Thursday, October 03, 2013

Move along, nothing to see here...

Move along to @austegard on Twitter.

Who has time for more than 140 characters these days?

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Friday, January 25, 2013

New Venture

Two weeks ago was my last day at Applied Information Sciences (aka Applied IS aka AIS). It had been a great experience, almost six and a half years(!), but I had known for a while that it was time for a change: I wanted to move out of consulting, and to a larger non-IT company, but (like at AIS) a company where IT was still seen as a major strategic asset.

So when I received a call from one of Gannett's recruiters, I was immediately interested. As luck would have it the feeling was mutual, and I am now a Development Manager for Gannett Digital, focusing on their core API. As one of the world's largest media companies with a strong focus on digital media, Gannett is a great corporate fit, and the current job description suits my background quite well (though I still harbor a not so secret aspiration to move towards the UX side at some point).

After two weeks of drinking from the proverbial firehose I am finally starting to find my sealegs, and moving the ball forward (decided to go three for three in the cliché department) - or at least so I think...

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lunch-time fun with QR codes

I'm a happy grouch

Starting with a B/W Oscar the Grouch image, and running it through the QArt Coder, got me here - took me the rest of the way...

Read about how this works at

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rolling Stone Federated Search just deployed a new federated search feature, showing top results from the Rolling Stone Archive along with the regular site search.

My team member David Benson created the search service used in the federated search, a stand-alone Archive search page, and all the necessary glue to automatically direct users back to the intended content after authenticating.

The end result is a great way to tie the archive deeper into the Rolling Stone site, and to provide historical context to a user’s search:


When clicking on an archive link, if not authenticated, you are presented with an upsell/login page.

Once signed in you are then shown the article you clicked on:


Or if you clicked the View All items link, the full archive search, with facet filters and sorting options:



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Monday, August 29, 2011

Recipe for annoyance


For whatever reason, this was the power setting on my new laptop.

This is NOT a recommended setting – unless you don’t ever want to use your laptop when running on batteries…

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Password insanity

Tonight I had to fill out some official paperwork and went online to get it done.  (Before I start griping – the online form was fine, I could fill it out with minimal problems and got a nice PDF with all the entered info at the end.) 

But to get to the form – oh boy.

I’d been to this site before, so I knew I had an account – I guessed my password – err.  Ok, time to hit the forgot password link.

Oh – ok, “the password expires every 60 days”, so that’s why.  I enter the answer to my “secret” question (the answer to which is a matter of public record, and would probably take a hacker 5 minutes to figure out) and am allowed to attempt to enter my new password.  Err.  “Your password can not contain more than three consecutive letters from your old password”. 

Alright odd, but, attempt 2.  Err.  “Your password must be at least 8 characters”.

Ok, fine – should have guessed that.  Attempt 3.  Err. “Your password must contain a special character AND two entries from the three groups: number, upper case and lowercase.” 

Uhm – ok?.  Attempt 4.  Err.  “Your password must begin and end with a letter.”

WTF?  Attempt 5: I enter an upper case letter, a set of adjacent keyboard symbols, and a lower case letter and lo and behold the password is accepted

Don’t ask me what the password was – even if I WOULD tell you, I couldn’t – I have already forgotten.  But that’s fine, next time I’ll just repeat the same exercise and get in by answering my “secret” question.

XKCD says it oh so well:

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Thursday, August 11, 2011 – another feather in our cap

With the successful launch of the new iPad-enabled Rolling Stone Archive, I figured I’d take the time out to congratulate our client, Bondi Digital, and my team at Applied Information Sciences (AIS): Jim Jackson, Robin Kaye, Ian Gilman and Siva Mallena  (with additional help from Leslee Sheu and Kevin Hanes).

Built on the same technology that we used to launch, the Rolling Stone archive combines our Silverlight viewer and the Html5, touch-optimized iPad viewer in a single site, sharing peripheral components such as menus and search features.  Per client requirements for Rolling Stone all desktop users will get the Silverlight-based viewer, with its keyboard and mouse integration, and deep zoom of images, while iPad users are automatically switched to the Html5 viewer.

Building and optimizing a highly graphics intensive app like this for the excellent, but admittedly limited, iPad browser has been a thoroughly enjoyable challenge. Showcasing our work to the public through another premier publication like Rolling Stone makes it all the more satisfying.

Our team is already onto the next publishing project – stay tuned…

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Someone's hacking my Blogger account

To my annoyance, someone has successfully posted two porn-spam links as posts (not comments!) to my blog. I already changed my Google password, to no avail, so I am guessing they came in through the mobile/email interface, which I have now disabled. To all my 5 loyal readers, my apologies for the posts.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Welcome to TicketMaster. How may we fleece you today?

