zwol: (burn zombies burn)
  // This is how you open a file.  In the current working directory.

  const Cc = Components.classes;
  const Ci = Components.interfaces;

  const DS_CID = ";1";
  const cwd = Cc[DS_CID].getService(Ci.nsIDirectoryServiceProvider)

  const LF_CID = ";1";
  var outputFile = Cc[LF_CID].createInstance(Ci.nsILocalFile);
  outputFile.initWithPath(cwd + '/');

  const FOSTREAM_CID = ";1";
  var ostream = Cc[FOSTREAM_CID].createInstance(Ci.nsIFileOutputStream);
	       0x02|0x08|0x10, // PR_WRONLY|PR_CREATE_FILE|PR_APPEND
	       438,            // 0666; JS no longer supports octal
	       0);             // useless

  function output(s) {
    ostream.write(s, s.length);

[EDIT: Yes, it's even worse than I thought.]

zwol: ((mad) science)

Why yes, I am stuck wasting most of an afternoon recompiling every piece of my giant patch of doom, one at a time. Again.

[ profile] camwyn prompted:

  • Leave a comment saying "ORANGES" (or any other fruit of your choice)
  • I'll respond by asking you five questions.
  • Update your journal with the answers to your questions.
  • Include this explanation and offer to ask other people questions, if you so choose.

My answers to her questions are behind the cut )

zwol: ((mad) science)
  1. the cow as white as milk
  2. the cape as red as blood
  3. the hair as yellow as corn
  4. the slipper as pure as gold
  5. ten pages of expository prose
  6. the firebird's tail feathers
  7. huge sunglasses
  8. snow
  9. the severed heads of NSPR and XPCOM, in a bucket
  10. a hypoallergenic bunny rabbit
  11. five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
  12. a brilliant visual representation of a confusing table of numbers
  13. mountains (with snow on them)
  14. the wire brush of enlightenment
  15. pictures of the world are shown / in places I have never known / who will know who shaped the stone
  16. a tall ship and a star to sail her by
(My sister invented this, I think it should be a meme. The first four are fixed, the rest are up to you.)
zwol: stylized sketch of a face in profile (Default)

Objects so far given to friends, donated to charity, returned to their rightful owners, ritually destroyed, and unceremoniously discarded include:

  • Computers (yes, plural)
  • Computer-related paraphernalia, in abundance
  • Toys suitable for small children
  • Puzzles suitable for adults
  • Board games
  • Collectible card games
  • Books
  • Mugs
  • Candles
  • Decorative pottery
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Cloth
  • Furniture

Nothing so far has been sold, but I suppose there is still time.

zwol: (commedia dell' arte)

[ profile] queenpam and I have a whole lot of ceramic objects. We would like to send them to people rather than find a new home for a giant stack of pottery in our new apartment. Please let us know what you want and we'll send it to you!

If you can, please post requests on the Flickr photo page for the object you want, not here.

[EDIT 23 Jun 2010: This offer is no longer open. We donated what hadn't already been claimed to the San Jose chapter of Empty Bowls.]
zwol: (commedia dell' arte)

Let's have a game of The Man Who Melted Jack Dann.

Take the titles and authors of books nearby, and run them together into sentences. The goal is humor. I'll start it off with three from my own shelves:

  • Someplace to be Flying Charles de Lint
  • The Island of the Day Before Umberto Eco
  • Magician: Apprentice Raymond E. Feist
zwol: (burn zombies burn)
Computers are not generally equipped with air filters, so it is necessary to clean accumulated dust off all the heat sinks from time to time. If you don't, eventually your computer will fail to boot because the heat sinks are so clogged with dust that the CPU or the video card goes into thermal protection shutdown before it ever gets out of the BIOS. This is, alas, exactly what happened to me this morning.

