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Archive for the ‘Utility’ Category

Knots

April 15th, 2011 3 comments

I taught a knot-tying class at a camp and had a lot of fun reviewing the many different knots I have enjoyed (and some that I should enjoy but never learned). Along with the class instruction I provided handouts with instructions for over 18 different knots. I have made PDFs of the documents available here. I gathered the instructions and pictures from all over the Internet, and I attribute credit to each as appropriate.
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Can the Kalmyk Unseat the Bowline as King of Knots?

April 15th, 2011 14 comments

Finished kalmyk loopThe bowline is referred to as the “King of the Knots,” and with good reason. It is easy to tie, resists jamming, and retains rope strength decently. Tying the bowline with a bight at the end is a convenient way to make an exploding knot—one that unties with a simple tug on the free end. I was pleasantly surprised to learn of a new knot, which dimview.org calls a “Kalmyk Loop (калмыцкий узел)”.
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Spotlight Searching at the Command Line

April 5th, 2011 3 comments

If you know about the mdfind command that lets you perform Mac OS X Spotlight searches at the command line (The Power of mdfind, O’Reilly), then you know it’s a good start but ultimately unsatisfactory. I made up a shell script mdfindi that helps me interactively navigate the results of mdfind when I SSH into my home computer. Of course I keep the script on my Dropbox as mentioned in an earlier post so that it is available to all of my computers.

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Bash Profile Sharing and Useful Scripts

March 17th, 2011 2 comments

If you live at the command line as I do, you probably have a number of aliases, functions, and status updates added to your ~/.bash_profile, ~/.bashrc, or similar file. With a little effort you can share the critical components across several computers either automatically (Dropbox or SugarSync) or manually. The key is to abstract away machine-specific references. The following are suggestions for useful additions to your command line lifestyle.


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ShieldsUP! Strange Results

March 15th, 2011 No comments

ShieldsUP! from Steve Gibson is a great service that helps you assess your computer’s protection on the Internet. Debugging some recent router troubles, I tried turning on DMZ mode, which redirected all incoming traffic to a Mac (OS X 10.6.6) on my network. I was surprised to see the striped pattern below:

Now that’s weird. Could it be some kind of reactive firewall technique on the Mac? I don’t know, but it’s a pattern, and that certainly caught me off guard.

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Share a Windows Printer with a Mac

January 25th, 2011 85 comments

This page used to reside on a SourceForge page, but I moved it here because I believed a comment trail would be useful to the community. -RH

How to Use a Printer Attached to a Windows XP Computer in Mac OS X

Google translations:
I’m not sure how good these automatic translations are. Good luck.

This document gives a detailed explanation of how to set up an HP DeskJet 722C printer that is attached to a Windows XP computer so that the printer can be used by a Mac OS X computer on a local area network (LAN). If your printer is slightly different, or you have a different version of Windows, or you’re using a different Unix than Mac OS X, or you’re sharing to another Windows computer, you’ll have to adapt these instructions with your own creativity.

Be aware that these procedures may not be necessary at all if the printer you have has Mac drivers, and other Microsoft incantations are working properly. You may be able to get off easy, but then, you probably wouldn’t be searching the Internet looking for these instructions. Your mileage may vary.

Thanks to the detailed directions at http://pnm2ppa.sourceforge.net/PPA_networking/PPA_networking-4.html which gave me most of the information I needed to make these detailed instructions.

The process falls into these five general steps:

  1. On Windows: Make sure you have a working printer set up on your Windows XP computer (this is not covered here).
  2. On Windows: Install the software needed to emulate a Postscript printer and redirect printing ports
  3. On Windows: Set up an emulated Postscript printer on Windows XP that will actually print to the (probably non-Postscript) printer set up in step one.
  4. On Windows: Set up Unix LPR Printer Services on Windows XP that will point to the emulated Postscript printer in step three that in turn points to the real printer in step one.
  5. On Mac OS X: Set up an LPR over IP printer in Mac OS X pointing to your Windows XP computer.

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Locate Your Mac Laptop If It Is Missing

January 19th, 2011 18 comments

There are commercial services to help you locate lost laptops, but I wanted a feature that required less software to be installed and fewer Big Brothers helping me out along the way. Using a few free tools and shell scripts, I cobbled together my own LoJack-type system that notifies me whenever my laptop awakes (I can’t help you if your computer is turned off).

Tools Used:

  • SleepWatcher: Executes commands of your choice when computer wakes, sleeps, etc
  • bash: Shell scripting
  • LocateMe: Free command line tool (from me) using Apple’s geolocating API
  • Notifo: Lightweight notification for iPhones, etc
  • Google Maps: Displaying your laptop location

Downloads:

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Total Frustration with Eye-Fi Card

December 7th, 2010 74 comments

Rarely have I been so frustrated with a piece of technology, particularly with one that is supposed to make things easier on me. I had the opportunity to borrow an Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB SDHC +Wi-Fi card for my camera, and boy am I glad I am not out the $150 it would have cost me to buy one of these.

The Eye-Fi series of SD cards for digital cameras lets you transfer photos wirelessly from your camera to your home computer or one of several online photo services all while leaving the memory card in your camera. This sounds like such a neat idea. I was really excited to get to try it out. Imagine taking a bunch of pictures and then going to your computer to find that the pictures are already waiting for you there. Yeah, keep imagining.

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Let Front Row Access Other User’s iTunes Account on the Same Computer

November 17th, 2010 23 comments

I wanted to set up my main iMac in a central location to replace an aging “half basketball” iMac that’s used for playing kid cartoons and music. I would like for this computer to play all the content in my iTunes library, but I do not want my account wide open for (little) people to muck about in.

Fast User Switching to the rescue! Kind of. If I leave iTunes running in my account and switch to the Kids account, their iTunes can see my shared library; that’s a good start. I want Front Row to be able to see that item under “Sources,” but it does not.
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How To Generate Your Own Benford’s Law Numbers

November 10th, 2010 3 comments

An interesting phenomenon of naturally occurring numbers is that the leading digit ‘1’ occurs with surprising frequency, that is, about 30% of the time. This is known as Benford’s Law and is discussed in a number of places (Wikipedia, Wolfram, Cut-the-Knot, NY Times). Statisticians can use Benford’s Law to try to detect fake data that people generate, probably with a simple Uniform(0,1) function such as rand() in so many programming languages.
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