Archive for 2010

Mr. Lincoln on Class Warfare

Cleaning out my ‘Stickies’ app; don’t recall where I picked this up from.

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

……..Abraham Lincoln (see comment)


I’ve completed the first pass of categorization and tagging. I don’t know that the remaining dissonance will be sufficient to take me through a second complete pass, but I’ve made a few focused updates already, so I may yet think of more small adjustments. On the whole, however, there is a great deal less in Uncategorized, and the tags are useful enough to enable the tag cloud.

Fixing a Leather Strap at Spring Valley Lodges

Years ago I a cloak from Half Moon Traveler’s Clothing at a ren faire. It was so warm, I tended to put it on only in very cold weather, so it hasn’t gotten much wear and tear, although I have redone a few stitches. For years, the small leather cord that made up the clasp had a small nick in it, and it finally gave out a few weeks ago.

broken cord

I found that I could get by wrapping the cord around the button several times, and it would actually remain there for the duration of most trips. Long term, I went out and got some leather cord to replace it. However, I did a needle test and found that my small sewing kit wasn’t up to the task.

tough leather

My cousin Jimmy-John owns Spring Valley Lodges where he works on all manner of leather and canvas tents, tepees, as well as other frontier style goods. He’s big into rendezvous, IM Canal, and other historical re-enactor events in the Illinois and Michigan area. I called up for advice and he said to come on down.

Spring Valley Lodges workshop

He rebuilt his garage not too long ago, with a big workshop upstairs. He says the big table is kind of a pain to walk around most of the time, but it starts to feel too small when he’s working on a tepee. He actually put aside the small craft cord I brought and shaved a little off of some of his stock. It turned out to be a good thing, because we didn’t realize the cord was anchored with tabs underneath the decoration.

cord with tabs

After working that out, Jim fired up his industrial strength sewing machine and fastened the new cord in place. The first pass left things a little wide, so we actually pulled it out and cut down the cord a bit. Now I’ve got a working clasp again, with a thicker strip that should hold up even better than the last one (and really, over ten years wasn’t too bad to begin with.)

new cloak clasp

More pictures on Flickr

Organizing the Other Archives

Organizing my online archives was interrupted a bit by organizing my real-life archives.

Hanging file drawers

One drawer previously contained a pile of papers, folders, and envelopes. The other contained board game prototypes, some of which had write-ups and other documents. I won’t be a bit surprised if I need more than this, but I wanted to get a handle on how much more before I went buying more furniture. Or, perhaps, just throwing more stuff out.

The colored folders are there to solve a grouping problem. I have a couple of major themes (game design, martial arts, technology) but I found that grouping them confused me when I was trying find the proper place for other in alphabetical order. I didn’t want to lose the ability to find, say, all my game designs, so I started putting them in colored folders.

Rebuilding the Website Again (or not)

I suppose I ought, at some point, to describe what happened.

For a long time my web site has been been sitting with both feet squarely in the Web 1.0 era – completely static, and built with a barely supported templating tool most people have never heard of. Updates were kind of painful because every piece of new content had to go in place, with a note on the front page, probably pushing off an old entry, copied to history, and last-updated dates maintained.

Not wanting to dive down a rabbit hole of development, I took the semi-maintained WordPress from my hosting company, counting on the large community and vested interests to keep PHP (and it’s crackers) under control. I spent an evening trying to convert content to pages, but watching painstakingly styled and cross-linked pages fade to a uniform text convinced me to leave them alone in a parallel static site, at least until such time as I need to update things. The exception is the Site Updates, which were a sort of psuedo-blog and naturally fit the new format.

The rest of the content is an import from my Livejournal account, with most of the programming and software content moved over to, a domain I’ve been sitting on for a year. I’ve done some cleanup already, but there is still a fair bit of classification and tagging for the old content.

Yup, That’s a Clogged Print Head

November 12, 2010

Slides for my Amp talk at RubyConf 2010

November 03, 2010

Slides for both versions of my Amp talks yesterday. Slides for Obtiva Geekfest and slides for ChicagoRuby

October 15, 2010

Slides for not one but two presentations at Strange Loop on line: You Already use Closure, and Classes are Premature Optimization.

Meraki – Make a Wish

input box asking make-a-wish

Every page in Meraki’s control console has a text box labeled “I wish this page would” with a button labeled “Make a wish”. Companies have tried A/B testing, surveys, or just listening to support forums to see what people complain about. Something as simple as putting a small form on every page allows Meraki to harvest customer requests in-situ, right when the user is looking at page and realizing it doesn’t have something he wants, and they have made the process about as painless as it can possibly be.

Meraki itself makes wireless access points with an internet based cloud controller. The devices also do mesh networking, saving a few cable runs. It’s best suited to large installations where one would normally need a separate controller device – I ended up passing for a small single-building manufacturer. The interface is pretty well designed, and as something of a visual thinker I appreciated the maps and color/shape indicators.

The major downside is that the cloud controller becomes a single point of failure. It’s provided as a service, and to get full features you have to pay per access point. For large scale installations, that may compare favorable with controller devices, which may need to be replaced every few years. The other issue with a service is that if Meraki ever went out business, you would lose the ability to configure the APs.