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.