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BarretTime for March 5th, 2014

All right. Tonight, we’re talking about bad grammar. Now, I know what you’re thinking. We don’t need no lessons on grammar. And you’re probably right. But Dwight’s not here, anymore, and I think it’s up to the rest of us to pick up his journalistic slack as well as whatever else he left around the studio.

Why else? Because yesterday was National Grammar Day. And because I want to. “Because I want to” being a sentence fragment, of course. Which is completely different from a run-on sentence, which connects two sentence fragments without appropriate punctuation or conjunction. So here’s a test. What, grammatically, is wrong with this sentence:

This exceeding trifling witling, considering ranting criticizing concerning adopting fitting wording being exhibiting transcending learning, was displaying, notwithstanding ridiculing, surpassing boasting swelling reasoning, respecting correcting erring writing, and touching detecting deceiving arguing during debating.

Actually, it’s A-OK, grammatically speaking. It translates into something along the lines of:

This very superficial grammatist, supposing empty criticism about the adoption of proper phraseology to be a show of extraordinary erudition, was displaying, in spite of ridicule, a very boastful turgid argument concerning the correction of false syntax, and about the detection of false logic in debate.

That was written around 1851 by Goold Brown in an effort to illustrate the versatility of the ending -ing. Titled The Grammar of English Grammars, you can get a digital copy of copies for free courtesy of Project Gutenberg.

How about this one?

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. The first, third and seventh Buffalo’s are capitalized.

Correct or no? It actually works because of the multiple uses of Buffalo. We have the city of Buffalo in New York, we have Buffalo the animal and Buffalo the verb, which means to bully or to intimidate. Knowing this, an alternate reading would be, “Buffalo bison that other Buffalo bison bully, themselves bully Buffalo bison.”

Another oft-employed grammatical trick is known as the garden path, as in to lead one down, or to lead one astray.

This effect happens due to the way we process sentences. As we read a sentence, one word at a time, we arrange that word in our mind so that it fits in with the words we already know are in the sentence. On the first word of a sentence, we don’t really know what’s going on yet. Maybe we have a subject. But as we get three or four words into it, we start to expect the type of word that will come next. A verb, maybe. Or possibly an adverb. Or some punctuation. When the author intentionally leads you down the path of a familiar sentence structure and then quickly dumps you out in the cold, forcing you to carefully re-read or re-evaluate the sentence, you’ll know you’ve been intentionally lead down the garden path.

While these don’t translate from the written page into the spoken word elegantly, due mostly to the speaker’s inflection, here’s an example:

The horse raced past the barn fell.

When we get to the word raced, we think we have it figured out. It isn’t until we reach fell that we have to re-evaluate the sentence. Adding some inflection, we get:

The horse, raced past the barn, fell.

Adding a little more language, we get, The Horse that was raced past the barn, fell.

And, of course, there’s the famous Groucho Marx garden path play of, “One morning, I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know.” In this case, neither path is a dead end. Both lead to a correct grammatical end, though one is slightly more plausible than the other.

Something that IS extremely plausible?

The March installment of the Technology Bytes Geek Gathering.

It’s coming up this Friday night at Khon’s Coffee Wine Beer Art Dwight and Darts. Located at 2808 Milam at Drew in Midtown Houston, Khons fulfills all the promises made in it’s signage and throws in some free WiFi to boot. The usual assortment of geeks and gear should be out a little after seven in the evening and we’d like to add you to the fold. While we hope to be wrangling robots later in the year, Friday’s get together will focus on green technology. Nascent tech, environmentally friendly tech, tech you’re envious of, tech built with green PCB, you get the idea.

So put on your best circuit board green and come out to the Technology Bytes Geek Gathering.

That’s it for this Grammitization of actual events and that’s that for BarretTime.


BarretTime for January 2nd, 2013

All right! Happy New Year, everyone! We’re back with a full year of geeky goings on here in Houston. I’ll try to cover the first few tonight.

