back to main

Archive for the 'Computers/Tech' Category

2006.08.16 like a steam engine, running low on coal:

well, brian's hopped back in the saddle, while i've been slacking. i suppose that's about right.

my buddy paul finally got himself hitched to his wonderful lady and our former roommate allison. It was a very nice, simple ceremony, followed by a pretty kickin' reception. they had a live jazz band that was just superb, and paul and neil got up and serenaded the new bride in patented old man style. my wife and i managed to get several good shots, which i've put up in the gallery.

our summer of weddings is now over (a brief reprieve), and we've two more friends' weddings left this year (that I can remember), but i think they both fall on the same day, so we'll unfortunately most likely have to miss the one that sara's not a bridesmaid in.

the remaining major news is that i whipped together a site for my friends that i'm particularly proud of, for organizing a monthly movie night. i'd link to it, but it's really by invitation only, and there are currently no safeguards to prevent uninvited users from signing up. (scribbles on todo list) so, suffice to say, it's really cool, and i'll post a link to it in the future when i've got it somewhat protected.

oh, and my 1 year anniversary at work has just come and gone, and i'm still thrilled to be where i am. i only hope that sara gets a residency in town (or within reasonable commuting distance) so i don't have to test the loyalty of my company in a long-distance employment situation. i'm fairly certain we can work something out (the company and i), but i'd certainly prefer not to risk it.

- 05:03 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Computers/Tech - Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Personal Projects - Photography - Wife - Work


2006.04.19 are we compatible?:

as it turns out, there were some issues that 10% or fewer of bipolar's audience might have experienced post-relaunch. brian and his new friends from the land of the rising sun discovered shortly after the launch that most of the new themes were varying levels of screwed up when viewed in Safari. this morning, our favorite beta-tester´┐ŻMC Seth-yo—informed me that things were also pretty whacked in opera.

i believe things are pretty well patched up all around, so feel free to alternatively compute to your little hearts' content.

- 04:20 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Bipolar: News - Computers/Tech - Friends


2006.04.18 another new feature:

this probably has limited intrinsic value, but it's something i've thought was neat for some time, and now that we've got wordpress, it was crazy easy to implement.

you know about avatars, right? as a limited example, they're the little images you choose to personalize your profile on bulletin boards (or forums as the young bucks like to call 'em). well, a guy had an idea that if you wanted, you should be able to use a single avatar, centrally controlled, from any site anywhere on the 'net. and, since we've all got unique email addresses, that could be the peg the hat hangs on. so now, if you login or post to a site that uses these "globally recognized avatars" and give them your email address, whamo-bamo, your personal little pic shows up on their site.

since I tended to use the same avatar (and username) on every site I visit anyway, this seemed like an obvious solution to a problem I hadn't realized I had. so, I signed up.

now, there's a plugin for Thunderbird so you can see gravatars in your address book, and, of course, there's a plugin for wordpress, so you guys can see your pictures when you post comments.

all you need to do to set up your free gravatar is go to and sign up. The gravatars have to be approved manually, and they are rated, so if you submit porn, someone will see it and rate it appropriately. because of the approval process and the 1-avatar, 1-email address limit of the free account, it could be a chore if you wanted to occasionally swap out your avatars.

i'd love to see all the regular characters set up a gravatar, just 'cause i think it's fun, and y'know, i went to all the trouble of installing the plugin.

oh, and btw, happy birthday to the amazing sharon—officially not a youngster anymore.

2006.04.17 after many months…:


bipolar has been quiet for a while, but we have not been dormant. off in an anteroom, major changes have been brewing, and now, dear reader, the re-tooled bipolar is once again unleashed upon the world.

after the transition of MovableType from a free to a fee-based licensing scheme, i realized it would be untenable to follow through with the upgrade, since we are (or were at the time) running several different blogs by a few different authors from a single installation of MT. unfortunately, I also wasn't convinced about WordPress or any of the other alternatives, and didn't look forward to having several different installations of a CMS/blog package on a single server.

well, WordPress has come a long way, i've gotten over my no-multiple-installs stubbornness, and our installation of MT has finally grown so long in the tooth that it is slowly breaking down.

so, bipolar is now running entirely on WordPress, with all the old bells & whistles, plus a few new ones of considerable value.

