First: an brief, animated guided tour of health and wealth statistics over the past 200 years, from Hans Rosling (this is far more interesting then it sounds at first blush). If you haven’t seen this video already, you may still know Rosling from his TED.com talks, also excellent and worth looking up.
I was taking Mrs. Bang for a walk last night, at 2am or so, and mulling over my ideas for a dauntingly large new feature I want to add to my music theory site. One idea spun from another, and I started thinking about mad libs — you know, the game where you fill in the blanks in a pre-written story with input from your friends (“adjective about a person”, “action ending with -ing”, “unusual animal”), then read the resulting silliness aloud.
Well, an online mad-lib engine would be pretty trivial to write — just collect the words from the user first, and plug them into the text of the story in the right places. You could play madlibs at a party without anyone knowing beforehand what the final result would be, or even play alone.
Thank you to all of the friends, and friends of friends, and contacts of friends of friends (!) who shared their advice, thoughts, warm wishes and professional opinions with me when I was deciding how to proceed with the slipped IOL (artificial lens) in my right eye.
I’m documenting discussions I had with my ophthalmologist and his colleagues, the decisions I made, the operation and ongoing status here.
So.. I have some lyrics that popped into my head while I was driving. Best performed a capella, with deep feeling.
I’d make a video to go with this but wait what the hell am I thinking I have no spare time. One day I’ll be independently wealthy and I will do silly things all day! (And donate a lot to charity)
How sweet the sound
That fries two eggs like these!
Melt on some cheese
And lay them down
On toast, with hot sauce, please…
(to the tune of Amazing Grace, of course)
[In response to this post, also posted here, asking about guidelines different developers have come up with…. I actually started a response on the site, then realized I was typing an entire essay into a little comment box.]
Guideline #1: Never discard exception information.
You might either wrap the exception and throw the wrapper, or log it somehow — but discarding exception information should always set off loud alarm bells. Likewise, catching an exception and throwing a new exception is bad if you neglect to wrap the original one — that stack trace is valuable!
If you’re a web developer (or if you have to use websites that are still IE-only) you might spend time browsing in both Firefox and IE.
You may also have noticed that when you use the toolbar search box in either one, the browser tacks a few extra parameters onto the Google search URL… so they get credit from Google for sending a user their way. More specifically, they get PAID. Which is a great way for Mozilla to support continued open source development… but maybe you don’t want your searches in Internet Explorer to be funneling Google’s money off to Microsoft instead, just because you have to use IE now & then.
Well, if you’ve got a mild anti-Microsoft streak and would like to do a little bit extra to fund open source, it’s pretty easy to tweak IE so that it will build your Google searches to credit Firefox, instead of IE.
I’ve been reading the Dilbert comics online for years, always from the archive page — the home page was just overwhelmingly cluttered by ads, and it required extra clicks to see previous comics when I’d missed a few days.
So when the central Dilbert site switched to a super Flash-heavy format for their homepage (including the strip itself!) and the complaints erupted, I snickered smugly. The archive page hadn’t changed. I wasn’t affected.
Well, it took about 2 days. Now the central archive page redirects to dilbert.com.
Mrs. Bang and I just got back from a walk.
I’ve been feeling low for the past few days — I’m alone in the house for a couple of weeks (through the 28th or thereabouts), and my sleep schedule is still in the wild adjustment period that happens when my usual source of “go sleep now” reminders is out of town. Last night I made my way up to bed around 4:30, read for a bit, took a long time to drop off and woke up at 10. It’s not that I don’t need the sleep; my body just isn’t very good about telling me when it’s time to close up shop for the night… and I just walk around seeing the world a few shades grayer the next day. My thoughts get more easily tangled, I’m forgetful, and I’m more likely to plan my day poorly… which tends to lead to staying up late again. Anyway.
We stepped out the door just a bit after sunset, and we’d already walked across the square before I stopped and looked around.
Ever open your eyes in the morning and just know, for certain, that no good will come out of the day? That you have things to do, but you are going to muddle through your standard procrastinations and find yourself still schlumping around when you notice with confused horror that the sun has already set again?
It can happen. It can even happen when you have the kind of life/job/etc. where you have to go somewhere and interact with people, but if you don’t, it can be even worse.
I see the ShareThis plugin on tons of WordPress blogs — and with reason, because the presentation is quite nice. You don’t have to take up a chunk of the screen listing all of the different social networks (and they keep multiplying…) or offering the option to email this post to a friend; instead you have a simple link that shows all of the useful detail in a little popup.
ShareThis was so popular, in fact, that a business has sprouted up around it — and current versions of the plugin are tightly bound into the ShareThis.com website. They collect data every time anyone even clicks the link to open the ShareThis window, the social networks links all redirect through the ShareThis.com servers, and all that data (associated with your website) is there for detailed reporting if you register with them. They now also encourage your visitors to sign up. I’m sure it has its uses, and they’re supported by advertising revenue, so they want lots of people to sign up and I imagine they use all that data in conjunction with showing those ads.