My Saturday Night

You can see Susan and I caught in the light on the top left of the picture at the Jonathon Coulton show in New York. Thanks to snipeyhead for posting a whole set of images to flickr. This was during one of the songs where Kristen Shirts Ukulele Army was partaking, which means probably Creepy Doll.

It was truly an amazing show. The fact that we got Curl during the second encore was awesome. I'm definitely going to catch more of JoCo's shows in the future.

Update: A complete set list, plus lots of videos of the show are on the JoCopedia.

Pictures from India

I'm still sorting out how I'm going to do photos in the future, as the old photo album is pretty much under decay, and my interest in the old workflow for publishing has waned. On the viable options from, Smugmug looks like an early leader here, largely because their albums don't look like poo, and they have a web services API that I can write some ruby code against (at least once they open their API key for signup again.)

I just uploaded the bulk of my pictures from our India trip as a test case. Feedback is appreciated from readers here, especially those that actually tended to show up mostly to see pictures. 🙂

Adding stock scripts to OpenSim

Mo Hax and I have started a weekly effort to gather up some of the IBM internally created OpenSim / Second Life content and contribute it to OpenSim as stock content. As OpenSim approaches the 0.6 release, it would be good to have some more reasonable stock content included for those people that aren't Second Life Heads, and have huge inventories of their own stuff sitting on their disks. The results of week one was a single handshake animation, and a lot of understanding on how our stock content system works, and how it should be changed to make it easier to contribute to it.

Yesterday, in between builds and meetings, I decided to refactor a few LSL scripts I had that used unique OSL functions that let you dynamically create textures on objects, both from text drawing commands, and from images of the internet. Those are all now in the OpenSim Library, and accessible for anyone in world. They are under the same license as OpenSim, so do what you will with them. 🙂 (Note: I've found the client caches the inventory trees, so you'll need to clear cache before they show up.)

The scripts contributed yesterday are as follows:

  • osTextBoard - a text board I wrote to do agendas or note taking in world. Modify the script, hit save, and you get the content in your text board texture. Multiple font sizes, colors, and names are used.
  • osWeatherMap - a 3 panel cycling weather map for US weather. This is inspired by the work nebadon did on osgrid.
  • GrafittiBoard - Justin Casey's GrafittiBoard (as seen on osgrid), which is similar to text board, but has an llListen hook so that if you talk on channel 43 it displays it on the board.

Consider all of these as launch points to more complex things. But, they'll at least give people a flavor of what is possible. And you'll get it with every opensim build.

User modifiable Canon firmware

Through dave hansen's blog I found the CHDK project, which creates custom Canon camera firmware that adds a lot of features to existing cameras. While I've only had this loaded for a day, I'm really psyched with the results so far.

It immediately meant that I got RAW support, an OSD battery sensor showing % left, exposure settings, and this zebra mode thing that let's you know when you've maxed out the CCD, and where specifically is the issue. The procedure to add it is pretty simple, and it's breathed new life into my SD500, which has seen a lot of good days with me.

I get really excited when devices evolve and improve after you have them. My Logitech Harmony Remote, XBMC on my old xbox, and now my Canon camera all fall under that heading. This also guaruntees that I'll only buy Canon cameras that support this in the future. This kind of freedom is hard to give up. 🙂

Microsoft 1-ups google on map detail

A friend of mine pointed me at Live Maps last night, which is basically microsoft's google maps. It looks basically exactly like google maps, so I wasn't sure why he sent me there.

Then he said "Find your house, and click Bird's Eye view."

Ok. The results are impressive. It's a lot higher res than the aerial, and more current. I wish they told you the date o nthis things, as I'd find it facinating. I have some ideas by what's laying around in our yard that this is late March / Early April last year.

Lightning is not your friend

When I got home tonight, things seemed a bit off, and I couldn't figure it out to begin with. Pretty soon I realized that a lot of electronics were acting up. While a hard power reset fixed some of them, others (like our satellite receiver) didn't recover so well. Given the storm we'd had, I decided to have a look around for a tree that had been struck. While I was out there, I noticed that one of our satellite dishes seemed to have bits hanging off of it. I know there was hail around here today so it could have been that instead.

After some resets, and digging, the comprehensive list of broken items in the house is listed below:

  • Dish Network Receiver - HDMI is toast, and even over the RF to the TV downstairs it appears that it's getting no satellite signals
  • 5 port gigE switch - plug it in and no lights come on and it just gets hot
  • 2 ports in the other 5 port gigE switch - 1 port that is now dead was the Dish Receiver port
  • the WAN port on my FIOS router
  • the gigE port on my desktop

I had another 10/100 card to throw in the desktop, and it's back up now. Playing port plugging got enough bits working downstairs. My openwrt router came up like a champ and got me back on the internet. So the damage amounts to about $100 worth of stuff I need to replace, plus whatever the story turns out to be with Dish (who is coming out of Thursday to do the service call). I'll try to get some pictures up on the damage, and I really should get up on the roof to see if there is any other damage up there, but that's going to require a day of not rain.

Strawberry Season

Susan is off at the farm right now picking our strawberry allocation for the week. The amounts get set daily, but it looks like due to the heat and fast rate of ripening, she'll probably come back with a quart of the best tasting strawberries I've ever had.

Secor's also just opened for early picking yesterday. We didn't pick strawberries there last year, though we did pick 15 lbs of blueberries, which managed to last us the whole winter (we've still got a bunch we need to use up now). Susan's pretty excited on hitting them up this weekend to get enough to jam and freeze.

And if that wasn't enough, the Beacon Sloop Club does their Strawberry festival this Sunday. Hippies, strawberry short cake, chocolate covered strawberries, and strawberry shakes, always a good time. Susan and I ended up at the strawberry festival on our 2nd weekend of dating (6 years ago), so it has a special place in our hearts. Or maybe it's just that Susan likes chocolate dipped strawberries so much.

And, the piece de resistance, is that we just got both an ice cream maker, and the ben & jerry's ice cream book. There is nothing I love more than freshly made strawberry icecream with freshly picked strawberries. Our french vanilla experiment of last weekend went ok, but now that I've got my B&J book again (I had one in college when we made liquid nitrogen icecream), I'm much more excited for the output.

Update: Susan returned, the successful strawberry hunter, with 3 QUARTS, as the farm now has a policy where you can pay to pick extra quarts. Soooooooooo good on my cereal right now!

Blink

The beginning of my summer of popular non-fiction was started with Blink, on audio, that I finished a few weeks ago. Blink is about the way we make a lot of decisions at an unconscious level, some times for good, some times for bad. While I'd heard the "rss version" (i.e. the 1 paragraph synopsis), the book, as always, is way more nuanced than that. I'd highly recommend this book to others.

One of the things I found most interesting about Blink was changes done in police departments to prevent mistakes. It turns out, that once our heart rate goes above 145 beats per minute, we start to loose both rational thinking and motor coordination. Many of the police abuses in the last decade have come at the end of a high speed pursuit, which drives up adrenaline rates, and puts the people whose job it is to defend us into a state where their judgment is largely stripped away by biological constraints. It turns out that by banning high speed chases, and making officiers ride alone, so they need to stop and call for backup before approaching a scene, rates of mistakes and abuse go way down. It's a simple structural change in the organization that benefits us all.

There are also great sections in there about reading faces, instinct over information overload in millitary war games, and the subtle biases that kept women out of many key roles in classical music until an unrelated circumstance caused blind auditions to be instituted. So many go things in this book, definitely check it out if you get a chance.