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September 25, 2008

Another way top-posted replies suck ()

by fluffy at 11:31 AM
Not only does it make people stupid, but it makes people do stupid things to work around the problem of not having inline replies. Namely, if people want to reply to an email point-by-point, they end up doing silly things like changing the color of their text in the reply. If those point-by-point replies further require point-by-point responses, then you end up with a cavalcade of rainbow colors or font changes or the like which quickly becomes difficult to keep track of and becomes completely incomprehensible if someone does the unthinkable and changes the message formatting to plain text (or tries reading it on a text-only client, for that matter).

Reply markers exist for a reason, Microsoft.

(And yes I realize it's possible to turn them on in Outlook but it's not the default, and in particular our project manager doesn't set it up. Anyway, top-posted replies with per-line reply markers are doubly-stupid since now you've got a workaround for a workaround for something which was never a problem to begin with.)

September 24, 2008

iPhone 2.1 annoyance ()

by fluffy at 10:45 AM
So, in iPhone 2.0, if you selected a single episode of a podcast to play, after the episode finished, it would simply stop. In 2.1, however, it seems to treat the podcast episode list as a playlist, and so it keeps on playing other episodes. Very obnoxious, especially since I like using episodes of A Prairie Home Companion and the like (played on my speakerphone) to fall asleep at night. Drifting off at midnight only to be woken up at 3 AM by Garrison Keillor still lilting away kind of defeats the point.

September 23, 2008

Ants in my pants! ()

by fluffy at 10:30 AM
And in my couch and my kitchen and my bed!

It must be cooling off outside because this is the second time that ants have gotten into my condo. The first time it was just a tiny collection of tiny ants who I was able to fend off easily enough with a couple of ant baits (the kind with the slow-acting poison which supposedly kills the queen), but this time there are all sizes and colors and kinds and they've gotten EVERYWHERE (well, not into the food yet but that's only a matter of time). Argh. So I've been spraying bug spray all over the place (which I know is oh so good for me!) and hopefully that will keep them at bay until I can get some borax to spread in the corners and around the baseboards and so on.

During the first infestation, Mark's suggestion was to make some borax pancakes and leave them near where they come inside, which is totally what I should have done.

September 19, 2008

RAR SMASH ()

by fluffy at 8:44 PM
So I should probably not have sold my MacBook so soon in anticipation of new ones. Between my work laptop and my OLPC I am pretty annoyed at my options for couch computing.

September 18, 2008

Wacom stylus tips: a brief review (, )

by fluffy at 11:53 PM
So about a year ago I bought a bunch of different Wacom stylus nibs: some more of the standard acrylic ones, some of the spring-loaded "stroke" ones, and some of the compressed felt ones. By now I've actually used all three kinds regularly, so I'd might as well share some thoughts.

Software release ()

by fluffy at 11:42 PM
So it's kind of funny when someone asks me if an app I worked on is out and I'm like "No, I think it's just in beta" and he's like "well a friend of mine in Asia said he downloaded it and it's pretty cool and he can do [blah] and [blah]" and I'm like "I think your friend is just quoting the information that's been publicly released about it" and then I look online and find out that oh, huh, it has been released, and then I download it and mess with it and then realize that while I worked on (a small) part of it, this is the first time I've actually seen the app as a whole.

I guess the next version is where the really cool stuff is going to come in, although it's nice to see that the (very small) part of it I worked on is running nice and fast.

September 17, 2008

WHAT ()

by fluffy at 2:00 PM

A use for the OLPC ()

by fluffy at 8:38 AM
So, I'm selling my MacBook (in anticipation of the new ones coming out in a month or so, since my current one just has the GMA950 which makes it useless for gaming) and so in the meanwhile I'm using the OLPC as my couch computer. In particular, I'm taking advantage of the fact it comes with a VNC client, so it's basically a dumb terminal attached to my G5. Surprisingly, the screen seems much more vibrant when it's channeling a Mac rather than using the rather dreary-looking built-in apps — I always had the impression that the funky low-power diagonal-bias transflective screen led to a crappy color gamut, but instead it's just because freetards have no design sense. (or more charitably they probably don't want to run afoul of cultural color biases or whatever)

This keyboard is still terrible for adult-size hands. I also wish there were a way to scrollwheel from the touch pad like what every modern laptop supports these days. Oh well.

