Procrastiblog

June 29, 2007

Browsing gzipped tarballs in Emacs

Filed under: Emacs, Tech — Chris @ 8:22 pm

Somehow the presence of a hundred billion .tar.gz files on the Internet prevents Google from giving me this very simple tip. Just opening a .tar file in Emacs will let you browse it as if it were a directory. If the file is gzipped, you need to enable auto-compression-mode: either do M-x auto-compression-mode or (setq auto-compression-mode t) (e.g., in your .emacs file).

Google Desktop for Linux!

Filed under: Tech — Chris @ 3:47 pm

Hooray! Beagle search for Gnome? Boo! Go away!

Google, if I give you all my data, do you promise to be gentle?

June 15, 2007

Taking Direction

Filed under: Not Tech, Waste of Time — Chris @ 12:22 am

Is there a way to give feedback when Google Maps gives you a bum steer? This morning, I was driving from Westfield to Murray Hill in New Jersey and Google Maps advised me to turn North on Union Ave in Scotch Plains and cross Route 22 (here). The only problem is that there’s a concrete divider on Route 22 at Union Ave (which is clearly visible here) and it’s not possible to cross there. I had to go a few miles East on 22 to Glenside Ave. Luckily, I knew where I was at that point; if not, I would have been screwed.

Now, I’m the kind of good citizen who fixes grammar on Wikipedia and blogs about bugs in GCC. I’d like to tell Google about their terrible mistake and give them a chance to make it up to me. But I can’t find any email address or web form that seems appropriate.

It may be the case that they don’t want feedback. After all, why should they trust me on this? Oh, well.

June 12, 2007

Fixed Gears, Fun?

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 1:01 pm

I’ve seen and heard a lot of content-free snark about fixed-gear bikes lately, as in this recent NY Times Style article, but I’ve never successfully gotten anybody to explain to me why they are fun to ride? For the record, if you are interested, one Mr. Sheldon Brown makes a pretty compelling case and the Wikipedia has a characteristically objective take. This makes me want to try one out. Although I must say , as a novice city bike rider who huffs and puffs his way up the gentle slope to Prospect Park, I enjoy coasting. Coasting is fun.

June 1, 2007

Did you know AA alkaline batteries could explode?

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 4:07 am

I’m sitting in the living room and BLAM! like a shotgun blast. I walk into the kitchen and the clock is laying on the floor, one half of an AA battery lying next to it. On the wall—five feet away!—there’s a splatter of some battery-related gunk. On the counter—several feet in the other direction—there’s some kind of wadded-up, gunky something-or-other.

You may have heard that laptop and cell phone batteries can explode (see here, here, and, for video, here), and this seems to be a concern for rechargeable batteries in general. But plain alkaline AAs? Who knew?

Having now seen what the humble AA can do, I’m going to rethink holding my laptop on my lap and/or keeping my cell phone in my pants pocket.

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