Decided I wanted to move to something simpler and less chaotic than my Wall O' Peeps and decided to get a thing from inkifi.com - a single largeish framed 4 x 13 grid of square cropped photos. (and I'm labeling them here just for fun...) I find it satisfying to (once again) plumb my photographic past and find photos meaningful to me, mostly because of who is in them but also with an eye towards the visually arresting. And this arrangement was interesting... I decided to build from the bottom up chronologically, with my parents anchoring the corners. Sometimes I used choice of photo or proximity (or lack thereof) to make a message or a joke. I used more photos that didn't show up in previous projects.
A while back I started playing with timelines - I wanted to be better able to see the footsteps of my life so far.
November 29, 2020
That's one thing about life: it's easy to forget how much of it many of us our blessed with. Days rush by, weeks drags, and years can fly past - but there's a lot in there if you pay attention. That's good news if you're living a life (as long as you're having a reasonable time of it!) but bad news if you're trying to make an information-rich detailed graphical representation of it.
In making my main timeline, full of photos of places and people that I've loved, I experimented with different visual displays. This weekend I put together one more form: the rainbow-like arch:
As usual with the experiments, I condensed things to where I've lived, jobs I've had, and people I've had some kind of romantic connection with.
Using a divided arch was interesting - it's more bounded than a simple linear timeline, and the curve gives a bit more room to cram stuff in, making better use of the plane.
Although Tufte famously warns against pie charts, I think this display does invite comparisons of ranges, without too much distortion.
(Also, I was thinking a bit about Jastrow illusion where two identical thick curved rails appear vastly different in size depending on how they're nested.)
Yesterday I made up a virtual version of one of those gimmicky binary clocks I had once given to my Uncle Bill... mostly so I could see how some variations I thought of would look like in practice.
August 16, 2020
Lately I've been spending Sunday mornings hanging out with my superniece Cora - playing some sort of dolls, or drawing together, or parallel building play, or more lately just hanging out playing video games - her telling me what to do and me doing it in game. Anyway, I had a hard time finding a holder for the phone so I could position the back camera towards the TV (but still see Cora on the screen) so I decided to build a new one out of Lego during our session this morning... here it is
And here it is in action...
I'm sort of frustrated with my Lego collection. I split my childhood Lego collection into threes, and gave two of those parts to different friend families. (I'm planning on giving the final third to Cora at some point, though Lego has only been a minor jam of hers thus far.) So my current collection, the one in my office that I used to build this, is just the stuff I got as a grownup. And I'm not sure if it's the number of bricks or a trend towards more fiddly, specialty pieces, but it seems harder to come up with stuff for a good build. Of course, I've always done more in Space Lego then Technic and actual sturdy construction, and while there are more "flexible joint" pieces than ever I'm not as practiced with using them, and I don't have enough of any single type to focus on it.
(Incidentally this is my third phone cradle out of Lego... here's one from 2005, also at a jaunty angle, and then a simpler upright on one for my 2009 work phone. All 3 of them were built around making sure the charger cord could snake on through.)
Whoa. I just realized at bricklink you can just...order individual pieces, like Lego "Pick a Brick"... and it's cheap! (though there are some minimums... it's so weird to think about these dealers having to do all the legwork to gather an order) The hardest part is finding the piece you're thinking of... I find myself longing for a "natural language Lego brick search engine"...
But overall it feels like a "cheat code" for Lego... you don't have to rely on the vagaries of what high price sets you receive as gifts (or maybe if you get a big ol' flea market tub) - you can just go and get it!
Actually it reminds me of one of the weird things about the "LEGO Masters" series... I think roughly there are three types of builders: people who keep the bricks in the form of the original purchased set, like on display, people who put all the pieces from the set into a big bin (the model I grew up with) and people who carefully sort (I dabbled with that after college, but it was so much work.)
But whatever the level of organization, for casual Lego fans it's often a scarcity model- you have a limited number of really unique or useful pieces and you have to dole them out - like for me with Space Lego it was a certain number of cool Blacktron wings and cockpits windows. But to compete on a show like LEGO Masters, you have to be designing with the idea that you'll be able to get your hands on all the parts you need, or close enough...
My holiday-season product finally reached fruition: Timelines:
January 14, 2019
Its my best attempt so far to make sense of the decades I've been around, and clear out some of the natural fog of memory.
If anyone wants to make one of these for themselves I'd be happy to help them.
On my devblog I go over all the drafts that lead me to the final design.
