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gateway to inanity

Rough Guide to ADFS Setup

So you want to ADFS? My condolences. Perhaps this crib sheet will help you. It was produced using Windows 2012 Server + ADFS 2.1 and should be largely relevant for later versions, too.

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Big Frugal Rocket

Elon Musk has unveiled SpaceX's latest plan to colonize Mars. Despite its insanely optimistic schedule, this year's plan seems more plausible than last year's. SpaceX's long-range plan to pay for the Mars program is particularly outlandish. They want to fly commercial passengers intercontinentally: New York to Shangai in 30 minutes, for example.

Skeptical of this zany idea's cost effectiveness, I ran the numbers to determine cost per passenger. Surprisingly, the best-case result isn't too bad: propellant would cost about $1,000 per passenger. Including all of the other costs, rocket tickets from NYC to Shanghai might be priced around $10,000 – the same price as a first-class plane fare.

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Peril On the Osa

A Tale of Flash Floods, Poisonous Frogs, and Squishy Shoes

The first spatters of warm tropical rain fall on our party of five as we cross the marsh that separates the beachside resorts of Drake Bay from the nearby hamlet of Agujitas. We are embarking on the famous Night Tour, a two-hour walk through the coastal wetlands and primary rainforest of the Osa Peninsula, led by a local naturalist who will point out numerous critters as we go.

Rolando, our guide, has told us to dress for rain and provided everyone with waterproof flashlights. I swing my light back and forth lazily, hopping between the cement-filled tires that form a path through the marsh. Rolando's flashlight motions are somewhat more erratic; his beam darts in all directions, stopping occasionally for a split second to linger on an overhead branch here, a patch of marsh grass there. His light doesn't spend any time pointed forward; he's walking the trail from memory as he rapidly scans the forest for interesting fauna.

Halfway across the marsh, he motions for our single-file line to stop. "Listen," he says. "Do you hear that sound? It is the mating call of a tree frog."

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The Mad Gravedigger of Copenhagen

It was an off day for our intrepid travelers. I was on my last pair of pants and we'd walked across central Copenhagen in search of The Laundromat Cafe, one of a new breed of fusion cafes that serves coffee, drinks and full meals while you wait for your clothes to finish their spin cycle.

After taking care of chores, we decided to check out the nearby Assistens Kierkegaard, Copenhagen's main burial ground where noteworthies such as Hans Christian Andersen are interred. Being that it was only a few blocks from the laundromat, we figured a bit of gravespotting would make for a nice, brief touristy distraction.

At the entrance was a placard with a map of "known peoples' resting places." We figured out approximately where to find Niels Bohr's family plot and headed off to snap some pictures. That's when our troubles began.

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Tower of Babel, Norwegian Style

When we landed in Norway, I began to notice an interesting pattern of interaction between me and the locals. For an example, let's look at how I ask for a table in a restaurant.

Hostess (presumably speaking Norwegian): Mxlkrmf tfiu?
Tony: Hi; we'd like a table.
Hostess: Blw dcij vcdhuhy for two?
Tony: Yeah; for two, please.
Hostess: Trsdj swofiu jasj ic kiscijds dij?
Tony: Sorry? I'm afraid I don't understand much Norwegian.
Hostess: Oh, you're speaking English!

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Crooning for Kroner

Scandinavia is a singular tourist destination for Americans. Everywhere else we go in the world, we face culture shock. Not so in northern Europe. Virtually everyone in a service job here speaks excellent English and has a stunning command of the American slang lexicon (when's the last time you heard a Frenchman say "you should take me up on it" or "where are you headed?") Iceland's national snack food is a hot dog, Norway's most famous chain restaurant is an upmarket Pizza Hut, and all of these countries are immersed in our pop culture.

With all of these cultural affinities, we have no problem with culture shock here. In its place, we face sticker shock. Prices here are outrageous!

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