Archive for October, 2007


Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

At 8:04 PM PST, there was a magnitude 5.6 earthquake pretty darned close to my house.

I happened to be sitting in the middle of my living room at the time.

Pretty amazing to be sitting here watching the 10 foot tall single pane windows flex back and forth like sheets of rubber!

It seemed like about 5 seconds of chaotic wave like motion with a few shocks along the way.

We had just the tiniest little bit of damage. Some stuff fell off one of our pile-high-and-forget shelves. Books, photos, etc… nothing breakable. Forced re-org of the closet is upon us. Nothing damaged But — by far — the most intense quake I have felt so far!

Roger thought it was pretty darned cool until he learned that (a) this was a minor quake, all things considered, and (b) there is this concept called “aftershock” that might be a bigger than the primary quake.

Time Machine Saved My Bacon.

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Quite a while ago, I wrote an article for Make Magazine Volume 08 on restoring pinball machines.

When writing the article, my first draft was a much more general (and quite a bit too long) guide to finding, buying and restoring pinball machines. The fine editors at Make wanted something more specific to the machine I was restoring and, thus, I rewrote the article.

Of course, I rewrote the article and was intending to hit “save as” when I hit “save” instead.


I also mis-remembered having sent the original Pages document when I submitted the article. To make matters worse, I continued working on the article off/on for more than a week before I realized that I really did want to preserve the original version and I didn’t have a copy in email.

Double-oops. Crap.

Oh, wait. Time Machine! Yes — I had been using an early version of Time Machine and– thus– was able to quickly traverse back to before I had overwritten the article, even though I had made several backups since destroying the data.

In other words, Time Machine doesn’t just make the latest backup dataset available. It makes all previous backup snapshots available and easily accessible, too!

And that, to me, is the real value of Time Machine.


Sunday, October 28th, 2007
Common Garter Snake
Garter Snake

Roger caught this Common Garter Snake as it was wandering through the yard near the end of our vacation.

Though relatively docile, Garter snake do bite occasionally and this one bit Roger on a finger. Drew blood, even.

Of course, they are neither poisonous nor even dangerous. Infection is about the only risk from their bite.

Roger was quite proud of having received his first snake bite.

We kept the snake for a couple of days before release day. It got out of its container a couple of times and curled up under the cushions of a couch on Mom’s porch. Fun bit of hide and seek trying to find the semi-little bugger!

Leopard: most significant new feature EVAR!!!1!

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

I discovered the most amazing new feature in Leopard. I’m not sure why it isn’t #1 on the list of 300!!!one!

  • Go to Dashboard
  • Create a new World Clock
  • Change the City

The little clock hands spin to the new time!!!

Seriously, though, it is really nice little bit of polish.

And, as Gruber said, there is just a ton of polish all over Leopard. Lots and lots and lots of little things fixed and refined.

Any one of these may never sell a single copy of Leopard on its own. Altogether it makes for an ever improving user experience much greater than the sum of the 300 touted features.

(What is the inverse of “Death by a thousand cuts”, anyway?)

Corbin enumerated 5 very cool new features of the open/save panel. Excellent stuff!

PyObjC 2.0 (PyObjC in Leopard)

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Leopard includes PyObjC 2.0, a huge upgrade over the 1.x series that will be hitting the public repository in the very near future (Ronald’s time permitting).

Both Ronald (who did all the work) and I (sort of) had posted previews of PyObjC 2.0. Now the full magnitude of this release can be publicly discussed.

In particular, Ronald’s post gives an excellent overview of the new features and capabilities of PyObjC.

There is a theme: “greatly tighten the integration with Mac OS X in a more consistent and less special-cased fashion”.

Read on for details:
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Tree frog.

Friday, October 26th, 2007
Roger's Tree FrogTree Frog on Rose Branch
Tree FrogRoger Checking Out a Tree Frog

Roger caught a tree frog while we were in Missouri. Yesterday was “release day” — the day we release the menagerie of animals Roger had collected and cared for over the past few weeks.

I took at as an opportunity to photograph the little guy on release. Quite photogenic, I found.

Upside Down Can Be Better

Friday, October 26th, 2007
Reflecting Upon the Pond

Ever hang out with a little kid — 2 to 5 year old, typically — that insists on being held upside down and then laughs and laughs and laughs when they are?

Why is that?

Because, sometimes, viewing the world upside down makes it all so much better.

