Join our BOINC team! Again!

25 02 2008

I suppose it’s okay to mention every two years or so that I have a BOINC team that is collectively pooling all idle computing power and using those idle cycles for scientific research and analysis. Since 2 years ago, the number of projects that use the BOINC software has increased and diversified widely, though the core projects (SETI@Home, Folding@home, etc) are still extremely active.
If you have a machine that’s frequently idle, why not consider installing the BOINC client on it, and signing up to join our team? I’ve recently re-started many of my idle clients in an effort to shore up some of the sliding numbers (many of our long time computing partners have stopped submitting updates, due to job changes or just disinterest.)
At our best, we were ranked # 662 about a year ago. Currently we ranked #935 in the world (out of 71,588 teams), according to our page on

If you’d like to join, our SETI@Home project page has signup information, though we also have teams at Rosetta and Predictor, both great projects.

Dear Jboss. QA yer damned site.

25 02 2008

Why is it so hard for any organization, from opensource on up, to understand it’s a good idea to give the users information they want, in a form that’s useable?
I zipped over to to see if there was an update to the 4.2 server I’ve been using for the last year. Sure enough, there’s a 4.2.2 release that came out in October. Great, I wonder what changed?
Well, the downloads page has the new release on it, and a link to the release notes. Which, you’ll note, is completely illegible because the lines are not wrapping. (I tested this in Firefox under Linux and Windows, Konqueror, and under IE6 in Windows. None of them make that page useable.)
Was it so hard for the JBoss release engineer to click on links and check if they worked? Apparently that capacity is beyond them. Sad.

Animation with GIMP, and a new icon

23 02 2008

I’ve been thinking about learning how to make animated GIFs. They’re super-popular on Livejournal and other forums, so why not figure out how to put it all together?
Turns out The Gimp has a very simple mechanism for making animations. Just open multiple images in layers, and then save it as a GIF. When you go to save, it’ll pop up a dialog “This has multiple layers, and you’re saving as a GIF. Do you want to animate all the layers as frames?”
And that’s it! So, naturally, I had to try it out. I needed an icon for gaming, and this seemed easy to put together. It’s 27 frames, took me about an hour to draw the pieces, and then another hour of fiddling with GIMP to get the timing and assembly correct. Mad props to blk for figuring out that if you re-open an exported GIF, you can edit the timing on the frames just by altering the name of the layer (which is TOTALLY screwy in my book, but whatever).
Folks are welcome to scarf it and use it as much as they like. A pointer back to the blog here would be nice, but not required. 🙂

A snack marketed DIRECTLY at ME!

22 02 2008

Someone at General Mills totally got this one right. I found these on the shelf while shopping for Arisia this year. “Protein, salty, AND sweet. And I LOVE peanuts!”
Lemme tell ya, they’re awesome. Tasty, not too crunchy, not too squooshy, and salty and sweet. Mmmmmmmm. If they had come to me and said “Design a granola bar. What would you want it to taste like?” – this comes pretty durned close.
And, while we’re pushing products, I’d like to just point out the massive LURV I have for my new Bose Companion 3 speakers. Bose has a reputation for doing mighty elegant designs, and under IMG_3473.JPGnormal circumstances I wouldn’t be able to afford their gear, but with an in, it becomes more manageable.
I replaced my old set of dying 3-ways with this system, and ZOMG are they schweet. I guess my only real complaint is the speakers are mounted on 5″ pedestals, which makes it somewhat difficult to work space around on a crowded desk.
I think I ended up with a reasonable desk compromise though, and I sure can’t complain about the sound. Note the above desktop picture is after a massive cleanup and rearranging, my desk is not normally this antiseptic, though I aspire to Star-Trek like geek spartanness some day.
Tasty salty sweet snacks, really good sound, and a clean workspace. Now all I need to do is get some work done, oh look! Day’s over! Later all!

It’s GROW time again!

