Alex W.'s Blog

The Second Quarter of 2015: Items

I was inspired by a website I stumbled across on called My Faults My Own by Ross Rheingans-Yoo in which he keeps a live post for each month where he lists worthwhile articles he’s read and other things he “would like to signal-boost, but won’t take the time to do full writeups on”. I enjoy the idea substantially, and with this post am commencing along the path he blazed.

Reading List

Book: ★★★★★ Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us - Daniel H Pink

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of our lives.

Book: ★★★★★ Altered Carbon - Richard K. Morgan

It’s the twenty-fifth century, and advances in technology have redefined life itself. A person’s consciousness can now be stored in the brain and downloaded into a new body [or “sleeve”], making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.

Book: ★★★★★ Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners—one of the most popular novels of all time—that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.

Book: ★★★★☆ Consider Phlebas (Culture #1) - Iain M. Banks

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist.

Book: ★★★★☆ The Player of Games (Culture #2) - Iain M. Banks

In the ancient, all-embracing Culture in which there is no disease or disaster, only the endless games, he has beaten them all. But an empire’s challenge will teach him what the Game is really all about.

Book: ★★★★☆ Use of Weapons (Culture #3) - Iain M. Banks

Cheradenine is an ex-special circumstance agent who had been raised to eminence by a woman named Diziet. Skaffen-Amtskaw, the drone, had saved her life and it believes Cheradenine to be a burnt-out case. But not even its machine intelligence can see the horrors in his past.

Current Events

Article: Wired - What Schools Must Learn From LA’s iPad Debacle

“LA is emblematic of a problem we’re seeing across the country right now,” he says. “Districts are starting with the technology and not asking themselves: ‘What problem are we trying to solve, and what’s the instructional model we need to solve it?’ and then finding technology in service of that.”


Webpage: GRACE Tellus - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

This is a fascinating project that uses two satellites orbiting Earth to calculate soil change through minute gravity differences by precisely measuring the distance between the two satellites. Here is additional PBS NOVA Coverage.

Friends’ Writeups

Feature: Senioritis: Why I’m too lazy to think of a better title - Krista Schildwachter

The generation above us seems to think that senioritis is the cause of an inherently lazy youth, and if maybe we did not utilize technology as a procrastination tool, we would learn a better sense of responsibility.

Feature: To wear or not to wear? - Delaney Ivey

Complying with the dress code seems like a simple fix. But when there are no knee-length shorts available in the women’s department and girls who wear boys shorts are subject to teasing, it becomes a lose-lose situation.


Image: SMBC - How God Answer’s Prayers

Dear God, do you actually answer prayers?

Yes, but only in a way indistinguishable from random luck or the result of your own efforts.

Image: Reddit - Me Speaking German to a German

Pokes fun at the common (at least for me) interactions where foreigners can speak English much better than the several years of high school language classes have prepared me to speak their language.

Image: Reddit - Texting

June 8th 2011: hey

June 8th 2013: Hey sorry i was busy

June 8th 2013: i sent that 2 years ago

Stunning Code Creations

WebApp: Kubist - William Ngan

Kubist transforms an ordinary image into cubism-like composition using Delaunay Tessellation and several convenient JS libraries. An explanatory article can be found here.

Demo: CSS Clip-Path Fold-In Menu - CodePen

Uses CSS Clip-Path to create a fold-in effect on menu item hover.

Cool Apps

Code: reddit-background - GitHub/rconradharris

Set your Mac OS X desktop background to images pulled from Reddit.

I modified this codebase to download pictures from from various subreddits (Reddit) to be cycled through as desktop wallpapers. My version is located at reddit-wallpaper

Web Resources

WebApp: How to Center In CSS - Code Generator

Centering in CSS is a pain in the ass. There seems to be a gazillion ways to do it, depending on a variety of factors. This consolidates them and gives you the code you need for each situation.

Sys-Admin Resources

Tidbit: Easy Crontab Header

# +--------- Minute (0-59)                    | Output Dumper: >/dev/null 2>&1
# | +------- Hour (0-23)                      | Multiple Values Use Commas: 3,12,47
# | | +----- Day Of Month (1-31)              | Do every X intervals: */X  -> Example: */15 * * * *  Is every 15 minutes
# | | | +--- Month (1 -12)                    | Aliases: @reboot -> Run once at startup; @hourly -> 0 * * * *;
# | | | | +- Day Of Week (0-6) (Sunday = 0)   | @daily -> 0 0 * * *; @weekly -> 0 0 * * 0; @monthly ->0 0 1 * *;
# | | | | |                                   | @yearly -> 0 0 1 1 *;
# * * * * * COMMAND                           |

Android Resources

Code: Tray: a SharedPreferences replacement for Android

Welcome to SharedPreferences 2.0 aka Tray. Tray supports use across multiple processes. Tray also provides an advanced API which makes it super easy to access and maintain your data with upgrade and migrate mechanisms.

Code: MaterialViewPager

Material Design ViewPager easy to use library mimicking the look of Google Play Newsstand.

Written by Alex Wendland, who is currently exploring fintech at Pinwheel. Here's a Twitter handle, a GitHub, some LinkedIn, ol' Facebook, or a hip Instagram if you're interested.