{April 3, 2015}   Working with vinyl

This was going to be titled “Sewing with vinyl”, but I didn’t actually end up sewing my successful projects. :)

(This post is a bit rough, sorry. Migraines suck. I don’t think I’ll have the energy to clean it up before I lose interest.)

The goal was to make a waterproof rain skirt, so that I could sit at bus stops in the rain. The folks at dressew told me (and I later confirmed with the shower) that regular water-resistant fabrics wouldn’t be enough, and I should try vinyl. They also warned me that the holes from sewing it could easily turn into perforations. So I got $3 of their thinnest clear vinyl (4 gauge) and started experimenting.

The first test was regular sewing. I made a little pouch (not quite the one I was intending to make, but oh well) and was careful to not stitch too close together. Still, when I pulled gently on the seams they seemed to stretch. Tolerable for a little coin pouch, but not for the kind of strain I could put on a skirt if I sat down quickly.

Next I tried gluing the seams. Glue guns aren’t much use on vinyl – it just peels off when dry. The glue gun itself wasn’t hot enough to fuse the vinyl properly, either. White glue was even worse at sticking.

The experiment with the glue gun got me to try the soldering iron, though, and that worked much better. With parchment paper to keep the tip clean, it easily fused two layers of vinyl together… Although it did burn holes in the single layer where I accidentally touched it. Good thing I was practising on scraps first! :)


For practice, I also made a cute little coin pouch, which almost holds water (I only made two pinprick holes).


After finding the right soldering temperature and speed to fuse the vinyl without damaging it, I went back to figuring out a skirt pattern. I wanted as few seams as possible, so I just made enough pleats that I could sit down, and soldered the very top of them.


While the vinyl stuck to itself enough to test at home, I needed a proper fastener to make it stay on reliably. Since I also needed to adjust it to a varying waistline, and have the ends overlap, Velcro was the obvious choice. Not so obvious was how to attach it. Sewing was already ruled out, I didn’t think stick-on Velcro would be strong enough, nobody sells the iron-on kind around here… But I was poking around in dressew and stumbled on “Velcro glue”, which appears to be one step below superglue, and works on vinyl. It was a bit of a pain to apply (I was scared of touching it even though it claimed to not bond skin) and it’s not quite as strong as I’d hoped, but it’s strong enough. I could still peel off the Velcro if I put a good bit of effort in, but the forces on the skirt won’t do it on their own.


In positioning the Velcro, I made it so that the opening was on the side, with the opening pointing backwards. That way it’s easier to walk, still keeps the rain off as much as possible, and I know I have vinyl protecting me when I sit down.

So, I have a skirt! :)


In testing the skirt itself… It does a good job of keeping rain off, but the non-velcro side was being awkward when I sat down. Next time I’d probably do two pieces with Velcro on both sides. It’s also a bit awkward in general, despite being the thinnest vinyl I could get, and even though it folds up small enough for my backpack I wouldn’t want to put it in there while it’s wet. It’s like carrying around a second umbrella in that regard. I think I’d only wear it on heavy rain days, and maybe I’ll try a smaller square of vinyl for sitting on at bus stops.

Oh, and I upgraded the coin pouch with some boning (stiff plastic strips used for corsets) so that if I pinch the ends it opens up :) that part was easy, since I just had to fold the ends over the boning and fuse them shut.


{January 9, 2014}   Why am I not blogging?

Goddamnit, I haven’t blogged in forever. I at least started a post on robotsconf, but never finished it. I’m damn well going to blog about *something* today, so, let’s talk about possible explanations for my not blogging.

This is going to be a rambling stream-of-consciousness post with no editing except to combat autocorrect. Because one of the things that makes it hard to blog is worrying about whether I could have phrased it better. The internet can be pretty mean, and if one little sentence is badly phrased then someone’s going to jump on it. :/

Which brings me to another issue: my blog is adrift on the internet at large, instead of being part of a community. When it was a part of planetkde, and I was contributing steadily, I always knew what I wanted to talk about and who was going to read it. Even when I didn’t have some cool feature to blog about, I knew my audience. I had a feel for how many off topic posts I should write to let people know about my hobbies without boring them too much.

Now, my hobbies are in chaos – I can’t seem to settle on one thing for more than a couple of sessions – my work isn’t something I can blog about much (and NIR would most people care) and I have no fucking clue who’s reading this.

I know that I’ve picked up some followers of my food posts (sorry, no time for that lately, Pete’s doing most of the cooking), I know some tiny subset of kde people still follow my blog, and I know some people read it via twitter now that I’m auto-tweeting my posts and actually using twitter. (Actually that last one scares me a bit, you never know who’s going to end up seeing it there…)

Twitter might be part of the problem too… The free time I do have is easily sucked up by reddit and twitter. And I don’t feel like twitter is a choice, because I’d miss out on stuff in various tech circles if I didn’t check it at least every couple of days. It keeps me feeling connected in these not-quite-communities around js, Vancouver tech, etc.

