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Vim: indirect variable access

July 27, 2018

In Vim you can use a variable as a variable name. Instead of using the variable name directly, wrap it in curly braces ( ). This will use the contents of the variable as the variable name. You can see how I used it my ftplugin files, such as on lines line 2 and line 3…

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El Capitan and the evils of OpenSSL

November 03, 2015

Are you having trouble with SSL on El Capitan (OS X 10.11)? Me too. Here are the things I know about it right now: OS X’s OpenSSL is ancient (0.9.8-ish). OS X’s preferred SSL library is SecureTransport which is modern and secure. Some programs compiled with OpenSSL seem to use…

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Spread your knowledge

April 01, 2015

I found myself trying to figure out how to disable something called NeoComplete (previously known as NeoComplCache ) when editing markdown in Vim. It was colliding with my Markdown stuff pretty badly and had really bad suggestions anyway (I mean, I’m writing text, not code… so…

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Chef, Puppet, Heat, Juju, Docker, etc.

February 04, 2015

Someone emailed me with this question: I am interested in learning different orchestration mechanisms and would like to understand how they differ. What are the differences between Chef, Puppet, Heat/HOT, Juju, and Docker? When would I use a specific one? There seems to be a lot…

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Setting your environment in test-kitchen

October 15, 2014

When using test-kitchen it may be necessary to set the environment of your nodes. You can do with by changing your file. In my example, I’ll show it at the root, but they can be set on a per-suite level as well, which is handy to test different environments. For chef-solo…

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Unindenting HEREDOCs in Ruby

July 29, 2014

This is a bit of code I wanted to save. When using HEREDOCs in Ruby, the operator is handy to keep everything indented in the source. But it doesn’t help with the content of the HEREDOC. Example: In rails, you can do this: There’s a helpful Stack Overflow question on this, in…

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How to rename a Chef node

April 28, 2014

In Chef the is for human usage. By default it is set to the . Which is annoying for typing. In my network, all hosts have the same domain name. However, we ed this one system without setting the node name with the flag. Therefore I wanted to rename the nodes. With some…

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Tracebacks in bash

June 29, 2013

I don’t like to write programs in . It’s not a very pretty language. But it has one advantage over a lot of other languages: It’s on your system. Every Unix-like system has ; Redhat, Ubuntu, and even OS X. But bash is still a lousy language. This is where bash tracebacks come…

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Busting cached 301 redirects in Chrome.

April 18, 2013

The Chrome browser caches HTTP 301 permanent redirects very aggressively. This is normally a good thing, unless you’re the one setting up the 301 and you make a mistake… There is no obvious place in chrome to refresh that cache, but there is a nifty trick. Go to the URL: This…

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40days - Simple isn't easy

February 28, 2013

I wrote a simple one-page web application called 40days . It shows you what the date is for 40 days in the future. I say “simple” but simple isn’t easy. It never is. I wrote 40days because my orthodontist would schedule my appointments 40 days apart and it was a hassle for me…

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Re: All https, all the time

February 26, 2013

Will Norris posted a blog post titled All https, all the time . It’s a good article and I recommend you read it. is now only using https. I did want to add one note about his apache configuration at the end. He should be using instead of just By default, the is a…

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More on Vim with ruby crashing

January 26, 2013

I finally figured out all the reasons why Vim keeps crashing on me. I started collecting info in OS X Vim with Ruby crashes but there were still crashes happening. It’s an interesting story. Grab a beer and pull up a chair… So there turns out to be due to custom versions of…

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OS X Vim with Ruby crashes

December 08, 2012

On my OS X systems, Vim and MacVim has been crashing a lot. The main symptom is that anything using Omni completion , such as NeoComplCache , would try to use the built in Ruby and cause vim to die with . It turns out that this is due to vim loading ruby modules/libraries…

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Dr. Ross, O.D.

September 14, 2012

Dr. Ross and his staff are awesome and let me tell you why. He’s a very practical guy. He’ll get the job done quickly and efficiently. And, he’ll answer any and all questions. Something that not all doctors do well. His staff is awesome and helpful as well. I’ve been getting…

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German windows for my home

September 11, 2012

I’m looking to replace the windows in my home. I’m fond of the German style windows, known in the U.S.A. as tilt-turn windows. I’ve found a couple places that look decent, and wanted to record them here for future use. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, I’d…

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vim - preserve your cursor and window state

June 22, 2012

In vim, you can re-indent a whole buffer by using in normal mode. I like this command so much I have it mapped to . This is great except that you loose your cursor (and window) position. I found the post Preserve: A Vim function that keeps your state that describes a…

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Updating VIM on OS X

April 13, 2012

The version of Vim that comes with OS X is a little old, but more importantly, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles enabled. Specifically, it doesn’t come with ruby and python support compiled in. Which is a shame, because some plugins for Vim need it. I’ve been playing…

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git gc for a bunch of directories

March 06, 2012

Every so often, you might want to run to keep your repositories running fast. Here’s an easy way to do that. Assuming you have your git repositories in : This works for as well. Ciao!

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Interview with Alison Bechdel

February 16, 2012

If you aren’t into comic art, skip this… I found a video of an interview with Alison Bechdel a really good comic artist. I loved her autobiographical book Fun Home . The story was engaging and the art was so enjoyable to look at. In the video she is working on her next book…

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Chocolatatum meum butyro vecordi tuo contaminavisti!

January 21, 2012

“Chocolatatum meum butyro vecordi tuo contaminavisti!” is how you say “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” in Latin. Just thought you should know. Thanks to @fadeaccompli for the translation and Wikipedia for the picture.

