The Super Secret Value Meal

Super Secret Value Meal McDonald's would like to have you believe that Value Meals are what you want and that they're cheaper than other options but they're pushing forward half-truths; Value Meals are what you want (or at least what I want when I'm not going for the sole purpose of buying fries) but they are not cheaper than the alternatives. The key to getting a good value at McDonald's is realizing that the sandwiches in Value Meals are really expensive (>$3) and that double cheeseburgers are on the dollar menu; in case you want a little wtf, a normal cheeseburger is more expensive at $1.09. The price of a regular sized Quarter Pounder Value Meal is $5.09 pre-tax and the price of a double cheeseburger, large fries and large coke is $4.38 pre-tax, so where's your value now, Value Meal? Yeah, that's right Value Meal, you got nothing, punk.

This however is not the end of the story, we haven't gotten to the Super Secret Value Meal yet. Ok, so about how I was just saying that Value Meals aren't a value, it's not entirely true because there's an exception. The exception is what I've decided to call the Super Secret Value Meal, which is a bit of a misnomer because it's not so much super secret as just kinda secret, but Super Secret Value Meal sounds a lot cooler than Kinda Secret Value Meal. I discovered the Super Secret Value Meal when I looked at my receipt and noticed a funny line that said VALUE MEAL SAVINGS -0.49; you save money when you buy a sandwich, fries and drink combo, even if it's not listed as a value meal. George: 1, McDonald's: >1,000,000,000 served.

Minus Six

Well fancy that, it's -6°F out this morning; we've definitely got a rather superlative winter on our hands.

Caffeine my old friend, how've you been?

I decided to bring my tea pot and some of my tea to work today and the result was, of course, that I drank a bunch of tea today (three pots). The first two pots I brewed were of Russian Caravan, which is a very good, dark, high caffeine tea. Now, I've been living an almost caffeine-free life for the past few months and so my system reacted rather strongly to two pots of strong tea, leaving me rather on the wired side by noon; my reaction was a little stronger than I would like, but it's not unpleasant and in the past it's been fantastic in improving my performance in a given day. I guess, in short, I've rediscovered caffeine and oh man, is it great.

Negative Two

When I left my house today, the temperature was -2°F, which is pretty darned cold, especially for this early in the winter. Anyway, I noticed a few interesting kinetic side-effects of the temperature; aside from normal things like my truck taking an extra second to get started, my car CD player LCD was doing some funny stuff. In case you don't know how LCDs work, the display itself is polarized and there's a charged, polarizing liquid crystal in the display, when no charge is applied, the polarization matches up and it appears clear, but when you apply an electric field the liquid crystal reorients at 90° to the display making things black. So, like I was saying, the low temperature messed with the kinetics such that the liquid crystal became viscous and slow-moving, which resulted in a display that morphed from one number to the next as my CD progressed second to second. The whole effect looked really neat and makes me wonder if there might be a market for high viscosity liquid crystal displays.

Goodbye Burlington Taco Bell

There used to be a Taco Bell in the little mini-mall across the street from the Burlington Mall; it has been replaced with a Wendy's. I consider this terribly unfortunate because I have quite a fondness for getting Taco Bell on random occasions and this particular Taco Bell was the closest Taco Bell to Concord that I knew of. I have good memories of trips to that Taco Bell with various friends: there was the time a fat chick was checking out Geoff, there was the time I busted the radiator on my Accord and plenty of others; it was a good Taco Bell. Ugh, an to be replaced by a Wendy's, I don't even like Wendy's. Well, at least there's a Quizno's in the Burlington Mall Food Court.

I will miss you Burlington Taco Bell.

Time flies when you're IRCing fun

You look at the clock and it's only 11:30p so you figure you can stay on IRC a little longer. Then, one discussion on relgion and a chat about Akira Kurosawa films later, it's nearly 2a and you figure you probably shouldn't have stayed on. Oh well, it's not that big a deal; I still have a few more days of sleeping in left.

Color photos before color film

Way back in nineteen-aught-nine (1909)--ah those were the good old days--a Russian man by the name of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii developed a technique for taking color photographs with black and white film. The technique, which you can read more about at Damn Interesting involved taking three different photos using three different color filters; it's a pretty clever technique and was pretty revolutionary for the time. Tzar Nicky (Nicholas II) liked the color photos and when Sergei proposed documenting the Russian Empire in color photos, Nicky hopped right on board with financial support. In 1948, the US LOC bought all of Sergei's negatives from his heirs and in 1998 they used fancy digital imaging techniques to recompose the color images in fantastically high quality. The LOC has put a number of these restored images in an online gallery and more can be found at the Russian Record. Ah, good ol' Mother Russia, she sure did some keen stuff back in the day (he he, Sputnik).

Let's talk extensions

As I expect is rather clear, I use Mozilla Firefox as my primary web browser. Now, Firefox, has a pretty solid system for adding extensions and there are rather a few that I use and like, so I thought that I'd let you folks in on my personal preferences in Firefox Extensions. I've organized them in the seemingly nonsensical way that my Firefox's extension manager has, so you'll have to wade through the minor ones as well as the really keen ones.

  • BetterSearch - gives me thumbnails in search pages, kind of nice though not particularly useful
  • mozcc - puts creative commons license information in my statusbar, not important but kind of nice to know sometimes
  • Popup ALT Attribute - gives me a little popup bubble of the ALT text when I mouse over an image; really nice to have sometimes
  • IE Tab - allows internet explorer to be embedded in a tab; this is unbelievably keen sometimes and means I don't ever have to open internet explorer
  • Live HTTP Headers - allows me to watch and modify headers; lets me pull some interesting chicanery sometimes
  • Fasterfox - uses some hacks to make Firefox load pages faster
  • Dict - select a word and look it up with dict
  • Extended Statusbar - Adds a lot of information about page loading to my statusbar, another keen but not so functional extension
  • Tab Mix Plus - adds multiple tab rows, adds tab reordering, adds middle click to close, adds a bunch of other stuff; this extension enhances tabbed browsing by an order of magnitude and I consider it completely indispensible
  • Firesomething - changes the browser's name in the titlebar; I love this extension and really hope they hurry up and make it compatible with Firefox 1.5 soon
  • Disable Targets For Downloads - prevents empty windows from being opened for downloads, which gets rid of a moderate annoyance
  • Viamatic foXpose - adds a button to your statusbar, which when pressed, gives you a window with thumbnails of all your tabs; really keen
  • Flashblock - replaces flash with a placeholder that you can click to enable individual flash elements; indispensible if, like me, you hate 95% of flash but still want to use it occasionally
  • Open Source in Tab - in case it wasn't apparent yet, I like tabbed browsing, this lets me view page sources without having to deal with a new window
  • ChatZilla - an IRC client built on Firefox; it's a clean and decent client, serves my needs (I've been IRCing a bit of late)
  • FireFTP - an FTP client built on Firefox; gives me more FTP functionality when I need it
  • Download Statusbar - puts the download manager in my statusbar (I use the mini configuration)