ted - Dave's Blog


Quadrilateral Cowboy gameplay video "Quadrilateral Cowboy is a...

17 days ago

Quadrilateral Cowboy gameplay video

"Quadrilateral Cowboy is a game we’ve been watching with great interest ever since Thirty Flights Of Loving creator Brendon Chung first debuted it last year. It’s about hacking, but not via irritating minigames or jargon-your-problems-away Hollywood magic. Instead, you learn basic (albeit fictional) code and take down everything from laser grids to gun emplacements with a twitch of your fingers and a wriggle of your brain. It’s already an extremely clever game, and it’s quite empowering despite the fact that you play as someone who probably couldn’t even heft an assault rifle - let alone fire one. Basically, it’s a wonderfully novel idea - more Neuromancer than Deus Ex - but words only do it so much justice. Thus, I’ve decided to play it for your enrichment, in hopes that you will understand why Quadrilateral should be driving your radar haywire."

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99percentinvisible: Walking was invented in Europe, according...

Sep 29, 2:50


Walking was invented in Europe, according to this sign found by a friend in China. 

PermalinkCommentshumor walking china

How I Pranked My Roommate With Eerily Targeted Facebook Ads

Sep 18, 2:27

"This is the chronicle of the most epic retaliation and how I pranked my roommate with targeted Facebook Ads to the point of complete paranoia and delusion."

Funny anecdote but also a how-to on creating a Facebook ad campaign that targets a single person.

PermalinkCommentshumor security ad facebook

Gamers Messed With The Steam Sale, Then Valve Changed The Rules

Jun 24, 3:51

Applied game theory 101: Valve’s Steam Summer Sale involves a meta game with teams of Steam users competing for daily prizes. On Reddit the players join together to take turns winning daily. Valve gets wise and performs an existential attack, changing the rules to make it harder for players to want to coordinate.

Still, that all the players joined together to game the system gives me hope for humanity. Its a self organized solution to a tragedy of the commons problem. Only in this case the tragedy is by design and is updated to be more tragic.

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via Gore at Southland on Snowden

Jun 10, 3:14

via Gore at Southland on Snowden

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JS NICE: Statistical renaming, Type inference and Deobfuscation

Jun 3, 9:36

JS NICE | Software Reliability Lab in ETH

JS NICE has indexed over 10,000 JavaScript projects from GitHub and then probabilistically infers newly suggested names and types for all of the local variables and function parameters of new JS.

PermalinkCommentstechnical javascript js coding

Debugging anecdote - the color transparent black breaks accessibility

May 22, 10:36

Some time back while I was working on getting the Javascript Windows Store app platform running on Windows Phone (now available on the last Windows Phone release!) I had an interesting bug that in retrospect is amusing.

I had just finished a work item to get accessibility working for JS WinPhone apps when I got a new bug: With some set of JS apps, accessibility appeared to be totally broken. At that time in development the only mechanism we had to test accessibility was a test tool that runs on the PC, connects to the phone, and dumps out the accessibility tree of whatever app is running on the phone. In this bug, the tool would spin for a while and then timeout with an error and no accessibility information.

My first thought was this was an issue in my new accessibility code. However, debugging with breakpoints on my code I could see none of my code was run nor the code that should call it. The code that called that code was a more generic messaging system that hit my breakpoints constantly.

Rather than trying to work backward from the failure point, I decided to try and narrow down the repro and work forwards from there. One thing all the apps with the bug had in common was their usage of WinJS, but not all WinJS apps demonstrated the issue. Using a binary search approach on one such app I removed unrelated app code until all that was left was the app's usage of the WinJS AppBar and the bug still occurred. I replaced the WinJS AppBar usage with direct usage of the underlying AppBar WinRT APIs and continued.

Only some calls to the AppBar WinRT object produced the issue:

        var appBar = Windows.UI.WebUI.Core.WebUICommandBar.getForCurrentView(); 
// appBar.opacity = 1;
// appBar.closeDisplayMode = Windows.UI.WebUI.Core.WebUICommandBarClosedDisplayMode.default;
appBar.backgroundColor = Windows.UI.Colors.white; // Bug!
Just setting the background color appeared to cause the issue and I didn't even have to display the AppBar. Through additional trial and error I was blown away to discover that some colors I would set caused the issue and other colors did not. Black wouldn't cause the issue but transparent black would. So would aqua but not white.

