The WSJ on Open XML

August 30, 2007 | politics, programming, technology
I think that the Wall Street Journal does a fairly good job covering technology from a consumer’s perspective, but I feel that they struggle whenever they try to cover more industry-focused issues, making outright mistakes and failing to understand what in the debate is actually important, which leads them to follow up (or fail to) on the wrong points. Today was no exception: in an article entitled “‘Office’ Wars,” they attempted to cover the politics revolving around Microsoft’s efforts to get...

First Impressions of Movable Type 4

August 27, 2007 | technology
I’d sometimes like to think that I can be a purely rational person, but the fact is that I’m anything but. I’ll ignore software that does what I want if it’s not “pretty,” and I’ll often ignore software that does what I want and is pretty if it’s not “open enough.” I favor using the NYC Subway or walking instead of taking the bus, even when I know darn well the bus is the fastest option. I frequently ignore weather reports when I leave in the morning, instead going by what I feel the weather’s...

Too Much Emacs

August 26, 2007 | programming, technology
This afternoon, on a lark, I installed Conkeror, a Firefox plugin that makes Firefox look and act like Emacs. As far as these things go, I’m actually extremely impressed. A substantial number of Emacs commands are implemented—including the less-common ones, such as C-x h (select all), that most Emacs-style emulators seem to miss. Suddenly, navigating the web entirely by keyboard seems…pretty reasonable. If you’re either an Emacs or a keyboard junkie, check it out. You may really like what you...

What's in a Name?

August 26, 2007 | personal, technology
Today, I was going through the sizable network that my roommate and I have built up, compiling a sysadmin-style binder of addresses, MACs, components, operating system settings, and so on, and was surprised how many systems we actually have on the network just within the apartment. The following is a full list. What I find interesting is how these machines’ names at once make them more “interesting” than just being “the machine in the bedroom,” and also seem to reflect something of what was...

Best. Product. Name. Ever.

August 26, 2007 | personal, technology
Okay…who else is psyched about being able to buy an i.Beat blaxx? The German company also seems very excited about their upcoming sun-colored version, the i.Beat jooz. Edit: The company has renamed the product simply “blaxx.” You can still see the original name in Wired’s piece on the player.

Writing an Emulator

August 5, 2007 | programming, technology
I don’t know why, but recently, as my love of really low-level hardware and my desire for low-power, high-performance computing has increased, I’ve been researching all the old, famous CPUs and operating systems. I started over what I swore was going to be a computer-free vacation by delving into programming in assembly for 680x0 Macintoshes (during which time I fell in love with 68k assembly), then explored ARM chips, and finally somehow or another ended up at 4:30 AM on a Sunday working on an...

I'm Sorry, I Can't Hear You

May 7, 2007 | politics, technology
Ars Technica reports that used CDs are going to be subject to waiting periods and resale restrictions in Florida, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Utah. Ken Fisher writes: In Florida, Utah, and soon in Rhode Island and Wisconsin, selling your used CDs to the local record joint will be more scrutinized than then getting a driver’s license in those states. For retailers in Florida, for instance, there’s a “waiting period” statue that prohibits them from selling used CDs that they’ve acquired until 30...

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...

Diehard Sysadmins

May 6, 2007 | technology
I don’t exactly consider myself a bad-ass system administrator. In fact, to be honest, I’m a pretty poor one. I like programming computers, not maintaining them, and the hoops that system administrators have to jump through to get everything configured and running smoothly give me headaches. Granted, machines under my dominion usually end up stable after a week or two of heavy dogfooding, and, so far as I know, no machine I’ve administered has ever been hacked (knock on wood), but administration...

Gmail Thinks I'm Spam

May 3, 2007 | technology
Since I moved from Dreamhost to Linode, Gmail thinks that all email coming from this domain is spam. As near as I can tell, my SPF records are correct, and exim is definitely not set to be an open relay. Does anyone know what might be up? Edit: At a friend’s recommendation, I checked Spamhaus and friends to see whether the previous owner of’s IP might have been a spammer, but it’s not on any of the lists.