Out of Hanwell

July 1, 2011

Debug Code in Production

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 10:54 pm

I know this happens to everyone, but I noticed tonight that Dell has debug code on their production site:

var startTScript=new Date().getTime ();

function menuItem(){}
function menuRef(){}
function menuSep(){}
function editListen(ev)
{kCode=ev.keyCode||ev.which;if(ev.ctrlKey&&ev.shiftKey&&(kCode==69||kCode==5)){if(m_editurl){if(confirm("edit page?")){m_editurl=m_editurl.replace(/local.dell.com/i,"cmscontent.dell.com");window.open(m_editurl,'editwin');}}}
else if(ev.ctrlKey&&ev.shiftKey){alert(kCode);}}
if (window.console){console.log('ex time: temp.js', new Date().getTime() - startTScript);}

All this means is that if you’re trying to switch to a previous tab using Ctrl+Shift+Tab, you get a silly message box. (And I’m sure you can find a lot of other shortcuts that will trigger this.) If you hit Ctrl+Shift+E, it tries to take you to an internal site.

Looks like someone overlooked something when they checked in their work.


October 1, 2010

The Idea Bank

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 2:00 pm

Over the past several years, but especially this past year, I’ve started to seriously re-evaluate my life, my career, and my vision. The reason I quit blogging several years ago was because of the profound realization that my life wasn’t about myself, and I realized that I had more to offer the world than merely software. I’ve become much more intentional about the way that I live my life, and I’ve become much more focused on finding those things that I am genuinely good at. In fact, several times this past year, and even as recently as last week, I sat down to build a specific vision statement for ways I want to change in this next year, both personally and vocationally.

Out of that, I’ve recently started an “idea bank”. I’m one of those people who has a lot of ideas rolling through his head of business ideas, philosophies of life, ways to change the world, or who knows what else! However, those ideas are only meaningful if they are implemented, and they can only be implemented if they are expressed. I’ve started a personal “idea bank” where I sit down with my phone and bluetooth keyboard, and I start to draft a skeleton view of what this idea would look like. Sometimes the idea is obviously bad, but I still file for later. Some ideas have a few action points that I can do now. Others I keep in the back of my mind until I meet the right person for them.

To me, it’s a huge relief to have these ideas on paper, but I know that for them to be any good, they have to move beyond that. Most of these ideas I have little interest in actually implementing myself, but I would love to work with other people to see them implemented.

This is an open question to you all. Right now, these ideas are useless journal entries on my computer. How do I move beyond this step and actually make the “idea bank” something useful to the world?

April 7, 2010

How I Got My iPod

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Matthias Miller @ 1:42 pm

The first sign that my MP3 player was failing came early one morning this past winter as I was standing out in the cold, jiggling the headphone’s cord in the jack so that I could get music to both my ears while I jogged.

I’d gotten my 40GB Toshiba Gigabeat on eBay, and I chose it mostly because I wanted something inexpensive (that is, used), something big (which 40GB used to be), and something that ran Rockbox. Indeed, this player was a great choice, joining me in my journeys across the globe.

But this was the morning things started breaking down. Several months before, I wrapped electrical tape around the frame to hold it together, but that hadn’t affected it functionally. But now, whenever I plugged up to my MP3 player, I had to jiggle the cord. Of course, this was inconvenient but it wasn’t a big hassle. I just had to twist it a little bit, and it would always start working. But as time went on, finding that magic spot became increasingly difficult. One day I discovered, much to my surprise, that the player worked if I squeezed the top of the player together, so for a while I carried an MP3 player that was held together by electrical tape and rubber bands.

It’s no surprise that several weeks ago, the player finally went over the edge, and I found myself digging through eBay listings, looking for an MP3 player on a budget. I had pretty much exhausted all the options except one–an iPod that seemed to be in good condition, only the seller said it didn’t sync. In fact, he said, none of his Apple gadgets sync’d with his computer. “Sounds promising,” I thought to myself. “It’s probably just a software problem.”

Sure enough. Not long thereafter, I got my iPod. I first tried installing Rockbox, but the player kept spontaneously rebooting. After fighting with it for a while, I finally relented, reset it to Apple’s firmware, and began syncing it with iTunes. The sync was nearly complete when it failed with a cryptic error.

Maybe the seller had been right, after all.

But there was something else I noticed. The iPod didn’t seem be charging, and I began to suspect the battery. Perhaps the USB had too little current to fully power the iPod, and the sync had depleted what little charge the iPod had. I left it plugged in overnight, but in the morning it still showed basically no change.

The next day I began looking for batteries online. I looked on eBay again, but I had no luck there. I tried Google and came across Milliamp’s ipod battery replacement kit, which, best of all, was on sale. “For $30, it’s worth a try,” I thought.

Sure enough. I got the replacement kit just this past week. The instruction sheet informed me that opening the iPod would be the most difficult part, and difficult it was indeed! Nonetheless I finally got it open, and it didn’t take much to replace the battery. Still, I held my breath.