  • Two mid-priced tickets to the Circus: $52.
  • Facility charge: $4.00
  • “Convenience” Charge to use our lousy website: $11.90
  • Order Processing Fee: $4.95
  • TicketFast® delivery – cause it takes us TWO WEEKS to print and mail two tickets, so you may not get them in time: $4.95
  • Total: $77.40
  • Are you sure you don’t want to add another $7 per ticket to insure against not being able to make the event due to illness, airline delay or traffic accidents?  (Cause 50% isn’t enough of a markup; we’d love to make it 75%.)

How, in an economy as market driven and litigious as the US has TicketMaster managed to become such an effective monopoly and not be priced – or sued – out of existence?

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

iPad Mockups To Go

After using the heck out of Peldi’s (here and here) and Simon Herd’s (here) original templates for Balsamiq iPad mockups, I decided to give back to the community by creating some templates that I found were missing:

The iPad Portrait and iPad Landscape templates are 1:1 scale iPad mockups, with an inner frame with 1024x768 resolution.  I assembled the frame of the iPad piecemeal, so as to leave a “hole” in the middle, for your content to shine through.  This is something I sorely missed with Peldi’s templates, forcing me to do far too much work in Paint.Net, manipulating my images to fit his frame exactly.

Complementing these is my iPad Keyboards template.  If you’re already using one of the above templates, this one isn’t necessary, but if you want to use Peldi’s templates, my template will come in handy.  It's simply the iPad keyboard as Simon Herd originally created it, but in 4 different resolutions, with minor corrections:


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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Squrl Lives!

squrlI gave up on my homegrown url-shortening exercise,, about a year and a half ago – it started as an experiment in MVC, which I tried to port to server side js, but lack of time and interest got the better of it.  So I shut it down.

Now, thanks to Pro, is back!  Just too bad I can’t get the cool logo Sean made for me up on the site… :-(

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Yet another pre-stolen idea: the electric supercharger

In my not-too-consistent series of “pre-stolen ideas”, here’s another from the automotive front: the electric supercharger, as part of EcoMotors’ new engine design.

Based on my unused mechanical engineering degree, AFAIK, some of the drawbacks of a supercharger are the additional engine friction it provides, and the fact that the boost provided is directly related to engine speed. Since you only really need the additional boost some of the time, my thought was - why not control boost with a near-zero lag electric motor whose output is completely independent from that of the main engine?  Which is of course what EcoMotors is now doing.

Volkswagen is using a twincharger design in their latest creation – a 1.4 liter engine that produces as much power as V6 engines twice the size did a decade or so ago.  EcoMotors seem to have done VW one better, enough for Bill Gates to invest in the company.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Undersore.js Performance Tests Revisited (this time with pretty charts)

Out of sheer vanity, I added my own blog feed to my Google Reader, as I was curious if anyone ever Liked my posts.
Answer: Nope. :-(

Anyhow, I came across my post on Underscore.js, and since MS just dropped Platform Preview 3 of IE 9, I thought I’d redo the comparison in Chrome6, IE8 and IE9 (though I know this is hardly any complete benchmark test, it’s still telling).  The results are below: 

As I said in my last post, I can’t wait for IE9 to replace every previous IE version…  I haven’t been this excited about an IE product since IE4, which was more than 10 years ago.

IE 8 – still a dog.

IE8 results

IE 9 PP3 – Starting to look good!  Faster than Chrome in some tests!

IE9 results

Chrome 6 – still the winner in most categories, though the lead is shrinking

Chrome 6 results

Bottom line, though – if you’re doing a lot of looping/mapping, you should use Underscore rather than jQuery.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

How to Always Run Visual Studio As Administrator

To jum straight to the solution, click here

“Certain tasks, including debugging and creating local IIS applications, require that you start Visual Studio as a user with Administrative privileges. On Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 when not running as the built-in Administrator account, this requires right-clicking the Visual Studio 2008 icon in the Start Menu and choosing Run as administrator.

“To make this process easier, you can create a shortcut and check the Run this program as an administrator check box on the Compatibility tab of the shortcut properties.”
from Using Visual Studio 2008 with IIS 7 @

On the last few projects I’ve worked on, we’ve used IIS sites for our development (for a number of reasons I won’t detail here), and the need to open VS in admin mode has been a constant annoyance.  It’s like constantly getting bitten by a mosquito. Today I finally got annoyed enough to spend 5 minutes researching a solution.  (I know.  I procrastinate.)

