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Archive for the 'Idle Yams' Category


Monday, March 20th, 2006

I’ve been a little obsessed with cuckoo clocks for the past few weeks, and here are a few cuckoo-related oddments. A friend of mine gave me an unwanted cuckoo clock, and I repaired it and hung it on a wall at home. Every time the cuckoo chime goes off, it makes me giggle. Sadly, most […]


Sunday, March 12th, 2006

I have a peculiar problem with telephones. When ever I pick up a ringing phone, and say “hello,” there is invariably a long pause, and then the other person says, tentatively, “Hello? Is this Jim?.” It turns out that many people assume that they are listening to a recording when I answer the phone. I […]

Customer Service Scripts & The Jungle Cruise

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

Lately, I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of customer interaction scripts, you know, those little bits of canned dialog that people who represent large companies are required to say to you. I contacted my cable broadband provider on Thursday night because my internet connection, which has been increasing flaky the last few […]

Programmers are Lazy, Part 1

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

This blog is intended to be lighthearted and fun, and it is not normally my policy to fill it with angst and invective. But sometimes a guy has to rant. Today’s rant is directed at lazy programmers. We know who we are. Computers are labor saving devices, so it is natural that the programming field […]

Mochas and Modern Medicine

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

There’s a drug rep riding up in the elevator with me to Doctor Schott’s office, a pretty young woman in her 20s. I know she’s a drug rep because in addition to a shopping bag with a big box that says Protonix on it, she is carrying a tray with four different Starbucks beverages on […]

Planned obsolescence

Thursday, June 2nd, 2005

This is my favorite pocket calculator, the Casio CM-100. I’ve had it since the mid-80s, and unlike countless writing utensils, hats and pairs of sunglasses, I’ve managed not to lose it. I’m particularly attached to it now, because none of the calculators currently for sale at Staples, Office Depot or are nearly as good. […]

Entropy & Motion Graphics

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Claude Shannon’s Information Theory tells us that any given communications channel has limited capacity or bandwidth. There is a fixed amount of information (measured as entropy or non-repetition) that can be passed thru that channel without introducing errors. Human perception can be viewed as a communications channel, also posessing limited bandwidth. When faced with too […]

Information processing and the wolf spider

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

If you didn’t know it already, the Internet is a pretty cool thing. Two days ago, sitting in my office, I noticed a small wolf spider moving across the window sill, and then up the window. Wolf spiders are hunters, rather than trappers. This particular spider had a characteristic kind of motion which I had […]

Three Johns on Randomness

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

If you take a quick peek around this website, you will see a considerable number of software toys which make heavy use of random numbers. Nonetheless, the use of random numbers does not agree with everyone.