Archive for March, 2010

2010 Goals: First Quarter Review

11:12 30 Mar 2010

Yes, clearly my progress (or lack thereof) needs quarterly reports. And here’s the first one for this year.

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CrossFit Games 2010 NorCal Sectionals: Gripes

20:57 29 Mar 2010

I had a great time at Sectionals, and I was very happy both to compete in the event and to take part in it with the rest of the CrossFit KMSF team. Great team, great coaching, great support. I plan to do it again next year.

That being said, I had a number of issues with the organization of the event.

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CrossFit Games 2010 NorCal Sectionals: How I Did

17:36 28 Mar 2010. Updated: 14:39 29 Mar 2010

If I had to pick one word to describe my performance, I think that word would would be “okay”.

I hit some of my goals for this event, and missed others. I feel happy about my performance and how far I’ve come since starting to do CrossFit last June, but I’m also (unsurprisingly) critical about some of the things I didn’t manage to do right.

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Competing in the CrossFit Games 2010 NorCal Sectionals

13:38 26 Mar 2010

Tomorrow I’m going to be in San Jose taking part in the Northern California Sectional qualifiers for the 2010 CrossFit Games. I have no chance of qualifying for the next round (Regionals), but I’m going anyway, and planning to give it all I’ve got. I don’t think I’ve ever taken part in an organized public athletic competition before[1].

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Another Try at Legalizing it

23:40 25 Mar 2010

In November, a ballot measure that would legalize[1] growth and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will be put before California voters. I’d love to see this pass for a bunch of reasons—none of which affect me personally.

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Giles Bowkett on Finding New Programming Jobs

15:52 23 Mar 2010. Updated: 17:58 23 Mar 2010

It’s too long, it’s full of self-promotion, and really it’s an ad for a video he’s selling, but it’s entertaining and contains some good advice: “Programmers: What to do if You Get Fired”.

This might be the best line:

If you’re looking for a better job, writing an amazing resume is a good place to start. I don’t mean just a better resume; I mean a resume that makes people stop asking if they should hire you and start asking if they can afford you.

Annoyingly, I find myself tempted to buy that video after reading his post…

So far, his 2008 presentation at RubyFringe seems pretty entertaining too. Maybe you should watch it after you’ve updated your résumé.

Update: at the end of that presentation, he says “build something because you believe it should exist”, which I agree with 100%.

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@: A Triumph of Design

20:50 22 Mar 2010

The New York Museum of Modern Art has added the @ symbol to its architecture and design collection. Originating perhaps as a Latin abbreviation for “toward”, it showed up on one of the early Underwood typewriters (possibly the Underwood 1; it was definitely on the Underwood No. 5) and was used for “at the rate of”, which usage still survives.

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An Introduction to Roleplaying Games

23:56 21 Mar 2010. Updated: 21:32 19 Jul 2010

Today I ran for the second time the roleplaying one-shot I did in December, with a completely different group of players. Last time the new:experienced ratio among the players was 1:4, while this time it was 3:1 (also, last time the female:male ratio among the players was 2:3, while this time it was 3:1).

Because of the number of new players, I prepared a little introduction to roleplaying to give before starting play, and I thought that it was worth sharing more widely.

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“Scott and Scurvy”

19:18 19 Mar 2010

This blog post, about how the Terra Nova Expedition struggled terribly with scurvy, is quite fascinating, particularly because the correct prevention for scurvy had been discovered long before it. It’s an illustrative example of how incomplete understanding, even when already armed with the right answer, can lead to awful mistakes.

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Thunderbird, Muttator, and Filters

11:17 18 Mar 2010

Not content with merely using Vim to compose email messages, I’m trying out Muttator, a Thunderbird plugin that aims to add Vim-like keybindings.

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Height and Negotiation

12:41 16 Mar 2010

Taller people seem to have a number of social advantages, from increased earnings to (for men) increased desirability. It’s also an advantage in negotiations.

Various explanations for this have been posited, for example the fairly plausible idea that height correlates greater physical development earlier in life and hence to greater self-esteem.

