Archive for the ‘Technical’ Category

Animated Favicons

I realized recently that you can use animated GIFs for favicons. And if that sentence meant nothing to you, come back another day for a different topic.

In general, I’m a fan of animated GIFs. And I don’t care what anyone else says, I’m pronouncing it with a hard G. But animated GIFs don’t belong everywhere. And a favicon is one of those places because it looks like the page is always loading.

At first, it seemed like a good idea. It would set your webpage apart from the crowd. But people are so conditioned to having a repetitive movement near the tab bar mean that something is loading, so they would be annoyed with your page for not loading. If they paid close attention, they would see a difference between the loading icon and the moving favicon, but not many people are going to notice that detail.

In summary, don’t animate your favicons.

Now as for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I will never be moved.”

Psalm 30:6

A Quieter Google

Google tries to be helpful.

Take, for instance, the auto-complete feature of its flagship search engine. You start typing, and Google provides some of the most popular searches that begin with the letters you have typed.

Sometimes it’s helpful. And other times it has me scratching my head wondering what’s wrong with people.

What got me thinking about it though was that some of the suggestions were either rude or family unfriendly. And my kids will sometimes use my phone to lookup things. And I didn’t want them encountering questionable content because Google presented it.

So I found a way to disable that feature. Now if someone uses my phone to lookup something, Google will not suggest anything. It will just accept what you type and go with that.

To accomplish that, you need to go to your bookmarks (or favorites, or whatever your browser calls them) and edit the Google URL.
Instead of just plain www.google.com,
use https://www.google.com/webhp?complete=0

That’s the easiest way to disable Google auto-compete. Then you won’t be inundated with the world’s thoughts while you’re trying to find some information.

That URL was provided in text form so you could read/copy it as needed. Here’s a link if you need that: non-verbose Google.

All day long they distort my words; All their thoughts are against me for evil.

Psalm 56:5

Eject USB Drive

I try to do things the right way. So when Windows expects me to let it know I’m going to remove the USB drive, I do let it know I’m going to remove the USB drive. I cooperate with it, and in return I expect that it will cooperate with me. But if it doesn’t cooperate, then I override it.

This flowchart illustrates the possibilities I experience. I didn’t include the option for those of you who just pull out the USB drive without telling Windows first.

flowchart of how to eject a USB drive from a laptop or PC

Reject a factious man after a first and second warning,

Titus 3:10

Air Exchange

Ever wonder how your bathroom fan contributes to the heating and cooling efficiency of your house? You really should consider it.

If the bathroom were air-tight, that would create quite a vacuum. But bathrooms are not that air-tight. So for the air that leaves the bathroom, the same amount of air is going to enter the bathroom, to replace the old air.

Where does that new air come from?

In most houses, it comes from all over – various leaks throughout the house: doors, windows, pipes and vents through walls.

So air goes out of the bathroom, the bathroom gets new air from the rest of the house, and the rest of the house gets new air from outside – through cracks and leaks in doors, windows, the foundation, etc.

Like this:

image of air exhaust path

In places like the Midwest, you don’t want outside air inside the house. Air conditioning has made the inside air cool and dry, in contrast to the outside air which is hot and humid. So having the bathroom fan draw outside air into the whole house is a bad plan.

Once you’re done in the bathroom, the air conditioner has to condition the replacement air. And that air is spread throughout the house.

If you have a make-up air unit in the bathroom, though, the replacement air comes from the outside straight into the bathroom. So now the volume of replacement air is confined to one room. So most of the house stays comfortable, and the air conditioner has less work to do.

Like this:

image of air exhaust path

One of the projects I would do in a house where I planned on living for a while is to add an HRV to each full bath and to the kitchen. An HRV is a Heat Recovery Ventilator – it brings in replacement air and conditions it slightly. They are needed where there are exhaust fans – bathrooms and kitchens if the kitchen has a vented range fan.

Some people may argue that you should have just one HRV and make it large enough for the air needs of the whole house. But I’d rather have multiple smaller HRVs on principle.

Now for some numbers, in case those previous paragraphs were not interesting enough:

We’ll take an average of 80 CFM for a bathroom fan. Our bathroom is about 6x10x8, so 480 cubic feet. That would mean a roomful of air gets removed every 6 minutes.

I will assume an average shower is 10 minutes, and to make the math easier I’m going to assume the fan is on for a minute before and a minute after the shower, for a total of 12 minutes of bathroom fan run time.

So for the 960 CF of air that leave the bathroom, 960 CF of air are going to enter the bathroom, to replace the old air.

If the air comes from wherever, it is going to be 960 CF of air throughout the house. But if draws new air through the bathroom only, it is going to be only 480 CF. The first 480 CF will be outside air replacing conditioned air, but once the bathroom has exchanged all its air, any more air that comes through is going to be outside air replacing outside air, so no more conditioned air gets lost.

His strong scales are his pride,
Shut up as with a tight seal.
One is so near to another
That no air can come between them.

Job 41:15-16

Modern Hydra

For his next labor, Hercules had to clear his inbox. His nemesis for this task was the Thuerkian Hydra.

The Hydra was a serpent-like beast with many email addresses. Each address could carry an attachment venomous enough to make the recipient wish he could unsee it.

The Hydra lived in a cave near the swamps of Thuerk. The cave was also where the springs of Anonymous originated. From time to time the Hydra would leave the swampland and raid nearby villages, greatly complicating life for the peasants who lived there.

Hercules, travelling with Iolas, arrived near the cave. Arranging cloth over his eyes to protect himself from Hydra’s venom, he send a number of hostile and insulting messages to the Hydra, mainly disagreeing with the Hydra’s views on a variety of subjects.

This caused the Hydra to emerge from the cave, enraged. Unwanted email after unwanted email viciously attacked Hercules. He wielded his mouse deftly, clicking on Unsubscribe before the images had a chance to load. But for each email he unsubscribed, two more email addresses started sending him messages.

This was a losing battle for Hercules. He could not escape, he was getting tired, and the beast was growing.

Desperate, Hercules called to Iolas for help. Grabbing a keyboard, Iolas told Hercules to click Reply instead of Unsubscribe. To each message that Hercules Replied, Iolas added a 550 Invalid Recipient header. This prevented new addresses from growing.

Finally, the Hydra was down to its one immortal address. Hercules was able to, with his great strength, unplug that server and bury it under a great boulder from which it could never escape.

The End.

And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.

Revelation 13:1

Audio from DVDs

We have a DVD with some music on it. I wanted to be able to play the music in our vehicles and various other places that don’t play DVDs – a valid case of the fair-use doctrine, if you ask me.

I figured it should be straightforward – the laptop can play DVDs, and the laptop can burn CDs, therefore the laptop should be able to take the audio part of the DVD and save it off.

But it’s not that easy.

The DVD player won’t save audio.

And when I tried just using either Sound Recorder or Audacity to record the audio as I played the DVD, but it came out warbly. Like it was underwater or something.

So I figured someone out there has written a utility that would grab the audio from a DVD and save it as a standard audio file.
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iMatrix

Disclaimer: if you haven’t seen The Matrix, you might not fully appreciate this blog post. Remember to watch only the first movie.

How did the people progress from how we are now to how they were in the movie The Matrix?

Simple: gradually.

You start with nothing – content and complete by yourself.

illustration showing a person using no devices

Then you add in an audio connection to devices – iPod.
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