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Proxy Bookmarklet January 31, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Geek Stuff, Video.
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Good luck.

So You Want Help With Android Programming… January 29, 2012

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I alternate between loving this video for saying all the things I wish I could say, and someone saying them.  I am somewhat conflicted.

Exciting update: there are lots of excellent resources there at forum.xda-developers.com, including the reminder that “Despite the name, Android will not help you create an unstoppable army of emotionless robot warriors on a relentless quest to cleanse the earth of the scourge of humanity.”  Also, the forum moderators are disinclined to let n00Bz post questions, so if it hasn’t been asked already you are honked. I have always wondered how anyone is going to learn when NEW questions are discouraged.

I mean come on, this isn’t church.

Octopus Mouse Holder January 29, 2012

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Oh, yeah. This is a beautiful little sculpture with a purpose:  it keeps one infant from shutting down Sesame Street by grabbing the mouse on the media center and making the other cry.  From Instructables.

My Relationship With Books January 27, 2012

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My Stepdaughter Turns 16 This Year January 24, 2012

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I can’t wait.

New Weighted-Key Digital Piano! January 23, 2012

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My wife took advantage of a terrific deal on this Casio CDP-120 88 Weighted-Key Digital Piano from Musiciansfriend.com, an outfit I recommend highly (I bought a mandolin and a guitar from them, and one of my co-workers saw me looking at another guitar and bought it for me, a truly lovely surprise).  It was about a hundred dollars less than Amazon’s price, and came with free shipping (not an inconsiderable expense, since it does weigh sixty pounds).  I got it for Christmas.

I am delighted.  Not only is it light enough to stand on end in the corner when not in use, it sounds great and, although the action is a trifle heavier than I’m used to it still has nice enough responsiveness.  It has five sounds, reverb and chorus and a USB connection on the back which I am told will allow me to use other voices as a MIDI-type controller with Propellerhead Reason 4.0 Recording Software, although I am so pleased with the stock Grand Piano sound that I haven’t bothered. I suspect I will care about this when I start to re-learn Toccata and Fugue in D, since there is no church organ sound. 

I do love to freak out the stepchildren.  The only thing creepier than a mad stepfather playing Bach is one playing “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, but they probably don’t get the movie reference yet.

Look for references to public-domain sheet music here later.

Win CE Audible Spanish Flashcards January 20, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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This is an update of previous work on the Win CE Spanish Flashcards program I wrote earlier.  I find that driving while using this I would look away too often from the road, which is stupidly unsafe. The new and improved program here will speak the word displayed in a sexy Spanish lady’s voice while displaying the word.  You can turn it off by pressing the Options button on the bottom left of the screen.  Everything else works as before.

I ran into a nasty little problem while creating the .CAB file which contains the installation, since I have a thousand sound files, which is more than the cabwiz.exe which comes with Visual Studio 2008 can accommodate…and the error code for this defect is completely unhelpful, in the grand Microsoft tradition:

Error: File c:\users\[me]\appdata\local\temp\wizbbe1.inf contains DirIDs, which are not supported

ERROR: The Windows CE CAB Wizard encountered an error.  See the output window for more information.

It turns out that VS2008’s cabwiz.exe chokes on more than 998 included files, and this application has 1057.  The workaround is to download the SDK for Windows Mobile 6 and use the cabwiz.exe (and the cabwiz.ddf) from that version instead (C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\SmartDevices\SDK\SDKTools\CabWiz.exe and CabWiz.ddf with the ones under C:\Program Files\Windows Mobile 6 SDK\Tools\CabWiz). No problem once I had done this.

Here is the all-new singing and dancing Win CE Spanish Flashcards App.

Sci-fi Films Should Use This Video From ISS January 19, 2012

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The ISS passing over central Africa to sunup over southern Madagascar.

Want! (part three) January 18, 2012

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By Maximo Riera.

Serial Killer Did Obey One Law, At Least January 16, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brain, Science, Uncategorizable.
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I know this is supposed to be a happy blog, but arxiv.org is hosting the pdf of “Stochastic modeling of a serial killer”, which is exactly what it sounds like.  A serial killer (very successful serial killer:54 known victims) murder spree is plotted as a function of time and the units are number of neuronal firings between acts of murder.  It produced a curve that can be nicely fitted to the data, indicating the compulsion to kill is based on number of firings and obeys the power law distributions:

“Simkin and Roychowdhury used their model to simulate the pattern of firing in a brain to see how often it surpasses a given threshold long enough for a murder to take place.

In the model, they used a 2 millisecond period as the fundamental time step, that’s about the time between firings in a real neuron. And they simulated some 100 billion time steps, equivalent to 12 years or so, that’s about the period that Chikatilo was active.

The results are remarkably similar to the distribution of Chikatilo’s real murders and Simkin and Roychowdhury speculate that it would be relatively straightforward to introduce a realistic correction factor that would make the fit closer.

They say: "One could enhance the model by introducing a murder success rate. That is with certain probability everything goes well for the killer and he is able to commit the murder as he planned. If not, he repeats his attempt the next day. And so on."

This model leads to an interesting insight into the nature of serial killing. It suggests that the likelihood of another killing is much higher soon after a murder than it is after a long period has passed.”

Neurology is a lot more of a science than either psychology or psychiatry.  So there.  And don’t get me started on sociology.

Living Fossil January 11, 2012

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Iggy Pop is the new face of Paco Rabanne’s Black XS L’Excès.


