Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I worry sometimes

Things like this, and more obviously the increasingly terrible "grammar" (I use the term very loosely) used in instant messageing make me worry for the future. Now, I know and openly admit that I can't spell at all, nor am I very good at grammar, so this affects me more than others. I'm like a bad spelling and grammar sponge. Think of our kids, and the next generation, growing up surrounded by all sorts of errors and misuse. Oh the terror.

In other news, that A List Apart site is a really good read. I stumble across it looking for css and javascript (blech) solutions everyonce in a while, and always stumble away feeling more knowledgeable.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Nasa.. UFOs... Doinks... Oh my. O.o

So I'm googling along, minding my own business, and I run across this in a search for NASA space images on -

... 0.o ?

Here's where it comes from - it's basically about how you can't trust things like image processing in the wrong hands (or possibly even the right ones..?). Brain not doing so hot without the sleep, so further commentary is sluggish in the forthcoming...

So, having basically not slept at ALL last night, I I'm thinking to myself, "Self, does this not strike you as ... more than just a tad odd?" (Yes, sadly, an actual quote from my stream of conciousness. Le Sigh.) My brain is not fitting pieces together so good just now. I'm not sure I can put more coherent thought into it than that at the moment, as fish-mouth-eyed (?? o_0 ??) as I feel right now, and plus I have actual, honest, cross-my-heart work that I need to Google for space photos for (oh, the irony).

But... Well, here goes nuthin'...
I'm having odd thoughts about the persistence of the UFO mythology / whatever - I think mostly about the possibility of some deeply rooted Jungian archetype type racial memory ... So maybe the reason people around the world see UFOs is because of media exposure and already having heard stories, or maybe it's because they're really "out there" and swinging by now and then to give us The Meaning Of Life or perhaps as crazy college-kid-aliens swinging by and playing pranks on us on weekends, or maybe we have some kind of UFO idea embedded in our psychological makeup to begin with. That would certainly make us look for the things regardless of whether they're there or not.

..Which of course, if our species is wired to believe in not only dragons and heroes, but also UFOs, would have all sorts of possible explanations by itself, and certainly doesn't exclude the first two possibilities.

The whole ideal of a racial memory does beg the question of external interference anyways.
My favorite example would definitely be the Vorta from ST:DS9 . (Unbelieveably insanely awesome show... dang do I miss it...) They were genetically engineered to believe that the species that altered their DNA were Gods.

Overall, odd and creepy thoughts to be having while this low on the sleep-o-meter.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hawkgirl & Mystique - Halloweenies

First of all, I can't resist but point out the following delightful incongruity.

This photo is of Linden from this Halloween, who *wrote the post preceding this one*:

If you have the slightest familiarity with the Marvel universe, you probably recognize Mystique. (also here's a more succinct & faster loading article on Mystique)

Here's us together, I'm Hawkgirl from DC's Justice League (the Bruce Timm animated cartoon network version). I really, really just adore her, and the Green Lantern - they're both just so non-corny and overall kick-ass characters. We prove our geek street cred, yes we do! ^_^

I just moved, and I was about 1/3 unpacked at the time of this photo. That's why the messy background. :)

The wings I did in about a day, it was pretty nuts. I really still can't believe I pulled that one off. The mace I did in a flurry of late-night insanity, and I sorta accidentally made a real weapon out of paper, hot glue, and a styrofoam ball... how *do* I manage these things?? I didn't think you
could make a dangerous *mace* out of craft store supplies... but I guess if anyone would do it *by accident* it would be me...

Here's some more of our pictures, with bonus costume switching ; )

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Computers make the world go.

I've been mulling over a project in the back of my head, and thinking about computer/human interfaces in general recently:

The thing that we (and I'll presumptuously speak for all mankind for a moment) want is computers that do more automatically for us. The whole point of a tool is to make things easier. Sometimes I wonder if tasks are actually quicker, now that we have computers. They are, but not as much as people would like to think. There's all the buying, learning, upgrading, and dealing with quirks, bugs, and crashes. I would love to spend less time on that, and more time reading The Fountainhead.

The problem with computers doing things automatically is that we never want quite exactly the same thing. Even if computers do learn to automate a series of repetitive tasks, the second we want something slightly different, we run into the problem of how to tell the computer to do something different. As an example, when you pop a blank cd into a mac or pc, it realizes that the cd is blank and pops up a little dialog asking you what you want to do with the cd. There's also a little box you can check if you want it to always do the same thing. If 99% of the time you want to burn a music CD, you can tell it to always do that, but it's not simple, if not impossible, to tell it to stop doing that when you want to burn a data CD. Thankfully, that doesn't lock you into anything, you can always close the music burning software and open something else; but it's a good example.

