Politics and Tech Blogs

May 6, 2007 | politics, programming, technology
When I first started bitquabit, I wanted it to be strictly a technology blog. When people wanted to read something about Squeak or db4objects or Copilot, they could come here. When they wanted to read someone writing a meandering essay on farm subsidies and ethanol, they could go somewhere else. That position is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. On the one hand, technology is inextricably tied to certain political agendas that, I feel, must constantly be discussed—patents and...

Editor Addiction

April 30, 2007 | programming
A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a Dell Inspiron 6400 to replace my old and quite literally beat-up PowerBook G4 Titanium. The PowerBook is slow, its screen is damaged, its paint’s chipping off, its wireless has never been especially good, and nowadays, I find myself politely wondering when the hard disk is going to simply keel over. It’s done an amazing job over the last six years, but I felt that it was time to let it take a much-needed rest. Because I’ve been a diehard Mac user for nearly...

Switching Control and Caps Lock on Windows

April 17, 2007 | programming, technology
I’m a diehard Emacs user. When I first get into the office, I fire up Emacs, then check my mail in Emacs, then update all of my source files using either the built-in Subversion bindings or a Cygwin shell via Emacs, and finally get down to coding for the day in Emacs. Windows and Mac OS X at times feel like just the kernel that allows me to run Emacs. Productivity-wise, that’s actually a great thing. My work environment is basically identical no matter what machine I’m on, enabling me to focus...

Credit Card Numbers for Testing

February 21, 2007 | programming
One of the things I have to do on a regular basis is run a suite of regression tests against Copilot’s payment system to ensure that we’re doing basic vetting of invalid credit cards, such as those that do not have valid Luhn checksums. To that end, I was very happy to discover a list of credit card numbers that I could use for testing purposes. The numbers aren’t for valid cards, but should pass any basic validation check you have in a commerce site you write.

Renaming Products

December 7, 2006 | programming, technology
Is it just me, or does anyone else enjoy pronouncing MySQL as “My Squeal”? (And of course, PostgreSQL as “Postgres Quell” makes a nice parallel, and is actually a nice hat-tip to the QUEL language Postgres originally used.) I’ve also noticed that if you call Microsoft IIS “Microsoft Ice,” then the increasing rise of Mozilla Firefox seems to kind of balance things out.

Getting Windows Errors While Debugging

November 7, 2006 | programming
I’m probably saying nothing new to any seasoned Windows developer, but it was new to me: if you add a watch in VisualStudio for the value @ERR,hr (no quotes) you get the human-readable error string for the error code that would be returned by GetLastError() if you called it and then ran it through FormatMessage(). I was amazingly happy to discover this little tidbit of functionality, since previously I had thought I had to look up the value on the MSDN System Error pages.

Firefox 2's Kin, or: Well, That Solves That

October 31, 2006 | programming, technology
I say nothing that should surprise diehard Mac users if I say that Mac OS X lacks decent power-user mail clients. Thunderbird suffers from a lot of the same problems as Firefox, Entourage is…well, Entourage, and Mail, pretty though it may be, is heavily underpowered in a lot of key areas. (E.g., you can’t even create nicely formatted lists, which is something I need to do quite frequently.) From this motley crew, I’ve traditionally opted to use Thunderbird. Yes, it’s ugly and doesn’t integrate...

Build Servers

October 30, 2006 | programming
A few days ago, Coding Horror posted an article describing build servers and why they’re important. At the time, I basically just nodded and agreed and went on. Any sizable project needs a build server to ensure sanity in the code tree. I admit that Copilot currently lacks a dedicated build server, but that was more because, the last time it came up, we were in the middle of moving all of our code from .NET 1.1 to .NET 2.0, and I didn’t really see the point of setting something up that was going...

Squeak on the OLPC

October 30, 2006 | programming
This probably is, more than anything else, simply an indication of how little I’ve been following the Squeak community lately, but I was extremely happy to discover that Squeak will be on the OLPC. The concentration appears to be on eToys, an extension of Morphic that allows kids (and, with considerably more effort, adults) to make interactive graphics without writing code. If you’re interested, Google Video hosts a great video of Alan Kay demonstrating various Squeak technologies, including...

Video Smalltalk Tutorials

October 27, 2006 | programming
One of the problems I’ve always had trying to explain Smalltalk is that the environment and language are so fused and so radically different from those in the mainstream (which I’m defining here as Xcode, VisualStudio, Eclipse, and IntelliJ) that people have trouble figuring out what the big deal is. That’s gradually changing as languages like Ruby, OCaml, and properly used JavaScript come into the mainstream, and as static language designers eek ever closer to having a full REPL with dynamic...