A study cited in The Body has a Mind of its Own, however, suggests that we deal with height in a way that is both more ingrained and more shallow than that.

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Geek Conversational Behavior

13:13 15 Mar 2010

While not a scientific study, this list of geek behaviors present during conversations strikes me as fairly useful both for “geeks” and “non-geeks”.

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Women’s Tennis Should be Best-of-Five

22:09 14 Mar 2010

How long should tennis matches be? At the Grand Slam level, five sets. That’s the traditional answer, and all of the best matches I’ve seen have been five sets long. That’s long enough to be challenging, but not so long as to be ridiculous.

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Using Vim with Thunderbird

12:24 12 Mar 2010. Updated: 19:06 14 Mar 2010

It’s possible to get Thunderbird to use Vim as an external editor for email, and while it’s a little clunky, it works.

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This Trailer May Seem Familiar…

11:34 11 Mar 2010

They might be aiming at an easy target, but they really nail it:

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Trying d-cubed for Task Management

11:58 09 Mar 2010

I’ve been falling behind somewhat in keeping track of my tasks. That’s not to say I haven’t been productive, it’s just that most of my productivity has been focused in things I’ve been working on obsessively, like preparation for the roleplaying campaign I started running last week, Vim customization, and Python workflow coding.

It would be good to track other things better than how I’m doing it right now, but somehow returning to TiddlyWiki for my task management wasn’t appealing. I used it for quite a while, but a bare install of it doesn’t seem to quite work for task management, even though it’s still really good for keeping notes about things in general. I’m going to try d-cubed, a TiddlyWiki-based tool, instead.

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12:09 08 Mar 2010

I’ve been using the vector graphics editor Inkscape a fair bit over the last few days, and in the last few months have given it something of a workout. It’s been quite impressive. I was never a really heavy Illustrator user, but Inkscape seems to compare to it much more favorably than, say, GIMP compares to Photoshop. It’s a later-generation product, so perhaps that’s not being fair, but regardless it just feels a lot better to use. Maybe there are killer features that Illustrator has that Inkscape doesn’t, but since I don’t know what they are, I don’t miss them…

I’ve mainly been using it for map-making (related to this), and for that it’s been really good, and I’m rather glad it exists, because doing the same kind of work in a bitmap editor would probably be incredibly frustrating. I haven’t read through the documentation, but whenever I’ve needed to find out how to do something I’ve been able to without much trouble, so it seems that they’re doing a good job on that as well.

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“Let’s Enhance”

16:29 07 Mar 2010

A particularly inane trope:

In case the point isn’t crystal clear: you can’t do that. There are no image enhancement programs that let you know what the data missing at the point of capture is.

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Doom and Modern First-Person Shooters

18:43 05 Mar 2010

Continuing with the vintage video games theme, here’s “Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom”, an analysis of Doom by J.P. Lebreton, one of the designers of BioShock. Great piece, and especially interesting to me was his focus on how much easier it was for people to create their own maps for Doom than it is for modern FPSes. He wrote the commentary partly to accompany his recreation of one of his BioShock levels as a Doom II level, Arcadia Demade.

Incidentally, he’s also put work into an “abstract FPS” called purity, which makes me wonder what his take on CPMA would be.

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Vim: the Killer Instinct of Text Editors

23:45 04 Mar 2010. Updated: 00:47 05 Mar 2010

I played Killer Instinct a lot in the mid-90s. It didn’t have the multiplayer depth of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, but I wasn’t playing it multiplayer much—rather, I was trying to get the longest combination move I could.

But what does this have to do with text editing?

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Nethack in all its Glory

23:37 02 Mar 2010. Updated: 01:39 03 Mar 2010

I’ve only played Nethack a handful of times, but have been aware of its place in the gaming pantheon for quite some time. I love the fact that a game using only symbols and text can inspire such devotion even in 2010, and reading the ascension tale of Garote-Mon-Hum-Fem-Cha makes me both curious about and wary of trying it out again.

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A Good Work Ethic

21:00 01 Mar 2010

I was catching up on a softer world recently, and came across this comic, which I think is one of their best.

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