Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Panga Boats Made In The U.S.A

I am always on the lookout for inexpensive practical boats which would be good for in-shore fishing in the coastal waters of New England.  I had never heard of the Panga boat before, but I was familiar with the type from news and travel footage of Somali Pirates and fishermen in developing nations.  As the story goes, the Panga was developed by Yamaha Outboards on a grant from the World Bank in the 70's or the 80's (depending upon the source) for coastal fishermen in the developing world. By any measure the design is incredibly successful, and may be the most copied in the world, though certainly the Trawler, Junk, Sampan, Canoe, Garvey, Dory and Scow are similarly successful.  What I find interesting about the boat is that the design is very clearly Japanese, the sheer-line and the elegant reverse curve of the bow is very distinctive, as is the wide, flared bow (almost shovel shaped when viewed from above).  Especially in a small boat, the added buoyancy and flare in the bow is a big plus,  contributing to a dry ride creating a nice stable casting platform for a fisherman in the bow. a feature which apparently was designed to facilitate pulling heavy throw nets into the boat.  The low freeboard and the stable bow remind me of the Boston Whaler Montauk 17, which is why I think it would be a great boat for sight casting for stripers in New England.  These boats are now being made in the US in Florida, by Panga Marine (another area where sightcasting in shallow water is very popular)

Hat Tip To Microskiffs.com 

Monday, April 25, 2011

TDK 3 Speaker BoomBox - Go Figure

And I thought I was the only Gen X guy missing the iconic Boom Boxes of the 80's, leave it to TDK - the company who brought you the mixtape (tm). The last I heard of TDK, they were producing *Chrome* and *Metal*  "Super Avilyn" casette tapes adorned with their bitchin diamond logo thingy ======================>>>

So there I was minding my own business checking out the latest (sic) Beastie Boys release when what do I see but the TDK 3 Speaker Boombox above, it bears a striking resemblance to the Aiwa I wrote about some time back (below).  The Beasties are of my generation, so I would not be surprised if they were inspired by the same Aiwa.

Monday, March 7, 2011

1990's IBM ThinkPad Butterfly Keyboard

Set The Way Back Machine to 1995....

The IBM ThinkPad range had a well deserved reputation for bomb-proof build and clever I.D.  The Thinkpads of the era were akin to the MacBook Pro's of the present, head and shoulders above the competition.  I had the opportunity to use a few of these 701's and the way the keyboard would magically rise and fold out was a source of endless nerd joy.  I found myself repeatedly opening and closing it trying to find a position where the mechanism would bind, catch or jam, but each time it folded and stowed itself perfectly- within a whisker of being caught by the edge of the lid.  But the greatest thing about this Thinkpad and all of its contemporaries was was an unfailing dedication to producing great keyboards that were not an afterthought.  I was reminded of the old 701 while typing on my Lenovo S10 Netbook. (Lenovo of course famously purchased the IBM PC/Laptop business and has faithfully carried on the tradition of building tough and innovative business laptops - albeit with an aesthetic firmly rooted in 1997 - frankly I doubt IBM would have done as well).  The Lenovo S10 is a wonderful machine and within the inherent graphics limitations of it's Atom chipset it has done everything I could reasonably expect with aplomb.  My only gripe with the S10 and all 10inch Netbooks is their XX% keyboards.  The major querty keys are generally a non issue, the keys are reasonable sized and fall more or less at your fingertips.  The devil however is in the details.  The arrow keys, enter key, shift, ctrl, function, tab and the rest of the 'non querty' keys get shrunk and moved around.  Which becomes a serious pain when you are trying to use keyboard shortcuts or keyboard intensive apps requiring a lot of alt-this and shift-that.  So why don't modern Netbooks use the butterfly?  It does make for a thicker design, but the extra 1/3 of an inch hardly makes a difference considering the bulky extended life batteries many people use.  I hope someone resurrects the butterfly someday - because to quote Han Solo "Capacitive Touch Screens and Hokey-Touch Gestures Are No Match for a Decent Enter Key"

Friday, March 4, 2011

The First Person

Some of the things we humans eat, always make me wonder, who was the first person to eat it and what were they thinking.  One of the more notable examples is the many (delicious) Mollusks we take for granted. Have you ever seen a fresh raw Steamer Clam?  They look like snot from someone with a particularly virulent sinus infection.  What on earth would make someone decide to ingest that?  Was the first clam eater starving?  The natural reaction of any human to something that looks like a shell-less bivalve is revulsion. Who opened that first shell and slurped it down?  And then there are the mushrooms, many are poisonous and you would think that after some people had been sickened or killed, that mushrooms would off the menu, and of course there is Fugu, how many people died from the poison before the Japanese figured out how to cut it just right. Human history is full of seemingly absurd and unlikely foodstuffs that have become treasured and even fetishized.  Oysters, Tuffles,   Sautern Wine (made from moldy grapes) and in what has to be the most extreme, Civet Coffee.  A Civet is a Bobcat like mammal who lives places like Java and other coffee cultivating lands.  One of the things Civets like to eat is raw coffee beans.  The outside of the bean gets completely digested, but the nut (what we make coffee out of) is exposed to the digestive enzymes of the Civet, but emerges intact in the stool of the Civet.  People claim that the digestive enzymes of the Civet mellow the coffee like a fine aged wine. Civet coffee sells for about 10-20x the price of regular coffee (someone has to pick it out of the Civet turds after all) . So who was so desperate for a caffeine buzz that they made coffee out of Civet shit?

