The day the music died

Today my iPod decided to die with the "folder and exclamation point" error:

iPod exclamation point error

Unfortunately none of Apple's troubleshooting suggestions worked (typical), and I couldn't get my computer to recognize it as a Firewire device any more. The hard disk seemed to be dead since I couldn't hear it spinning or seeking when turning on the iPod.

The warranty expired a long time ago, so I opened it up to see if there was anything loose or obviously wrong. I didn't see anything, so I guess I'll be getting a new one. I was planning to anyway, but I wanted to wait until the next version, with the rumored full-size screen. Oh well.

Here are some pictures of the insides of the iPod:

iPod Case

iPod parts

iPod circuit board

Posted on July 29, 2006
Filed under: Electronics, General Comments

Fun with pivot tables and

I recently considered signing up at an internet dating site, just to see what was available. Naturally I was quite skeptical (since I am not divorced with kids and over 40). claims to have the largest number of members of any dating site, so I checked it out first. Fortunately, allows anonymous non-members to do very extensive searching of their catalogue without signing up.

I started off with a basic search: women aged 20-27 within 25 miles of my zip code (this includes most of the Seattle metropolitan area). I drilled down from there based on various factors such as education, income, religion, etc... After I had collected a good amount of data, I dumped it into Excel and analyzed it. Using pivot tables I could see how various factors affected the number of potential matches. For example, here is a plot of the 'Income' and 'Education' factors:

Income vs Education

There aren't too many surprises here: more education correlates to a higher average income, but not that much higher. Other plots such as Age vs Income or Religion vs Education didn't reveal too many surprises either.

The real surprises came in the magnitude of the numbers of matches. For my search of single women aged 20-27 in Seattle, there were only 530 results. 530! Clearly there are many more than 530 single girls in Seattle, so's selection seems to really suck.

Out of those 530 results, if I restricted the search to include only matches whose Education and Income buckets matched or exceeded my own, there were only 7 results (though there were 64 if I also included one income bucket below mine).

I know for a fact that there are way more than 7 girls in all of Seattle with comparable income and education levels, so one thing is clear: they aren't using

I don't think I will either.

Posted on July 15, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments

Google Analytics

I've been trying out Google Analytics, and so far it's pretty cool.  It's geared toward webmasters who are trying to increase their AdWords/AdSense revenue, so there is a lot of stuff that doesn't apply to a small personal web site, but there are still some things I find useful.  Currently it's a free service, and it's not even marked 'Beta' (I guess Google expects that the increased AdSense revenue will cause it to pay for itself).

You just have to stick a small tag of javascript in your page template, and you get all kinds of cool stats about your pages.  It tracks the basic things like visits & pageviews, but also does more advanced things like plotting the search engine keywords people use to find your site, or their locations on a map of the earth. Here are a couple of screenshots after it had been running on this site for a couple of days:

Search Keywords

Search keywords

Google Analytics Geo Map

Visitor location map

One downside (at least for a blog) is that it can't track visitors who read your site using RSS readers, since the RSS content doesn't contain the Analytics tracker tag and RSS readers usually don't run embedded javascript anyway.  So I mostly find it useful for seeing which Google keywords people are using to find my site.

Posted on July 10, 2006
Filed under: General, Website Comments

Silicon Valley drive-by shootings




Sun Microsystems






Google (Building 3.1415926...)





I also saw Yahoo! and Adobe, but I didn't get my camera out in time.

Posted on July 7, 2006
Filed under: General, Travel Comments

Redwood pictures

Big tree

Me standing next to a medium-sized tree

Fallen Tree

This fallen tree was as big as a train wreck


This stump was two stories tall

Posted on July 6, 2006
Filed under: General, Travel Comments

Diablo elevator

I wasn't sure what to make of this elevator sign in my hotel today:


Going down?

Posted on July 5, 2006
Filed under: General, Travel Comments

Northern California

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Vineyards everywhere


Flowers by the side of the road

Posted on July 5, 2006
Filed under: General, Travel Comments

Alactraz Island

Interesting fact of the day: Alcatraz timeline

  • 1850-1933: Military fortress and prison
  • 1933-1963: U.S. Bureau of Prisons maximum security penitentiary
  • 1969-1970: Occupied by Native Americans as part of the Red Power movement
  • 1971-Present: National Park (Golden Gate National Recreation Area)
Alcatraz island
Posted on July 5, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments


This week I'm on vacation in California.  Here's a picture of me at the Golden Gate Bridge:

Golden Gate Bridge 1

Posted on July 2, 2006
Filed under: General, Travel Comments



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