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PSA: Turn on 2-step verification in Google

January 15, 2012

If you use any Google services (GMail, GTalk, etc.) and you care even a little bit about the data in that account, then you should turn on 2-step verification. If you need a story to explain why you need this, the check out this story by James Follow as he recounts how his…

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TextMate 2 Articles

December 20, 2011

Last week, TextMate 2.0 early-alpha was released . This release has been a long-time coming. It includes lots of improvements that people have wanted for a long time. I am currently a TextMate user. Mainly because I’m an OS X and do Ruby programing and TextMate has lots of…

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Fix git-gui’s “Spell checking is unavailable” dialog

December 02, 2011

Unashamedly stolen from a Hints and Kinks blog post ; I added information about the Homebrew solution If you use ‘git gui’ on the Mac, you may find that it repeatedly pops up a message about spell checking being unavailable. This happens when using the MacPorts or Homebrew…

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Microsoft makes .txt files dangerous

September 23, 2011

Microsoft has finally figured out how to make opening a file dangerous… “This security update resolves a publicly disclosed vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user opens a legitimate rich text format file ( ), text file…

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Undoing a rails generate

September 08, 2011

I just learned this today, while taking a Ruby on Rails class from Jumpstart Lab . I have, many times, messed up a command. For example, using singular where plural is needed or the reverse. Today, I learned that you can undo a generate by using with the same arguments you…

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Ruby crashing on Lion

August 16, 2011

Apparently Ruby doesn’t work well (or barely at all) with Lion and X Code 4.1 In fact, it crashes with gusto when compiled with X Code 4.1… UNLESS you know the magic words! I’m unclear how ruby 1.8.7 crashes and burns, but crashes with annoying (yet seemingly random…

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Aquamacs 2.3a and Marmalade

August 06, 2011

A quick and easy way to packages up-and-running in Aquamacs is to use Marmalade . Marmalade is a package manager. It’ll fetch an elisp package for you, install it, and make sure it loads up again when you restart emacs. Marmalade is sort of the next-gen version of ELPA , the…

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New Look

June 19, 2011

Every so often, I get bored with my theme. I notice usability issues, things I wished I did differently, etc. and I want to play with new technologies like HTML5 , CSS3 . I had been using Thematic which is very nice. It has good semantic markup as well as other nice features…

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Virtualenv on OS X

June 13, 2011

So I decided to try to install virtualenvwrapper (and virtualenv) on my Mac Book Pro. Virtualenv was explained to me as being python’s version of Wayne E. Seguin’s RVM (Ruby Version Manager). I’ve tried installing virtualenv/wrapper twice before and failed miserably. But this…

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New Toys

May 16, 2011

I’ve been on vacation in Bar Harbor, Maine and have enlarged my portable toy collection somewhat. I usually carry a knife with me at all times, plus I usually have a multi-tool at hand someplace nearby (bag, backpack, etc.) I used to carry around a Leatherman (AKA the Pocket…

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Jenkins

April 14, 2011

We have recently started using Jenkins at work and it is awesome. Jenkins describes itself as a continuous integration software, but it really is more. You can use Jenkins to build, test, and do jobs, etc. It’s very powerful and really useful. Not only is very useful, it is…

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Gerrit: Rename a Project

March 30, 2011

At work we’ve been trying out Gerrit. It is awesome in many ways, and yet in others it is sorely lacking. One of the more obvious problems is the lack of administration functionality. For example, there is no administration interface for deleting or renaming a project. However, I…

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IAT 1.5

December 08, 2010

I just uploaded It’s All Text! 1.5 to AMO . [ edit: It’s out! ] Assuming I made no mistakes, then it should appear shortly. The big changes are that it supports Firefox 4.0b7. In addition to that, I have fixed some of the problems with OS-X. In part because the ability to…

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Git Tip: empty branch

December 07, 2010

Ever wanted to make an empty branch (with no history in it) in git? It’s not hard… Why would you want to do this? Well, for example, I have a new project in github. I’m trying to implement it in several ways, jRuby, Java, Qt, etc. Having separate branches is really handy. Another…

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JRuby FileChooser example

December 06, 2010

I’m working on the next version of It’s All Text! and it needs a stand-alone editor server. I’ve had a couple false starts other languages but I’m thinking it should be Java or JRuby so that it is fairly portable without me having too much grief. In addition, installing Java is…

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Code Retreat

November 07, 2010

I had a wonderful time today doing a Code Retreat at my work . The principle is simple. You spend 45 minutes pair programming with someone writing code for Conway’s Game of Life . When the 45 minutes are up, you delete all your code, take a break, and do it again with a…

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Thematic featured images

August 31, 2010

I was wondering what the “Featured Images” box was when creating new posts and discovered that it’s a handy way to add images to a post. It auto resizes, crops (if you want), and can make it just “work” in your layout. The only drawback I’ve seen is I can’t use urls for the image…

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Setting up CEDET/ECB for Aquamacs

August 30, 2010

Aquamacs 2.1 is now out. UPDATE [ 2011/08/04 ] : Aquamacs 2.3a (the latest at this time) has CEDET already in it; skip the part about installing CEDET. I still recommend creating the file for CEDET but beware the differences between CEDET shipped with Emacs and the stand…

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bash: Checking a port number

July 16, 2010

Ever needed to check if a given port number is valid in bash? It’s harder than it looks because if you accept any input from the user, you can’t use since it spews errors and aborts functions with malformed input. An example: It’s annoying (you can’t use to get around it…

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IAT on Cygwin

July 03, 2010

For those that use Cygwin on Windows, Mike Hostetler has a post detailing how to use Cygwin editors with It’s All Text! He’s using it to play with emacs and emacsclient, but it’ll probably work for using the Cygwin vim.  I bet it also works with Cygwin/X . I’m always…

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English in IIS thread

June 14, 2010

Peter noticed today that IIS has an error in the English for one of its dialog boxes. We immediately searched for it and found this bizarre thread . It’s hard to read it in its original form, so I have re-organized it here and saved it for posterity. It says “You will loose all…

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Two ways to improve OS-X...

