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Showing posts from 2010

Goodbye Sparky

George "Sparky" Anderson passed today. It's a bit hard to explain the connection that Michiganders have with Sparky; it's not like losing a family member, but it's close, an odd way. The only real way I can relate to it is through my own experiences.

Baseball was a huge part of growing up. My father played a lot; high school, college, semi-professionally after that. I was, notoriously, at a ball field weeks after my birth. My summers were spent playing or watching my dad play, keeping the books, running the scoreboard, pigging out on concession-stand candy and popcorn. When I wasn't at a game physically, baseball was on the television or, even more ubiquitously, the radio. And, aside from the strong voice of Ernie Harwell, there was one name that always popped on the radio, the one name that was consistant from season to season.

Sparky Anderson.

I can even hear Ernie pronouncing his name; "Spahrkeeh". Sparky was The Coach. And to baseball players, Coac…

links for 2010-10-06

New Hobby: Book Making

I've been fishing around for something to do as a hobby for while. Making beer, while fun, isn't something we have the facilities for me to do with any regularity. Plus, it's kind of a pain in the ass (sorry brewers, it is). J-- had recently turned our spare bedroom into a writing room, which freed up a corner in the den. I quickly set up a card table, decked it out with a random Ikea shelf that had been sitting in a corner, and instantly realized I had nothing to do with the space.

A couple failed trips to Riders Hobby store later, I knew I wouldn't be building model planes or cars anymore. I really enjoyed doing it as a kid, but I felt no passion for building what are, essentially, toys. I still don't have quite enough space or money to bump up to making model sailing boats or R/C planes, so I found myself adrift without options.

But then, due to a random conversation at work, I was Googling for more information about making books. I watched some videos, browsed th…

Atheists are People, Too

Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today. --Lawrence Krauss
via Atheists are People, Too.

Have you heard the word?

[caption id="attachment_1743" align="alignleft" width="274" caption="Yeah, I'm basically still 12."][/caption]

links for 2010-08-02

Scratch | Home | imagine, program, share

(tags: programmingMITopensourceeducationanimationchildren)

Design Resources for Windows Phone

(tags: designguidelineswindowstemplatesmobile)

Windows Phone User Interface Design and Interaction Guide
A key detail tucked away in there is that any touch target should be at least 9mm×9mm (typically about 34 pixels square) to ensure that it's big enough for a finger to hit.
(tags: mobileuidesignwindowsguidelines)

Inception explained and other thoughts

I think that in a couple of years this will become the accepted reading of the film, and differing interpretations will have to be skillfully argued to be even remotely considered. The film makes this clear, and it never holds back the truth from audiences. Some find this idea to be narratively repugnant
The above is an excerpt from a discussion of the film's themes, and will completely give it away, so don't read it if you haven't seen the movie yet (link to full review at the bottom).

We had a similar discussion to this on the way back from the movie, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Otherwise, a good summary of the themes in the movie. Well worth your money to see in the theater; it was the first movie we'd gone to theaters to see in over a year and, despite every reason for why we don't go to the theater anymore sitting or occurring in our theater, we enjoyed the hell out of Inception.

On a side note, the review of Inception by Rex Reed led me to the conclusion that h…

Yep, that's about right

The only WoW Killer is RealID

Yes, the headline is overdramatic (what WoW-related post couldn't be), but it's also the biggest thing to hit gaming in a many a year.

For those not following gaming news or who doesn't play World of Warcraft, Activision Blizzard announced over the weekend that they would not only expand RealID to their forums for Starcraft and World of Warcraft, but that it would be mandatory that posters to the forums to use their real-life first and last name. Old posts would not be retcon'd, but any new reply or new post would have the person's real name attached to it.

This move is, rightly so, garnering some attention. A laundry list of reasons to oppose this have crept up, from examples of real-life stalking from game activity, to the potential to out closeted gay gamers, to identity theft, to potential employers searching on your name and finding your forum posts.

Posting on the forums is, as Blizzard points out, completely optional. Your real name doesn't show up in-game …

Hulu Plus; more of the same

Is it any wonder broadcasters are afraid of the Internet? They don't even understand it. Exhibit most recent: Hulu Plus, a $10 per month service which allows you to watch current and back-catalogs of television shows like X-Files, Modern Family, and others. Oh, wait, a $10 per month "ad-supported" service, something Hulu considers "revolutionary" and a price-point about which they're "thrilled".

Which would be great if they only had to eat their own dog food. But here in the real world, with services like Netflix already providing ad-free streaming (to more devices), the value proposition for Hulu Plus seems smaller. Add to this the ability to already see the same shows available on Hulu Plus through regular Hulu (with the same ads), things are looking oddly... off.

