Date: May 24th, 2014
Category: Geekism
2 msgs


I know I’m the last kid on the block to say that Project Euler is awesome, but Project Euler is awesome. It’s a set of really concise and well defined math/programming puzzles that start from basically Fizz Buzz and sloooowly ramp up the difficulty until things become fairly ridiculous. The neat thing is that all the puzzles are designed so that if you approach them right, they can be solved with less than one minute of compute time, so when you realize that your initial solution is O(N!N!N!), there is still hope. As you solve each problem, you get access to a message board with spoilers for that problem, and it’s always fun to compare your 200 line C++ monstrosity to the 5 lines of C64 BASIC submitted by some guy in Belarus that finds the answer in .0000001 seconds.

For extra trendiness points they have gamified everything with levels and achievements. I’ve done 100 problems so far, which makes me a CENTURION.


Date: January 13th, 2014
Category: Regular

I can’t wait for Nest+


Date: November 18th, 2013
Category: Geekism

There are no printers in the spirit world

OK, The Night Watch is the funniest nerd thing of all time. I can totally relate to this because not only am I lucky enough to have participated in the debates about the socioeconomic implications of Helvetica Light, but I have also found the comment late at night that says “DOES THIS WORK LOL” in the most haunted part of the code. In fact… I wrote it.

Date: July 1st, 2013
Category: Geekism
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I sense a great disturbance in the force…

…as if millions of feeds cried out and were suddenly silenced. Today is the day that Google Reader goes away, leaving many people searching for alternatives. There are plenty of these: jwz says to use Newsify, an iOS app. This Metafilter thread frequently mentions Feedly, a web-based reader.

I’m still using this antique. Hey, if it ain’t broke, right? Well, at least I know all the ways it’s broke. How’s that. But some people may not be satisfied using software that was written when Bob Barker was still the host of The Price Is Right. In that case, I have a forward reference for you: Feed on Feeds on GitHub! This is an effort to blow the dust off the code, bringing the dependencies up to date, closing some horrible security holes, and even adding a few new features. I haven’t participated in this or even tested it out myself but the project looks pretty active.

Date: June 14th, 2013
Category: Geekism

The End of Days

Remember this?

And the beast shall come forth surrounded by a roiling cloud of vengeance. The house of the unbelievers shall be razed and they shall be scorched to the earth. Their tags shall blink until the end of days.

from The Book of Mozilla, 12:10

Here is a quote from the release notes for the beta of Firefox 23, to be released this August:

Dropped blink effect from text-decoration: blink; and completely removed <blink> element

Well, it’s been nice knowing you all.

Date: April 23rd, 2013
Category: Regular

Beijing girl, embarrassed to let go

Jenny’s cousin Brandon is here visting from Taiwan and posts little stories like this to Facebook. When auto-translated they take on an almost poetic quality, and just enough of the meaning comes through to keep them intelligible:

A wonderful experience, with the mother in a New York subway station to buy a ticket today, when you are trying to put all my loose change into the machine, Chinese beauties from the side of a tall, long hair all of a sudden the bear hug me … … Tender lip with I cheek distance only 15 cm of affectedly sweet Beijing cavity, with I said “alas Hey you in do what,” I dear mother in aside hand plug Pocket see silly has eye,, and not for Vault by lure and the are Hong Kong Taiwan man and has wife of I, now not think is Aventure and immediately touch pants of purse and the phone are also stable, quietly whispers eyes with points melancholy of said “you found wrong people has, I not Yu wins”…… Beijing girl, embarrassed to let go

Date: February 22nd, 2013
Category: Geekism


Abrash and Carmack on latency. This, among I’m sure many other real world limitations, is what turned this exciting concept into this somewhat less exciting reality.

Also does it seem weird to anybody else that when I make a video call using Glass, the other party doesn’t see me, instead they see what I see? When I’m talking to somebody what I’m looking at is generally not that interesting, unless you like fidgeting, doodling, or pacing.

Date: January 15th, 2013
Category: Geekism

As if by magic

Having recently replayed this classic game and then completing all the “homework” from this excellent book, I was left wondering how things really work down at the silicon level. The game I’m sure is a much simplified version of reality, and the book starts at the level immediately above the game. I looked at a few Wikipedia pages and whatever “Electronics 101″ class notes I could find, but all I managed to learn is that in the real world 1) everything needs to be grounded and 2) resistors are involved somehow? I think?