The big moment came when I tried to sync my iPod. One thousand, two thousand, three thousand songs…and wouldn’t you know–it worked! I unplugged it from my computer and trying playing music–it still worked! I tell you, I was so happy to have an MP3 player again that let me listen to music with both ears!

So, that’s the story of how I got my iPod. 🙂

September 28, 2009

Kindles Aren’t Books, Either

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Matthias Miller @ 4:46 am

Kindles are not books, either.

Books you can drop.

May 8, 2009

Computers Aren’t Books!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Matthias Miller @ 5:42 pm

I’ve never liked the idea of reading e-books on a computer. I tried it once five years ago. I downloaded a classic novel from the Gutenberg Project and tried reading it on my computer. It was an awful experience.

Things haven’t gotten better. Right now I’m trying to read a PDF e-book on my computer. It’s miserable.

The computer is the worst imaginable device to read books on. My Eee’s screen is way too small, exaggerated by the PDF’s strange two-column format. I have to scroll down, then up, then down, then jump to the next page, then down, then up, then down, until I’m quite dizzy.

But worst of all, the computer’s much too powerful. When I read, I like to completely change my atmosphere, get far away from the computer, and get into a fresh state of mind. Computers make me very ADD. I read a little bit, then get something to drink. I read a litttle more, then get something to snack on. I read a little more, then check my e-mail. I read a little more, then get caught up in an article about human psychology. I read a little more, then realize how much I dislike reading e-books on my computer, so I blog about it, as if anyone cared.

Trust me, this is no idealistic scientific experiment about the usability and readability of e-books on computers. I need to read this book, but I can’t get a print copy right now. I’ve tried to convert this PDF into a more readable format with a superbly clever Python script, but I’ve wasted too much time trying that already, and it’s not worth it.


I guess there’s nothing to do except to go back and keep reading.

December 22, 2006

VMware on the Mac

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 10:54 am

The Fusion beta is out! And now I’m off to download it and a Kubuntu image.

September 26, 2006

Verboten, but…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 11:36 am

After reading Douglas Crockford’s for in Intrigue, I could help but write this function:

Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty = Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty || function(prop) {
return this[prop] !== arguments.callee;

It’s useless in its own recursive way.

Oh yeah, and it’s also still verboten.

Quickly Sorting Mail in Thunderbird

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 11:14 am

Today I was looking for a faster way to quickly sort my e-mail in Thunderbird. Up to now, I’ve been selecting and dragging all messages to an archive folder after I’ve read them and taken appropriate action. However, that’s cumbersome. Today I found the QuickMove Extension, which allows you to move messages into specific folders using the Ctrl+1 through Ctrl+9 hot keys.

Unfortunately, this extension doesn’t work in Thunderbird 1.5. To install, you need to:

  1. Download the extension.
  2. Rename it to a .zip file.
  3. Change maxVersion to 1.5+ (or your current Thunderbird version).
  4. Rename it back to a .xpi file.
  5. In Thunderbird click Tools, Extensions, Install and locate the .xpi file to install it.
  6. Restart Thunderbird.

You can now set up your shortcut keys by choosing Message, Set QM Options.

September 12, 2006

“Can You Hear Me?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 9:18 pm

Silence is a difficult answer.

The Internet Explorer team is clearing house on the bug reports. Tonight I received a noticed that I should revalidate several bug reports on RC1 and re-open if necessary. I responded with a comment saying that these bugs still exist in RC1, but to no avail. About half an hour later, they closed the job.

I certainly can’t blame them for wanting to close out old bugs, but what do they expect me to do? Am I really supposed to file a new feedback item for this problem? If so, can’t they provide some way of retrieving the attachments from the original item to expedite the process? After all, Microsoft Connect was designed to allow Microsoft to interact with its user base.

“Can you hear me?”

It’s not just the IE team. E-mails to which I would previously have promptly responded now languish in my inbox. Feature requests that I would have coded within several days now rest in the issue tracker or remain partially implemented on my computer. Crashes remain unfixed for a week after test cases have been created. My blog sits dormant.

“Can you hear me?”

Alas, the problem is not silence but clamor! A million things yell for attention, and only that which yells most loudly receives it. That’s how Microsoft can seem so silent, and (unfortunately) how I can seem so silent.

Fixing bugs. Creating tests. Writing new features. Discussing software design. Submitting patches. Compiling libraries.

“I found a bug!”


September 7, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthias Miller @ 6:37 am

I’ve often thought about and wished for an editor that’s browser-based, multi-user, real-time. It looks like Neil Fraser beat me to it with MobWrite (with demo). This would be a great tool for remote design discussions, code reviews, or training. Neil also has written a number of articles on Diff Strategies, Fuzzy Patch, and Differential Synchronization.

I can’t wait to see where this goes. Here’s what I’d want:

  • syntax coloring
  • attribution of changes (who did what?)
  • visual timeline (what did it look like 10 minutes ago?)

I’m off to install this on one of my computers.

Update: I did have a chance to try this out today, but it started producing mysterious “ghost” edits. I’m still sold on the idea, though.

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