Reflections on 9/11

It’s been hard to not think about 9/11 today. Reading through Facebook posts from friends who were supposed to be in the towers, and of course friends and family that were lost that day has been very tough.

I don’t really know how/why we started watching TV that morning. I’m assuming that someone called us to tell us what was happening. I remember watching in a haze, not really awake yet when the second plane struck. Initially I was surprised that the news had footage so quickly – then it kicked in that we had just watched a second plane hit the second tower in real time.

That moment changed my life, as it did so many others forever.

HOWTO Copy and Paste in OSX without Formatting

I’m an extensive user of ⌘+C / ⌘+V to copy and paste between application screens. One thing that has consistently driven me crazy is the intermediate step of pasting to plain text to remove formatting. I guess I finally had enough and found this gem over the weekend – it’s called Paste and Match Style.

Just ⌘+C and you normally would, only instead of ⌘+V use Command+Shift+Option+V to paste and match the style of the destination. Or if you don’t want to remember the Ninja finger position you can make this your default:

Go to you System Preferences -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> Application Shortcuts and add an “All Applications” rule. Make sure you spell out “Paste and Match Style” exactly with the ⌘+V keystroke.

See: Paste and Match Style

Motivational Quotes

These were captured at a leadership/team building event back in October of 2010:

  • Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forward.
  • Failures lead to success.
  • Easier from the outside looking in than being there.
  • Pausing before next unknown step when any step is in fact forward progress.

HOWTO Enter Spaces instead of Tabs in VI & VIM

Spaces vs. Tabs are generally annoying when editing files, but start programing in Python and this turns into a complete disaster. Simple solution, always insert Spaces instead of a Tab and you are good to go (my personal preference):

set tabstop=4
set shiftwidth=4
set expandtab

If you want to be really fancy:


Will convert all of the existing Tabs into Spaces.

Check out Converting tabs to spaces on the VIM Wiki.

What I’ve Learned About Light Bulbs

California (and the rest of the US) is well into a phase out of incandescent bulbs. If you’ve purchased a light bulb lately you might have noticed that 75 Watt and higher incandescent bulbs are non-existant in the stores. Granted CFL and LED technology is significantly more energy efficient, but with some significant drawbacks:

  1. Cost: Compare a incandescent bulb at a price as low as $0.50/bulb to CFLs approaching $10.00/bulb and LEDs in the $40-$50/bulb range.
  2. Warm-up Time: CFLs take time to start (2-3 minutes). Instant start CFLs are still slow with the fastest in the 30 second territory.
  3. Limited Selection: There just aren’t that many options on the market. For example, show me a 75 Watt equivalent R30 (flood) natural light CFL in instant start. At the moment they don’t exist.

If you are venturing into these new waters here are some things that you will need to familiarize yourself with:

  1. Lumen: This is the actual amount of light that the bulb emits.
  2. Temperature (in This is the color of the light.
  3. CRI: The ability for a light to produce real colors.

If you have existing bulbs that you like, figure out their ratings based on the above values. This will be invaluable for you as you try to replicate in a non-incandescent world.

The Evolution of the Shopping List

My own personal evolution of the shopping list. Used when I run out of something in the kitchen.

  1. Add item to a list on the refrigerator door. (Pre 2009)
  2. Add item to a task list on my iPhone. (2009 – 2011)
  3. Scan UPC code with Amazon App, delivered in two days with free shipping. (2012 – current)

Howto Soundproof an Apartment

From the Wikipedia article:

Sound Transmission Class (or STC) is an integer rating of how well a building partition attenuates airborne sound.

Materials which can improve STCs in walls include mass-loaded vinyl (MLV), standard drywall, “soundproof” drywall (such as QuietRock, Supress, SoundBreak, or ComfortGuard) and damping compounds such as Green Glue.

When researching solutions to soundproof a “paper-thin” wall:

  1. Blow-in insulation / cellulose. Holes are drilled every 6-12 inches in-between each stud on the wall. A hose is inserted into the wall and the material is pumped in. This will not work if there is any existing insulating material in the wall – even if it’s 20+ year old broken down fiberglass.
  2. Additional drywall layer. Simple, just slap up another layer of 5/8″ thick drywall. More material = more soundproofing.
  3. Soundproof drywall. Use acoustically engineered drywall sheets instead of standard drywall. Even more soundproofing at roughly 3x the material cost.
  4. Dampening compound. Add a dampening compound between two layers of drywall to increase the soundproofing.

Depending on who you talk to you will receive a different recommendation. We unfortunately found out about the cellulose limitations during an aborted installation. This led to an evaluation of removing the drywall to change the insulation, or figuring out a plan “C”.

So how do you figure out what to do? First figure out the STC rating that you want to achieve. In my case I’m looking for a rating of at least 50 and anything approaching 60 would be ideal. I found a Wall Assembly Performance guide on GreenGlue’s website with some fantastic comparisons of installations. Additionally on the QuietRock site they list an STC Rating of 53 on their highest performing product.

  • 1 layer of drywall each side: 40
  • 2 layers of drywall + 1 layer of drywall: 42 <– Adding one extra drywall layer to one of the walls
  • 2 layers of drywall on both sides + 1 layer of Green Glue per side: 55 <– Can’t install since there is no access to one of the sides.
  • 1 layer of QuietRock one side: 53 <– This assumes that the original drywall was removed

Unfortunately STC ratings are not additive and increase slowly with each additional layer. In our case we’ve decided to add a layer of GreenGlue and a layer of QuietRock. I’m hoping this achieves an effective rating of 55+.


Install a layer of QuietRock drywall with a layer of GreenGlue to the existing wall.

Python Simple Hipchat

Check out python-simple-hipchat for super simple message posting to your Hipchat rooms.


import hipchat

import sys
data = sys.stdin.readline()

hipster = hipchat.HipChat(token='xxxx')
hipster.method('rooms/message', method='POST', parameters={'room_id': yyyy, 'from': 'Hipster', 'message': data})