Dec. 13th, 2015 10:54 am
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)
It's been a while since I posted, and this has been sitting on the notepad for a while…

When I was at work, I listened to a lot of podcasts to damp down noise from the floor while doing not-too-intense work. At home, I find time here and there — while cooking, sometimes while the kids play if the kids are off doing their own thing, while on the bus to grab a car… it's a small luxury to let a chunk of consciousness run around with smart, different folks across Internet audio.

Here is what I manage to listen to regularly:

Spark from CBC Radio: Nora Young has the best radio voice among living radio hosts, in my opinion (Lister Sinclair gets best ever). The podcast is mostly about technology, but in an expansive, humane way that often focused on usability, accessibility and the creative uses people come up with for existing technologies.

Death, Sex, Money from WNYC is a show of long-form interviews touching on the title topics (usually all three of them) with people who have lived through some interesting stuff.

Planet Money from NPR is a show about economics for laypeople — sometimes they do a show on explaining a hyped topic (What is a collateralized debt obligation? What just happened to the Chinese markets?). Sometimes they look at something mundane and explain the minutiae (t-shirt manufacturing, raisins) and sometimes they follow a person's cunning business plan with an eye to what economic mechanisms are in play underneath (a y taxi medallion empire, for instance).

More or Less from BBC Radio 4 is a show of statistical fact-checking: from political claims to memes about toxic levels of banana consumption (hint: absent a health condition that makes you super-sensitive, you will have trouble keeping down enough bananas to kill you via potassium or radiation poisoning). It's funny, chatty and a neat way to think about all steps of the statistical process while finding out what's preoccupying Brits who listen to or make geeky podcasts.

I also listen to and enjoy Savage Love (US politics and relationship advice), Polyamory Weekly (charmingly indie relationships and media watching), Radiolab (lovingly crafted, humane stories touching on science) and Dan Carlin's Hardcore History (passionate lectures on a huge range of history, mostly military and political, with lots of quotes from original sources and psychological guesswork — and a voice and delivery that I like but is hard to be neutral on).

Any suggestions I might like, especially in the 15–30 minute range?
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
It's been almost two months since I've written here, probably in part due to adding work back into my schedule. I still feel sort of freshly-back, too: summer at the office is always kind of unreal with so many people gone on vacation and most serious planning put off until the fall. This state of affairs is pretty good for the one project I'm on that hits high, sometimes-frantic production mode over the summer, though. I've been grinding out tables today from the pre-release test area to make sure nothing got damaged in transport; so far things are looking good.

With the emergence of Google+ and less time, I've been thinking a lot about which online services are the most fun and best to keep in a streamlined routine. Twitter is out for being too junk-foody for me, Google+ doesn't feel quite right (too much drag-and-drop and weird scrolling in addition to the real-name debacle), and Facebook, while still good for reaching people by name and maybe still good for inviatations (although who trusts "yes", let alone "maybe", to plan event head-counts), needs some tuning and trimming to make its good points outweigh its annoyances.

I like Dreamwidth and Livejournal more than my posting frequency would indicate, though!

Lunch break is over, and I'm back to turning the verification crank, but as I pop onto the Internet, I do think how I use it is going to evolve pretty fast in the coming months.
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)
Who does your domain name registration? How much are they? Are they any good? I'm kind of tired of GoDaddy and would like to move my registration to someone a little less sleazy and more local.
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)

I just set up OpenID at my woefully out-of-date but pithier URL of http://metawidget.net. Like my e-mail over there, the idea is to future-proof my online identity: I more or less own my own domain, whereas it is possible that Dreamwidth, myOpenID, Livejournal or whoever else will do something I don't like (or just be reduced to a smoking crater by a DDoS or an antitrust lawsuit or something). Through the miracle of OpenID delegation, if I get sick of whatever site is doing the OpenID listing, I just fire them, change these two lines, and keep my OpenID. Also, it might motivate me to clean up my site, archive some stuff, and all that.