One of those cases where I wish I had better channels to get it to even more people - at one point I had pipedreams of making this a product, but I recognize a lot of people don't have the raw dates or photos at hand, and maybe they are less interested in their history as I am in mine.
Customizable PT Reps Vocalizer - I made something I might find useful. It turns out most browsers have a voice synthesizer built-in, and also despite years as a youth counting measures of rests (shout out to my Orchestra homies) I hate keeping track of reps in the PT exercises I should be doing. So I decided to make a tool. More about that on my devblog
August 30, 2018
I ran a fundraiser the Banda de Música Juvenil de Loma Larga La Unión El Salvador - a program that gets musical instruments and training into the hands of boys and girls in El Salvador, and helps keep them out of gangs. With my buddies on FB, the matching funds I put in, and a donation from JP Honk, Omar(the man organizing it) wrote "Hay están los instrumentos del dinero que ustedes donaron se compraron 7 trombones 3 clarinete y 4 flautas trasversales" (There are the money instruments that you donated, 7 trombones 3 clarinet and 4 transverse flutes were purchased)
August 13, 2018
I took the raw parts from my collaborator Katie and made this: That's the Orange Barrel Media billboard almost overlooking Fenway... Since I don't know many official animation tools, I used p5.js, making a primitive timeline in json that the app would then use to push around some layers. You can play around with the p5.js tool I used to generate the frames before using ffmpeg to glue 'em all together as mov.
May 3, 2018
new logo tech'd up on my devblog
Stuart: You don't get things by not asking for them.He truly is a fine novelist.
You don't get things by not wanting them, either.
Gillian: One of the things I've always tried to teach the girls is that there's nothing particularly good or virtuous about wanting something. I don't put it like that, of course, in fact I frequently don't put it at all. The best lessons children learn are those they learn for themselves.
CompuServe's forums, which still exist, are finally shutting down Always sad when an old service gets its plug pulled, I'm sure someone's going to miss that particular community.
I made a custom case with James Harvey art from my comic on mortality...
It's got it all! Artsy-Fartsiness (it's a Picasso), Boobies (it's a Picasso), an encouraging aphorism, my own head, a hoodie, and I can take photos through the physical form of it. (and the material is maple so I can always knock on wood) And then I made an artsy lock screen from a different panel of the same comic:
Me and my the shadow of my own mortality!
The only way these two things could be more Kirk-y is if they had Alien Bill and/or Tubas.
FOLLOWUP: I think it's too much! I like the lock screen but might look to change the case.
FEMA Deletes Information About Lack of Water and Electricity in Puerto Rico. When you start hiding relevant objective facts, you're doing evil, from the NRA blocking statistics being gathered to the DOE being told they can't use the term climate change. In denial and fucking evil. It's one thing to disagree on interpretation and meaning and making value judgements and priorities, but when your ideology goes downward to change the scene on the level of facts rather than the flow of influence going the other way, that's evil.
Lego Giraffe near the Assembly Square AMC - work field trip to see the new Blade Runner... we are so coddled.
I'm getting some tuba bell costumes printed up for halloween for Scheiny and the horn of my buddy Ezequiel... I described some hacking I did to make these in a entry on my devblog:
The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have.
How Trump Is Ending the American Era. One point I hadn't thought of, for people who liked his being a businessman, and thought it a plus- someone "who has spent a career in charge of a small, family-run corporation without shareholders [isn't] likely to pay much attention to external views." Even with the premise that a someone strong in business (which is a dubious description in Trump's case; he's more of a study in the power of marketing and branding, powered in large part by the mellifluous name his grandfather had to replace "Drumpf") brings something good to the political table, there would be more to if that personal history involved being accountable to external stakeholders, outside a narrow little circle of family and sycophants.
Not to tempt Murphy and His Immortal Law but I'm glad that when it comes to overthrowing the ACA, the GOP is more like the Republican'ts.
The second redeeming feature (alongside Samantha Mathis' amazing purple-fading-into-white dress) of the widely reviled movie "Super Mario Bros." was that it had a good soundtrack, with Roxette, Divinyls, George Clinton - even US3's "Cantaloop". (Actually think there was a law in those times that every movie had to have that song - "Renaissance Man", "Sisters", "It Takes Two", etc.)
The oddest song, though, is Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's "I Want You"... its mostly a goofy, bubblegum romance rap, but the funny part is how it starts with 45 seconds of slow piano and a woman sensually whispering and sighing "I want you..." -- interrupted by a full rap swagger "yeah baby, I want you too" and the drums kicking in - a kind of hilarious shifting of emotional gears.
