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Category: Tech


October 18th, 2007 — 12:18pm

The Aeropress coffee maker! OMG! OK, yeah, I try to avoid coffee, generally. But every couple of months I give in. I might as well make that rare treat as good as it can be.

Watch as Nerd God Mark Frauenfelder demonstrates the awesomeness:

Dear Santa, this is available at thinkgeek! Hint, hint :)

2 comments » | Blog, Tech

Phantom Hourglass

October 6th, 2007 — 12:39pm

The long-awaited Legend of Zelda game for the Nintendo DS was finally released last Tuesday. Phantom Hourglass, YAY!!! Henry and I were at the store before it opened to buy two copies. We’ve been playing all week. It’s a fantastic game. Here’s an in-depth review on Gamespot: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

It took me a little while to get used to the stylus control. I kept wanting to steer Link around with the d-pad, but now I’ve got the hang of it, and the control system is flawless. The ability to make notes on the maps is fantastic. The puzzles and bosses are perfect — not too hard, not too easy. I really enjoyed the boss fight on the Ghost Ship — yeah, I died the first time but by then I had figured out what to do and I won the next time. The graphics are beautiful. The music is perfect.

If you have a DS, buy this game. If you don’t have a DS, buy one and then buy this game.

3 comments » | Blog, Tech

flickr feeds

September 27th, 2007 — 5:15pm

Did you know that you can subscribe to feeds of your friends’ flickr photos? It took me rather a long time to notice this feature. Here’s how you do it. If you don’t already have a favorite feed reader, get one. I like Google Reader.

Ok, now go to your flicker page. Click “Home” at the top. Click “Photos from your contacts” on the right. Click “Contact List” near the top.

Now, click one of your contacts. Scroll to the bottom of his first page of photos, and look for the small orange square. It’ll say, for instance, “Subscribe to DigiSage’s photos”. Now you’re kind of on your own because I don’t know what feed reader you’re using, but you’ll probably either right click and copy/paste the url into your feed reader, or left-click and follow instructions.

I really like being notified when my friends upload new photos!

2 comments » | Blog, Tech

Oh hai

September 27th, 2007 — 12:27pm

Dude steals macbook pro, accidentally takes photo of self with photobooth, photobooth automatically uploads said photo to owner’s flickr account, hi-jinx ensue!

Oh hai, I bott it frum a frend, honnest

Comment » | Blog, Tech

Flight of the Conchords

September 17th, 2007 — 7:48pm

I’d heard Dr. Drew say that Flight of the Conchords was hilarious, and then I bumped into a few more mentions online somewhere, so over the weekend I gave it a try. Apparently they perform live and have had a BBC radio series, as well as the recent 12-episode HBO series (and another season coming up in 2008). Here’s their HBO page.

It took me two or three episodes before I began to love the show, but now I’m fairly obsessed. I’ve been looking forward to watching episode five all day. It’s sort of a The Office/Mighty Boosh kind of thing… Not as funny as Boosh but not as painful as the Office. The characters are nerdily appealing, and the band’s only groupie, Mel, is a riot and reminds me very much of the obsessive fans of a certain local band.

Over the weekend, Dan and I worked on the OK GO song, Do What You Want. I can sorta drum (and sorta sing/bray at the same time), and he’s pretty good at the guitar. He found some mediocre tab online and desuckified it, don’t think he posted it online yet though. All we need is for Henry to get good at the bass! It’s a really fun song.

I started Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker over again on Saturday. Twilight Princess is awesome, amazing, beautiful, thrilling, don’t get me wrong, but I think for sheer fun, the Wind Waker wins. It was the first modern console game I ever beat, back in, what, 2003? I had a heck of a time back then, even the with beginning quests and dungeons, but now I’m a much more skilled gamer and I blew through Outset, Forsaken Fortress, and Windfall in just a couple of hours. Today I did most of Dragon Roost in an hour, and am ready for the boss battle. No walkthrough for me (yet)! It does help to have Henry or Dan sitting near me to point out the things I miss. :) We were reminiscing that when we first got the GameCube and LoZ: WW, it was quite difficult for Henry and we had to read the text out loud for him! And he dressed up as Link nearly every day (when he wasn’t Legolas or Frodo), complete with pointy ears. Awwwww :)

Finished the three-color mitts this evening at karate. They’re blocking now — photos tomorrow!

