development postmortem

I don’t know a darn thing about VoodooPad (although looking at its features, its sounds kind of neat.) But its developer, Gus Mueller, has written a long postmortem post on his blog about developing the 2.0 version: lessons he learned, stuff he threw out while developing it, good and bad choices he made along the […]

I am doomed

A couple months back they pulled the drug Vioxx off the market because oops, it causes heart attacks and strokes. This was kind of upsetting for me because when I get really really awful back pain, there’s pretty much nothing in the world that works was well as Vioxx (OK, I imagine that morphine would […]

spam (not that kind)

So apparently there’s going to be a broadway musical based on Monty Python’s the Holy Grail. No, really. For reasons unknown to me, the musical is called “Spamalot.” OK, so I am really not that much of a Monty Python fan, but even I know that Spam didn’t have anything to do with the Holy […]

secret staircase

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Arts | Bronte’s ‘secret staircase found’ Because I read a lot of Nancy Drew books, I had kind of an obsession with hidden passages and staircases when I was a kid, and spent a lot of my wasted youth wandering around my suburban home tapping on walls and pressing knots […]

yeah, I know

I’ve got a nasty style sheet bug. Something about the photos is causing the text in the right-side main column to refuse to flow properly alongside the left side nav bar. Tomorrow I’ll make a whole lot more annoying test posts to see if I can get it to work right.

bookmark shortcuts, a tip

Here’s a cool trick with Firefox I discovered a few weeks back that has apparently been around for a zillion years and I just didn’t know about it. Maybe you didn’t either. It works with Mozilla, too. Bookmarks now come with a keywords field. You can use this field to assign shortcuts to the bookmarks […]


Yahoo! News – IBM Puts PC Unit Up for Sale – NY Times I bought an IBM Thinkpad laptop almost ten years ago after a really great conversation with an IBM sales rep at comdex, and I’ve owned three more since then. I bought a a refurbished X31 with a full IBM warranty just recently […]

on writing

it’s December 1st, and National Novel Writer’s Month is over. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, November is a month in which one is supposed to sign up to write 50,000 words of a novel. The novel doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be 50,000 words. Unbeknownst to absolutely […]


43 Things poses the question: What do you want to do with your life? You can keep a list of your goals, or you can choose from a big list of what other people have been answering. Each page shows a continuously-updated display of every one else’s goals. Its a social goal-keeping site. I’m finding […]


It’s persimmon season. Yum. They didn’t have persimmons back east where I grew up. Or if they had them, I never saw them. When I first moved out here I saw persimmons in the store, and people told me oh, persimmons are wonderful, you should try them. So I bought a persimmon at some exorbitant […]


The True Story of Audion This article went around the blogs a few weeks ago, so I’m behind the curve here. Audion was a Mac MP3 player that was around for a long time and made a respectable living for its creators, the small software shop Panic. And then iTunes came out, iTunes was free, […]

stinky cheese

I really love stinky cheese (much to Eric’s horror). And now, thanks to the good folks at the BBC, I have a shopping list. At Cranfield University, UK they have discovered the world’s smelliest cheese. It is Vieux Boulogne, a soft washed-rind cheese from Northern France. It comes as no surprise to me that the […]

ligotti interview

And while I’m on the subject of horror fiction inspired by Lovecraft, here’s a good interview with Thomas Ligotti on Fantastic Metropolis. Ligotti is a hugely fascinating writer to me, because his stuff is just so different from anything else out there. His work is just so breathtakingly creative. Its tough to run across his […]

what I’ve been up to, again

Seems like a lot of my blogging recently has been extended silences followed by me apologizing for my extended silences and explaining what I’ve been doing instead. So, here I am again doing just that. I’ve been working a lot. But I just finished up that little mini-contract so now I can get back to […] ten years ago

Its a big year for ten year anniversaries in the web world. 1994 was kind of when everything sort of started to really take off, before things got totally weird. I realized a couple of weeks ago that I’ve got my own little anniversary to celebrate: we registered the domain in November of 1994. […]

still off the rails

Still recovering from kidney fu and flu fu, and not at all in a real chatty mood. What energy I do have seems to be channelled into work right now. I could tell you all about the enormous amounts of greenish mucous my body continues to produce on a daily basis, but that would probably […]

no stone unturned

Through his blog Jim pointed to me this lovely page of full-color kidney stone photos of all different shapes and sizes and chemical makeups, including one with a staple embedded in it. Its a very educational page. I’ve only woken up screaming twice this week.

worst. month. ever.

More self-indulgent whining. While Eric was in the ER last week watching over me he picked up some kind of sinus bug. He’s had it for the last six days and, of course, he gave it to me. So now I’m back on the couch with kleenex and Nyquil and my best friend TiVo. There […]


‘What’s this?” Eric said, picking up the strange grey thing from the blankets and putting it in his palm. It had been sitting on the bed where the cat had been sleeping just before. “Its…kind of squishy…” he said, dubiously, poking it with his finger. I looked over. The thing in his palm was the […]


No Contact Jacket, for women. Researchers at MIT and Advanced Research Apparel have come up with a shocking new jacket design for women – literally. Designed as an anti-assault device for women, this little black sports number carries an 80,000-volt, low amperage current just below the surface shell of the entire jacket. Dubbed the “No-Contact […]


Recovering. Slowly. I’m back at work, but everything is moving at half speed and my brain isn’t working right. Its hard to concentrate and sometimes I get kind of woozy and have to go lie down. Mostly things just feel derailed: I had plans and a schedule and a direction and now its all messed […]

i am in hell

I’ve been quiet over the last few days because I’ve been really, really sick. Like in and out of emergency rooms sick. Diagnosis: kidney stones. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to have been afflicted with this malady, you’ll probably cringe and say “ouch” and pity me. If you haven’t, its a sensation something like having […]

