Solarized Dark Theme for Alfred

   19 March 2013, early evening

My solarized theme

Update Mar 19th 2013: Added a new theme for v2 of Alfred. I’m still using it after all thees years, and it’s still really great.

I’ve been using Alfred for a couple months now. Alfred lets you theme the look and feel of its search window. One of the first things I did after discovering the lovely Solarized colour scheme was make an Alfred theme with the same colour palette. I’m still not sure of my choice of accent colours, but I think it looks sharp. I’ll probably make a light version later. Back to work!

Download: Solarized-Dark.alfredtheme for Alfred v1 or Solarized-Dark.alfredappearance for Alfred v2

Comment [3]  

the name warsan means good news in the somali language. i hated it. i despised my name. i wanted to be called something soft, something that ended with an “ah” sound. my name is difficult to whisper into the side of my face. my name is easy to use with a hard voice. i appreciate that now. the hesitation on the other side of the phone. the way they would replace my name with ‘baby’. give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right. my mother calls me ‘warsanay’. if a man ever tried to call me that, it means he understands that i am someone’s daughter. it means i’ll let him call me down from a long building. praise my grandmother, warsan baraka. my father’s mother. the woman i was named after.
the birth name by Warsan Shire

Every 4 Years

   26 February 2013, early afternoon

2005 using a Canon S30:
2005/02/27 - My New Hat

2009 using a Ricoh GR Digital II:

2013 using a Ricoh GR Digital IV:
Wallace and Symington

By coincidence i’ve ended up taking a photo of myself in a bus shelter every 4 years. I should go back to the Gladstone and take another one there.


The company’s shares are down a bit today, but the company’s stock is taking a much less catastrophic plunge in already-meager profits than Apple, whose stock plunged simply because its Q4 profits increased at an unexpectedly slow rate. That’s because Amazon, as best I can tell, is a charitable organization being run by elements of the investment community for the benefit of consumers. The shareholders put up the equity, and instead of owning a claim on a steady stream of fat profits, they get a claim on a mighty engine of consumer surplus. Amazon sells things to people at prices that seem impossible because it actually is impossible to make money that way.
— Matthew Yglesias, Amazon Profits Fall 45 Percent, Still the Most Amazing Company in the World

Mythilli is Two!

   30 January 2013, early morning

Mythilli is Two

Two days and two posts about my actual life? Let’s rock it like it’s 2005.

January is a busy month for me, filled with birthdays and anniversaries. One birthday of particular note is my baby’s. Well, she’s not a baby anymore: she’s two. She is like me, but small(er) and a girl. She enjoys Pingu, trucks, sucking her thumb, and all sorts of other things. Every month I’m impressed by how much she’s changed and developed, but then the next month she seems to have changed and developed even more. She has become an interesting little person.


10 Years

   28 January 2013, evening time

When I first met Shima I thought her birthday was on the 23rd. That was the day the members of the Japanese Cultural Club (KonJa!) all went out to celebrate her birthday, as part of our weekly Thursday meeting. We all met at McGinnis, a sports bar the Japanese exchange students loved. In fact, it was where we usually met for KonJa meetings.

Shima and I had met one week prior, at Fed Hall, a night club run by the University of Waterloo. That may sound lame, but that place was amazing. We bumped into each other again the following night at the Revolution, another night club in Waterloo. Friday was their hip-hop night. She was there with some of her’s friends from Toronto. I was there with my friends Yang and Gary—and probably a million other people: Waterloo is a small town. That winter term in Waterloo, like most of my terms at Waterloo, was filled with a lot of clubbing.

Between these two nights and her birthday party was a string of conversation on ICQ.

McGinnis was a fun place to drink, but that night people felt like dancing. We decided to walk over to Loose Change Louie’s. Shima and I had barely spoke while at McGinnis, but some how we end up walking to Louie’s together. It’s was short walk between the two bars, but we both fell in the snow all the same.

The following Monday we met in the South-East stairwell of the Math and Computer building, between the 5th and 6th floor, and decided we should date.

And that was 10 years ago.

