The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

New documentation of an old feature

The Inner Drive Extensible Architecture™ has had support for the tzinfo database for several years now. Weather Now uses it; so do a few of my clients.

Like the lazy software developer I am, however, I never put up a decent demonstration of the code, which might, you know, make someone want to buy it.

Well, the documentation, she is here. Licensing, you will be shocked to learn, is available for a modest fee.

About this blog (v. 4.1.6)

I'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 5-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in February, but some things have changed. In the interest of enlightened laziness I'm starting with the most powerful keystroke combination in the universe: Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V.

Twice. Thus, the "point one" in the title.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until a few months ago when I got the first digital camera I've ever had that rivals a film camera. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than ten years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago, the greatest city in North America, and the other ones I visit whenever I can.

I've deprecated the Software category, but only because I don't post much about it here. That said, I write a lot of software. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got about 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Another, non-trivial point. Facebook reads the blog's RSS feed, so many people reading this may think I'm just posting notes on Facebook. Facebook's lawyers would like you to believe this, too. Now, I've reconnected with tons of old friends and classmates through Facebook, I play Scrabble on Facebook, and I eagerly read every advertisement that appears next to its relevant content. But Facebook's terms of use assert ownership of everything that appears on their site, regardless of prior claims, which contravenes four centuries of law.

Everything that shows up on my Facebook profile gets published on The Daily Paker first, and I own the copyrights to all of it (unless otherwise disclosed). I publish the blog's text under a Creative Commons attribution-nonderivative-noncommercial license; republication is usually OK for non-commercial purposes, as long as you don't change what I write and you attribute it to me. My photos, however, are published under strict copyright, with no republication license, even if I upload them to other public websites. If you want to republish one of my photos, just let me know and we'll work something out.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Excellent use of smart phone technology

Do you ever eat fish? If so, are you aware that many fisheries are unsustainable, that popular fish species have high incidence of contamination, and that while generally good for you, some sushi can give you heavy metals with your wasabi?

For years I've carried around a pocket sustainable seafood guide the Monterey Bay Aquarium publishes semi-annually. Now they've got a smartphone app for both iPhone and Android. No more printing it out on paper! W00t!

Don't know nothin' about me

Via one of my cow-orkers, a company that can tell you all about yourself at a hitherto-impossible level of detail. All you have to do is spit:

23andMe is a retail DNA testing service providing information and tools for consumers to learn about and explore their DNA. We utilize the Illumina OmniExpress Plus Research Use Only Chip which has been customized for use in all of our products and services by 23andMe. All of the laboratory testing for 23andMe is done in a CLIA-certified laboratory.

How does 23andMe genotype my DNA?

Once the lab receives your sample, DNA is extracted from cheek cells in your saliva. Your DNA is then copied many times so that there is enough DNA to use for the genotyping step. Next, the DNA is cut into smaller, more manageable pieces. These DNA pieces are then applied to a DNA "chip." The DNA chip is a small glass slide with millions of microscopic beads on its surface. Attached to each bead are "probes"—bits of DNA complementary to sites in your genome where SNPs are located. There is a pair of probes for each SNP, corresponding to the two versions of each SNP. Because two complementary pieces of DNA stick together, your DNA sticks to whichever probes match your versions of a SNP.

The service claims to do the following:

  • Identify health risks based on genetic propensity (and quantify how much of the risk is genetic);
  • Tell you where your family came from, and when they got there, going back several thousand years;
  • Find your long-lost cousins; and
  • Send you updates as new research comes in.

My colleague paired this suggested site with this TED talk about the future of human evolution.

Remember when Gattaca was just an interesting fiction? Let's hope not all of Andrew Niccol's predictions come true...

Girl walks into a bar

Fascinating, and not bad at all. Writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez assembled a top-notch cast (Danny DeVito, Carla Gugino, Zachary Quinto) and put them into a watchable, funny film—only available on YouTube. If your line supports it, watch in HD. Alas, I think it's only available in the U.S. for the time being.

What you're searching for

Every day a few minutes past midnight UTC (7pm CDT), I get a report from The Daily Parker about its health, wealth, and wisdom. And every day, someone hits the blog from somewhere through a search I never thought about before. In the last day, for example, people have hit the blog looking for:

I'm glad I could help.

Happy history nerd discovery

The University of Illinois has a stash of aerial photographs of Illinois from 1938 and 1939, including one that shows the house I grew up in under construction. The photo at left is 1938; at right is 2001:

Here's a larger crop of the 1938 photo overlaid with a 2010 image:

Natives of the town will probably recognize it instantly.

Here's an extreme close-up with the foundation of my house highlighted:

I also looked at photos of Chicago from the same batch, and after posting this, I will look for more recent photos. The construction of the city's expressways started in the 1940s; I'm curious to see "during" photos.