Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disney Acquires Lucasfilm

Press Release
Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

Wow, $4 billion. Is the Star Wars franchise worth that much after Episodes I, II, and III? Hopefully this will prevent George Lucas from making any more Star Wars movies.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mileage Test

With gasoline prices approaching $5/gallon (my car drinks the premium stuff), I decided to try and see how driving habits can affect mileage. I read/heard that the slower you drive on the freeway (safely), the better your gas mileage. So on my weekly nighttime commute from Orange County to Torrance, I tested to see if speed affected mileage.

Both times I tried to set the cruise control and not touch the brakes. The route was the same: 55S/22W transition, 22 West, 405 North, 110 South, 223rd Street exit.

Trial 1:
Saturday, October 6
Average speed = 59.6 mph
Average mileage = 32.4 mpg

Trial 2:
Saturday, October 13
Average speed = 67.4 mph
Average mileage = 30.5 mpg

The data was from the onboard trip computer; I reset the counter at the beginning of the trip. Before this, I had never reset the computer, and my average mileage was ~23 mpg over 29,000 miles of combined highway/city driving. I was surprised at the high mileage numbers since my car is pretty large and has a 300 hp V6 engine. I was also surprised that I got a 2 mpg improvement by driving 60 mph instead of ~70 mph, even though it was a bit scary to be the slowest guy on the road. Finally, changes in velocity also affected mileage. The effect was most evident when I had to slow down for the 405N/110S interchange since it was a big right-handed loop. I probably had to slow to ~35 mph, then accelerate back to speed. The drop in mileage was ~0.2 mpg on the computer display even though I've driven ~35 miles.

Save gas, drive slow(er)!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Shuttle Endeavour at The Forum

This morning, I went in person to see Endeavour parked at The Forum in Inglewood.

There was supposed to be a ceremony of some sort so there was a high school marching band and cheerleaders. I left before it started.

The shuttle was parked on Manchester Avenue. There was lots of barricades but the crowd was able to get fairly close.

I think Endeavour only flew 25 missions. I was surprised how old it looked. :(

Back view. The 3 main engines have been removed and may be reused on the SLS.

Lots and lots of people...

Shuttle Move Live Feed

We had a live feed of the shuttle move yesterday at work. It was probably for a future NASA documentary but not sure how we got it. Anyway, I took some screencaps while they were moving Endeavour across Manchester Avenue.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Wow, that must have been the easiest OS install ever. I downloaded Ubuntu 12.04.1, burned an install CD, then installed it on my netbook (which I'm using right now). The total process only took about an hour and everything works! When I installed Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.0) on the same netbook, I had lots of issues with drivers and crashes, and the sound never worked correctly. Here, sound, wifi, Bluetooth, and even the weird Asus Eee specific function keys all work. No drama...

First impression of Ubuntu is that it's very similar to OS X. I guess I wasn't sure what to expect since my last Linux experience was Red Hat (line commands) on an old Pentium. I was even able to open Word .docx files. However, after using my work laptop (SSD), my iPad2 (RAM), and MacBook Air (SSD), I'm used to instantaneous app loads so this feels really really slow. The Atom processor probably is not helping.

Now I have four laptops at my friend's house with 4 different operating systems.


Just figured out how to connect to wireless network at work with Ubuntu. I read a bunch of posts on the web with lots of line commands but the Edit Connection wizard on Ubuntu 12 was pretty easy. All I had to do was plug in an Ethernet cable, download our CA certificate, then add the hidden SSID for the network. Pretty cool.

Next I need to try out the Excel-like app to see how well it handles spreadsheets.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Computer Shuffle

Now that the wifi is working well on my MacBook Air, I think I'll use it as my primary portable computer, which means I'll probably transfer all my photos and mp3's from the desktop PC. At least this will make the pain of paying Apple $300 for an additional 128GB on the SSD a bit less.

This then frees up my Mac mini (OS X 10.6.8) which I'll probably attach to the Samsung TV at home. I'll need to teach my parents how to use a Mac; they've only used Windows before. This also frees up my Sony Vaio notebook (Windows Vista) and my Asus netbook. The OS X install on the netbook wasn't that successful; I'm still at 10.6.0 and audio messes up when you unplug the AC adapter. Just to add another OS to the mix, I'm downloading Ubuntu 12 and will attempt to install that on the netbook. This should be easy since a lot of smaller netbooks ship with Ubuntu.