Monday, February 28, 2011

How to Fix an Itunes Library Full of Duplicates and Mystery Tracks

Like many people, my digital music library began well before I had an iPod or iTunes, and has survived several iterations of sketchy HDD based iPods, corrupt iTunes libraries, failed computers & hard drives and everything in between.   Recently I found myself with an iPod that wouldn't sync, 10K+ songs (many of them duplicates - and many simply labeled 'track 1', 'track 2' etc) and two branch libraries from my wife and daughter, both of which had a combination of songs, some duplicating songs in my library (and each others) and some not.  This weekend I decided to fix all these problems and found a number of tools that really simplified things.  Here are the solutions associated with each problem.

1. Partially labeled songs - Early songs of mine which I copied from CD's (before robust programs and before I knew any better) labeled "track 1" etc, some with album artist info, some not.  For this issue, I found an app called Tune Up, which is like Shazam for iTunes (which is exactly what I put in Google search).  Simply put, Tune Up, scans through your library and pretty seamlessly identifies each song, album, artist and artwork and updates your library accordingly.  This cost $25 for a year's subscription and is worth twice that - it performed flawlessly - really, and my library includes a lot of weird sampler CD's from magazines and such...it even identified those perfectly.

2 & 3 Duplicates and Multiple Libraries. - I looked for a deduper for iTunes, and there were quite a few, but I found a much simpler solution.  I downloaded WinMerge which is like a UX Diff utility for Windows.  While the tool is intended for source code management, it works pissah for iTunes libraries.  Basically you select two folders (the iTunes music directories you want to compare) and it spits out the differences (and not just the usual file name/date/size) but actual differences.  Once WinMerge has finished it's work (which happens in seconds - even on a 10k file lib) you it's a simple right click to move the missing files over to your lib.  WinMerge is free, but it's priceless - it really works that well.  It might even beat out Notepad++ and MySQL for best freeware.  It is a great answer to a simple and common problem.

4. iPod that won't sync - I had/have a first edition iPod classic 160gb that refused to sync about two years after I bought it.  Among other symptoms, it during the sync, Windows XP would throw the error "Wrong Volume, please insert 'X' Volume"  or simply an iTunes -50 error.  The frustrating thing was that I managed to get it to sync successfully once despite the error, which led me to believe it was an iTunes/Windows/Corrupt File issue.  Well, it wasn't, it actually half crapped out,  a new iPod solved that problem easily.

5. Downloaded Songs Only on iPod - my daughter, buys itunes songs (on my account) but only downloads them directly to her iPod Touch over WiFi.  Obviously I need to get these added to my Lib so we don't lose them if her iPod craps out.  For this problem, the Copy Trans suite is the best solution, these guys do a great job and it is reasonably priced, I highly recommend all their programs.

6. Duplicate Songs In One Library- This problem arose out of previous attempts to fix the other issues, leaving me with a mess of actual duplicates (some disguised under the aforementioned "track_1", "track_2") and semi duplicates, songs that were duplicated on anthologies for example.  For this issue there is actually an iTunes solution, if you hold down 'shift' while clicking on the iTunes 'file' menu, you will see an option to view only 'exact' duplicates.  While it is still a manual delete, it is very easy once you don't have to wade through the not actually duplicates.  Best (and only) semi hidden iTunes feature.

Well, that's it, good luck, I hope you can learn from my issues. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Scandinavian Pilothouse Boats

Minor Offshore 37
These boats are extremely popular in Scandinavian countries and are starting to attract some interest in the U.S.  I have never seen one in the wild, but I expect that it's only a matter of time.  While they are certainly not for everyone,  I think the design could have significant appeal in the Pacific Northwest and New England where the weather is always cooperative and the seas can be dicey. I especially like the typically Scandinavian attention to detail and careful use of space, you can check out some good examples of the type at Minor Offshore (Finland)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

American Expeditionary Vehicles 'BRUTE'

The Jeep is the quintessential American off road vehicle, and is, with the possible exception of the Land Rover (itself a pale copy of a Jeep) and the VW Beetle, probably the most easily recognized vehicle on the planet. In a weird deja vu, when the Jeep was first conceived (70 years ago now - think about that), it was put forth  by the (bankrupt) American Bantam Co. to a RFP from the GVT for a light all terrain vehicle for WWII. American Bantam hired a freelance designer who *purportedly* designed the thing in two days using off the shelf parts.  In a script that would stress credibility in Hollywood, the Bantam engine didn't meet the Army's requirements and the Army turned the design over to Willy's and Ford for mass production.  Bonus Trivia ; The vaunted Jeep grill design of vertical slats was actually a Ford thing.  In any case, the AEV Brute represents the logical evolution of the Jeep.  The Jeep has always been an American off road hot rod, in the truest sense of the word, a vehicle of imagination - cobbled together from found parts for a specific purpose. The AEV Brute is the perfect embodiment of the Jeep, it's clumped together from off the shelf parts for one purpose, off road ability.  It doesn't have a tufted mouse hair headliner, it likely rides like Gepetto's own donkey kart, but you can bet your ass that it goes like voodoo off road.