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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in jbdeboer's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, February 28th, 2009
12:17 pm
What are you giving up for Lent?

@Hugyrl17: 'thinking about my future wedding'
@scotteatsbread: 'unhealthy foods'
@antic: 'Facebook'
@trentgillaspie: 'swear words'
@tayobrien: 'onion bagels in the morning' THANK YOU Tay!
@pnuttro: 'Meat'
@cnirel: 'alcoholic beverages' BUT not alcoholic foods, whew.
@jessicaa: 'fast food'
@j3nn1e: 'Ben and Jerrys'
@kimberleedawgg: 'MySpace'
@newledge 'gettin' jiggy wit' it'
@Eukadanz: 'retweeting'
@do_art: 'coffee'
@marcusbaney: 'pants' AHHH.
@eBeth: 'starbucks'
@fivehundy: 'Catholicism'
@PeepGameBitches: 'sex'
@lyneka: 'the term "blogging"'
@itsmeamanda: 'my debit card'
@TajesMahoney: 'speaking'
@mauldwright: 'knitting'
@01casey: 'illegal downloading'
@beccybags: 'giving up'
@Politwitt: 'watching liberal news media'
@Pezdro 'murder'
@guruofnew: 'Social Media'
@snoutsparkle: 'carbon' COUGH, oh, the misinformed.
@ronbailey: 'my innocence'
@zhautelawx3: 'procrastinating'
@alchahest: 'taters'
@atxryan: 'shaving'
@EricaNurney: 'shopping'
@kinhart: 'the snooze button'

And @Patrick_Donohue 'my girlfriend convinced me to give up something else for Lent... welcome back twitter'
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
10:00 pm
Password-Free Zone
While working on my hawt new web app, I was somewhat sidetracked by OpenID, the open authentication model. It allows applications to authenticate users through a side-channel. The web app redirects the user to the OpenID server to log in. Then the app will connect directly to the OpenID server which says 'Yes, this user is who they say they are'.

This is what allows you to log into blogs using, say, your Yahoo ID.

I spent a couple hours putting an OpenID server on huronbox.com. But instead of hosting a standard username and password scheme, I set it up to use my phone to authenticate. When the web app connects to my OpenID server, the server sends a random hash to my Blackberry in a message saying Web app XYZ want to log you in. If this is what you want, simply reply. I reply to that message and the OpenID server verifies that my reply included the hash it sent. Then it responds to the web app, saying 'Yep, that's James.'

The net result is that now I can log into LiveJournal or a TypePad hosted blog without ever having a password. In the past, you could guess my password and break into my account, now you would need to steal my phone.

Insanely cool and this was only possible because OpenID is, well, open. Useful? Not in the slightest. There are very few sites that accept OpenID; even with the ones that take it, you can't link an existing account to OpenID. Really cool demo, though.
Thursday, November 13th, 2008
8:44 pm
- Standard Bayway (not the Bayshore Byway) to Menlo Park
- Dumbarton Bridge
- L Thorten -> Paso Padre Parkway
(cross rail, 880)
- L Decoto
- R Niles Rd
(cross BART)
- L Niles Canyon Rd (to Sunol)
-> Paloma Rd
- 680 N, take first exit
- Vallecitos Rd to Livermore
-> Holmes St
- R 1st St (do not cross 580)
- R Las Positas Rd
- L South Vasco Rd
(cross 580)
-> Vasco Rd -> Walnut Blvd to Brentwood
- R Oak St
(cross railroad)
- L Brentwood to Antioch (Hwy 4)
-> Main St (Hwy 4)
- R Bridgehead
- L Wilbur
- R Hwy 160, Antioch Bridge
- Hwy 160 to Rio Vista
- L Hwy 12
(cross Sacramento River)
-> Hwy 12 to Suisun City
- L Marnia Blvd
- R Lotz Way
(at Amtrak Station)
- L Main St
- L Cordelia St
(cross rail juction)
(cross 680 at Cordelia)
- L Lopes Rd (immed after 680)
- R Fulton Dr
-> Watt Dr
- L N Brook / Red Top
- L McGary (do not cross 80)
- L American Canyon Rd / Hiddenbrook Pkwy
(cross 80)
(cross Newell / Flosden)
- L Broadway (do not cross 29, Napa Vallejo Hwy)
(cross 37)
- R Couch St
-> Mississippi St
- L Sacramento St
- R Tennessee
-> Mare Island Causeway
(cross Napa River)
- R Railroad Ave
- merge Hwy 37 West
- exit Hanna Ranch Rd (just before 101)
- L bike path (immed after rail)
(cross rail)
- Hamilton Dr (either dir)
- R Bel Marin Keys
- L Nave Dr (do not cross 101)
(cross 101)
- at Alameda del Prado U-turn onto bike path
(follow 101)
-> Miller Creek Rd
- L Las Gallinas Ave
-> Lincoln Ave
(cross 2nd St)
- L Irwin
- R Tiburon
-> Via la Cumbre
- L Eliseo
- L S.F Drake (almost u-turn)
- bike path on 101 onramp
-> Lucky Dr
- L Fifer Ave
- R Tamal Vista
-> Madera Blvd
(cross Tamalpais Dr)
-> Sanford
-L Meadowsweet
- at hairpin, bike path
- R Lomita Dr
- at turn, straight, bike path
- left onto Mill Valley Bike Expressway
- back to San Francisco
Friday, October 24th, 2008
9:09 pm
Generation WE by Eric Greenberg
This book is available as a free PDF download; that makes it cool right?

