On July 1st I discovered a puddle of liquid mercury in our house. It was the evening before the holiday weekend and I was preparing to do some more demolition for the bathroom I've been working on. I was putting down plastic to make cleanup easier, and when I got to the corner there was a dusty little puddle. That seemed peculiar, so I poked it. It wiggled. I knew exactly what liquid moves like that. more...
Getting response headers is easy: run curl -D- -o/dev/null -sS [url] or load the site in a browser with the networking tab open. Getting request headers is harder, because webservers don't have a way to dump this exactly as they received it. Yes, you can set them to log specific headers, but logging all headers exactly as they came over the wire isn't something I see in nginx or apache. Netcat can help here. Start it up on some unused port: more...
Since getting a house much of a year ago I've put in a few different types of flooring. I thought I'd write a bit about what we decided to do and why.
When we bought the house many of the rooms were wall-to-wall carpeting. After getting down to the wood and pulling the staples out I screened it, filled big holes with wood filler, and put down oil-based polyurethane. More details here. After a few months of living it looked like this:
Let's say you know some guitar, and would like to play for contra dances. Playing for dances is a lot of fun, so that makes sense to me! How do you get there?
In most bands the guitar fills a rhythm role. Sometimes it's the only rhythm player, sometimes there are several.  You need to give people the downbeat, the upbeat, help communicate when to start and stop the moves (phrasing), and support the melody by playing chords that work well. That's a lot! Where to start? more...
A TV show got an information theory professor to make up a metric for evaluating compression algorithms so they could make claims of a breakthrough. This is great—who doesn't like striving for accuracy in media—until people start saying we should be using the metric to evaluate real data compression algorithms. Now we move from the fluffy world of "good enough to be passable on TV" to the far stricter "actually captures what we care about" and, unfortunately, this metric fails the harder test. more...
I've been thinking about how to handle organizing one-off events. There's a trap you can fall into when working in a collaborative way where no one feels confident enough to go ahead and commit to things because they're not sure all the other needed things are ready. I'm going to talk about contra dancing because I've done the most organizing there, but it's all pretty general.
So let's say you have a group of people who've been involved with organizing to varying degrees, and people get excited about something new. Perhaps you want to have a special dance in a different hall with non-traditional music and fancy lights or something. To have this dance you need to pull together many things, including: more...
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