Archive for August, 2009

black magic marker

This has got to be a joke.

The program has also been plagued by heavy demand that has overwhelmed the computer system and review process NHTSA set up. The agency has since hired more staff to process claims and has increased the capacity of the computer network….

Government officials a big hitch has been that dealers are not following proper procedures by filing incomplete or inaccurate materials. For example, one of the main reasons Cash for Clunkers deals were rejected early on was because dealers failed to write “Junk Automobile,” in black magic marker on the title of the older cars that buyers were trading in.

Also this was obviously not edited, since I see a missing verb.

leading indicator

Somehow, the Chinese market has become a leading indicator:

China’s stock market has foreshadowed moves in global equities the past two years. It peaked on Oct. 16, 2007, two weeks before the MSCI All-Country World Index. The Shanghai index fell 72 percent from its 2007 high and bottomed on Nov. 4, 2008, four months before the MSCI index. The Chinese measure reached its 2009 high on Aug. 4, seven trading days before the global index.

Curious, but not sure if this is statistically significant. If so, the question becomes why. What drives this process. Credit flow?

subway art

The New York City subway, in analogy to New York City itself, is an old rat-infested hole prone to breakdown and teetering on the edge of operability. Its layout and signage are illogical but somehow comprehensible, its margin for error is just not there … yet, somehow it manages to run. Dirty, smelly, hot in summers, and generally contemptible, it is oddly alive and orderly. People not only put up with it, they adapt to it.

This is one of the nicer stations. Still looks like a 19th century dungeon, though; which of course, it is.

(Read the article)

Audio through the PC Speaker

At work, sound comes from inside the computer and has a terrible quality, so I wondered if it used the PC speaker. Years ago when I didn’t have a sound card on a 486 computer, I used a PC speaker driver to play sound.

To my surprise, this driver is still available.

However, I didn’t realize at the time how playing sound through the PC speaker required an interesting hack. You see, the PC speaker could only be put into two states, on and off. So it was easy to make single pitches (which we all did, didn’t we? beep beep) So technically the PC speaker could only generate square waves of various duty cycles. Here’s how the PC speaker is controlled.

Then how was it able to play arbitrary wave files? Well, it turns out 8-bit sound is supposedly generated by pulse code modulation like this, like a light dimmer. The idea is to get “half on” you turn it on half the time. But it really shouldn’t work that way if you think about it, at least not so trivially, since what is being set is the amplitude, not the average power.
(Read the article)