Tuesday, November 29

Last.fm at Work

I’m experimenting with streaming Last.fm to my lappy at work. Using the Last.fm Player I can listen to radio stations based on artists (plays that artist and similar artists) or on tags that users have given to music. Right now I’m enjoying listening to music tagged “canadian.” Unfortunately, my profile cluster is down, so I can’t make my own tags.

The artist radio stations can be good for discovering, but for really unique bands the other songs that get played can’t quite be called “similar.” Take The New Pornographers and Great Big Sea. I like many of the bands that come up, but it seems to be missing the alterna-pop catchy jangle of the former and the rocked-up traditional songs of the latter.

I’m considering going the paid route so that I can listen to music based on my own and other people’s profiles and tags. Seems to me a great way to find stuff is to take a cool friend and listen to his profile radio.

Update: Sorry, kids. R.E.M. is from Georgia. Don’t tag them as “canadian.” Lousy folksonomy.

Huzzah to Bowman’s Template

I’m using a stock Blogger template designed by Doug Bowman, and I was plesantly surprised when, upon dropping in a del.icio.us linkroll, I found it delightfully and perfectly styled to fit in with the rest of the template. Look for it in the sidebar.

This is of course made possible with the magic of CSS and the correct semantic use of the <ul> tag. If I wanted to go crazier, they include a bunch of CSS classes for further styling possibilities.

So enjoy my del.icio.us links, and feel free to for:phopkins stuff to me!

“My Doorbell” Video

I was very excited when I found out that “My Doorbell” was the second single from The White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan. My Doorbell I don’t listen to the radio or anything, but it means I can watch the wacky turn-of-the-century video and Jack White’s creepy facial hair. I wish I could get a copy of this for my iPod.

“My Doorbell” is so good and catchy, I don’t feel too bad there’s no guitar on it. That’s been a big adjustment with Get Behind Me Satan; much less of the signature feedback that made the earlier Stripes stuff so mind-blowingly good.

Monday, November 28

Get Your Shanties!

The good pirate Boxfoot (née Benj the Stout-Livered) has done what this pirate never got his shit in gear to do: put all the lyrics up on the ARRR!!! songs page. Go learn to sing sea songs!

The Swine Before PERL

My advisor, Shriram Krishnamurthi, has a fun talk about PLT Scheme called The Swine Before PERL. Listen to the MP3 and follow along in the slides, and learn why I stayed another year at Brown to keep working with him.

(I’m also trying to get Shriram to start a blog…)

The Humor 2.0 Bubble

A fun read for lampooning the current trends is Supr.c.ilio.us: The Blog. Also iClock.

It’s Monday

I just got the rock prescription for my recent illness:
It’s Monday, I’m all high. Get me out of FLA. I fooled ya, in school, yeah, now I know I made a mistake.

Rock me, Tweedydeus. I now feel awesome, even if I’m still out of breath walking two flights to my desk.

Also, I’m getting back to scrobbling at Last.FM. Case is an inspirational gentleman. Slight delay, because I listen to stuff at work on my iPod, and I have to wait until I’m home to sync.

Firefox 1.5 Coming This Week!

Ars Technica says “Firefox 1.5 to launch this week with marketing blitz.” [via Memeorandum] Very exciting! I’ve been using the latest Camino a lot recently, which features the new, speedier rendering from FF 1.5.

This means that Blogger is going to start officially supporting and testing against Firefox 1.5, and also that I should get on fixing the nasty little cosmetic glitch on the Blogger homepage. I haven’t looked too hard, but it seems Firefox 1.5 is doing a redraw when the DOM — from my perspective — is in an inconsistent state, which it didn’t do before.

Everything else seems to be working fine, though, which isn’t a huge surprise but still a giant relief. And, though this might just be Camino’s interface to Midas, I’ve noticed that the link button in the toolbar is not causing me to drag the icon into my posts anymore.

