Archive for the ‘Real Life’ Category


My favorite tools: LaunchBar

August 27, 2008
LaunchBar Screenshot

LaunchBar Screenshot

A few of my friends will recognize LaunchBar immediately. LaunchBar is one of those tools that I have used for many years and have come to depend upon. The idea behind LaunchBar is quite simple. You press command+space, type a few characters and bam! you have what you want. It indexes specific areas of your system for different types of items (such as songs, applications, documents..) but is totally configurable if the defaults don’t meet your needs. Yes, it’s similar to Apple’s built in Spotlight searching (the chicken in this case), but is so much faster and capable.

There are many basic examples. I bring up the search bar, type and hold ‘w’ and World of Warcraft starts. M is Mail, F is Firefox. If I need a quick calculator, all I need to do is start typing a number and it goes into calculator mode. Every day for work I have many terminal windows open, within which I use ssh to connect to our servers. Instead of launching terminal and typing in the ssh command, I have a small terminal script which I open with a quick command and all I need to do is enter my password.

Today I found something new that totally made me appreciate LaunchBar anew. I was having one of those moments where I couldn’t remember a word, ‘modest’ in this case. I proceeded to try to find it by way of the thesaurus. Thinking of opening the built in thesaurus on the system, I typed ‘thes’ and found that I was prompted to enter a word. Apparently LaunchBar has a search template named ‘thesaurus’. It took my word and opened up the Mirriam-Webster site with the search. Wow. Awesome stuff.

There are apparently a lot of ways that it can help speed things up that I haven’t discovered yet. The usage tips page has a lot of examples of things that you can do. Like the fact that there’s a similar shortcut for the unix ‘man’ command. Sweet!


iPhonified at Last!

July 22, 2008

iPhone screenshot

I finally have rid myself of the bondage of my Treo 600, which was purchased oh so long ago together with Jen. I limped along for much longer than perhaps I should have, even uncharacteristically foregoing the original iPhone in favor of the eventual 2nd generation.

Even better is the free WordPress app, which makes posting to the blog terribly simple and ultra convenient. Look for more posts in the future. -Especially now that I’m getting out for fun things like the kayaking this past weekend. (What a blast!)

To the left is a quick screenshot of my current page 1 of apps. Couple of winners there, in my opinion. The real fun stuff is on page 2, however.

Hey Jen, check out my snazzy CSS wizadry! ūüėČ


Learning Hurts

January 9, 2008

I love learning new things. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment of figuring out how to do something and solving a problem. I wish it wasn’t so painful sometimes, though. I think I spent two hours this morning figuring this one out…

I’ve been writing a simple script to dump data, some of which is a code/index that represents one of several possible strings, which are also stored in the database. Following some work that has been done previously, I set up an hash (an associative array composed of key/value pairs) to hold the strings for inclusion in the data to be written to file. But it wasn’t working. “Gee, why wasn’t it working?” Well, I’ll tell you why. Because of ‘ ‘. “What?” The space. The empty space between those two quotes. The database was returning a two character string ( ‘ 1’, ‘ 2’, etc…) and the strings in the hash were inserted with keys ‘1’, ‘2’, and so on. Two hours to figure out that I needed to tweak the data from my query. Of course, I’ve since figured how I could have coded that into the query and avoided the extra work in the first place. Hmph.

Yeah, Christmas and stuff. I hope everyone had a good one. There’s a few people I still have yet to call and say ‘Hi, I’m alive!’ but I promise I’ll get to you. (Sorry Aunt Lill!) I had a good visit with mom in Tennessee where I was unexpectedly removed from my online life completely for three days. (No Starbucks or other internet cafes!) Mom even suffered through a grueling cave tour with me, which was very cool. It’s amazing to see the area since they removed the highway over the gap since the tunnel was opened, which allowed the entire area to be restored to it’s natural state. I remember ‘back in the day’ when we went to that same cave, which was right on the side of the highway, which ran along the side of the mountain –across from which was a sizable store with knickknacks and stuff. All gone and one wouldn’t guess without prior knowledge. Very awesome.

Travel early and on Christmas day wasn’t bad at all and I was happy to make it back and find Cleo and Cosmo watching the Twilight Zone marathon on Sci-Fi. It’s ironic to me that I survived my travels without picking up any bugs, only to catch a cold from friends here during new years. Thanks.


Word of the Day: Autovivification

November 26, 2007

Just a real quick post to share some ‘fun’. I’ve noted already that I’m using perl in my work now. I’ve used it some in the past, but I couldn’t describe myself as an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I find myself regularly encountering things that require a quick refresh or even in depth investigation from one of the¬†many¬†fantastic¬†sources¬†out there. Today’s Problem de Jour is references.

What is a reference? All languages have variables to store information. Further all (that I have ever encountered) have a concept of references so that you can refer not to the data but to the spot in which the data resides. Fun stuff. It brings back fond memories of my early comp sci classes, which were in Pascal, and there were no end of jokes about the reference operator ‘^’, which is called ‘hat’. One uses it frequently with any sort of data structures and is more often than not found in tandem with the ‘.’ operator (‘dot’) to access values within a record, such as one that might be found in a¬†linked list¬†data structure. For young comp sci students, who are easily amused, this opens up a wide array of jokes in the vein of ‘^.this’ and ‘^.yourmom’. Programmer humor. It’s terrible, I know.

That all was a huge aside (funny, this was supposed to be a real quick post…) to the point that I’m finally really learning what is going on with references in Perl. As I’m reading along, I came upon the aforementioned word of the day, autovivification. It’s such a great (funny looking and sounding) word, that I had to share it. For those curious, here is what Wikipedia has to say regarding it:

Autovivification is a unique feature of the Perl programming language involving the dynamic creation of data structures. Autovivification is the automatic creation of a reference when an undefined value is dereferenced. In effect, this causes access to a nonexistent element of a hash (associative array) orarray to create both the hash or array, and all elements below the given index for the array.       

Yeah, it’s mostly unintelligible to me as well. I know enough about it to know I don’t need to worry about it at this stage. Yet another thing that I know I don’t know. And that’s ok!


Jobified: Day 1

November 5, 2007

(click the image above to visit the site that hosts the full size image)

It’s especially hard, after nearly a year of sitting around watching TV and playing WoW, to wrap my head and body around a full-time job. I’ve been trying very hard to encourage myself to adjust to a more job-friendly sleep schedule, but the past couple of weeks have been particularly hard to motivate myself to do much of anything at all. I have been extremely fortunate in my job hunt and by all measures have managed to find exactly the right job. I worry that some might think that I will see it as some sort of justification, to which I can firmly state ‘not at all’. I hope this is the start of a positive spiral to counter the negative spiral that has been consuming me and my time for so long.

So, day one is done. Read the rest of this entry ?


No, I will *not* comply!

November 2, 2007

This one kind of stands on its own. Food for thought for every one of us in America. (Thanks, Clint, for the link.) It really is time for me to find a good book on the Constitution. I don’t read enough anymore.


My Whiskery Friends (or: Oh, hi there. Yeah, I’m alive.)

July 16, 2007

While in the process of cleaning up the latest cat hork in the bedroom, Cleo started up with her usual whining -er, meowing. (Do all calicoes sound so annoying?) I looked up to see she wasn’t meowing at me, which is how she gets her kicks. (Yay! Dad is looking at me!) ‘Wah?’ I think to myself… Then I remembered the mirror. She was meowing at the dad in the mirror on the other side of the room. Bizarre. I wonder if she thought that there were two of me…

Also something from one of the bus poetry signs yesterday:

Untitled (unfortunately, I didn’t remember the author):

my cat licks my forhead

and it fees like