Archive for May, 2010

Why would a Director/Writer/Producer/Actor Torrent Movies?

I just had a fascinating read from Peter Serafinowicz about why he chooses to download movies – even ones that he’s in or has directed.  Sometimes its because they’re not available.  Sometimes he struggles to get it from the studio.  Sometimes its just easier than stripping out the DRM for his portfolio.

In any case, its not because the show/performance isn’t worth money.  Its just that it can’t be used how he wanted it, when he wanted it.  He tries to buy it first (and sometimes twice) before he goes another route.

I also suggest reading the comments, which actually shock me.  Peter has some interesting points that discuss ethics, but others seem to want to claim the high moral ground on copying someone else’s work.  However, I’ve learned that in many places, comments bring out the trolls (except here – of course).

–Ben

Sources:  Gizmodo, Slashdot

Video – Blasting Mosquitoes crossing an Invisible Fence with Lasers

Just found this video of the laser identification in action across a room.  The kill laser appears to be off, but the ID part is on.  Looks cool lighting up the bugs with a green glow.

No warning needed for the video below, the bugs seem to be OK.

–Ben

Sources:  Intellectual Ventures, Youtube

Blasting Mosquitoes crossing an Invisible Fence with Lasers

You know, there’s just something really cool about having an invisible fence that blasts approaching mosquitoes with lasers.  There’s even a “light-em up mode” that uses visible low power lasers to determine wing beat frequency to identify the blood sucking ones.  All the bugs that pass the fence can get lit up for a fraction of a second with a green glow.  The bad ones end up in a puff of smoke, while the others roam free.

Where was that job when I graduated from engineering in 2003?  I thought I had it good in Lego robotics, but this may be one step better.

WARNING:  If you don’t like watching bugs end up in smoke, please don’t watch the video.

–Ben

Sources:  IEEE Spectrum

Disclosure:  I am a member of IEEE.

Fix – Internet Explorer 8 (IE) not rendering sites correctly

As is not uncommon in the web development world, I was so mad at IE I was ready to delete my bootcamp partition off my Mac and microwave my windows 7 disc.  I was working on a website and it would render fine in any browser but IE.  As it turns out, IE thought it should be in compatibility mode.  Here’s the fix – a meta declaration:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=8" />

You tell IE to render in its version 8 rendering engine.  For those daring enough, you can replace 8 with edge.  However, you can never tell what bugs will be in future versions of IE.

A List Apart has a good and thorough article on doctypes and rendering in IE 8.

–Ben

Sources:  A List Apart

GUI Automation – Auto It makes automating Abacus Easy

Wow.  I went looking for GUI automation such that I could automatically dump our deadlines to PDF and email them offsite.  I found:

  • Automation Anywhere for $700 to $7,000
  • Ranorex for $300 to $1500
  • a bunch of test suites
  • Auto It for FREE

I went and looked Auto It up and I couldn’t believe the power.  The scripting was easy to understand and I loved that I could emulate keyboard shortcuts.  It took me about two hours from install to finishing automating Starting Abacus (our docketing program), logging in, running a report, selecting cutePDF as a printer, saving the PDF with the date in the filename, exiting Abacus and using blat to email the PDF to two people.

Check Auto It out.  Its awesome.

–Ben

References:  Auto It, Automation Anywhere, Ranorex