April 19, 2010

I found this excellent article, Mac OS X SSD tweaks by Ricardo Gameiro, and have stolen two of the ideas for my non-SSD MacBook Pro laptop. I’ll cover all three, though, since I don’t agree with his hibernation trick. Turn off “atime” This is pretty simple. Setting turns off…

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We Haz Ferrets!

April 09, 2010

We just got our selves a pair of ferrets. Yay! And boy are they cute and energetic. You can identify which is which by their foreheads. One (the alpha) has a white forehead. The other has a pair of dark marks on her head. Both are female. They still need to settle into our…

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Ruby Debugging

March 29, 2010

There is a ruby-debugger gem which is very handy for trouble shooting problems in a ruby script. The built in debugging is quite powerful and worth learning to use. First off, install ruby-debug: Next: Watch this video… Link to blog post Link to video: Basics of Ruby Debug The…

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Stupid Git Trick

March 26, 2010

This was one of those dumb things that I should have figured out earlier. If you use emacs for editing then you probably have a customized file. Even if you don’t, your system is probably loading a boatload of features for emacs. I certainly have a ton of elisp that I use to…

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MacHeist nanoBundle 2

March 03, 2010

There is a new MacHeist nanoBundle. For $20, it looks like some fun mac-ish tools to play with. Yeah, I’m one of those people who can have fun simply playing with new software. Hmm…I have apparently also posted 120 posts to my blog. Wow! I didn’t notice till I played with…

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Logging while monitoring a shell script

February 25, 2010

You may be familiar with redirecting the output of your shell script to a file using However, what do you do if you want monitor the output while logging at the same time? I just figured this out (probably again, since I tend to forget things… which is why I’m blogging this…

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It's All Text! 1.4 (FF3.6 compatible)

January 23, 2010

I have just finished Firefox 3.6 after working like crazy since FF 3.6 came out. It only works in FF3.6, but the statistics show that the users of It’s All Text! upgrade their browser almost immediately after a new version comes out, so I’m not worried. It’s approved and…

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An idea for an iPhone app

January 22, 2010

Robin (my awesome wife) came up with an idea for an iPhone app. We were watching UHF and there is a bit where a guy is trying to teach poodles to fly … by throwing them out the 3rd floor window. There was a pile poodles on the lawn of his apartment building. She cracked up…

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MacBook Pro - Dual Graphics

December 03, 2009

I’m annoyed. I’ve had my lovely late-2009 MacBook Pro with the incredible dual graphics processors for a couple months and I had the slower GPU enabled the whole time. Apparently, you need to go into “System Preferences” -> “Energy Saver” and turn on “Graphics” -> “Higher…

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Firefox Fix

November 09, 2009

I have a tendency to switch my default browser every so often. I like playing with new toys. I just switched from Safari to Firefox 3.5.5 and discovered I couldn’t stand the way external links open in new tabs though I wanted new-window links such as target=” _ blank” to open in…

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Smoking craters are good

October 28, 2009

Every wondered how to make bulletproof software? What tricks do the guys who build bank machines use to be sure their software doesn’t ever crash? Look no further! Tandem Computers used to make Non-Stop fault tolerant hardware and software. Their premier system was a million…

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RVM: ruby version management

October 27, 2009

I just discovered RVM , a tool for managing multiple versions of ruby on the same system. This is really useful on my MacBook Pro, since the built-in Ruby “has problems”. Such as having gems in weird locations which makes updating them difficult. Plus the fact that the OS X…

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Another one bites the dust

September 28, 2009

Once again, the curve on Hobart has claimed another victim. In this case, it wasn’t an innocent victim. At about 1am this morning I half woke-up to a weird “wumph” sound. I didn’t think it was cars crashing (they make a more metallic sound) but something had happened. Then after…

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The Party of Stupid

September 26, 2009

Rob Landley has written a very good description of how the Republican party is discombobulating. He gave me permission to reproduce it here; any formatting errors are mine. Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The…

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Speed Reading

September 16, 2009

I’ve been interested in speed reading since I was a kid. I liked books a lot and was very impatient. My comprehension wasn’t always so great, but that had a hidden advantage: I could read a book a second time and be amazed by the parts I had forgotten or didn’t get on the first…

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Sucky soda

September 08, 2009

I am not a soda fan. I don’t like Pepsi, Coke, etc. They taste like chemicals to me. The last soda I like was an orange Fanta I got in a McDonalds in Germany. It did not taste like anything I’ve gotten in the US. It was not sickly sweet and actually tasted good. I’ve come to…

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Nightly Chromium

August 18, 2009

Interested in running the nightly builds of Chromium 4 for OS-X? Me too. So I threw together a script to grab the latest nightly builds. This is not the same as the Google Chrome Developer Release . This is the open source code that will make it’s way into Google Chrome 4, some…

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District 9

August 17, 2009

I saw District 9 last night and it was spectacular. I’m not sure what I can say about it without ruining the movie. Let me think… uh. Its sci-fi, but mainly a human drama. It has comedy and action, but it is ultimately a story about humans being inhuman and humane. The special…

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Attack of the Cicada

August 13, 2009

I opened the door this morning and found Mr. Cicada hanging out on the screen door. He was very patient and waited for me to get my camera out and let me take several photos. Getting the flash right was a pain, but I had a white handkerchief in my pocket that I eventually got…

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Bobby McFerrin messes with your mind

August 07, 2009

This is a lovely little example of how the human brain can actually figure things out from existing information, all without thinking about it. And it’s some good music. All at the same time! There are more videos available from the World Science Festival 2009, as well. [ via…

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Google Gears, FF 3.5, and OS-X

August 04, 2009

If you have OS-X and you installed Firefox 3.5 and discovered that Google Gears isn’t working for you, then this post is for you. Apparently, Firefox 3.5 will suck in the Safari plugins and try to use them. This includes the Gears for Safari plugin which breaks sites with gears…