6 comments » | Blog, Tech

Kayray’s Internet Roundup

September 14th, 2007 — 1:43pm

Here’s some useful and/or fun and/or interesting stuff for you:

WebbAlert is Morgan Webb’s daily videocast (M-Th), covering the day’s developments in tech news, video gaming, gadgetry, and digital culture. Henry and I love Morgan’s show and watch it together every day. At first I found her a little too perky, but now I think she is adorable. Her vidcast is very entertaining and informative.

Do you have a mac? Do you use ssh, scp, or ftp frequently, perhaps to and from your personal server? If so, you’ve got to try MacFUSE:

MacFUSE implements a mechanism that makes it possible to implement a fully functional file system in a user-space program on Mac OS X (10.4 and above).

Ok, I know that sounds pretty dry, but stay with me. When Dan first told me about MacFUSE I was not particularly interested. It doesn’t sound nearly as useful as it is! He installed it, and sshfs, on my Macbook and I started using it and fell in love. If I need to copy a recording over to my webspace, I just drag it over in Finder. When I need to update a podcast feed, rather than ssh in and use vi to edit (or worse, to ftp the file back and forth), I just double-click the file in Finder and it opens in my local texteditor (SMULTRON). (And next time I can just Open Recent from the File menu!) I can’t tell you how useful it is. Today I installed it on my iMac, and, though it may sound a bit daunting, it’s easy — anyone can do it.

Go to Download the MacFUSE Core Installer Package dmg and the sshfs filesystem dmg. Install the MacFUSE core first, and then sshfs. Run sshfs. It’ll ask you for a server and a username, and then a password. Once you’ve connected to your server, it’ll show up as a drive in Finder, just as if you had an external hard drive plugged in. You can quit sshfs now. Now you can use your mounted server just as if it were a local box!

And now, some games:
Super Crazy Guitar Maniac Deluxe 2 (sound will start when you load the page, turn down your speakers!) — Mash the buttons along with the arrows and letters. I have gold medals for Hollywise, This Way, and Super Mario World Rock, and silver for Zelda. Those button combos kill me. I just tried one of the Pro songs and got about 4 points.

Desktop Tower Defense — place and upgrade units and defend your tower. Or whatever. Cute artwork, cute sound effects. Horribly addicting, try it at your own risk. I am an ace at Easy of course, but I still can’t get very far on Medium.

Speaking of addicting, we discovered Travian a few weeks ago. I started on US server s2 and Dan followed me, but we discovered that there are a few enormous, powerful alliances there that bully other players, so we switched to another, newer server in hopes of forming our own alliance and, possibly, standing a chance to play a more balanced, more peaceful game. We have a 13-player alliance there with some of the LibriVoxers.

Ok, that’ll do it for now. Have fun :)

4 comments » | Blog, Tech

librivox in top 100 undiscovered sites!

August 28th, 2007 — 5:08pm

PC magazine lists us in their Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites. Librivox is in the left column, about halfway down. Cool! Lots of other good sites on that list, especially and the extremely useful ZAMZAR (you just have to capitalize a name like that).

They even wrote a nice blurb about us:

Audiobooks are ridiculously expensive: The latest “Harry Potter” title lists at $80 on CD. Librivox, however, provides pod fodder for free. The site features a collection of public-domain books read by volunteers—and anyone can volunteer. The audio quality is good (MP3s at 64 or 128 Kbps, as well as OGG Vorbis files). Some narrators are better than others—some may have listened to a little too much NPR—but almost everything is at least decent, and some performances are quite good. The collection (a bit more than 800 Project Gutenberg works so far) is a bit of a hodgepodge, with everything from Walt Whitman to Edgar Rice Burroughs. You’ll have to wait about a hundred years for The Deathly Hallows, though.

