Archive: November 2007


tiny calendar design - fitting a year-long calendar on a business card. two or three of these are actually usable. via.

empty tags

empty elements in HTML. including obscure SGML details.


At one point this fall I was asked, "So, how have you used HTML?" My response was something like, "uh urm huh well I made some web pages." It's like asking an accountant how they've used numbers. Says Ben: "I don't use HTML, I define a new XML dictionary for every project." I feel that "inyourface" is more semantically correct than "strong."

pretend to be a time traveler day

Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day: 12-8-7. probably more fun to think about than do. via.

"good" cause

The Camino browser for the Mac is awesome: fast and maclike. It is my full-time browser. The Camino Project is accepting donations and Mozilla will match 2-to-1 'till the end of the year. (you should do it, because I can't). via df.

dear lazyweb:

it would be cool to have a tool that gives you your site's approximate ranking in a google search on a certain term. you're basically out of the picture if you're not in the first 50 results, but it'd be useful anyway to know if you're becoming more or less relevant, or if people are desperate enough for your topic that they're going 150 results deep.

thousands of apple varieties

Stalking the Placid Apple's Untamed Kin - article at the NYTimes about tasting apple varieties including wild apples from China and Kazakhstan.

hidden dock prefs

My favorite hidden Dock preference is to make the icons of hidden applications semitransparent. Go to the command line and enter:

defaults write showhidden 1; killall Dock

there's also the option to attach the dock to a corner of the screen:

defaults write pinning -string start; killall Dock

or, to pin the dock by the end corner:

defaults write pinning -string end; killall Dock

via DF, and then I realized I hadn't mentioned the 'showhidden' tip here. also: a couple more "defaults" commands.

leap seconds

Leap seconds are added every few years because time as determined by the rotation of the Earth (UT1) differs from atomic time (TAI); the Earth's rotation is slowing, so UT1 falls behind TAI. via slashdot.


zoomy presentation on the growth of cities: 19.20.21. most interesting part: world city populations in 1000, 1500, 1800, etc. via kb.


Sock It To Me Socks - weirdly cheap patterned socks. wish I had known about this in high school, before I gave up on fancy feet.

kids' laptops

The Laptop Club - kids' paper laptops. (via)

The inevitability of it all drew me to the paper laptops. Parents may want to delay their children's computer use, but here they are drawing their own designs. It reminded me of taking away toy guns and seeing the kids make guns out of sticks instead.

felted things to knit

  • a scarf (use 100% wool, knit 30 sts wide, 60" long on #10 US needles)
  • cap w/ brim. minus the mustache.

felting = knitting big and melding the yarn together by shrinking in the washing machine.

accommodations for color blindness

Frenzic - finger twiddling, attention monopolizing game. notable because it has an option in the preference panel to change colors to compensate for color blindness:

preferences panel from the mac game Frenzic, which includes options to compensate for colorblindness

lots of games are harder to play with fewer colors; I can't play Set with my father because the green, red, and purple aren't distinguishable enough to him (he has red-green color blindness).

game via daringfireball, who linked to the iPhone/iPod Touch web version.

mobile web browsing

Mowser - a web app that translates web pages into more mobile-accessible versions on the fly. even though mobile browsers don't need as much coddling these days with iPhone/iPod Touch Safari and the latest mobile Opera no longer defaulting to using 'mobile' stylesheets.

LA river flood control

pictures of the LA river and explanations of its flood control features. the river bed is concrete. (via megan)

Nigerian space program

Why would Nigeria want to have a space program? ... some examples of environmental problems that are best monitored from space:

  • Gulley erosion in eastern Nigeria
  • Desertification in the North, proceeding at 3 km per year
  • Deforestation in the south
  • Pollution from industrial waste, oil exploration and mining

The Nigerian Space Program (part of Ethan Zuckerman's 2007 PopTech! coverage, which I'm still sifting through)

intro to CLI jockeying

Installing MySQL on Mac OS X. down and dirty install guide, from build to my.conf. via.

mathy reading

Shor's Algorithm is a "quantum algorithm" for finding a number's prime factors. which means very little to me, but that article is a wicked fun read. (via uncertain principles)

reciprocating rotary gear

I went to the Boston Museum of Science today, and outside of the bathroom on the lower level there is this cool gear:

animation of a reciprocating rotary gear. The gear assembly consists of two pieces, an inner gear and an outer rectangular housing. The inner gear is smooth, with 4 teeth on just one quarter of the gear; the inner gear rotates in place. The rectangular housing that 4 teeth recessed in the top and bottom inside edges and the inside ends are smooth and round to accommodate the inner gear. As the inner gear turns, its teeth catch the teeth in the housing and move it from side to side.

(a poorly coordinated reciprocating rotary gear, but it illustrates the point. indulge me here, it is a pretty sweet animation and I made it.)

see also: CAD model of the same gear

straightforward biscuit recipe

  • 2 c flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c milk

cut in butter, add milk last. bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees F. makes ~8 biscuits. (source)

alternative spreadsheet app

checking out: Tables, a spreadsheet app for Mac OS X. Excel opens too slowly (both startup and switching between apps), is too large to leave open all the time, and crashes regularly, plus I'm not working with Office users at the moment.

free rice

No, what interests me about FreeRice is the reinforcement it gives to Internet users that their attention is a valuable currency. In an economy where all anyone wants is a moment of your attention, it’s possible for many things to be free, so long as they’re sufficiently popular, and so long as their creators are comfortable monetizing them by being willing to share their attention with an advertiser.

