24 Hours in Denver

Jeff and Elizabeth were in Washington, DC for the week, but got stuck in made a stop in the wonderful city of Denver on their way back. Jeff asked me:

24 hours in Denver, what should we do?

Here’s my quick and dirty short list of things to do in Denver. I’ve tried order it from north to south, west to east, but this is all mostly from memory.

  • Coors Field, 2001 Blake Street Denver, Colorado, 80205
  • Wynkoop Brewing Company, 1634 18th Street, Denver, (303) 297-2700
  • Commons Park, 15th and Little Raven Street, Denver, CO (kitty corner from REI and across the river)
  • REI Denver Flagship, 1416 Platte Street, Denver, CO, 80202-1120, (303) 756-3100
  • Illegal Pete’s, 16th Street, Denver, CO
  • United States Mint, 320 W Colfax Ave, Denver, Colorado, 80204
  • Civic Center Park, West Colfax and Bannock St1
  • Denver Art Museum, 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO, 80204-2788, (720) 865-5000
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO, 80205, (303) 370-6000
  • Colorado School of Mines, 1500 Illinois Street, Golden, CO, (303) 273-3000

Anything else worth adding to this list?


  1. From west to east is the Denver City and County building, Civic Center Park, and Colorado State Capital 

Stop SOPA/PIPA

I’ve been busy with work, but I’ve been keeping my eye on the news. Politics have always been a bit…screwy. I’m not sure if they’re getting more screwier or I’m becoming more aware of what’s going on. – maybe just more cynical.

Representative Lamar Smith and Senator Patrick Leahy now joins the ranks of former Senator Ted Stevens1 in Internet Hall of Shame with his further bastardization of the copyright clause2 with their introduction of SOPA and PIPA

I’ve long rallied against the MPAA, RIAA, and their cronies, and for copyright reform (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

SOPA/PIPA is yet another horrible piece of legislation in a growing list of legislation unscrupulously backed by large corporations, and the Supreme Courts expansion of “corporate personhood” in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission doesn’t help either.

It expands the reach of copyright in ways that are detrimental to the very purpose of the copyrights, in particular by hindering the promotion of useful arts. And all this is done at the behest of corporations who, essentially, bribe politicians.

Even more unfortunate, the politicians writing these pieces of legislation — or at least responsible for introducing them, I have no idea if they actually write them — have no idea of the technical ramifications of what they are doing. Would you trust your Congressman to perform surgery on you? There are actually 18 medical doctors3, so you have about a 3.4% chance of standing a chance, but I think in general the answer would be no.

When it comes to technical issues though, of the 535 members of congress, one is a physicist, one is a chemist, six are engineers, and one is a microbiologist4. This is not to say that other members of congress may not be tech savvy, but with the average age of a congressman pushing 60, I’m guessing not so much. Of the 12 original co-sponsors of SOPA, not one has a technical background.

Surely the United States House Science Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, the subcommittee through with SOPA passed, has some technical experts. Nope. Not a single engineer or anyone with experience (as far as I could tell) in computer science. I would expect that people making the such decisions have, you know, actual expertise in those areas — a technocracy.

Anyway, I have poked around the SOPA legislation, and read many different analysis on it. I also do have an engineering degree. And so I feel very confident in saying that SOPA/PIPA is a bad idea from a technological standpoint. I also think’s it’s pretty bad from an overbearing-copyright standpoint, but that’s my personal bias.

In response to what SOPA/PIPA will do to the Internet if passed, I am joining other sites5 to protest SOPA and PIPA and will black out AFdN for all of Wednesday, January 18th, 2012. Any attempts to access AFdN will result in a HTTP 503 Service Unavailable error.

Seriously though, if SOPA/PIPA passes, I may have to take down AFdN lest I avoid getting sued. That’s a bridge I hope to never have to cross. In the meantime, take some time to educate yourself on how the internet works. Ask questions and I’ll try to answer them. And maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference.

Also, while I currently use GoDaddy as my domain name registrar, they supported SOPA and thus I will no longer support them. I’ll have another post on that in the future.

Some, but not all, interesting links:
Everything is a Remix
SOPA Infographic
House takes Senate’s bad Internet censorship bill, tries making it worse
Contact your congressman
Sopa 101: a guide to the USA’s proposed anti-piracy legislation
IP Law Wiki
Stanford Law Review: Don’t Break the Internet

Shit, I used Wikipedia about ten times to look up references for this post. Oh well, see you all Thursday!


  1. “And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.” 

  2. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” 

  3. Membership of the 112th Congress: A Profile 

  4. Membership of the 112th Congress: A Profile 

  5. such as Wikipedia, WordPress, reddit, Google, and BoingBoing 

What Should I Do in New York?

I just spend about two weeks in Montana celebrating Christmas and New Years with Rachel and her family. I got back into Seattle yesterday and Friday morning I’m off to New York for a work trip. I’ll be out there for almost two weeks. I’m not sure how much free time I’m going to have, but I’d love to gather your thoughts on anything I “simply must do” before I leave.

