Twitter use case #1!

Before I forget. After weeks of hard work, I finally came up with a good use case for Twitter. Skiing.

More specifically, out here, you can decide to go skiing at a whim. It takes 30-45 minutes to make your way onto the hill. But conditions are sometimes iffy. You can check out the hill’s website, but that’s highly biased information. I want real-time user generated data from people on the slopes. And they have cellphones. Now I just need them to publish data. Next season, if Twitter is still in business (and hasn’t collapsed under the load), I might just print out some stickers and plaster them in the lodge…

I knew there was a purpose for the thing.

Brain dump

After a few weeks heads-down work in code for a demo, I got to look up and read, watch, learn. The highlights.

Ted.com has an updated website, with high quality videos on important topics, and lots of them. So far I saw Bill Clinton (a really good presenter, it’s impressive to watch), and I want to see more. (Found first through Paul Kedrosky’s feed, which is an interesting mixture of stuff I really don’t care about and stuff I do care about). A friend also forwarded me a link to

Andreas Kupries pointed me to a paper mentioned by Jean-Claude Wippler called Magic Ink. It’s a brilliant paper about user interface design, or the lack of it. In the vein of Tufte, but much more applied to software. The tail end of the paper is a little too fluffy for my taste, and the paper would have been better without it, but that’s a minor flaw on what I hope will be an influential paper. I’ll try and get people to read it, but it’s too long for many.

Saw two good movies recently: After the wedding, a Danish movie about a family (hard to say more without revealing the plot), and The Squid and the Whale, a movie about kids and a couple divorcing. Both recommended.

Next on the list of movies to see: Das Leben Der Anderen, a movie about the Stasi in East Germany.

A fascinating paper in New York Magazine about the work of Carol Dweck, whose research seems to show how indiscriminate praising of kids and telling kids they’re smart leads to under-performing and lack of confidence. Important reading for parents and parents-to-be.

For fun: Luke Closs juggling at Web 2.0 expo.

Quote of the dayfrom Dwell Creative’s manifesto:

No good ever came from a doomed relationship. Except The Beatles.

I think I’m already sick of the new graphic design on this site (in particular, it looks bad on IE). I’ll have to find something else to steal.

Finally, a warning: I just ordered a MacBook, so you can expect Apple to announce a new line of laptops by the middle of next week.

Ext JS Packaging script

I’ve been having fun working w/ (among others), the ExtJS library (ext.js.com).  In fact, I’m a paid customer, meaning I get access to the SVN tree, which can come in handy. However, the SVN tree doesn’t include the packaged files needed for easy use, as those are currently built as part of the release process by the Ext JS team through a baroque process involving a Windows-only program.  While there are plans to provide tools to customers to make custom builds available on demand, that’s not there yet.  To make my own life easier in the interim, I wrote a script that I run from the root of the svn tree and creates the packaged files.  If you want to work off of the head, it’s handy.

Easy Prize: Komodo Extensibility Challenge

Anyone vaguely interested in the coolest new IDE on the block (Komodo 4, now comes in a free edition) should know that there’s an extensibility challenge on, where the best extensions, macros, hacks, etc. provided by users (you) will win cool prizes, including my favorite, a Squeezebox from Slim Devices (have one, love it). All it takes is a bit of JavaScript, XUL, at most Python, and you can make it dance to your rhythm.

Start with this post to find out more. Right now the most punny entry is called Komode

Theft

Jane got robbed on her train ride back from ETech.

That brings to mind my experience with a vancouver thief, which, it turns out, did not end there, but I never updated this pseudo-historical record of random events.

On closer inspection of the garage, we found that in addition to stealing two bikes, they’d left a glove. Weird. We called the cops after a couple of days to report the theft for insurance purposes, and gave them the glove (“DNA testing, you know”).

The night after the cops came, we (oops) hadn’t locked the garage, and someone came back and rummaged through everything again, presumably to recover said glove, since they stole a pair of ski mitts. They also took our halloween candy from the freezer, and still didn’t take the vodka.

Just before ETech, we went for our last nighttime ski trip. Came back at 11:30pm or so, parked in the back to unload the gear. The light was on, which was odd. The door was open, which was worrisome. There was a strange man inside, which was infuriating. I yelled at him (very loud, it turns out), clearly scaring him more than I was scared, even though he had a box cutter (probably mine). He mumbled that he was leaving, and I let him go, which seemed the only safe thing to do.

Turns out:

  • while the garage was locked, a window wasn’t latched. He unscrewed the hinge and broke the hinge open, then climbed in.
  • he was slowly cutting up the fibers inside the security lock which was attaching my new bike to a cart in the garage (good thing I was feeling paranoid!). Another 20 minutes and it would have been gone.
  • he stole my skanky smelly used-all-winter-in-the-rain sneakers (size 12) and left a pair of much nicer Skechers (size 8 ). Oh, and he left an umbrella

I’m quite convinced that all of these visits are just from one guy, not very bright, who has luckily for him stumbled onto us, a family that needs a few losses to really lock down our security, because life in jail just isn’t much fun. I think we’re secure now. Sigh.