So, the problem is finding an intuitive way to represent automating tasks, one that isn't in your face like so many Microsoft Office tools are. We are all gradually picking up this terrible JustClickYes syndrome. I think I might have something with the R.A.T. idea, where the burden of teaching the computer what you want is hidden behind an artificial life interface. The limitation of that is that I wouldn't want any sort of rudimentary (or advanced, for that matter) AI actually making changes to any of my files. Maybe there could be some sort of visual, but simple, task/activity monitor that keeps track of any sort of automated changes the computer made, and allows you to roll back in case you didn't want something to happen.

... kind of like version control systems. Ooh. Wouldn't that be something. Like a more complex and better looking Photoshop History, but with logic similar to Subversion. Then, the computer can run around and do whatever the hell it wants, and you won't mind, since you can always easily and quickly undo anything it gets wrong, but meanwhile, it will save you time. Time is of the essence and all that.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gotcha: Google Map quirk

Since I've been doing nothing but playing with google maps recently, I discovered an interesting little quirk. You can zoom all the way out (or almost all the way out) so that you can see the entire world, but repeated to the right and left, which allows you to scroll and look at the pacific ocean. If you have a set of markers displayed on the map, it will only display on one world tile at a time. So, consider some markers located in Australia, and some markers located in Alaska. If you attempt to scroll so you can see both, you will only see the markers in Alaska, or the markers in Australia. At least in my case. Interesting little quirk though.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Comic Art Community- Leia By Bruce Timm

Woah. How cool is this?

Very Cool. (In case you weren't sure)
Bruce Timm, btw, is the artist whose style is the one they used for the Batman and Justice League cartoons. He is my hero.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Rodent Aggregate Tool

Take a Lookie!

This is my new project, which I'm really excited about. (This is one of those projects that came to me about an hour after I went to sleep) The more I think about it, the more I like it! (Also, I'm much happier on the inside now that I've made the decision to go Mac only)

The current development plan is to do it in Pygame and use PyObjC to handle drag and drop to/from the OS. Python makes me happy. Doing development on my Ti makes me happy. Lots and lots of drawing and scanning and animating to do, which also makes me happy because I've always wanted to try my hand at animating things.

The only things that make me unhappy art that my mac isn't internet connected right now, which stems from the fact that it doesn't get wireless signal where my PC does; I don't have a proper desk setup yet (pending on moving issues and money); and I have like no time right now to work on it.

But I am still excited about it. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

'Magic brush' paints visual world

This BBC news article is an interesting little tid bit. Kimiko Ryokai invented a brush that has a camera in it for picking up color or movie clips, and a electronic canvas for painting on. I think kids' response to it was really interesting, turning a painting into a story.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Can you play Sudoku with your fingers crossed?

So, I'm trying to segway myself out of posting stressed-out rantings. Towards that end, I'm walking around with crossed fingers this morning. This is mostly because I have to help move an ungodly heavy mattress across 3 states today. And guess who I'm moving it with. I'll give you a clue - I'm related to them, and they don't have mossy blogs. : (

But since I have drafted my Extra-Large-And-Awesome Michael to help on the NY end, I'm hopeful that things will not be a disaster. It's good to hope, right?

So here's the good news:
I found a free sudoku site! on the web!

I can live with not being able to leave notes in the squares, what with the cross-platform-ness and free-ness and everything.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Breathe, that's the key...

... I feel the need to, I don't know, almost apologize, or something, for what I just posted below. Rereading, it was a bit incoherent.
Plus, angry, with ugly text.
Maybe not apologize, but calm down.
Even though my stress level is through the roof, I can still function and stuff, I guess.

..I'm just gonna stop and take a few breaths.

Sheesh, I started typing random subjects into random places in the post, so that roach issues are both longer than and above my brother's mysterious headaches and chronic vomiting issues.

Well, all I can think of to say right now, is that we come from a long line of highly intelligent and deeply stupid people, and hopefully we're some kind of mutants.
Or something.

I think I'll just pick up the remains of my brain and scurry off to non-blog activities now.

*facepalm* BLEH! *best myDad impression* 0_o

So now we're getting spam in the comments.

Less sarcastically,

There's so far chandaliers, and some nonsense about lumber or something.

*shakes fist*

In Other News, I've been having a rather intense couple of days of BS, smack-myself-in-the-face-inducing stress, and frustration. Spose I'll vent here.

The bold & intense blue text thing reflects my mood, I guess.

Roaches are crawling out of the woodwork and then dying in my apartment.
I hope an exterminator never comes within a 5 mile radius of me, ever again. Mostly I just get hives from the poisons, *especially* Borax, & can't take out the garbage because the shute closet is filled with it, and get the roaches IN MY APARTMENT rather than in the garbage shute.
There's really nothing like finding roaches belly-up next to the surge protector, next to the couch, in the middle of the floor, on the rug, to brighten your day.
Mysteriously, those unobtrusive RAID or whatever traps actually seem to work magic whenever I have used them, including in apartment buildings - of course, provided that your neighbors don't do dumbass things like leaving OPEN, still-liquid-having orange juice containers in the damn garbage closet. Then they just come back eventually.