The really weird thing is it wasn't on any of the lyrics sites. But... I have fixed that. No need to thank me, world.
(2018 followup: for some reason my lyrics there got rejected or otherwise didn't stick so here they are again, for your reading "pleasure")
Marky Mark "I Want You" Ooh Baby- [?] the things you to do to me ...yeah... You make me feel so good... Ooh baby... I want you - I want you... ...Yeah Baby, I want you too Aw yeah... c'mon c'mon c'mon Uh uh uh uh Yeah. Gonna send this one out to that special lady out there Yo, She knows who she is Peac How do I want you? Let me count the ways 'Cause when I'm with you girl It's like I'm in a hot damn daze And I just can't comprehend it When I'm with my friends I just try to pretend it's Just a temporary little love thing But there's something about the way You shake your thing You got me wanting; Even more than life itself I've had many but I don't want anyone else. So what's it gonnna be? I want you, now tell me do you want me? Because if you do then I'm gonna give it to ya My lovin baby, y'know I wanna do ya Early in the morning When you just finish yawning And then all night 'Cause I'm gonna make it feel right And for your loving, on my knees girl I'll pray And if you're with me this what I'll make you say "Oooh" Yeah and then I'll make you say "Aiiiiii" And then I'll make you say "Oooh" Yeah and then I'll make you say "Aiiiiii" And then the funk beat sayin' (I want you) Do you want me too? (Love is true) Girls you know it's true (I want you) But do you want me too? (Love is true) It's me, the M A R K Y baby why Baby why do you gotta keep holding on when I'm holding on The sweet tip, honey dip your grip My insides to shreds Promise not to spread My love like butter on a bagel 'cause it's you And only youthat I want to do the do to I told you that you make say ooh and I mention Expressing admiration girl for you I'm representing I'm all about giving you my all and all In the Spring Summer Fall, Marky Mark's the one to call So what's a snap And a chippy at your side It's the man with the plan No bluff- I got the right stuff You know I'm hop-hop dip But for you I'd flip On the New Jack R+B Tip So get with my program, I hope and pray That you'll come my way, and if you do I'll make you say "Oooh" Yeah and then I'll make you say "Aiiiiii" Uh, And then I'll make you say "Oooh" And then I'll make you say "Aiiiii" And then the funk beat sayin' (I want you) Do you want me too? (Love it's true) Girls you know it's true, I said (I want you) But do you want me too? (Love it's true) Yeah baby. When I'm alone at night, the only thought that ever comes to my mind Is your beautiful face And I want you to know That you'll always have a man in me- A man that'll treat you right And love you all night I want you my baby I want you my baby I-- want you I need you baby I want you baby I love you I need you I want you (I want you) Do you want me too? (Love is true) Girls you know it's true, I said (I want you) Do you want me too? (Love it's true) (I want you) Do you want me too? (Love is true) Girl you know it's true, I said (I want you) Do you want me too? (Love it's true) I don't want nobody but you (uh-huh) Girl you know it's true Yeah baby I want you and only you I don't want nobody but you (uh-huh) Girl you know it's true Yeah baby I want you and only you So sing... Bayeeba Bayeeba- Bayeeba- Bayeebaba Bayeeba- Hoohoohoohoo Bayeeba Bayeeba- Bayeeba- Bayeebaba Bayeeba- Bayeeba- Dooaodoodododoladoodoo Bayeeba Bayeeba- I want you Bayeeba I want you Bayeeba Bayeeba- I want you Oo oo oo oo
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
The Pitch @ MICE: "Cures crippling existential dread or your money back!" And I mean it.
October 17, 2015
(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 my business cards, which by chance had a sample of art from a prior draft of the book)
Thinking about the "Freedom Caucus" that is stopping the Republicans from having an 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.
April 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".
April 15, 2014
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.
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.
April 24, 2013
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
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.
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...
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.
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:
September 5, 2008
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..... 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.
Project of the Moment
April 19, 2005
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.
Open Photo Gallery
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.
Funny of the Moment
Q. "How's your wife?"
A. "Compared to what?"
Quote of the Moment
February 26, 2005
Every human being has a project.(Pekar of "American Splendor" fame.) Google doesn't seem to think that it's an exact quote, but its a neat idea.
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 symmetrical 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.
Project of the Moment
August 24, 2004
So, FoSO and I worked together on an interesting furniture project, a cabinet. 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 vintage 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.
Product of the Moment
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.
Handyman of the Moment
April 19, 2004
|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|