Elections kind of got put on the back-burner during this awkwardly long waiting period, but Pennsylvania’s primary is on Tuesday.

Obama’s closing the gap, although Clinton still leads in Pennsylvania. But what people seem to forget is that it hardly matters: they’re close, which means that they’ll probably walk away with similar numbers of delegates. It’s also worth noting that if Hillary narrowly beats Obama, it would look foolish for her to claim it as her “comeback.”

I’ll certainly be watching Pennsylvania, but I don’t have high hopes for much of a change in Pennsylvania.


Trying a different style for this post…

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We held our “Rock Band Night” event tonight. The turnout wasn’t that great, but it’s a long weekend and gorgeous, so we were happy with the people we got. I brought my Xbox VGA cable, so we ran the Xbox into a projector at 1280×1024. We also pulled out an awesome sound system and hooked into that. What made things even more awesome, though, was that we realized that the projector not only has a Computer In, but a Computer Out, which just mirrors the input. So we hooked up a big monitor, and ended up with the band in front of the screen, facing the crowd, as if they were a normal band. That is how you play Rock Band. It was essentially like having a live band performing, minus the actual musical talent. The crowd was also just right, happily listening, periodically singing along, cheering good people and (good-naturedly) heckling those who missed strings of notes.

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While listening, I spoke with a student who works in the admissions office, and she mentioned that she gets asked surprisingly often about video games at Bentley. We talked a bit about what we do, and then she asked if we had a website. We do, but the URL was long. So on a whim, I picked up bsgo.org.

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The process of registering a new domain was interesting. It’s been a while since I went ahead with it. Initially, I inadvertently went to register.com, and merrily proceeded through the registration until it presented me with the total and asked for my credit card information. $79?! It was for a few years, but I forgot that they inexplicably charged a lot. I went to GoDaddy, which charges a more sane rate, but was constantly having to uncheck offers I didn’t want. I wanted to register the domain for one year, not several. I wanted to register bsgo.org, not bsgo.biz and bsgo.info and bsgo.tv. Every time I progressed to the next step, there were more offers for me to turn down.

On the flip side, a couple minutes later, it was live.

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In the process of adding DNS records, I discovered that some of my existing ones seem corrupt / absent. www.ttwagner.com doesn’t resolve to an IP. If you notice any other assorted weirdness, let me know.

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We’d talked before about making the webpage more than a barebones site with a couple of pages. Of course, then we get into all sorts of problems with preserving look and feel, and all that happens if we want to update navigation, etc. So I figured this was a great chance to try out SilverStripe, a spiffy-looking CMS. It looks very promising, although it uses some newer features in PHP that require me to update it, which has given me roundabout cause to do a lot of side-projects. (Like working on moving over to the VPS…)

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I run a mailing list for the club on my machine, using Mailman. It works great, but as I graduate, I want to make sure that they’re not reliant on my server. I intend to keep hosting the list, but I’d hate for critical data to be in the hands of the aging server of someone that doesn’t even go to their school anymore. I wanted to back up the list, but Mailman lacks an “Export list…” feature. (Which annoys me almost enough to want to pick up Python just to add one in?) It turns out that it’s easy, but it took me some poking around.

Mailman, at least on Gentoo, keeps its stuff in /usr/local/mailman. There’s a lists/ folder, with a config.pck that seems to list all the members, as well as all the configuration. This might be good for backing up the list itself, but it’s pretty useless if you just want a list of members to pass on. I figured I could write a script to parse the file and extract the addresses, but I started to Google to see if it was done.

And then I found this page talking about it. And it turns out that there’s a tool to do it included with Mailman, in the bin/ folder. For me, then, /usr/local/mailman/bin/list_lists will list all of the mailing lists on the server. In addition to list_lists, there’s list_members [listname], which will do exactly what I wanted: provide a plain-text list of each member. I then redirected the output to my e-mail address….

./list_members BSGO | mail matt@example.com

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I’m back in Ubuntu for the first time in a while, and I’ve got it upgrading in the background to Hardy Heron, the latest build of Ubuntu. I’m hoping that Xen will work in Hardy for me, allowing me to stay in Ubuntu permanently: I have too much Windows stuff I need to access. It’s hardly credible without data, but my dad has told me that he did some benchmarking and found that Windows running as a virtual guest on Linux actually outperforms native Windows in cases where you have a VT-capable chip. So I’m not concerned with performance, as much as whether it’ll work.

I’ve found that, for whatever reason, I’m just more comfortable in Linux than in Windows. As I was upgrading to the latest distribution, the process seemed to be slowing down. So I pulled up a command line and ran iftop, which showed me a list of my active network connections with a visualization of bandwidth on each connection. And little things like my ability to pipe the output of a command to an e-mail. This isn’t to say that one platform is “better” than the other, just that I feel more ‘at home’ when I’m on a Linux machine these days.


Between Andrew’s amazing panorama created with Hugin, and Garrett almost simultaneously sending me a link to a Lifehacker* post about Hugin, I figured it was only fitting that I try it out. It’s essentially a software app (OpenSource no less) to stitch together a series of shots and create a panorama.

Since I don’t like reading instructions, I downloaded the software and worked on setting ‘control points’ for a set of five photos I recently took, thinking they’d be good for creating a panorama.

Hugin without reading the directions

I think I need to read the directions.

* It’s interesting that Garrett sent me a link to Lifehacker. Kyle’s recently become a big fan, too. I discovered the site at least a year ago, and always considered it a niche website that no one I knew would have heard about. I’m glad to be proven wrong!

