Posts concerning tech

jQuery Plugin: Chosen

21:13 25 Jul 2011

I often come across unwieldy select elements, and it’d be awesome if every site used Chosen to make them more usable. In fact, I should probably look into using GreaseMonkey to make Chosen ubiquitous for me.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

July Downtime

22:00 24 Jul 2011

Observant readers may have noticed that tadhg.com was unavailable for much of last week, from Sunday 17 July to yesterday, 23 July. This affected my email as well as my blog, so if you sent me email in that period, it’s entirely possible that I didn’t get it (and, therefore, you should send it to me again if you haven’t heard from me).

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , , ]    

Always Have Good Backups

19:47 19 Jul 2011. Updated: 17:39 23 Jul 2011

At time of writing, the server hosting my blog and email is down, and the possibility data recovery is uncertain. This makes me feel a little dumb, as I don’t have everything backed up. Not good, especially since I’m highly aware of the need for backups. But this server is where I generally back things up to, and having backups of it is something I was once better at but have lost the habit of. So if the data isn’t recoverable, I’m missing quite a lot, and it would be, at the least, a significant headache to get it back.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , ]    

Will AI “Selves” Work One Day?

22:55 30 Jun 2011

This afternoon, a conversation at work centered on the fact that it’s possible to “teach” text analysis software with a corpus of a user’s instant messages such that when presented with a new message, the software can identify which of the user’s contacts sent that message—without any other data, just the body of the message. Which is interesting, but I was more interested in whether or not the software could learn what the user’s responses to the individual contacts were like, and from that point learn to effectively feign being the user. Essentially, whether one could successfully train a bot to conduct IM conversations in your stead.

So I was quite intrigued to see this post from JWZ tonight discussion more or less that same idea, although apparently without some of the learning aspects. Apparently the implementation isn’t too good, but it’s definitely an interesting concept, and I wonder if we’ll eventually get to the point where bots (or “smart agents”) handle this kind of thing for some significant number of people.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , ]    

Google Tries Again: Google+

23:36 28 Jun 2011

Before, there were Orkut, Wave, and Buzz; now, there’s Google+, Google’s latest foray into social networking. I don’t have an account (if any of my Googly friends want to help me out there, I’d be happy to try it out), and most of my info comes from the intro, the announcement, and Stephen Levy’s piece.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , ]    

Kirby on Remixes, Part 3

23:55 24 Jun 2011

Everything is a Remix Part 3. Definitely worth watching, particularly because the ideas discussed are presented effectively, and because the concepts of “originality” that govern our ethics and laws are definitely in need of major revision (a subject that will apparently be tackled in Part 3…)

Permalink     Comment     [, , , ]    

The Videotex Revolution

23:49 23 Jun 2011. Updated: 01:30 24 Jun 2011

In June 1982, the Institute for the Future published a report, “Teletext and Videotex in the United States”, which discussed the likely impact of teletext and videotex services on American homes, jobs, and lifestyles; an article summarizing the report was published in the New York Times. While in many ways it was utterly wrong, in the sense that those technologies never succeeded in the US, in perhaps more important ways it was almost prescient, describing quite well how the Internet has changed things.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , , ]    

Vaporware No More (Allegedly): Duke Nukem Forever Goes Gold

23:45 24 May 2011

A year-and-a-half ago I wrote that Duke, the character, was “an ultimately invincible final boss”, one whose reputation prevented the publication of any less-than-perfect—therefore any—sequel. But I appear to have spoken too soon: Gearbox Software have announced that it’s gone gold.

I have no idea whether or not it’s any good. Is it possible for it to be good, now? Is it in any way possible for it to live up to expectations? Or has the presumption that it’s eternal vaporware made it a success regardless of how good it actually is?

I don’t know. It’s like some strange cultural artifact that at one time was possessed of great power and was then lost, for an age (10+ years in internet terms is “an age”, yes), and has now resurfaced. But has its power waned, like that of an old, half-forgotten god? Or has it merely been waiting until now, when the stars are right?

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Visualizing Information Spread on Twitter

23:42 10 May 2011

“Breaking Bin Laden: visualizing the power of a single tweet” is an interesting analysis of how news (or rumor) of bin Laden’s death travelled across Twitter. Twitter certainly works phenomenally well at transmitting information of that kind; I wonder if they’ll be able to translate that advantage over other services directly into money somehow.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , ]    

Welcome to the Future Market II

23:18 25 Apr 2011

The year is 2011, and sophisticated AIs carefully watch for arbitrage opportunities, tracking/correlating/analyzing vast amounts of data at split-second speed to keep ahead of their competitors even in comparatively small arenas.

That, or overly simplistic scripting that seemed clever when it was written fails to take certain conditions into account, leading to the $23,698,655.93 (& $3.99 shipping) book.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , , ]    

But Can They Turn a Double Play?

23:09 21 Apr 2011

This is very cool, but my first reaction to it was one of being disturbed and slightly frightened.

