link friday
Mood: drained
Music: Hoobastank - "From the Heart"
Posted on 2006-05-05 15:27:00
Tags: links
Words: 309

Ugh, this day hasn't been so great. Nothing horrible, but I'm (as usual) stuck on a problem at work. Hopefully these links will cheer me up!

I've spent some time this week looking at the exploits of Improv Everywhere. Wow, these people really make me want to live in New York! Some of their more entertaining missions: Best Buy (80 people enter a Best Buy store dressed in blue polo shirts), Surprise! (surprise birthday party on the subway), The Moebius (repeating time loop in a Starbucks), Look Up More (a bunch of silhouettes dancing in the windows of a building), Even Better Than The Real Thing (impersonating a U2 concert on a rooftop), The Dollar Dudes (handing out dollar bills on the subway), Best Gig Ever (massively attending the gig of an unknown band, and the band's response), and Ted's Birthday (pretending to know a stranger and throwing him a birthday party). Wow!

Sesame Street Video Clips! (from kottke). There are videos for a lot of songs on Songs from the Street, like "Furry Happy Monsters". Also an awesome Celebrity ABC song - Ray Charles plays piano, and Patrick Stewart really nails "T-U-V"! Born To Add is good too.

Apparently people are using laptops to steal cars with keyless entry and ignition systems. Um, great.

They're going to be selling the original unaltered Star Wars DVDs for a limited time! (from waxy)

I come across Damn Interesting every once and again - there are some cool articles there, like America's secret plan to invade Canada (and their secret plan to invade us!), and the creepy story of Centralia, PA (which was the basis for the movie Silent Hill. Their article on the parasite Toxoplasma gondii was the first article I read there, I think (and I may have linked it before...)

OK, I'm all linked out. Have a good weekend all!


Mood: pensive
Posted on 2006-05-05 08:57:00
Tags: robolab palmtogooglecalendar
Words: 246

Yay, Friday! I've been in a very linky mood lately, so expect tons of links later.

After trolling the Google Calendar API group for a bit, I found a post that describes the same problems I'm having with recurrences (and apparently it's being looked into). It's nice to know I'm not alone, at least. Now I need to decide whether it's worth turning the recurrence events into individual ones for now so it will work. The downside is that that clogs up the Palm calendar even more. Maybe I'll do that anyway just to see if I can get it working...

Wednesday was my last Robolab for the year. It started off poorly, as the kids were fairly unruly (legos were thrown...*sigh*) but since it was the last one before Mindstorms Mania (which I won't be able to go to), the ones that had work to do did end up getting to work fairly quickly. I was helping a more rambunctious kid work on programming. At first he was totally not paying attention and kept going across the room to talk to his friends, etc., but I did finally get him working, and he finished his program! I was very proud of that :-) Anyway, I'll probably have to stop by next week sometime to pick up parts I lent them, but that'll be it. I don't deal well with kids (especially around middle-school age), but I think being exposed to them is probably good for me.


I went to the 108th best high school in the country!
Mood: bored
Music: Rent - "Rent"
Posted on 2006-05-03 10:31:00
Tags: movies palmtogooglecalendar links
Words: 178

At least, according to Newsweek (here's the full list). Ed Felten points out that their methodology is a little suspect...

Disney is toning down Mission:Space ride - at first I thought they were toning it down for everyone, but they're just providing a toned down version in addition to the original, which is good. I can see why some people have trouble with it, though - the ride is pretty intense. Good stuff!

LJ was slow yesterday because of a DDoS attack. Guh. Although that thread does contain a somewhat entertaining flamewar!

Superman Returns trailer - ooh! (from kottke)

Made some more progress on my Palm datebook to Google Calendar importer - now I can delete entries, as well as add entries that don't repeat. Repeating entries are annoying (that was the block of code I posted, although I later learned that everything after the first three lines will always be the same, since it describes the timezone and daylight savings time), and I don't get any useful error message, so I guess I'll just tweak it some more until it works...


just a few links
Mood: happy
Music: Firefly - "Main Title"
Posted on 2006-05-02 12:31:00
Tags: links
Words: 203

Apple has some new ads out comparing the Mac to a PC. I like these ads a lot - the tone seems to be just about right (except in "Better", which is the worst one IMO). I think I like "Network" the best, although the benefit they're showing in that one is probably the least impressive. I also find it amusing that in "iLife" they criticize the PC for not having more bundled apps - isn't that what the whole antitrust thing was about? Also, the Mac guy is quite cute :-)

They've found the gene that causes "stone man syndrome", a condition in which muscle is turned into bone. I wish the article had more information. Also, it ends with the mind-boggly dumb quote:

“The substitution of one genetic letter for another out of six billion genetic letters in the human genome is like a molecular terrorist that short-circuits a functioning set of muscles and connective tissues and transforms them into a second skeleton, in essence turning a light bulb into an atom bomb,” Dr Kaplan said.

