Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

Monthly Donations: The Mozilla Foundation and Fred the Cat

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Here I come with another round of donations to open source projects and charity organizations.

The first of this month’s donations goes to the Mozilla Foundation, which I also supported last year — back then I endorsed them for Thunderbird, the excellent e-mail client. This time I’d like to thank them for their efforts in building the Mozilla Developer Network, a documentation and community website for web developers. It was founded back in 2005 with the goal of creating a high quality documentation center, and over the years has pretty much accomplished this objective. For me, when it comes to HTML, CSS, or JavaScript documentation, MDN is usually the first place to go. Thanks guys, keep up the great work!

My second donation is to the “Friends to the Animals” Foundation, also a “regular” — I donated to them back in April and in August last year. This time I’m supporting a cat by the name of Fred, who was found by a friend of the Foundation after being badly hit by a car. The cat had to have a serious surgery procedure, and is now slowly recovering.

Best wishes to the caring people of the Foundation, and to Fred — get well soon, buddy!

Monthly Donations: GnuPG and the Animal Shelter in Olsztyn

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Yup, it’s time for another round of donations.

This month I’m supporting the GnuPG project, which is a free implementation of the OpenPGP standard, and a popular solution for encrypting e-mail messages. I’ve been using it for years, lately with Thunderbird — courtesy of the excellent Enigmail extension. GnuPG is developed and maintained by g10code, a company that was started by Werner Koch, the original author of the software — thanks guys!

I’m also making a donation to the Animal Shelter in Olsztyn, which helps homeless animals, and takes special care of elderly dogs and cats. To all the staff and volunteers of the shelter — thank you and best wishes!

I made one additional donation this month, on Feb 17th, which is celebrated in Poland as the World Cat Day. By tradition, every year on this date I make a donation to a cat, and this time it was this charming feline gentleman named Gummi Bear:

I know it’s more than a week late, but — Happy Cat Day, Gummi Bear!

Monthly Donations: Samba and the “Cat’s Claw” Foundation

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Today I’m doing the monthly donations to open source projects and charities, for the first time this brand new year.

This month I chose to support Samba, the free software implementation of the SMB/CIFS networking protocol, which allows for interoperability between Unix/Linux and Windows systems. I used to use it a lot back in the day when there were Windows machines in my home network, nowadays not so much and mostly for print services, but still find it useful.

Samba has an impressive history of more than 20 years of existence, and just made a big leap forward with the newly released version 4.0, which is the first version that can serve as an Active Directory domain controller (not that I would want to use it, but I know many users have been waiting for that). Congratulations to the team, and thanks for a great piece of open source software!

The second donation that I’m making this month is to the “Cat’s Claw” Foundation, located in Poznan, dedicated to helping homeless animals (mostly cats, as the name implies). While browsing their website and forums, I found the touching story of Zane, a kitten that was found in a very bad condition, all sick and starving, and was saved by one of the Foundation’s volunteers. Here are two “before” and “after” photos:

The kitten got his name after one of the ninjas of the Lego Ninjago universe — pretty cool, huh? Best wishes to Zane and to all the volunteers of the “Cat’s Claw” Foundation!

Monthly Donation Time: cURL and the “Friends to the Animals” Foundation

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

This month I’m not going to wait till the very last minute with my donations. Let’s do it.

The open source project that I’m supporting this month is cURL, a powerful swiss-army knife kind of utility for transferring data using various protocols. It’s most often used as command-line HTTP-testing tool, but it does waaay more than just that — look at the list of its features and be amazed. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work with web APIs, and cURL has helped me with testing lots of times. Thanks and kudos to Daniel Stenberg, the original author and project leader, and to all the contributors!

Traditionally, my second donation is not related to open source or any technology stuff, and traditionally it is to an animal charity. I’m donating to the “Friends to the Animals” Foundation in Katowice, dedicated to helping mistreated animals and raising awareness of animal welfare issues. Their website lists many stories of animals that were saved by them — I was touched by the story of Manio, a cat that fell out of a window on 10th floor and survived with just a broken leg, but his owners could not afford to pay for his treatment and wanted to put him down. The Foundation took Manio in, had him operated, and is now taking care of him while he’s recovering. Get well soon, Manio!

The Little Story of Opel

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Yesterday was World Cat Day (as observed in Poland), so I thought this might be the perfect time to tell you a little cat story.

More than two years ago, I posted the story of Rocket, a kitten that I found in my neighborhood — now a big, happy cat living with my parents. This story has a very similar beginning.

It was a cold September evening, I was walking home along a busy street, when I heard a kitten squeak. It was obviously coming from under a car parked near the street, so I started looking, but couldn’t see any kitten under the car. The squeaking continued, so I knew it must have been there, and I kept looking and reaching behind the wheels, but to no avail.

Since many people were passing by, my unusual activities attracted the attention of some of them. One man with an “excuse me sir, what are you doing?” look approached me, but before he even asked me a question, the kitten meowed again, so the man began searching with me.

After we both searched for a while with no success, the guy said “you know what, I live in this block here and I know the owner of this car, let me call him”. In a few minutes, the owner came and joined the search operation.

He looked inside the car just to be sure the kitten didn’t get in there in some miraculous way, but that was not the case. It was obvious that the little guy was somewhere in the car undercarriage, but the meowing seemed to be coming from different places and neither one of us was able to tell exactly where the kitten could be.

