Saturday April 16, 2016

rm -rf *

Man accidentally 'deletes his entire company' with one line of bad code

article in The Independent, 15 April 2016, /via Gene Spafford in Twitter.

ScreenShot2016 04 16 13 56 10

"The problem command was "rm -rf": a basic piece of code that will delete everything it is told to."

I love this stuff. It proves we're human. (And also, EVERYTHING needs multiple off-site backups!)

I think this is almost a rite of passage for some of us. At least it tends to stop (or slow down) after it removes /bin/rm... and most of us only wipe out our own disk. (Extra credit if you ran it from a script and didn't test it sufficiently first with printf or echo.) ...
       Continue reading "rm -rf *"

rm -rf * - posted at Sat, 16 Apr, 14:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday July 23, 2015

Solar Home

We have been thinking about adding solar collectors for a long time, dithering over technologies, worrying about installation and maintenance, etc. When the public school in our neighborhood put in an 8190 sq. ft. array (6 rows of 91 3'x5' panels), we knew we should try to get on board. However, it's always been too expensive. Until now.

Rich ran across a mention of SolarCity in January of this year. He started looking into what they offer; he talked to a representative. They sent us a proposal; discussions went back and forth. Eventually, we signed up, hooked up, and became reasonably happy campers.

Note: If, after reading this post, you decide to buy from SolarCity, please let them know that you learned about them from us. You'll get a month of free power and we'll get a tasty referral bonus!

Continued... in our wiki.

See also: Solar Alliance for additional information on Solar Energy.

Solar Home - posted at Thu, 23 Jul, 16:49 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday May 27, 2013

It's Not a Virus (SRSLY)

Nerdmeritbadge familyhelpdesk

What do you do if you get a phone call from someone who tells you they've found a virus on your computer?

Our non-technical family members and friends are lucky to have people like us they can call on. But what about those poor people who don't have someone to ask?

I got this note from my father yesterday. (FYI, my Dad uses Mac OS X.)

A girl called me yesterday to tell me my computer had a virus and she could fix it for $169.00 with protection for one year. Her company is ISECUREVAP and she diagnosed my problem while we were talking. I've tried to include her diag. with this email. What do you think?

I wrote back to say "You don't have a virus. Those phone calls are a scam." ...
       Continue reading "It's Not a Virus (SRSLY)"

It's Not a Virus (SRSLY) - posted at Mon, 27 May, 21:20 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday April 15, 2013

How (Not) to Eat Fried Worms

We discovered a "new" SF Bay Area restaurant today: Coconut Bay Street Cafe (Thai). It's located at 1300 Howard St in Burlingame (CA).

We came in largely by accident; the restaurant we initially planned to eat at turned out to close between 3:00 pm and 4:30 pm. We arrived just at 3pm. Pfooie!.

We had passed Coconut Bay Street Cafe on the way to our original destination. When, disappointed and lunchless, we headed back to the car, we noticed that CBSC was open.

So, we went in. ...
       Continue reading "How (Not) to Eat Fried Worms"

How (Not) to Eat Fried Worms - posted at Mon, 15 Apr, 22:43 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday February 6, 2008

The Nissan Cube

I'm a great fan of Toyota automobiles; I've had three. The Camry has more than 150,000 on it now. We put over 200,000 miles on our Corolla and it never flinched. (The only reason we don't have the Corolla anymore is we couldn't fit three cars in the driveway!)

That third car is a Scion xB which I absolutely love, more than any car I've ever driven. It wouldn't be difficult to get me into another Toyota at this point and it would take something special to make me look at another brand.

Nissan just came out with something special: The Nissan Cube. ...
       Continue reading "The Nissan Cube"

The Nissan Cube - posted at Wed, 06 Feb, 19:15 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday October 27, 2007

Not Safe For Dogs - A Cautionary Tale

We got this story from our veterinarian.

On Friday, a sick dog was brought in. The dog had started vomiting the night before and had progressed to projectile vomiting by the morning.