Here are the two lines:

<link rel="openid.server" href="http://www.dreamwidth.org/openid/server">
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://metawidget.dreamwidth.org">

They go in the head element of index.html, or whatever other page loads by default when hitting the domain. The first line indicates where the server doing the heavy OpenID lifting** is located. The second line gives my OpenID over there, which if someone claiming to be me-as-metawidget.net wants to be authenticated, they will need to convince Dreamwidth's servers that I am me-as-metawidget.dreamwidth.org. If I get sick of being vouched for by Dreamwidth, I just change those two lines to a new provider (the form of the first URL varies from provider to provider, the form of the second is just the usual URL you use for OpenID). Note that I don't include my metawidget.net OpenID in those two lines: that is covered by the fact that those two lines can be found at metawidget.net. Also note that I don't have to register this delegation with Dreamwidth: the only place the delegation exists is on a page I control. The whole shebang relies on the assumption that only I can go and stick code in the head element of whatever comes up at the URL of the OpenID I'm claiming.

There is a presumably out-of-date (at least no longer mainained) PHP script that lets you set up a tiny single-user OpenID server on your own machine, but almost everyone who might want an OpenID on their own domain has another OpenID sitting somewhere.

This post is basically a re-hash with commentary of the technical information I found on Stack Exchange.

*assuming you have an OpenID somewhere else

**by which I mean “lifting I don't want to do”

metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I've been marvelling at how the Internet and Internet-enabled services I use day to day have been getting better lately.

Communauto has hooked up its computers to Ottawa's Vrtucar, completing a reciprocity agreement that has been a long time coming: first Communauto users got the RFID dongles that Vrtucar (and Communauto in other cities) uses, then Vrtucar started accepting reservations by phone, the Communauto publicized this fact, and now the two systems work together online. As far as I can tell, nothing bad has happened in the transition, either! This makes being a non-car-owning Ottawahullian just a bit easier, which is a good thing.

Firefox 4 took about 11 beta versions to do it, but it now runs Flash properly on my machine. It's in Release Candidate shape now. The app tabs are really very smart, even if the (optional) tab groups still kind of baffle me. Also, the add-on compatibility tester means that I can be up and running with most of my preferred add-ons before they are formally updated for FF4. I find the RC's highlighting of tabs a bit less highlight-y than before, but other than that, I am quite impressed.

ING got around to selling mutual funds to Quebec customers, added an almost no-fee chequing account, and put in configurable e-mail alerts for situations that customers might want to know about: balance getting low, cheques clearing, that sort of thing. All I want now is a programmable bank account, but we're getting pretty close, with those alerts as well as scheduled transfers to, from and within accounts.

OC Transpo's route planner has gotten much better, adding in STO buses and modernizing its look. Unfortunately, OC Transpo also made the boneheaded move of dropping public access to its route and schedule data after a small developer built a wildly useful and popular bus tracking app.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Is anyone using the "tab groups" feature in the Firefox 4 beta? Is there an easy way to flip between groups? What benefits are you getting out of the feature, if any? It looks promising, but also a little clunky.
metawidget: A plastic wind-up teeth thing with a googly eye. (chatter)

The holidays went by pretty fast — it felt like we were doing something social nightly for about two weeks. It's a good thing Oscar generally seems to like parties!

Christmas eve, we went over to Elizabeth's parents' place for the traditional nut loaf, cookies, rum balls and gifts. Christmas day, we drove to Ormstown and joined 17 or so family at my parent's place, feasting extensively and helping the new people get names straight. I had been a little sniffly on Christmas eve, but by Christmas day, I was full-blown sick, so a bit subdued. Boxing Day was sort of quiet, but three generations of my parents' next-door neighbours walked over to admire Oscar and say hi. The 27th was the annual Christmas bash with white elephant gift exchange (aka "steal the present") — last year there was one kid there, this year there were three and we were all starting to feel a bit grown-up. We got together at my friend A's parents' place, about 20km past civilization — Enterprise was out of compact cars and gave us something with four-wheel drive, which got some use as we were whacking through snow drifts to get there. On the 28th, we celebrated [personal profile] dagibbs' birthday with food and drink and cheer at his place, and on the 29th we celebrated [personal profile] frenchzie's housewarming and birthday. On the 30th was our mostly-weekly D&D game at our place, and on the 31st we stayed in and rung in the new year with the upstairs people from House of Flail, Ticket to Ride: Europe and Dominion, and some mead from 1999.