But, yeah, time is an issue. I started this post on the bus, and now I’m writing during lunch while the rest of the company chats. After work and dinner, I generally don’t want to do anything hard, and blogging is hard. It takes a good 2-4 hour block for me to do a good post, iirc, and if I’m interrupted I tend to lose interest. I have that time on the weekend but I have a million other hobbies and chores and social events competing for my attention then (and if it’s work-related I can take some work time but there aren’t many of those). Plus it’s hard to convince myself the post is worth writing if I don’t know who’s reading it.

Another thing that bugs me is this WordPress app.  For the most part it’s a good app, but it has a fatal flaw: it is way too easy to publish by accident. That makes me reluctant to use it the more complex my topic is. And with the small screen it’s hard to review a post – I don’t seem to have a preview at all here – so I always want to finish editing on a desktop and publish from there.

Oh well. This time I’m just going to hit send and damn the consequences :p

{August 30, 2013}   UIWebView css theming

For one of our apps at SteamClock, We’re switching from a dark to a light theme for iOS 7. We’re still keeping the dark theme for iOS 6, though. This has been a bit of a pain, and today I had the “fun” of figuring out how to theme our about page, written in html. :P It took about three stackoverflow answers and a blog post for me to piece together working code, so I’m adding Yet Another blog with a solution that’s more robust (so long as your theme doesn’t change while you’re displaying it).

The gist of it is, we use external css files (something the internet was unclear on too) and then edit the html string so that it loads the correct css file for the theme.

Here’s the line of html that loads the css:

   <link rel='stylesheet' href='about-THEME.css' />

Note the lack of a leading slash in the href. It broke when I added one. Oh, and of course I’m confident that ‘THEME’ will never appear elsewhere in my html.

Now, the ios code…

First, we load the html from our resource:

        NSString *htmlPath = [[NSBundle mainBundle] pathForResource:@"about" ofType:@"html"];
        NSData *htmlData = [NSData dataWithContentsOfFile:htmlPath];
        NSString *htmlString = [[NSString alloc] initWithData:htmlData encoding:NSUTF8StringEncoding];

Pretty straightforward.

Then, we swap out the ‘THEME’ placeholder for the right name:

        NSString *themeName = IS_IOS7 ? @"light" : @"dark";
        htmlString = [htmlString stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:@"THEME" withString: themeName];

That IS_IOS7 macro boils down to:
([[[UIDevice currentDevice] systemVersion] compare:@"7.0" options:NSNumericSearch] != NSOrderedAscending)

Now we need a base url so that it looks for the css file in the right place:

        NSURL *baseURL = [NSURL fileURLWithPath:[[NSBundle mainBundle] bundlePath]];

Finally, we load the page:

        [self.webView loadHTMLString:htmlString baseURL:baseURL];

And that’s it! (well… almost. you may want to set the backgroundColor of the webView to match your css background, so that it looks nice while scrolling and such.)

Now our about page automagically fits the theme, and as an added benefit, all our translations share the same css instead of having it c&p’d into the html files. :)

{May 20, 2010}   still alive

wow, whta has it been… two weeks since I blogged? two and a half…

life’s been busy. the end of that conference was fun, but it kinda burnt me out; I still plan to blog about the rest of it eventaually. since then, it’s been a mix of important RL stuff (yes, there do exist things more important than kde), racing to beat the feature freeze, and then racing to fix bugs in those features before the first beta is tagged. oh yeah, and there was a birthday in there somewhere too ;)

I’ve found some good restaurants in my area… enjoyed the sunshine.. watched crazy wind-storms outside my window… gotten horribly drunk.. had a great time without any alcohol… and other things.

and then there’s the code – feature freeze has a way of showign up at times that are reallly damn inconvenient to me personally, so I did something I really hate doing – committed code I knew was buggy and not very well-written, to meet the deadline. since then I’ve been fixing those bugs and cleaning up that code – with help from aaron and ivan and fredrikh and others. :)

I think it’ll be worth it, though – in trunk right now we have an activity manager for plasma, and some basic activity association code in kwin. it’s still got some rough edges, but it generally works, so I’m gonna do a screencast showing off the new features soon. :)

right now though… I’m not sure whether I’m more exhausted or starving… I think I’m gonna go crawl into bed :)

{May 2, 2010}   degrowth, day 3

Saturday’s presetnations were much better. :) The first one was actually done over videoconference, which worked surprisingly well. There was talk about the unsustainability of what we’re doing to the planet right now, and how this growth that we take for granted is actually quite a recent phenomenon in human history. Peter Victor has been running simulations of various economic models, and again there seemed to be a relationship between lowering emissions and working less :) (and lowering unemployment and poverty somewhat, too).

