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Archive for the 'Geekery' Category

Classic Shaving

September 4th, 2009 6

A few months ago, I picked up a 1960s-era [Gillette Slim](http://wiki.badgerandblade.com/index.php/Gillette_Slim) “safety” razor off eBay. It was only about $30, and I thought it would be fun to give it a shot.


Up until using the Slim, my only previous experience had been with cartridge-based razors (and an electric, briefly), but I’d been reading about the alternatives, and had been curious to try them out. Read on…

T9 Words

June 6th, 2009 2

Somewhere, a Telus rep is congratulating himself.

Four months ago, I was completely ready to ditch Telus and switch my phone service to an [MVNO](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_virtual_network_operator). Indeed, if Zehrs hadn’t been repeatedly sold out of the handset I wanted, I’d probably be on the President’s Choice pay-as-you-go service. For light usage such as mine, it really is—by far—the most sensible and economical option.

In doing some soul-searching and bill-examination, however, it became apparent that my usage level really wasn’t light enough to realise a savings from switching to prepaid. So I called Telus and made a deal. Read on…

Flash of Genius

February 25th, 2009 2

sat-logo I had an opportunity recently to do some design work for a now-just-released app for iPhone.

Although visual design is not something I have ever studied in a formal setting, it’s an area of interest to me, and something I believe is as much a matter of inherent taste as it is of formally stated rules. As with good writing, there are guiding principles and empirically derived standards, but ultimately, you become a good writer by reading good writing, and by practicing it.

So I’m always up for more design, as the opportunity presents itself. Read on…

WP-Cats for WP 2.5.1

July 12th, 2008 2

For those who are interested, WP-Cats now [works with Wordpress 2.5.1](http://uwmike.com/wordpress/wp-cats/).

Update: Wordpress 2.6 is now out; WP-Cats works fine with it as well.

Bed Building

May 12th, 2008 5

We moved house a little over a week ago, and for the first time, it was to a completely unfurnished pad. My housemates had conspired to acquire common area furniture from various sources, and [Melina](http://nakedbydesign.wordpress.com/) found us a bunch of flat-pack desks for our bedrooms.

But I still needed to actually get a bed. Feeling inspired by the success of [my shelves from last summer](http://uwmike.com/articles/2007/06/24/shelving-project/) and the work of Matthias on a [construction lumber bed](http://woodgears.ca/bed/build.html), I purchased a mattress and decided to attempt another woodworking project. In the end, the cost was about $90 in materials, and 5 hours of time. Read on…

Swing Geeks

April 3rd, 2008 6

QSRV 1I’ve now been dancing swing for a little over two years. The people I’ve met through it have been overwhelmingly some of the nicest, most generous-spirited people anywhere… and also, *a lot of the guys are pretty geeky*.


**The least charitable answer is “the geeks are there because there are women there,” but that’s not the whole story.** Certainly lots of guys get into dancing because they followed (or were dragged by) a woman into it, but those who stay seem to do so for reasons apart from that. Indeed, the scenes I’ve participated in ([Toronto](http://www.torontolindyhop.com/), [New York](http://www.yehoodi.com/news/), [Sydney](http://www.swingtimeaustralia.com/nsw/)) seem almost completely free of the creepy behaviour you would expect given that assertion. And that is despite being totally welcoming to guys and gals who might not be as accepted in other circles.

So what is it about the niceness of the swing community? What makes it so appealing to geeky guys? I think it’s the nature of the dance itself that attracts them, and once there, their presence and personality is reflected in the culture that develops around the dance. Read on…

Pushing Data to the Browser With Open-Get

January 22nd, 2008 6

For anyone who’s curious how Gmail’s chat widget notifies your browser that a new message has arrived, be curious no longer: here’s a simplified page that [demonstrates the method used](http://sandbox.mikepurvis.com/js/openget/).

Note: Before we go on, I should just clarify that nothing here is based on insider knowledge of Google (I was never anywhere near the Gmail code), and any opinions expressed are mine alone.

This demo itself is of interest to technical folks, because it demonstrates a way for programmers to work around another frustrating limitation that arises from the architecture of the web—that when an interaction over http takes place between a client (browser) and a server (website), the client must always be the one initiating the connection.

Read on…

WP-Cats, Now With jQuery

October 26th, 2007 7

This is a pretty pedestrian way to break a month’s silence, but the [0.2 version of WP-Cats](http://uwmike.com/wordpress/wp-cats/) is out. I’ve rewritten the JavaScript so that I’m no longer completely ashamed of it; the closures are a lot cleaner now, and it makes extensive use of [jQuery](http://jquery.com/) for DOM manipulation and bits of animation.

There’s also a cool new feature where if you add a category to a particular post, you can double-click the plus-button on another post to add the same category to that one. This could be handy if you’ve created a new category and want to quickly go through and tag a bunch of posts with it.

In this release, I made a really serious effort to remove dependencies on Wordpress code, especially on the WP admin panel markup. Using jQuery offers greater flexibility regarding what can be conveniently used as JavaScript hooks, and this time around the main hooks are all inserted by a filter, hopefully making the overall system much more tolerant of future upgrades. Oh, and it all works on Safari now.

Ambigrams Again

September 21st, 2007 2

Tron Hoodie

A couple years ago I became interested in ambigrams, particularly [the work of John Langdon](http://www.johnlangdon.net/gallery.html). At the time, I got a hold of [his *Wordplay* book](http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0767920759/uwmike-20), and began experimenting with [some of my own designs](http://uwmike.com/articles/2006/01/11/ambigrams/).

I recently had a breakthough in figuring out how to create a surprisingly readable ambigram for my [mechatronics engineering class](http://tron09.com/). There was a general approval, and we ended up having the design embroidered on about 80 quality Campus Crew hoodies.

As someone with an amateur’s interest in typography and letterforms, I’ve found the doodling of these invertible designs to be an incredibly practical way to teach oneself the fundamental definitions of letters. Read on…

New WP-Cats

August 29th, 2007 Comments Off

No functionality changes, but I spent an hour on [the Clipper](http://www.clippervacations.com/ferry/) yesterday figuring out how to make WP-Cats [work with WP 2.2.2](http://uwmike.com/wordpress/wp-cats/).

Admittedly, WP-Cats is a more sophisticated plugin than some in the degree to which it interacts with core code, but my first experience contributing to a major open-source project has been a little mixed. My attempt to interact with the team [received no response](http://groups.google.com/group/wp-hackers/browse_thread/thread/837588396d794b9d), and I can tell by checking out the trunk that the next point release of WP is going to—again—break the basic interface upon which WP-Cats relies.

Despite this, I think the plugin provides useful and worthwhile functionality in an elegant little package, and I’ve had dozens of thank-you emails about it over the past year; that’s motivation enough to carry on. So enjoy!

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