All that said, when I found this blog post by Ken Shirriff today, it was as if it was made just for me! The post zooms in on the actual silicon of the 6502 processor, showing in detail exactly how the overflow flag is calculated. Ever used an Apple II or an Atari 2600? These microscopic wires lit up every time the processor added two numbers.

So from the book, I know how to build an entire computer using only NAND gates. And now from this blog post, I KNOW HOW TO MAKE NAND.

Date: December 6th, 2012
Category: Regular

New World Record – best opening lines of a spam message

Dear Mr. Managing Director,

Have a nice day to you.

I received your contact information from a mold friend of mine.

Date: November 16th, 2012
Category: Regular
1 msg

This is how you diplomacy in 2012

Date: June 5th, 2012
Category: Geekism

Advanced and Persistent

Alternate universe? I meant Cyberpunk novel. My email program will now warn me if and when a state-sponsored attack on my account is suspected. That’s pretty astounding. Seems like the Internet cold war is rapidly heating up. Great time to be a security researcher though!

Date: June 4th, 2012
Category: Geekism

So Refreshing

I love this dialog box from Screenshots of Despair. I would love to see the grief counseling available if you click “help me decide”. Here I have a counterpoint, a message of renewal that my IDE shows me several times a day:

Date: May 31st, 2012
Category: Geekism


We are definitely living in an alternate universe. There is no way that in the normal universe the father of the Internet would register the .lol domain.

Date: April 25th, 2012
Category: Regular

New New New New thing confirmed as newest thing EVER

Unigy Pulse

There it is, the new new new new thing, following in the footsteps of the new new new thing, the new new thing, and the new thing. You’ll never guess what’s next!

Date: November 23rd, 2011
Category: Geekism

At least I can still wave my knols. What?

Oh how quickly things change. Remember this post? It’s SO FOUR MONTHS AGO. First they announce that you can no longer feed your posts to your book as notes. Great. And streaming your buzzes to your circles? HA! WHAT buzzes?

So what to do now. Make a pipe that firehoses everything to a planet? Kind of old fashioned. Tweet shortlinks to pinboard? Two more services I’d have to sign up for. Maybe what I need to do is make my own plugin that can push each post to my plus… of course I’d have to use the graph to post notes to my wall for friends who aren’t in my circles. Bah, too much work.

12:00 AM

Date: September 23rd, 2011
Category: Otherwhere

Lao-ies but Hao-ies

Plain old Chinese internet radio is so old and busted. Jenny’s new thing is this station that plays Chinese and Taiwanese pop songs from the 80’s and 90’s. It’s pretty much the best thing ever! Here’s one of the songs we just heard:

Date: August 12th, 2011
Category: Otherwhere
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They threatened to send me several times before, but I just printed out my boarding pass so I guess this time is real. I am going to Bangalore, or is it Bengaluru… well really ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು in the language I’m more familiar with as a way to make funny little faces.


I’ll be there for Independence Day, then two weeks of work. I’m not sure what to do with my weekends, I’m told I should see the Palace of Mysore (or is that Mysuru?) but have few other ideas. Maybe they’ll have some suggestions when I get there!

Date: July 22nd, 2011
Category: Video Games
1 msg

Losing is fun.. what about playing?

One of my many personal failings is that I’ve never been able to figure out how to play Dwarf Fortress. Remember Cypher staring into The Matrix? Playing Dwarf Fortress is kind of like that, except instead of seeing blonde, brunette, redhead you see dwarf, goblin, carnivorous trout. But every once in a while something comes along that makes me think I should try again, like this great article in The New York Times Magazine: The Brilliance of Dwarf Fortress.

The most amazing part is the dedication of Tarn Adams, the developer. He’s got a doctorate in Math from Stanford, but plans to spend the rest of his life working on his game, which is appreciated by few, but is possibly the most intricate game ever created. He works on the game every day, and pays his basic expenses with the few donations he receives. His living conditions would be considered a nightmare by many, but for some is nirvana: he works from 3PM to 6AM every day, in a room with boarded up windows, living on barely more than just soda, coding and brainstorming game features with his brother, Zach.