If “Going to a Geek Gathering” was your New Year’s Resoltion, you’re in luck, as this Friday is the New Year’s Edition of the Technology Bytes Geek Gathering. We’ll be meeting at Khon’s Wine, Darts Coffe and Art, a coffee house slash bar in Midtown Houston. 2808 Milam at Drew is where you’ll want to be shortly after 7:00 this Friday, January 4th. Khon’s has coffee, beer and wine with free WiFi, but no food aside from a selection of chips. Outside food is fine, though, so you’re free to source a pizza from a local shop if the need should arise. Also welcome are any new gadgets you may have picked up since we saw you last. We’ll also be having a short gathering within the gathering to talk about holding down a table at the Houston Mini Maker Faire. If you’ve wanted to attend in year’s past, you’ve had to travel to either San Mateo outside of San Francisco or to New York City. This time it’s happening in your own back yard.

Of course, the Houston Mini Maker Faire is happening January 19th at the Stafford Center. Existing for one day only, the event promises to introduce Houston to hundreds of cool new ideas as put forth by some of our own citezenry. Fully functional remote controlled subs, some up to four feet in length, will be present, as will an internationally recognized maker in the Lego modeling field, Jared Burks. Jared specializes in minifigurine customization accessories and uses both new and traditional techniques to outfit lego figurines for activies as diverse as zombies, Spartan warriors and an entire universe of Star Wars characters.

And if you’re not content building LEGO scenes in which forces clash, you may be interested in Nerf Gun Modifications as put forth by maker Justin “JP” Roth. Not to be content with a working radius of a few dozen feet, JP can modify a stock blaster to fire a Nerf dart up to 100 feet, and can increase that range to 150 feet by building his own darts or slugs. There’s actually an entire group in Houston dedicated to modifying and building nerf style creations called the Houston Area Nerfers, not to be confused with the Haffrin Area Nerf Herders. And just as an aside, does anyone know where Haffrin is or what a Nerf Herder is?

Haffrin was a planet in the Esstran sector in the Outer Rim of The Star Wars Old Republic.

And a Nerf Herder was someone who herded nerfs on various planets throughout the galaxy. As it was solely an occupation for lower class beings, the term “nerf herder” became an insult used throughout the galaxy. Nerf herders were often somewhat simple, but as a result of living outdoors and fighting off anything that interfered with their herds, they became quite capable. And of course, a Nerfs are quadrupeds characterized by their four, curved horns and shaggy coats of fur. The common nerf stood about 1.3 meters at the shoulder. Their mass of hair tangled easily, creating a perfect web for insects and foreign objects to cling to, giving them a pungent odor. And you thought a Taun Taun smelled bad. Looking after them was definitely not the best job to be had in the Old Republic.

Anyway, you can find them on FaceBook if you want to get in on the action. The Nerfers, not the Nerf Herders.

To find out more about the Maker Faire hit www.makerfairehouston.com.

Also happening that same day is the Houston Area Apple Users Group Semi-Annual Swap Meet. Things run from nine until noon, but be sure to fact check me before departing to beautiful Bellaire, Texas, on the Haaug site, haaug.org.

That’s it for your first of the year festivities and that’s that for BarretTime.


All right.

Before the Dub Dub Dub, we had the B B S. As in Bulletin Board System. As in, not yet the ‘Net as we now know it’.

As in dialing directly, modem to modem. As in eeeeeee-EEEEEEEE-static.

Which I’m probably butchering as badly as I’m going to butcher this last name:

Wachenschwanz. As in David E, not to be confused with David eeeeeee-EEEEEEEEE-static. OK – I’ve gotten it out of my system. I think.

David E. Wachenschwanz, who signed out of this world on Saturday, June 2nd, was actually the topic of an article that our own Dwight Silverman wrote all the way back in 1996. Without giving away all of this week’s BarretTime, do you have any recollection of that, Dwight?

David was the man who gave us The Atomic Cafe, a BBS that acted as a clearinghouse for other BBSs.

Now for those not quite in the know as to what a BBS is (or was), it’s a system designed to hold not packets but post cards and pieces of paper. Of course, that’s the cork version. The digital version started popping up in the late 70s, and actually did use packets in 128 byte denominations, at least if you were connecting to a bulletin board that used the ubiquitous XMODEM protocol. Developed in 1977, it’s still a protocol contained in Microsoft’s HyperTerm some 35 years later.

So, to get us back on track, we have to go back to the days when the number of concurrent sessions you could host was not a function of your server hardware and bandwidth, but rather directly tied to the number of working telephone lines and modems you had connected to the server running the BBS software. If a resource was busy, you would often have to come back late at night when no one else was dialed in.

Finding Bulletin Boards was a tough prospect as well, as there wasn’t a Google to track down and index everything for you. And that was where the Atomic Cafe came in. Apart from being a community in and of itself, the Atomic Cafe BBS was a clearinghouse for listings of other BBSs in existence at that time. Like the MatchMaker BBS, which eventually became Matchmaker.com, not match.com. (You can always tell who the pioneers are; they’re the ones with the arrows in their backs.) Each bulletin board was usually ran by a single dedicated system operator on any possible combination of hardware and software. The Atomic Cafe spent a number of years on TBBS, which stood for The Bread Board System, a highly configurable BBS server software package that ran on the TRS-80 line of personal computers. This software package was published by eSoft, who later went on to create the IPAD. Gasp! What? IPAD as in Internet Protocol Adapter, a piece of software that brought dial-in BBSs into the Internet Protocol age. You could now telnet into a BBS!

This BBS break-through was also what brought about the BBS downfall. With companies like NeoSoft, MCI and AT&T getting into the Internet game, the need for discrete dial-in bulletin board systems was gone. That’s right: Jay Lee killed your bulletin board. Actually, NeoSoft started life as the Sugarland FIDO in 1986.

Some other interesting BBS names of that time:

The Mail Box in Abeline. 2400 baud.

Second Sanctum in Dallas.

Poseidon in El Paso.

ETC’s Mednet in San Antonio.

In Houston we had Stormy Weather, Chameleon, Space City BBS, Bayou Beastie and Hobbit’s Hideaway.

So, if you’ve ever found yourself wasting precious minutes perusing the collateral damage of a flame war, or if you’ve had the extreme misfortune of taking place in one, you have the early BBS’ers to thank.

And a big thanks to George T for reminding us of this early era of digital communities!

That’s it for your eeeeeeeee-EEEEEEEEEEE-static and that’s that for BarretTime.


BarretTime for June 13, 2012


Summer is here, and with it may come the urge to stay indoors, out of the Houston heat and humidity. Given the disproportionate number of hot days we have here in Texas, we also have the opportunity to get more done. Whereas someone in our California listening area may only write some prose or a poem while ducking the dog days of summer, a Texan could knock out an entire novel before the heat index dips back beneath the red.

Hey – does anyone actually *know* what the difference is between poetry and prose? We’ll get to that in a minute, but for now know that once you’ve done the easy bit of authoring a book, John Glaver can get you through the rough stuff – getting it published electronically.

John Gaver is giving a talk on exactly that this Saturday at the Houston Area Apple Users Group monthly meeting. General meetings start at nine in the morning with the main presentation taking place at eleven, allowing you to leave the land of the red street signs slowly and cautiously by 1:00 PM. The meeting takes place at the Bellaire Civic Center at 7008 South Rice Avenue, in Bellaire, Texas. This is a destination you may want to return to, as the summer swap meet is coming up in July, and our own Dwight Silverman plans to talk rumors and reality when it comes to the new iPad in August. Hit www.haaug.org for details, directions, and the summer line-up of meetings and presentations.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to lose your ability to surf the net while stuck indoors, which is an actual concern if you happen to be harboring the DNSChanger Malware that has found its way onto millions of workstations around the world. DNS or the Domain Name System is a distributed naming system for computers on the internet. DNS servers take requests from clients in the form of domain names and then hands out the appropriate IP address for that domain. This saves you from having to remember that is the address for the Geek Radio site. It also makes it possible to stack multiple domain names on a single IP address, making things such as virtual name based hosting possible on web servers. Now, all of this would be hunky dory if some shady cracker slash criminal types hadn’t created a piece of malware that redirects your computers DNS requests away from legitimate DNS servers and instead to DNS servers that they control. So what were they after? Bank account info? Your grandmother’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies? Nope. Apparently, advertising is where the money’s at. And to a lesser extent, iTunes tracks. In Operation Ghost Click, the FBI eventually caught the ring of six Estonians responsible and then determined that simply taking down the servers would rob millions of people of access to any website whose IP address they didn’t have memorized. So on March 12 of this year, they replaced the compromised servers with clean servers that are scheduled to go offline Monday, July 9th. What does this mean to you? If you’ve been infected with the DNSChanger malware – and it’s been in the wild since 2007 – you probably don’t know it, especially now that the FBI is controlling your browsing experience.

