Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Friday, July 20, 2007
Geek Cred- -
Oh, man, I only got 7 of 10 in CNet's Classic Games Quiz.

It's a wonder you're still reading this pathetic blog.

On the other hand, one and a quarter years later, I've finally gotten my lab hooked up and I am posting this from my old Windows 2000 box, the last machine I built by hand. Does that redeem me any? Bueller? Bueller?

Yeah, Well I Want A Giant Killer Armored Battle Suit, Too
At least this fellow is taking steps:

Mech wanted

Advertising for one.

Rock Lives On
The backlist sales of music from the 1980s and 1990s trend towards hard rock:
    AC/DC's "Back in Black" (1980) last year sold 440,000 copies and has thus far sold 156,000 this year, according to the Nielsen SoundScan catalog charts, which measure how well physical albums older than two years old are selling. (All figures for this article were provided by Nielsen SoundScan.)

    Those "Back in Black" numbers would make most contemporary CDs a success. Metallica's self-titled 1991 album is altogether the second-biggest selling album of the Nielsen SoundScan era, which began in 1991. "Metallica" sold 275,000 copies last year.

    Bon Jovi's greatest-hits collection "Cross Road" last year sold 324,000 copies, while Guns N' Roses "Appetite for Destruction" (1987) sold 113,000.
Well, yeah.

Thursday, July 19, 2007
Yeah. My Other Blog
I haven't made an announcement yet, but you can learn how I feel about software developers at

City of Milwaukee Moves to Dave & Busters Approach
Columnist Eugene Kane draws our attention to the fact that parking meters in the city of Milwaukee are moving to a credit card based approach:
    Instead of a row of mechanical meters, there's one automated machine on each side of the block. You have to note your parking space number - the old meters are replaced by numbered signs - and punch it into the machine.

    It's still the same $2 for two hours, but you can pay with either coins or a credit card. In the first few weeks, Floyd said, 40% of parkers have paid by credit card.

    For those - like me - who worried that paying by credit card might be more expensive due to transaction fees, Floyd said the City of Milwaukee agreed to pay any additional credit card fees connected with the new meters to promote their use. Floyd said the limit on a two-hour spot remains the same.
Why would the city of Milwaukee go through all of that trouble and pay the credit card companies for the privilege of not having to deal with coins?

Because once you get used to just swiping your card, you'll be less likely to notice or care that suddenly that $2 for 2 hours is $2.50, then $3.25 for two hours because you're not counting physical coins for it.

Outlook Good for US Tourism, Exports
Dollar Falls Against Major Currencies:
    The dollar fell to new lows against the euro Wednesday, while the pound soared above $2.05 for the first time in more than a quarter of a century as housing and economic worries battered the U.S. currency.
Well, it's good news for tourism and manufacturing, as US destinations and products are more affordable on the world stage.

Well, unless you're as fickle as the media. In which case, it's all bad, regardless. Dollar goes up, it's bad; dollar goes down, it's bad; dollar stays the same, it's bad.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Ignore the Lesson, Citizen, and Turn in Your Firearm
911 call failed to stop attack that killed man:
    Sheriff's deputies were warned about an increasingly angry confrontation between two groups that led to the death of a 26-year-old Fijian immigrant, but the officers could not find the site, a sheriff's spokesman said Wednesday.

    Wolfgang Chargin of Folsom called 911 on July 1 to report that trouble was brewing between a group of Russian-speaking people and a group of Fijian and East Indian immigrants in a picnic area at Lake Natoma near Folsom.

    The call came in to the California Highway Patrol and was transferred to the Sacramento County Sheriff's dispatcher about three hours before the fatal confrontation. Satender Singh was punched and hit his head when he fell. He died a few days later after being taken off life support.
We're not talking about a thirty second just out of the nick of time thing here. Three hours after the call the violence occurred.

Now, think about those response times when you're in an emergency. Who's going to respond faster, an emergency call switched between different law enforcement agencies, or your twitchy finger?

