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.

snow

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)

amazon web services

from kottke.org: Amazon web services via SOAP or XML over HTTP. Couple examples here. This site is lightning fast (ASP retrieving XML via ResponseXML object).

[update 07/19/2002: you can/could create a dynamic bookstore based on your own content using a tool like this. ie: user is on the “mexican food’ page, we show mexican food cookbooks from amazon, kinda cool] — My first use of this could be a cool cookbook lookup tool in karensrecipes.com. Just gotta finish the re-write.

happy birthday to me!

My wifey got me the Lego MINDSTORM Vision Command set, which I’m really excited about. I don’t have it yet 🙁 but soon… check out all these fun projects:

Doug’s LEGO Technic Tri-Star Wheel ATV and Robotics page
legOS
Lego MINDSTORMS World
Core LEGO MINDSTORMS Programming: Unleash the Power of the Java Platform
JavaTanks
LEGO® MINDSTORMS(tm) Internals

Found on evolt.org… VersignOff. I just received an email from them for cephas.net. Initially I thought my domain renewal was coming up.. and then I realized that I didn’t have to renew for another 8 months or something.

Outliners. I’ve read about them alot on scripting.com. Here’s an interesting one written in Java. Wonder if this could be used instead of something like <cfa_tree> in Spectra.

I turn 27 at 7:23am PST. Karen took me to Mul’s Diner this morning, I had some great Texas french toast, eggs, bacon, and taters. Keep eating like that and I won’t see birthday #50. 🙂

Saw some fun stuff in the COMPUSA circular yesterday. First, a bluetooth enabled headset for your wireless phone. Now your can have your phone in your bag or your pocket and just wear your headset. Nice. And the new Compaq IPAQ 3975. Very cool. 400Mhz processor (almost as fast as the Linux machine I have at home, faster than the server hosting this site). It’s Bluetooth enabled so you can get wireless data via a wireless bluetooth enabled cell phone, like this one.

page spider

Instead of searching fields in a database, I think it would be really nice to be able to send a spider to index a site.. obviously complicated, but would be very very handy to have. Also makes a lot more sense to me to search pages than objects. Object searching could be sliced and diced easier but it’s slower and once you find an object, you have to find out where it should be displayed on a page… Create a mini google?

interesting articles

Spent numerous hours tonight trying to get a JSP/Servlet app running again on Tomcat 4.01. I’ve learned (for the second time) that Tomcat is really really fussy about web.xml. It likes things in a certain order or else you get an ugly error message that doesn’t say anything about what *actually* went wrong. Uggh.

Well thought out reasoning on why I should go back to school: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000319.html

How to internationalize a Struts app: http://www.anassina.com/struts/i18n/i18n.html

Now with 50% less caffeine!