I’ll have a link up to the FBI page as well as a link that will tell you whether or not you’re connecting to the DNS servers in question by the end of the show.

But for now, let’s revisit that prose and poetry problem. Brendan Behan, an Irish drinker with a writing problem, reportedly summed it up with the following rhyme:

There was a young fellah named Rollocks
Who worked for Ferrier Pollocks
As he walked down the strand
with his girl by the hand
the tide came up to his knees.

Now that’s prose. If the tide had been in, it would have been poetry.

That’s it for your Irish Education and that’s that for BarretTime.


BarretTime for April 25, 2012

All right!

We’ve been talking about Arduino for quite some time, now. If you’ve been to a Geek Gathering at some point during the last two years, you’ve probably glimpsed one without knowing. The Arduino is a micro-controller, or a tiny computer that is capable of reacting to the real world in physical ways. Using a micro-controller, you can take various inputs (things like light, heat, motion or distance), make a decision as to how to react to them, then actually cause something in the real world to happen. A motor turns, a sound plays, or, most likely, a light blinks.

In the past, you had to visit a few specific sites on the Internet to get things like these to play with, but all that is changing. MicroCenter, an early adopter and then abandoner of Linux software, is now carrying Arduinos, Arduino clones, and a ton of stuff to hook them up to. The problem is that there isn’t a lot of information accompanying the items, and your average patron is going to cruise right by them like they were an old pile of DB-9 to DB-25 serial adapters. MicroCenter is hoping to change all this by offering an Arduino Workshop this Saturday at their Houston store at 610 near San Felipe.

Things get started at two PM this Saturday, April 28th at two PM. Pre-registration in the store is required, as seating is limited, and participants must bring the following:

An Arduino starter kit or Arduino module with the components needed in class *and* a notebook computer with OS X or Windows.

The following will be provided:

Informational handouts and project details, A CD containing the Arduino IDE for Mac and Windows, Arduino sketch files used in the workshop, Code samples from “SparkFun Inventors Guide”, Code samples from O’Reilly “Getting Started with Arduino” as well as the “Arduino Cookbook.”

Not to be left out, the Houston Area Apple Users Group, aka HAAUG, is putting on their own micro-controller presentation the morning after the Geek Gathering.

They’ve also picked Saturday the 28th to give their talk on Microcontrollers. And while not a hands-on workshop, I’m sure that there is information to be gleaned there. Since the Special Interest Group meetings start at nine AM with the main micro-controller presentation happening at eleven, you could conceivably take in both events, transforming you into a micro-programming machine.

Hit www.microcenter.com and www.haaug.org for details and directions. I’ll also have both links on the Geek Radio website before the show wraps.

And if you can’t make either one of these, we’ll be sure to bring some Arduino out to the Geek Gathering in May.

That’s it for your MicroController MicroRevolution and that’s that for BarretTime.


BarretTime for April 18, 2012

All right. Since Jay Lee is *Jay* Leaving us after next week, we’re going to be on our own when it comes to keeping this show running. We’ve jokingly referred to ourselves as a number of other shows, often following the “I was driving through Houston” lead-in. I’m thinking that maybe we go in a different direction for more than the regular short-drive duration, just while Jay is out, just to see how it works. So, rather than try to hash out a new format at the start of next week’s show, I figured we could take a look at it now. It also allows Jay to have a bit of a say in things. Not that we’re going to take his advice…

So… What if we changed it up a little and instead of talking about computers, we talked about old cars, pickup trucks, mustangs and vintage Vespas. We could call it Truck Talk. All of our answers could be, “paint it black”.

Ok. What if we did the whole show using nothing but barking dogs, doorbells, ringing phones and chatty teenagers? We could still take calls, but only from Skype users who are still on dial-up.

What if we went with a more topical slash temporal approach? Like a weekly review of what happened in the world of technology? We could sit on inflatable exercise balls to strengthen our cores and maybe call it something like That Week in Technology. Oh! And we could have Dwight Silverman on the show as a guest!

