Category Archives: Puzzling Matters

Strange, odd, or otherwise WTF.

Four Years Later, Still The Same Answer

I’ve been scrubbing through my blog archives since my WordPress migration to clean up categorization, tagging, formatting, and a bug caused by my blogging style that left some posts half-imported.

This morning, I went back over this post from February of 2007, regarding Sen. Carl Kruger’s proposed law to ban cellphones and music devices while walking.

> “While people are tuning into their iPods and cell phones, they’re tuning out the world around them… If you want to listen to your iPod, sit down and listen to it. You want to walk in the park, enjoy it. You want to jog around a jogging path, all the more power to you, but you should not be crossing streets and endangering yourself and the lives of others.”

The crux of my argument in 2007 was “we already have laws against jaywalking, why do we need this?”

Not ten minutes after cleaning the post, I saw that Colleen Taylor had shared a NY Times article from this week on Google Reader: States’ Lawmakers Turn Attention to the Dangers of Distracted Pedestrians.

> The New York bill was proposed by State Senator Carl Kruger, a Brooklyn Democrat who has grown alarmed by the amount of distraction he sees on the streets in his neighborhood and across New York City. Since September, Mr. Kruger wrote in the bill, three pedestrians have been killed and one was critically injured while crossing streets and listening to music through headphones.

My argument in 2011 is the same as my argument in 2007.

I look forward to revisiting this proposed law again in 2015.

The Lead Story On A Slow News Day

So yesterday, there was a big snow storm. Most of the East Coast freaked out, which is somewhat reasonable for getting over a foot of snow in about 12 hours.
Today, there was word going around that there was going to be some sort of geek snowball fight. At first glance, I was a little put off – one VC emailing a tech mailing list does not a snowball fight make. I was strong armed by (close friend) Alexandra Klasinski to show up, and so we trudged out of our warm apartment into the very snowy world.

Tech Snowball Fight

Continue reading The Lead Story On A Slow News Day

Best Error Message Of 2009

Google Chrome was finally released for OS X this week. There’s plenty of ongoing debate about usability concerns, such as placement of tab close buttons.
While I don’t have a lot to contribute to those arguments, I’d like to inquire as to why upon attempting to open an HTML file from the OS, I would be given an alert that reads:
The document 'index.html' could not be opened.  Chrome cannot open files in the 'HTML document' format.
Chromium issue #14808, “Double-clicking a local html file with Chrome as default browser doesn’t open the file”, has been open since June 20th of this year. It is rated with a priority of 3, which translates to “Low. Resolve when time allows.”
Did I miss some critical moment in time where opening HTML files locally became passé?

Introducing: Wrong Remy

Like so many others, I have found Twitter a simultaneously fantastic and mind-numbing portion of the internet. For every good thing (extremely rapid notifications for breaking news, lots of good links from friends), there’s an equal and opposite bad thing (inane trending topics, spam bots). While most of these are universally shared, there’s one particular quirk that is not common.

Twitter makes it easy to reference other users – sticking an @ symbol in front of their name is considered a “mention” and most clients will flag this as relevant to the interests of those mentioned. This is theoretically good, but in practice a number of things become clear:

  • With characters at a premium, many people can’t be bothered to type out full user names.
  • Because a lot of people are using cell phones to post to Twitter, the habit of heavy SMS users to shorthand text continues here.
  • Because a lot of people don’t understand how mentions work, they tend to throw @ symbols wherever they feel like, or spaces in the middle of user names.

What this adds up to: if you were on the Twitter train early enough to get what could be called a stem username – one that might be used at the beginning of other user names – you may be subjected to mentions not intended for you.

There are a lot of Remy’s on Twitter, and I get a lot of mentions for them. I’ve taken to answering them on a Tumblr blog devoted specifically to such endeavors.

Sighing frustration + helpful cheerfulness + Twitter anthropology = Wrong Remy. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

(This is one of two side projects I’ll be introducing this week.)

The Solution to “A Mac Puzzler” + Thoughts On Losing Everything

When we last spoke, I asked you WHAT CAUSED MY IMAC TO FAIL?

For the sake of compiling the responses (as some came in via other channels), they included:

Brett Slatkin:

>Guesses: 1. Unseated memory (though they would have replaced that?) 2. Bad power supply 12V rail

Richard “PkerUNO” Whittaker:

I’m not replying until you specify how many Picarats this is worth.
And the fact that you didn’t mention matchsteeks is highly suspicious!

“R”:

>Hmm… I’m going to go with… SATA cable?

Adam “rampage” Meltzer:

So, multiple hard drives, multiple different media from multiple different sources. So, it’s not the CD drive, and not the hard drive.
We already have 12V rail and SATA cable as possibilities. What about the power cable for the HDD?
Sometimes it’s the simple things. I remember when I worked at Sun in the mid 1990s, the SPARC Stations of that vintage wouldn’t boot if there was no keyboard connected. Made for a troubleshooting nightmare when trying to figure out why the damn machine wouldn’t power on.

Ryan “Lee” Short:

>I think Major Nelson snuck into your iMac through the combined power of Live Anywhere and magic…that, or something entirely too simple like a loose jumper or something…

Continue reading The Solution to “A Mac Puzzler” + Thoughts On Losing Everything

A Mac Puzzler

My Sunday afternoons used to have a twisted chain of logic:

My family would pile into the back of the car and my parents would drive wherever they felt like around the Finger Lakes. This was done in the name of getting out of the house and exploring, I suppose.

As it was the only consistent programming across that region of New York – because there were multiple stations all airing the same program – NPR’s lineup would be the soundtrack of the day. This would mean Car Talk, followed by Prairie Home Companion, followed by Thistle & Shamrock. (These are generally not shows that pre-teens and teenagers enjoy.)

With this in mind, the only part of the radio I would not tune out was a short section of Car Talk entitled The Puzzler, where a riddle having nothing (or little) to do with cars would be thrown at the listeners. Being the sort of kid who thrived on logic puzzles and riddles (I purchased a copy of Raymond Smullyan’s WHAT IS THE NAME OF THIS BOOK? when I was 14), I enjoyed the chance to stretch my brain a little shortly before Garrison Keillor’s dulcet tones would shut it down.

As my mom has pointed out to me that it’s been over a month since my last blog post, I figured I would turn the major reason why I’ve been away from writing into a computer nerd version of The Puzzler. Feel free to take a stab at this in the comments or via email – I’ll reveal the answer once someone gets it correct. (If I’ve already told you the answer, don’t spoil it for everyone else.)

Continue reading A Mac Puzzler

I Was Instructed To “Tell You” As Well As To “Crank That”

After I put the Xbox 360 challenge up on the Internet, it was over all these video game sites. And a couple video game companies hit me up on my email because I put the email on there too. And hit me up like, “Blah, blah, blah, blah.” So I was like, “Oh snaps!” So I forwarded to my management, and they forwarded to my label. And now we’re doing the video game. It was the same way I got signed for my music. It’s like history repeating itself, but instead of music this time it’s about video games.

This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a whimper.

The Zen Of SkyMall

Finding myself stuck in a non-JetBlue plane for a quick up-and-down flight, I attacked my gratis copy of SkyMall and discovered a wonderful world full of fact, wit, and astonishment. I have collected every useful nugget of “factual” information used to sell products, and extend them to you as a sort of bizarro-Coupland reading exercise. Alternately, you can just imagine them on fortune cookies. Enjoy.

Continue reading The Zen Of SkyMall