Same can be said of photos. Sometimes, a mediocre photo becomes something magical when viewed upside down.

One Very Sick Turkey.

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Yesterday, my dad was returning from an errand and one of the neighbors was stopped along the gravel road near the house, peering into the ditch.

Dad stopped and found that they were looking at a wild turkey. In the ditch a few feet away from the neighbors. Not reacting much, but standing upright.

Clearly something was seriously wrong with this bird. Dad came up to the house to let us now. Roger, dad and I headed back to check out the turkey.

Upon closer examination, it became clear that this was one seriously ill wild turkey. Its head was completely covered in warty growths, including its tongue which was kind of hanging out to one side. The poor thing could barely see.

I took a few pictures, but I’m neither embedding them here nor putting ’em in my flickr stream. They are of one seriously diseased bird; nothing pleasant to look at. You can click through to the extended bit of the story to see the image.

We decided the best thing to do was to call the state conservation department. Fortunately, I had my iPhone in my pocket — a quick google search got the phone number, but revealed that they had no staff to deal with the bird (though they were interested).

So, another google searched turned up animal control. Gave a call — they captured the bird and held it overnight for the conservation department to have a look. I’ll try to call tomorrow to find out the verdict.

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Claysville Store in Claysville, Missouri

Thursday, October 25th, 2007
Claysville Store

On Sunday, we headed down to the Claysville Store in Claysville, Missouri for lunch.

Claysville is an old rivertown that was pretty much defunct until recently. The Missouri river is huge and the “river bottoms” it flows through is even larger — miles wide. While decades ago Claysville was a bustling town where cargo was transferred from river to rail, the river shifted such that it flows almost a mile away from the town now.

Out of the outright stupidity that was the death of the railroads in the United States has come one gem, though, and it is breathing new life into river towns like Claysville.

Specifically, the Rails to Trails program and the creation of the Katy Trail. The Katy trail passes right by Claysville and, like many other river towns, a business or two has sprung up to serve the bikers and hikers that pass along the trail.

Claysville Store Biscuits

In the case of Claysville, it is the Claysville Store. Owned and run by a family in the weekends — in their spare time — it has become quite the hot little lunch spot.

On Sunday, they open at 12:30. We showed up a little before noon and drove around the bottoms for a bit. We returned at 12:10 and a couple of customers had arrived. By 12:30 the parking lot — the lawn in front of the restaurant and the shoulder of the road across road (gravel) — was full.

Reservations only for this particular hole in the wall on the weekends. However, they are happy to fit in a handful of hikers/bikers off the trail.

Upon sitting down, they bring tea, lemonade, water, or soda and a big plate of piping hot fresh cooked biscuits. Delicious amazing biscuits that really need no butter, but are definitely even more delectable with drippy buttery goodness.

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iTunes hidden(?) feature

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

I’m currently sitting on a rather weak internet connection; only 600kbps max download speed (actual speeds may be lower)!! (Oh! The Horrors!)

Earlier, I bopped over to the iTunes Store to check out what free video downloads might be available. I ended up queueing up an episode of Aliens in America, some Desperate Housewives, and the Casting Special of America’s Most Smartest Model. What the hell? Free and I could use a bit of good brain melt (as long as it has a fast forward button). That and I’ll be stuck on an airplane in a few days; brain melt definitely good.

During the first hour of the 4 hours it was going to take to grab one of the shows, I ran across someone named Leeni doing a music video called Colbertica (embedded in this post).

Ok… that is… odd. But somehow compelling. And it has a link to Leeni’s home page. Which is actually pretty damned cool. In a retro way. But, wait, the 8 bit bloop/bleep actually has some pretty cool vocals on top! Neat!

(no, really, there is an iTunes feature coming up…. really)

And she has an album in iTunes! Neat! Now, I totally dig Postal Service and this is kind of a totally stripped down minimalistic scratching-my-retro-gamer-fu Give Up like groove with excellent vocals on top.


Awww… damnit. I’m going to have to wait 6 hours for the first track of the album to start downloading. It is queued after a couple of lengthy TV shows. I could delete ’em and requeue. Probably what I’ll do shortly after download anyway…

… or I could try selecting all the tracks of Leeni’s album and drag-n-drop ’em to the top of the download queue.

Whoah! That just works! It paused the TV show download that was in progress and immediately started downloading the first track of the album!

Rock on!

Or, in this case, Bleep-Blorp on!