Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blutooth Watch To Control Your Phone?

Review: Sony Ericsson MBW-100 Bluetooth Watch
When a call is received by the paired phone, the watch will vibrate and display the phone number or, if available, contact name of the party that is calling. The phone's ringer can be quickly silenced by pressing the watch's top button once, and the call can be outright rejected (and sent to voicemail) by pressing the top button a second time. When the phone receives a new text or MMS message, the watch will vibrate and display an envelope icon for a few seconds...
... But it only works with a select few Sony Ericson phones :(

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Do heavy things fall faster than light things?

Video of dropping a hammer and a feather on the moon to see which falls

Athlete fails gender test

1) reads:

"Santhi was subjected to a gender test in Doha and we have received the
report which says she failed the test," said Manmohan Singh, chairman of
the Indian Olympic Association's Medical Commission.

Soundararajan is refusing to comment. "I was not informed about the test
results and I don't know much on that. I do not want to talk about it,"
she told journalists.


KP Mohan, a sports journalist, said athletes were usually examined by a
team of doctors, including a gynaecologist, endocrinologist and
psychologist, and put through physical and clinical examinations during a
gender test.

2) reads:

[G]enetic tests in place in sport might unfairly single out some women as
men, IOC medical commission chairman Dr Arne Ljungquist [said].


The gender verification tests are based on chromosomes and sometimes a
sexual disorder results in the presence of male chromosomes in a female.
The athlete would then present male-like features, though without gaining
any undue advantage.


The IOC only allows the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique to
determine chromosomal patterns, a test that was reportedly not done on


AIS individuals are genetically male, will have 46,XY chromosomal (male)
pattern, may have male or female genitalia or predominantly male or female
genitalia, but will not have a uterus. Medically, if such individuals
compete against women, they will have no unfair advantage.

3) The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is used for duplicating DNA so labs
have a larger sample to perform tests on. I assume (but am not sure) the
sample is examined to find the X and Y chromosomes. Females have two X
chromosomes and males have one X and one Y.

It is possible for a human to be born with extra chromosomes. eg two X
and one Y is called "Klinefelter's syndrome". In cases of XXX, XXY, XYY,
or YYY there are a few known differences from the more common XX and XY
humans (eg height). See for
more information.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hidden Message

Apparently, this clothing company uses their labels for political expression.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Open-Source Car

"The idea behind open source development is to allow anyone to copy, modify and redistribute ordinarily secret information about a technology without paying royalties to the original developers."
Discovery Channel :: News - Technology :: Open-Source Car Project Gears Up:

Browser sniffing is [or should be] dead

"Sniff the right way

One solid alternative [to browser sniffing] is feature sniffing. This is the other solution mentioned by the “Gecko is Gecko” folks, and it’s vastly superior; instead of looking at the user-agent string and redirecting if it’s not in your “approved” list, you instead use JavaScript to test for the features you want (and, these days, browser sniffing is much more about JavaScript — particularly AJAX capabilities — than anything else). This is a concept that’s been kicking around for years, and which has had one or two high-profile articles written about it (including one by JavaScript guru Stuart Langridge, helpfully linked by the “Gecko is Gecko” site).

The nice thing about feature sniffing is that it’s almost completely foolproof: a browser will lie out of both sides of its mouth about whether or not it’s IE, but its JavaScript engine won’t lie about whether it supports getElementById. There are a couple of wrinkles in this rosy picture (notably Safari which, last I checked, exposes a method called preventDefault on DOM events, even though it doesn’t actually do what preventDefault is supposed to do), but I’d be willing to bet it’s as least as effective, percentage-wise, as sniffing for the “big four” (IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera) and it has the advantage of being future-proof: when the browser market changes, you have to adjust your sniffing scripts. But so long as you’re testing for actual features, you never have to update; getElementById isn’t going to get renamed any time soon.

And to really hammer it home, keep in mind that this is by far the most effective way to implement AJAX effects. Versions of IE prior to 7 expose XMLHttpRequest in a slightly different fashion from other browsers, so the browser-sniffing method relies on being able to absolutely differentiate IE so you can use the correct invocation. Of course, lots of other browsers like to masquerade as IE in their user-agent strings, so that’s out the window — trying to use IE-style invocation in non-IE browsers will just throw JavaScript errors at your users, and then they’ll complain (if you’re lucky) or take their money and their ad-viewing eyeballs somewhere else (if you’re not). Meanwhile, a few short lines of JavaScript which determine where the XMLHttpRequest object lives are all that’s needed to effectively work out how to do AJAX. "

The B-List: Sniffle:

17 years of accumulated strategy experience down to three items

  • Standardize - Agree on the standard, upgrade non-standard material, do not allow exceptions but always look for new ways to keep it best of breed. This has so many benefits unto itself that one could write a book on it.
  • Consolidate - Use a repository (doc, code, etc.), shutting down rouge or excess locations allows folks to locate and interact with the material better. It also saves a ton of money and drastically reduces confusion. I have found that it is always better to harden the central area than distribute it. This doesn’t work for everything (e.g. peer to peer, bazaar coding model (e.g. DARCS/BZR)) but it does for most things.
  • Automate - Queue up some simple tooling and automate as much as possible. Aside from saving money it allows you to focus your employees on things worthy of their attention instead of the mundane. It does wonders for productivity and can have a positive impact on communications.

