Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ray Mears

If you've never heard of Ray Mears and his multiple BBC series on bushcraft, woodlands survival and generally enjoying time out in the woods, then it's time you watched some of his videos. This is unlike other "TV presenter vs nature" shows you commonly see on TV. Ray Mears shows how you to work "with" nature in his relaxed and pleasant presentation style. I would place Ray Mears in the same class as top BBC naturalists/historians/travelers as Michael Wood, David Attenborough, Michael Palin to name a few.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Shades Of Gray (Another fix for online reading)

(Mis)Quoting lines from Billy Joel's song "Shades of grey":

Shades of grey wherever I go
.. .
Black and white is [not] how it should be
But shades of grey are the colors I see
It has occurred to me (after being disappointed with the tiny 6" screen of the Kindle) that we spend a lot of time (those of us who do) on the computer staring at bright and mostly white computer screens. We've become accustomed to the brightness of the white backgrounds. I find it quite stressful to read against a white background for long hours.

After spending a few hours searching (alas) online, I found some tricks that have made my computer time even more pleasant.

1) Fix for PDFs - a poor man's ebook reader:
Change the background of all PDFs you read by changing your preferences in Adobe Acrobat Reader. Go to the toolbar "Edit > Preferences > Accessibility > Document color options". Check the box that says "Replace Document Colors" and choose a gray background as shown in the screenshot.

Note the background color - 192-192-192, the magic combination.

And this is what it will look like. You can view it in full screen mode and almost convince yourself that you are reading an ebook.

2) Fix for IntelliJ:
Something similar can be done for IntelliJ. Import this JAR file with color settings for IntelliJ 10 using "File > Import settings".

Who said "gray areas" are bad? Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making your online reading even more pleasant

What better way to read a whole bunch of articles that you've been saving for later than to "print" it all and read?

I'm a heavy user of Readable and Readability, but nothing beats printing everything into a PDF, logging off and then reading it comfortably on your ebook reader (if you have one, which I don't. Yet). Well..paper if you really have to.

After a lot of searching I found this wonderful addon for Firefox which lets you print all your webpages, html or text files on disk from the command-line. With this tool you can even write a batch file with all your links and print them into PDFs from the command line (via: MozillaWiki).

Once you've generated all your PDFs, you can even merge them all into a giant PDF using this.

And you are all set!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

So many products... so many choices

Something akin to the Efficient-market hypothesis or the Informationally Efficient Market (the opposite of) that might explain why the market can sustain an ecosystem of products and solutions - even sub-standard ones.

[Update: May 1, 2011] Porter's Five Forces model is a very accurate analysis of this problem.

Hiking in Russian Ridge OSP

Another year and a nice hike to begin it. I've hiked here a few times before and I still love it.

This time I got to see a coyote waiting over the ridge and looking down at passing hikers and waiting to pounce on a swarm of little birds that were feeding on seeds on the hillside:
(Shot from a camera phone. Bad quality)