Greenberg was at Google SF (and I in MTV) today; so I thought I would at least look at his book.

I got to page 10 (after nine pages of pretty redwood trees and modern graphics) and choked on this gem illustrating how rough we have it these days: "At the time [1985] tuition at [UT Austin] was only 800 dollars per semester for a nonresident". Oh boy, somebody forgot their basic math. According to the inflation calculator, $800 1985 dollars are worth $1626 dollars today. Oh, and Greenburg appears to have pulled that $800 number out of, well I have no idea; but the nonresident tuition to UT Austin in 1985 was $1984 (or $4034 today) (ref) Granted, 2009 nonresident tuition at UT is ~$14000.

But, that sets the tone nicely for the rest of the book: made up numbers and bad stats. I am skipping the middle, it is just the summer's CNN transcript rehashed in the context of a voting bloc 95 million strong: y'know, oil at $200, environmental doom and gloom, foreclosures, and a healthy amount of Bush-bashing.

Near the end of the book, Greenberg gives a WE Agenda subtitled "Restoring the American Dream".

How do we restore this dream, you ask? Actually wrong question, but hey Greenberg has the answer:

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE! (where is my blink tag when I need it)

This book is mostly an advertising gimmick for "Project FREE" where Americans innovate their way off of foreign oil. By inventing new energy sources, the US gets millions of jobs, money for everybody, and cheap energy so Americans can, well, drive 50 miles to work everyday -- like now, but this time they can tell big bad [wait, the US gets oil from who again? Oh, they ARE scary] where they can put their oil.

And the rest:
- nutrition (remember this one), education and _basic_ health care for all.
- federal fiscal prudence and economic protectionism (We already established Greenberg slept through Ethics and Stats class, clearly he missed ECON as well)

Wade through the cutesy raw-raw "let's change the world by restoring America's greatness" (anything wrong with that picture?) and you'll get to the author's biography on the very last page: Greenberg isn't an impartial reporter after all; the whole book is one big sales pitch.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
12:31 am
ABCs of the Google
Google Apps
Google Books
Google Calendar
Google Earth
Google Finance
Google Groups
Google Health
Google Images
Google Jobs
Google Knol
Google Local
Google Maps
Google News
Google Pack
Google Quality
Google Reader
Google Streetview
Google Talk
Google UK
Google Video
Google Webmaster Tools
Google XPrize
Google Zietgeist
Sunday, October 5th, 2008
2:09 am
The ABCs of the Web
John Lewis
Kelly Blue Book

Know them all? Disagree with any letter selections?
Monday, August 4th, 2008
8:03 pm
I've been Twittering for about a month now. Mundane updates are available at:


I classified the posts:

 cryptic comments about work  ***************************************
 food                         ***************
 books                        ***************
 random internet memes        *************
 biking                       **********
 genuine status updates       ********
 commuting                    *******
 hacking                      *****
 coffee                       ****  
 blogging                     **
 TV                           *
 home decorating              *
 emo                          *

As a plus, I was guilted by drheld to finally implement a procmail gateway to Twitter. Now I can post a status update from my Crackberry in under 10 seconds!
Sunday, July 13th, 2008
7:36 pm
The Dawes

Last Christmas, sjwalters left me his bike. He had acquired a broken down 10-speed and was using it during his co-op term. It was in a sorry state. Walters still managed to haul it up Mount Madonna (and survived the descent with only half a brake).

He locked it to my back gate and when I got back to the city in January, I took it down to the Bike Kitchen and started work. After four months of spending a couple nights a week in the shop I had stripped the bike down and rebuilt it as a sweet city bike. I've ridden it to work once but made the mad dash down the Civic Center bus many times. It is fast and it has a personality.

From the original parts, I kept the frame, fork and handlebars, the saddle, the pedals and the brakes: all got a good scrubbing. I ripped off the entire drivetrain and replace the heavy heavy cranks and front chainrings with a single 52. I replaced the cassette with a lightly used 13-32 5-gear cassette from the Bike Kitchen's part room.

I repacked the bearing in the headset and both wheels. The chain, cables, tires, rim tape and bar tape are brand new.

I promised Walters I wouldn't repaint the frame, so it is still faded green and orange rattlecan. I did try the clean up the Dawes faceplate, but it is still tinted orange.

Next up, I would like to build a new set of wheels, but that might be a project for next winter (winter in San Francisco, ha!)
Sunday, June 29th, 2008
9:23 pm
Solving SET
Does a given hand of cards in the game SET contain a set?

There are a few SET solvers available on the Internet. As far as I can tell, there are no papers that propose an algorithm.

Steve Nolte and Sam Liew both implement an O(n^3) brute force algorithm in bad JavaScript.

Meng Wong and Bryan Donovan used an O(n^2) algorithm which relies on the property of SET: for any two cards there is a third that will form a set.

Can we do better? Probably.
Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
7:09 pm
The Public Library
Among other, much more exciting things, I refilled my SFPL request queue over the weekend.

The first two books were available this morning, so I stopped by the library on the way to work and picked them up.

I finished the first one: 'The Millionaire Next Door' on the bus. Short synopsis: spend little, pick the right profession. Like most investment/life events books, it was targeted at aging baby-boomers who are concerned about retiring. The authors spend half the book making the point that cash handouts spoil adult children.

I was somewhat disgruntled by the assumption that everybody needs a house and car and the only investment goal is retirement (or maybe having an arbitrary number in your bank account). In general, I would not recommend the book.

But of course, the least popular books will be dequeued first; I have 252 people ahead of me for Unaccustomed Earth, so that better be good. To fill the queue, I am currently using the best sellers list from the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Globe and Mail and the Sunday Times. From each list I take the top fiction book and the top two non-fiction books -- more if they look interesting. I am also working my way through a couple people's reading lists.

I am open to other book lists if anybody has any suggestions.
Sunday, May 18th, 2008
3:53 pm
Five Days, Five Ways
Last week, I commuted to work every day, but took a different route each time.


I woke up too late to catch the 7:45 bus. Instead, I left my house at 7:53 and biked down to the train station to catch the 8:14 express to Mountain View. Work is only 2 miles from the Mountain View train station -- I rolled in while the pancakes at Moma were still hot.


Still working overtime, I caught the bloody-early 6:30 bus from my apartment. It arrived at work before breakfast even started serving. Who knew such a time existed.


I had intended to bike on Tuesday, although work got in the way, so I biked on Wednesday instead. I was on the road by 6:35. Which fresh air in my tires (thanks Paul!) and no laptop, I made good time, and breakfast. Leaving San Francisco, going up the Bayshore hill, I passed a tiny SF2G ride. I took an unfortunate detour through Menlo Park and they caught up. So, I passed them again on the final leg of the trip.


Thursday was Bike To Work Day, so I hauled myself out of bed and on the road for 6:15 and a 6:30 meet-up at Ritual. At least 50 people turned up for a easy and scenic commute. It was my first SF2G since Halloween last year; I'm still not a huge fan of group rides: there is an entirely different focus. We rolled in just before 10, missing breakfast.


I had to make a quick stop at the drugstore to buy new insoles for my shoes. So, I left my apartment with my bike, waved to the 9:45 bus pulling out of the stop and rode down to Polk St. I passed the bus in front of City Hall and made it to the Civic Centre stop before it. Breakfast was long over by the time I showed up at work.
Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
10:59 am
Sunday, April 6th, 2008
4:52 am
I decided to be productive today: I cleaned, I set up my workstation and booted my file server. I taped my wireless gateway to the window so the whole world can share. The tape didn't hold and it fell down. No worries, I taped it back up using twice as much tape. Walking out of the kitchen, I tripped over the phone cable running to the gateway.

I investigated moving it, so I took the covers off my phone jacks and poked around to see if there was a better place for the gateway in the apartment. The short answer was no. I replaced the jacks and continued cleaning.

I went to check the Internet for the best way to clean my walls. No Internet. I untaped the gateway so I could see the blinky lights. The DSL light was blinking red. That is bad. According to the AT&T tech support (not bad, btw), they can't see my modem; they are sending somebody on Tuesday.

So, LJ friends, what in my story caused my DSL connection to stop working?
Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
9:15 pm
March 25.
/LiveJournal is emo/

(I may have previously discussed this, sorry)

Paperwork is stressing me out. I should have just hired somebody to take care of the paperwork: a lawyer, an accountant, a dude to fill out rebate forms. But hiring people to fix my problems seems wasteful (although economically it makes sense), so I'll continue to stress.

A couple months ago, I read Basic Black, by Kathy Black. It was a career advice book written by a New York publishing executive targeting women. I would have never bought it, but it showed up on my SFPL hold list, so I read it.

My first response was "Wow, I am glad I'm not in that industry": publishing interns are typically unpaid and you are expected to work for decades to get to where you want to be and everything is dictated by personal relationships. Her advice was "be focused on yourself and make sure you are wearing the latest designer outfits". Terrible advice, but she likely filed her taxes February 1.
Sunday, March 16th, 2008
3:10 pm
Six months in the city and I spotted a KFC for the first time. I didn't stop; but maybe one day I will venture back and try their infamous American menu.

Last weekend, I was at Tony's house making dinner. He subscribes to a vegetable box and has trouble eating the whole thing every week. This time he was stuck with a lot of kale and potatoes. Yep.

Also, on Friday, the breadmaker I ordered from the Internet arrived. I made bread and it was yummy. Two things to note:

1) I used the reviews on Amazon to choose the model. That was the first time I'd actually done that, and it worked out well; although, I did end up buying a more expensive model. At a store, the only signals are a list of features and a price; I would have never known the model I was considering rattled so loudly it would wake me up at 4 in the morning.

2) Completely unintentionally, everything in my bread, except for the water and salt, was imported from Canada. I even bought my canola oil from the hippie food co-op and my yeast and flour from the neighbourhood Big Organic outlet. (The flour was milled in Oregon, but used grain from "select farmers throughout Canada and the US" -- that is good enough for a blog post).

Maybe it is not so surprising. I see more of a bread culture back home. At a church potluck there would be crockpots of soup and chili and then plates full of sandwiches. In San Francisco, church potlucks might have a few dinner rolls if at all. At work, there is bread available, but rarely is it included in the main meal and never in the suggested servings.

According to the Canadian Wheat Board, Canadians consume 10% more flour than Americans; but maybe that is just all the Timbits eaten.
Saturday, March 1st, 2008
1:32 pm
The day after Lloydminster I started down Hwy 16 towards Edmonton after the morning rain had cleared. In typical Alberta fashion, the road was overbuilt, fast and full of oversized pickup trucks. Being overbuilt, there was enough space for everybody, so the traffic left me alone. However, it was still a far cry from the grid roads in Saskatchewan.

Wanting something a little quieter, I turned off onto a range road. After about 50 feet, mud had collected between my wheels and fenders, bringing the bicycle to a halt. I spent the next half hour poking my knife around the fenders trying to free the wheel. Through the rest of Alberta, I stuck to pavement.