Shima and I Celebrate Our 10th Anniversary

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The Master

   23 January 2013, early evening

P.T. Anderson knows how to make movies. I watched The Master at the Lightbox and it was fantastic. The movie is about the relationship between a shell shocked WWII vet and a charismatic cult leader. Joaquin Phoenix gives a stellar performance. He is unbelievably good in this film. Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent as usual. This film also featured some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in a long while. I got to see the 70mm print and it looked amazing. The film is really quite affecting. Go watch this film.

Also, I feel like P.T. Anderson loves shots of people running frantically.

The official The Master website.


Life of Pi

   21 January 2013, terribly early in the morning

I watched Life of Pi over the holidays, in 3D no less. The bulk of the film, like the book it is based on, follows a boy as he travels shipwrecked across the ocean in a small boat with a Bengal tiger. I should start by saying I feel like an idiot because I had thought they had an actual tiger for many of the shots in the film, but the tiger in the film is completely computer animated. It’s insane how good it looks. It’s a nice uplifting film. Both the book and the film have one of my favourite lines of text ever, which I won’t ruin for you now. I had never seen anything in 3D before and I thought Life of Pi actually looked quite amazing in 3D: nothing felt cheesy about it. So yeah, go watch this film. I thought it does the book justice.

Comment [2]  

Sea of Poppies

   11 January 2013, early morning

I finished reading Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. Shima has declared it one of her favourite books, if not her absolute favourite book. That’s a pretty strong endorsement. It’s been well reviewed as well. As I started reading I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about.

The book begins in a rural village in North India and ends on the high seas of the Indian Ocean. The road between those two points is a little bit slow. We meet character after seemingly unrelated character. Slowly you start to see where they will all end up. By the time you get to the third section of the book the story has really picked up. I am remiss to say much more than that. Suffice it to say its some solid historical fiction with a great cast of characters. Sea of Poppies reminds me of what a well edited Neal Stephenson story might look like. The language and sailor slang much of the book’s dialog is written in can be a bit impenetrable at times, though one can usually figure out the sentiment trying to be conveyed.

Sea of Poppies is the first book of the Ibis trilogy. The book is an exciting well written story. The second book River of Smoke is already available. I plan to start it shortly.

Comment [1]  

Photography is a thing I used to do

   20 December 2012, early evening

I thought after having Mythilli the number of photographs I would take would increase, but that hasn’t been the case at all. I used to be an avid photographer. At some point I stopped being one. I had some sort of crisis of faith, I suppose.

One of the last lines in Six Feet Under is, “You can’t take a picture of this. It’s already gone.” Photography is an artistic pursuit, but it’s also a documentary one. Photography is all about capturing a moment in time. Well, sort of.

I used to take lots of photos at concerts I went to and then I more or less just stopped. When I watch people photographing a concert now I find they look ridiculous. You are a few feet from a band, watching them play through some shitty LCD screen or viewfinder. Sometimes you should just stop and enjoy the experience.

I think about this a lot when taking pictures of my baby.

All of that said, I should take photographs again. I quite like it. And every so often I take a photograph that is pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself.

Comment [4] |  

Instagram's Terms of Service

   17 December 2012, lunch time

Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf. — The new Instagram terms of service, emphasis mine.

In the back of my mind I knew this day would come, but now that it’s here it isn’t any less disappointing. Instagram’s new rules are pretty draconian. A lot of times websites will have unfortunately worded terms of service, but they often written the way they are to facilitate displaying your content on their servers, etc. This language seems quite clear when it comes to Instagram / Facebook

Flickr’s new iOS application is quite nice, but I don’t know how I feel about spamming my Flickr feed with photos of Mythilli. Part of the original appeal of Instagram was that it was a nice light-weight way to share little snapshots. Flickr is a big mix of people posting one-off photos, big sets of photos from their vacations, and all sorts of other random stuff. Still, Flickr probably has the nicest terms of service when it comes to this sort of thing.

I really love Instagram, so this change is really bumming me out.

