31 October 2009


If you like thoughtful board games, we've always had a good time at my house with Quoridor.

Our most recent Quoridor-phase got me in the mood enough to make this interactive assistant. At the moment, it's just a virtual board that allows exactly the same moves that the physical board does. However, it helps you track all of your moves and provides some rich navigation such as undo and redoing (with branching and tagging (kind of like git)).

Try it out!

(I've tested it on Firefox 3.5.4 and Safari 4.0.3 on OS X 10.5.8 and my friend says we're golden on Google Chrome on Vista. Please let me know about other platforms.)

30 October 2009

Free albums

The free songs link was removed, but check out are all the free MP3 albums on Amazon.com.

22 October 2009

Chicago Falcon by The Budos Band

Chicago Falcon by The Budos Band just came up in my iTunes and knocked me over (which is impressive, as I'm reclined on my couch). So, I wanted to share &ndash and who better to share with than you?!

I think I'll do this often, because of how many free samplers I tend to download from Amazon.com. (They used to have a page showing all free songs, but that URL is dead now... big surprise.) So... any suggestions regarding a better way to do this sharing or an online place to catalog the list?

15 October 2009

clever girl

Unexpected Netflix shipping of My Little Pony and Showgirls implies that someone is messing with the queue I'm using. Conveniently, I don't pay for it.

So I solved the problem by bumping the plan to send me more DVDs. Riposte! We can discuss extra expenses later.

09 October 2009



Oh yeah. Right. Sure. One "sshhtt" is all it took. Definitely. Right.

even worse


I recorded him in the crate this time, with his rawhide bone, water, and about eight hidden treats.

This weighs so heavily on me. I talked to Perry about it and he so graciously told me that as long as I remain as productive as I've been I can come in less. I'm planning on spending at least Tuesdays and Thursdays working at home and working on increasing the amount of time I can leave the room without him flippin' it. So hopefully we're on the mend.

Also, my new puppy class teacher suggested freezing some of his canned food (he usually just eats kibble) in a Kong, which is the most interest he's ever shown in a Kong. This has kept him occupied during my very brief absences.

I forgot to post my thoughts on Terminator Salvation...

We need to make money - Christian Bale
We need a talented and beautiful woman - Bryce Dallas Howard
We need to cover our demographics - Common
We need a creepy lady: Stevie Nicks but brunette and coherent - Helena Bonham Carter
Who threw this dart? - Sam Worthington
I know I owe you $20, but I don't have any cash on me - Michael Ironside
What's this second dart doing here? - Moon Bloodgood

two more factoids

I had a thing for Gadget.


And Beaker is – err – was my favorite muppet.

Noticing a theme?

06 October 2009

a quieter Honey

My roommate's dog is an unknown mix (of mythical renown amongst our community). One thing is for sure: she has some guard/alarm dog in her. When she hears any noise that might – in the slightest – indicate someone is coming through the door, she barks. And if she sees someone out our great window, then she's definitely letting us know about it. These are harsh "I'm on fire! I'm on fire and burning to death and it burns! SOMEONE HELP!" barks. They pierce your soul and leave you empty inside. (I would propose that it comes from one of the other five mouths.)

She barked hard, until today.

Today, she did not bark. She did not bark at the mailman. She did not bark when Jeff came home. She did not bark as Keith came home or went in and out of the front and back doors preparing to grill tonight (it smells good in here right now!).

Over the past couple weeks we've implemented a new strategy to quiet Honey. When she barks, we calmly lead her upstairs to her room (where she is happy to be). Crucially, the "upstairs" command comes immediately after the bark, so she's learning that barking gets her sent upstairs.

There's no punishment involved, but there is a consequence. Honey loves to see people come through the door. Especially women for some reason. It may have taken about two weeks, and it probably will take months more to solidify, but I think Honey is catching on. We've been diligent and the rewards today will only encourage us to stay consistent and help her improve.

It's been a nice quiet day, and I think everyone that knows Honey will be excited to hear this news!

(I also worked from home today to quiet Jupiter (from around the corner) each time he whimpered or scratched at his cage. After a while, he was quiet for periods lasting up to 2 hours. It was SO encouraging. I feel very positive about him tonight. And today was especially quiet.)

