The 401st Blow :: Thoughts On Media

Fixing Time Warner Cable Ubee Modem Connectivity Issues

Posted in Uncategorized by Noah Harlan on October 21, 2012

Recently we moved to a new apartment (first new place for me in 13 years!) and we moved our Time Warner Cable service. I would have loved to have been rid of them but, sadly, we need the data connection and FIOS isn’t an option (we moved to a Brownstone that hasn’t been wired yet). The guy came and hooked us up and replaced our previous modem with a combination modem/wifi router from Ubee. The thing looks totally Fisher Price and, frankly, was performing like crap. Connections were dropping. Pages were timing out. Browsers were hanging on “requesting page” or loading partially and then stalling out. I use a Time Capsule as our wifi router and that was connected to the Ubee via ethernet. I knew the Time Capsule was good (if you are having problems with your Airport base station roll it back to version 7.5.2, the 7.6 firmware is crap). So here’s how I fixed the problem:

  1. Log into the Ubee modem admin by going to with user/user as username/password.
  2. Browsing through the settings I discovered that the wifi was on and forming a network that I had told them not to do (so much for security) and I shut that off.
  3. The key thing though is that you want to change the mode from “Gateway” to “Bridge”. That makes the modem *just* a modem and not a router (it sucks as a router). All I want is the data connection and Bridge gives me that.
  4. Go into Airport Utility and set your base station to “DHCP and NAT”.

Voila! You’ll have a clean fast internet connection. I’m getting about 20Mbps down and 1.95Mbps up.

The iPhone Makes Apple’s Success With The iPod Look Anemic

Posted in Data Analysis, Technology by Noah Harlan on January 27, 2012

Apple announced its fiscal Q1 earnings a couple days ago and the numbers were staggering. There have been a lot of interesting stats people have noted. They had the second most successful quarter in all of business history – not Apple’s history – all business. Their profit – $13 billion – was more than Google’s revenue – $10.6 billion. Their revenue and profit were double Microsoft’s. And so on.

The driver of Apple’s comeback was the staggering success of the iPod. It was a device that changed how we listen to music, and it was (is?) ubiquitous. What’s amazing is that the iPhone has made that success look positively anemic. The iPod’s best year ever was 2008 with 54.8 million devices sold and its best quarter was Q1 2009 with 22.7 million devices sold.*

Q1 2012 saw Apple selling 37 million iPhones and 15.4 million iPads. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said they sold 62 million iOS devices in the quarter. That means iOS is nearly 3 times more successful than the iPod at its peak. For the calendar year 2011, Apple sold 93.1 million iPhones – more than 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 combined – and nearly double the iPod’s most successful year.

*Apple’s Q1 is actually calendar Q4 (the holiday season). They start their fiscal year in October.

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Posted in Humor, Rant, Theory by Noah Harlan on January 26, 2012

I love fallacies and recently they seem to be cropping up a lot around me. Fallacies come in many types, and each can be fun in its own way. I think the pleasure comes from creating a conclusion that is so intensely convincing and yet, at the same time, is completely illogical. Your brain tosses back and forth between agreeing and disagreeing until some meta-process comes in and stops that loop from continuing.

(as an aside, there is a great story called “The Riddle Of The Universe, And It’s Solution” in Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett’s anthology ‘The Mind’s I” about what might happen if you could come up with a fallacy so dense that you could not eject)

The simple logical loop is created by a statement such as “This sentance has threee errors”. There are only two obvious errors (the two typos) which means that the sentence is wrong, but the fact that the sentence has miscounted means that there are actually three errors and thus the sentence is correct, however that means that the third error no longer exists and once again the sentence is incorrect. And so on, and so on. Another good example is the statement “I cannot assert this sentence.” If you agree that you cannot assert the sentence then really the sentence is wrong since you can assert it, but that means the sentence is right that you cannot assert it, and so on, and so on.

More fun, is when the concrete field of math comes into play. I remember when Mort Anderson, my AP calculus teacher in high school was frustrated with our class one day. We were distracted and not paying attention. He put the following on the board and then just sat at his desk while we tried to figure out what he had just done. Follow this factorization if you will (you’ll need to recall some algebra for this one):

X = X (take two numbers)

X2 = X2 (square them both)

X2 – X2 = X2 – X2 (subtract the square from both sides)

(X + X) * (X / X) = X * (X / X) (factor each side)

(X + X) = X (divide both sides by (X – X))

now, replace X with 1 and you just proved that 1 + 1 = 1.

