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Welcome to Words

OK, let’s make one thing clear. I am not a writer.  It isn’t my thing.  I can’t stand all the spelling, and the grammar, and the correct use of punctuation; it is enough to drive someone mad.  Despite that, I do write from time to time.  Rarely with the intention of showing it to anyone, but because writing helps me organize and develop my thoughts.  It forces me to research my own opinions and examine my own logic.  Which is why most of this stuff never see’s the light of day.

Sadly, I’ve not been very good at keeping track of it all.  Which means the my collected writings of the last 15+ years are lost.  Which is kinda sad.  To fix that I am going to start using this site to store my writings.  As I find stuff I’ll upload it here.  I may even publish some of it, but don’t expect to much. My writing isn’t likely to improve but I can make sure I don’t loose anything.

Additionally, I used to write for an MMO blog.  My stuff can be found here


Foray into PyQt

I love Python. Of all the languages I’ve played with, it was the quickest I was able to do something useful in. Not just a working example, but code that served a purpose and filled a need. A large part of that is because of Python’s focus on simplicity and readability. However, most of the Python I’ve written has been fairly simplistic data analysis stuff. Import Data from a CSV or database. Sort it, processes it, turn it into useful and easy to read data, and then dump it out into a file. I’ve been itching for a bit more of a challenge, so I’ve set out to tackle something more complex.


Roku Screensaver Pt. 3

In wrapping up the Roku project; there are just two more things to talk about. First is that the screen stack isn’t as sacrosanct as the documentation would leave you to believe, and the other is Flight Rising’s disappointing response.


Roku Screensaver Pt. 2

A friend of mine likes to say that no aspect of a programming language is an accident. If the designer of a language excludes a feature or includes certain features but not others, it is because the designer is trying to encourage use of the language in a certain way. Look up discussions of pythons lack of increment and decrement operators for an example. While I don’t share my friends faith in the foresight and design wisdom of language creators; I do think it is an excellent way of looking at language limitations. Instead of seeing them as failures that hamper us, view them as guides trying to direct us.

In high level scripting languages such as BrightScript, this tends to come up a lot. The Script designers often have to make choices about what functionality to provide access to, or what components and global functions to develop. In BrightScript I’ve come across two examples of this; limits in their regular expression component and their file system.


Roku Screensaver

A few years ago we ended up getting a Roku for our cable cutting needs. It supports Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime as well as a slew of other Streaming services that I hadn’t heard of before. It’s also simple to use (unlike the HTPC I built), which helps ensure that it gets used by the rest of the household. As an added bonus you can search a title, and it’ll return every service that has that title as well as the cost to buy/rent if available. It is well priced, and frankly I’m surprised more people haven’t gotten one.

It is also fairly accessible to program. The language is called BrightScript, and it sits in a comfortable place between easy to implement and flexible. BrightScript focuses on streaming audio and video from another source and not doing much (if any) local graphics processing. But the Roku 3 could handle simple games and it is perfect for displaying information, especially if the heavy lifting for that information is done elsewhere.


Some SQL

One of the more enjoyable aspects of my current job is navigating the in house Laboratory Information Management System (or LIMS) in order to validate (or disprove) our assumptions about trends, find cases, and just plain find interesting numbers. (Example: Our highest BAC in a DUI case was 0.562). Because our LIMS was coded completely in house I had access to the developer, and through him the DB Schema. The LIMS would allow us to execute sanitized queries, and for more complex operations we used pgAdmin III.


Let’s Read: 13th Age

13th Age is a new tabletop RPG system being written by Rob Heinsoo & Jonathan Tweet; whose names you would recognize if you had read the credits of 3rd Edition and 4th Edition D&D. They’ve done some other impressive stuff, but this post isn’t about them.

13th Age is supposed to be a “love letter to D&D”. It has the goals of improving the flaws in both 3rd & 4th, while showing d20 how it can be a story based RPG. Some random commenter has called it “Pathfinder for 4th Edition”, and while I don’t agree with that, I do see his point.

