Archive for November, 2006

Speed of a Meme

Posted in Blogging on November 30, 2006 by Mike Procario

Scott Eric Kaufmann is trying to experimentally measure the speed that a meme can travel around the internet.  I saw it mentioned in Political Animal. You can participate by linking to the original article. Kaufmann is tracking mentions in Technorati.


Laptop Upgrade

Posted in Technology and Software on November 29, 2006 by Mike Procario

I own a Dell Inspiron 6000 which has served me well for a couple of years. I have seen no reason to buy a new one, but I have wanted to keep it running well, so I have embarked on a series of upgrades. The first was a memory upgrade from 512MB to 1280 MB. That was pretty simple. I bought a 1024MB stick of memory and replaced one of the 256 MB sticks that I had. It took about five minutes.

Last night I upgraded my hard disk. The laptop came with a 40GB hard disk and since I dual boot linux and windows, I was limited to about 20 GB for each. As my music and photo collections have grown it was impossible to fit everything on the laptop. I looked into laptop hard drives and discovered that basically all laptops built in recent years run 2.5 in EIDE drives and that I could get an 80GB drive online for about $90.

The hardware was relatively easy to switch. I removed two screws and a small drawer that holds the drive slid out. The drive was held by two screws to the drawer. I removed them and inserted the new drive. There is a small adapter that attaches to the drive and then plugs into the computer. I did not remove it from the old drive and attach it to the new one, which resulted in the computer thinking it did not have hard drive. After scratching my head for a bit I pulled the drive out again and discovered my mistake. I moved the adapter to the new drive and tried again. The computer still did not see the hard drive. I pulled it again and discovered that the adapter was on only row of the two rows of pins. When the adapter was correctly installed the computer recognized the disk.

Now the real fun started. I had copied the windows partition to an external USB disk using partimage which comes on the the System Rescue CD. I copied it back using the same tools. Since I did not yet have a master boot record, I installed Ubuntu 6.10, which set up grub, a multiboot manager, to boot both windows and Ubuntu. I was able to mount the windows partition from Ubuntu and saw that I could read it.

The final test was booting it windows. I selected Windows from the grub menu and it reported “Starting up…” and then nothing. Oh well. I will have something to do tonight.

Update: Wireless did not work out of the box. I had download the windows driver and extract the firmware to get it working. I had done that before, but I did not back up the linux partition since I planned to do a new install.

Ubuntu 6.10 Installed

Posted in Technology and Software on November 18, 2006 by Mike Procario

I took some time this evening to install Ubuntu 6.10 on my desktop. I had heard that some people were having problems doing an upgrade so I did a clean install. I have two computers, a desktop and a laptop. I consider the laptop to be my primary computer, so I experimented with the desktop. I backed up what I needed to save and blew away the system partition. I rationalized the partitions a bit to reduce the number on the system and installed Ubuntu 6.10. It looks good and so far is running well. I used automatix to install some codecs, fonts, and extras.

Ubuntu 6.10 comes with Firefox 2.0 and F-spot an open source photo manager ala Picasa. Firefox is working well, and I F-spot the once over. It is supposed to upload to flickr and Picasa Web Albums. I use both as well as Yahoo Photos. Interestingly, Picasa on linux cannot upload to Picasa Web Albums.


powered by performancing firefox

Power Bar at O’Hare

Posted in Travel on November 17, 2006 by Mike Procario

Yesterday when I was returning home from Chicago, I saw a new feature at O’Hare airport. By gate B14 there are is a small installation with four stools and eight power outlets. It is meant to allow people to charge their laptops and cell phones. It seems like a great idea to me, but they need one at every gate not just one.

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 10, 2006 by Mike Procario

I took a quiz online to see what kind of accent I speak with.

What American accent do you have?

Your Result: Philadelphia



Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you’re not from Philadelphia, then you’re from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you’ve ever journeyed to some far off place where people don’t know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn’t have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Northeast



The Midland



The Inland North



The South






The West



North Central



What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

It turns out that I speak with a perfect Philadelphia accent, which is not surprising since I was born and grew up in Philadelphia, and my years in Wisconsin did not ruin my accent.

The quiz is a series of questions about whether two words are pronounced alike or different. I answered that all were different. Apparently, Phildelphians are very discriminating speakers.

Taking Pictures

Posted in Photo on November 4, 2006 by Mike Procario

I have been taking more pictures than usual lately. I have taken a lot of the girls’ bunnies, but I am most pleased with some shots I took of the area last Sunday. It was a beautiful fall day. I took a shot right outside my house, because the sky looked so blue with clouds nicely contrasting.

From Fall day

I was quite pleased with it, so I drove to the scenic overlook off of I-270. I got this one looking west at a farm.

From Fall day

A Small Teaching Breakthrough

Posted in Education, physics on November 3, 2006 by Mike Procario

Helping my daughter with her high school physics homework is a much different activity than lecturing to 200 students. I had a real insight last night into the kind of mistakes that students make. The problem was a classic block on a turntable problem. The turntable accelerates at a constant rate and the question is how long before the block slides off.

In this problem the mass of the block was not given, and that was a real stumbling block for my daughter. I told her to just write down m for the mass and keep working. Later in the same problem she needed the angular velocity and was given the angular acceleration. I said just find the angular velocity using the acceleration. I assumed that she would write

ω = αt

but she said that she did not know the time. I pointed out that she was looking for the time. I got very excited at this point. I had discovered a fundamental problem she was having. Her bad habit of plugging in numbers immediately actually prevented her from doing this problem. I probably got too excited. She started to cry.

Since the beginning of the year I have encouraged her to solve the problem symbolically as far as possible and substitute in numbers as late as possible. In general she has ignored my well thought out fatherly advice and tried to plug in numbers as soon as possible. After she calmed down I explained how her way of doing things prevented her from solving the problem. I hope this lesson sticks.