You are here: Home robotic thoughts... 2006



Oct 31, 2006

i just bought a house

Filed Under:

The first house I stepped into is the one that I bought. Here is what it looks like:

the house

It was completely full of junk. The basement was in utter chaos. The stench of thirty year old canning jars has removed from the property. The animal stained carpets have been lifted. It now lies bare and ready for a new awakening.

Hopefully I'll be able to move in some day. More pictures to come from the renovations that are ongoing. Right now I'm busy writing this entry on my new blackberry pearl. Google maps is the greatest invention ever.

Oct 19, 2006

Canadian 'rock therapy' at the Vogue

Filed Under:

Broken Social Scene ... ... the vogue. .. canadian Rock Therapy. The opening band was a phenominal rush of sonic masterpiece. No words were spoken while the music was playing. And it was a really powerful performance. Then BSS came on and started with my favorite cut of of the latest album. Shoreline...... When that moment hit, the stage was in a complete frenzy of din. They went on to play amazing versions of other songs like cause = time that pushed the edge of the song and melded it into something new. Superconnected was another spectacle to behold. The stage felt as if it was one unit. Devoted to rockin' your brain for three hours.

There wasn't a song that played that didn't send vibes through my head. The band was integrating with the audience and making them seem like friends of theirs. I've never seen so much interaction with a crowd than at this concert. The venue was perfect, The Vogue. The music was amazing. It was a really powerful and playful show. My favorite show of the year so far.

Sep 04, 2006

Music makes the world go round

Filed Under:

A lot of music has been making it's way to my computer lately. One album (which I bought at Fnac in France and was really overpriced) is the self titled album from Feu Thérèse. They are a French Canadian outfit on the same label as Godspeed You Black Emperor. The first track, Ferrari En Feu (Ferrari On Fire), starts with three minutes of what sounds like a psychedelic version of Pole Position. Then it breaks into a coherent song which isn't too bad. It's got a kind of cheezy organ playing and drums and then a semi distorted guitar comes in and some other instruments follow. Interesting track but not the strongest on the album. The second track has a much dreamier quality to it. There is a whispering kind of sound in the background and some nice guitar sounds. Very strange album indeed.

I also got that Gnarls Barkley album which continues Cee-lo's trend of good music. That guy has such an incredible voice. Just makes you want to listen for ages. Let's see, I also acquired two Tunng albums which are pretty decent. If you like The Books then you'll like Tunng. The song Engine Room off of Comments of the Inner Chorus is probably my favorite. The vocals are haunting and the background music complements the voice very nicely.

I grabbed The Coup's (the coop if you are Black Thought) new album and was a bit disappointed. I think it's one of those albums that I will really appreciate later because I was expecting something completely different. It's always nice for an artist to slap you up side the head with something you weren't expecting. But I just haven't been diggin' this new material. My Favorite Mutiny is the first cut I heard before purchasing the album and in my opinion none of the other tracks live up to the voracity of that track.

While surfing the web I wandered upon a bunch of free downloads of old out of print stuff. One of the albums was Henri Texier's Varech. It's a pretty decent jazz album and Henri did all the instrumentation on it. Another French album I procured was Roçé - Identité en crescendo. I had to have Lucie buy it for me from the French iTunes store. It's a really chill hip-hop album. The whole album is backed by some really nice jazz. I have no idea what he's rapping about but it sounds good to me.

Aug 13, 2006

I want a Nixie Clock!

Filed Under:

I had no idea such a think existing until a few days ago when I was cruising around Flickr. I ran into a series of photos by a guy who was creating some fantastic stuff. And one of his pictures was of his Nixie Clock. It's a clock that uses special tubes that can show digits like this

nixie clock

It's really a beautiful thing. I have had a love affair with the tube for audio purposes and now for telling time too. I think that would look nice in my living room. Don't hesitate to head over to this site and buy me one.

Jul 18, 2006

What the hell is wrong with Pitchfork?

