Bay Area Backroads – Secluded Armpits Edition

Seal Point areaHad a fairly nice ride in San Mateo this afternoon.  My friends invited me to go to a hidden, secret magical land, which turned out to be Seal Point Park and the surrounding environs (just south of Coyote Point).

However there were some weird, foul, and fowl things that came up.  So, when going there

seal-point-bridge-1

The Good:
1) Going to the top of the hill above the dog park to ring the bells that are part of the art sculpture there.
2) See the cute cats farther south


The Bad:
1) …actually going to see the cats, it smells like ass in that part of the bay. It was also kinda sad to see so many strays. Spay and neuter your pets people!marsh-cats-1

2)  Biking by the large pile of manure just sitting in the parking lot. Unless you’re looking for a way to get the kids out of your hair for a while, and tell them to build sandcastles out of it.

3)  Lingering over the seabird roadkill. Nasty!

bird-roadkill

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Belkin Paying Folks to Post Fake Reviews on Amazon

Check out this story via The Daily Background.

Apparently Belkin’s “Business Development Manager of eCommerce”, Michael Bayard has been found to be paying people to post positive reviews of their products, and downplay any negative reviews. The posting states you don’t even need to own it.  They used Amazon’s own Mechanical Turk service to post the job orders.

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My friends are plotting against me!

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DIY Biotechnologists – Start Praying

Apparently the new rage is to attempt synthetic biology in one’s home, says this article:

Amateurs are trying genetic engineering at home

(via the Associated Press)

People with no training and only rudimentary knowledge doing genetic splicing in unregulated lab conditions?  Very scary.  And you thought genetically engineered food was bad?  Please.  You haven’t been scared s***less until you’ve seen Joe the Plumber trying to splice vanilla flavoring into E.coli and then injecting it into his Gun’n’Roses tattoo so he can have a scratch’n’sniff bicep.

“We should try to make science more sexy and more fun and more like a game,” says Mackenzie Cowell, a 24-year-old who majored in biology in college and co-founder of the group DIYbio which has set up a community lab where the public could use chemicals and lab equipment, including a free Craigslist freezer.

NO.  No we shouldn’t. Science will always be sexy to the hardcore. and it is sexy to stupid people as well… but it should be kept out of their reach, and restricted to people dedicated enough to pursue it.  Is this a discriminatory statement?  Absolutely not: anyone regardless of background is free to pursue it, but they should be required to obtain the appropriate training and put in the work to get there.  There’s nothing discriminatory about meritocracy.

I cringe everytime I see college kids not using goggles and other safety equipment in lab, and they’re actually being supervised and taught proper lab technique.  Do you really want untrained individuals to be weilding even more responsability than that, in your backyard?

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The Ball Droppeth… again

Sony Computer Entertainment has today announced that it will perform a worldwide release of the new PlayStation Home service on December 11, 2009. The 3D social gaming service has recently completed its lengthy beta test and will allow PlayStation 3 users to interact, communicate and share game experiences with each other.

PlayStation Home will allow open interaction among users, business partners and SCE, and will evolve with additional features including dedicated game spaces, special events and exclusive themed items, to further enrich the entertainment experience on the PS3 platform.

A variety of consumer partners will participate in Home including Paramount Digital Entertainment, Red Bull and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

(from Gamespy)

Great Sony… you just invented Second Life, except now I’ll be dealing with people who don’t have a keyboard. Leaving most to use BT headsets (though many people on PSN don’t, and those who do, I can seldom understand them clearly).

Well, regardless, I’m sure all my friends will be on here, just like in Second Life… oh wait, that’s right… none of my friends use Second Life.

What I think more people would REALLY appreciate is for Sony to improve the ability to communicate with people on your Friends list, and to more easily hook up with them for games.  I’d really appreciate a better interface for jamming with my buddy in online Rock Band 2, for instance.  Seriously… “Invite a Friend” basically emails them an attachment?

Come on, Sony, make this easier. Take all these social-networking type feature and make them 2D (ie built into the XMB interface) rather than revert back to the “ooh, 3D is the Wave of the Future!” mentality of the 90’s.  I’d much rather have the ability to make a audio/text chat room with a few clicks in the XMB, to meet with my buddies and arrange a game, rather than go join a 3D one that involves having to run around and find people. Much more complicated.

(Note: I’m not bashing Second Life, just the fact that it’s not so wildly popular that I think it justified PS Home being pushed ahead of the other updates I mentioned)

12/15/08 Update: I tried out Home the day after it went public (turns out 12/11/08 was just the public beta) and I couldn’t get on.  I tried again today, 5 days later and I still get a “can’t connect” message. What’s worse is there is no option to retry the connection.  Some form of “busy redial” would seem appropriate to me.  All in all, it’s a bust so far.  I’m asked to accept the online usage policy every time, as well.

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I’d Sooner Kiss a Wookie

Robot Chicken - Escape from the Death Star I was totally floored to see this in the recent Robot Chicken Star Wars Special 2.  For all you kids who aren’t old enough, or (*ahem*) cool enough to know, the nerds pictured here are playing Escape from the Death Star.  Until now, I thought my close friends and I were the only ones priviledged enough to have played it.

Wait, did I say privledged?

I meant damned. Worse board game ever.

Maybe our dice were just weighted, but it seemed that no matter what you did, you inevitable wound up in the detention block/trash compactor at the center of the board, which you could only escape from with a perfect roll.  We all spent most of the game stuck there.  To this day, mention Escape from the Death Star to any of my friends who was there, and they break into a cold sweat, and go into full PTSD-mode.

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Message from Our Alien Overlords

As frequent readers know, every Saturday we publish a new article in our Home & Lifestyle section of the blog. This week, frequent contributor Xltlksxxr has a few helpful tips for how to tidy up around the house.

crab-alien

Xltlksxxr, Hive Matriarch of Qtrrklr-7, and Freelance Contributor

PUNY HUMAN

LOOK AT YOU, WITH YOUR ENDO-SKELETON, AND SOFT FLESHINESS. WHERE IS YOUR RAZOR SHARP CARAPACE? YOUR ACID BILE SACS?  YOUR INTERNAL DIGESTIVE SYSTEM  IS PITIFUL

AS IS YOUR LACK OF EYESTALKS

THE FACT THAT THE POISON STINGER OF YOUR YOUNG CANNOT EVEN PIERCE THE THORAX OF A WYUGLIR BIRD IS PROOF THAT YOUR SPECIES IS DESTINED ONLY FOR SUBJUGATION

SOON YOU WILL BE OUR SLAVES

TREMBLE IN FEAR

Join us next week for the continuation of this article, including more tips on how to knit the perfect tea cozy.

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