missed connection

Remember the October 2010 Washington DC John Stewart rally? I’m told John Stewart grew up in my former stomping ground in central NJ.

The humbling thing about attending this rally was meeting and hearing about numerous awesome friends and acquaintances from New York, San Fran, Rochester, Philly & New Jersey – i.e. people from a significant range of my lifetime made the trip out here that day. Give us a shout out if you were there too; I left comments open. Probably the densest slice of humanity I’ve encountered in America. Lots of fervent redditors, and great to be reminded of the playa in a slice of default world.

Incidentally this was also the first and only day this art car entered my vision until I saw it again on playa in 2011. (this is the dragon I remember best from 2010.)

Calling Safari 6. Dinner’s ready.

I had an idea for a new web project with a front-end focus and have been stepping up my JavaScript game. Progress has been fine but it turns out several aspects of JavaScript are a disheartening mess, not least the drag and drop disaster.

The project employs the service of File, FormData, and XHR2 objects and avoids popular JS libraries (for now). It turns out Firefox and Chrome have both supported the File and FormData APIs for at least a year, but IE 9 (ha!) and to my surprise Safari 5 do not. Telling my Safari users to download WebKit nightlies is pretty lame. Worse, if I cared about IE users I’d have to point them to IE10, which at the time of writing is only publicly available on Windows 8.

For a company in such a hurry to see Flash die, Apple is keeping Safari in a weird limbo right now. It got slower with Lion (I’m not alone noticing this) and despite a history of innovation is lagging FF and Chrome’s JS support. (I eagerly await the day IE counts as competition again.)

Safari 6, get here already. My project is awesome and wants you, yes you!

On simple solutions

A few years ago I re-purposed an old desktop PC from uni as a media and file server. A design goal was having the machine be as close to silent as possible. Noisy stuff is annoying anyway, but doubly so in a living room where silence really is paramount. To achieve that goal I used my steadfast Antec Sonata case with rubber-washer HD trays, an old fanless video card, and a new power supply with a 120mm fan (let me know when they make fanless ones for AT motherboards). The only noisy component left was the stock CPU fan which I replaced with a Thermaltake ‘quiet’ model. The result was a success if I say so myself, especially considering the total cost.

Last week that Thermaltake CPU fan hit the dust. The bearings just gave up. Luckily, that failure didn’t cause any other damage and since the motherboard is a few years old the replacement Zalman model fan was cheap. Unluckily, this Zalman was significantly noisier than what it replaced, despite claims of silent operation.

The solution was wonderfully simple: I attached a resistor to the red wire connecting the CPU fan to motherboard for slower RPM.

For a project that has lasted for so long and been so affordable I’m stoked how cheap and easy the simple solution was. EE FTW.

Mt. Murone

After participating for a few weeks in various efforts around northeastern Japan, it’s difficult to overstate how intense our daily work is. Cleaning up a huge fish plant, removing tsunami goop, sawing through ruined flooring, debris removal – it’s serious and demanding physical labor. I experienced the most malodorous day of my life at a local fish plant, only to be succeeded by a significantly worse one at the commercial plant the next town over (Ofunato).

But there are positives amidst the exposure and sore muscles. The team has been living at a beautiful campsite near Kesennuma. After a long day’s work, we get to enjoy daily trips to the onsen, a relaxing hot bath. I’ve noticed that Japanese people have a tendency to look far younger than they report their age to be. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover evidence supporting onsen being a way the Japanese stay young.

This photo is from the grounds of our onsen on Mt. Murone.