Dad is not bad with malfunctioning cars. He can do brake jobs, and a vehicle that will not run usually succumbs to one of his shamanistic sessions of pacing around the exposed engine well and breathing loudly through his nose. Only once have his skills ever failed me, and my own fast reflexes stepped into the breach, allowing me to pump the brakes hard enough to bring the car to a rocking stop in a parking lot I managed to bail into rather than rear-ending everyone stopped at that light.
I didn’t inherit that mechanical skill from him. I do breathe loudly through my nose when confronted with a mechanical problem, but out of respect for dad’s special powers, I quiet down when reaching for the credit card to pay the nice man at the auto shop. But if I’ve got anything of him in me, it’s probably a belief that when confronted with a system represented to be reliable and predictable, that system will, when malfunctioning, succumb to prodding and poking even if I’m not sure what’s really wrong.
The preceding two grafs are going toward defusing any accusations of me donning the mantle of “hacker” or “programmer” (which I’ve been called by nice people who just don’t know any better), and noting that, if anything, I’m not a magician: just a very, very dogmatic believer in the notion that if something is broken, it must have once been working and could be made to work again.
Take the recently noted “Amazon PDX Linky” user script for Greasemonkey, which is supposed to do a very simple thing: Insert a link to the catalog entry at the Multnomah Co. Public Library on the book’s product page in Amazon.
I’m pretty happy with my special bookmarklet, which does the same thing on more sites, but the whole gee-whiz factor of not having to click that bookmarklet, even being reminded right there on the page that maybe I ought to consider just putting a hold on the book instead of buying it, was too much to pass up.
Sadly, Greasemonkey seems to change in such a way that stuff breaks on a frequent basis. In the case of “Amazon PDX Linky,” the script was broken and no help seemed to be forthcoming from the person who wrote it, so I let it go for a few days. This morning, though, it got to be too much: Broken thing! Once worked! Must restore to full function!
Evidently, recent Greasemonkeys become very cross if your thingamabobbers have an underscore character in them, because removing that and leaving the thingamabobber as merely “window.content.location.href.match” made the script work.
So if you’ve got Firefox 1.5, Greasemonkey, and a yen to check things from the library after availing yourself of the reviews and pretty pictures at Amazon, my fixed version is available right here, with the tasteful (but alarming) pink background cut out. Once the archived copy at userscripts.org is fixed, I’ll put up a redirect.
Update: Cool. Jeff Mills updated the canonical version, so by all means use that one.
Speaking of Amazon … They gave me a free two month trial of Amazon Prime. It wasn’t “free” to the extent that using it = agreeing to pay for it in two months, but it was free to the extent I was thinking about getting it anyhow, get two months of the service without paying, and it promptly saved me a bunch on shipping a food processor that cost $30 less there than anywhere in town. So you could argue that between the savings on the food processor + the ability to get it overnight for an added $3, I effectively got $27 back on the spot, which puts us well on the way to “break even” for the year, with the added convenience of being freed from the tyranny of wondering if that heavy diesel engine out on the street is a UPS delivery truck for periods of 5-7 days at a time.
I’m stoked about the food processor. I did homemade pizza on Friday. It was fun but the dough-making was a minor chore I wouldn’t have minded handing off to a machine The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook assumes a food processor, but graciously provides “by hand” instructions, but it’s hard not to feel a little mocked and degraded by the way those alternate directions exist outside the flow of the recipe instructions proper.
But we’re veering away from the original topic, so we’re going to save some notes on that cookbook and cooking at home in general for another entry.