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Archive for the "Nerdery" Category

Dating Criminals

Ars Technica ran an article this morning about a piece of New Jersey legislation requiring that dating sites inform users in NJ about the fact that criminal background checks are not required for membership. The Internet Dating Safety Act tells dating sites that they have to send big, bold, ugly disclaimers on every piece of email sent to an NJ user and show them on every NJ users’ profile. And, as an extra “gotcha” safety measure, sites that do perform criminal background checks would still need to post disclaimers saying that criminal background checks are, in fact, not infallible and that users should still be wary. There’s so many things wrong with this, I hardly know where to begin.

Geek Toys

G-DRIVEI put the Apple Store gift card my sister got me to good use and got myself a 500 GB G-DRIVE. It got delivered on Friday so I’ve been using it all weekend to offload my huge collection of movies and tv shows. I had also ordered a new 2GB of RAM from crucial.com, but UPS dropped the ball on that delivery pretty badly, adding days to my wait.


Blogging from Vim

The greatest text editor in the world strikes again. A small vim plugin using python makes it possible for me to post to my wordpress without a web browser, and without a super-fancy blog-posting program. This is ideal for a geek like me who doesn’t need software packed with features to do simple blogging. Go Vim!

I should mention that the code comes from here, but the first link has a bit more background about it.

takenote 0.1

Alright everyone, here’s the first “real” release of takenote. It’s nice and packaged up so you can install it on any GNU system. Enjoy!

Download takenote-0.1.tar.bz2


  • Added notification of what topic you’re about to use.
  • Fixed a few bugs in the layout.
  • Fixed autotool configuration. Should build on any *nix, but now depends on wc
  • Added -l option to list currently used topics.

Take a note

While I’m doing work, I sometimes like to jot down notes about what I’m doing to help me remember later. If it’s figuring out how something complicated works, I can keep track of what I’m doing, what works, and what doesn’t. For this purpose, I wrote takenote. I invoke it from the command line and tell it what the subject of the note is. Then it waits and reads in a line of text and writes that line (with a timestamp) to a file in the ~/.notes directory. Allow me to demonstrate:

[eliman@dian-nao]-[eliman] $ takenote -t MissedCalls
Julianne called from work. She said to call her back at (410) 555-9252
[eliman@dian-nao]-[eliman] $ tail ~/.notes/MissedCalls
[MissedCalls] [Thu May 24 11:33:44 EDT 2007] Julianne called from work. She said to call her back at (410) 555-9252
[eliman@dian-nao]-[eliman] $

Download takenote here!

Basic Math$

There’s something about “Cha-Ching handles the math for you” that raises my expectations for the software and increases my feeling of betrayal from the following example all the more.


On the plus side, they did fix a bunch of annoying bugs with budget editing. All I want now is the ability to associate transactions (or accounts?) with my budgets. Exciting…

EDIT: I feel compelled to mention that these help files are brand new with the latest upgrade to version 1.1 and so are, of course, the most bug-prone of any help files they release. This is the best excuse I “coud [sic]” think of for them.


Goodbye, MacHeist! It’s been fun. You’ve given me challenging puzzles and great software. I’m sad to see you end, but I’m sure it couldn’t have gone on forever. Thanks MacHeist!


Work, Carnival, Girlfriend, and Bill Cosby

Carnival Weather

The concessions stand is up, the booths are almost done, and the weather is looking astonishingly good! CMU’s annual carnival starts tomorrow (read: tonight, once classes are over) and then ends on Saturday, giving us Sunday to tear everything down and get ready for school-as-usual on Monday. Justina gets in late tomorrow night and will be staying through until mid-day on Sunday. This means that all that stands between me and a weekend of fun is a bit more work on an essay of mine, dissecting the similarities and differences between scenes in two different Shakespeare plays. Until then… Time. Drags. On.


Puzzle: Floor Tiles

A good friend from way back sent this one to me. It’s got two pretty fun solutions, one that I came up with and one that he showed me later on. Enjoy!

You’re a carpenter in a rectangular room and you have a bag of tiles, some are 2×2 and some are 1×4. Using all of the tiles in your bag the floor is completely covered (no gaps on the floor, no tiles left over). Just when you finish tiling, you drop your hammer and break one of the tiles. As you look around your supply closet, you find just one more tile, but it’s the wrong kind (if you broke a 2×2, then you found a 1×4 and vice-versa). Is it still possible to completely tile the room with this replacement? If so, under what circumstances? If not, why not?

Moving Other People’s Windows Around

To some, computers are the biggest, if not the only means of productivity in their daily lives. These people need to feel comfortable with their computer desktops in order to be their most efficient. Knowing where everything is helps a person become familiar with their desktop’s organization and then helps them avoid doing more work than necessary when they want to use a particular program or window. OS X helps you to organize your desktop by providing a shortcut for switching between Applications. Apps are then broken down into Windows for each task. I prefer yet another degree of abstraction so I’ve installed VirtueDesktops (whose development has been discontinued, sadly) in order to allow myself multiple Desktops on which I can put many Applications. Each Desktop represents a category of tasks. “Browsing” is for Safari windows, “Mail & Chat” is for just that, Mail and iChat, “Other” is for iTunes and iCal and other peripheral tasks, and “Work” is for whatever happens to count as “productive” at the moment.

Enter the outsider. The one who neither knows how to make the most of their computer, nor cares that you are trying to make the most out of yours. She asks if she can use your computer to “check her mail.” She doesn’t know that your iChat windows are placed exactly where you want them to be. She doesn’t know that your setup was designed to prevent as many windows as possible from falling off the edges of your screen. She definitely doesn’t know that there’s such a thing as multiple desktops. When you get your computer back from her, you want to cry. Everything! As out of place as possible! I half expect my menu items to be rearranged!

These people offer the classic reason for having an OS that is aware of multiple users. These people must be allowed to log-in to their own sandbox environment. They ought to be able to have their own room so they won’t want to play with my toys! Just make sure your screen locks before they get to it. If they aren’t interested in learning how multiple Desktops work, then I shudder to think about how they’d react to explaining the necessity of them using a different User name!