A Poll

Last Wednesday (the 9th), I ordered a new pair of sneakers off of eBay. (They’re new, from a trusted seller, and they’re similar to what I had previously, except not falling apart, before you think I’m too weird.)

On Friday, I started to think that they should be showing up. On Saturday, I figured it was time they’d arrive. On Monday of the next week, I was sure they’d be there. By Tuesday, I was disappointed.

On Tuesday I got an e-mail saying that they’d be shipped the next day.

Today I got an e-mail that they had been shipped.

Assuming (maybe it’s too soon to make these assumptions…) that they arrive and haven’t been damaged, what do I do about feedback? Good feedback so they won’t retaliate and leave me negative feedback? Or do I be a jerk and leave them “Neutral” feedback, saying, “Took over a week before they were shipped to me?”


For the longest time, I’ve wanted a background process that would just increment a counter with each keystroke. A friend here (who has the exact same laptop I do) commented on how it was kind of scary that all of my keys had become really shiny and worn down from use. I couldn’t even give you an order-of-magnitude guess of how many keys I’ve pressed since the life of the laptop.

But that’s all changing. A friend had sent me a link to a site called WhatPulse before. It’s essentially… a background process that counts keystrokes and also measures how far your mouse has moved. Concerned about possible privacy implications, I immediately installed it.

Here’s my profile. It’s probably quite inaccurate right now, as I didn’t install it until recently, when I did some Wikipedia cleanup, which is probably 90% clicking, and of the remaining 10% typing, about 95% of that is copying-and-pasting templates and such. So clicks are artificially high, while keystrokes are artificially low.

After a few days’ time to normalize, I want to try to extrapolate this out over the lifetime of my laptop and see where I’m at. (I have a feeling I’ll be somewhat embarassed. Speaking of which, about 5,000 pageviews on Wikipedia for me now, since whenever I last reset my Firefox profile, which was not long ago. And I’m coming on 900 edits on Wikipedia, too.)


I’ve been working a lot on cleaning up Wikipedia in my free time the past few days. I think I might stick with it and eventually go for admin, which seems like a fun goal. (Although as they point out, it’s no big deal really… But it’d help me a lot.) A lot of my work comes from watching the Recent Changes page, following through to suspect changes, undoing their change, and going back.

Anyway, entirely out of the blue I started to wonder if Wikipedia uses mod_gzip. So I pulled up Firefox 3’s “Page Information,” and saw the following. I felt slightly pathetic at the result. (Note that I’m sometimes on a page for less than a second, so it’s really not as bad as it seems, but still…)

How many page views?!

Elevator Electricity Usage

I often take the elevator up a couple stories, or, worse, down a couple. It always seems like a waste, so I came to wonder how much electricity I was wasting.

It took a while to find, but the answer is: apparently, not much. Around 2 Watthours. This seems ludicrously small, lower than the new compact flourescent bulbs I just switched to. (Almost by an order of magnitude.) One interesting concept that might help achieve this number is regenerative braking: essentially ‘capturing’ the energy of the elevator moving downward. (Whether taking an elevator down actually contributes electricity to the system or not is unclear to me.)

In conclusion, see if I ever take the stairs again. (Well, unless it’s a weekend and some drunken jerk peed in the elevator again.)

Running a Meeting

One thing I can’t stand is meetings where people have no sense of purpose. Today we had a group meeting for the final project for one of my classes. No one was really going anywhere with it. We discussed a few ways we could split the assignment up.

So I did something that worked even better than I expected. I took a copy of the project description and suggested that we go through each element, outline possible ideas, but with a twist: after one minute of discussion on each element, we’d have to move on to the next one.

As always happens, we’d brainstorm an idea and someone would try (perhaps inadvertently) to derail the process. Someone thought we might want to consider handling one of the events we were discussion differently. So I put his way down, too. The two somewhat contradicted each other, but they’re both on the list. Later on, someone suggested that we needed to look more into an issue before proceeding. I agreed. So I put, “Research this!!” on the list and kept moving.

Not ten minutes later, we had an outline of the whole project. Very rough, mind you. But I’m pleased, because in the twenty minutes before that, we’d essentially each sat around staring into our computers, making a halfhearted attempt to think of how to split up the project. Now we had an outline of the whole thing.

What’s most awesome, though, is that this way of thinking ended up being contagious. We got through the outline, and it was time to split the assignment up. And this time, instead of a theoretical discussion about all the possibly ways we could divvy up the work, someone got up and put a list of the sections on the board, and we rapid-fire split them up. No discussion of, “Well, I think those two sections might go well together given the current alignment of the planets…” He just took two sections and assigned them to someone.

I don’t profess to be the best meeting-runner of all time, but why can’t more people run meetings this way? A meeting should be a place where people come together to share ideas before going their separate ways to work on individual sections. So focus on the parts that affect everyone, and leave the individuals to handle the mundane details.

And this is what I think is so neat about management. You’d expect a management major to be a heavy-handed leader. But the secret is to be an invisible catalyst helping things run smoothly. Done right, you needn’t even be recognized as a leader.


Every now and then I find that I need to do something that seems remarkably obscure, and am surprised to learn that PHP has a function to do it. I found myself cleaning up a really sub-par Wikipedia article, where someone had entered a massive list of things in ALL CAPS.

It’s easy enough to upper-case everything, or to lower-case everything. But what I really wanted to was to capitalize the first letter of each word, because they’re all proper nouns. It turns out that PHP has a ucwords function to do precisely this.

And thus this page, which I suspect will never be useful to anyone, was born. Enter text, and it’ll covert it to lowercase, but upper-case the first letter of each word. And in this case, the time required to write the script was less than the time it’d have taken me to change it all by hand.