A "molecular terrorist"? And how is this at all like turning a light bulb into an atom bomb?? Don't use analogies to make a good sound bite. Yeesh.


everybody's working for last weekend
Mood: creative
Music: University of Rochester Midnight Ramblers - "Mr. Brightside"
Posted on 2006-05-01 09:02:00
Tags: movies palmtogooglecalendar
Words: 314

Good weekend! Got a chance to relax some, and as a result I'm declaring myself over the stomach virus I had last week. Not because there are necessarily no effects left, but if I don't declare victory, the virus wins!

Things of note:

I was about to give up on the whole dental site thing since I hadn't heard back from my guy for quite a while. Then out of the blue he emailed me on Friday, and we started working things out, and he's paid me a bit already as we start to make the site go live. So, more work for me, but I got money! My first earned money for programming that isn't my job!

Baltimore is the heroin, trade (meaning prostitution in this context), or syphilis capital of the world. Wow, that's not good!

Using the Google Calendar APIs, I created an event on my Palm calendar. Hooray! I still need to make it delete all events before adding events, and also do repeating/all-day events. The latter requires deciphering a string like


Hmm, actually that doesn't look as bad as I remembered. Good!

I put up new pictures for this quarter - includes pictures of Christi and David's housewarming party, Timmy's baptism and Peter William Gregory.

Also saw Thank You for Smoking, which I was not too excited about but turned out to be very good. It's just satirical enough that you can sort of identify with the main character. I'd recommend it!

Going to try to track down some bugs in the huge code checkin I did Friday...

Oh, the other thing - I tried out for the summer musical on Saturday and got a part! I'm Lance, a kid who's afraid of everything. I think I can do that :-)


weekend, everybody's working for the
Mood: excited
Music: University of Rochester Midnight Ramblers - "Mr. Brightside"
Posted on 2006-04-28 15:35:00
Tags: links
Words: 91

What a crazy crazy crazy week.

White House press corps member asks Air Force One to change TV's from Fox to CNN - hehe. It's also amusing because it's an article on :-)

House Speaker Hastert gets out of a hydrogen car and back into his SUV a few blocks away from hold a press conference talking about high gas prices. Classy!

That's about it, I guess. Checking in code today that I've been working on for almost a month (yay!). Backwards compatibility is sweet for users and a pain for developers...


passing the time...
Mood: chipper
Location: work
Posted on 2006-04-27 14:05:00
Tags: palmtogooglecalendar links
Words: 173

(compiling can take a while)

Senator Specter threatens to cut off funding for secret wiretaps - wow! Good for him. This could be a major battle...

David Copperfield robbed after show - the amusing part is that when the robbers got to him, he pulled out all of his pockets to show they were empty...except he had his cell phone, passport and wallet. Man, that's cool!

A reasonably entertaining interview with Matt Groening where he talks about the Simpsons movie and Futurama straight-to-DVD movie-like things.

Google released a free 3D modeling program today. (more information) There's some sort of integration with Google Earth where you can, say, build a house and put it on the Earth, which sounds a little weird but like a lot of fun. Wow, they sure do crank out (or in this case, buy other companies and release) the free software!

djedi gets home today - yay!

Still working on my project to upload data from my palm to Google Calendar...maybe I'll have some more time to work on it someday.


shakily we roll along
Mood: lethargic
Posted on 2006-04-26 12:08:00
Words: 88

So I'm back at work, although my stomach isn't in great shape. Didn't get as much sleep as I should have, which didn't help.

The good news is that we had a major breakthrough this morning on something I've been stuck on for two weeks. Major happiness abounds! I was actually excited enough to make my stomach hurt a bit :-)

I really don't feel like lunch, so I guess I'll skip it for now. Incidentally, weighing myself yesterday went really well, but I don't think that really counts...

1 comment

baby news
Mood: overwhelmed
Posted on 2006-04-23 08:42:00
Words: 59

liz_gregory and Britton had their baby! Peter William Gregory was born at 5:27 PM on April 21, 2006. Britton's blog has more information and will have updates - I've created the LJ account brittonblog to syndicate the blog, so add it as a friend if you're interested!