What if I play the part of a fiery redhead in a relationship with someone who photographs bands. Unless Groove wants to forgo photography and take up Big Band direction… We could get into silly situations with our next door neighbors, Dwight and phliKtid Mertz.


What if we all ditch the knickers next week and mod our website to allow for sponsors as well as a ton of ads? We could call it the All Commando Show. No one in the studio is running a dress rehearsal right now, are they? Ok. Good.

OK – last pitch. what if we got all of our prison mail together, read it on air again, and then followed up with talk about cops, courts, jails, prisons, probation, parole, and just life in general? Can we go to prison for stealing Ray Hill’s show?

I’m all for queueing up two hours of Nyan Cat and calling it a night.

I guess it really comes down trying to do a normal show and making a decision now as to who gets to say, “And he’s…” before Groovehouse says Groovehouse.

Also, who’s going to be responsible in case the show tanks. I call “Not It!”

We’ll miss you Jay, but for now:

That’s it for I Love This Commando In TruckTech and that’s that for BarretTime.


BarretTime for April 11, 2012

All right.

After the sheer amount of stout I’ve quaffed the last two weeks, I feel it only appropriate to lead off with something Guinness related.

Is everyone ready? I didn’t mean for this to be some sort of Irish Inquisition, but we’re doing trivia.

What was Alec Guinness’ salary for playing the part of Obi Wan Kenobi in the 1978 movie, Star Wars?

OK… Hang on. Wrong Guinness. Here we go…

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, what was the greatest selling single computer model of all time?

The venerable Commodore 64. And…Alec Guinness earned 150k plus 2% of profits. Which would arguably buy quite a bit of the other Guinness. It was also more than two and a third times more K than the C-64 had, of which, depending upon where you source your information, between 12.5 million and 22 million units were sold.

Dwight, the next question is yours: How many bytes is that worldwide? Please state the median, mode and standard deviation in terms of bits. Expressed in Octal notation. Backwards. Now go.

Ok… How about: When was production stopped on the Commodore 64?

Introduced in January of 1982, the production run of the C-64 and the C-64C lasted twelve years and three months. Making that… April of 1994.

If Alec had held onto his money for a few years, he could have bought 250 C64s and still had money left over for a couple copies of Tetris.

So, does anyone know what the retail price of the C64 was in 1982?


On a side note, Alec Guinness was not a fan of the Obi Wan character, going so far as to help convince George Lucas that the character should be killed off in order to limit the amount of work he would have to do in subsequent films. And so the first Jedi Knight was cut down, leaving an indelible mark on so many young lives. Alec Guinness passed in 2000, having never had the chance to talk Lucas out of keeping Jar Jar Binks around for subsequent episodes.

Sadly, we lost another noble Knight this week in the form of Jack Trameil, founder of Commodore International.

What was Jack Tramiel’s original nationality?

He was born in Poland in 1928 to a Jewish family. When the Germans invaded eight years later, he spent time working in a garment factory in one of the ghettos before being sent to Auschwitz concentration camp with his mother and father. After being inspected by Dr. Mengele, he was transported to a labor camp near Hanover, where he managed to survive until the camp was liberated by the 84th Infantry Division in 1945. Tramiel was a co-founder of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was opened in 1993.

I’m not going to try to pronounce his birth name, but what does his last name, spelled Trzmeil, mean in Polish?

Bumblebee. Pretty cool, as Flight of the Bumblebee was probably one of the first data sets I ever spent a weekend typing into a Vic-20, only to lose it all at the next power cycle.

In November of 1947, Tramiel took flight and immigrated to the United States and soon volunteered for the US Army where he learned what skill?

He learned how to repair office equipment, namely typewriters.

Commodore was not Jack’s first choice for the name of his new company. What was one of the other contenders?

Having just come out of the army, he was looking for something strong. Both Admiral and General were already taken. When he saw an Opel Commodore from the back seat of a cab, he had his name.

Maybe our next trivia question should be What is an Opel Commodore?

It’s a trap! No, wait… It’s a car. Sorry. Had to get one more Star Wars reference in there.

That’s it for the end of an era and an Irish Inqusition and that’s that for BarretTime.


