September 29, 2005

A word on the Tilley Hat

Before we go any further, I wanted to say a few words about my Tilley Hat. Actually, I'll let the hat do the talking. From the inside flap:

Insured against loss, Guaranteed for life

(replaced free if it ever wears out)

It floats, ties on, repels rain, blocks UV rays, and won't shrink. It comes with eight 'brag tags' in the security pocket plus a four-page owner's manual.

Durable nylon; the best british brass hardware; hydrofoil headband for superb anti-sweat comfort; handcrafted with Canadian persnicktiness.

First notice that the Tilley people use words like "Canadian persnickitiness". Mmmm sexy.

Secondly, it's a hat with an instruction manual. These days most software doesn't even come with an instruction manual. That's how badass this hat is.

If you don't have one, let me know if you want one for your birthday.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:11 PM | Permanent link

September 28, 2005

Siesta Key Photos

Vacation was fun! Only one trip to the emergency room! Judging by how excited Ashish gets at the mere mention of intestinal bleeding, I'm sure the medical students who read this blog would find that story fascinating, but I'm not going to go into it here (don't worry, it didn't involve me, and it didn't involve intestinal bleeding).

Anyway, shortly after arriving in Siesta Key, I noticed that my dad brought his Nikon D100 Digital SLR Camera. Score. So, I decided to take some time to learn real digital photography. By "real digital photography" I mean learning about aperture, shutter speed, ISO film speed, exposure bracketing, and RAW image manipulation - as opposed to my normal point-and-shoot adventures, wondering why my images come out grainy and bleary afterwards.

Having never taken a course in photography, this all sounds very daunting, which is why I avoided learning it for so many years. As it turns out, however, a half hour's worth of reading the camera manual, a few random websites, and a nice beach to walk while messing with camera settings can get you pretty far.

Here is the result:

Beach Goers






Learning how to surf is still on my life-long todo list *sigh*.







Normally the gulf is eerie glassy calm. This was true for the first few days of our stay, but midweek Hurricane Rita, passing 50 miles south of us, decided to stir up some nice waves.













Night Photography

Ok, so capturing images at night is a lot harder than capturing them when the sun is shining. I don't really know what I'm doing yet, but I personally like some of these shots.





Crap, I'm running out of the self-control necessary to prevent myself from dropping $$$$ on a my own digital SLR :(

More photos available in my Siesta Key Photoset!

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:16 PM | Permanent link

September 17, 2005

Sarasota, Florida


Skipping town today to join my family for a week's worth of R&R in Sarasota, Florida.

Ahh, no TPS reports.

In General

Posted at 08:00 AM | Permanent link

September 13, 2005


I love this photo:

courtesy Philip Greenspun


In General

Posted at 08:57 PM | Permanent link

September 12, 2005

Women in Computing


The number of women in a given tech company is roughly equal to the number of guys named Steve.

This observation was pointed out to me by a female medical student, perhaps underscoring this point.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 05:04 AM | Permanent link

September 10, 2005 Wake County Library Lookup

Now that the security hole in Greasemonkey is fixed, I finally feel comfortable dusting-off and releasing my most ambitious Greasemonkey effort to date: Wake County Library Lookup

This script will tell you if any editions of the item you are currently browsing on are stocked at Wake County Public Library.

As always, see the project page for details, screenshots, and downloads.

If this idea sounds familiar, it's because Jon Udell did it six months ago. I was inspired by his script, and decided to write my own version from the ground up.

Searching Multiple Book Editions

Why the rewrite? Why not simply modify Udell's script? My script is slightly more sophisticated than Udell's. The problem with Jon's script is that it only searches for the one edition of the book that you're currently browsing.

For instance, if you're looking at the paperback edition of a book on Amazon, but the library only stocks the hardcover edition then you get a "no". As a result, any time you're browsing a book on Amazon and the script reports "no", you have to wonder whether it's lying to you.

On the other hand, my script searches all editions of the book you're browsing. It lets you know if any editions are available, and if so, which ones.

I've found this to be very helpful, and it has increased my usage of the library tremendously (even if I don't live in Wake County anymore - shh!).

The Future

I have time then I'll write dialects for the Duke, UNC, and Orange County libraries. I'd do one for the Durham County Library, except their online catalog seems to be trapped in the mid 1990s when Java Applets were the way of the future.

Generally, I've written the script so that only one function need be modified to adapt it to different libraries. Please feel free to write a version for your own local library, and post it to the Greasemonkey script repository.

Perhaps, I'll even write a tutorial on how to modify this for other libraries as well...

In Projects, Technology and Software

Posted at 05:39 PM | Permanent link

USPS Troubles

If you sent me any mail (snail mail) between August 1st and August 14th it's found it's way to /dev/null. At least I've given up hope of ever seeing it.

Apparently the USPS was just kidding when they confirmed they were holding my mail for those dates, and the supervisor of the Hilburn USPS station in Raleigh was just kidding when she told me that the mail had been forwarded and would be delivered to my new address in seven to ten days.

Shocking, I know, that a US government-run organization can fuck things up. Because that never happens.

In General

Posted at 01:13 AM | Permanent link

September 08, 2005

Broken Flowers

I saw the movie Broken Flowers this past week when Renee came to town.

Let's be clear. Normally I'm a big fan of artsy movies, but this movie blows.

The movie features Bill Murray playing a rich, retired computer professional. With quotes like, "I was into computers and girls. And you?", what could go wrong?

I'll tell you what can go wrong. Fully half of the movie consists of the main character sitting with a blank expression, doing nothing. Oh, scratch that, sometimes he's driving in his car with a blank expression, doing nothing. You'd think I'm exaggerating, but sadly no.

Looking around the blogosphere, it seems that a lot of older male computer professionals really enjoyed this movie.

Perhaps this is a corrolary to the principle that Steve Martin SNL skits and Jay Leno become wildly hilarious if you were born prior to 1965. Maybe I'm just too young to appreciate boredom.

What the fuck is this 88%? Rotten Tomatoes, you disappoint me.

In General

Posted at 08:52 PM | Permanent link

Bumble Buzzin

Bumble Buzzin comic

PBF Rocks!

In General

Posted at 08:22 PM | Permanent link

September 07, 2005

Marshall Brain on Surviving after a Hurricane

"Several years ago, Raleigh North Carolina was hit by a freak hurricane called Fran that came much further inland than anyone expected. I happened to live in Raleigh at the time. Fran shut the city down for about two weeks. Now, watching from the sidelines as 90,000 square miles of the gulf coast recovers from Katrina, what is coming to mind is a check list for things your family needs "after a hurricane" or other big disaster like that."

Surviving After a Hurricane

Check out the full article.

In General

Posted at 08:28 AM | Permanent link

September 05, 2005

Raleigh Bloggers Meetup, Tuesday September 6th

Join us tomorrow (Tuesday, September 6th) for the first Raleigh/Cary Bloggers meetup of the month.

What: An open meeting to talk about blogging, podcasting & whatever's on your mind
When: Tues @ 6:30 p.m.
Where: Cafe Cyclo, in Cameron Village

2020 Cameron St
Raleigh, NC 27605 (map)
(919) 829-3773

Who: Bloggers, Podcasters, or anyone who is interested in blogging-related conversation.

I understand it might be difficult to attend immediately following the Labor Day weekend, but I'm planning on being there. If anyone would like to show up and chat, I'd love your company.

In Blogging

Posted at 11:00 PM | Permanent link