Bumbo Safety Mod

So Angela sends me a quick e-mail note regarding a recall of our favorite little kids foam seat, the Bumbo1. The recall is regarding the fact that several children have been injured (some quite seriously, I understand) toppling out of the seat. Well, little toddlers being squirmy and all, they tend to do that. Especially just when mom or dad stepped away from the table and the little one gets bored.

…and they get bored in about two seconds, so this is easy to imagine and hard for me to place too much blame on the parents. We’re all only human.

For that matter, I don’t blame Bumbo, either. There’s a warning on the back of each one. In red letters! It essentially says that the Bumbo should only be placed at floor level and not on elevated surfaces. Apparently, some lawyers (the nasty kind who see everyone as suable bank accounts and not human beings) got a hold of this and determined that the warning wasn’t clear enough and that the product needed to be recalledSeriously, read the description and remedy at the CSPC’s site. Further, tell me if there is something I’m missing here.

Bumbo Warning

Note: there’s no lead paint, no flammable materials, not even any moving parts (the Bumbo is one solid piece of foam, in case you didn’t already know). And they’re recalling it because the warning on it apparently wasn’t big or simple enough for people.

Frankly, I think this is going just a bit overboard. Follow the warming label if you have any concerns or doubts. However, I don’t see any reason why the Bumbo is going to be a problem to put on a table-top provided there is some more strict supervision. I’d hate it if Ainsley got hurt, but that’s why we go out of our way to make sure she doesn’t go tumbling off of things in general, including Bumbos. But, just to put this in perspective, 28 out of over 1,000,000 Bumbos have resulted in injuries from kids taking a face-plate. That’s 0.0028 percent for the divisionally challenged. Though I don’t have any hard numbers, I’d be willing to bet a higher percentage have fallen out of people’s hands.

Just in case you’re still worried about your Bumbo, here’s a solution I came up with to help keep your child in the seat (though no word if the seat won’t go over with the especially roudy ones):

Bumbo Safety Mod

And just in case it needs saying, you take responsibility if you do this. Not me or Bumbo. Of course, you could just buy the plastic food tray that would probably accomplish the same thing.

Also:

  1. Our friends Chris and Sally first introduced us to the Bumbo when their son, Mason, was using one. We’ve had several other friends since that have also expressed their love for the Bumbo and it was one of the early gifts we received (as I recall, from C & S, even!). []

Footnotes Are As Real As The Writer

I happened across this short post on Daring Fireball today and quickly got swept down the ‘Jon Gruber’s Footnotes’ rabbit hole. I think semantic web pages are a noteworthy goal, just as I appreciate proper typography. However, I don’t get all hung up about it like these guys1 seem to. I use the WordPress plugin written by Simon Elvery with some tiny modifications. It works very well and, apparently like Gruber, was essentially the look and behavior I was after. It had been on my site to-do list for a long time and I was thrilled when I had found that Elvery had done 99% of the work for me (I love you, lazy web). Reading all this, I think it’s pretty clear that Elvery copied a lot of what Gruber had done, but I don’t know that.

Here is a short post I had written back in April but never got around to hitting publish on (apparently l care about this less than even I realized):

I have just been looking over the working draft of the HTML 5 standards and I’m really glad to see a lot of semantic tags for making sense of writing on the web. However, it really is apparent that this was written by design-oriented authors, not technical authors. No <footnote> or <reference> tags which would be so handy to people who write technical or research publications online (go open science, go!). Just a couple of things you could cobble together (like <aside> with the predefined note class). However, what’s the point of semantic meanings if you aren’t really using them for their meanings? What’s the difference between using a table for design layout versus using an aside as a footnote reference? They’re both incorrect as far as I can tell, and for the same reasons. I’ll continue to use my hacked together <footnote>‘s here at super-structure, although it’s not really a big deal for me. For people who really do want to publish researched journal articles online for review, it should be and they’re going to have to continue to hack together a ‘look’ just to get what they need.