On to my Let’s Read! What follows is my thoughts as I read through a pre-release version (Escalation 1, for those keeping score). I assume you are  familiar with d20 RPGs, and have some idea of the core concepts being introduced by 13th Age.


Good bye Boxee Box

Boxee Box is being returned. It leaves Monday morning as that is the soonest I can get it to a UPS Store.

Internet Blackout

Blue Lochiel has gone dark for January 18, 2012 to protest SOPA/PIPA and Internet Censorship. The text of this notice will remain here after the blackout.

Winter Goals

With winter comes the winter goals list.


  • Go Snowboarding – Woot for easy goals! The plan is to get a 4day pass, and actually use it.
  • Go to the Dentist – And woot for impossible goals! I don’t mean to be rude; but FUCK dentists. FUCK THEM TO HELL. I have an irrational dislike for dentists, as everyone who has ever seen me smile knows. And while I am able to rationalize that dislike, I can not rationalize the ugly in my mouth. So I need to fix it.
  • Carlsbad Caverns – Not the walk around the big cave tour, but the crawl around the muck version. Spencer and I have been talking about doing this for a few months, and now is the time to make it happen.  It looks like it’ll be at a 3 day weekend with plenty of climbing and crawling.
  • Get My Damn Passport – I realize that it is a small and simple thing but dammit I need to do it. So I shall do it!


  • Build the TV Computer Server Thingy – It costs $300. I need to set aside the money, buy the parts, put them together, install the software, and hook it all up.
  • Improve the Sexy – I have changed the wardrobe, got a hair cut, and I am going to the dentist; what else do I need to do? I must admit, I didn’t realize how much stuff I was /not/ paying attention too. So I shall take a continuing look makes me look unsexy, and decide what is worth fixing.
  • Get a motorcycle license.
  • Clean the house – Garage and Basement are, as always, the big projects, but I am slowly taking care of the rest of the house.
  • Fix the house – The light switch in the garage, the basement door, the backyard fence… what else? Maybe thicker doors on the bedrooms. And look into the garage door, it is a horrible thing.

If I have time

  • Gather my memorabilia and find ways to display it.
  • Collect my old pictures and convert them to electronic format.
  • Fix the Car – The O2 sensor needs to be replaced, the passenger side back door seal needs to be replaced. What else?
  • Decorate the walls of the house – I have been told that using the blood of the innocents is not an acceptable option. It needs to be pictures and shit.
  • Learn to Longboard – Not even sure if I care. But it could be fun, and alternative methods of locomotion ftw.

Character Growth

  • Keep a grip on my spontaneity and chaos driven life style – Just because I am becoming more organized does not mean that I can not be spontaneous and chaotic. It does mean that my spontaneity and chaos will be more informed. I will understand the consequences of my actions, and I will accept that I must deal with those consequences.
  • Get people to talk more– I like to hear what people have to say and I want to understand why they think what they think and believe what they believe. Mostly I want to hear the stories of their lives. Unfortunately I have a bad habit of talking over people. So, I need to develop my conversational skills.
    • RASA: Receive, Appreciate, Summarize, Ask – This is a method that a friend of mine uses in her conversations, and it seems to be an excellent method of getting information from people.
    • When drunk, listen more – Want to get me telling stories? No need for a truth serum; just get me drunk. Granted I don’t get drunk that often. Maybe once every 2-3 months. But when I do I should work at engaging other people, not just talking their ears off. People are cool, and have their own stories. I should try to listen to them.
    • Improve my understanding of non-verbal cues – Not all people communicate verbally, a lot of people use non-verbal cues to communicate. I tend to plow right over such non-verbal communication in the belief that if you do not think it is important enough to say, then it is not important enough for me to notice. However I should be paying more attention to people’s non-verbal cue’s so that my choices to ignore their non-verbal communication is an informed choice.

End of Summer Report

Remember this post? It was my Summer goals post, where I laid out some objectives for the 2011 Summer. Let’s see how I did in meeting those goals, and see what additional things I accomplished. As an aside, I think that this shows that I’m not a goal oriented person; simply goal aware. Notice the number of things that I had planned on that didn’t happen. And notice the number of things that I had not planned on that did happen.