In other baby news, krikwennavd and onefishclappin are expecting. Congrats! Ack, babies everywhere!


happy San Jacinto day!
Mood: upbeat
Posted on 2006-04-21 11:05:00
Tags: movies palmtogooglecalendar links
Words: 307

Today in 1836, the Battle of San Jacinto took place, where the Texas Army defeated the Mexican army (sneaking up during their afternoon siesta) to gain our independence. To commemorate the victory, the San Jacinto Monument was built on the battleground, which is the "world's tallest memorial column", taller than the Washington Monument by around 5 feet.

Yesterday, I saw the movie Inside Man, and enjoyed it! Denzel Washington was good (so was Clive Owen) and Jodie Foster was good although a little creepy.

If you haven't tried the new Google Calendar, you should give it a shot. I've changed my mind - my next project will be using the Google Calendar APIs to import events from my palm. Still gonna try to use Ruby, though...

In other Google news, the Da Vinci Code quest is pretty fun - there's a new puzzle every day for 24 days. I've solved all four of them so far - not too difficult (although they keep sending me to the official movie site, which is loud and takes a while to load).

Cute Metroid cartoon

So the Kryptos sculpture (constructed on the grounds of the CIA in 1990) contains four encrypted messages. People have solved the first three, but no one has been able to crack the fourth (which is thought to refer to the first three heavily, as well as possibly other physical elements on the CIA grounds. The creator just announced there was a typo on the second section, which had caused the last eight letters to be misinterpreted. I'm hoping this will lead to a breakthrough on the last section :-)

"I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense." Darn...


it's my birthday!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-04-20 10:04:00
Tags: birthday
Words: 134

Today's a little busy, so I'll cut to the chase - it's my birthday! I don't have time for deep birthday ruminations, but I'll do some quick hits:

- 24 is a good number! It's 4!, and the name of a fun math card game (as mentioned in Wikipedia!). And an interesting-looking TV show that I've only seen half an episode of.

- 25 will be even better - discounts on car insurance ahoy!

- I'm declaring myself not newly out of college anymore. Which makes me something of which I'm not entirely sure. (although I wish random people I meet would stop assuming I'm still in school at UT!)

- I don't know where I'll be next birthday, so that's exciting.

- djedi's dissertation is today! (also, I get cookie cake!)

- Chunky bacon!

Well, that's all I've got, I guess.


workin' for the weekend...
Mood: chipper
Music: Aural Pleasure - "Enjoy the Silence"
Posted on 2006-04-19 12:47:00
Tags: music links
Words: 182

(apparently today is "play songs Greg has a capella versions of" on Austin radio...on the way home from Jason's Deli I heard "Rosanna", followed by that Beverly Hills song I'm sick of, so I switched stations to hear "Come Undone". Neat!)

LiveJournal just announced a new account level (Sponsored+) that gets you most of the benefits of a paid account for free, while showing ads on your journal. I'm not huge on advertising, but this is the right way to do it - it's up to each person whether to show the ads or not (and there is incentive to), while free accounts maintain the same abilities they've always had. And paid accounts don't see ads on any pages to boot!

Angry/negative people can be bad for your brain - interesting article!

Play Syzygy! The creator of the game emailed me after seeing my Syzygy pictures (random!) I didn't realize it was created and distributed by one person - good stuff! It's a good game, although one I haven't played too recently...

Work is frustrating, but I'm not gonna let it get me down! (hopefully!)

1 comment

ruby scoping
Mood: confused
Posted on 2006-04-18 09:41:00
Tags: ruby weight programming
Words: 218

I weighed in this morning, and I'm at my lowest weight since starting to track it (oddly enough, despite eating many tasty cookies and candy on Sunday). Hooray!

On a completely separate note, I'm learning Ruby to use in my next project. It seems like a nice language, but I have a complaint already. Consider the following code:

[1,2,3].each {|e| print e, " " }

This prints out "1 2 3 " - the each operator iterates over the elements of the array, and the block that follows it ({|e| print e, " " }) operates on each one of them. So that's fine, and e is undefined after the block executes, as I would expect.

What I don't like is that the following code:
e = 10
[1,2,3].each {|e| print e, " " }
print e

prints out "1 2 3 3" - the e argument to the block ends up overwriting the e variable declared outside the block! This seems like a big violation of scoping - shouldn't the e inside the block be unrelated to the e outside the block? Can anyone (omega697, perhaps) explain this to me?

I mean, I can see why it might be useful (if you want to save the last value that the block executed on), but the penalty of possibly overwriting a variable outside the block's scope seems a bit much to handle...


odds n' ends
Mood: cheerful
Music: Saliva - "Famous Monsters"
Posted on 2006-04-17 12:39:00
Words: 74

Guitar Hero sequel!

