April 19, 2004
Handyman of the Moment
|I was delighted with how well my hacked up closet rod solution came out: rather than the very-breakable wall attachments in the plaster, I put 'em across some modular storage from Bed Bath and Beyond. $45 to make 4 stacks of 3 to put the 2 rods in. Plus, my cousin Ivan and I did SO much yardwork, like 15 or 16 yardbags full.|
Meme of the Moment
Memepool linked to this article on personal ads, as well as this kind of odd Supermodel Personals parody site. "It's so fun when you're pretty and go grocery shopping. You can laugh and make fun of everything, and race the carts the around, and take 100 items to the express lane, and everyone thinks it's cute and endearing instead of obnoxious and stupid."
Articles of the Moment
Slate with good articles on Osama's "offer of truce": William Saletan argues that it's just a power play, and Lee Smith on how much trouble our government has in moving beyond the Cold War-like "single organization" mentality.
Enigma of the Moment
Machine of Mystery! How very "Myst" like...
More Housework of the Moment
So Peterman thought with a title like "Handyman Kirk" more photos were in order.
You know, in general housework isn't quite as bad as I tend to remember, it is relatively satisfying...the trouble is every task goes on longer than you want it to, and it really helps to do it with a buddy. Half of why I bribed Ivan to help out was for the company...
|Steps After (still drying)|
|Bags o' Yard Waste Ahoy|
August 24, 2004
Project of the Moment
So, FoSO and I worked together on an interesting furniture project. I think the idea was mine, but the details and the lion's share of the labor ended up being hers. (Which is good, because I'm lazy, but also bad, because I didn't learn quite as much as I had hoped.) My bathroom is desperately short on selfspace, and I'd always been trying to think of a cool project to utilize these beautiful authentic travel stickers that were attached to a crumbling valise I got at an estate sale kind of thing. So, a bunch of slicing, scanning (just in case), staining with wood stain, gluing with Mod Podge, coating with polyurethane, and touching up with a hand sander later, and this is the terrific result:
Progamming Thoughts of the Moment
Been thinking a little bit about programming rules in general. Here are some rules I've decided I (and maybe everybody) should try and follow...I welcome feedback from my fellow coding geeks.
- K.I.S.S.: Don't over-engineer.
- I have seen so much over-designed stuff, with layer after layer after layer. Following the programming execution over a single call becomes an enormously difficult task. If any given interaction goes much deeper than 3 or 4 levels, something might well be wrong.
- Keep a clean modular approach to your systems.
- Have a core engine that drives everything and uses the rest of the system as an API. Think Unix's philosophy of "do one task and do it well"...this guideline comes from stuff I'm dealing with at work. They've developed these APIs, but the APIs are so tightly integrated with the logging and configuration, it's sick. For example, they made a wrapper to a Castor routine that converts an object into an XML representation. You would think that if your central program says "make me an XML representation of this object and put it in such and such a file" it would do just that, right? But no. See, it goes ahead and checks the configuration on its own accord, and then might or might not do the conversion. And whether it tries or not, or if it succeeds or fails with some error, it will do so SILENTLY, catching any exception that occurs, because heaven forfend that the main program has to worry its sweet little head about everything collapsing underneath it... Hideously redundant, impossible to follow.
- Keep a devnotes.txt file
- I find it useful to have a single text file where I jot things down as I figure them out...usernames, passwords, techniques, etc. It saves me a lot of time.
- Consider disabling web access during the workday.
- Sometimes it's easier for a programmer to get distracted, especially when things aren't going well. The worse things are going, the more slashdot and various techie websites beckon. ("This task at hand isn't working out but maybe I can learn something else new!"). If your main browser is IE, the easiest option might be to go into Tools|Internet Options|Coonections|LAN Settings and setup a bogus proxy server. Sometimes just putting in that little gatekeeper is enough to make me reconsider a wayword path.
- Keep your unit tests close and your smoketests closer
- If your environment is at all complex and N-tiered, avoid the trap of your system breaking down and you don't know when and you don't know why by setting up good smoke and unit tests and running them extremely frequently.
Making the rounds is this story about a cellphone based Virtual Girlfriend product...unfortunately (or fortunately for the company) you spend non-virtual money to buy her presents and what not, otherwise she gets all mad and sulky.
Man, what a potential goldmine if they find guys who get really into this. Being able to sell trivial virtual goods for real cash...there's that other company that lets people buy each other little iconic gifts, I heard it's a reasonable hit...it becomes a social thing I guess, if you can show off your gifts like some kind of trophyroom.