Somebody on reddit had this to say about the complexity of DF. In most games, you have hit points. Each time you are hit by a bad guy, your hit point total goes down, and when it reaches zero, you die. Dwarf Fortress is different:

In Dwarf fortress, you have individually modeled bones, internal organs, fingers, toes, facial features, and a circulatory system. And that’s just what we can see; I suspect much more. If bitten by something with paralytic venom, the diaphragm (eventually) stops filling the lungs and the dwarf dies minutes later after blood oxygen levels fall too far.

Date: July 11th, 2011
Category: Geekism

Transitive property?

My blog connects to my book, so every post becomes a note, eventually. Also, my blog connects to my buzz! So every post I blog is automatically buzzed! Finally, as of today, my buzz is even connected to my plus. So the question is: when I blog a post, and it is buzzed, will plus stream it to my circles?

note: if you do not understand this it may not yet be 2011 where you are

Date: June 21st, 2011
Category: Geekism

Top 10 most surprising domain names that actually work

I was shocked today to find out that http://ac/ actually works. I found some other working two letter domain names, here is the whole list:

http://bi/ (looks like whoever put this up is as surprised as me)

And as if that wasn’t enough, here is the grand prize winning crazy domain name that actually works:


Of course you can’t publish a top 9 list, nobody wants to read a top 9 list, so to make it an even ten I add this gem:

Date: June 10th, 2011
Category: Geekism

Decompiling E. coli

This post by bunnie gets my vote for blog post of the year. First he shows you where to download the genetic code for the super-resitant form of E. coli found on German bean sprouts. Then he shows you where to download a database of genes known to code for drug resistance. And then:

Now that we have this list, we can answer some interesting questions, such as “How many of the known drug resistance genes are inside O141:H4?” I find it fascinating that this question is answered with a shell script:

cat uniprot_search_m9 | awk '{if ($3 > 99) { print;}}' | cut -f2 |grep -v ^# | cut -f1 -d"_" | cut -f3 -d"|" | sort | uniq | wc -l

Date: June 9th, 2011
Category: Regular
1 msg


Hail! by minutillo
Hail!, a photo by minutillo on Flickr.

Decent sized hail in Nate’s back yard yesterday.

Date: May 17th, 2011
Category: Geekism


This is completely insane. I mean I get the whole “Turing Equivalence” thing, but still. Fabrice Bellard, who has written some pretty important bits of computing infrastructure, has created a fully functional x86 emulator in JavaScript! It boots up Linux and lands you at a root prompt. There’s even a compiler – and Emacs! It runs pretty well for me, with Chrome 11 on a Windows i7 laptop.

Date: May 8th, 2011
Category: Regular
1 msg

Joe Wong!

We randomly caught Joe Wong on Dave some time ago, “LOL”ed, and have been following his appearances ever since. Judy somehow knew he was doing a charity show in Rhode Island tonight, so we went! All new (to us) material and as you can see we even got to meet him after the show.

Here’s that first appearance on Dave that we liked so much:

Date: April 13th, 2011
Category: Geekism

C++11 FDIS

Does that sequence of letters, numbers, and plus signs mean nothing to you? Then don’t click here.

Date: March 28th, 2011
Category: Video Games


If you haven’t already heard of QWOP and GIRP I apologize for making you aware of them.

Date: March 12th, 2011
Category: Otherwhere

SPACE… Space…. space……


The National Air and Space Museum has two locations: the main one on the National Mall, and another with some bigger stuff called the Udvar-Hazy Center. We went to the main branch some years ago, but — ahh — never uploaded the pictures? Bad blogger! Bad! Anyway, on a recent trip to visit one of Jenny’s highschool friends (ObPlug: visit Woodlands Restaurant! Try the Pani Puri!) we hit the other branch. Since it’s the National Air and Space museum the stuff you see is the Real Deal™. Like, they don’t just have some random test Gemini capsule, they have Gemini 7. And they don’t just have some random B-29, they have the Enola Gay. And of course, the main attraction for me, the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Date: March 12th, 2011
Category: Regular

2 feet + 2 months =

January 12th 2011:

Blizzard of 2011


Last remains of blizzard of 2011

Date: March 9th, 2011
Category: Geekism

Vi Hart is the best person

OK, Vi Hart is my new favorite person. Her mission: to reveal the inherent awesomeness of math. Her video series Doodling in Math Class is incredible. This episode even sneaks in a Dinosaur Comics reference. Not convinced yet? How about a paper on Computational Balloon Twisting? Or how to slice an apple into a cube… and then slice that cube into hexagons with star shapes inside? Musical instruments made of paper and fire? A Möbius Music Box? She has even been covered by The New York Times. The list of things she has produced seems to just go on and on to infinity, filling in all the space between math and art.