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Snow Day

August 04, 2009

The season is all wrong for this but the song still rocks. Emma, 8 years old, apparently wrote this song and performs it wonderfully. From her guitar teacher, Rob : Emma announced during a guitar lesson one day that she felt like writing a song. I started playing some chords…

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Sir Paul McCartney

July 26, 2009

On Tuesday, I saw Paul McCartney at Citi Field. It was AWESOME !!! I played hooky from work to travel to New York. My brother scored the tickets and my Dad paid. How could I say no? The concert was great. He did a bunch of his songs, a couple from wings, a bunch of Beatles songs…

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Dropbox

July 15, 2009

I started playing with Dropbox a few weeks ago and it’s pretty cool. DropBox stores files in the “cloud”, which isn’t all that new. However, their software that pushes and pulls files automatically behind the scenes is the really cool part. I’ve been using it in OS X and Linux…

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Free Anime!

July 08, 2009

Funimation – an importer of Japanese anime – is making their stuff available on the web in hulu style. W00T! They have some good stuff there: Slayers, Techi Muyo - Ryo Ohki, and Pani Poni Dash. Ciao!

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DWPS: iKlear

July 07, 2009

A quick Doctor What Product Suggestion: The iKlear Complete Cleaning Kit is great. I thought at first that it was a stupid overkill for the price; I mean it only has a few cloths and some cleaning solution. But I really wanted the little cloth to protect the screen. I’ve seen…

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Uncle Monkey

July 06, 2009

I’m an Uncle! My sister gave birth to Alexander Bruce on Sunday. Both are doing well. My mom gave me the details (weight, length, etc.) and I promptly forgot the numbers; but the important part is that everyone survived the ordeal with flying colors. :-) I’ll update this post…

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Happiness is a warm SCM

June 18, 2009

Linus Torvald posted on his blog ” Happiness is a warm SCM “: So it takes time for people (me included) to learn the rules that work. And it seems people are learning. And that feels really good. He has some comments on what works and doesn’t in the comments. It’s an interesting…

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IAT in LJ

June 10, 2009

The Linux Journal’s Associate Editor Mitch Frazier has done a one minute video on It’s All Text! that is really handy to show what IAT can do: Thanks to Colin for pointing that out. Linux Journal

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Scripting on Android

June 09, 2009

There is a nifty new project for the Android phone: Android Scripting Environment . This lets you use Lua and Python to write scripts on Android.  Not quite the same as writing a whole application in those languages, but a great start! via Google Open Source Blog

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Sims 3: Yay!

June 03, 2009

The Sims 3 for the Mac (and I guess Windows too, but who uses that?) and the iPod Touch (and I guess the iPhone too, but who uses that?) was released yesterday. I got my copy of The Sims 3 (Collector’s Edition) yesterday and spent a happy evening playing it. The game is much…

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Music: Rebel without Applause

May 30, 2009

Found this lovely video called “Cup of Brown Joy” and liked it so much that I had to buy the album . The artist is Elemental and Tom Caruana. Buy the Album

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Useless Error Messages

May 28, 2009

I’ve had the misfortune of having to work on getting a product to work as an ASPX script instead of the CGI it was originally. This is a misfortune in two ways: So what kind of errors have I gotten? It turned out to be due to a DLL requiring a DLL requiring a DLL that was missing…

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PowerCup

May 01, 2009

This is a cool gizmo, the PowerCup .  It’s a power inverter, in the shape of a coffee cup, for your car.  It has two 3-prong outlets and one USB port.  It’s rated for 200 watts (400 peak). It’s awesome how it fits in your cup holders instead of having a clunky thing on the floor…

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I'm on TV!

April 21, 2009

I’m on TV at KDKA; They did a report on immigration in Pittsburgh and I was one of the backdrops used for the voice over.  You can see my desk as the reporter talks to Raul and he walks past the stairs at about 2:47.  And again you can see me up close and scary at 2:55. It’s…

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Lots of cool software cheap

April 03, 2009

If you haven’t heard of MacHeist , then you should go check it out right now.  It’s only good for four more days. What they do is sell a bundle for $39 that includes lots of different mac software from different vendors. They exact amount of software you’ll get depends on how…

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Our New Car

March 30, 2009

Robin and I bought ourselves a new car over the weekend: A 2006 Scion xB. It’s boxy, white and cute. The thing we like the most is the amount of space present in the car. It’s huge inside. The backseat has enough space to easily cross your legs without touching the seat in front…

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How speakeasy made it better

March 25, 2009

As I mentioned before , I have been having trouble with Speakeasy.  I had already researched other competitors and was contemplating changing to someone else.  I would have missed the technical competency of Speakeasy support but I could live with the people who follow scripts…

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How to make a customer want to leave

March 23, 2009

UPDATE : I have been made happy. Yay! Do ISPs just dislike me?  I can’t think why; I do virtually nothing outrageous.  I normally don’t rack up much, if any, support costs.  What isn’t there to like? Yet here I am, a little past a year since the last time I had ISP problems…

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XBox 360 avatars

March 22, 2009

Hee-hee.  You can look up people’s XBox 360 avatars on the net. Neat! Now I just need something similar for my Mii. Avatar 360 | XBL Avatar checker

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Comparing "duh" sizes

March 20, 2009

Uber geek-star Wil Wheaton blogged about the magnitude of a “duh” moment he had recently.   Warning : avoid Wil Weaton’s post if don’t want spoilers for the D&D campaign “Keep on the Shadowfell”.  My post doesn’t have any spoilers, though. Go read Wil’s post so I can properly…

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Wifi Tethering via the Android

March 19, 2009

Warning : This article is very out of date and no longer applies. In my post ” How to beat the iPhone ” I mentioned that an ideal device would be a portable wifi hotspot. Well, now one exists for the G1: android-wifi-tether project . Combined with my giant 2600mAh battery…

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My Site, the Yo-Yo

March 18, 2009

My site has bee having all kinds of fun the past week and a half. Starting last Monday night the network was down for 4 and half days. This was eventually resolved by Speakeasy. It went down again yesterday. Today I tortured the site to fix a bug . The ever excellent Will…

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New Look!

