Archive for December, 2006

breve 2.5 released

December 11th, 2006


In accordance with’s strict self-promotion policy, I’d like to announce the release of breve 2.5. breve is a free, open-source software package which makes it easy to build 3D simulations of multi-agent systems and artificial life.

Also available now is version 2.0 of the breveCreature screensaver for Mac OS X and Windows.


December 9th, 2006


Nifty Javascript-based presentation engine for presenting data that would normally be database-driven via a non-database technology (essentially, a text file). It’s hard to explain, but check out the president demo; very cool stuff. There seems to be a recent trend towards easy to use data visualization tools, which is great, because getting data into the appropriate visual presentation style is one of the hardest things to do properly, so the more tools for that, the better.


increasing zazz in visual user interface

December 9th, 2006


I’ve tried a couple different ways to skin Mac OS X, but I’ve never been happy with running “haxies” on my PowerBook; aside from the moronic, infantile name, the idea of injecting code into every running app is something I thought we’d left behind with Mac OS 9’s Extensions. However, until we get the new look + Core Animation desktop coming with Mac OS X 10.5, it’s nice to freshen up the look of things a bit. To this end I’ve been running the “Uno” and “UnoFirefox theme lately. Both combine to provide a unified interface — no more brushed metal here, Aqua there — and most importantly, both are instantly undo-able if you don’t like the new look.

In Windows XP theming news, I’ve been using the “Zune” XP theme, and once you get rid of the teenagers raving on the desktop, it’s a nice take on Apple’s “glossy black” aesthetic. But don’t even get me started about Vista’s “Aero Glass“; like an idiot, I bought a new cheap video card for my PC just to see it, and it. is. a. mess. The whole thing feels like the mess Apple had around the Mac OS X 10.1 timeframe; the only difference being that Microsoft won’t refine and correct the interface over the next several years like Apple did. We’re stuck with Aero Glass’ transparent title bars and confusing Explorer windows for the next five years at least. So that’s disappointing, but on the bright side, the new video card will support the new linux compositing engine Beryl. Check out the video; now there’s some weird (but exciting) user interface ideas on display there.


December 9th, 2006

There’s something hypnotic about; my favorite has to the be “Mature Manatee”.


nietzsche family circus

December 8th, 2006

The Nietzsche Family Circus

I’m a huge sucker for Family Circus art, but the Nietzsche Family Circus is particularly inspired: “The Nietzsche Family Circus pairs a randomized Family Circus cartoon with a randomized Friedrich Nietzsche quote.”. Never before has moral relativism and perspectivism been so family-friendly.



December 6th, 2006

Nifty webtool showing you the live results (and giving you the code!) of your CSS manipulations. Like my beloved CSSEdit, but on the web.


how these things happen

December 5th, 2006


Apparently, it takes a hoax to get people really saying what they feel. And what they feel is that the Nazis were pretty right on with that concentration camp thing, and the yellow stars, and the tattooing. These are, apparently, good American things to do, as long as they’re pointed toward non-Americans, like Muslims.

This article mentions a Gallup Poll that says that 39% of Americans feel that American citizens should carry identification that says whether or not they’re Muslim. Now, I have my doubts about Gallup, but that means that either they’re telling the truth, or that’s the truth that a large, opinion-making body wants us to believe.

Don’t believe that it can’t happen again, happen here, happen because of something you think or your friends think. Don’t destroy the tatters of America that the Neocons have left us to fight over.

Remember, the Nazis lost the war.

how to hack your tivo using mac os x

December 4th, 2006

(This guide assumes you a) have your TiVo networked via ethernet or wifi and you’ve assigned the TiVo a fixed IP number, b) are running at least Mac OS X 10.4, and c) have Apple’s XCode development tools installed on your machine; if you do not have XCode installed, download it from here.)

  1. Find out your TiVo’s Media Access Key. This is found by going to “TiVo Central”, then “Messages & Settings”, then “Account & System Information”, then “Media Access Key”. It’ll be the ten-digit number at the bottom of the screen. It’s unique to your TiVo — write it down, you’ll need it in steps 2 and 5.
  2. Download and configure the Dashboard Widget “Now Playing“. This will be what you use to get the .TiVo files off your TiVo. You’ll have to put the fixed IP address of the TiVo and the Media Access Key of the TiVo into the widget. After that, you can use the widget to browse the contents of your TiVo, and by clicking on the name of a TV show, you’ll be able to download the TiVo file to your computer. Pick a file to download and download it. It’ll take a while, .TiVo files are encrypted MPEG-2 files and thus honkingly huge.
  3. Download the “tivodecode” program from SourceForge; specifically, download the .tar archive for UNIX. Double-click the .tar file to open it and expand a “tivodecode” folder to your desktop. (It’ll likely have some version numbers after it, too; at time of writing this how-to, the folder is specifically named “tivodecode-0.1.2”.)
  4. Use the terminal to navigate to inside the new “tivodecode” folder created on your desktop:

    cd Desktop/tivodecode-0.1.2

    Then type:


    …and the Mac OS X compiler called gcc (added to your system via the XCode install!) will compile the new “tivodecode” binary and put it inside a newly created “objects.dir” folder*. So then type:

    cd objects.dir

    …and while you’re there, type:

    sudo cp tivodecode /usr/bin

    …to copy the tivodecode binary to your /usr/bin directory.

  5. And now here’s where the magic happens: let’s say my TiVo’s Media Access Key was “1234567890” and I wanted to decrypt the file “Metalocalypse.TiVo” on my desktop. The command to do that would now be (all in one line):

    tivodecode -v -m 1234567890 -o ~/Desktop/output.mpeg ~/Desktop/Metalocalypse.TiVo

    …and after the tivodecode program runs through your .TiVo file, you should have an unencrypted MPEG-2 file sitting on your desktop called “output.mpeg”.

  6. Use VLC to view the MPEG-2 file; use iSquint to convert it to MPEG-4 for your iPod.

…hopefully some enterprising soul will devise a clever Mac OS X app that combines all these odd and disparate steps into an E-Z, one-click process; but until then, this is a fairly decent way to do it.

ALSO: let me point out that with a slight hack to the plist of your Mac TiVo Desktop file, you can play those mpeg files back via your network onto your TiVo, thus enabling you to create a vast archive of television that takes up all the space on your Mac and not your TiVo.


UPDATE: Nik Friedman TeBockhorst has come up with a great little dropscript that takes care of steps 3, 4, and 5. Many people point out that you can use Safari’s Bonjour function to download the .tivo files; I still think “Now Playing” (and a TiVo set to IP is easier, but it’s your call, brother.

suggested iphone ad campaign

December 3rd, 2006

Get out your checkbook, douchebag.

(iphone photoshop by Isamu Sanada, ad copy by Jon Klein)


ask ldopa: playstation 3

December 2nd, 2006

Dear ldopa,

Who do I have to shoot to get a PS3?


…good question; and I would also ask what unsuspecting turtle I would need to jump on to get a Nintendo Wii. Anyone have any hints or leads?


ask ldopa: what’s your hardware?

December 2nd, 2006

Dear ldopa,

What kind of computer(s) are you using these days? I’m trying to find an excuse justify replacing my venerable PowerBook G4 1.25 Ghz with a shiny new Intel based one, and I’m just wondering what part of the curve I’m at; post your computer details below.