zen.org Communal Weblog

July 30, 2005

If only he'd say it when he's 13…

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:00 GMT

I went running up the stairs with some laundry, trying to do some tidying up on an overcast Saturday morning. As I passed Patrick’s bedroom in the upstairs hallway, I heard Patrick’s friend Dario whisper not very quietly, “Your dad scared me!”

“Why’d he scare you, Dario?” Patrick asked.

“He came up so fast! He surprised me.”

“That’s okay, Dario,” Patrick reassured him matter-of-factly. “You don’t have to be scared, my Dad is a really nice man.”

(Melt.)

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July 29, 2005

Cool hack so dirent function calls work on Windows

Filed under: — brendan @ 06:35 GMT

I recently discovered a really cool hack by Toni Rönkkö: he’s created a fully-workable implementation of dirent, the set of POSIX-compliant functions to let you cycle through the entries of a directory on a disk. It means you can now write code that calls opendir(), readdir(), and closedir(), among others, and all of it will just work on both Unix and Windows when you include his uce-dirent.h header. You no longer need to manually write separate code to call the Windows FindFirstFile and FindNextFile functions, or the MS-DOS equivalent _dos_findfirst and _dos_findnext.

Toni has collected into a single header all the extra effort you almost had to do yourself, Mr Portable Hacker Dude. 🙂

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July 28, 2005

Macintosh Peeves

Filed under: — Sven @ 17:00 GMT

I’ve been using Tiger at work for almost a month now. My list of pet peeves has grown, but realize that most of them are because I’m just not used to it, and I think I will get over most of them. For now…

  • Remote X11. On my Mac OS 10.4.1 (now 10.4.2, but I haven’t tried this since the upgrade) I launch X11, then ssh -X to another system and launch emacs, it pops up for ten seconds and then dies. I actually think this is a Mac OS version problem, as most systems around here are younger then Tiger, but it still bothers me. Thank you Ange ftp, or whatever came with GNU Emacs’ CVS.
  • Click to focus. I know many X11 window managers have this option, but I always turn it off. Now I’m exiting out of the wrong application. I have the mouse over the web browser, using it to help me read some small text some place, I finish. Time to close the web browser, up to the pull down menu and away goes my terminals. I’m happy most applications ask before exiting.
  • Tabs. This has got to be the biggie. In the dark ages of window managers, a couple of years ago, I was always overlapping my windows just a little. This was so they would take up almost the same screen real estate, but leave leave enough space on the side to click on. Then there was Ion. Even for a mouse potato like me, Ion2 is configurable enough to do most things with the mouse with only a couple of hours of configuration, worth it for the keystrokes saved. Now I’m overlapping my windows again. I’d be happy with PWM type tabs.
  • Hot keys. The Mac has too many hot keys. I have enough carpel problem typing code and using remote systems. I don’t want them to control my window system. Sometimes typing errors do the strangest things. (This is actually worse part about the default Ion window managers configuration too.) I turned most of the hot keys off in the control pannel, but the few I tried to keep on don’t seem to work. Sigh. I’m not even sure how to ask about them. I type the Swedish historal site marker-ski jumper in mid air-[ to zoom out but nothing. I’m sure there are Unicode entries for these symbols, but I can’t find them in the Character Palette. Maybe I don’t know what “zoom out” means.
  • Ogg files. The summary is you can’t play them. Well, you can, but it seems ogg123 dose not build, though I haven’t tried. iTunes don’t play them. The QT plugin I donwloaded crashed QT, and all the GUI players I found where part of some global audio/video solution for the Mac. I just want a simple player, GUI or not, that will load lists of *.ogg files and play thim. I’m a simple man, with simple wants.
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July 27, 2005

Awesome book of the moment: Star of the Sea

Filed under: — brendan @ 20:05 GMT

Tonight Patrick fell asleep to me reading him part of Star of the Sea, an amazing book by Joseph O’Connor. The writing is really incredible. It’s not like Stephen King, an author I’ve read over and over again without hesitation for more than 20 years. When I recently read Black House (2001), the sequel to The Talisman (1984) co-written with Peter Straub, I again enjoyed the incredibly easy flow of character and plot. With Stephen King you just go on this amazing ride, losing yourself in the words— and worlds — of his novels.

With Star of the Sea, I found myself remembering reading things like Bleak House, Wuthering Heights, and Middlemarch. Books I know I enjoyed, but I was forced to read them at a slow pace. Slow. Each and every word was carefully chosen, making each sentence burst with descriptions stronger and deeper than anything cranked out by the current day’s most popular authors. (My hero Mr King has found a wonderful middleground to make his stories rich with content but still easy to digest.)

Joseph O’Connor has been able to type up a story that would be great to read by a warm fire on a cold evening. This kind of recreation is similar to enjoying a 12-ounce rib-eye steak with a specially-selected red Pomerol wine. Even if it seems to take an awfully long time, you love absolutely every minute of it.

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July 20, 2005

Tree Ent Suicide Attack

Filed under: — Sven @ 18:15 GMT

June 24th was my last day at NEC, July 1st was sure to be the start of a good weekend before starting my new job at Princeton University. I had just come home in the car with Zoë, we where sitting on the front porch watching the thunder storm.