Marvel 1602

Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602 is out in trade paperback (or at least Volume 1 is). This is Gaiman’s retelling of the marvel comics universe 400 years back. I missed this series when it was out in comics because I have massive unresolved guilt about buying comics and never reading them (I still have huge stacks […]


So by now everyone knows about the new iPod photo that’s been announced with the color screen that you can use to view photographs. Goody. But you sync photographs onto the iPod using…iTunes. Buh? Pardon? Apple *has* a tool for dealing with photos: iPhoto. Now, OK, iPhoto is not the best product. I use it […]


I came into work this morning wearing a fetching sky-blue shirt. I fixed myself a cup of coffee, sat down at my computer, took a sip of coffee from the cup and promptly spilled half my coffee squarely down the front of my shirt. @#*@#&(*&!! This never used to happen to me when my entire […]

fool’s errand sequel

The Fool’s Errand is one of the most addictive obsessive compulsive puzzle games I have ever played. I spent forever without sleep when I was in college in the 80’s playing it. My grades suffered. My relationships suffered. I was a wreck. It was evil. Cliff Johnson, the author, wrote a few other games that […]

stiff, a book review

After I finished Going Postal I got to the book I had intended to read: Stiff, The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach. This is a book about dead people, or rather, the various things that human bodies are subjected to after we’re done with them. Its about autopsies, and putrefaction, and dissection, […]

fear and loathing

It is too bad that Hunter S. Thompson is a sad, old, bald, rambling caricature of what he used to be. Very rarely these days he manages to put together a good bit of writing. This rolling stone bit about the upcoming election is about 20% good but has no focus and no fire. I […]

the ranting of the waiters

The world has more than enough political blogs. It has plenty of technical blogs. Journals written by angsty teenagers about how mean Janey was to Alison during math today? We got those. But I’d definitely like to see way more blogs like Waiter Rant with funny stories and sarcastic writing. Please. More. (I got it […]

fluwatch – The Official Site of National Flu Surveillance Network. Includes flu incidence maps and lookup by state and zip code. Also an animation of how the flu spread in past seasons. Goody! Now I can indulge my disease hobby in real time. (I got it from Metafilter.)

spider followup

Thanks to Jim’s friend and Jeff at Nortel, I am confident that my creepy spider is indeed a spider that just happens to be missing a couple legs. It is a wolf spider, known for its ability to run really fast and jump really high (eeek!) My particular wolf spider was a mom; she was […]

new job

I start a new tech writing contract job today. Cash: yay! no more sitting around and writing blog posts all day: boo! If I am uncharacteristically quiet here, it is because I am actually getting work done.

tarantulas redux

So I was looking at the tarantula photo I posted yesterday when something very problematic suddenly occurred to me: that’s not a spider. Its only got six legs. So I googled “california tarantula” and found pictures of the common tarantulas that I was supposed to be watching out for on my hike — and they […]

hiking and wildlife

I’ve been remiss about posting photos. So I’ll collect them all here and get them out of the way. I looked out the window last week and this critter (felis rufus, the north american bobcat) was out on the lawn stalking gophers. By the time I had run downstairs, found my digital camera and fussed […]


While I was thinking about Terry Prachett, I started thinking about Chris Moore, who is the other author whose newest book will bring to an complete halt anything I happen to be accomplishing at the time. So I went over to, and found out two new important facts: the man has a blog, and […]

going postal, a book review

Next up on my reading list (and the enormous stack of books next to my bed) was Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, but then I made the mistake of actually going into a bookstore (Danger! Danger! Aoooga!). And right there on the tables up from was Terry Pratchett’s new book, Going Postal. Well. […]

chainring tattoos

This guy is collecting vintage bicycle chainring designs and getting a full-sleeve tattoo of them on his arm. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of chainring, or that they were so pretty. Very cool. (I got it from Velorution.)

sic transit gloria pesto

It’s harvest season in the santa cruz mountains, even for the kind of gardeners who aren’t growing things like squash and heirloom tomatoes. I can tell because the dark helicopters with the funny antenna on the front have started flying low over my vegetable garden again. I’ve been meaning to make a big sign I […]

fun (not) with MT-Blacklist

Spent the afternoon installing MT-Blacklist, with the eventual goal of turning on comments for this blog. Or rather, spent the afternoon thrashing with and being thrashed by MT-Blacklist. First: I installed the wrong version. Twice. I installed 1.6.5 because I missed the note on the MT-Blacklist home page that said it was incompatible with MT […]

ilium, a book review

Book finished last week: Ilium, by Dan Simmons. I’m not a big fan of traditional science fiction novels (Laura, turn in your geek card now). I read a bunch of the classics of the genre (Foundation, Dune, Martian Chronicles etc) when I was much younger but kind of grew out of it. There’s a bunch […]

more flu news

In other flu news, we’re facing a major flu shot shortage here in the US. There are two major manufacturers of flu vaccine, Aventis Pasteur from France, and Chiron. Chiron is a US company, but they make the flu vaccine in Oxford, England, and they’ve been having trouble with possible contamination at the plant. Last […]

it figures

While I was struggling with excerpts and destroying my RSS feeds (CDATA! CDATA! Aiieiiee!) Boingboing posted a risk analysis of getting the avian flu while in asia, and a few other people chimed in with background info (including this longer background post from Quinn). Rats! Must work faster!