Filed Under:

Pitchfork has really jumped the shark in the past year or so. Why do they waste their time to write a track review of a Paris Hilton song. They give it one and a half stars which in itself is retarded. Why give it any stars. You know it's going to be trash. I guess they are just trying to draw in a different crowd to their flash ad infested website. And this isn't an isolated incident with the Paris Hilton song.

Another example is their new love affair with Lil Wayne of all people. Here is what they have say about his 2005 effort Tha Carter II:

Wayne dabbles scatological throughout ("Dear Mr. Toilet/ I'm the shit"), sometimes even elaborately so ("You niggas small bubbles, I burp you/ I'll spit you out and have your girls slurp you")

What the hell are they smoking? They should seriously think about setting the pipe down and checking themselves into a clinic. They must have put an ad into the bubble gum pages looking for a new reviewer because of stuff like this. Again another review of trite pop bullshit and they give it one star. What is the point of this? On the same page they review a song by Rick Ross and give it three and a half stars. But you know that's a load of crap when you read the description.

Contrary to hater-instincts, we here at Pitchforkmedia Inc. don't get righteous boners every time a rapper mentions cocaine in a song (Lil Wayne excepted)

I just don't understand this infatuation with Lil Wayne. They need to hire some new Hip Hop reviewers that have a clue. But even if they are falling off they are still on top of a lot of good happenings in music. So I'll continue to visit until they start giving Paris Hilton songs three stars

Jul 11, 2006

Did I spelll this write?

Filed Under:

Camino will have spell checking built in soon. Last week Infinite Loop had a link to a blog entry in Sucking less, on a budget where pinkerton reported that he had checked in spell checking to the trunk of Camino. Although three days later he posted a new entry saying:

I realized i biffed the static target on the branch, so the branch builds still don't have spellcheck. Sigh. I'll fix it when I get back to virginia

Even though it's not quite there yet I'm still excited to know that this feature is on it's way to my desktop as I'm writing this blog entry in Camino right now!

Now if we can just get address book integration with Thunderbird in OS X...

UPDATE: The latest alpha release of Camino 1.1 includes spell checking and many more improvements. I'm afraid to upgrade as it will break Inquisitor which no longer supports Camino :(

Jul 04, 2006

Quills 1.5 beta 1 released

Filed Under:

The first beta of Quills, the blogging software that powers this fine website, was released yesterday. Quite a few changes took place from the first alpha to the first beta. Reinout van Rees made the page templates sane and Plone friendly. Kudos to his efforts! Tim Hicks and Tom Lazar made the MetaWeblog API stuff work again among other things. A fine effort by all. Yours truly even contributed a little bit to the cleanup and I made the changelog, w00t!

Jul 03, 2006

Apps and Oranges

Filed Under:

I officialy retired from the Windoze world in October 2003 when I bought my first Mac, an Aluminum PowerBook G4. It's the best thing that ever happened to my computing world. One thing I've noticed in the OS X world is the amazing applications. They all intertwine to create a powerful workspace. One example is transferring files with iChat. Just drag the file or folder onto the text input and hit return. It's that easy! In my two plus years of Mac usage I've come across some really nice programs of which I'll share here.

