Pew Pew Laser Blog

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

Past Blogs

Two Tone Flower Glass Paperweight.


Two Tone Flower Glass Paperweight I made this glass paperweight during my first glassblowing class at Art By Fire last year, and one of my favorite pieces from that class. I was trying to replicate a red tulip with yellow highlights in the center. I'm looking forward to focusing on more simple flower paperweights when I can grab some time in the shop.

As always, thanks to the husband for the photography.

Americans Love Stuff.


Americans pay the storage unit industry bajillions of dollars a year to hold on to the stuff that they've run out of room for at home. When these folks stop paying the storage unit bills, the storage companies hold auctions where new people compete to buy the contents of delinquent units. Why such madness?

The human brain hates to admit that it was wrong. Getting rid of the stuff makes it seem like it was a mistake to acquire that stuff in the first place.

Over the past couple years, I've been on a personal crusade to get rid of stuff. The trick is to see the value inherent in jettisoning said stuff. I've considered the hours I save in not having to pack, move and unpack the stuff when I move. I've envisioned having a little space in my closet, and thinking of what else I could use that space for! I've changed lots of stuff into cold hard cash by selling it on Craigslist.

How about you? Just think how much simpler your life could be if you had less stuff. What could you use a little extra cash for?

Opera Mini on the iPhone.


Those folks at Opera appear to have an abundance of chutzpah. Not only did they port their web browser to the iPhone (it's wicked fast, too), they've also posted a giant timer showing how long it's been since they submitted the app to Apple. (Apple is notorious for not approving apps which duplicate existing iPhone functionality.) The big question is, does it have Flash?

Scam Tells.


I posted an item up for sale on Craigslist, and was excited to receive this email the next day:

From:     Michael Haishkarem
Re:       Re: [exact title of the item I posted]


saw the Ad you put up on craigslist titled - "[exact title of 
the item I posted]" and I'm quite interested in purchasing this 
but I am not too confident if it's the similar type that my cousin 
is after. Here's a demo that I was able to cpy from my brother's 
computer URL1 or try URL2. Can you please confirm its the similar 
kind and get back to me as soon as possible. I'm ready to pay a 
little more than what you put on for sale as long it matches the 
Vid description and you can put it on hold for me.


After a few seconds of thought, I decided that this was a scam; probably a computer generated phishing attempt. Note the following hallmarks:

The two URLs were hot linked to a URL shortening service. I turned off cookies and JavaScript in Chrome and visited the site. I got no source code, but I'm willing to bet that it would have installed some malware had I visited the site without protection.

IE8's Compatibility Mode.


Web page coders can force Internet Explorer 8 to use the IE7 rendering engine. To do so, add this meta tag inside the head of the page:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=7">

You can also force IE8 to render using it's own engine; essentially forcing IE8 into standards mode. Here's the code, which also goes into the page head:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=8" />

IE8's Page Menu with Compatibility View Settings Users can override the rendering mode by changing the Compatibility View settings IE8's Page menu. IE8's Compatibility View Settings

Small Scale Flying.


Last month, I flew down to Portland from out of King County Airport (aka Boeing Field). There was no security check; no security line, no metal detectors, none of that "pull out the laptop" and "take off the shoes" business. The airline desk attendant simply asked me if I had anything flammable or hazardous in my suitcase and she checked it. At boarding time, we walked out of the waiting room across the tarmac, and right onto the plane. I could have gotten from the parking lot to the airplane in 10 minutes.

I'm not sure what key difference to between flying out of BFI precludes the necessity of a full on security check. Someone suggested the theory that "it's a private plane"; but I fail to see how Jet Blue is somehow public. My best thought was that it had to do with the relatively low risk presented by such a small plane. It only carried 9 passengers and two pilots, very little fuel, and it can't fly very far anyway.

In any case, whether or not I think that a minimal security check is a problem depends on how safe I feel when flying traditionally. Though the security at a normal airport has a long way to go, I don't feel particularly unsafe. When I weigh the actual odds of being in a plane crash (one which would have been avoided through security measures, mind you) against the real hours I have saved by flying without security, I would jump at the opportunity to fly Seaport again.

Flour - Converting Volume to Weight.


When baking, I prefer to measure flour by weight rather than by volume, particularly when measuring flour. The best results come from the precise and repeatable measurement of ingredients that measuring by weight delivers. Measuring by weight is also much faster - since I don't have to fiddle around with sifting or leveling off the cup. The only difficulty was in converting the volume-based measurements called for in most recipes into a weight for my kitchen scale.

Flat Cookies on the right, puffy cookies on the left For a while, I would simply equate a quarter cup of flour to one ounce of flour. Then I came to the conclusion that my cookies were simply not as puffy as they should have been; shown in the left of this picture. They had a crispy outside, but were missing a softer inside.

I looked through The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, I'm Just Here for More Food, and several issues of Cook's Illustrated to compile the table below. After using the conversions in this table, I was rewarded with the much softer, puffier cookies; shown at the right of the above picture.

Volume Weight
12 1/2 oz 2 1/2 cups
2 1/4 cups 11 1/4 oz
2 cups 9 1/2 oz
1 1/2 cups 7 1/2 oz
1 cup 5 oz
3/4 cup 3 1/2oz
2/3 cup 3 1/4oz
1/2 cup 2 1/2oz
1/3 cup 1 1/2oz
1/4 cup 1 1/4oz

See this chart for more detail.

iPhones and Flash.


You think your iPhone will never run Flash? Not quite. It is true that the iPhone won't show Flash when you're surfing the web, and it probably never will. (Though there is a small glimmer of hope).

You will soon be able to port your Flash app into an iPhone app. Scroll down to see that there are already a couple of Flash applications which have been ported and are available in the iTunes store.

For the time being, are you really missing Flash in your iPhone web browsing? (I really do want to know - please leave a comment.)

Here's a little bit of fun where Adobe tried to clear things up, but didn't do such a good job. It's worth a laugh, at the least.

The Human Brain.


Here are two articles that talk about how the human brain just isn't quite up to snuff in some ways.

But hope is not lost. Once you realize the deficiencies in the brain of every human being, you can change your own behavior. Slow down, take a deep breath, and really engage those higher brain functions.

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