Born Geek

Brown Sugar Saver

March 24, 2015
Brown Sugar Saver

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while now, because this product is as close to black magic as I’ve ever seen, even though I know the theory of how it works. My wife and I picked up a Brown Sugar Saver from Sur La Table while at our local mall a few weeks ago. We had a container of brown sugar that was literally as hard as a rock. Various metal implements were unable to pry the concrete-like material from its container, so we decided we’d give this a try.

The Brown Sugar Saver is simply a piece of terracotta pottery; nothing more. You soak the small medallion in a dish of water for 15 minutes, remove it, blot it dry with a towel, and place it directly in the container with your brown sugar. We did this, and in the morning found that our brown sugar was just as soft and pliable as it would be had you just opened a fresh bag of the stuff! Needless to say, we were really surprised. It only cost $4, and has solved an annoying problem that I’ve lived with for far too long. I highly recommend this thing (you can buy similar ones in a number of places).

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Setting the Time Zone in GitLab

February 27, 2015

GitLab defaults its time zone to UTC, which may not be what you want. Thankfully, you can update the value directly from your gitlab.rb file. Here’s the relevant line:

gitlab_rails['time_zone'] = 'America/New_York'

Once you’ve added the field, simply reconfigure and restart:

sudo gitlab-ctl reconfigure
sudo gitlab-ctl restart

A list of all the available timezones is available on Wikipedia.

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Dropping Outdated Locales

February 18, 2015

I’m currently working on an update to Googlebar Lite, and I’m debating whether or not to drop some of the more outdated locales. I wrote a Perl script to gather some data about the locales, and this is what it reports as of my current development snapshot:

Locale   Matches   % Match   Missing   % Missing
 en-US       172   {Master Locale}

 ca-AD        24     14.0%         6        3.5%
 cs-CZ        12      7.0%         0        0.0%
    da         7      4.1%         0        0.0%
    de         8      4.7%         0        0.0%
 el-GR        32     18.6%         6        3.5%
 es-ES         4      2.3%         0        0.0%
 et-EE        14      8.1%         6        3.5%
    fr        13      7.6%         6        3.5%
 hr-HR        31     18.0%         6        3.5%
    it        23     13.4%         6        3.5%
 ja-JP         9      5.2%         6        3.5%
    nl         8      4.7%         0        0.0%
    pl         6      3.5%         6        3.5%
 pt-BR        31     18.0%         6        3.5%
 ru-RU        22     12.8%         6        3.5%
 sk-SK        32     18.6%         6        3.5%
    tr        30     17.4%         6        3.5%
 uk-UA         5      2.9%         0        0.0%
 zh-CN        30     17.4%         6        3.5%
 zh-TW        11      6.4%         6        3.5%

The 4 locales most out of date are el-GR, hr-HR, pt-BR, and sk-SK. Those are currently the ones I’m considering tossing out, but I also could make a case for tr and zh-CN. My non-scientific rule of thumb has been that I toss out locales that get to be more than 20% out of date (meaning that a sum total of 20% of strings either match or are missing). I’ll give this a few more days to think about it. Do you have any ideas as to what I should do? If so, feel free to leave a comment below.

Migrating to HTML 5

January 20, 2015

After sitting on an XHTML Strict template for years and years, I’ve finally migrated this site’s theme to HTML 5. A number of new elements have been put to use, styles have been trimmed a little, and I’m using one less web-font. Hopefully I haven’t broken too much; if you spot something, let me know in the comments below. As always, expect sporadic updates as I add polish.

Electrolysis Growing Pains

January 15, 2015

In their march to copy Google Chrome, Mozilla is moving Firefox to a multi-process architecture. The code name for this project is Electrolysis. As of this writing, this project’s integration target for released levels of Firefox is at the end of 2015. Dates can always slip, and are likely to, but that target seems real soon now.

Frustratingly, Mozilla has been surprisingly quiet about this upcoming change, at least from a developer standpoint. For months the Mozilla Add-ons Blog has promised upcoming articles on the changes necessary for add-on authors, but as of this writing, nothing has appeared. What documentation does exist is, as usual, poorly written. The examples they provide aren’t real-world enough for me to fully understand.

It frightens me that Mozilla should be so lackadaisical about evangelizing these changes. This architecture shift will affect the vast majority of add-ons in one form or another. I verified tonight in a nightly build that both Googlebar Lite and CoLT are affected by this change, the former being broken in a number of areas. It seems to me that Mozilla should shift their evangelism of this new architecture into high gear. Every developer who cares about application compatibility needs to be working on these changes sooner rather than later; otherwise, a ton of add-ons won’t work properly come release day.

Upcoming Change to Googlebar Lite

January 14, 2015

The “search words” feature of Googlebar Lite is a popular feature. But when Googlebar Lite lives on the same toolbar as the URL bar (the “nav-bar”), it doesn’t play nicely with everyone else. As you type words into the search box, everything to the left of the Googlebar Lite toolbar shrinks horizontally. This is a direct result of the search word buttons that appear as you type.

Starting in the next release, I plan on introducing a fix to this problem. When the Googlebar Lite toolbar is placed on the “nav-bar” toolbar, the search words overflow button will appear. As you type search words into the search box, they will appear as items in this button’s associated menu. Here’s a screenshot to illustrate this change in action:

Search Words in Googlebar Lite

This tweak should fix the associated problems that today’s design contains, while maintaining access to the search words for those who use that feature. Note that this mode will only activate in the aforementioned scenario (i.e. Googlebar Lite living in the nav-bar). When on its own toolbar, Googlebar Lite’s search words will appear today as they always have.

I’m interested to hear what everyone’s thoughts are on this change. I think it will be helpful, but I want to make sure I’m not breaking any scenarios that I may have overlooked. Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

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Hawaii Volcanoes Photos

December 25, 2014

The final photo album from my honeymoon has finally been posted (it sure took long enough to get this far!). This last album showcases the many sights we saw at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Visiting this park marked the first time I’d ever been on an active volcano, smelled naturally occurring sulfur gas, and seen dramatic evidence of past lava flows. It’s a remarkable national park that I highly recommend.

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Road to Hana Photos

December 21, 2014

I have just posted the fifth (and final) album from our visit to Maui during our honeymoon. This album focuses on the many sights we saw while driving the Road to Hana. The final two albums from our honeymoon, both showcasing the Big Island of Hawaii, will be posted this week. Stay tuned for the conclusion!

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Ali’i Lavender Farm Photos

December 20, 2014

Photos from our visit to Ali’i Lavender Farm on Maui have just been posted. I got some great macro shots in this series. I haven’t been able to identify every flower in this series, but in the interest of time I’m posting these so I can get to the rest of our photos before year’s end.

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