30 September 2007

Social networking sites

The first “social networking” site I used was LinkedIn. It’s aimed mainly at business contacts. It seems pretty good. I haven’t really used it much, but it does help me keep up with where old co-workers are now. I signed up for MySpace simply because it seemed to be the easiest way to get some Söundcheck music up on the web. Otherwise, MySpace doesn’t seem to have a lot of redeeming qualities except for it’s huge numbers of users. Recently, an old co-worker (one of my LinkedIn contacts) sent me a facebook invitation. ZOMG! Facebook is very well done—though when the comparison is against MySpace, the bar is set pretty low. (^_^) As with many software products, the expandability offered by their “application” API looks to be a huge advantage.


Guitar chords can be roughly divided into open & movable. An open chord uses one or more open, or unfretted, strings. Open chords can only be played in one position. Movable chords don’t include any open strings and, thus, can be played in many positions on the fretboard. If I play a movable C chord, I can shift up two frets to make it a D chord. Many movable chords are called barre chords because they involve using one finger to fret multiple strings, which is called a barre. A capo (which I pronounce kāpō) is a device that allows a guitarist play open chords in different keys. For instance, if I put a capo on the second-fret of a guitar in standard tuning, I can play a D chord using the fingering of an open C chord. I used to call capos “cheaters”. Voicing is the arrangement of notes in a chord. For instance, a C major chord can be played as CEG or as GCE or as CEGC. Since guitar chords are usually played on four to six strings, there are potentially many voicings of any chord. Open chords tend to have a greater variety of voicings that movable chords. A variety of voicings tends to sound better than fewer. So, a capo isn’t cheating, it’s simply making better music.


(...posting some things that have been hanging around as drafts for a bit...) So, the United Methodist Church has been reorganizing around nurture, outreach, & witness. I'm not sure exactly where this imperative comes from, but I've been told that at least my annual conference has been pushing it. While I think those are great ways to think about the activities of the church, I think they are a lousy way to organize the church. Few ministries fall neatly into any one of them. Probably because all three should be a part of everything we do. My church has wasted a lot of time & energy in this effort just at the time when we needed to focus all of our efforts on fixing some clear problems we had made for ourselves. I think all of the progress that we have made would've happened without reorganizing in this manner.

18 September 2007

And now for something completely different

Wouldn’t you know it! My first attempt to modify a Python program, I get bit by significant white space. I got a syntax error because the editor put a tab character in the file instead of spaces. (>_<) Which is such an esoteric thing I’m not even going to try to explain to the non-programmers.

“No, there is no time. Let me sum up.”

I’m often unsure about how much to explain my blog entries. On the one hand, I could be brief and assume that anyone who doesn’t understand—but wants to—can investigate the topic themselves. Perhaps I’ll even include links with more information. On the other hand, I can try to write everything for a general audience, which is no easy feat. Exactly how far do I need to explain? Is anyone who is not familiar with the topic going to get anything out of that entry anyway? I seem to be headed more in the latter direction...unless I’m rushed. (...and I’m forming a backlog of drafts because I’m tending to save ideas to flesh out later rather than posting in a rush.)

10 September 2007

Age & role-playing games

The following is unadulterated thinking out loud...pure musings. (In other words, don’t take it too seriously, ’K.) The pen & paper role-playing game hobby has suffered from the fact that so many of us began playing as young teenagers in groups made up exclusively of young teenagers. The more I consider, the more I think nigh the only significant problems in the hobby all boil down to immaturity. So, we try to come up with fixes for the worst problems we’ve experienced, but the root problem—immaturity—can’t be fixed. Thankfully, immaturity takes care of itself fairly soon; participants either mature or find they have no one to game with. Yet, we keep the “fixes” because we are convinced they’re necessary when they are not only unnecessary, but we’d be better off without them.

08 September 2007

If aliens come...

“Daddy, if aliens come to Earth, since I know some karate moves, I will fight them to protect y’all so y’all don’t die. Because I love y’all.” —Grace (5yo)

06 September 2007

What arrangement is this?

I’ve been learning Lilypond, music notation software. I was looking through some of my old stuff, mainly trying to find the fingerstyle arrangement of Just the way you are that I did in college so that I could make a good copy of it with Lilypond. I came across a duet arrangement (for “synth & guitar” (^_^)) of What child is this. It’s from before I took any music theory courses. When I hadn’t been playing guitar long. It’s funny because there are aspects that clearly make it stand out as something I wrote then, but there are also aspects that surprise me. It provided fodder for my Lilypond learning as well. I’m particularly disappointed in Lilypond’s default rendering of guitar chord diagrams. (Something my What child is this manuscript makes heavy use of.) I was also disappointed when I tried to put my own chord names above the staff. (Rather than using the ChordNames feature.) Though I’m sure I could probably tweak both to my liking given enough effort (Lilypond is free-as-in-speech software.) And it is partially written in my current favorite programming language: Scheme.

Fair warning & the DM

OK, this has been sitting around as a draft getting stale...

In his GenCon blog, James Wyatt wrote, concerning running Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 after having spent so much time developing the 4th edition rules:

Oh, look at all the people forgetting about attacks of opportunity (especially at reach) and getting pummeled as a result.

This seems like bad form to me, no matter what system you’re using. The DM should give players fair warning of possible attacks of opportunity. Attacks of opportunity aren’t traps; rather they are calculated risks. Arguably, the whole point of the rule—more often than not—is to prevent the actions that provoke opportunity attacks. “Threatened squares” represent a very obvious threat to the character. If that threat isn’t obvious to the player—because a miniature on a battlemat doesn’t fully convey the threat or because the player is less conversant in the intricacies of the combat rules—the DM should warn the player in advance rather than surprising them with an attack.

(Not to say that there might never be a suprise opportunity attack, just that it should be the exception rather than the rule.)

Which is part of a larger point that applies beyond attacks of opportunity and beyond D&D3.5. The GM should always give players fair warning. Might the player not realize the risks of that action as much as the character would? It’s better to warn the players too often than not enough.

(None of which is not meant to be an attack on James by any stretch. Just an observation spring-boarding off his post.)

04 September 2007

Luke 11:27-28

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

—Luke 11:27–28 (NIV)


Translucent windows

I've been playing around with translucent windows. It started with Terminal.app. I use a black background for my Terminal windows, which can get confusing when you have a few terminal windows open & overlapping each other. So, I tried setting them to 10% transparent, which turned out to work really well. If I focus on it, I can see what's behind the window, but it doesn't distract me otherwise. I found a hack called Afloat that allows you to set the transparency of windows in some Cocoa applications. Though new windows are always opaque; you can't tell it to always make all of an application's windows 10% transparent by default.