Unlike with my previous computer (which had an excuse, being a Shuttle microdesktop box with far too much stuff crammed into not nearly enough space) it was easy to get the CPU fan off the top of the CPU heatsink and vacuum out all the dust, without having to get out a screwdriver or anything. The video card, on the other hand... Video cards these days all seem to have this clever plastic duct and fan arrangement that sucks air through the GPU heat sink, which is a good idea since the expansion card area doesn't get that much airflow otherwise. But this means the heat sink proper is inaccessible, unless you take the duct off. It would be relatively easy to make the duct a snap-on arrangement, like the CPU fan is.

Did ATI do this for their model X1900? They did not. To expose the heat sink, you must completely disassemble the heat-rejection assembly and detach it from the video card. This requires the removal of twenty-one screws, of five different types, requiring three different screwdriver sizes; some of them are difficult to put back in their little crevices without a magnetic screwdriver, and none of them are made of proper quality steel — I ruined several of the screw heads and sheared one of the screws clean off, putting it all back together. Why do people still use Philips heads for screws that need to be torqued? There are many excellent alternatives. Some of the screws were self-tapping into plastic, which is never acceptable and yet features in every single episode of this show.

If I had been doing things properly, I would also have needed to clean off and re-apply two different kinds of thermal grease. Which I do not have. And to add insult to injury, it turned out that the heat sink itself had a closed top — imagine a stack of thin rectangular tubes, instead of the usual fins. This meant I couldn't get all the dust out, after all.

But the computer works again! So we'll call that a win.
zwol: ((mad) science)

Over a year ago I made these little dishes.

The idea was always that they would be put together into a fountain, somehow; that's why the little notches in the sides, and the holes in the bottoms of a couple of them. Well, with one thing and another, I never got around to buying a water pump or constructing any sort of structure to hold them all together, until today.

Yes, those are Tinkertoys™. And twist ties to hold the water hose in the right position. Obviously this would not be the permanent framework of the fountain, but it should do for testing, no? I was quite proud of having made it all fit together ... and then I turned it on. Turns out you can't just cut a divot in the edge of a dish and expect water to pour smoothly out. It stuck to the outsides of the dishes, it splashed, it went everywhere except back into the bottom dish. Also: unfinished wood swells when wet. I had to use pliers to get the thing disassembled again.

zwol: stylized sketch of a face in profile (Default)
It's sort of sad that I am pleasantly surprised when Bank A gives me no grief at all about wanting to move money over to Bank B. "Can I ask why you're making this change?" "I want to have everything in one place." "Oh, of course, naturally. We'll get right on that then."
zwol: ((mad) science)

Last time on No User Serviceable Parts, [ profile] zwol got halfway through installing a new keyboard tray on his desk before discovering that the electric drill's battery was dead. This morning, we tune back in to find the drill revitalized and the tray installed with only a few points of wishing for three hands, and no further demerits to award the manufacturer for penny-wise, installer-hostile design choices.

But the real question here is, how well does it improve the ergonomic situatiion? After a few hours of use, my preliminary verdict is: well enough that it's not going back to the store, but not so well that I abandon thoughts of an entirely new desk. On the up side, I can now sit up straight in my chair, with the screen at eye level, my arms at a natural angle while typing, and my feet on the floor. Which is what i was going for. On the down side, there's not quite enough space between the bottom of the keyboard tray and my thighs, and there's only just barely enough space between the top of the keyboard and the bottom of the desk for it to clear the steel bar that's under the front edge. More seriously, I have to reach a little further for the mouse than I'd like, and in order to get at all the keys on the keyboard I have to sit farther back from the monitor than I'm accustomed to. The monitor is on a swing arm, though, so that maybe can be fixed.

This episode's Extra Special Bonus Hate is not about the keyboard tray at all; it goes rather to whoever arranged to have the floor model of the shredder I bought yesterday (also at Staples) not match the one that came home! The floor model didn't have the major design flaw I was specifically trying to avoid, but the one that came home DID. Thus, unwanted trip back to the store today to exchange it. For the next beefier model up, which I took out of the box in the store and checked, and does not have the aforesaid design flaw.