Joey Stanford » Strategy: My Three Secrets

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Vibrating Corn Starch

Corn starch vibrating in a wide range of frequencies exhibits bizarre, finger-like formations.

Friday, December 15, 2006

PHP security team member gives up

Stefan Esser, PHP security specialist and member of the official PHP
Security Response Team has, he says, had enough - in his blog he has
announced his immediate resignation from the PHP Security Response Team.


He says that he had stopped counting the number of times he was called a
traitor when he published a bug report on a vulnerability in PHP.


While Esser feels that certain PHP functions are intrinsically unsafe (for
example allow_url_fopen/allow_url_include) and should therefore be
revised, many developers, including PHP specialists Zend, think that the
security problems in PHP applications have simply been caused by
inexperienced programmers.


In his view it is also irresponsible to cease proper support for the PHP4

Google as a Registrar? (Sorta)

Official Google Blog: Your easiest holiday task:

"we've made signing up for Google Apps for Your Domain much easier for those of you that don't yet have your own domain. We've partnered with and eNom, two leading domain registration services, to offer domains for $10 per year. And I like the fact that we're including private registration to protect your personal information"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

USA discussing allowing leaded gasoline.

I almost can't believe this news.

"The Environmental Protection Agency said this week that revoking those
standards might be justified "given the significantly changed
circumstances since lead was listed in 1976" as an air pollutant"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Map of the Inter-Web

xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language - By Randall Munroe

Cringely interviews Englebart

This interview is interesting because Douglas Englebart talks about how he
had ideas he wanted to pursue and how he kept quiet because people told
him his ideas were too wild for the culture he worked in at the time.

"Doug Engelbart invented computer networks, time sharing, graphical user
interfaces, and the mouse--all while driving to work one day in 1951."

Microsoft redesigns iPod packaging

This was going around a while ago. I found it very entertaining in a "it's funny cuz it true" kinda way...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

interface that closely mimics a pencil-and-paper method of design

According to FreeDesign, the NSS technology allows FreeDimension to present a curve-based interface to the user that closely mimics a pencil-and-paper method of design, giving designers more freedom in generating 3D shapes for new product, virtual gaming, and entertainment applications.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

“Are you my friend? Yes or no?”

This question, while fundamentally odd, is a key component of social network sites. Participants must select who on the system they deem to be ‘Friends.’
Friends, friendsters, and top 8: Writing community into being on social network sites

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

FBI turns on cell phone microphone remotely.

"Nextel and Samsung handsets and the Motorola Razr are especially
vulnerable to software downloads that activate their microphones, said
James Atkinson, a counter-surveillance consultant who has worked closely
with government agencies. "They can be remotely accessed and made to
transmit room audio all the time," he said. "You can do that without
having physical access to the phone.""

FoxTrot comic strip will go to a Sunday-only schedule.

FoxTrot will go to a Sunday-only publication schedule as of Dec. 31, 2006.

"After spending close to half of my life writing and drawing FoxTrot
cartoons, I think its time I got out of the house and tried some new
things", said Bill Amend.

"You-tube for data"

"the site allows users to upload data - any data - and display it to other
users visually. The number of page views your website generates. Or a
stock price over time. Weather data. Commodity prices."

"Uploaded data can be rated, commented and bookmared by other users,
helping to sort the interesting (and accurate) wheat from the chaff. And
graphs of data can be embedded into websites."

"You and other users can then compare that data to other data sets to
find possible correlation (or lack thereof). Compare gas prices to
presidential approval ratings or UFO sightings to iPod sales. Track your
page views against weather reports in Silicon Valley. See if something
interesting occurs."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Wait staff scam. er I mean trick.

I found this on

Experienced waiters in high-end restaurants use a neat trick to gain trust
and credibility with customers. While taking orders, they point out that
whatever was ordered:

isnt that good tonight, may I suggest the (cheaper dish)?

This immediately gives the customer reason to believe that the waiter is
on their side, since he is willing to comment negatively about the
restaurants dishes and point to a better dish that is cheaper (which would
actually have the effect of decreasing his tip).

In the customers eyes the waiters credibility has increased considerably
because of this show of objectivity. Of course, the waiter then goes on to
leverage this increase in credibility by recommending more expensive
wines, appetizers, and deserts - thereby increasing his tip considerably.

Ten Guaranteed Ways to Screw Up Any Project

Michael Greer's Ten Guaranteed Ways to Screw Up Any Project

Strange yet Interesting


What is lojban?

Lojban is a carefully constructed spoken, as well as written, language designed in the hope of removing a large portion of the ambiguity from human communication. It was made well-known by a Scientific American article and references in both science fiction and computer publications. Lojban has been built over five decades by dozens of workers and hundreds of supporters.

melu la xrist. na.enai la pacrux. djica da li'u

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Stock investment spam pays about 5% profit in just a few days.

Joel Spolsky pointed this link out. I have had the idea of researching
the impact in price around the time of stock market spam on my list of
things to do for about a year or so. I didn't get around to it but
someone else had the same idea.

