Wood framing porn

Bob Villa tours the McMillan Bloedel factory where they make Parallam, a neat glued laminate which super strong, but easier to work with than steel. Uses crappy wood too, which is great. See also these neat joists/rafters. I’m sure the glue will come back to haunt us, but it’s nice to see that people have come up with engineering ways to take natural fibers and make more efficient use of them.

Notes on shed construction

A few resources I’m finding useful in building a shed:

  1. A neat kit from Lee Valley, which includes a detailed plan for a basic shed, including a parts list, and hardware that should make attaching the roof trusses easy (I hope!),
  2. Also acquired at Lee Valley, a reprint of a classic book published by the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service a million years ago (well, no, in 1969), with the charming title “Low-cost wood homes construction manual
  3. A text called “Advanced Wall Framing” which came in handy to make me feel better about a mistake I made in one of the few deviations from the plan that I made.

Updated: fixed broken link

MacFUSE and sshfs great even with no UI

Gozer pointed me to a neat way to do development on an linux box from my mac, which is to use MacFUSE and the included sshfs program. It mounts the remote drives as a volume on my mac, and Komodo just edits is as if it’s a local file. Works great.

It would be nice if there was a tiny bit more UI to sshfs, so that, say, it told you when it successfully mounted the remote drive, but it’s amazing what UI failings one will tolerate of free software that works as advertised.

Best world music radio around: Aboriginal Radio

I’ve been meaning to advertise for the folks at 106.3FM Aboriginal Voices Radio. I’m not particularly receptive to most discussions around “first nations” issues, which is how Canadians refer to their aboriginal population, but I have to say that Emily and I are really enjoying Aboriginal Radio as a local station that seems to have a great supply of world music of all types, with no advertising, and remarkable variety. I still wish I could listen to NPR over the air, but this is better than anything else we’ve found so far. (No, the CBC doesn’t do it for me).

Python implementation of digital signature verification anyone? UPDATED

Hey, Lazyweb, what’s the status of Python libraries to do Diffie-Hellman digital signature verification?

UPDATE: The lazyweb didn’t help (Boris, geez.), but patience with Google did point me to:

  •  m2crypto, which has a rich interface to the openssl code, include DH
  • turns out the openid libs already package a DH wrapper as well

Small Town Silicon Valley

One of my first jobs was at a small startup called Neuron Data, a long, long time ago. This came to mind recently when looking at the Thrift whitepaper from Facebook.

The address at the top of the facebook paper reads:

Facebook, 156 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA

That jogged my memory. Sure enough, a little googling and I find historical data:

Contact: Neuron Data, 156 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA

I was there when the building was built and we (Neuron Data) moved in (assuming it’s still the same, which it was the last time I was in Palo Alto). Memories come flooding back:

  • driving across country in June with no air conditioning in the car (“We’d be happy to sell you freon, but there’s no place to put it, sir”).
  • really good pastries every morning (having French founders does shape a company)
  • doing design by contract in a version of C enriched with scary longjmp hacks, and generally learning a lot about software engineering in a summer
  • using the old VMS machine to troubleshoot Macintosh rendering code because it was so slow you could see each line being drawn one after the other without having to step through the code
  • probably my first taste of north-american style “bizdev” thanks to Alain Rappaport, a really smart and nice guy who’se now doing medstory.com
  • Losing a huge deal with Cray because Cray required the software to work on black and white highres monitors and our toolkit (Open Interface Toolkit, then renamed OI) had assumed that pixels were colorful (!)
  • watching a movie about apartheid and hearing people talk about East Palo Alto and having a hard time feeling good about the place.
  • expresso and ice cream from the gelato place across the way (the price of which shocked me when I went back later as a poor grad student!)
  • seriously considering staying instead of going back to the east coast, but
  • missing my girlfriend back in Providence, and going back

Anyway, the secret to Facebook’s success is clear: I must have left something there.