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…

Maps and Simplicity

February 8, 2007 | personal, technology
Recently, on reddit, someone linked to a map of the US interstate system laid out “subway style.” Rather than including all the geographical features of the United States, the artist opted to realign everything on a relatively simple aligned grid, emphasizing the purpose of the system (“get me from here to there”) rather than the implementation (“via this bridge over this river, using this exit by this town”). The artist himself complains tongue-in-cheek about the complexity of the existing…

I'll See You in Hell, Pachelbel

February 7, 2007 | personal
I hadn’t even heard of Rob Paravonian until over the weekend, when I went with a friend of mine to wander around Duke, but I’ve become an immediate fan. Anyone who’s ever played classical music has developed an intense loathing for Pachelbel’s Canon in D. The song is highly repetitive, playing the same melody over and over, in a giant, musical circle of pain, with only the most miniscule changes over its multitudinous repetitions. It’s like a three-year-old’s take on Bolero. Combine that with…

The Where's-My-Subway-Pass Diet

January 10, 2007 | personal
I have discovered a new, guaranteed way to lose weight fast: lose your unlimited MetroCard. Last week, on my way home, I accidentally dropped mine at some point, likely because my ski jacket has a hole in the left-hand pocket (which unfortunately I didn’t know at the time). As a result, I’ve been walking to work every day—a trek that comes in at an even six miles a day round-trip. The downside is that I have to get up considerably earlier—my commute suddenly takes 50 minutes instead of 15—but…

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…

Firefox 2, or: How I Learned to Start Worrying and Hate Rich Text

October 30, 2006 | technology
You may have noticed that I’ve been modifying a lot of old entries recently shortly after I post just to twiddle some line breaks. That’s because Firefox 2’s rich text control is horribly broken. Now, I do recognize that a lot of the rich editors are driven by custom JavaScript, but a lot of the problems seem common to all websites. In no particular order: Returns sometimes inserts BR, and sometimes inserts P, there’s no reliable way to tell which is going to happen, and they sometimes look…

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](https:// wiki.laptop.org/go/The_OLPC_Wiki). The concentration appears to be on [eToys] (https://wiki.squeak.org/squeak/5580), 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…

WWDC Wednesday: Fire and Motion

August 9, 2006 | programming
As you may or may not be aware, one of the features of Mac OS X Leopard is called iChat Theater. iChat Theater allows you to share arbitrary sound and video via AIM. The feature is great for end-users; showing a friend a funny movie clip, or your parents a photo album of your kid, has become wonderfully trivial. In what for Apple qualifies as a rare nod for developers, they have publicly exposed a clean API to allow your applications to hook into this framework. Basically, all an application…