February 26, 2005
Quote of the Moment
"Every human being has a project."
--Sartre as paraphrased by Colin, a high-functioning
It's fun to figure out your project. I think for a lot of people it's their kids. I think that's a new development in some ways...in at least some points in history, men got to pick their own projects, and women got assigned the projects of the kids. Now that we lived in a somewhat more symmmetrical society, women have more freedom in their choice of project, and men are expected to make the kids their project as well.
Something like that.
Personal Semi-Triumph of the Moment
So JoustPong lives again! The game was "off the market" at AtariAge after Atari (in its newish, French-owned "Infogrames" form) sent a nastygram claiming the name of "Pong" as their intellectual property. I'd argue that the concept has gone generic ala "Kleenex" -- they certainly haven't been defending their intellectual property very well, Google has pages and pages and pages of links without a hint of Atari around.
But now the game has returned in a new incarnation -- FlapPing (a name suggested by brilliant 2600 coder Thomas Jentzsch on an AtariAge forum...quite clever.) I updated the title screen, switched the "Atari Fuji" symbol for "Computer Controlled Player" to a little 1s and 0s thing, fixed a minor conceptual score display bug, and best of all Atari Age Al and I got Dave LiveInABin Exton to make some nifty new artwork for it. Here's the image he ended up using without the title or Alien Bill or AtariAge logos:
Nice, huh? You can see the evolution of it, including the other video game art that inspired it, at the Flapping Development Journal, though really his first sketch is more-or-less what we ended up going with.
In other news, a recent issue of the UK's Retro Gamer magazine published a brief interview with me. (I heard there's an interview with Pitfall! legend David Crane as well as with Atari Age Al.) Al was kind enough to scan the page with the interview (150K jpeg) for me, but the result was so heavily edited that I've published the original e-mail Q+A between Peter Latimer and me...I worked to give some quality answers to his very good questions. Unfortunately, the article gives the new name of the game as "FlipPing"...ah well.
April 19, 2005
Project of the Moment
Lately I've been lax in charging my cellphone, and I realized that that might partially be due to not having a "cradle" for it...it seems like a small thing but being able to plop a phone into a handy little throne for it is a lot easier than fiddling with a wire and plug. So I thought I'd haul out my legos, too long dormant, and get buildin', just a kind of wrapper for the wire I already had.
This is what the table I dumped my Lego bin onto on looks like. I do have a lot of Legos. It looks more impressive in real life, I think, because it's a deep layer for pretty much the whole thing. This is one of the first times I decided to go with a table top as work space rather than the traditional floor...it might've been a mistake. Legos are falling off in all directions.
Close up of the pile, meant to give a slightly better sense of scale...
Here's the final result. Bigger and clunkier than I envisioned, but I was so happy to get something that seemed structurally sound while still allowing for easy connection and disconnection of the phone and the little plug that I don't want to give it another go. I didn't spend too much time on aesthetics but did add a few frills at the end.
Man, I almost hate to say it, but it actually feels like I might have "too many Legos". It was tougher than I remember to find the pieces I was after, though maybe I'm just out of practice. I think Legos meant more to be as a 3D modelling tool before computers and video games could render 3D images with no problem.
By the way, I'm sure there are Lego lawyers who wish I would call them "Lego bricks" rather than "Legos". Well, nyah, that's not how Lego works, but as long as you keep your quality edge you can still have your niche over junk like Mega Blox even if your name gets "Kleenexed/Xeroxed".
Funny of the Moment
Q. "How's your wife?"
A. "Compared to what?"
--Henny Youngman routine, via this Slate article on Michael Eisner.
September 5, 2008
We have a weird problem in one of our conference rooms... the WiFi connection is shaky and there's a history of people stealing cords or otherwise messing with the switchbox that would let people cable up their laptop to the network. Today I dropped the switch in my old courier bag, connected 5 ethernet cords to it draping out of the bag (along with the powercord) and attached the following sign:
THIS IS THE COURIER BAG OF MAGICAL INTERNET GOODNESS
THE CORRECT ATTITUDE FOR THIS BAG IS ONE OF MYSTICAL REVERENCE
FIVE ETHERNET CABLES COME OUT. FEEL FREE TO PUT THESE IN YOUR LAPTOPS AND EXPERIENCE FULL NOKIA NETWORK JOY
DO NOT TOUCH THE GREEN ETHERNET CABLE NOR THE GRAY POWER CABLE LEST YOUR SOUL BE IN FORFEIT
Creepiness of the Moment
Play with Spider, a virtual Spider tromping across the map of Europe, following the mouse... rather lifelike and creepy. (via Archmage)
Quote of the Moment
"Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again."