My family is supposed to go on a "vacation" (more like a "torture-by-senile-psychotics") next week. NO idea what's going on there... well, because. partly...

Last night my brother just had a spinal tap. And yes, I mean the actual spine-puncturing test, and not the movie.
I have no idea so far if this was a wise precaution or just more medical BS.

Because of this and (even more) other assorted crap, I'm just a twitchy mess at work.

Ok, I feel midly better now...

Friday, August 12, 2005


Check out these cards (requires a pdf viewer). What an excellent idea. Temptation to use these, very high. :)

Whose Fish

No idea who the Coudal Partners are, but they have a mighty fine puzzle in their blog. Apparently Albert Einstein made up this logic puzzle, and claimed that 98% of the people in the world could not figure it out.

There are five houses in a row in different colors. In each house lives a person with a different nationality. The five owners drink a different drink, smoke a different brand of cigar and keep a different pet, one of which is a Walleye Pike.

The question is-- who owns the fish?

1. The Brit lives in the red house.
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
3. The Dane drinks tea.
4. The green house is on the left of the white house.
5. The green house owner drinks coffee.
6. The person who smokes Pall Malls keeps birds.
7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhills.
8. The man living in the house right in the center drinks milk.
9. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
10. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the one who smokes Dunhills.
12. The owner who smokes Bluemasters drinks beer.
13. The German smokes Princes.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

I figured it out, can you?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


I remember back when you could see all the major fonts from Arial to Helvetica in one pulldown menu on a 800x600 pixel screen. Those were the days. (of simplicity and easy font choosing)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Electric Sheep - Best. Screensaver. EVER.

It's all your fault, Linden.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it...

I was just about getting around to actually making some more art recently, playing around in Photoshop like I did in days of old. And then Linden posted this link here.
So I started googleing fractals again, with the end result of doing to my hard disks the very thing you feared - filling them with thousands and thousands of fractal renders. 8 )
Now, I have stumbled upon something truly astounding, whose time has finally come:

Best. Screensaver. EVER.

Screensavers nowadays are both totally unnecessary, and in a golden age of coolness. Modern display technology, for the most part, doesn't need screensavers - even the TVs starting a few years ago have built in display saver graphics (bouncing brand logos, etc).
However, they've evolved into a refined art form of animation and programming.

My previous favorites were the OS X screensavers Fracture and Fluid, which I actually use in combination on my Spiffy Super Upgraded Smurf Machine. I've sung their praises before.
But, I have to admit - for sheer coolness, they can't touch electricsheep. It combines (open source!) flam3 fractal animation with an online render farm approach, and add an interactive element, where you get to vote with the up or down arrow keys for the sheep you like. Those sheep go on to MUTATE and REPRODUCE. As in, the patterns change over time, and the more you vote for a particular "sheep" the longer it survives on the server to reproduce!! You can also cast a negative vote, if you think a pattern is less than attractive.

I'm way, way too tired to properly explain the extra uber cool phenonmenon that is electric sheep, so I'll just cop out and yet again link to them, they explain it so much better than me.

If you have a high speed connection and even a decent amount of power in your system, you MUST try this. It worked for me with no problem whatsoever with a Windows XP Home service pack 2 2.3Ghz Dell with 512 RAM, I have no idea about older systems, or anything with less RAM.

The only not-so-cool thing about the electric sheep screensaver is that the Mac OS X version was really buggy. Things that haven't happened to me in forever started up - Unexpectedly Quitting and reloading the Finder - In short, one unhappy Smurf. But it's open source, so if you have the talent, knowledge, and/or inclination, you could maybe do something about it! Yay, open source!

So I guess my two Dells (shut up, I got the newer one on ebay for 300$) can run electric sheep, and I get to not feel so bad about the Smurf not contributing to the sheep-rendering effort.

So.. well, if only I could stop staring at the frelling thing... I have, like stuff.. to do... Ooo, purty...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Grim Fandango

"A Epic Tale of Crime and Corruption in the Land of the Dead."
What a good game.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for these kind of adventure games. I played Myst again recently, and my boyfriend insisted that I try Grim Fandango and Obsidian.

Obsidian is ridiculously hard. I firmly believe that someone had to think in a certain way to solve all the puzzles, and its not quite the way that I think. I got a bunch of them, and most of them I could solve with just a hint to get me started. I think the biggest problem is that they set up a puzzle in such a way that you know its a puzzle or part of a puzzle, but you have no idea what to do to get started, or how it fits in the big picture, or what your name is. You really just know nothing for some of them. For the rest, you know exactly what to do, but the puzzles are very long and complex. Despite the toughness factor, its a very interesting story and fascinating puzzles.

Grim Fandango, on the other hand, is just the right level of hardness with an overabundance of fun. The game is put together with such attention to detail that I was blown away. (The credits have two pages of Quality Assurance Testers) Made in 1997, the graphics aren't something to ooh and ahh over, yet you can't shake a fist at them either. For the tools and computing power they had, they did a very good job. The land of the dead is just as pretty and strange and cool looking as you'd expect. The characters are awesome, and the voice acting, of which there is plenty, is great. The main character, Manny Calavera, always has a witty quip for everything, items, people, stuff you can activate, conversations. Everything has a sort of Mexican feel to it, from the voices to the storyline and the music. Speaking of music, the soundtrack is amazing too, I wish they sold a cd of it. Everything about this game is wonderful. 8 years later, and its still one of the best games I've ever played. Definitely the best adventure game.

I'm tempted to hunt down the team that worked on this and beg them to make another game. (You hear me?? If you still exist, make another game! You are amazing, and godlike in your game making skills!) For the rest of you, if you can track down a copy of this game, I highly recommend it.

Update: OMG, you can download the music. *le faint* Lucas Arts still has a good website up for this (Amazing, considering it's hard to get Maxis to admit that they ever made such a game as Sim Ant), and you can download 3 of the music tracks. *love* Lucas Arts will always have a little spot in my heart now, no matter what they do.

Friday, July 08, 2005


*grin* sorry, just had to share that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Fridge Idea

I don't know if they have this (I'm assuming they don't because I've never heard of it), but I think that they should have a power socket inside fridges. I suppose this would lead to people doing stupid things (like running their computer in there), but I think it would be really useful for other reasons (for instance running a small fan or air de-odorizer). For all of us not buying this new amazing fridge, they should make a air de-odorizer (possibly with fan) that sits between the light socket and the light. You might have to mess with your door opening thing to keep power flowing to the whole assembly.. or better yet, a air cleaning thing with fan, bright LED light, and motion sensor to detect when you open the door so it can turn the light on. That shouldn't be expensive, so I can afford it and stick it in my fridge, which stinks.

Monday, June 27, 2005


It used to be that the word 'Evil' seemed to be reserved for stories and cartoons and the like. You know, fiction. You had your bad guy (the best of which rated as the 'evil bad guy') in your made up story that takes place in the distant past, or the remote future, or in a galaxy far, far away.. you get the point.
Maybe I'm imagining it, but it just feels like people are using 'evil' in reference to the real world more and more recently. The fact that this has happened so much that I'm noticing it through the sleepy daze and general not knowing what is going on-ness that is me disturbs me just a little. Again, I could be completely off base here, but what with the "axis of evil" (I can't help but give that a halloween leer when ever I say it in my head - as terrible as that is), Google's pledge not to be evil, and 'evil video games rotting our children's heads', it's like evil is everywhere. I almost feel like using a permanent marker and lableing a couple things as 'good' to balance things out.
Someone tell me that I'm just being wonky on a monday morning.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The thing about no power

Having experienced 2 weeks of not having power in my apartment, here is a list of things that I both liked and disliked about it. (Normally, I would not post this, but it might serve as a happy reminder of an almost forgotten world, minus the stinky fridge)

+ Candles

  • Playing with fire, always fun

  • Reading books / writing by candlelight is an interesting experience. Candles are definately a mood setter. Do it the way they did it before electricity, and be glad for lightbulbs.

  • Playing with wax, also, always fun. (Less fun when the lights do come back on and you find it everywhere)

- Flashlights

  • Large Maglights are blinding! I worry for the eyesight of my various pets

  • Depending on the flashlight to find the matches to light the candles kinda blows when you forget where you put the flashlight

+ The Sun Rises and Sets

  • Being forced to plan events that require good light around the natural cycle of the day is also something I'd recommend trying out. It's kinda cool to actually pay attention to the sun, and revel in its wonderful brightness every once in a while.

  • Everythings quieter with no electricity. Listening to the crickets and such at night, and the birds in the morning is really relaxing.

+ No Computers

  • Of course, I had access to the internet at work, but you don't realize how chained you are to your computer til you can't turn it on.

  • Doing all the stuff you've been neglecting, noticing the thousands of projects that you meant to do and have completely ignored in favor of the thousands of computer projects that you keep meaning to get around to. (procrastinate much?)

  • No monitor glow fatigued eyes

- Stinky Fridge

  • If anyone knows how to get the smell out a fridge and freezer thats already been scrubbed with baking soda and 409, with more baking soda strewn about for good measure, let me know.

  • Cleanup's a pain

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Python and Puzzles

Amongst my recent searching for something pythonic that I don't remember, I stumbled across this:
The Python Challenge
which is based off of this:
The Riddle - notpr0n
(which I must investigate at a later time)
Also, in my googleings, I found this
Python Puzzles
which looks interesting as well.

I started the python challenge, and got through the first couple, spending only a couple minutes on each (less for the first one). You basically use the riddle given by the page, and put the answer in the url for the next puzzle. (You can also see the long explaination of the solution to the last puzzle) I have to admit that my solutions were a bit simpler than theirs (such as using 'chr( ord('k') + 2)' as opposed to some mapping scheme using a string.trans() that I didn't see the documentation for in the python quick guide), but everyone's different. If you know python, or any programming language, check it out. (The faq says that only 2 of the challenges are python specific)

Interesting Finds

Its a bit technical to explain, but if you have a *nix computer, and you look around in your named service config files (/etc/named.conf), you'll notice that 'localhost' refers you to a file at ( /var/named/chroot/var/named/ which contains the following information:

$TTL 86400
$ORIGIN localhost.
@ 1D IN SOA @ root (
42 ; serial (d. adams)
3H ; refresh
15M ; retry
1W ; expiry
1D ) ; minimum

1D IN NS @

Note the line with the number 42 and (d. adams) in the comment.
I find this highly amusing..

Sunday, June 05, 2005

In case of Fractal Obsession, break glass.

Now, that is a nice Fractal. My next step should be to determine what program created that and make sure that Rachel never gets her hands on it, for the sake of her hard drives.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Juicy Opera Tip

I was just given an awesome tip: In Opera, in order to find things on the page, go to a website and type "/" followed by your search term. A little box pops up in the bottom left corner showing your search term, and it will highlight the first match on the page. Using F3 or Ctrl-G will cycle through the matches. Hitting return if the match is a link will follow that link.

Very useful, nifty little tool. I'm feeling more and more liberated from my mouse as we speak.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Opera Review, Part 3

Fifth Day

I've noticed that I'm not using all the nifty and keen features as written about above. I'm reading a review of OS X 10.4 on Ars Technica, and what I want to do is keep opening links in new tabs (I mean pages) in the background, but I keep forgetting that I can until after the fact. This leads me to believe that more than a week is necessary for my Opera tryout. Also, I still notice that the UI is using much more space than I would like. This isn't helped by the fact that I can't seem to get Opera to keep track of the fact that I'm registered. (UPDATE: I realized when I used my laptop at home that Safari always opens new tabs in the background, which is why I'm not used to specifying it.)

Also, in this article (which is very good, if you are interested in OS X reviews), I find that even though all lab PC's come with QuickTime installed, Opera doesn't seem to recognize this fact, and prompts me to download and install QuickTime all over again.

Sixth Day

I like the way Opera displays forms. It’s nice and rounded. (This may be a property of the skin that I'm using) I appreciate browsers that attempt to make things a little nicer looking. doesn't display properly either. I sent did the report a site problem thing, but I find it discouraging that this is the second major site (also that does not display properly. I doubt that the .css or html for the sites are wrong, so it makes me question Opera's rendering engine.

Seventh Day

I noticed today that Opera highlights the little website icons in the quick links toolbar as you scroll over them. It uses a transparent shade of yellow which looks decent for most icons, like Slashdot and ArsTechnica.

I also noticed that loading causes Opera 8 on Windows to die horribly and quit unexpectedly. This will be fun when Opera comes to PSU next year. I submitted a bug report.

Another thing that I've noticed is that Opera opens pop-ups within the Opera window, instead as a new window, which is nice 99% of the time. It definitely helps me keep things organized, which I like, and it keeps popup pages from getting away from you. Pop-ups also get their own page, so they are easy to track down and close. Also, I’ve noticed that Opera does an excellent job of not allowing unwanted pop-ups. Although it doesn’t notify you when it blocks a popup (not that I’ve noticed, at least), I haven’t gotten any unwanted pop-ups yet.

While we're on the subject, Penn State's WebMail service uses a pop-up to browse and upload attachments, but in Opera, it loads as a new page instead of a pop-up window, which is rather disorienting, and may cause users to get confused.

Finally, I'm loving the fit to width option. Basically, Opera does its best to eliminate any sideways scrolling. (Much of this is lessened by css, but it still happens enough to want a feature for it.)


I like Opera. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it does have a couple features that make it worth using over other browsers. Judging from my first week of using it, it would probably take a month before I started to take advantage of all Opera’s features, but the first week has been positive. Overall, I like the idea of Notes, fit-to-width is a very nice feature, I like the way Opera implements tabbed browsing, and Opera feels secure and professional. Area’s for improvement: the GUI could be put on a diet, and the RSS Feed section could use a makeover.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Opera Review, part 2

Second Day

Woah, cutting and pasting a URL dug up a cute little gem: Paste and Go. There's even a keyboard shortcut for that. I can feel myself being more productive already.

