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home study courses I wish I had time for

I've come across a couple of self guided courses designed by people who have a very deep interest in their fields and who have led others through a deep dive into their subject of interest enough times to have codified that process.

The personal MBA looks like a well designed self-guided university degree equivalent. I'm not sure that I want an MBA to begin with, but I am looking forward to seeing similar courses on a variety of subject material.

Motion Mountain is a colossal physics textbook available for free online. Because of its size I'd characterize it more as a self guided course of study than a book.

Much smaller yet somehow oddly similar project could include learning processing and keeping up with the world question center

TechShop coming to Portland

techshop is a fully equiped machine shop that you ca nuse with a monthly membership. They have classes to get you up and running with the tools and safety.

video editing software

I'm trying out these three free video editors:

I'll let you know if they are any good.

move to the front

$.get("sqlToJson.php", { 'sql': 'select * from entries' } , function(data){//use data});

lego plans

In some ways the best thing about buying a new lego set is getting the plans. Especially once you have a big box of parts, each new set probably isn't adding anything much to the parts collection you have, except maybe some of the special shaped parts or figures and some color consistency.

Still, given how much of the entertainment value comes from the information in the instructions I thought I'd see if I could find any online.

There's a lego modelling program called ldraw but all the links below also have a pdf or otherwise printable version.

klingon ship
micro tractor
whoa. huge list of old set plans
minis at brickshelf

alleviate confusing UE caused by high bandwidth

Web users are used to having a significant delay after clicking on a link before the targeted page loads in the browser. Due to high bandwidht and fast processors, these delays can sometimes be nearly imperceptible, leading to confusion on the part of the end user.

To preserve the cognitive affordance that the loading delay causes, the following simple javascript can be used.

var linkList = document.getElementsByTagName("a");
for (i = 0; i < linkList.length; i++) {
  linkList[i].onclick = closeLinkFunction(linkList[i]);

function closeLinkFunction (linkNode){
  return function (){
    setTimeout('window.location = ' + "'" + linkNode.getAttribute('href') + "'", 1000);
    return false;

For best results, make sure this script goes either at the bottom of the page or executed after page load.

attach a new javascript or css include file to a page using javascript

Using javascript DOM methods, you can attach a new css or javascript file to a page after the page loads or in response to some user action.

This is also a great way to do relatively complex bookmarklets. Instead of encoding a ton of JavaScript carefully into an href attribute value, you can put that code into a file and make a bookmarklet that pulls in the file.

This has advantages over using document.write, which will only work during the time the page is loading.

When you attach the css file, the styles in it will immediately take effect. Likewise, when you add a JS file, any inline javascript in it will execute, and functions and objects will be initialized and become available to other code on the page.

To add css, use the following code:

var cssNode = document.createElement('link');
cssNode.setAttribute('rel', 'stylesheet');
cssNode.setAttribute('type', 'text/css');
cssNode.setAttribute('href', 'yourCssFileNameHere');

To add Javascript, use this:

var scriptNode = document.createElement('script');

Yes it is a little weird that sometimes you use setAttribute and sometimes you set the attributes using properties. The different browsers like different combinations of these two ways of setting attribute values, and the above combinations work in IE, firefox and Opera.

copy dvds

My kids are tourture on DVDs. I really wanted to be able to give them copies so that they could play their movies themselves and I didn't have to stress out so much over our $16.95 copy of Disney's Robin Hood getting destroyed.

Anyway, there are all kinds of how-tos for copying DVDs that involve explanations of the details of dvd compressions, encryption, cache files, vobs, Sony's consumer maulings, etc. that really allow you to understand what you are doing. This is not one of those.

Here's how you copy DVDs:

1. Getcherself a dvd burner and some blank dvds
2. Download AnyDVD and install it.
3. Download CloneDvd and install it
4. Run clone dvd and follow the rediculously simple wizard style copying process.
5. Assuming you are still happily copying DVDs 28 days later, pay for AnyDvd and CloneDvd (whose fully functional trial periods will have expired)


ranch dressing

If you've never made ranch dressing, you should. It's either super easy or just easy, and even the super easy version competes with store bought dressing and the easy version blows it away.

Super easy version:

Mix 1 part mayo and 1 part buttermilk with garlic salt to taste. Or you can use more buttermilk than mayo, you will get a thinner dressing but it's still good.

Easy version:

As above but add finely chopped parsely and fresh grated onion. Don't add too much onion, a little goes a long way.

A good start at ingredient proportions would be:

1/4 c mayo
1/4 c buttermilk
2tsp garlic salt
2tsp grated onion
2tsp chopped parsely