March 08, 2009

Alrighty! I have me a new look and it is FRESH. ;-) I got sick of working around some of the problems in sandbox . I don’t want to maintain an offshoot of an existing theme (or worse, code my own); I’ve done that before it I don’t like it. So using some simple patches to add…

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Groove Scheme

February 28, 2009

Okay, I just recently discovered Groove Armada .  I really like their music (and I’m not entirely sure why). Two guys started a club, called Groove Armada and then put out a CD of the music they performed.  The CD was well received and so they kept at it. Currently, they tour…

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Coraline

February 10, 2009

Robin and I saw Coraline on Saturday, in 2D. It was a great movie. We both liked it a lot. We liked it enough that we went to see it again in 3D on Sunday. The 3D version made a good use of the technology.  They didn’t go nuts with it, which would have driven * me * nuts.  It…

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Aquamacs vs. Dvorak-Qwerty layout

January 29, 2009

I love Aquamacs Emacs . It totally rocks. However, I use the Dvorak-Qwerty keyboard layout (AKA DQ) and Aquamacs doesn’t like the command key bindings that the DQ layout uses. DQ is dvorak except when you use the command key.  Then it becomes QWERTY. This was invaluable when I…

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Learning Java

January 22, 2009

Since I have an Android phone I have to write software for it.  To write software for the phone, I have to use Java . I’ve been looking around for something like Dive Into Python but for Java.  So far, no luck. Any recommendations would be very welcome. A friend who does…

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Google Phone

January 12, 2009

Robin and I both got Google phones while in New York over the holidays.  She bought a G1 and I ordered the ADP1 . I’ve been working my way through ” Hello, Android ” by Ed Burnette.  So far it’s been decent.  You can get 30% off (till 2009/1/31) using a special code.  I…

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You can see my desk from here!

December 18, 2008

Pop City did an article about my workplace and you can see my desk in the photo. BTW: This blog is unrelated to my workplace; none of my comments here should be construed to reflect opinion of my past, present or future employers. Though it is a cool place to work with many…

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Bookmark Receipts

December 05, 2008

This is something that’s been floating around in my head since I saw the tiny little printer at the public library that they use to print out your receipt. The idea is simple: Print out your receipt (at libraries, bookstores, etc.) on card-stock in the shape of a bookmark. This…

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How not to implement OpenID

November 25, 2008

UPDATE : I was wrong! See below… I have a lovely case study in how not to implement OpenID: SourceForge I’m unsure of how they’re going about implementing OpenID but I bet it isn’t via one of the open source libraries out there that work. In the past, it never worked because it…

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How to beat the iPhone

November 12, 2008

For all those cell phone companies trying to figure out how to beat AT&T’s stranglehold on the iPhone ; here’s a strategy that will let you go past it. Create a new phone.  It should be simple.  It should include only a contact list, SMS, and voice mail.  It should not include…

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Open Source on CNN

November 05, 2008

I can’t believe I’ve heard ESR ’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar referenced on CNN during November 4th election coverage. I’m not sure what kind of milestone that is but it certainly is one. [ link to video ]

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November 4th: Vote!

November 04, 2008

Rob Landley has an awesomely well written reminder of why we should all vote today.  He’s given me permission to post the whole this here. Any formatting errors are mine. The existence of a Google Maps polling place finder is pretty darn cool, if you ask me. I really really…

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XKCD: you're a copyright criminal either way

October 13, 2008

The always witting and intelligent web comic XKCD makes an excellent point today: Of course, it’s a false dichotomy for most people; they don’t think about it this way. For an example of this in the real world consider those that bought Walmart’s DRM music . Their choices are…

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Gecko-grip

October 10, 2008

This is the coolest thing.  I remember reading about how the discovered how Gecko’s stick to things, but I didn’t think they’d have already reproduced it in a lab.  Cool! Gecko-grip material aims to be the end of glue , 09 October 2008 New Scientist Tech .

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SPORE DRM part 3

September 21, 2008

It looks like EA decided to listen to their customers (and would-be customers): Answering your feedback about Spore Online Accounts . Short summary: They will add screen names, allowing 5 people to share the same account. This is good news.  Other announcements that they have…

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SPORE DRM on the Mac

September 12, 2008

Following up on my previous article , I did a little experiment as I installed SPORE on my Macbook Pro. I created a script to md5 sum all the files that I thought might be used to install a kernel module or a startup item. I then did the following: Ran the checksum script…

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SPORE DRM

September 08, 2008

I’m waiting for my copy of SPORE to arrive from Amazon and I noticed that the rating for Spore on Amazon dropped to 1 star, out of 824 reviews (as of 2008-09-08 at 5:59pm EDT).  I hadn’t realized that the DRM on this was the infamous SecuROM . This made me nervous.  I…

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IAT made Network World

September 05, 2008

Cool!  It’s All Text! made it into Network World in 10 Firefox add-ons for better browsing . I’ve had software in magazines before (actually shipped on CDs) but this is the first time in an English magazine.

