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Dear US Government,

Posted on : 02-25-2009 | By : Andy | In : news

Tags: , , , ,


I hear that you’re having some troubles with your finances, and I just wanted to help you out a bit with some advice. Don’t worry, it’s free advice!

  1. You can’t spend more money than you make. Really, this one’s pretty simple. It’s a matter of debits and credits, which need to be (at the very least) equal. I know that you’re a big fan of bailouts, but there is no one to bail you out. Even Bill Gates can’t swing that kind of cash, so you need to fix your own problems.
  2. Giving money to irresponsible people is, well, irresponsible. It seems that banks haven’t figured out that paying millions of dollars a year to CEOs does not guarantee them top-notch quality businessmen. The more you bail them out, the less reason they have to reform. I’d say we start by enacting some laws: if you take our money, nobody in your company makes more than $150k per year. At this rate, they can hire about 20 (or more) smart economics grads straight out of the University for the price of one crusty old CEO, creating extra jobs and virtually guaranteeing that one of those 20 will have some clue how the real world works. (If people “can’t live on that,” move the bank headquarters to rural Indiana, where they will be the richest people around)
  3. Start fighting over whose programs don’t get cut. Again, you’re in the red every year. Obama wants to halve the deficit in 4 years? WE’D STILL BE SPENDING WAY MORE THAN WE’RE MAKING!!! Rather than wasting time in congress fighting over who gets to spend more money on new programs, I propose a new perspective.
    1. Divide our deficit by total tax revenue (about 33% in 2008)
    2. Cut every single government program by that percent (33%)
    3. Make congressmen fight for scraps. If you “need” more spending for something, you have to convince everyone else to sacrifice spending on some other program: there’s no more money to spend, just like a real budget.
    4. If tax revenues fall, congress is required to cut spending.
    5. If tax revenues rise, spend the extra money on paying off our ridiculous debt.
  4. If all else fails, fire all the politicians in the next 4 years, and replace them with people in this country who have 0 credit card debt, don’t have disproportionally high house and car loans, and make less than $150k per year. Chances are, they’ll be able to take care of things.

It’s not going to be easy, but I know that somewhere in the back of your mind it makes sense that disaster looms if every year we spend more than we make. I know that you can’t honestly believe that the federal government should be bailing out every poor decision (or lazy soul) that ‘requires’ a few bucks. Sometimes, a little pain goes a long ways towards convincing people that those $5,000 shoes are a little overkill, or that $150/month on cable when you’re unemployed is unsustainable.

If you let people bleed a little bit when they do stupid things, they just might learn not to do those stupid things again.


Twittering with Growl

Posted on : 02-23-2009 | By : Andy | In : fun, tech

Tags: , , , , , ,


If you’re comfortable with trying to use Terminal (or curious to start), you can get your twitter updates via growl on OS X. If you don’t know what growl is, you’re really missing out. Get it here — it updates you unobtrusively with program status messages that might typically show up in a popup box or embedded into a program window, or not at all.

Once you’ve got growl, you’ll need to make sure you have Ruby 1.8.3 or higher.

You’ll also need MacPorts to make this work right: Install MacPorts

  • If you have 10.5 Leopard, you’re set
  • If you have 10.4 Tiger, you’ll probably need to update:
    1. Open a Terminal window and type in the following command, hitting return at the end:
      sudo port install ruby

Now, we’ll install some stuff that we need for our script to run. Using terminal, enter these commands (Hit return after each one)

sudo port install rb-rubygems
sudo gem install xml-simple
sudo gem install ruby-growl

(If the “gem” commands don’t work, you may need to restart terminal before running them)

Provided this all went well, you should be ready to install the script. Download the Squawk Scriptand move it into your home directory (looks like a house in finder if you’re totally lost here). This file is thanks to damien, but I had to make a tweak for it to all work right. You have to edit the file with your login info:

sudo pico ~/squawk.rb

It should be obvious where to put your email address and password.

Finally, run your script!

ruby squawk.rb

If you want to run it in the background on startup, check back later. I’ll be posting on this shortly.

Mac Mini CPU Upgrade – Thermal Paste is Important!

Posted on : 02-11-2009 | By : Andy | In : fun, tech

Tags: , , , , ,


So I have this 1.66GHz Core Duo Mac Mini (1,1), and it was a bit slow for my new TV tuner, just barely keeping up. Given than Core 2 Duo is so vastly superior, and they’re old enough now to be (relatively) cheap on eBay, I decided to upgrade.

I found a T7400 on eBay for about $150 shipped, which runs at 2.16GHz and is the next-to-best processor that will fit in a current Mac Mini. (Any Intel mini will do, even the old skool Core Solos) You need a pinned model, but I found that I could get the other (solder-type) model from Kaga with “aftermarket” pins for a bit cheaper, (something like this) so I did. It works great.

There are instructions on how to do the upgrade all over the place, but here are three very important notes:

  1. Buy a 4-40 bolt set. The nylon fasteners on your Mac Mini are fragile, and even if they don’t break, probably shouldn’t be reused. Most people recommend nylon nuts/bolts, but I could only find metal at my local hobby shop (RC planes and cars use this kind of thing), and they’re working fine. There’s limited clearance underneath your Mini’s mobo, and you don’t want large nuts touching any of the circuitry underneath, so put your bolts in upside-down. Buying bolts that are “too long” will make it much easier to get the nuts on over the springs that hold your heatsink in place. Since I used metal screws, I put a piece of 3M electrical tape (the good 33 stuff) on the metal mobo tray underneath them, just to eliminate any possible electrical oddities.
  2. Get your thermal paste right Clean the HS off well with Rubbing Alcohol. Put a small glob (like 2 grains of rice worth) of Arctic Silver 5 (or whatever goo you’re using) on the center of the die. Don’t spread it out, just put the HS on top and fasten ‘er down. If you spread it out yourself, you could get air bubbles and crud in there, which is not good. I did this wrong the first time and found that even with my fan set to 1900, my Mini would idle in the mid-to-high 50s. By reapplying, now my fan is at 1800 and I’m idling in the mid-to-high 40s.
  3. Use smcFanControl. Set your minimum fan speed to 1800, because the Core 2 Duos run a little hotter than the Core Duos.

That’s it! My “new” Mac Mini (now with 2GB of RAM and the 2.16GHz processor) just flies, and it benched at somewhere around 30%+ better with XBench. The real story though is in how it “feels,” which is about twice as fast–I don’t hit that ceiling anymore where everything just starts acting like crap.

So… if you’ve got an Intel Mac Mini, upgrade already! You won’t regret it! (Just make sure you get your thermal paste right…)