Wednesday, November 23

Mario Kart DS Friend Code

The game rocks. Not sure how many friends I have to play against (and online play is remarkably asocial), but here goes. My friend code is:

1 5 8 9 7 3
4 9 4 6 0 5

I’m Finnegan, with the penguin badge. Post yours in the comments if you even sorta know me.

Tuesday, November 22

How to Remember CSS Margins

I confessed to CDub that, while I'm quite handy with the 2- and 4-argument margin properties, I always get confused by the 3-argument one. Here's his helpful mnemonic:
The 4-argument CSS syntax of T(op), R(ight), B(ottom), L(eft) which I remember as Truman, Roosevelt, (Benjamin) Harrison, and Lincoln collapses in a 3-arg syntax to just T, R/L, B as you mentioned. The key for me is to use reverse chronological order of US presidents with memorable nicknames like "Four-eyes", "Teddy", "Kid Gloves", and "Honest Abe," respectively and that only Rushmore-worthy presidents are allowed to collapse together.

Saturday, November 12

Videos for iPod

I picked up a video-playing iPod today, so I thought I’d share two short films formatted for the iPod:
Luau Beetle

This was the final project for a computer animation class I took last fall, telling the tale of a small beetle who wanders into a toy factory to get out of the rain. I was the animator, and also cut the soundtrack.

Gilliwind Islandsong

An impromptu performace by two of ARRR!!!’s crewmembers leads to an even more impromptu performance. Filmed on location at the Bristol Yacht Club last spring.

Friday, November 11

Dances With Browsers

Hallvord Steen, a site compatibility expert for the Opera browser, uses an ice skating metaphor to describe the relationship between sites and browsers, with the example of Blogger’s recent, shall we say, “miscommunication” with Opera that caused all post bodies from that browser to be dropped. (By this I mean, it was their bug, but our wacky code that exposed it. And props to Hallvord for proposing the workaround.)

I feel that the elegance inherent in that metaphor is quite out of place, however. The apter analogy is to building a glass skyscraper on a foundation of monkeys who hate each other. And I’m confident that website developers and browser makers have different opinions of which is the skyscraper and which are the monkeys.

This is Only a Test

This is a test of the “Cannot connect to Blogger” system. This tests the warning that will appear when Blogger.com is unreachable due to a lack of network access or a provider’s interstitial. Connectivity tests occur every 60 seconds. Hoom.

Thursday, November 10

Camino 1.0 Beta

Trying out the new beta of Camino, which is a Mac-only Mozilla browser. The new beta version, 1.0, uses the Firefox 1.5 version of the Gecko rendering engine.

Besides the animation glitch on the Blogger homepage common to Firefox 1.5, everything seems fine. I believe this is the first version with Midas support, so you get the WYSIWYG posting page. I’m using it right now. Woooo hoooo!!!!

They’ve posted a full list of changes.

Tuesday, November 8

Less Than Two Weeks Until MarioKart DS

Can’t wait to play MarioKart DS online. (I’m coming for you, Cutlass.) I was afraid that, since I couldn’t use the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector on Mac OS X (it’s Windows-only), I’d have to hoof it to McDonald’s, but that won’t be necessary: the DS works with tons of wireless routers, including my Airports.

More info at http://www.nintendowifi.com/.

Also, a hands-on report from GameSpot that’s pretty positive. Right now you don’t get penalized for ditching the game, though, which may encourage some poor sportsmanship. Hopefully Nintendo is committed to iterating their online service to work out that sort of kink.

One more thing: you can badge your racer with a little icon. Blogger “B,” anyone?

Interview with the producer, Hideki Konno, at Game|Life. Interesting to note that online play isn’t as big a draw in Japan as in the states. Also, that you can’t drag an item behind you in online play was a technical decision, not a gameplay one. [via Joystiq]

Meh to Wrong Program Listings

The TiVo is significantly less useful when the program guide is wrong. This is, of course, not their fault, but the fault of the mom-and-pop company that supplies cable to my apartment complex.

My one consolation is that, even though USA and NBC are swapped, all I really want them for is Law and Order. I’ve had pretty good luck with it trying to record NBC’s Law and Order and, though failing that, grabbing an episode from USA.

