Archive for the 'Blog' Category

Yak-Shaving with Slate

22:36 04 Aug 2013

Slate is a window management tool for OS X that I’ve been playing with recently. It’s open source, it has JavaScript bindings, and it’s extremely useful if, like me, you’re particular about setting up your digital workspace.

However, in part due to restrictions in OS X, it’s not as useful as it could be. I had intended to write a post about how I’d made it do a variety of nice things, but that will have to wait until next week.

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Guide to How the Web Works I: For Web Users

22:47 28 Jul 2013. Updated: 13:47 01 Apr 2015

What I think every web user should know about the technical side of the web. This is intended to be the first in a series of guides aimed at increasingly advanced levels of use[1].

This post covers the basics; enough so that after reading it you won’t mistake a blog post for the new Facebook redesign.

This is a work in progress. Please let me know if you see errors, or if you don’t understand something here—that’s valuable feedback!

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Comedic Interlude

23:34 21 Jul 2013

No proper post this week. You might be interested in Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which I just discovered and find oddly entertaining. Some is hit-and-miss, but for the most part it’s good.

I’m not sure why, but I tend to like hearing comedians talk about their work—sometimes I prefer listening to them in more relaxed situations than doing what’s generally considered comedy. I prefer the prospect of watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee to the prospect of watching episodes of Seinfeld that I haven’t seen, and I’m not sure why.

You might also like Talking Funny, a discussion about comedy featuring Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK, and Ricky Gervais.

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The Zimmerman Verdict

23:15 14 Jul 2013

George Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder and/or manslaughter of Trayvon Martin, was acquitted yesterday. The social media response I’ve seen has been almost uniformly one of disgust or despair, intermingled with the apparent belief that the verdict is representative of racism in the United States (and, perhaps, in Florida particularly).

Based on what I know, I think Zimmerman probably accosted Martin in some way and provoked or initiated the struggle that ended with his killing Martin. And had I been on the jury, I would have voted to acquit. Because “probably” isn’t enough.

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Murray Wins Wimbledon

18:52 07 Jul 2013

With a 6–4, 7–5, 6–4 victory over world number one Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray became the first Scotsman to win Wimbledon in 117 years (Harold Mahony won it in 1896[1]). It is his second Grand Slam title and his second consecutive win at Wimbledon, as he won his Olympic gold medal there last year.

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2013 Midpoint Reading Review

23:58 30 Jun 2013

At year’s middle, I’ve read 20 books, four shy of my goal of four books per month—but much closer to that total than I had expected after some long periods of minimal reading. While I’m happy to be reading more often again, there are only a couple of books I’ve read so far this year that are really good.

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Not all Hacking Cases are Treated the Same

23:57 23 Jun 2013

From the UK, evidence that there’s a markedly higher tolerance among law enforcement for certain types of hackers. “The other hacking scandal: Suppressed report reveals that law firms, telecoms giants and insurance companies routinely hire criminals to steal rivals’ information”. You know, “the right people”.

I’m vaguely surprised that so far, we haven’t seen any hard evidence of data going from government sources to business entities for this kind of thing. Money clearly gets you access to police files and the like, but I’m curious about the extent to which “blue-chip companies” have been able to get their hands on state surveillance data such as that being collected by GCHQ.

That’s the thought I’ll leave you with this week; hopefully I’ll put together a longer post for next week. Take care out there.

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Trust Us

15:28 16 Jun 2013

It appears that the NSA has been collecting both phone call metadata and actual phone call content from an unknown, but very likely vast, number of American citizens, and that this likely extends to other forms of communication such as email and text messaging. They may have been doing this in violation of the US Constitution while avoiding getting that issue before the courts, but they may also have been doing this in violation of the guidelines that the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act court has laid down—i.e. illegally.

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Eight is Great: Nadal wins French Open

22:25 09 Jun 2013

By beating David Ferrer 6–3, 6–2, 6–3, Rafael Nadal became the first man in tennis history to win one of the four Grand Slam events eight times. Since his debut in 2005, Nadal has won eight of nine possible titles at Roland Garros, missing out only in 2009. His record there is an astonishing 59–1. He now has 12 Grand Slam titles overall, putting him behind only Federer (17) and Sampras (14).

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Gaming Nostalgia Mashup: ROM Check Fail

23:11 02 Jun 2013

I’ve failed in my duty to produce written words in sufficient quantity and quality for your edification and entertainment this week, and instead can only offer a link to the recent Flash version of ROM Check Fail, a retro-gaming mashup.

