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So today in my much neglected friend feed I saw adjacent posts from two friends, one about watching the Wire, the other about visiting Baltimore. Apparently it's full of bookstores - who knew?

(To be fair, the latter friend did acknowledge The Wire...)


Yesterday at the supermarket a little old lady asked me how big 16x17cm was (she was looking at a box of freezer bags). I said 16cm was a tad over 6”, but she still looked a bit confused, and suspected they might be a little too small. Then I remembered that my shopping list was written on a folded sheet of A4, so I could show her it was a thumbnail wider than the short side of my list, and slightly longer again than that.

She seemed pretty happy with that description, and decided the bags were fit for purpose.

clothes maketh the clothes horse.

Wearing a fitted shirt today, have been since I went out for coffee five hours ago. It's a constant reminder to engage my abs, pull my shoulders back, and hold my head high. I'd normally change into a t-shirt the moment I get home, but I didn't this morning, as all these reminders are useful, and I've been habitually bad at all those things to the extent that my shoulder's needed physio, and my tummy's become my least favourite thing in photos-of-me.

The reminders are also being a constant distraction from getting things done; think I'm going to go change now, try and do some yoga later.

10 applications I use all the time

This is cupidsbow's fault. What started as a comment for this post seemed a bit long to leave as one, so now you all get to find out what my ten most used applications are at the moment.

Safari - Apple's current web browser. It can be a little memory hungry at times, but I just find it saner to use out of the box than Chrome or Mozilla. I like the tab behaviour, the default keyboard shortcuts work well for me, and Reader mode is a godsend (cuts out ads, shows multi-page articles as a single scrolling view with on-demand-loading for subsequent pages).

MacVim - the Cocoa/Mac OS X port of Braam Moolenar's Vim, which in turn is an extended version of vi, the text editor Bill Joy wrote for BSD Unix 35 years ago. Yes, it's weird and modal and has a precipitous learning curve, but I can shuffle text around in it more efficiently than in any other text editor. I'm using it to draft this post, I use it for code, and it's also great for things like todo list management, project planning and maintaining my lj/twitter/fb/name database.

Echofon for Mac - Yes, I'm a twitter addict. Between that and StalkBook it's most of why I'm not seen around LJ much these days. It's not quite as full featured as the official client, but it's fast and stable and the conversation view works 'well enough.' I use their iPhone client too, and I've heard good things about their Firefox Plugin. Windows version is in beta.

Terminal - I spend a lot of time at the command line, and Apple's bundled terminal works well enough.

Photoshop - layers, excellent built in filters, layer effects, a very useful export-for-web tool for tuning compression levels, decent colour management, good retouching tools. I use it for tidying photos for upload, preparing elements of websites, preparing my art renders for print, scanning and cleaning up receipts and correspondence, and very occasionally for digital painting (much as Painter would be way better for that - I should hunt that down again). I bought the full version about ten years ago (around Photoshop 4?) as part of a weird bundle deal, and have been buying upgrades every couple of versions since.

Xcode - I do iPhone development, it's the only option on the table. It's also pretty decent. There are areas it's still lagging behind Visual Studio (Microsoft's Windows development environment), but the interface building tools are excellent, and the code refactoring add ons are getting pretty good.

Processing - I picked this up to write an interactive 3d widget for a client's web page, but this little development environment is great for writing tiny programs for trying out ideas for "things that draw stuff"; possibly a good starting point for teaching basic coding. The night before last I prototyped a c64 demo effect in it in a matter of hours.

Transmission - my BitTorrent client of choice. Lets you assign priorities per torrent &/or per file, and you can throttle upload/download rates and peer count per torrent too. On top of all that you can set total peak and off peak download rates. Fast, free and lightweight.

iTunes - mostly because buying music I like through the iTunes store is so easy, and it does a decent job of ripping my CDs too. FWIW, I don't like the Windows port (last time I had a day job at a windows shop I used WinAMP instead), but it's a lot better under OS X.

Last.fm - the app that monitors iTunes and logs my listening habits, because I like tracking what I listen to. You can check out my last couple of years' listening history here. Apparently I listen to a lot of EBM and Synthpop. It's a great way of finding other people with similar tastes in music too, which in turn has helped me to discover bands I never would have heard of otherwise.

Not sure whether Terminal or last.fm count as applications, but they're both such a pervasive part of my computer time it would have seemed remiss to leave them out. The same probably applies to the Finder - column view FTW!

