It's too dangerous to go alone. Take this.

Tactlessly Loud


I have a really big voice. It’s been that way since high school. While most wouldn’t say it’s harsh or abrasive, I never have any trouble being heard. In a crowd, on a busy street, or from the back of the lecture hall, I stand out. Clearly this has its advantages. My thoughts and opinions generally will be heard and acknowledged. I’m hard to ignore if I’m set on expressing myself. And like most things, there’s disadvantages. Since I’m never not heard, there’s no room for me to hold a “private” conversation with anyone in a public place unless I’m whispering conspicuously. I think that a consequence of growing up like this is that I tend to assume that everyone can always hear everything I say and so I should only say things that are okay to say around everybody. Sometimes I slip up and then everyone hears something awkward or inappropriate.


I’m working on the new-school testing engine for OkCupid. We’re seeing lots of traffic lately and an overhaul of our test system is overdue. I can’t give too much away, but the thing that we have in the works is very slick. Much respect to Chris Coyne’s work in laying the groundwork for it.


I think the solution to my storage/media problem is easier than I thought. It turns out that a software hack exists for the Apple TV “Take 2″ which involves making a bootable Patch Stick. The instructions look scary, but lots of people seem to be having luck with it, so I think it’s worth the risk. I’ve already bought a 1 Terabyte MyBook World drive with Ethernet and USB connectivity. It should arrive on Monday. Once I get the drive working like I want it, I’ll add an Apple TV to the mix and try to bring it all together. Updates to come.


  • I just bought CoverSutra and it rocks. I was baited by the free sample I got via MacHeist and the search menu was enough to sell me on the upgrade.
  • I’m working on an OS X Chinese – English dictionary called Cidian. It’s based on CEDICT, the same source used by MandarinTools.com. MarndarinTools.com is great, but its UI is pretty tiresome.
  • Much respect to my old co-worker Aston Motes and his friends at GetDropBox.com. They’re making headlines in some pretty visible places these days. I’ve seen them on the Digg homepage, TechCrunch, and even the venerable DaringFireball.net. Good to see startups with talented people get the attention they deserve.

The Unix-y Perspective

A short conversation between Julian and me.

(15:24:59) Eli: have you ever wished you could close IM tabs with ctrl+d ?
(15:25:11) Julian: not particularly, no
(15:26:23) Eli: it sort of makes sense, from a really unix-y perspective
(15:28:24) Eli: my way of letting the system know that I’m done talking to you is by sending you EOF
(15:29:22) Julian: I guess
(15:29:32) Eli: same for closing terminal windows
(15:29:39) Eli: and deep down, I do consider you a terminal window
(15:29:49) Julian: I can tell
(15:30:44) Eli: exec 2>&-
(15:30:53) Eli: that’s what I say to you when I get sick of your whining “errors”
(15:31:08) Julian: message received
(15:31:14) Eli: reboot
(15:31:20) Julian has signed off.
(15:31:39) Julian has signed on.

Apple TV 2.0

I have a scratch that I need itched. My roommate and I have a bit over 100 GB of music, I have a bit over 300 GB of Movies and TV Shows (in various formats), and I have tons of photos and images (National Geographic, NASA, Salvador Dali, etc) that I’d like to have available for enjoying in my living room. On top of that, I’d like to be able to review menus of local restaurants and have a file server available to everyone on our wireless network. Since Apple announced the Apple TV 2.0, I’ve dreamt that it’s the piece of technology to scratch that itch, but reviews I’ve read recently leave me unconvinced that it will do everything I want it to do. My concerns boil down to the following:

  • Re-encoding all of my movies/TV shows
  • Maxing out the Apple TV’s built-in storage and not being able to expand it easily
  • Resorting to physical hacks in order to get network services on it (SSH, Samba, AFP, etc)

I could spend a few hundred more dollars and get a Mac Mini, but then I don’t think I’ll be able to use the remote to rent movies very easily. At $299, it’s probably worth it for what it will bring to the table. If it can’t be easily hacked to take a larger hard drive, it might be worth it for me to get a beefier NAS (drobo, anyone?) device to live someplace where I don’t care about noise (my closet) and then sync stuff from that onto the Apple TV using my computer, though I’d rather avoid needing an intermediate computer for this. By far, the most worrisome part of the Apple TV is that it simply can’t (and won’t) be able to fit all of my media. For anyone else who’s been thinking along these lines also, here are some links to Apple TV 2.0 reviews that I’ve collected:

UPDATE [03/12/08]

Ars Technica has released their ‘Mano a Mano‘ shootout between the XBox 360 and the Apple TV. It’s a great review, but sadly doesn’t really leave me with a solution that I’m happy with. I’m still leaning towards the Apple TV, and some software hacks for it would be very welcomed. I’ll research more and post later about it.

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.
Read the rest of this entry →

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.

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書法 is hard

My brother got me a chinese calligraphy (書法: shÅ« fÇŽ) set for my belated birthday. The look of excitement on my face when I got it was about as genuine as it gets. I’m a huge dork for things that are antique-classy.

Calligraphy Set

I did some reading online and in the book that came with the set and decided to get started. Last night I began the meditative process of ink grinding so that I could start getting into the zone. I can’t help but think it would have been a little more meditative had someone told me in advance how much (or little, rather) water I needed to use with the ink stone.

Figure 8

Hours later, I managed to get my ink to do this: 

Ink Improvement

Calories are Black Magic

What is a calorie, anyway? Everyone knows that calories come from the devil to make you fat, right? They’re the things that make junk food bad, right?  Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Now cracks a noble heart

Today was a tragic day indeed.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

Rest In Peace, John.

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.