The Muppets Cover The Beatles

08/29/09 | by Adam | Categories: YouTube


Lovely collection of Beatles covers by the Muppets, including a superb "Let It Be" rework from Sesame Street.

(Via BoingBoing)


Producing address lists from the OSX Address book

08/24/09 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

Recently I was mailed a bunch of contact information to another OSX user -- basically by emailing vCards from within the iPhone. I would have done it from the Mac but that required the extra step of saving the vCard to the filesystem before I could send it. Did you know that the iPhone *includes* the memo field in the contact information when it sends it? You do now so beware...

Anyway, eventually I got the following query back:

How do I print an address book entry? Print just prints the street address in an envelope format with no other choice. So far the only way I could get a printout is to do a screen capture.

This resulted in a bit of headscratching, 'cause I couldn't figure it out either. After a bit of Googling, I found a few similar questions which were answered with "Hey, just change the style from the print requestor". Excellent, except there's no style option actually on the print requestor.

Well, there is. In an uncharacteristic bit of crappy UI design, Apple hid the options needed wanted with a very non-obvious arrow.

So, here's the process of printing a group of addresses from the OSX addressbook app:

- Create a new group with all of the attendees in it (create group, drag each address into it)
- Select the group and choose print
- This brings up the print requestor. To the right of the printer selection is a little down arrow. Press it
- This brings up a much larger option screen. Under "Style" choose "Mailing Labels"
- This will produce a page of addresses. The bonus is that they're formatted appropriately for address labels if you have the right sticky label pages.

Under the "style" dropdown there's also the option to print out selected fields from the address book for a more traditional style address dump.


Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Sarfati, Part III

08/08/09 | by Nimble | Categories: Books, Religion, Science

[Other parts of the review]

We continue on with "Contrasting the Models".

Now, he starts off with a reasonable diagram of the evolutionary picture as a "tree", though he can't help but interject that the common ancestor "itself evolved from non-living chemicals". Not part of the theory of evolution itself, but whatever.

He then proceeds to show the "strawman" that Teaching About Evolution uses, that of the creationist "lawn", where every biblical "kind" starts separately, whereas the "actual" picture is more like an orchard, with mini-trees everywhere.

Are we really dealing with a strawman here? Over the years, it has been really hard to pin down creationists on what a "kind" is. I would use their fancy term "baramin", but then I actually read some creationist literature on the topic, and now I would not know if I was supposed to be referring to monobaramins, apobaramins, holobaramins, or what have you, and whether it's by reproductive compatibility (can they make babies together?) or morphology (form and structure). If you want a really good sense of the kind of arguments that go into this, I would refer you to one of their papers, "A Refined Baramin Concept" by Todd Wood, Kurt Wise et al.

Full story »


Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Sarfati, Part II

07/25/09 | by Nimble | Categories: Religion, Science

[Other parts of the review]

"The Basis of Modern Science" aims initially to show that a whole pile of very useful scientists were creationists. The list is a little laughable in that many of the members listed predate even Darwin's birth, but regardless of 'membership in the club', much of this section, including the parts talking about the scientists that are members of Answers in Genesis, etc., misses the point.

The point is that you can do science as long as you do not resort to miracles. I'm sure Russell Humphreys' research on nuclear physics was just fine, but when it comes to origins of the earth and the like, he starts from both ends, where one end is fixed in Genesis, and then invokes a divine cheat. It's like insisting a blue puzzle piece is sky when it is in fact water, and trying to make the puzzle fit anyhow... then using scissors, paper and markers when things are not going according to plan.

Full story »


How Do You Identify Music Without A Title (Redux)

07/22/09 | by Adam | Categories: Music, iPhone


Back in 2006, I posed a question on the blog of how to identify music without knowing its name. Ritchie pointed me at Shazam shortly after correctly identifying the specific track via its lyrics instead. Since that time, Shazam has been ported to the iPhone and I'm pleased to report that it really does a sterling job. There remain a couple of recordings in my collection that even Shazam has problems with and, alas, they're mostly instrumental pieces so the old lyric fallback won't work there.

But, hey, this really is progress!


Rebuilding the old tape collection

07/22/09 | by Adam | Categories: Music

When I first started buying music I had a choice of cassette tape or vinyl. For reasons mostly involving the availability of singles, I tended to buy on vinyl. After a while I'd accumulated a pretty good stock and found it was rather non-portable. A single record is relatively light; a bunch are both unwieldy and extremely heavy. Oh, and surprisingly fragile. As I was at school at the time and the proud possessor of a Walkman knockoff, I proceeded to copy most of it to cassette. Yes, I have a lot of white inner sleeves with a logo of large skull and crossbones over a cassette tape with text stating "Home taping is killing music". Plus ca change.

Over the years since, I've accumulated a pretty good collection of music. Certainly far, far more than I did when I bought music on vinyl. With all of my CDs converted to MP3 I thought it might be fun to try to recreate my old tape collection with the newer higher quality versions. The gotcha is that I wanted to try to match the originals: the cuts had to be the appropriate single version where possible rather than just the album edit.

I can't do it.

The culprits are for the most part the old 12" singles which I was quite partial to. Take for example New Order's "Blue Monday '88". I own the original 12" version on vinyl but it's never been transferred over to CD. You can find the original 1983 12" easily enough, and the 1988 7" release turns up at least once on a compilation. The 1988 12"? Not on your life. How about the Ben Liebrand "Sunshine" 12" mix of Bill Withers' "Lovely Day?" Yeah, you guessed it. Paul Hardcastle's "19" was released in two different versions depending on the market; the US version has a very different voice from the British one and sounds a lot weaker. Guess which version always shows up. Now try to find the a nice remaster of the UK 12".