The most memorable presents this year were Ticket to Ride: Europe from Elizabeth (a rather addictive little game), a huge jug of Beau's Nightmärzen from my cousin Erica, and a medieval-looking Garden Weasel from my parents.

I've had two tasty gift beers lately. Most recently was Nightmärzen, from my cousin Erica, which is a bright amber beer, Beau's hoppiest beer and fall offering. It reminds me a little of a darker Grolsch — same fresh, sort of pungent hoppiness, with a bit more sweet, and kind of light and easy-drinking. It's got a nice fizz to it and a modest head. I think it would be most excellent on tap when I'm expecting to stay for more than one pint somewhere. A little before that was Fuller's 2010 Vintage Ale, from [livejournal.com profile] the_arachne — it's supposed to be a prime candidate for ageing, and I may get another bottle to stash away. Consumed at a few months old, it was like a light-ish, sweet barleywine (despite a lower alcohol content than most barleywines), with notes of somewhat rough port. It had big malty flavour as well, but definitely tasted kind of young and almost unfinished.
In resolutions and plans for the year, I'd like to build a trellis and get some peas and beans up this year, and maybe even manage to get pumpkins into our squash mix. I also would like to not buy stuff made with water that I could've reconstituted myself — juice from concentrate, any sort of tea in a bottle, and bottled water. This is inspired by seeing chai syrup for sale in our local fancy grocery store. I would also like to bike up into the Pontiac sometime this year, and get out on the bike sometime in every calendar month. To this end, I should really clean and lubricate my chain before I need a new one.

Places I've slept in 2010:

  • Eganville, ON.
  • Gatineau (Hull), QC. A lot.
  • Gatineau (Gatineau), QC.
  • Montreal, QC.
  • Mont-Tremblant, QC.
  • Ormstown, QC.
  • Ottawa, ON.
  • Quebec, QC.

In a little bit of rantiness, I've been fuming slightly over Google's ranking of restaurant pages. When I search for a restaurant, I probably want the official page (with menu, hours and phone) somewhere in the first hits, and failing that (or to help me decide), a review written by a real human with as much of that information as possible. The last thing I want is a listing scraped from the yellow pages, with Bing's best guess at where it is located, in which I can be the first to write a review or add information.

metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I don't know if it's contagious from [livejournal.com profile] diatribein here (friends-only, alas), but I've been thinking abbreviations for a little while.

It took me quite a while to figure out what ETA stood for in a forum/blog/journal context: it was always clear from context that it meant "updated content," but the interference with "estimated time of arrival" in my head made it hard to come up with "edited to add." This kind of bothers me: unless it's ironic, or a statement of some sort, using an already firmly occupied bit of namespace to mean something very different seems like a Bad Idea. As far as I can tell, ETA fails that test.

The other thing about ETA is that there is perfectly good markup to represent the idea: XHTML has a pair of tags, <ins> and <del> that work fine in LiveJournal and are way less confusing. Added and deleted stuff can even be annotated given a title attribute, if you have a relatively compliant browser it'll appear as a tool tip or in some other useful way.

If markup isn't available where you write or if you're not a markup geek, you may as well just put EDIT: or UPDATE:, more readers will decipher your post faster and it's only an extra keystroke or three.

In other Internetty thoughts, LiveJournal has let folks enable little hover previews like I've seen on some other blog services (WordPress, I think?) for some of their links, like truth, over there (the rule seems to be inside *.livejournal.com, the previews don't happen, which I think is a bit of a shame as it'd be nice to see a little flash of someone's journal layout in a link to it). So far, I find the icons a little bothersome but the previews themselves I can see myself using. I'll see if I'm using them in a week and decide whether I like them. Anyone else have any thoughts on that feature?


metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
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