The results are:

Before brokerage fees, the average investor who buys a stock on the day it
is most heavily touted and sells it 2 days after the touting ends will
lose approximately 5.5%.

For the top half of most thoroughly touted stocks, a spammer who buys, a
spammer who buys at the ask price on the day before unleashing touts and
sells at the bid price on the day his or her touting is the heaviest will,
on average, earn 5.79%.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Getting Everyone Back in the Game
"More important, I have already seen the Wii appeal to people who would never pick up an Xbox or PlayStation controller. At Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house in New Jersey, there was my 59-year-old stepfather, who hadn’t touched a video game since Pong, locked in a tight golf match with my 21-year-old cousin. There was my aunt clamoring for her turn. And most shocking, there was my mother, 61, whom I had been trying to get into video games for two decades, playing tennis so vigorously she bruised her finger."

Poll says USA is the most unfriendly country to visitors.

The survey showed that the United States was ranked "the worst" in terms
of visas and immigration procedures by twice the percentage of travelers
as the next destination regarded as unfriendly -- the Middle East and the
Asian subcontinent.

Between 2000 and 2006, the number of overseas visitors, excluding those
from Mexico and Canada, has declined by 17 percent

Joel on user interfaces. (Yet again?)

Joel wrote:

I'm sure there's a whole team of UI designers, programmers, and testers
who worked very hard on the OFF button in Windows Vista, but seriously, is
this the best you could come up with?

Every time you want to leave your computer, you have to choose between
nine, count them, nine options: two icons and seven menu items.


This highlights a style of software design shared by Microsoft and the
open source movement, in both cases driven by a desire for consensus and
for "Making Everybody Happy," but it's based on the misconceived notion
that lots of choices make people happy, which we really need to rethink.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sun Open Sources Java

I suppose that all of you have already heard this. I've hadn't. In any case, I think it's wonderful news.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How high school kids can make money.

In high school I made money by mowing lawns and scooping ice cream at
Baskin-Robbins. This was the only kind of work available at the time. Now
high school kids could write software or design web sites. But only some
of them will; the rest will still be scooping ice cream.

- Paul Graham ,

Joel Spolsky on productivity consultants.

It's an interesting description of a reasonably common scam. Joel wrote:

A management consultant at Bain wrote me a nice email, that included the
following sentence:

"Our team is conducting a benchmarking effort to gather an outside-in view
on development performance metrics and best practice approaches to issues
of process and organization from companies involved in a variety of
software development (and systems integration)."

I didn't understand a thing he wrote. The email contained a lot of words
(benchmarking, outside in, performance metrics, best practice, process and
organization) each of which set off a loud buzzing alarm-like sound in my
head. The noise from the buzzing was so loud and so distracting that I
found myself completely unable to parse the email.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Car dashboard image for low tire pressure.

I would normally pick an ISO standard over ANSI simply because it is probably more widely accepted. I came across a paper on the image to be used in a car to signal that tire presure is low.

I have seen the ISO image and it took me a moment to guess what it meant. Even then I looked it up. The interesting thing is that the image is a cross-section of a tire without a rim. I am going to guess that most drivers do not know what that looks like.

The paper is interesting not only because it gives insight into what symbols drivers understand but because it deals with designing an interface to communicate with humans.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Calgary Traffic Alterts on your cell phone

The idea is you enter your travel time and streets you will be
traveling on. The system then sends you alerts about traffic problems
in related areas.


Read input and manipulate files on Linux systems with PHP scripts - Program - Linux - Builder AU

If you are already familiar with PHP code for Web sites, then you'll find it works great for command-line scripting on Linux systems. [...] using PHP on the command-line works fantastic and fast. [...] Perhaps one of the biggest functions of any scripting language in a script is to manipulate files and obtain user input. PHP handles this with as much grace as any other scripting language.

I couldn't believe this post and I really can't believe how angry it made me! Here's the comment I submitted but I don't think they'll post it:

It's almost like you don't even know what the words "fast", "easy", "works", "fantastic", and "grace" actually mean!!!

This post is ridiculous! PHP is none of those things. It's slow, broken, inconsistent and clunky!

PHP is one of the my top three languages in terms of lines of code written for employers. I have work experience with at least half a dozen. I have studied language design and implementation. I've reviewed PHP's source along side other dynamic languages. There is no language, (which i have experience with) which i have a lower opinion of!

I know this is a flame but I just don't care. PHP's lack of consistency and awkward implementation have wasted my time on occasions too numerous to count. If i can stop just one programmer or project manager from thinking that PHP will bring them one single advantage over most alternatives, then this flame was worth it!!!

I'll chalk all this up as evidence towards my recent realization: The attraction to PHP that some feel and the difficulty breaking away from it is not entirely unlike those of in a relationship with an abusive partner!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tool for recovering stolen vehicles.

A while ago I thought about a system with a GPS unit and a cell phone that
can email me when my car is moved without me being in it. Or maybe it
does it every 5 or 10 minutes and normally those messages just get deleted
after say a week or so.

Someone sells a similar system but not in Alberta. Just Ontario, B.C. and

Update: I forgot to mention that the site requires version 8 of the flash browser plug-in. There is a beta version of flash for linux that you can download.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Living beyond your means.

