This is a great tutorial—I just love the interactive parts that really help make things click.
Tuesday, September 14th, 2021
Friday, July 30th, 2021
Why do we long for a time when the average life span was 22 and everyone was wracked by tuberculosis?
This was the problem I had with Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens (and to a lesser extent with Rutger Bregman’s Humankind):
Paleolithic peoples, so the tale goes, spent most of Tuesday strolling under Baobab trees, running their hands through the long elephant grass, and breathing in the sweet dust of the open Savannah. On Wednesdays they carefully chipped away the edges of Levallois blades, swept dust out of the home cave, and snacked on freshly gathered almonds. On Thursdays they gathered into small bands – a hand-picked selection of the finest endurance runners this side of Nairobi – tracked down an elephant, and sprinted after it barefoot for nine hours until the creature – dehydrated, exhausted, and unable to sweat out the excess heat – crumpled into a violently sad face-plant in the hot, gritty sand. Our strapping, supple ancestors jogged to a halt beside it, barely out of breath, to carve up its flesh and bring home the elephant bacon. Later that evening they would break their 36 hour intermittent fast, retire to the lake, and engage in polyamorous affairs.
Saturday, November 14th, 2020
The Correct Material
I’ve been watching The Right Stuff on Disney Plus. It’s a modern remake of the ’80s film of the ’70s Tom Wolfe book of ’60s events.
It’s okay. The main challenge, as a viewer, is keeping track of which of the seven homogenous white guys is which. It’s like Merry, Pippin, Ant, Dec, and then some.
It’s kind of fun watching it after watching For All Mankind which has some of the same characters following a different counterfactual history.
The story being told is interesting enough (although Tom has pointed out that removing the Chuck Yeager angle really diminishes the narrative). But ultimately the tension is manufactured around a single event—the launch of Freedom 7—that was very much in the shadow of Gargarin’s historic Vostok 1 flight.
There are juicier stories to be told, but those stories come from Russia.
Some of these stories have been told in film. The Spacewalker told the amazing story of Alexei Leonov’s mission, though it messes with the truth about what happened with the landing and recovery—a real shame, considering that the true story is remarkable enough.
Imagine an alternative to The Right Stuff that relayed the drama of Soyuz 1—it’s got everything: friendship, rivalries, politics, tragedy…
I’d watch the heck out of that.
Wednesday, August 12th, 2020
An Orbital Ring System as an alternative to a space elevator.
Representing nothing short of the most ambitious project in the history of space exploration and exploitation, the Orbital Ring System is more or less what you would imagine it to be, a gargantuan metal ring high above the Earth, spanning the length of its 40,000 kilometer-long diameter.
Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
Perhaps the most permanent action that any human being has accomplished in the history of our species is when one of our ancestors placed this cave bear skull on a rock, where still it sits, tens of thousands of years later.
An astonishing dose of perspective delivered via a lovely bit of hypertext by Matt.
Saturday, March 17th, 2012
A collection of articles on the tricksy art of Futurism from—amongst others—Bruce Sterling, Annalee Newitz, and Matt Novak, creator of the Paleofuture blog.
Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
The Paleofuture blog, that excellent trove of past visions of the future, has a corresponding video channel. The first episode is all about food.
Monday, May 10th, 2010
"...after the late Thag Simmons." No, really. It's a proper paleontological term now.
Monday, November 24th, 2008
The Napoleon Dynamite problem at Netflix: basement hackers and amateur mathematicians are competing to improve the program that Netflix uses to recommend DVDs â€” and to win $1 million in the process.
Thursday, December 27th, 2007
Hacky holidays on OS X
Christmas is a time for giving, a time for over-indulgence, a time for lounging around and for me, a time for doing those somewhat time-consuming tasks that I’d otherwise never get around to doing… like upgrading my operating system.
I used the downtime here in Arizona to install Leopard on my Macbook. I knew from reading other people’s reports that it might take some time to get my local web server back up and running. Sure enough, I had to jump through some hoops.
I threw caution to the wind and chose the “upgrade” option. Normally I’d choose “Archive and Install” but it sounds like this caused some problems for Roger .
The upgrade went smoothly. Before too long, I had a brand spanking new OS that was similar to the old OS but ever so slightly uglier and slower.
My first big disappointment was discovering that my copy of Photoshop 7 didn’t work at all. Yes, I know that’s a really old version but I don’t do too much image editing on my laptop so it’s always been good enough. I guess I should have done some reading up on compatibility before installing Leopard. Fortunately, I was able to upgrade from Photoshop 7 to Photoshop CS3—I was worried that I might have had to buy a new copy.
But, as I said, the bulk of my time was spent getting my local LAMP constellation back up and running. I did most of my editing in BBEdit—if you install the BBEdit command line tools, you can use the word
bbedit in Terminal to edit documents. If you use Textmate,
mate is the command you want.
Leopard ships with Apache 2 which manages virtual hosts differently to the previous version. Instead of keeping all the virtual host information in
/etc/httpd/users/jeremy.conf), the new version of Apache stores it in
/private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf. I fired up Terminal and typed:
That file shows a VirtualHost example. After unlocking the file, I commented out the example and added my own info:
The default permissions are somewhat draconian so to avoid getting 403:Forbidden messages when trying to look at any local sites, I also added these lines to the
I then saved the file, which required an admin password.
The good news is that Leopard doesn’t mess with the
hosts file (located at
/private/etc/hosts). That’s where I had listed the same host names I had chosen in the previous file:
But for any of that to get applied, I needed to edit the
I uncommented this line:
While I was in there, I also removed the octothorp from the start of this line:
That gets PHP up and running. Leopard ships with PHP5 which is A Good Thing.
Going into Systems Preferences, then Sharing and then ticking the Web Sharing checkbox, I started up my web server and was able to successfully navigate to
http://adactio.dev/. There I was greeted with an error message informing me that my local site wasn’t able to connect to MySQL.
Do not fear: MySQL is still there. But I needed to do two things:
- Tell PHP where to look for the connection socket and
- Get MySQL to start automatically on login.
For the first step, I needed a
php.ini file to edit. I created this by copying the supplied
I found this line:
…and changed it to:
I had previously installed MySQL by following these instructions but now the handy little preference pane for starting and stopping MySQL was no longer working. It was going to be a real PITA if I had to manually start up MySQL every time I restarted my computer so I looked for a way of getting it to start up automatically.
I found what I wanted on the TomatoCheese Blog. Here’s the important bit:
Remove the MySQL startup item (we’ll use the preferred launchd instead):
Also, right-click and remove the MySQL preference pane in System Preferences because we’ll be using the preferred launchd instead.
Copy this MySQL launchd configuration file to
/Library/LaunchDaemons, and change its owner to root:
That did the trick for me. When I restarted my machine, MySQL started up automatically.
So after some command line cabalism and Google sleuthing, I had my local webdev environment back up and running on Leopard.
Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
Oh yes! A plugin for Safari that will detect, display and export hCard and hCalendar data. Caveat: it only works on Leopard so, because I haven't upgraded yet, I haven't had a chance to testdrive this yet myself.
Monday, July 11th, 2005
This is for real. The text of a bill being proposed in Idaho to commend Napoleon Dynamite "for showcasing the positive aspects of Idaho's youth, rural culture, education system, athletics, economic prosperity and diversity."