Powers of Ten

This is so cool. This ‘powers of ten’ demonstration from the Molecular Expressions website maintained by the National High Magnetic Field Lab at Florida State University shows a sequence of images, each a power of ten smaller than it’s predecessor, from 10 million light years (showing our galaxy the Milky Way among a local group of galaxies) down to 100 attometers (sub-neutron/quark level) There are several websites out there on this subject. I just found this one to be particularly cool.

Moving Chimera Bookmarks to Safari

Currently, I prefer to use the Chimera browser over Apple’s newly-released Safari browser. Pages just render more consistently in Chimera, password management is a bit more sophisticated, and I like tabbed browsing. I am sure that Safari will get better and better though, and I like to keep an eye on things as they develop. It is a nice browser, and I do like to switch to it now and then.

One thing that has been bugging me is that I could not find a quick and easy way to dump my extensive Chimera bookmark list into Safari. There is a relatively easy way to hack this though, if you don’t mind blowing away your Safari preferences.

First, using the latest nightly build from the Chimera project, I exported my bookmarks using Bookmarks > Manage Bookmarks > Export Bookmarks and saved it as Favorites.html. Then I backed up my Internet Explorer Favorites.html file which is found at ~/Library/Preferences/Explorer/Favorites.html and replaced that file with my Chimera export. Then in IE, I used Command + J to edit bookmarks, and renamed the Toolbar Bookmarks folder to Toolbar Favorites. Then made sure that Safari was not running and then blew away it’s preferences at ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Safari.plist and the entire directory at ~/Library/Safari/. Once I restarted Safari, it re-imported my bookmarks from IE. I could then easily drag and drop all my items into where they belonged within Chimera’s bookmark manager en masse. Most of my bookmarks are kept in folders in the Bookmarks Bar, so it was just a matter of dragging the contents of Imported IE Favorites/Toolbar Favorites over to the Bookmarks Bar collection.

Now I look forward to seeing Safari develop. (Bring on the tabs!)

New PHP info on developer.apple.com

Well it was fun while it lasted. For the past few months, there was a link on developer.apple.com that pointed back to my tutorial on enabling the default PHP installation that ships with Mac OS X. This generated a huge spike in my site traffic, and I got lots of positive feeback from the Unix-challenged regarding their successful forays into this unknown realm of their system’s backend. Well, it looks like they replaced the link with some of their own detailed instructions on how to download, install, and configure from source. These are good instructions at the developer.apple.com site, and it includes some great examples on using PHP with XML files. For those that still just want to enable the basic, simple default configuration enabled and don’t want to touch the command line interface, my instructions are still available here.

Harmonic Juxaposition

This evening on my way home I was listening to a new CD I had recently purchased: Yo-Yo Ma – Solo. This CD is, as the name implies, Yo-Yo playing contemporary solo cello pieces; works by Mark O’Connor, Bright Sheng, David Wilde, Alexander Tcherepnin, and Zoltán Kodály.

Yo-Yo certainly has his own style. I can always tell when it is him playing cello just by the tone, by the way he inflects a note, or the way he rips out a passage. I have to admit, I have not always personally appreciated his personal style, but at the same time I have always greatly respected his passion for the music and the cello.

This recording is right on the money. I think Yo-Yo excels at this listing of contemporary pieces. It’s the way he gets into a tone, and I mean really in to one single tone. It’s like this: He’ll start out with a simple, pure, quiet tone. Then maybe he will add a little crecendo with an upbow. Now maybe a little gradual vibrato. And then maybe a touch of sul ponticello as the dynamic gets more and more intense. And finally he’s burning the cello’s ovaries incandescent as the thing begins to moan and scream with the rapid and near-violent undulations of the bow.

I don’t have time to get in to the details of each piece here, but items on this disc stand out for me. The “Seven Tunes Heard in China” by Bright Sheng is a beautiful set of pieces, obviously written based on thematic material from Chinese themes. The words that sprang to mind when I first heard it was “harmonic juxaposition”. Bright Sheng sets up a wonderful play between the pentatonic modalities that are inherent of Chinese melody, that create soft dissonance and a simple yet rich texture of harmony as the melodies intertwine. Yo-Yo executes these pieces with a strong sense of musicality and attention that is rarely given to the works of living composers.

My other favorite of the moment on this disc is the Sonata for Cello op 8 by Zoltán Kodály. This piece (and perhaps also The Brahms Trio op. 8) makes me wish that I could play the cello. There is nothing else I can say about this piece – it is just simply badass.

Other recordings to check out along these lines:
O’Connor, Ma, Meyer – Appalachia Waltz
Astor Piazolla – Tango, Zero Hour

I will add links later. I’m tired and I have to get some sleep now…

The Patron Saint of the Rich White Ruling Class

When the rights of minorities are at stake – such as terrorist racial profiling conducted against Arab Americans, or government-mandated worship such as ‘national prayer’ and the Pledge of Allegance ‘under god’ issue infringing upon the rights of non-religous Americans, President Bush seems to care little for these persons and their rights as American Citizens. They conflict with his own personal, narrow, rich white anglo-saxon protestant view of the world. But when Affirative Action is used in a university admissions program to bolster the attendance of underrepresented minorities that could potentially decrease the number of rich white anglo-saxon protestant students that attend said school, he has to raise a fuss and butt in. At least Colin Powell has stuck to what he beleives in this time.