John Green on 'hard' vs 'fun'

I hate the idea that when it comes to books and learning ‘hard’ is often seen as the opposite of ‘fun’. It’s strange to me that we should be so quick to give up on a book or math problem when we are so willing to grapple–for centuries, if necessary–with a single level of Angry Birds.

Via VlogBrothers

Geohashing and OpenStreetMapping

On the weekend Tristen and I ventured into Virgina on a geohashing field trip, a first for both of us. Saturday’s random location for our graticule according to the XKCD Geohashing algorithm was 38°48'28.57" north, 77°31'49.41" west, conveniently located in some woods just off a road in Manassas National Battlefield Park.

A map of the location

While we were out we took the opportunity to make mapping notes to add to OpenStreetMap. The area is already fairly well-covered, but we got some additional creeks, buildings, and road/trail information which we’ll upload when we get some time. I used OSMTracker on my phone which is great for recording GPS tracks and geolocated notes & photos. The phone’s location accuracy is not great for detailed mapping, though, and I think I’m going to have to upgrade to a real GPS device soon.

I know we’re late to the party, but Geohashing seems to go great with OpenStreetMap. It’s a fantastically nerdy method of finding new places to map after you’ve already got every last detail of your own neighbourhood recorded. We’ll be doing it again sometime soon.

Minimal Metacity themes

Working on my 13-inch laptop display I can divide my applications into two categories - those that are nearly always maximized and those that are almost never maximized. I generally want to give the always-maximized one as much screen space as possible because of the types of apps they are - the browser, the terminal, graphics programs…

Title bars really don’t serve much purpose for these types of maximized apps except to waste space, so I got rid of them. Doing this in a Metacity theme is pretty easy - you basically just add has_title="false" to the maximized frame geometry and zero out all the dimensions. Here’s what doing that to the default Gnome theme, Adwaita, looks like:

The cool thing about doing this in Gnome Shell is that it can still round off the corners of the maximized applications.

Screenshot of Chrome running in GNOME
You might notice that my Shell theme is slightly customized.. more on that soon.

Apart from saving space, working in a maximized terminal with fewer distracting interface elements but still retaining the main desktop indicators and controls is a nice experience:

The only downside to hiding the titlebar is now you have to know the keyboard shortcut to toggle maximization for the rare occasions when you need it. In Gnome this is Alt-F10 by default, but that’s kind of awkward to type on an Apple keyboard so I remapped it to Command-M.

I don't need a blog, but I made one anyway.

$ git commit -m "First post."

I’m following this summer’s Development Seed team trend of personal website relaunches powered by Jekyll. This is after several abandoned attempts over the past year or two involving Drupal, WordPress, and sNews. Like most other things I do these days, this blog is powered by Ubuntu, Vim, Git, Inkscape, GIMP, and FontSpring.

I’ve also decided to retire the meagre portfolio that used to lived here and instead just include a few of my favourite pieces as starter content. They are all intaglio prints from my days (and nights) in the Georgian College SDVA print studio.

2007, Apparatus, 18"x12"

2008, Obstructure, 12"x18"

Off Air II
2008, Off Air II, 18"x12"