However, they're not the only ones. Trying to find the charting 7" version of a lot of songs is pretty hard too. There are a number of compilations that do include obscure mixes but too often it's just the album version again. Unfortunately there's no way to find that out before it arrives, fully paid for, on your doorstep.

Then there are the utterly wacky obscurities although still pressed by mainstream studios. Try finding "The Young Ones" cover of Traffic's "Hole In My Shoe" (bummer, man) or perhaps the Steve Harley vocal of "Phantom Of the Opera" (Michael Crawford sure spoiled that one.) Perhaps PhD's "I Won't Let You Down" (that would be the Scottish band, not the American one)? Even something as mainstream as Sly Fox's "Let's Go All The Way" was surprisingly difficult to find. On the other hand, I expected Guru Josh's "Infinity 1990" to be impossible to find and promptly discovered a CD single of it.

And the B sides? Oh. The flip side of the single with the theme tune to "Dr Who" during the Peter Davidson years is a great little synthesizer number called "The Astronauts". See this link to get an idea of how hard that one is to find, even on vinyl. Hefti's "Batusi A-Go Go (I Shouldn't Wish To Attract Attention)"? Yeah.

Fortunately I still -- even after all these years -- have the original vinyl. I've converted it all onto CDs so at least it'll now remain accessible and not degrade further. All the same, the sound quality just isn't as good as a properly remastered release. The hunt continues.


iPhone notepad

07/16/09 | by Adam | Categories: iPhone


Daring Fireball has an interesting take on why the iPhone's note application is the pinnacle of the breed, with one of two minor niggles.

I still can't agree: the time-based flat access system that John Gruber considers to be the appropriate design drives me nuts. Perhaps it's because I used the Palm notes for so long but I absolutely have to have a category to allow me to distinguish between notes for different purposes. Without that, and even with just a few notes, the whole lot becomes an unmanageable mess.

That said, the addition of syncing with OSX's and the iPhone's new "Find" tool does go a long way to making it valuable again. And he's absolutely right on the poor font choice and the lack of internet/MobileMe syncing. It's horrible.


Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Sarfati, Part I

06/18/09 | by Nimble | Categories: Books, Religion, Science

[Other parts of the review]

I picked up this book at a charity book sale for the SPCA out in Cochrane. It is morbidly fascinating to see books that purport to take down an entire scientific edifice. I took a pencil with me when I first started reading it, because I thought I might have a note or two to make about it.

Well, it's thoroughly annotated now.

Note that this is the 1999 edition. I understand that there is a later edition out there. However, unless it is an otherwise blank page that simply says "I'm sorry", its contribution is unlikely to be better than that of this edition....

Full story »


Passing By Reference To SQL Server Stored Procedures

06/15/09 | by Nimble | Categories: Programming

This is pretty simple to accomplish, though how exactly to do it can be hard to find.

Quite simply, you add OUTPUT to your parameter lists, on both your procedure definition and your actual call, like so:


@Value int OUTPUT
SET @Value = @Value + 1


DECLARE @Banana int
SET @Banana = 1
PRINT @Banana
EXEC dbo.TestValue @Banana OUTPUT
PRINT @Banana
EXEC dbo.TestValue @Banana OUTPUT
PRINT @Banana

If you run this in SQL Server Management Studio, this will give you the output:


If you miss the OUTPUT on the calling side, your value will simply be unaffected, and will output instead:


If you miss the OUTPUT on the defining side, the OUTPUT on the calling side will generate an error:

Msg 8162, Level 16, State 2, Procedure TestValue, Line 0
The formal parameter "@Value" was not declared as an OUTPUT parameter, but the actual parameter passed in requested output.


Cool baby furniture

06/08/09 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


I'm not really a baby person, but this crèche furniture is quite appealing.


Bill 44 Passes Second Reading

05/21/09 | by Nimble | Categories: Common Sense, Politics, Religion, Science

This bill has been causing some stir in Alberta.

Essentially, the bill modifies the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act RSA-2000 cH-14 here with modifications that, for the most part, add sexual orientation to these protected categories:

race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income or family status of that person or class of persons or of any other person or class of persons.

So why all the big fuss? Well, a couple of reasons: one, there's an addition to the act that, seemingly out of the blue, protects students from educational exposure or testing of:

subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation

Two: a comment by the premier of the province, Ed Stelmach. From a CBC article:

Although Stelmach has confirmed the bill will give parents the authority to exclude their kids from classes if the topic of evolution comes up, Education Minister Dave Hancock said it won't change anything.

I have my own few thoughts about the act...

Full story »


Metered internet

05/17/09 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Did you know that it's really easy to get through a gigabyte of data in two days without using torrents or streamed video and audio (albeit with a little bit of Skyping)?

Neither did I up until a few hours ago.

Major contributors: Windows update, Outlook syncing, VMWare Fusion dmg download.


iPhones and roaming wifi

05/16/09 | by Adam | Categories: iPhone

Apropos of not much:

- Trying to sync over wifi when your laptop is already connected to a pay-to-play wifi hub doesn't work. Apple really needs to open up their iTunes sync API so that third party apps can piggyback on it.
- Pay-to-play wifi just doesn't seem to be iPhone friendly, what with the need of most of them to display an active window counting your connection time.


Things iPhoto thinks are faces

04/30/09 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh


I don't have a copy of iPhoto'09 with the feature that tries to automatically recognise people's faces and tag them. I'm looking forward to trying it out eventually.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the Flickr group where people post some of iPhoto's near (and quite wide) misses.


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