LOLCat All the Way to the Bank
I've linked to it before and I read it a couple times a week, but now it's a bona fide Web phenomenon: I Can Has Cheezburger? appears in Business Week:
    He saw traffic on the blog, I Can Has Cheezburger, which he runs with his partner, "Tofuburger" (she refuses to disclose her real name) double each month: 375,000 hits in March, 750,000 in April, 1.5 million in May. Cheezburger now gets 500,000 page views a day from between 100,000 and 200,000 unique visitors, according to Nakagawa. The cheapest ad costs $500 for a week. The most expensive goes for nearly $4,000. Nakagawa, an accidental entrepreneur who saw his successful business materialize out of the ether, quit his programming job at the end of May: "It made more sense to do this and see how big it could get."
Yeah, I know the feeling. I've been blogging here for over 4 years, and I've seen my daily traffic go from 10 to 120 visitors a day, and I've made (theoretically) $.08 in money from the Amazon Associates program.

Unfortunately, the proprietor of I Can Has Cheezburger has already found out about how big it's going to get. I hope he's not planning to retire on it, because Internet phenomena come and go.

But still, it's a cool site and it's neat that the fellow can make some scratch from it.

(Link seen on Ann Althouse.)

Yeah, Of Course, I Knew That
In this article, an attorney for Trader Joe's doesn't want to be insulting as he defends the chain's obvious trademark infringement on Papa Pallermo's well-known (to people who listen to Milwaukee Admirals broadcasts or Internetcasts) brand:
    As you are aware, Palermo is a prominent city in Sicily, Italy, having a style of pepperoni pizza distinctive to the region.
Erm, yes, of course I knew that. Where's Wikipedia when I need it?

Of course, this settlement will only last until the EU gets its way and prominent European locations are treated as trademarks when it comes to foodstuffs, but hey, you win the ones you can.

Missouri Pours Feed into the Trough for St. Louis Cardinals Owners
Ballpark Village moves closer to scoring state cash:
    The Missouri Department of Economic Development recommended Tuesday that the state pitch in about $26.8 million for the development of Ballpark Village, fortifying hopes that the project adjacent to Busch Stadium can be finished by the time St. Louis hosts the Major League All-Star game in 2009.
Always glad to help the millionaires out with my tax dollars.

Keep up the good work, fellows, and perhaps soon you'll have Mayor Slay washing your car for you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Commodore 128 as Nature Intended It
Fellow Milwaukeean (and the only current Milwaukeean between the two of us) Triticale knows I collect old computers, and when he recently changed abodes, he told me I could have his old Commodore 128 that had been in his garage forever. Well, I talked to my brother in Milwaukee about picking it up for me, and he did, and on my most recent trip to Wisconsin I retrieved said machine.

When I first tried to boot it, it failed. So I planned to make it a teach-yourself-electronics project to resuscitate it, but all it took was a new fuse in the power supply. So I didn't really learn much at all, but it works beautifully.

And darn the luck, the only television with an RF switch attached to it was in the living room. So behold:

Commodore 128 startup
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Oh, my. I was so excited, I hooked the Commodore 1571 disk drive up and I'll be durned if it didn't work right out of the box. So I dug through my archives of my old disks and found some of the programs I had written in the first Bush presidency. As you might know, the Commodore 128 was my first computer, so Basic 7.0 was my first language. And I wrote a number of programs.

Including Adventurers' Guild, a program designed to keep track of my D&D group's equipment and character list. It wasn't truly data-driven, but it did use the Commodore 128's graphics to their ability. I mean, high res graphics, brother:

Adventurers' Guild startup
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The main program was just a routing piece that called a subprogram allowing the user to look at the various and sundry keeps, characters, or stockpiled equipment:

Adventurers' Guild main menu
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For example, if you wanted to see the roster, it would go into a subprogram for the roster and you could see all characters past and present that played in the campaign:

Adventurers' Guild roster menu
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For example, here's my brother's favorite character as seen when the user has chosen to view all:

Adventurers' Guild Kahan the elf
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And even when I was a junior in high school, I was building help into my applications. Here's one of my first help files:

Adventurers' Guild Help
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When the user logged out, the Commodore went into hi-res graphics for a moment, painting an exit door:

Adventurers' Guild Help
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Then it ended turning the screen to default colors and with a final message from the dungeonmaster:

Adventurers' Guild Help
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Hmm, lightning is misspelled. I'll log a defect on that right away.

I wrote a couple of other things, too, including a DMV quiz program after watching the movie License to Drive over and over as only a kid in the boondocks with only Showtime could.

