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 Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained.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.

March 2007 Archives

March 30, 2007

Solving the "Mr.S and Mr.P" puzzle by John McCarthy in Python. Ask a thorough question, get a definitive answer.

The best user manuals EVER, according to Creating Passionate Users.

March 22, 2007

Jonathan Coulton's recent Seattle performance, the whole thing clipped up and YouTubed. (Thanks Matt.) Pretty low-fi with some skips, but watchable. Makes me all the more disappointed that I didn't hear about the concert in time (so at least I could have requested that he dedicate "You Ruined Everything" to all the parents that couldn't make it), but in it he does mention he plans to be at Penny Arcade Expo 2007 in Seattle, August 24-26.

Check out the spontaneous sing-along on "Mandelbrot Set," too. Awesome.

March 20, 2007

The story of Jeopardy!'s first three-way tie. The video [YouTube]. Everyone wins the top prize, and everyone comes back the next day. You can see Scott saying "You're welcome" to one of his competitors as he shakes his hand.

Big Brother State, an animated short by David Scharf. A simple, gorgeous narrated animation about your/my/our surveillance society. Too bad the high resolution version is offline, because the YouTube version messes up the slickness of the animation. Download the torrent, if you can.

March 16, 2007

Igudesman and Joo. Videos on their web site, and YouTube has more.

Tim Minchin. (Via JoCo.)

March 15, 2007

EmacsWiki: EmacsNiftyTricks.

pymdev, a Python development module for Emacs that makes it easy to evaluate arbitrary Python expressions in any buffer.

March 14, 2007

Newbie Emacs tip: As you install more Emacs packages, you'll probably eventually install CEDET, such as for Speedbar. One of the features of the CEDET tools indexes many kinds of files you edit, and saves those indexes as semantic.cache files. By default, it puts those cache files right alongside your source files, which is annoying, especially when editing files in directories that get pushed to web servers. Thankfully, you can tell it to put those files somewhere else:

(setq semanticdb-default-save-directory “~/.emacs.semantic.cache”)

(Thanks Marc, Hynek.)

Emacs does this with back-up files as well (myfile.cpp~), which I also find annoying, and these can also be moved:

(setq backup-directory-alist '(("." . "/home/dsanders/.emacs-backups")))

See the manual for more on backup files.

I like to leave auto-recover files (#myfile.cpp#) where they are, because I want them to get my attention. I don't know if there is a way to move them. Anyone?

LiveQuartz, a free simple image editor for Mac OS X. Has standard tools and abilities like cropping, and can also apply many fancy CoreImage filters and effects. Lacks fine-grained selection control, such as for careful crops.

I'm stunned that I can't find a really good lightweight image editor for Mac OS X. There are dozens of screen capture tools, and a few decent sketching tools. But if I want to get a pixel-perfect crop of a screen capture for a production document, I need to open Photoshop. I realize that Lightweight Image Editor plus One More Feature That I Want turns into bloat very quickly, but even if the bloat ran its course, it still wouldn't be Photoshop, and would still open faster.

I'd be all about FlySketch for lightweight image editing if it were just a tad more bitmap friendly, like with zooming and cropping. Most of its features are vector-oriented, but a core feature is taking screen captures with its nifty see-through window, and there's not much you can do to the capture other than doodle on top of it. (Am I missing something?)

March 13, 2007

This is the last week to watch the show with zefrank as it happens, which is the best way to watch it. Ze has been pulling out all the stops these past couple of weeks with a string of very good shows, and if you've been missing them, at least try to catch up with the recent ones.

Ze has indicated that there will be some kind of on-going archive. Ze also asked his regulars to help make a list of the best 50 episodes, and the wikified list continues to evolve. It's already a great place to find good stuff, if you're not a regular. No clue yet whether the favorites will be the only ones archived (unlikely), whether the list will exist alongside the complete archive for passersby to peruse (probably), or whether the list will eventually become a purchasable DVD (hopefully).

The favorites list has also become a home for indexing into some favorite motifs, like the list of every episode where Ze sings, or every episode filmed in a hotel.

I admit I'm secretly hoping for a complete DVD box set, but it seems unlikely. I'd pay $200+ for a box set that also included excerpts from Ze's stage show and a black-on-black duckie T-shirt.

Lastly: If you have limited interest in Ze's Show or didn't like him the one time you saw him last year, at least check out this recent special, where Ze makes good on a promise to his viewers, with the help of Jonathan Coulton. (That'd be Mr. Jonathan Doesn't Give More Than 24 Hours Notice On His Web Site When He Plays Seattle Coulton. :P )

March 12, 2007

Did you enjoy the "hidden Google TV beta" videos from a while ago? Be sure to check out seven others: Infinite Solutions with Mark Erickson, including several others that aren't computer related. They're all fantastic.

His latest on the new Daylight Saving Time switch [YouTube] is a little over the top, but still worth watching.

You Don't Know Jack, Episode 1. PLAY NOW.

March 5, 2007

Parallels Desktop for Mac out of beta, free update to the latest for everyone that has paid for it so far.