  • Butler -- Butler is a program that has many useful features. The two that I utilize most often are the pasteboard and the application launcher. The original reason I stumbled across this gem was the need for a pasteboard. I had tried several other apps like iClip and some other lame program but none compared to the pasteboard inside butler. You can assign keyboard shortcuts to anything inside butler so access to my pasteboard is a snap. And opening an application is as few as four keystrokes away! There are so many other things this program can do that I don't even use but it's nice to know they are there and that they are highly customizable.
  • iTunes -- Obviously can't live without this one! With a music library of more than 14,000 songs iTunes makes everything easy to manage. Just the fact that it keeps everything organized on my hard drive based on id3 tags is enough for me.
  • Synergy Classic -- Synergy is a program that interacts with iTunes. It gives me the ability to assign keyboard shortcuts to many of the functions of iTunes I use a lot like rating, playing/stoping and showing the application. Synergy also provides menu bar icons to play/pause and rewind/fast-forward and a drop down menu. The other feature I really like about this program is the floating window that displays track information above all windows.
  • Menu Meters -- This program gives me up to the second system information in my menu bar. It has four customizable system readings including hard disk activity, network activity, RAM and processor usage. This comes in handy when your system starts to freak out. You can quickly find the cause and remedy it.
  • Witch -- Excellent little PreferencePane app that gives you keyboard shortcuts to show all application windows or all of one applications windows. Nice if you often have a billion windows open.
  • Shrook -- This is a really good RSS and Atom news reader. I just recently forced myself to start subscribing to RSS feeds and it's really nice to be on top of the things you care about.
  • Camino/Firefox -- I rarely use the built-in browser on the Mac, Safari. It just feels foreign to me and I don't know why. I constantly switch between Mozilla's Camino and Firefox. Camino is a cocoa version of the Mozilla rendering engine and it's super fast. It has just recently received more attention from add on developers. While Camino is fast it still doesn't have the extensibility of Firefox. If I am developing XHTML/CSS pages then I'll switch over to Firefox. But if I'm just perusing the web it's Camino all the way.
  • Thunderbird -- Another Mozilla application that I use instead of the default Apple application. I like the interface of Apple Mail but it just doesn't understand the IMAP protocol enough for me to use it. So I have been using Thunderbird for quite some time now. It has some drawbacks but it's the best at handling IMAP that I've found.
  • Colloquy -- This is an IRC chat program. It is still under quite a bit of development so it tends to be a bit buggy at times but it's still the best IRC client on OS X.
  • svnX -- This app is a gui front-end for subversion. It has most of the features you'll need for everyday use and keeps getting better as new releases come out. The only big thing it is missing is the ability to edit svn properties. But still the best solution for a graphical subversion client.
  • iTerm -- Another program I've been using for a long long time. iTerm is a tabbed terminal program. It's nice but could use a bit more TLC from the developers but overall a nice Terminal replacement.
  • Acquisition -- The best p2p program on the Mac. Integrates nicely with iTunes so that when you download a song it adds it to iTunes automatically. These guys put out more releases of an application than I've ever seen so be prepared to download the latest quite often.
  • Parallels -- An amazing virtualization program. This allows me to run Windoze XP, PC-BSD and any other OS I can get my hands on directly in OS X. It's a million times faster than Virtual PC ever was and works like a charm.
  • SubEthaEdit -- SubEthaEdit is a collaborative editing program. It utilizes the Bonjour zero conf networking to allow you to edit a document with a group of people. Very nice for when you want a colleague to take a look at your code. The newest version has brought a slew of new features along with it making it more powerful than ever.
  • VirtueDesktops -- This is an application that I've just stumbled across recently. It gives you the ability to have multiple desktops like you can on Linux and Unix window managers. Basically it's like having Fast User Switching for yourself. And there are four of you! Good looking piece of software for such an early version. I look forward to seeing how it evolves.
  • Path Finder -- A Finder replacement that gives you a tabbed interface and a whole lot more. I've just started using this one so I'm not completely sold yet. But it is nice to have tabs in a Finder window.
  • Remote Buddy -- If you have a Mac with a remote then you'll love this program. It gives you control of a lot more apps than the default Front Row apps. It also gives you a way to use the mouse and the keyboard via the remote.