Comment [10]  


   13 December 2012, mid-morning

How did I forget to write about Skyfall, the new James Bond movie. Like the two films that came before it, the film is pretty spectacular. It opens with a crazy action sequence and then moves on to spies and intrigue. Unlike the previous two films Skyfall feels like more of a throwback to the older James Bond movies. There are all sorts of nods to the earlier movies, presumably because it’s the 50th anniversary of the franchise. Bérénice Marlohe plays the bond girl in the film, and she is smoking hot. Daniel Craig has got to be the best James Bond. This is one of my favourite James Bond films ever, though I don’t know if it’s better than Casino Royale.

The official Skyfall website.


Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

   27 October 2012, late morning

I watched the latest Mission Impossible film last weekend. Like all the sequels that have followed the first film, it’s more action movie than spy flick. This film seems much more willing to take itself less seriously. The action sequences are crazy and the plot just over the top enough. Briefly, a mad man is trying to launch a Russian nuclear strike in order to start some sort of armageddon that will ultimately result in world peace and only Tom Cruise can stop him. The first Mission Impossible film is by far the best, but this film was quite enjoyable.

The official Mission Impossible website.

Comment [1]  

The Yonge Line

   16 October 2012, mid-afternoon

Every time I take the Yonge line I am reminded of just how bad public transit is in the city. The Bloor line certainly gets busy during rush hour, but its a whole other scale of busy. The Yonge line is a disaster. I’m curious to see when it actually implodes in on itself. I wonder if the TTC have numbers on when that will happen? They are extending the line North. Presumably they expect to get people who are taking buses to Finch station out of buses, but I can’t imagine there isn’t going to be a net gain of people on the line. At this point, is living along the Yonge line actually useful?

Comment [5]  


    2 October 2012, early evening

I watched Looper on Saturday night. I hadn’t been to Manulife to watch a film on a Saturday night in forever. It was a busy screening. Looper is amazing. It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen recently, a great dystopian time travel flick. The movie doesn’t waste too much time on hard sci-fi. They explain the key things you need to know at the start of the film: in the future time travel has been invented and was promptly outlawed; the only people to use time travel are criminals who send people back in time to be executed; the people who perform this task are called Loopers; the last execution a looper performs is killing their future self. The movie is violent in a thoroughly graphic and unglorified way. Early on in the movie you see what happens to a Looper who doesn’t kill his future self, and it’s more than a little disturbing. The film feels thoroughly well crafted. The acting is superb. Joseph Gordon Levit does a great Bruce Willis impression. They made him up to look like Bruce Willis, and it’s actually really well done. The movie features some amazing dialog. It’s really well written, much like Brick. The film is being billed as an action flick, but its much more than that. This is a must watch movie.

The official Looper tumblr.

Comment [2]  

How Not to Ask for Money

   25 September 2012, early morning

I’ve been trying to get in touch with you but haven’t heard back.

When I looked at our donor data, I noticed that the last donation you made was during the last election.

Ramanan, what are you waiting for?

Man, fuck you NDP lady. I’ve given the NDP money in a few times now. They seem to think that gives them license to call me all the damn time, never mind the emails. I’ve actually blogged about this before. I don’t know how you can be so tone death and obnoxious with your fund raising efforts. I’ve been waiting years for the success they’ve been having. Is this is what i’ve been waiting for?

Comment [5]  

Him, Here, After

   18 September 2012, early morning

I woke up last Monday morning and decided to check out another film at TIFF. I looked to see what films were screening in the afternoon at the Lightbox, and noticed one called Him, Here, After. Taking a closer look I learned it was a Sri Lankan movie about a Tamil Tiger heading home to Jaffna after the war. What were the chances? I bought a ticket and got back to work, which ended up being all kinds of crazy. I had to run to the theatre to make the film. Literally. I passed Tiff on my way there. We spoke briefly while I caught my breath. I am in poor shape.

