help page 2 - Dave's Blog


Mike Merrill Is a Publicly Traded Person | Motherboard

2012 Jul 1, 2:01

By which is meant the following:

Essentially, each shareholder has decided to buy into Merrill ’s life and help him make better choices that will then hopefully up the stock price, allowing them to make money should they ever decide to cash out.

What? Oh, he lives in Portland.

PermalinkCommentsMike-Merrill humor economics stock

HTTP Compression Documentation Reference

2012 Jun 13, 3:08
There's a lot of name reuse in HTTP compression so I've made the following to help myself keep it straight.
HTTP Content Coding Token gzip deflate compress
An encoding format produced by the file compression program "gzip" (GNU zip) The "zlib" format as described in RFC 1950. The encoding format produced by the common UNIX file compression program "compress".
Data Format GZIP file format ZLIB Compressed Data Format The compress program's file format
Compression Method Deflate compression method LZW
Deflate consists of LZ77 and Huffman coding

Compress doesn't seem to be supported by popular current browsers, possibly due to its past with patents.

Deflate isn't done correctly all the time. Some servers would send the deflate data format instead of the zlib data format and at least some versions of Internet Explorer expect deflate data format instead of zlib data format.

PermalinkCommentscompress compression deflate gzip http http-header technical zlib

wired: [via motherjones]: theweekmagazine: Sticking to an...

2012 Jun 7, 3:29


[via motherjones]:


Sticking to an exercise routine takes dedication, and many fitness junkies swear that a running companion can be a huge help. That’s why researchers have developed “Joggobot,” a quad-rotor helicopter drone designed to motivate joggers by flying in front of them. 

The aerial robot uses its camera to spot a colorful pattern on a T-shirt worn by the jogger, and flies at a safe distance ahead. The runner can control Joggobot using a smartphone: In “companion mode,” the drone simply maintains the jogger’s pace; in “coach mode,” it pushes its human trainee a little faster.

Don’t worry, there’s a video


Maybe it should chase you instead?

PermalinkCommentshumor exercise robot future video

Play Fez

2012 May 7, 3:30

I'm done playing Fez. The style is atmospheric retro nastalgia and on the surface the gameplay is standard 2D platformer with one interesting Flatland style game mechanic but dig deeper to find Myst style puzzles. Despite the following I thoroughly enjoyed the game and would recommend it to anyone intrigued by the previous. Five eighths through the game I ran into one of the game's infamous Fez save game breaking issues, but I enjoyed the game enough that I started over before any patches were released and had no further issues.

While playing the game I created some tools to help keep track of my Fez notes (spoilers) including a Pixelated Image Creator that makes it easy to generate data URIs for large, black and white pixelated images, and (spoilers) a Fez Transliteration Tool to help me translate the in-game writing system.

PermalinkCommentsvideo-game fez game xbox

I’m distressed when my coworkers don’t know their...

2012 May 6, 3:44

I’m distressed when my coworkers don’t know their backslash from their forward slash so I draw this to help them remember which is which.

PermalinkCommentstechnical slash backslash mnemonic

Dark Patterns are UI patterns used to trick users into doing...

2012 Mar 12, 7:05

Dark Patterns are UI patterns used to trick users into doing things they’d otherwise rather not: buy traveler’s insurance, click on ads, etc.  Covers the anti-patterns and how we as technical folk can help stop this.

PermalinkCommentstechnical ui programming dark-pattern

How I helped destroy Star Wars Galaxies (

2012 Mar 7, 7:55

 is like a real life Connor Prikkel from For the Win.  Quits his job to focus on his takeover of the virtual economy of the Star Wars MMO to make real money.  Yes he was a Dark Jedi Master.