The vet did an examination. There was a blockage. Time for X-rays and the veterinary version of a plumber's snake. When that didn't solve the problem, the vet recommended emergency surgery. ...
       Continue reading "Not Safe For Dogs - A Cautionary Tale"

Not Safe For Dogs - A Cautionary Tale - posted at Sat, 27 Oct, 10:34 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday October 20, 2007

eBay - Watch out for "Handling" fees

I recently purchased a very small item on eBay. Less than a square inch in size; well under an ounce in weight. I paid $2.99 for the item. Shipping (and "handling") was $7.98.

Following the principle of Never attribute to Malice what can be explained by Stupidity, I assumed this was one of those companies that ships everything by UPS, DHL, or FedEx. I assumed that the carrier charges a silly rate and that the seller passes that on the customer.

It turns out I was wrong. ...
       Continue reading "eBay - Watch out for "Handling" fees"

eBay - Watch out for "Handling" fees - posted at Sat, 20 Oct, 11:14 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday September 20, 2007

Losses: Phil Frank, Robert Jordan

In September, the world lost two well-loved story tellers: Phil Frank and Robert Jordan.

Phil Frank, whose cartoons graced the pages of The Chronicle and other newspapers for more than 30 years, died Wednesday night only a few days after he announced his retirement because of illness.

Phil Frank dies - cartoonist who captured spirit of Bay Area - SF Chronicle, Sept 14, 2007

Author Robert Jordan, whose "Wheel of Time" series of fantasy novels sold millions of copies, died Sunday of a rare blood disease.

Author Robert Jordan Dies - SF Chronicle, Sept 17, 2007

Both will be missed. ...
       Continue reading "Losses: Phil Frank, Robert Jordan"

Losses: Phil Frank, Robert Jordan - posted at Thu, 20 Sep, 10:28 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday March 7, 2007

Never Settle

Real Life/Work Lessons from Toyota

I would love to work for a company that operated like this.

From Fast Company magazine.

What drives Toyota? The presumption of imperfection — and a distinctly American refusal to accept it.


Toyota's competitiveness is quiet, internal, self-critical. It is rooted in an institutional obsession with improvement that Toyota manages to instill in each one of its workers, a pervasive lack of complacency with whatever was accomplished yesterday. ...
       Continue reading "Never Settle"

Never Settle - posted at Wed, 07 Mar, 12:57 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday February 9, 2007

Eat Your Way to Wired

Coffee and Donuts is an old standby for a fast meal with all of the necessary food groups: caffeine, sugar, fat, and (with mocha or a frosted donut) chocolate!. Can it get any "better"? ...
       Continue reading "Eat Your Way to Wired"

Eat Your Way to Wired - posted at Fri, 09 Feb, 23:17 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday September 6, 2006

Backinprint Header

Print-on-demand technology is getting better and more accessible.

The Authors Guild is the nation's oldest and largest professional society of published authors, representing more than 8,000 writers. The Authors Guild Backinprint Bookstore is pleased to bring readers access to a variety of titles that were previously out-of-print.
Check out - posted at Wed, 06 Sep, 22:22 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday August 25, 2006

Three Steps to a New, Improved Microsoft!

From the September 2006 issue of PC World magazine
Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2006
On June 15, in case you didn't notice, Microsoft announced that Bill Gates will "transition out of a day-to-day role in the company" in 2008, though he'll remain as chairman. Bill, no one can complain about your new focus on philanthropy, but over the next two years, how about showing your customers a little love?

It'll be easy! Just insist that Microsoft adopt this mantra: "Stop Making Crap." Here's a simple three-step process...

Read the article.

Three Steps to a New, Improved Microsoft! - posted at Fri, 25 Aug, 22:13 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday August 1, 2006

JavaScript: The World's Most Misunderstood Programming Language

Douglas Crackford>writes about why JavaScript is actually a much better programming language than most people think. The article is both amusing and insightful.