I’ve changed my mind

In the light of day and with a clearer head I’ve completely changed my mind about the whole extended post/excerpt thing. I was thinking about the actual web site and that I didn’t want to dump huge posts on the front page. But a couple people told me that wasn’t a big deal. Plus: if […]


I think the excerpts are working on the web site, but the feeds are a mess and I have a splitting headache. If you read this blog through a feed I am deeply sorry; I’ll fix it when I can focus a little better. Bah.

MT foo

Well, that extended entry thing didn’t work out quite the way I expected it to. I wanted one thing on the extended page, and another entirely different thing on the index page. I thought I could ignore body and use excerpt for that but then I ended up with an empty entry on the index […]

flu news

I have been remiss in keeping up to date on this year’s doomsday viruses. As I posted earlier, mutant killer viruses are kind of a hobby of mine. Topic for today: flu. Note: This turned out to be a longer post than I had intended. Its also, uh, kind of different in tone from the […]

that hurts

It really sucks to get up at 5AM in the dark to go to spin class, do the class, lift some weights, stretch a little, chat with friends, take a shower, get dressed, leave the gym and IT’S STILL DARK. argghhhh.


For Q42004 I resolve I will go back to spinning on Mondays and Wednesdays. I stopped going to spin classes when I quit my job in July. I admit it: I got lazy. I have a hard time sticking to routines unless I have specific routines that fill up my day. Discipline: not really my […]


“Merck & Co Inc. on Thursday pulled its arthritis drug Vioxx off the market because it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.” Awww, man. Vioxx is the only thing that works on my back pain. I’ve been hearing rumors about dangers from vioxx for a while now, but I’ve been putting my fingers […]


I’m about to upgrade my blog software from MT 2.6 to 3.1. If things go completely b0rked here that’s whats up. MT’s upgrade documentation leaves a whole lot to be desired. No readme file, nothing called out as START HERE FIRST. There is an upgrade page in the manual (in the docs directory), but it […]


Really long and slow but very noticeable earthquake just now. big time wiggle. Looking it up…. Update: when an earthquake happens and you can’t find anything on the local USGS maps you start nervously looking at maps outside of the local area, because that means there was a big quake somewhere else. Sure enough: a […]


@)(*#!! (@**@#&*@#(*!!! I had this great post all composed about the differences between writing computer books and fiction, inspired bySimon’s post on the same subject. I had all these great metaphors about gardening and flinging yourself off a cliff naked and screaming. And then my weblog editor ate it. This is the third dedicated weblog […]


Over the last few days, we have been completely plagued by crickets. I suppose it could be worse, we could be plagued by, say, tigers. But no, its been nothing but crickets all the way down and I will go insane. I have so many pleasant memories growing up of summer evenings and the quiet […]

p. somniferum

A long but very interesting article from Harper’s by Michael Pollan about growing opium poppies in your very own garden. Papaver Somniferum seeds are entirely legal to buy, plant, and grow, as long as you don’t actually know what you’re doing, in which case the DEA will come after you (“your door is going to […]


I just finished reading Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude. It was a good book, although not quite what I expected. I had been led to believe it was a book about comic books, something like the Marvel or silver age equivalent of Michael Chabon’s Kavalier and Clay (which if you haven’t read you should run […]

oh please shut up shut up

There are a couple really important things about Amazon I learned as an author: No matter how good you are, there will always be people who hate you on Amazon and say your book sucks. If people say your book sucks on Amazon, often they are right. Regardless of how much people hate you on […]

dopage and disappointment

Tyler Hamilton has apparently failed a couple doping tests: one just after winning gold in the Olympic time trial, and one just a few days ago after a time trial in the Vuelta D’Espana. The tests he failed are new to cycling: they test for blood doping, a strategy where an athlete gets an infusion […]


I have so much to write about my trip north that I can’t figure out where to start and I am paralyzed by indecision. So I’m going to just continue on and pretend that it didn’t happen and hope something shakes loose later on. Hope you don’t mind.

I’m back

Back from my two-week road trip with my mom. Got a lot of stuff to write and photos to upload, but I’ll summarize: audiobooks from are the bomb for long trips. I had no idea there were so many quilt shops in the pacific northwest. I didn’t know sewing machines were computerized now, and […]

lost ring

When I was a kid I went through a phase of wearing rubber bands on my wrists. I had no particular reason for doing this, it wasn’t like a magic totem or a friendship band or a method for keeping boys away or anything. I just wore them. My mother had fits; she told me […]

far, far away

Its a big vacation week, what with labor day coming up, and Burning Man, etc, etc. Things are quiet around here. I’m packing up for a road trip to what will likely be the anti-Burning Man: I’m driving north through Arcata and Portland to Seattle, where I’m going to hang out for a while with […]

cat blogging

Friday is cat blogging day. It is! Really! This is Elsa, my old cat. She is 14. She’s the same cat I posted about with health problems earlier, although she’s doing OK now. She looks sort of sad in this picture, although what that expression really says is “You have not given me any cheese […]

source code control (and tech writing)

Eric Sink writes a really fabulous weblog about software development and the business of running a small software company. His articles are always well-written, well-through-out, well-argued. I look forward to them and I almost always send them to other people or quote them in conversations (“yes, but Eric SInk says…”). That’s rare. He runs a […]