--Silicon Wisdom.... it took me way too long that this is probably just a 'bot going through the ol' Unix "Fortune" file... or rather I guessed that, but I didn't realize it was doing it alphabetically.
Uma Thurman has, like, giant nostrils.
McCain wants to spin an urge to kick Repubs out on isolated corruption? Try an inability to run an economy and a penchant for the wrong war!
Heh. Penn Teller are also anxious for "immortality through their work" but they're more succesful at it than I'm likely to be...
DUH:Copley sign for Faneuil Hall's Newbury Comics..."wonder if there's one nearer here?" (12 hours to recall I was a block from Newbury St)
"C'est la Vie!" / accepting that / "this should not be!" / but coping / more stoically; / philosophically-- / "C'est la Vie..."
I'm getting a little worried that my typing seems to be getting worse, in terms of phonetic and sometimes conceptual typos...
so one of few nights I need to be punctual(drive-in movie plans w/ friends)NO E LINE-against the Tao to kick against the sticks hop a cab?
I use the term sophomoric too freely, maybe. There isn't much daylight between my use of that and wisdom so time tested it's trite. (4 comments)
April 24, 2013
My bike lock succumbed to salt and I replaced it with a Wordlock brand steel cable lock, where you can choose your own 4-letter word, with each letter drawn from a pool of 10 possibilities.
Here was each set of letters:
I ran that against a list of the 5,000 most frequent words in English, and in order the 360-odd make-able words were:
that, they, from, that, what, make, will, time, when, them, some, take, than, like, then, more, want, look, more, find, here, many, well, tell, work, last, feel, when, most, mean, same, seem, help, talk, turn, hand, part, most, week, work, play, like, hold, must, home, book, word, head, line, lose, meet, team, best, lead, sure, walk, food, foot, send, home, fall, plan, late, hard, pass, sell, mind, pull, free, less, full, form, site, base, land, wall, test, film, tree, look, soon, less, term, well, fire, bank, west, seek, deal, past, fill, drop, plan, fine, than, dead, fund, list, hard, loss, deal, bill, miss, sort, dark, help, form, seat, that, firm, ball, talk, head, base, play, best, deep, past, heat, fall, whom, test, beat, tend, task, shot, born, wind, fast, like, bird, hurt, turn, date, hole, park, boat, wood, farm, band, tool, wild, tiny, feed, shop, folk, warm, past, deny, burn, shoe, bone, wine, mean, hell, fire, hire, will, lean, tall, hate, male, lots, fuel, pool, lead, salt, poll, desk, like, last, mark, loan, deep, male, meal, link, file, duty, wake, warn, meat, late, part, host, hall, tank, bond, file, mean, seed, busy, mass, tone, hill, hand, land, milk, mind, weak, list, wrap, mark, diet, post, dark, bike, link, mass, lake, bend, walk, sand, pose, sale, mine, tale, pass, dust, sure, boss, mood, boot, bean, peak, wire, holy, toss, bury, pray, pure, belt, moon, soon, line, date, pink, poem, bind, mine, drop, fast, flat, snap, teen, bell, beat, wind, lost, like, pant, port, dirt, pole, bake, sink, tire, free, hold, mask, load, fate, poet, mere, pale, load, flee, plot, palm, pile, fund, mall, heel, tent, bite, pine, boom, host, wise, firm, sake, dare, mess, hunt, pill, bare, shop, pump, slam, melt, park, fold, dose, trap, lens, lend, warm, last, leap, past, pond, dump, tune, harm, horn, beam, fork, disk, hook, mild, doll, hers, bite, fist, bold, tune, hint, peel, bias, feel, lamp, pump, silk, wake, hook, seal, sink, trap, fool, mate, slap, heat, barn, post, lane, seal, bull, loop, pork, seat, lion, harm, sort, soap, shed, heal, damn, mill, hike, tray, sole, weed, deem, pile, fame, toll, butt, bulk, part, poke, fare, soak, slot, tile, till, bolt, till. Oddly the word I chose was a real world that wasn't on the list, so maybe my method wasn't so good.
I know this lock isn't too secure, but A. I want more flexibility than with a U-shaped lock, B. my old steel cable lock probably was only a minor inconvenience for a thief and C. it's a cheap bike.