Thanks, PC Mag!

3 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog, Tech

quicksilver magic

August 16th, 2007 — 7:05pm

While I was writing the previous post, I found myself once again wishing for some way to keep a few snippets of text on a permanent clipboard. I type the same strings over and over and over, especially when doing LibriVox work or setting up blog posts full of photos.

So, on a whim, I googled “permanent clipboard” and the very top link pointed to a way to use my beloved quicksilver for just this purpose!!

It took a bit of poking about to make it work, so I thought I’d document it and save you some time.

  1. Go to quicksilver -> plugins -> recommended and enable “shelf”
  2. Go to quicksilver -> prefs -> actions and scroll down to “put on shelf” and enable it
  3. Invoke quicksilver. Type “.” and type or paste your text string into the window. Press tab, then down-arrow until you see “put on shelf” and hit “enter”
  4. invoke quicksilver, type “shelf” (choose “shelf”, not the “shelf & clipboard catalog” thing), hit “enter”, then down-arrow until you see your shelved item. Drag it into your document (or whatever). Voila!!

Oh, wonderful wonderful quicksilver! No mac should be without it. Did I mention that it’s free?

Comment » | Blog, Tech

random stuff

August 15th, 2007 — 8:45pm

Tired and headachy today. Here’s a post full of random thoughts and a small amount of griping.

I like BoingBoing a lot, and a few days ago I realized one reason why (besides the general wonderfulness of the items they post): no reader comments! Therefore, no posturing know-it-alls and flame wars to irritate me. Just links that the boingboing team finds interesting, take them or leave them. Nice.

Finished Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey, this afternoon. Marvelous book. I first read it years and years ago, when I was about Henry’s age. My sister Kathy recommended Tey to me, so every time I read a Tey novel I think of her!

Lying in bed listening to my “Benny and Fred” pandora station. Some of the songs I’ve heard this afternoon:

Artie Shaw, “These Foolish Things”
Glenn Miller, “Fools Rush In”
Benny Goodman, “I Know That You Know”
Count Basie, “Moten Swing”
Fred Astaire, “Cheek to Cheek”

I had to thumbs-down just a few drippy things. How I do love

Henry had a great time at Margaret’s park day today! He wanted to start up archery again so we got there early for the archery session. He, um, arched, for a solid hour and never once complained about the heat, AND said he loved it. Yay! Margaret is so awesome. She provides all the necessary equipment, careful supervision, and a bit of instruction for only $5/hour. And then Henry asked the big boys if he could join in on their RPG session, which always takes place on a big table in the shade while the younger kids play, and he had a fantastic time playing with them for two and a half hours while I read and rested and listened to Loveline on my iPod in the car. The rest of the moms sit in the shade and chat but I’d rather sit by myself in the quiet.

Travian is fun: Work on your resources first, before building or improving other things. You’ll need more wood, clay, and grain than iron at first, so focus on improving those resources.

I have a lot of photos to upload — Henry at the beach, Henry and Dan playing Starcraft, Henry shooting arrows, the beginning of a new pair of socks, but I don’t feel like dealing with them right now so you’ll have to wait.

I gave mom a computer help session today. Virtuous daughter, me. Now she knows how to download, find (!), and open a pdf. Yay mom!

I’m minding the LibriVox email while Hugh is out of town. I don’t know how he does it full-time and keeps his sanity. People sure do feel entitled to complain about any little thing that doesn’t suit them. Keep in mind that our audiobooks are entirely, 100% free, created by volunteers who pour their hearts into making recordings for anyone who wants to listen. We get complain after complaint — “I don’t like Reader X, why on earth do you let her read?” “I don’t like readers with foreign accents.” “Books written by English authors should only be read by English readers” “Books written by men should only be read by male readers” “Recording X has background noise, don’t you have any kind of quality control?” “I don’t like your catalog search page, it doesn’t work at all!” (The user was typing the author’s name into the title box. Oops!)

