Joe Ganley
Writing code since 1979
I have been a professional software engineer for over 10 years. I have written many kinds of software, but my particular strengths are interactive graphics applications, compilers and interpreters, and algorithms.

I also enjoy writing, woodworking, and home improvement. Also this.


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Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Zip Codes - Free zip code lookup and zip code database download.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Uniden TRU8866 voicemail indicator stuck on?

I recently had a problem with my Uniden TRU8866 cordless phone that I was only able to resolve through Uniden support, so I thought I'd post it here for others who might have the same problem. The issue was that the voicemail indicator came on and stayed on, and I don't have voicemail service. You can clear this indicator by holding the "page handset" button down for 5 seconds.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Clock of the Long Now

Discover has a very accessible article about the Clock of the Long Now. This project appeals to me on many levels: (1) The Long Now Foundation is my cause of choice, philosophically speaking, (2) I love complicated all-mechanical devices, and I have a bit of a thing for clocks, and (3) While I'm not one for hero worship, if I had to choose one person I admire most, Danny Hillis might well be that person.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Jewish like me

I am not Jewish, but look quite a bit like I am. Once, in 1993 or so, I was on a flight to Chicago. I was in that pair of rows that face each other on certain Southwest flights, and the other five guys in those seats were all friends, and frankly were all obnoxious assholes. I spent the flight reading, but I heard with the small portion of my attention that was listening a variety of off-color jokes and remarks about Jews. I don't remember any of it specifically, but it was definitely nasty enough that I wouldn't repeat it if I did. As I say, these guys were real jerks, so I mostly tried to just focus on my book and tune them out. We landed in Cincinatti, but I was to continue on to Chicago on the same plane, so they got up to leave and I didn't. Just as they started up the aisle, the guy who had been telling most of the jokes caught my eye and said, in a voice dripping with venom, "See you 'round, Hymie." In a rush, their whole conversation replayed in my head, and I realized that all of that bile was aimed at me! I reeled, and unfortunately they were long gone before I could think of a retort, but I felt sick for hours afterward. It isn't exactly Black Like Me, and it obviously is only a tiny taste of what it must be like to actually be Jewish (much less black or any other minority whose membership is readily apparent), but still I felt like it gave me a small taste of what it is like to be discriminated against. I spent much of my childhood being, essentially, discriminated against for being smart, but this somehow felt very different, and much worse. Even today, twelve years later, it sickens me to think about it; I can only imagine what it must be like to feel like that regularly for your entire life.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Aerobics is (are?) not easy

A while back, my wife and I went to the gym and entered what we believed was a cardio-weight-training class. We started with some aerobics that I assumed were for warmup purposes, but after about ten minutes it became clear that we had gotten the calendar confused or something, because this was an aerobics class. The fact that I was the only man in the room should have been a clue. However, by this point I have ego on the line; there's no way I'm going to be defeated by (forgive me) a bunch of women. So, I hung in for the full hour, giving 100%, and it was positively brutal. It was one hell of a workout, and I was sore for days. So, for you guys out there who stick to the weights and other "manly" sections of the gym, don't think that the women in the aerobics classes are slacking; try it once and you'll know better.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My music wish

Here's the product I want to see: A unit, perhaps roughly the form factor of a 'boom box.' It connects to the internet via your home wi-fi network, and downloads music from iTunes (or wherever). The unit, and its remote, has thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons on it, and it uses Tivo-like recommendation technology to choose what to play in the future based on what you've liked (and disliked) in the past. You'd pay a flat rate per month for the music. I'm sure you could cobble together something like this today, but the key difference is that my box is dead simple. You unpack it and plug it into the wall, and it starts playing music. While some might want to fine-tune based on whether they are in the mood for a particular kind of music today, I'd be happy with just a few controls: On/off, volume, and thumbs up/down. For extra credit, it would have the ability to stock your iPod, or a similar unit in your car, with stuff it thinks you like. This seems like a great fit for Apple's product line, and I'd love to see it happen.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Evolution of my favorite film

Marginal Revolution has an interesting meme, tracking his favorite film over time. Here are mine, as best I remember:
1968 - Who knows? I don't remember seeing any movies before about age 4.
1972 - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
1979 - The Black Hole.
1984 - The Terminator.
1986 - Brazil.
1989 - Sex, Lies, and Videotape.
1994 - Pulp Fiction.
1999 - The Matrix.
I suspect there might be more between 1972 and 1979, but I don't remember. It looks as if The Matrix has reigned longer than any of its predecessors; hopefully this isn't evidence that I'm getting old and set in my ways. I guess we'll know for sure if I start complaining that modern music just sounds like noise to me.

Also, interesting trivia I just learned: The novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was written by Ian Fleming, and the screenplay by Roald Dahl.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005


A few that I'd add to Life's Little Instruction Book:
  • Never pass up a chance to use the bathroom (from my childhood friend Jerry).
  • Always keep your helmet with your motorcycle, and your carseat with your child (from my brother Mark).
  • Never leave the house without your housekey.

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    Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    Organizational books

    I've read a few books on (more or less) getting organized lately:
    1. Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House. I'm only about a quarter of the way into this, and it's fantastic. It appears to cover just about every aspect you could want of "keeping house" (I hate how that phrase has been stigmatized as both derogatory and feminine). It also accomplishes the difficult feat of functioning well as either a tutorial or a reference.
    2. Organizing from the Inside Out. This might have done me some good five years ago when I bought it, but by now I found it pretty remedial. If you're a real train wreck, this might work well for you, but I found it pretty basic stuff.
    3. Ready for Anything. Though I am not much of a follower, I appreciated Getting Things Done. However, this book was much more self-helpy, and I didn't think much of it.

