365 Things I Learned in 2013

I started a little project on January 1, 2013 to record one learned thing every day for a whole year. Sometimes that thing was genuinely educational, sometimes a little bit of a life lesson and occasionally, something dumb, but one thing every day. And I did it. I wrote a Ruby script to assist in this. It’s called Kioku and its on GitHub for anyone else to use. Here we go.

January

  1. Foreigners in Kobe had their own newspapers in the Meiji period.
  2. Betting on video games with friends is a recipe for arguments.
  3. Cheap coffee tastes cheap.
  4. Exercise is a great way to boost your spirits.
  5. Never discuss your buddy’s infidelity in front of his girlfriend.
  6. Every girl I date has a dysfunctional family.
  7. You can swim with Whale Sharks in Okinawa.
  8. Metal Gear Rising is a Metal Gear game in name only.
  9. Japanese kids have dirty minds.
  10. Eating a huge block of fudge may be satisfying in the moment, but you’ll regret it the moment (and maybe even the moment before) you finish.
  11. You should always air out a room after cleaning it.
  12. Always buy out the remaining bill on your iPhone from Softbank.
  13. Back to the Future still holds up in 2013.
  14. You can’t always expect your girlfriend’s going to come over to your place instead of you going to hers.
  15. Japanese people also thought Tom Cruise went off the deep end.
  16. There’s a Python called “Hyde” in response to Ruby’s “Jekyll”.
  17. When teaching kids, it’s always best to take things as slow as possible.
  18. Kids always know more than you give them credit for.
  19. You should never put your penis all the way into the bottle when you piss unless you want the air pressure to shoot it back up at you afterwards. (-Thanks, Tom)
  20. I should just stop eating oysters. I always pay a high physiological price.
  21. Backing up financial records should be a major priority.
  22. You should always keep cough drops or throat spray in your work bag.
  23. If you’ve got sick days accrued, use the fucking things.
  24. If you have the feeling that you should call in sick, you probably should.
  25. You can’t let your appointments go unremembered when you’re sick.
  26. You can’t blame others for things that are out of their control.
  27. Do not order Dominos!
  28. The Aeropress “reverse” method is pretty great.
  29. A pigeon’s toxicity would kill it before it was of a level that would be dangerous for consumption by a person.
  30. People who actually believe the moon landing never happened actually exist!
  31. People & things you’ve given up on have a funny way of coming back and surprising you.

February

  1. If you ever feel like you’ve drank enough and want to go home, just go home.
  2. Sugar on top of chocolate sounds good, but it’s really not.
  3. Pie is always a great idea, until you’ve eaten all of it.
  4. Scripting can be frustrating, but it can also be a pretty rewarding endeavor.
  5. If something isn’t easy to use, it doesn’t matter how powerful it may be. You’ll almost always wind up using the thing that’s easier to use.
  6. Women care more about the appearance of their Valentine’s Day chocolate than the taste.
  7. My best friend’s wife thinks I’m 80% gay.
  8. It’s sometimes better to just stop trying to perfect everything.
  9. You can never outrun your in-laws.
  10. You can wind up spending your whole life waiting for something that never comes.
  11. It’s important to look at things from all angles.
  12. You really shouldn’t eat your dessert before dinner.
  13. Launchd requires absolute paths.
  14. Romance doesn’t die with marriage necessarily, but often does.
  15. You get better treatment by Japanese health insurance companies if you’re married.
  16. The Spanish version of creme brûlée is better than the French version.
  17. Wolves are the only animal (other than humans) that seek revenge.
  18. Just cause a lady ignores you for a week doesn’t mean she isn’t interested.
  19. The weather has way too much influence on my mood.
  20. As a programmer/scripter, you’re really only limited by your imagination.
  21. Mississippi just ratified the 13th amendment on 2013-02-18.
  22. A secessionist candidate in Texas got 225,000 votes in the 2008 campaign.
  23. Old gaijin in a pub are worthless creatures.
  24. You have to be willing to pay extra for good coffee.
  25. Managing expectations is the hardest part of dealing with people.
  26. You can use UK Xbox Marketplace download links with a US account.
  27. In Japanese, if you eat rotten meat, you say you “hit it”. (当たった!)
  28. Kids are more likely to be respectful when they’re asking for permission to use the restroom.

March

  1. Getting angry with someone who wants to give you money is a dumb idea.
  2. Just cause you get sick once in winter, doesn’t mean it won’t bite you again in March.
  3. Being sick sucks. That is all.
  4. You will sometimes wish for bad health if it means getting out of work.
  5. Exercising when you’re sick: surprisingly not as bad as you’d think.
  6. Building systems is fun.
  7. There are plans for tractor beams on paper.
  8. Japanese doctors recommend laxatives as a weight loss solution.
  9. There’s really no point in throwing people’s own words back at them in a fight.
  10. Bitches ain’t worth the hassle.
  11. Command-line finance tracking is a bitch.
  12. Lee Adama is impossibly in a photo that existed in Sharon Valerri’s apartment.
  13. Indonesia went from having 11,000 people with HIV in 2001 to 300,000 in 2009.
  14. Domestic consumption accounts for 60% of Japan’s GDP (in 2013).
  15. It’s a wise move to repair your OS X volume more than once every two years.
  16. The original TV Spartacus died on September 11, 2011.
  17. While delicious, nabe always ends up in over-eating.
  18. Very little beats watching a ball game with your dad.
  19. Japanese people believe a stiff neck and shoulder is a Japanese disease.
  20. Goodfellas is still great.
  21. Too much free time can be a bad thing.
  22. Drinking too much has consequences.
  23. Dirty Harry is bad ass.
  24. If you can just pay for something straight away, it’s better to do that than to mess with loans.
  25. Crazy women are way more dangerous than crazy men.
  26. It’s best to have as little furniture as you can get away with.
  27. Hardware stores don’t deal in wimpy extension cables.
  28. Not everyone gets innuendo.
  29. Japan has its fair share of shitty mothers.
  30. Mt. Fuji is predicted to erupt sometime in the 2030′s.

April

  1. Japan has started to enjoy the idiocy of April Fool’s too.
  2. The cylindrical shape that the body turns food into pre-digestion is called a “bolus”.
  3. All good things must come to an end.
  4. Charge what you think your time is worth.
  5. Tissues should be included with all flowers sent.
  6. There’s a certain joy that comes with being faced with a problem and instantly knowing the solution.
  7. There’s a belief in Japan that if you have sex with a black person that even if you have kids with someone else, your children will have a darker skin color.
  8. Apple doesn’t like to eat its own dog food.
  9. It’s now illegal to serve raw liver in Japan.
  10. Always double check the color when you’re buying something.
  11. Too many protein shakes can be a bad thing for your physique.
  12. Narcissism in the U.S. increased along with obesity rates from the 1980’s till now.
  13. Even at 29, you’re still capable of being “talked into” stuff by your friends.
  14. You can have too many timers.
  15. The simplest journal is the best.
  16. In a homogenous society, people with a varied background are surprisingly excited to share that fact.
  17. Don’t freak out on delivery guys.
  18. PDFs that are “off spec” are finicky.
  19. It’s a good idea to change up the person cutting your hair every once in a while.
  20. Beware of mothers of divorced women.
  21. Japan’s strongest motorcycle lock weighs 44 kilograms.
  22. There are three types of diarrhea.
  23. Abe Lincoln had a son who died while he was in office.
  24. According to funny or die, Steve Jobs banged Bill Gates’ wife virtually.
  25. Nothing is exquisite as the weekday afternoon nap.
  26. George W. Bush’s library contains a section where he can remind you that he didn’t make any mistakes in Iraq.
  27. I only get sick on Sundays, it seems.
  28. Sometimes, if you pray for a PC to not crash, it sometimes doesn’t crash!
  29. The King Slayer’s not such a bad guy.
  30. Just because coffee is expensive doesn’t mean it’s good.

May

  1. It feels good to write again.
  2. Coronal mass ejections can shoot billions of particles into space at over a million kilometers per hour.
  3. There’s a special area in Myanmar where tourism is allowed called “Tourism Triangle”.
  4. You will burn more calories post-workout if you lift heavy weights at low repetition than you will from lifting lighter weights at higher repetitions.
  5. Trust is earned over time, and lost in an instant.
  6. Quebec has French language laws and fined an Italian restaurant for using the word “pasta” because it wasn’t French.
  7. Canadians love coming to America and joining the NRA.
  8. Sucking on your baby’s pacifier helps them build up their immune system.
  9. Japanese people are not impressed with central air and heating.
  10. Israeli news anchors are surprisingly restricted when it comes to free speech.
  11. ! can be encoded as %21 in URL schemes.
  12. There’s never a good excuse to tell a woman when you eat without her (even when she’s four hours late.)
  13. A man’s testosterone levels are highest around 3-4 AM.
  14. You should never end a phone call with “These international rates are costing me a lot…I better go.”
  15. Furbies are now motion-activated. This is creepy.
  16. Most of teaching is about pace and timing.
  17. Carbon fiber has a great “memory”.
  18. Women forget to tell you that they forgot to take their birth control pill as easily as they forgot to take the pill in the first place.
  19. A corn husk is a plant vagina (or so I was told).
  20. Birth control pills and the cycle of hormones is impossible to understand.
  21. Even after the Libyan revolution, alcohol is still prohibited.
  22. DDR3 is better with small packets of data than with larger packets of data.
  23. Japanese men’s paunches aim upwards with age.
  24. Avoid women who depress you.
  25. 40 and unmarried isn’t pretty.
  26. Moretti is a surprisingly smooth beer.
  27. Japan has its own “Blue Cave”.
  28. My boss is fucking me out of days off.
  29. Apparently Verified by VISA is a real thing even though it seems like a password harvesting scheme.
  30. “Tree Man” diseases are warts.
  31. The previous name for AIDS was GRIDS.

June

  1. Staying out till 7am ain’t so bad if you’re not drunk when you go home.
  2. Jelly on the outside of a donut is nowhere near as good as when it’s inside.
  3. People will push you as far as you let them.
  4. Canada can show boobies on regular TV.
  5. Coffee doesn’t hold well for six hours, even if your thermos can keep it hot that long.
  6. The New Jersey special election in October will cost nearly $24 million.
  7. Your face shows weight loss before the rest of your body does.
  8. Basil pancakes do exist.
  9. There is no greater lure than that of pizza.
  10. Teaching a foreign language is all about doling out small chunks of new information.
  11. Waiting is the toughest thing to do of all.
  12. Nothing beats a hard-wired connection.
  13. Automation can go pretty haywire at times.
  14. Japanese people are terrified of the Chinese taking over the same way my mother’s scared of Mexicans.
  15. Japanese 3rd graders are super perverted.
  16. Low-rep/high-weight beats high-rep/low-weight.
  17. grep is a motherfucker.
  18. New Age’s bullshit knows no international borders.
  19. You can pick up the basics of programming by challenging yourself with more advanced programming problems.
  20. Ruby can call declarations from parent classes.
  21. active_support can help you do some bad ass shit in Ruby.
    • the_time = Time.now
    • the_time.end_of_month.beginning_of_day
  22. It’s best to let jokes from friends slide off your back, even if you’re slightly offended.
  23. Yogurt tasting ice cream isn’t that good.
  24. You can use p instead of puts to output in Ruby.
  25. Canada has never had a banking crisis.
  26. This works in Ruby. (a > b ? a : b) That’s pretty cool.
  27. Ruby is all about gems.
  28. Cold showers help increase fat burning.
  29. Loud restaurants ruin the dining experience.
  30. Spanish food beats Italian food every time.