Existentialism, history and context.

Exhibit A, Albert Camus' The Stranger, a novel centered around the irrational killing of an Arab man whom the protagonist recognises in French Algiers, and the protagonist's angst about his lack of remorse about anything he's ever done.

Exhibit B, The Cure's first single, Killing an Arab, based on Smith's impressions of the novel.

Exhibit C: The LOFT Sundays - a regular indi/retro-night at Geisha in Northbridge with mild gothic leanings. It's a fairly small club, and most people who go know each other.

Each Sunday's given a themed name, this Sunday is the eleventh of September, they were originally going to call it Twin Towers, then someone thought "Hey, we play 'Killing an Arab' quite often..." The debate is ongoing.

I'm amused at what they were *trying* to do (and hey, I've been 'randomly' security checked at airports often enough that I suspect my genetics plays a part), but I'm thinking it's just on the wrong side of appropriate for a publicly promoted event?

Cool that they're raising money for the the burns unit at PMH, mind.

Lyrics and weddings.

I'm meant to be picking a song to request for my cousin's wedding reception as part of my RSVP.

So far I've worked out I shouldn't request any of

Diorama - Exit the Grey (don't try to talk me out of depression)
Combichrist - What the Fuck is Wrong with You? ('nuff said)
Code 64 - Leaving Earth ("I’m truly sorry if I was a disappointment to you, but I cannot stay")
Pride and Fall – December ("somewhere through this, we have lost our self")
Pet Shop Boys - Rent ("But look at my hopes, look at my dreams! The currency we've spent :( ")

Maybe Colony 5's "Fate"? Though even that's a little stalkery. Hmm, "I know you’re not free but fate can’t be too late" Actually, make that a bit too "The Graduate". Pass.

My iTunes collection isn't very wedding friendly.

Kinétic at Usine C, Montreal.

Can't remember how I stumbled across this gig lineup (complete with misspelled headliner), but my initial disappointment at not being in Montreal the week after my 39th birthday to catch (OMG) half a dozen of my favourite bands (Covenant, Frozen Plasma, Rotersand, Unter Null, Melotron and Cesium 137) in one day, alongside some others that I should probably look into, quickly turned into curiosity about the venue and (apparently annual) event.

I think I'm going to have to get to Kinétik at Usine C sometime in the next few years. Six days of Electro-Industrial-Noize. How have I not heard of this before!?

Also, um, Grace State Machines (dances with robots!), same venue, October 2008.

Dead trees

Thesis: "A moderately extensive library of paper books is no longer a necessary signifier of a literate household."

Time was, if I saw a house with few or no books, I'd assume the occupants didn't spend much time reading. But I now spend far more time reading articles and technical references online than in magazines and textbooks, and we're starting to format shift from paper books to eBooks.

We've around 600 books in our library (or at least did until fairly recently), which puts us bang in the middle of the survey of household book counts I ran here a while back (though amusingly I suspect by the shape of the curve that around 5% of you have more than 5000 books but just haven't realised it). A lot of them are quite dusty though, and I'm much more dust sensitive than I used to be. I'm also not reading the same things as I much was, and there are many I'm not likely to revisit.

So I'm kind of wondering why I still have so many books, and why I'm so reluctant to cull things like classic text books I no longer refer to. (eta - hah, just reread the comment about classic texts in the earlier post I linked to above; looks like my position's shifting on that one. Anyone for a mint condition Foley and van Dam?)

Why do you keep books?


Braid, Damages

We just watched the first season of Damages (2007-) Excellent cast and riveting story telling.

The majority of screen time is spent linearly going over events of the last six months, two weeks at a time, but it's frequently punctuated with brief flashes forward to events of the present day, wherein things have gone Hideously Wrong. 'Present day' events are clearly marked through the use of oversaturated sharpened video.

One unintended amusement though. The soundscape places particular emphasis on the 'Ding' sound that the lift in Patti's apartment makes. It's exactly the same sound as picking up a key in 'Braid' - a platform game where an essential part of the game dynamic is manipulating time, which again is also marked by a full screen filter :)


heater efficiency and physics

Dear Lazyweb,

How is it possible for one (self contained and relatively quiet) electric room heater to be less efficient than another one at converting electrical energy into heat? Where does the rest of the energy go?

yours in confusion,