Archive for January, 2009

The Ideas In My Head Are Precious, So Precious

23:55 30 Jan 2009. Updated: 03:21 31 Jan 2009

I haven’t encountered ze frank for a while, but came across this via Lifehacker, and it made me think I should really have his site among my feeds.

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French Analog Electronica and The Thing

23:59 29 Jan 2009. Updated: 01:13 30 Jan 2009

This was featured on BoingBoing recently, but I like it enough to put it up here anyway.

It’s a video for “Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free”, by Zombie-Zombie; the video is a reinterpretation of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Both are excellent, and prompted me to buy the album (A Land for Renegades) and a DVD of the John Carpenter classic. (I’ve never seen the other films in Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy, Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness, and should probably do so.)

I think that the music for this video would also work extremely well with the Metallica video I posted recently.

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Blog Move Steps, Part Three: DNS Change

23:58 27 Jan 2009. Updated: 01:13 30 Jan 2009

I’ve wrangled my old plugins and custom code so that it mostly works, except for one or two features (such as “related posts” based on tags) that I’ll revive later. Good enough for now, so I’m making the DNS changes and going ahead.

If you’re seeing this text, you’re on the new server, and all should be well. But if you don’t see another post after this one by about Friday, it suggests RSS problems, so please drop me a line.

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Blog Move Steps, Part Two

22:30 26 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:46 28 Jan 2009

I continued working on the blog move today, and most of the tricky database-related steps are done.

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Blog Move Steps, Part One

23:53 25 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:46 28 Jan 2009

I spent time today working on moving this blog to a new home, while also combining the articles from the old (real) blog and from this temporary one, and upgrading my version of WordPress in the process.

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23:59 23 Jan 2009. Updated: 15:53 28 Dec 2009

Yeah. Weird birthday today. Not bad, but somewhat on the strange side. It’s one of those rounder numbers, divisible by five, and therefore attaches greater significance to itself.

My company party was tonight, so it was kind of like that was a party just for me, and kind of like it had nothing to do with me at all.

It was good to be with people, and especially with friends from work, but strange to be only with friends from work. Strange too to be alone on my birthday; singledom isn’t new, and nor is singledom on my birthday, but somehow it feels particularly odd (and empty) on birthdays to not have a partner, a lover.

The Australian Open is on, and streaming, so I get to witness the struggles of consummately-skilled professionals locked in a strange approximation of combat thousands of miles away.

A taxi driver got a very good tip tonight, doubling up on the fact that it’s my birthday and the fact that taxi drivers make me think of my father, because what was a short period in his life happened at a time that it assumed a lot of significance in my mind and memories.

My birthday is near to the start of the year, and I’m taking advantage of this fact to essentially decide that for me the new year starts now, to try to recapture some of the momentum I had (or thought I had) going into 2009.

Some things to be thankful for, on my birthday: that I got this far at all; that I have the privilege to be somewhat comfortable; friends; family; humor; the fact that occasionally I can write things that aren’t awful; the fact that I live in a time when coding is easily accessible and that I can occasionally code things that aren’t awful; that I have (mostly) full use of my mind and body. Lots of other stuff that’s flickering around in my mind but which resists explicit categorization right here right now.

That I’m still here.

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jQuery Sparklines

19:40 22 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:47 28 Jan 2009

I really like this jQuery sparklines plugin. I’m not sure what uses I can find for it right now, but my books/week or books/month reading rate, something like lines of code written or changed per day, the page counts of recent books, or recent MTG results would all work with it. Some of those things would be better expressed with full-size graphs using Flot, though. But while I don’t have a use case right now, this seems like a tool worth having in the toolbox (especially since it’s free).

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Change at the Top

19:07 20 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:47 28 Jan 2009

I caught some of the inauguration this morning, missing the swearing-in itself and whatever came after Obama’s speech.

Unlike most people I know, I don’t expect much from an Obama presidency—except, perhaps paradoxically, to be disappointed. But I’ll try not to rain on everyone’s parade today with my reasons for that. Instead, I’ll focus on some good things.

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Rules of Database App Aging

18:58 19 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:48 28 Jan 2009

I came across a blog post about the Rules of Database App Aging today. I’m having another look at my database assumptions at the moment, and the three rules that Peter Hawkins lays out seem solid:
1. All Fields Become Optional.
2. All Relationships Become Many-to-Many.
3. Chatter Always Expands.

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Unforced Error by The Onion on Federer

15:30 18 Jan 2009. Updated: 15:21 03 Apr 2009

The Onion has done some good pieces on Federer in the past, and recently came up with this picture:

I like it quite a lot, but my enjoyment of it is marred by the last item on the Strong Side.