Every step in that equation appears to be legal algebraic maneuvers but the result is impossible. The reason is simple. When you divide both sides by (X – X) you’re forgetting that X – X is actually 0 and you cannot divide by 0. Now you know why you can’t divide by 0 – addition ceases to function and the universe will begin to cave in on itself.

Probability is a great area for logical traps. I love the old statistics joke “How do you ensure that a terrorist doesn’t bring a bomb onto your plane? Bring your own bomb! The probability that your plane has two bombs on it is so remote it could never happen!”

That joke relies on an inversion of the base rate fallacy. It assumes that the probabilities are linked when, in fact, they’re not. For example: if you flip a coin, the likelihood of getting heads is 1/2. If you flip a coin twice, the likelihood of getting heads on both flips is 1/2 * 1/2 or 1/4. You can figure out the probability of getting X number of heads in a row by calculating 1/2^X (e.g. X = 4, 2^4 = 2 * 2 * 2 * 2 = 16, therefore getting heads 4 times in a row has a 1/16 likelihood). So getting heads 100 times in a row is astronomically unlikely. However the likelihood that you get heads on the hundredth flip is still 1/2 because that flip doesn’t know that there have been 99 before it. So too does the terrorist not know that there is already a bomb on that plane so the likelihood of his act taking place is not affected by yours.

Recently, my friend Dewitt Clinton posted the following on Google+:

According to this, our galaxy has 100,000,000,000 planets. And there are at least 100,000,000,000 galaxies in the observable universe.

Which averages out to over 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets in total (all things being equal).

Which means that even if there’s just a .00000000000000000000001% chance of life on any given planet (about 3 quadrillion times less likely than you being eaten by a shark this year), then there’s life on at least one more out there. = )

I realized there was an implication with that probability that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with:

Since I’m 99.9% certain that there is other life in the universe, and it’s 3 quadrillion times more likely that I’ll be eaten by a shark this year then, by the transitive property, I am absolutely certain to be eaten by a shark this year.


The likelihood is so high, in fact, that if I sat in a hut in the middle of the sahara, a shark would spontaneously appear from thin air and eat me. An event that would be deeply unfortunate for me and incomprehensibly surreal for any by-standers.

This is an example of an appeal to probability. In fact, just because something could happen, does not mean it will. If I were living in a hut in the sahara, the likelihood of being eat by a shark would approach 0 (there is still some chance, just not much…).

What are your favorite fallacies?

I’ll leave you with a recent XKCD cartoon that shows the unsustainability of using the word sustainable at current rates. Enjoy:

Great Moments In Internet Upselling –

Posted in Humor, Technology by Noah Harlan on December 13, 2011

I just logged into the admin panel for this blog on As usual, they were suggesting an upsell:



That’s kind of awesome.

The lack of community on Facebook

Posted in Theory by Noah Harlan on November 21, 2011

Maciej Ceglowski (Pinboard) in a fascintating piece called “The Social Graph Is Neither“:

The funny thing is, no one’s really hiding the secret of how to make awesome online communities. Give people something cool to do and a way to talk to each other, moderate a little bit, and your job is done. Games like Eve Online or WoW have developed entire economies on top of what’s basically a message board. MetaFilter, Reddit, LiveJournal and SA all started with a couple of buttons and a textfield and have produced some fascinating subcultures. And maybe the purest (!) example is 4chan, a Lord of the Flies community that invents all the stuff you end up sharing elsewhere: image macros, copypasta, rage comics, the lolrus. The data model for 4chan is three fields long – image, timestamp, text.

Now tell me one bit of original culture that’s ever come out of Facebook.

Did David Brent Take Down Blackberry?

Posted in Humor, Technology, Theory by Noah Harlan on October 10, 2011

Around 11AM in England yesterday morning RIM’s Blackberry service went down for consumers across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Needless to say, this is terrible for RIM given the decline that Blackberry is in at the moment they can’t afford to also be seen as unreliable. But there was one piece of the article in The Telegraph that really caught my eye:

The glitch, which struck at around 11AM, was affecting online services for consumers all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa. All are served by a RIM data centre in Slough.


Where have I heard of that place before?

Oh yeah, it’s the place where this guy works:

David Brent from Slough

Coincidence? You decide….


Posted in Humor by Noah Harlan on September 23, 2011


Posted in Humor by Noah Harlan on September 22, 2011


Posted in Content by Noah Harlan on September 21, 2011

Human flight. Awe.

The Earth From The Sky In 60 Seconds

Posted in Content by Noah Harlan on September 19, 2011



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