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Fast and Simple Stock Quotes Using Perl

One of the things that makes perl so powerful and fascinating is the huge number of modules that are available online, especially through the CPAN repository. Today I stumbled upon one called Finance::Quote, which does one thing, very simply: it retrieves stock (or mutual fund) quotes. You feed it a ticker symbol and it gives back a hash with all sorts of information, but most importantly, the price. I’m going to show how to use this to create a command line tool that will grab an up-to-the minute stock quote for any ticker symbol you give it.

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Tobias Wolff is a God among men

I was sitting and re-reading Tobias Wolff short stories the other day, and ran across this little quote, which tore my heart out, twisted my head around and made me totally fall in love with his writing again:

In the solemnity of her attention he heard himself saying things he had said to no one else, confessing hopes so implausible he had barely confessed them to himself. He was often surprised by his own honesty. But he stopped short of telling Mary Ann what was most on his mind, and what he believed she already knew, because of the chance that she didn’t know or wasn’t ready to admit she did. Once he said it, everything would change, for all of them, and he wasn’t prepared to risk this.

Tobias Wolff – “Two Boys and a Girl”

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Getting Songs Off of Your iPod

In the last couple weeks, at least four people have asked me how to get music off of their iPods. The answer I gave all of them was Senuti (iTunes spelled backwards). It’s great! It does exactly what you need: takes songs from your iPod and puts them into iTunes, and it’s super easy to do. Once you have disk use enabled:

To copy songs back to your computer, all you have to do is select the songs and click the transfer button in the upper left hand corner of the application.

The songs will be copied to the your computer. They will be added to iTunes if you enabled the preference to automatically add them to iTunes.

It’s just that easy.

Of course, Senuti isn’t just a one trick pony, it can do other useful things as well, such as copying songs to a folder, or showing you what songs you already have in your iTunes library, and allowing you to hide them, so that you only transfer new songs.

So next time you feel like IM’ing me about how to get songs off of your iPod, remember Senuti, and save my sanity just a little bit.

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Can Apple keep this up?

It seems to me that Apple has undergone a change in the past year or so. With the introduction of the App Store, the iPhone 3G, and Mobile Me, Apple seems to have lowered its quality standards. In the past there was the common knowledge that you shouldn’t buy the first revision of a product because there were always bugs, but now Apple seems to be having even more problems. It’s pretty well acknowledged that one of the biggest reasons for the problems with Mobile Me was that it was pushed out early to keep up with the iPhone 3G. I even saw similar problems when I opened up the preferences on iTunes 7.7:

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I’m afraid that Apple’s new products and schedules are clashing with their characteristic way of doing business. In the past they were able to wait until a product was just perfect before releasing it. Now, with their partnerships and such, at least with the iPhone, Apple is forced to announce their products earlier, and so they have much stricter deadlines to meet, which begs the question “Can Apple keep this up and still deliver the same quality product they have in the past?”

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Obama Buttons!

B4D3442D-F39D-49F1-A049-5996E9495255.jpgGuess what? MoveOn.Org is giving out FREE Obama buttons!

We’re giving away new Obama buttons for free, as part of a massive national visibility campaign. Want one? Click here:

http://pol.moveon.org/obamabuttons/?id=-6688660-5VxS1dx

After you’ve gotten yours, forward this email on to everyone you know so that they can get free Obama buttons too.

If hundreds of thousands of us wear these wherever we go, we’ll send a strong message that Barack Obama is the candidate with the buzz, momentum, excitement—and sincere support of regular folks across the country.

Everybody should pick one of these up and wear them!

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A Call to All New Yorkers

Friday, August 8, there’s going to be an event to commemorate the 1988 uprising of the Burmese democracy movement, as well as a call on Burma to move to a more democratic form of government. The event will also welcome two students (who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with) who will have walked almost 3000 miles from Portland, Oregon to New York, bringing signed petitions to the United Nations.

NEW YORK EVENT!!

Invitation to Participate in Event to Commemorate 20th Anniversary of 8-8-88 Uprising

We, the 88 Generation Students in Exile (88 GSE), National League for Democracy, Liberated Areas, USA Branch (NLD-LA), Women on the Move for Burma (WOMB), and International Campaign for Burma – New York (ICB-NY), would like to invite all members of the public as well as interested organizations to help us plan and organize an event to commemorate the upcoming 20th anniversary of the 8-8-88 popular uprising in Burma. The event will be held on Friday, August 8, 2008. A tentative outline of the day’s activities is presented below.

Tentative Schedule for Friday, 8 August 2008

12PM – 2 PM (Burma Consulate General)

2PM – 3PM (March from Burma Embassy to the United Nations)

3PM – 7PM (Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, United Nations)

In addition, we will be hosting a welcoming event for Ko AThein and Ko Zaw Min Htwe of 88 Generation Students. Ko AThein and Ko Zaw Min Htwe have been walking across the United States from Portland, Oregon to the United Nations (nearly 3,000 miles) in an effort to raise awareness of human rights violations in Burma.

If you or your organization would like to join us in organizing these important events,

please contact the below-listed individuals by July 12th, 2008.