Now, anyone is welcome to come and rip me on my lack of understanding of semantic web design. Here’s the bigger point: if lots of writers want to use footnotes, but the argument against them seems to be that they aren’t part of HTML, then why not add them? Do we want HTML and XHTML to be so general as to not include something as specific as "footnote?" That seems a bit odd to me, personally. More to the point, it seems like limitation of the coding language driving the way we write, which is a bad thing. As I understand semantic coding, it should be structured around what people write, not the other way around. Like others, I’m glad to see that footnotes are something that other people think about (and had the initiative to push "Publish" in the blog software). However, I think the notion of ‘how can we hack together current HTML to do this’ is the wrong approach2.

As for Gruber’s use of the down-and-back-the-left glyph, I use it, too. Mainly because it reminds me of the "return key" symbol on many older keyboards. That makes about as much sense as "straight up" the page does as far as I can tell, as there’s little reason a footnote has to be somewhere directly below the text it is a reference for. Gruber hardly invented footnotes, nor do I gather he makes remotely that claim. The link-back-to-where-you-were is kind of enshrined in the whole HTML idea, but it was a tidy implementation. My understanding of the history of blog footnotes indicates that Gruber deserves the credit for a good, if not earth-shattering idea.

  1. "These guys" being the web design community. Is it possible to be too passionate for your work, especially when said work isn’t life-critical? []
  2. Such as using the <small> tag, which speaks to appearance but not the semantic meaning of a footnote, in my opinion. How (or where) it is displayed is not as important as the intrinsic nature of a footnote: this information is referenced or tangential to some other information. The <cite> element could be used to address the nature of references, but not tangential information or extended parenthetical thoughts, which is a common usage outside of the scientific or legal realm or writing. []

Comcast Traffic Shaping

The Associated Presses investigative work on Comcast‘s alleged network traffic shaping (or possible outright blocking) has been getting a lot of coverage today, and rightfully so1. This seems to be the first major instance of a major ISP getting their hands caught in the cookie jar when it comes to abandoning network neutrality, or at least that the mainstream press has picked up on.

As Comcast customers, I can say that we have not yet been blocked from downloading (or sharing during download) torrent files. Last night, I was able to download the Ubuntu 7.10 .iso in roughly fifteen minutes (yes, that’s around 700 kB/s average speed). However, Angela and I both noted that e-mail and web became extremely sluggish during and for some time afterward (even after quitting Azuerus). While downloading, I was also able to speak via VOIP (Vonage) to my mom for around twelve minutes, without any degradation of call quality.

So, as you can imagine, we’re typically thrilled with the speed of our internet connection. It is honestly a great value at around $50 per month. However, if we began to detect that Comcast was blocking undesirable traffic (such as BitTorrent or VOIP calls), you better believe we’d switch in a heartbeat. Even if it meant drastically slower speed; because slower is better than none at all.

  1. There seems to be some confusion in the reports as to whether downloading via BitTorrent is an issue or not. Ars specifically mentioned it was in the AP tests and Engadget specifically says it wasn’t. []

One Trillion

Hitatchi Terabyte hard drive installed on my iMac desktop

One trillion is a big number. One million million. I honestly never thought I’d have a trillion of anything other than cells in my body1.

When we got the iMac desktop for our home last January, I knew that 250GB of storage would not be enough. Especially given that we use this as a media (i.e. – video) center as well as storage for my 22,000+ photos (of which roughly eleven were good…). However, the hard drive on this machine is not an easy thing to replace.2 This means no hard drive upgrades are performed in Apple Stores either on new purchases or for future upgrades. Since Angela was in a hurry to get her new 24″ iMac home (yes, she opted for the larger screen size, not me), we walked out with a standard 250GB drive inside. This worked well enough for a while, but it was simply getting overwhelmed. Another 32GB being eaten up with a Boot Camp partition for Windows XP didn’t help. However, the biggest source of glut has become the DV files off of our digital video camera. Making videos of Ainsley to send to grandparents was filling up the drive faster than I could manage things.

I finally figured it was time to upgrade. Of course, if it is a nasty thing to do, you really only want to have to do it once. The best way I could think to ensure I wouldn’t need to upgrade this particular machine again was to just get the biggest 3.5″ drive I could find.