JavaScript, aka Mocha, aka LiveScript, aka JScript, aka ECMAScript, is one of the world's most popular programming languages. Virtually every personal computer in the world has at least one JavaScript interpreter installed on it and in active use. JavaScript's popularity is due entirely to its role as the scripting language of the WWW.

Despite its popularity, few know that JavaScript is a very nice dynamic object-oriented general-purpose programming language. How can this be a secret? Why is this language so misunderstood?

Tuesday July 4, 2006

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July, Independence Day, 230th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I have always admired Tom, Ben, John, and the rest.

Rich and I drove down to Stanford last night to watch the fireworks display. I expect there to be a smaller display in our neighborhood tonight after the sun sets.

We put out our flag. It has the standard field of stars but rainbow stripes, representing the Diversity of the USA.

Happy Fourth of July. Cherish your Freedoms. Protect the Constitution. Remember what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

Happy Fourth! - posted at Tue, 04 Jul, 20:13 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday June 27, 2006


I discovered quinoa in the Company cafeteria. Qunoa is a grain crop from South America, where it has been an important food for 6,000 years. ...
       Continue reading "Quinoa"

Quinoa - posted at Tue, 27 Jun, 18:52 Pacific | Comments (1)

Sunday May 21, 2006

Lighting Up The Future

A research team from Kennedy & Violich Architecture in Boston has designed solar-powered lamps composed of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) woven into colorful swaths of fabric. The lights are undergoing field testing in a remote mountain community of Mexico's Sierra Madre, ...
       Continue reading "Lighting Up The Future"

Lighting Up The Future - posted at Sun, 21 May, 00:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday May 11, 2006

Big Macs & Bikram Yoga

In Monday's FC Now (The Fast Company weblog), Danielle Sacks writes about "McDonald's latest PR schwag":
...burger-branded yoga and cardio videos. Ugh.

Okay, if fast food cattle houses want to peddle mandarin-accented salads and bottled water, great. But to try and spin your cause to health, the message is so unnatural it's like showing up at church to find out the priest is trying to convince you to convert to Judaism.

       Continue reading "Big Macs & Bikram Yoga"

Big Macs & Bikram Yoga - posted at Thu, 11 May, 13:04 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday April 21, 2006

National Sense of Smell Day

The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative,
bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes
that had left the conscious mind.

-- Thalassa Cruso,

Start thinking about smells because Saturday, April 29, is National Sense of Smell Day. ...
       Continue reading "National Sense of Smell Day"

National Sense of Smell Day - posted at Fri, 21 Apr, 00:43 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday April 19, 2006


The difficulty in making a decision is often inversely proportional to the difference between the choices. Yet, according to Anne O'Hare McCormick*, "The percentage of mistakes in quick decisions is no greater than in long-drawn-out vacillation." The best advice seems to be "Just Do It". ...
       Continue reading "Decisiveness"

Decisiveness - posted at Wed, 19 Apr, 13:19 Pacific | Comments (1)

Tuesday April 18, 2006

Cost Cutting Gone Wrong

In today's Fast Company Now weblog, Heath Row writes:

... Having experienced the loss of a simple but effective perk, I was somewhat amused to read about the Minneapolis Star Tribune's recent decision to no longer provide free copies of the paper to... its staff of reporters and editors.

Be sure to read the complete Fast Company posting (with its followup comments) as well as the weird-but-true story of a newspaper that doesn't seem capable of prioritizing — or even understanding — what is important to its business. ...
       Continue reading "Cost Cutting Gone Wrong"

Cost Cutting Gone Wrong - posted at Tue, 18 Apr, 11:26 Pacific | Comments (1)

The Day The Earth Shook

One hundred years ago, at 5:12 am on Wednesday morning, April 18, 1906, San Francisco (and other parts of northern California) endured the infamous San Andreas earthquake. Although the subsequent fire caused the most damage to The City, the quake was indirectly responsible for the devastation. Gas and water pipes burst during the shake, setting off fires for which there was no water available to quench the blaze. Ultimately, buildings were ordered to be dynamited in an attempt to stop the fire from continuing to spread. ...
       Continue reading "The Day The Earth Shook"

The Day The Earth Shook - posted at Tue, 18 Apr, 05:12 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday April 7, 2006

Smart Glasses

I've been nearsighted since I was 4 or 5. I've worn glasses since the third grade. When I hit 40, my accommodation went to Presbyopia in a handbasket.

