The Newswipe Manifesto

[...] Yes, it turns out you were supposed to be paying attention to the news all this time. [...] Either way, your comparative ignorance leaves you ashamed. So you do something about it: you pick up a paper or you switch on the news. But because you’ve fallen behind it’s like tuning into episode 803 of the world’s most complex soap opera. [...] More...

Close but not close enough

Damn! I have been refreshing the Obey Giant store all morning for the opportunity to buy a copy of Close Knit only to find that I missed the release when I went out for my bike ride. I will have to donate the $50 I saved to another worthy cause.


Wow! Chris and I might need one of these for the backyard .. and the community garden! Found at TreeHugger.

Looking for references to the integrity and wholeness of building your own tools

I am interested in memoirs and research around the craftsman's needs and desires of making his own tools for his work. For example, I once worked for a instrument maker and he made many of this own tools for use in dulcimer and guitar construction. Most of these where jigs but others where more complex like his steamer for bending wood. I have been torn over the years between using someone else's tools for software construction and information management and building my own. I would like to understand how others have come to a settlement on this matter. Perhaps there is no settlement. Perhaps this tension is part of being a craftsman.

Bike Lust

I have been riding my bike more these last few weeks. I have also had to disassemble it a few times to fit it into the minivan along with two children, their stuff, and family beach stuff. Today I discovered Montague folding bikes and I want one.

Update: More folding bikes at Folding Bike Manufacturer Directory.

The occasional users and customization

I was glad to see Jakob Nielsen's Customization of UIs and Products today. The article supports my argument that your site must first support the needs of the occasional user. So make your site direct and simple. Nielsen writes in the The Importance of Good Defaults section “Despite its benefits, many users don't avail themselves of customization features. Users exhibit a strong bias toward simply getting things done on a website, rather than spending time fiddling with preference settings.” I take this further: For the vast majority of small businesses a single page web site is really all that you need.

How far the quality of sports broadcasting has fallen

Henry has become an ice hockey fan and so yesterday we watched the USA vs USSR match from the 1980 olympics. It was a great game. It was also a great broadcast. All there was was the game on the screen and the play-by-play announcer's voice. No forced jocularity among the announcers. No information graphics and animation that dominates the screen today. Even the score was not displayed. All of the factual information was relayed by the announcer. It was great to watch a game from end to end where what mattered was the game. It was an unfortunate reminder of how very far the quality of sports broadcasting has fallen over the last twenty years.

Craigslist Purchase Hunter RFP

During last year's Thanksgiving dinner a friend asked me about how to go about creating or finding a Craigslist tool to better support buyers and especially buyer intermediaries. The first step has nothing to do with technology. The first step is to clearly understand what the tool should do and how you would use it. The outcome of our discussion was the Craigslist Purchase Hunter requirements document. It is suitable for use as an RFP. If you decided to build this tool please tell us about it. Good luck.

FLAP bag project

The FLAP bag project is very exciting. I am also quite envious that Erik Hersman gets to ride around Ghana on a motorbike exploring the use of technology. Ignoring my self-centeredness, however, the simple application of solar cells, white LED, and reflective surface assembled into a practical bag enhancement is truly fantastic. Recall that much of Ghana has no electricity and no artificial light. If you have artificial light then at night you and your children can more effectively use the time for learning. With electricity you can recharge a mobile phone to communicate with other towns and urban centers. When you are among the bottom billion light and communication greatly enable you to raise yours and your family's standard of living.

Morning commotion around the chicken run

This morning the commotion around the chicken run was due to a full grown Red Tailed Hawk stuck INSIDE the chicken run. The hawk is an absolutely magnificent bird and we got to see it very close up. Unfortunately, we are currently missing Jenny, a very small bantam, and one of the new (full grown) Rhode Island Reds. We are hoping they both scattered into the surrounding landscape and will be back later today.

Update: All chickens are safely back in the run.

Best indication of successful IDE

It occurred to me this morning that the best indication that an integrated development environment (IDE) is working for you is when you use it just to edit a text file.

Droplets and wireless information displays

We are getting closer to mixing Zigbee and e-Ink. See Arduino+XBee+LCD Info Device and Droplet.

General assembly is responsible for RI fiscal problems

In response to Budget leaves more questions than answers in the Narragansett Times.

Letter to the Editor:

In RI the general assembly is responsible for the enactment of the budget into law. Our legislators' responsibility is to ensure the that the state operates to the benefit of its citizens. The sorry financial state that RI finds itself in is wholly due to their irresponsibility.

As David Caprio is fond of reminding us, the budget is complex. I agree, it is a complex document. (I have read it.) But it need not be. Why do we hide debit service? Why does the DOT have almost as many job categories (and thus pay levels) as employees? Why is "structural deficit" not labeled what it is "future debit"? Why are the annexes more informative than the main text? It is because the general assembly has little desire to let the light shine on this mess. To do so would illuminate negligence on their part to enact a clear environment in which to raise and spend RI's income. Recall, the governor proposes a budget and the general assembly approves it.

Until we have a general assembly that works together among themselves, with the governor, and most importantly with the citizens -- with veracity -- RI will continue see its future prospects dwindle.

UNetbootin successfully created a bootable USB stick

After a few unsuccessful attempts with other tools I found that UNetbootin successfully created a bootable USB stick with Ubuntu 9.04.

Keep the lead in

I don't mind reading long texts online. What I do mind is the terrible control of line height (leading) that most sites seem to have (this one included!). If you are creating a web site with content of more than one sentence would you please manage the line height as well as you manage the font size. The default line height for most browsers is too small. For example, in this image the text on the left uses a 14px font with the default line height while the text on the right uses a 14px font with an 18px line height. I find the text on the right much easier to read than that on the left. (Click the image for the full sized example.)

Update: I fixed this blog's line height. I doubt that this will enhance the value of the content, just make its worthlessness so much more obvious!

Building and installing the NetBeans Git plugin.

I wanted a NetBeans Git. The only Git plugin that I found that was also current is

I tried the 0.1 distribution but it did not work with NetBeans 6.7. So I built it from within NetBeans:

Clone the project...

1) At the command line "git clone git://"

Build the module from within Netbeans...

2) Choose File/Open Project... and pick "nbgit".
3) Choose Create NBM from the nbgit project's context menu

Install the module...

4) Choose Tools/Plugins
5) Choose Downloaded
6) Choose Add Plugins...
7) Select the plugin: Mine was at /Users/ajg/Documents/src/nbgit/build/org-nbgit.nbm
8) Restart NetBeans

You can now use the plugin to explore, for example, nbgit.

As far as I can see, there is no NetNeans UI where you can import a project from, for example, github.