Trevor Turk

A chess-playing machine of the late 18th century, promoted as an automaton but later proved a hoax.

Weekly Digest, 3-8-09

Trevor's Links

Letting things go

When you don’t have time for the things you really feel passionate about, look around yourself. What things are you hanging onto out of a false sense of obligation? Look beyond your assumptions, and you might be surprised at what can really go.

Rubular

Rubular is a Ruby-based regular expression editor. It's a handy way to test regular expressions as you write them. [A+++]

SoundManager 2

By wrapping and extending Flash 8's sound API, SoundManager 2 brings solid audio functionality to Javascript.

The 5 P's of Twitter's runaway success

Actually, I think we enjoy claiming we can’t describe what Twitter is, yet a closer inspection of it yields not only a better understanding of it but also why it’s become so prevalent in the media lately. And when that kind of inspection occurs, it’s not surprising to the inspector why Twitter is where it’s at today.

Twitter = YouTube

YouTube now gets more searches than Yahoo, Google's closest search rival. YouTube was the single fastest growing new form of search on the Web, and Google pretty much outflanked (and outspent) everyone to buy it. Not to get into video monetization, per se, but to harvest and control the most important emerging form of search. In short, Google could not afford to NOT own YouTube.

Procrastination and the Bikeshed Effect

This is one reason why I'm so down on architecture astronauts. I find that the amount of discussion on a software feature is inversely proportional to its value. Sure, have some initial discussion to figure out your direction, but the sooner you can get away from airy abstractions, and down to the nuts and bolts of building the damn thing, the better off you -- and your project -- will be.

Last Rites

The death of the newspaper is a depressing thing to absorb, but what’s much more disappointing to me is that I feel like news itself has been devalued. There’s an oversupply of news-”ish” information on the web, and people have decided — usually without realizing it — that free “news snacking” is a better value proposition than paying for in-depth reporting.

Database Versioning

Migrations bother me. On one hand, migrations are the best solution we have for the problem of versioning databases. The scope of that problem includes merging schema changes from different developers, applying schema changes to production data, and creating a DRY representation of the schema. But even though migrations is the best solution we have, it still isn’t a very good one. [Nice comments on this one, too. Especially mine :P]

Rack as a Transformative Figure

In the next few months, Merb and Rails will be making their routers a shared Rack component, and the same is true for a number of smaller elements, like parameter parsing.

Merb 1.1 roadmap, Merb & Rails3 news

If we want to make every single application, a potential mountable app, we need to namespace our applications. This is something we already do with slices, but currently generated applications are not namespaced. We are planning on doing that for 1.1 (backward compatible) to make mountable apps easier.

Offline Gem Server RDocs

Get Sinatra, Rubygems, and Passenger working for offline RDocs? Count me in. I saw this and new I had to have it. I’ve been on some long plane rides recently and I frequently find myself wanting to look up something from a gem’s documentation while I’m coding. You can use the gem server command but that’s just such a pain to do every time you want to look something up.

Timothy's Links

Microsoft Skull-fucks Iceland’s Economy, Contracts Syphilis

Ignore the inflammatory title of this article, memorize the talking points and have them ready for your next family gathering or office meeting. This is a fantastic summary (in plan language) of the micro- and macro-economic strategery of MS coupled with a healthy dose of intelligent outrage.

Scanwiches

What can I say? I found this enlightening and humorous. Images of scanned cross-sections of sandwiches. Simple. Elegant. Sandwich-y.

A Quick Look at Quick Uninstall

As John mentions, "Quick Uninstall" for your Android phone will live about as long as it takes for Google to recognize that what it provides is a basic functionality and integrate it into the Android trunk. Until then, however, this software is must-have if you (like me) are constantly downloading and uninstalling.

Debian Lenny PXE Installation on Dell PowerEdge 1950/2950 servers: bnx2 annoyances | MDLog:/sysadmin

WARN: Lenny's installer no longer supports Broadcom's NetXtreme II. Seeing as how this NIC (or one of its family members) is in pretty much every Dell manufactured in the last five years, this is an important "gotcha". Especially if you're dumpster-diving in Corporate America's dustbins for your hardware like me.

The Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry - Slashfood

Sick.

Apple: Cosmetic Damage Keeps Us From Replacing Your Battery!

This is not marked because I consider it significant: anyone who has ever dealt with the "Genius Bar" knows that Apple's repair/replacement arm is about as interested in helping you out as Apple's retail arm is interested in charging you a reasonable rate for their products. What /is/ significant about this article is that there are, evidently, still people in the world who don't know this from experience. Like, until I saw this, I was convinced that everyone already had a wealth of Genius Bar horror story anecdotes. You could not have argued with me. I was certain. And then I saw this...

Firefox Tip: Prevent Firefox from Hogging Memory When Minimized

This is kind of key: LifeHacker writes about the about:config entry that lets you prevent FF from continuing to use memory when minimized. This is key: particularly if a.) you're minimizing it (instead of, e.g. giving it its own desktop) or b.) you have a nasty habit of leaving tabs open to websites that either automatically refresh or host flash media, etc.

The White House - Cyber review underway

Mostly I'm bookmarking this because its use of the term "cyberspace" as the one word summary for "communications and information infrastructure" made me laugh. And reminded me of William Gibson's cameo on Oliver Stone's "Wild Palms" where Kim Catrall introduces Wm Gibson with something like, "William invented the term 'cyberspace'" and the Gibber respondes, "And they won't let me forget it" before sauntering awkwardly off camera.

Wordpress mod_rewrite rules taking over mod_status

This is an interesting write-up of what happens if you've got a Wordpress install at the same TLD where you keep your Apache server-status page. Basically, Wordpress (quite correctly) ignores http requests for http://tld.com/server-status and dude shows you a sample apache rewrite for how to exempt requests for that specific URL from WP's automatic request redirection. Nice.

Why The New Watchmen Movie Will Bomb

I'm bookmarking this pretty much for the sole purpose of being able to come back to it next week and point out why thoughtful, delicate prognostication and careful made predictions are but a candle in the sunlight of enormous budgets. This movie will "succeed" commercially because it is massively over-funded. End of conversation.

The Authors Guild Sets Sights on Speak and Spell

So, here you've got a mildly derisive lampooning of the Author's Guild which, in the habit that the RIAA/MPAA have forced advocates of free expression/thought to become accustomed, seeks to portray the AG as a cartel and to represent their recent success in limiting the capabilities of the Kindle 2 as unfair or anti-competitive. And it's kind of funny. But it makes the wrong point. The AG, for sure, is in the moral/ethical/political/social/historical wrong. But the real point--the relevant point--is that the Amazon's desire to accommodate Mega Corp DRM schemes has finally been manifested in a design decision. That's the story here. Amazon put out a device that anti-DRM folks called flawed. Now we have a flaw to which we can point.


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