PermalinkCommentsgame video-game economics star-wars

Star Trek: TNG Season 8 illustration has us longing for more [Star Trek]

2012 Mar 5, 3:17

Fictional plot summaries of TNG S8 episodes.    Like:

  • Q’s back: he’s wearing scuba gear and needs Picard’s help dumping his girlfriend. Barclay accidentally locks himself outside the ship.
  • Geordie and Data nurse a space bird back to health, and are sad when they have to release it. Picard is trapped in a turbolift with a baby.
  • Starfleet sends a cantankerous admiral to boss around Picard during delicate peace talks. Data seems to have mastered bragging.
  • Riker’s ex-girlfriend arrives and dies, leaving behind a pile of glowing dust and a mystery. Picard is trapped on a turbolift with a horse.
  • A planet of suspicious docents abduct Riker for their museum of amazing men. Geordi and Data are too excited to sleep at their sleepover.
  • Picard is trapped inside a sentient turbolift. A clip show highlights the most memorable “Picard is trapped on a turbolift” moments.
PermalinkCommentshumor twitter tng tv

Glitch Helperator

2012 Feb 29, 3:05

I've been working on the Glitch Helperator. It is a collection of tools and things I've put together for Glitch. It has a few features that I haven't seen elsewhere including:

Favorite Streets
A notebook in which you can save information about interesting streets and later use it to find your way back to them.
Find out how old your Glitch is and the date of your next birthday in Glitch time or Earth time.
API Update History
A history of changes to the streets, skills and achievements of Glitch noting when new ones are added and when existing ones are changed.
It also has an interactive skill tree, find nearest feature tool, and achievement display. If you play Glitch, check it out.
PermalinkCommentsglitch tool glitch-helperator game

Client Side Cross Domain Data YQL Hack

2012 Feb 27, 2:28

One of the more limiting issues of writing client side script in the browser is the same origin limitations of XMLHttpRequest. The latest version of all browsers support a subset of CORS to allow servers to opt-in particular resources for cross-domain access. Since IE8 there's XDomainRequest and in all other browsers (including IE10) there's XHR L2's cross-origin request features. But the vast majority of resources out on the web do not opt-in using CORS headers and so client side only web apps like a podcast player or a feed reader aren't doable.

One hack-y way around this I've found is to use YQL as a CORS proxy. YQL applies the CORS header to all its responses and among its features it allows a caller to request an arbitrary XML, HTML, or JSON resource. So my network helper script first attempts to access a URI directly using XDomainRequest if that exists and XMLHttpRequest otherwise. If that fails it then tries to use XDR or XHR to access the URI via YQL. I wrap my URIs in the following manner, where type is either "html", "xml", or "json":

        yqlRequest = function(uri, method, type, onComplete, onError) {
var yqlUri = "" +
encodeURIComponent("SELECT * FROM " + type + ' where url="' + encodeURIComponent(uri) + '"');

if (type == "html") {
yqlUri += encodeURIComponent(" and xpath='/*'");
else if (type == "json") {
yqlUri += "&callback=&format=json";

This also means I can get JSON data itself without having to go through JSONP.
PermalinkCommentsxhr javascript yql client-side technical yahoo xdr cors

Web Worker Initialization Race

2012 Feb 24, 1:44

Elaborating on a previous brief post on the topic of Web Worker initialization race conditions, there's two important points to avoid a race condition when setting up a Worker:

  1. The parent starts the communication posting to the worker.
  2. The worker sets up its message handler in its first synchronous block of execution.

For example the following has no race becaues the spec guarentees that messages posted to a worker during its first synchronous block of execution will be queued and handled after that block. So the worker gets a chance to setup its onmessage handler. No race:

var worker = new Worker();

onmessage = function(e) {
// ...

The following has a race because there's no guarentee that the parent's onmessage handler is setup before the worker executes postMessage. Race (violates 1):

var worker = new Worker();
worker.onmessage = function(e) {
// ...


The following has a race because the worker has no onmessage handler set in its first synchronous execution block and so the parent's postMessage may be sent before the worker sets its onmessage handler. Race (violates 2):

var worker = new Worker();

function() {
onmessage = function(e) {
// ...
PermalinkCommentstechnical programming worker web-worker html script

Why I Like Glitch

2012 Feb 17, 4:00

Sarah and I have been enjoying Glitch for a while now. Reviews are usually positive although occasionally biting (but mostly accurate).