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21:32 26 May 2013

LESS is the name of a stylesheet language that “compiles” to CSS. It’s been around for a while, as have similar projects such as Sass. I finally decided to start using it today, prompted by fairly common issues with CSS repetition. Even though the project I used LESS for is quite small—a little under 1,000 lines of CSS—it made an immediate difference.

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Dropping the San Francisco Chronicle

23:54 19 May 2013

I’ve been a subscriber to the San Francisco Chronicle for almost 13 years, the entire time I’ve lived in the city. I started that subscription because I was used to living in a household where newspapers were a daily staple, and because I wanted to support local journalism. I also felt that major cities should have newspapers and I should thus support the city paper.

And now I’m ending my subscription.

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“The Distance”

20:17 12 May 2013

It’s not that I don’t want to listen carefully. I do. I’m interested. I care about you. I’m trying to pay attention, to be present, to not have my mind wander, to not give in to distraction.

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First Experience with the Oculus Rift

18:37 05 May 2013

The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset, with one screen per eye and covering that blocks other vision.

It’s not available yet, but a co-worker has one of the development kits and brought that into the office this week for us to play with.

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Portland Pie Recommendation

22:51 28 Apr 2013

Short post today since I’m on vacation, but I can recommend the pies at Random Order. Hope your weekend was a good one!

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The Boston Marathon Bombings

21:28 21 Apr 2013

The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings made clear just how much the media—and apparently a substantial portion of the population—want to promote the notion that the “War on Terror” is a real war, that there’s a real and highly dangerous enemy, and that the US is engaged in a struggle where the nation itself is under threat.

Prior to the identification of the suspects, it seemed like many media figures were thinking, “please let it be Al Qaeda”—and that if if it had turned out to be some disgruntled middle-aged guy protesting IRS policies, they and a chunk of their audience would lose a lot of interest.

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Consumer Ephemera: SmartWool Men’s NTS Light 195 Zip T

23:29 14 Apr 2013. Updated: 00:31 15 Apr 2013

As I’ve written previously, I tend to get frustrated when companies stop making products I like. On the other hand, presumably this turnover of products has a part to play when I find things that I like; perhaps my complaint is more that production should be halted on things that other people like, not things that I like.

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Q’Rith Season 3 Intentions

20:35 07 Apr 2013. Updated: 21:51 25 Jul 2014

The third season of my D&D campaign starts Monday, and I’m going to discuss some of what I’m trying to do in it—without, naturally, giving anything away to my players.

Season One and Season Two were good, and I really liked doing them, but the environment for the third season is where I had intended the whole thing to be set when I first came up with the idea for the world: a continent that had been cut off to everyone for a very long time, a place where I could do a kind of cross between Joe Abercrombie and Deadwood[1].

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“Rain Bridge”

22:55 31 Mar 2013

The rhythm of the drive over the bridge was different. The tempo was similar to that of any slow day, but torrential rain an hour earlier had added a new beat.

Now each segment of the bridge imposed its full three dimensions on those crossing: road hiding the bay below and ceiling hiding the sky above, struts and emptiness and landscapes to the left and right, and curtains of water to the front and back.

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Political Writing Burnout

22:25 24 Mar 2013

I’ve noticed over the last few months that I’ve had more and more difficulty writing about political subjects for my blog. This ranges from commentary on overly political matters such as legislative and judicial decisions to socio-political topics such as various forms of discrimination.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

23:31 17 Mar 2013

No real post this week; I’m taking time off in honor of the “snakes”. Hope you had/are having a good one!

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Tiger Cub Picture

21:09 10 Mar 2013

No real post this week, thanks to the cold I can’t seem to shake off. Instead, have this picture of an adorable Bengalese/Siberian tiger cub:


This kitten grew up into “Mike VI”, the mascot of the LSU Tigers[1]. Note that I’m not an LSU supporter, and this post doesn’t constitute approval of domesticating tigers or using them as mascots.

[1] http://musicmaven.wordpress.com/2007/09/15/just-what-is-a-blue-raider/

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Spam Wave 2013: Adopting Akismet

20:07 03 Mar 2013

Spam comments to my site have reached ridiculous levels over the last few weeks; in the last two weeks there were over 35,000 messages awaiting moderation and another 10,000 or so marked as spam.

I don’t have the ability to moderate that kind of volume, so I’ve taken a couple of steps to deal with it.

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