Then the wind started picking up. A wind like no other I have ever witnessed. Usually when one looks at wind there are a few leaves blowing in no discernible direction. The debris so populated the fast moving torrent that it looked as if I could see the wind. A wall of cluttered, at least as big as my view was advancing towards my house. I took Zoë and went inside.

Seconds after I was inside I heard a noise. A large crash, that I’m sure was impressive, but was dwarfed by the visual of the wind wall still fresh in my mind. The entire house jerked. Without hesitation, I was out the back door clutching Zoë.

Not looking back, I noticed my neighbors house, it had no large trees looming over it. Banging on his door, I heard him call from upstairs that he was comming down to let me in. The problem was he had recently broke his leg, and didn’t move very fast. A branch hit an electric pole on the street, and sparks started flying. I hid Zoë the best I could behind the the storm door, she finally started crying. Joe, my neighbor, opend the door, we were inside.

A half hour later the sun was shining again, though the ground was soaked. The path I took from my back door to Joe’s house was covered with branches that fell from the tree. The car had a six inch diameter branch laying on the now dented roof. The front porch we where sitting on had been detached, branches stuck into the attic. A very tall, very heavy oak tree lay on my house. I was happy, Zoë and I were safe.

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E's Freecycling

Filed under: — brendan @ 15:48 GMT

There have recently been articles in the June 26th issue of the Sunday Tribune and also in yesterday’s Features section of the Irish Independent. Of course, as already mentioned on the blogs of other folks, lots of newspapers still don’t put much online.

As if that weren’t enough, she was also on a radio show this morning! She was interviewed over at the Ballyogan Recycling Park and Landfill, and told everyone listening all about it.

(The link to the show will only work for the next week, but we’re going to find out how we can get our own copy. I use RealPlayer as the default app for firefox to play the SMIL audio file given from the radio show link.)

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Atty Genl: That's not art, it's insulting my fearless leader

Filed under: — brendan @ 15:28 GMT

Sometimes a little honesty makes people blush.

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July 18, 2005

Random Thoughts of a Disorganised Mind

Filed under: — alice @ 03:08 GMT

Why do people persist in saying “ATM machine” without realising they’re really saying, “Automated Teller Machine Machine”?

If dogs are so much smarter than cats, why don’t cats also chase cars?

How is it that people who’ve never been parents always know exactly how children should be reared?

If lawmakers who determine Minimum Wages had to live on the same amounts, would they set them any higher?

Why do people agree to appear on “reality” tv programmes?

In a starving world, Western preoccupation with diets, fitness and slimming borders on the obscene.

Anyone who says s/he “owns” a dog or cat is delusional; evidence clearly shows that it’s the other way round.

Given that most global news outlets are now controlled by conservative-minded multinational conglomerates, where’s their credibility?

If even half the governments who claim to be concerned about poverty and human rights actually meant what they say, Third World Debt would have been eradicated decades ago.

Where did Adam and Eve’s daughters-in-law come from?

Who was the first person to look at a lobster and say, “I think I’ll eat that”?

The world would be so much nicer if we humans were as forgiving of each other as our pets are of us.

What ever possessed Noah to put two mosquitoes onto the Ark?

Could anyone who ever voted for George W. Bush pass a standard intelligence test?

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July 17, 2005

Wikipedia is just SO cool

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:24 GMT

It struck me after reading their long, detailed information about the dash character just how amazing Wikipedia really is. It’s this generation’s version of the encyclopedia, only it’s absolutely free and doesn’t involve a traveling salesman.

I went looking for a small bit of information — the Unicode sequence for the em-dash — and I found a wonderfully complete description of all of the em-dash’s cousins, including symbols from other alphabets and how you make the character show up in a wide variety of applications. The site has content in more than 60 languages, and for a real kick (click?), you can let it make a totally random selection of what to read (in your own native language of course).

Right now our son Patrick’s in the back yard with his friends jumping on the trampoline, so while Elana’s out with them I key in the word trampoline. There it is: the history, construction, and safe use of a trampoline. It’s so much fun when you get a new toy…

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July 16, 2005

The zen.org communal weblog is resurrected!

Filed under: — brendan @ 11:35 GMT

After some effort figuring out zen’s new home, I think I’ve managed to reconstruct our weblog. There are still a few tweaks I need to put in from the old weblog tree (like all the work to block spam), but this is 90% of it back and functioning.

We owe heart-felt thanks to Brian Fant and box2 technologies. Our dear friend Pati told him about our troubles, and he jumped to the task. Less than 48 hours after zen.org’s previous home had been savagely attacked by a massive tree (I’ll let Sven make that post), I received email from Brian offering their help and facilities to get zen.org back on its feet. (To make it even more exciting, we were on the other side of Ireland visiting friends at the time, racking up their phone bill while I stayed dialed up talking to Sven in IM and working out the logistics of relocating our domain.)

Brian’s company has been responsive and willing to do a wide variety of tweaks and fixes to help us get everything going. Email accounts and aliases, DNS, mysql, SSL where we wanted it, imap & pop3 & webmail, spamassassin, mailing lists, restoring mail folders, the works. While their company does a wide variety of things other than Web hosting, I’m happy to endorse box2.com to anyone looking for a good hosting service, wherever you may be around the world. Speedy, reliable, and helpful.

The next time we’re in California, dinner’s going to be on us. 🙂

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