December 22nd, 2006
Note to readers who do not enjoy reading about cats: You may safely ignore this post without fear of retribution.
Remember how our neighbors took in that cute stray cat? Well, she’s staying with us for the holidays while they drive up to the frosty white North. They wanted to take Brenda (the cat. please keep up.) with them, but can’t for various excellent reasons. E and I are excited to have her hanging out with us, and (increasingly) so are our cats.
I’ve been emailing little updates to Brenda’s mommy and daddy to let them know how we’re getting on. Here’s the first one:
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December 22nd, 2006
Metro has released sets of three options for the each half of the University line (9 possible outcomes at this point).
Links: Metro press release. Chron stories: 1 2. Christof. Houston Strategies.
December 14th, 2006
Bruce Schneier: Real-World Passwords.
We used to quip that “password” is the most common password. Now it’s “password1.” Who said users haven’t learned anything about security?
December 12th, 2006
OK, I’ve finally given up on the Dock. It’s always irritated me for a number of little brain-nibbling reasons:
- Muscle memory or real estate: Pick one. I really, really like things to stay in one spot over a long period of time; it’s not even muscle memory so much as spatial memory. (I use Virtue to keep major concurrent tasks on separate workspaces; in my head I have a 4096×768 monitor, workspaces side-by-side, and the GL effects I use to switch workspaces reinforce that topology.) So it bugs me that if I want apps to show up in a recognizable place, I need to pin them to the Dock, taking up valuable real estate when they’re not running.
- No real estate? No feedback. How many emails do I have? No idea; the icon’s too small for me to read the little red badge on the Mail.app icon. Why are the icons so small? Because I have too many of them pinned in there; see #1.
- No muscle memory for you, anyway. The Dock is centered, so it’s not like pinned applications stay in one place anyway; as soon as you open an app not on the Dock, everything shifts to accommodate. (This is “easily” addressed by magnetizing the Dock to one side of your screen, using some defaults write command I’ve used and long since forgotten.)
So, yeah, the Dock and I never really got on well. You may recall that Dave tamed the Dock; that solution never really worked for me (real estate; $ for DragThing), and I don’t know if he still uses it like that, anyway.
I finally gave up on the Dock entirely. Here’s what it looks like now:
That’s right, everything’s unpinned, and the icons (snapped to 32×32) are large enough that I can read the feedback badges.
So what about all that spatial memory crap? I gave up on that, too, at least as far as the Dock is concerned; it’s purely a status/feedback region for me now—I don’t click on it anymore. All my app-launching and open-file-with-app needs are now satisfied by Quicksilver, which is usually faster than (spatial-memory-accelerated) mousing anyway.
Now if only QS were faster on my poor little PowerBook. I know, I know, I’m never satisfied.
December 12th, 2006
So, apparently, Verizon CSRs do not understand decimals.
G: [big sigh] Okay, I think I have to do this again. Do you recognize that there’s a difference between one dollar and one cent?
G: Do you recognize there’s a difference between half a dollar and half a cent?
G: Then, do you therefore recognize there’s a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents
The short version is, this guy was quoted a rate of two thousandths of a cent per KB for data usage, and was (of course) charged two tenths of a cent. Many, many calls and letters confirmed that nobody seems to realize that “point oh oh two cents” is not the same as “point oh oh two dollars,” so it’s a good thing these people aren’t doing stoichiometry. The xkcd recommendation? Just pay the bill.
December 4th, 2006
Hi. It’s been a while. I beg your forgiveness.
I gave a slightly silly talk about the programming language Python to the Rice CS Club last Thursday. It was a pretty mixed audience (ranging from “I’m not sure what Python is” to “what do you think of the new 2.5 features?”) so I tailored the lecture to experienced programmers and scientists new to Python in particular. The slides, along with some links I promised to the attendees, are collected on my new python page.
While we’re on the topic: If you’re a parselmouth and build web applications for fun or profit, you should be aware that web.py version 0.2 came out last week. The tutorial has been updated to use all the schmancy new features, like the built-in template system (replacing Cheetah, which is a little heavyweight for the web.py approach, which is something along the lines of “the absolute least amount of code that still saves you a substantial amount of work”). I’m looking forward to using the 0.2 release to whip up a redesign of the Beer-Bike tee shirt database in time for the 50th anniversary of the college system (and, hence, of Beer-Bike).