Watching Iron Chef, how else?

We’ve been too busy for the past few days to flip the page — last year (1999) when we bought our DVD player, we got a book of free rentals at Blockbuster, which expired today. So we’ve spent the last few days watching a lot of movies — and wishing Blockbuster had a better selection.

Tonight, we have some friends over, and we’ve been watching Iron Chef on Food Network. They’ll be showing it until midnight Eastern time tomorrow, non-stop. But as a change of pace, let me recommend Lego Chef.

More next millennium….have a good one!

There's an old joke…

…in which a student is asked how to find out the height of a building with a barometer. The teacher, of course, expects the student to measure the air pressure at the top and bottom and do some calculations to come up with the height, but the student takes a more direct route and offers the barometer to the superintendent if he’ll tell him how tall the building is.

I was trying to find out the frequency of Jeffrey’s watch radio, and I was just about to send a note to the ARRL Technical Information Service to ask for advice on how to do it, when I decided to try a more direct approach. I called the manufacturer’s toll free Customer Service line; someone picked up the phone on the second ring and answered my question immediately: the radios are on 49MHz (which is the same band as baby monitors and old cordless phones use). This explains why there’s so much interference and why we weren’t able to interoperate with FRS radios — I guess the reference to “FRS Technology” means that they use FM. Kudos to
DSI Toys for being responsive, but I wouldn’t recommend the radios for use farther than you can shout — but they certainly look cool. I’m considering wearing one of them to work and seeing if Security says anything about my having an antenna on my wrist.

Memory revisited

I had to print another sheet of pictures tonight, so I made the measurements that Jeremy and I had been discussing last week.

Memory Usage: Note the huge swing in memory when the image gets loaded or unloaded.  Paint Shop Pro shows the image size as 95MB, and the size on disk is 115MB -- not bad for a 5.6MB scanned JPEG.The big jumps in “unused physical memory” correspond to images being loaded and unloaded, and the brief heavy CPU usage is an image being loaded. Interestingly, the swapfile-in-use doesn’t change much, though the swapfile size gets increased substantially when the image is loaded.

It sure looks as though Thumbs Plus Pro expands the image from the 5.6 MB JPEG on disk (as scanned originally at 600×600) to something on the order of 96MB in memory — and that, plus the usual Windows overhead, forces significant swapping, even with 192MB in the box.

The next machine will have at least 256MB — but I’m still in no hurry; today’s Merc suggested that prices may drop further early next year. And if it takes me ten minutes to print a sheet of pictures twice a year, well, I can probably cope.

Besides, I visited the local Ham Radio Outlet today and some of the ham gear looks awfully interesting, if I could just figure out what to do about an antenna.

Movies, Movies, Movies….

Then after we got home, Jeffrey dug out an MST3K classic, Space Mutiny. Miss it if you can.

And finally, we watched the end of The Towering Inferno after dinner. I want to find the Second City parody and watch it — I think the acting was better!

FRS Technology, eh?

The wrist radios I got Jeffrey for Hanukkah claim to use “FRS Technology”. Our friends had bought their daughters two FRS handy-talkies for Christmas, so when we got together last night, we tried to make the wrist radio talk to the handy-talkies — no dice. I tried all 14 FRS channels, and the two units couldn’t hear one another (that’s not strictly true — the wrist radio detected but couldn’t make any sense of the FRS radio; the FRS radio couldn’t tell that the wrist radio was in the room). I’m going to have to find some way of telling what frequency the wrist radio actually uses. I did find some Web ads for the radio, claiming a 100-foot range — as I said yesterday, about as far as we could yell!

Dick Tracy, your heart is safe…

The weather is beautiful today (partly cloudy, mid-60s), so we took a little walk before lunch. Jeffrey put on his Rollerblades and zipped ahead of us (as usual), and we used his wrist radios to stay in touch. Or at least we tried — I think we could actually yell over more distance than the radios would cover. But it was fun to play with the radios anyway, and we got some interesting comments from neighbors as we passed.

Time to go watch The Towering Inferno before visiting friends for dinner.

Dick Tracy, eat your heart out!

While I was in Cambridge last month, I happened to find a store called “All Wound Up” which mostly sells moving toys (battery-powered for the most part, despite the name). But they also had something I couldn’t resist getting for Jeffrey — a pair of wristwatches which are also wrist radios (operating in the Family Radio Service). As you can tell from the picture, the watch is a bit larger than the one Dick Tracy wore in the comics, but I think it’s an amazing combination anyhow.

Dick Tracy's Wristwatch: Just remember, the nation that controls magnetism controls the Universe!I suspect Dick Tracy’s watchradio worked better than this one, but Jeffrey’s having fun playing with it anyway (and will probably have more fun tomorrow when we visit friends his age). As for me, I think I’ll stick with Amateur Radio.

We saw Miss Congeniality today. We were using up some Customer Service Passes from AMC Theatres which were going to expire in a week; I don’t think we’d’ve necessarily gone out of our way for this movie otherwise (I wanted to see Charlie’s Angels but was outvoted), but we all enjoyed it, and I’d recommend it if you don’t have to pay too much.