Monday, July 31, 2006

MythTV success

See that photo? Two tuners recording at once! After a month of struggling with what turned out to be a bad driver, the mad geniuses on the ivtv driver project released a patch, and my card suddenly works.

I guess I just have to figure out the rest of MythTV now. :) Posted by Picasa

Mark my words, this will sweep the nation: Meat Cake

Meatloaf "cake", mashed potato "frosting", and a decorative design of ketchup on top.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Video Friday #3: Radiohead, "Just"

I'm not sure if Radiohead's "Just" is my favoritve video of all time, but it's on the short list:

I'm a sucker for The Twilight Zone, and the story in this video would make for a great episode. It's got a theme which shows up in a lot of my favorite stories: an idea or thought so powerful that knowing it can cause your destruction.

It's literally the first story in the bible. It reappears in "Von Goom's Gambit", a short story which imagines a chess player so bad that his terrible moves literally turns the opponents mad. And it's one of the themes in the movie "Pi", in which the mathematician Maximillian Cohen unravels the mathematics of chaos. That knowledge begins to drive him insane, until he uses a power drill to literally remove the idea from his brain.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tom Tomorrow explains how the media totally blows it on blogs

I had a discussion earlier today regarding the media's narrative about liberal blogs. We concluded that the media pretty much just repeats variations of "Liberal Blogs: They So Crazy!"

Turns out that Tom Tomorrow recently wrote an open letter addressing this very topic:
The thing is, David, that while your colleagues focus on the occasional swear word or internecine pissing match on left wing blogs, they mostly ignore what’s happening on the right half of the blogosphere. And it’s a fever swamp over there, it really is. Accusations of treason, made in utter seriousness, are routinely levelled against journalists who have the audacity to report the facts, and against Democratic Senators who have the temerity to oppose the president. To their credit, Newsweek’s Blogwatch column this week notes a prominent right-wing blogger responding to the Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision with the comment “Five ropes, five robes, five trees. Some assembly required.” (A similar sentiment, aimed at journalists, can be found on the site of a t-shirt company that frequently advertises on right-wing blogs.) Here’s one question: if such rhetoric can be laughed off by your colleagues as mere hyperbole — particularly when they are frequently the suggested target — why on earth do they get so worked up over a few allegedly foul-mouthed liberals?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Exercise before work

Since we're still in the grasp of a heat wave, today I decided to try exercising before work instead of after. Conclusion: it blows.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Speed shoe-tying

Friday's Rocketboom not only teaches you to tie your shoes faster, it's also pretty funny.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Current California Power Conditions

This site shows the current california electrical power demand and supply. It used to come in handy during the Enron-brownouts. Unfortunately, it's predicting a demand above peak capacity tomorrow.

You've seen IMDB's top 250 movies list, but now you can keep track of which of these movies you've seen at the site "".

You can check out my list, although movies I saw long ago and want to re-watch are still marked as unseen. For example, "The Godfather". I'm not a cretin!

Sunday Night Movie Quote #1

Yojimbo, 1961, Sanjuro Kuwabatake: "In this town, I'll get paid for killing. And this town is full of men who'd be better off dead."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Too damn hot.

But exactly how hot is it?

Yahoo says it's 110° F right now:

I grabbed my infrared pyrometer and started measuring the temperature of various objects. Remeber in Predator, when the predator had heat vision? An infrared pyrometer works like a one-pixel version of that.

It's 84.9° F in the single-room I'm air conditioning in my apartment. My air conditioner isn't powerful enough to cool more than the one room, so the other rooms are hellish infernos.

The shaded outside wall of my apartment is 98.4° F:

The shaded sidewalk is 105.9° F:

The unshaded sidewalk is 144.8° F!

The unshaded asphalt is 153.1° F!!!

This unshaded plant is 108.6° F. I thought it would be hotter. That's much cooler than anything nearby.

This shaded grass is 84.0° F. That's about as cool as my air-conditioned apartment. Nature wins again, I guess.

My shaded car is 95.7° F. From experience, I know that if I leave my car in the sun, with the black interior, it would be about infinity degrees.

But the entire shaded carport is a cool 83.8° F. Weird. It hardly seems fair that the car is the hotest thing in the whole carport.

And finally, this unshaded car is 156.0° F!!!!!!!!! (That's right, I used nine exclamtion marks.!) This is someone else's car, and it's been parked in the spot for a long time. And it's ridonkulously hot!

In the time it took me to post this, Yahoo now says the temperature has now increased to 111° F outside. I'm going to go into my one air-conditioned room and try to sit absolutely still so as to not dislodge the beads of sweat forming on my forehead. I hope it's not this hot where you are!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Mike On Software: What makes a good unit test?

What makes a good unit test? There are as many definitions as there are programmers, but as far as I'm concerned, a good unit test can be determined by just two characteristics: it runs fast; and when it fails, it points you to a small section of code.

