I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Archive for 2013:

What the “End” of the BART Strike Really Means

There are a few things to unpack in this article from The New York Times :

A strike that shut down the commuter train service in the San Francisco Bay Area will end Friday after management and the transit workers’ unions agreed Thursday night to extend the current labor contract for 30 days and resume service in the meantime.

In other words, management understands that some arrangement has to be made. From any practical perspective, a BART shutdown has major effects upon the Bay Area’s economy. The workers are acknowledged to have some power.

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“Restore The Fourth” Protests Abound Today

Gloria Goodale, for The Christian Science Monitor:

For most Americans, the Fourth of July means barbecue and fireworks. But this year, a coalition of activists rallying to the cry of “Restore the Fourth” is hoping to use the day, both online and offline, to highlight what it calls serious violations of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.

I’m glad to see that there are, in fact, some Americans for whom beer and pork are lower priorities than taking a stand. However–and call me cynical if you like–I wonder if this particular genie is ever going to get anywhere near the bottle ever again.

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Local Storage For Web Apps

Here’s a great rundown on the subject, entitled “The Past, Present & Future of Local Storage For Web Applications”; it pretty much lives up to its title. Not only does it get into the technical nitty gritty of how HTML5 local storage works, it also summarizes the history of developers’ efforts to find ways to store bits and bytes of data on a user’s machine.

This is a great source of information for me as I begin to work on…well…something.

Inventor of Computer Mouse Passes Away

From John Markoff’s piece on the death of Douglas C. Englebart for the New York Times :

Then it came to him. In a single stroke he had what might be called a complete vision of the information age. He saw himself sitting in front of a large computer screen full of different symbols, a vision most likely derived from his work on radar consoles while in the Navy after World War II. The screen, he thought, would serve as a display for a workstation that would organize all the information and communications for a given project.

It’s hard to imagine anything that has changed the world more rapidly and more profoundly than the seemingly banal computer mouse. Remember, it changed everything about how humans interact with computers: there were no icons before its introduction–no kind of GUI at all, really. It was all text. Talk about leaving a legacy.

I find it hard to believe sometimes just how far personal computing has come in my short lifetime. When I was a kid, you had to program the computer yourself, and it was connected to a giant cathode ray tube. And now we have jerkwads walking around with computers on their faces. Crazy.

Download Files To A Remote Mac With Drafts

Patrick Lenz posted, a while back, a method of triggering a download on a remote Mac with a simple Drafts action. It’s fairly simple, and pretty easy to set up. Seems like a pretty handy setup.

I’d like to put together an altered version that downloads files from my server automatically, with no intervention needed from me. Perhaps that’s a project I’ll tackle soon.

Spielberg Prepares To Mock A Classic

Quoting Entertainment Weekly‘s blog:

Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks are in early discussions to acquire the rights to John Steinbeck’s classic Depression-era novel, The Grapes of Wrath. A representative for Spielberg confirmed a Deadline report that the Oscar-winning director of Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan is interested in the project […]

What is this ridiculous compulsion in Hollywood to regurgitate every cultural artifact, from books to TV shows to board games? Can no one write a god damned new script anymore?

Goodbyes Are Boring, So Just Leave

Seth Stevens exhorts us, via Slate, to eschew saying good-bye in social situations:

We all agree it’s fun to say hello. A hello has the bright promise of a beginning. It’s the perfect occasion to express your genuine pleasure at a friend’s arrival. But who among us enjoys saying goodbye? None among us! Not those leaving, and not those left behind.

Imagine not having to stand around waiting for someone to look at you so that you can say you’re leaving, only to get wrapped up in a conversation which prevents you from leaving. Conversely, imagine hosting a function without having to drop a stink bomb in order to get people to leave.

If we all hate both sides of the equation, why do we put ourselves through it? I’m taking this to heart. No more lame goodbyes.

Head Transplant, Anyone?

Jeff Blagdon, The Verge:

An Italian neuroscientist believes he’s figured out how to do a full human head transplant. Or body transplant, depending on your perspective.

Finally, a way for rich people to live forever.

Shocker: Facebook Doesn’t Care What You Want

Laura from The Well-Prepared Mind has tried numerous times to delete all of the content in her Facebook profile, to zero effect. Her “deleted” content just keeps coming back from the dead.

I am stunned by Facebook’s callous disregard for their users. I simply cannot fathom that they refuse to respect my decisions to delete my posts from my Timeline. This is outrageous. I realize that I was one of Facebook’s products, am still until I delete my account, but I should be able to decide to delete something and have it deleted. And stay deleted.

While I completely understand Laura’s frustration, I’m not sure I understand why she’s surprised at all. Facebook exists solely to collect data–they’re not even good at selling ads against it. They just suck it up like a giant data Hoover, and that’s all they do.

Link-Blogging With Drafts And Pythonista

I write about the useful aspects of both Drafts and Pythonista quite often. The fact is, these two applications (with a little help from TextExpander, naturally) make writing on iOS almost as easy as writing on a Mac. I have found a few key ways to use them to automate tasks which used to be tedious on mobile devices; my life is a lot simpler as a result.

One example–and it’s something I often use multiple times per day–is a combination of a Safari bookmarklet, a Pythonista script, and Drafts. It was developed by iOS automation-nerd Federico Viticci, and originally shared in his oft-refenced Macstories post “Automating iOS: How Pythonista Changed My Workflow“. Its inputs are: 1) text selected by the user on a Web page, and 2) that page’s URL. It passes those inputs through Pythonista, and then it shoots them over to Drafts. The output of Federico’s workflow–i.e. the new object in Drafts–consists of the user’s selected text, followed by the URL preceded by “From: “. I love it as a means of quickly getting started with a “link-blog” style post, in which a source is cited, and then a block quote is given. However, I had one small problem with the Python script: the link was injected after the block quote, and none of the output was formatted as Markdown. It just didn’t fit the way I want to write. So I tweaked it.

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