I eventually realized that predefined WinRT color values like Windows.UI.Colors.aqua would cause the issue while JS literal based colors didn't cause the issue (Windows.UI.Color is a WinRT struct which projects in JS as a JS literal object with the struct members as JS object properties so its easy to write something like {r: 0, g: 0, b: 0, a: 0} to make a color) and I had been mixing both in my tests without realizing there would be a difference. I debugged into the backgroundColor property setter that consumed the WinRT color struct to see what was different between Windows.UI.Colors.black and {a: 1, r: 0, g: 0, b: 0} and found the two structs to be byte wise exactly the same.

On a hunch I tried my test app with only a reference to the color and otherwise no interaction with the AppBar and not doing anything with the actual reference to the color: Windows.UI.Colors.black;. This too caused the issue. I knew that the implementation for these WinRT const values live in a DLL and guessed that something in the code to create these predefined colors was causing the issue. I debugged in and no luck. Now I also have experienced crusty code that would do exciting things in its DllMain, the function that's called when a DLL is loaded into the process so I tried modifying my C++ code to simply LoadLibrary the DLL containing the WinRT color definition, windows.ui.xaml.dll and found the bug still occurred! A short lived moment of relief as the world seemed to make sense again.

Debugging into DllMain nothing interesting happened. There were interesting calls in there to be sure, but all of them behind conditions that were false. I was again stumped. On another hunch I tried renaming the DLL and only LoadLibrary'ing it and the bug went away. I took a different DLL renamed it windows.ui.xaml.dll and tried LoadLibrary'ing that and the bug came back. Just the name of the DLL was causing the issue.

I searched for the DLL name in our source code index and found hits in the accessibility tool. Grinning I opened the source to find that the accessibility tool's phone side service was trying to determine if a process belonged to a XAML app or not because XAML apps had a different accessibility contract. It did this by checking to see if windows.ui.xaml.dll was loaded in the target process.

At this point I got to fix my main issue and open several new bugs for the variety of problems I had just run into. This is a how to on writing software that is difficult to debug.

PermalinkCommentsbug debug javascript JS technical windows winrt

location.hash and location.search are bad and they should feel bad

May 22, 9:25
The DOM location interface exposes the HTML document's URI parsed into its properties. However, it is ancient and has problems that bug me but otherwise rarely show up in the real world. Complaining about mostly theoretical issues is why blogging exists, so here goes:
  • The location object's search, hash, and protocol properties are all misnomers that lead to confusion about the correct terms:
    • The 'search' property returns the URI's query property. The query property isn't limited to containing search terms.
    • The 'hash' property returns the URI's fragment property. This one is just named after its delimiter. It should be called the fragment.
    • The 'protocol' property returns the URI's scheme property. A URI's scheme isn't necessarily a protocol. The http URI scheme of course uses the HTTP protocol, but the https URI scheme is the HTTP protocol over SSL/TLS - there is no HTTPS protocol. Similarly for something like mailto - there is no mailto wire protocol.
  • The 'hash' and 'search' location properties both return null in the case that their corresponding URI property doesn't exist or if its the empty string. A URI with no query property and a URI with an empty string query property that are otherwise the same, are not equal URIs and are allowed by HTTP to return different content. Similarly for the fragment. Unless the specific URI scheme defines otherwise, an empty query or hash isn't the same as no query or hash.
But like complaining about the number of minutes in an hour none of this can ever change without huge compat issues on the web. Accordingly I can only give my thanks to Anne van Kesteren and the awesome work on the URL standard moving towards a more sane (but still working practically within the constraints of compat) location object and URI parsing in the browser.

Guardian - Secrets, lies and Snowden’s email: why I was...

May 21, 2:11

Guardian - Secrets, lies and Snowden’s email: why I was forced to shut down Lavabit

"For the first time, the founder of an encrypted email startup that was supposed to insure privacy for all reveals how the FBI and the US legal system made sure we don’t have the right to much privacy in the first place"

PermalinkCommentslaw legal encryption technical

Encrypted Web Traffic More Than Doubles

May 18, 1:20

RT @PeerProd In Europe, encrypted traffic went from 1.47% to 6.10%, and in Latin America, it increased from 1.8% to 10.37%
http://www.wired.com/2014/05/sandvine-report/ #NSA

PermalinkCommentstechnical security nsa encryption

The Doritos origin story: Repurposed garbage from Disneyland

May 6, 7:16


A reminder that those Doritos you love are trash:

Shortly after Disneyland opened in 1955, the founder of Frito-Lay got permission from Walt Disney to open a restaurant in Frontierland with a Mexican-ish theme. “Casa de Fritos” was, unsurprisingly, all about the Fritos. Customers got free Fritos, and Fritos were incorporated into many of the dishes. Fritos were dispensed by an animatronic vending machine that featured the terrifying “Frito Kid”asking his assistant “Klondike” to bring the bag up from a mineshaft. I guess the conceit is that Fritos were mined by Forty-Niners?

