New Yorker Redesign


The New Yorker recently redesigned their web site and made all articles free for a limited time. Everything looks great except for that giant sticky header that takes up at least an inch of your screen. I hope they get rid of it.

Amsterdam 2014


I visited Amsterdam after coming going to Stockholm for work recently. It was my first time there. Amsterdam’s canal, bike paths, and green spaces are beautiful.

Indonesia 2014


Nanette and I traveled to Indonesia and visited Borobudur, the site of the world’s largest buddhist temple, and hiked Mount Rinjani, an active volcano.

How to Backup and Restore Your Hard Disk by Creating a Disk Image


It’s been almost a year since I setup my personal server which I named Jarvis. I haven’t backed-up Jarvis at all and recently grew paranoid that something might happen to him. Jarvis represents hundreds of hours of work, and there are documents and code that are stored only in him.

I spent some time figuring out how to backup everything. The easiest solution is to initialize Git repositories for all my projects and then create bare Git repos for all of them. Then I simply tarballed them up and stored copies of them elsewhere.

But I wanted to also preserve all my server configurations and packages. I wanted a hard drive that if Jarvis’ hard disk suffered some catastrophic failure like fire, I could simply plug into another computer and have a perfect clone up and running in no time. Spending hours installing packages isn’t fun. What I needed was to take a snapshot of the disk and create a disk image. It turns out dd is the command for the job.

How to Setup Your First Scala Project in IntelliJ


I stumbled around for quite a while trying to create a basic Scala project in IntelliJ. Here are the steps so you don’t have to waste nearly as much time as I did. I’m also documenting this because I know I’m going to forget it myself.

My environment:

  • Mac OS X Mavericks 10.9
  • IntelliJ IDEA 13.0

My steps:

  • install Scala with homebrew brew install scala --with-docs
    • this installed Scala version 2.10.3 for me
  • brew install sbt (I’m using 0.13.0)
  • mkdir ~/.sbt/0.13/plugins
  • echo 'addSbtPlugin("com.github.mpeltonen" % "sbt-idea" % "1.5.2")' > ~/.sbt/0.13/plugins/build.sbt
  • install the scala plugin for IntelliJ
  • git clone
  • import project; choose “import project from external model” and select “Use auto-import”
  • make sure it compiles and runs

Introduction to Public-key Cryptography and GPG


Public-key cryptography is an encryption method that uses two keys, one public and one private, to securely communicate with others. Messages are encrypted using the recipient’s public key, but the message can only be decrypted using the corresponding private key. Think of the public key as secure mailbox with a small slit into which anyone can put letters. But only the owner of the mailbox can retrieve letters by opening it with her private key. The security of the encryption scheme is based on the fact that it’s computationally infeasible to calculate private from public keys.

Longer key lengths are better, but only up to a point. AES will have 128-bit, 192-bit, and 256-bit key lengths. This is far longer than needed for the foreseeable future. In fact, we cannot even imagine a world where 256-bit brute force searches are possible. It requires some fundamental breakthroughs in physics and our understanding of the universe…brute-force attacks against 256-bit keys will be infeasible until computers are built from something other than matter and occupy something other than space.

Learning to Skateboard and Ghetto-Couchsurf


I bought my first skateboard on a Saturday afternoon at an East Village skate shop. I’d never skateboarded before, but I suddenly wanted to be like those devil-may-care skaters landing varials while weaving in and out of midday Manhattan traffic. I figured it wasn’t too late to start. I had no idea what components to pick, so I just went with the recommendations of the guys at Reciprocal Skateboards: 8.25-inch wide deck, Independent trucks, and Bones Reds bearings.

Videos About West Coast Forests


Throughout my many hours of watching Vimeo, I’ve garnered a collection of videos about the west coast forests. It’s amazing to see 200-year-old redwoods with their tops shrouded in fog, seals swimming through the rivers, and just the rich ecosystem in general.