In the end, we lifted the car up with a jack, the owner crawled under it and saw some fur sticking out from a hollow spot next to the exhaust pipe. He reached in there and got the kitten out — the poor thing looked all dirty and miserable, but didn’t appear to be hurt in any way. The first guy called his wife, who brought some cat food (it turned out they had two Persian cats) and water for the rescuee.

(more…)

When Cats Go Fishing

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

One of the advantages of having a cat: free delivery of fresh fish.

Yep, that’s what one of my cats brought home yesterday. A fish. And it was alive — didn’t even seem injured.

I put the little guy in a food container filled with water (pictured above), then set him free in a nearby water ditch where he probably came from. Must have been one hell of a ride for him.

Rocket

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Meet Rocket.

Rocket

Rocket is a (approximately) seven weeks old, cute-as-hell kitten.

I found him about a month ago, while going for a walk around my neighborhood. He was crawling through some bushes, squeaking silently, but loud enough for me to hear. I have had a few kittens throughout my life, so I immediately recognized the characteristic squeak of a baby cat calling for help. When I saw him, the poor thing looked really miserable, messy, with eyes completely matted shut. Seeing no signs of his cat mother anywhere near, and knowing that the little guy had no chance of surviving on his own, I decided to take him home.

He was soon seen by a veterinarian, and it turned out he was literally covered with ticks. As the doctor put it, they would have “sucked him dry” if he hadn’t been found. It took a whole hour to remove all those little bastards. The doctor also opened Rocket’s matted eyes, and there was some bad news. His eyes were badly infected (in doctor’s words, the infection looked “horrible”), and it was highly likely that he will be blind or nearly blind for the rest of his cat life.

This didn’t sound optimistic, but I thought, what the hell, whatever chance there is, it’s worth trying, so I took him back home and started his treatment (based on massive amounts of various eye drops). At that time, his eyes looked really bad, lifeless and empty, like those of a zombie. Rocket could open them, but it was obvious he couldn’t see a thing.

I have other cats in my apartment, and since Rocket’s infection was contagious, I had to isolate him. I arranged him a cozy therapy room in the bathroom and he stayed there most of the time. However, he had an unstoppable urge to explore the world around him, and whenever I opened the bathroom door, he shot out of there like a freaking rocket. Yup, that’s how he got his name.

Despite being sightless and weakened by his illness, he was unbelievably full of life. I got him a toy rat, and he spent hours biting, strangling, and generally torturing the hell out of it. Whenever he smelled food, he sniffed his way towards it like a hunting dog — and when he got to it, he ate like crazy.

I’m sure it was this exceptional lust for life that made him defeat his illness. After a few days of intensive treatment, I noticed some changes. His eyes looked less zombielike every day, and there were undoubted signs that Rocket was starting to see. This was mostly observable when he paused his activities (which mostly involved running around and biting everything) for a brief moment, and turned his head only slightly, obviously experiencing the formerly unknown sensation of sight.

About two weeks after I found him, he was all better. His eyes looked almost normal, with just a few barely noticeable spots left after the infection. The first time I saw him play with a tiny piece of paper, I had no doubt that he was able to see pretty clearly. Even the doctor was amazed by how well he was doing.

I could not keep Rocket in my apartment for good, because the other cats weren’t getting along with him especially well. Luckily, my mom decided to take him, so now Rocket has a new, loving home, and he’s a happy little troublemaker.

Weekend Project(s): Cardboard Cat Chaise / Greasemonkey Unit Conversion Script

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Every once in a while I like doing some DIY stuff just for the fun of it — I suppose it’s my deeply buried need to create something that is physical and not source code, for a change. Some time ago, I came across building instructions for a cardboard cat chaise, and I thought it might be fun to make. Besides, I had no doubts my cats would like it, as they’ve always demonstrated an evident fetish for cardboard boxes.

So, the day came yesterday — I got a big cardboard box, prepared the tools, arranged a workspace on the floor, and began reading the instructions. To my disappointment, all the dimensions in the text turned out to have been given in inches, which seemed perverted for a normal, healthy, metric-oriented person that I am.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a big deal if I just took a calculator, did a few multiplications, and got the respective values in centimetres. Or I could use the mighty unit conversion capabilities of Google search. But then I thought to myself — hey, isn’t this the 21st century, Web 2.0, and stuff? I shouldn’t be forced to do such a tedious task of entering numbers and doing the calculations, this bloody machine/Web/whatever should do it for me. With this in mind, I turned to Userscripts.org to see if there was a Greasemonkey script that could parse those awful inches and convert them to lovely centimetres right there on the webpage. But, bummer — it seemed there was no such script.

This is where my need to create something physical had to retreat for a while, as the more powerful need to immediately transform the idea for a conversion script into an implementation was taking over. I quickly coded a basic script that converted inches, feet, yards, and miles into centimetres, metres, and kilometres, and displayed the result in a tooltip when the mouse cursor was placed over the value in question, like this:

US to Metric

To make the script a bit more useful, I also added conversion rules for units of mass (ounces and pounds to grams and kilograms) and temperature (Fahrenheit degrees to Celsius). If you want to give it a try, you can grab it from Userscripts.org.

And the chaise? It turned out quite well, and the cats started using it instantly. Here’s one satisfied customer:

Happy cat on a chaise

If you compare my result with the original one from the article, you’ll notice I went with a more primitive IKEA-ish design, but my cats are just simple unpretencious DSHs and they don’t like fancy furniture.

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