December 03, 2005

Generation @

I saw the first reference to "Generation @" just now. Apparently, I'm a "Gen X"-er and my kids are part of "Generation @"--the 1st generation that will grow up online.

I wonder if this will stick. We'll just have to see...

November 08, 2005

Wind Column

I wonder about random things. One of these things is wind power. I've never gotten past the idea that these 3-wing propeller-type generators seem to require a lot of engineering precision, complexity and cost to build. There has to be a simpler, better way. One way, it seemed to me would be to extend and stand the propeller up on its side, kind of like a silo with fins, instead of putting it on a big tower. Maybe this is a good idea, maybe not. At least, now, I can watch this company, TMA, to see if they succeed. I hope they do.

Opensource energy article.

Slashdot article

October 14, 2005

Mac DVD to iPod tutorial

Well isn't this a nicely done tutorial? I didn't even realize there was a GPL dvd ripper for the Mac and here's a tutorial on how to transcode a DVD to the new video ipod. AFAIK, this is completely legal and legitimate action when you own the DVD.

The programs used are:


October 08, 2005

tip: windows explorer view

I found this when I finally decided to bother to search for it. I wanted to always have the explorer folder view active in windows. As with most things Windows, it is something that makes little intuitive sense until it is explained. Gee, why couldn't this be part of the attributes that are saved with a normal "make these settings apply to all folders". Nah, that would make too much sense.

Open a folder,
then go to View, Explorer Bar, Folders (or hold down Alt and type V,E,O) for short. To make it permanent, open My Computer and go to Tools, Folder Options, File Types and find the folder icon next to (none) and Folder. Click it, go to Advanced click Explore, then Set Default.

October 02, 2005


TGFG = Thank Goodness For Google.

Here is another reminder that no computer is truly "user friendly", not even the Mac.

My daughter couldn't login to the iMac anymore. The darn thing just hung up and didn't move. I'm lucky that I know how to ssh and ps -aux from another computer so that I could see that it was hung up on this process: /System/Library/LoginPlugins/MCX.loginPlugin/Contents/MacOS/MCXAppItems -u My Applications.

Plugging "MCXAppItems hang" into google found this hint, which worked for me.


July 27, 2005

Violence, Sex & Video Games

The L.A. Times is running an editorial/open-letter to Hillary regarding the latest videogame probe. I recommend reading it.

I'm also quite amused that a little sex was what launched all this hoopla. I guess its okay for teenagers to simulate violence (the game features beat/rob/steal/kill/etc-ing), but for teenagers to simulate sex--that's over the line. I wonder what the arguments for/against this distinction would be...

Also, Take-Two predicted that they would need to take a write-off for all the returns & lost revenue they forsee. Anyone else think that maybe the direct opposite will happen?

July 12, 2005

Long Now

I rediscovered the Long Now website today and was really taken by the ideas that Brian Eno brings up in his Nov 02003 talk here (pdf) on the seminars page.

I'm struck by a couple thoughts so far:

1) the kind of "short now" thinking he attributes to the 1970s is alive and well in Silicon Valley. It might be a global epidemic.

2) I really should look at the book "The Evolution of Cooperation", by Robert Axelrod. The WWI example Eno relates about how generals had to rotate troops throught the frontlines to keep them from cooperating with the enemy made me think of how "big media" helps keep divisions like "the red states" and "the blue states" alive. Cooperation doesn't make for nearly as interesting TV. [See previous post.]

3) I really enjoyed his background on his ambient music. "Music for Airports" is one of Wendy & my all-time favorites.

A good lunchtime read.

June 28, 2005

Google Earth

This software is now free for download. An EXCELLENT use of 3d graphics for something other than shooting people.

I'm a customer, I know people who work on the software and I recommend it highly.

May 02, 2005

Pacific Coast Trail Hiker

My friend/co-worker Scott Heeschen is hiking the Pacific Coast Trail for the next 6 months. I thought I'd post this here to keep a link to his journal.

I'm all jealous. This sounds like an amazing and fun journey.

April 26, 2005


From Dan Gilmor's Blog. A site that gathers login/passwords for annoying sites on the web that force you to login, even when there is no charge. You tell it the site you want, it gives you the login.

Read the tutorial here.

April 11, 2005


Just heard about a company/project by a former co-worker Michael T. Jones--The Gigapxl project. An amazing camera & project built with (apparently) U2 Spy Plane cameras that take 4 gigapixel images. Woah.

March 03, 2005

Surreal Google...

So today I got in touch with someone I hadn't talked with for years. Googled her name, found a .Mac account, sent email and sure enough, that was her. During our email conversation she mentioned another name (Mac MacDougal) and I decided to google him, too. Well, apparently Mac worked at Amdahl in the early 80s (I worked there after meeting Mac at Apple) and this article mentions him: [Seach for John Sanguinetti - A Profile it's a ways down the page]

Reading the article was interesting for me. It talks about places I've worked like Amdahl, Apple & NVIDIA. I remember being one of those engineers that knew that verilog would kill off VHDL. He's bringing up names & events that were all happening around me.

