Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Past Blogs

Glass Pumpkin 2009 #2.


Glass Pumpkin 2009 #2 Here is another of my attempts at a glass pumpkin. I did this one during a "blow your own" session at Blowing Sands, a little glassblowing studio quite close to home. This pumpkin is less than perfect because I asked to do more in way of heating and shaping the piece than with previous pieces. But I still think it's quite cute!

After shaping the pumpkin body, you still need to do a stem, which I find quite intimidating. You have to gather a bit, pick up the color, and dunk it in the mold. Then you attach it to the pumpkin, twist the bitrod, and swirl it around some kind of tube. Lastly, cut the stem off the pipe and torch the end to smooth it. And you have to do all of this quickly, before the pumpkin body shatters! Lon Clark, the professional glassblower who runs the BYO events at Blowing Sands, did this stem.

As always, thanks to the husband for the photography.

When Beggars Can Be Choosers?


I work in downtown Seattle. I encounter a constant stream of panhandlers while walking to and from the office. I never give them money. Once time, I bought an extra turkey sandwich at the grocery store, thinking I'd give it to a fellow with a sign just outside the store.

"Oh", he said, "I'm vegetarian. But I'll take a coke!" So I pulled a pulled a Diet Coke out of my 12-pack and gave it to him. I ate the extra sandwich the next day. Somehow, I got the feeling that he'd have been allergic to peanut butter if it had been a PB&J sandwich.

I finally found a way to feel like I'm doing good. I donate to The Millionair Club - a downtown Seattle organization to help the homeless with food, hygiene, work opportunities and social services.

Las Vegas.


World's Best Banana Split The husband helped out at the company booth at this year's NAB in Las Vegas. I flew down for the last 2 days to join in the fun. I had the world's best banana split, and the husband (after much disappointment) found the good beer in Vegas.

We also took in a show; something that I've secretly wanted to see for 15 years - Blue Man Group. When they first broke out in the mid-nineties, Blue Man Group was completely new, interesting, and fascinating. I've always been interested in percussion (I played drums in middle school band) and Blue Man Group appealed to me greatly on that level. The show did not disappoint; it was unique, mind-blowing, and the closest thing to a rave I'll ever see. It was well worth it.

Domain Jokes.


Web domain names are not case sensitive. This has lead to some hilarious results in choosing a domain. I just happen to have a list of some sub-optimal choices. (Read them a couple of times to find the jokes.)

Do you know any I've missed?

Opportunity Cost.


The husband was clever enough to buy Seattle Sounders season tickets, and I've very much enjoyed attending the games this season and last. The Sounders are so gosh darn popular that many of the games sell out. Season ticket holders are easily able to sell their seats on the open market for higher than face value.

In the early part of the season, our neighbors (also season ticket holders) to the right were a man, a woman, and a girl about 5 or 6 years old. Midway through the season, the woman started showing a pregnancy, and then then the whole family ceased coming to games.

I wonder if the skyrocketing ticket prices make it so that the family chose to sell their tickets at a profit rather than come to the game themselves. Re-selling the tickets to just 4 or 5 games would probably pay for the whole season.

Freaky Topics.


Here are a couple of unusual topics that remind me of the stuff that those Freakonomics guys often talk about.

Helping the User Help You.


The husband related a tale from his office. Software engineers and quality testers were watching a teleconferenced demo of their product. The application crashed, and presented the user with the option to send crash debug information to the software vendor. The user's mouse hovered over the "Cancel" button as the engineers shouted "Send! Send!". (The bug report was sent and picked up by the engineers.) Why wouldn't a user send the troubleshooting information to the software vendor?

At the moment, the user is simply irritated that the application crashed, and they must restart their work. There's no immediate advantage to the user, and even having to click a button sounds like extra work.

Gathering that sort of debug data would probably be more effective if the user was offered some sort of incentive. Example:

The husband also has some ideas to improve the crash data collection process. He points out that the process should nearly be transparent when the data is sent. There should be a preference setting to control this, which would be presented to the user when the application is first launched, and is also accessible in the application settings at any time.

Browser Support.


There was an interesting discussion about browser support in Boagworld's panel at the 2009 SXSW conference. (Start listening at about 44 minutes into the podcast. Yes, yes, I'm a little behind in my podcasts.)

When asked when web designers would no longer have to support IE6, Jeremy Keith rejected the very premise of the question - that "supporting" a browser was a simple "yes" or "no" decision. He argued that lessened functionality was OK in older browsers, and that no browser should be denied access to your content.

In my opinion, designing a site which degrades nicely while only testing in a few modern and high-traffic browsers is definitely the way to go.

The Lifespan of Data.


Data has a lifespan, which is highly dependent on where said data is stored.

For example, I've had two Palm PDAs for in the past decade. I was able to import my data from the old PDA to the new one, and with each I'm able to enter data directly onto my computer and sync with the PDA. I've keeping contact info, shopping lists, and wacky business ideas for for that whole time. In comparison, the old paper address books I used to keep only held people I'd talked to in the past few years.

You can find just about any weird commercial that's recently aired on TV on YouTube, but the older stuff is harder to find. Tom Peterson's prime was well before the internet era, so you'll have to dig up some old VHS tapes to see more than a few of his commercials.

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