From Hurricane Vanessa:

For women of my vintage, the signing of Iggy Pop as the face and wrinkly old bo of Paco Rabanne’s new fragrance Black XS L’Excès, brings much needed cheer to a Sunday morning.

What a lovely change from the onslaught of Emily, Keira, Scarlett and the team.

The news of his new modelling career and in fact the news that actually he still lives, serves to encourage the rest of us that, while dinosaurs of their age and state of decrepitude still walk amongst us, there is hope for us too.

In fact just living is practically Mick, Steve Tyler and Keef’s sole purpose in 2012, in my opinion.

I Pop has certainly sustained some serious storm damage along the way, but the bonus of his dissolution is that he really looks no worse today than he did 20 years ago.

Thinking About Sex Again?!! January 10, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Science, Video.
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Over at PLOS.ORG, Greg Downey has a very long and thoughtful piece about the amorphous nature of human sexuality and the history thereof. Like most really thoughtful pieces, there’s a lot to chew on and I won’t wreck this nice bit of writing by adding my two cents.  Go read it now, with naughty Australian video.

Right-click M3u From mp3, m4a and ogg Folder January 10, 2012

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If you are like me, you have a bunch of folders with podcasts, iTunes files and miscellaneous mp3 files that you would like to transfer to your phone or mp3 player for later enjoyment but—it’s a real pain to copy all the names to the m3u file.  Here’s two-part hack that lets you enjoy your music in alphabetical order, and produces a cut-and-paste-able file which will let you rearrange them to your preferred order.

First, use Notepad to create a file called makeplaylist.bat.  It contains this:

@echo off

cd %1
echo %~f1
dir /on/b *.mp3 *m4a *.ogg > Playlist.m3u


Then make one called playlistmaker.reg.  It contains this:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

@="Make playlist(s)"

@="cmd /C C:\\makeplaylist.bat \"%L\""


Move makeplaylist.bat to your root directory on C:, then run playlistmaker.reg.

Now when you right-click on a directory filled with mp3, m4a or ogg files, they will be added to a file called Playlist.m3u in that directory.  The Playlist.m3u file can be edited with Notepad to change the order of the playback.

This is not the most elegant way of doing this, but it meets my special needs on my pre-XP system, and may meet yours as well. It apparently will not work on XP, but does work as a batch file inside the directory of choice, so good luck.

The other, easier way  (aha!) that works on XP, Vista and Seven is to make a shortcut to makeplaylist.bat and put it in

C:\Documents and Settings\Default User\SendTo


C:\Documents and Settings\Sneaky Stepdaughter\SendTo

if you want to hide your growing illicit downloads from your vigilant stepfather) and then the batchfile can operate with a right-click and Send To makeplaylist.bat, although I would rename the shortcut to something more euphonious.

Needs No Title January 9, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Uncategorizable.
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$47.50  at   Archie McPhee’s.

Flash Mob of the Best Kind January 6, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Music.
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Passive-Aggressive Childcare January 6, 2012

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In the Hall of the Mountain King January 6, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Video.
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Anyone who is my advanced age will remember Peter Lorre as a B movie actor in horror films or noir detective flicks and such alongside Humphrey Bogart.  But Peter Lorre was a famous successful actor in Europe when he got tricked into coming to America by Adolph Hitler (by way of Paris, London and other less sinister places).  Before he came here, his acting chops were admirably demonstrated in the film that made him famous:

“M”, directed by Fritz Lang (of Metropolis fame), is the story of a hunt for a child-molesting murderer, played by Peter Lorre.  A completely engrossing film, its entirety is viewable on YouTube.

You’ll be grateful to me for these pearls of wisdom someday, youngster.

Because Pets Need to Feel Special, Too January 4, 2012

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From Sauraha, Nepal comes an elephant beauty pageant. Please don’t sue me, Washington Post.  Of course, elephants are not just pretty things for display:

Monthly Donations To Wikipedia January 4, 2012

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Monthly donations to Wikipedia can be done through PayPal, if you don’t want to use your credit card.  I have said this before, but this project probably has benefitted mankind more than any other literacy project other than the web itself and deserves to have full funding. 

Where your donation goes:

Technology: Servers, bandwidth, maintenance, development. Wikipedia is the #5 website in the world, and it runs on a fraction of what other top websites spend.

People: The other top 10 websites have thousands of employees. We have fewer than 100, making your donation a great investment in a highly-efficient not-for-profit organization.

So, you can afford a buck a month.  Best value on the planet.

A Better Camera January 4, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography, Toys.
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My Casio Exilim EX-S8 12 MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Blue) has been taking pictures for me for a whole year now, after Christmas of last year when we got them on special sale at Radio Shack (of all places.  It was $70 for a bundle which included a picture frame which we don’t use but Grandma does.  We got four of them).  The SX-80 is small, lightweight and has a huge capacity for storage (hours of HD video and thousands of pictures at 12 megapixel resolution in those lovely SanDisk 8GB SD cards).  As you can see from this year’s pictures, I love it to bits and recommend it for everyone’s general use.  It’s still a point-and-shoot, but it has all the latest electronic goodies (except image stabilization), a nice large format, a relatively intuitive interface (considering the complexity of the product and how little time people will devote to learning it, yeah) and a small form factor.  The UI has an easy mode and a hellish mode (hard to learn, detailed and difficult, just like film photography).

I recommend highly.