DMV quiz
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The instructions included my address back in the day and welcomed correspondence. Back in those days, that's how you did it without the Internet and e-mail addresses that worked wherever you connected:

DMV quiz instructions
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And the Weird Al Wannabe Quiz:

Weird Al Wannabe quiz instructions
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Of course, after I released them to the wild of the Commodore CG BBSes, I'd expect they were never downloaded. I know no one ever came across with a shareware donation. I did, however, make some money programming, as the high school baseball team's manager wanted a program to keep track of stats. At Stellar Soft, we were happy to gather his requirements, deliver a quality program, and support it with new features as requested for the princely sum of like $50:

Baseball Stats Manager splash
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I see that in the instructions, I listed it as a division of Triple N Enterprises:

Baseball Stats Manager instructions
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Considering that Noggle, Noggle, and Neiderriter was our lawnmowing business, I guess I did that for taxing purposes.

Well, that's my walk down memory lane. What's my point? I don't know; I have 20 years of software development experience? Or perhaps to boast once again that I have more Commodores than Michele?

Aw, who cares, I got to post some pictures of an old computer.

To Coin a Phrase Or Not To Coin a Phrase
Crikey, I thought I was going to coin the word hipnoxious, but someone has beat me to it.

Well, there goes my fame and fortune.

Monday, July 16, 2007
TradeWars 2007
China wants to play:
    Chinese food inspectors have banned meat products from seven U.S. companies from being imported into their country after finding a range of contamination issues in shipments checked on Saturday, according to China's official news agency Xinhua.

    The suspension of meat imports from the American companies -- including Tyson Foods -- comes just weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it would hold all farm-raised catfish, basa, shrimp, dace and eel shipments arriving from China until they are tested for residues from drugs not approved by the U.S. for use in farm-raised fish.
People are dying from certain Chinese products, but to China, it's a game of oneupmanship.

The title, of course, refers to an ancient BBS game which I had the pleasure of playing in the late 1980s. The game was called TradeWars 2002, and I played it on WWIV Bulletin Board Systems, you damn kids!

Sunday, July 15, 2007
He Retired Too Soon
There were rumors a couple years ago that the Cardinals were going to sign Rickey Henderson to a small contract at the very end of his Major League Baseball career. I wish they had because unlike some of the loudmouths in sports, I get the sense that Rickey Henderson doesn't take himself as seriously as he makes out.

But here are the 25 greatest Rickey Henderson stories.

A Short List
A Brief History of Babes in Jerseys.

Marquette University President Recommends Standing Behind The Fat Guy
After enough time has passed that the Virginia Tech shooting is fading from collective memory, Marquette University President Robert J. Wild, S.J., pens a column for Marquette magazine just in time to frighten the incoming freshmen (except the psycho ones packing heat, of course). In it, he details Marquette's ineffective plan to handle a similar situation, broken down (literally) into phases.

When pandemonium erupts, Marquette will respond thusly:
  • Phase 1: Meetings:

      At the highest level of response, a crisis team with representatives from offices throughout campus would immediately assemble and work with local law enforcement and emergency management agencies. At every level our crisis plan calls for utilizing all available means of communication, including e-mail, the university Web site, university voice mail, Access TV message boards, postings in buildings and other tools as needed.

Well, I guess he only enumerates the highest level of response, which is meetings and communication. But don't worry. Marquette offers other nuggets of safety. I'll tick off a few for you here:
  • Friendly Public Safety staff:

      We also have an outstanding Department of Public Safety. Not only do these men and women patrol around the clock our campus and surrounding neighborhood, they also through their daily interactions work to develop a relationship of trust with our students, faculty and staff.

  • Electronic surveillance equipment:

      In addition, Public Safety commanders have at their disposal in a crisis situation first-rate technology that includes an electronic system to lockdown instantaneously most academic buildings. Furthermore, this summer we will unveil a new command center equipped with cameras that allow us to monitor the campus area for suspicious activities.

  • Good old fashioned Kumbaya:

      However, the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis or "care for the individual" provides us with greater freedom to build a campus environment that nurtures students in a holistic manner, intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Nothing about arming up or allowing legal weapons on campus.

So I guess the hide behind the fat guy is just implied, because once you start inserting the phrase "a suicidal man with a gun" into many of the sentences in his letter to the Marquette community, you realize how silly and, ultimately, ineffective the measures will prove if a Virginia Tech sort of incident erupts in Cudahy Hall.

But the survivors will have access to a crack team of grief counselors, no doubt. Try to live through any rampage if only for that.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."