markmcb's Articles, Page 1 of 16

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18 Jan 13

Why don't you vote on OmniNerd?

I’m curious as to why the regulars on this site are so reluctant to vote on content. You’re logged in, you’re reading and commenting, but the 1-second process of casting a vote rarely seems to occur. Is there a reason you’re not? If not, I suggest voting for things that you both read and didn’t feel was a waste of you’re time. In doing so you accomplish two things: you move good content to the top, and you let the writer know you read their stuff and thought it was a useful read.

05 Nov 12

Do Dolphins (And Other Cetaceans) Deserve The Same Rights As Humans?

Back in February the BBC reported that,

“Dolphins should be treated as non-human ‘persons’, with their rights to life and liberty respected, scientists meeting in Canada have been told. Experts in philosophy, conservation and animal behaviour want support for a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans. They believe dolphins and whales are sufficiently intelligent to justify the same ethical considerations as humans.”

As far as I can tell, this is still an open proposal. I’m curious what this crowd thinks. Is this going too far, or is it simply a heightened awareness of our planet’s intelligent co-inhabitants?

18 Oct 12

Charts: xkcd Style

Ever read xkcd and wish you could whip up a chart like the one in the comic? Now you can. Check out Dan Foreman-Mackey’s XKCD-style plots in Javascript using D3.

11 Oct 12

OmniNerd Version 6

If you’re a regular, you definitely noticed some changes today. We’re trying to simplify the site to ease maintenance, but hopefully also make it a little easier to use. Here are some key changes:


  1. Death of NerdRank – I know, it’s like we killed our first born. Ultimately though the number had become meaningless and the backend to maintain it was just overkill. If it ever comes back, it will certainly be in different form.
  2. Death of Auto-Moderation – It seemed like a good idea, but all it created was a bottleneck. Now the computer isn’t judging your writing as you type, or deciding what is/isn’t front page worthy.
29 Oct 11

Methods for Managing and Sharing Photos?

I recently blogged about how I think using Aperture and Picasa is the best way to manage and share photos. I’m curious if anyone has any thoughts on photo software, workflow, etc. Do you have an approach that you think is notably good?

31 Jul 11

How Do You Backup Your Data?

I recently purchased a CrashPlan+ plan and blogged about why I picked CrashPlan in favor of several other options. I’m curious what others are doing. More specifically, do you have unique needs that a service provider or application must offer before you would consider it?

08 Feb 10

NFL Play Reviews and Slow Motion Technology

If you’ve watched any NFL football game in the last year or so, you’ve probably become of fan of the ultra slow motion, high resolution video replays of receivers dangling in the air and being crushed mid-flight by defensive backs. It’s fascinating to watch every muscle flex and every facial expression slowly form.

As I watched the Super Bowl though, I couldn’t help but wonder if it makes sense to give this sort of footage to referees? And it’s not because I don’t think referees should have all the information they can get, but I think this footage distorts reality. For example, consider the linked video. That all probably occurred in less than a second, two tops. But the video makes it last a full minute. In decisions where a player is being questioned for control of a ball, or other things where time matters, it seems that slow motion gives a warped view of reality. In one of these clips, a player may seemingly cradle a ball for 30 seconds, but in reality he only held it for a quarter of one second.

02 Feb 10

Finally, the Death of Microsoft Internet Explorer 6?

I just received an email from Google that brought a tear to my web-developer-eye:

“In order to continue to improve our products and deliver more sophisticated features and performance, we are harnessing some of the latest improvements in web browser technology. … As a result, over the course of 2010, we will be phasing out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.

We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010. After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency and may not work correctly in these older browsers. Later in 2010, we will start to phase out support for these browsers for Google Mail and Google Calendar."

31 Jan 10

OmniNerd Version 5

Welcome to OmniNerd Version 5. We’ve implemented a completely new color scheme, changed the header and front page layout, and even added a little dose of Twitter into the mix. We got a lot of negative feedback regarding the v4 layout to include things like “not intuitive,” “too blue,” and “too much going on.” Our response is v5, which we hope is more intuitive, color balanced, and simple.