However — we also get some wonderfully kind and thoughtful email from listeners. A fellow thanking us for giving his 80-year-old visually-impaired dad books to listen to. Lots of people saying they can’t believe they’ve found such a great resource. Thank you, kind people, your email really helps counteract the complainers :) And of course we do want to know when files are chopped short in the middle or have permissions problems that make their tags uneditable!

What do the ants want? WHAT DO THEY WANT?????? They seem to just wander aimlessly around looking for the Ants’ Holy Grail, whatever that might be. I’m so used to picking them off of myself while I’m sleeping that it doesn’t even bother me anymore.

I like WebbAlert. It took me a little while to get used to her, um, enthusiasm, but now I like her just fine and enjoy the content!

9 comments » | Blog, Books, Tech

comment subscription

August 12th, 2007 — 8:09pm

I’ve just installed Subscribe to Comments 2.1. If you leave a comment, you should be able to check the “subscribe to comments” box and be notified of follow-up comments on that post. Handy for extended discussions of knitting and books :) Give it a try and let me know if it works!

8 comments » | Blog, Tech

Chore Wars!

July 25th, 2007 — 6:22pm

Feeling better today, not quite right yet, but better. Took Henry to the beach in the morning and he played in the water for two solid hours while I read HP7. Lots of interesting things happened in the story, but of course I’m not going to say what! No spoilers here. I’m about to start chapter 34. In an effort to escape from the sun, I wore jeans, my sun protection shirt (from sungrubbies), my panama hat, my sunglasses and some sunscreen on my face, draped Henry’s towel around my shoulders, and held my parasol over my head. It worked pretty well — I can feel a slight burn on my nose and my eyes, but it’s not too bad.

So then we came home and I fed Henry a homemade burrito after he had a shower, then I had a shower, and then we went out to do errands. Shipped things at the Mailbox place (Kevin, the owner, is a whiz at packing things safely!), bought some groceries at Trader Joe’s (they’ve expanded again!), and a few things at Stater Brothers. Came home and Henry hauled everything upstairs for me, which of course gave him a quest to turn in on Chore Wars!

Hmm.. I haven’t mentioned Chore Wars yet, have I? Wonderful site. It’s a little hard to explain, but very simple to get started. You make a character, RPG-style. Your character joins a party, which could be your family, roommates, officemates, etc. Then you create Adventures, which can be anything that needs to get done. We’ve got a number of Adventures so far: Washing Dishes, Tidying Bathroom, Removing Dead Animal, Making Bed, Fixing the Internet, etc. You can assign experience points, monsters, and rewards to each chore. Then, when a party member claims a chore he gets experience points and rewards. You want to tailor things appropriately — a simple daily chore like Brushing Teeth should give low experience and gold, while a particularly time-consuming or obnoxious chore, e.g. Removing Dead Animal, should give you a lot of experience and rewards. When your character gets 200 exp, he levels up and his class might change depending on the skills needed for his most frequently-performed chores. It’s tremendously fun! Henry loves thinking of new Adventures to add, and coming up with appropriate monsters and rewards. And he also loves claiming adventures, which means he’s actively looking for chores to complete! He VOLUNTEERED to clean the litterbox today! YAY! I think our party is visible to the public: Shalpargon. Give it a try, it really is loads of fun!

So anyway. This afternoon we cleaned the Turtle Tank (20 exp each) and discovered that it was leaking even worse than we thought, so we ran out and bought a new one which cost a lot less than I was expecting ($44). Then Dan got home and he and Henry ate a quick dinner and went off to the Rush concert in Irvine together! So I’ve got a quiet evening at home to finished HP7 and knit and watch girl movies. And I suppose I should eat something. There’s leftover spaghetti from last night, and I could make a nice sauce with lots of peppers and some sausage. Yum. Or I could just eat apples and cheese and trail mix.

