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Google AppEngine announced a new pricing model and the killer is that as soon as an 'app'* costs anything it costs $9 per month. The implication to me is clearly this: never do anything small. This probably won't be a barrier to people building a business on AppEngine, they're probably planning on moving many more dollars per month than $9. But I think it will be a barrier to tinkering and creativity.

rant about Google culture and AppEngine )
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In the last few years I have gone through phases of: coercing data and setting up displays using gnuplot; writing my own script code to emit SVG and do all the drawing and layout myself; writing script code to coerce the data into JSON to be interpreted by javascript code to draw in a <canvas> element.

Maybe just because it's new, I am particularly amused by this last method. I've applied it to a couple different pages now, and the results look good. It may be more portable than SVG, since android phone browser can render <canvas> but not SVG. (iPhone can do SVG)
bolson: (Default)
Proud to be a Topekan today
bolson: (Default)
According to my little benchmark at, on my MBP13, recent Safari gets about 200 megaflops, Chrome(beta) is getting 150, and the latest Firefox 3.6 gets an astounding 700 (there's actually a range of numbers depending on mix of operations, I'm eyeballing a representative number). Java on the same machine gets around 1600 megaflops.
Now the super amazing thing that happens when I try it just now is that running virtually the same source, transliterated from C to Java and Javascript, I run `gcc -O2 -m64` and run the binary and get results slower than Java. I'll eyeball it as C being 80% the speed of Java. Of course, I'm sure this will vary from problem to problem and some things may optimize better on one system or the other. On the plus side, I also ran a binary from 2006 based an an unknown gcc version of that era. It was slower than the latest gcc. At least that's getting better.
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I've been reading a little web comic named Questionable Content for some time. It's a soap opera. There's drama and silliness, and robots. I bought some of the artist's tshirts. Yesterday Jeph Jacques, the writer and artist behind the comic, redrew episode #3 as #1601. Here's an example of how the art has evolved over the last few years:
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Javascript runs about 2% the speed of compiled C. It's like a computer seven to eight years old but with a big fancy graphics accelerator called a 'browser'.
bolson: (Default)
Tinkering around with my clock projects, I've done an accidental survey of some tools for doing dynamic graphics in web pages.

This is a Java Applet using java.awt.* graphics:

This is javascript dom hacking pushing around HTML elements with CSS positioning (and a static png background):

This is a <canvas> element with javascript graphics:

They're all updating at 10 to 30 Hz. I've found that the Java Applet/AWT looks great on my Mac but horrible on Linux, even if scaled back to 1 Hz. The two javascript clocks look fine on Mac, Linux, and iPhone. The Internet tells me that <canvas> isn't supported on IE, but it looks fine on Firefox/Chrome/Safari.

Alternatives not explored are XHTML + SVG + javascript, causing an inline SVG document to change and animate. Also Flash/ActionScript and Microsoft Silverlight and some new environment from Adobe are out there but not the kinds of things I'm likely to use for political reasons.

I still think Java is a great language, but it looks like Sun's promise of write-once-run-anywhere GUIs went out with the 1990's.

Also, I'm planning to watch one or more of these roll over this New Year's Eve. ;-)
bolson: (Default)
I thought it would be really cool if I made a clock with hands but where each successive hand sprouted from the end of the hand before it. The seconds off the end of the minutes off the end of the hours and so on. This epicycle clock does that, but gets kinda messy as things overlap. Not as pretty as I'd hoped.
bolson: (Default)
A couple days ago I made this clock.
Now thanks to some clever web hacking (of the sort I've been learning at my job) it no longer assumes you live at my house (important for sunrise/sunset calculations) and lets you set and even bookmark locations to use. For example:
San Francisco

(and it comes with an explanation now too)
bolson: (Default)
I made you a clock ( ) (Requires Java, or the lesser javascript clock)
bolson: (Default)
1. configure server B
2. send some test mails to server B while no DNS points at it
3. disable server A (other servers trying to send mail to it start waiting)
4. rsync spool and personal mailboxes from server A to server B
5. make DNS point at server B (hope step 1 was actually right)

for bonus points, do steps 3-5 in under an hour.
Oh, and there are a couple database backed web-apps also running on server A. Those should also be stopped at step 3 and their contents sync-ed over at step 4.
And yes, I pay for the privilege of having my very own custom server out there on the 'net.
bolson: (Default)
I went to a party Saturday night where they had a twister mat but no spinner. I had my laptop with me, so I wrote a twister spinner in javascript. Now if you ever lose yours, you can use that one.
bolson: (Default)
A variation on the vanity Google search for your own name, do a Google Image Search on your own name. I recently became the top hit for my own full name on regular search, and I've been in the first 10 for years, but nothing about me comes up on image search until the 4th page and an actual picture of me doesn't come up until the 6th page.
bolson: (Default)
Something must be wrong on the internet. One of my emails, mostly spam free for 8 years, got hit with 21 in the last 8 hours. It is now whitelisted. If you've ever sent me email there, you should be fine, and there's a backup repository for things if it turns out someone sends me mail I didn't know I wanted yet.
bolson: (Default)
I wonder where we'll find them...
Google search for lies recommends palin lies and mccain lies
bolson: (Default)
I seem to have moved into some telecommunications wasteland where neither RCN (my current ISP) nor Verizoff offer internet service. Comcast will give me worse service than I get now for $70/mo vs my current $40/mo.
Anyone have other options I should know about?

News To Me

Jun. 13th, 2008 10:33 pm
bolson: (Default)
I've been using Google Reader for some time now and it has a feature that lets me mark things as specially interesting and add them to my own exported feed of shared items. So, you can get a feed of news filtered by me as interesting or noteworthy.
See it as a webpage or as an atom feed:
bolson: (links)
Ignite Boston, organized by O'Reilly, Microsoft will buy you a beer.


May. 20th, 2008 11:08 am
bolson: (Default)
I got my dose of geek culture last weekend at Bar Camp. It was great. There were some cool sessions about visualization of various kinds of data. The hardware hackers almost make me want to get out the soldering iron again. Probably the best thing was just the general hanging out and talking tech.


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