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Google Chrome

September 02, 2008

Great jumping Jesus in a sidecar with chocolate jimmies! Google has released their own browser, Google Chrome . They even created a comic book, Google Chrome , drawn by Scott McCloud (author of Zot! ). I’m not sure what I think. On the one hand I feel that browsers do need…

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Switched from YUI to jQuery

August 28, 2008

I just switched my (rather limited) JavaScript from YUI to jQuery . jQuery took a little (a couple hours) to learn how to write something close to idiomatic code. My new code is much much smaller and easier to read. Why did I switch away from YUI you might ask? A couple…

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Everything that Happens will Happen Today

August 25, 2008

David Byrne and Brian Eno have released a new album and I’m on my second listen. I love the instant gratification of this.  You can buy the CD and you get the MP3s now and you’ll get the CD later in the mail.  Wow. Cool. In case you’re wondering where you’ve heard of them…

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Xen Networking

August 08, 2008

Gerf.Org just switched to Xen . It’s running in a on hardware that is massively more powerful than it used to be.  The original hardware (until about 3 years ago) was a 333Mhz box with 20gigs of disk-space. Since then it has been running on newer hardware. However, the…

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An anthropological introduction to YouTube

August 04, 2008

An excellent presentation on what You Tube is and how it has impacted our culture. It is a presentation given at the Library of Congress, June 23rd 2008 by Michael Walsch, an assistant professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. I recommend watching it in its…

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Unappealing Taxes, part 2

August 01, 2008

I just got the “Disposition of appeal from real estate assessment”.  This is also known as the ruling.  In short, it says that the “evidence insufficient to change value”; no change.  Yay! The only recourse the city has now is to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny…

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Gullifty's burns!

July 28, 2008

Aaah!  There was a fire at Gullifty’s early Sunday morning!  I saw the boarded up front door on the way into work this morning. Gullifty’s is known for it’s desserts and Jazz, but I have used it most for good Bloody Marys and for being open late. ADDED (2008/08/11): A sign says…

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XPath has a lousy equality operator

July 23, 2008

I just (re-)discovered this bit of stupidity in XPath/XSL. The equal operator will demote node-sets, result-trees, etc. into to strings when compared with a string. Check out this example: XML File: XSL File: The output: This is ridiculous. How can you be sure that the equal…

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36 Hours in Pittsburgh - NYTimes.com

July 22, 2008

The New York Times has published a good list of fun things to do in Pittsburgh: 36 Hours in Pittsburgh - NYTimes.com . When I visited Pittsburgh for a job interview in the summery of 2004 it seemed like everyone was surprised I wanted to see what Pittsburgh had to offer.  The…

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Designed For Reliability

July 22, 2008

I used to work for Tandem.  These computers were amazing and the only thing that’d take them down was human error… Here’s a “Daily WTF” about the Tandem computers. The comments are fun, too: Designed For Reliability Ciao! P.S. Yes, I’m having fun with the “Press This” feature in…

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Dr. Horrible's sing-along blog

July 16, 2008

For those that are fans of Joss Whedon , he has started releasing his mini/limited-time/videopod/series, ” Dr. Horrible’s sing-along blog “. It stars Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day. Neil Patrick Harris was Doogie Howser, M.D. of course. Nathan Fillion was…

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OS X: Make an ISO

June 18, 2008

You can use to create ISO images in Mac OS X: Click “New Image+” on the tool bar For “Image Format” select “CD/DVD Master” For “Encryption” leave it at “none” Rename the resulting file to I found this handy hint on the Internet as well. To convert a file, you can use to…

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BBS the Documentary

May 16, 2008

There is this great documentary called ” BBS the documentary ” by Jason Scott.  It’s an amazing documentary about computer bulliten boards and it’s 5 and 1/2 hours long with tons of extras. For those who don’t remember BBSes: You would use a modem to dial up a computer system…

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The web belongs to the viewer

May 16, 2008

The single most important fact that web site owners forget is that the web belongs to the viewer.  It doesn’t belong to the web site owner; they don’t control how the viewer will use the site. This video is a perfect example of this (3 minutes, 30 seconds): The viewer has tools…

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Sparring Knives

May 15, 2008

These are instructions on how to make sparring knives in the style of Aegis Consulting . They are designed to break before bones and not poke too hard. Warning: These are not toys. They are for practicing with. While they are safer than a real knife, they are not going to…

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msnbot: the stupid bot

May 14, 2008

Generally, most people with websites want to have their sites indexed so that people can find them. However, if the bot is really really stupid, then maybe it isn’t in your best interest. My experiences with msnbot have been pretty much negative. This site has 15% of the searches…

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Crazy beliefs means crazy behavior

May 13, 2008

If someone hears voices that tell them to do something, we call them crazy. If someone reads a book of fiction and tries to act as if it is talking to them and telling them what to do, we call that crazy. How is this not insanity?  How is this called anything but completely…

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12 years!

May 12, 2008

I have been married to Robin, my wonderful wife, for 12 years.  I am very lucky and married my bestest friend and boy have we had fun. I love you Robin! …Onward to the next 12 years!

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Unappealing Taxes

May 08, 2008

Unquestionably, there is progress.  The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages. H.L. Mencken So, I went to the my property tax appeal yesterday. No, this isn’t the start of a lame joke and no, I didn’t appeal my property taxes. The City…

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Mac Tricks: Shell Script Dialogs

April 01, 2008

As you may know, I have had a MacBook Pro (15” - glossy) for a few months now. I am starting to feel pretty comfortable in it and have started to learn more of the advanced features that I don’t need to get things done, but because I like learning how stuff works. In this case, I…

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LEGO guns!

March 16, 2008

I like LEGO and have since I was a little kid. As an adult, I’ve gone through phases of enjoying LEGO and just keeping it safe in storage. However, now that I own a house, I think I’ll make space for my LEGO collection so I can play with it. I doubt I can make room for my fun…

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Verizon ineptitude

February 14, 2008

My server has been down for about a 6 days. The short story of why my site has been down is because Verizon sucks. The long story however… I discovered on Thursday (Feb 7th) that my server, gerf.org was down. I went home to check it out and discovered the dreaded blinking DSL…

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X-UA-Compatible and IE8

January 22, 2008

There is a new META header being proposed called . It was thought up by Aaron Gustafson and has been added to IE8. This is a flag for browsers to change how they render the web page, not by standards that are being followed, but by the browser that it is known to work with…

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Cathy Ferguson

January 19, 2008

I had this idea of this huge post I’d write about how I went about getting a house and the paperwork and all that stuff. Well, it turns out I really don’t want to write that. Instead, I’m going to write about one of the people that I can really recommend; Cathy Ferguson our…

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Bang! Bang!

