Yum, Gra-Pow Pork…

December 24th, 2009

Mmmm, just tried my first attempt at Gra-Pow Pork, and it was great! I had to make some substitutions, I didn’t have any Thai chili peppers or Thai basil, so I used Serrano peppers, and regular basil.

See Ingredients after the cut… Read the rest of this entry »

Good Samaritan

July 9th, 2009

That was nice,

I was hanging out at a local coffee shop in Alameda when I saw a woman, with the help of a barista, trying her hardest to push a SUV out of it’s parking spot. It seems that the battery had died and they were trying to get it running. I didn’t see another car, so they didn’t have anyone to jump start it.

I’ve been borrowing my family’s Honda Civic for the past two weeks, ever since my car got totaled by a drunk driver while it was parked. It happens to have one of those portable battery/jump starter units in the trunk. (woot), So I headed over and offered to help out. I wasn’t sure if the battery was fully charged or if it could even handle a SUV’s starter system, but it worked like a charm. The lady thanked me, and headed out.

I’m seriously thinking of getting one of these for myself now 🙂

Really? Is it that hard….

April 11th, 2009

I recently purchased the book (Beginning Python Visualization) because of my interest in Data Visualization and the want to learn Python. It is a great book, and I’m having a lot of fun going through it, but one of the first walls that hit me while walking through the excersices was the need to import modules to extend my programs.

Now importing a module (or code) is a pretty standard/common practice, it allows you to reuse existing programming snippits without having to write everything from scratch. A good example is the pySerial module. This provides functions to read data from a COM port. So all I have to do is import pySerial and I’m good to go. Except if your OS (like Mac Leopard) didn’t include it in the system modules, then you have to go out and manually install it yourself. I really wanted a simple installer like CPAN for PERL, and barring that, I was really hoping for a simple (single) file to download and drop into a directory, I tried searches like:

  • python modules install
  • python cpan
  • python mac modules

Over all the problems were:

  • There were custom installers for the module, or you had to compile/install by hand
  • You could install via Darwin Ports, but that had dependancies for Python 2.4 (I’m running 2.5) and I didn’t want to install a complete second (older) version of Python on my system.
  • There was no clear documentation on how to add a library of modules for your personal development.

Python’s own site quotes another wiki that says things like:

Python doesn’t have a CPAN.

Python comes with “Batteries Included”. The standard modules shipped with Python has a lot of good stuff, and for many common tasks you just don’t need the extra step of CPAN. Python’s standard library of modules is nothing to sneeze at!

I think Python shouldn’t have a CPAN. Basically, I think CPAN is too centralized a mechanism for finding modules, and the work to create a CPAN for Python could be better spent elsewhere.

…this isn’t very helpful if you aren’t a heavy coder and just need some unique functionality for your project, and you know that someone else has already built it.

Thankfully I came across easy_install, which seems like CPAN-lite for python. I was easily able to run easy_install pyserial and the correct module was found/downloaded/installed onto my system. No fuss, no mess.

I really think Apple and Python should make this more prominent on their sites.

Web 2.0 Expo (2009)…

April 2nd, 2009

Just got back from my first attendance of the Web 2.0 Expo. It was pretty nice, but much lower key then the other conferences I’ve been to at the Moscone center (like Macworld or Linux World). I noticed the overwhelming theme was “Social Networking”. Basically offering social services (twitter, facebook, etc) but isolated within the customers own network, or offering some type of mashup/integration with the existing services on the web.

Here are some of the technologies I liked and picked up notes about:

  • Caspio – offers “Do-It-Yourself Database Apps”. Basically they have a service that lets you import data (from csv, excel, access, etc) and then custom tailor a web app/interface around it using easy WYSIWYG type tools. No database or web programming knowledge needed. Once the database, fields, forms, view, etc have all been defined, then you insert a simple block of javascript into your webpage, and when visitors goto the page, it links off the Caspio’s servers and it feeds them the data/tables/views. It’s a great and easy ways to quickly implement a webapp for corporation/small-medium business. Unfortunately they do not have a free service, but considering how much work has gone into the interface (no browser dependencies) and that all of the traffic and data is hosted on their servers, I can understand their business model. You get a special promo (first 3 months with 50% off) if you use the code “web2009”.
  • OER Commons – Is a non-profit that provides learning materials (lesson plans, syllabi, assignments, simulations, games, etc) that are freely available to use, adapt, reuse, or share.
  • Universal Mind – Is a web design and development company that seems to specialize in rich Internet content and data mashups.
  • Socialtext – Is a company that wants to bring the power of the social networking applications into your enterprise. They offer a service/portal that gives the functionality of Twitter/Facebook/Wiki’s etc, but contained within your corporate environment (which is great when you don’t want your internal projects being worked on/discussed on a public web site).

ScreenCast Encoding…

December 20th, 2008

For the longest time I’ve been trying to find the Holy Grail of encoding settings to get me decent sized screencasts. Most of the time, either the file size was too big, or the text was illegible. I had come across one screencast that was PERFECT. (It averaged about 2mb/min it was a full sized screen (1280×720) and the frame rate was 10 fps, while the data rate was 294 kbits/s)

The closest I’ve gotten was following the instructions from Matthew Pare on this Drupal post titled “Tips and Encoding Settings for Long Duration Screencasts“.


