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{ Author Archives }

Like Poor Old Ollie

I was thinking some more about the new game “Shadow of Mordor” (read the review by Carolyn Petit here). I can’t really add anything to her review — she makes it sound like the plot of God of War was transplanted into an Assassin’s Creed game set among some of Tolkien’s ideas — not truly […]

Monkey-YAML (or: Reinventing the Wheel)

In theory, we’re never supposed to reinvent the wheel. In theory, we’re supposed to fix things correctly. Well, as Yogi Berra allegedly said, the difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference… Some time ago I got involved in the Test262 project (you should too!) and, one thing leading to […]

Installing node.js 0.10 on CentOS5

I have an old stable internal server that’s running CentOS 5.10 which I want to use a staging/development server for modern node.js applications. The problem is, current prebuilt versions of node.js can’t be installed on CentOS5, since CentOS5 has GNU libc 2.5 and the prebuilt node.js RPMs are only for Fedora/RedHat/CentOS 6, and are linked […]

Chemical Structure QR

Getting from a printed chemical structure to a structure database is slow and painful. Every printed chemical structure should include a Chemical Structure QR Code with the InChIKey for the compound.


I’m starting a week-long work block today — that is, I’m planning to work from 5AM to 5PM straight every day, like a “normal person”. Danielle has graciously consented to spend one week of her vacation doing everything else that needs to get done. Since last week we had a “stay-cation” where we went out […]

Books I recommend to everyone

My friend Evan asked about design books and I spouted off a few – including The Systems Bible, which I now feel guilty about, because it’s not strictly a design book. I included it because it talks about how system design fails, and it’s humorous and I think teaches some larger truths. It was originally […]

Passing options to node on the shebang (#!) line

Someone on #node.js wanted his script to pass a command-line option on the node shebang line. When I suggested he use the “-x” hack…

Teaching Editing and Dictation

The day before yesterday we practiced editing and dictation (#4 and #3).  For editing, I found an essay online that Kaija wouldn’t hate to read (it’s about Pokemon).  I asked her to read it out loud to me.  Afterward, we went over it with a highlighter and pen and I summarized each paragraph in a single sentence and […]

Learning By Breaking It Down

When learning how to do something, it helps to break it down to irreducible subtasks. As an example, we homeschool our kids; my eldest daughter Kaija is 5th-grade age.  We want her to practice writing simple paragraphs as a stepping stone to essays.  But asking her to just “write a paragraph” can be overwhelming, because […]

Dim Glimmers of Light

A lot of change this year. At the beginning of 2013 I said ‘goodbye’ to a longtime client (15 years).  It was time, and past time. Getting all my stuff sorted out and handed over took a while: I planned three months, it took only two, so I picked up and knocked off one more […]