WordPress 3.01

Upgrading WordPress this time meant reinstalling it from scratch, unfortunately, since last week’s auto-update somehow deleted all my posts. But this is why we back up.

So the blog is back up and running again, with a shiny new 3.01 version of WordPress. And hopefully going forward auto-updates will even work.

A Fun Little Swing-Along

Update May 2011: Sadly SoundCloud took down a few of these due to copyright violations. Spoilsports.

I’ve been having way too much fun with the new python scripts released by the Echo Nest Remix Project. These are a bunch of geeky little command line scripts that let you treat music as data, figuring out where the beats and measures are in a song, then letting you go wild from there.

Their hello world script pulls out the first beat of each measure of a song to make a weird sounding chopped up version. Other scripts play a song backwards by playing the beats in reverse order, starting with the last beat and ending on the first. My favorite script by far, tho, is the swinger script which adds, well, swing to songs. Technically it stretches the first half of each beat and shortens the second half, giving songs a swing beat. Like this:

Born To Be Wild (swing version) by davermont

Short Skirt, Long Jacket (swing version) by davermont

Even Calvin’s music wasn’t safe; here’s the swing version of Hey:

Hey (swing version) by davermont

Or Robin’s favorite:

Seattle (swing version) by davermont

And some others:

With Or Without You (swing version) by davermont

Every Breath You Take (swing version) by TeeJay

Snow Leopard Chaos Subsides

Like a damn fool true fanboy I installed Apple’s Snow Leopard the day it came out. Sure, it was faster, and I liked the polishes they made to the user experience. But it broke a lot of things that made it possible for me to develop web sites on my laptop: MySQL, all my Perl modules, and the Ruby apps I use to track my To Do list (Tracks), and my projects (Redmine). I also lost the ability to print to my Canon laser printer, which I like cuz it does 2-sided printing. Also broken: Saft, iStatMenus, and Parallels, but I could get by without them (but did miss them).

Usually Google is my friend, but since it takes a few days for Google to catch up with people’s blog updates this time I turned to Twitter, and got up-to-the-second reports on people’s reactions to and fixes for Snow Leopard. MySQL turned out to be a quick fix, since it was just a broken symlink. After that my PHP scripts could once again connect to their databases, as could the Navicat app. But for the life of me I couldn’t get Perl’s DBI and DBD::mysql modules to work right, which meant a bunch of my older scripts weren’t working, and it made working on some of my older sites challenging in that I couldn’t test changes locally, I had to make them to the (gulp!) live site, which is hardly ever a good idea.

Every few days I’d search Twitter and Google for advice, and would try different things, but nothing would get Perl talking to the database :(

In the meantime I upgraded to Parallels 4.0 ($), which let me view my sites again under Internet Explorer. Since WinXP could still talk to the Canon printer I could print now if I saved to a PDF file, moved it over to Parallels and printed it there (ya, tedious, but at least it was possible). And new versions of iStatMenus (free!) and Saft ($) came out, so things were slowly returning to what we laughingly call normal here.

Labor Day (yesterday) was a down day that I used to finish digging the hole for the cob oven project (another post for another day), and I returned once again to my Perl/mySQL problem. Not a lot of people are using Perl anymore, or at least they’re not posting about their fixes for Snow Leopard, but all those hotshot Ruby kids kept saying they had to recompile the 64bit version of MySQL. Not wanting to break what was already working, I decided to try doing that on the family iMac and see if I could get Perl and MySQL working on it. Stock 64bit MySQL installed just fine, and I could talk to it over the command line. Good so far. I then installed the latest DBI and DBD::mysql modules using CPAN, which took a while but both installed with no problems (woohoo!). I created a small test table on the command line, then wrote a small Perl script to display all the records in it… and it worked!

Emboldened and embiggened, I then went over to the laptop, backed up all the mySQL databases, and removed all traces of mySQL from the computer. I then went thru the same steps as on the iMac; mySQL installed just fine, as did the DBI module, but DBD::mysql still refused to install. Desperate, I decided to copy the installed DBI and DBD::mysql modules from the iMac to the laptop, and after restarting Apache my perl scripts connected to mySQL just fine! Yes, it was a good day.

This morning for the heck of it I uninstalled all my Ruby Gems and reinstalled their 64bit versions, along with an updated passenger. After restarting Apache, Redmine once again started working! This is a very good thing, since I use it primarily as a GUI to the various Mercurial repositories I have for each of my web sites.

And a Google search for printer driver updates turned up a new driver which got my printer working again!

Jeezum, it’s like the morning of Aug 28, before I installed Snow Leopard! :)

Sailing on Schooner J&E Riggin

The last week of September 22 was a great time to sail on the historic schooner J&E Riggin out of Rockland, Maine. Captains John and Annie and their wonderful crew made sure we were safe, well-fed, and entertained.

This was the first time I’d gone sailing where Julie was on the crew, and it was a pleasure seeing her in her element, crawling along bow sprits, raising sails and hauling anchor with crewmates Moxie and Erica.

The crew encouraged us to help out if we wanted to, and patiently answered our questions. This trip I got to help raise the various sails, and to bring in the jib and staysail a couple times when we tacked. Lots of great fun.

Meals on the Riggin were hearty and delicious, cooked by Erica and Annie on the wood stove in the galley. Everything was homemade and “from scratch”, from the breads and soups and even the incredible chicken pot pies we had for one of the lunches! On Thursday we dropped anchor at the Eggemoggin Reach and had a lobster bake right on the beach. Amazingly enough with all that great food I only gained 3 pounds on the six-day sail.

This was my third sail on a schooner, and I’m already looking forward to the next time. If you’re considering a sail, I would highly recommend it!