Ethan Zuckerman on the Wikipedia fund drive and

FreeRice claims 73,566,480 grains of rice donated so far today... there are between 35,000 and 50,000 grains of rice in a kilogram... 73 million grains might run about $387.

trying two new monospace fonts

because of links spiraling off this.

... aaand I'm sticking with Monaco 9, on the Mac at least. I like the looks of Osaka-mono, except that it doesn't render well without anti-aliasing.

Facebook gone meta

 'Facebook joined Facebook'

Facebook's new ad features include company/band/entity pages (the excerpt above is from Facebook's facebook page). For a less evasive description of the new Facebook features, TechCrunch's early summary.

spice and wine

in case I go back to school and study electrical engineering again*: LTspice is a free SPICE implementation with GUI. That link also talks about running Windows apps on a Mac using a transparent wine layer called Crossover.

*unlikely. at this point I'd study computer science or math.


"Comet" is the name being given to javascript that provides "push" data in web pages. A web app using Comet would receive new data from the server as it is made available, rather than by polling the server to check for new data every x seconds or only updating in response to user actions (an AJAX-y strategy).

Actually, Comet-style scripts still poll the server, but the server leaves the script's HTTP request open and doesn't respond until there is new data to send (or the request times out, after something like 200-300 seconds); when the response is received, a new request is opened. Regular polling asks the server for new data and immediately gets a response (either something saying "no new data", or the new data), then waits x seconds and makes another request.

The entry on Comet at wikipedia is straightforward, see also
this post on Comet for more context. There is an interesting graph on Comet latency at the Comet Daily blog. (via)

"cats are the ultimate killers"

Cat Bib. prevents cats from killing birds (some, at least; the study on the CatBib site says CatBibs stopped 81% of cats from catching birds). Also: it looks really funny. I wish there were bigger pictures.

"got what I wanted" I don't think this is charming and funny, I think it's creepy and entitled.

Al Gore on Bush &c.

Al Gore on the Bush Regime. at Daily Kos, via defective yeti links.

SQL in TextWrangler

SQL syntax highlighting for TextWrangler (BBEdit plugins, or at least language modules, also work in TextWrangler). TextWrangler is my code and text editor of choice.


PENTAX Optio Z10 - digital camera with an internal zoom lens, and the on-off switch is a panel that you slide off the lens. This is definitely something I'd check out if I hadn't just bought a new camera last spring. via an ad in the NYTimes magazine.

sock knitting patterns

For my first pair of socks I have chunky yarn and I don't want to use tiny needles. These are some free sock patterns I've found that use medium-sized needles.

"broken pole" pattern

a 4x5 stitch 'broken pole' pattern for knitting

from a book of traditional knitting patterns from Gotland (a Swedish island). There are plenty of goofy flower and vine patterns, but among them are a couple gorgeous geometric ones. The Swedish Mitten Book, Inger and Ingrid Gottfridsson, © 1984 Lark Books.

Also: the book was originally published in Sweden under the title Gotlandska Stickmonster. "Stickmonster" is "knitting patterns" in Swedish!

doormat typography

doormat that reads 'come in' when viewed from one direction and 'go away' when viewed from the other

From the Winter 2007 "Design and Living" NYTimes magazine.

vintage knitting patterns

Vintage Purls - Free vintage knitting patterns. Specifically I like the tall socks, the crossover baby sweater, and the spiral socks. I think the patterns use UK needle sizing; the site also has a knitting needle size converter.

math layout on the web

the state of MathML on the web - comment on a Slashdot article on a new comprehensive set of math fonts. summary:

  • LaTeX is the classic solution for laying out math but it's not appropriate for browsers
  • MathML is math in semantic XML, so should be good for browsers
  • but currently you have to do a lot of config to view MathML on the web, including having a specific set of fonts available
  • and MathML fares better with XHTML, because they're both XML. Firefox won't render MathML as math unless the page its on is valid XML.

beyond validation

HTML Good Practice Checker. It is specifically for HTML; if you put XHTML through it, it checks it against an HTML DTD and notes some XHTML features as errors. The same site also provides a tool that validates XHTML parsed as HTML, which is what browsers see when XHTML is sent with the "text/html" MIME type. via


on my to-do list: familiarize myself with Subversion/versioning/source control. possibly useful in that: Unfuddle, a free source control/bug tracking web service.


SQL INSERT ... UPDATE use. I didn't have this quite right when I tried to use it last.


This made Open Authentication click for me: Adam Kalsey on an OAuth use case.

Maine Huts & Trails

Maine Huts & Trails - an organization that is making a hut and trail system in western Maine.

canning with boiling water

Using Boiling Water-bath Canners: the boiling water should cover the jars. It's ok to add water to cover the jars after you put them in; just start the timer when it boils again.

HTML5 doctype

There's no official HTML5 doctype yet, but some people are already writing HTML5 and using <!DOCTYPE html> Interestingly, this isn't intended to address validation issues, only to trigger "standards mode" in browsers. (see: W3C recommended DTDs, doctype of HTML5, HTML5 doctype as 'quirksmode switch', doctypes and triggering IE6's 'standards mode')

job language

from ben: vocabulary for writing job descriptions. also useful for resume and cover letter writing.

habanero peppers

lots of info about Habanero peppers. I am trying to decide whether to pickle, dry, or freeze the peppers I picked yesterday. heh, pickled peppers.