The solution, or what seems to be working for me so far at least was found at How to Run a Program as an Administrator in Windows 7.  Some of these options I knew about, the one I hadn’t tried and which worked for me was this:

1. Right click on the program shortcut or program .exe file, then click on Properties, and on the Compatibility tab. (See screenshots below)
NOTE: If you are doing this while logged on as a standard user instead of an administrator, then you will need to also click on the Change settings for all users button and type in the administrator's password.

Run as Administrator-compatibility_mode1.jpgRun as Administrator-compatibility_mode2.jpg

2. To Always Run this Program as an Administrator -

A) Check the Run this program as an administrator box, and click on OK. (See screenshots above)

The key is to change the compatibility setting of the Visual Studio EXECUTABLE, not the shortcut to it.  I.e., on my laptop, I went to C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\ and right-clicked devenv.exe and then proceeded as above.

I then had to add one more step – when I now clicked on a .sln file, nothing would happen.  It appears the default Open action couldn’t run, I assume, due to inadequate privileges.  To fix this, I right-clicked the .sln file, selected Open With –> Choose Default Program, and then selected Visual Studio, making sure Always use… was checked.

Presto – my .sln files now open asking to be run as admin, as do my jump list projects.

Itch scratched.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Diva Girl in Mommy’s sunglasses

I rather like the new personalized background picture for Google – even if it is a blatant rip off of Bing.  Once again, competition improves the field.  Here’s my current background – from our trip to Philly last weekend:


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Friday, April 30, 2010

Fun with 1000 Rolling Stone covers, AndreaMosaic and the Deep Zoom Composer

UPDATE 08/11/2011: See post about the new archive, now also for the iPad here: – another feather in our cap

Having finished helping Rolling Stone magazine put their archive online (our company, AIS, together with Bondi Digital, did the Silverlight-based archive portion (more on the project later, potentially), another company did the main site), I decided to get artsy by generating a mosaic of the latest issue cover, by using thumbnails of some 1000 previous covers.

mosaic partial zoom

AndreaMosaic worked beautifully in creating the mosaic, and even pre-generating the starting point for a Deep Zoom image.  I opened that in Deep Zoom Composer, and generated both a Silverlight and an Seadragon Ajax version of the composite.  I then uploaded the whole shebang to my public s3 bucket.

It all took a bit of fiddling to get right, but if I had to do it again I could probably do the whole thing in 5-10 minutes…  It’s that easy. (Seriously, this blog post is taking longer…)

Of course, now that I’m putting in all the links in this post, I realize I could have simply hosted this at…  Oops.

UPDATE:Since MS is so kind to do the processing for me, I figured I might as well create a bigger version of this. The following is around 180MP, made up of 3000 tiles, each 300px tall... Click the full screen button in the embedded viewer for the best effect.

Update, May 12th: ...and here's the latest 2-page cover:

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Lottie (age 687 days) Numeral System

0 = “All Gone” or “All Done”

1 = “One”

2 = “Two”

> 2 = “Two”, or “One More”

Sequence: “One, Three, Four, Eight, Ten”

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Things I’m digging today

FreeMind – free mind mapping tool.  Love the simplicity, and that I can copy a branch and paste in an email as a well-formatted nested list.

Fiddler2 – back in the day (v1.x) I remember it as complex to use – now it’s dead simple.  Maybe I got smarter, but I fear the reality is that the tool just got better.

Buzz – I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

(Ok, I admit it – I just wanted to see how my blog posts appeared on Buzz, and I had nothing better to write.)

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Well, I guess it’s settled then.

Me: "Who did you play with today, Erik?"

- "Divon... and Riley, when I grow up, you know daddy, when I grow up I'm gonna marry Riley!"


- "Yeah! Cause we're the same color!"


- "Yeah, we're both light!  And you're light and mommy's light and I'm light and Lottie's light, so.."

"You know you don't have to marry someone who has the same skin color as you, Erik - you can marry anybody you like!"

- "You can?  ... I'm gonna marry Riley.  And when I grow up, I'm gonna be a dogtornarian!"

"Really - a dogtornarian?"

- "Yeah, a dogtornarian is a doctor for dogs.  And he gives the dogs shots, and the dogs are really good, and they get a flu shot so they don't get sick!  And when Riley grows up, she's gonna be a vegternarian, but she's only going to treat cats, and we're gonna treat both dogs AND cats!  And we're gonna have a little baby, and  the baby is going to to a school, and we're going to go to work!  Just like Lottie and me go to school, and you and mommy go to work!"


- "Daddy, we're having a great conbersation, do you like it?"

"Yes, Erik, I do.  A lot."

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oops – was I supposed to do that?

Wonder how much of a late-pickup-fee daycare will charge me for being 133 weeks picking up my son?  But thanks Outlook, for the reminder!


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