Not sure what to do with the Sony Vaio and the old Dell 17" laptop (Windows XP!) that will be displaced by the Mac mini. Maybe I can install Windows 8.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Microsoft "Support"

We use Microsoft Dynamics AX at work as our ERP software. Since the beginning, we've had lots of problems with our implementation since we're still using our homegrown system for production/purchasing. Anyway, as part of the software package, we also get a reporting software called Management Reporter. For some reason, we have 20 AX licenses but only 4 Reporter licenses. We've fired our VAR/implementer since they sucked and now I don't know where to get more licenses.

At the Microsoft Dynamics support website, there is a link that leads to Operations Support. It says: "Submit operational questions regarding ordering policy, licensing, registration keys, etc to the Microsoft Regional Operations Center (not technical support or pre-sales support)." Great! I then click on "Submit a new operational support inquiry" and I get a Microsoft Silverlight error? Huh? It then tells me to refresh the screen or contact the site administrator. Site admin at Microsoft? Where do you go for help if the submit help screen craps out? Doesn't any at Microsoft QA their customer-facing website? Ugh.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Another K-pop Dream

I'm sure I've had many strange dreams but don't remember the next day...

Anyway, I dreamt that I was in my bed, reading something on my Kindle Fire. I don't recognize the location but it felt like my bedroom when we lived in Harbor City. Sitting next to the bed were Tiffany, Sunny, and somebody else (Yuri?) from Girls' Generation. I think Tiffany was talking to the third girl when I whispered to Sunny, "Since you're already in my bedroom, can I get your autograph?" Yep, autograph... I remembered that I had bought their Asia Concert DVD (I did in real life), and I wanted them to sign the packaging or booklet.

Before she could answer, a huge crash woke me up. My roommate/landlord had stuck a smoke detector on the ceiling with double-sided tape and it chose that exact moment to release itself and hit the hardwood floor loudly. I told my roommate just now while handing him the smoke detector. He said "sorry" but looked at me like I was crazy.

Maybe I am.

Worst College Majors

Kiplinger/Yahoo! Finance

1. Anthropology ($28,000)
2. Fine Arts ($30,000)
3. Film & Photography ($30,000)
4. Philosophy and Religious Studies ($30,000)
5. Graphic Design ($32,000)
6. Studio Arts ($35,900)
7. Liberal Arts ($30,000)
8. Drama and Theater Arts ($26,000)
9. Sociology ($32,000)
10. English ($32,000)

Dollars = median salary for recent grads. In comparison, the median for top 100 majors is $37,000 per the article. We recently hired two new undergrads for finance/accounting and their starting salary was $55,000 + stock options.

I think schools should have this data available for students. If you really want to major in these subjects, don't expect to find a high paying job. Tuition at USC is $21,081/semester. If you graduate in 4 years, that's ~$170k. Add in housing, food, books, and other costs, it's probably closer to $300k. If you're going to make only $30k after graduation, it's going to take a long long time to pay off those loans.

Apple Maps - Apology NOT Accepted

Apple CEO ‘Extremely Sorry’ for IPhone Maps Frustration

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook apologized for the iPhone mapping software released last week that has been criticized for flaws such as misrouted directions and inaccurately located landmarks.

“We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better,” Cook said in a letter to customers posted today on the Cupertino, California-based company’s website.

Apple’s decision to build its navigation application reflects a widening rift with Google Inc. (GOOG), which had provided its Google Maps program since the iPhone debuted in 2007. While the new software adds features such as turn-by-turn navigation, it is widely faulted for unreliable landmark searches, routes that get users lost and a lack of public transit directions.

He's not sorry. If he was really apologetic about the Maps screw up, he would make Google Maps available on the app store. Another example that Apple doesn't give a sh*t about its customers.

I remember many years ago there were several lawsuits about Microsoft bundling IE with Windows OS. People complained that it was unfair to competitors (other browsers) and the courts forced Microsoft to make IE uninstallable. I didn't know what the fuss was; you could always download other browsers after installing Windows. Here, Apple intentionally shut out Google Maps (and YouTube) from iOS6. Not only did I lose Google Maps on my iPad2, I can't even install the old app. Why doesn't anyone question Apple's monopolistic policies?

...and I still can't play Flash videos on my iOS devices.