  • Transmit -- The best FTP program for the Mac.
  • OmniGraffle -- Nice app to create UML diagrams, visual mockups and all sorts of other things.
  • OmniOutliner -- Another app from the Omni Group that gives you the ability to make very detailed outlines and lists. I wish you could merge two copies of the same outline though. That would be boss.
  • VLC -- A video player that supports most video formats. If it didn't work in Quicktime then try it in VLC. Chances are it will work better in VLC. I've recently had problems playing a few DVDs in DVD Player and had to revert to this fine program.
  • Airfoil -- Admittedly I don't use this program very much but it is quite cool. It gives you the ability to stream any audio source from your computer to an AirPort Express.
  • Digital Performer -- When I upgraded from AudioDesk (the default software that came with my FireWire audio interface) I faced a dilemma. It was either Digital Performer or Logic Pro. I like Apple apps but I was already familiar with the DP interface so I decided to upgrade to Digital Performer. And I think that was the correct decision. It's a very professional audio/MIDI workspace. It's a bit overwhelming sometimes but it's never failed me.
  • Genesis Plus -- The best Genesis and Master System emulator for the Mac.
  • Nestopia -- The best NES emulator for the Mac. Wish it had the network play like Nesticle used to though.
  • Stella -- Best Atari emulator that I've found for the Mac. Head on over to Atariage and pick up some roms.
  • Cocktail -- I love to tweak the settings on my computer. This app helps me do just that. It gives you an interface to set all sorts of hidden system options and more. My favorite is the verbose mode startup so I can see all the details when my Mac starts up.
  • Delicious Library -- If you own a lot of DVDs, books, video games and music then this is the application for you. It gives you a nice interface to catalog all that you own. You can scan in all your collection using your iSight and the barcodes on the things you want to add. Makes quick work of cataloging your collection. And you can use some tools to export everything and create a website of your collection.
  • Google Earth -- If you haven't used this app yet you really should. It allows you to explore the world via satellite. Probably one of the coolest programs I've ever used. And it's really freakin' addicting.
  • Logorrhea -- This utility allows you to search your iChat logs. Spotlight can do it to but not as fast. And Chax has a log viewer built in but the search is weak. So I'm still using this fine app to get the low down.
  • MenuCalendarClock iCal -- I'm really picky about how my menu clock shows me information. The default clock info just doesn't cut for me. So I found this program that allows me to display the date and time in any format I want. Genius! It also gives you a little calender sub menu when you click on it in the menu bar that can show upcoming events.
  • Service Scrubber -- The OS X services are a nice little touch to the operating system. But I rarely use them because they are so cluttered with all kinds of useless functions that I never use. This program allows you to clean up that list. And it also allows you to redefine the keyboard shortcuts for all the services (some of which conflict with existing shortcuts). Use this in conjunction with Hot Service and you've got a usable services menu. Unfortunately Hot Service doesn't work with Intel Macs yet.
  • EvoCam -- This is a web cam app that I find quite amusing. If you have an iSight or any other web cam for the Mac then you should try this out for kicks. You can set up this program to upload images to your web site, use it for surveillance and a myriad of other things.
  • Xyle scope -- If you've used the DOM Inspector in Firefox then you have probably had that not so fresh feeling. It's written in XUL and the interface is a bit lacking. While Xyle Scope isn't as powerful as the DOM Inspector it does offer a much nicer interface and some usability enhancements that make me really want to love it. It's a really nice app for exploring the DOM but it still needs some love to surpass the Mozilla app.
  • Paparazzi! -- Have you ever wanted to take a screenshot of a web page that was longer than your screen. Well now you can with this slick little app.
  • Chax -- There are some things about iChat that are really annoying. Like having to click accept on every new IM, that's just silly. Chax puts an end to my misery by fixing almost every gripe I had about iChat.
  • Tunnelblick -- If you use OpenVPN then this little menu bar app will be right up your alley. Easily turn VPN access on and off via the menu bar.
  • Artis Screen Tools -- In particular the Artis Screen Ruler. This on screen ruler is the best in it's class. They have actually upgraded this software to a different product named xScope that I think is less user friendly and overly complicated. So if you need a simple on screen ruler then this is your best bet.

