs at me. Their hands can’t actually move once packed into their gloves and I oblige of course. I make a snowball, pass it over to them, and then get hit by the same snowball.  I let them hit me for a bit then introduce the rule that if you throw a snowball, people could throw snowballs at you. At this declaration the game became even more fun. I let them get in a few more shots at me until I announced that they better run.

Upon this announcement of war, my verbal shot across their bow was quickly followed with a barrage of lobbed snowballs that follow their tracks through the snow. I felt like a mid-century artillery man whose captain ordered to not worry about ammunition.

My attacks rarely find the kids but land close enough for them to sense they’re under attack and they flee in joy. Their running form during this time is funny to observe. The snowsuits restrict about 85% of any movement so they’re arms are mostly straight. Puffs of hot hair erupt from their mouths in rapid succession, fueled by equal parts laughter and exhaustion.

They’ll tire after a few minutes of escape and collapse in the snow. During one such break, a snowball I threw found its home next to their face, grazing their cheek. There were extra marshmallows in the hot chocolate that day. Their physical exhaustion means we move on to the next game, sledding.

Some day sledding with my daughters will be fun. We’ll climb the hills together and rush down in tandem like a real life pairing of Calvin and Hobbes (I’ll be Hobbes, of course). For now though, sledding is me pulling them around the yard. Like a huskie in Siberia I hitch myself up, they sit themselves down, and off we go.

I’m like a 1962 Soviet Soldier, only better dressed but hearing the same calls to march. We don’t have any hills in our yard so I mostly weave us about the trees, invoking some variety into an activity that’s basically a workout from Rocky IV. Of course my kids love it, sitting on the sleds and yelling for me to go faster. Somehow I increase my pace, never saying no like the farm horse I’ve become.

Finally the first stages of frostbite set in and they decide to return to our house. In I march, in they ride, and we do our best to derobe on a single mat in our entrance. It works as well as a single shot glass would for catching water from a leaky roof. Boots, gloves, and jackets are so spread about that it looks like the former occupant had been raptured, and in the burst of energy it sent the clothes to all corners of the room. It may as well be rapture because my daughters will never return to put those clothes away. They are focused instead at the final part of playing in the snow – the hot chocolate.

Kids of course don’t want it hot, they desire it slightly warm, their palate refined like the best French restaurant reviewers. Through their demands I’ve mastered the desired level and serve them slightly steamy cups which always have fewer marshmallows than they were expecting. It is impossible to have the amount of marshmallows they want and still be able to drink it. Somehow they developed the idea that each sip should fill their mouths with marshmallows.   They always to settle for this marshmallowness and drink every bit of it, usually in six seconds or less. This is the only thing that happens quickly when we go out to play in the snow.

I do pick up their hats and gloves, knowing that the price you pay for wet clothes is much worse than just picking it up. They’ll want to go out again sooner than their clothes have dried and so doing laundry for this becomes the only chore understand.

Again we’ll go out and play and it is fun. Outside we don’t play house – thank goodness – we just run/ride and throw/hit ourselves to a point of cold and exhaustion and everyone falls asleep early and stays in their own bed, at least until the next morning when we see if it snowed last night.


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stevestroh
1641 days ago
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Perfect description of snow with kids!
Seattle, Washington, USA
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The iPhone is our favorite smartphone

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iphone_5s

Even after the hype of a new phone launch dies down, the iPhone is our favorite smartphone. It doesn’t have the most impressive specs, specs but its owners have been more satisfied than owners of other kinds of smartphones, according to J.D. Power. For me, that’s Powers, and for me, that is the ultimate metric. The iPhone is easy to own and easy to service, It’s easy to own, easy to service and you don’t feel like you need to tinker you’re missing out by not tinkering to get the most out of it. It’s for people who don’t want to fuss.

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stevestroh
1714 days ago
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Best iPhone review I've EVER seen. Pulls no punches. Sorts the facts from the hype. Explains his biases so you can adjust your take on what he says.
Seattle, Washington, USA
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Nest Protect: A Smart Smoke Alarm

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Steven Levy, writing for Wired:

Nest believes that voice communication boosts safety. The company cites a study by Australian researchers that indicates children are more likely to sleep through a standard alarm than a human voice. But introducing language into a smoke alarm system was a surprisingly complex step involving engineering, psychology, and thespian prowess. Nest scripted its brief messages carefully and auditioned its voice actors as if it were casting the next Hunger Games movie. User experience designer David Sloo asked for a female voice because it projects better though the device’s small speaker. For the American English version (eventually Nest will use a voice native to each market), he chose a 37-year-old mother of a toddler. Somehow, Sloo felt, a maternal characteristic shone through.

Nest is fascinating. Tony Fadell is clearly trying to bring Apple-level design and innovation to product categories we’ve all written off as too mundane to think about.

