Thursday, August 16, 2012

People of Walmart

So yesterday, as I walked through Walmart, I heard a guy yelling at a crying child, in the toy department. As there didn’t seem to be any physical harm occurring, I kept going, but heard part of the conversation, as best as I can recollect:

Man: “Shut up!”

(child keeps crying)

Man: “Shut up, [name]!”

(child keeps crying)


(child gets louder)

Man, slightly calmer: “Look, please shut up and listen to me.”

(child softens, but keeps crying)

Man: “Will you listen to me? Stop crying, and listen to me?”

(child stops crying)

Man: “Look, we’re here to get a toy for [other child]. [Other child] is getting a toy because she did what she was told. You did not do what you were told, right?”

(child whimpers)

Man: “When Mommy told [other child] to go sit in the corner, she did. That’s why she’s getting a toy.”

Um… parenting FAIL?

Monday, August 13, 2012

AppleScript: Set Display Brightness

Apple Thunderbolt DisplayI’ve been using AppleScript for years now, but I’ve never had the opportunity to become really good at it. I can do a few simple things, but once I get beyond that, I pretty much have to turn to the web. So it was, this morning: my office has two large windows in it, so the ambient light varies quite a bit from day to day and hour to hour. I finally decided that I’m sick and tired of adjusting the brightness on three different displays—not to mention hoping that they’re all exactly the same—on a regular basis. So as usual, I turned to the web.

After a few less useful hits, I finally came to an old blog post called “Change Monitor Brightness Using AppleScript.” It was exactly what I needed, with three exceptions:
  1. Since it’s four years old, it hasn’t been updated for Mountain Lion.
  2. It isn’t designed to change multiple displays concurrently.
  3. It doesn’t include the ability to specify the brightness level, on the fly.
Having solved all three of these problems, I post my results, in hopes that it may help someone else:

set brightness_level to (text returned of (display dialog "Set Brightness Level" default answer ".875" buttons {"Cancel", "OK"} default button "OK")) as number

tell application "System Preferences"
set current pane to pane ""
tell application "System Events"
set j to (count windows of process "System Preferences")
repeat with i from 1 to j
set value of slider 1 of group 1 of tab group 1 of window i of process "System Preferences" to brightness_level
end repeat
end tell
end tell

Enjoy! :-)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Some Things Should Just Stay Dead

One of the weirdest things about Netflix is how my children are able to dredge up old TV shows that are off the air for a reason. Case in point: Hanna-Barbera’s Godzilla. For those who are mercifully unaware of this show, You can check the Wikipedia page, but I’ll give you my summary of the first episode.

The show seems to revolve around the crew of a small ship, consisting of the following:
  • a white man, who is, of course, in charge. If his white maleness weren’t enough to tip you off to this fact, his name is—seriously—Captain Majors.
  • a white woman named Quinn, which, given the next character, should be particularly humorous to fans of Sealab 2021.
  • a black man whose name I didn’t catch, but who is obviously intelligent because he wears glasses.
  • a white boy, probably about ten years old, with roughly the same haircut as Velma Dinkley.
  • a small, flying, green dinosaur named Godzooky, who seems to serve the same purpose as Scrappy-Doo, i.e. comic relief peppered with occasional furtherance of plot.
At the beginning of the show, a volcano erupts and a big bird sticks his head out. (Notably absent is the presence of any snuffleupagi.) The bird surreptitiously disappears, but the volcanic eruption apparently triggers a tsunami, which threatens our heroes on the boat. A frightened Captain Majors somehow manages to contact Godzilla, who shows up just in time to pick up the boat and hold it above the tsunami because, you know, that’s just the kind of thing Godzilla does, right?

Since our heroes apparently have the combined IQ of a bologna sandwich, they decide to head for the volcano that’s still erupting. There they find a couple of scientists who were stranded there and decide to investigate further by—hey, why not?—going directly into the erupting volcano, via a convenient, perfectly round hole in the side.

Now, having personally been in a simulated house fire—in full firefighting gear, no less—I can say from experience that that is hot. I expect that an active volcano would be even hotter, yet somehow our heroes are able to make their way right up to the side of the pit, wearing no protective gear whatsoever, and while they do comment on the heat, they don’t even break a sweat—a feat Krillin is apparently incapable of mastering, even on the mildest of days.

What they do find, however, is the firebird (or whatever), happily basking in the center of the volcano. Suffice to say, the firebird does eventually leave the volcano and battle Godzilla, who is apparently like the Captain Planet of this series: eponymous, yet only showing up as needed—again, at the request of Captain Majors, who is apparently some sort of long-distance lizard whisperer.

The point is that some shows—and this does apply to shows other than Hanna-Barbera cartoons, although I can’t think of any at the moment—are just really, really bad. The plot is bad, the dialog is bad, the animation (yes, they’re usually animated) is bad; they’re just plain bad, and not in a Michael Jackson–choke-the-chicken sort of way. These shows have gone on to a peaceful death as the world has recognized their badness, and yet thanks to Netflix, they now have new life, available on demand for all who choose to resurrect their glorious ineptitude.

Thanks, Netflix. The world needs more zombie cartoon shows.