Saturday, December 31, 2011

Today's episode of "Things that irritate me."

Okay, here's another thing that irritates me (is this a sign of getting old?):

Arrogant, iconoclastic jackasses who think their personal taste in music (or books, movies, whatever) is objectively correct and anyone who disagrees is simply wrong. These jerks seem to be positively eager to express their disdain and contempt. Bonus irritation if they also feel the need to expound at length on exactly why you are wrong.


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Mouse Trap

So I wrote this little applet. If you move the mouse into the gray panel, then press and hold the left button, you will not be able to move the mouse out of the panel until you release the button. It also leaves a trail, and tracks the location of the mouse cursor while it is being dragged around in the panel.

This uses Java's Robot class, which can take control of the keyboard and mouse. This is a big security risk, so, even though I promise that this applet does nothing malicious (or anything more than I've described for that matter), unless you know and/or trust me, do not give the applet permission to run.

If you don't give it permission, it will still track the mouse when dragged around in the panel, but it won't trap it there.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Well that's a question answered

Sometimes I get email for a Prof. John Marley (or Dr. John Marley). It hasn't happened in a while. I usually just mark it spam and delete it. Today however, the body of the email included the address it was meant to go to.

That isn't me.

My email address is

So I did a search on the mistaken address. What I found is that there is a doctor in Australia named John E. Marley, whose email address is

So if someone leaves the "prof." off, gmail probably finds my address before his as a best guess. I suppose I'll forward the mail I received today to him.


Friday, April 08, 2011

I can't watch lecture videos.

I can't watch certain types of videos.

Specifically lecture or debate videos in which the scene is just people talking (and using slides as visual aids).

For instance, I have been trying to watch videos of last night's debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig. I am really, really interested in this debate. But I just can't follow it. I would be different if I was actually there, but not a lot. I hated lectures in college, too. I usually skipped them. (I'd go to the class website for reading/homework assignments, and to recitations or office hours to ask questions).

But sticking to my problem with videos.

If the speaker has an accent or a monotonic voice, mumbles, speaks too quickly or too slowly then I will tune out, no matter how hard I try to follow. The same goes for a poor quality audio recording. If there is an audience, the mic often picks up that noise, too, and drowns out the speaker. If the speaker sounds like someone else, I will be too distracted to follow along. (I can't listen to either Isaac Asimov or Richard Feynman. They both have an accent that reminds me too much of Billy Crystal.)

There's no possible interaction either. If I don't understand something, I can't say "Please repeat that." I have to back up the video and listen again. And it will be exactly the same each time. So I may have to listen several times to work out what is being said.

Then there are too many distractions on my end to list.

I don't have the same problem with studio produced and edited videos or shows. I have no problem with Mythbusters or videos like this one, because they are designed to be engaging. Just watching someone talk is boring, no matter how interested I am in the subject matter.

So I try to find transcripts if I can. Failing that I have to rely on reviews and summaries. Which sucks, because if the reviewer gets it wrong, so do I.


Sunday, March 13, 2011


So, I'm sitting here doing some net-surfing. I see what seems to be a shadow of something moving on the wall. But when I turn my head to get a better look, there's no shadow. "Weird" I think, and turn back to the computer. The moving shadow returns immediately. Gone when I look. There. Gone. There. Gone. "But that's mad," I think (in Simon Jones' voice). Eventually I realize that it isn't a shadow. It's a reflection in my glasses. When I move my head to look where the "shadow" seems to be, the object is no longer reflected.

I'm pretty tired (going to bed soon).


The Wise Man's Fear

I just finished The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day 2 by Patrick Rothfuss. It was an excellent follow-up to The Name of the Wind.

I am going to make one prediction. Ambrose Jakis will be the king Kvothe eventually kills.

In the first book, Ambrose is well over a dozen steps from the throne. Early in this one, it is mentioned in passing that several people in line ahead of him were killed in a shipwreck, putting him at a dozen. Much later it is mentioned in passing that the crown prince has been killed in a duel, moving Ambrose that much closer.

Given that Ambrose is thoroughly vile, and he and Kvothe share a mutual hatred, it isn't hard to imagine Ambrose taking the throne and doing something for which Kvothe feels he needs to die.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Remember this guy?

Any PSU alums who attended the University Park campus will fondly</sarcasm> remember the Willard Preacher. It turns out he has a website! Yes, it is every bit as bad as you probably expect.

Here's a tidbit on atheism from the "Musings" section, topic "Atheism":