Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Railscasts Rocks

I'm working on building a website in Rails and ran across this great site with a bunch of free screencasts related to Ruby on Rails.

A couple years ago I started playing with Rails version 1. Rails 2.x is the latest and a lot of things the 1.x commands don't work in 2.x. The one I ran into last night was rails migrate. It is now rails db:migrate. I'm sure there will be a few more gotchas like this, but in general 2.x seems to be worth it, even if a lot of the guides out there on the web are a bit out of date.

rails migrate becomes rails db:migrate
MySQL becomes sqlite3

BTW, if you like Railscasts, there is a donate link. I dropped$5 in the tip jar.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wired on Arduino

I've been tinkering with the Arduino for a few weeks now. It's a great little platform. This Wired article gives a nice overview of the philosophy and the personalities behind the project.

Once you play with one of these things, your mind starts racing with possibilities. I was thinking of making a biking shirt that would display data about my current ride, something like "I've ridden X miles today" and have X update in real time as I'm riding. I would need to interface with my bike computer and be able to drive some sort of flexible LED display that could be wired into the shirt.

I was also thinking of hooking up some El Wire to a motion sensor in our front walkway. The stairs are a bit difficult to see, so I want to have them illuminated whenever someone starts heading out the door.

The possibilities are endless.

Daily Show in Alaska

Monday, October 20, 2008

JFK At Dawn

Taxi to gate 9.

Friday, October 17, 2008

SNL Covers The Final Debate

Pretty darn funny.

BTW, if you haven't seen the video of the 'crazy lady' you can see it here, where she calls Obama an Arab. McCain shakes his head and replies, that he's not an Arab, he's a decent family man.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Google Parking

Had breakfast with my friend Brad at Google this morning. It's much
easier to find parking here at 8:15am than at lunch time.

Took this shot next to the visitor parking.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fall Arrives

The leaves are changing here in Incline Village. Nice.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rain Forest Butterfly

This amazing butterfly decided to check us out today at the California Academy of Sciences rain forest exhibit.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blue Angels in San Francisco

We saw the Blue Angels in San Francisco yesterday. We had a great seats. Our friends invited us to see the show from their yacht. The trip up from Coyote Point was a little bumpy because of the wind. But it was smooth sailing once we passed under the Bay Bridge. I swear the planes seemed to be so close that you could touch them.

The Blue Angles Rock!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Driving Pandora

I've been a fan of Pandora internet radio for a few years now. Pandora is great for discovering new music. With just a few clicks, you can create a custom music station out of your favorite artist, song, or album. Pandora will try to find similar songs and artists and play those on your personal station. You can fine tune the music they play by rating songs with a Tivo style thumbs up or thumbs down.

The folks at Pandora were quick to get on the iPhone bandwagon with a free Pandora iPhone app. (Thanks guys!) The app streams music over your WiFi network or over the AT&T network if WiFi isn't available. Recently I tested this on a drive from Tahoe to the Bay Area. I connected my iPhone to the car stereo through the AUX jack and fired up the Pandora app. We have good coverage of the Edge network at our place in Incline. I was curious as to how long the music would last. I was impressed, for almost the entire four hour dive we had continuous Pandora coverage. There were two notable exceptions. One is the stretch of road near Northstar, the ski resort between Truckee and Incline Village. That wasn't too surprising given the rural nature of that road. The other was near UC Davis. This was a bit more surprising since this is a pretty flat piece of Interstate 80. Maybe it was a bug in the Pandora application that caused the slight outage. I'm more inclined to think that it was a dead spot in the Edge network, given the fact that the music kept playing after a few minutes of silence.

Now most iPhone plans come with unlimited data. So streaming audio for 4 hours isn't going to cost me anything extra. The audio coming out of the phone seemed to be roughly equivalent to FM radio. I would guess that the bit rate was something like 128 kbs. How much data did I use on my drive? About 1/4 MByte GByte. [Corrected from MByte, thanks Pablo!]

128 kb/s * 1/8 bit/byte * 60 s/m * 60 m/h * 4 hr = 230,400 KB
Actually I find this to be surprisingly small. Given that AT&T charges $5 per month for a 1 MB data plan, this streaming would have only cost me $1.25 $1,150 (230 MB * $5.) Of course I have the unlimited data plan, so it didn't cost me any extra to listen to Pandora on my drive.

The kids have been asking for XM Radio, but I think I'll stick with Pandora for now. If I could only get XM Kids on Pandora...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Great Tips from Pogue

I just read Pogue's list of basic tips that you assume everyone knows, but a lot of people don't. The one that caught me by surprise was the control + scroll wheel will zoom in a web page (or the entire screen on the Mac). This is very cool, especially for those of us with fading eyesight.

One that's missing from his list is the two finger scroll on Macintosh trackpads. Maybe he left this out since there is no Windows equivalent. In fact, the control + scroll wheel trick will work on the MacBook with the two-finger scroll, since it's the same as a scroll wheel.

I wrote a longer post about the two-finger scroll trick a while back.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ikea delivery

Had some new furniture delivered recently. Turns out the pallets stay with us. Not sure what we'll do with them once the kids get bored with them. The delivery guy said that they burn well. We'll have to test that theory in the fireplace once the snow starts.

Arduino Segway

My Arduino Starter Pack arrived on Monday and I've been playing with it all week. It's a very cool little device. I've been working my way though the tutorials at ladyada.net and working my way through the Physical Computing book, both great resources.

Right now I'm in research and learning mode, but it seems there are a lot of interesting possibilities here. Today I ran across this video of an Arduway, a mini Segway build from an Arduino and Lego NXT. Very cute.