02 October 2009

welcome to the latest century

Here's how your web browser works.

HEY! HEY! Don't skip this unless you know this stuff already. It might demystify your monthly overage charges from your ISP, or help you yell in a more informed way at your roommates. It'll get back to this stuff in a few paragraphs, so hang in there.

When you type in a URL or click a link, your computer creates a little message (surely no more than a few kilobytes in the most extreme case). Your computer sends this message to your router (either through an Ethernet cable or across the wireless as a signal in the electromagnetic spectrum), which sends it to your modem (across the Ethernet cable) to your internet service provider (ISP) (across the DSL/phone/cable/satellite/etc.). All this time, the message's content hasn't really changed from that URL. Your ISP then sends this message to a name server, which is what knows how to map your URL to an IP address. When someone buys a domain name, they're in effect paying for these servers to include a mapping from their domain to the IP address of their webserver. Accordingly, the name server sends a new message containing the IP address for the original URL to your ISP which forwards it on back to your computer and finally your web browser.

Now the process starts over, this time using the HTTP protocol. Your web browser makes a new message (probably a GET request) and sends it to your router, modem, and then ISP. This time, the ISP sends it across the Internet backbone to the web server (identified by the IP address that the name server returned), which sends a HTTP response back to your web browser. Your web browser finally has the HTML (it's probably HTML but it can be other stuff) it needs to show you a web page. Other media in the web page, like images, are requested in a similar way before they can be shown as part of the page. Video, like YouTube for instance, are "streamed", which means that your computer is receiving later parts of the video (i.e. buffering) as it is showing you the parts it has already received.

(Wondering what HTTP messages look like?)

For all these things, the overall process is the same: your browser sends a message to a name server (via your router, modem, ISP) in order to translate a URL to an IP address, and then it starts communicating to that server (via your router, modem, ISP) to get the requested content (web page, image, video, etc.).

iTunes does a similar process (via your router, modem, ISP) when you search/preview/buy a song. Any program that uses the Internet basically does this same thing (via your router, modem, ISP).

Here's what makes this post relevant to your life. When your ISP gives you a bandwidth limit for the month, they actually give you two, one for upload (messages from your computer to your ISP) and one for download (messages from your ISP to your computer). When you click a link, there's at least two uploads and two downloads. Your browser uploads a request to translate a URL, your browser downloads the IP address, your browser uploads an HTTP request, and finally your browser downloads some HTML. Every time you upload something, your ISP counts how many bytes there was. If, in the billing cycle, that count exceeds your bandwidth limit, then you've broke the rules. (I think for upload bandwidth limits, they just really slowdown your upload rate.) But people don't usually approach the upload limit. Your ISP also counts the bytes it sends to you: how much you've downloaded. Overages here you're usually charged for.

So now you know that everything you do on the Internet contributes to your ISP's upload and download counts, regardless of how you're interacting with it. Unless, you're at a coffee shop, for instance. Then it's the coffee shop's account with the ISP that your Internet communications are associated with. This is why coffee shops usually have slower Internet. Otherwise, they'd hit their download limit very quickly because everyone would download their big files (movies, natch) there.

† – Technically, managing my units here, it's your bandwidth limit times one month, since a bandwidth is an amount of data (like 2 gigabytes) per an amount of time (like one month).

01 October 2009

anyone speak dog?


I decided to record Jupiter left in the living room when I went to work this morning. My iPhone quit after 40 minutes, but he was still whining. :(

He made all this noise even with our other dog Honey laying across the living room – he wasn't actually alone (admittedly: she doesn't like him). Yesterday I put him in his crate in the living room with Jeff watching TV and Jeff said he went off as usual. I don't think he goes so crazy if he's left with Jeff without being in the crate; hence today's test.

I'm hoping someone out there knows dog and can tell me that he's saying "If only I had a banana!" or something. He whines with or without toys/chews; once I leave he's fixated on the door and window, regardless. He generally quiets down after about an hour.

Unfortunately, I have to go to work and I can't bring him along. That's a new quality of my dream job, by the way.