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NYC Bike Couriers

23:48 16 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:48 28 Jan 2009

I always thought bike couriers were crazy, but this vid of a race in New York in 2004 makes it quite clear:

The freakiest bit to watch, for me, was at 3:31. It’s not so bad given that the white car to the left has just passed the point-of-view cyclist and so must know they’re there, but the prospect of their moving a lane to the right to avoid the bus is rather disconcerting.

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2009 Australian Open Draw

22:07 15 Jan 2009. Updated: 17:40 29 Jul 2009

The Australian Open draws are out (men, women), and I think the smart money at this point is on a Federer/Murray final. Any of the top four could win—Nadal is the world number one, and Djokovic is the defending champion—but Murray is on form and Federer just has an excellent record at Slams and won the last one on hard courts. I think Federer will win it in a repeat of his US Open win over Murray, but you never know, and Murray has the weapons to beat him—last year Djokovic went through Federer in Australia in straight sets after having lost to him in New York. Hopefully, though, the lack of mono will mean a better performance from Federer this year.

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Harper’s Index: GWB Edition

23:56 13 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:49 28 Jan 2009

Short post today; I direct your attention to a special edition of Harper’s Index focused on George W. Bush’s time in office.

My personal favorites:

Chances an American in 2002 believed the government should regulate comedy routines that make light of terrorism: 2 in 5


Number of members of the rock band Anthrax who said they hoarded Cipro so as to avoid an “ironic death”: 1

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The Love Vaccine

20:29 12 Jan 2009. Updated: 15:36 16 Nov 2009

While I tend to be skeptical of scientific claims to understanding the workings of human brains and particularly human emotions, it’s clear that science is improving in this area, and that pharmaceutical behavior/mood modification is increasing in efficacy. So when scientists claim a chemical understanding of love (paywall-protected full version here), and the ability to induce it under some circumstances, it’s definitely interesting.

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Well Past the Warhol Limit

18:43 11 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:49 28 Jan 2009

Some things I just don’t get. I understand why Samuel Wurzelbacher got his initial fifteen minutes of fame, but I have a lot of difficulty comprehending how he still gets media coverage to spout inanities like this:


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Bye-Bye Tournament Packs

23:58 09 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:50 28 Jan 2009

It looks like Wizards of the Coast are going to stop printing tournament packs, the 45-cards-plus-land boxes of MTG cards, and leave only booster packs as the way to buy cards.

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Ever Wanted to Make Music?

22:57 08 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:50 28 Jan 2009

Regardless of the answer, I’m not sure that this product is for you. It’s from a major technology company, which makes it scarier. I’m not convinced that either the product or the ad are real, actually. Maybe that’s part of the genius of it.

Because I didn’t think it would be fair to inflict it on others without watching it myself, I forced myself to get through it (it took three tries) and I think enduring that might be worse than being RickRolled.

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Two Short Films

23:51 06 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:51 28 Jan 2009

This one is apparently from 1977 or 1978, and I find it quite amazing that it was made in the Soviet Union at that time:

The second you’ve probably seen already (it’s the new Metallica video), but if you haven’t I think it’s definitely worth watching even if you’re not a Metallica fan (I’m not sure that I am, at this point, but the video is quite interesting):

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Big Number Hunting

23:56 05 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:52 28 Jan 2009

I came across this essay on large numbers by Scott Aaronson recently, and found it fascinating. It pulls together concepts of large numbers, notation, Ackermann numbers, and Turing machines, in clear and concise fashion.

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Another Extension

19:45 04 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:52 28 Jan 2009

I’ve been sick as a dog since New Year’s Eve—not the best way either to greet the new year, or to travel—and my writing has suffered as a result. Despite extending December by five days, I’m still not going to finish the novel plan in time, and don’t feel confident about any major progress in the next few days… so, back to getting half a chapter plan done per day, which should polish off the remaining 6.75 chapter plans by 18 Jan.

Hopefully I’ll feel better by then, too.

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Book Summary #1

20:22 02 Jan 2009. Updated: 16:52 28 Jan 2009

I just wrote a summary of the first book I read this year, The Fall of the Kings. It took me longer than I would have liked, at a little over thirty minutes—ideally I’d like to be significantly more succinct, and to be able to summarize in about fifteen minutes. That’s not as ridiculous as it sounds, since all I really need to do is enough so that I will recall the book, not enough so that someone who’s never read it will be given a good overview. This time, I certainly erred on the side of an overview. In any case, do not read the rest if you ever plan to read the book, since it reveals all the major plot points. Otherwise, if you’re curious about either the summary of this book or what a 30-minutes synopsis of a 510-page fantasy novel looks like, read on (oh, and while not as good as Swordspoint, I do think it’s worth reading).

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2009 Goals

17:49 01 Jan 2009. Updated: 14:32 30 Jul 2009

Happy New Year!

That’s goals for the year 2009, not two thousand and nine goals, people.

I tend to start the year with a bunch of ambitions and projects—many of which I even accomplish. Some of them for this year follow.

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