major old features still in effect:
1) themes: all of bipolar's old themes are available, up-to-date, and much improved. go to the theme chooser from (very near the bottom of) the dropdown or links list on any bipolar page.
2) category cloud: see all our categories and how much we post in them visually by viewing them as a "cloud" rather than some boring old list.
3) bipolar cam: web cams are still in effect, and are back to their fully-themed glory.

major new features:
1) new pages/subpages: you're no longer tied down to the side-by-side view of bipolar. now category, archive, and sub-page views have their own page layout, hopefully making things easier to read.
2) popular, related, and recent lists: in various places you can now find lists of popular posts, potentially related posts (beyond simple category relations), and simple recent posts lists.
3) 404 page with way too much info: those lists, the categories and the archives are available if you get a 404, and the site will even attempt to show you a list of posts related to the thing you were looking for.
4) RSS feeds: WordPress allows us a much broader RSS feed smorgasbord—eeds for individual posts, post comments, categories.
5) search: MT had a search function, but i never implemented it 'cause i was lazy. WordPress has it built in as well, so i finally took the time to put it in place.
6) brand-new theme: i've created a swanky new theme, and made it the default. if you don't like, it no problem, just choose your favorite from the theme chooser

hopefully there won't be many broken things lying about, but i'm sure there will be some. if you find something, please let me know so i can get it fixed.

in the meantime, enjoy the new theme and all the other changes around this old place.

2005.11.15 posterity & procrastination:

in the interests of complete and total procrastination on the novel-writing front (2640 words), i have undertaken a massive clean-up operation here on bipolar. at least, on my side of things. i've changed the permalinks to link to the individual post pages, rather than the monthly pages, and i've gone through every single one of my old posts to bring them in line with some of the better ways i've figured out to do things since we started. javascript new window links are now "accessible" (which just means they should work for people *without* javascript as well), all self-referential links point to individual post pages instead of monthlies with a hash anchor.

i've found quite a few dead links, and have started treating them in a standardized way (when i can't find a replacement or updated link)…

oh, and the big thing… all those posts in the "Old Posts" category from before we moved to movable type have now been gone through and assigned actual relevant categories. "Old Posts" (is/are) no more!

i also did a little jimmy'ing with the categories page, so now the categories are sized (and weighted) a little more sensibly.

the last thing i need to do is go through each post and hunt for linkrot. i've done a little already, but i've skipped around a bunch, so i'm sure there are more to be found.

all that stuff, and i've set up a new machine at home and installed SuSE linux on it. too many toys, too little time!

now, let's see if i can procrastinate on my procrastinating and get some work on on that novel…

2005.07.19 not so humble:

wow, we actually got to go see a movie!

seriously, it seems like we've not gotten to go to a movie in an insanely long time (though we did go see Batman Begins on our honeymoon). but, we finally managed to get out of the house to go see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which i loved. i loved the original movie, and i love this version of the story too… they are so completely different, it's hard to even compare the two. unfortunately, i haven't read the book, so i can't really say which is the more "accurate" version.

finally had a little job interview today, which i think went pretty well. it's actually a little surprising, as generally, one of my hallmark traits (self-promotion wise) has always been a heaping helping of humility. strangely, during the last few interviews i've been much more "at ease" and confident about my abilities and about my inter-personal interactions with the interviewer(s). it's a very weird experience for me to not be timid around people i don't know and who could have some influence on my career. at a few points during the interview, i actually felt like i was delivering some kind of post-shakespearian monologue. perhaps i went a little overboard at points, but i think it was ok. i think i might've overdone the hand-talking… but otherwise, it seemed to go well.

on a more local level (bipolar-local, that is), i've been trying to spruce up the gallery scripts a bit, since they suffered some after the move to the new server and directory structure. i've managed to get the galleries themselves working and displaying properly, but there're some issues with the (still relatively new) "view by date" code that i haven't been able to spend enough time to massage out yet. and thus far, brian's joycamproject is still utterly non-functional, which is probably also a result of directory re-organization more than anything. hopefully, i'll get a chance to fix that up here soon, then help brian get the actual joycamproject implemented with the designs he's come up with. once that's accomplished, i intend to kick up development of a ground-up recoding of the gallery scripts… something i've been contemplating for a while now.

should be fun and challenging.