Fortunately, Hitatchi just happened to bring a one terabyte drive to market this year. I was a little apprehensive about using one of the drives with their new perpendicular magnetic storage. However, Anandtech knows a lot more about this stuff than I do and they gave it a glowing review (from their summary):

Our limited experiences to date with the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 have been terrific and beyond expectations. The overall performance of this drive has been phenomenal and is close enough to the WD1500ADFD Raptor drive that we consider it a worthy adversary. The Raptors are still the drives to own for benchmarking but this drive is a better overall performance value. In fact, based upon subjective testing we could seriously consider tossing this drive into the same performance sector as the WD Raptor when utilized in the typical gaming or enthusiast level machine where this drive will likely find a home.

Overall, we think Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K1000 is the best 7200rpm drive we have tested to date. …we highly recommend the purchase of this drive if you are currently looking for a high-capacity drive with performance to match.

I found a OEM drive for around $350 at NewEgg. I was able to dust off my copy of SpinRite and make sure the drive arrived in good condition3 I did find some articles online about how to replace the hard drive in my iMac. I read enough to know that it was likely to be very risky, if not entirely out of my capability to do. This was nothing like swapping out a SATA drive in a typical desktop tower.

As it turned out, the Apple Store Short Pump recommended that I use Richmond’s local Apple shop, Capital Mac, for the upgrade. I gave them call and the estimated the cost between $109 and $150, which seemed very reasonable for the physical drive swap and data transfer. I dropped the computer and drive off on Wednesday a week ago and they had it done by close of business on Friday (though I didn’t go to pick it up until this past Saturday morning4). Well, it ended up costing me $118 for the work and they seemed to have done an excellent job. Not a scratch on the machine and the drive works great. I would highly recommend Cap mac to do this sort of work to anyone and I plan to use them to upgrade the hard disk on Angela’s G4 iBook in the near future (which also happens to be notorious for being difficult to upgrade).

So far, I’m very pleased with the drive. That is to say, other than lots of storage head room, I don’t even think about it. I’ve had a couple of things go wonky after the swap5, none of which are related to the drive and are more of a function of OS X, I believe.

Now, my big problem is figuring out how to backup a drive this large. I can use some of the smart-backup features of SuperDuper! to keep from doubling all those transfered video files from the TiVo or leftover DV files after editing video of Ainsley onto DVD’s for family. I plan on putting a couple of older Seagate 250GB SATA drives to work in JBOD mode, so that they become one 500GB drive for backup. Given the (relatively) low fragmentation of the HFS+ file system on a mac, it is my guess that JBOD is going to be a better method than RAID 0. I’m not a IT expert by any means, and I’m sure there are as many opinions on this subject as there are people who know what JBOD or RAID is.

So, here’s hoping that 1TB is enough to keep me with plenty of disk space for the next few years.

  1. Actually, most estimates but the number of cells in the human body at between 10 and 100 trillion, but you get the idea. []
  2. The iMac with built-in iSight is a significantly different machine from it’s predecessor. That is, where the G5 iMac had its hard drive just behind the back cover and was quite easy to replace, the hard drive on the Intel iMac with iSight is between the LCD and the motherboard. []
  3. NewEgg has a fairly restrictive 7-day return policy and I wanted to make sure no drive errors were hiding out. 1TB is enough space that I figured it was possible and entire platter was bad and I wouldn’t know about it for months. []
  4. And Ainsley and I were even able to get coffee with Megan and Trey, who live just around the corner from Cap mac. []
  5. the machine doesn’t give the option boot into the Windows Boot Camp partition for one and iWork ’06 no longer work. I’ve re-installed both Boot Camp and iWork to no avail. I’m (foolishly) hoping that Leopard will fix some of this next Friday. []

Al Gore and IPCC Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Well, despite you’ve already read this already somewhere else, Al Gore and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were jointly awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in raising global awareness on climate change. It’s true that the past year or so has really been the tipping point for global warming in the public consciousness (I know that I’ve certainly learned a great deal on the topic). However, despite this, he’s still not going to run for the office of president in 2008.