Category Archives: technology & computing

tumblr: Yay! Finally printed my new “personal” business card…

Yay! Finally printed my new “personal” business card design for 2014!

Complete with photo and name in “I Am Sherlocked” font on front; phone, email addresses, links to my personal website, LInkedIn profile, and Twitter profile, and contact info QR code c/o Kaywa.

Posted via tumblr: published on March 18, 2014 at 10:00PM

Markdown Cheat Sheet

I have been meaning to learn Markdown for what feels like forever, but never quite had the time until now. I’m no stranger to markup languages– HTML (i.e., Hypertext Markup Language) is of course the most well-known markup language (so well-known and been around so long that people probably forget that is one) and I’ve been using that since the Internet exploded in the mid-1990s, but another example is wiki syntax, like that used by MediaWiki, one of the most popular wiki packages that was originally developed for (and still powers) the hugely popular Wikipedia. I’ve been using wikis in one way or another since they first started becoming popular as a collaboration tool in the early 2000s after first hearing about them from some early-adopter student employees at Stanford and later using TWiki heavily for collaboration during my CMU graduate program in Software Engineering, which largely revolved around project teams. So, I love the knowledge sharing and collaboration provided by a wiki, but thought that by now, especially since most wiki packages are open source and/or free, more efforts would have been made to standardize wiki syntax. Markdown seems like a great candidate for this.

In any case, Markdown is a great tool for creating richly formatted text and documents from both easy-to-read and easy-to-write plain text markup even for someone like me who has been using HTML so long that I could write it in my sleep. So, I finally took the time today and am actually writing this post using Markdown!* I like a good tutorial as much as the next guy to help get me started with any new technology and decided to use the Markdown tutorial at The particularly great thing about this tutorial is that you have to complete small Markdown exercises to move on to the next item or step of the tutorial and any experienced programmer knows that the best way to learn a language is to use it. So, as I was going through the tutorial and completing these little exercises, I found myself copying some of my answers to save as examples of one particular thing or another. In the end, I found myself learning Markdown by taking notes in Markdown as I went through the tutorial, creating my own cheat sheet containing Markdown basics.

Aside from the tutorial’s hands-on exercises, the other driving factor behind creating my own Markdown cheat sheet in Markdown was because I happened to be using Mou, a popular Markdown editor for Mac OS X. Mou displays the source and rendered Markdown side-by-side so as I was taking down notes and pasting in examples, I could also see as well as play around with my own examples on the left-hand side while seeing the results on the right.

Markdown Cheat Sheet in Mou

I often need to switch programming languages and/or technologies quickly, working with at least two or three everyday, so I love a good cheat sheet to help me switch gears– at least until it starts becoming muscle memory and creating this cheat sheet certainly helped move me toward that goal with Markdown. So, if you’re looking to learn Markdown, I suggest you ideally follow the tutorial like I did, but if you want a quick start guide and/or cheat sheet to give you the basics, I’ve made my new MarkDown cheat sheet available here for download. As my Markdown skills develop, the cheat sheet will as well and I’ll post updated versions as I make them. Enjoy!

Download the Markdown Cheat Sheet here.

*Note re: Markdown support for WordPress: I recommend getting Markdown support for your WordPress blog via the Markdown on Save Improved WordPress plugin— this plugin smartly stores the Markdown version of your Posts separately so you can deactivate it, if necessary, without having your Posts continuing to spew out Markdown that WordPress can no longer properly process or render.

tumblr: Custom Icons for Your Desktop: If I have to look at it all day,…

Custom Icons for Your Desktop: If I have to look at it all day, I might as well make it fun…

I started customizing my icons awhile ago, but since I just got a brand new personal laptop for the first time in a long while, I went all out and replaced as many as I could and feel pretty happy with the way things look now.

Besides, your desktop, virtual or physical, says a lot about you, your personality, the way your work and even your current state of mind (messy desk, messy mind?).

How do you customize your icons?

Check out these instructions, including how to change Dock icons using LiteIcon (see software below).

My current desktop (it changes frequently) is captured above and as I go through some examples, I’ll be sure to give credit where credit is due.