  • Encoding: H.264
  • Frame Rate: 10 fps
  • Key Frame: 500
  • Frame Reordering: Yes
  • Data Rate Limit: No
  • Encoding Mode: Multi-Pass
  • Quality: Medium


  • Encoding: AAC, 12 khz, Mono


Here is the formula that he proposes, I will attach his actual notes below:

  1. Start with the (original width) x (original height)
  2. Pick a (desired width) (the height will adjust accordingly)
  3. Divide the (desired width) / (original width) = (result1)
  4. Now multiply the (original heigth) * (result1) = (desired height)

(you want to round the “desired height” to the closest even number)


That explanation may be a bit confusing so let me give an example. I just have created a screen capture and my video has the dimensions of 1012 x 757. That’s way to big. My video is nearly two hours long, if I kept that size, my final video would be 250MB or even much larger than that. So I want to make this smaller, but still be able to read the text. I am going to say I want my final video to be as close to 800 x 600 as possible. As I have found that size still allows most text to be readable. So I am going to divide my desired output width of 800 by my source length of 1012.

800 / 1012 = .790513834

So now I need to determine the height for my final video. So I take the answer of the above equation multiply it by the height of my source video. So in my example I would multiply my source height of 757 by .79513834.

757 * .79513834 = 598.419

So I am just going to round this number off to 598.

My final video size will now be 800 x 598. Perfect!

Not just another year…

August 22nd, 2008

Woot! I turn 35 today, and it looks like Ms. Morgan has somehow set aside a “birthday weekend” for me. (I cannot tell you how excited I am). My birthday always seems to fall right beside some large event that everyone else is involved with, and as such, it kinda falls by the wayside. Sometimes I tell myself that I just have to plan my own party, but there is that small kid inside that doesn’t want to, he wants to be surprised. It looks like I’m getting my wish, the teasing and tempting has begun, bags in the fridgerator with notes that I’m not allowed to peek, instructions that I’m not supposed to exit my room after a certain point tonight, mad giggles of foreshadowing, blocks of time that I’m to set aside. (god it’s wonderful) 🙂 (I’ll let you know how it goes).


Against all odds, it turns out I’m heading to Burning Man this year. I originally had planned to skip this year, too many things seemed outawack for it to work out, then all of a sudden it seemed like the universe said “Brian, you are going!” I got offers for rides in RV’s, all my best friends are camping next to where I would have camped, discounted tickets were offered, our group got one of the best locations at BM, etc. So last time I had (8) months to plan, this time I have (5) days, holy crap! BM2008, here I come.


This year I’m going to be more active. I’m updating my online profiles, getting more involved in the communities that interest me, looking to travel a lot more, start some new activities, and follow where my heart takes me. I’ve been a bit bored lately and it is about time I did something about it.

Just got back…

August 12th, 2008

What a weekend, i just got back from Defcon16 in Vegas, updates (including photos) by end of week……no really! :-p

The Great Office War…

June 18th, 2008

Ok, this is so full of the awesome, that I need to share it:


(hopefully I can get an actual post up this week)

Oh god, I remember doing that…

April 21st, 2008

Sooooo, how useless is your tech knowledge:


I’m back….

April 21st, 2008

…or so I’d like to delude myself. I’ve been strangely absent from my blog, busy out and about with my life, but I’d like to come back and start updating again.

  1. I’m moving! Yes, I’ve just signed a renters lease and should be moving by the end of the month. I’m really looking forward to this, I get my own kitchen, bathroom, I get to unbox all of my stuff (most of it PRE-Austraila) and feel like I have my own place again (ok, not really my “own” place, I will have a roommate) WOOT. I’m so happy. It’s a nice two bedroom on the second floor, and we get a garage (which is really saying we get free storage space). And by “we” I mean Morgan and myself. She’s going to be my (un?)lucky roommate (along with Charley and Cooper, the cat and dog combo that are her “kids”). If you want to see some pics, you can find them here: http://picasaweb.google.com/binarynomad/NewHouse NOTE: these pics are with the previous tenent still there (sadly, the big tree out front is now gone :’-( sniff sniff )

  2. My business is doing very well, I’m book almost every day now, I’ve got prospective clients lined up, and I am having to decline people due to my schedule. It’s great! I’m also looking at revamping (or finally building) my business website, and actually getting business cards (which I’ve been sorely lacking).

  3. Taxes are over and I’m thinking of using my Federal Stimulus package on an iPhone (you cannot seen the enormous grin on the other side of the computer, but believe me …. it’s there)

  4. Social life is busy, I’ve got friends with weekly events happening almost every night of the week, and this coming summer seems to be filling up quite quickly.

  5. Travel has been quiet lately, I wanted to goto Austin, TX for SXSW, but my budget and client load talked me out of it (especially with the looming costs of moving fast approaching). I’m looking forward to going to Defcon in Las Vegas at the beginning of August, and perhaps LISA in San Diego in September. I also am working on plans for Christmas in Austin with my brothers and then Australia in January 2009 for http://linux.conf.au/. I had a tempting possibility for Thailand in Dec, but I haven’t seen my family in a while and it is about time.

  6. I’ve got too much I want to learn. Always more and more on the tech side (security, networking, communications, business solutions, etc) and almost no time to study. I’ve been missing my photography bug (and yet I still have over 280 directories of photos I still need to process…guh). I’m hoping to ramp up my cooking skills now that I’ll have a kitchen. I’ve also got two possible options to learn dancing (which is still a phobia).

  7. My “anal-retentive/organizational side got an unprecedented booster shot the other day, THIS came in the mail. All I need now is a laminator and I’ll rule the world (oh wait, I can find one at CostCo Business Center…muhahahahahah). It’s sad, I now get just as excited when I walk into a Staples or Office Depo as I did walking into Toy’s R Us when I was a kid (what’s wrong with me … don’t answer that).

I think that’s enough for now. Ciao.