NYC Police

December 27, 2007 | personal, politics
Bloomberg announced today that New York City will be deploying new cops to crime-ridden areas of Brooklyn in an attempt to decrease the city’s crime rate. That’s a really spiffy idea, and I support it, but, personally, I think that maybe stemming the mass exodus of qualified police officers—perhaps by increasing their salaries so they’re at least competitive with nearby cities and towns that have a lower cost-of-living—might be a better idea. In order to finance a pay raise, I propose a $100...

Mental Break

November 25, 2007 | personal, politics
As the world gets more insane, I sometimes need a mental break. For example, President Bush covering U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday. Am I bad for liking this version more than the original?

Boldly Going Where We've Gone Before

November 7, 2007 | programming
I empathize with Smalltalkers and Lispers who are in a perpetual state of been-there-done-that. Tons of “new” technologies (on-the-fly code reloading, edit-and-continue debugging, refactoring, and anonymous functions, among others) have been available in Smalltalk-80 since its inception (and frequently in Common Lisp’s predecessors and peers since before that). That said, when I read C# developers lamenting that .NET 3.5 is only a bad imitation of Smalltalk-80, I have a slightly different...

Browser Stupidity

November 1, 2007 | technology
Yesterday, I went to a website that used MathML to display a few formulae. Because Firefox supports MathML, I figured everything would display just fine. Unfortunately, Firefox notified me that I had to download some free fonts to display the equations. Here’s the dialog it displayed: I don’t mind having to install fonts, but this dialog is so poorly constructed that I ended up laughing: The link they provide isn’t clickable. I’m in a frakking web browser, and they’re not going to let me click...

Chicken Chicken Chicken

October 7, 2007 | personal, technology
Chicken chicken chicken chicken, chicken chicken chicken chicken. (Chicken chicken chicken—chicken chicken chicken—chicken chicken.) Chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken! Chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken.

Sorcery with iptables

October 6, 2007 | programming, technology
I normally don’t link articles I see on reddit on the theory that you’ll already have seen them, but this one was too good to pass up. New Artisans has a superb article on iptable tricks to defend against common attacks, and even provides some hands-on examples of what they’re defending against. If you administer your own server, I strongly recommend taking a look. (Note: try the “attacks” they show only within your own LAN. A competent ISP may notice what you’re doing and shut you down if you...

rm -rf /var/www/* ... wait, which server am I logged into?

September 30, 2007 | programming, technology
Unix needs an undo command. This morning, my roommate and I hauled out some of our “big iron” (a languishing Pentium 4 box) to use as a photo server. Because we had initially planned to use that box to host and its sister sites—a plan since scrapped—it had a full clone of all the data on my Linode hub. Before my roommate got going, then, I thought I’d quickly clean the box and return it to a neutral state. First stop, hose the duplicates of the websites I host. Fire up SSH, sidle...

Blast Your Friends

September 26, 2007 | personal, technology
One of my friends adamantly refuses to carry a cell phone on him. Although I don’t have a lot of sympathy for that these days, I’ll be changing my opinion very quickly if blasting your friends starts to become common.

Half-Baked Features

September 19, 2007 | technology
One of the Big New Features in WordPress 2.2 was a dynamic sidebar. The idea was that developers would write reusable Widgets that users could add to their sidebar through drag-and-drop—a huge improvement over the old method of modifying a bunch of PHP by hand. The good news is that building a sidebar from widgets works great. Unfortunately, the bundled widgets don’t. The archive widget has an invalid capitalization of its onchange event that keeps this site from validating, while the links...

Lotus Symphony Now Free

September 18, 2007 | technology
Lotus Symphony is IBM’s rebranded version of OpenOffice, and ships with Lotus Notes. As of today, Symphony is free. Even if you have OpenOffice, Symphony may be worth checking out, as it sports what in my opinion is a superior interface.