zotac ion itx d geforce 9400 intel atom
I’ve been using a PC built on that motherboard as my main desktop system for a month now, and I’m really impressed so far. It’s whisper-quiet, being entirely convection-cooled, and it sips power (a mere 30W at full load). For everyday use, I can’t tell much of a difference between this box and the Core 2 Duo system on Robin’s desk. Once in a while, you’ll know the Atom is no quad-core system, especially when you’re watching a flash-heavy web page while trying to do something else, but overall, it’s a capable little rig.
The built-in GPU (GeForce 9400) is the same chip that’s in the Mac mini, MacBook, and lower-end iMacs, and it’s plenty fast for most older games like TF2 and World of Warcraft. Call of Duty 4 will play, too, but you have to dial down the graphics goodness a bit, and it can get a bit chuggy when the action gets thick. Overall, however, it’s a surprising amount of graphics power in a tiny system that needs no fan and uses half the power of the light bulb in my desk lamp.
how horrible is hell
Well, I don’t believe in the existence of such a place, but if it did exist, it would have to be something different for every inhabitant, because “horrible” is generally a subjective property.
My favorite interpretation of Hell is a Dan Simmons short story called "Vanni Fucci is Alive and Well and Living in Hell". It basically involved a bunch of big screens set up all over the Seventh Circle of Hell, all showing a televangelist show eight times a day.
commandments and amendments
What are “Two things that have absolutely no relation to each other”?
(The Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights actually contradict each other whenever they do address the same thing. For starters, the First Commandment and the First Amendment both address freedom of religion, but end up at diametrically opposed positions.)
real m41 pulse rifle with live ammunition
The M-41A in “Aliens” was a prop. A cool prop, but a prop. It was rigged together with a Thompson M1 submachine gun, a Remington 870 shotgun, the outer receiver cage from a Franchi SPAS-12, and a whole lot of resin parts for the shell that tied it all together.
The closest thing anyone’e ever come to inventing anything as futuristic as the M-41A is the Heckler & Koch G11 caseless rifle, which I actually got to fire when they did troop trials with it back in the late 1980s.
becoming a parent mean giving up life
Well, if you define “life” as “being able to go partying all weekend”, then yes, it means giving up that life.
For me, parenthood has meant being able to look at life from a new perspective. You learn lots about yourself, and you rediscover the neat little details in life we tend to overlook as grown-ups. You can’t help but share the fun of a two-year-old who has just discovered how to blow dandelion seeds off the flower.
pelikan m205 blue demonstrator
That’s a nice little pen. I love the chrome accents and ice-blue color scheme. I never bonded with the more conventional M200 (the base for the M205), because the black plastic and fake gold trim just makes the M200 look like a cheaper version of a more expensive pen. (It’s still a nice pen even in the classic trim, though.)
The M205 looks more like a standalone model, and there’s something neat about the 1930s tech in modern chrome-and-translucent-plastic packaging.
garand hold open device
The bolt hold-open device on an M1 Garand rifle is called “the user’s thumb”. That’s how we got the gun-related injury commonly called the Garand Thumb, which is what you get when you don’t pull it out of the breech fast enough after inserting an en-bloc clip.
(Technically, it does have a proper bolt stop, because the bolt stays back when the rifle is empty. It just gets deactivated when a new en-bloc clip is in the action, and the Garand bolt will close as soon as that clip is pushed into place.)
The Fernspaeher beret is maroon (because it’s an airborne branch), just like the berets of the German paratroopers, commando troops, and army aviation units. The badge on the beret is what’s unique to each service, and the Fernspaeher one looks like this:
The stuff inside the wreath: an eagle (signifying airborne ops), lightning bolts (for signal and communications), and crossed marker flags (for reconnaissance.) The little device at the bottom center of the outer wreath of oak leaves is a German flag.
parker 51 dot system
The Parker “51” usually has a date code at the bottom of the barrel, right by the clutch ring. It’s a one-digit code for the year (“1” for 1951 or 1961, for example), and it may be surrounded by up to three little dots. When they started a new year at the factory, they put in a number die with three little dots surrounding the year digit. Every quarter, they’d remove one dot with a file. Three dots around the number mean the pen was made in the first quarter of that year, two dots mean second quarter, and so on. (You can tell the decade by the revision of the pen—there were no vacumatic filler “51”s made past 1948, for example, and the aerometric “51” had three distinct revisions.)
best way to keep badgers off property
You put up little signs around your place. They should have a clear pictogram of a raccoon, a slash mark through the pictogram, and the words “THIS IS A RACCOON-FREE ZONE” underneath.
(That should work at least as well as the “DRUG-FREE ZONE” signs they put on schools, or the “NO GUNS ALLOWED” ones on the entrance doors of stores opposed to legal civilian gun toters.)
origin of fifteen bean soup
Some dude was eating twelve-bean soup one day, and said to himself, “You know what? There just aren’t enough beans in this soup.”
Or maybe it was a culinary arms race between two villages in Spain, each famous for bean soup. “Ah! Villarriba just developed a fourteen-bean soup! We here in Villabajo simply must top that. Find another kind of bean, amigos!”
alphasmart neo word count
Press CTRL+W, and you’ll get a word count on the screen.
pens of 1941
In 1941, the Pens To Have would have been the brand new Parker “51”, or the swank Parker Vacumatic. In Europe, some of the popular pens at the time were the Pelikan 100 and some iteration of the Montblanc.
What they didn’t have yet were disposable ballpoints, a circumstance which deprived them of a cramp-inducing writing experience, along with the opportunity to add billions of the nasty little things to landfills every year.
And that’s it for this Monday, folks! Tune in again next week, when we comb the blog stats for answers to questions nobody actually asked me directly…