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    Tuesday, June 07, 2005


    One of the things on my "life list" is to learn how to bind books. Toby Craig writes an excellent photojournal on his bookbinding techniques. I believe this is standard "perfect binding," and in any event it's just the kind I want to be able to do.

    Chasing past this, I found a few other relevant resources:

  • Brian Sawyer has a Flickr photo set showing the handbinding of a hardback book.
  • Douglas Jones describes his technique for binding photocopies of out-of-print books. Great tutorial, though I find his binding technique a little less aesthetically pleasing than Craig's.
  • LJ has a handmade book community.
  • Sheila Summers also writes a bookbinding tutorial, though again, I find her technique less pleasing than Craig's.
  • Handbound is a bookbinding blog.
  • Graeme Birchall describes a very quick-and-dirty binding technique. This is definitely "quick and dirty," but much easier than the above techniques.

    There's just something about paper, isn't there? I was cleaning out some old stuff the other day, and it struck me that I still have reports I wrote in the third grade, but I have electronic data from six years ago that I cannot read (it's on Macintosh zip disks, and I have neither a Mac nor a zip drive any more).

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    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Off the beaten path

    SundialSunday morning we packed a picnic breakfast and headed downtown to see the cherry blossoms. We figured that by arriving at 8am, we would beat the crowds. Wrong. The tidal basin was already completely jammed, and unfortunately it is structured in such a way that the only way out is through, so we had to spend a half-hour in traffic just to bail. We then made a bunch of blind turns, each time turning away from the traffic, and ended up at Thompson Boat Center. We had our picnic, and then walked around a little; there is a small boardwalk nearby, where I found this huge sundial about 20 feet in diameter. I have sort of a thing for timepieces, so I thought this was really cool.

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    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    The people's car

    Something I've long wondered about is whether it would make sense for a car manufacturer to make a car with the philosophy of the original Volkswagen: Simple, cheap to buy, reliable, and easy to repair. Every system would be as simple and reliable as possible; this probably means no electric locks or windows, perhaps a carburetor instead of electronic fuel injection, electronics only where they are more reliable than their mechanical counterparts. The body would be made of user-replacable panels made out of Rubbermaid-type material (I believe, but don't really know, that the body panels in a typical car are not structural). The only option available would be body color, which could be implemented at the dealer using those replacable body panels. It would be a small four-door hatchback, perhaps similar in size and style to the Toyota Matrix. The big questions are: Could you make such a car substantially less expensive than existing economy cars? Would people buy it? Clearly, this would be pure transportation: A family's second, commuter car, or a teenager's first car. How much do emissions and mileage requirements impact my goal of utter simplicity? It seems inevitable to compare this idea with the ill-fated Yugo, but I don't know whether that car's failure was due to the idea being intrinsically bad, or simply due to poor execution of that idea.

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    Saturday, March 26, 2005

    Blog as plot device

    The show Crossing Jordan has a clever plot device currently: The character Nigel has a blog, which he discusses on the show, and which really exists, running a separate subplot of its own. That's about the only good thing I have to say about Crossing Jordan these days, though; the last couple of episodes feel like the plot writing has been given over to a computerized random plot generator. Like JWZ's dissociator, it would take all of the previous episodes as input, and then statistically generate a random new plot from them.

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    Friday, March 25, 2005


    Like so many, I am somewhat enamored with the life of the bike courier (well, except for the pay). So, I found this story of a programmer turned bike courier quite interesting. If you enjoy it, go read The Immortal Class right now.

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    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    Clever fence design

    We pass this fence every time we go to the zoo, and I've always liked its design: Unlikely to injure (e.g. no points), yet very difficult to climb.

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    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    Too bad I didn't have money on it

    My wife and daughter watch American Idol, and I typically sit with them and work at my laptop. Last night, as soon as they announced that the theme was the 60's, I predicted that Bo would do "Spinning Wheel." My wife was quite shocked when he did just that. As an added bonus, Constantine (the other "rocker") did "You've Made Me So Very Happy."

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    Monday, March 07, 2005

    Computers need blinking LEDs

    This guy built an LED clock by sticking LEDs through the holes in the grille of his PowerMac. I'd want to stick LEDs in every hole in that grille, and then make them blink and throb like the WOPR.

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    Friday, March 04, 2005

    English's weirdness is mighty mighty

    The other day it struck me that the word mighty can be both an adverb and an adjective, i.e. "my hunger is mighty mighty," in which the second mighty is an adjective and the first is an adverb that modifies the second. I can't think of many other examples of words like this; the only other one that comes to mind is super, and even that one doesn't seem to work as well.

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    Thursday, March 03, 2005

    Sports betting

    Last week's CSI was, in part, about sports bookmaking. I've always wanted to understand this, and this page explains it quite well. (Note that this is utter abstract learning for me, as I don't gamble and I don't follow sports.)

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    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Small world

    We have two friends who live in a particular city, both of whom moved there relatively recently. They didn't know each other, so we gave them one another's phone numbers, thinking they seemed similar enough to get along well. When they got around to calling one another, they discovered that not only did they both go to the same gym, but in the gym's daycare the previous day, one of them's little boy had bitten the other one's little boy.

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    The Long Now Foundation
    The Long Now Foundation

    Man-Bag Buying Guide
    Man-Bag Buying Guide

    Copyright (c) 1988-2004 by Joseph L. Ganley. All rights reserved except where otherwise noted.