How to drive in the snow

Here is my obligatory “How to drive in the snow” for snow dummies article.

* Drive really fast. The coefficient of friction is at about 1.2 without snow, but with snow it goes all the way up to 3.2 gigaohms! That means that the higher your velocity, the faster you drive, the more traction you’ll have. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but I’m a professional.

* Hit your brakes at the last possible moment. Again, this relates to Freud’s theorem of least significant intransigence. By slowing down early, you’re increasing the likelihood that someone behind you will impact your vehicle at a high speed because they weren’t paying attention. Which will likely cause them to slam on their brakes and cause a 14-car pileup, thus making my bus late.

* 4WD and AWD vehicles make you immune to snowy or icy conditions. As do winter tires. I’ve seen their commercials, and you can’t lie on commercials.

That’s about it.

How to make a dubstep beat

I’ve always wondered how people make dubstep, so I sauntered over to ye olde YouTube and found some tutorials. There are some really good ones, but so far my favorite and easiest to understand video is this one:

So now I understand, it’s all the same basic FM synthesis stuff that I’ve known about all along, but applied extremely liberally. Take the wobble bass, for instance. I had no idea that it was simply a triangle wave with a low-pass filter triggered by an automation track and dirtied up here and there with some bitrate desampling and other glitchiness. So cool.

But look how much work that is just for 8 measures. A full song would be, what? like 200 measures?

(140bpm / 4 beats per measure * 6 minutes)?

That seems like a lot of work for one song, although I suppose a lot of it is repeated and modified, so it’s not *as* much work. Still, it’s really cool that people invented this kind of music, because we need to scare more grandmothers.

Happy anniversary to me

So, apparently I registered this domain on December 31, 2003. Archive.org has a record of my site from 2004, but it errors out.

archive.org error message

But look at that! Geocities! Ha, I forgot about that. It was a Yahoo! site, but I recall I mainly set it up so I could get my email (dan @ thisdomain.com), which by now has a spam-to-email ratio of potato.

You’ll notice there isn’t much activity until I converted it into this blog in 2007, which is not coincidentally after I went back to school to get more learnin. In retrospect, I wonder where the earliest posts are? I must have an SQL file or WordPress XML export of the earliest stuff, since my first post on this blog certainly *wasn’t* the cross post from geek-vs-life.com. Speaking of, I should contact those guys and see how they’re doing. (If you’re reading this, what’s updog?)

It’s so weird. If I read through my old posts, I notice both how I was self editing (I have insider knowledge about the things that weren’t posted, or that *were* posted but got me fired ;p), but also how darn arrogant I seem sometimes. If I knew then what I knew now… I probably would have been even more arrogant.

Keep me away from people, people.

Anyway, happy anniversary to me.

Why does WP’s built-in thumbnail functionality suck so bad?

I’ll probably get flamed for this, but WordPress’ thumbnail functionality is the single largest pain point in trying to build a WP theme. It’s all well and good if you’re building a new theme from scratch, but if you’re coming in to build a new theme for pre-existing site? Heaven help you.

So this isn’t meant to be so much of a rage post, I seriously want to know why one of the most coveted carrots ever dangled in front of theme developers (WP’s thumbnail functionality) is such a PITA to work with and why is it so fickle? What’s the root cause, and what can I do to make it suck less bad?


A few of my tunes

I don’t think I’ve ever shared this here before, but I have put a bunch of songs onto Bandcamp. Check it out:

The incredible exploding whale

In case you’ve never seen this, or in case you forgot, here is the YouTube video of the exploding whale from Florence, Or.

I wish Spokane had an ocean beach, so that a whale could wash up on it so that we too could blow it up. But it would have to be an old whale, past its prime, dead from natural causes. Because I don’t condone that, the whole “whale blowing up” thing, if the whale were like alive and stuff.

Save the whales.

Python batch file rename one liner

Batch file renaming is no fun, and I’m sick of Googling it every time I want to do it. For instance, if you wanted to replace underscores (_) with hyphens (-), what’s the least amount of thinking I need to do?

Also, is there an easy way to do it that is easily modifiable?

BOOM! Right here:

Mogwai’s Les Revenants


Mogwai sounds like Mogwai, and this latest release is simply a re-statement of why Mogwai is awesome and where post-rock went wrong.

Mogwai’s latest effort, the soundtrack to the French television show Les Revenants, is much different than their last full length release Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. But unlike what a lot of reviews have stated, it’s not really too far off of the mark of some of the work they’ve released in the past. The ambient “piano in a cave” sound isn’t new to Les Revenants, as evidenced by Radar Maker (from 1997′s Young Team), Oh! How The Dogs Stand Up (Come On Die Young), or even as recently as Get to France (from 2011′s Earth Division EP).

Seeing them demonstrate their legendarily bombastic show at the Showbox in Seattle was one of the greatest concerts I’ve ever been to, but my favorite Mogwai album is their subdued Come On Die Young from 1999. Mogwai has put out a lot of cool music over the past decade, not all of it rattle-your-fillings heavy metal dirges.

This is a perfect example of where post-rock went wrong. Name me the biggest names in post-rock (as it is played now), and I’ll show you a handful of bands who wish they were Godspeed You! Black Emperor. As good as GY!BE is/was, it was a mistake, albeit an honest one and certainly not their fault, for their particular brand of instrumental post-modern rock to be the most imitated. If the myriad post-rock bands around the world could show the versatility of Mogwai, the willingness to not pigeonhole themselves, the entire genre would be better off for it.

Their new soundtrack album sounds exactly like Mogwai, which is fantastic.

SpoCode Hackathon

spocode hackathon poster

I’m only just now getting around to writing about this, but I was one of the organizers of last week’s 24-hour SpoCode Hackathon. As the moderator, it was my duty to make sure that all of the participants were on task and staying awake. We drank massive quantities of Mountain Dew, watched the cougars at the bar across the street try to pick up one of our unsuspecting programmers, and had a great time.

Thanks again to our sponsors 10gen, Github, and OpenShift!

P.S. The Anonymous Rosy the Riveter is my design. Everyone loved it!