Welcome! This is a place where I put things that don't really belong anywhere else. Perhaps this should be a blog? But I am a little too lazy to bother setting up something like Wordpress, when really, all I want are a bunch of links and short blurbs.
About Me

My name is Dave Houston. I am a software developer, and a few other things. I've been told I am good at my job.

I am a CPAN Author.

I have a middling presence on GitHub.

256 Colors with vim and GNU Screen

I gathered the various bits of magic needed to get vim and screen to display 256 colors. I wrote it down because I have a terrible memory.

Here is the link.

The Rite-Aid Game of Life

Back when I had a "real" job that involved sitting in a cubicle and answering calls, I was lucky enough to work for a soul-crushing organization that hadn't quite perfected the art of crushing souls and let us haul our personal computers, ipods, and other electronic secrets-stealing devices in and fiddle during downtime.

Rite-Aid had a monopoly-like game, and the last day, I got a bag full of game pieces. Naturally, my instinct was "Statistical analysis!" not "Maybe I won!"

This is the result.

Bing Wallpaper

This is probably my favorite pet project. It's been through many interations.

I enjoy the daily background image Bing has, and I have created several solutions to automatically download the stuff for me and set the wallpaper on whatever machine I happen to be working on.

First, came a Perl script that worked with older versions of Ubuntu. This is a great starting point if you want to do it the hard way. Add

0 9 * * * export DISPLAY=:0 && perl ~/get_bing.pl

to your crontab and use this script.

Lambda! Serverless! Windows!

As I changed employers, I had to use a Mac, and honestly, I couldn't come up with a way to accomplish this task that didn't make our corporate security overlords upset. But, I did have a Windows 10 machine sitting over there, for personal use, and it needs wallpaper too.

I created a small Lambda function on AWS, hooked it up to API Gateway, and made a thing that returns the URL for today's image. You can see that in action by clicking on https://api.robotsrule.us/v1/getbingurl.

But it also needs something on the Windows machine to set things up, so I created a small Powershell app that uses the WIN32 API to set the wallpaper. That is located here.

Download it, save it, Create a recurring task on your machine to call it, and you too can enjoy daily rotating Bing wallpapers.


Has Godwin's Law been invoked? Now you can use Science to determine if something is literally worse than Hitler.

Book Pricing System

Years ago, I was tasked with developing a system to help price books to sell on Amazon, back when Amazon only sold books. They exposed their product listings via API, including 3rd party sellers and other useful data.

The customer had an algorithm they used to price books, but was doing this work manually. They wanted a system to simply provide the ASIN (ISBN, really) and be given an automatic suggestion, with the option to alter which offers were included in consideration for their algorithm.

The resulting application is detailed here.

Potty Usage

I am an accomplished graphic designer. I prove this with the single brochure I made with Publisher one time.

It is located here. Happy flushing!