Many people mention other characteristics: your unit tests should isolate the unit under test, have a limited scope, run isolated from other libraries, etc. But these concerns really only matter to the extent that they help your test run faster, and help you focus on a small section of code. Anything else is a distraction. Heck, even if your unit test includes every library on the system, it can still be a great unit test... as long as it remains fast and focused.

Conversely, I've seen "unit tests" that attempt to isolate the code being tested, jump through hoops to have no external dependencies, and so on, but they were no good, because they took forever to run, or did not have any ability to focus failures on small blocks of code.

Don't get confused between the technique and the goal. If your unit test runs fast and does a good job of scoping test failures, you're done.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Video Friday #2: Styx, Too Much Time

This week's video is from Styx. Other, lesser, blogs would have honored Come Sail Away, Mr. Roboto, or maybe even Heavy Metal Poisoning--fine videos, one and all.

But that's not how I roll! Kick it Mike-style, and enjoy Styx's Too Much Time.

Recall that Styx is also the Greek river of the dead, guarded by Charon, and circling Hades nine times. That's hard-core. Also recall that "the band was accused by a California religious right group and later Tipper Gore's P.M.R.C of backmasking Satanic messages in their anti-cocaine anthem, "Snowblind."" That's totally badass.

And then try to reconcile that with the aquamarine jump suit, the zany bar-room comedy sketches, and the wacky facial expressions in this video. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

First person puzzle shooter: Portal

I realize that posting video links doesn't add a whole lot of content to the web. It sure is easy, though. On that note:

Check out this video from Valve's upcoming game "Portal". It's a first-person shooter/puzzle game hybrid--now that's my type of game!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

CEOs get paid too damn much

A followup to a real-life conversation earlier today: a new study confirms that CEO pay does not correlate to performance. The ratio of average CEO pay to average worker pay was at 431:1 in 2004, continuing a trend of rising CEO pay that began in 1965, when the ratio was 24:1.

One stunning example: in 2005, Forbes magazine rated Exxon CEO Lee Raymond 180 out of 189 for price to performance. That's pretty bad. He then received a $400 million retirement package. Wha?

I always like the fact that the USA was founded, in part, as a rejection of the aristocracy. Unfortunately, I think we're starting to develop our own.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Jetboil: a more efficient pot

I bought a Jetboil camp stove this weekend, and I'm amazed at how efficient it is. I had a pint of water boiling in a little over a minute! The "secret" is the Fluxring, a coil on the bottom of the pot which collects heat that normally would be wasted. You can hold your hand right next to the Jetboil on full blast and barely feel any heat. It all goes into the pot.

Now I want regular pots with the Fluxring built in. Why should my camp stove cook faster than my kitchen stove?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Unflinching Triumph

Unflinching Triumph: the National Staredown Championship.

The whole thing's online, but here's the YouTube-powered trailer:

Yes, it's fake, but it's also brilliant. Much like Fight Club or Dodgeball, even if it's not real today, it will be soon enough.

Polish Movie Posters

Excellent Polish movie posters for American movies. Some of these are quite pricey, like this poster for Blue Thunder, but man are they cool.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Video Friday #1: Sweet, LIttle Willy

Introducing the new weekly feature, Video Friday! This week's entry was selected to memorialize the time I wasted watching "I Love the 70's" on VH1.

Proof that 1972 was he pinnacle of the sweater-vest:

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Scroll wheel now works in Google Maps

The scroll wheel now works in Google Maps; there's even a zoomy effect. Finally!

All My Good Ideas

On Tuesday's The Show, Zefrank summed up my sad little approach to blogging:
Each day I live in mortal fear that I've used up the last idea that'll ever come to me. If you don't wanna run out of ideas the best thing to do is not to execute them. You can tell yourself that you don't have the time or resources to do 'em right. Then they stay around in your head like brain crack. No matter how bad things get, at least you have those good ideas that you'll get to later.

Some people get addicted to that brain crack. And the longer they wait, the more they convince themselves of how perfectly that idea should be executed. And they imagine it on a beautiful platter with glitter and rose petals. And everyone's clapping for them. But the, but the, but the, but the bummer is most ideas kinda suck when you do 'em. And no matter how much you plan you still have to do something for the first time. And you're almost guaranteed the first time you do something it'll blow.
Someday I'll clean out my 50 or so unpublished draft blog entries, I swear!

How to set your car's rear-view mirrors

The Car Talk guys describe how to set up your rear-view mirrors to minimize your blind spots. (Basically, point the side-view mirrors a little out.)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Frenchies Driving Fast

A motorcycle lap of the Paris ring road. In 11 minutes. Insane.

C'était un rendez-vous: A legendary film featuring an eight-minute drive through Paris, including running about a dozen of red lights at insane speeds. Wikipedia spoils some of the mystique, but it's still an amazing movie, and even has a surprise ending!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

"Bill Gates has failed"

When Bill Gates announced his retirement, the media went nuts praising this software genius. This seemed a little over-the-top to me. I happen to think of Gates as more of a marketing genius.

In any case, I just read an interesting take on Gates' departure from his Chief Software Architect role: it guesses that this move is an admission of failure.