December 16, 2007

So, me and my wife got home from Ikea with a new Billy bookshelf for the dinning room (aka, book room # 2 — book room # 1 is the living room). We lucked out and found a spot nearly in front of our house, right on the outside of the curve that our house in on. We unloaded the…

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My laptop has died

November 26, 2007

My laptop has died a horrible death and I’m not happy about it. I bought it about 3 years ago from Linux Certified, way back when Linux laptops was a novel concept. It flat out won’t power up. There is power from the power cord (checked it with a multi-meter), but the light won’t…

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My First House!

November 08, 2007

So, I haven’t been blogging much lately. Part of the reason is that Robin and I have been working on buying a new house. This is very stressful and scary. We’re almost done. We close on November 16th. I plan on blogging about the people and companies that provide excellent…

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Weil McLain

October 19, 2007

So, I’m trying to find out how old a boiler is. It’s in a house that I made an offer on and I want to know how old it is and any other information that would be helpful. When I viewed the house, I took a photo of the model information so I could look it up later. I thought this…

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GTD and Mutt

October 08, 2007

I found this article about Getting things done with mutt . It talks about using the techniques from David Allen’s productivity book ” Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity . I’ve been reading GTD for a week now (taking my time, you know) and think it’s pretty…

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Amazon Christ!

October 02, 2007

Amazon redesigned their web-site, shrinking my name even more than previously… Ciao! UPDATE [ 2007-10-24 ] : Apparently Christ is networking now. This is a snapshot of a friend’s invitation on LinkedIn :

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It's All Text! v0.8.0

October 01, 2007

I have just released version 0.8.0 of ” It’s All Text! ”, the Firefox extension that answers the age old question, “What happens when you give a yo-yo to a flock of flamingoes?” New Features So, this version has several months of minor changes collected together. I kind of lost…

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HX-20

September 30, 2007

I was walking through Squirrel Hill today with Robin and my Dad. There was a house with some junk on their porch and a sign saying, “For sale. $1 each.” I looked through the stuff and found an Epson HX-20 ! Oh. My. Gawd! When I was in High School a guy named Randy had a TRS8…

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Mashups and JavaScript Security

September 28, 2007

I found this excellent video Gears and the Mashup Problem of Douglas Crockford (discoverer of JSON ) talking about the security problems inherent in Mashups and of JavaScript as a whole. He proposes a solution involving what he calls vats ; a self contained JavaScript…

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Wordpress User-Agent

September 24, 2007

Well, I just got a nasty shock! I got in at the tail end of a thread about the new update notification feature in WordPress 2.3. One of the comments I read kept ricocheting around in my head. Matt Mullenweg said something about the dashboard RSS feeds transmitting my blog…

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Site Redesign

September 23, 2007

I have redesigned my whole site. While a lot changes are visual, there are even more changes in the way the unseen back-end parts have changed. Previously, I had a modified copy of the default WP 2.x theme (which is based on Kubric theme). It was reasonable markup, but I spent a…

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WordPress anti-spam recipe

August 18, 2007

Here’s a simple recipe to cut down on comment spam in WordPress . I assume you have basic understanding of Unix commands or can translate them to windows. Make a directory in the root of your WordPress file system called . Create a file in the directory called with the…

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A visit from sister Claire

August 13, 2007

My little sister, Claire came to visit. I wasn’t able to make as much time as I like because of other events , but I was able to arrange for her to stay over Thursday and Friday night. She was in town to help a friend do pottery and just hang out at the Pennsic War , north of…

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Auf Wiedersehen, Oma

August 05, 2007

When I was little, my dad and mom would take me to Germany to see my Dad’s mother. I called her “Oma” (which is German for grandma or granny). She lived in an apartment in Hannover. The apartment was filled with old people stuff. And old people, too. My Uroma and Uropa (great…

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SimCity DS Landmark unlock codes

June 28, 2007

Yeah, I bought SimCity DS and found that it had an unlock code for the Washington Monument (a GameStop Exclusive!). I figured that there were more and searched the web. I found a list , but it was missing one of the monuments (#12). Being the kind of person who can’t stand a…

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What language would you like it in?

June 20, 2007

So I have finally submitted It’s All Text! to Babelzilla , the Mozilla translation site. It took a little work to get in, though. There isn’t anything so simple that I cannot break it. :-) Their system automagically created a discussion thread and it’ll track changes as I…

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Stop junk postal mail

May 29, 2007

My mother , who has a lot of friends that send her hoaxes, email chain letters and other forms of internet tomfoolery on a regular basis, got an email from 41 Pounds . 41 Pounds claims that they will stop your US Postal junk mail if you give them money. I took a quick look…

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Emoticon Styles (JP vs. US)

May 25, 2007

I found this interesting article about Americans and Japanese read faces differently . To cut the article short, they explain that Japanese culture seems to read the eyes for emotional cues while American culture seems to read the mouth. Quick comparison of emoticons :  US JP…

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Morality

May 24, 2007

I ran across an interesting forum post on the Richard Dawkins website. It points to a morality quiz and a video of Jonathan Haidt talking about a way of thinking about morality that he has developed that helps him understand how different people (specifically conservatives…

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Penguicon 5.0!