My coding work feels a lot like that right now -- it looks easy, but as soon as I get started, ten things appear to block any progress I am attempting to make. It is stressful: work has deadlines; transversing Alberta did not.

I went climbing three times in the past week. Scaled a couple 5.10Bs; I am improving.

Wednesday, I skipped work in the morning and biked to Mountain View. It was the first time I did it in just shorts and a t-shirt; that and a freshly oiled chain made for a quick ride. Also, for the first time, I took the Bayshore/Third St interchange. All the bike routes from San Francisco to the peninsula go out of the way and up crazy hills to avoid the interchange -- it looks like a messy freeway on/off ramp, but it is actually [legally] bikable. The motorists, however, think it is part of the freeway and gave me no respect at all. A few simple signs would solve that problem; in the mean time, I will continue to avoid the area before dawn.

Friday was Critical Mass. A nice night with happy people. I still find it amazing how trapped motorists are in the road system. A BMW, driven by a girl on her cell phone, was sitting at an intersection waiting to cross Market. When her light turned green, she sat on her horn. When her light turned red, she stopped.

Saturday, I struggled out of bed for the EFAP distribution. This month, people again lined up around the block to collect one can of pears, one jar of peanut butter and one kilo of rice.

And perhaps the biggest news of the week:

Following Al Gore's plan, I am half way to saving the planet: I replaced my old lightbulbs with CFLs. At fifty cents a bulb, they were heavily subsidized* by PG&E. Next, I will look into buying a hybrid car! (* The money comes from the "public good" line on my hydro bill).
Sunday, January 13th, 2008
8:49 am
My Plant is Not Dead

I looked at my Croton this morning and found tiny buds growing on the stems. For a while, I was worried the plant may be dead, but it is not.

The Croton needs to be watered every five days, at least according to the man at the Plant Warehouse. When I left for Christmas, I put it out on the fire escape; it is the rainy season here and I figured it could live off rainwater while I was gone.

While it did get watered, it was the wind that was the problem. Upon my return, I discovered the plant had blown over. All the leaves on one side of the plant had fallen off and the remaining leaves didn't look too healthy. I moved it back to my south window and hoped for the best.

I also bought a new "roll-up" plant. At night, its leaves will roll up into little spirals, and then, in the morning, they unroll. If I am out of bed before all the leaves are finished unrolling, that is good enough -- and if the day is so gloomy the leaves never unroll, I likely should have stayed in bed..
Sunday, January 6th, 2008
8:51 pm
Project Bike
Over the holidays I acquired a bicycle. sjwalters left California and locked his bike behind my building.

It is an old Dawes Galaxy; built in the late 70s. According to Walters, it has been sitting in a garage for the last twenty years.

I spent Saturday afternoon stripping it. The brakes look fine, but the entire drivetrain needs to be replaced (the front derailleur snapped in half on a trip up Mount Madonna this fall). And something needs to be done with the paint.

Should be fun.
Wednesday, December 26th, 2007
12:07 pm
I went home for a vacation over Christmas. I took my laptop; did some hacking in the airport (with Alex!); slept on the plane.

Day 1: Left laptop in bag all day.
Day 2: Read some email, built a snow fort.
Day 3: Casual hacking, poked at old code for a bit (with eggnog).
Day 4: Wikipedia party. Compiled a bit of code. A little bit of Facebook.
Day 5: Stayed up late building a RSS generator for yet another language; parsed XML without XPath.

Clearly, the optimal length of vacation in 4 days.
Thursday, December 13th, 2007
7:35 pm
My fridge
In my super awesome apartment, the only thing I have plugged in all the time is my refrigerator.

I would love to disconnect it and live off the grid; but then my milk would go bad even faster than it does now.

Instead, I devised a plan to run a series of experiments on ways to reduce the fridge's energy consumption. Ideas included filling the empty space with Styrofoam and freezing ice in the freezer then letting it melt in the fridge.

First, I needed a control run. I purchased a KillAWatt hydro meter off the Internet and set my fridge to the typical, lowest, setting.

Control Run:
172 hours
8.47 kWh used

kWh/day: 0.96

I currently spend about $0.10/day on my refrigerator. Spoiled milk is costing me more than electricity; instead of running fridge experiments, I should bake more often.
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