Ramblings & ephemera

Talk about Markdown to SLUUG this Wednesday

I’ll be giving a talk to the St. Louis UNIX Users Group next Wednesday night about Markdown, a tool I absolutely love. You’re invited to come. Please do – I think you’ll definitely learn a lot. Date: Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 Time: 6:30 – 9 pm Where: 11885 Lackland Rd., St Louis, MO 63146 Map: […]

Steve Jobs, genius

From Stephen Fry’s “Steve Jobs” (The New Adventures of Stephen Fry: 6 October 2011): Henry Ford didn’t invent the motor car, Rockefeller didn’t discover how to crack crude oil into petrol, Disney didn’t invent animation, the Macdonald brothers didn’t invent the hamburger, Martin Luther King didn’t invent oratory, neither Jane Austen, Tolstoy nor Flaubert invented […]

How changes in glass changed working conditions

From Nicholas Carr’s “(re)framed” (Rough Type: 3 June 2011): I’m reminded of an interesting passage in the book Glass: A World History: As we have seen, one of the rapid developments in glass technology was the making of panes of window glass, plain and coloured, which was particularly noticeable in the northern half of Europe […]

Speaking at SLUUG: Amazing, Stupendous, Mind-Blowing Apps for iPad2

Jans Carton & I are delivering a talk at the St. Louis UNIX Users Group at 6:30 pm this Wednesday, 8 June 2011, titled “Amazing, Stupendous, Mind-Blowing Apps for iPad2”. We’ll be demoing iPad apps live for everyone. If you want to find out more about the iPad, or discover some awesome new iPad apps, […]

Clay Shirky on the changes to publishing & media

From Parul Sehgal’s “Here Comes Clay Shirky” (Publisher’s Weekly: 21 June 2010): PW: In April of this year, Wired‘s Kevin Kelly turned a Shirky quote—“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”—into “the Shirky Principle,” in deference to the simple, yet powerful observation. … Kelly explained, “The Shirky Principle declares […]

David Pogue’s insights about tech over time

From David Pogue’s “The Lessons of 10 Years of Talking Tech” (The New York Times: 25 November 2010): As tech decades go, this one has been a jaw-dropper. Since my first column in 2000, the tech world has not so much blossomed as exploded. Think of all the commonplace tech that didn’t even exist 10 […]

Hanoi’s last blacksmith

From Seth Mydans’s “A Lone Blacksmith, Where Hammers Rang” (The New York Times: 25 November 2010): HANOI, Vietnam — He is the last blacksmith on Blacksmith Street, dark with soot, his arms dappled with burns, sweating and hammering at his little roadside forge as a new world courses past him. The son and grandson of […]

Unix: An Oral History

From ‘s “Unix: An Oral History” (: ): Multics Gordon M. Brown … [Multics] was designed to include fault-free continuous operation capabilities, convenient remote terminal access and selective information sharing. One of the most important features of Multics was to follow the trend towards integrated multi-tasking and permit multiple programming environments and different human interfaces […]

HDTV’s widely adopted by American households

From Alex Mindlin’s “Room to Grow as Homes Add HD TVs” (The New York Times: 21 November 2010): High-definition televisions have entered American homes with startling speed; 56 percent of households now have at least some HD channels and an HD set, according to Nielsen. Among consumer technologies, that speed of adoption is rivaled only […]

My favorite iPhone apps

Someone on a mailing list asked for a list of our favorite iPhone apps. Here’s what I said: Reeder is the best RSS reader (tied to Google Reader, natch), bar none. Articles presents Wikipedia beautifully. Dropbox is an essential for the reasons Martin gave. Echofon is a great Twitter app, especially since it syncs with […]

Evaluating software features

When developing software, it’s important to rank your features, as you can’t do everything, & not everything is worth doing. One way to rank features is to categorize them in order of importance using the following three categories: Required/Essential/Necessary: Mission critical features that must be present Preferred/Conditional: Important features & enhancements that bring better experience […]

My response to the news that “Reader, Acrobat Patches Plug 23 Security Holes”

I sent this email out earlier today to friends & students: For the love of Pete, people, if you use Adobe Acrobat Reader, update it. http://krebsonsecurity.com/2010/10/reader-acrobat-patches-plug-23-security-holes/ But here’s a better question: why are you using Adobe Reader in the first place? It’s one of the WORST programs for security you can have on your computer. […]

How the Madden NFL videogame was developed

From Patrick Hruby’s “The Franchise: The inside story of how Madden NFL became a video game dynasty” (ESPN: 22 July 2010): 1982 Harvard grad and former Apple employee Trip Hawkins founds video game maker Electronic Arts, in part to create a football game; one year later, the company releases “One-on-One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird,” […]

A summary of Galbraith’s The Affluent Society

From a summary of John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society (Abridge Me: 1 June 2010): The Concept of the Conventional Wisdom The paradigms on which society’s perception of reality are based are highly conservative. People invest heavily in these ideas, and so are heavily resistant to changing them. They are only finally overturned by new […]

Microsoft’s real customers

From James Fallow’s “Inside the Leviathan: A short and stimulating brush with Microsoft’s corporate culture” (The Atlantic: February 2000): Financial analysts have long recognized that Microsoft’s profit really comes from two sources. One is operating systems (Windows, in all its varieties), and the other is the Office suite of programs. Everything else — Flight Simulator, […]

A great example of poor comments in your code

From Steven Levy’s Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (Penguin Books: 2001): 43: [Peter Samson, one of the first MIT hackers], though, was particularly obscure in refusing to add comments to his source code explaining what he was doing at a given time. One well-distributed program Samson wrote went on for hundreds of assembly language […]

The Hacker Ethic

From Steven Levy’s Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (Penguin Books: 2001): 40-46: Still, even in the days of the TX-0 [the late 1950s], the planks of the platform were in place. The Hacker Ethic: Access To Computers — And Anything Which Might Teach You Something About The Way The World Works — Should Be […]

The origin of the word “munge”, “hack”, & others

From Steven Levy’s Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (Penguin Books: 2001): 23: The core members hung out at [MIT’s Tech Model Railroad Club in the late 1950s] for hours; constantly improving The System, arguing about what could be done next, developing a jargon of their own that seemed incomprehensible to outsiders who might chance […]

Luther & Poe both complained about too many books

From Clay Shirky’s “Does The Internet Make You Smarter?” (The Wall Street Journal: 5 June 2010): In the history of print … complaints about distraction have been rampant; no less a beneficiary of the printing press than Martin Luther complained, “The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no measure of limit to […]

Refusing a technology defines you

From Sander Duivestein’s “Penny Thoughts on the Technium” (The Technium: 1 December 2009): I‘m interested in how people personally decide to refuse a technology. I’m interested in that process, because I think that will happen more and more as the number of technologies keep increasing. The only way we can sort our identity is by […]