New Open-Source Squeak Book

September 4, 2007 | programming
I was pleasantly surprised today to discover Squeak by Example, an open-source book on writing programs with Squeak Smalltalk. If you want the bleeding-edge version of the book right now, you’ll need Subversion and an up-to-date LaTeX installation, but a four-month-old PDF version is also available if you don’t want to muck with all that. Combined with Stéphane Ducasse’s compilation of free Smalltalk books, I don’t think any Smalltalk neophyte should be wanting for learning material.

Copilot for College

September 2, 2007 | personal, programming, technology
My day job is working on Fog Creek Copilot, a powerful, cross-platform remote assistance solution. This week, Tyler and I were talking about how it’s too bad that Copilot didn’t really exist when we were in college, because we always ended up doing tech support for our families over the phone, which always went something like: Me: What do you see now? Family Member: A dialog box. Me: What’s it say? Family Member: It’s got a stop sign with an exclamation mark and says that the server can’t be...

The more you know...

August 31, 2007 | technology
It turns out that you can have WordPress automatically show a post after a specific time. To do so, simply set the post’s time stamp in the future. Presto! The post won’t appear either in RSS or on the main page until after the time you’ve set, and in the management interface, shows up as a “scheduled post.” I’ve actually been using this feature for awhile now: I wrote most of this week’s posts on Sunday afternoon, but set their post times so that they’d appear steadily throughout the week. This...

The Open XML Debate, Revisited

August 30, 2007 | politics, programming, technology
From Slashdot, which is slowly redeeming itself, comes a link to Microsoft admitting that it bribed members of the Swedish ISO committee to vote for OOXML. Unsurprisingly, the Swedish ISO committee just voided its own vote. Due to time crunch, they will not be casting a vote at all in the Open XML ratification process. I find it depressing but predictable that I’m unsurprised.

Kosher, Kasher, Kwhat?

August 30, 2007 | personal
Since I moved in with my current roommate, we’ve wanted to have a kosher kitchen. This past Sunday, with a plethora (two hours) of free time, we finally got around to kashering it. Q. What the frak is Kosher? A. Kosher is just a Hebrew word that means, basically, “in full accordance with the rules,” where “the rules” means “laws established in the Hebrew Bible.” The laws set forth in the Hebrew Bible are all in the first five books, known as the Pentateuch or the Book of Moses to scholars and...

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...

Dreams Dashed in C++; News at Eleven

August 29, 2007 | programming
In my previous article, I discussed some alternatives to C++ for systems programming. Today, I want to provide an example of why you might care. Tyler and I recently debated rewriting Fog Creek Copilot in Qt, a powerful, high-level, cross-platform C++ framework. The idea came to us when we started discussing the implications of maintaining four helper applications (Windows Helper, Windows Helpee, Mac Helper, Mac Helpee), each of which shares depressingly little code with the others. Because Qt...

Scientists v. Romantics

August 29, 2007 | personal
I honestly haven’t figured out whether this comic is really funny or really sad, but the romantic in me mostly just wishes that it were false.

Avoiding the Masochist's Programming Language

August 28, 2007 | programming
As you may or may not know, ANSI is trying to push a new C++ standard out the door called C++0x (which those of you who know C may find amusing, since you can read it “C++ Hex”). C++0x’s primary goal is to take C++'s already horribly convoluted syntax and make it even worse. Looking at a summary of C++0x’s additions, for example, we come across the concept of rvalue references, expressed as int &&x. With this move, C++ now has a bizarre hybrid of pointers and handles that solves a...

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...