August 2012

"Nice shooting, Tex"

Judging from the backlash, I’m guessing that the assault on Chick-fil-A just set back the gay-rights movement about five years.

Judging from the responses to the backlash, they plan to keep digging.

Pro tip: when framing your opponents as intolerant hate-filled bigots, try not to showcase your own hatred, intolerance, and bigotry.

Useful iOS app: Systematic

I wanted something simple: an app that allowed me to enter a list of tasks and how frequently I want to do them (daily, twice a week, etc), and sort the ones I’ve been neglecting to the top. It should show me when I last did them, and have a calendar view showing my historical performance. And it doesn’t really need to do anything else. Systematic doesn’t have the calendar view yet, but it does everything else, and it’s dead simple.

You have two buttons at the top of the screen: add a task, and edit the task list. Below that is your list of tasks, with the do-soon ones at the top. Tapping on any task starts a timer that tracks how much time you’ve spent on it, and you can stop, pause, restart, or adjust the time spent. Your progress and deadline show up in small print on the task button.

In the editor, you name the task, select an icon, a frequency (once, daily, weekly, monthly), a duration (from 5 minutes to 50 hours), a repeat count (1-50 times per period), and a deadline. So, I can say that I want to practice Go-San-Go three times a week for ten minutes per session, with my success evaluated on Sundays.

And that’s it. Until the author adds the calendar view, you can only see your previous session for each task, but it uses Core Data for storage, which means everything is stored in a simple SQLite schema, and the DB itself is available from the File Sharing pane in iTunes, so it’s trivial to extract the data yourself.

$2.99, designed for iPhone-sized screen; I suspect it just looks huge on an iPad right now.

Hacking Illustrator with JavaScript

You can do some entertaining and evil things to an Illustrator document with Scriptographer. For instance, I implemented a static version of the XScreenSaver module Interaggregate in about 80 lines of code, which by itself isn’t terribly practical, but being able to generate hundreds of randomly-sized circles each with their own vectors and calculate their intersections over time does suggest some interesting art-hackery.

For the 25th Anniversary...

…you get Blu-ray: Princess Bride, Spaceballs, and Masters of the Universe.

Okay, maybe I’ll just get the first one.

The Brickmuppet Theme Song

If you're in Tokyo this month...

…starting Friday, the Seiyu Cafe in Akihabara has a Mouretsu Pirates theme.

Stimulus and Austerity

From the recently-released Modern Bushido by Toshishiro Obata:

Uesugi Yōzan (1751–1822) was the second son of the daimyō of the modest Akizuki clan; when he married into the larger, related Yonezawa-han, he eventually succeeded the clan leader as the ninth-generation head. When he came to power, however, he inherited an ailing and destitute clan — the Yonezawa-han was deeply indebted and nearly bankrupt, and lacked the means to reverse its fortune.

Yōzan therefore proposed sweeping reforms in civics and industry within the clan, which met fierce opposition from seven obdurate retainers. Not to be stymied in fulfilling his leadership duties, Yōzan had these retainers promptly executed, and quickly set his plan into motion.

His plan was threefold: revitalize the economy, develop new industry, and reform the people’s education and thinking. He prioritized economization and saving for the future, reducing his retainers’ salaries and managing the clan’s expenses frugally; in this, he led by example, reducing his own salary from 1,500 to 209 ryō, trimming his personal attendants from 50 to 9, and relinquishing luxuries like costly food or fine clothes in favor of simpler necessities.

He created many new industries for the clan, such as koi farming, benibana [safflower] farming, silkworm farming, and yonezawa-ori [high-quality woven silk] production. Yōzan also improved the infrastructure of the clan domain, building roads, clearing land for rice fields, cultivating millions of trees for paper production, and so on. Yōzan renovated social policy, instituting the principles of jijo (self-help and self-reliance), gojo (cooperation and mutual aid), and fujo (government aid and support), as well as fukushi (welfare for the elderly).

During the Tenmei famine, the success of Yōzan’s efforts was shown in vivid relief; neighboring clans suffered severe casualties due to disease and starvation, but the Yonezawa, though similarly surviving off of very few resources, experienced no casualties, and no one abandoned the han out of desperation, as was occuring in other clans.

The shogunate later declared Yonezawa a model of excellent governance. To this day, Uesugi Yōzan is considered one of the greatest leaders in history for his use of chi [wisdom] to save his clan.

Famous Last Words

“I hate to just waste the rest of this can of chipotles, so I’ll use them all.”

Kim du Toit for Kindle

Kim has two new novels available on the Kindle: Creative License and Prime Target.

Custom font mappings in World Tools Pro

World Tools Pro enables most of the hidden Japanese typography functionality in InDesign, but as I discovered the moment I tried to really use it, they left out the ability to add custom ranges to composite fonts. The fix is to create the composite font as usual, then open the Adobe ExtendScript Toolkit, paste in the following snippet of code, edit as needed, and run it:

    appliedFont:"Minion Pro",

Set the value of item() based on font’s position in the pulldown list; the meaning of the rest should be obvious.

Silicon Valley Employment Success Tip

How to make money at a Steve Perlman company: be Steve Perlman.

How to get screwed at a Steve Perlman company: not be Steve Perlman.

The now-former employees of OnLive are the latest to learn this lesson.

[Update: this explains a lot: “If you’ve got 8,000 servers and 1,600 users, how could we ever get to cash flow positive, right?”]

I doubt anyone noticed, but...

In Frank Sinatra’s 1985 Tokyo concert at Budokan, the very first time he sings the title line of “Luck Be A Lady”, he clearly sings it as “ruck be a rady”.

Dear Apple,

Maybe you should Think a little less Different, and put some checkout counters back in your stores. Then perhaps you wouldn’t need to have undercover security constantly scanning the crowd for incomplete PoS transactions that may or may not be shoplifting.

Arresting a customer because you can’t manage basic retail sales technology is not the work of a Genius.

Grilled cheesecake

Not safe for bikini-unfriendly workplaces…


LibreOffice: becoming useful

I just installed the latest Mac-native version of LibreOffice, and found that the HTML import is now mostly usable, not only correctly handling encodings and most CSS-based layout, but even recognizing Word-specific CSS and flagging it using the document-review functionality (sadly, it still ignores ruby tagging for furigana, but ruby is basically broken anyway). Also, the Draw module imports CorelDraw documents back to version 7, with most features intact (I still need version 3 and 4, but I can work around that with an old copy of 7 that I have running in a virtual).

The basic functionality has been there for a while, but quirkiness, lack of stability, and iffy interoperability were always problems, and it looks like the Libre team is serious about addressing them, which didn’t seem to be the case in the OpenOffice days.

Liberal reactions to Clint Eastwood's speech

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”