last but not least, i took a few moments yesterday to register our RSS feeds on Feedburner. so if you're subscribed to our feeds through an RSS reader, you'll want to update your subscriptions to the following:

main feed:
brian's feed:
matt's feed:

now, the fun aspect of this change, is that Feedburner allows you to integrate a couple other sources into your standard feeds. so, brian's feed is integrated with his flickr account, and will intermix any new images he uploads there with his posts here. for me, i don't have a flickr account yet, so i'm integrating my bookmarks feed into my bipolar feed. so… one beautiful side-effect will be regular updates (of the RSS/Atom feeds) even if we don't necessarily post on that regular of a basis.

now, these things aren't integrated into the main bipolar feed (though they could be if "demand" is there), so to take advantage, you'd have to subscribe to our individual feeds.

another good thing about Feedburner is that we're no longer stuck (well we never were before, but i could never be bothered to create an Atom output for MovableType) with just RSS… feedburner will serve up whatever type of feed your feed reader asks for… Atom, RSS 0.9, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0 probably others… so… subscribe away!

2005.01.26 301:

i've finally broken 300 posts (this is the three-hundred-and-first) on bipolar, which is pretty sad, considering we've been doing this almost five full years. brian over there's killing me in the post-count department, despite my recent spate of activity and his recent absence.

which reminds me, brian's been at home ill quite a bit recently, so everybody .

which also leads me to another point. i managed to steal a few hours yesterday and today "cleaning up" the x13design family of websites to eliminate bare email addresses on all the pages. i've realized i'm getting a fuckload of spam mail, and it's probably all because i've had my address right out there for the spambots to collect at their leisure for years. i found a cool little tool online that encrypts the email address and generates javascript code to display the email link. so now, just about every instance of our various email addys has been cleaned up and obfuscated, so hopefully the torrent of spam will subside a bit. it's a vain hope, i know, but every little bit helps, i guess.

the other band wrapped up recording tonight, so next sunday we'll get seriously started on the mixing process. hopefully, we'll also get a few steps closer to picking a band name. rob actually provided a hefty list tonight, and we all picked five of our favorites from his list. here's the result of that:
3 threadbare taken
3 mammon (? possibly taken, found tabs online, a ref in, and a record label)
2 permafrost (dubliners, some reference to an indie band from '97/'98, and a record label)
2 psychosomatic (3 refs, all dead, maybe dead, 2 on bandreg)
2 nexus (here, here, here, here, & about 20 on bandreg)
2 housing project
2 trite (yup.)
2 kitsch (here, here, & about six on bandreg)
1 homogenize
1 midwife

brax and jim have both promised to provide their own lists on sunday, so i'll probably have some more for you then. after we vote on theirs, we'll repeat the process a few times, 'til we finally figure out what to call ourselves.

2005.01.18 where you do want to go today:

sara & i have finally really started the ball rolling on this whole buying-a-house thing we've been talking about. we're talking to real-estate and mortgage agents, and we've been to our first open house this past weekend. what fun. and so many questions to ask & answer… do we top-end it, or bottom-line it? do we get a fixer-upper, or something we'll not need to do much work on? where exactly in the hell are we willing to live? obviously we can't afford much in the highlands, so how much are we willing to compromise on location? (in case you're curious) if anyone sees or knows of any decent houses in the 100k – 115k range in that general area, feel free to let me know. we are on the hunt in a big way at this point.

in other news, sara, in her constant struggles to get me off my lazy ass and exercise for a change, has now resorted to bribery. she's now offered to get me "whatever MP3 player" i want, if i'll join the running team she's on and at least walk with the walking contingent. it is a tempting offer. so far, i've narrowed down my choices to either: the iRiver H340, or the (no surprise here) iPod.

Here's how it breaks down for me so far:



  • not as much 3rd party support
  • not as pretty
  • i've "heard" the ui isn't as elegant, and borders on counter-intuitive
  • i've "heard" you have to create playlists on the PC, you can't create them on the fly on the player
  • heavier, bulkier
  • the company isn't unstable, but it's still not apple
  • not your standard "hip" apple mp3 player
  • direct LineIn jack
  • built-in microphone w/ voice record function
  • mounts as standard USB removable storage device (acts like a hard-drive)
  • don't have to use proprietary software to access/manage songs
  • not your standard "hip" apple mp3 player


  • no voice record feature/built-in microphone
  • no direct line-in jack
  • must use iTunes?
  • mounts as USB storage device, but only for non-music/media files?
  • it's "hip"

  • it's apple!
  • lots of 3rd party accessories & stuff
  • it's cute
  • it's hip
  • it's userfriendly?

if anyone can think of any pros or cons i missed for either of these two, or has any specific thoughts/suggestions either way, please post a comment and help me make up my mind.