BarretTime for Pi Day, 2012

Allright. Today is March 14th or 3/14, meaning that it’s national Pi day.

So, rather than ask how many digits *do* people know, let’s ask how many digits people *did* know.

The Bible lists the value as three.

In 480, Chung-Chih calulated the value to six digits.

In 1610, Ludolph Van Cuelen worked out an estimation to 34 places.

In 1706, John Machin calculated 100 decimal digits of pi.

In 1807, William Shanks cranked out 707 digits of pi, though only the first 527 were correct.

In 1944, the actual 528th decimal place was discovered.

In 1947, the total was raised to 808.

Today, in the era of supercomputers, we’re able to compute the value of pi out to hundreds of millions of digits.

So how can you remember all those digits? With a simple song, of course!

Here we go!

That’s it for your Pi Day Nemonic and that’s that for BarretTime.


BarretTIme for Leap Day 2012

All right. Happy Leap Day, everyone. We’re 60 days into the Gregorian calendar in a year that is evenly divisible by four, which means that everyone gets an extra day. The situation arises because we have 365 days in our calendar, yet it takes the Earth 365 days and six hours to make a complete revolution around the sun. I think the whole problem could be solved by changing the name of the state of Mississippi to Missississippi, which should effectively elongate the standard measurement of the second enough to account for the extra six hours.

As of yet, no one has really gotten on board with my plan. Which is sad, because it was the first step in my twelve step program to conquer the world. If you’re facing similar issues while sitting in front of your drawing board, maybe you just need the collaboration of the other evil geniuses that will be attending the March installment of the Technology Bytes Geek Gathering.

The important thing here is not to get discouraged, but rather to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

So, I’m thinking that we may make a little more progress if we identify some plans and some players that haven’t seen so much success in the past.

If you plan starts off with stealing underpants and ends in making a profit, you’d better get poppin’, because a highly motivated, lowly situated group of people is already on the task. Any guesses?

The Underpants Gnomes. They haven’t completely failed, but they haven’t really succeeded yet, either. If you happen to be an Underpants Gnome, you’re still welcome to attend the Gathering this Friday night.

Our first real villain started off life with a full head of red hair, but due to an artist’s mistake, quickly lost it. In one plot, he tries to become president of the United States of America by winning the election on a platform of promoting technological progress. His first action as president would be to take a proposed moratorium on fossil-based fuels to Congress.

So, red hair, pro-technology, wants to cut our dependence on fossil fuels… Sounds pretty solid. Any idea who this villain is?

Hint: His plot usually included 1) Kill Superman 2) ??? 3) Profit!

Lex Luthor.

So let’s not give up on domination through technology just yet…

Maybe you could amass a secret portfolio of patents that may cover the world’s most popular Open Source operating system? Then maybe you could talk a few companies into paying you royalties or settling the infringement case out of court, then use those precedents to sway other companies into paying you, too, all without actually divulging the patents? Has that been done? I think maybe that’s been done… Any idea who tried and failed?

Darl McBride of SCO.

Now, if you feel a little maligned or that maybe you’re a bit of a mutant, you might want to thing twice before trying to lock up all the regular people. It’s been tried. It failed. Any guesses as to who was behind this one?

Magneto, enemy of Professor Xavier of the X-Men.

Now, if reasoning, regular emotions, and all rationality go out the window when you sit down to hatch a plan, you may want to take a note from our next villain. In the movies, he was played by such greats as Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and (cough) Mark Hamil. Of course,
Heath Ledger is probably the give-away.

With green hair and a wide smile, we have?

The Joker.

Pretty much if your plan includes, Kill the Batman, then you’re sunk. Even with Michael Keaton in the mix. He kicked butt and took names as Batman, Mister Mom, and a business manager trying to keep jobs in his hometown automotive factory.

So, what if your plans include a re-branding based on the letters of your name and a reorganization of your entity into other spin-off ventures? What if your co-workers describe you as a raging psychopath, devoid of the normal human responses to other people’s suffering? What if you like salesmen? Hint: It’s not Michael Keaton. Oh – and did I say Salesmen? I meant snakes.


