Aug 17

Server on fire

Category: Uncategorized

Note: I’m in the midst of a web developer bootcamp. I feel like writing this up to help others, but I’m going to show the sausage getting made, because (1) I’m not sure I’d cover everything, and having all the details might help others in this position, and (2) I don’t have the time to make it more concise.

As background: I run a few websites, some for myself, and some for other people. When the sites for other people break, I pay more attention. And when I check the traffic to see what’s being requested, and the most frequent is a page for suicide and depression prevention resources, right after Robin Williams’ taking his own life, when the resources could be timely and helpful, well, that really lit a fire under me. Some sysadmin geekery ensued…

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May 7

Arcanum’s Sidhe-Gaelic language

Category: Uncategorized

Arcanum’s a new webcomic (over at Thrillbent) written by John Rogers, of Leverage (from TV) and Blue Beetle (from comic books, and previously touched on here) fame. Arcanum’s sort of “24,” fighting the sinister and secret return of magic to the world. There’s “an alien language” called “Sidhe-Gaelic” therein, which is basically a dingbats font, which can be easily decoded, given enough text. Today’s issue 6 offered enough text to decode, so I took a shot at it.

What was encoded? Spoilers follow.

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Feb 18

Ebook Index of Free Ebooks for the Kindle

Category: Uncategorized

Here’s the backstory: My parents got a Kindle for Christmas, and I’ve looked into ways for them to read public domain books on it, and the interfaces for browsing for books and transferring them are non-optimal. First, I tried emailing books to the Kindle, which worked for me, but it was too complicated for my parents.

Then I found the Magic Catalog, an ebook index of Project Gutenberg books, linked up so that you can immediately download books and add them to your Kindle, without using a computer or Amazon. It’s in a useless order, though – it’s not sorted by the book title, or by author.

So I thought I’d fix that. Here’s the prototype, sorted by the author’s last name!

This is my first ebook, so please forgive the rough edges.

Update, 2013-02-20: I made major revisions, to the formatting and to the data. The authors’ names were mangled in spots.

Update, 2013-03-07:

  • New list: Popular ebook downloads from the past month.
  • Titles are sorted properly, ignoring stop words like a, an, and the.
  • I removed most long subtitles. This removed about a third of the pagecount.
  • There’s cover art again.
  • Renamed the local file, removing a problematic apostrophe.

Update, 2013-03-13:

  • adding navigation help – by the first two letters of authors’ last names, and for unspecified authors, the first letter of the book title
  • added the latest books from Project Gutenberg
  • I made an EPUB version, for readers without Kindles
  • some fixes – some special characters, and some missing “illustrated version” labels

Update, 2013-03-18 – Fixed the EPUB version.

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Jun 11

Afro Circus

Category: Uncategorized

So there’s a moment in the Madagascar 3 trailer that Marty the Zebra, voiced by Chris Rock, breaks into a hilarious and catchy song, about an Afro circus and polka dots, and someone was kind enough to loop it, for 10 minutes. I noticed a slight pause in the loop, which quickly drove me nuts! Here’s my attempt, as an mp3 and an iPhone ringtone.
Let’s try looping this:

Edit: It works! The ringtone works fine – though my roommate hates it – and the loop has a pause but it’s otherwise good.

Another edit: For more details, see Know Your Meme.

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Oct 23

Server push animation

Category: Uncategorized

This came up because of Jason Scott’s posting hundreds of “Under Construction” animated gifs (warning! that can crash your browser!), derived from Archiveteam’s attempt to backup Geocities before it closes.

Seeing that page led twoleftfeet on Metafilter to reminisce about creating the first “Under Construction” animated gifs, mentioning the earlier, clunkier “server push animations.”

A thread on Hacker News centered on that story. Scriptor asked “server push animations? How were those done?” And I dug up some information – including an implementation – & posted it there.

I’ve been curious about what it would do on current browsers, so. I took the Perl script, hit the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine for some canonical test images, & put them together to make:

This is a server push animation. It surprised me that it worked in Firefox & Mobile Safari.

I can’t say that this is terribly useful, except for historical interest. Each frame of animation is sent as a separate picture, so, for example, a loop would require an ongoing connection.

1 comment

Jun 8

Reconstituting the Metaweb

Category: Uncategorized

Bringing a wiki back to life reminds me that I’ve wanted to reconstitute the Metaweb, the wiki covering Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. Of course, I had the database for hbmobile, which made that easy; I didn’t get it for the Metaweb, due to apparently bad timing. It got bogged down by spammers, there was an inability to upgrade the software, & it wasn’t golden, but still…

I read about the Nielsen Haydens’ work to reconstitute from caches & whatnot after a server died, & it sounds familiar.

archive.org covered the Metaweb, & so did I. It sorta looked like I’d have to set up a wikibot to read the archive & push it back out to another wiki, possibly having to massage the input for formatting (no, you can’t log in!) & massage the output to preserve timestamps. Now it looks plausible to feed the html into something that spits out an sql dump.

This also got nudged a bit by finding out that Stephenson’s got a book, Anathem, coming out late this year. Aaand now I see a name I remember from the Metaweb asking about it. So I’m going to go ask if he got a copy of the database.

Updates (8/17): Since writing this, I’ve been in touch with Metaweb collaborators Jeremy Bornstein (who gave me an Anathem copy), Alan Sinder, & Patrick Tufts (due to a question I asked on Metafilter). There’s a small (four meg), corrupted, empty copy of the database at hand, & a larger (forty meg) copy hiding somewhere.

He’s doing a tour of readings; he’ll be in San Francisco for its release party September 9th, with Anathem-inspired music & Q&A.

A friend from hbmobile has offered the use of cryptonomicon.net, which I’m considering.

Update (12/10): There’s an Anathem Wiki. the database hasn’t made an appearance, & computer problems have provided another obstacle.┬á I’ll note any progress here.

1 comment

May 18

iPod recording device compatibility

Category: Uncategorized

I’ve been recording audio for fun using a 2nd generation ipod nano & a couple of accessories, the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo & the xtrememac MicroMemo. (I switched from using the MicroMemo to the TuneTalk because the latter works much better with my microphones – the autogain balances out for phantom power or bias power, I forget.) Out of curiosity, I checked to see how well they work with various ipods:

                MicroMemo       TuneTalk

ipod - 4th gen  no              no

ipod - 5th gen  untested        works

nano - 2nd gen  works           works

nano - 3rd gen  works           works

nano - 4th gen                  works

ipod classic    works           works

iphone          no              no

iphone 3G                       no

ipod touch      no              no

touch - 2nd gen                 no response

There are other accessories that allow you to record – the ivoice (for touch & iphone, apparently) & the Griffin italk pro, at least – but I own neither, so haven’t tested those broadly. The italk pro worked well in a brief test with the nano 2nd gen & my microphones, at least.

Update (12/10): Tried the TuneTalk on a newer generation of ipods.

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Apr 21

scarab-speak

Category: Uncategorized

geek!  hero!  ftw!
The comic book Blue Beetle (Wikipedia, DC Database) includes alien technology speaking in an alien language. Eventually, I realized I could decode it. Then that I could make a font out of it.
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Apr 21

what

Category: Uncategorized

This is sort of a catchall compared to my list of recordings. That has a focus; this will cover random noodling around.

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