When I was in high-school a friend said he and I should split an appartment. I said there was no way we could afford that. I had a part-time job and knew that without working full-time and overtime it was not going to happen.

He didn't believe me that we couldn't afford it. I said "do you know what groceries alone cost for a month?" He said "about $40". I told him that was far short of what we would need. I went grocery shopping. I had an idea of what food cost. His mother did the grocery shopping for his family and he didn't go to the store with her. A few years went by. He now has a very good idea what groceries and bills cost.

The following story is about how credit-card debt gets built up and how people learn to deal with it. It's not a long read and it is kind of interesting.

This sounds kind of familiar.

This sounds like something someone we know would try.

Off we set on our merry way, and within only an hour we had managed to
concoct the dozen or so lines of assembler to create /etc. The stripped
binary was only 76 bytes long, so we converted it to hex (slightly more
readable than the output of uuencode), and typed it in using my editor. If
any of you ever have the same problem, here's the hex for future

Someone is talking about how they dealt with a "rm -rf /".

Mike is installing an eclipse plugin that Lakin helped him find...


Mike: ok, it's installing

Lakin: This mouse is just fucking finicky.

Mike: thanks it works!

Lakin: yay

Mike: howz yer mouse?

Lakin: Expect eclipse to binge on your memory like Kirstie Alley on Grape Sodas

Lakin: mouse still doesn't want to connect.

Mike: Kirstie alley?!

Lakin: It works fine on my desktop, but is being annoying with my laptop. I'm ignoring it as a punishment.

Lakin: Kirstie Alley's gut-busting binges

Mike: like we do with Kirstie Alley?

Lakin: I'm not certain I understand your last sentence.

Mike: ignoring it as a punishment

Lakin: aah. yes.


Monday, November 06, 2006

The Interweb

These posts got me thinking about what the web was, is, and is becoming...

Web Design is 95% Typography

The 10 commandments of Web Design

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Joel Spolsky on website SQL injection.

11.3% of web applications have SQL injection vulnerabilities.

Joel wrote:

I tried to sign up for an online site. ... The signup page wanted a secret
question and secret answer. ... For the secret answer, I put "Aunt Vera
doesn't have a cat." And I got this:

1064: You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that
corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near
't have a cat', 'male')' at line 1

This is an extremely common problem: Michael Sutton did a little research
project and found that 11.3% of web applications have SQL injection

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scott Adams on voting machines.

Now dont get me wrong theres a 100% chance that the voting machines will
get hacked and all future elections will be rigged. But that doesnt mean
well get a worse government. It probably means that the choice of the next
American president will be taken out of the hands of deep-pocket,
autofellating, corporate shitbags and put it into the hands of some
teenager in Finland. How is that not an improvement? "

Statistically speaking, any hacker who is skilled enough to rig the
elections will also be smart enough to select politicians that believe in
. . . oh, lets say for example, science.

Is it too late to start selling bumper stickers that say 'I think I

Sunday, October 29, 2006

myspace hacked?


Netcraft has discovered that the social networking site, MySpace, appears
to have been compromised by phishers who have presented a spoof login form
on the main site. This modified login form is designed to submit the
victim's username and password to a remote server hosted in France.

Netcraft has notified MySpace of the issue, although it currently remains
live. Because the fraudulent login page is hosted on MySpace's own servers
and does not exhibit any signs of external content, such as cross-site
scripting (XSS) or open redirects, it is convincing and even
security-conscious users are at risk of becoming victims.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Robert X. Cringely's Hard Drive news

Mark told me about this. It sounds pretty amazing. It sounds good. So
good that it might be vapor-ware. It is coming from Cringely and he tends
to be pretty credible.

He comments:

Who needs flash in general as a mass storage technology? Our 10-gigabyte
0.85-inch drive can spin up, read or write data, then shut down again,
all in less time than it takes to perform the same task using flash
while being just as resistant to shock damage and more resistant to
heat. That 10-gig drive will cost $24 compared to $240 for 10 gigs of
flash, so we expect that our technology will be used for any
application requiring more than 2-gigs of storage. The obvious market
here is mobile phones, which will become media storage devices.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Housing crash in the USA.

Preamble: this is about housing markets and economics. Skip it if that
bores you.

Historically in the few years following a stock market crash the housing
market booms and busts. (This might be a North American trend.)
Disclaimer: off the top of my head I don't recall where I heard this.

Stocks prices in North America took a dive in the early 2000s. There were
big things with Nortel, Enron, World Com for example.

There was also the "dot com" crash when people finally had to admit stocks
were over-valued and there is no "new economy". Okay, you don't have to
admit those things to yourself but a number of people lost a lot of money.

1) That's the first thing that kind of supports rising prices being a

A while ago I read about "the housing bubble" at

It is a very interesting argument. The problem is with too much debt
being built up in the economy. It reads:

In recent years, despite the recession, housing prices have risen by
over 43 percent. ... Mortgage rates are at a 40-year low. ... A
major sign that we are in a housing bubble is the fact that fewer people
can afford homes. ... A housing bubble needs a steady stream of
thirsty home buyers.

Just that last bit starts to sound like a "Ponzi scheme".

2) That article argues there is a bubble with housing prices.

Just now I came across an Associated Press article from a few hours ago
that reads:

Is this what a housing bust looks like? New home prices fell last month
by the largest amount in 35 years and owners are being warned to brace
for further declines, especially in formerly hot markets.


The sharp slowdown in housing follows an extended boom in which the
lowest mortgage rates in four decades powered sales of both new and
existing homes to records for five consecutive years

Read todays article over at

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Anyone in Smallville has the power to wake up.

If your team is unreasonably resistant to change, more often than not, they can be reignited. All you need to do is press on that part where they are passionate.

Epsilon-Delta » Are You on a Pleasantville Team?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sadness is just another word for not enough coffee.

I don't know if I can attach images. If not the URL to visit is

Kevin Poulsen in the news.

Police in Suffolk County, N.Y., recently caught a registered sex offender
trolling for underage boys on MySpace, thanks to some code written by
former hacker and current Wired editor Kevin Poulsen.

Poulsen wrote an automated script that scanned the social networking site
for predators, using data taken from the Web site of the Department of
Justice's National Sex Offender Registry. Poulsen claims to have found 744
sex offenders with MySpace profiles so far, including 497 who have been
registered for sex crimes against children.

It sounds like a pretty impressive script but it looks like it might have
just searched for the first and last names of known offenders.,71948-0.html

Apple iPods now come with viruses

Apple says that a "small number" of video iPods, produced after September
12th 2006, were infected with the RavMonE.exe virus.

Am I the only one that is struggeling to work from home?

If you work at home or are thinking about doing it check out this thread.

It starts out:

Here are my symptoms:
- A complete lack of structure of the day
- F*c**d up sleeping pattern... Getting up way to late, staying up way
to late.
- Don't know when work begins and don't know when it ends.
- Lack of motivation...
- Extremely hard to build discipline
- Loneliness
- Can't concentrate during the day... alot better at night...
- Feelings of frustration because you can't get to it...

Hyperscope - a high-performance thought processor

The HyperScope is a high-performance thought processor that enables you to navigate, view, and link to documents in sophisticated ways. It's the brainchild of Doug Engelbart, the inventor of hypertext and the mouse, and is the first step towards his larger vision for an Open Hyperdocument System.


I wonder how many people would buy this shirt.

The shirt reads "This shirt cost $100".

If someone buys one you make around $85.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

ESR's take on Python

This is probably the third time I've run across this article, but every time I skim it and smile at how well he sums it up for me:

So the real punchline of the story is this: weeks and months after writing fetchmailconf, I could still read the fetchmailconf code and grok what it was doing without serious mental effort. And the true reason I no longer write Perl for anything but tiny projects is that was never true when I was writing large masses of Perl code. I fear the prospect of ever having to modify keeper or anthologize again -- but fetchmailconf gives me no qualms at all.

The same things happen to me: About half way through my masters degree, I realized that I couldn't stomach writing significant amounts of new code in C++. So I switched to python for a few projects. I rarely code anymore, it's just thesis writing. But sometimes I need to generate new results, new figures, something that I can't generate with my current programs. When this happens and I can use my python program ... I don't have any concerns about doing it. I fear the day that I have to maintain my C++ program that I wrote.

Pythonic Success after PHP Failure

From the article -
After a couple of years, the result was a big, un-maintainable mess of thousands of PHP pages and modules that had been written and maintained primarily by one person. The limits of PHP (then version 3) had been stretched thin, the system was too much for one person to maintain, and it was difficult to bring in new people to help with it.
Our first attempt to update the system came when PHP version 4 was released. This release promised better object oriented capabilities, and the time was right for Rackspace to dedicate more people to the project.

Memory leaks, inconsistent interfaces, inconsistent internal data model, randomly freed objects, multiple object copies despite explicit use of references, internal PHP errors, and untraceable code failures all but made the task impossible to accomplish in PHP.

Even after we achieved a relatively stable code base, we were nowhere near our goal of Core Objects Reused Everywhere because we had to depart from pure object-oriented methods just to work around the problems inherent in PHP. It became clear that PHP was unsuitable for our large scale, mission critical projects. A new solution had to be found.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I've said it before and I'll say it again... I *HEART* Google

Yes yes, you all know how much I love Google, but is really cool!
... Multiple people can view and make changes at the same time. There's an on-screen chat window for spreadsheets, and document revisions show you exactly who changed what, and when...

You can publish your documents and spreadsheets online with one click, as normal-looking web pages, to just a few people or no one...

Even if they didn't continue providing me with the tools I've always wanted, what's not to love?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Female Web Gamers Outnumber Males 2 to 1

"Female Web Gamers Outnumber Males 2 to 1". Or at least that is what the headline reads. I find it surprising if not hard to believe.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How do python people get by without sigils?

Just a thought but a lack of sigils makes python code look a bit funny. :)

I also wrote some C code today and that looked a bit odd too. :)

Indian physicist puts a PC with a high speed internet connection in a wall in the slums.

Hussein sent me this link the other day. I finally got around to reading it. (It's also now on

It's really interesting. Brilliant. Go read it at .

