Erik’s Brain

The reward of a thing well done...

Proportional Spacing on a Graph's Axis

Bear with me. I haven’t done much with graphing since physics class my senior year of high school. East Bay Crushers RULE!

Time X Axis

If you were to graph the price of something over time, it would make sense to have the date or time along the x-axis and the price on the y-axis. Let’s also say that you got price info at inconsistent intervals. So you have the price for November 17th, 23rd, 30th and then December 1st and 10th. It would make sense to have the plot points for November 30th and December 1st closer to each other than the plot points for November 17th and 23rd, right? One day is much less than six days and that can easily be expressed visually. Also, the horizontal spacing between December 1st and 10th should be greater than any of the others.

Why is this so hard to do?

Granted, I’m using Numbers, which probably isn’t nearly as powerful as Excel. But, based on a quick Google search or two, it seems like Excel isn’t much better at this.

It seems like this would be a common use case. Am I crazy? Am I just going about this the wrong way?

Update: Saturday, June 9, 2012

This post from early 2010 shed some light on the issue for me. The key is to use a scatter chart, then turn on connection lines between the data points. That gets me close enough to what I wanted.

The only type of chart that is a true X-Y plot is the scatter chart. It is the chart icon that looks like a shotgun blast. Your dates and the values must both be in data column, neither can be in a header column. After creating the chart, you will most likely have to go to the Metrics Inspector and rotate the X-axis labels (dates are usually too long to display horizontally). The chart plots data points. You can connect the points with lines in the Table Inspector.

SSD Ordered

It was over three years ago that SSDs first caught my eye. And I’ve been drooling over them ever since. Today I placed an order for this bad boy. This is how I normally operate. Find out about something that I really, really, really want. Then wait a while, to make sure I still want it. Then wait least another year on top of that. Then finally pull the trigger.

The drive I bought is old, as far as SSDs go. But while a newer SSD might be twice as fast as this one in certain operations, this “old” SSD is going to be massively faster than the 512GB 5400RPM drive that’s been in my three year old MacBook Pro since day one. Not to mention the fact that my Mac is old enough that it doesn’t have 6G SATA built into it.

For the curious, I got the 240GB version. If you care, you can check out its price since late 2010. 240GB will be enough space for me. I’ve been keeping an eye on my disk usage for the past year or two to make sure of that. And I’m not going to baby the SSD by running some multi-drive setup that helps minimize the wear and tear on the SSD. Hell no. It’s going to be the one and only drive in my laptop. This particular drive has a good reputation for being reliable and durable, even under heavy usage. Performance degradation shouldn’t be a problem at all. I immediately regretted not ordering a cheap external case to hold the soon-to-be-homeless drive I’m pulling out of the laptop. The old 512GB drive will come in handy for backup. I might do a fresh install of Lion and user migration assistant. I might do a fresh install and migrate manually. I might just restore from a clone of my existing drive. Probably the latter, so I can get up and running as fast as possible.

Now to come up with some test to compare speed in real world scenarios…

Splitcaster Tip #5: Start Timing FAST

This is a quick one. Did you know that you can adjust race settings after the race has begun? Try it:

  1. Start up Splitcaster
  2. Create a new race and hit the green START button
  3. Now go back to the race settings screen by either tapping on the top of the stopwatch view (where the race name, athlete name and timers are) or the gear on the bottom right

You can now enter all the race info you want. Even if the race has begun and you’ve recorded some splits, you can still change things like the race distance and lap size. No more stressing out about getting the race settings perfect before the gun goes off!

Splitcaster Tip #4: Fixing Errors

If you use Splitcaster for any amount of time, there will be times that you need to fix errors that crop up. Sometimes these are user errors (because no one is perfect) and sometimes Splitcaster has labeled a split distance incorrectly (because Splitcaster isn’t perfect either!). I’m going to quickly walk through the most common errors and how to fix them.

1. You recorded a split on accident

Splitcaster Tip #3: About 'Goal Time'

In the Race Info screen, there’s a place for you to enter Goal Time (it was called Estimated Finish Time before version 1.2). What is that all about? Here’s a little secret: That setting is totally optional. It’s only used to estimate the distance of the first split you record.

Splitcaster Tip #2: How to Use a Button

Seriously. It’s worth pointing out that pressing buttons in Splitcaster (actually, in pretty much all well written iOS apps) doesn’t do anything. It’s when you release that button that the action is taken. Why is this worth pointing out? Because, once you know this, it makes timing races and taking splits that much easier and more accurate with Splitcaster.

Beyond Music

Before there were MP3s, there were MODs. And “Beyond Music” was the coolest MOD of them all. I must have found this song on some local BBS back in the day. Or maybe CompuServe.

Does this bring back memories for anyone else?

Speaking of bringing back memories, did you know that The 7th Guest is available in the iOS and Mac App Stores?


Unfortunately, it looks like my suspicions were correct: it’s a novelty for shooting one type of photo, and not particularly usable for anything else. That’s too bad — I really thought the Lytro had more potential.

Marco Arment

You know what else sucked for the first few (actually, many) years they were on the market? Digital cameras. Every single digital camera was an over-priced toy that occasionally captured a decent image.

policyfiles.txt Out of Control!

Is your policyfiles.txt file out of control? I just noticed mine was huge at nearly 300MB. Want to get it under control? I did.

You’ve got two options, both of which involve editing the mm.cfg file, located in either your home folder or /Library/Application Support/Macromedia (or somewhere else on your system if you don’t have a Mac).

  1. Set PolicyFileLog=0. That prevents the debug version of the Flash Player from making the file and logging to it in the first place.
  2. Set PolicyFileLogAppend=0. That clears the file every time the Flash Player is relaunched.

Bam. Easy. You’re welcome.

Related: MDS Activity and Flash Player