Sadly, for some crazy installed on lab computers reason, I lost the fact that this copy was registered and it looks like I'll have to reregister it every time. Hmm, must look into this further.

I like the fact that each tab has its own close button.

Trying to make this whole thing into a blog entry is a mess.. the page for posting loads all wrong and the buttons don't work. The little BlogThis popup seems to work okay though. I did a Report this site thing, so maybe it'll get fixed, considering is used by a lot of people.

Third Day

I discovered that you can open a new link in a new page (Opera's term for a tab), and you can also open it and have it load in the background, which is the behavior that I always want. I usually browse a page, and open interesting links for looking at after I'm finished with the current page.

Fourth Day

Searching a page for text was kind of disappointing. One of my favorite features of Firefox is that the page search was integrated into the bottom of the window, which reduced clutter and meant that nothing was covered up by the search window.

I've also decided that I like the fact that the navigation bar (with the reload, stop, address bar and google search) is below the tabs names. Visually, it links the navigation bar with each tab individually, which is more appropriate than other browser's behavior which has the tabs as the lowest bar before the page.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Opera Review, Part One


I work at Penn State University, as a Computer Lab Consultant. Next year, PSU is making an agreement to make Opera available in the labs, plus a free license to every PSU faculty, staff, and student; so some PR from Opera came and gave a presentation to those interested. I went, got an overview of the Opera browser, a free mouse pad, a free t-shirt, and a complimentary registration card.

I figured, I might as well learn Opera, since users next year will no doubtedly have questions, and it has some interesting features. Since I have a sad, sad blog that sees no action, I'm going to do a write up about it.

The browsers I normally use are Firefox on Windows and Linux, and Safari on OS X.

First Impressions from the Presentation

The folks at Opera had a fancy poster up claiming "The fastest browser on earth." We asked about this, thinking maybe they had some insanely fast rendering engine or something, but the presenters admitted that they had just been wondering about that themselves. They decided that its not necessarily faster rendering than other browsers, but it definitely made the user more productive. If that is true, then Opera is definitely worth my time.

Sessions seem really cool. (I know that you can get those in Firefox, but I'm not one to go searching out cool plugins and install them, I have enough to do)

The fast forward and backward buttons are intriguing. If the fast forward actually does a decent job of slideshowing stuff (I look at a lot of galleries), then that would be awesome. If the fast backward skipped you to the first page you saw on a particular site (determined by domain name), that would be sweet, but they gave me the impression it took you to the first page viewed in that particular tab.

Built in RSS feed support might be very useful, since I look at a lot of blogs when I have free time.

I was impressed by the application size being small, and the interface looked pretty clean.

The trashcan seems like an excellent idea, as do the Notes.

They claim to work closely with w3c, I asked about what their goals were for rendering pages: according to how w3c says they should be rendered, or according to how designers meant the pages to be rendered, using any of their hackish css and html tricks. They said they strive to do it right, you can also report a website as being rendered incorrectly.

Bookmark nicknames, and a easy to use bookmark search looks useful.

Day One

Downloading took a minute, because I had to find a server that wasn't already too busy. Installation was clean, quick, and easy.

Registering took me a while, since I had to search the opera site up and down to figure out that I should put "---" for the organization, otherwise the serial number on the card they gave me wouldn't work.

Importing Bookmarks from Firefox. Under File: Import, they have options to import from IE, Netscape, Konqueror, and a couple others, but no Mozilla or Firefox. What the heck? Since Netscape looks like a repackaged Firefox, I choose Netscape, and it seemed to import my Firefox bookmarks fine. Now to recreate my bookmarks toolbar and get rid of Opera's default bookmarks. The trash thing is pretty handy, but where are the bookmarks that are just in the Bookmarks menu, and not organized into folders? It took me a while to accidentally click on the grey area underneath the trashcan, which shows the top level.

Bookmarks incident aside, my first impression of the GUI is that its kinda bloated, which is something that I hate. I'm very picky about my screen real estate, especially because I need to keep an eye on a chat client for work. I messed with the toolbar settings and got rid of the Main bar. Also the Start bar, which is really annoying when it pops up underneath the address box. I think I'm the only person in the world that actually uses the Status menu regularly, so I enabled that, but its almost twice as thick as it needs to be. Curious if I could find a skin that minimizes the size on these buttons, I downloaded Freestyle, which does help a lot.

