Translators, an observation

Imagine you are listening to the radio. Have you ever found it irritating that when they play translations of people speaking in a different language, they play a couple of seconds of the original person’s voice.

I was listening to PRI’s – The World on WLRH while driving the other day. It then struck me that the 2 second preview they play is to help the listener to differentiate between different people who might be speaking. If multiple people are voicing their comments, and there is only one translator, the only way to differentiate between them is by the preview audio sample that is played before the translation takes over.

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Straight Edge Razor

I’ve used Mach 3 since I started shaving. It worked well for a long time. Then, my stubbles grew thicker, and Mach 3 lost its sharpness after a few shaves. This led to unsatisfactory shaves. I switched to the the Shlick Quattro – I like this blade (i’ve been using this blade for about a year and a half).

I have now started using the straight edge razor – yes, very old school! (FYI, I’m using a razor with disposable blades).

It is very involving, but I feel great after. I’ve managed to nick myself in several places, but hopefully my technique will get better with time and I don’t cut myself at all!

Unfortunately, I don’t think this can be a part of my daily schedule. It is very time consuming. Shlick for the weekdays, straight edge during the weekends!

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Drill Here, drill now?

I’ve had a few discussions with my colleagues at work regarding the Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less campaign, mostly headed by Newt Gingrich.

I’ve tried to research this more, and have found this:

Most of this is based upon this paper:
Coats, R. Morris and Pecquet, Gary M. (2008): The effect of opening up ANWR to drilling on the current price of oil. Unpublished.
The rejection letter is interesting.

The price points for the above work is based on this published paper.

Conrad, Jon M. and Koji Kotani (2005). When to drill? Trigger prices for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Resource and Energy Economics 27:273-86.

Over this week, I am going to try and see what kind of assumptions have been made, and if those assumptions are valid as it pertains to ANWR. Keep looking.

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USB Booting for Bios Update

I bought some extra RAM for my machine (it has 4GB of RAM now). However, the computer would not recognize the extra RAM. So, off I went to my motherboard manufacturer’s site and looked up possible BIOS updates.

And then, the question is…how do you update your bios without a floppy disk. I did not have cd-rw’s at hand, so I had to get it working with a usb flash drive.

After lot of research, I found a

  1. HP Drive Key Booting Utility
  2. A bootable cdrom image from

Installed the utility, and picked the bootable image (.img format). And I was off to the races….

I wish I had run into this page earlier.

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Geocaching tools in Linux

I just bought a Garmin etrex vista hcx (phew!) handheld GPS unit, in order to use for geocaching.

This post aims to address how to send geocaching information to the Garmin GPS device over USB. We will use the excellent GPSBabel tool to perform this task.

Use either apt-get or synaptic to install gps-babel on your Ubuntu box.

sudo apt-get install gpsbabel

You might need to fix usb permissions on Ubuntu. After doing this, connect your garmin GPS device to your USB port. Check permissions by using the dmesg command.

You will need to get geocaching information by signing up at Once you have signed in, you should be able to save cache information in either .loc format, or .gpx format (paid members only). Save all the loc files or gpx files you download to a directory on your desktop (recommended, not required).

Test if your gps device actually works with gpsbabel. Do this by
gpsbabel -i geo -f geocaching.loc -o garmin -F usb:

If you have a bunch of loc waypoint files to transfer, do this

for GPSFILE in *.loc;
do gpsbabel -i geo -f $GPSFILE -o garmin -F usb:;

If you have a bunch of gpx exchange files to transfer, do this

for GPSFILE in *.gpx;
do gpsbabel -i gpx -f $GPSFILE -o garmin -F usb:;

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