The film is quite good, and I thought much better than the other Sri Lankan art films I’ve seen at TIFF (The Foresaken Land, Between Two Worlds). It’s quiet and thoughtful. The unnamed protagonist returns to Jaffna with no fanfare. The film is about him trying to start a new life. No one is happy to see him back. He struggles to find work and reintegrate in to civilian life. No doubt you’ve seen that story play out before. The Hughes brothers film Dead Presidents is the first that comes to my mind. The film isn’t quite so bleak, but it definitely doesn’t wrap things up nicely. A very strong performance by Niranjani Shanmugaraja is what makes the film. Our screening concluded with a Q&A with Michael Ignatief, which I didn’t think was particularly good. He didn’t really have anything too insightful to discuss. He spent a long time complaining about fund raising for the Tigers in Toronto, which is admitidly bad, but felt a bit off topic. One thing I did learn in the Q&A was that the title of the film is a play on words. Ini Avan translate to “him hereafter”, while the single word Iniavan translates to “sweet man”. The director said he was trying to present an LTTE solider as a more nuanced complicated figure than one sees in the Sri Lankan press. I think he succeeded here.

Him, Here, After at the TIFF website.


The We and the I

   10 September 2012, terribly early in the morning

The The We and the I marks my return to TIFF. I grabbed a ticket from Limin, my only friend who apparently bothered getting a 10-pack this year. She had two extra tickets, so I used one to go see a film with her. This film was her pick. The We and the I is directed by Michael Gondry, and follows a group of teenagers as they ride the bus home from their last day of school. All the action takes place on the bus; Michael Gondry styled flash backs and dream sequences are used to good effect to provide context and backstory on occasion. At its core it’s a film about high school. There are bullies and the brash, and then there is everyone else. There is melodrama, lust, conformity, and all the things central to high school existence. The two lead figures in the film are Michael, one of the bullies, and Vanessa, his friend not-quite girlfriend who has returned to school after a 3-month absence. There story plays out in full, while we get snippets from the lives of everyone else on the bus. There are plenty of people on the bus. Lots of stories begin, but most rarely come to a satisfying conclusion. People hop off the bus before we learn more about them. There is a point being made with that choice, no doubt. The acting is a bit hit-or-miss, but on the whole I’d say good. The film feels very authentic, I suspect because the characters are all probably playing variations of themselves—Gondry recruited kids from an after-school out-reach program to star in the movie. At times the movie is quite funny; at times it’s quite poignant. The We and the I manages to capture the confusion of adolesence well. You should watch it.

The We and the I on the TIFF website.


Once more with the Colour

    9 September 2012, early morning

Dirty Guy Derby 2012

I got 9 rolls of film developed yesterday. It’s been a long time since I’ve shot with film. My old standby, the Shopper’s at Yonge and King, has let their machines turn to shit. I got sick of getting back grimy scans and decided to try something new. I ventured out to Pape to get them processed. There is a Shopper’s there that apparently does a good job—which I can now confirm. Shopper’s still develops and scans for $3, which is probably best prices in the city for film processing. If you want higher res scans and less scratched negatives Downtown Camera is my second go-to place, but it’s about 2-3x more expensive. Photography is an expensive hobby.


The Masters of the Universe Show Bible

    8 September 2012, early morning

I was surprised to learn that a show bible was written for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Michael Halperin was hired to flesh out a fantasy world the show would take place in. You can see a copy of the original bible, scanned and marked up with corrections, over at That’s not the easiest thing to read. I found the text online at the Myteries of Greyskull, but it’s also poorly formated. In a fit of copyright infringement I decided to tidy things up and host the bible myself. Enjoy, because it’s pretty fantastic.

Comment [2]  

Gerald Brom

   22 August 2012, lunch time

The Art of Brom

Gerald Brom’s art work shaped the way the Dark Sun game setting evolved. He would paint scenes that the game designers would then use as inspiration when building the world and the game mechanics that went with it. He has a very distinctive and I would say classic fantasy style. His work reminds me a little bit of the work of Frank Frazetta. He’s probably the greatest fantasy artist alive today—yeah I said it. He also has a Kickstarter project on right now to fund a retrospective book of his work. I’m losing my shit over here.


Twitter to Developers: Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out.

