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.