Late summer is Crush in these parts. Brendan Eliason, assistant winemaker at David Coffaro Winery in Sonoma County, describes the process for creating wine from harvesting grapes to bottling. If you’ve ever taken a winery tour you’ve probably learned this stuff, but Brendan writes well so its a good read. The David Coffaro web site […]

more coffee grinders

When I posted about coffee grinders a couple weeks ago, Eric reminded me that I had neglected to mention the hand-crank coffee grinder. Actually I had discussed the hand-crank coffee grinder in an earlier draft of that post, but there was kind of a long-winded story attached to it, so I deleted it. But I […]

affordable floors

In 1984, my freshman year of college at CMU in Pittsburgh, I had a friend who was way cooler than I was (OK, this wasn’t tough). She had the best asymmetrical haircut, she wore rubber bracelets and she was into bands like New Order and Tears for Fears. Oddly enough, I cannot now remember her […]

track cycling FAQ

Been watching a lot of track cycling on the olympics over the last week. I’m used to road racing and I understand the equipment and tactics and players there. Track cycling is different. Really really different. The cyclists are on totally minimalist bikes, racing one or two or three at a time, on a banked […]

morning adventures

I’m stuck in town right now because a dirt truck overturned on Highway 17 and they closed all the southbound lanes. It happens. This is the disadvantage of living up in the mountains with only one road in or out; sometimes you get trapped. Fortunately I had the foresight to put my computer in the […]

no blogging the olympics

“The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other websites.” (from Wired News) Well, that seems Deeply Stupid. The IOC says the ban is to preserve lucrative media contracts, but IMHO first-hand reports would only enhance the traditional coverage and […]

laws of mountainbiking

Murphy’s Laws of Mountain Biking, courtesy the Mountainbike Militiamen. Includes: If you can’t make it up the hill, it’s not because your bike sucks it’s because you’re fat & lazy. Tube Math: tubes needed for any given ride = the number of tubes you have + one. The more you hear the term “freeride” the […]


I’ve been doing a lot of offline thinking about a potential project, which is why I haven’t been blogging much over the last few days. I’ve also been really, really tired all the time. Its coming up toward autumn, and the days are getting shorter, the sun is rising later, and my internal clock is […]

sweeping, general

Darren Barefoot’s Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness has been updated with a bunch of new stuff, including this bit of horrorshow: Bell System Practices, Section 770-130-301: Sweeping Instructions, titled “Sweeping, General.” Every once in a while I get a call from a recruiter or see a post on a job board wanting someone to document […]

on idleness

The Guardian extracts How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson, discussing the pleasures of sleeping late, lying around, extended convalescence from minor illness, nesting, and lazy, drunken sex. I think I must buy this book.


Yesterday we were having DNS problems so I was forced to actually go outside. The big accomplishment of the day: wiring in a new motor for the hot tub. I had refilled the hot tub with 950 gallons of water last October, put in the usual amount of heinous chemicals, turned it on, and the […]

coffee grinder shootout

You can’t make coffee without a coffee grinder. Well, OK, you can, but then how could you live with yourself. Coffee grinder: essential to life. Electricity, running water, coffee grinder. I recently had to purchase yet another coffee grinder, and I found myself this morning thinking about coffee grinders I had known as I made a big cup of coffee this morning. Now, see, this is why weblogs are so important. Without a weblog, I would have to actually go outside and do something of value with my life rather than sit here in front of the computer and share all my knowledge about coffee grinder design with you.

absent-minded destructogirl

I put the light green 400 thread count egyptian cotton sheets into the laundry, and there was a small part of my mind that was thinking “soap, hot water,” but apparently there was a much larger part of my mind that was thinking “soap, hot water, white sheets get grungy, don’t forget the bleach.” So […]

up up and away

I read somewhere that there are more than 6000 weight lifting exercises; someone has put them all in a book somewhere. One of the purest of them all, however, is the pull-up. Find a horizontal bar to hold onto, and lift yourself so your chin is over the bar. That’s it. OK, there are different […]

ssh goodies

And now from an ode to ripe peaches and discussion on human evolution we proceed directly to Unix documentation. Use ssh and scp to connect securely from one unix host to another. I use ssh a lot: between machines on my own network, to my web host, to various BBS systems, from machines at work […]

evolution & useless parts

I haven’t been reading much recently because I’ve got this huge stack of magazines that somehow have managed to overbreed underneath the coffee table and I’ve been trying to get them under control. I was reading one of those magazines the other night, the June issue of Discover, and there was an article in there […]


We’ve lived in this house for close to seven years now, and the peach tree in the garden has always been a huge disappointment. I’ve pruned it, and watered it, and sprayed it with goo to keep it from getting a horrid fungal disease that makes its leaves wither up and die (it usually still […]

blooooooo toooooof

I’ve had my Nokia 6600 for a couple months now, and I’ve become a bluetooth freak. How much do I love that I can just put the phone down on the couch next to me, sync all my contacts and my calendars, and send pictures and files back and forth to the phone? It is […]


The nice thing about being out of work is that I can go on really long bike rides during the week. The bad thing about going on really long bike rides during the week is that I come home and promptly take a four-hour nap. My plan for world domination is not going as well […]

enclosure trouble

Bah. I hate hardware. A couple months ago I had bought a. a giant hard drive b. a combo firewire/USB 2.0 external enclosure to put it in. My fabulous theory was to use the giant hard drive for music and backups. Of course then I got insanely busy with work and both the giant hard […]

go see donnie darko

Donnie Darko is being re-released this month to theaters. You must see it. I only saw this movie on DVD a few months ago after ages of having it pressed into my hands by earnest friends who insisted that I must see it. Apparently the movie was released a few years ago but promptly vanished […]

stop and start programming

Sometimes it makes more sense to just stop flogging the darn code. I had been working on a moblog script for a while, with somewhat disastrous results (if you’ve been seeing wierd orphan posts titled “this is fierce cat” you’ve been stumbling on the detritus of my experiments). The more I poked at it the […]

interview with ellen spertus

Misbehaving has a good interview with Ellen Spertus, a Mills College professor on sabbatical at Google. Ellen wrote a paper called “Why Are There So Few Female Computer Scientists?” while she was at MIT. As a girl geek I had never thought much about WHY there are so few women in computing; that was […]

site update

I finally got around to fixing the web feeds for this blog. Down in the lower left you now have a choice of your favourite flavor of web feed (RSS 1.0, 2.0 or atom), and all of them are finally full text (yay!). A side effect of this however is that if you are a […]