April 28, 2007

Robin and I enjoyed Penguicon 5.0 last weekend. We went for the first time last year and we knew had to go again this year (and next year and the year after that and…). In case you don’t know, Penguicon is a Linux geek, Sci-Fi fen , Anime aficionado, and filk listener…

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Book: The Secret Life of Houdini

April 13, 2007

I’ve been reading The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. It’s a fascinating read. I used to practice some magic when I was a child. I never had a knack for patter , which meant no matter how good my technical…

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Hair yesterday, gone today.

April 02, 2007

I have been growing out my hair since about August of 2005 when I had moved to the land of Pittsburgh. I kept my hair very short in San Antonio, mainly because of the heat. Long hair in Texas is just asking for it but Pittsburgh has cool weather at least half the year. The hair…

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It's All Text! v0.6+

March 26, 2007

Get It’s All Text! I wrote It’s All Text! for myself. When Firefox 2.0 was released it broke MozEx so I went looking for a replacement. The others weren’t very good. So I set about fixing MozEx. It was then that I realized that MozEx had way more stuff in it than I needed…

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A bug report from Japan...

March 21, 2007

Wow! I found a blog post talking about It’s All Text! on a blog called Another 朝顔日記 written in Japanese! According to babelfish, the author found a silly bug in It’s All Text! (I left out a declaration) and is explaining the way to fix this. Neat! I have fixed it, of…

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Containing blocks and offsetParent: the secret of position absolute

March 19, 2007

Ever used in CSS or JavaScript? You probably got it to work reliably. I have in the past. These were pages that I controlled in their entirety and it worked fine. But when I tried to use it with It’s All Text! for the gumdrop edit button which in injected into any web page…

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Scott Adams Bullshit

March 17, 2007

Read this book! For those unfamiliar with Scott Adams and his comic strip, Dilbert , this rant won’t be interesting. The only thing you should take away from this is that evolution is not bullshit and that you should read The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins . Scott Adams…

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Cleaning up parts of the blog

March 07, 2007

You may have noticed that I’ve been cleaning up parts of my blog. This is because there were some things that really bugged me: My template was too verbose and was too far off default, my colors weren’t and still aren’t ideal, my text formatting was done through a plugin I…

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It's All Text!

January 12, 2007

Have you ever had to fill in a form on a web page and wished you could open it in an editor? If you use lots of blogs, post lots of comments or file many bugs then you probably get annoyed at the lack of true editor commands. I’ve seen some solutions that embed a JavaScript…

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Wii!!!!!

December 27, 2006

I got me a Wii for Christmas and it is fun. I am very impressed by the design of the Wii. The whole channel concept is cute. The controllers are excellent. The whole feel and ease of setup is amazing. My favorite channel is the weather channel , it shows a rain cloud when it…

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Making JavaScript transparent

November 19, 2006

A disclaimer: I’m writing this just to share (and record for myself) this one stupid trick in JavaScript. While I’m here, I thought I should kvetch about most JavaScript usage. First, the stupid trick. Have you ever been on a page and you try to control-click or right-click on…

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Getting an iPod

November 07, 2006

Let’s face it: Current digital players suck. iPods suck. iRiver sucks. Sony is a bunch of bastards. Okay. Spleen has been vented. Let me catch my breath… whew . In theory, digital players are the same. They play music files in a nice portable form factor. They are like…

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Writing Practice

October 11, 2006

I started this blog for a couple of reasons . One of the reasons is that I wanted to get better at writing. IRL , I’m not very good at explaining thoughts as they pop up. I tend to think about stuff faster than I can talk or I jump from subject to subject, I get sidetracked…

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We are what we eat?

September 27, 2006

I read the The Daily WTF regularly. When I read today’s WTF article I started to wonder, “Is this stuff real?” I mean think about it. It has all the elements of a classic letter to Penthouse: The guy is like you or me. He gets an insanely good offer: “60% raise” He follows…

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Python 2.5 and I'm sick

September 19, 2006

So, I woke up this morning and felt like crap but thought I could make it to work. Got on the bus and after riding it a stop, I knew that this wasn’t going to work. I got off and schlepped back home. I did get a bunch of work done; I had to set up an environment at home that I…

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Coolest Comic Shop in Squirrel Hill

September 12, 2006

UPDATE : Copacetic Comics has moved out of Squirrel Hill and moved their web pages. Some of the links below may not work. It’s one of those things I try to find when I move someplace. I use Google Maps and the phonebook to find them and then I visit them all. But somehow, I…

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Sourdough Bread

September 11, 2006

In today’s episode of “As the chef turns” we find that Linda is filled with remorse, believing that she accidentally killed Chuck with a meat grinder. Chuck, not aware of the confusion he left behind has run off to study at a secret Chinese culinary monastery to become worthy of…

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Sourdough Yeast Starter

September 08, 2006

In today’s episode of “As the chef turns” we find that Lance has blamed Linda for his failings as a short order cook. Bob has fallen in love with Alice, not realizing that she secretly loves his brother, Chuck. Meanwhile Christian has been working on mixing sourdough starter in a…

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Cosmic Wimpout for the Palm

September 07, 2006

Way back when, I wrote a version of Cosmic Wimpout for the palm. The page that had the links to the sources, the bug tracker, etc. have been slowly decaying. Since I have moved to a new webpage I decided to move Cosmic Wimpout over to Trac . Link: CWimp on GitHub Maybe…

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My older projects have been moved.

September 06, 2006

This is really just administrata, due to my recent move to wordpress . I had been moving my stuff over, bit by bit into a Trac installation ( linky ) but some things didn’t really fit into it. One of these days I might make a Trac for all my miscellaneous projects. Meanwhile…

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Moving to a blog

September 06, 2006

My first web site went live when the Mosaic (The original web browser; made by NCSA.) web browser was released. My website, my skills and my interests have all evolved over the years. I have tried things like Zope , PHP , server-side includes, and even Front Page. The problem…

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docwhat

The personal blog of Christian Höltje.
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