What a surreal google that was...

March 01, 2005

Mac Home/End Keys

Reading slashdot today, I ran across this cool tweak for OS X and I'm really looking forward to trying it out. One bit of windows that I actually like is the way the Home & End keys work. But, on the Mac, the keys normally just do nothing--quite irritating. Hopefully, this gets things working...

/* put this in ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict */
/* Home/End keys more like Windows */
"\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLine:"; /* home */
"\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLine:"; /* end */
"$\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:"; /* shift + home */
"$\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:"; /* shift + end */
"^\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfDocument:"; /* control + home */
"^\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfDocument:"; /* control + end */

January 29, 2005

JHymn keeps iTunes alive

I haven't had a need to use this program yet, but if each of us in Casa Allen has a couple computers & music players in the future, I might have to use a tool like this:

It's nice to know we have some options to keep our purchased tunes alive forever. I'm reminded that I've had several Macs over the past 20 years starting with System 6 (I think) and I can't run a single program that I bought that long ago--but I can still play that Police Synchronicity CD. I like to think that I'll be able to run OS X software that far in the future, but I'm not going to bet all my purchased music on it...

January 21, 2005

Paul Graham's Graduation Advice

I found a lot of truth in this essay.  Note that Paul Graham is a hacker/programmer, and his essay comes from that point-of-view, but he certainly has a way with words.  I like to think that I have followed his advice along the way to where I am, but in some ways I know I haven't.  I think I'll make a point of re-reading this off-and-on.  I'll also be forwarding this to my niece in high school.

January 18, 2005


I finally found out where Paul Haeberli is:

As always, very cool stuff.

[Paul Haeberli is a graphics futurist who had an office near mine when I worked at SGI/AGD in 7 Upper. He's quite well-known in the 3d graphics industry. Here's a pointer to his Grafica Obscura page.]

January 15, 2005


I posted this to the TiVo Support forum:

I'm very interested in using the TivoToGo service to download shows to my PC. This should be a great new feature. However, as I wait for my first shows to download, I thought I'd send my feedback in the hopes that it will reach the ears of the developers...

1) Wow, that's a lot of hoops to jump through...
> download software
> install codecs separately
* oh, now I have to wait for the system's software to update. Ug...
> sign up to get on priority list for software
* wait for a week
* okay it is updated...try connection, denied.
> oh,I have to enable the system on *Tivo's website*--what the heck is that? why not on the system?
> force the tivo to connect to get this permission
* still, errors while connecting--denied
> oh, in the fine print I need to disable parental controls
* still, errors while connecting--apparently the system is killing transfer
> reset the system as I read on some forum post
* okay! finally, I see my shows, but...
> still have to muck with parental controls (that are already temporarily off) to get some programs

It should go without saying that this is not what I expected from a company that prides itself on ease-of-use.

2) The Parental Controls switching is really not ideal

This should be something completely controllable via the Tivo Desktop. Having to muck with this on the Tivo means I have to be in front of the TV when I transfer shows. I won't disable parental controls--is there any other way to fix this up? I hope this is the first feature they add to Tivo Desktop 2.1.

Otherwise, this looks like a great new tool and I look forward to using it.

January 12, 2005

Hibernating in Summer

This seems very interesting--a lemur that can actually hibernate in the
summer. I wonder what we'll find after studying this little monkey...

January 09, 2005

Wendy's first use for the Xbox

Wendy finally found a use for our Xbox--besides making us all feel guilty for wasting time in front of it.

We found an aerobic/yoga/fitness "game" called Yourself Fitness. Basically, it is a glorified areobic tape, but it appears to be a great way to get personalized aerobic workout without the repetitiveness of a VHS/DVD. It does an interview to find out your fitness level, asks about your goals and creates an individual program for you. The instructor appears onscreen and leads you as in a regular tape, but she's completely computer-generated. The graphics are very well done.

See more at

January 05, 2005

Jan 5, 2005 Word of the Day


/kruhfts´m@n·ship /, n. [from cruft]

The antithesis of craftsmanship.

January 03, 2005

Happy New Year + Comet Machholz

Happy New Year!

There's a new comet passing by and I finally found a clear night to check it out. I went out about 9:15pm tonight, found the Pleiades and moved the binoculars down and to the right a couple fields-of-view. When moving, the "fuzzy blob" is fairly easy to notice. As usual these things are FAR more pretty in the pictures you can get online--it's just a grey, fuzzy blob in my binoculars. I couldn't see the tail from my light-polluted back yard.

The comet will be moving towards the Pleiades over the next couple days. Perhaps it will get a noticable tail. The finder chart from Sky & Telescope should help with locating. Just click here.

Although not that impressive, its a nice reminder of our tiny little place in the overall universe... Consider our solar system as a little bubble a light-year across (that's overly generous, but bear with me). Then consider that our galaxy is 100,000 of those little bubbles in diameter. It's something like a million bubbles to the next-closest galaxy. And there are billions of galaxies out there.

What a collosal waste of space if it is all created only for us.