Cruising right along, browsing some of my normal pages, checking the mail, I stumble across something else.. Ctrl-T, which I'm used to opening a new tab in other browsers, prompts me to save a bookmark. What’s the keyboard command for opening a new tab? Search of the Opera help tells me Ctrl-N. Makes sense, but this reminds me of OS X changing some of finder's keyboard shortcuts around.. its going to take a bit of getting used to, particularly if I continue to use Safari at home.

I tried signing up for an RSS feed,, which went relatively well, although the fact that Feeds seem to use the same app as Mail, but there are two different menus for them is odd. In fact, I'd rather that Feeds have their own simplified app that doesn't feel like the mail app, or at least doesn't have a quick reply and mail icon.

I also checked out some mouse gestures, which are cool.

All and all, the interface is going to take a bit of getting used to. I like some of the features I see, but its odd to me (especially when Firefox made such an effort to be easy to switch to) that I have to re-teach myself how to do some things. Maybe the effort will pay off with increased flexibility.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Burningbird - A Speck of Dirt

Burningbird - A Speck of Dirt is an amazing little story. Definitely go read it.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Sayin"hey" from the edge of the world (AKA Brooklyn)

Checking in from my long absence, so long in fact, I totally forgot my login. Oy.
So now I have a job, at the link above. I photoshop their images together on a background I whipped up, tweak ebay titles, do html, data entry... ebay research... you know, just all the Stuff Rachel does.

Ahh, yes. A job.

Oh wait, now I'm free-time-less.

So I have been heard from sparingly indeed.
Some madness has happened in the interim, like Linden going to Pycon : ), and I'm starting to eat only raw food.
Yes, this sounds totally insane to me too. But it makes me feel amazingly better after only one day of doing it. I forgot to take my Oh-crap-I'm-itching-all-over-again pill, and nothing happened! o_o
More info on my latest health/diet madness:

I bought a bunch of their stuff, and it's all a bit odd but definitely tasty and filling so far. I bought this absolutely bizarre-looking green bar they have, made of "spirula" algae (!!), and I have yet to work up the bravery to try it.
I found out about this crazy phenomena of raw food because of Mike's contant O'Reilly watching. Carol Alt was on there (was a VS model, supermodel, etc - I had no idea who she was, but Mike & Tony knew plenty *sigh*). She wrote a book called Eating in the Raw, and was on promoting it a while ago, & eventually I picked it up on
Now, there are definitely a few things she says that are out-and-out wacky (ie, it's a short drive from NYC to PENNSYLVANIA to buy raw dairy from the Amish!!), but the science sounds, well, sound, because she co-wrote it with a couple of doctors. And so far, I feel amazingly great!

In Other News,
I came up with a TOTALLY INSANE tetris related idea. I don't want to go into details here because I have this odd feeling it'll get jinxed, and I want to keep my invention in the family, as it were, at this juncture. (I have no idea if ANYONE else would care anyway, but I want to sit around secretively thinking to myself "Eeeexcellent" *steepled fingers* for a bit longer. Yet more evidence that I am simply cracked... )

Sunday, March 27, 2005


MyCatHatesYou dot com
Good site for some laughs. Plus I love cats.

PyCon DC 2005 Home Page

PyCon this year was great. We showed up at about 4pm the third day of sprinting, so it was hard to attach ourselves to a group, however we jumped in with Bruce Eckel's Adapters and Interfaces Sprint. Having read the PEP's the night before, we all talked about what we thought they were, why we would want to use them or not, etc. Plus we got to meet some very smart people (more on this later).

The con proper was great. We managed to make it to all three keynotes (waking up at 6:30 in the morning, yawn) and of course the SubEthaEdit crew were back, with a couple newcomers. There is something very satisfying/fun/educational about taking notes in real time with other people. I heard people say that notetaking using SubEthaEdit at conventions is common, but PyCon takes the cake for number of people/quality of notes. (The Google keynote notes were not going to be published online, yet we easily transcribed his slides, took note of what he said, almost word for word, got all the audience comments and did an excellent job of the Q & A session) All our notes can be found at Ted Leung's site here: []. If you've never used SubEthaEdit, the coloring of the text corresponds to who typed the text. (I was light blue for the Google talk) Notice how collaborative it is. People form kinda unspoken rules of SubEthaEditing, usually a couple people will line their cursors up in order, ready to take the next lines of notes, one or two will go back and spell check or fix organization, someone will fill in the quotes section or links section if needed. It's super cool.

A [supercool] group of us are working on Fuse (maybe this well be renamed), which will be a cross platform Editor similar to SubEthaEdit. The project info can be found on the mailing list, wiki, or the BerliOS site.

