Tuesday, October 25, 2005


In this article, Paul Ford expounds on his new-found techniques for avoiding the innumerable distractions that crowd in to our modern lives; I hadn't seen the AlphaSmart Neo (and Dana) before his mention, and was amazed at how closely the concept, as executed by AlphaSmart, matched the requirements my brother and I had set out in a discussion a few nights ago. We recognized the need for a rugged (bordering bomb-proof), reliable, simple device with great text-entry usability for warlespondence, adventure travel, and similarly rugged duties. We further noted the utility of such a device for those interested in distilling their daily exposure to technology and media down to a more manageale, less distracting level, focused on the creative process. We spec'd out the basic requirements for a great keyboard, reasonable display of text (but much less than the usual laptop screen), network connectivity including modem, loooong battery life, and removable flash memory... imagine my surprise to find *almost exactly that device* already being made by AlphaSmart.

But Ford's broader premise rings true for me, also -- I increasingly find myself using retro-tech software to accomplish the tasks I value most. A case in point: writing technical papers. I've pretty much given up on MS Word (although I still hold out hope for the complete redesign of the UI promised by the next release of Office; call me a sucker.) Every time I try to take advantage of the supposedly time- and effort-saving features in Word, I get burned. So, after years of threatening to do so, I finally bit the bullet and switched (back) to LaTeX. The learning curve's a bit steep in some areas, but I think I'll only have to deal with it once, and I'm finding (as I hoped) that I end up with a much (MUCH) more reliable process to get a print-ready document than with Word, and that translates directly into time savings, less stress, and an increased focus on document content rather than appearance.

I'm happy to have a modern machine on which to work, and the nuances a modern text editor brings to the party, but it's also satisfying to know that the basic ASCII text documents I'm writing could be used on any of a huge variety of hardware and software to re-create the finished product, and I can always go back to writing/editing using good 'ol vi.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Old Portable Typewriters

Inspired by a posting on my brother's blog, I finally found some information about the old, manual, portable typewriter I inherited from my Grandfather... this site lists a plethora of information about the old Remingtons, from which I learned that I have a model 5 (boxy), made ca. Oct. 1932- Aug. 1939.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Matplotlib / pylab - matlab-style python plotting

For web application developers who need to generate high-quality data plots, this library could be just the ticket.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby

Define brilliance. Well, I gave up, settling on the tried-and-true "I'll know it when I see it." Only thing is, the line between brilliance and too-bright-to-stare-at is a fine one... I don't yet know which side this online book on Ruby falls on, but I'm willing to risk burned retinas to find out. The burned-in patterns on the back of my eyeballs will look like cartoon foxes...

Friday, September 30, 2005

Toogle Image Search

Toogle gives you a text-rendered look at the top Google Images hit for any word or phrase you enter... seems to have the best results for corporate names, government agencies and

Monday, July 18, 2005

Removing ObstaclesThe Harvard Business Review has a great article on how SAS gets the most from its employees -- one of several insights is that people do their best work when they aren't distracted by the mundanities of daily life...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Here's a map of today's bike ride... a mere 25 miles and 3800 ft of climbing. But, I was riding my single-speed bike, with no suspension, not even the fork, so it counts for more! Ah, the joys of single-speed... only those with a masochistic streak need apply. The girl on a single-speed who left me in the dust (OK, it was mud) on last week's ride motivated me to ride the thing more.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship Epic Ride series kicked off the season with a 26-mile ride at Forest. We (miraculously) didn't get rained on, despite torrential rain and snow in the previous few days.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

When will Palm support WiFi (802.1x) network hotsync for Mac OS-X? It's available on the PC, and all the underlying infrastructure is there...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Help the Socialists save the Forest

A cool T-shirt from the fine folks at Mule Design Studio...

"Socialists once ran this country, and the government was large, VERY large, and it committed itself to insane public works and infrastructure."

Friday, February 25, 2005

Frosty's mini-site

My brother's got a really clean and quite informative site up now; fun
stuff at http://www.biztos.com and thoughtful stuff at

Monday, January 24, 2005

Camping in the 1920's and 30's

My great-grandmother wrote these magazine articles about going camping and travelling with her husband and three little kids... now you can read about their adventures!