I enjoy Glitch as a game of exploration: exploring the game's lands with hidden and secret rooms, and exploring the games skills and game mechanics. The issue with my enjoyment coming from exploration is that after I've explored all streets and learned all skills I've got nothing left to do. But I've found that even after that I can have fun writing client side JavaScript against Glitch's web APIs making tools (I work on the Glitch Helperator) for use in Glitch. And on a semi-regular basis they add new features reviving my interest in the game itself.

PermalinkCommentsvideo-game glitch glitch-helperator me project game

Blackmail DRM - Stolen Thoughts

2012 Feb 13, 4:00

Most existing DRM attempts to only allow the user to access the DRM'ed content with particular applications or with particular credentials so that if the file is shared it won't be useful to others. A better solution is to encode any of the user's horrible secrets into unique versions of the DRM'ed content so that the user won't want to share it. Entangle the users and the content provider's secrets together in one document and accordingly their interests. I call this Blackmail DRM. For an implementation it is important to point out that the user's horrible secret doesn't need to be verified as accurate, but merely verified as believable.

Apparently I need to get these blog posts written faster because only recently I read about Social DRM which is a light weight version of my idea but with a misleading name. Instead of horrible secrets, they say they'll use personal information like the user's name in the DRM'ed content. More of my thoughts stolen and before I even had a chance to think of it first!

PermalinkCommentsdrm blackmail blackmail-drm technical humor social-drm

Anti-SOPA registrar will help you leave GoDaddy for anywhere, even the competition

2011 Dec 23, 1:42

I’ve heard of hover previously. Sounds like a good place to go.

PermalinkCommentstechnical dns

manifestR - offline web apps made easy (well easier)

2011 Jul 14, 7:34A bookmarklet to help you create an appcache manifest: " the manifestR button, and it will create an HTML5 appcache manifest file for that page."PermalinkCommentsdevelopment javascript tools html5 cache technical

PowerShell Script Batch File Wrapper

2011 May 22, 7:20

I'm trying to learn and use PowerShell more, but plenty of other folks I know don't use PowerShell. To allow them to use my scripts I use the following cmd.exe batch file to make it easy to call PowerShell scripts. To use, just name the batch file name the same as the corresponding PowerShell script filename and put it in the same directory.

@echo off
if "%1"=="/?" goto help
if "%1"=="/h" goto help
if "%1"=="-?" goto help
if "%1"=="-h" goto help

%systemroot%\system32\windowspowershell\v1.0\powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Command . %~dpn0.ps1 %*
goto end

%systemroot%\system32\windowspowershell\v1.0\powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Command help %~dpn0.ps1 -full
goto end


Additionally for PowerShell scripts that modify the current working directory I use the following batch file:

@echo off
if "%1"=="/?" goto help
if "%1"=="/h" goto help
if "%1"=="-?" goto help
if "%1"=="-h" goto help

%systemroot%\system32\windowspowershell\v1.0\powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Command . %~dpn0.ps1 %*;(pwd).Path 1> %temp%\%~n0.tmp 2> nul
set /p newdir=
PermalinkCommentspowershell technical programming batch file console

Powershell to test your XPath

2011 Apr 14, 5:11This page and esp. the final comment on the page were very helpful with describing how to parse XML in PowerShell.PermalinkCommentspowershell xml xpath technical programming

2011 Jan 23, 4:49Sysinternals Mark Russinovich writes a novel (fiction) and gets a Bill Gates blurb for the cover: “Mark came to Microsoft in 2006 to help advance the state of the art of Windows, now in his latest compelling creation he is raising awareness of the all too real threat of cyberterrorism.” —Bill GatesPermalinkCommentsbook security microsoft sysinternals mark-russinovich novel fiction technical

File-sharing has weakened copyright - and helped society

2010 Jul 1, 3:33"By charting the production of new books, new music albums, and new feature films over the last decade, the authors tried to see whether creative output went up or down in correlation with file-sharing." They find that creative output is going up while piracy also increases. But this is correlation not causation. They can't say there wouldn't be more creative output with less piracy. Regardless, still an interesting statistic.PermalinkCommentsarstechnica copyright law economics ip piracy music technical

Compass Sidewalk Stencils Helping To Orient NYC Subway Riders When Exiting Station

2010 Jun 22, 7:31PermalinkCommentscompass stencil graffiti cultural-disobediance
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