I probably missed something in there. But that's a pretty good list for now.

Jul 02, 2006

Gentlemen start your engines!

Filed Under:

I'll tell you what, RSS is addictive. And the folks over at Tech eBlog are keeping me on the sauce. Just added their RSS to my reader yesterday and found this extraordinary machine:

'08 Dodge Challenger

'08 Dodge Challenger

The dodge lineup keeps getting better and better. The Magnum, the Charger rebirth and now the rebirth of the Challenger in '08. This car looks mean as hell! I think it may even look better than the original:

'70 Dodge Challenger

That new one is really slick. Let's hope I have enough money to buy it in 2008.

Germans will love this...

Filed Under:

Two of the most insanely stupid videos I've ever seen. What a tool!

Cover of 'Hooked On a Feeling'

Cover of 'Jump In My Car'

KITT shouldn't be abused like this. Bad Hoff! Bad!

Jun 25, 2006

An American in Paris

Filed Under:

Lucie and I went in to Paris on the 21st for La Fête de la Musique. Our first stop before catching any music was Versailles. Unfortunately the place was undergoing a bit of maintenance as stated on the back of the Orientation Guide:

The public Establishment of Versailles has embarked upon extensive estoration works in the Palace and the gardens with the aim of both heritage conservation and enhancing the welcome accorded to visitors.

We apologise to visitors for any inconvenience that these works may cause.

Ok, apology accepted. As you walked in you could see the massive amount of work going on. The whole Royal Courtyard was torn up and it looked like they were doing some archaeological surveying. The outer facade was getting a face lift and the gardens were getting a hair cut. None of the fountains on the grounds were turned on which was a bit of a bummer. Inside the palace the hall of mirrors was being restored. We got to see half of it as the other half was still sealed up. That was the only work being done inside that we saw.

Next stop, Montparnasse and La Fete de la Musique. A day in France and some other european nations where there is music everywhere. In the streets, restaurants, metros and monuments. The biggest event was at La Grand Arche where a bunch of lame pop groups performed. We walked from Montparnasse to the Eiffel Tower and then to a bar nearby to watch the festivities at La Grand Arche. I think the US should participate in La Fête de la Musique too. Maybe we'll start in Fortville and work our way to the coasts!

On Thursday we went to the Louvre. We saw a lot of really cool sculptures, artifacts and paintings. This completed my viewing of the 'Axe Historique'; La Grand Arche de la Defense, L'Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde and Le Louvre. It's really cool inside the glass pyramid (Napoleon Hall) where all the entrances are to the exhibits. There are some really nice looking exhibit areas too. We didn't see everything but we saw most of the important stuff. We'll have to go back and catch all the stuff we missed some other time.

Jun 20, 2006

My computer won't boot?!?!

Filed Under:

Yesterday I rebooted my MacBook Pro. That sounds simple enough. I have verbose mode on at all times thanks to Cocktail so I normally watch all the output of the startup. Hey, i'm a geek, that's what geeks do. So everything looks fine and then OS X launches the login window app. All I get is a blue screen. No login box. This scares the shit out of me.

So now what? Lucie had a similar problem with her old Titanium Powerbook recently so I was accustomed to using the single user mode. There is a really good resource about single user mode here. First order of business, run fsck. Everything checks out fine. No errors on the hard drive. So now what? Well I tried every remedy I could find online, move the netinfo db out of the way, move the login window prefs out of the way, move network settings out of the way. None of that was working. Then suddenly it dawned on me. It must have been that piece of crap program I just installed last night! That's right, I had installed a program called DoubleCommand to remap the enter key on my keyboard to fn so that I could forward delete easily on my computer. That timesaver sure backfired on me. So in the end I just had to remove DoubleCommand from /Library/StartupItems, problem solved.

The moral of the story: If you install a program that runs on startup check to make sure it works when you install it. Not a few days later.

Jun 19, 2006

Robotic Thoughts is no longer coming soon!