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Echochrome Arrives Today

It’s not often that a totally different new game appears that just knocks my socks off. Back in the late 80s it was Tetris, a game that totally justified buying a GameBoy. A decade later it was Space Channel Five on the DreamCast. And a couple years ago it was Lumines on the PSP. And today a strange and wonderful little game called Echochrome will be released for the PSP.

Echochrome is a 3D game in a world with rules designed by M.C. Escher, where the laws of physics and perspective twist your brain in different directions, and perception is reality. In this world, if there’s a point of view where two unconnected things look like they line up, then they really do line up. For example, in the drawing below the stairs lead up to a beam that extends to the left, the end of which is obviously not connected to the L-shaped beam at the bottom of the stairs:

echochrome

BUT! If you shifted your point of view up and to the right a bit, you could look down on the model, where the top and bottom beams look like they’re closer together:

echochrome

Move just a wee bit more and you can get the two ends to line up exactly, and at that point magic happens in the game: they actually do connect, and one could easily walk from one beam to the other. From that point of view the model would be a continuous loop, where you could climb the stairs and walk back around to the stairs and climb them again, forever and ever.

echochrome

These games of perspective and point of view are at the heart of may of Escher’s drawings and woodcuts, but to turn them into a playable game is shear genius. The game involves changing your point of view so that beams line up, gaps in beams are hidden behind other beams (if you can’t see a gap it doesn’t exist, and the little guy can walk right over it), and a guy falling thru a hole in a beam lands safely on a beam below it. The levels get complicated as you learn the rules of this world, pretty soon the levels start looking like this:

echochrome

A demo of the game has been out for a while now, but it only offers a half dozen levels, but rumor has it the released game will have 56 levels. The game isn’t available yet, but then it’s not even 9am yet. Must… be… patient…

Watch the Echochrome trailer

Calvinball vs Clintonball

In a race where Clinton has no chance of winning according to the pre-determined rules of the game (the candidate with the most delegates wins), the only way to win is by changing the rules and turning the game into Clintonball.

calvinball

Calvinball Clintonball
Any player may declare a new rule at any point in the game. The player may do this audibly or silently depending on what zone the player is in. Any player (Clinton or her surrogates) may declare a new rule or change the rules at any point in the game. The player does this quite vocally to anyone within earshot.
A player may use the Calvinball in any way the player see fit, from causal injury to self-reward. A player may use results and statistics in any way the player sees fit, without regard for logic or common sense.
Any penalty legislation may be in the form of pain, embarassment, or any other abasement the rulee deems fit to impose on his opponent. “Kitchen sink rules,” without regard for collateral to her opponent or the party.
The Calvinball Field should consist of areas, or zones, which are governed by a set of rules declared spontaneously and inconsistently by players. Zones may be appear and disappear as often and wherever the player decides. The Clintonball Field should consiste of states, regions, or zones which are governed by a set of rules declared spontaneously and inconsistently, for example “only big states count” or “delegates don’t count, only popular vote” or when that doesn’t work only some vague “electability” counts. Other rules include “primaries count but caucuses don’t,” “only the right states count” (whatever those are), “small towns count, not big cities” (since those are elitist), “states with more electoral votes count” (despite the fact that any Democrat would win them).
Flags shall be named by players who shall also assign the power and rules which shall govern that flag for particular moment in that particular game. Different rules apply to different states, so states neighboring a candidate’s state don’t count. Also states don’t count if they’re too white or too black.
Flags shall be named by players whom shall also assign the power and rules which shall govern that flag for particular moment in that particular game. Players who haven’t shot a gun since they were 8, and who have lobbied all their lives for gun control, can pretend they’re all for guns and hunting. Beer drinking and bar shots are also encouraged if the camera is rolling.
Score may be kept or disregarded. In the event that score is kept, it shall have no bearing on the game nor shall it have any logical consistency to it. Rules agreed on in advance may be disregarded or even challenged in mid-game if they’re not favorable to the player (see “Florida,” “Michigan” and “delegate count”).
Any rule above that is carried out during the course of the game may never be used again in the event that it causes the same result as a previous game. Calvinball games may never be played the same way twice. Any rule above that is carried out during the course of the game may never be used again in the event that it advantages the opponent. Clintonball games may never be played the same way twice.

Abbey-Something

Back in January I brewed another batch of Chimay-clone Belgian with the help of Tim. As the brewing progressed, however, it turned out I was brewing something completely different.

The first clue was while Tim was reading the ingredients out loud. When he said “one ounce black patent malt” my head jerked up as I distinctly remembered carefully measuring out one pound of the stuff while I chatted with Matt at Vermont Homebrew Supply. Normally an ounce of the stuff helps give the Belgian it’s distinctive golden color, but a whole pound is enough to make it stout-black, and give it an astringent bite. Sure enough, the liquid that came out of the grains was completely opaque, and looked very much like a stout.

The second clue was when I was starting the boil, and getting the hops together so it could be added add the right times. I remembered picking Hallertau and Goldings out of VHS’s cooler, but instead of those hops I found I had a bunch of Czech Saaz. This truly was becoming a Franken-ale. After doing a little research it turns out the Saaz isn’t too far off from the other hops, and is even used in some Belgian ales.

So now it’s 2-1/2 months later, and it’s time to start thinking about bottling my little Franken-brew. Since the keg was free I decided to use it, and a half hour later it had enough CO2 in it to taste-test. It poured out dark, like a stout. I closed my eyes to taste it, fearing the worst. It was surprisingly drinkable, the lightness and mouth feel of a Belgian, but dark as night. I’m thinking that it’s enough of a Belgian to improve with age, and even an hour later my second glass has lost most of the back of the tongue bite that was in the first tentative sips.

The label, of course, pretty much made itself: