IKEA Sit/Stand Desk

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Tags: geek life

It only took them a few years, but IKEA seems to have finally come out with a standing-worthy desk to replace the infamous Jerker1. They are apparently in low supply, which explains why I can’t find them on the IKEA site at this point.

I’ll have to make a sojurn to our “local” store to play with it in person.

  1. I own two.


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If there’s one thing Christians love, it’s being blessed.

We’ve created a culture in which we measure God’s “blessings” in terms of dollars and cents, comfort and pleasure, wealth and well-being. So, if we’re happy and healthy and have everything we need, then we’re blessed, and we should thank God on social media.

Jamie hits it out of the park with this one.

So Jesus, the very incarnation of God among us, was like, “Um. You keep saying this word, ‘blessed’. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Because blessed does not mean pleased. Blessed does not mean happy. Blessed does not mean fulfilled. It doesn’t even mean fed or clothed or housed or healthy…

What it really means is that you are not alone, for God is with you.

Why You Must Vaccinate Your Kids

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Earlier this year there was a court decision in favor of several schools in New York state wherein the court determined that the schools could legally prevent unvaccinated children from attending school when another student has a vaccine-preventable disease:

Citing a 109-year-old Supreme Court ruling that gives states broad power in public health matters, Judge William F. Kuntz II of Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled against three families who claimed that their right to free exercise of religion was violated when their children were kept from school, sometimes for a month at a time, because of the city’s immunization policies.

The Supreme Court, Judge Kuntz wrote in his ruling, has “strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations”.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/23/nyregion/judge-upholds-policy-barring-unvaccinated-students-during-illnesses.html Benjamin Mueller

This was the right decision, and while I’m glad it was decided as such, I’m anxious to see where it goes next. The plaintiffs are appealing, and as the chain of appeals goes in the US, I will be really interested to see if this lawsuit eventually makes it to the Supreme Court. Affirming that public health concerns over-rule 1st amendment claims seems like an important precedent to be set at the federal level.

Dr. Aaron E Carroll, a prolific health policy blogger and vid-caster, in addition to being a pediatrician and professor of medicine1, wrote a nice piece about this for CNN Opinion. He made several very good points about herd immunity, which is an often neglected point in conversations with those who are either uncomfortable with, or opposed to, vaccinating their children for whatever reason. For instance, regarding the Varicella2 vaccine, he wrote (emphasis mine):

What’s notable is that from 2004 through 2007, not one child less than 1 year of age died in the United States from chicken pox. None. This is remarkable, because we cannot give the varicella vaccine to babies. It’s only approved for children 1 year or older.

In other words, all those babies were saved not because we vaccinated them against this illness. They were saved because older children were.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/09/opinion/carroll-vaccinate-kids/index.html Aaron Carrol

I’ve read many of the objections to vaccination. Every single one of them is, in my opinion, without any merit. There is simply far too much research showing that vaccines are only positive, that they save lives, that they eradicate disease, and that avoiding them can cost lives.

Bottom line: If you are not having your children vaccinated, or you elect to delay vaccination to be on an alternative schedule which “makes sense to you”3, you are putting your children and everyone else’s children at risk. This is conscious negligence, not “exercising your parenting freedom”.

I have friends who vehemently disagree with me on this topic. Some day I will not be surprised if that disagreement becomes irrelevant and states begin enforcing vaccination by law. It’s my hope that this decision reinforces precedent allowing states to consider just that.4 I would not be surprised if the first state to attempt to do so is California, given that they declared a Pertussis epidemic last month, and this was not the first time it has done so this decade. Pertussis is a disease that should have been eradicated from the planet, and was technically near extinction, until folks stopped vaccinating their kids against it. Considered possible in 1975, eradication of Pertussis moved from a scientific challenge to a public health (enforcement) challenge in the late 1990s. That challenge seems to have failed, even with a vaccine with a 70% efficacy rate.

I still think Penn and Teller said it best.

  1. Among other things. Does this guy sleep?

  2. Chicken Pox

  3. It’s worth noting that the Institute of Medicine is attempting to determine if it’s feasible to study the effectiveness of some of the proposed alternative schedules out there, but until it’s been studied, it’s simply far safer for everybody to stick to the standard schedule, which has been extensively studied.

