on subtlety

On my way to work this morn­ing, I was half-lis­ten­ing to NPR and picked up on the fol­low­ing snip­pet of com­men­tary: “The 911 attack was shock­ing, but it should not have been sur­pris­ing”. Hmmm…so, “shock­ing” but not “sur­pris­ing”. Inter­est­ing distinction.

coddly & buttery goodness

I have since become enchant­ed with two culi­nary devices: french but­ter dish­es and egg cod­dlers. A french but­ter dish, which I have actu­al­ly want­ed for quite a while now, is a piece of pot­tery that holds but­ter and keeps it fresh out­side of the refrig­er­a­tor (thus keep­ing it soft and spread­able). It is still mys­te­ri­ous to me how exact­ly it works, but some­how, cre­at­ing a seal with water, it keeps air out and thus pre­vents spoilage.

The lat­ter arti­fact — the egg cod­dler — I dis­cov­ered in an antique shop­ping expe­di­tion last week­end. Whilst perus­ing an antique shop that also sold many British foods and goods, I saw a pair of these adorable won­ders. Appar­ent­ly, you break an egg into the cups, close it, and drop it into boil­ing water, thus cook­ing (“cod­dling”) your eggs. You then eat the egg with condi­ments (like cream?). It sound­ed quite intrigu­ing (although, I’m sure at least half of my enchant­ment has to do with the name — “cod­dling” my eggs just sounds absolute­ly pre­cious). Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the pair of egg cod­dlers I saw in the shop cost over $90 (which I found obscene), but I have since found more plain ones online for much less.

software that lasts 200 years

Through Slash­dot, I came upon this very inter­est­ing arti­cle con­cern­ing the qual­i­ties that soft­ware will need to meet the needs of soci­ety. These include:

  • Robust­ness and long-term sta­bil­i­ty and security. 
  • Trans­paren­cy to deter­mine when changes are need­ed and that unde­sired func­tions are not being performed. 
  • Ease and low cost of maintenance. 
  • Min­i­miza­tion of maintenance. 
  • Ease and low cost of modification. 
  • Ease of replacement. 
  • Com­pat­i­bil­i­ty and ease of inte­gra­tion with oth­er applications. 
  • Long-term avail­abil­i­ty of indi­vid­u­als able to train, main­tain, mod­i­fy, deter­mine need for changes, etc.

These qual­i­ties are not demon­strat­ed by most com­mer­cial soft­ware, but the author sug­gests that they may be be met through open source.

pardon my dust…

Once again, I’ve decid­ed to alter my blog quite a bit. I end­ed up lik­ing the wall­pa­per I designed very much so…so I decid­ed to redesign the look of my site to imi­tate it. I think it’s very sexy…

I also switched my blog­ging soft­ware to Word­Press. I was using Grey­mat­ter — which I liked very much — but I took a look at Word­Press and dis­cov­ered it had a lot more bells and whis­tles (what sold me was the cat­e­go­riza­tion and the blogroll fea­tures). Plus, if I recall, the guy who wrote grey­mat­ter ceased devlop­ing it…so, there you go.

At any rate…forgive the look of this web­site as I am in the midst of tran­si­tion­ing between styles and weblog­ging soft­ware. Some of the mis­cel­la­neous pages on this site are in dire dire need of polishing.

fidlet wallpaper

Intense bore­dom prompt­ed me to make a slick fidlet wall­pa­per pic­ture for win­dow­mak­er (although, it can be slapped behind ANY win­dow man­ag­er). Click on the thumb­nail below to see the full screen­shot. Note that, besides the scan­lines and fidlet logo, the pic­ture is trans­par­ent, so that the back­ground col­or that you have set will show through (mine hap­pens to be black).