Date: March 4th, 2011
Category: Geekism

IE6 Countdown

Remember back when IE was dead and Microsoft said IE6 was going to be the final version ever? Oh, how times have changed. Now they are on a campaign to try to get users to please, PLEASE upgrade away from IE6! The site has all the modern “tweet this” and “like this” buttons and even has a snippet of code you can put on your site to show IE6 users an “error message”.

(OT: I wonder if that map will be quietly updated in a few days to stop referring to Taiwan as a country)

Date: March 3rd, 2011
Category: Otherwhere


Just got back from Miami, and it looks like my next destination will be Sydney to help sell the new new new thing, which incorporates the old new new thing and is compatible with the old new thing.

And then once I get back from that, I get to start on the new new new new thing which will be, by the time it’s finished, the newest thing EVER.

Date: February 25th, 2011
Category: Video Games

Scariest Mii Ever

Scariest Mii Ever

…and the one on the right is kind of creepy too HEYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Date: February 21st, 2011
Category: Regular

Jenny finally got her Prius!

Finally got it!

Date: February 20th, 2011
Category: Video Games

So I guess I was 11?

click play for appropriate bg music!

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the release of The Legend of Zelda for the original NES. This reminded me of one of my crowning achievements in the field of video gaming. I got Zelda right after it came out, and a friend and I worked together to beat it pretty quickly. We were then surprised by the Second Quest, which starts the game over from the beginning with the levels all switched around and some of the rules changed. We got stuck in the second dungeon, and decided to take the unprecedented step of CALLING NINTENDO. This was back when you could call and talk with “Game Masters” for free. So we called in, described our situation, and got this answer: “Sorry, we can’t help you. We haven’t got that far yet!”

Oh and here’s my favorite bit of Zelda trivia. Hold on to your seat, cause this is kind of like finding out that the clouds and bushes are the same. Are you ready? All the dungeons in Zelda fit together like a giant puzzle. There’s some more detail and discussion about this at incredible revelation at MetaFilter.

Date: February 10th, 2011
Category: Geekism
1 msg

Come, let Us go down, and confound their speech

These guys now have an app that lets you translate spoken words and phrases between different languages! Universal Translator in your pocket, right? Not quite. We tried it out and it does a decent job translating English to Chinese, but the results translating Chinese to English are just so hilariously wrong as to make the app useless. Jenny was trying to speak slower and slower and more carefully to get it to be able to translate ANYTHING and eventually got frustrated and told it (in Chinese) “Talking to you is like talking to a wall!” the app dutifully translated:


Date: January 18th, 2011
Category: Video Games
3 msgs

SPACECHEM – End of the Line

Finished the game, finished all the challenges. Completely excellent! If you liked The Codex of Alchemical Engineering or KOHCTPYKTOP, then the $20 for SpaceChem is totally worth it.

Date: January 13th, 2011
Category: Regular


Jenny got a deep fryer for Christmas (thanks Yvonne!) and went out looking for videos on how to use it. I’m going to say… she succeeded:

Here’s another video from the same guy:

Date: January 4th, 2011
Category: Video Games


Remember this? Well I sure do, and my employer certainly remembers the gigantic hole it left in my productivity. That feeling of dread is coming over me again, because Zachtronics has a new Game For Engineers™: SpaceChem! I just finished the demo, loved it, and am waiting for the full game to finish downloading. If you don’t see me again for a month… well, that would actually be pretty good for this blog.

Date: January 3rd, 2011
Category: Regular

.30€ a base pair, same as in town

Herb Sutter made a post mentioning that 2010 is the year that we all realized we are living in a Cyberpunk World. I have another example to add: I recieved this email during 2010. I just can’t think of a more cyberpunk thing than a Chinese company, advertising custom gene synthesis… through spam!

Date: November 21st, 2010
Category: Geekism

C++ and Beyond

I am going to C++ and Beyond in December! If you’re not an ultra-nerd, this is kind of like going to a Jersey Shore meetup where JWoww, Snooki and The Situation will ALL BE THERE IN PERSON.