Friday, February 29, 2008

Olympus WS-300M Voice Recorder Problem Solution

I have an Olympus WS-300M DVR (Digital Voice Recorder) and am very pleased with it. The case seems flimsy but I've been banging it around for a year and no problems yet. It is small, runs efficiently on a single AAA battery, and records with spectacular audio quality and in stereo. It's a great little unit. But I ran into a fairly big problem with it:

The WS-300 also has the ability to serve as an MP3 player. You can transfer WMA or MP3 files to the unit and play them. I use the unit mostly to listen to lectures recorded at 56kbps MP3. A couple of months ago I decided to reformat the memory and start fresh. All was well except that most of my MP3s would no longer play! I get an "Illegal File" message. Music MP3s were okay but my lectures would not play. Huh? Very strange. I did a bunch of research on the Internet and found a few cases where others reported this problem but there were no solutions. I found two solutions.

If you take a look at page 80 of the user manual there is a hint of this problem but no details. Personally, I think it's a bug. At any rate, what seems to happen is that after reformatting the memory, the unit will detect MP3 files that are recorded at less than 128kbps as "illegal files". Converting my 56 kbps lectures to 128kbps solves the problem but also makes the files much larger. That's a bad thing in a device with only 256 megs of memory. The other solution is to use one of the many converters that are out there to convert the MP3 to a 48k or 64kbps WMA file. It's a hassle but it works. The unit will play low bitrate WMAs but not low bitrate MP3s. Don't ask me why, it makes no sense.

I hope this helps anyone who might be having this problem with Olympus digital voice recorders, WS-300M, WS-310M, WS-320M, and perhaps other models.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tele-Snooping Workers

As always, the human element will foul up the best laid plans for implementing security. Quite a large percentage of people will bend rules for personal reasons because it's "important" (to them). They will also bend rules for money. Ever wonder how private investigators and data aggregators can get their hands on personal information so easily? Of course it's illegal but that doesn't stop anyone.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

This is hysterically funny! Bahahaha.

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Guatemala will Open Files on CIA-Funded Genocide

It's about time. Newly elected president of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom, will open the army's files on the 36 years of CIA-funded genocide in Guatemala. The period began in 1954 with a CIA orchestrated coup that toppled the democratically elected president in order to further U.S. business interests. The CIA trained and installed a series of brutal dictators who were responsible for a quarter million deaths during the 36 years. The CIA also supplied thousands of names of educators and students for the dictators to eliminate.

Reuters Blogburst

Reuters Story

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Abraham Lincoln, Sanitized for the History Books

Take a look at this passage from an 1864 letter written by Lincoln to Col. William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864:
"We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end.
It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. . . .
It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes
me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war,
corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places
will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong
its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth
is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety
of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.
God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless."

(The italics are mine)
Interesting isn't it? You won't see that quote in any mainstream history book.

Nor will you see the following quotes from Thomas Jefferson:

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs."
--Thomas Jefferson

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
--Thomas Jefferson

"I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."
--Thomas Jefferson

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world."
--Thomas Jefferson

Lincoln and Jefferson were right. They saw the danger even then. Today, we have precisely the situation they foresaw and the result is the world that we have today where corporate greed and money interests have co-opted and bought the government, bought the courts, and are using U.S. power, reputation, and military might to further their profit interests. Today, they have their way with us, the people. The United States is no longer "Of the People, By the People, and For the People. The biggest corporations and special interests, pharma, Cargill, Exxon, and their 30,000 lobbyists call the shots in Washington and the "People" are led to believe that they still have a choice in their affairs. You don't. As George Carlin says, "It's a big club, and you ain't in it."

Source of Lincoln quote.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Bisphenol A (or Bisphenyl A)

Here we are again as seen in this ABC News story:

A while back I wrote a detailed story about this potential danger from bisphenyl A (or bisphenol A):

Friday, February 1, 2008

Kriegskuchen (War Cake)

Back in 1963, my Aunt Annie, who was at that time 90 years old, gave me a recipe she had gotten from her mother for an unusual cake she learned to make as a child in Germany. She called it Kriegskuchen, which translates as "War Cake", and it was called this because it's easy to make and does not require butter, or eggs, or oil, which are in short supply during a war. And for those of you on a low-calorie or low-fat diet, or for those with an egg allergy, this is just what you were looking for.

Kriegskuchen (War Cake) 1

My mother made this cake often during the year all through the 60's and 70's, and especially around Christmas. The flavor of the standard recipe is very Christmas-like, but the recipe is very flexible. I have continued the tradition for many years, and I've experimented a lot with variations on the original recipe. Around Christmas I bake and ship these cakes in various flavors to my friends and my kids, and I thought I'd share it here.

Kriegskuchen (War Cake) 2

All of these cakes are baked in a standard bread pan. The recipe I got from my aunt was all in grams but my mother converted it all to more convenient units right from the start.

Original Recipe:

2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa (Hersheys)
3/4 cup sugar
2 to 2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins or currants, soaked in water until they swell up then dried off on a paper towel
1-1/4 cup milk (measure precisely)

Mix together all the ingredients except the milk then add the milk and mix with a spatula until everything is wetted. The batter is quite thick so it takes some effort to fold and mix. The moisture content of flour varies so sometimes you need to add a tiny bit more milk. There should be no dry flour or cocoa visible. Then scoop it all into a greased breadpan and bake at 350F for one hour. Remove from oven and allow to rest for five minutes, turn out on a cake rack to cool off.

Kriegskuchen (War Cake) 3

Next we can get creative and have some fun with this cake. If you want a super chocolaty cake add one cup of chocolate chips to the original recipe, or add one cup of peanut butter chips, or 50/50. Adding a teaspoon of vanilla changes the taste. Omitting or reducing the cloves changes the taste.

Or, we can substitute other fruits for the currant/raisins. Elsewhere in my blog you will find a recipe for candied orange peel. Candied orange peel (and you can add quite a lot) combined with the chocolate makes a heavenly flavor. If you really want to go crazy add candied orange peel and chocolate chips. Wow.

Or, we can omit the cocoa. For this variation, omit the cocoa, reduce the milk to one cup, and be sure to add one or one and a half teaspoons of vanilla. You can add just about any candied fruit you like. About one cup does the job. My son-in-law's favorite is a version made with candied pineapple and no cocoa. For this, I purchase cans of small diced pineapple wedges and I candy them the same way as the orange peel recipe elsewhere in my blog.

Have fun with this low-cal, non-fat cake. Depending upon the ingredients, calorie count for the whole cake varies from 1,400 to 1,800 calories except for the super chocolaty version above that comes in around 2,900 calories.