  4. Of course, I’m not a lawyer, so what do I know anyway?

Defensive BASH Programming

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Tags: linux

Nothing is new here, but from my experience pepole like to abuse BASH, forget computer science and create a Big ball of mud from their programs.
Here I provide methods to defend your programs from braking [sic], and keep the code tidy and clean.

I’m guilty of regulary ignoring so much of this. The comment threads, though absent the author, held a few other interesting nuggets. For instance, there’s an IDE for BASH.

WWDC Thoughts

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Tags: apple

I had a rare (for me, anyway) opportunity to stream the WWDC Keynote at work on Monday. Normally I have to follow one of the many live blogs and then watch the video after the fact, and even in the last few years since the stream has been public, most streams have been choppy and un-viewable.

The two-hour keynote was like drinking from a firehose of awesome. Some thoughts have been percolating since, and so what follows is what’s been on my mind:


My 2¢: for the past few years it’s felt like Apple’s only goal was to put us in our place. Now it feels like they might want to be friends.

For the first time I can recall, I was thoroughly entertained during the keynote. I wasn’t just waiting for the details on what they were releasing; I was genuinely entertained. The presenters, seasoned and raw alike, were confident and seemed to have a ton of fun. They played to developers, and the audience (largely developers) seemed to eat it up.

I really should be taking video of @marcoarment during this segment. He is literally bouncing.

Overall, they rocked it.


The UI refresh looks nice. Nothing huge, nothing so ground-breaking that anyone should be up in arms about it.

I need to play with Mail to know if it’s worth going back to it from Airmail. The version of Mail in Mavericks is pretty terrible for Exchange.

The notification center overhaul / widgets look neat but possibly annoying. It seems to indicate that Dashboard is on its way out someday, which I like.

Spotlight’s update sounded like it might upset Alfred, but I use Alfred for so much more than finding/launching stuff. I think it still has a permanent home.

iCloud Drive and Photos

This could be a “big deal” for me. I’ve been a big Dropbox user for years, and have loved the ubiquitousness it delivers. Between that and Crashplan, I don’t worry about my data being lost1, and can easily share a song, document or whatever with anybody. My photos are all in one place, and for the moment I haven’t run out of space2. I am, however, almost exclusively a Mac user now, and having a native experience for cloud-based file storage sounds great.

Also, it’s less expensive than Dropbox. I have the Pro200 plan now with Pakrat3, which costs roughly $200 a year. For the same storage space on iCloud Drive, I’ll pay $48. That’s $150 I can do better with.

I have a lot of questions about how they’re going to deliver this, such as:

  • Will there be a Windows client?4
  • Will all of my iCloud Drive files be synchronized locally? Can a 3rd-party tool back up those files from your file system?
  • What if my local drive is smaller than my iCloud Drive? What gets sync’d locally?
  • Given this will integrate with the new Photos application, can I have photos in multiple structures or only in the Photos “silo”?
  • Will the folder structure be “normal” or will it be in my /Users/matt/Library hierarchy somewhere, obfuscated from me without Finder?
  • Can I symlink in/out of the folder structure?
  • Will there be an IFTTT channel?
  • What about file sharing, share links, public links, etc.? Will I still need/want Dropbox, even a 2gb free plan, to share via links?
  • What sorts of privacy statements are they making about these files? Dropbox seems to be taking it seriously, or so they say.

The iOS implementation looks really awesome. I’m mostly concerned about how this is manifested on my Macs.

It seems like they’re going to replace iPhoto with this on the Mac. I’ve always hated iPhoto, so I’m interested to see how this pans out. I’ve wanted an app for photo management that I didn’t hate for at least six years.

Family Sharing

This is great. Just great. So long as by “credit card” they’re also ok with “PayPal Account”. Also, I have no intention of sharing apps with my son’s iPad, but this was interesting:

Just caught this detail on the iOS family sharing. pic.twitter.com/hgwMmOxE1k

iDevice / Mac Integration

Again, it all comes down to implementation. If they use Bluetooth LE, that bugs me, though this would seem a straightforward way to tackle proximity so that my computer at home doesn’t try to answer my phone call when I’m on my way to the office. I hate having bluetooth enabled everywhere, so I’d prefer they do something different, for instance a P2P wifi connection ala AirDrop. It would seem that they’d need to be clever about proximity, and I see all sorts of holes using things like common network details for other connected networks. I suppose they could use signal strength.


Group messaging looks cool, but not something I’m likely to use very often. I can see my wife using it more with a few friends, or groups or parents or something.