Having difficulty with my moblog script. Works just fine when I run it myself but then when I actually use email procmail writes all the files readable by owner only, which means the images can’t be displayed. I guess this is why all the other moblog scripts out there upload images via XML-RPC rather than […]

I feel old

Three years or so ago I hurt my back. I’d like to say that I hurt it doing something cool like slam dancing or hauling kegs of beer into the basement, but no, actually I hurt it doing yoga. There is of course a certain irony in that: only someone as Type A as I […]

some bad news

The tests are back on my Elsa cat. She has Feline Chronic Renal Failure — her kidneys are failing. This is not entirely unexpected; she’s a 14 year old cat and kidney failure is extremely common in very old cats. And its not as awful as it sounds, its not like she’s dying right this […]

cats cats cats

Today has been a Day of Cats. It started with Elsa, my older cat, who woke up with problems and had to be rushed to the vet first thing in the morning. Because Elsa is a large maine coon and DOES NOT LIKE the vet, she had to stay there to be sedated so they […]

superbug escapes from hospitals

I have kind of an obsession with superviruses and prions and pathogens that have the potential to wipe out the human race. I eat this stuff up. Last year when SARS was everywhere and everyone was freaked out? I got no work done at all. The Hot Zone and The Coming Plague? My favourite bedtime […]

spidering blogs

Because I am personally offended by 404 errors in my logs, I finally got around to adding a robots.txt file to this blog. If you’re a web developer you use robots.txt to control how spiders such as google or yahoo index your site, for example, to keep them from indexing particular parts of your site […]

it must be love

Right now as we speak I’m sitting on one couch in the living room hacking perl to post cell phone pictures to my blog. Eric is on the other couch hacking perl/tk to display data from a Polar 720i heart rate monitor. We’ve said all of ten words to each other in the last hour, […]

heads up

This week I’m testing a moblogging script I’ve been working on for a while. If you see random nonsense posts with photographs appearing and disappearing on the blog, please bear with me. Why don’t I just install someone else’s moblogging script and be done with it? Because that would be easy. And I wouldn’t learn […]

vaca report #3: the ride

Saturday was the day of the ride. We got up at our usual three-dark-thirty AM, awakened as usual by loud people and not by the actual alarm. A half hour drive to the start line, and then some time fussing around with breakfast (bagels and cream cheese), with bike setup, and with generally being nervous. […]

vaca report #2: loud people

Even though the death ride is in Markleeville, we stay in South Lake Tahoe because we like the city and Lake Tahoe is beautiful. Unfortunately, because of the proximity of South Lake Tahoe to the Nevada border and thus legal gambling, South Lake Tahoe attracts a party crowd, and we seem to have a lot […]

vaca report #1: too high

Back home from the Death Ride. It was a surprisingly long weekend, but fun. I’ll be making a bunch of random stream-of-consciousness only semi-related posts about it; this one is about altitude sickness. We (me and Eric) go up to the sierras a lot; the mountains are gorgeous and fun to explore and there are […]

ride of death

This weekend I’m going up to the sierras to the Death Ride. The Death Ride, otherwise known as the Tour of the California Alps, is a very famous local bicycle ride: its five mountain passes in the Sierras, 130 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing. That’s a lot of really steep hills to suffer up […]

free! free! freeee!

The tech writing contract I’ve been working on since January ended last Friday. On the one hand Boo! no more regular income. On the other hand Yay! no more horrible commute! Yay! no more tedious meetings! Yay! No more writing to other people’s guidelines that don’t make any sense! Yay! No more revising the same […]

weekend update

I’ve been quiet over the last few days so I thought I’d post a quick summary of what I’ve been up to (I know you’ve all been anxiously wondering). Over this last holiday weekend I had a busy schedule that involved sleeping in, eating a big breakfast, taking a long nap, going out into the […]


Scoble says that when he drives in silicon valley the average speed on the freeway is 70mph or more and thats indicative of the valley’s faster pace in general. That’s odd. During my commute my average speed is about 30. What does that mean? (I got it from Fred Sampson)

Spider-Man Quiz

Yeesh. I never even really read Spider-Man (I was an X-Men fan) and I still got 80% of the questions on this quiz right. Of course I suspect that when you hang out in comics stores your entire life you just sort of pick up Spidey stuff whether you want to or not.