   17 August 2012, early morning

Twitter published a pretty bizarre post on their developer blog yesterday, outlining changes they plan to make to how developers can interact with Twitter. To say it’s a little bit hostile to their developer community would be an understatement. I think it’s fair to say that much of Twiter’s early success didn’t come from the company itself. I mean, the site could barely stay up for the first few years of its existence. People stuck with Twitter despite the fact it often felt cobbled together. The two most iconic features of Twitter messages, @-replies and #hashtags, were both originated from the Twitter community. They ended up becoming official features because of their wide spread use. All of the good iPhone clients for Twitter were made by 3rd parties — including what became Twitter’s official client. Twitter’s official client is kind of a piece of shit compared to feature-rich Tweetbot or the simple and elegant Twitteriffic. I’ve been a Twitter user forever. Twitter launched on July 15 2006. I joined on July 28th 2006. I am user 3321. It took me a long while to warm up to the site, but I love it now. I find the direction they seem to be moving is more than a little disappointing. I think the best summary of the change comes from Ben Brooks: ‘This is the moment in Twitter’s life where they kicked Steve Jobs out of the company and told Sculley to run it.’

Comment [2]  

The Dark Knight Rises

    7 August 2012, early evening

I was discussing Christopher Nolan’s worst movie with my cousin. I suggested Insomnia: a Hollywood remake of a Norwegian film. He suggested The Dark Knight Rises. No fucking way! I watched the concluding film in Nolan’s Batman trilogy over the weekend. The story picks up 8 years after the last film. Bruce Wayne is a recluse and Batman hasn’t been seen since he escaped capture by the police. The movie opens with Bane kidnapping a scientist in a pretty spectacular action sequence. From there it’s all about Batman’s return to being all Batman. There are highs and lows and I thought it was all pretty fantastic. In my mind this film is comparable to the first Batman film in its scope. I feel all three films are an interesting look at the Batman mythos, but the second film felt like a much deeper look at the various archetypes found within the Batman story. The Dark Knight felt stronger and more focused. This is all irrespective of Heath Ledger’s excellent portrayal of the Joker. The acting in this film is great too. All of Nolan’s regular actors make an appearance. Tom Hardy does a great job with Bane. (I actually like his voice, a common complaint I’ve heard about the film.) The action sequences are much better done. The fights aren’t quite as frantic as they were in the first film. Hathaway is super hot. Go watch this. Did you think I’d have anything else to say here?

The official The Dark Knight Rises website.

Comment [5]  

Moonrise Kingdom

   19 July 2012, terribly early in the morning

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom was great. I was pretty disappointed with Wes Anderson’s last (live-action) film and was really hoping this one would be good. The trailer hit all the right notes. I love Ed Norton and Bruce Willis. Surely this had to be good? And it was. The weird stilted dialog you often find in Anderson films is ever present in this one, perhaps even more so. That’s the only thing I found grating about the film. Otherwise it was a sweet tale of young love and adventure. It’s zany, of course, but that’s to be welcomed and expected. You should definitely watch this.

The official Moonrise Kingdom website.


Opt-In Security

   11 July 2012, late morning

If you are using Hudson/Jenkins you might want to review this article by my coworker: The Operational Reality of Opt-In Security Controls.

This has been a topic of much discussion in my office for the last couple weeks. My co-worker, unaware of what Jenkins and Hudson were all about, thought he had found a pretty crazy exploit while doing an assessment. It turns out he had actually found was a poorly configured instance of Hudson. Responses to his outreach have been mixed, to say the least. The people behind Hudson and Jenkins feel this isn’t a problem for them to solve. They provide a guide to harden your install, and feel it’s up to their users to ensure they deploy things properly. (This is similar to the attitude Rails developers took to their mass-assignment bug.)

Using Google he ended up finding misconfigured automated-build servers all over the Internet. (You’d actually be surprised and/or terrified by some of the people who had exposed their servers in this fashion.) He’s been sitting on this post for ages, waiting for people he has notified to get back to him on whether they have secured their install or not. For every person who replies promptly with a thank you, there are probably two people who don’t reply at all or who quietly fix their install and pretend he never got in touch.

I suspect one reason people simply go the no warning full disclosure route when they find vulnerabilities isn’t because they are trying to be malicious, but simply because it’s the path of least resistance. I suppose this is why patience is an important attribute for a good security professional.


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