May 032009
 

I think I may turn this into a series of posts, or even an entire site.  But I’ll start with one post about the basics.

First, an introduction. I learned to sew in 2006, shortly after I started dating the woman who is now my lovely wife.  Part of the reason I learned to sew was, to be honest, in order to find an interest that we both shared. But it’s now grown far past that; I sewed my entire outfit for Texas Renaissance Faire last year: a doublet with detachable sleeves, a high-collar, long-sleeve shirt, and a pair of fitted breeches (pants).  I’ve made several shirts, a couple of doublets, and at least 2 pairs of pants.  I’ve sewed several small pouches, and I’m currently working on a fairly ambitious laptop bag.  I’m not brave enough to commit to making an entire outfit that I’d wear to work, for example, but in my wife’s opinion, I apparently have the skills to do.

I decided to write this post (which as I said may turn into a series, or more) because I know there’s a stigma that sewing isn’t a manly thing to do, or that it’s women’s work, or that you must be gay if you like to sew and are male.  So let me set the record straight (no pun intended) from the start: I am a heterosexual male, I am married and have a child on the way, and I enjoy sewing.  The act of creating something with your hands, which you or someone else can then wear or use, is fascinating and deeply satisfying to me.

There are many speed bumps and deep pits on the journey from “that sounds like a neat hobby” to “check out this shirt that I just finished sewing”.  I’ll do my best to help you navigate around those pits, so that you too can experience the joy of creating something that isn’t made of electrons and doesn’t need to eat.  I’m starting today with what I consider the “basic equipment” needed to sew.  This is by no means an exhaustive list; it’s instead just the bare bones without which I would likely not start a project.  Read the full list, along with some crappy pictures that I took with my phone, after the jump.

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Aug 292008
 

OK, I’m gonna have to start out with a bit of geek-translation and/or explanation.

When you steal acquire comic books off of the Internet, they generally come in one of two convenient formats (or in a very inconvenient format that I don’t care about): CBR and CBZ.  CBR files are RAR files that have been renamed, and CBZ files are ZIP files that have been similarly renamed.  Both archives contain multiple individual image files, which are the pages of the acquired comic.  Traditionally, there are two potential ways to deal with these files.  You can rename them back to .rar or .zip, extract them, and use an image viewer to look at the individual pages, or you can use a specialized program that’s designed to view “comic archives”, which extracts the images to a temporary location and displays them for you.  The latter method is simply several fewer steps than the former.  The “inconvenient” format that I mentioned is “a bunch of images”.  This seems to me like a much more difficult way to manage your collection, increases the possibility that you’ll end up with 22 complete pages out of a 23-page book, and generally makes your life more complicated.  If you’re the kind of person who likes this method of comic organization, more power to you.  But I like the archive method; it fits my needs much more completely.

I was talking to my friend Paul about this a week or two ago, and he mentioned that he’d seen someone with a web-based viewer for comic archives.  Naturally, I spent a bit of time looking for it, because I’m lazy. If I can just load a web page to read comics, I’m 100 times more likely to use it than I am to download & install a comic viewer on each computer I use (please note, I actually have done this; I’m speaking of a theoretical rather than an actual).  I was unable to find such a program, in any language.  So I decided to write one myself.  It’s still in a very alpha state, but here are a couple of screenshots of the devlogic.org cbviewer 0.2alpha.  It uses a couple of what seem like non-stock PHP libraries (for the RAR and ZIP support), but the bonus of this is that it doesn’t use any external programs to achieve its magic; it’s 100% PHP.

  

I recommend clicking the thumbnails to enlarge, because the tiny squares that wordpress auto-generated really don’t do the program justice.  Naturally, I’m still working on the “make it pretty” aspect of designing a web program (aesthetics aren’t my strong suit), but at the very least I’ve managed to get everything working without having to resort to any hacks.  In this version, at least.  In version 0.1a, I was forced to use embedded base64-encoded images to display files that were inside .cbz files, because I hadn’t yet figured out how to extract the image to a temporary (and arbitrary) location without being forced to also include whatever sub-directories were included in the archive.  This had the wonderful side-effect of crashing Safari and WebKit.  0.2a eliminates that problem, as well as significantly tightening up the code, reducing the necessary number of source files from 7 down to 4 (by extending some of my previous logic and discoveries, I was able to make the archive-handling and page generation more generic).

And I think I’m done geeking out for a while, at least on this project.  I’ll probably tweak the CSS some more, in an attempt to make the site more aesthetically pleasing, but by and large I’ve got all but one of the features I want.

School food sucks, and a rant about cooking

 School food sucks, and a rant about cooking  General, Rant, Recreation  Comments Off on School food sucks, and a rant about cooking
Oct 112006
 

Not that I have much experience in the former; it’s been about 11 years since the last school lunch I ate. However, I think it’s a fair to assume that kids still eat all kinds of crap food on a regular basis; I know I did when I was in school. Heck, I still do today, although on a much more reduced scale.
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Music rules.

 Music rules.  Classical Music, General  Comments Off on Music rules.
Sep 122003
 

I was listening to KMFA on my way to the grocery store tonight, and I heard something that blew me away. It was the UT Saxophone ensemble playing an arrangement of Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in d minor. Now, that’s one of the most impressive pipe organ pieces that I can think of, and it was being played by a bunch of saxophonists. Wow. if you can find a recording of this, I encourage you to listen to it, and be amazed.

Gigantic

 Gigantic  General, Movies, Recreation, TMBG  Comments Off on Gigantic
Aug 022003
 

just finished watching Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns. If’s pretty good (with the striking exception of every single Syd Straw interview segment); I thoroughly recommend that you check it out; see the schedule for your local art theater for possible showtimes. If you’re in Austin, it’s playing at the Dobie Theater until the 7th.

And it’ll be out on DVD some time this fall. I’m definitely gonna pre-order it as soon as I can. And fast-forward through all the Syd Straw interviews.