I'd like to describe the design flaw, so that other people can identify and avoid it, but I don't think I can do it without pictures.

zwol: ((mad) science)

In this two-part episode, [ profile] zwol attempts to assemble a Staples brand flat-pack keyboard tray and attach it to his desk. The score so far:

+5for clear, concise instructions.
+10for all-metal shelf runners with ball bearings.
+2for including one extra of every fastener, thus reducing the risk of being unable to finish the job because something got lost.
-1for including one extra of every fastener, thus ensuring that you will have several left over when you’re done.
+20for the actual-size paper template to be taped to the underside of the desk, indicating where to drill the screw holes.
-1for not considering the possibility that the desk might include a steel bar right where they want you to drill one set of holes.
-10for self-tapping screws.
+5for restricting self-tapping screws to assemblies that probably won’t ever have to come apart again.
-5for itsy bitsy tiny teeny nut-and-bolt pairs.
-5for the stamped-sheet-metal alleged wrench to be used with said nut-and-bolt pairs.
-10for angle brackets that can be attached upside down.
-10for angle brackets that require simultaneous use of a wrench, a screwdriver, and two clamps to attach. And detach and reattach again when you realize you attached them upside down.

Part one ends on a cliffhanger: the electric drill’s battery is dead! Tune in tomorrow to find out whether my keyboard fits in the tray, and under that steel bar, when it’s installed.

zwol: (commedia dell' arte)
Apples to Apples, TV Tropes Edition.

The green cards are tropes, and the red cards are works of fiction. All else remains the same.
zwol: (commedia dell' arte)
Tell me unusual phrases that you've heard me say.
zwol: stylized sketch of a face in profile (Default)
This is just to say that [ profile] queenpam and I are now the proud(?) possessors of a set of Thomas Kinkade brand coffee mugs. And a Thomas Kinkade brand coffee and tea sampler to go with it.

Carry on.
zwol: (commedia dell' arte)
Many people, who are organized and stuff like that, they tend to send around cards at this time of year.

I am not one of those people. My memory is like a thing with many holes in it, and my records are worse, and so I have no idea what address to send cards to! Also I put it off till the last minute, which was some time last week, and now is ... later.

So. Instead! There will be VERNAL EQUINOX cards.

But if you want one, you must respond to this post and tell me where to mail it! Yes, even if I should know already. Because, I, um, don't. Comments will all be screened, so the interwebs at large do not see your address.

If you see this and the massmail on the same topic, you don't have to respond to both! But it might be funny.
zwol: ((mad) science)

In Python >= 2.5, if you need to do

    from . import module

but you don't know the name of module until runtime, this is how you do it:

    mod = getattr(__import__('', globals(), locals(),
                             [name], 1), name)

(This is going on my big list of things I will change when I am the BDFL.)

zwol: ((mad) science)
Here we have my laptop's running estimate of how much longer its battery can go:

Note how it gets stuck at 10 minutes left for more than 10 minutes. Paging through the graphs in this utility I can see that this is because the hardware stops reporting percent cell charge once it gets below 4%; also I suspect the hardware is wrong in calling the battery 4% charged at that point. But this is still rather sad.
zwol: (burn zombies burn)
You can tell me that Christians are a persecuted minority in this country when radio stations do not play nothing but Christmas-themed fluff for the entire month of December and then some.
zwol: stylized sketch of a face in profile (Default)
How would you improve primary school math classes, if they put you in charge of it?
zwol: ((mad) science)

If you are using Emacs 23, and you are mysteriously getting "Error: (args-out-of-range "" 0)" and/or "Lisp nesting exceeds `max-lisp-eval-depth'" messages every time you try to load or save a file... make sure you do not have a directory named .hg at the top level of your home directory. The vc-hg module doesn't deal well with directories named .hg that aren't actually a Mercurial repository for anything.

This PSA brought to you by the I Just Wasted An Hour On That Foundation.

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