Filed Under:

One day at work the idea came to me out of the blue. Claytron! How perfect is that. I wish I would have thought of that one sooner. My name is Clayton and adding one letter transforms me into a robot. It even fits perfectly across my knuckles Blues Brothers style.

I just looked at the whois record for and I registered it on April 11, 2005. That seems like a long long time ago. I promptly put up v1 of the site, this image:

A crudely drawn image of a robot made in Illustrator and poorly inverted to have a black background. I've learned a lot about Photoshop and Illustrator working on this site. The first design for this blog was horrific! It was a million gradients put together with these awful dark colors. You couldn't even read the text.

What you are looking at now was the second design I came up with. It's all based off of a super simple sketch I made which basically had the ink/blood splat and the line that you see coming out of it. The rest just sort of fell into place. Like the people at the footer of the page for instance. That happened purely by accident. I got an email from iStockPhoto telling me my credits were going to expire soon. I logged on and downloaded some pics and that one worked perfectly. The boxes on the right hand side were created in about ten minutes. I was just messing around in Photoshop and it really translated well to a portlet.

It's really nice to have this site live. I've been developing what you see here for about 6 months off and on (including the redesign). It's my first blog so we'll see how up to date it stays. I've always got things to rant and/or rave about so it shouldn't be too difficult.


Jun 17, 2006

Kick ass Broken Social Scene video

Filed Under:

This video is quite entertaining. The portrayal of a rock band as a sport is very comedic and there is a guest appearance by Geddy Lee! RAWK! Gratiuitous exclamation marks!!!

Apr 08, 2006

Installed Quills 1.5 alpha 1

Filed Under:

This is the first post into the 1.5 era. Will it work. no one knows. Nothing seems to be broken so far. Except the topics are gone now. So far So good.

Feb 19, 2006

good places for great dvds

Filed Under:

i recently purchased a few more criterion collection dvds. amazon wants too much.

my amazon wishlist is growing with many criterion collection joining the list. but if you are going to buy criterion dvds you should buy them from dvd planet because they have much better prices than amazon. it's usually between $20-$25 on there as apposed to $35-$40 on amazon.

some other places:

Feb 08, 2006

ciccone youth re-issue

Filed Under:

i've just stumbled across this album while importing every CD i could find onto my mac. the ciccone youth (sonic youth w/guests) album is totally whacked out of it's mind in madonna obsession.

there are some incredible songs on this album. there are also some really hilarious songs on it too. like the cover of robert palmer. overall very enjoyable.

Jan 23, 2006

Those kids over at skinny corp

Filed Under:

Another interesting website creation from the people who brought you threadless.

I got a couple stickers in my most recent threadless purchase as per usual. But this time there was a new sticker inside. It was for a webite called Extra Tasty. It's a pretty cool idea. You sign up and head over to your bar. Stock it up with some goods. I added whiskey, vodka, kahlua, guinness, bailey's, orange juice, pineapple juice and a few other things. Then it tells you how many drink recipes can be created with your bar. If you don't see one of your favorites or you've created something of your own you can submit a drink recipe.

The site is still in live development so it may have a few bugs here and there. Now it's time to drink!

Jan 21, 2006

i hate fascists

Filed Under:

don't tell me how to live. why does everyone have to scape goat the smokers in this country. what about the fatties? how about firing people for being really fat instead of being a smoker. i'm sure the health risks are similar. what about the alcoholics? that can't be healthy either. i finally quit smoking again but i just don't understand the hatred towards people who smoke.

Ann Coulter, dead at 104

Filed Under:

So that's not true. But what a wonderful day it would be. I think i'd throw a party and everyone would have to wear Reagan Masks. As a party game we would make up ludicrously ridiculous stories about the people we don't agree with. Then after we signed our book deal we would be invited on the Hannity & Colmes show to air our stupid ideas as if they were serious talking points.

Oh that would be fun. Maybe someday soon.