20 02 2008

Y’all have become complacent. Too much free time! Well, enough of that. Time to get back out there and help the little blob people! This time one of them has gotten sick, and it’s up to you to heal ’em!
This is a ‘nano’ version of Grow, while the author works on a new game. It’s got all the trappings of the original grow games – the cutesy music, the little blob people, and the plot twists. Only 6 items to choose from, shouldn’t take long to figure out (bout 15 minutes for me)
Click on over to Eyezmaze to check it out!

And now, a word or two about Bluetooth headphone usage

19 02 2008

I’d like to take a few moments today to talk to those who have recently hopped on the Bluetooth Headphone bandwagon. Apparently its become socially acceptable and, frankly, chic for the general populace to wear a Bluetooth headphone for times other than a casual conversation. I frequently pass people in public who have a chunk of silicon and plastic stuffed in their ear, and invariably, they’re not actually using it. It’s become a fashion accessory.
Having said that, I’d like to hop up on the soapbox and toss out some basic etiquette suggestions on this topic – not only related to fashion, but also addressing simple social graces…
Please, Mister Businessman who has taken to using Panera as his own personal office. Take into consideration the volume you’re speaking when using your headphone. Yes, it may be necessary to speak above normal conversational levels to be heard, but to everyone around you, you’re just a loud, annoying person in a restaurant where simply moving out of range is not an immediate, convenient option. Take a moment to think about if you were talking to someone next to you at the table. Would you speak at that volume? Probably not. You’d certainly notice someone next to you doing it, and would likely be uncomfortable, if not actively complaining.
To the hip geek who just got your first headphone. Yes, we all see it, yes it’s geeky, and yes you can absolutely take calls anytime just by touching your ear! Congratulations, welcome to 2003. But everyone who would likely call you are all sitting around you right now, including your family, friends, and your manager. We got it, you have a headphone. Yay for you.
In that vein, people who have headphones should think about what they’re saying to the people they’re with. If I’m in an earnest and direct conversation with someone, I try and remember to take my headphone off and put it away. It seems that leaving the headphone online and stuffed in your ear is a way of saying “I’m listening to you, but I want to LEAP onto any possible interruption that comes along!” I find the headphones enormously convenient when driving in the car, or when walking around in public (I frequently don’t hear the phone ring on my belt), but seriously folks, when you’re sitting with a friend or a loved one, show some respect. Unplug.
And lets talk for a moment about blinking lights. What is it with blinking LEDs on headphones? Who are they signaling? Some of these suckers outshine traffic lights, and light up the inside of a car. The purpose of an LED on a headset should be so that the owner can look at it, in their hand, and see if it is turned on or not. Pretty simple. A small, muted LED is all that’s needed to do this. Not something that looks like it came out of some gamers casemod, and threatens to send random passersby into epileptic fits.
And lastly, to the manufacturers. Is it really necessary to make these things so ridiculously ugly? Of all the headphones I’ve seen, only the one I’m using now (A Jabra 500) doesn’t scream to everyone nearby I HAVE A BLUETOOTH HEADPHONE, SEE!?!? I like the subtle approach, where the headphone is as invisible as possible, but for the most part, it appears Jabra is the only company pursuing that design.
On a meta-level, I see BT headphones as the next step in acceptable ‘functional’ enhancements for people. Eyeglasses (chunks of metal and glass sitting on your face) are normal, even though they have a direct impact on a persons’ presentation. BT headphones are likely just the next step, but not until the bling bling lights are muted, the technical glitches are ironed out, and people get a slightly wider clue on how much their little piece of technology affects those around them.
Personally, I’m ready for direct wireless implants. Mounted right on the mastoid bone. No bit of tech widgetry hanging on the earlobe affecting normal hearing, it should all be inboard.
Ah well.

Decorated laptops?

15 02 2008

That’s the third time I’ve had a comment about my laptop this week. I guess it’s unusual enough to have a Flying Spaghetti Monster plaque on the machine, but the addition of a large “for SCIENCE!” black bumper sticker just made it that much more comment worthy.
Though, spending a few minutes trying to explain both to an obviously clueless panera-patron really wasn’t on the schedule.