I tried another experiment. I went to a middle-class school and chose some ninth graders, two girls and two boys. I called their physics teacher in and asked him, "What are you going to teach these children next year at this time?" He mentioned viscosity. I asked him to write down five possible exam questions on the subject. I then took the four children and said, "Look here guys. I have a little problem for you." They read the questions and said they didn't understand them, it was Greek to them. So I said, "Here's a terminal. I'll give you two hours to find the answers."

Then I did my usual thing: I closed the door and went off somewhere else.

They answered all five questions in two hours. The physics teacher checked the answers, and they were correct. That, of itself, doesn't mean much. But I said to him, "Talk to the children and find out if they really learned something about this subject." So he spent half an hour talking to them. He came out and said, "They don't know everything about this subject or everything I would teach them. But they do know one hell of a lot about it. And they know a couple of things about it I didn't know."

It appears adults did not learn as much about the computer as the children did.

The only reaction we got from adults was, "What on earth is this for? Why is there no one here to teach us something? How are we ever going to use this?" I contend that by the time we are 16, we are taught to want teachers, taught that we cannot learn anything without teachers.
- Sugata Mitra

Parents "object to the language" used in Fahrenheit 451

Disclaimer: I feel Fahrenheit 451 is an important book for students to read and understand. I happen to like the book. If you haven't read it in a few years I recommend reading it again.

I'm not sure why I didn't find anything in the book offensive when time and time again I hear people complaining about it. Maybe people don't like how the book describes the popular desire to purhcase more and more televisions and spend time watching television with your "family" who are just characters on the screen.

Anyhow another family is complaining about the book being read in school.

It's just all kinds of filth," said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read "Fahrenheit 451." "The words don't need to be brought out in class. I want to get the book taken out of the class."

He looked through the book and found the following things wrong with the book: discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, "dirty talk," references to the Bible and using God's name in vain.

By chance:
Alton Verm's request to ban "Fahrenheit 451" came during the 25th annual Banned Books Week. He and Hines said the request to ban "Fahrenheit 451," a book about book burning, during Banned Books Weeks is a coincidence.

vmware player


One of Tavis's friends posted this earlier. I thought someone might find it interesting.


I Rock at BASIC

How in the world wide web did I not know about the 'I Rock at BASIC' t-shirt?

So crazy it just might work!

Applying Test-Driven Development principles to your life?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Magnetic resonance imaging of male and female genitals during coitus

Today I was looking for magnetic viewing paper. If you don't know what that is I recommend looking at the pictures over at

Related to magnetic viewing paper is something called ferrofluid. Read about it at

When I googled for "magnetic viewing paper" it returned a link to some research that showed "[t]aking magnetic resonance images of the male and female genitals during coitus is feasible and contributes to understanding of anatomy."

I didn't know that. In fact I had never given it any thought.

Loopt launches

loopt turns your cell phone into a friend finder
with detailed maps that show exactly who is where.
Put your friends on the map. See where they are & what they're doing.
Put yourself on the map. Show your friends where you are and what you're doing.

I think it's kind of dumb idea and by that I mean I can't imagine using this. I'm busy enough as it is, why would I take time to type into my cell phone to update where I am and what I'm doing?

That said it's kind of a neat idea. I imagine some kids will use it. It might be popular. I can't say for sure.

The other day I was driving and my phone started to ring. I was rather occupied and not about to go digging in my pocket to get my phone. I had the thought that it might be nice if my phone knew when I was in my car and could customize my voice mail message. Then again that just tells someone why I might not have answered the phone. I'm not sure what value that really adds.

Cringely on "unlmited" internet access.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Google Calendar's SMS Notifications

I'm not sure exactly when this happened, but google calendar now has support for sending SMS reminders to Canadian Cell phone carriers.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Robots think we taste like crispy breakfast treats

Go ahead.

Ask a robot.

It'll tell you, you "taste like bacon". Plus it just might have the firepower to do something about it!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I *HEART* Python

Introducing WSGI: Python's Secret Web Weapon - "Introducing WSGI: Python's Secret Web Weapon

"The recent Python 2.5 release features the addition of the Web Server Gateway Interface Utilities and Reference Implementation package (wsgiref) to Python's standard library.

In the Java world, the servlet architecture meant that applications written with one framework could run on any server supporting the servlet API. The Web Server Gateway Interface (often written WSGI, pronounced "whiskey") was designed to bring the same interoperability that the Java world enjoyed to Python. "

This article looks at how to develop and deploy WSGI applications, and more specifically, how to use middleware components to provide facilities such as session handling, interactive debugging, and much more.

I haven't read it yet but it's on my to do list.

A friend of mine told me this story last week

Names have been changed for the hell of it.
Kirk: I want to go home. It smells like poo here.

Reema: Where's here?

Kirk: Work (the office). I just found out it's out battery backup for our servers. The batteries are leaking and smell like rotten eggs. We can't unplug them though cause it takes 5 minutes to boot the servers, and ALL out customers use them. So instead we have someone sitting in front of the UPS with a fire extinguisher watching. It's my turn at 3pm.