I wear progressive bifocals. Rich has four different pairs of glasses — intermediate, distance, reading, and computer. I sit a little bit farther away from the computer screen than I used to. Our optometrist keeps suggesting LASIK (no thanks). But now, there's something new on the horizon... ...
       Continue reading "Smart Glasses"

Smart Glasses - posted at Fri, 07 Apr, 19:26 Pacific | Comments (2)

Thursday April 6, 2006

Learning From OXO

Our wrong assumptions lead to the best learning.

—Alex Lee, president, OXO (in Fast Company's First Impression for Mar 31 2006)

You're probably familiar with OXO from your grocery store's kitchen tools aisle. OXO makes those interesting spatulas, ice cream scoops, potato mashers, and vegetable peelers with the thick, black rubber handles that fit so nicely and ergonomically in your hand. They're not cheap but they're obviously well made and a pleasure to use. ...
       Continue reading "Learning From OXO"

Learning From OXO - posted at Thu, 06 Apr, 14:36 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday April 4, 2006

Turning Torso

As the daughter of an architect, I've spent much of my life looking at, and appreciating, interesting buildings. Until recently, I would have said that most of the unique structures I've seen have been in Dallas, Texas. The Dallas skyline looks like an advertisement for a high-end architectural firm (or a Virtual Reality game).

However, a new tower in Malmö, Sweden must take the prize for "most unique and unusual building". Recently completed, the second-tallest residential building in Europe appears to be twisting... because it is. ...
       Continue reading "Turning Torso"

Turning Torso - posted at Tue, 04 Apr, 14:37 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday February 8, 2006

More Communication Sources

I started my weblog in mid-2002. But I really got going in February 2003 (three years ago). I've been typing and posting ever since.

According to Technorati's recent State of the Blogosphere

A new blog is created every second and the phenomenon has grown 60 times larger than it was three years ago,

Wow. ...
       Continue reading "More Communication Sources"

More Communication Sources - posted at Wed, 08 Feb, 00:09 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday November 29, 2005

Don't Be SAD

With winter comes a period of more earlier and longer darkness and much less sun. Less sun leads to depression for many people; the syndrome is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

In some places, such as Finland, it simply gets dark everywhere for miles around. In other places, such as the Tyrol region of the Alps, the sun can be shining a mile or so away!

The sun has stopped shining in Rattenberg. But with the aid of a few mirrors, the winter darkness that grips this small town could soon be brightened up with pockets of sunshine.

Rattenberg was built between the hill [910m Rat Mountain] to the south and the Inn River to the north starting in the 1300s for protection against marauders. Back then, lack of sunshine was a small price to pay for relative security.

But as such dangers diminished, dozens more settlements sprang up. Some, like Kramsach, are just half a mile away and all enjoy a few hours of sun on a clear winter's day.

[Mirrors shed light as winter grips small town]

Now an Austrian company, Bartenbach Lichtlabor GmbH, plans to install 30 heliostats — "rotating mirrors, mounted on a hillside to grab sunshine off reflectors from the neighbouring village of Kramsach" — to bring spots of sunlight into Rattenberg.

It would be prohibitively expensive to bathe the entire town in sunlight. Instead, Lichtlabor plans to create about a dozen "hotspots" — "areas not much bigger than a front yard scattered through the town, where townspeople can gather and soak up rays."

In turn, the town hopes to save itself. The population of Rattenberg has been steadily declining in the past twenty years. Four years ago, half of those polled listed lack of winter sunlight as their biggest disadvantage.

I can understand how they feel. I wish them well in this experiment.