dashboard, hmmmm

So. If I were going to pitch a book on developing dashboard widgets, I’d need access to prerelease software and docs at Apple. I know there is some preliminary developer documentation out there already (John Gruber talks about it on daring fireball). Would this be as simple as getting a paid developer subscription through ADC? […]

haunted by devil cat

Six months ago this week we lost Ariel, the first cat I owned as an adult. I could nostalgically talk about Ariel in loving terms and wax on about how gentle and friendly she was, but actually she was loud and cranky. She had a lot of personality, and most of it was bad. But […]

new phone not laura-proof

My new Nokia cell phone has a little mini-joystick in the middle of the phone that replaces the standard Nokia up and down buttons. Its actually a really cool UI feature in that you can navigate in all four directions with it and also click it like a mouse. Clicking it brings up a shortcut […]

the hunchback of menlo park

I got to work early this morning and was on my way down the hallway to the coffee when some guy walked out in front of me in from the adjoining hall. Older guy, nicely dressed, middle manager type. I followed him for a while at a respectful distance and he glanced back at me […]

giant hairy armpits

…with feet. The horror. The horror. I had not encountered this really, really strange ad campaign before. Now I have, and I wish I hadn’t. Mark Morford, a SF Chronicle columnist, gasped in anguish about this campaign (but was really funny about it) and was kind enough to include pictures. WTF? I mean, WTF? Ew! […]

bookmark managers

I’ve decided I really really need a bookmark manager. Regularly now I use three computers and five profiles and I need to coordinate bookmarks between them. And I don’t. I have a vague notion of a master bookmark file on one computer which I kind of try to keep as the master but its all […]

knees suck

Two weeks ago I did, or rather I intended to do, the metric version of the Sequoia Century up in Palo Alto. A century is a 100 mile bike ride; a metric century is 100 kilometers or 62 (or so) miles. The Sequoia is known for being a really hilly ride. I’d done some hills, […]

series 60 worm

I just bought a Nokia 6600 phone, a nifty new smartphone with all the bells and whistles (camera, bluetooth, etc, etc). Its a series 60 phone based on the Symbian OS, and when I have time I’ll go off and explore all the developer options for Symbian (right now I’m just trying to figure out […]

clif bars

Clif bars are on sale at! I like energy bars because they keep me from ravenously cleaning out the vending machines in the middle of the day. I like Clif bars over other bars because a. they’re really dense so they’re filling, b. they’re not yucky-sweet, c. they taste good, especially the chocolate ones, […]

really poor taste

OK, I know I said that I wouldn’t post political stuff here, but I made an exception for a really great rant and now I have to make another exception for It’s completely tasteless and really, really funny. So OK, no political stuff except good rants and bad taste. OK.

feeds == usenet

I’ve been doing a bunch of reading about web feeds and syndication and RSS and atom and related stuff recently. And something struck me the other day. This morning Rogers Cadenhead talks on his blog about the problem of scaling issues of web feeds: if you have a popular feed, you’ve got zillions of feed […]

tech industry gossip

I read Venture Blog because its an interesting view into the weird money side of silicon valley startup life, and there’s often good business-related links here. But this post is just great. Its about the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital conference, which was attended by just about every tech CEO out there. Apparently host […]

I promised, and I lied

I swore I was going to give up Diet Coke. I really did intend to. Really. I’ve completely cleaned up my eating and exercise habits over the last year, and I’ve been on a “no fake food” kick over the last few of months. I don’t eat a lot of stuff that comes in a […]

terribly uninformed

Why did no one tell me Hugh Jackman was hosting the Tony awards last night? And I’m told it was the all-singing all-dancing Hugh Jackman, too! I missed it! I am deeply upset! Next I will hear that it was the all-signing all-dancing shirtless Hugh Jackman and I will have to rend my clothing in […]


I had to pretty much guess randomly on this True Test of Southern-ness and it accused me of being a yankee. I don’t mind; I grew up in Boston. I am a yankee. But hey, I knew what a 30-aught-6 is, so that should be good for something. (I got it from Fred Sampson, who […]

comics character guides

Because this seems to be a week of exposing to the world exactly how incredibly nerdly I actually am, today I will forward links to the The Marvel Directory and the Unofficial Who’s Who in the DC Universe. Note the inherent superiority in design of the Marvel directory, thus reflecting the superiority of the Marvel […]

javadocs search engine

Also cool:, a search engine for Javadocs. Enter a class or package name and it’ll search the J2SE and J2EE online API documentation for you. I’ve had a bookmarks for these API docs stored for a while but this is way easier. Now if it included J2ME it would be perfect. (I got it […]


OK, this is cool. If you’ve got your blog set up to ping a bunch of sites like and technorati when you post, you can instead ping and they’ll do it for you. They are a metapinging service. Use in your ping box. (from xian at Radio Free Blogistan)

perl & visual design

I have a lot of respect for people who can present technical information visually in an interesting way. I can do the writing, but visual design is not my strong point — not just graphic design, site design, but information design (its a different thing). So when I come across something like Mark Lentczner’s Periodic […]

web-based macintosh SE

A couple of German guys have created a Mac SE, on the Web, entirely in Flash. Its scarily accurate (albeit in german), although way faster than my old Mac used to be. And until it has Lode Runner it won’t be a true simulation of MY old mac experience.

just shut up

I’m not intending to do a lot of political stuff on this blog, because there are a zillion political blogs out there and I’m just not good at political commentary (“uhhhhh…war BAD”). Plus: if I talk about political stuff I’ll get even more hate mail than I already do. I am a delicate flower. Hate […]

van helsing in 15 minutes

I had sort of kind of vaguely wanted to go see Van Helsing, the movie, because although nearly everyone in the free world has said it really way sucks, well, its got Hugh Jackman in it. sigh. oh sigh. But now I don’t have to go see Van Helsing at all because cleolinda on livejournal […]

injury du jour

The other night I was dicing an onion for dinner (risotto with peas and zucchini). I have been very lax in my knife sharpening maintenance and the tip of my knife was not quite sharp enough. It slipped off the curved edge of the onion as I was dicing and neatly lopped off the tip […]

low carb taste test

I have nothing against low carb diets. I have a bunch of friends who are on one in one form or another (atkins, south beach, zone, etc). I’ve been trying to eat a lot more protein myself over the last year. But low-carb packaged food all sounds really nasty to me. Now Salon taste tested […]

story cliches

Boing Boing forwards along, via Making Light, Strange Horizon’s Stories We See too Often. They (Boing Boing) quote this one snippet: Someone calls technical support; wacky hijinx ensue. 1. Someone calls technical support for a magical item. 2. Someone calls technical support for a piece of advanced technology. 3. The title of the story is […]

the tapeworm

Here’s a fact I’ll bet you didn’t know about me: I just love well-written stories about completely disgusting subjects. So when this story called The Worm Within from The Fray popped up on a bunch of blogs today I have to say I was just enchanted. But I suppose I must disclaim that it is […]


