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When Can I Reuse This Calendar (dot com)

11 Nov

My wife dug up a 2008 calendar still in the shrinkwrap and it got me thinking… When can I reuse this calendar? Well, I had a spare hour and $6.99 to register a domain, so I whipped out this little site:

Now you can go digging through that chest of crap from the 1990s and pull out your favorite cute puppies calendar. In 2010, you can re-use calendars from 1999, 1993, 1982, 1971, 1965, 1954, 1943, and 1937.


Curtains for Theater Listings

21 Jul

no_popcornThis morning I received a call from a gent with a Boston accent. He indicated that he represents a firm that is displeased with some data I’m using on According to the caller, my theater listings page is using his client’s intellectual property and I’m not properly licensed to do so. The lawyer seemed nice enough. Perhaps I should have kept him on the phone longer so he could tick up some more billable hours…

Like some other things I’ve developed, theater listings was a simple service I wrote for myself to clean up an otherwise cluttered interface and make the data available in my favorite feed reader. Over the years, many people have written with questions and thanks regarding the page. Thank you to everyone who used the service. I hope you might find some of my other tools just as useful.

As of now, the theater listings page is closed. If you still want this information in your web browser, check out Google’s movie listings service. For you feed reader junkies, Yahoo Pipes is widely known as a useful service for turning any web page into an RSS feed.

I’ll investigate the possibility of re-sourcing the data, but don’t get your hopes up. Also, for those who are already firing up their email clients to ask me for the source code, hold your horses. I’ve been working up a post on ethical screen scraping and now I can finally share it without being hypocritical. I won’t share the source, but look forward to an interesting and useful guide to capturing and reusing data on the web, including some advice that should help prevent you from getting your own C&D.

Take Control of Drobo + Time Machine

3 Dec

The Drobo storage device is a beautiful piece of technology. It is quite possibly the most user-friendly RAID (like) device on the market. With very little effort, you can have 3TB+ of failure-protected storage at your fingertips.

The problem with the Drobo is that in order to change its true data capacity on the fly and dynamically share it between multiple volumes, it must create “pretend” volumes in even-sized chunks. 2TB, 4TB, 8TB, and 16TB are the options currently available. This means that if you have 1.2 TB of actual space, the Drobo will tell your OS you have two or more TB.

Continue reading

A New Home for Package Tracking:

25 Nov

My Google maps making, RSS feed slinging, universal package tracker has moved to greener pastures. is your new go-to place for tracking UPS, FedEx, USPS, DHL, and Airborne packages.

Backstory: In 2006, I posted a handy new utility I’d cobbled together which was a mashup between package tracking for for multiple services. It quickly became by far the most popular page on this site, with more than 1.4 million tracking requests last month. It gets more than three times the traffic of my movie theater RSS generator and four times the traffic of another spinoff site, FeedSifter, a simple RSS/Atom feed filter.

If you are familiar with MediaTemple’s GridServer service, you’ll know that using up all 1000 GPUs (server work units) for the past several months is not a good thing. Those cycles weren’t just going to waste on poorly written scripts, either. Each hit to the tracker consumed an average of 0.0002 GPU (WordPress uses 8 to 16 times that with each hit). It wasn’t always this way, though. Check back soon for an upcoming post on how I managed to cut down the CPU usage of the package tracker by 90% with some intelligent code analysis and a creative caching solution. is now hosted on a screaming VPS server with plenty of spare power. I’m taking full advantage of APC caching and several other behind-the-scenes tweaks one can only get a grip on when they are running a dedicated server.

Thanks to all of the people who have made the service so popular!

Also, thanks to Juplex for a fast and friendly site design!

Seattle PHP Programmers: Come to SEAPHP September 12th

21 Aug

I’m working to revive the Seattle PHP users’ group. If you’re interested in PHP and live in the Seattle area, come to our next users’ group meeting at the new Seattle Northgate library on September 12th.

Details can be found on the SEAPHP wiki:

Add it to your calendar:

The Megapus

2 Apr

I worked at a company that made accessories for telecommunications equipment. Most of the telco equipment still uses deprecated RS-232 serial ports, and so all of their products do too.

At one point, I was tasked with making a device that could send an identical serial port data stream to several devices at once. Shortly thereafter, the Megapus was born. Continue reading