Shades of Orange and Brown

I’m a web design guy. I’m good at structuring data, talking to databases, and caching everything I can get my hands on. Choosing colors, well, let’s just say it’s more of a guessing game than anything. Moreover, with every combination I do find, when I show it to people it seems it’s always split 50/50 (or worse) in terms of love it/hate it. But this time something strange happened. When I got these colors up on our development site the feedback was primarily favorable. There were a few that thought it was “ok” and only one person I know that actually gave me feedback that they didn’t like it at all. Score 1 for the out-of-his-league web guy.

17 Jan 10

Apple Airport Extreme and Cisco WRVS4400N Review

I had been planning to upgrade my home network for a while and finally decided to do it over the weekend. On my network was an older 802.11 b/g Apple Airport Express that just wasn’t very useful anymore. Aside from being older, it’s not an 11n device and we just can’t have that, now can we? The bigger issue was that I live in an older house in San Francisco (we’re talking 1908 old) and it’s just not very “wired” friendly. My goal was to move my existing Time Capsule from out of my bedroom (this is the only place in the house the cable modem can plug in without significant rewiring) and into my office. From the office it would connect wirelessly to whatever new device I put in my bedroom to be the router. The idea being that an 802.11n bridge would be a sufficiently fast alternative to running physical cables. With the Time Capsule in my office I would be able to wire my laptop into it directly for very fast Time Machine service. Moreover, my Linux server, which is also currently residing in my bedroom, could move into the office and I could avoid having to put a wifi card in it (it has to be wired in, which is why it’s lived in my bedroom until now).

30 Dec 09

markmcb's Top 5 iPhone App Picks for 2009

I love my iPhone. Probably the greatest feature of the iPhone is the App Store, which allows you to download and install 3rd party applications. Over the past year I’ve grown quite fond of a handful of applications and just thought I’d share. Obviously my picks tie heavily to my preferences, but since you’re reading this on a site called OmniNerd, I figured you might like them too.

Tweetie 2

If you’re not using Twitter, then you’re probably over the age of 30 or not famous. For those that are using it, you know that it can be quite addictive and a little hard to keep track of. Not with Tweetie 2 for iPhone. Multiple accounts, intuitive layouts, and tons of configurable options make it the best Twitter app out there in my opinion.

25 Nov 09

Snow Leopard: Clean Install vs. Upgrade

I recently grabbed OS X 10.6 to install on my Apple MacBook Pro, which is a few years old now. My laptop started out with Tiger (10.4), was upgraded to Leopard (10.5) and then I just upgraded it again to Snow Leopard (10.6). The upgrade went well, but there were some things that just felt a little broken. Connections to my Time Capsule were slow, the time to put the computer to sleep was long, blue tooth devices wouldn’t power down, and certain operations just seemed slower than I expected. I thought maybe I should do a fresh/clean install, so I went to the online forums for guidance.

22 Nov 09

User Profile and Nerd Rank Changes

A few weeks ago, a loyal OmniNerd posted an article asking if the Nerd Rank system was broken. Upon further review, I decided the answer was both yes and no. It was “no” in the regard that it was technically giving credit to users as it was intended to do, i.e., if you generate high volumes of quality content then your Nerd Rank will reflect that. However, it was “yes” in that while I like the secretive nature of the system, its total lack of transparency makes it a bit hard to follow.

27 Sep 09

Crash Safety: 1959 vs. 2009

I guess it’s true when they say, “they don’t make ’em like they used to.” (And in this case I’m really glad.) The video below is a controlled head-on collision between two Chevrolet vehicles, one from 1959 and the other from 2009.

The crash was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which was celebrating its 50th aniversary. The IIHS press release has additional photos.

20 Aug 09

How-to Build an Open Source Linux iTunes Media Server for Mac Clients

I recently built an all-purpose server and one of the things I wanted to do with it was turn it into a media hub/server. Before exploring my options, I had some specific requirements in mind. A good solution would have to:

  1. be free
  2. run in Linux, preferably Gentoo (because that’s what my server is running)
  3. be open source
  4. allow my primary laptop to act as the “master”
  5. allow any other computer to access the music
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