CVS Camera Rocketry

This is really cool, and is the kind of thing I wish I had access to years ago… CVS is selling digital cameras and camcorders for startlingly cheap prices, with the only drawback being that most people have to take them back to the store to have the contents “developed.” And I say “most people,” but there are always clever people out there, possibly like yourself, who are willing take take the devices apart and figure out their inner workings. One such project involves the CVS camcorder and a model rocket. The guts of the camera were fitted into the nose cone of a rocket, and it was launched while video was being recorded. You check out the awesome results here. For more information on getting the videos out of the camera itself, see John Maushammer’s fine work.

CVS Camera Rocketry

Ejecting Stuck Disks

Once in a while, the Finder will refuse to eject discs, claiming they’re still “in use,” even though you may have no programs or files open and accessing it. I’ve tried quitting all open applications, closing all windows, and making sure no files were open (such as a disc image on the disc itself) — nothing will convince the Finder that the disc not in use. Then I ran across the Terminal command:
hdiutil eject -force [volume]
where [volume] is the volume name or Unix device (i.e. /dev/disk3, attainable by doing df first). After hitting Return, the drive pops open.

hdiutil is a great little tool Apple provides with OS X, and it can do many things besides eject stuck discs — create and resize images, burn .dmg files, mount and unmount them, all from the command line using a very simple syntax.

And, for the record, my position on the disk/disc naming scheme is this: If it’s magnetic media, it’s “disk.” And if it’s optical, it’s “disc.” It doesn’t really matter, but I make the distinction anyway.

Ejecting Stuck Disks

Stopping Comment Spam

Lately, I’ve been getting a ton of comment spam on Command-Tab. Fortunately, WordPress (combined with an extensive “bad word” blacklist) has been able to catch 100% of it, so you never see it. However, I have to deal with the comments held in moderation and actually delete them. I’m wondering how to stop it altogether…

I’ve considered several options, including challenge/response schemes like a question or a captcha image script, but I want to make it as easy as possible for real humans to leave comments (without registering — I don’t like that idea), but near impossible for an automated machine.

For now, the spam is from a specific few IP addresses, which I’ve blocked altogether by blacklisting them in my .htaccess file. What are your suggestions on stopping comment spam?

Stopping Comment Spam

The Stupid Questions

When you ask a colleague for help, particularly in programming, you want him to know less about your project… so he will ask the stupid questions you sub-consciously avoided asking yourself because you thought you knew the answer, when in fact you didn’t.

I’ve thought about this many times while programming, and I’ve never seen it said so well. Sometimes, when some code of mine isn’t working, I’ll take a break and do something else and work on it later. Quite often, taking a new look at the code forces you to (inadvetently) ask yourself those stupid questions. I almost always find that I’ve made an assumption somewhere along the lines, and my thoughts were not consistent with the actual workings.

The Stupid Questions

Google Talk

Google’s new instant messaging service, Google Talk, is now live. While a Mac client is not yet available, it is possible to set up an account in iChat using Jabber. If you have a GMail account, you’re already signed up. Just open up iChat, and set up a new Jabber account with your GMail address as your username, your GMail password as your Google Talk password, and talk.google.com as the server address. Feel free to try it out my messaging me at command {dot} tab {at} gmail {dot} com (replace each item in braces with it’s real counterpart — it’s slightly obfuscated to cut down on junk mail to my GMail account). Both text and voice chat work, and video will likely be added in the near future. You can get more information at the Google Talk Help page.

Elsewhere on the web, Skype announced that they will be opening up their service via an API, allowing for better integration with the web, as well as other IM clients. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Maybe Google will buy Skype and combine the two services to create a total IM and VoIP solution — they have the money and the talent, why not do it?

Google Talk