Monday, November 7

Pirate Fonts

Free pirately fonts: Arrr Matey and Keelhauled.

[via the Urban Matador]

Site Feed Now Works

Thanks to Mihai for pointing this out. If you’re looking for the Atom feed of this blog, it’s now available at http://blog.grogmaster.com/atom.xml.

Moving a site from Blog*Spot to FTP publishing could be a bit easier… Damn me and my desire for a domain!

(Also had to fix the weekly archive publishing path. Wish it all defaulted to the index page settings.)

Sunday, November 6

Fixing “Bluetooth: Not Available”

Recently my built-in Bluetooth stopped working on my PowerBook. This may have corresponded to a bizarre request for a “System” keychain password on startup that I was unable to answer and haven’t seen since.

Anyway, the fix that worked for me:
  1. Delete ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Bluetooth.plist
  2. Unplug USB devices (though I didn’t have any at the time)
  3. Shut down
  4. Wait a tick
  5. Start up

Little Mikey World Tour

An amazing series of photos, found via Google Images: Little Mikey in Italy. “Oh, he’s a happy bear…”

TiVo Widget

For all ye with Mac OS X Tiger and a networked TiVo: NowPlaying, the TiVo Dashboard widget. Shows you what’s recorded on the TiVo.

It’s a bit big, but looks very spiffy and works quite well.

(And yes, my TiVo is called Little Mikey. All of my Internet things are named after stuff from Monsters, Inc. For example, my AirTunes is “Scream Extractor.”)

Andy Milonakis

Brilliant show, and also an entertaining weblog. Dig the cyan-on-pattern template, too. SEASON PASSed!

Friday, November 4

Dashboard Editor

Cult of Mac reports on a WYSIWYG editor for Dashboard widgets that may come from Apple. I hope so! There’s a lot that can be improved over making widgets now.

  • Live HTML editing is awesome, especially given the CSS tricks you have to pull off for Dashboard. I like Firefox, but I use it for development because of the Web Developer Toolbar that lets me edit CSS in real-time.
  • I want tutorials on how to make glassy and plasticy effects in Photoshop. It’s hard! And ugly widgets are no fun.
  • Anything to get rid of the save-double-click-remember-to-press-command-and-option-when-you-click-the-button-now-open-the-Console-to-see-where-the-errors-where development cycle for Dashboard now. Seriously. You can test much of the layout in Safari, but what about debugging window.widget calls?
  • Get rid of the stupid boilerplate we need to make the “rollie” i in the corner of widgets. Asking widget developers to just copy in 100+ lines of code into their JavaScript is sloppy. Especially because the animation code is annoyingly non-general.

My widget coming soon! I hope!

Frothy Tobacco Drinks

Amanda from Pandagon links to NicoShot a nicotine-enhanced beer.

Reminds me of Andrew Welch (el Presidente of Ambrosia Software) and his attempt at a tobaccoccino. It did not go well.

MarsEdit Gets a Developer

Sweet! Brent Simmons announced that Gus Mueller of Flying Meat (maker of VoodooPad, a nifty desktop wiki) will work on MarsEdit as a contractor.

I used MarsEdit a ton before I switched to the ill-fated image-heavy posting on my last blog. It’s good stuff. We do a ton to make editing on Blogger.com easy and reliable, but it’s hard to beat a desktop client for doing text editing.

I might even go back to MarsEdit, except that I have my own secret way of posting to my blog from my Mac.

screen is the Best Thing Ever

I love GNU screen. It’s a great feeling to be able to start work on my desktop, then maybe go to the couch and do some more, or even work from home for a day and pick up exactly where I left off.

It’s been especially good this past week when I was build engineer for Blogger. I could be assured that even if I closed my laptop, or lost connectivity, or was forced to restart by a system update, a build or push would continue and I could re-connect with the associated shell whenever I wanted to.