Friday, September 22, 2006

I *HEART* Google

Playing Google Videos In Windows Media Player

"Turns out that Google Video’s downloads, called .gvi files, are just standard .avi files that have been altered to be unplayable in Windows Media Player ... almost every other video player can handle it, but for technical reasons, Microsoft’s can’t play it"

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Common Sense Approach to Tool Development - Swiss Army Chainsaw

"kludges have their place - they let the user get on with their job. But whatever you do, don't allow multiple kludges to accumulate to the point that certain tasks become voodoo"

... web*cough*core ...

Of course, I mean no disrespect to those who fell in the Just-get-it-done wars. I just wish certain management-type-people were able grasp this. It would have made a lot of people a lot happier (including said management-type-people).

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sept 19th is "talk like a pirate day".

If you program in Perl check out Acme::Lingua::Pirate::Perl

Parents deliver fast food through a school fence.

A group of mothers has started delivering fast food through a school's fence in protest at the campaign for healthier school meals.

There are quotes like "I don't know what my kids weigh but it's not always down to what they eat, it's as much to do with their genes" from a mother.

A spokesman for the chef said "If these mums want to effectively shorten the lives of their kids and others' kids, then that's down to them." He also explained "If parents are struggling to afford a school meal, then they should make the effort to construct a proper lunchbox with fruit and veg, dairy, bread, and protein — which can be done for under £1.20 — instead of taking the lazy option."

Fedora is not ready for mainstream yet.

I did another "software update" yesterday. Today I boot up and X11 doesn't work. I check the xorg.conf. It has not been edited. I found myself thinking "this is like on Slackware when I upgraded the kernel and I had to recompile the nvidia video driver".

Fedora updated the kernel on me. I guess that's part of updating software. Now just for a moment try to imagine how angry Steve Jobs would be if a Mac did that to a user? Think about it.

To Fedora's credit the problem is related to Nvidia not releasing source code for their video driver and letting it be integrated into the linux kernel.

To Fedora's deficit I don't recall being informed that the kernel was updated and custom added modules would need to be recompiled.

In the news 2006-09-18

Google is forming a Political Action Committee (aka PAC). The role of a PAC is to influence government to make actions in the interest of the PAC. Sometimes a PAC exists to make sure a candidate does or does not get elected.

First ipod and now this: Warner Music to distribute, license videos through YouTube

Nintendo's "Wiiiiiiiii" console comes with a "nunchuck attachment". The whole thing is expected to retail at $250 USA. It also says "first party Wii titles would in fact be region-free".

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Urinals of the International Space Station "HabLab" module

From :

While you're at it there is one from the South Pole

The site has tons of them.

Someone should take pictues of the U of Calgary's troughs at the new "Den" and send them in.

The future of NetBSD

Charles Hannum, one of the first four NetBSD developers, gets something off his chest.
has the following things to say:

The NetBSD Project has stagnated to the point of irrelevance. It has
gotten to the point that being associated with the project is often
more of a liability than an asset.

Partly due to lack of people, and partly due
to a more corporate mentality, projects were often "locked". One person
would say they were working on a project, and everyone else would be
told to refer to them. Often these projects stagnated, or never
progressed at all.

Even new hardware support is generally not being
originated in NetBSD any more; it's being developed by FreeBSD and
OpenBSD, and being picked up later.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Briliant step up on a smash-and-grab.

Bruce Schneier wrote:
"Attackers commonly force active failures specifically to cause a larger system to fail. Burglars cut an alarm wire at a warehouse and then retreat a safe distance. The police arrive and find nothing, decide that it's an active failure, and tell the warehouse owner to deal with it in the morning. Then, after the police leave, the burglars reappear and steal everything."

One time where I used to work (about 10 years ago) the security alarm went off in the middle of the night. The security company claimed they came out to the office and everything was fine. In the morning a few laptops were missing and it looks like beer or some sticky fluid had been poured over a few of the keyboards. Oh and there was a giant hole in a floor-to-ceiling window.

At the time I thought it was incompetent security people. Maybe it was slightly brighter than average criminals.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New keyboard and NOT a rant.

I bought a new keyboard a while ago. A few things worth noting are:

- it is split keyboard. in the past some split keyboards have, well, sucked. The most common problems have been the mangled 'delete/insert/home/end/pg up/down' cluster and putting the ctrl keys in hard to reach places.

- it is a Microsoft keyboard. yes, that's right. I bought something from Microsoft. Now will you believe me that I don't hate microsoft, I don't think it is an "evil" company, and I don't think linux is perfect. I mean it when I say I think MS Windows has a crappy user interface and as someone once pointed out I mean it has a crappy user interface for me.

Anyway I bought a "Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000". I don't know what the 4000 means. Also none of the fancy keys work under linux so I don't know how useful they are. (There is a kernel patch I haven't bothered with.)

I've been using it for a couple weeks and it is on my recommended hardware list.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Alcohol Consumption Report

Americans consume a bit more alcohol per capita (age 15 and above) than Canadians.

-- Liters consumed per capita for 2003 --
Canada: 7.9
Ireland: 13.5
Luxembourg: 15.5
Mexico: 4.6
Norway: 6.0
Turkey: 1.5
UK: 11.2
USA: 8.4

Joel mentions "Peopleware" again.

"Peopleware" is one of my favorite books of all time.  I can't stress how important it is to read this book.  Anyway the following comes from

I went to a Computer Science conference at Yale. One of the speakers, a Silicon Valley veteran who had founded or led quite an honor roll of venture-capital funded startups, held up the book Peopleware.

