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Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
8:45 am - z2 has moved
If you're trying to get there, go to zzt.org — that's the official URL now.

Let me know if you have any problems with the site.

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Thursday, February 25th, 2010
8:09 am - Color schemes
This past week, I've been noticing that the clothes I frequently wear look the same. I prefer plain t-shirts, which means lots of white t-shirts with minimal/no design. I always wear jeans, and two pairs are in really good condition, so they're still dark blue.

But it was only yesterday morning when it occurred to me: I'm bright white on a dark blue background. Where have we seen that before?

Coincidence? Unconscious decision? I don't know.

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Monday, February 8th, 2010
2:53 pm - z2 is down
Insidious is trying to straighten the issue out with DreamHost. Don't know how long it will take, but z2 should be back up sometime soon.

Edit 02/13: z2 is back online.

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Sunday, January 10th, 2010
10:59 pm - How to Win at Minesweeper
Again, it's been a while since I've posted.

I've been playing Minesweeper for a while, and I've recently gotten quite good at it. I share my secrets with you in the following document. It looks long and complicated, but it's simpler than it looks (if not, ask me for clarification)!

An Everyday Use of Matrix AlgebraCollapse )

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Friday, May 8th, 2009
9:04 pm - Mouth
I haven't posted in a while.

I recently downloaded OpenOffice.org 3.1, which now supports anti-aliasing of charts and other graphics. I also recently got student feedback in one of my classes, each feedback slip having my name on it. Behold:

0/10 correctCollapse )

Not thrilled with the anti-aliasing, but it's a start.

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Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
11:29 am - Lessons in marketing
I just realized one of the major reasons Obama is enjoying as much success as he is.

He isn't just a candidate. He's a brand as well.

Granted, McCain also has a donations page, and there are independent stores selling McCain stuff. But if I want the official special edition 5" McCain car magnet, I'm out of luck.

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Friday, August 29th, 2008
2:21 pm - Science stuff
I remember playing around with an online periodic table years ago. The elements were all hyperlinked, so you could click on an element and it would take you to a text description of that element. I remember thinking that was so cool.


That is so cool.

Also: I WAS LIED TO ALL THESE YEARS (incorrect theories of lift)

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Saturday, June 21st, 2008
3:37 am - KevEdit on OS X
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I've actually had KevEdit running for a while now, but cursor movement in the board editor was really slow. After a little bit of fiddling with the code today/yesterday/last-24-hours, it's now responsive enough to be usable!

I'd upload the binary/fixes, but the fixes are ugly hacks, I don't expect much demand, and I need sleep now.

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Thursday, June 5th, 2008
12:30 am - Back online...
So ever since I upgraded to the latest version of OS X, my USB modem stopped working, which means I couldn't connect to the Internet from home. Well, it appears to be working again with the most recent bug fixes! I've learned to live without it, but it's nice to have it working again.

What really annoys me, though, is that it didn't work for so long, even though Apple also makes the modem (guess dial-up users aren't a priority?). If this were Linux, I just know somebody would have spotted the problem and published a fix within a couple of days, with the patch included with the next distro update.

Also, I should get some sleep now.

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Monday, April 28th, 2008
1:48 pm - Haven't posted in a while...
This is cool:


Apparently some Japanese group wrote a Java virtual machine in JavaScript. The normal way to run Java programs in a webpage is to embed .class or .jar files, which contain compiled code and are handled by the Java plugin. Somehow, they bypassed the Java plugin, and they can run Java programs using only JavaScript. Not complete, but still... wow.

If there's some major practical use, though, and this thing becomes widespread, I'm going to have a much harder time convincing people that Java is not the same thing as JavaScript.

And on that guy's blog, someone mentioned that somebody else did a similar thing with Ruby. Kinda makes you wish Netscape spent more than a week designing JavaScript, huh?

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Thursday, January 24th, 2008
11:51 am - Going out of town again...
...should be back Tuesday (PST).

EDIT: Back.

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Tuesday, January 15th, 2008
12:07 pm - DreamHost problems
z2 is down again. Seeing as belsambar.net is also down, I'm guessing this is the result of another DreamHost mess-up. Should be back up sometime soon.