One of my favourite things in the world are Penguin Mints. They are not only excellent mints with none of the weird aftertaste or meat products* of Altoids, but they are caffeinated. Yes, caffeinated peppermints. What more could you want? I buy them by the case. I also buy the decaf mints, which may not […]


Article at Wired about how despite the belief that CDs and DVDs are indestructible (and this was one of the reason companies charged so much for them), they’re slowly deteriorating and becoming unreadable all on their own. A lot of my old CDs are unreadable because for many years I had a habit of leaving […]

I’m still here

Sorry the blog’s been quiet recently. I’ve had a ton of stuff to do at work recently, I pulled a muscle in my back quite nastily last week (which didn’t make me want to sit around with a laptop much), and its vegetable gardening season so I’ve been busy around the house. I have a […]

open letter to Martha

Dear Martha: Alton Brown (from Good Eats, best cooking TV show ever) writes an open letter to Martha Stewart that starts out: “Men don’t like you because you’ve made it clear you don’t need a stinkin’ one of us and that makes us mad because in a lot of ways you’re a hottie.” Ahahahaha!

back from waterside

Just got back from the Waterside Conference, the yearly conference for computer book authors. I haven’t actually written any computer books in a long time, but I still go because, well, I like the parties and its a chance to catch up with a lot of people I really like and don’t get to see […]

cemetery art

Back when I was a goth I had a real thing for cemetery sculpture: for angels draped in despair on headstones, etc. I had a photograph of a cemetery angel on my home page for a long time. I even wrote angsty fiction about it (you cannot be a goth unless you write angsty fiction.*) […]

documentation wierdness

Darren Barefoot’s Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness has been passed about the blogs before — but its got a bunch of new stuff now, and its way funny. I particularly like CrankCase Collar (how on EARTH did that get past editorial?) and for sheer WTF wierdness, Saiyan Wield Ways and Means. I am also amused […]

dinner rolls that go BOOM

Foods: Urgent Safety Notice Regarding Ice Box Rolls Recipe in April Issue on Page 154: Potential Fire and Safety Hazard. “Combining the water and shortening as described in the recipe may cause the mixture to ignite…” May cause the mixture to IGNITE? Did the original recipe include turpentine? Eeek!

ouch ouch ouch

I went for a bicycle ride this morning, my usual sunday morning 30-40 mile ride. Did the ride out by the reservoirs in San Jose, which is a pretty ride, not too much traffic, lots of hills to play on. I was on my way back and I stopped at a park to rest and […]

no more Mac Frame

Adobe announced this morning that they are end-of-life’ing FrameMaker for the Mac. For those of you joining us outside the tech world, FrameMaker is a desktop publishing system. It’s especially good for really long book-type documents with lots of figures and tables and cross-references. Non-fictiony stuff. Its pretty much the standard tool for tech writers. […]

IMAP crazies

Still setting things up on the new server. Eric believes strongly in ASCII mail readers (he also uses vi, poor dear) so it was up to me to re-set-up IMAP so that I could use a mail reader more recent than 1956. I had a lot of problems setting up the IMAP server…lots of authentication […] is back up

We can get email at again so if you’ve been trying to reach me things should work again. I still have caches of my old email so you don’t have to resend me stuff unless it bounced over the last few days. Since I lost everything on that machine I’ve decided not to put […] is dead (for now)

We had a bunch of rapid-fire power outages and spikes up at the house yesterday morning which apparently our fancy power-conditioning UPS could not handle well enough. The result: one very dead hard drive in, our web and email server. Fortunately, I happened to have a bunch of hard drives lying about (small ones, […]

when to plant beets, really

I used “when to plant beets” as a clever title in an earlier blog post (referring to something else entirely), but I’m noticing from my logs that people keep coming here after searching for “when to plant beets” in google. So OK. This is a full-service blog. You can plant beets any time in the […]


O’Reilly brings back the lay-flat binding I’ve always really liked lay-flat bindings. They are just so much more usable than standard glue bindings as they allow the book to, well, lay flat when you open it up. Since the book actually stays open on its own you don’t have to force it to lay flat, […]

busy busy busy

Its been a really busy week. I had a deadline at work and also I had jury duty and had to take my car in for service. Not a lot of time for sitting down and getting writing done. I’m going to do some serious geekery this weekend so prepare yourselves for lots of posts.