I think it looks very chic indeed…I despise busy back­grounds so, for me, this is appro­pri­ate­ly sim­ple and ele­gant. If you’d like the fildet wall­pa­per you’re wel­come to down­load it here. And since I’m not so pre­ten­tious as to think that any­one would real­ly care to have my logo plas­tered on their desk­top, you can also get just the scan­lines (just be sure to set your wall­pa­per set­tings to “tile”). (Note: To down­load these, right-click on the link and then “Save link to disk”. If you just click on the link, your brows­er will just open the pic­ture, which itself will be almost impos­si­ble to see since it is transparent!)

new urbanism

In skim­ming a book I just checked out from the library — Sim­plic­i­ty Lessons — I became curi­ous about a move­ment called New Urban­ism, and sub­se­quent­ly looked it up on the inter­net. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing move­ment of urban devel­op­ment that began in the late 80’s and which was a reac­tion to “urban sprawl”. Accord­ing to the move­ment, sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties are designed such that every­thing one needs is with­in walk­ing dis­tance, and is designed with pedes­tri­ans and bik­ers (instead of mere­ly cars) in mind. I think this is a won­der­ful idea…you may want to check out this nice arti­cle that explains the move­ment bet­ter than I. Here are the ele­ments of a new urban­ist com­mu­ni­ty accord­ing to this article:

1) The neigh­bor­hood has a dis­cernible cen­ter. This is often a square of a green, and some­times a busy or mem­o­rable street cor­ner. A tran­sit stop would be locat­ed at this center.

2) Most of the dwellings are with­in a five-minute walk of the cen­ter, an aver­age of rough­ly 2,000 feet.

3) There is a vari­ety of dwelling types — usu­al­ly hous­es, row­hous­es and apart­ments — so that younger and old­er peo­ple, sin­gles and fam­i­lies, the poor and the wealthy may find places to live.

4) There are shops and offices at the edge of the neigh­bor­hood, of suf­fi­cient­ly var­ied types to sup­ply the week­ly needs of a household.

5) A small ancil­lary build­ing is per­mit­ted with­in the back­yard of each house. It may be used as a rental unit or place to work (e.g. office or craft workshop).

6) An ele­men­tary school is close enough so that most chil­dren can walk from their home.

7) There are small play­grounds near every dwelling — not more than a tenth of a mile away.

8) Streets with­in the neigh­bor­hood are a con­nect­ed net­work, which dis­pers­es traf­fic by pro­vid­ing a vari­ety of pedes­tri­an and vehic­u­lar routes to any destination.

9) The streets are rel­a­tive­ly nar­row and shad­ed by rows of trees. This slows traf­fic, cre­at­ing an envi­ron­ment suit­able for pedes­tri­ans and bicycles.

10) Build­ings in the neigh­bor­hood cen­ter are placed close to the street, cre­at­ing a well-defined out­door room.

11) Park­ing lots and garage doors rarely front the street. Park­ing is rel­e­gat­ed to the rear of build­ings, usu­al­ly accessed by alleys.

12) Cer­tain promi­nent sites at the ter­mi­na­tion of street vis­tas or in the neigh­bor­hood cen­ter are reserved for civic build­ings. These pro­vide sites for com­mu­ni­ty meetings,education, reli­gion or cul­tur­al activities.

13) The neigh­bor­hood is orga­nized to be self-gov­ern­ing. A for­mal asso­ci­a­tion debates and decides mat­ters of main­te­nance, secu­ri­ty and phys­i­cal change. Tax­a­tion is the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the larg­er community.

C64 is back…?!

On slash­dot, I read that Com­modore (I did­n’t even know that com­pa­ny was still alive) is com­ing out with thi­er own line of mp3 play­ers. So gid­dy curios­i­ty led me to their web­site, where I learned that they are going to be devel­op­ing some new Com­modore 64 prod­ucts, includ­ing a game console! 

??!!!

This is intrigu­ing, but com­plete­ly baffling…I owned a Com­modore 64 for about 10 years when I was younger, absolute­ly LOVED the sys­tem, and am STILL smit­ten with bit­ter­sweet nos­tal­gia when­ev­er I speak of it…but is Com­modore seri­ous­ly think­ing that mere nos­tal­gia will moti­vate peo­ple to buy NEW Com­modore prod­ucts 20 years lat­er?! I admit that I myself am guilty of down­load­ing the occa­sion­al C64 emu­la­tor in hopes of recap­tur­ing the mag­ic, but this hope is soon sobered after about 5 min­utes of pok­ing around on the famil­iar blue screen when I real­ize that, how­ev­er cool the sys­tem was then, com­pared to today’s tech­nol­o­gy it rather sucks. I imag­ine (indeed I HOPE) that these new “Com­modore 64” prod­ucts will be a bit more tech­no­log­i­cal­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed than those they devel­oped in 1985, but I sup­pose we’ll see.