Some of the most wonderful things I've ever seen

First of all, credit where credit is due. This comes by way of @thinkontheclock via @josephfung (over a week ago). I spooled it, and just watched it tonight. If you've got 35 minutes, watch the first half of this talk. If you have less, I'll tell you where to start).

If you're a software developer of any kind, start at 10:20. If you see the GUI, and you're like "Yeah, that's nice, but how do I work with real code?" go to 16:25.

If you're an electrical engineer, start at 23:00.

If you're an artist, start at 29:20.

Don't wait if you can avoid it. Watch it now.

Bret Victor - Inventing on Principle from CUSEC on Vimeo.

If what you saw in those few minutes (of whatever segment you watched) impressed you, watch the first 35 minutes in its entirety. It's amazing, even if you don't exactly know what's going on every second.

If you want to see some of this in action, check out Bret's site, specifically the page on Tangle. (I'll forgive the hashbang URL this once, because you're awesome, Bret.)

Breaking the blog

So, I had noticed that some of the modules I had installed on this Drupal-based blog were out of date. Thinking it might be a problem with my Drupaldeb service, I started there. First, it appears that I might have a few bugs with ensuring that packages are actually properly put into the APT repository. There were two packages that were out of sync between the website and the repo. Need to fix that in the future.

But then I found the real problem. When you upgrade Ubuntu, it disables other APT sources. So when I last updated, it disabled the Drupaldeb APT repo, thus not allowing me updates. Simple task to re-enable that and voila. Modules updating.

After I had everything updated, I needed to update the database. That's when I made the fatal flaw of running drush up instead of drush updatedb. The former command happily overwrite my APT installed version of Drupal with 6.25 from the repository, which disabled a bunch of my modules. They even disappeared from my list of installed but disabled modules! Oh no, my website looks like crap!

After manually re-enabling the modules in the database (which didn't work), and downgrading Drupal again (which didn't work), I found the problem. When Drupal upgraded, it deleted everything from my /usr/share/drupal6 directory. Including my modules. So all I had to do was reinstall all my modules and themes and I was fine. This is something else I will have to test soon.

Getting videos offline, automatically, on my phone

There's several video shows that I like to follow: Zero Punctuation and Extra Credits, for example. I like to get the newest episode automatically. Up until a few months ago, I was content to have them pulled into Google Reader, and then to watch them as time permitted. It worked okay, but they would tend to pile up. Sometimes I'd try to watch them on my mobile, but the buffering meant I wouldn't get too many in on a bus ride.

Then I discovered Spool. Spool allows you to record videos and have them downloaded to your phone for later watching. Oh happy day! My pattern then became:

  1. Every day, go to Google Reader.
  2. Click "Add to Spool" for each video entry.
  3. Watch at my leisure.

This past weekend, I realized something. RSS is designed to be automated. (Duh). So I wrote myself a plugin for FlexGet that takes the URL from an RSS feed and sends it off to Spool. Now the videos just show up in My Spool as they are posted!

So yeah, it's available on GitHub: Go ahead and download, fork, and submit Pull Requests. It seems to only work right now if you copy it into the FlexGet main plugins directory... I can't seem to get it to work at ~/.flexget/plugins. That's the next step. (UPDATE: It now works in ~/.flexget/plugins! I just couldn't have it in ~/.flexget/plugins/output is all)

The only problem now is that on Tuesday, YouTube asked Spool to not record their videos and make them available offline. This is annoying, because now the shows I watch from YouTube I can't get offline. I'll just have to write another plugin for that...

Exercising victorious! Next week, sleeping!

Merry Christmas everyone!

I have good news! I have successfully built a habit of exercising over the last 46 days. It was supposed to be 45 days, but I forgot to tweet on day 45, so I didn't notice that I had passed the 45 day mark until after I had exercised on day 46.

The habit is pretty well ingrained at this stage. Starting around day 25, it became more of a compulsion. Now I barely think about it before starting. I call this a huge success. In fact, today Alex and I agreed that we'd sleep in. I got up at 9 to feed the cats, and it was hard for me not to start exercising at that time.

Given how well it went, I'm going to start a new habit on January 2nd, getting to bed on time. Here's how it's going to work:

  • I will have an alarm set on my phone for 10 pm.
  • When the alarm goes off, I will get to bed as quickly as possible. If I'm not at home, that means I start going home immediately.
  • Before 6PM on a given day, I can exempt myself from the alarm by tweeting on @egerlachhabits. If I do that, I must turn the alarm off and set an alarm for 6 pm the next day to remind me to turn it back on.

So, here's the full plan:

  1. Timeline: January 2nd until February 15th.
  2. Trigger: 10 pm alarm on my phone
  3. Habit: Get to bed as quickly as possible.
  4. Obstacles
    • "I just need to finish this"
    • "I'm in the middle of watching this"
    • "Alex won't be going to be for a bit"
    • "Five more minutes won't matter"
    • "I really need to get this done for tomorrow"
    • "I don't need to be up early tomorrow"
  5. Support structure: Primarily, it will be my wife. She's the one whom I'm with every night. I will be tweeting about this on @egerlachhabits, though, so if you want to follow and ask me why I'm not in bed yet, I'd appreciate it.
  6. Feedback: This will be a tough point, because I won't get much. It will be the absence of negative feedback (being tired in the morning) that will be the most beneficial. I will be building on this habit though, and that's where the positive feedback will come in. I think I'll restrict myself to playing Scrabble for when I'm in bed. That will work.

This is going to be a tougher one for me. I'm really good at procrastinating going to bed, and there's no inherent, immediate positive feedback. I'm going to have to build my own positive feedback. But I think I'll be able to manage it. Follow @egerlachhabits on twitter if you want to find out how it's going.

Habits: Exercising starting Monday

So back in June I wanted to start exercising as my first habit development. I was all gung-ho, but there was one obstacle I didn't foresee. I had to undergo two surgeries over the course of July and August, leaving me unable to exercise for three weeks total. That destroyed my drive to exercise.

Now I'm done that, and through my crazy Halloween season, so I'm going to start up exercising again! I've picked Monday as my start date. Those of you who know me well might know why. I just wanted to announce to the world that I'm starting up again, and if you want to keep me to task, follow @egerlachhabits on Twitter and let me have it if I don't tweet saying I've exercised each and every morning!