km switches


If you have two or more computers in the same physical space that you want to control with a single mouse/keyboard you need “KM switch software”.

I’ve tried three products

  1. Kavoom KM — Very Solid product. Windows only. Unfortunately it is $39.95
  2. Synergy — Cross platform (Windows/Linux/Mac), free and open source, but unfortunately the least capable of the three (as tends to happen with things cross platform).
  3. Input Director — My current choice. Nearly as good as Kavoom. Windows only. Free.

blake’s got a new face

Saying “everybody’s talking about them” is highly subjective, but indeed, lots of people are talking about Vampire Weekend.

Describing their sound as “Upper West Side Soweto,” New York City’s Vampire Weekend mixes preppy, well-read indie rock with joyful, Afro-pop-inspired melodies and rhythms. Ezra Koenig, Chris Baio, Rostam Batmanglij, and Chris Tomson formed the band early in 2006, when they were finishing up their studies at Columbia University. Taking their name from a movie Koenig made during his freshman year, the band started out by playing gigs at the university’s literary societies and at parties.

My only contribution to this is to point out the album is coming out in a couple of days and they have a couple of interesting live performances posted online.

  • Take a way shows, the band performing songs on the streets of Paris. The first one is just okay, but the second is great and the end of the third one is amazing — be sure to scroll down.
  • Other Music had them perform in-store. Okay, but is there anything more annoying than splicing an interview in during the songs!

While struggling to figure out which link to point to, I remembered Musicbrainz has a “relationships” feature which lists a bunch at once.



force dynamics


If you read Engadget, you might have seen this yesterday. It is a video featuring the Force Dynamics 401.

Funny enough, on our way to visit my brother in Toronto, we stopped at the Force Dynamics headquarters in upstate New York to check these out in person! My father was interested in the flight simulator version, which is about 85% similar to the driving version and can be converted back and forth with a little bit of work. The video demonstrates the motion much better than I could try to describe — it needs to been seen (ideally felt) to believe.

I drove a few laps in Live for Speed and RFactor — the sim itself supports lots of different games, but these two strive for realism, where many of the others are more fantasy/arcade style. The neat part is the games are completely standard, so all the online racing features work, you can race real people all over the world, as well as upgrade to newer games and PC hardware as the software improves. Apparently one of the tricks is you don’t tell anyone you are playing with that you are sitting in a simulator that has such dramatic motion or else you’ll get bumped without remorse.

The other neat thing about a simulator as compared to driving in real life is you can drive cars that you’d never be able to drive in real life on tracks that are impossible to get on or even don’t even exist anymore. For instance I drove a 1955 Mercedes F1 (Wikipedia link: W916), a beast of a car which won the world championship in ’54 and ’55 (Mercedes got out of racing for 30 years after a crash killed a driver and 82 spectators at Le Mans) on the legendary and dangerous Nordschleife.

For those not willing or able to accommodate a 750 pound simulator in your home, may I suggest something along Jeff Atwood’s rig?


Hasbro, embrace it already

imageYou might have heard that Hasbro has finally gotten around to trying to sue the makers of Scrabulous, the incredibly popular Facebook app. 

As these things usually go, this is probably a mistake.

Thanks to Scrabulous+Facebook suddenly millions of people are talking about Scrabble again. Take a great example from this past weekend: My parents, Emily and I were visiting my brother Kevin+family in Toronto. Over the past couple of weeks I have been playing Scrabulous with my mom and with Emily, so it was fresh in our minds when we were looking for indoor activities, it being Canada in wintertime after all.

We drove to Toys R Us and purchased Scrabble — from Hasbro, with real cash money. I hadn’t even been to a Toys R Us in twenty years or so.

Now the Scrabulous folks should undoubtedly work out some kind of deal with Hasbro, but really the motivation on Hasbro’s part should be to get the real branding plastered all over the app, and remind people to buy the physical version too. (We had to settle for the cheaper version at the store, there was no deluxe (the one that swivels) model available which we would have gladly paid for.)

But probably they’ll f’ it up and I’ll end up hating them for ruining my good time and never buy another board game from them ever.


one hand clapping


Many people don’t appreciate how a snap works.

It is not about the fingers.

A snap is your middle finger hitting the fat part of your palm. The actual snapping motion is just a way to pre-load tension on your finger and releasing it quickly.

In my technique I use my ring finger to pull down on the skin on my hand to create a more flat landing pad — a method I developed without even understanding what I was doing.

If you know any Persians (Iranians) ask them to do the Beshkan for you. It is a two handed snapping technique that is 5x louder than our western version. Here’s a Persian site that explains it, even includes a video (link on the right): 

photo from whatbettertime @ Flickr 




ffffound is basically Digg for arty images. This just brought me back — I had this exact one and a few others as a kid, loved the colors and thought I’d share.

[via ffffound]


chairs and recommendations

imageI just bought this chair for my new office.

Dan, one of the guys here was sharing his experiences with the essentially back-to-school-shopping-for-adults process involved with moving into your own company’s office for the first time. He sat in “at least 10” chairs and deemed this one to be his favorite. And it was priced reasonably at $189 and the store was right around the corner, so I went for it.

Now, three other people (making five of us) in an office of 16 desks all have this same chair.

The power of recommendations… none of us know about chairs, we all needed one, someone we know in real life did some basic amount of original research and that was good enough for us. Buying things, especially ones that you use every day and cost more than $20 or so is a stressful proposition and is a principal driver for peer reviews.

I’m totally happy with my new chair purchase, but I got lucky — lucky that I had a resource right here to ask. Notches is working on facilitating this interaction in an organized, intelligent way.