The big sell here is that you can watch all currently available episodes of a show, not just the three or five trailing episodes many shows currently allow. But, with movie studios cling…

The iPad

Yes, I caved (or, was tipped slightly further, causing me to plummet into the cavern into which I was desperately staring) and bought an iPad. Wifi-only, because I'm cheap, but bought one nonetheless. And here's why.

Douglas Adams.

No, I'm serious. It's slowly becoming a cliche, but the iPad is the first step in realizing the vision of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; the nerd's fantasy of an always connected, always updated book that tells you just what you need to know, now. It is a device that offers entertainment, wisdom, and places to get wasted. It is the Guide.

Any self-respecting (or moderately self-aware) nerd, geek, dweeb, A/V manager, or sys admin worth their salt has read the Sacred Tomes more than thrice. Annually if you want a really well-punched card. And the vision of that universe is a system of knowledge that crosses galaxies, instantaneously, if not accurately, to deliver the wisdom of people more worldly-wise-than-you to a device you can r…

Back up, finally

Another host move, another messed up install. Things will be broken (again), but I'm not going back to fix them this time. If you find something broken that you really, really need, email me and I'll dig it out of a backup.

Thanks to Dreamhost for great customer service and a really nice admin back end.

links for 2010-04-28

Codex Seraphinianus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Codex Seraphinianus is a book written and illustrated by the Italian artist, architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini during thirty months, from 1976 to 1978.[1] The book is approximately 360 pages long (depending on edition), and appears to be a visual encyclopedia of an unknown world, written in one of its languages, a thus-far undeciphered alphabetic writing.
(tags: artawesomeillustration)

Citizens in action... to protect themselves

The latest hot-button issue in Chelsea (brace yourself) is the building of a new Police station. The current station is infested with rodents and black mold, undersized, and generally not the kind of place anyone, much less a police department, should be working in.

But that won't stop the NIMBYs from rallying around... their property values. Nope; this middle-class town can't see past its own yard to fund a new station, with City Council chambers, for a growing city. They're not even hiding it:
Robert Daniel, who lives within a block of the proposed location.

He admitted opposition started because he and other neighbors didn’t want a police station “in their back yard.”
You even used the words? Come on.

Nevermind that the City has been trying to get this station built since 1993. 17 years. And where would this site be? 305 S Main St. On the busiest street in town, at the current site of the City offices. You know, the street that is backed up from 3:30 to 6 pm every weekday. …

links for 2010-04-07

The Answer! (An Anniversary)

Today is the day we learned the answer to Life.

The Universe.

Everthing!

(It's 42, by the way.)

On March 29, 1978, the BBC Radio series "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" aired the episode that revealed the answer.

And we still miss Douglas Adams.



This Day in Quotes

links for 2010-03-24

How Times Change

Steve Jobs, 1996:


Steve Jobs, 2010:
"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."
I love your products, Apple, but it's hard to continue promoting your stuff when your strategy for a market is to patent-troll everyone else. If you can't beat Androids on your own, maybe it's time to innovate. And stop acting like that other huge monopoly; remember how that worked out for them?

Apple Sues HTC

The Apple Patents Cockpunching All Smart Phones: An Illustrated Guide
(best headline of the year so far)

The (Second) Happiest Place in the Country

Holland, MI was recently named the 2nd "Happiest Place in the Country". Technically, they included Grand Haven, but who am I to ignore a golden opportunity like this? I'm not going to get into the methodologies of the survey, the definition of "happy", or the value of this survey. As a former resident, I feel, however, that it's my obligation to tell you (yeah, you) it's unlikely you'll be happy in Holland. (Full disclosure, I technically grew up in the confines of Zeeland, MI, not Holland itself. However, I spent much of my youth in Holland as it was, believe it or not, "town" for Zeeland kids).

I had started a long, whiny rant, but I'll just recycle/re-purpose a comment I made somewhere else here as a commentary.

Holland has a special flavor of suck. It's comprised predominately of middle-aged Internet noobs who think a "funny" username (e.g. HesAKenyanLOL) is cover for any racist, homophobic, fundamentalist bullshit they…

Hey, NBC...

Stupid OS X tricks - window management

I'm still getting used to my Mac, and one of the things I ran into recently drove me nuts. For a company that prides itself on the user experience, Apple sure does drop the ball in odd ways.

My annoyance was window sizing when switching from docked to not-docked on my MacBook. When docked, I'm running on a larger monitor so I have my windows sized to use more real estate. When I go mobile, the windows remain that size, which is far larger than the MacBook's monitor size.

Here's the thing though; you have to get to the bottom-right of the window to resize it, which I couldn't do. iTunes in particular was giving me a headache because none of the tricks I found were working.

Finally, I stumbled onto this page that revealed the fix (someone else found through guessing it appears). It's simple when you know it (hold Alt while toggling Window > Zoom), but so esoteric to be confounding. (Side note: for other apps, you can switch the dock location to another edge and t…