Archive for June, 2009

Wimbledon, Women’s Tennis, and Sexism

22:24 30 Jun 2009. Updated: 23:42 03 Nov 2010

I commented on Sunday that I’m not as interested in women’s tennis as in men’s tennis. I’ve been wondering why the disparity is so significant at the moment, as this hasn’t always been the case for me. While that was on my mind, Wimbledon and the BBC decided to throw this into the mix:

A BBC source said: “It’s the Wimbledon play committee, not us who decides on the order of play. But obviously it’s advantageous to us if there are good-looking women players on Centre Court. No one has heard of many of the women now, so if they are pretty it definitely gives them an edge. Our preference would always be a Brit or a babe as this always delivers high viewing figures.”

Huh, well, that’s to be expected from a channel trying to boost ratings, I suppose, but surely the organizers of the most revered tennis tournament in the world would have no truck with such an approach?

[L]ast night, the All England Club admitted that physical attractiveness is taken into consideration.Spokesman Johnny Perkins said: “Good looks are a factor.”


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Python Script to Change OS X Desktop Backgrounds

22:42 29 Jun 2009

OS X has built-in functionality to rotate between different desktop backgrounds, but if you have multiple monitors and want backgrounds that fit together (i.e. that have two halves, one on each monitor), you need to set that manually. I wanted a script to do this for me, selecting a pair of backgrounds for each day. I wrote one in AppleScript, but was so unimpressed by it that I decided I’d do it over in Python.

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Wimbledon 2009 Midpoint Notes

22:55 28 Jun 2009. Updated: 13:45 09 Jul 2013

Halfway through, and there aren’t too many big stories that weren’t present at the start of the tournament—the big three are still Nadal’s absence, Federer’s attempt to break the Grand Slam record, and Murray’s chances of being the first British men’s player to win in 73 years.

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Python Syntax Highlighting for star-light

23:37 26 Jun 2009

A couple of years ago I plugged star-light, a syntax highlighter that’s entirely client-side. I’ve been happy with it, but wanted a Python mode for it. I was going to post some other code this evening, and then decided that I should just make the Python mode myself.

This led to fun with regular expressions.

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David Foster Wallace on Tennis

22:51 25 Jun 2009. Updated: 20:56 06 Oct 2009

The The New York Times tennis blog mentioned DFW’s “String Theory” essay the other day, bringing to my attention the fact that it’s available online. I loved it when I read it in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, and highly recommend it. David Foster Wallace wrote a number of truly excellent pieces on tennis, and all of them are absolutely worth reading. Here are those that I could find available online:

Unfortunately “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart” doesn’t seem to be available online. It’s not about tennis in the way the others are, but it’s a fascinating look at the mentality of high-level athletes. It’s in Consider the Lobster, which is also full of other excellent essays.

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PyWebSF Site Update

15:46 23 Jun 2009

I did some work on the PyWebSF site, so that it looks rather better than it did with the default WordPress theme. I altered a pretty good WordPress theme called Arras Theme, which I was fairly impressed with. As a reminder, the first meeting is tonight.

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Black Belt Tennis?

22:40 22 Jun 2009

Jelena Janković was the number one female tennis player in the world at the start of the year, but has fallen rapidly since (like her compatriot Ana Ivanović ). Janković is now number six, while Ivanović is number twelve… but Janković seems a tad more desperate, as rumor has it that she’s considering a coaching switch to the guy behind this video:

I don’t think that can be a good sign.

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PyWebSF Logo Attempt

23:03 21 Jun 2009

My brother asked me a while ago to design a logo for PyWebSF, and tonight I took a shot at it. Part of me thinks it has a certain something, and part of me thinks it’s exactly the sort of thing you get when you ask an engineer to do a designer’s job.

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Nadal Not Playing Wimbledon

22:19 19 Jun 2009

Three days before the tournament begins, defending champion Rafael Nadal withdraws. This isn’t too much of a surprise given that he skipped Queen’s, but it’s definitely bad news.

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Passwords Please

22:52 18 Jun 2009

I know this has been on BoingBoing already, but it seems so ridiculous that I can’t resist posting it here too:

[The City of Bozeman]‘s background check policy … states that to be considered for a job applicants must provide log-in information and passwords for social network sites in which they participate
(emphasis mine)
“Bozeman City job requirement raises privacy concerns”, Dan Boyce, montanasnewsstation.com, 18 Jun 2009


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Random Bay Area Photo 2

22:26 16 Jun 2009

I like this shot despite the various crooked lines.

Union Square Night

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In Memoriam

11:56 15 Jun 2009. Updated: 16:50 15 Jun 2009

My father, Edward O’Higgins, RIP. I miss him.