Saturday I sent in my last car payment. I'm very excited about this! (hopefully my saying this doesn't result in a collision anytime soon)

Also, here's a tip: if you use the same mug for tea every morning and you haven't run it through the dishwasher for a while and your tea starts tasting bad, do yourself a favor and run it through the dishwasher. This is very likely to help.

1 comment

Happy Easter!
Mood: tired
Posted on 2006-04-17 00:14:00
Tags: pictures ruby
Words: 73

Happy Easter, all! I took some pictures of an Easter get-together at destroyerj's place.

Also, I'm learning Ruby to work on a LiveJournal archiving project of mine, and Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby is easily the weirdest, most bizarre programming tutorial I've ever seen, or expect to see. Even if you don't want to learn Ruby, I'd recommend skimming through it (and the pictures), and then wondering how Ruby relates to cartoon foxes.


1099Q? WTF??
Mood: accomplished
Music: Sonya Kitchell - "Too Beautiful"
Posted on 2006-04-13 14:37:00
Tags: taxcenter
Words: 274

So, I volunteered at the tax center for the last time last night. Going in to the night, I was a little disappointed with the experience this year as opposed to last year - our site (Goodwill) tended to be less busy than the one we worked at last year, especially by the time I got there, so I did a lot fewer returns this year. And I translated a fair bit more Spanish, which was fun but stressful and I'm not very good at it.

But, as expected, there were a ton of people yesterday. There was a small lull right around dinnertime, but I got there at 5:15 and didn't leave until 9:45 (the center closes at 9). I did a bunch of returns and a lot of translating too. By the end, I was exhausted but happy; I had helped a lot of people, including a few that had gone to commercial tax preparers last year (so I was saving them money as well). I also discovered what a 1099Q form is (disbursement from an educational fund of some sort), and that the earnings aren't taxable. Whee!

I'm a little sad we most likely won't be around next year to work there, but I'm hoping we find something similar wherever we end up (and I suspect we will, since the program is run by the IRS). Anyway, if you're looking for a volunteerish activity next November or so (which is when the training is), I'd highly recommend it - you get to help people face-to-face, it really isn't terribly difficult, and you can learn more about taxes and such :-)

(and djedi's back - yay!)

1 comment

Mini-link monday
Mood: happy
Music: "RBI Baseball" music
Posted on 2006-04-10 16:36:00
Tags: music links
Words: 69

A little out of the ordinary, but these two links totally made my day:

Seven Songs with Factual or Logical Mistakes in the Lyrics (via waxy)

This one is crazy - someone re-enacted the 1986 World Series Game 6, bottom of the 10th inning in RBI Baseball! The original radio commentary is played over the video, and the guy really took care to get everything right. Well done! (via kottke)


lists are kind of a cop-out post format
Mood: hopeful
Posted on 2006-04-10 09:52:00
Tags: computer
Words: 207

Recently, I:


Mood: tired
Location: home
Posted on 2006-04-07 22:53:00
Words: 40

Woof, I'm tired. Kyle and I got third place in Robolab, though (within 15 points from second place...)

If you're constantly forgetting whether you're logged in or not (like me!), check out the new Navigation Strip (sample picture). It's neat!

1 comment

Feingold for president!
Mood: hungry
Posted on 2006-04-05 10:53:00
Tags: politics
Words: 6

Feingold says he supports gay marriage


I really don't understand
Mood: confused
Posted on 2006-04-04 13:04:00
Tags: politics
Words: 285

(based on the news story Congresswoman could face charges)

So, let me get this straight. A congresswoman walked past security, not wearing her pin that identifies her as a congresswoman. The security guard doesn't recognize her and stops her. She gets upset, and an altercation ensues.

Now she's upset - here are some choice quotes from the article:

"I don't understand exactly why it is that certain police officers have a problem remembering my face," McKinney said, noting that she is one of 14 black women among the 535 members of Congress. "The issue is racial profiling, and that's something that we're going to have to deal with as a country."

Well, there are 535 members of Congress - that's a lot for every single police officer to remember on sight. And racial profiling?? If you don't have identification and you walk past security and get stopped, that's not racial profiling - that's common sense. And suggesting that it is racial profiling is demeaning to those who have been targeted by racial profiling. (crying wolf and all that)

In her interview Monday with CNN's "The Situation Room," McKinney scoffed at suggestions that her change of hairstyle in January might have been the reason the officer did not recognize her.

