Blog, by date: 2008_jun
from the desk of travis johnson.
Odegaard Copy Center (from 2008/06/23)
This is going to be sortof a short post with not much worldwide applicability, but I just learned a couple of weeks ago that Odegaard’s Copy Center will bind a packet of papers for fairly cheap, it turns out. They do it with a clear front cover and a back cover of your choice, plus binding you pick out from their samples. They do it while you wait and have good hours. I had no idea they offered this service, and was very impressed with their output.
Incidentally, I used it on Doug Girard’s and my report on Hopfield Neural Networks, a relatively simple form of content-addressable memory, which is pretty neat stuff. I’d like to write up some more about it at some point, both about what it is and what our experiments with it showed. I really miss doing this sort of experimental programming projects, hopefully I’ll have some time to persue it in this summer’s mathematical modeling course.
I was talking to Sharvil today about startups and doing something, and sortof said some stuff that had been trying to congeal itself in my mind, which was that no matter how tempting it is to go looking for some project tomorrow morning, what is really ideal is to just absolutely master everything. How ingrained in our mind is basic algebra? How much less so are things like linear algebra, real, complex, and vector calculus, DE solution techniques, and some of the other ‘high math’ fundmentals that a heap of other stuff depends on. I don’t feel like not having these things down to the point of mindlessness has really inhibited me, but I love it when things come automatically, without thought. I guess this is sorta why I got those Schaum’s outlines: I want a bunch more practice with it. But I digress. I’m pretty tired, I think I’ll need to crash now.
Firefox PDF on OSX (from 2008/06/22)
June 3 was a fantastic day, though I didn’t know it at the time. The reason? My biggest bitch about Firefox has finally been fixed. The big problem is that Firefox’s OSX program has the default behavior of saving PDFs to Desktop and starting Preview with it. Which isn’t a huge problem, except that if you download the file several times, it just downloads a file with -N appended. This is sortof a pain because in college a lot of teachers call files hw5.pdf, which means that I pretty much have to go to the website each time, or look through about 5 files each time.
But no more. Someone FINALLY wrote an in-browser PDF viewer. This means no more downloading, no more pain. If Firefox’s success wasn’t based on shipping a very good HTML parser with a great extensible framework while stripping most unnecesary stuff, I would say that they should have included it in the standard Firefox. I guess I can let it slide, but it’s seriously a must-have tool for all OSX Firefox users.
Serious. Go and get it, now. Here’s the link: firefox-mac-pdf
Update Sept 25, 2011: The above link doesn't seem to work with recent versions of firefox. Schubert-it's Plugin-PDF seems to work pretty well. It's only free for academic and personal use, though.
Why can't someone write a decent, free/open source version of a stupid PDF plugin?
Skeletool CX (from 2008/06/21)
So, I finally got fed up with never having a screwdriver when I needed it unexpectedly. Perhaps this was due to the recent MacGyver watching binge, but either way, I’m calling it excess frustration. It seems like it always throws me off when I’m trying to do something at work or at a friend’s house to their computer or… whatever. I had started to carry my little red Swiss Army knife a while back, and it came in handy at least a couple of times a day, so I decided it was probably worth further investment to get one with a real screwdriver on it.
Unfortunately, the Swiss Army Cybertool is completely underwhelming. And none of their other offerings seemed to be much different. So, we went down the line and checked out what else they had. I’m generally more a fan of Gerber’s ‘Press-and-flick’ action for multitools than Leatherman’s ‘Doubleunfold’ approach, but this one caught my eye enough I decided to look at it anyways. It’s a fair bit smaller than I remember the older Leathermans being, but maybe I’m just bigger than when I had last held it. It’s also a good weight–solid, but light.
The blade has a one-handed outside-opening with lock(which is definitely a good thing, I’ve learned!). It’s also easy enough to close with either hand. Folding it open, each side snaps into place solidly, and the curve makes it fit my palm very nicely. Opening it just halfway exposes the screwdriver. It’s a little bit off-axis, which is slightly frustrating, but an engineering tradeoff that works well enough anyways. The screwdriver bits are flattened
Finally, it has a really nice carabiner clip that doubles (unexpectedly!) as a bottle opener. It works pretty smoothly, and without flipping or doing anything other than pulling it out of your pocket.
Here’s a couple of low-res pics of mine I took with my iPhone:
Skeletool CX - Closed
Skeletool CX - Blade
Skeletool CX - Pliers
Brazil Tickets (from 2008/06/20)
I’m a little bit late announcing this, but…. I BOUGHT MY BRAZIL TICKETS!
It ended up being like 1300 bucks, and I have a 13 hour layover in Atlanta on the way there…. but I think that’ll be okay. It’s actually enough time that I think I might go in and see the world’s largest aquarium, the CNN headquarters, and the World of Coca Cola.
We’re going to be staying somewhere called El Misti Hostel, and make up about 70-80% of the residents there. It’s right off of Copacabana Beach, which is very, very exciting.