I felt significantly better when I saw them miss.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    


23:42 24 Mar 2011. Updated: 01:43 25 Mar 2011

Pentadactyl is an add-on for Firefox that allows for keyboard-focused interaction with the browser by providing Vim-like keybindings. If you’re at all interested in browsing with the keyboard instead of the mouse, you should try it out.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , ]    

AT&T: No Escape

23:24 22 Mar 2011. Updated: 00:25 23 Mar 2011

When I first got my landline in San Francisco, it was with PacBell. They got bought by SBC, who were bought by AT&T. When I first got a cellphone in 2006, my service was with Cingular. They got taken over by AT&T. I stuck with AT&T for a while, with plenty of gripes, before escaping to T-Mobile. I’ve been very happy with T-Mobile.

So, naturally, AT&T now intends to buy T-Mobile.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , , ]    

Welcome to the Future Market

21:58 18 Mar 2011

The year is 2011, and sophisticated AIs carefully watch trends and track/correlate/analyze vast amounts of data to inform sophisticated maneuvers in the global markets.

Or, well, maybe a bunch of dodgy scripts are doing clumsy sentiment analysis on various volatile and imprecise social networks and rumormongering news services, and they can’t tell the difference between Anne Hathaway and Berkshire Hathaway.

Permalink     2 Comments     [, , , , ]    

Should’ve Bought Apple Stock

23:49 11 Mar 2011. Updated: 00:50 12 Mar 2011

This is actually a little painful to go through: a list of Apple hardware prices combined with what that many dollars’ worth of Apple stock at the time would be worth today.

I bought a PowerBook G4 800 DVI-Ti in 2002; it was and remains the most expensive machine I’ve ever purchased. It’s certainly served me well, and I still have it, but if I’d put that money into Apple stock at the time, my Apple stock would now be worth a shade over $72000.

Even though I’m posting it, I’m not sure what the point of this chart is. It’s not useful for predicting the future, so really it seems like a comprehensive exercise in enabling regret, but regret is one of the least useful states of mind. It might fire our dopamine receptors and convince us we’re gaining information, but it’s low-value information. Despite this realization, my feeling of “why didn’t I even consider buying Apple stock at the time?” is strong enough right now that I’m going to post it anyway.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , ]    

Facebook “Like” Top 40 News Stories

20:20 10 Mar 2011

An interesting study of Facebook user interest in news stories on major news sites from October 2010 to January 2011.

I’m a little depressed by the number of astrology-related “likes”.

Permalink     Comment     [, ]    

Quick & Dirty Book Info Lookup

21:57 06 Mar 2011

I’m still trying to cut down on the number of books I have in my apartment. That still feels wrong, but the shift to ebooks is making it a little easier. Now I’m getting rid of books that aren’t big favorites of mine, weren’t given to me as gifts, and aren’t in the poorly-defined category of “classics I want to keep”.

Because I’m a pack rat and a data geek, I have a hard time getting rid of books if I haven’t recorded the metadata about them I want to record. Unfortunately, I’m not always diligent about noting that info as I read the books, so the majority of the books I wanted to give away or sell were books where I hadn’t done so—and I really didn’t want to go through them one by one.

Modern technology to the rescue…

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , , , ]    

Spam Break

23:21 28 Feb 2011

Since adding reCAPTCHA to my comment forms, the amount of spam comments I’m getting has dropped. Initially it dropped to almost nothing, but now it’s back up to several a day, which is annoying but not unmanageable. Still too high, and it’s one of the reasons why I don’t have email on my phone.

Before the current point of manageable spam was reached, however, I had accumulated 15,000 pending comments for my blog.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , , ]    

Consumer Temptations, February 2011 Edition

11:44 21 Feb 2011

I haven’t been tempted to buy any expensive items for a while now. I’ve been buying smaller stuff, and am hardly immune to the siren call of consumerism, but haven’t been inclined towards any major purchases; that seems to have changed this week.

Permalink     3 Comments     [, , ]    

WordPress 3.0.5 Upgrade

22:07 20 Feb 2011

I upgraded this blog today, the first time I’ve done that in over a year. Everything looks okay.

I’ve become slightly less paranoid about it; I still back everything up first, but I no longer preview the upgrade in my development environment, instead being prepared to restore from backups if something goes wrong. This might not be wise, but I’ve been lulled by the smooth upgrades the past few times.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , , ]    

Astronomical Events Calendar

20:17 07 Feb 2011

Pretty cool: generate your own calendar covering a range of data from daylight and solar noon to the separation of Jovian moons.

Permalink     Comment     [, , ]    

Fun with pandoc, Vim, and email

23:52 21 Jan 2011. Updated: 01:35 22 Jan 2011

I’ve mentioned pandoc once before, and it’s again proved rather useful. I’ve been looking for more ways to use it, as I love its core principle (although I naturally wish that it focused on reStructuredText rather than Markdown) of being a comprehensive text format converter. It might at one point be the answer for getting from reST to PDF—something that the current reST tools don’t help me with because I insist on using Unicode, and XeTeX isn’t yet supported. But today pandoc helped with a different task: going from reST to plain text.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , , , , , , , ]    

The Stories We Carry

23:48 20 Jan 2011. Updated: 01:10 21 Jan 2011

I don’t mean our personal narratives, the “stories of our lives”, but rather the stories we know, whether our own or others’. We all know many—probably more than we can recall at any given moment.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , , ]