Archive for November, 2005

steve jobs on snl

November 21st, 2005

Fred Armisen does a pretty good Steve Jobs. I saw Fred in the UConn ballroom when he was the drummer for the surprisingly good band Trenchmouth. That was in, like, 1992. GOD I’M OLD

Anyway, link to a fairly decent Weekend Update bit that somebody camcorded off their TV (?).


top 30 chuck norris facts

November 18th, 2005

Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.


i &#9829 my car

November 17th, 2005


I love driving, and I’ve always driven interesting cars. I started with an ’83 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce, then a ’62 Ford Ranchero, and now an ’05 Corolla XRS. For all-around, the Corolla wins hands down.

I live about 50 miles from my job, so I spend about 2 hours each day in my car commuting on the freeway. The Corolla has been a fantastic car to do it in. It is comfortable, gets about 33 mpg, and has more than enough oomph to merge with the breakneck speeds of Highway 280, without looking like a homemade super-hero car.

The performance aspect is no small part of why I wanted this car. The Alfa was a slow-ish sports car with good handling, and the Ranchero was terrifying to drive on a freeway, even in the slow-lane, and it turned like a bowl of wet pasta (but looked good doing it). The XRS comes in at 170 horsepower / 2670 pounds, and handles quite well for a car in its class. I can take it out into the hills on a Saturday and tear around awfully fast for a laugh, and have no complaints about perfromance. It has a 6-speed transmission, which means I have to shift a bit more often, but I can always find a strong spot in the power band to really jump the car forward.

The interior fit and finish gets decent marks. The seatcovers are very comfortable, though the console lacks a bit. It is far better than the Scion line, but feels a bit weak. I guess that is to be expected in a lower-end Toyota.

There is no question that I’m picky about what I drive, and the XRS has been a fantastic car.

someone else’s fears

November 17th, 2005

Jeff reminded me of a great book called Fears of Your Life by Michael Bernard Loggins, a developmentally behind-the-curve guy from San Francisco. He covers over 100 of his fears, and illustrates a fair number of them.

great desktop collection

November 17th, 2005

desktop thumbnail

Pixelgirl Presents has a fantastic collection of desktop images, freeing you from your current “naked girl draped on an XP logo” background.

my childhood fears

November 17th, 2005

1. monster under the bed

2. the school bus

3. draculas

4. being hit by lightning

5. sharks

6. nuclear war

7. wolfman puppet

8. mom and dad dying

9. mummies

10. tie: weird diseases/russians


MIT’s 100$ laptop

November 17th, 2005

Neat. More pictures here.


daappelganger 1.0 release

November 16th, 2005

After fixing the very last bug this afternoon, I’ve declared daappelganger to be 1.0 quality and pimped it out on MacUpdate. Go there and download it! And leave us nice feedback while you’re there!

Daappelgänger for MacOS X 10.4.3 shares your music files for listening via iTunes over a local network without any of the restrictions imposed by other music sharing applications, cough, cough, iTunes. Daappelgänger allows for simultaneous listening connections limited only by your hardware and network bandwidth.

UPDATE: It’s on Versiontracker too.


every hero comes with a choice

November 16th, 2005

I got my Guild hollow body electric back from Owen Davidson’s lutherie and it sounds great again; he fixed the intonation, the pickup, and the pearl inlays that had worn off years ago. Thanks, Owen. I was so happy to get it back that I used it to record this mellow little looped harmonics piece here:


(Evan says everything I compose with guitar sounds like a Volkswagen ad, and while I’m not entirely sure it’s a complement, it is a fair observation; let me just state for the record that it’s not a quality in my music that I purposefully strive for. Having said that, this track sounds totally great in a Passat or a Golf.)


November 15th, 2005


My friend Kelsey is so talented. And now she has a lovely new website:

When you’re done basking in the glow, let’s compare that shiny new site to what she had:

OUCH. I’d like to point out that I revamped this site for the cost of one (1) Caesar salad. Oh, what a great person I am.


activating safe sleep on your mac

November 15th, 2005

script editor

It’s been pointed out to me that while my last post on the subject explained how to easily enable “Safe Sleep” on your mac, activating “Safe Sleep” without resorting to command-line chicanery is another story. So, here’s a script that puts a friendly face on activating “Safe Sleep” mode:

  • Download it, open it in Script Editor, and change the two instances of “myusername” to your short user name, and change the two instances of “mypassword” to your password; i.e. if your Mac OS X user name was “Donna Summer” and your password was “DiscoHits”, change “myusername” to “Donna Summer” and “mypassword” to “DiscoHits”…. I don’t know if I can explain this any further without invoking even more disco divas of the 70’s.
  • “Save As…” the script and make sure the option to “Run Only” is checked off. This is because your username and password are now contained in this script and you probably don’t want anyone else opening up the script and stealing your password. Save the script in your “Scripts” folder inside the “Library” folder of your home directory; if you haven’t turned on the script menu using the “AppleScript Utility” in the “AppleScript” folder in your “Applications” folder, now is a good time.
  • Now you’ll have a handy menu item in your top script menu called “Activate Safe Sleep”, and when you select it, you’ll get a friendly little dialog which will allow you to easily specify the kind of sleep you want your mac to be in.


i said a hip hop the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop and you don’t stop

November 15th, 2005

For some reason, Jonny and I made this wonky electro-acoustic kerjigger three weekends ago, I think. It’s called the Whackinstick and it sounds a bit like a birimbao (an Afro-Brazilian instrument used in Capoeira) and a Ehr-hu (a whiny Chinese violin-like contraption). It’s made of a piece of scrounged 2×2, some goodies from the Fastener section of the hardware store, and a high E string from a guitar. We slapped a piezo buzzer and a small speaker onto it as acoustic pickups, and they work OK, though they pick up a lot of ambient noise.

