Anatomy & Science Gifts

11/04/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Stores, Toys

Sites catering to anatomical supplies, in particular, have some pretty unusual gifts.

How about Bones Socks?

Bones Socks

Or, overwhelm your opponents with a Blinded by Science T-Shirt?

Blinded By Science T-Shirt

Or some syringe pens?

Syringe Pens

Amazingly goofy stuff :)


The Ultimate Godwin

11/04/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Politics


This video has been showing up in a few places. Sometimes associated with a "Don't Vote For Bush!" theme, sometimes not. It's an old educational video by the 'war department', and you can find it listed as "Don't Be A Sucker".

It's a 17 minute interesting watch, a visual version, in a way, of the Martin Niemöller poem, the First, they came... poem.

Godwin's Law is:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

Today's trigger was a renewed realization of a Department of Homeland Security proposal, docket USCBP–2005–0003 filed mid-July, which would make airlines and cruise ships have to ask the DHS for permission for each one of their passengers to leave the country within six months after enactment. (Look at the proposal here, p.2, p.3, p.4, p.5 - substitute in the "page=" for further pages.)

One could say that effectively, this doesn't change things, since there's a No Fly List already, but it's far easier to do mass restrictions when you have to ask permission in the first place.

One obvious use of this would be in the case of a draft. Instead of throwing millions on a no-fly list, all you need is a birth date and gender cut-off. It's unlikely that this U.S. administration would institute a draft, though; they don't seem to believe high numbers of troops are required.

Another would be a global cut-off by nationality.

All speculation, of course, but why push for this sort of system in the first place if you don't plan on taking advantage of its features relative to the no-fly list?

The only feature of the entire proposal that seems sensible is making sure passenger manifests are sent 15 minutes before takeoff, instead of up to 15 minutes afterwards.


A Case Study In DRM Music

11/03/06 | by Adam | Categories: Music, Copyright


The summary of the story is that Microsoft is discontinuing their old MSN Music store, and the DRM'd files it sold are not compatible with anything else. While the story quotes Microsoft saying that tracks could be burned to CD in this case, I've seen more than a few music sites that don't permit CD burning that meaning you're locked into the format and can use only compliant players: reckon they'll be supported indefinitely?

BoingBoing has a reference to this piece too.


Peopleware - Productive Projects and Teams : DeMarco & Lister

11/03/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Books, Programming


This is an interesting paperback concerning itself with how companies are run where the business is development, like code, as opposed to production, like cheeseburgers. In particular, there is a focus on what sort of management mismatches and business pathologies you may encounter.

If you are a developer, chances are that you will identify with some-to-many of the troubles in this book...

Full story »


Truer words were never spoken

11/01/06 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


...until the next lot.


Automated music recognition

11/01/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Music


A little while ago, I posted a question about how one identifies unknown music.

Apparently there is some software that -- in theory -- can do this Too bad it only seems to be deployed to restrict music listening, rather than to help identify it. Reconsider, please! If nothing else, you, Gracenote, can become known for reducing the scourge of misattributed Wierd Al MP3s throughout the web! It might make up for stealing all the effort people put into building your CDDB system.


I Still Don't Get Virtual Particles

11/01/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Science

Having gone back and read about virtual particles once more, I must say that they have become less, rather than more clear.

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Computer maintenance ergonomics

10/31/06 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

Apple's industrial design has always impressed me. A few years ago, probably in 1997 or so, when I was fiddling around with a PPC desktop Mac, I was stunned at the way they'd designed the case so that mounting backets were balanced and would swivel; that edges were rounded; that the entire machine was made nicely accessible. At the time all the Wintel PC cases I used, regardless of cost, seemed to be roughly finished on the inside and always involved large numbers of screws and required interesting maneouvers when adding or removing hardware.

Full story »


A Very Canadian Joke

10/31/06 | by Adam | Categories: Silly, Canadian


...although it's from an Australian. Ah, close enough.


Remote Desktop on the Mac

10/30/06 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

Having used VNC extensively at work in the past, we've mostly migrated to using Microsoft's Remote Desktop where possible due to better performance and a far more reliable screen refresh. There's also the bit that all versions of Windows from 2000 onwards have Remote Desktop installed so that makes our lives a bit easier, but that's neither here nor there. The protocol that Remote Desktop uses between client and server is referred to as "RDP".

The problem occurs when I'm connecting remotely to work via my Mac. Microsoft, back in 2003, released a OSX version of the client. It works fine on the computers it was designed for, but as a tool on an Intel Mac it suffers badly due to the need to use Rosetta, the PPC-to-Intel converter. It runs, albeit quite slowly, and chews up a huge amount of memory. A bit of browsing around the internet turned up a Universal binary RDP client called "CoRD" or "Cocoa Remote Desktop". Only at v0.2, it's pretty functional. There are some items missing such as being able to access remote printers and cross-platform clipboard support but it's a great deal faster than the older Microsoft effort.

