Random Complaints

Does anybody else miss the O’Reilly Meerkat aggregator? It was nice because you could subscribe to the results of arbitrary keyword filters rather just specific blogs. Anybody know of another aggregator like that? There are plenty of places that allow keyword searches of blogs but I’m not aware of any that allow one to subscribe to the results of those searches.

I downloaded the Fedora Core 5 ISO images this morning and burned them using X-CD Roast. That program wins the prize for worst, most non-intuitive user interface of the week. I’ve used several Windows CD burning programs that take just a few clicks to get from ISO image file to burning the CD; something like “create CD from image”, “select an image file”, “burn the CD”. on X-CD Roast I spent a half hour trying to figure out how to get it to burn anything at all. I eventually gave up and Googled for the website. Helpful hint to the developers: when your interface is so bad that “how do I burn a CD from an image file?” is a FAQ, it’s time for a redesign.

For the curious, the steps are: click “setup”, “HD settings”, type the path to your ISO images and click “Add”, “OK”, “Create CD”, “Write Tracks”, select the image file, click “Add”, click the tab labelled “Write Tracks” (not the nearby button labelled “Write Tracks”!), click the new button that just appeared, also labelled “Write Tracks” (yes, at this point there are two buttons and one tab that all say “Write Tracks” – all three do different things), insert the blank CD, click “OK”, grumble, and blog about bad user interfaces while you wait.

Storms, Crustaceans, and PQFP Chips

There’s a major thunderstorm passing overhead right now. The noise from the rain hitting the roof of our building sounds like loud applause. Ten minutes ago it was warm and dry outside but that’s Texas weather for you. I’m working late again tonight and I’ve been nervously watching the lightning strikes all around the area and hoping one of them doesn’t take out our power. I replaced the batteries in two of our UPS units this month, so we’re probably ready for it if it happens.

Susan is working late too. We took a little break earlier and tried another of the new restaurants that’s opened here in Deep Ellum. There seem to be new ones opening all the time. Tonight we tried Crustaceans, a creole/cajun place. It’s actually the reincarnation of a New Orleans restaurant that was destroyed by hurricane Katrina. The owner, chef, and some of the employees ended up in Dallas and a local organization helped them re-open their restaurant here in Deep Ellum. It’s the real thing. If you’re in the area and like that sort of thing, definitely check it out. In the past week we’ve also tried Tarantino’s (Italian food, a bit expensive but very good) and Kim’s Cafe (breakfast, burgers and sandwiches – so so).

The website design business is booming lately, leaving me not very much time for more fun things like robotics. The latest group robot project at the DPRG is proceeding nicely without me. I’ve been working on my own robot off and on. Just as I finally felt like I’d wrapped my head around PID algorithms and got some working code, I managed to toast the 68332 on my MRM board. I’m guessing it was a static discharge. It’s a surface mounted 132 pin PQFP chip; not exactly something you can replace with common household tools. I ordered a few new chips, though, and a friend with a hot air rework station is going to swap out the bad one for me.