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.


Email Me

Atom Feed

not from a security camera



Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I had a friend in college who went to get a job, and was told that the social security number he'd provided was invalid. After some investigation, he discovered that when his father had opened a bank account for him as a baby, the form had asked for his SSN. He didn't have one, so his father just made one up. Somehow, the fact that this SSN was specious got forgotten, and he subsequently used that SSN for work, taxes, and the like for many years before the error was discovered. I bet he's still trying to get that straightened out.

comments (0) | permalink

Thursday, March 25, 2004

PixelBlocks are translucent Lego-like plastic blocks that can be interconnected into a mosaic. Their site includes a utility called "digital stained glass" that translates an image into printable instructions for making the image out of PixelBlocks. It also offers a great deal of control over how the image is processed and dithered. They can also be connected like Legos to form 3-D objects, but mosaics really seem to be this toy's sweet spot.

comments (0) | permalink

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Excellent new novels openly available, individuals publishing affordable bound copies of out-of-print books... it's clear the publishing industry is approaching an inflection point. The next few years should be really interesting.

comments (0) | permalink

  • A no-power refrigerator for developing countries. This is the kind of low-tech engineering on which the world should spend a lot more effort.
  • More useful than flowers, more healthy than chocolates: fruit bouquets.
  • IEEE takes a serious position against the offshoring of technology jobs.
  • MaxiVista is a slick piece of software that lets you connect another machine's monitor as a second monitor.
  • History and explanation of airport codes.
  • Seriously cool pop-up metal sculptures. (Really awful website.)
  • A house made of recycled shipping containers. In a parallel universe where I'm single and childless, I might live in one of these.
  • Crimson Room is a cute little puzzle game.

    comments (0) | permalink

    Tuesday, March 23, 2004

    At long last, I've added comment capability (via HaloScan). The usual disclaimers apply regarding my unilateral deletion of inappropriate comments.

    comments (0) | permalink

    I just finished Cory Doctorow's Eastern Standard Tribe, and let me say right up front that it's good, that you should read it, but that I downloaded it for free. Indeed, what caught my attention in the first place was that he even offers his work this way; though it makes a lot of sense, very few authors do it. You see, I almost never buy books, at least in a way that gets the author any money. I either get them from the library, or I buy them used. So, the odds of me paying for this book were nearly zero all along. Certainly, as an author, you'd rather someone read your book without paying for it than not read your book and not pay for it. My first thought on seeing that Doctorow is giving away his work is that I bet the majority of people who would download a book and read it for free wouldn't have bought it in the first place. This way, you get your words out to those people, who might spread some word of mouth, and who now might actually pay for something you write in the future (certainly I'm now tempted). Even if not, like I said, if you're not going to get money from someone regardless, better they read your stuff than not. If you've got game (and Doctorow does), there's really no risk. It's a little like the concept behind outlet malls: The barrier-to-entry to downloading a book and either printing it out or reading it on a screen is high enough that people who would pay for a book probably will do so anyway. That said, the book is quite good; I definitely recommend it. And if you like it, try out Syrup as well, of which EST reminded me a little bit.

    comments (0) | permalink

    Friday, March 19, 2004

  • Tote bags made out of trash. Remember, reuse is the most effective form of recycling.
  • The Bubbels game. Warning: May be habit-forming.
  • Anticompetitive trade secrets in the auto industry. (Update)
  • Make your own Mondrian-style art.
  • Elves and dwarves, pirates and ninjas. I'm out on the positive x-axis: Roughly split between elf and dwarf, and much more ninja than pirate.
  • Programming Pearls online.
  • TV Tropes and Idioms.

    comments (0) | permalink

    Monday, March 15, 2004

    "The president's feet are not to touch the dirt." This is so insane I have to doubt that it is true. Does the man not own a pair of boots? If not, he could certainly buy a pair for a small fraction of what is being spent to landscape the park.

    comments (0) | permalink

    One thing I find interesting about IM technology is when you have a conference call containing multiple people, and subsets of those people are having IM conversations with one another. The most interesting example I've seen is Tim Bray's account of a conference call with himself, a journalist, and a Sun PR coach, in which the PR person was helping him with his phraseology via IM. Besides occasionally being useful, it has a certain naughty passing-notes-in-class feel that is sort of fun.

