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January 21, 2011

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Origami Deer, folded by me, design by Robert Lang

Origami Deer, folded by me, design by Robert Lang

I folded this last week, from a 10×5 inch rectangle of brown florist’s paper.  The design is from Robert Lang’s The Complete Book of Origami.

I drew this picture of my living room last night.  The kitchen chairs are in the the living room, because we’re painting in the dining room.

I like how the sketch turned out.

A sketch of my living room

A sketch of my living room

origami gerbil by robert lang

November 13, 2008

origami gerbil

origami gerbil

I folded this origami gerbil tonight; the design is by Robert Lang.

It came out rather well, though the ears look a bit ragged.

late night origami dragon

October 4, 2008

some late night folding, from a design by Gilad Aharoni [ http://www.giladorigami.com/D_Dragon.pdf ]

Green Dragon Origami

Green Dragon Origami

The tail and neck are somewhat thick, and might work a bit better with foil.  or not.  somewhat sloppy on my part, but a fun model none-the-less.


July 27, 2008

This BookMeme was sent to me by DJ Empirical.  I don’t like long lists of things, but I do like books.

It looks like a total of 20, though there is definitely some confusion for me on whether to count some items.  I know I read severely abridged children’s versions of some of these that I haven’t counted, as I read dozens of those ‘comic book’ style, picture on every other page, versions of the classics.

I think its especially sloppy of them to include as separate items, proper subsets of previous items.  Who makes these lists?

Also, no Robert Louis Stevenson?  No Rudyard Kipling?  What gives?

Here’s the list and rules :

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you read part of but never finished.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Strikethough those you hope to never read again, and sometimes wish
you could un-read.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
* 2  The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
* 4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling ( technically, i haven’t read the last one yet, but that wont last the year)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
/ 6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
* 8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
*X 10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens  (down with dickens)
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
/ 14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (The Tempest, Measure for Measure, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night / What You Will, Henry IV, part 1, Henry V, Richard III, Titus  ndronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Cymbeline)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
* 16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
* 25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
* 29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
/ 30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
/ 33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
* 36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis (wait, this is a proper subset of 33!)
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
* 40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
* 41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
* 49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
* 52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
* 58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
* 65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On the Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
* 73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From a Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
/ 81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
* 87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
* 89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
* 92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
* 97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
* 98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare (another proper subset of a previous item!)
* 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Just yesterday, at work, I caught more code using java.util.DateFormat in a non-safe way, so today I looked through old mail and the like trying to find one of the better summaries of the DateFormat situation I’d read. I found this one :


I mentions the non thread-safety of the DateFormat class (something that ought to be well known by now!), and lightly discusses ideas for working around the problem.

What’s missing from the post above, however, is any discussion of how developers might find and correct all of their existing DateFormat usage after learning about this problem, and how they might prevent further incorrect usage in the future.

This is where static analysis comes in. PMD, a popular Java-language static analysis tool, already has a rule relating to thread-safe DateFormat usage. This page :


mentions the below rule :

UnsynchronizedStaticDateFormatter: SimpleDateFormat is not synchronized. Sun recommends separate format instances for each thread. If multiple threads must access a static formatter, the formatter must be synchronized either on method or block level.

This rule likely would have caught the above mentioned problem at Atlassian, and certainly would have prevented the similar problem in my company’s code (I checked).

Overall, I’m surprised to see development teams doing very little with static analysis, as there is quite a bit of low-hanging-fruit to be gained from tools such as PMD and FindBugs.

While watching a documentary recently, I thought to myself that what I wanted to see while watching the film was a set of captions I dubbed ‘Honesty Captions’; these captions would contain only one thing: the precise time at which all of the film in the documentary was taken.

With ‘Honesty Captions’ on, I would get information useful to interpreting whether how much the filmmaker is sculpting reality for the story of the film.  Did that angry response interview happen 1 hour or 1 month after the original incident?  Were those two-shots from the same argument, or pieced together from an entire day of film?

Although I got this idea watching a feature-length documentary, I think the concept could usefully be applied to short films on YouTube.  People making / analyzing film clips of politicians, could easily tell how much / little the film was cut together.

Though I’m usually a proponent of Neuros, their recent survey had this as their first question :

1. By my participation in the following survey, I hereby agree to keep all information about the survey, including the products and concepts being tested, completely confidential and further agree not to disclose such information to any other party nor to attempt to copy, print or download any information from this survey. As to members of my household, I agree that they are also under this same obligation of confidentiality. In addition, I agree that I and others in my household do not work in the market research or advertising industries or for a news/media outlet.

Sorry Neuros, but I’m not taking a survey that says I can’t tell people what the survey was about.



I contacted Neuros about this, and although I still disagree with an EULA for a survey, Neuros’ response was understanding,  and they explained their reasons for the EULA well.

Over the last year, I’ve been reading a lot of DIY electronics sites: Make Magazine’s Blog, www.hackaday.com, www.uchobby.com, and quite a few others. I’ve read through many project descriptions, and through many, many project parts lists.

Something has been missing from nearly all of the parts lists I’ve read, however. Nearly none of the projects provide “kits” to build the project, and surprisingly few projects even provide links to links to individual part sources. Many provide only a simple plain text list of parts, perhaps including Jameco or Digikey parts numbers.

This startled me, simply because I’m so accustomed to the ubiquitous ‘Amazon’ links at the end of every book review, and nearly every CD and DVD review, I read.

I’ve looked around the web some, and there doesn’t seem to be a seem to be a way to create an “Instant Kit”, to add a shopping list of items to your cart, at any shopping site I’ve seen, even non-electronics sites such as Amazon. Such an “Instant Kit” creator seems like the perfect thing for Amazon or Google-Shopping to create, or for DIY sites like Instructables to integrate into their project instructions.

If this really doesn’t exist, then I think it’s time for someone to write one. Maybe me.

To be at all useful, I believe an “Instant Kit” creator would need to deal with two questions fundamental to shopping from an ingredients list, the questions I ask myself every time I go to the grocery store with a shopping list in hand:

  • Which of the item on the list do I already have?
  • Which items on my shopping list should I buy at store A, and which at store B? This encompasses a lot of smaller questions about item availability at particular store, price comparisons between stores, store minimum orders.