a glob of nerdishness

May 26, 2008

Farewell to trash that never became treasure.

written by natevw @ 8:45 am

I flew to rural Northwest Illinois last week, to visit my childhood house and stomping grounds for perhaps the last time. My parents, who had settled there for two decades, are moving several states westward to a house in the city. Pulling up those kind of stakes is an opportunity to realize just how much junk can accumulate without careful curation.

Nerdishness, it turns out, is genetic. The pack rat tendency may be a learned behaviour, but the hereditary effect is the same. Combine the two and the offspring will look something like this:

A pile of old electronics junk on its way to the salvage yard.

The decades of collecting and the two days of extraction and disposal were a team effort between my dad and me. I’m sure there were some gems in all that junk, but that will be for the salvage yard to figure out. This necessary catharsis might not have cured either of us of our collecting habits, but it was a healthy step in the right direction. The whole week, Dad kept singing a chorus about the freedom we find from the Things We Leave Behind; I felt like I was Mourning the Death of a Dream instead. Dad’s choice of Michael Card song was more appropriate, but the components and computers we did keep still carry kernels of nerdish dreams.

May 21, 2008

Resuming incomplete downloads

written by natevw @ 11:52 am

Here’s a quick little tip I had to figure out again today. Sometimes a flaky network or server will cause Safari to think it is done downloading a file before it’s complete. When this happens, Safari will drop the incomplete file out of its temporary download wrapper, leaving you stuck with a partially saved copy that can no longer be resumed. If this happens halfway through a large file, you can use the built-in OS X ‘curl’ command to resume the incomplete download right where it quit, provided the server supports it:

curl -o <incomplete_local_file> -C - <URL>

The trick is the ‘-C’ option with the “-” argument, which tells curl to continue from the offset automatically determined by the local partially-downloaded file.