Icon Sources

All of the icons I use are freely available (although you may want to check the specifics if planning on doing anything other than personal with these) and from two primary sites unless otherwise noted or custom-made (more in the software section below).

  1. Pixelgirl Presents – also includes wallpapers and other goodies (and from the same awesome woman behind ShanaLogic), and
  2. interfacelift, which also includes wallpapers and other goodies as well.

Almost everything is available for both Mac and Windows, sometimes Linux (and you can always convert using tools from the software section below).


Photo #1: As you can see from the shot of my entire desktop, I’m not going for a particular theme except for maybe a little “steampunk”, maybe even post-apocalytpic sci-fi at times, thus the “space-themed” wallpaper, Orbit by Gerry from one of my favorite desktop wallpaper websites, Simple Desktops.

Photo #2: Starting from the left, some Dock examples:

  1. Finder – Lego Systems 1.0 by Sean King (I use this set for the default for almost everything)
  2. Dashboard – Kaijubees by Melissa Scroggins.
  3. LaunchPad – Little White Sheep holding a rocket launcher from Aries by flamela.

Photo #3: Then, a little something for the geeks:

  1. Terminal – computer screen from the icons inspired by the tv show “LOST” by Hein Mevissen.
  2. eclipse – Blend by Laurent Baumann.
  3. Gimp original icon! – Mascot Wilber with a paintbrush in his teeth.

Photo #4: And as good as Apple is at design…

  1. iPhoto – painting of Mt Kilimanjaro, Kenya from the Hemingway icon set by Leslie Sigal Javorek.
  2. iTunes – gramophone from Vintage Icon set (apologies, more info coming soon).
  3. VLC – vintage TV from the same Vintage Icon set as above.

Photo #5: Of course, just to remind you, a security camera from The Bourne Ultimate icon set by leoyue just to remind you of the NSA watching you.

Photo #6: And finally, what did I use to make all these screenshots? See Homer sticking his hand out as if he was stuck in a well? From The Simpsons Icons by Anton Gerasimenko and Egor Zhgun and well, looks like he’s looking for something to Grab.


  • Img2icn: for creating and converting images to icons: this lightweight tool takes multiples image formats, including jpg, png, etc. and converti images into icons not just in the ICNS format for your desktop, but also for your iOS device and website favicons as well. Some icon sets you may download listed here or anywhere else might be in ICO or ICNS format already, but still won’t work for some reason, you may try sending your ICO or ICNS files through Img2Icn anyway— it’s always resolved the issue for me. Price: you get plenty of free use before they ask you to pay, but for all that functionality and being super easy to use, it was definitely worth the $3.90 I eventually shelled out. Download or buy at the Shiny Frog product site.
  • LiteIcon (for Mac OS X 9 only): another simple, lightweight app for customizing your desktop icons, including those “permanently” in the Dock (such as empty/full trash can) that you wouldn’t be able to use the standard technique for as mentioned at the beginning of this post. It also allows you to set new default icons for all general folders, smart folders, etc. across the entire system. If you’re not running Mavericks (Mac OS X 9), check out CandyBar. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good recommendation for Windows, but if you do, please drop me a note and I will update this info here.

Posted via tumblr: published on March 09, 2014 at 03:32AM

tumblr: Yay… more work… good thing I have this #Scrumban board to help…

Yay… more work… good thing I have this #Scrumban board to help me visualize all of it… #sarcasm

If not already, soon my face is going to look like that House/Hugh Laurie poster.

Posted via tumblr: published on February 12, 2014 at 09:30PM

tumblr: Such a sweet find- THE AMAZING GRACE HOPPER on…

Such a sweet find- THE AMAZING GRACE HOPPER on Letterman!

It’s only 10 minutes and definitely worth watching! Some of my favorite bits:

On going to bed instead of celebrating when she officially left the Navy after 43 1/2 years of service on 31 August 24:00:

“There’s something you learn in your first boot camp or training camp— If they put you down somewhere with nothing to do, go to sleep.”

On joining the service:

L: “What interested you about going into the Navy at 37?”
H: “Well, World War II, to begin with…” (laughter)
“That’s been one of the hardest things to tell people in this country— there was a time when everybody in this country did one thing together.”