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stevestroh
1715 days ago
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Only one feature was needed to sway me to buy this when it eventually comes out - the battery pack that lasts 7 years. Sold! All the rest is bonus, including not having to give up a precious hallway outlet for a CO2 detector. Having to replace stupid, stupid, cheap, batteries in smoke detectors, and hearing the maddening "chirp" in the middle of the night! Nest really nailed it.
Seattle, Washington, USA
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Galaxy Note 3 One-Handed Mode

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I’m at a loss for words on this one.

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stevestroh
1721 days ago
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Go to Gruber's link. You WILL laugh.
Seattle, Washington, USA
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2 public comments
nathanwright
1720 days ago
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Haha
ChrisWB
1722 days ago
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hahahahahahahahahahahahaha
NJ

Wayne Green W2NSD, SK

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It’s hard not to have an opinion about Wayne Green. Depending on whom you listen to, he was a visionary, a crank, delusional, eccentric, generous, lecherous, honest, optimistic, boundlessly energetic, or all of the above and maybe a few more. Someone wrote a bogglingly angry book once (I had it but have misplaced it) that spent its entire length trying to persuade us that he was a liar, a scoundrel, a thief, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the creation of Byte Magazine. Anger that dense warps the fabric of truth. (Be careful with your anger. Let it get too dense and you will vanish into a black hole of lost credibility from which you may never emerge.) Don Lancaster put the lie to it without any trouble: When Don was writing for the extremely early Byte, Wayne was there, buying articles and signing checks.

That said, Wayne Green said a lot of peculiar things about a lot of things both mundane and peculiar. He said he was richer than (as best we know) he actually was. He said he was sexy and available. (One out of two ain’t bad.) He was constantly bitching and moaning about the FCC, the ARRL, and lord knows what else. He bragged about affairs he had had with his editorial staff. He published articles about homebrew radio gear that simply couldn’t work, or were such peculiar lashups of pipe fittings, power tubes, trash cans, glue, staples, beer bottles and copper tubing that nobody wanted to try. (I say this with some affection. Many of those articles were by the late Bill Hoisington K1CLL, who admitted…gasp!…that VHF/UHF circuits could be cranky. The crankiness of those circuits led him to try a lot of things that looked dicey, but to me their craziness indicated a certain honesty about how cranky VHF/UHF electronics actually are. Which is, of course…cranky.) There is a long list of things that Wayne Green did here. How many are true is hard to say. Did he really pilot a nuclear attack sub? Scary notion, if you’ve read his editorials. The truth, I suspect, is that he was a legend in both senses of the term.

Wayne Green, whether he was crazy or not, remains one of my heroes, for this reason: He bought the first piece of writing I ever sold, but not the first I ever had published. I guess I need to clarify: When the article appeared in the December 1974 issue of 73 Magazine, it was not my first publication. I had sold “Our Lady of the Endless Sky” to Harry Harrison for Nova 4 about a month later, but Wayne, as was his wont, paid me immediately and then sat on “All the World’s a Junkbox” for over a year before getting it into print. (“Our Lady” was in my hands in September.) And then he changed the title, to the inane “Zillions of Parts for Nothing.” (See page 36 of that issue.) Was I annoyed? A little. But heck, you only sell your first article once.

I subscribed to 73 for a lot of years, and have most of a full run of the mag on my shelves. Wayne was an editor of CQ for years before 73 appeared. Both magazines were lively and entertaining under his watch. The tech ran hot and cold, as it did almost everywhere but QST, which had paid techs on staff to build things and make sure that they were a) buildable and b) worked. But boy, when the late George Ewing WA8WTE and I got together on 40M, as often as not Wayne’s latest editorial was tops on our rag-chew agenda. Wayne published books, too, including George Ewing’s Living on a Shoestring, which George called “my scrounge book” and I consider a marvelous technical memoir. For a little while Wayne published a magazine called Cold Fusion Journal, which may have been the best fit of an editor with his niche that we will ever see.

Wayne died a few days ago, on the 13th. He was 91. His brief article on Wikipedia indicated that he was ready and eager to go off adventuring in the afterlife, an attitude I much admire. We speculate about what happens to good people after death, and what happens to bad people. What, then, happens to crazy people? Does God try to “fix” them, or do they just go on being crazy? “Crazy” is a debatable term, of course, but it seems to me that if Wayne Green weren’t his very particular brand of crazy, he wouldn’t be Wayne Green anymore. And that, my friends, would be a tragedy, whether here or in the afterlife.

TNX ES 73 OM DE K7JPD SK.

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stevestroh
1737 days ago
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Best memoir I've read to date of the late Wayne Green W2NSD. I'd forgotten, but I sold MY first article to 73 also. But I had to harass them to get paid (but, I eventually DID get paid).
Seattle, Washington, USA
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