5 comments » | Blog, Tech

LibriVox’s New Releases Podcast

July 22nd, 2007 — 5:11pm

LibriVox volunteer Alan (Cloud Mountain) has put together our second New Releases podcast. Great job, Alan!

The New Releases Podcast is LibriVox’s twice-a-month sampling of new audiobooks available for free at LibriVox is an online volunteer community dedicated to producing free public-domain audiobooks.

Blog post with info, line-up, and feed here

Audio here

My Room with a View solo gets a mention, as well as many other interesting-sounding new audio books. I can highly recommend Peter Mink — a charming children’s book read by Lucy Burgoyne.

3 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog, Tech

flickr badge thingy

July 16th, 2007 — 9:53am

I searched flickr long and hard to find out how to make this badge, and googled, and failed miserably. Finally I asked Hugh if he knew how — and he did! He sent me to (you must be logged in). However, it obviously doesn’t work (the flash version, at any rate). It should show an assortment of photos of my Finished Knitted Objects, but instead all I see is text. How about you? Awesome. Maybe the code got munged while I was copy/pasting.

This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Finished Objects. Make your own badge here.

Ah-HA! It does actually work here on this test page: so it seems wordpress did something nefarious to the code. Let’s try again:

This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Finished Objects. Make your own badge here.

Huh. Still broken. Oh well, there’s no room in my sidebar for anything else, anyway.

3 comments » | Blog, Tech

more morsbags

July 15th, 2007 — 10:21am

I got a comment on my original morsbag post (scroll down) from The Fruid, who pointed me to a neat site called swapbot, which links up swappers over the internet. A user named cherrythepig is running a morsbag swap, where she encourages people to make and distribute morsbags, or, for the shy, she’ll collect and distribute the morsbags herself. Great idea!

While there I noticed a post from mediatinker, one of the founding LibriVox members! She’s created a really great, clear, non-verbal instruction page for morsbag sewing: Kristen’s Morsbag Instruction Illustration. Way to go, Kristen!

Henry and I have made 8 morsbags, with more on the way. Photos soon!

Comment » | Blog, Tech

Pandora again

July 6th, 2007 — 10:57pm

Have I mentioned lately how much I love I listen to my pandora stations for hours most days. I’ve got my favorite stations tuned pretty well, and it’s like listening to the best commercial-free radio stations on the world. If you’ve not tried pandora yet, I beg you to give it a try. Or if you messed around with it for a few minutes and gave up because you couldn’t figure out how to get a good mix on your stations, heed my advice and try again! It does take quite a bit of tinkering to get your station tuned the way you like it, but it’s easy tinkering.

Here’s how I built my favorite station:

I started by building a station on folk singer and political activist Pete Seeger and singer-songwriter, satirist, and pianist Tom Lehrer. Right away it started playing me and assortment of folk/protest/civil rights music, and satirical stuff. I had to do a LOT of thumbs-downing at first, getting rid of goopy pseudo-folk music and hideous sappy piano stuff. And I did a little bit of thumbs-upping but not much — that’s key! I generally only thumbs-up when I hear an artist I really REALLY like, and I’ve pretty much stopped thumbs-upping now that my station is satisfying. Don’t do too much thumbs-upping or your station will drift off in unknown directions. If you want it to drift around, thumbs-up to your hearts content. But I’ve found that I have better luck keeping the thumbs-upping to a minimum but being hard-nosed with the thumbs-downing.