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WordPress 2.8 Upgrade

17:44 14 Jun 2009

Today I upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.8, a relatively smooth process. I ran into completely unrelated problems (hitting the process limit for my shell account) that derailed things for a while, but the WordPress upgrade itself was smooth.

I use Subversion to upgrade, first using
svn export --force http://core.svn.wordpress.org/tags/2.8/ .
in my development environment, seeing if things look okay there, then checking in the 2.8 changes to my own repository (the only niggly part because I neglected to clean the dev environment of changes before the export, so I had to look through things to see what was part of the upgrade), backing up my live database, and then checking the changes out to the live environment. It all looks fine, and hopefully will continue to function normally.

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Pylons Via Apache Port Issues

16:42 12 Jun 2009

I’ve been using Pylons (and, more recently, the Pylons-based TurboGears 2.0) for various projects for a while, and a few weeks ago ran into an annoying and specific problem: using Pylons via Apache made Pylons occasionally think it was running on a different port.

There’s a relatively easy answer to this, but until I was reading through TurboGears documentation, I didn’t find it.

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PyWebSF: Meetup for SF-Area Python Web Developers

22:07 09 Jun 2009. Updated: 19:42 11 Jun 2009

My brother is organizing what will hopefully become a regular web-centric Python meeting. The first meeting is planned for 18:00 Tue 23 Jun 2009 at the SF Public Library. I think a couple of speakers are lined up already, although I don’t have details on the talks. I’ll be there, and if you’re a Python developer with web interests, or a web developer into or curious about Python, you should attend too!

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Erfworld Book One

13:24 09 Jun 2009

I mentioned Erfworld last year, and I thought I’d plug it again now that it’s moved to its own website and the first book is finished. I remain extremely impressed with it, and am eagerly waiting for Book One to come out in print form. It starts here, and is definitely worth the read.

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A Week of CrossFit

18:00 08 Jun 2009. Updated: 19:34 23 Jun 2013

So last week I started CrossFit proper, that is, not doing intro classes but actual CrossFit classes. In certain respects it didn’t make a difference, since the workouts are still scaled to what I can do. I did five sessions, taking Friday and Sunday as rest days.

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Fourteen for Federer

16:53 07 Jun 2009

Or, “French Open for Federer”. He defeated Robin Soderling of Sweden 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 at Roland Garros today, tying Sampras’ record for career Grand Slam wins and (in my opinion) establishing himself as the greatest male tennis player of all time.

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Spock, Evil Regimes, and Tasers

17:41 05 Jun 2009

In a recent MetaFilter thread about some more expanded Taser us after a judge ruled it was okay to Taser an uncooperative suspect in order to get a DNA sample from them (with passing mention of some grandmother tasering thrown in), I came across a comment that I thought was fantastic:

Remember when you could tell that Spock’s political system was eeeevil because of his willingness to use the agonizer?
mwhybark, comment on ‘Niagara County Judge: tasing a suspect into compliance with DNA test = okay’, metafilter.com, 05 Jun 2009

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Online Tennis Instruction

23:52 04 Jun 2009

Since I started playing tennis again, I’ve been looking for tips to improve my game. I already knew it could do with a lot of improvement, but unfortunately there’s even more than I had realized.

I’ve been extremely impressed with the annoyingly-named site Fuzzy Yellow Balls. They have a pretty good selection of videos that take you through more or less everything a beginner could want, and plenty that beginner-intermediate players like me could want, also.

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Squash Miscellany

23:42 02 Jun 2009. Updated: 12:49 02 Dec 2009

Monika and I have been playing squash at UCSF Mission Bay for about a couple of years, but with a ruleset that was based on our past experience rather than actually looking up the rules. For the past couple of months I’ve had the responsibility of doing that looking up, but have always forgotten about it except when either at the court or on my way there. This evening I finally examined the Wikipedia entry for squash.

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Do Not Smile At The Machine

22:01 01 Jun 2009

Via Bruce Schneier comes news that four American states have banned smiling while having your driver’s license photograph taken. Yes, really. Because facial recognition software that they’re apparently using to try to cut down on fraud doesn’t like it:

Dull expressions “make the comparison process more accurate,” says Karen Chappell, deputy commissioner of the Virginia DMV, whose no-smile policy took effect in March.
“Four states adopt ‘no-smiles’ policy for driver’s licenses”, Thomas Frank, USA Today, 25 May 2009

Sure, the explanation that they need to do this to prevent fraud sounds rational, but really, preventing people from smiling? I think it’s hard to find a better metaphor for “soulless bureaucracy”.

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