US precipitation forecast at a glance

2010-01-07 14:48

Sometimes, especially when traveling, I just want to know what will be falling from the sky in the next day or so. provides regional maps of how much precipitation (and what US precipitation forecast thumbnail sort) to expect over the next 24 hours. I have stitched together nine of these maps to produce a US precipitation forecast graphic (about 1420 x 800 pixels; link opens in a new window). The images are pulled directly from's image server, where they are updated hourly at around the quarter-hour mark. may store regional images at different sizes; they almost certainly have forecasts for areas outside of the US. All this remains to be explored.

Click the “more…” link for details of how to capture a screenshot of this map every hour to produce an animation of the developing and anticipated US weather.    ‣ more…



Please stop saying “24 x 7 x 365.” Just stop.

2009-10-20 01:38

Yes, I mean you. That’s 7 years. Multiply it out. If you must, say “24 x 7 x 52.” Or better yet, what’s wrong with “24 x 7?”



Soft hyphens

2009-07-19 13:09

I just recently learned that soft hyphens are now usable and effective in HTML markup, as they are finally supported in a sensible way by most modern browsers. (Pity Jukka Korpela, author of the preceding link: he has been writing that document for twelve years.) The soft hyphen — which has the entity code ­ or ­ or ­ — can be interpreted as a hyphenation hint, letting the browser or rendering engine know where are the ideal places to break up a long word, leaving a hyphen behind, should it encroach on the margin. The soft hyphen is not displayed if the word is not broken upon rendering.

I have tested the below and verified that it works as intended in Safari 3 and 4 on a Mac; IE 5, 6, 7, and 8 on Windows; and Firefox 3.0 and 3.5 anywhere. (Firefox 2.0 ignores soft hyphens.) Opera on Vista and OS X render perfectly, according to readers.

This is a test of how various browsers handle soft hyphens. Here are a few long, or long­ish, words that should help us see how things go when one of them gets near a margin: asyn­chron­ous uni­later­al un­pre­medi­tated guber­na­torial ante­delu­vian http://­recov­er­ing­phys­i­cist­.com ex­acer­bat­ed on­o­ma­to­poe­ic ex­has­perat­ed re­barb­a­tive per­hel­ion ante­delu­vian asyn­chron­ous ex­acer­bat­ed ex­has­perat­ed guber­na­torial on­o­ma­to­poe­ic per­hel­ion re­barb­a­tive un­pre­medi­tated uni­later­al.
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2009-07-05 13:29

On July 2, 2009 I got stent #2 implanted in my heart at the Mass General hospital in Boston (the first was in October 2006, at the Lahey Clinic). This incident developed way faster than last time. At the first sign of pain in my left arm I was pretty sure what was going on; saw my doctor for an EKG that same afternoon (Wednesday). Last time it had taken me two weeks to twig to it. He strongly suggested I to see my cardiologist real soon. I went the next day, Thursday, and after a stress EKG (treadmill) he brought me a little card of four Plavix tablets and a cup of water, and I knew beyond a doubt what was coming.    ‣ more…



If you get a Mac with Firewire-800 only, you’ll need this

2009-06-13 09:01

sonnet tech fw 400 to 800 adaptor
Most existing Firewire devices — outboard disks, cameras, scanners — are interfaced using Firewire 400. You’ll need an adaptor like this one to use them with your shiny new MacBook Pro, which is equipped with Firewire 800 only. I bought mine, made by Sonnet Tech, from Cesell; if you prefer to do your own research, here’s Google’s page of shopping results for “firewire 800 to 400 adaptor.”



We need a new diacritical mark

2009-03-17 13:29




The çedilla makes a C sound like an S.

The háček makes a C sound like a CH.

So, the háçčedilla must make a C sound like an SH.

According to this expert’s page, the diacritical mark that font developers call the “caron” is known as the “háček” to linguists, and (among other names) in the languages in which it is used: Bosnian, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbian, and Slovenian, among others. Wikipedia advances the theory that the name “caron” was made up by combining “caret” and “macron,” and lets that theory stand in the absense of any other compelling explanation. The mark is called “caron” in the context of Unicode.



A quite obscure Firefox bug

2008-05-30 12:35

Firefox has a constellation of bugs where it behaves differently depending on whether or not a <p> is explicitly terminated, inside a <div> which is enclosed in a link. The <p> need not be the final object in the <div>. The bug is present in Firefox and 3.0.1 (tested on a Mac); it’s still there in Firefox 3.5.7. Safari on Mac and IE6, IE7, & IE8 on Windows behave as one would expect. Here is a self-contained demonstration (opens in a new window). Filed as Firefox bug #436600.



What the world eats

2008-02-22 17:38

This year the First Parish Church of Groton’s Coming of Age program collectively took on the project of gathering 150 bags of donated food and household necessities to deliver to Loaves and Fishes, the local food pantry — the amount of food that the pantry distributes in a single day. This got us all to thinking about food, what we eat, and what it means to us. Here is a page I put together on what the world eats (link opens in a new window).



How to make Firefox flicker

2007-08-25 09:18

I stumbled across a very cool effect caused by CSS and the ability of a browser (in this case, Firefox) to do text layout in realtime. The original link was but it has come & gone out of 404-land for a while now. I have attempted, with mixed success, to reproduce in the continuation of the post the weird behavior as I first saw it.    ‣ more...



In the center

2006-08-21 14:38

Here's a service I developed and delivered at the First Parish Church of Groton, Unitarian Universalist, on 2006-08-20 (link opens in a new window). It is based on the book The View From the Center of the Universe by Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams.



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