2004.12.15 eventful:

this'll just be a quick entry to point out a couple things…

1) in light of the "IE gets blowed up real good" bug apparently triggered by the recent bipolar revamp, i've unflipped the switch and gone back to the crappy frames version. if anyone knows why a little CSSP/DHTML might be causing IE to hack up a lung, i implore you to please come forward. for testing purposes, the XHTML valid revamp version is still available.

**update**: well, it looks like i've nearly licked the kick'sploding IE thing. apparently, i didn't do too much testing in IE 6 during initial development, probably thinking that IE5 and 6 rendered more similarly than they do. i still need to do a little layout clean-up work (especially on 1.5) for IE6, but otherwise things appear solid once again.

the culprit? stupid proprietary DOM stuff in IE. document.body.clientHeight was causing IE6 to puke, so i just amped up my browser detect, and called document.documentElement.clientHeight for IE6 only. seems to have done the trick.

those of you IE6'ers out there, please pound on one or all of these (jhb15sporg) and let me know if you're still seeing crashes. i'd be much obliged. ** end update**

2) in other news, the "latest images" functionality of the gallery scripts is coming along nicely, though it seems with each new feature i complete, i think of five more things that could make them even better. what this means is that, eventually, i'm pretty much going to have to do a ground-up rewrite of the scripts. yippee.

in honor of the new functionality (as partially implemented) check out the pictures i took over this past weekend, when i went home to p'town to visit the fam and see my sis and my awesome little niece. be sure to check out the rasnake/old_homestead gallery, as there are several kick ass shots of stuff in and around my parents house. (sometimes, i actually think i'm a good photographer)

anyway, hit that link quick, as it's only good for 10 days–one of the limitations of the latest images feature (as it stands now) is that the number of days images are counted as new is set globally. i'm planning on adding a bit where you can specify a date, a range of dates, or your own number of days for which to show images. should be fun.

**update 12/21/2004** more fixin's have been added to the gallery scripts, adding some of the stuff i mentioned above, and that gallery link above now targets a specific date (rather than xx days ago). still no UI for all the new gizmos, but i'll get to that soon-ish.** end update**

2004.12.06 actual improvements:

i'm sure this will elicit a grimace of some sort out of brian, but i've been puttering around the back office here at bipolar the last few days. My most recent accomplishment follows on the heels of a post (or two) i read earlier today about the "spread of weighted lists" or some-such nonsense. anyway, i saw it and immediately wondered if i could wrangle a quick thing together for the categories index of ye olde bipolar to implement the concept. it only took me about 5 minutes to get the basic code worked up in the movable type template for the category index, but it then took me about three hours to figure out the formula to properly weight the percentages so that the lowest-post-count categories would actually be readable. check it out, or wait 'til you get to the end of the post and click the "categories" link. obviously, the more posts in a category, the larger that category appears. pretty simple and visually intuitive (if visually chaotic) method of displaying more complex data than a simple list.

and i figured out the other day a quick painless workaround for that annoying non-scrolling div firefox bug: just click in the area to scroll, hit the tab key (to put focus on the next link), and scroll away! if you mouse while leaving one hand on the keyboard (as i usually do) then you can do this almost without thinking about it. of course, yes, it is a kluge and suboptimal behavior, but i think you can hack it. besides, not everyone has a scroll button on their mouse anyway, and a fix is on the way (an *no* i don't expect people to go out and download a nightly build *just* so they can use their scroll wheel on bipolar… i just offered that as an option for those inclined to it)

finally, i've been working for the last several days on some more improvements and additional functionality for the bipolar gallery, and you can get a glimpse of the work in progress (if all you wanna do is browse thumbnails at this point). the improvements were just in the "multiple subdirectory 'folding'" code (if you really care, ask and i'll explain), and the added functionality is something brian's asked for for quite a while–a "latest images" option. the page i linked to shows a main index of just the latest photos (currently set to show pics uploaded/changed within the last 10 days). eventually i'll make a seperate function that will take this and spit it out in a limited single set of thumbnails (so that i can, for example, have the 4 latest images in my gallery automatically show up on the most recent post). as i said, very beta work in progress at this point. but progress nonetheless.

- 08:44 pm - PL :: 7 Comments
categories ::  Bipolar: News - Computers/Tech - Cool Links - Personal Projects




Most Popular Posts in 'Computers/Tech':