Don't Be SAD - posted at Tue, 29 Nov, 19:40 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday June 15, 2005

Grafedia - Grafitti meets the WWW

It's certainly nothing I would have thought of. Words written in blue, underlined, painted on a wall. Use your cell phone or computer to send email or a text message to that blue word "" and get back an image or sound file by return mail.

It's hyperlinking in the physical world. It's weird. It's strange. It's also a really cool concept.

Grafedia is hyperlinked text, written by hand onto physical surfaces and linking to rich media content - images, video, sound files, and so forth. It can be written anywhere - on walls, in the streets, or on sidewalks. Grafedia can also be written in letters or postcards, on the body as tattoos, or anywhere you feel like putting it. Viewers "click" on these grafedia hyperlinks with their cell phones by sending a message addressed to the word + "" to get the content behind the link.

Grafedia was created by John Geraci at the Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYU. It was recently written up by CNN. I wonder if there's any in San Francisco yet...

Grafedia - Grafitti meets the WWW - posted at Wed, 15 Jun, 16:42 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday November 20, 2004

311 Citizen Services

New York City has a relatively new Citizen Services telephone number, 311, started by NYC Mayor MIchael Bloomberg. I think it should go nation-wide.

311 proved itself in a vital way for thousands of NYC residents during the east coast blackout of 2003.

The moment the lights flickered off to begin the great blackout of 2003, New York City's emergency management teams put elegant procedures into action, anticipating New Yorkers' needs in a city suddenly denied power. They prevented looting, located stuck elevators, and prepared to treat victims of heat exhaustion. But for thousands of people that long night, the most pressing concern was something that hadn't occurred to the government: blood sugar levels.

As the blackout stretched from afternoon into early evening, many diabetics grew increasingly apprehensive about the shelf life of their refrigerated insulin. Emergency planners may not have foreseen those worries, but within a matter of hours, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was addressing the vital but arguably obscure topic in one of that night's many press conferences. The insulin issue had trickled up the command chain thanks to a service Bloomberg started: the 311 line.

311 ... may well be the most radical enhancement of urban information management since the invention of the census, and it promises to make urban centers into more livable spaces.

[ Operators are Standing By, Wired Magazine, November 2004 ]

       Continue reading "311 Citizen Services"

311 Citizen Services - posted at Sat, 20 Nov, 12:07 Pacific

Monday November 1, 2004

50 thousand words in only 30 days?

Did you ever think you wanted to write a novel? Has it always sounded like something that would take too much time? How about 175 pages in one month?

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.
       Continue reading "50 thousand words in only 30 days?"

50 thousand words in only 30 days? - posted at Mon, 01 Nov, 21:48 Pacific

Saturday September 11, 2004

The Return of Stuart Katt!

I'm a big fan of Stuart Katt, stuartkattshirt a large, stripey, lino-block art feline I discovered many years ago. I have several t-shirts, a tote bag, and a set of greeting cards featuring the irrepressible and irresistible tabby. Some of my favorites in the series are "Cat Wants In / Cat Wants Out" (a double-print t-shirt), "Cat and Friends on Stairs" (the "friends" being cat toys) and "Cat Wants People Food" (in this case, that would be the roasted turkey).

Periodically, I'd do a web search, looking for signs of Stuart... Until recently, there was nothing to find. In fact, judging from the comments posted to one of my previous weblog entries which mentioned one of my t-shirts (right), I've been generating the most hits. The comments also show that and Stuart is well-loved and sought-after by his loyal fans.

Well, guess who did a web search and found me?! A couple of days ago, I received an unexpected note from Stuart's artist, Philip Dingman. (Isn't the Web a wonderful place!).

I have excellent news for all Stuart Katt fans — Mr. Dingman will be letting the Katt out of the bag once again! He even promises.. books! Oooooooooh.

