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Archive for February, 2009

On Comics

This is just a really big fish (note the hand is several feet away from the glass).

This is just a really big fish (note the hand is several feet away from the glass).

Ever since reading the Medium is the Massage I have been interested in how media is evolving. At the moment I read/watch several media: television, movies, webcomics, internet articles, internet discussion, blogs, newspapers, fliers, Facebook, scientific articles and e-mail. Each are unique with their own strengths and weaknesses, I was interested to find this brief essay/illustration (much like Scott McCloud) on the evolution of the online comic.

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GeekTools Commands

A nice way to decorate an underpass.

A nice way to decorate an underpass.

The other day I mentioned that I starting using GeekTools. When I first got it thought “Looks pretty cool” followed by “How do I do that?”. So here are the four commands I use (one is a bit more involved):

System Uptime (Refresh 240):

uptime | awk ‘{print “UPTIME : ” $3 ” “$4″ ” $5 “”}’

System Processes (Refresh 5):

top -ocpu -FR -l2 -n20 | grep ‘^….[1234567890] ‘ | grep -v ‘ 0.0% ..:’ | cut -c 1-24,33-42,64-77

Calender (Refresh 3600):

cal | sed “s/^/ /;s/$/ /;s/ $(date +%e) / $(date +%e | sed ‘s/./#/g’) /”

Current iTunes Song (Refresh 10):

osascript /Users/michaelhutchins/Music/iTunesInfo.scpt

This one just actively runs a scripts that I acquired (along with the originals) from this site of GeekTools programs and commands. The uptime I adjusted slightly while the others are pretty much the original.

I should mention that the refresh rates are in seconds even though it has no demarcation.

All of these are Shell scripts with everything at the default setting except font color, I chose white since it shows up better on my current background.

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Flying Out

I will probably be in a very similar plane.

I will probably be in a very similar plane.

I am flying out to Seattle today for my first graduate school visit, this one to the University of Washington Earth and Space Science department.

It should be fun, I am already liking it as they are flying me out, housing and providing food.

After this I have a handful of weeks until my next set of visits to Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

Weather is going to be an issue.

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The Midgie

I need to use my Lensbaby more often.

I need to use my Lensbaby more often.

Last week I was contacted on Flickr as someone wanted to use one of my photos. My photo of the Stirling graveyard is going to be published in a free print travel magazine for Scotland, The Midgie. I might not ever see the photo in print but is a nice feeling to know that I am closer to becoming a published photographer.

This is my first in print publication, though not paid. One day I might be paid for doing what I enjoy (aside form Science).

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The doors of the Santa Barbara Mission.

The doors of the Santa Barbara Mission.

Always envious of the new laptops and computers being produced I recently started to feel a bit stale with my relatively old computer; I decided to try out a small bit of customization to freshen my OS X install up a bit.

After a bit of searching I found really only two applications to help my computer feel a bit newer. The first was easy enough, a simple dock coloring program. One feature of 10.5 that I really liked was the translucent menu bar, since I rotate my desktop background through my photos once a week or so it is nice to have a subtle color change at the top. With Dock Color I am able to now match my dock as well.

When looking up custom desktop setups one that grabbed me had system information embedded in the background, that is above the desktop wallpaper layer but below everything else (including icons). I found a way to do this through the application GeekTool. With it I my current system processes that use more then 0.1% of my processor listed, current system uptime, a basic calender and my current iTunes playlist.

This resulted in my current desktop which looks like:

My current desktop setup.

My current desktop setup.

On top of the basic OS X applications I found these programs to be essential to a smoothly operating system:

  • Quicksilver – A very fast application launcher, much better then spotlight on my system.
  • Dropbox – Online file backup and shared folders.
  • Caffeine – One-click to prevent display sleep, excellant with the power options being lost in the 10.5.5 update.
  • Synergy – Floating overlay that displays the new iTunes song, also adds global iTunes control hotkeys.

The first three are free and there are free alternatives to Synergy out there, in fact a replacement would be global hotkeys and an info display from GeekTools.

With several of these programs (Quicksilver and Geektools come to mind) I only scratching the surface of the potential, but I am perfectly happy sitting on the surface.

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Another Long Exposure

 

Isla Vista beach at night at high tide, note the kelp.

Isla Vista beach at night at high tide, note the kelp.

I spent the day watching safety videos for an X-Ray diffraction machine. I must say that I am not feeling very safe about vacuum hoods.

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Dropbox

 

A long exposure shot of a UCSB beach.

A long exposure shot of a UCSB beach.

For my last lab report I was collaborating with my lab partner on data analysis, in the past we e-mailed the documents back and forth which resulted in several duplicates and on one occasion a misunderstanding because of file versions.

Then I joined him in using a program/web service called Dropbox. With Dropbox (the free version) I have 2 Gb of online storage for files. I designate folders on my computer and those folders and their contents are constantly synced with the online service so I can access them anywhere. Likewise if I had multiple computers the folders would stay in sync between them.

Important to my lab work my friend and I can share a folder where we both have access to contents. Secondly revisions are saved on the Dropbox server so if someone, say me, accidently overwrites an important file we can go back and restore the previous version. 

Overall I am really satisfied with the service and it would be perfect if it enabled the editing of the files online (even just basic text files) to keep an ongoing notes file.

In the end the impetus to make me join was that one day I forgot my flash drive and I could not work on my lab without any of my files, after that I quickly joined.

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