Anyways, my general feelings on PyCon are that the conference is a great way to meet people and learn a lot of stuff, the python community is really awesome, in general, there is a lot of fun to be had. Unfortunately I always feel so stupid when I go. Almost everyone there is very, very intelligent. Most, if not all, seem to be involved in open source (which takes some intelligence to begin with), plus they use/helped create python (which also makes you smarter than the average joe), plus they're coming to the conference. So I get to mix in with the cream of the cream of the crop, which is a little depressing to me because, although I love Python dearly, I'm in college and hardly have the time/chance to use it, and I don't have anywhere near the experience in programming that the others have, and I've never worked on an open source anything (besides my dinky game which is released as open source, but I wrote by myself).

Ah well, it's still a lot of fun, and I'm not about to let a lot of really smart people deter me from going anywhere. :) [maybe by next year, they won't have such a step up on me]

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Google SMS

Google SMS is also hella cool. Basically you send a text message like "movies: showtimes 16801" to 46645 (GOOGL) and get movie times back. Check it out the link for different examples.

Infra Red Webcam

Infra Red Webcam is amazing. Even if you're not interested in the process, check out the photos at the end comparing things.
I want to do this sometime..

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Jef Raskin - Robot Rules the Rugs

A cute article by Jef Raskin, who passed away recently, about the Roomba (Rachel, this is for you). He also wrote a book called "The Human Interface" which dad bought and I skimmed, but would really like to read, and was Employee 31 at Apple.
Something that warms my heart is that he graduated from Penn State. (See?) :)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Photo Gallery (See-Through Loo)

(See-Through Loo)
Hahaha.. :)

Cabinet National Library

What Craziness is this? Its some sort of harebrained idea by some guys with magazines, but its really cool. Next time I'm roadtripping, I'll make sure to go there.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Octopus Arms May Point Way to New Robot Designs

This is a fascinating article. Basically the idea is that an octopus has 8 long arms, and the way that they control them easily and still do complex things without getting tangled may lead to designs allowing robots to have long flexible arms. (Like Doc Oc of Spiderman)

An interesting thing is that once an octopus grabs some food, it makes the arm into a "semi-ridgid structure that bends to form quasi joints. Just as a human arm has joints at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist that allow our arms to bend and rotate, the octopus bends its arm to forming three segments of roughly equal length."

Thats pretty cool.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Technology just isn't as cool as it used to be..

I was playing with Jim's old school rotary phone the other day, and I was wondering what it is about rotary phones thats just so cool?
I think its because they engage the senses much more than phones (and other tech) do today. They have a cool dial thing, and its heavy, and you spin it, and it makes a sweet noise as it spins back. These days, everything is a keys and a screen, maybe a mouse, nothing feels cool, or sounds cool anymore. Nothing is fun to use.
Maybe thats why I like Apple products so much. Their hardware is different, appeals to some of my other senses. They have cool mice that are a single button in themselves, you can wring the neck of the iMac G4s like a strange looking goose, the first iPod's wheel would spin and click. They're not just another hunk of black plastic.
One of the coolest cell phones I've ever seen rotated open, instead of flipping open, and had a cool joystick like button on the keypad. Little stylistic designs made it cool without even knowing what the capabilities of the phone or the games included were.
Its possible that this is just a by product of growing up. Maybe I just miss toys, which are designed to be more engaging of the senses. *le sigh* Anyways, just a thought I had

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Governator Needs Open Source to Run California

Open Source is sweet. So is this articles title.. the Governator!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Shoes... Drama... icons...

...exhaustipation. Shoes and mom and oy.
...but in the midst of all the... whatever, I remembered that I want to put up the link to that nifty lil pic-file-generating app:

I use it daily, saves soo much annoyance, my pics are so much more easily searchable, I just scan through them visually. It has blurryness/aliasing settings of some sort that I haven't touched in a while, but they rule. The only problem I've ever had is when I drag a truly INSANE amount of big files onto it, it can get hinky. But yes... muchly useful app.

...i think I'm going to sleep now, and have nightmares about shoe sales.
Yeah, you heard me. I'm gonna have nightmares about *shoe sales*... me...
sign of the apocalypse and/or Mom Involvement.

Monday, January 03, 2005

New Year's 2005 - NYC

Here's a better gallery of the pictures. Better?
Please email me complaints and picture removal requests. :)
I also put up two movies of the party here and here. Unfortunately, spoiled by my camera's auto rotate function, I shot both movies sideways, and I can't figure out how to rotate them again. If anyone knows of a share/freeware way to do this, please let me know.

New Years Photos

Originally uploaded by Kusmeroglu.
I'm working on a good way to share all the great pictures I got.. at first I thought I'd just throw together some html, but then I realized that I might be doing this more often, now that I have a camera. I'm between using iPhoto/'s automatic gallery making thing or this flickr thing if it works out.
What would be ideal is some sort of gallery that me and Rachel can add comments/descriptions below the pictures, and is automated.
Any Ideas?