So here’s an assortment of really great songs I’ve heard this evening:

  • Dust Bowl Pneumonia Blues (Woody Guthrie)
  • Links on the Chain (live, Phil Ochs, AWESOME song, artist I never heard before Pandora)
  • Galway Bay (Johnny Cash — I’ve discovered that I just love Johnny Cash’s folky acoustic guitar/vocal songs)
  • Born 10,000 Years Ago (Cisco Houston — never heard this one before!)
  • Little Turtledove (Ed McCurdy — never heard this one before either)
  • Destroyer Life (Oscar Brand)
  • We Will All Go Together (Tom Lehrer)
  • Draft Dodger Rag (live, Phil Ochs)
  • Mad Dogs and Englishmen (Noel Coward — Hilarious! Pandora decided I’d like this one a few days ago and it’s come on nearly every day since)
  • Red Iron Ore (Bob Gibson (Not the Bob Gibson who broke the piano at Palomar College…) — never heard this one before!)
  • Don’t Want No More Of Army Life (Leadbelly)

Take It From Day To Day (live) by Stan Rogers just came on — lovely song, another artist I’d never heard of before Pandora.

In case you don’t know it — Pandora lets you bookmark songs/artists/albums so it’s easy to remember the good stuff and track down CDs to buy. (You can see my bookmarked songs in the sidebar on the right and down a bit) I’ve bought several cds since I started listening to Pandora. Before Pandora I almost NEVER bought cds ’cause I never heard anything on the radio that I liked enough to want to own.

Long live! Did I mention that it’s FREE (if you don’t mind seeing some ads in your music player)? I splurged on the $36/year subscription to get rid of the ads. An incredible bargain, considering the pleasure and entertainment pandora provides me.

Comment » | Blog, Tech


July 5th, 2007 — 10:50pm

I finally bought a pro flickr account. Dan found a utility, FlickrExport, that exports from Aperture (or iPhoto) to Flickr. My photos just got a million times easier to manage.

Comment » | Blog, Tech

Pledgebank, Ratatouille, and other things

July 3rd, 2007 — 9:15pm

I took the boys to see Ratatouille today. We all liked it a lot! I was so pleased that there were no wise-cracking animals or crude in-your-face humor (unlike the very disappointing Charlotte’s Web). The story is warm and funny — not world-changing, just pleasantly entertaining and very enjoyable. The animation was breathtaking. There’s virtually no violence (near the beginning, an old woman takes a shotgun to some rats but of course she misses every time). There’s a gentle and subtle romance between two of the main characters and a very sweet kiss that made some of the kids in the audience go “ewwww!” lol! There are several touching moments; when the critic took his first bite of ratatouille, I got a bit choked up. You’ll see why :) Highly recommended!

Hugh’s pledgebank pledge was a success, as was mine. Annie’s now started one up, collecting money for Meniere’s Disease research. Y’know, at first I thought pledgebank was kind of cheesy… like, “I’ll only do this good thing if some other people will do this good thing” almost sounds kind of selfish. But, hey, it was Hugh, so I figured what the heck, might as well give it a try. Now I see that sharing charitable ideas and goals makes it more fun, and, hey, I got an extra $75 for kiva that they might not have gotten otherwise, and maybe more if my three fellow pledgers become regular kiva lenders… And I would never have thought of making a little donation to the Meniere’s people, so I’d say that pledgebank is a Good Thing.

I do wish their wording was different. Instead of “I will do [charitable deed] but only if [X] other people will do the same.” it could be “I will do [charitable deed] and encourage [X] other people to do the same.”

Annie lent to Nghuon Morn so I lent to her as well. She still needs more lenders, so please feel free to join us!

3 comments » | Blog, Tech


June 30th, 2007 — 10:26am Tell the world “I’ll do it, but only if you’ll help me do it”

Here’s Hugh’s:

And here’s mine:

Comment » | Blog, Tech

Steampunk Fireflies

June 24th, 2007 — 9:54am

An amazing kinetic sculpture: Steampunk Jar of Articulated Fireflies

This is so elegant, beautiful, and imaginative! Scroll down to the movie and watch it all the way through so you can see the fireflies in action in the dark.

Comment » | Blog, Tech

A funny blog

June 19th, 2007 — 10:55pm

A recent discovery:
The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks
Hilarious stuff. I saw a great potential entry at Lowe’s but had no camera handy.

Comment » | Blog, Tech

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