"You have to read this book," he said. "This is the bible of how to run a software company. This is the most important book out there for how to run software companies."


After the speech I went up to the speaker. "I agree with you about Peopleware," I said. "Tell me: did you have private offices for your developers at all your startups?"

"Of course not," he said. "The VCs would never go for that."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I don't really care about web-logs.

I don't really care about web-logs. ie I don't hate them.

I read Cringely's Essays. I read Schneier's web-log posts. I also read
Paul Graham's Essays and Joel Spolsky's web-log-like posts. I read this
content because it is worth reading. I don't care about the blog/no-blog
difference in these cases.

Aggregating a bunch of posts from different sources into one common
interface seems like a reasonable thing to do. RSS seems to make sense.
Just like email with folders and filter rules seems to make sense.

I sometimes read web-logs and I think RSS is a good idea so why don't I like
to use web-logs myself? For the same reason I don't use an Apple Mac.
The tool is slow, confusing, difficult to configure, and difficult to use.

Blogger / Blogspot has a poor user interface. It's hard to find the page
I am looking for. There are links missing. It's slow to load and click
through to get to the page I am looking for. ie I don't have the patience
to use blogger.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sweden Follows Norway, Blacklists Wal-Mart Stock Over Ethics

"Sweden follows Norway in blacklisting Wal-Mart stock from the portfolio
of a national pension fund, citing persistent human rights violations."

Cool Graphics

This guy does cool stuff with flash and java animations. It reminds me of elektroplankton for the DS. And it reminds me of one of the presenters at Graphite NZ 2006, who presented interactive art.

Anyways, I found the guy by browsing around this site, and this site If you browse either of these, you'll find a whole bunch of neat flash tools for browsing. you can tell he's touched them both.

Picasa Web Albums

Look out flickr, here comes Picasa Web Albums. It's so new they are calling it a "test" as opposed to "labs" or "beta" like all the other Google offerings.

I submitted my gmail address for a first-come-first-serve invitation and I was accepted almost immediately. The invite request page errored out while I was logged in to gmail. I logged out, entered my email address, and now it says "Photos" in my Google services list.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I saw this on reddit. Mostly I'm interested because the complexity theory book i have was written by Papadimitriou -- also I like to say his name!


Openssl issues.

I'm sure some of you have seen this already, but just in case.


Monday, September 04, 2006


"Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms." from

In the book "The E-Myth Revisited" Gerber claims people in blue suits sell more than people in brown suits. It seemed to work for IBM for a couple decades. :)

sudo go make me a sandwich

If only this worked.

They didn't call him "The Stingray Hunter"

Steve Irwin died after being stung through the heart by a stingray.

All non perl regex are belong to suck

(09:47:43) chad: Oh and emacs regexes suck.
(09:48:01) lakin: by suck, you mean they're different?
(09:48:07) chad: Yes, and they suck.
(09:48:08) chad: ;)
(09:48:14) lakin: define suck?
(09:48:24) chad: They backslashing is all wonky.
(09:48:26) lakin: cause I'm pretty sure they're computationally equivalent.
(09:48:58) chad: I googled for "emacs regular expressions suck" (no quotes) and found 155 000 hits.
(09:49:39) lakin: google for "regular expressions suck" and you get 1.6 million hits.
(09:49:58) lakin: so emacs regexes suck less than other regexes, ie they represent a lesser portion of the regex suckage that is out there.
(09:50:03) chad: that's just all the loser programmers out there. ;)
(09:50:08) chad: :)
(09:51:15) lakin:
(09:51:43) chad: shit!
(09:51:47) chad: that's amazing.
(09:51:53) chad: I don't believe it.
(09:52:03) chad: Perl is the only language where regexes make sense.
(09:52:07) chad: Oh.
(09:52:09) chad: I get it.
(09:52:26) chad: perl regexes make sense to me and the others are all screwed up.
(09:52:42) chad: that means anyone who uses one of those "lesser" languages doesn't get perl regexes.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mad scientist bookstore

Lindsay's Technical Books claims to sell the "Highest quality books, new and old, for experimenters, inventors, tinkerers, mad scientists, and a very few normal people."

I saw "mad scientists" and requested a catalog right away. The site lists books on making a still (for alcohol to use as fuel), vacuum tube radios, a motorized bicycle, a carbon arc torch, tons of stuff on metal working.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I don't *HEART* Microsoft

Method and system for selecting and conjugating a verb
United States Patent Application: 0060195313

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wikipedia: top 100

When I looked, the The C programming language was # 52. Maybe this means it's finally becoming history. Probably not, but here's to hoping.

Quote of the day to go with the link:

"Linux uses C as portable assembly language."

Ubuntu on Sun Fire Servers

Canonical Ltd. Commits to Support Sun Fire Servers with UltraSPARC T1 “CoolThreads” Technology with Ubuntu

All your money are belong to bank!

Techdirt: Who Do You Blame When Your Virtual Bank Fails?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Google Spreadsheets!

This morning, my gmail account had a new link to spreadsheets at the top left hand corner.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ready Set Rant

On your marks... get set...