Monthly Archives: December 2009

More pictures from the City Museum in St. Louis

A while back I posted pictures from the City Museum, an amazing place here in St. Louis. Here are three more photos of me in one of the tubes made of rebar. Here’s a better picture of the tube I posted here:

This is a tube made of rebar, the metal often used to reinforce cement.

Here’s a picture of me in the tube, going up. Note that the tube is too small for me to even raise my legs, so most of the effort was pulling myself up with my arms.

It took about fifteen minutes going up, and I broke a sweat five minutes in. Pulling yourself up is hard work!

Taking a short break — man this was fun.

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Seriously, Apple — hire some of your engineers from the 80s

One of the things that used to amaze me about Apple software (and Macintosh software in general) was how it seemed that the engineers anticipated my weird little use cases. Now it often seems that they can’t anticipate the obvious ones.

Here are the steps I’ve taken so far:

  • I took a picture with my iPhone.
  • I connected the iPhone to a MacBook (not the computer I normally connect it to).
  • I ran iPhoto.
  • The photos on the iPhone showed up in the iPhoto window — so far so good.
  • I drag one of the photos from the iPhoto window to the desktop. The photo snaps back to its location in the iPhoto window, without transferring a copy to the desktop.

Sigh. Okay, so I have to import the photo(s) first, then I can drag them to the desktop. But why? Isn’t the input I gave the computer clear? Is there any possible ambiguity as to what I want to happen? There’s a picture on my iPhone, I want it on the computer. Did no one at Apple ever think of this option? Did they think of it, but have some valid reason for rejecting it? Did they think of it, but they were just lazy?

Every valid input to the computer should have a response. If the meaning is ambiguous, ask for clarification. The appropriate response is never simply wagging your finger at the user and saying “Nuh-uh.”

Oh, and here’s the picture:

St. Louis is amazing

I recently moved to St. Louis, and each week I’ve discovered something else amazing about this place. There is the obvious: the food, the Gateway Arch, Forest Park, the Delmar Loop, the old neighborhoods. Then there are the things you only find out about after you’ve been here for a time, like the fact that Chuck Berry performs at Blueberry Hill on a regular basis, or Crown Candy Kitchen, one of the oldest soda fountains in the country. Every week it seems that I discover something more amazing than everything previous, but this week I think I’ve reached the pinnacle, unless they’re holding a parade in my honor next week.

The City Museum looks as if an insane artist’s head exploded, and all the random creative ideas she ever had splattered against the walls and stuck. I can’t begin to do the place justice, but here are some highlights:

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A puzzle, I wonder

One time a friend needed to come up with a password for something we were working on and I suggested the technique of using the first letters of a phrase that you know, so for example you might pick “That’s one small step for a man” which would give you the password “tossfam.”

So my friend thought about it for a moment and suggested “iatvmoammg.”

I’ll let that sit with you for a minute…

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Christopher Hitchens makes you smarter

You can agree or disagree with him, love him or hate him, but however you feel about him, there is no denying that Christopher Hitchens is a remarkable intellect. Nearly every time I read something he wrote or hear him speak, I learn something remarkable. Further, no one I have read recently has done more to improve my vocabulary.

Today’s Christopher Hitchens Word of the Day ™ is “casuistry,” which Merriam Webster defines as:

1 : a resolving of specific cases of conscience, duty, or conduct through interpretation of ethical principles or religious doctrine

2 : specious argument : rationalization

Interestingly, Answers.com reverses the order of those definitions, giving precedence to the negative connotation:

1. Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead.

2. The determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by analyzing cases that illustrate general ethical rules.

Hitchens used this word in describing the argument made by some casuists (important to reinforce the new word to make it stick)┬áregarding homosexuals that they “love the sinner but hate the sin.” Hitchens said this during a debate on the Catholic Church; here is part 1 and part 2.