Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Encounters with the police

The cops have had an awful lot of bad press lately, for example the interactions with OWS protestors such as this one, and this sobering article from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, or this report of a former marine killed in his home by a SWAT team who erroneously thought he was a drug dealer. And erroneously thought their team member who tripped had just been shot.

My personal encounters with law enforcement have been qualitatively different. I have interacted with the police 26 times, and although that number seems large, none of them ended in an arrest, and in only two seemed like good material for an episode of Cops. In rough order of occurrence (I'm approximating my age on a few of these), they are:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Think of the children!!

No seriously, think of the children. And not the bounty.

About a month ago, I listened to an NPR story on "All Things Considered" on my drive home from work, which concerned Native American children in South Dakota being declared "neglected" in high numbers, and being removed from their families and put up for adoption. The implication is that the South Dakota government was using a financial incentive as an excuse to go all Captain Pratt on the natives, killing the Indian and saving the man, by means of placing their kids in white homes. The text version of the NPR story is available here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tinkering with Calculus

A little document I whipped up on Google Docs after dusting off a calculus book:

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Adelaide Lenora Allerding
October 14, 2011 4:20am
6lbs 12oz, 19.5"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Designing a Notes iPhone web app

"A pedagogical decision hides behind every design decision" -Dan Meyer

For the last few weekends, I've been coding in the early mornings while my wife sleeps beside me, working on a replacement for the broken built-in Notes app on her iPhone. My replacement is usable and stable at this point, and I'm just putting the final polish on the code to remove duplication, improve comments, delete orphan code, etc.

The tools I used to design this are the same as the diet tracker app I wrote for her to track her protein and calcium during her pregnancy: handwritten JavaScript, and Google's webserver to properly serve the cache manifest's content type. This was initially going to be a quick hack to learn the API for Web SQL Databases, so I could retrofit database support in the diet tracker, but along the way I learned a lot about designing an HTML Notes application, which was more involved than I anticipated.

This post recounts some of the lessons I learned, and the decisions I made between competing solutions that each had pluses and minuses. Some screenshots of the current product are available below the fold.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Emulating iPhone rotating buttons with HTML5 canvases

This is a quick proof of concept tested with Chrome and Safari (which might also work in Firefox... testers?). I'm using timeouts and HTML5 canvas operations to spin buttons, and some DOM tomfoolery to add and remove rows to the document's body. The end result is an approximation of some iPhone settings screens that make you unlock delete buttons before you can remove items.


Friday, April 08, 2011

HTML5 Web Databases in Chrome, round 1

New fact of life: To keep up with modern web programming, you need to get your head around asynchronous callbacks. To illustrate, here is a quick script I wrote to experiment with Chrome's JavaScript calls into it's SQLite implementation:

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Rage against the Pitocin-Cesarean Complex

(and how I wrote my first iPhone web app)
"So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign. I said thank you Lord for thinking about me, I'm alive and doing fine." - Five Man Electrical Band

Before rambling about my latest tinkerings, I have a small announcement: My wife and I decided to have a baby. She asked me not to make a big deal about it online, not post a broadcast "guess what?!?!" message on Facebook, and in the spirit of that I won't make flowery pronouncements here about the joys of fatherhood, or starting over at 40, or any of the hundreds of other things I would otherwise go on at length about. But there it is: I'm in love with a woman I think the world of, and at the beginning of January, with our third wedding anniversary near us and neither of us having one foot out the door or buyer's remorse, we decided to stop using birth control and try to have a baby.

By the end of the month, Liberty was pregnant.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Success through embracing mistakes

"The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." - Abraham Lincoln
"I hate math, dad" my daughter said to me a few days ago. It wasn't really a shock to hear it, rather it was the final nail in the coffin, which I'd seen coming for the last few years. The middle school years, sitting in rows, staring at the backs of her peers' heads, listening to lectures, seeing story problems which were so fanciful as to be ridiculous. So Bill's dad's age is 5 less than 3 times Bill's age, and the sum of their ages is 49? Really? Does that sort of thing come up in life a lot?

Friday, January 21, 2011


I've disabled this blog's Google Analytics feed. The feed assures me that there were 4,046 visits here over the past year, most of which occurred after a swell of visits in August '10 when I started posting about various coding experiments I was working on. From that time forward, there were over 100 visits per week to the site, most of which turned out not to be loyal fans, but rather one time visits referred here by search engines.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

OSU Math Placement B-test, 1 of ???

A little experiment with Google Docs, Wikipedia's TeX engine for rendering math equations, and trying to help my wife pass her college math requirements.

Where's that Check 21 2 of 2 I promised for yesterday? Still coming, I just need to get my inspiration back after a few, um, let's call them "challenging" weeks at my day job. Anyway, enjoy!

B Test study guide, question 1a

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Adventures in Barretting

In an attempt to be funny, I made up the term “Barretting” to describe the act of driving to Tennessee to see my friend Chris Barrett. My wife, Liberty, and I had some fun throughout the week using the term whenever it would fit. “Well, we don’t need to stop at the store on Friday, we can get to that when we’re back from Barretting.”

Chris introduced us to the “Flying Saucer” pub last year, which has a giant wall full of taps (possibly 20 or 30), as well as friendly wait-staff, not too intolerable prices, and a 100-beer tour that gets you some sort of free party there and your name on a plate if you finish it. Liberty and I went once with Chris to the Memphis location, and have been twice to the one in Nashville while taking an impromptu “let’s see where this road takes us” vacation.