projects - Dave's Blog


mostlysignssomeportents: More than 90% of Americans believe...

2014 Jun 7, 9:55


More than 90% of Americans believe that the US government is unduly influenced by money, and the Mayday.US super PAC is raising $5M to fund the election campaigns of politicians who’ll pledge to dismantle super PACs and enact other campaign finance reforms. They raised more than $1M in 30 days last month, and this month, the goal is $5M. It’s the brainchild of Lawrence Lessig, who’s going to run prototype the project by running five electoral campaigns in 2014, and use the lessons of those projects to win enough anti-corruption seats in 2016 to effect real change.

Again, I’m not able to contribute to Mayday.US, because I’m a Canadian and Briton. But I ask my American friends to put in $10, and promise that I’ll put CAD1000 into any comparable Canadian effort and/or £1000 into a comparable UK effort. We all win when countries embrace evidence-based policy guided by doing what’s best for its citizens, rather than lining the pockets of corrupting multinationals.


Please reblog!


JS NICE: Statistical renaming, Type inference and Deobfuscation

2014 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

Cloud Share - New App

2014 May 23, 4:06

I've put a new app on the Windows Store: Cloud Share. It connects the web to your Windows 8 share charm.

I did the development on GitHub and quite enjoyed myself. I wasn't sure I liked the game-ification of development in GitHub's dashboard showing you your longest development streak in days. However I realized that it encourages me to do work on my personal project and anything that aids in holding my attention on and helping me finish these projects is a good thing.

PermalinkCommentsdevelopment github javascript JS technical windows

Debugging anecdote - the color transparent black breaks accessibility

2014 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 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:;. 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

Very Serious Button

2014 May 17, 1:34

A physical big red button that is a USB keyboard with a configurable single key. This looks wonderful. I’ll take 26.

RT @codinghorror The Very Serious USB Button

PermalinkCommentshumor hardward big-red-button

Eyeo2012 - Robert Hodgin Robert Hodgin presents various 3D...

2012 Jul 18, 8:39

Eyeo2012 - Robert Hodgin

Robert Hodgin presents various 3D animation projects in a humorous fashion.

PermalinkComments3d animation humor video programming

Microsoft Research make breakthrough in audio speech recognition (

2012 Jun 22, 2:33

MAVIS indexes audio and video so you can do text search over the contents. For example search for ‘metro’ in all of the BUILD conference talks.

PermalinkCommentstechnical voice-recognition microsoft research mavis search

Crowdsource These Projects

2012 May 22, 3:00

I keep seeing crowdsource projects with big names that I actually want to back:

PermalinkCommentsvideo-game music crowdsource

Kickstarter's exciting 24 hours

2012 Feb 10, 8:51

“Two million-dollar projects, a major political speech involving Kickstarter, an amazing band launching a project for a comeback 20 years in the making… the list goes on. Here’s a minute-by-minute breakdown of the day’s events.”

PermalinkCommentskickstarter video humor game video-game

Listen to Max Tannone and Watch Moon

2011 Feb 23, 1:13
Max Tannone does awesome remix albums:

Also, the movie Moon is really good on a variety of points. Sam Rockwell and the voice of Kevin Spacey! Its available on Netflix Watch Instantly so you have no excuse!

Are you new to "Hadoop"? Settle in...

2009 Oct 8, 4:59A brief introduction to Hadoop, its history, subprojects, and current statusPermalinkCommentsvia:pskomoroch hadoop introduction google yahoo facebook database technical

Current Berkman People and Projects

2009 Jul 20, 5:06Berkman Center aggregate blog of its members and activies.PermalinkCommentsberkman harvard legal blog feed technical

Infrared Paint Link Roundup

2009 May 29, 2:50

I like the idea of QR codes, encoding URLs and placing them on real world objects, but the QR codes themselves are kind of ugly. To make them less obvious I thought I could spray QR codes on to an object with an infrared reflective paint and shine infrared light on the QR codes, since most cameras, for instance the camera in my G1 phone, pick up infrared that our eyes do not.

In my search for infrared paint I've found a seller of IR ink (via programming forum) and an Infrared Paint Recipe (via IR FAQ).

In looking for this paint I've found that it comes up a lot in relation to the military for things like paint markers that are visible at night with proper equipment, and paint that absorbs IR light to make vehicles less obvious to night vision goggles. Even though the first reflects infrared light and the second absorbs it websites end up refering to both as infrared paint which made it difficult to search.

Additionally I found links to some other geeky infrared projects:

PermalinkCommentsir paint technical ir infrared qr qr code

stamen design | big ideas worth pursuing

2009 Apr 23, 4:46Some lovely data visualizations. Is their Crimespotting visualization supposed to look like the map interface from GTA3SA? "Since 2001, Stamen has developed a reputation for beautiful and technologically sophisticated projects in a diverse range of commercial and cultural settings."PermalinkCommentsblog web art visualization information interactive interface portfolio mashup

Monastic - An ascetic view of XML best practices

2009 Apr 12, 6:36" is a look at XML from a different angle, focusing on what markup is best at rather than what markup can do to solve a particular problem or set of problems. While XML is powerful, developers seem insistent on using XML in ways which seem convenient for a moment but which cause much greater trouble down the line to both their projects and to markup itself."PermalinkCommentsxml howto tips

Text ads in open source code will add millions in funding to OSS movement -

2009 Apr 1, 9:26"Open source code will contain text ads in comments and variable names, and Google and other text ad companies will scan the open source code repositories and fund the projects based on what they find in the code"PermalinkCommentshumor opensource advertising code

The Weird And Wonderful Tech Art Of ITP's Winter Show

2008 Dec 29, 2:45Cool tech art projects from ITP.PermalinkCommentsart education itp nyc via:thefangmonster gizmodo photo gallery

Code: Flickr Developer Blog

2008 Nov 16, 9:48Flickr's Developer Blog has some interesting posts including various folks personal projects that use Flickr.PermalinkCommentsdevelopment flickr monthly blog web

Microsoft takes touchscreens to the next dimension - Short Sharp Science - New Scientist

2008 Oct 29, 3:09Video showing some more interesting touch screen ideas from Microsoft Research. A touch sensitive sphere that can accomodate multiple users and a table which projects one image onto itself and another image onto objects beyond itself: "But hold another piece of a translucent glass in the air above the table, and it catches a second ghostly image. This trick is in the tabletop glass, which electronically flickers between translucent and transparent 60 times per second, faster than the eye can notice."PermalinkCommentsresearch microsoft video touchscreen table

Senseless Venn Diagrams

2008 Oct 14, 12:54Jason Eppink has some creative and sometimes funny projects in the form of videos, photos, streetart, and more.PermalinkCommentsjason-eppink art video image photo homepage
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