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 Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained.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

January 2009 Archives

January 31, 2009

That's Simple Measures playing on the South Lake Union Trolley (aka the SLUT) in Seattle, in an exceptionally well produced video that deserves to go viral, at least in Seattle classical music circles. Simple Measures plays the Good Shepherd Center in my neighborhood (Wallingford) on February 6, and the Northgate Community Center on February 8.

Simple Measures seeks to bring chamber music to modern audiences by breaking from traditional concert formalities. I think I'm in love, and I haven't even seen them live yet.

(Via The Southlake, a local community blog. I'm also in love with Seattle hyper-local neighborhood blogs.)

January 30, 2009

Red Dwarf cast will reunite, for a two-part "back to Earth" finale story, an improvised special and a behind-the-scenes documentary on the new production. Co-creator Doug Naylor is at the helm, and (at least?) 4 of the 5 primary cast members are returning. (No mention in this article of who will play Holly.)

January 29, 2009 Would you like 536 free MP3s?

Me: Yes. Yes I would. Well there you go. Enjoy.

Me: Thanks! ... Uh... Christmas music? You don't like Christmas?

Me: I like Christmas, that's fine, fine... Um... Yes?

Me: One of these tracks is just 15 seconds of applause from a classical CD. You don't like applause?

Me: I like applause, but I prefer music.

January 28, 2009

Apparently, the iPhone main menu supports only 10 screenfuls of apps. That's a mere 160 applications, including the 13 that come with it (and not including the 4 in the quick launch dock). Once you hit 160, additional apps you download don't show up anywhere and are not accessible until you remove some apps via iTunes. You can't delete apps directly on the phone to reveal new apps because it just leaves the empty spaces behind in the menu, and syncing again doesn't fill the spaces.

And you can't just leave empty spaces at the bottom of the last screen! Apparently, that just leaves an empty placeholder just as before. I was able to reclaim the empty slots by uninstalling then reinstalling the missing apps using iTunes.

Incidentally, rearranging the icons is a huge pain when many screens are involved. It's near impossible to move an icon two screens to the left without accidentally causing the icons on the intervening screen to move out of the way for your placing the icon you're holding. If that screen was full (16 items), this "move out of the way" action pushes the bottom-right-most app off the screen and out to the next left-most available slot—or App Limbo if all the other screens are full. And the spot left behind is not filled automatically, unless you "push" an icon on another screen to the left.

Anyone else hitting the 160 app limit, realizing what just happened, and regretting all 160 of them?

January 27, 2009

blueful, a multimedia short story where each medium is an online service. The story of a wayfarer told in a journey across the web. Worth going through to the end, even if you're not that into the story.

January 26, 2009

Installing Emacs 23 on Mac OS X

Update, July 31, 2009: Emacs 23 is now officially released. These instructions still apply, but the flags have changed slightly since I first wrote this entry. I've updated the text below to apply to the official Emacs 23 release, checked out from CVS.

I've mentioned using the Emacs text editor with Mac OS X several times over the years. Carbon Emacs and Aquamacs are both fine ready-to-run bundles with neat integration with the Mac operating system and visual style. As of Emacs 22, plain ol' GNU Emacs works just fine as a Mac native application (no Terminal or X11 server required). I mentioned how to download and build your own Emacs 22 a while ago, and have since used that post as reference when I needed to remember how.

Emacs 22 has long since been, and still is, the official stable release is no longer the official stable release. Of course, this means the Emacs die-hards have all moved on to Emacs 23, which you can get from GNU's CVS repository as before. Emacs 23 is now the official stable release. You can still get it from the CVS repository and build it yourself for Mac OS X. However, the Mac OS X build instructions have changed slightly since Emacs 22, and if you use my old instructions you get an that complains, "You can't open the application "" because it is not supported on this architecture." So it's time for a new entry.

To build Emacs 23 for Mac OS X:

cvs -z3 co emacs
cd emacs
./configure --with-ns --with-jpeg=no --with-gif=no --with-tiff=no
make bootstrap
make install
sudo cp -r nextstep/ /Applications/


  • To build software, you need to install the XCode developer tools that came with your Mac OS X installation discs.
  • The --with-ns configuration option is required to build a NextStep binary, which is the Mac OS X binary.
  • I've included --with-jpeg=no --with-gif=no --with-tiff=no because my developer tools lack those libraries, yours probably do too, and I'm too lazy to find them and install them. Maybe I'll come back and amend these instructions to include these features someday. (Feel free to post them in comments!) Until then, this Emacs build will lack support for viewing images in these formats.
  • The last sudo cp ... command simply installs into the Applications folder. Notice that it comes from the nextstep directory, not the mac directory.
  • Update July 31, 2009: --enable-carbon-app is no longer necessary.
  • Update July 31, 2009: sudo is no longer required for make install, because the install isn't actually installing, it's just assembling the application bundle in the build directory.

I'm not a part of the Emacs development community so I can't explain these changes, but I'm glad to have found them.

If you don't want to build Emacs yourself, still want to use a vanilla Emacs instead of a bundle, and don't mind getting builds from some guy on the Internet, has easy-to-install downloads for the latest stable version and previous versions of Emacs, as well as nightly CVS snapshots of the development version.

January 23, 2009

Google AJAX APIs Playground.

January 14, 2009

Browser Security Handbook, an open-licensed 60-page document summarizing the state of browser security, written by Google. Covers IE 6 & 7, Firefox 2 & 3, Safari, Opera, Google Chrome, and the Android browser.

January 12, 2009

Preventing Canon Software From Starting Up Automatically

After you installed the Mac software that came with your new Canon camera, does ImageBrowser, CameraWindow, or MemoryCard Utility (MCU) start up on its own whenever you plug in other devices, such as your iPhone or your Flip Mino HD (and likely complain that it can't read the memory card)? Would you rather iPhoto open for all of your cameras by default?

Open Applications > Image Capture, a program that came with your Mac. Select the Image Capture > Preferences... Change the "When a camera is connected, open:" setting from CameraWindow or whatever it is to iPhoto. Close the preferences window, close the app.

Now iPhoto opens along with FlipShare when I plug in the Flip, but I don't mind that so much because it doesn't complain. Of course, you can tell FlipShare not to open automatically from its own Preferences.

Unit Interactive: Better CSS Font Stacks. With a reference PDF.

January 10, 2009

Disneyland Dream, a 30-minute 1956 home movie (with narration added in 1995) of a family's trip to Disneyland, has been admitted to the National Film Registry. Internetters have noticed that the film features a fleeting walk-by of an 11-year-old Steve Martin, who worked at Disneyland at the time, but it's fascinating and great fun regardless. I'm proud of the NFR that they've declared this film worthy of preservation. Watch the whole thing.

January 9, 2009

The Remnants full 11-minute web pilot, which John August has put up because it's probably not going to go anywhere, at least for a while. Pleasantly features more Ze Frank than I was expecting.

NY Times Open announces the Congress API, programatic access to Congressional biographical and voting data. Publishing databases as an act of journalism, I love it.

January 8, 2009

I Dream in Malcolm Gladwell, by Benjamin R. Cohen, for The Morning News.

January 7, 2009

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard.

Stanwood craftsman puts human touch on factory-made pianos. Makes me want to buy a Fandrich & Sons piano just to be a part of this story. Also reminds me that I should plan for about a years' worth of skill building and research before buying a grand.

Den of Geek: Top 50 movie special effects shots. Also: Top 24 worst special effects of all time. Great stuff and punchy commentary.

January 5, 2009

Perl One Liners. Just goes to show it never hurts to write new pages on old subjects. I learned several things.