On working on the first big computer in the US:

L: “You worked on the original computer in this country, right?”
(bit of talk about her work on the Mark I at Harvard)
L: “How did you know so much about computers then?”
H: “I didn’t. It was the first one.” (much laughter & clapping)

While showing a physical representation of a nanosecond (billionth of a second):

H: “That is the maximum distance that light or electricity can travel in a billionth of a second.”
L: “No faster, no farther…”
H: “When an admiral asks you why it takes so damn long to send a message by satellite, you point out to him between here and the satellite, there are a very large number of nanoseconds…” (illustrating with the “nanosecond” in her hand)

Explaining picoseconds, a thousandth of a nanosecond, and holding up a little packet:

“The best way to get ‘em is go to McDonald’s or Wendy’s or somewhere and get a small packet of picoseconds— they have the label ‘pepper’ on them, but they’re really picoseconds.”

Posted via tumblr: published on January 09, 2014 at 12:17PM

tumblr: This year’s alumni holiday card from the CMU CS Department…

This year’s alumni holiday card from the CMU CS Department is amusingly a propos given our latest acquisition at the office (at the other university I attended).

Posted via tumblr: published on January 08, 2014 at 02:28PM

tumblr: My family doesn’t really do gifts (other than the very…

My family doesn’t really do gifts (other than the very efficient, oh-so-very-stereotypical-for-valid-reason Asian and straight-to-the-point cold hard cash) and we’ve all been/still are on tight budgets anyway, but once in a while, I’ll treat myself to something small, like my sweet new retro Nintendo game controller-like phone cover by TrekCovers via TrekGear on Amazon. They have ones that actually look exactly like old school game controllers for various generations of game console controllers and handheld gaming devices like the original Gameboy, but I just liked the design and colors of this one.

Pops, doesn’t it?

Soga Wireless on Amazon is another favorite cell phone case source of mine and even though standard shipping (3-5 days) is $2.94 PER ITEM— $8.94 for “Expedited” (1-3 days) shipping!— when almost all the covers (at least for my phone) are literally $1-3, some being high as $4.99 (but those often come with a mini touch screen stylus that conveniently has a little lanyard-like thing that plugs into your phone’s stereo jack to make it easier to carry around), that still makes each cover only $4-6 each, well over 50% less than the average cell phone case/cover if you were to walk into a store to buy one.

Whether it’s $5 with Soga Wireless or $9.99 with TrekGear (free shipping!), just $5-10 can bring a surprising amount of “shopping satisfaction” AND it makes me feel like I have a new phone every time I change the cover, staving off the unnecessary and potentially very expensive itch to get a new smartphone that hits most technophiles at least every 12 months (and Apple’s bonkers iPhone release schedule and ads don’t exactly help the situation).

I’ll break out the old school cassette tape-like cover soon…

Posted via tumblr: published on January 07, 2014 at 10:13PM

tumblr: Seen on a Virgin American plane while waiting for my flight to…

Seen on a Virgin American plane while waiting for my flight to finish boarding & take off: “my other ride’s a spaceship”.

Like a lot of things with the uber-rich, kind of obnoxious, but kind of awesome too.

Posted via tumblr: published on December 31, 2013 at 12:59PM

Update on Online Privacy & Security: College Students

I get a fair number of requests to post infographics here, but this one is particularly relevant to me as it pertains to online privacy and security, like this earlier infographic, but this time, focusing on college students. It illustrates points that are consistent with what I see everyday working in IT at a university every day– that college students are certainly aware and concerned about online privacy and security and while they are taking some steps to protect themselves, not enough are taking those extra little steps, especially when it comes to mobile technologies, leaving many vulnerable to something potentially innocuous like undesired people seeing your “private” social media profile (although we know this can blow up to quite the reputation killer as well) to quite serious, long-lasting troubles like identify theft.

Like most things about working at colleges and universities, in the end, our mission is all about educating and guiding these young adults in this transitional stage to being well-informed, thoughtful, responsible citizens, whether it’s the Internet or simply the world at large. Too bad we can’t go back in time and do that for everyone else that was unleashed on the Internet without any education or guidance 🙂