This is BrainLog, a blog by Dan Sanderson. Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained. See the front page and newer entries.

July 2005 Archives

July 29, 2005

Morgan Freeman Buys a Pop-A-Shot Machine.

The creators of
a computer program that randomly generates Computer Science papers successfully got a randomly generated paper into a conference. Thanks to donations from visitors to their web site, they raised the money to attend the conference. Once their web site was discovered, their registration was refunded. So they used the money to set up at the same hotel as the conference and present three randomly generated papers. See the video.

Innovation: Throwing Design Rules Out The Window.

July 28, 2005

McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought.

A bunch of iPhoto 5 tips, from Macworld.

Humorist and coder Kevin Shay maintains New Bergerber Man, a collection of excuses given by domain name squatters during WIPO disputes.

Because of my seven-feet-tall height, and large skeletal frame, I have been commonly known as "" for many, many years.

July 27, 2005

Gary Garritan: A Personal Orchestra for Everyone. The Garritan Personal Orchestra includes Garritan's award winning orchestra samples, music notation software (Overture SE-4), sequencing software (Cubase LE), and a sample player. It runs on relatively modest personal computer hardware (PC or Mac). It costs $250.

*falls over*

Buy it on Amazon (actually Musician's Friend).

See the article, not to mention the official Garritan web site, for music samples.

Castalia Communications sells neat looking posters with music-related reference information on them. They look like they'd be fun for a kid's room or den, not sure about the living room. Geeky.

Gelf Magazine exposes misleading movie/TV/book review quotes used in advertising.

July 25, 2005

My Five Favorite Soft Synths, by Jim Aikin. With audio examples. Ten Essential Development Practices, an excerpt from Damian Conway's new book, Perl Best Practices. The excerpt looks a lot like what's now standard advice in other books (write tests first, use a revision control system), but with a Perl flavor. Some bits are advice I hear mostly in Perl circles: "Don't Optimize Code--Benchmark It" applies almost everywhere, but especially in Perl, when TIMTOWTDI combined with Perl's propensity for magical behavior gets everyone asking, what's the fastest way to do something.

Creating Spotlight Plugins, an introduction that includes the building of a Spotlight plugin for the Stickies application.

July 21, 2005

A quick note to people creating podcasts on your Mac: Mute your Mac OS X system sounds! It's very confusing.

Writerisms and other Sins: A Writer's Shortcut to Stronger Writing. Common beginners mistakes, especially in fiction or descriptive (what are we calling it now, literate?) non-fiction. (Thanks Matt.)

Update: Thanks to Dan for cluing me in to a hidden feature already built into Dashboard that lets you put widgets on the desktop. See the comments.

Mesa Dynamics Amnesty Widget Browser lets you use Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Dashboard widgets directly on your desktop. It will even let you run many widgets on Mac OS X 10.3 Panther.

This idea is so obvious, I've been considering trying to implement it myself, just to see if it was easy. Mesa Dynamics is charging $19.95 for it.

(Mesa is using enough trademark symbols on its site that it's possible they're mistaking copyright law for trademark law: copyrights are automatic, but trademarks must be registered. It's also possible they're registering all of those marks, at $325 a pop...)

July 20, 2005

The Unheard Beethoven. Unrecorded works of Beethoven, in MIDI form. Why is there Beethoven that hasn't been recorded?

la Pate a Son, a wonderful music making web toy. Kind of like the old water-in-pipes video game, but with beans and musical instruments, and no time limit.

How To Look Like A UNIX Guru, an introduction to some Unix commands and techniques.

July 18, 2005

Zipcar coming to Seattle. Zipcar is a rival to the car-sharing program, Flexcar. I *heart* Flexcar, but I see no reason to stay brand loyal if prices and services are similar. (Mini Coopers with XM Radio won't get me to pay more money, sorry. John Williams has my number.)

Whoever puts a car in the parking lot of the 7-11 at NE 50th Street and 1st Avenue will get my business.

July 14, 2005

The New C Standard: An Economic and Cultural Commentary by Derek Jones. 1,616 pages of analysis of the C programming language standard, available for free as a PDF. According to Derek in this article, it was rejected at the last minute by Addison Wesley due to its size, so he made it a free download instead.

Ralph McQuarrie Concept Paintings for Star Wars.

July 13, 2005

If you're planning a trip to Victoria, B.C., be sure to save a hundred bucks or so for dinner at Il Terrazzo. The best food I've had in years, though I don't normally eat in the $40 entreé price range. Completely charming atmosphere, and waitstaff that was kind and patient with our young child. Made my trip.

I'll also throw in a positive mention for Ferris' Oyster Bar and Grill, since they seem to have been omitted from what few guidebooks there are for Victoria. Good food and good service at a casual lunchtime price. Be sure to request a table out back on a sunny day, the place looks a little cramped indoors.

Gmaps Pedometer, a Google Maps hack where you double-click your way along a path, and the total distance is displayed.

July 12, 2005

Virtual Banjo Lessons, free half-hour lessons as MP3s, with podcast feed. "The catch here is that after the each workshop goes online we will not post the next one until at least five people send us audio files of themselves playing the “homework” assigned at the end of each lesson."

Google Maps + Flickr + geotagged photos = MapPhotos. Browse maps or satelite photos, and find photographs taken at various locations on the map. (Thanks, Jason.)

Putting advertising on the map: Google opens their Maps super-toy to third-party developers with an official API, so frankentoys like BusMonster don't have to reverse engineer anything or break when something changes. "Google retains the right to put advertising on the map in the future."

July 11, 2005

The End of the M.E.? What mechanical engineering means as everything goes electrical.

WSJ on's selling the Penguin Classics Library Complete Collection, 1,082 titles of classic literature all for $7,989.99, plus $3.99 shipping. Buy now!

Penguin Classics are high quality books. I tend to choose Penguin whenever I comparison shop editions of classics.

Linked from the article: The Penguin paperback revolution.

The Ultimate Portable Studio. See also part 2.