In case it helps, I’m going to be staying in Islip, but will have easy access to common modes of transportation.

Some things on my list already:

  • Broadway Show, maybe Wicked?
  • SNL show
  • Empire State Building
  • Ground Zero
  • MoMA
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Times Square
  • Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

What else should I do? Ideally, these are things I can do on a weeknight or weekend and still have me at work early the next morning.

2011 Year-End Zeitgeist

I actually almost didn’t produce a year end zeitgeist because I didn’t have the time to put together all the data. However, Alex King has made it easy this year with his wp-stats code which he has kindly provided on Gist1.

So, I’ve collected the data (although less than I have in years past), crunched the numbers, and have now published the data for Andrew Ferguson dot NET 2011. As always, these stats mean practically nothing. They are fun (and at time, amusing) to look at, that’s it. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

  Posts Avg. Length Total Length Comments (Mine)
2011 51 1,594 81,294 146 (19)
2010 145 2,893 419,424 454 (112)
2009 249 2,132 530,867 537 (141)
2008 226 1,750 395,562 807 (204)
2007 326 1,335 435,267 1,023 (207)
2006 492 1,237 608,725 939 (136)
2005 763 1,189 907,495 307 (75)
2004 227 1,194 271,074 0 (0)
2003 66 653 43,130 0 (0)
2002 3 953 2,859 0 (0)

Top Ten Commenters for 2011:

  1. Kurtis
  2. Kimmi
  3. Staples
  4. amelie
  5. Shannon
  6. Aaron
  7. Ashley
  8. Ben
  9. Carly
  10. Christine

Top Ten Posts for 20112:

  1. How to Tie a Tie
  2. Using add_meta_box()
  3. Stevie Starr: The Regurgitator
  4. The Finer Points of Configuring Your Airport Express and Error 10057
  5. The Hunt for Toda Mafalda
  6. Adding User Photo to WordPress User Profile
  7. phPo Translator – Online PO Translator
  8. How to Give a 30 Day Notice
  9. And All I Ask is a Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her By
  10. The Nikon D7000: 478% Better Than the D70

Top Ten Search Terms for 20113:

  1. how to tie a tie
  2. stevie starr
  3. double windsor
  4. countdown timer
  5. press pass
  6. how to do a tie
  7. boeing vs airbus
  8. tie a tie
  9. mafalda comics
  10. how to tie a double windsor knot

Bandwidth: 102.19 GB45

Page views: 177,5866 or 1,613,20678


  1. Hint: add require_once('wp-load.php'); to the beginning of the file and place it to your WordPress directory 

  2. as measured by WordPress.com on the andrewferguson.net blog 

  3. as measured by WordPress.com on the andrewferguson.net blog 

  4. as measured by AWStats for the entire andrewferguson.net domain 

  5. traffic viewed, which does not include “traffic generated by robots, worms, or replies with special HTTP status codes.” 

  6. as measured by WordPress.com on the andrewferguson.net blog 

  7. as measured by AWStats for the entire andrewferguson.net domain 

  8. traffic viewed, which does not include “traffic generated by robots, worms, or replies with special HTTP status codes.” 

Field Trip: Scanning Electron Microscope

I met Rachel’s friend from college, Laura. Laura has the awesome job of being a researcher at MSU in their ICAL (Imaging and Chemical Analysis Laboratory). Of particular interest was Laura’s job of operating the scanning electron microscope!

So of course I asked if we could have a tour! Not only did we get a tour, Laura even let me operate the machine! Oh yes folks, I got to operate a scanning electron microscope!

The first we used was the Zeiss SUPRA 55VP Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope providing ultra high-resolution at low kV with resolutions of 1.7nm1 at 1.0kV2. Laura had a spider sample prepared and so we decided to use that. Here are some of the pictures I took:

IMG_0161

IMG_0162

andrews awesome image

andrews awesome image 3

We also got to use the JEOL JSM-6100 Scanning Electron Microscope, which is quite a bit older, but just as cool.

It works a bit different from the FM-SEM, using Secondary Electron Imaging (SEI) and Backscattered Electron Imaging (BEI). Rachel has a stainless steel ring she likes to wear, so we through that in and took a look at it under the scope:

IMG_0163

IMG_0165

IMG_0164

I was pretty much like a kid in a candy store. I had an awesome time and got to add a new item to my Christmas list for next year.


  1. 1.7 x 10-9

  2. for reference, a human hair is about (1.7 x 10-5 m in width  

2011 Year in Cities

One or more nights were spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Roughly in order of appearance.

Seattle, WA*1
Eden, Utah
Passe Catabois, Haiti
Oklahoma City2, OK*
Broomfield, CO*
Leavenworth, WA
St. Regis, MT
Billings, MT*
Smith Rock, OR*
San Diego, CA
Colstrip, MT
Gig Harbor, WA
Mount Baker, WA
Bozeman, MT

I added one new State, Oklahoma.


  1. For the sake of completeness 

  2. and Midwest City