Even so, I have somewhat recent (Dec 28, 2007) backups of the database and most of the files (everything except personal folders). So don't panic just yet!

EDIT: It's up again.

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Tuesday, December 18th, 2007
1:09 pm - On progress
If people from a few hundred years ago could see the progress we have made since then, I think they would be amused.

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Sunday, November 11th, 2007
6:17 pm - Bruce Schneier Facts
If Bruce Schneier rot-13s a plaintext, it cannot be broken by applying rot-13 again.

(For those not in the know, Schneier is well known in the fields of cryptography and computer security.)

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Sunday, November 4th, 2007
4:01 pm - In case you noticed something wrong...
Yes, I know z2 is broken. But fear not — I have recent backups of the essentials.

More info later.

UPDATE: Turns out the problem was some backup that got messed up or something. Not quite sure what it was, but it was on Dreamhost's end, and they fixed whatever broke. Everything should be back to normal now.

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Saturday, September 29th, 2007
6:54 pm - Image retargeting
A while back, an article about image retargeting hit Slashdot (see this Youtube video for details). Basically, it's a "smart resize" algorithm: it guesses which regions of the image are important, and it strategically adds/removes pixels in an attempt to preserve those regions.

And just a little while ago, rsisr hit del.icio.us. Guess what it does to images.

Now, rsizr could be better - it could be a GIMP plugin, and it could give me more control - but it at least gave me a chance to play around with image retargeting. Anyway, it's pretty cool.

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Sunday, September 16th, 2007
11:09 pm - On history, trust, and travel.
Three things to say:

1. There's a very strong temptation to label past civilizations and cultures as being primitive or backwards. And of course, we like to praise our own civilization as being modern and advanced. And we like to ignore all evidence that suggests we might be wrong on either count. Well, the ancients did some really cool stuff. I'd like to think that modern civilization is the best, bar none - but this isn't something we should blindly assert.

2. ISO fumbled OOXML because Microsoft had money. The government and the media are out to serve themselves and anyone who's willing to bribe them. The GPL changes, and licensing code under future versions of it means relying on somebody else. Some of this is overly paranoid, but still, we need to be cautious about any system that might seem foolproof.

3. Going to California, back in about a week!

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Friday, August 31st, 2007
3:35 pm - Miscellaneous thoughts.
We completed our inventory today! You see, I work for a small computer support group at the UW Medical Center, and when the government lets us buy stuff with their money, they want to make sure that we still have the stuff we bought and didn't pawn it for junk food or something. So I've spent the last few months looking for computers and other miscellaneous equipment. In retrospect, I can see all the ways I should have done things... but what's done is done, and at least it's over with.

In other news: I've been listening to another French music site, this one called Deezer - you may have heard about it a few days ago if you read Slashdot. It's like Pandora, except (1) you can specify which songs to listen to, and (2) it's based in France, where licenses to broadcast copyrighted content flow freely. And of course, the American record companies are outraged. Sounds familiar, so listen while you can!

Also, I've been playing with wxWidgets again. There's a bunch of different ways to build a wxWidgets project on the Mac. On one hand, that's a pain, because there is no official, uniform way to do it - every wxWidgets project has a different setup. One application I found gives up on trying to guess where and how you have wxWidgets installed - the source comes with a set of scripts that downloads and builds its own copy of wxWidgets, just the way it likes it. At least it assumes nothing about your system.

On the other hand, having no official way to set up a project means that you can do it however you wish - with an Xcode project, on the command line, whatever. This evening, I'm going to look into building Universal apps (apps that run on both Intel and PowerPC Macs) from the command line. The configure script says that the --enable-universal_binary option doesn't work yet, but I think I've read that that has been fixed. We'll see soon...

Update: --enable-universal_binary does indeed work.

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Friday, August 10th, 2007
10:18 pm - What I learned today
Programming stuff.Collapse )

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Thursday, July 19th, 2007
2:06 am - How to subliminally get my attention
The following showed up in the "Latest Headlines" feed that comes with Firefox:

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