"He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes"
--Varys on Littlefinger in Game of Thrones
"The old scholar was watching the noisy young people around him and it suddenly occurred to him that he was the only one in the whole audience who had the privilege of freedom, for he was old. Only when a person reaches old age can he stop caring about the opinions of his fellows, or of the public, or of the future. He is alone with approaching death and death has no ears and does not need to be pleased. In the face of death a man an do and say what pleases his own self."
--Milan Kundera, from "Life is Elsewhere"
"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as barrels..."
--Roger Ebert, from his famous review of Freddy Got Fingered
via-- man that's a tall bike!
http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/photos-you-really-need-to-look-at-to-understand Lauren Garside's new favorite thing.
April 15, 2014April 15 "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes" Today we are releasing an online comic to help you deal with one of those: http://SoYoureGoingToDie.com , "the Skeptical Nerd's Comic Guide to Coping with Your Own Mortality".
It's beautifully illustrated by UK artist James Harvey, and has 8 small chapters, each one presenting a different way of coping with the fact that some day, for each of us, This Ends. Everyone has to make their own peace with that, but over the years I've had people write to me that the ideas here, now newly illustrated, are legitimately comforting.
We're trying to generate attention for this work, both because we know seeing it in its current web format can be useful to people who don't feel certain of a hereafter and because we'd like to pursue some print publishing options, so please share and pass around the link as you see fit.
I just found out the old Exidy arcade game "Car Polo" exists. This is exactly the game I would have wanted to have made in that era.
"Canada is just, like, the B-side."
--J.M. (Who is thinking about moving back...) orderly transition of Speaker of the House. In my naive understanding, it seems a bit like a parliamentary system where there are multiple parties and the need for coalition governments: Republicans have 247 seats (vs Democrats' 188) but since 42 of them are "Freedom Caucus" they have veto power over some things that need a majority of Congress (218) to run. (It would be even more ironic if Republicans minus FC was less than Democrats, but since the 2015 election that's not the case.)
Lets hope the "Freedom Caucus" doesn't get much more power. They're willing to trash the economy with their debt ceiling terrorism.
from my FB post: The PVC scaffolding for the JP Honk hoop banner underwent a major upgrade, thanks to Tuba Honker Kirk and his buddy "'EB". Instead of just being 2 loooong poles and 2 short ones making a rectangle to hang the hoops on (see last years picture below) the new design comes apart, with two fold out bits (kind of like the stand for a tv tray) and two shorter connecting pipes. It should be a lot easier to travel with, a bit sturdier, it can be carried by two people or maybe even one, and should do a better job of standing on its own when the band isn't on the march.
October 17, 2015The Pitch @ MICE: "Cures crippling existential dread or your money back!" And I mean it.
(PS, many thanks to Liz for hauling me over and helping me set up stuff, and then even running back to the house to grab by business cards, which by chance had a sample of art from a prior draft of the book)Dead Man Talking: A Dialog with Tom Parmenter. In 2013, Tom Parmenter died. But, he got better. He lived - and is still living - a rich life, with journalism and music and his lovely wife Ann. In 2016 we met over dinner and had lovely conversation. I recorded it and had it transcribed.
Two excerpts, for flavor...
On "Do you keep any kind of bucket list?"
I'm alive, I've been alive a long time. I've done a lot of things. I'm still alive, I'll still do some more but do I really need to go to New York? A bucket list ... The universe in a grain of sand has always been my motto and there's as much interesting going on between your toes - particularly if there's sand there - as anywhere elseOn working on the Chicago afternoon papers:
That was the deal, you'd get street sales. It's definitely a more sensational journalistic environment. I worked there and a lot of these guys were legendary journalists. Harry Romanoff, a city editor he had been the night city editor since the 20's or something. A long time. He could talk a tan off a bathing beauty.. just so... You really had to sort of be corrupt to be employed, because poking into people's private business and so forth. I remember one night I was talking to someone who's husband had died and said something about "I'm sorry to disturb you at a time like this" and she said "I wasn't sleeping anyway..."
Andrew Sullivan on How his need to connect to the infosphere almost killed him. I don't have it nearly as bad as this guy, and I feel that the simple pleasures of this world (reading a book, taking in the moment) are still readily accessible to me. Still, I know I turn to this kind of distraction too often as stress relief when a task seems even slightly daunting or less than worthwhile.
"Death would be much more terrifying if it was actually possible to live forever"