All posts by ajohnson

the race

Karen won… well, she finished. 12 miles of biking, 800 meter swim, 3 miles running.. pictures here.

From Micromechanical Flying Insects. Essentially scientists are trying to reproduce the fly. Our flying drones supposedly have scared Saddam Hussein into not appearing in public. Can you imagine what life would be like if we had autonomous flies!??? Sheesh, that’s cool and scary at the same time.

Would you believe that there is an Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International?


finished Pilgrim at Tinker Creek… I guess the nap this afternoon gave me enough juice to finish it out. I read books quickly.. I’m sure there are lots of things I don’t even pick up, just like a complicated movie, sometimes you have to see/read it twice, but I usually remember the stories and this book had a great number of them (muskrats… the frog & the giant water bug, grasshoppers and locusts). From the last chapter, page 275:

“There is not a guarantee in the world. Oh your needs are guaranteed, your needs are absolutely guaranteed by the most stringent of warranties, in the plainest, truest words: knock, seek, ask. But you must read the fine print. ‘Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.’ That’s the catch. If you can catch it will catch you up, aloft, up to any gap at all, and you’ll come back, for you will come back, transformed in a way you may not have bargained for — dribbling and crazed. The waters of separation, however lightly sprinkled, leave indelible stains. Did you think, before you were caught, that you needed, say, life? Do you think you will keep your life, or anything else you love? But no. Your needs are all met. But not as the world giveth. You see the needs of your own spirit met whenever you have asked, and you have learned that outrageous guarantee holds. You see the creatures die and you know you will die. And one day it occurs to you that you must not need life. Obviously. And then you’re gone. You have finally understood that you’re dealing with a maniac.”

first midlet!

howto: changing time on your linux machine

completed this J2ME tutorial last night. The Sun/Java Wireless toolkit made it easy to get up and running quickly. The JWTK has emulators, similiar to the emulators provided for doing WAP work. The guy who wrote the article for Sun also happens to be a big MINDSTORMS fan. He wrote this book, which has *full* instructions available online. Go Oreilly!

Next I’ll have to do the wireless tutorial.


Developing for the J2EE Tomcat Platform

jabber founders blog

read about Edward Tufte a couple days ago on Kottke after hearing about him from our creative director Marc here at work. Came across this interesting article on MSDN today which said that Tufte is probably the biggest UI inspiration at Microsoft (at least in 1999). Someday I need to read one of this books.

Tai gave a great presentation today in our developers/org meeting (this presentation was targeted at upper management and creative) on the differences between browsers and what that means to developers. Interesting links: browser stats at w3schools from

here’s a nice chart of browser capabilities:

which was linked from here, a great resource:

and, some more great links:
this is the one Maia sent recently, great start:

css validator:

html/xhtml validator:

of course:

browser archive:

broswer emulator:

browser market share study:

nice essay:

5.0 browsers:

browser death-match:

woah links…

Refrigerator Fred

Mom got me the Lego MINDSTORM Robotics Invention Set for my birthday… made my first bot today, the RoverBot. Light and Touch Sensors, speed control, direction… all with an easy to use visual code editor (really visual: you drag and drop “blocks” of code onto your template, save, download via IR to the bot and run the program). My favorite ‘sample’ program so far is a bot named Refrigerator Fred that lowers his ‘sunglasses’ when he sees bright light. Useless, but fun.


Finished ‘Telling the Truth: The Gospel As Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale‘ by Frederick Buechner (who hails from Pawlet, VT) tonight. I have 27 technical/computer books on my desk, which probably amount to 10,000+ pages of code, best practices and case studies, but not one of which illuminate *life* in any manner. This book did, however.

“You wake up on a winter morning and pull up the shade, and what lay there the evening before is no longer there — the sodden gray yard, the dog droppings, the tire tracks in the frozen mud, the broken lawn chair you forgot to take in last fall. All this has disappeared overnight, and what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence. It is snow to be shoveled, to make driving even worse than usual, snow to be joked about and cursed at, but unless the child in you is entirely dead, it is snow too, that can make the heart beat faster when it catches you by surprise that way, before your defenses are up. It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed.” (pg. 83) — I have the most vivid memories of walking to the train here in Boston on a morning just like the one described above. The snow covered everything, it *transformed* our neighborhood, the city… the sun was shining, the birds singing.

And the last words of the book: “Let the preacher tell the truth. Let him make audible the silence of the news of the world with the sound turned off so that in that silence we can hear the tragic truth of the Gospel, which is that the world where God is absent is a dark and echoing emptiness; and the comic truth of the Gospel, which is that it is into the depths of his absence that God makes himself present in such unlikely ways and to such unlikely people that old Sarah and Abraham and maybe when the time comes even Pilate and Job and Lear and Henry Ward Beecher and you and I laugh till the tear run down our cheeks. And finally let him preach this overwhelming of tragedy by comedy, of darkness by light, of the ordinary by the extraordinary, as the tale that is too good not to be true because to dismiss it as untrue is to dismiss it along with it that catch of the breath, that beat and lifting of the heart near to or even accompanied by tears, which I believe is the deepest intuition of truth that we have.” (pg. 98)