"If the security of the House of Representatives of the United States is based on how members of Congress wear their hair ... I think this is really ridiculous," she said. "My face hasn't changed."

No, the security of the House of Representatives depends on identifying people that enter the building. If she did change her hairstyle and the officer then didn't recognize her, she should show identification. What's the big deal?

Does anyone understand this better? I'm totally confused.


willpower over moodpower
Mood: tired
Location: 11500 N Mo-Pac Expy, Austin, TX 78731
Posted on 2006-04-04 08:58:00
Tags: google maps weight robolab challenge
Words: 372

So I went to bed last night tired, cranky and irritable. And I woke up tired, cranky and irritable. And then at some point (maybe in the shower) I decided that was crap. So now I'm tired, but not as cranky or irritable :-)

Google Maps just updated their API to version 2 (here's an upgrade guide from version 1). I upgraded my google map to use the new API. The only visible difference is now you can zoom in two levels closer on the satellite or hybrid views (as close as you can in Google Earth), to really give you that "whoa, that's creepy!" feeling. The irritating news is that now map coordinates have to be given in a GLatLng structure, which constructor takes the latitude and longitude in the opposite order as before. So now I have to spend a while rewriting the dental site to flip all those arguments - ugh! Why didn't they get this right in the first place?

Last week I gained a fair bit of weight for two weeks. This week, apparently, I lost that weight and .8 pounds more to boot. I'm both happy and suspicious of the scale.

Tom DeLay's resigning! Wow. Given that a former aide of his pleaded guilty to corruption a few days ago and said he'd cooperate with prosecutors, I'm guessing he's going to be found guilty (eventually), or at least he thinks he's going to be found guilty. This is good news for Texas!

This Thursday and Friday (and Saturday morning) is NI's annual technical conference, NITech. Kyle and I are doing the robolab challenge again (see LJ entries from last year's). Things are going pretty well (and we're both busy, so not gonna work on it as much) - we got programs going Sunday afternoon and last night we put them together and did some trial runs which went, on the whole, pretty well. (unfortunately that meant I had to miss game night hosted at my place...) The competition is Friday evening at 6 PM at NI, and it should last around an hour, if anyone's interested in coming :-)

Work is stressful. I need to do a better job at not getting stressed at work. Any suggestions would be welcomed.


JAF (just another friday)
Mood: meh
Music: Saliva - "Always"
Posted on 2006-03-31 14:53:00
Words: 106

It's been kind of an odd week, so I'm glad it's Friday. Work has been going better, and at home I even knocked off one of the odd code projects I have set out for myself (I keep them in my todo list). It wasn't huge (just refactoring the family relationship in my giftlist table as a result of a Yahoo! Answers question I posted), but it's nice to do it, verify it works, and check it off the list. Next is probably posting some Farkle math formulas that are really an excuse to play with MathML. Don't plan to spend too much time on it...


cute math song and "V for Vendetta"
Mood: hopeful
Posted on 2006-03-29 12:59:00
Tags: movies music
Words: 321

So I'm cleaning out my inbox (down to 10 emails!!) and I stumbled across a video that theoyaung sent me a long time ago. It's a cute math love song - "Finite Simple Group of Order 2" (link is to a video). Good stuff!

I liked the movie, more than I thought I would. I like movies with dystopias. I could see England going that way (what with their increasing limits on free speech, etc.), although the fact that it was a theocracy seemed pretty weird to me, since England is a lot more secular than we are. (especially the fact that they locked up gays seemed pretty incongruous since they're more socially liberal over there, but I'm willing to give it as pass since the graphic novel was written in 1985ish)

The whole Evey getting kidnapped by V and in a fake prison camp rubbed me the wrong way. After arguing with destoyerj about it afterwards, I can't come up with any inconsistencies in how it was presented, but it still felt weird. I guess they implied there was a lot more to the camp that you didn't get to see, but in fact there wasn't any more than you saw. Or something. Meh.

So how did Evey escape capture between the time she was gone and November 5? I mean, it's a police state, right? There are presumably cameras everywhere and stuff, but this was never really explained. Unless I forgot that part.

The parts with torture and secret interrogation places struck a little close to home.

The end was pretty good, although it sure was convenient the many many bullets that were shot didn't kill V quickly enough that he couldn't kill everyone. And he seemed fine while he was killing everyone, but after he was done he was certain to die. I guess adrenaline is good stuff.

Anyway, I liked it. And now to donate to the ACLU...


christi & david and baltimore pictures
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2006-03-27 23:20:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 23

Now that my computer works, I finally posted my pictures from christi & david's house and baltimore - check them out! (yay for working computer!)


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