July

  1. Ruby’s gotta a powerful date parser.
  2. Early-gen games don’t hold up so well at the end of the generation.
  3. Patent trolls live in mansions.
  4. Studying programming is all about reviewing the code over and over.
  5. “+%s” in the UNIX date command will give you the time in seconds since the Epoch.
  6. The taller a building is, the more you need to fortify it from wind.
  7. Freaks and Geeks is a great show.
  8. Sometimes, code errors make no sense.
  9. Modular code is easier to update later on than procedural code.
  10. Not every workout has to involve weights.
  11. Listening trumps all in language lessons.
  12. Use w+ => Entire Match in BBEdit to sort all lines alphabetically, regardless of preceeding code characters.
  13. “Advanced” means “smaller and more expensive”.
  14. When they say “use your tongue when you kiss” it doesn’t mean you should lick her.
  15. Gina from Nip/Tuck has been in a ton of shows.
  16. Viktor Smirnov is the Russian ambassador to Bahrain.
  17. Permanent foreign residents in Japan have to renew their residence cards every seven years.
  18. I care more about teaching than I thought I did.
  19. In Japan, even dwarves (fantasy ones!) are supposed to be cute.
  20. Since Ruby 1.9, Ruby remembers the order of hashes.
  21. Sky Clubs are totally worth the money.
  22. Masters and Johnson were a couple.
  23. Even if you don’t crash hard (sleep) the day after a Trans-Pacific flight, you will crash eventually.
  24. Pant sizes are a mystery to us all.
  25. U.S. currency is 8″ in length.
  26. Casinos attract the worst kinds of human beings.
  27. Everything’s better with tomatoes.
  28. It’s never too late for a comeback.
  29. Aeropresses work best with “espresso” grinds.
  30. "‘s can’t handle an ! in an argument for osascript.
  31. Lack of sleep increases hunger.

August

  1. Ford stopped selling the Ranger in America, but continues to sell it overseas.
  2. Minor league baseball teams have minor league fireworks nights.
  3. xargs can look for null characters to parse items for processing.
  4. You can set an OmniFocus project with AppleScript on an existing task.
  5. Riverfront Stadium opened up in June 1970.
  6. A two bedroom in the center of Cork costs about $1600 a month.
  7. Dennis Eckersly had a no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox.
  8. Harold Reynolds was fired from ESPN over sexual harassment allegations.
  9. Matt Latos has pitched two games with 13 strikeouts as a Red.
  10. There were 26,000 cases of sexual assault in the military in the last year.
  11. U.S. Bank branches in supermarkets are open on Sundays.
  12. Not drinking alcohol on long flights is a good idea if you want to sleep.
  13. After a Transpacific flight, it’s best to just go to sleep afterwards.
  14. Napping while jet lagged is a recipe for disaster.
  15. Yojimbo 4′s sync has a monthly cost.
  16. Matz is a Mormon.
  17. Lavabit’s founder is in trouble with the Feds for shutting down his email service cause they wanted to loot the data on his servers.
  18. Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s wife’s name was O-ne.
  19. Osaka has a nerdy street called “Ota Road”. (オタロード)
  20. The Ninja Gaiden arcade game didn’t have a sword.
  21. The Atari Lynx came out in 1989.
  22. The side of the abdomen is a great tickle spot.
  23. Ben Affleck will be the next Batman.
  24. Japanese women rent their wedding dresses.
  25. A&W drive-ins still exist in Okinawa.
  26. Snorkeling increases the risk of frying just your back.
  27. Blue Seal has “sugar cane” flavored ice cream.
  28. “Cave” in Okinawan is “gama”.
  29. グルクンの本当の名前は「タカサゴ」です。
  30. Most of the western coast of Okinawa is only about five meters deep.
  31. The best beach in Okinawa is called “Oodomari Beach”.

September

  1. You can buy pepper-flavored cookies in Okinawa.
  2. The Toxic Avenger had a kids cartoon called The Toxic Crusaders.
  3. Robin Williams got his start through Paul Mooney.
  4. The rain can play havoc with train schedules. :(
  5. The US government will not transfer your foreign visas to your new passport from your old passport for you.
  6. Elvis took a gun to the White House.
  7. My grandpa always gives newborn babies in our family one dollar.
  8. You have to scrap the insides out of goya before you cook it.
  9. There’s a specific property in the OmniFocus dictionary for “number of tasks”.
  10. It takes just two hours to drive around the coast of Miyakojima.
  11. Even passed arguments that have been quoted require a space in between them.
  12. Bash variables with filenames containing spaces need to have the variable call wrapped in quotes.
  13. Shako is a difficult to eat relative of the shrimp.
  14. The word for “gangbang” in Portuguese is “gangi bangi”.
  15. The surface area of one large pizza is bigger than the surface area of two medium pizzas.
  16. Use #tr in Ruby to swap characters in a string.
  17. The guy who did the artwork for Crusin’ USA did the logo for Yoplait.
  18. The Pragmatic Programmer was originally published in 1999.
  19. Bash can’t use * as globs inside quotes.
  20. Apple Store employees in Japan still suck at setting up new phone contracts.
  21. The Coleccovision had a module to let you play Atari games.
  22. Nakatsugawa is famous for chestnuts.
  23. Dexter’s finale is the only thing worse than Mass Effect 3′s original ending.
  24. The “break” is the small wrinkle caused when the top of your shoe stops your trouser cuff from falling to its full length.
  25. TouchID on the iPhone 5s can be spoofed.
  26. A good suit or sports jacket should fall past the waist and drape over the top of the curve formed by the buttocks.
  27. 38.5% of Japanese women do not want to be homemakers.
  28. Shochu is typically 25% alcohol.
  29. “崇” has seven different readings. The most common is “たかし”.
  30. American Indians didn’t have pork until the Spanish showed up.

October

  1. Using strftime('%e') puts a blank space before single digit dates. In Ruby, use #strip to counteract this is the space causes a problem.
  2. Multiplying a number and a string in Ruby requires the string to come first in the equation.
  3. zsh lets you throw up extra stuff on the right side of the terminal.
  4. brew can install the latest version of Ruby. (Thought you needed RVM.)
  5. Game Center CX 1 and 2 were developed by different developers.
  6. Check file size with UNIX’s stat command using -f %z.
  7. Combining find and xargs can make for a powerful file deletion tool.
  8. Ruby can check all sorts of file stats using the method File#stat.
  9. The PS3 was originally planned to ship alongside the Xbox 360.
  10. Add #flatten to an array before each to work on nested arrays in Ruby.
  11. String#intern == String#to_sym.
  12. There’s an I-74 sign in the E3 demo of Last of Us.
  13. Tom Cruise owns a P-51 Mustang.
  14. You can have multiple wives in Gabon.
  15. 70% of Sicilian businesses pay protection money.
  16. Ruby gem watchr can watch folders and do things automatically for you.
  17. Batman had a brother.
  18. ニパチ has a digital menu reader.
  19. HD remasters of PS2 games on PS3 still look terrible.
  20. Japanese wasps grow up to about 6 cm in length.
  21. Rake always looks for a :default task if you don’t run a specific test.
  22. Gay marriage is now legal in New Jersey.
  23. Jim Gordon’s son James was crazy.
  24. Numbers no longer has an AppleScript dictionary.
  25. Automator gained a Display Notification action under Mavericks.
  26. Avoid Alex Fraioli whenever possible.
  27. You can find everything needed for life in Japan (excluding food) at a hundred yen shop.
  28. The Joker met Harley Quinn at Blackgate, not Arkham.
  29. Congress has a member who was first elected before the advent of the microchip.
  30. Microsoft Office now has a larger AppleScript library than iWork does.
  31. They make fruit flavored cigarettes.

November

  1. The lead singer of Filter is actor Robert Patrick’s brother.
  2. OS X is internally referred to by wine names.
  3. HyperCard cost 0 back in the day.
  4. Chef Yasuda of Sushi Yasuda is a karate master.
  5. An American-made t-shirt routinely costs 2-3 times more than a similar t-shirt made in a third world country.
  6. Artie Lang was hooked on heroine.
  7. Mike Tyson used to raise pigeons as a kid.
  8. Five hours of a wine buffet is too much.
  9. When you drink a lot of red wine and throw up, it comes back up all red.
  10. You can just use $ -> in CoffeeScript to set up jQuery’s document ready handler.
  11. CSS3 can do gradients.
  12. Sass had a previous whitespace significant syntax before scss.
  13. CSS was first released in 1996.
  14. CSS3 added border-radius for the first time.
  15. There’s a difference between email ‘forward’ and ‘redirect’.
  16. The Fifth Element is ridonkulous.
  17. David Lynch wouldn’t put his own name on Dune.
  18. The word for nursery school teacher in Japanese is literally protective mother.
  19. Mashed potatoes in a vaccuum sealed bag do exist!
  20. Vim lets you delete a line with just a double tap of d.
  21. Google is pushing client side ad serving.
  22. zsh allows for line breaks in quotes, while bash does not.
  23. Pinner for iOS does Instapaper-style text parsing.
  24. The flu shot can make your arm swell.
  25. Keynote has a flame animation. Bad-fucking-ass.
  26. Even Japanese employees who never meet with customers sometimes have to wear uniforms.
  27. Heather Graham is 43.
  28. Lincoln originally started Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
  29. Adam Carolla’s grandpa was a stay-at-home husband.
  30. Next year will be the year of the horse.

December

  1. Paul Walker was 40 when he died.
  2. JFK had a bowel disorder in his younger years.
  3. Fuck JavaScript. No seriously. That’s what I learned today.
  4. English Breakfast
  5. Objective-C has nightmarish syntax.
  6. If you’re a good looking guy in advertising, you too can have a fiance and seven girlfriends.
  7. Everyone from every country has a “Mama’s meatballs” recipe.
  8. Japanese laundromats can call you when your stuff is ready.
  9. PGP’s been around since 1991.
  10. You can buy doctor’s office-grade cold medicine for cheap on the Internet.
  11. SNAFU and FUBAR were military slang.
  12. Matsumoto Yukihiro is from Shimane.
  13. Mavericks tags can be written from the command line using a plist, but Finder comments can’t be done in the same fashion.
  14. FORTRAN started the practice of using *s for multiplication.
  15. The first computer was built using a punch card system in 1890 for the purposes of collecting the census.
  16. Ajax was originally a term for the flush toilet in 1596.
  17. The term ‘calling a function’ comes from the fact that they used to be referenced by call numbers.
  18. According to Netflix, the average speed of Google Fiber is 3.52 Mbps.
  19. OS X Mavericks has excellent PS3 controller support.
  20. jQuery is just an Ajax library.
  21. Steam’s holiday sale is massive.
  22. Japanese Netflix-style services charge for shipping on mail rental DVDs.
  23. It’s possible for Steam to run out of digital goods to sell (i.e. keys).
  24. Houses are either built on a foundation or a slab.
  25. The Hippocratic Oath is just 300 words long.
  26. ‘The Internship’ is a two-hour Google advert.
  27. Ptolemy was the father of astronomy.
  28. The first birth control pill derived its hormones from horse urine.
  29. Japan’s number one reality show is a show about a guy with too many kids.
  30. There are more irrational numbers than rational ones.
  31. If you pump your butt full of powder, you can fart it out. (Thanks, Japanese TV. )

Games I Played in 2013

Xbox 360

Mass Effect 3

Through the early part of the year, I was still playing quite a lot of Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. Mass Effect 3′s last DLC was early this year and when the newness of it wore off, the multiplayer community started to drift away. I continued to play Mass Effect 3 up through May or so. Mass Effect 3 was the first game ever that I got really into the multiplayer and I’m glad it lasted as long as it did.

PS3

Batman: Arkham Origins

I loved Arkahm Asylum and liked Arkham City a lot. Arkham Origins was the Batman game of this generation that I just “enjoyed”. The story is okay, but it’s not great. The combat is just like that of the previous two games, but it makes no sense why a younger Batman has gadgets that an older Batman didn’t have. Also, the boss battles are either too easy or frustrating due to poor implementation of the controls. Arkham Origins lacks balance.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag

AC4 was a nice surprise. It felt more like an Assassin’s Creed game than AC3, but it largely ignored the Assassin/Templar story. The sailing stuff from AC3 became a major part of AC4 and it’s interesting, but when you’re spending more time sailing instead of assassinating, the game starts losing its “Assassins Creed”-ness.

3DS

Super Mario 3D Land

I barely touched my 3DS this year, and even for a Mario game, I could barely bring myself to play it. I didn’t bother to finish SM3DL.

PC

The Wolf Among Us

TWAU is the DC comic series Fables turned into a Walking Dead-style adventure game. It’s full of cursing and over-the-top violence, and I enjoyed it more than The Walking Dead even.

The Walking Dead: Season 2

Speaking of The Walking Dead, Season 2 started. It’s The Walking Dead. It’s great. That’s all.

Teslagrad

Teslagrad is a puzzle-platformer that uses magnetism as its main method of puzzle-solving. It’s got a handdrawn-steampunk look that’s gorgeous and the boss battles are reminiscent of classic NES-era twitchy boss fights.

Dear Esther

Dear Esther is not a game. It’s a mildly interactive story, and it’s great at telling that story. Buy the end of the game, you will feel the narrator’s pain.

The Witcher

The Witcher is an RPG with lots of sex, magic and dudes who look like they could be in a rock band. Also, you get trading cards for having sex with different women.

The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable is also not a game. It’s a collection of funny endings. It’s great as well.

My Old Fridge

There has been a great weight lifted off of my shoulders. That weight is my old refrigerator. I had an old, broken refrigerator sitting in my apartment for close to 4 years, probably. It’s been there so long, that I was starting to think it would always be there. You see, getting rid of a refrigerator is a huge pain in Japan. There’s no dragging large items out for garbage pickup. You’ve gotta pay around $50 bucks for large item disposal. But electronics are special items here and they flat out won’t take a refrigerator. You’ve gotta get a disposal service to take it off your hands.

I had two opportunities to have it disposed of and I missed out on those each time, with the cost of disposal going up each time. The first time was 4 years ago when my ex-girlfriend’s father, who owns an appliance shop offered to take it away for free. I misheard him though, thinking that he would need ¥5000, when in fact he was saying it would save me ¥5000, and I kept it around. At this point, the fridge actually still worked. I just didn’t need it because I had a newer one as well. The second chance was when I bought my new TV three years ago. The electronics store took away my old TV for free and would’ve taken away the old fridge for ¥3000 as well, but, it was still usable, so I had it in my mind that I could still sell it and get some money out of it.

Eventually, the old fridge up and died and I was left with a bunk fridge sitting around taking up space not only physically, but psychologically as well. It was getting in my way on two fronts. It sat there for years and it just became part of the scenery. It became a metaphor for the perpetual rut I’ve been in for the last few years: unchanging and useless.

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a recycling shop yesterday (2013–12–08) and for ¥4300, I finally ridded myself of the old broken down refrigerator. I feel like it’s the first step in moving forward.

How I Learned to Program

HTML/CSS

I wish I had learned HTML and CSS before learning anything else. You can reach the largest group of people and quickly and visually express yourself the easiest by building a web site. And a lot of the projects you work on with other languages will eventually lead you to building a web site to showcase those projects. It’s available on every operating system as well, so you can reach everybody.

Regular Expressions

Regular expressions have let me do massive renaming projects. I’ve experimented with a few different file naming schemes over the last year, and using Regexes made it easy to match patterns and change file names to new patterns in a few seconds. Also, using grep and Ruby’s Regex support, it’s improved my searching on the hard drive and finding patterns in my programs. If you’re a programmer, you have to learn Regex if you want to be as effective as you possibly can be.

JavaScript

JavaScript is another language that’s ubiquitous. All web browsers support it and it’s a great fall-back. It’s probably because I learned Ruby before JavaScript, but I picked up the syntax quickly, and after having studied Ruby, the oddities of JavaScript drove me a little nuts. Having to declare variables with var, the verbose functions and having to end everything with semicolons was insane to me. Thankfully, [CoffeeScript][http://coffeescript.org] exists. CoffeeScript started of as a Ruby gem for cleanly and succinctly writing JavaScript and because of that, the syntax for CoffeeScript is a lot like Ruby. In some ways, CoffeeScript’s syntax is even cleaner than Ruby’s is.

You can declare constructor variables like this:

Class Person

constructor: (@name,@age)

Now, you’ve created a Person class and you don’t have to even do the Ruby thing of @name = name or @age = age. I’m kind of in love with CoffeeScript, and since JavaScript is new to me, I’m really excited about writing CoffeeScript that will turn into JavaScript and be used with HTML5 and CSS to build some great web sites in the future. I’ve already got some ideas.

Shell

The Unix shell was actually the second language I learned. I’m not even sure it’s a language. It’s a collection of awesome small programs that glue together in the most amazing ways though. It seems like every day, I find some Unix program I never knew about. The day I discovered at was great. I wrote up a bunch of timer scripts for myself that I now use on a daily basis. The shell is also the hardest language to wrap your head around. A lot of it was written a long time ago and the documentation is spotty at times. The “community” surrounding Unix and shell scripting isn’t as welcoming as say Ruby’s is. They’re not also eager to help and often the discussions they’re having are over a beginner’s head. It would behoove every Mac user who wants total control over OS X to learn to utilize Unix’s power.

Ruby

Ruby was the third language I learned and probably my favorite (although CoffeeScript is giving it a run for its money). It’s very powerful and yet flexible in its abilities and acceptable syntax. It’s easy to invoke system commands so you can leverage the power of Unix in your Ruby programs too. The Ruby community is a sprawling and friendly one.

AppleScript

And then there’s AppleScript. It was the first language I learned. While many dismiss it as not a real language and some say that its day in the sun has past, AppleScript was the most immediately useful language to me. I wanted to script OmniFocus and a few other OS X apps. The only way to do that was to learn AppleScript. I learned not only how to script through AppleScript but I also picked up the general theories driving computer programming. Maybe Ruby or Python would’ve been better to start out with, but I had a goal, scripting OmniFocus, and because of that goal, I probably was driven to stick with it.

I’ll admit it’s not a great general purpose programming language. It’s only useful on Macs, there’s no built-in Regex support, problems often arise when manipulating files, and you can’t do much with applications if they don’t support AppleScript in the first place.

The Future

I see myself using AppleScript when I need it, although Apple keeps breaking support in their own applications. OmniFocus 2.0 Pro will have AppleScript support so I’ll definitely still be writing scripts there. I use shell scripts whenever possible because they’re often the simplest and fastest solutions to basic scripting problems. I’m working towards eventually building a Rails app, so Ruby will a major part of my programming life. And CoffeeScript/JavaScript is mandatory if I’m going to build interactive web sites, so I’ll continue working in them as well.

I know I’m still a novice, but I’m getting better every day. I hope I just didn’t wait too long to start being a programmer to do something with it.

Batman: Arkham Origins

Spoilers abound! Precede only if you’ve finished Batman: Arkham Origins.

Batman Arkham Origins 13671866588883

I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ XP

I often felt like I needed to do the side missions in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City because I needed the XP. I need to unlock more gadgets or abilities to get the job done effectively. In Arkham Origins, I never felt that way. In fact, the only side missions I completed while doing the main story the first time through were the Riddler’s radio towers. They were fun to complete, as I imagine a lot of the other side missions will be when I get around to them, but at least the Riddler’s radio towers were necessary, for the most part. Sure, you could glide around the city freely, but the chance to open up the whole of Gotham to fast travel is appealing. Aside from this though, I didn’t feel the need to accrue extra XP to do anymore upgrading than the XP I gained along the way while completing the main story afforded me.

Assassin Appearances Unbalanced

You know, for having eight assassin’s after Batman, you’d never really know it. It seems like only four of them ever really got the message. Electrocutioner kinda shows up, Copperhead makes a valiant effort, Firefly pops up as filler towards the end, and Bane is in the game way more than he needs to be. The boss encounters in Origins are really unbalanced.

Electrocutioner

Electrocutioner may be the worst “boss” fight I’ve ever played. Oh! Hit square! Fight over. No, seriously. But he gets away because Batman didn’t tie him up, like I was telling the TV that he should do! Then, Joker kills him and you raid his corpse for the win button (I mean, Shock Gloves). He only exists in this game to let you get your Shock Gloves.

Deathstroke

I enjoyed the Deathstroke fight. It felt like a classic Arkham boss fight and was mildly challenging. It was a little prompt heavy at times though, and the reason I had to replay it a bunch of times was because I was being a bit too proactive with my countering and while the game wanted me to have a really cinematic counter with Deathstroke, I was trying to play it like a regular fight, which led me to countering earlier than the game wanted me to and then dying five times.

Copperhead

Copperhead’s fight was also fun. She poison’s you and while you’re walking out of the building to pick up an antidote drop, you’re caught in a hallucinogenic scrap with ten Copperheads all at once. It’s a shame more boss fights weren’t like this.

Firefly

Hey mom! I’m a QTE sequence.

Bane

What’s the deal with Bane getting three fights? Had the developers watched Dark Knight Rises so many times that they had Bane on the brain? You first encounter Bane with at the hotel should’ve been the last. It’s the hardest of all the encounters and I felt like “what was the point?” after artificially losing after getting him down to a sliver of health. You put a tracker on him, but he uses it to lure you away so he can kinda, but not really, destroy the Batcave. Then, he kinda, but not really, kills Alfred. Good thing Plot Device’s (I mean Electrocutioner’s) Shock Gloves are around to save the day (again). Then, you see him again back at Blackgate Prison, and after you kick his ass, Batman’s dumb rule about not killing anyone brings him back and you get to fight him a third time, and this time it’s one of those “use the environment” fights. I never really like those.

Anarky, Shiva, And Deadshot Only Show Up As Side Missions

Remember how there were eight assassins? Remember only fighting four of them? (Electrocutioner doesn’t count!) Well, the other three are still out there, but as side missions! I didn’t do any side missions yet, so I’ll not pass judgement on their quality, only that what’s the point of saying you have eight assassins after you when only five ever come after you?

Story

I know they want everyone to know think that this Batman game is the just the same and as good as the last two, but they’ve gone overboard with the “Arkham” naming scheme. This game never goes anywhere near Arkham Asylum, and Arkham City hasn’t been thought up yet. In fact, the only mention of Arkham Asylum is at the end, during a radio sequence during the credits where they talk about Arkham being reopened.

I was a little disappointed at the length of Arkham Origimns as well. Playing just the main story clocked in around eight hours, and while there was a lot of filler like Firefly’s oddly timed appearance and Bane’s way too much camera time, the ending of Arkham Origins wound up feeling rushed somehow. The first encounter with Joker was really great and you get to see how Joker feels about Batman. The final encounter goes by way too fast and you’re barely in control of the game during the final sequence. It’s little more than a QTE at the end.

Overall Verdict

I enjoyed Arkham Origins. The more I think about the game though, the more I find that I dislike about it. I still have a lot to do: Anarky, Deadshot and Shiva’s side missions for starters. Also, Mad Hatter and Riddler’s bits. I didn’t do more than two of the challenges in the Batcave and none of the Predator challenges. There is also supposed to be new story DLC in the upcoming season pass, which while I haven’t purchased yet, I would gladly pay another $20 for more Batman story content.

Launch Center Pro 2.0 is Pretty Great

Screenshot 2013 10 11 12 20 27

Before I was writing AppleScripts, shell scripts and Ruby scripts, I was playing around with URL schemes. iOS URL schemes were my gateway drug to automation. It seemed magical to me (at first) that I could send OmniFocus tasks or email messages around with URLs. (This was before Javascript automation from Mobile Safari hit me too, which really bowled me over.) But, Launch Center Pro was showing its age. With iOS 7, Launch Center Pro felt heavy (UI-wise) and it hadn’t seen an update in a while. To my surprise, Launch Center Pro 2.0 launched today and shockingly, it’s a free update for existing customers.

What’s New?

  1. Launch Center Pro got an iOS 7 style makeover. The typefaces are lighter, there are now three themes for the app (light, dark and classic) and when you’re creating or modifying an action you get all the options in one screen. (I believe you had to drill down a little to get to custom URLs previously. That’s now available right up front.) There are new glyphs for folder icons and new background textures for actions.
  2. There are new actions for Dropbox. You can now send photos or the clipboard to Dropbox and optionally get a shareable link returned to you. There is also a [[dropbox]] tag that will pull up a Dropbox file chooser that you can include in your own actions.
  3. You can call on Launch Center Pro actions from outside Launch Center Pro. If you have a Drafts action or an Ashes “Share Anywhere” action, you can call Launch Center Pro actions externally.
  4. You can share your actions. There is a “share” button inside the action editor screen that will take you to Launch Center Pro’s site and let you create a shareable link to your action for others to import on their own iPhones.
  5. You can backup your actions. There is now an option to backup your actions to Dropbox; manually or automatically. I recommend manually, because if you choose automatic backup, it backs up after every little change you make.
  6. You can have as many named prompts as you want! Prior to 2.0, you could only have multiple prompts of the same type. You can now mix keyboard and numerical keyboard prompts and pull up Dropbox files as well in your actions.

Any complaints?

The glyphs are different for folders and actions. Maybe this is to preserve compatibility with the previous version of Launch Center Pro, but the glyphs you have for folders and actions are not the same. The action glyphs are the same as before, but the folder glyphs are the new Glyphish set for iOS 7, I think. They’re very nice, and I’d much rather have them for my actions as well.

Final Verdict

Launch Center Pro 2.0 is a fantastic update. I’ve already used the smarter prompts to simplify my existing actions and make some of them more interactive than before. The look is great, it’s faster and opens up even more possibilities for automating iOS. I’m surprised it’s free too. I would’ve payed $5 again (or maybe even $10) for this update.

Baby’s First Programming Language

AESadFace

AppleScript gets a bad rap amongst programmers. It’s true, it’s not the most efficient language. It’s miserable at manipulating text. Regex support is non-existent, you have to roll your own sorts and reverses, and it’s got two different file types for compiled and compiled scripts. I’m now on the road to being a Rubyist, and I love Ruby, but AppleScript was the language that got me into programming. The best way to get good at programming is to have a task that you need programming to accomplish. Given a goal, you’ll learn how to make the tool work to perform the task you need it to do. For me, it was scripting OmniFocus, and in order to script OmniFocus, I needed to learn AppleScript. I went through countless online tutorials, bought Hamish Sanderson’s book on AppleScript and then read a lot of Googled and DuckDuckGo’d articles from MacScripter. And while I may have gone about learning AppleScript the hard way (not book first!) I have a pretty good understanding of AppleScript now, and I can often just look at an app’s dictionary and figure out how things should work. (When that fails, email the developer of the app you’re scripting. They often have great example scripts to share.)

I did quickly realize AppleScript’s two big flaws:

  1. It’s slow.
  2. It sucks for general purpose work.

AppleScript lacks the low-level speed of a Bash script and it also lacks the nifty iterators that Ruby has. Both writing and running AppleScripts can be slow. If you’re not doing a lot of data manipulation, it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s something to think about.

Probably the bigger problem though is that AppleScript isn’t great with non-application scripting tasks. In order to sort a list in AppleScript, you’ve gotta write your own handler. In Ruby:

a = [1,3,5,10,2,6]
a.sort => [1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10]

or maybe…

string = "Brandon is a sexy man."
string.reverse=> ".nam yxes a si nodnarB"

I thought all these handy methods in Ruby were awesome, coming from just a background in AppleScript. Bash functions can be extremely hard to write and while I understood how to do them in AppleScript, it’s just a pain to implement.

So, while I do most of my programming in Ruby now (and occasionally Bash), I realize that AppleScript has its uses and that there are certain things (like scripting existing applications) that AppleScript excels at. Don’t be a hater of AppleScript. Best thing we can do is keep using it while at the same time making sure Apple knows people still care about it and want to see it improve.

iPhone 5s Review (sort of…)

What’s New Is Not That New

I’ve spent a week with the iPhone 5s now, and of all the iPhone’s I’ve owned, and I’ve owned every one except the first, this feels like the least significant upgrade yet. That’s not really something bad though. The iPhone 5 was (and is) pretty great. Externally, the only differences between my iPhone 5 and my iPhone 5s are the Space Gray casing and the new home button. I’m sure there’s a slight speed boost as well, but after iOS 7 slightly slowed down my iPhone 5, iOS 7 on the faster iPhone 5s just feels normal.

Space Gray is the New Black

Screen Shot 2013 09 27 at 8 03 13 PM

There’s not a black iPhone anymore. That’s weird, right? Instead, we’ve got Space Gray, which is fine. Truth is, most people, (I know, not John Gruber) use a case. I bought one of the new Apple cases as well. The color doesn’t matter all that much when you have 60% of the phone covered up with a case. The front of the phone is black and my leather case is black, so, it’s essentially a black iPhone. I’d love to go caseless, and actually did for the first couple weeks with the iPhone 5, but I buy a new one every year and I sell the old one off. I need to keep it as pristine as possible so I can get as much of my money back as I can for these damn things. It’s a fine color though, and probably less prone to the chipping that people experienced with the black iPhone 5. I approve of Space Gray.

Security Meets Ease of Use

Much has been said about TouchID being fooled into acknowleding fake fingerprints. I’m not surprised at this development, but it’s highly unlikely that someone will have a good fingerprint, your iPhone, the equipment required to do this and the skill that doing this requires. For a more secure solution, Apple would be better off to require a password and a fingerprint every time you want to unlock your phone. As with all things, there are trade-offs with security and convenience. As far as security goes, I’m satisfied with TouchID. I haven’t lost a phone yet, and I’m not worried about a perfect print being pulled off my phone.

In the convenience department, I’m thoroughly satisfied with TouchID. You tap the home button to wake the device, let your thumb linger and BAM! you’re in the OS. It’s smooth and easy to use. Just remember to wipe the fried chicken grease off your grubby paws.

Happy As a Pig In…

I’m pleased with my iPhone 5s. It’s the hardware that iOS 7 was designed for. It’s the best iOS 7 experience I’ve had so far. I’ve yet to see any noticeable performance boosts in any specific apps, but everything feels as smooth as iOS 6 did on my iPhone 5. Nothing feels slow, and that’s the most you can hope for. Maybe, as apps get iPhone 5s-optimized code up on the App Store, we’ll see the performance of the iPhone 5s jump up.


All observations are of a 64GB Space Gray iPhone 5s running on Softbank’s LTE network.

Otto’s Antenna and Remote

Screen Shot 2013 08 22 at 11 52 29 PM

There’s an interesting new combo of apps out called Otto’s Antenna and Otto’s Remote (Official Site). Otto’s Antenna sits in the menu bar of your Mac and you give it AppleScripts, shell scripts and Automator workflows to manage. That’s all. Otto’s Remote, on your iPhone, can remotely trigger any scripts in Otto’s Antenna’s scripts folder. Anywhere. You don’t have to be in range of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It works over iCloud (and surprisingly well). That’s nifty, but even niftier is that Otto’s Remote using geofencing to trigger scripts automatically. You can set these up with multiple Macs, with any script that Otto’s Antenna knows about, and can be set up to fire when you enter or leave a location.

Ottos

Otto’s Antenna costs $3.99 and Otto’s Remote is free.

Questions from WWDC 2013

IOS 7 calendar app

Will the iOS 7 calendar support natural language input?

The new iOS 7 calendar app looks pretty and all, but I wonder if it’ll support natural language input. If it doesn’t, then all the fancy graphics won’t make a difference. I’ll keep using Fantastical because its language parsing makes adding calendar events a breeze.

Is the weather app still using the same weather backend?

I’ve grown to love Forecast.io and I want to continue to use it, but I’m gonna bet Apple ain’t using it.

Will the new Siri voices be available for OS X?

You can download Siri’s voice, Samantha, for OS X. Will the new male and female voices be available for OS X McCain/Palin ‘08 as well.

How secure is the new iCloud keychain?

Will you have to unlock the keychain when you want to access your passwords or are they going to be opened up after just your four digit pin code is used to unlock the screen?

Can the iCloud keychain store other info like software licenses and attachments to notes?

Can the iCloud keychain replace 1Password? I use 1Password to store software licenses and other secure notes (with attachments) and I’m betting iCloud keychain won’t do those things.