I hope you'll join the Stuart "fan club" when the Katt comes back. Keep watch at I can hardly wait.


katt small

The Return of Stuart Katt! - posted at Sat, 11 Sep, 11:27 Pacific

Wednesday September 8, 2004

f u cn rd ths

International Literacy Day, observed September 8 and at events throughout the week, focuses attention on worldwide literacy issues and needs. It is estimated that 860 million of the world’s adults do not know how to read or write (nearly two-thirds of whom are women) and that more than 100 million children lack access to education.

To find out more about International Literacy Day, see the pages at or

Celebrate International Literacy Day. Read a book today... and every day!

f u cn rd ths - posted at Wed, 08 Sep, 17:00 Pacific

Monday March 15, 2004


What will they think of next?

(Well, actually, I'm still waiting for transparent aluminum, ala Star Trek. Still... this is pretty cool stuff!)

litraconThe days of dull, grey concrete could be about to end. A Hungarian architect has combined the world’s most popular building material with optical fiber from Schott to create a new type of concrete that transmits light.

A wall made of “LitraCon” allegedly has the strength of traditional concrete but thanks to an embedded array of glass fibers can display a view of the outside world, such as the silhouette of a tree, for example.

“Thousands of optical glass fibers form a matrix and run parallel to each other between the two main surfaces of every block,” explained its inventor Áron Losonczi. “Shadows on the lighter side will appear with sharp outlines on the darker one. Even the colours remain the same. This special effect creates the general impression that the thickness and weight of a concrete wall will disappear.”

The hope is that the new material will transform the interior appearance of concrete buildings by making them feel light and airy rather than dark and heavy.

[cf. Concrete casts new light in dull rooms, March 11, 2004, ]

I've worked in some of those concrete buildings (without many windows). I'm looking forward to the changes this product will make in public buildings and workplaces!

The first mass produced LiTraCon© products are expected to come on the market at the end of this year (2004).

LitraCon - posted at Mon, 15 Mar, 10:35 Pacific

Monday March 1, 2004

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

cathat onefish greeneggs
From there to here,
from here to there,
funny things
are everywhere.

March 2 is the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, known to millions of children as Dr. Seuss. Theodor Geisel died in 1991. This March 2, 2004 (tomorrow) would have been his 100th birthday. ...
       Continue reading "Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!"

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! - posted at Mon, 01 Mar, 14:35 Pacific

Monday December 1, 2003

Are you qualified to be a "professional"?

Now, perhaps these would make good interview questions ;-)

The following short quiz will tell you whether you are qualified to be a "professional."

According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the professionals they tested got all questions wrong. But many preschoolers got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four year old.

       Continue reading "Are you qualified to be a "professional"?"

Are you qualified to be a "professional"? - posted at Mon, 01 Dec, 11:28 Pacific

Saturday September 13, 2003

Raed Tihs


Just read the sentence straight through without really thinking about it.

       Continue reading "Raed Tihs"

Raed Tihs - posted at Sat, 13 Sep, 20:51 Pacific

Sunday May 25, 2003

Inflatable Church

The world's first inflatable church went on display to the public for the first time on Tuesday, May 13, at the National Christian Resources Exhibition at Sandown Park Exhibition Centre in Esher, Surrey, England.

The blow-up church, which is 47 feet (14.3 metres) high from ground to steeple, 47 feet long and 25 feet (7.6 metres) wide, includes a blow-up organ, altar, pulpit, pews, candles and "stained glass" windows.

The church, produced by Michael Gill of Ltd in Sarisbury Green, near Southampton, was on display at the National Christian Resources Exhibition at Sandown Park Exhibition Centre in Esher, Surrey. ...

The inflatable church, which holds 60 people standing, was to be dedicated by Michael Elfred, a Church of England minister from Tadworth. ...

Mr Gill, who now has plans to create an inflatable pub, has already had inquiries for purchase and hire of the church from more than 20 different countries.

It is envisaged that the church will be used for novelty weddings and other functions.

c.f. BBC News article

Hmmm... how about inflatable cabins for camping?
Inflatable Church - posted at Sun, 25 May, 12:51 Pacific