    comments (0) | permalink

    Thursday, March 11, 2004

  • Ask Edward Tufte
  • Another electric car scheduled to be produced in the U.S. It's beginning to feel like some momentum is building here; maybe by the time we have to replace our second car, there will be an affordable all-electric alternative.
  • Think of Me rings. I thought this was incredibly sappy, but my wife loved the idea.
  • David C. Roy's incredible kinetic wood sculptures.
  • Using Wi-Fi to cover holes in cellular service. I'm totally infatuated with the one-person/one-phone model; maybe by the time this kind of technology gets ironed out (I get no cellular service whatsoever inside my house), the price of two zillion-minute cellphones will be no more than my current bills for two landlines and one few-minute cellphone.
  • A robot that squirts concrete to build houses. What's so exciting about this kind of technology isn't the productivity improvement, but rather the fact that it will be able to build designs like we've never seen before (and economically, no less!).
  • Looking for the perfect Passover gift for the child in your life? How about a Bag of Plagues?
  • Make a milk jug skeleton.

    comments (0) | permalink

    Wednesday, March 10, 2004

    Ferris WheelI've always wondered if there was a method to the way ferris wheel cars are numbered, and I've assumed that they were ordered such that the operator could fill them in order and the wheel would stay balanced. However, I copied the numbers off the ferris wheel at a local traveling carnival a while back, and they are shown in the image at right. Clearly, loading in this order does not balance the wheel. So, is there no order at all, or some order I cannot discern? Or is it desirable not to have the wheel quite balanced?

    comments (0) | permalink

    Tuesday, March 09, 2004

    Cargo MagazineIn a secret laboratory at Condé Nast, scientists discovered that if they put four or five issues of Wired in a centrifuge, they could precipitate out all of the intellectual content. What is left is a magazine full of ads and articles that look like ads; they named this magazine Cargo. It's completely male-oriented (think Maxim without the cheesecake) and completely, unapologetically devoted to crass consumerism. Still, it's cheap (about a dollar an issue), and sort of fun to read (using the word read loosely: more like you "read" a catalog than like you read a book). Some of the advice would be useful in principle if it weren't so ridiculously upscale; for example, I could use a cotton blazer, but the one they recommend is $905. The technology/gadgetry sections are closer to the mark: For example, in the first issue, a pretty good survey of the state of the art in camcorders, and a set of mini-reviews of every cellphone that exists. One clever touch: A page of sticky-note tabs to mark pages you want to investigate further.

    comments (0) | permalink

    Monday, March 08, 2004

    An episode of Hey, Remember! last night talked about Corelle dishware. I've always thought this was the perfect dish technology; it is inexpensive, durable, and ... um ... not ugly. My mother is still using the Corelle we had when I was a kid, which must be at least 30 years old. It still looks brand-new, and I don't think we've broken more than two or three pieces in 30 years. However, my wife dislikes Corelle's aesthetics, so I have to settle for prettier, but technologically inferior, dishware. (On seeing this post, my wife points out that these tradeoffs are inevitable; aesthetics aside, she says, paper plates are probably even better technology than Corelle.)

    comments (1) | permalink

    Thursday, March 04, 2004

  • A Bronx elementary school teacher's journal. Yikes.
  • Growing an Avocado tree from a seed.
  • Garrett Wade, a catalog of high-quality tools and mechanical gadgets.
  • The movie alphabet game. I did abysmally.
  • Maps of world subways, all at the same scale. I've always complained at how limited is the usefulness of D.C.'s subway system; looking at this, you can really see how sparse it is relative to some other subway systems. Look at London: About the same breadth, but much denser.
  • Engadget: The editor of Gizmodo makes a go of his own gadget weblog.
  • On Search: A fascinating technical overview of web-search technology.
  • Do-it-yourself zoned HVAC, accomplished by electronically opening and closing registers.

    comments (0) | permalink

    Monday, March 01, 2004

    A self-portrait of sorts:
    Me as a South Park character

    comments (0) | permalink

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

  • Features
    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.