We had more videos, both about sustainability and about how movements grow – I need to find one of them annd post it but I don’t have time right now. We had a talk on happiness, and more history lessons.

Yeah, I really don’t have time for a proper blog post. suffice it to say that there were several good talks, a panel discussion, and then more great circle discussions. alternative currencies, transition towns, how to change things…

There was a party in the evening too… most people were still talking or had gone to bed, but someone showed up with hoola hoops and we had fun dancing :) and whizzing around on carts after we’d packed up the chairs and things (we’ll be in a different building today).

{May 1, 2010}   degrowth, day 2

Friday we had several presentations. They were…. not so great. A ton of doom and gloom – peak oil, population issues, how incredibly fucked we all are even if we were to turn things around right this minute. :/

I don’t much like that sort of thing. It’s depressing. It makes me want to give up. I got the impression that a lot of us don’t even believe in peak oil any more, anyways. One of the presentations was just a half-hour parade of graphs. *yawn* Good thing I had a book. ;)

Oh, but there was also an impromptu presentation by Village Vancouver – they’ve been building sustainable communities right here, and they seem to be running a lot of workshops. Neat. Maybe I’ll go to one of those sometime. :)

Afterwards, we split into discussion groups, and that was great. I ended up in the politics circle, whose topic actually wandered all over the place. we talked about apathy, about how few protests there are in north america these days, and how little they accomplish… about how we might get power back into the hands of the people. Someone reminded us that municipal governments are actually fairly open, and we can go to those meetings – but what they really need from us is metrics, numbers to back up what we’re saying so that they can justify their decisions. I got another history lesson: back in the 60’s, most people could actually afford a house and an education. In many ways, their standard of living was better than what we have now – despite, or because of, their economy being stagnant. We talked about the need to build community and connect with nature, about local currencies, privatization, how participatory government does and doesn’t scale… I’m going to have to sort through my notes later and find out what conclusions we actually arrived at, because this just scratches the surface. :)

The discussions went late, and then smaller discussions went even later. :) Someone told us about how the little redneck town she grew up in has become the local-food capital of the world – change *can* happen. :) We need more success stories like that, more examples of solutions, of what we can really do.

Today there’s another lineup of speakers – hopefully they’ll be a bit more optimistic than yesterday ;) But really, these conferences, it’s about the *people*, the discussions, meeting and connecting and finding out what other people have been doing and that you’re not alone. It’s not about those few people giving talks, it’s about everyone coming together to make things happen. :)

{January 21, 2008}   hello planet sine!

well, planet sine can’t see the title ’cause it has the same bug as planet kde. but oh well.
so, um, yeah. I’m on two planets now. yays.
does this mean I’ll have to go through the cycle of reviving one of my freetures projects, rewriting a bit of it and dropping it again? ;)

obligatory totally-offtopic-comment: I had an exam today. the last one is tomorrow. that means I’m almost done. I think it’s gonna be confusing for a while, being done with the chinese stuff. will probably take a few days to unbreak my mind and actually start getting things done.

{September 7, 2007}   snipped posts

the internet is behaving like a yo-yo today, and it reminded me that a fair number of people on planetkde still snip their posts. considering the overwhelming number of comments last time I brought the subject up, I expected everyone would stop snipping, but that wasn’t the case. so I’d just like to say that if you could let the rss feed show your entire post, I’d really appreciate that while my internet connection is down. :)

I’ve actually almost caught up on all the planetkde posts from my vacation, since a lot of my other feeds don’t include anything at *all* in the rss. I suppose I really should have spent the time doing something a little more productive… oh well. :)

{June 26, 2007}   to snip or not to snip?

poll time!

when I post long rambling posts, should I show the whole thing in akregator or just the first bit? obviously the people who read my blog are the ones who are affected by it, not me, so I wanna know what you think.

There’s a proposal to adopt Microsoft’s Office “Open” XML as an international standard. Yep, the big nonstandard “standard” that is full of contradictions and confusions and patent worries. the “standard” that was created as a response to the Open Document Format. We should be standardising on that instead: ODF is already an ISO standard, is truly open, unencumbered, and is already used by at *least* two Free editors that I know of, plus there’s a plugin for MS Office. There must be at least one Canadian reading this blog; let’s let our government know what this “standard” really is. they’ve provided a forum for responses; let’s hope they actually listen to them. …just remember that they’ll listen better if the posts sound like they’re coming from a calm, rational adult and not a crazy linux fanatic ;)

[for the record: in the end, canada voted no. yay!]

et cetera