Event Contacts: Aung Khant (516-808-1515)

Aung Min Tun (917-425-7809)

Khin Sandi (917-445-9222)

Thant Zin Myint (347-229-6355)

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Facebook Chat

So Facebook FINALLY rolled out Facebook Chat for my network. I’ve played with it for a while and made a few observations:

  • It’s nice to have notifications and online friends down in the bottom bar of the window.
  • It gets annoying having to wait for all of the information (scripts, etc) associated with chat to load, but on a fast enough connection it’s fine.
  • It’s somewhat difficult to change your status, and not a lot of people do it.
  • The premise of Facebook chat is really sound. It’s nice to have all of your friends on the same IM service, without having to collect usernames. You never have the problem of not knowing who somebody is when they message you.
  • The client seems lacking. It seems that the Facebook team put some effort in trying to make it act like less than a full-on desktop application, which would get in the way of using Facebook, but at the same time, it’s too weak for me to truly appreciate. I can imagine getting it integrated into Adium, and having all of my friends pop up in a friend group there. Not only would that be awesome as all hell, but I would probably use it over AIM, if only because more people would be available to me through it.

In the end, I’m surprised by how much I like Facebook Chat. I was expecting it to be another bit of annoying noise in the already crowded IM space. It takes a lot of the likable things about Google Chat (that I don’t get the benefit of because I prefer POP to webmail) but adds some great features, like integration with Facebook status (which should encourage more micro-blogging ala Twitter as people use that status as an IM status), and a great in-browser chat experience. However, for my uses, which center around discrete applications, windows (or even tabs) for different tasks, Facebook chat throws to many things into one tab of the browser. When Adium gets Facebook Chat integration, I’ll be excited.

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Flock Update

So I’ve been playing around with Flock a bit more, and I’ve discovered some more. I played with the webmail integration, which isn’t great… It just detects new messages and then sends you to the website. I’d appreciate if I could get POP or IMAP into the browser, but I can live with a separate desktop app.
As to Digg support, it’s supposedly going to be integrated into the next release. I’m trying to get my hands on the latest betas, but they have a nasty tendency to crash on my machine. Oh well.
I’ve also discovered that Flock supports a huge amount of Firefox Addons. I added my personal favorites Greasemonkey, Stylish, Stealther and AdBlock Plus.

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Beach Musings

WHITE NOISE is my MOST valuable study tool. How can it be describled? HIsssss… But that doesn’t cut it. It’s never changing but ever-variable; soft + hard; strong + weak; Imperceptibly Loud. It is an ocean at the quite beach, the wind in a girlfriend’s hair, the sifting of sand in the wind, the sound of the sky, the moon, the stars. It is the sound of God.

It’s funny that I’d say that, but it’s ture. Of course, I refer to no Personal God, but instead to the word. What other word works? White noise is as good a god as any, + better than many. Bow before the might of the random. White noise is the sound of the universe, It is the sound of life, IT IS THE SOUND OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION!

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Does this pen write poetry? I doubt it. But ask if I think poetry And I’ll tell you that an thought is poetic before the tyranny of words.

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A Show of The impermanence of thoughts

Written in the sand

Disappears

Quickly

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the Sun warms with with a fraction of its heat.

Are you God?

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Will this one day be the musings of a young poet? A thinker? Or will I throw it in the recycling + let my words infuse the work of others?

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What will I come to know? The possibilities are endless.

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Who Cares?

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My personal philosophy is this:

Fuck That Shit!

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What is poetry but words thinking?

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Does a seagull’s shadow cross me on purpose? What of its direction? What does it mean? Will I get poop on my head?

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When so much is moving (sand) why does so little happen?

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Is it All just wasted Effort?

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Flock

So, I’ve been trying out the Flock browser which is based on Firefox. However, it’s twist is that it’s designed to integrate with a bunch of different social services. I have it set up to work with my Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Photobucket accounts, as well as this WordPress blog. It will also work with things like Twitter, del.icio.us. It also supports RSS feeds, which I’ve imported my whole set of feeds into. So far it’s replaced two applications on my desktop (Safari and NetNewsWire), and if I were to set it up with my email, I could get rid of a third.
It was very easy to set it up. I installed the 1Password plugin for it and fired it up. I was asked whether I wanted to import information from another browser, which let me grab EVERYTHING (bookmarks, cookies, history, saved passwords, etc.) from Safari. It auto-detected when I visited a site that it could integrate with (Facebook). However, to get it to add my Facebook I had to log out and then back in, which was a minor annoyance, but after that it worked perfectly. Getting my RSS feeds in was a bit harder, I had to export them from NetNewsWire as OMPL and then import them, but that was easy and quick.
If you ask me, it does its thing pretty well. It takes a bit of getting used to to use the social features, but in the end it’s a lot more polished to do it all through the one interface than to use a bunch of tools that are inconsistent. However, I miss a few things. First off, it’s slow. A lot slower than Safari and Camino, and even a bit slower than Firefox. However, so far I’ve put up with it because I like what it’s doing. The other quibble I have is that I keep wanting more integration. One notable hole is Last.fm integration, which would be wonderful, but it would also be nice to see my Digg friends in there, and be able to Digg stories.
Overall, I’d suggest that those with the time and curiosity to do so should install Flock and give it a try. It’s fun, and you might just like something.

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