Audio messages are wicked cool… Who needs voicemail anymore?

SMS in iMessage is fantastic, and is a feature my wife is actually excited about.5 I’d greatly prefer a full keyboard for messaging whenever I could have one, but speaking of keyboards…

Other IOS8

3rd-party keyboards


AirDrop between iDevices and Mac


Enterprise Features of IOS8

They didn’t even talk about this, but I’m jazzed about:

  • S/MIME from Mail. Woo!
  • You can email meeting attendees from Calendar. Should have been that way forever!
  • Swiping to mark read/flag/etc.
  • Designate threads as VIP
  • Turn out of office on/off from my phone


I don’t have a lot of thoughts about this yet, other than that I’ve had a few ideas for iOS apps for a while, and learning Objective-C was the only thing stopping me. This might be enough to get me moving.


Overall, I’m excited by all of this and am trying to decide which Mac is going to run the Yosemite dev preview when it’s ready.

  1. I suppose I need to worry about it being kept

  2. Based on my estimates, I have until 2016 or so.

  3. Because I never, ever want to be faced with an OMG where did that file go??!? moment ever again.

  4. Someone has to ask…

  5. She normally rolls her eyes about these sorts of announcements, but this actually piqued her interest.

Don Zimmer

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When I was a kid, I was more of a baseball fan than a football fan. I loved the Chicago Cubs, and tolerated the White Sox. During the late 80s and early 90s, I religiously watched or listened to the games as much as possible. I collected thousands of baseball cards, and Ryne Sandberg was my favorite player.

To me, as a Cubs fan, the only manager I remember was Don Zimmer, and my memories of the Cubs seem to be completely encapsulated in the 1989 team, a season that found them winning the NL East, but failing to make the pennant. It was a fun season of players to watch, and Zimmer’s presence in the dugout, and whenever he’d burst out onto the field. He was a great manager, and a great coach before that.

Sadly, the last memory I have of him on the field is this one:

He’s going to be missed in the world of baseball. I like how The Loop called him The Forrest Gump of Baseball:

Zimmer met Babe Ruth (in 1947), was a teammate of Jackie Robinson (1954-56) and played for Casey Stengel (1962). He was in uniform for some of the most iconic teams in history: the team that lost the most games (’62 Mets) and the team, including postseason play, that won the most games (’98 Yankees). He was in uniform for the only World Series championship for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1955), one of the most famous World Series home runs (Carlton Fisk’s shot in 1975), one of the most famous regular season home runs (Bucky Dent in 1978), the Pine Tar Game (1983), the first night game at Wrigley Field (1988), the first game in Rockies history (1993), and all three perfect games thrown at Yankee Stadium (Don Larsen, David Wells and David Cone).


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Via One Thing Well:

Babun is a linux-like console on a Windows host…

Babun features the following:

* Pre-configured Cygwin with a lot of addons
* Silent command-line installer, no admin rights required
* pact - advanced package manager (like apt-get or yum)
* xTerm-256 compatible console
* HTTP(s) proxying support
* Plugin-oriented architecture
* Pre-configured git and shell
* Integrated oh-my-zsh
* Auto update feature

I have a set of servers in our data center which must run Windows Server, and write log files out via logback, which I’d love to be able to tail on a semi-regular basis.1 I tried using the GNU Coreutils package, but it complained about the file. I tried this wicked long PowerShell command:

Get-Content -Path "C:\path\to\file.log" -Wait

…but it did not work, and I have no idea why, because PowerShell might as well be Sanskrit.2

I also tried tailforwin, for which I had no expectation of success having been written when I was still in college for operating systems few people use anymore.

I could have used Cygwin, but these servers have no external access to the Internet3, and while I could have built my own standalone installer… I strongly dislike it, and dealing with mirrors makes me angsty.

Enter Babun, which gave me everything I wanted4 in one handy package requiring no admin rights to install. I ran into issue #90 right away, but I had the same problem back when I used Cygwin and wasn’t greatly surprised by it. Other than that, and needing to navigate out of the fake root filesystem hierarchy, it’s an incredibly complete 1.0.0 release.

  1. Ideally, I’d be writing all of these logs to something like logstash and viewing them elsewhere, but I already need console access to these machines, so I might as well view logs there.

  2. I could handle Latin.

  3. Nor should they.

  4. Except tcsh. Why does everyone like zsh?