I love my trackball mouse

January 29, 2007

My trackball mouseI can’t believe that I used to actually move my entire hand to move my mouse. It is much more comfortable to only move a finger or two, especially for a lazy person like myself. If you have never used a trackball before, I recommend trying it out.

 

I first used a trackball when it was the only available option on a very cluttered desk. Since you do not move a trackball you can use it on any kind of surface and save space. Also, if you are stuck with a very high or low surface, moving a conventional mouse can hurt after a while. When I first started, it was difficult and time consuming but after a while I forgot that I was even using a trackball and it became second nature to me. Now after using a trackball mouse frequently for half a year, I feel awkward dragging plastic on a desk with those lowly, inefficient, and antiquated pointing devices.

Trackball mouse with trackball outAlligator likes trackball

Right now I am using a Logitech Trackball. There is very little resistance on the ball; it feels like my fingers are floating. It has four buttons and I use the upper left click as a middle click. Other uses for a trackballThis is great for closing tabs in Firefox and scrolling, although I do miss my old scroll wheel. It is fun to take the ball out and play with it. My Lego alligator definitely enjoys it and you can even play pool with it if you really want to.

 

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First day of classes, first day of woes

January 22, 2007

View from Thurston Ave BridgeToday I had my first day of spring semester classes at Cornell.  Things didn’t go as nicely as I wanted to, but everything worked out fine in the end.  So I woke up early, ready and rearing to go.  Took a shower, eat breakfast, and had plenty of time to spare.  My first class of the day was physics and I was all excited to go to my first ever physics course at Cornell.  I was sitting in the classroom for a while until I realized that I was in the wrong room.  Read the rest of this entry »


New Lego Tower

January 19, 2007

My Lego TowerYesterday, while I was brooding over how my break is almost over, I realized that I neglected to play with my legos. Luckily I avoided disaster and managed to get some quality time in with them. Here are some facts about the new lego tower I built:

  • 11 feet tall, freestanding
  • Weight: 10 lbs
  • 8 hours to build

Since it is so tall, I now have to write a lot about it to fill up all the extra space the picture created on this page. I’ve made many lego towers many times before; they are my favorite type of structure to build. It is very fun to to see how high I can build, constantly redesigning and trying new ideas to get a little higher. For this tower I tried to keep the design as simple and strong as possible. This is a cross section of it:

Cross Section

Above and below this layer would be identical layers, but rotated 90°. Doing this creates very solid connections between layers. This pattern of alternating identical layers continues for the entire length of the tower. Uniformity is important since the tower is only as strong as its weakest part. To make construction and assembly easier I split the tower up into sections, each section being a different width.

Lego Tower taken apart

I enjoyed working on it especially since I could sit on my couch, drink soda, and watch anime at the same time. Through my intense research and experimentation I have discovered that:

Total Awesomeness = Legos + Anime + Soda

This is definitely true, I double and triple checked my calculations. Looks like I still have some more blank space. I will just fill it up with nonsense so that is cool, yes very. And then this crazy thing happened and it was terrible, I hope everything is okay I really do. Things happen, yes oh yes they do and that is alright and all but it bores me horribly. Then I went to the store and bought some crackers, but it was so ridiculous and made me angry. Oh so ANGRY!

Is that enough? Okay, good.


How wise are online communities?

January 10, 2007

 

Digg Comment

In JR Minkel’s post in Scientific American‘s blog, Most Hated Digg Comment Proves (Part of) Jaron Lanier’s Point about the Cracked Wisdom of Crowds, he discusses a recent incident on digg where a user’s comment was buried because it looked like spam. Read Chandler Kent’s post, What Happens When You Spam Digg? Updated 14x, for his experience of how horrendously digg users responded to his comment. Minkel goes on to relate this to the idea that online users increasingly believe that the collective is always wiser than the individual. Communities are now an essential part of the web, can they ever be more than just mobs?

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Wayback Machine is way under appreciated

January 8, 2007

Wayback MachinePerhaps it is just my imagination, but the Wayback Machine gets much less publicity than it deserves. It is a one of a kind tool that no one else can offer: a freely accessible archive of most websites since 1996. Records of almost every website are kept, a huge amount of data. The Wayback Machine is a service run by the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization. It is amazing to see websites a decade ago and marvel at what has changed (and hasn’t). For example look at this post in Slashdot in 1998. The Wayback Machine is very useful for web designers who can directly see how the design of past sites have changed over the years, such as how yahoo’s homepage evolved to what it is now.

Internet ArchiveThere are however major problems with the Wayback Machine. Pages are slow, many images are missing, and sometimes entire entries are broken. Also many pages were never crawled because it was blocked by the site as specified in robots.txt. Obviously most scripts won’t work (you can’t go to amazon in 1998 and buy some books for your past self). Very strange things happen sometimes such as a mishmash of things from the past and present on the same page.

Although there are serious flaws, the Wayback Machine is an invaluable tool for geeks, web designers, and historians alike. I wonder why don’t more people use it.

Here are a couple interesting sites from the past:


HOW TO – Watch TV

January 7, 2007

TV

Watching Television is an art. It is easy to waste your life in front of a T.V. and still get nothing out of it (believe me, I know). One must learn how to maximize entertainment and education while minimizing mindlessness and preventing the T.V. from taking control of your life. Here are some helpful guidelines I have developed through many years of intensive television viewing:

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