And lastly, if your plan involves fighting a multi-fronted war with an under supplied army, attacking Stalingrad instead of Moscow, and setting up Panzer and infantry rally points hundreds of miles behind enemy lines, you can go ahead and find a ditch and some petrol right now.

Things get started this Friday a little after seven PM at the Coffee Groundz in Midtown Houston. 2503 Bagby at McGowan is where you want to be. Coffee, tea and smoothies are on site, and beer and wine are within walking distance. Hit our site at www.geekradio.com for the bigger than life flyer and details on the Geek Gathering. Hope to see you all Friday, but for now…

That’s it for your cautionary call to arms and that’s that for BarretTime.


BarretTime for February 22, 2012


We’re coming up on the fourth Satuday of February, which means that its time to flip over the framed photo of Bill Gates you keep on your night stand before heading over to HAL-PC for the Houston Linux Users Group Bi-Monthly Meeting. The group gets together from two to four in the afternoon this Saturday at the HAL-PC headquarters, located at 4543 Post Oak Place Drive. If you’re new to Linux, never fear. The meeting takes the form of an hour and a half presentation over some *practical* aspect of the Linux operating system or the applications that support it. If you still feel like Socially Awkward Penguin, know that 1) Linux people love penguins. And 2) Adobe is abandoning future updates of their flash player for Linux. Going forward, they will remove all Linux downloads from their website and will offer the player only as part of Google Chrome for Linux.

So, you’re now armed with a feeling of social acceptance *and* an appropriate level of Adobe angst. You should fit in just fine…

If you want to show up an hour early, you can check out the Robotics Lab. This group takes a step by step approach to building and programming robotics, and will even prepare you to observe or even participate in nearby robotics competitions. The lab is actually a four hour session set aside for lab work, assembly, programming and individual

Both meetups happen at HAL PC, the Houston Area League of PC Users. Hit www.hal-pc.org for details and directions.

And with high powered microcontrollers coming down in price, many roboticists are turning toward Linux as a robotic platform rather than rolling their own operating systems from scratch.

Which could play out very well for you if your plan for world domination requires the use of robotic armies. Of course, I’m talking about the March installment of the Technology Bytes Geek Gathering. It’s not for another two weeks, but I wanted to raise the alarm early so that everyone has an ample amount of time to get their blueprints for world domination converted to Power Point.

If this is news to you, then you haven’t seen the brilliantly big flyer for next month’s Geek Gathering featuring the Penguin (A-ha! A theme!) and the Joker being photo-bombed by some guy in an eye mask and a spandex shirt. If you happen to know the identity of this man, please let us know. Until then, it will have to remain an Enigma.

Hit www.geekradio.com to make a positive identification and get details on the next Gathering.

And lastly, a birthday. If you’ve had to Google anything today, then you’ve probably noticed the squiggly moving line on their home page. If that reminds you of how you drive a rental car while vacationing in a new city, then you’re on the money. The man who pioneered the rental car industry, John D. Hertz, was born on April 10th, 1879, just 22 years and 12 days apart from Heinrich Hertz, the German physicist who clarified and expanded the electromagnetic theory of light. The scientific unit of measurement for frequency, or cycles per second, was named Hertz, in his honor.

For example, the speed of the processor in your computer is measured in gigahertz, a combination of Hertz, again meaning cycles per second, and Giga, named after Joseph Giga, the man who invented very large numbers.

So, does anyone know the clock speed of Technology Bytes?

I’ll give everyone a second to do the math while that one listener at home fact checks me on the Joseph Giga reference. (I made it up.)

OK. Let’s do this The Price is Right Style: whoever comes closest without going over wins. No negative numbers, please.

Answers or guesses, gentlemen?

Groove: : ABSTAINS

Dwight: : 89.5

PhliKtid: : 901MH

Peter: : 9.01

JayLee: : 90.1

The actual retail price, as expressed in hertz, is:

One – Six hundred and four thousandths and eight hundredths hertz.

That’s .000 001 65 hertz.

Oh no! You’ve all over bid!

If you’d like to see the new TechBytes is Right in person, send yourself, sans a self addressed stamped envelope to Tickets, at 2503 Bagby, Houston Texas, 77006, on Friday March 2nd, but for now…

That’s it for your missive of mis-info and that’s that for BarretTime.