Get started: GNU Screen by Jonathan McPherson

More tips: MacOSXHints article

My advice:
  1. Automatically start screen in your bashrc. Otherwise, the term you want to connect to will always be the one you forgot to start screen in.
  2. Give your screen sessions names. I have a key shortcut in my window manager that pops up a box for me to type a name in, and it will open a terminal with that screen session in it (creating it if necessary). It’s much easier to connect to “CodeReview” than “16092.pts-4.lukey.”
  3. Likewise, I have a script on my laptop that takes a session name on the command line and sshs and brings up that screen instance in one step.

Pills for Procrastination?

I had to read Joe Clark’s rant a few times before I could come up with the right response.

Procrastination doesn’t seem to me to be on the same scale as mental disorders. I think of it as more of a bad habit.

While I don’t much go in for whizzy systems, I do appreciate GTD for its two principals:
  1. Write down everything you want to get accomplished
  2. Only focus on the next thing you need to do in the steps to getting something accomplished

By being disciplined about managing my commitments, I can lower the barrier to productivity. Reading blogs is a hell of a lot easier than learning to drive, but if I'm faced with the choice between pressing J and finding the number of a local driving school, I’m more likely to do the right thing, productivity-wise.

Getting Things Done helps me think in the right terms to overcome my natural procrastination.

Getting Getting Things Done Done

Merlin revisits Kinkless GTD, a GTD system build on OmniOutliner Pro. (Kinkless GTD)

It’s something I’m curious about, but I’m not sure I’d ever use it. I often feel that when I’m at home I shy away from my laptop.

This weekend I’m busting out the Visor and I’m going to try doing things up David Allen–style.

Windows Vista Requiring Well-Formed Feeds

Oh, thank God. Yes, this is blatant disregard of Postell’s Law, but one of the beauties of XML is that you can assume away parsing. Once a big player gets permissive, feeds get sloppy, everyone has to special case their parsing, and you get HTML.

Plus, the only people who have to get it right are the blogging tools. And Zeldman. And we’re all of us smart people.

(Another great tool that assumes away parsing: LISP. And that enables macros, which are useful.)

[via Niall Kennedy]

More reading: Dave Winer has a good essay on the subject, even if it hints at a Brent-Simmons-wants-to-make-feed-reading-hard conspiracy to dominate the market.

We Fixed the Back Button!

There are certainly more interesting things in the latest build of Blogger, but one subtle one that I’m happy about is that we fixed back button behavior on the posting page.

So now, if a publish goes awry, or for some other reason you clicked off the posting page, you can hit “back” and everything should be the way you left it.

Interestingly, the fix was different for IE and Firefox. The problem with IE was that we were setting no cache headers on the posting page, so IE would do a reload when you went back to it, restoring the form to its server-pristine state.

Firefox wouldn’t reload, but our JavaScript page creation was confusing its saved form state, so it wouldn’t restore the text right. Now we have even more JavaScript that pushes the contents of textareas around to placate Firefox’s caching.

I can’t find a reference after a few minutes searching, so I’ll describe the issue: Blogger generates the edit post page with a textarea that is either empty (for a new post) or has the saved post (for editing an old post). The rich text editor boxes (EditHtml and Compose) are created dynamically with JavaScript, using the contents of the textarea for their initial value. Since Firefox bases its form state caching on the order of elements at page-load time, the rich editor boxes haven’t been created yet when Firefox is restoring values, and therefore cannot have their state restored. Instead, they load as normal and base their contents on that textarea, but, since you never edited that textarea, it still has the value it originally got from the server.

Our new strategy is to copy the contents from the rich editor boxes back into the textarea as you navigate away from the edit post page. That way, the textarea gets restored correctly when the page loads, and the rich editor boxes are built using the cached post instead of what originally came from the server.

Not sure how Firefox 1.5 will deal with this, given its new caching.

Update: Back button doesn’t work in Safari, which caches the state of the page, and it inadvertently broke posting for Opera. Sorry guys! Fix is on the way.

Update 2: As of 11/11, Opera should be working again, as well as the back button in Safari.