Then, a couple of days ago, for some reason (probably the same reason we made the thing in the first place), I started thinking about magnetic pickups for it. Naturally, I wanted to make them out of crap I could get for $10.

So I got some superstrong neodymium magnets at the Michael’s craft store while Carrie was looking for beads, came home, and made up a way to make guitar coils. Now, before you get excited, it’s almost 3 AM and the Whackinstick does not have a magnetic pickup yet. I made one, it’s down on my workbench, and it’s making me really think about what the fuck I’m doing up this late at night.

Apparently, you’re supposed to get between .1 v and 1 v out of the thing. I’m lucky if I get .06 v. What kind of cruel joke is this? I’ve just spent all night wrapping these things up and messing with them (testing with a powerdrill and an eyebolt to make an oscillation – there’s an instrument in there somewhere), and I get .6 of the bare minimum.

Fortunately, things are not glued together and I can retry, including just amplifying the signal and seeing what I get.

In any event, here are some websites that helped me out tonight to go from .001v to .06v.

• The guy who makes the cigar box guitars on the cover of Make Magazine that inspired the Whackinstick made these, and I wish I’d noticed that before looking everywhere else.

Rare earth magnets are probably the best to use for this kind of project. They’re very strong for their size, and apparently you want long, skinny pickups, not short, fat ones, so neodymium is, I guess, the way to go. It’s what I was using; ceramic produced a comically small voltage.

A Wikipedia article on the electric guitar. The image at the top of this post was very helpful.

And you know what? I’m wrapping way too little coil around the magnet. Tomorrow, more wrapping. What you hear is not a test. I’m wrappin’ to the beat.

I &#9829 my nintendo ds

November 14th, 2005

I love my Nintendo DS. It somehow keeps coercing me to feed it new $30 games, while my Sorny PSP just sits, uncharged, friendless and alone. Why do I cherish this stupid Nintendo dingus so?

  • The games are awesome. Kirby. WarioWare. MarioKart. Advance Wars. Castlevania — which I never liked at all until the DS version! The PSP has Grand Theft Auto, with one analog stick. As much as I love beating up hookers, I do require slightly more variety in my portable simulated violence.
  • The battery lasts forever. Seriously, it will go for days and days and days.
  • It’s got an analog volume slider. So important when you have to carefully adjust volume between “audible” and “inaudible”.
  • It sleeps instantly, like a PowerBook. It also wakes instantly, like a PowerBook. Also: having the media on ROM cartridges mean no loading time. Pull it out, open it up, and play.
  • It’s only $130; This is just about half of what a PSP costs.
  • The thing is backwards comaptible with older GameBoy Advance games, thus instantly opening up a market of cheap-as-hell $10-20 games, some of which — Zelda, Metroid, WarioWare, SuperStar Saga — are quite excellent.
  • The touch screen turns out to be actually quite useful and fun! and the additional “upper” second screen, less so, but still, sometimes nice to have. And: the ugly-ass clamshell design protects each screen from damage, vs. the PSP, which is actually magnetically drawn to sharp pointy objects (a little-known fact!)
  • Wireless multiplayer play on the DS generally assumes only one person has a copy of the game and thus automatically shoots the game out to everyone. Neat.
  • Eventually Nintendo will release this MPEG-4 media player in the US and blow all of our minds. Seriously, check out the video of the interface, it looks it was designed by a team of the criminally insane.

My only gripe is that the thing is simply butt-ugly and unsexy as hell, looking way more similar to a cruddy 80’s relic than a high-tech gizmo like this should. However, given the neck-and-neck competition with Sony, and given the awesome design Nintendo’s been pulling out with their upcoming Revolution console, I expect the next revision of the Nintendo DS to look far more sleek and modern; and I bet any gamer on your Christmas/Hannukah list would be totally psyched to get one.


I &#9829 miscellaneous unicode characters

November 14th, 2005

Like I said: I BLACK HEART SUIT miscellaneous Unicode characters. To use miscellaneous Unicode characters in a Mac OS X document, all you have to do is open the “Character Pallette” (Edit -> Special Characters…) press “Miscellaneous”, and drag them into your document; to use them in Windows, I assume you edit the registry, modify your BIOS, then reboot.

To use miscellaneous Unicode characters in a web page, all you have to do is find the symbol you like on this page, copy down the number just to the right of the symbol you like, and prefix it in your HTML with &# — that is to say, the solid heart character is:


on top of crag mountain

November 14th, 2005

For my money, the nicest hike in Western Massachusetts is Crag Mountain. You can get there by taking route 63 from Amherst north until you get to Northfield; when you get to the junction of highways 10 and 63, go 0.3 miles until you come to a right turn onto Maple Street. Go 3.1 miles on Maple Street and you’ll come to a turnout on the right. Hike a leisurely 1.7 miles up the white blazed Metacomet-Monadock Trail and you’ll come to this view:

Panoramic Shot, JPEG, 1.4 MB

(This is my first stab at making a panoramic shot via Photoshop by blending together a bunch of smaller photos; you can totally see the seams, but I think you get the idea of what a totally killer view it is off Crag Mountain!)