Casa de Fritos contracted their tortilla production to a company called Alex Foods. One of the salesmen from Alex Foods, making a delivery to Casa de Fritos, noticed stale tortillas in the garbage and gave the cook a little tip: fry them and sell them as chips instead of throwing them away. Casa de Fritos began making these fried, seasoned chips to enormous success, but didn’t report this new menu item to the Frito-Lay company.

Eventually Frito-Lay found out what they were doing with the chips, packaged them, and sold them by the truckload. See, dumpster diving works out sometimes!


Internet Archive lets you play one of the earliest computer...

Apr 28, 9:39

Internet Archive lets you play one of the earliest computer games Space War! emulated in JavaScript in the browser.

This entry covers the historical context of Space War!, and instructions for working with our in-browser emulator. The system doesn’t require installed plugins (although a more powerful machine and recent browser version is suggested).

The JSMESS emulator (a conversion of the larger MESS project) also contains a real-time portrayal of the lights and switches of a Digital PDP-1, as well as links to documentation and manuals for this $800,000 (2014 dollars) minicomputer.

PermalinkCommentscomputer-game game video-game history internet-archive

weeping-who-girl: Matt & David on Chris Hardwick’s Comic...

Apr 8, 7:04


Matt & David on Chris Hardwick’s Comic Con Blunder (x)

requested by tennanttardistime

Bonus Chris Hardwick in costume:


PermalinkCommentshumor doctor-who chris-hardwick

Untrusted - a user javascript adventure game

Apr 8, 6:53

The game is to figure out what constrained modifications you must make to beat the game.

PermalinkCommentstechnical programming javascript game

honeysweetsugaricklepie: Uhh has anyone notice Garry Marshall’s...

Feb 24, 11:57


Uhh has anyone notice Garry Marshall’s Wikipedia page?


Wiki user ‘Gillian Marshal’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Garry_Marshall&diff=prev&oldid=596787114) updated his page yesterday. Nice and subtle only editing the summary section on the right.

PermalinkCommentsgary-marshal humor wikipedia gillian-jacobs gillian-marshal comedy-bang-bang

Results of the Grand C++ Error Explosion Competition

Jan 28, 4:58


After much deliberation, the winners of the Grand C++ Error Explosion Competition are finally selected. There are two different award categories. The winners of the first category are those submissions that produced the largest error with the smallest amount of source code. These entries contain a…

PermalinkCommentshumor technical c++ programming coding

Search Art | OpenGameArt.org

Jan 22, 11:40

Various folks on OpenGameArt have converted the now public domain Glitch art assets into SVG and PNG.

PermalinkCommentsart glitch copyright game technical


2013 Dec 17, 9:03

What is good and common of all JS promise designs collected as Promises/A+


An open standard for sound, interoperable JavaScript promises—by implementers, for implementers.

PermalinkCommentstechnical javascript

harmony:generators [ES Wiki]

2013 Dec 17, 9:01

Adds the yield keyword enabling you to write JS code that sort of looks like C# await.


First-class coroutines, represented as objects encapsulating suspended execution contexts (i.e., function activations). Prior art: Python, Icon, Lua, Scheme, Smalltalk.

PermalinkCommentstechnical javascript

Moving PowerShell data into Excel

2013 Aug 15, 10:04
PowerShell nicely includes ConvertTo-CSV and ConvertFrom-CSV which allow you to serialize and deserialize your PowerShell objects to and from CSV. Unfortunately the CSV produced by ConvertTo-CSV is not easily opened by Excel which expects by default different sets of delimiters and such. Looking online you'll find folks who recommend using automation via COM to create a new Excel instance and copy over the data in that fashion. This turns out to be very slow and impractical if you have large sets of data. However you can use automation to open CSV files with not the default set of delimiters. So the following isn't the best but it gets Excel to open a CSV file produced via ConvertTo-CSV and is faster than the other options:

$excel = New-Object -ComObject Excel.Application

$xlDelimited=1 # 1 = delimited, 2 = fixed width
$xlTextQualifierDoubleQuote=1 # 1= doublt quote, -4142 = no delim, 2 = single quote
$consequitiveDelim = $False;
$tabDelim = $False;
$semicolonDelim = $False;
$commaDelim = $True;

$excel.workbooks.OpenText($Path,$xlWindows,$StartRow,$xlDelimited,$xlTextQualifierDoubleQuote,$consequitiveDelim,$tabDelim,$semicolonDelim, $commaDelim);
See Workbooks.OpenText documentation for more information.
PermalinkCommentscsv excel powershell programming technical
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