A scene from Mission: Impossible

I was just watching the original Mission: Impossible film on Netflix and caught this:

Select Usenet Group: alt.alumni.bronx-science

This is in a scene at around 35 minutes into the movie, when Ethan Hunt is trying to figure out the meaning of the phrase "Job 314."

Yes, alt.alumni.bronx-science is a real Usenet group. It's still around, accessible through Google Groups, though most of the messages are spam.

Awfully specific

 I admire Netflix's ability to boil down the essence of a movie to two or three words.

How often do you watch Cool Moustaches like Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End?

Al Jazeera at it again

Four years ago, during Israel's Operation Cast Lead, I observed that Al Jazeera was essentially acting as Hamas's media arm, at least on the Arabic site.

This continues today. Al Jazeera's Arabic front page flashes unabashedly warped headlines, including this one:

41 شهيدا والمقاومة تطول تل أبيب مجددا
41 Martyrs; The Resistance Reaches Tel Aviv Again

(Translation mine; please let me know if it's inaccurate.)

This time, however, the English-language site is also discarding pretenses of impartiality. Here's an excerpt from the opening lines of an article/video feature entitled "Gaza strikes: Motives and consequences":

The violence began after an Israeli airstrike killed Ahmad Jabari, Hamas’ military leader, on Wednesday.

Israel then launched widespread attacks on the Gaza Strip, and Hamas retaliated.

It would obviously not serve Al Jazeera's agenda to truthfully state that the violence began not after the assassination of Ahmad Jabari, but after Hamas's attacks on southern Israel rose to a rate of over 100 rockets the previous day.

Using Android to track power outages

I woke up this morning to the backup alarm on my Android phone; my regular alarm clock had not rung.

There was a simple explanation visible on my alarm clock, which was blinking "12:30"—a power outage.

So I knew when the outage had ended—half an hour ago—but not how long it had lasted. Should I be worried about the food in my fridge?

I remembered that my Android phone, the one that had rung the backup alarm—because it had a battery backup, of course— had been plugged in overnight.

Screenshot of CatLog showing changes in 'plugged' stateNot wanting to bother launching Eclipse at the moment, I quickly found a great free log viewer called CatLog in the Play Store. One minute later, I had my answer.

The system statusbar logs changes to the signal strength, power state, etc. I just filtered with the keyword "plugged" to track the power state. It was immediately clear that the outage had started around 8:06 AM and was over by 8:10—nothing to worry about.

Of course, this isn't a perfect solution for tracking power outages in general.

Grammar Pro Tip

If you're not sure whether you can use a company's name as a synecdoche for an account you have with that company, substitute in "Bank of America" and see if it still makes sense.


Help, someone hacked into my Facebook!
Help, someone hacked into my Bank of America

All my friends have Tumblrs.
All my friends have Banks of America [or Bank of Americas]. 

My mom still doesn't have a Twitter.
My mom still doesn't have a Bank of America

Rustle of Spring

32 photographs

Uploading all the photos to Drupal is just a bit too tedious. I'll have to come up with a better system for the future.

Just searched Gmail for...

in:inbox is:undead

Thankfully, no results were found.

This would, however, make for an excellent Easter egg.

An excellent Googlebomb

Try searching Google for партия жуликов и воров (the party of swindlers and thieves). The top result is the official site of Единая Россия (United Russia), the political party of Putin and Medvedev.

This wonderfully descriptive slogan was recently coined by the political opposition in Russia, in the context of the country's latest fraudulent national elections.

Tear-off polls in Somerville

Today, on at least two lampposts along Beacon Street in Somerville, I saw tear-off flyers that, instead of the typical offers of computer repairs or nanny services, presented polls.

The two questions I saw were "Would you raise a kid here?" and "Do you talk to your neighbors?" Below the questions, there were tear-off tabs, half "Yes" and half "No". (I didn't have a camera with me, unfortunately.)

This seems to be an ingenious (though totally unreliable) way to conduct a local poll. Does anyone have any idea as to who posted these and why?

UPDATE: (2011-08-14) Google reveals that these were done by a Somerville artist named Tim Devin. Here is his description of the surveys.

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