too much caffiene

There’s a rant on Salon today about the Starbucks booklet that came out recently that explains how to order coffee. The author of this rant positively has a fit over it, and uses the booklet as a jumping-off point for the usual Starbucks-is-the-root-of-all-evil discussion. I drink Starbucks coffee (grande decaf nonfat latte). I also drink […]

cycling stigmata

I went on a 30 mile bike ride on Saturday (got rained on, it sucked, whine). Did a full hour and a half of spinning on sunday, plus an hour of weight lifting. Did another 45 minutes of spinning first thing this morning, at which time I started spontaneously bleeding from the knees. Close inspection […]

wierd technical writing

I’m always interested in new and strange ways of teaching people about technology, and I’m particularly amused by bizarre computer books. Yes, I read this stuff for fun (why are you staring at me like that?) For example, Head First Java teaches Java with cartoons and wierd jokes. It is totally brilliant. Stealing the Network, […]

freshly squeezed emu juice

Daftman Technical Manual for the NM-156 Reciprocating Emu Press (a 990K PDF file) I’ve had a link to this this sitting in my email for a while (from the tech writer’s mailing list (yes, there is a such a thing, and yes, most of the time it is just as dull as it sounds)). I […]

tasteless software MacBarfX Wow. I had MacPuke installed on my MacPlus in, like, 1987. It caused the mac to make a really rude noise when a floppy disk was ejected. It was funny for oh, about 10 minutes. And here it is, back again, and ported to OSX. Now there’s a whole new generation that can […]

not dead yet

I’m not dead, I just had a lot of work to do last week and I took the weekend off away from the computer. I read Susan Cooper’s The Grey King, #4 in the Dark is Rising Series. I’d never read this series as a kid, and I cannot imagine why on earth I didn’t […]

car hacking

Yahoo! News – Hack Your Car (link is broken now) A short overview of OBD — onboard diagnostics — the way you access the computer in your car to find out what its up to or to change its performance specs. I’m really fascinated by the notion of computers in cars. I’ve pulled apart motorcycles […]

99.7 degrees

Its such a little fever, but I can barely walk from one end of the room to the other without getting dizzy and bumping into things. I just have the sniffles and a slight sore throat. Nothing dramatic: no internal bleeding or coughing up bits of lung or anything. If I’m going to get sick, […]

Well that was no fun at all

I worked on styling the blog this weekend. And I’d just like to say ARRGGHHH BLEAHH PPPPTHHHTTT First, I attempted to bring in the design from my home page without breaking everything in the blog. Then, I attempted to reconcile all the styles in the blog with the ones I used on my main web […]


Gateway to Buy EMachines for $235 Million Aw, man. Emachines makes really great ultra cheap generic PCs that run linux well. I know, real l33t folk build thier own machines, but I don’t have that kind of time. Emachines does it pretty much right. Gateway doesn’t seem to do anything right. Crap.

a note on links & Ikea rant

I had some angst earlier this week because I realized the funny ikea thing I had linked to had shown up on every single blog on the entire internet. Not because of me, of course, but because I’m linked into the same blog networks that everyone else is and these things come in waves. Ack! […]

new iPod

The 10gig iPods that were recently discontinued by Apple (replaced by the 15gig) have been going cheap in various places, and I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and bought one from Amazon. This is my second iPod; I’ve had a 1st generation 5 gig iPod for almost two years now and it has completely changed […]

hacker ethic

The hacker ethic, an essay by Jono Bacon. I was nodding my head and murmuring “yeah, yeah” while reading this. My hacker playground is primarily documentation (which makes me kind of a mutant) but its the same core impulse, I think.

slow learning process

I’m slowly figuring out MT configuration, as I play with the software and actually read the manual (GASP) and figure things out. If you came here earlier and wanted to comment and noted that I had zero comments for everything and no way to post and wondered why, its because I didn’t understand the difference […]

navigating Ikea

Strangely enough, I have never actually been to an Ikea. I’m not so good with really huge stores and Ikea really frightens me. But this Ikea walkthrough is really great and very true based on what friends tell me Ikea is like. Jon Carroll, best columnist ever, also wrote a bit about Ikea in the […]

Martha, Martha, Martha

The Martha Stewart trial starts really soon now. I confess I am excessively interested in this trial, because I’m really fascinated by Martha Stewart. If the world lines up along those who adore Martha and everything she does and want to be just like her (or rather, just like the genteel uberhostess she portrays herself […]

sea bugs

Its dungeness crab season out here in the West, and I’ve been thinking its time to go find a live one. You can get cooked crab pretty much at any supermarket, but the cooked ones are kind of slimy and yuck. To get the really amazing taste of an ultrafabulous dungeness crab you need to […]

about the OSX dock

I’m not a huge fan of the dock in Mac OSX, but it has never much bothered me either. Or so I thought. But here’s an article from Tog (Bruce Tognazzini, UI guru) on Top 10 Reasons the Apple Dock Sucks. And these are really good points, come to think about it.


In my new job, I have a really horrible commute. Its 35 miles, each way, in nasty traffic. It takes an hour, each way. An hour. Sob. My previous commute was 20 miles, but I could go in really early and come home really early, avoid the traffic and make it in about half an […]

ipod mini

I’ve had an ipod for almost two years now (1st gen, 5 gig). I love my ipod. I really, really, really love my ipod. For me it has been way more than just an expensive MP3 player, it has completely changed the way I listen to music. Long trips are bearable now. Going to the […]

new job

I start a new job today, at a big company in silicon valley that shall heretofor be known as The Large Company. A standard tech writing contract, writing programmer documentation for a Java IDE. Poses an interesting dilemma, though. I have a habit of making fun of every place I’ve ever worked, either in private […]

gymlog sunday

Today at the gym: 45 mins on the spin bike and an hour lifting weights. Yet another creepy guy followed me around on the machines. The Creepy Guys never say anything, they just hover. Why is that? For Xmas Eric got me a Polar 720i, which is a completely out of control heart rate monitor. […]

ground rules

I’ve started a bunch of blogs in the past, and never been very good at it. Part of the problem was software. I did blogs with no software at all, just editing HTML by hand, or using cobbled-together software either I or Eric wrote. The software was often hard to use to hard to add […]