The good news is that the MacBU are apparently working on upgrading their version so -- with a bit of luck -- there'll be a bit of competition to see who can produce the best one. I'm looking forward to it.


The Subversives

10/27/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Programming


I'm quite a fan of the open source version control system Subversion (tastes particularly good with TortoiseSVN if you're using Windows), so it was interesting to get this passed along. It's quite a widely-dispersed network of people, many of whom have never met one another before.

So it was pretty interesting to hear that Google was gathering a whole bunch of them up for a conference. Subversion is also the version control system that Google chose for its Google Code project. The announcement is on the page:

Oct 25, 2006 - Ben Collins-Sussman

Last week Google hosted the first-ever summit for Subversion developers. It was quite a remarkable event - the Subversion project was founded over six years ago and most of the developers had never met in person! Thirty of us gathered at Google's headquarters in Mountain View for three days, where we talked about the future of SVN: how our merge-tracking feature is coming along, how to implement difficult new features like 'obliterate', a new repository design, and whether the next generation of Subversion should have decentralized features. You can ogle various notes and photos on our shared blog.

I think it's a pretty excellent way to reward the fine folks who have been working on Subversion who have made many of their users' lives easier over the past while. Even SourceForge has been getting their feet wet.

Cool :)


Stages Of A New Blogger

10/26/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Internet, People

Not authoritative in the slightest, but this is what I've observed, from a huge sample size of two people and inferences from elsewhere. Footnotes be gosh darned :)


The would-be blogger is finally curious enough to wonder what blogging is all about. Perhaps others have suggested they get a blog, perhaps they have read blogs and wonder what it would be like to author them. This stage can persist for years, or an hour.


This can be signing up for a blog elsewhere, or it can mean installing one on their own domain. If the installation or signup goes awry, whether the blogging software can't connect to the database or the signup procedures or password get lost, it can take a lot of will to try to get past this stage.

First Post

The first post is made, and it's obligatory to mention that it's a first post, as well as to comment on the probably temporary state of the entire thing. Some bloggers come with a mission to say one thing in particular. In either case, this may be the only entry, or there may be a few entries.


It's almost obligatory to have a silent period. It's natural to expect this artifact hanging out there on the web to garner a few comments. Sometimes a few comments come from close friends; that you'd expect. In either case, it may seem like the topic well has run dry. Some bloggers give up here, particularly if the investment was very small.

Second Wind

All of a sudden, the blogger now starts finding a few things they have some thoughts on. There is occasionally a smattering of philosophy, which will often be less present later.


A sense of the blog not being paid attention to, especially after such thoughtful posts, will start to overwhelm. The blogger may wonder why they're doing this. A little soul-searching is in order.


Playing around with the statistics tools can lead to a sense that even though there are no replies, the blog entries are being read. Referrers and referring searches take on a particular fascination. "Don't I read a lot of blogs and never or hardly ever reply?"

Anonymous Maturity

The pace may settle down, or the pace may not. More of the blogs entries are short reviews, or links to other fascinating things, with or without comment. This is a pretty relaxed stage.

I'd consider both Adam and I on here to be at the Anonymous Maturity stage. Anonymous Maturity is a relatively stress-free spot to be in; most popular blogs I see seem to require a lot of care and feeding. I would posit possible stages like Small Community, Provocateur Arrival and Defender Arrival, and Popular Maturity, but then I'd, well, have to do some actual research :)


More Delphi .NET Migration

10/24/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Programming

Delphi (now available in free 'Turbo Delphi Explorer' editions for old-style Windows coding and new-style .NET coding) has a pretty good migration path from regular Windows to .NET.

Unlike Managed C++, which is one of the very few things that can mix .NET and regular Windows freely (though at a price), it's a relatively all-or-nothing deal. If you've been doing plain point-and-click programming, you may have to do practically nothing in the conversion. If you've been doing parsers and cryptographic algorithms, you probably have some work ahead of you. This is all related to the way .NET managed code works.

One option that playing around with Delphi has given me is converting old Delphi code to .NET form. Converting a scripting language engine is certainly a large challenge.

Full story »


It's not "new age", but what is it?

10/23/06 | by Adam | Categories: Music

Over the last number of years, a new stylistic movement of music has come of age. It's rock influenced, but not rock. It tends towards being instrumental, but not exclusively. It has aspects of worldbeat, but it's not part of that either. It's sometimes described as "electronica" but that's truly more of a harsher, less organic sound, albeit reliant on synthesised instruments too. It's not prog-rock but borrows elements of that too. It's not trance even though it adopts some of the beat.

Full story »


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