Archive for the 'brilliance' Category

RTFGoogle 2

Let’s face it, every now and then certain people need to be reminded that Google still exists, and that it can still be used to find the answers to the simple, often stupid questions they’re asking. I mean, half of the time the answers are in the first page of results. It’s not rocket science.

Enter Let Me Google That For You. Perhaps slightly harsh, it’s a wakeup call for those pestering you. Brilliant.

Confused 2

For the past few months, I’ve had the webcam at the Red Rocks Visitor Center as my desktop background with a script that automatically updated it every 5 minutes. It basically gave me a window into Red Rocks on my desk. Every now and then, I’d hit the little ‘Show Desktop’ button and just stare into the beautiful mountains and clouds and wish I was far away from my desk, and definitely not working.

A few days ago, however, the camera was moved — whether it was intentional or just bumped I’ll never know — and now focuses more on the new visitor’s center that’s being constructed than the lovely landscape behind it. Consequently, it lost much of its desktop appeal. So I switched back the desktop I’d had before: a panorama I’d taken in Calico Basin (just outside Red Rocks proper).

Just now, I caught a quick glimpse of my background, my window into Red Rocks.


For a second I briefly considered standing up and leaving work that instant. And then I remembered. 🙁

Doin’ it Right 0

Anyone attempting to do RAW conversion under Linux (in GIMP, specifically) is probably using DCRaw, as it appears to be the only guy in town. In which case, you owe it to yourself to check out UFRaw — it’s another GIMP plugin that’s a much better front-end for DCRaw (read: one that actually has options).

Fries With That? 6

So we just got word that our offer on a house was accepted by the bank. Now it’s time for all the fun stuff! Hopefully it all works out.

“High-Def” Webcams 3

(The term High-Definition appears to be able to be applied to anything these days, so why not webcams?)

For the past few days I’ve been obsessing watching this webcam over at the Red Rock visitor center, and just now I wrote a quick script to fetch the latest image and update my desktop background with it. It’s almost like having my desk near the window back. (OK, not even close.) But, truth is, it makes a pretty crappy background at 1920×1200. Look at this other one in comparison — now that’s a webcam.

Then I remembered. Since buying a used 20D, I have an old D30 just sitting around. With a bit of Canon software magic, that can easily be setup to take a shot at any interval and automatically transfer it to the PC. I just have to write a little plumbing to get it up on the web.

I want to do this!

Willfull Ignorance 2

Sometimes, writing good code is really hard. But other times, writing good code is so darn easy you shouldn’t even have to think about it. In fact, it shouldn’t even be called “good code” — in these cases there should never be anything else, so we’ll just call it “code”.

For instance, if I see another line of code that does this:

$foo = isset($foo) ? $foo : 'default value';

I think I’ll kill someone.

Let me clear something up for you: using the ternary operator does not make you cool. However, assigning a variable to itself makes you very uncool.

if (!isset($foo)) $foo = 'default value';

Now why is that so hard to write?

Disappearing Act 1

I’ve started trying to train myself to use Google Reader: rather than trying to remember all of the sites that I want to visit each day, and having to visit each one independently, I can go to one place and view them all. Sure, these are all benefits of RSS readers, and everybody else discovered them years ago. What can I say, I’m slow.

Anyways, Google Reader caches things on its own (which makes sense), and that has a peculiar effect: if Reader hits up the RSS feed while an article exists, and then the author decides to delete said article, said article will appear in Reader, but not on the site.

Which is where I find myself right now: I have an entry from Matt entitled, “A More Perfect Blog,” that shows nowhere on the site. So… where’d it go, Matt? 😉

Recycle Bin FTW 2

(The title rhymes, if you didn’t notice, assuming you expand the acronym.)

Last night I decided that I should finally scrape all of my pictures off my two 4GB cards — I still don’t have my final photo storage solution worked out, so in the meantime I’m never really quite sure where I want to put things — since I had some 971 pictures in the mix. I put them on the largest drive I have; the one I record TV to, the one hooked up to my TV, the one low enough to be within arm range of toddlers and cruising infants alike.

As always, I used Ctrl+A to select everything on the card, then dragged it over, repeating for the other card. Then I turned off the TV and walked away. If you aren’t familiar with this process, it’s worth noting that after the copy operating finishes, all the copied files remain selected. That will be vital information.

This morning, Izzie (our youngest) was playing around on the keyboard connected to said machine, and although I heard a few dings and such, I didn’t worry about it.

Just now, I turned on the LCD and immediately noticed a warning about trying to delete a read only file. Sure enough, Izzie had managed to hit the delete button — with an entire card’s worth of copied files still selected — and sent that entire card’s worth of pictures to purgatory.

So, today, I’m thankful for the recycle bin.

~Time 0

I’ve been playing around with Xubuntu on an old machine, and happened to install the latest version of Eclipse + PDT (1.0.3, IIRC?). While setting up the myriad of options I require to feel comfortable in the editor, I noticed that they’ve added the ability to strip whitespace on save. May the authors be praised!

Pharmacists 5

Tonight I installed dnsmasq as a caching DNS forwarder on our home network (under a VM, no less). Additionally, I changed our primary DNS servers to those hosted by OpenDNS. To double-check that things were working, I figured I’d whip up a quick script to make a bunch of DNS requests and give an average time. First round, I faced the OpenDNS server against Cox’s own. I’d never really benchmarked the Cox DNS servers, so this was quite enlightening:

andrew@ubuntu-server-vm:~$ php ./dns_bench.php
Average response time: 27.53
andrew@ubuntu-server-vm:~$ php ./dns_bench.php
Average response time: 158.58

This only serves to strengthen my belief that all cable ISPs are run by pharmacists.

To satisfy morbid curiosity, here are the results against the local dnsmasq daemon:

andrew@ubuntu-server-vm:~$ php ./dns_bench.php
Average response time: 0.21

That’s only about, oh, a 755x improvement. Hopefully that’ll sufficiently speed things up.

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