September 16, 2008

gmail still feels like a downgrade ()

by fluffy at 10:47 AM
So, my GMail-based setup is certainly nowhere near as good as what I had on DreamHost. I had much better control of my spam filter (bogofilter+spamassassin) on DH, and never, ever got 419 scams in my inbox (unlike on GMail where it seems like several make it through every day), and meanwhile GMail's filter seems to be overprotective on things like topic reply notifications and the like (so I keep having to check my spam box and adding whitelist rules). Plus, bogofilter's yes/no/unsure classifications made checking the spam filter much easier since I never, ever had to check the 'yes' folder (300 messages/day) for false-positives (I just had to guide it on the maybes, with around 10 messages/day).

The more annoying thing by far, however, is the limit to the number of simultaneous IMAP connections. Between my computer at work, two computers at home, and my iPhone (which often decides to connect over EDGE even when I'm in WiFi range — and, amusingly enough, there's a few open access points it seems to connect through while I'm riding my bike to work, according to GMail's access log) I hit the limit pretty quickly, and unfortunately, GMail handles the limit by killing the most recent ones — meaning the one I'm actually using is the one that's most likely to start messing up. (It doesn't help that when I'm at work I'm using Thunderbird which seems to be much more aggressive about its reconnect attempts than Mail.app, which only makes things mess up even faster. I've also run into trouble with Thunderbird locking me out of my corporate email due to repeated login failures, which is one of the reasons I'm back to using Outlook.)

Basically, email sucks.

It's all making sense now ()

by fluffy at 10:12 AM
From an article about Tina Fey's portrayal of Palin:

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate John McCain's adviser Carly Fiorina said she found Fey's portrait "very dismissive" of Palin.

"The portrait was very dismissive of the substance of Sarah Palin, and so in that sense, they were defining Hillary Clinton as very substantive, and Sarah Palin as totally superficial," Fiorina told MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell.

(emphasis mine)

Suddenly it's all making sense. I just hope Fiorina does to McCain what she did to Hewlett-Packard.

September 8, 2008

Like a good neighbor, ()

by fluffy at 6:56 PM
State Farm doesn't let you know there's a problem until it's come to a head.

September 5, 2008

Opera is actually a pretty good browser ()

by fluffy at 5:23 PM
I've tried Opera several times in the past but I never really liked various things about it, such as weird UI issues (its bizarre insistence on MDI for so many years, for example). But Firefox 3 has been a bit annoyingly slow, and Chrome is a nice idea marred by a hell of a lot of Big Ideas getting in the way of getting the basics right, but various comments I've seen from people sick of hearing about both of those browsers reminded me of Opera (both on poe-news and on The Register). So, I'm trying Opera 9.5 out.

At least on Windows, it's pretty nice. It feels a little faster than FF3 (although TEXTAREA is a bit laggy), and its default key bindings are irritating but it was easy enough to fix those and make it behave exactly like Firefox. I really like how UI-wise it actually works with the native GUI instead of tring to do its own thing (unlike, say, Firefox or Chrome), and it's also the only browser I've ever seen which does a good job of doing smooth scrolling which still feels responsive.

So far the only bug I've run into is that the background on my 404 error animation doesn't move, which tells me there's something weird with how it deals with CSS background-position in DHTML or something. Also, there doesn't seem to be any way of adding a resize widget to the lower-right corner of the window (the default skin had one but this other skin doesn't). I'm sure there'll be other problems as well, but I think I'll give this a try for the next few days and see how it works out for me.

September 4, 2008

Topic for debate: The most important question ever ()

by fluffy at 11:11 PM
Paper or plastic?

DisingeGNUity ()

by fluffy at 12:04 PM
Okay, I really like how Stephen Fry endorses GNU, but there's a bit amiss with that video:
  • The only computer visible is a MacBook Air, which is probably running OSX (although he never displays it running anything at all). Stephen never says he actually uses GNU, he just prattles on about how wonderful it is, but seemingly (per his comments regarding OSX's EULA) doesn't realize that, at an OS level, OSX is essentially GNU with a non-GNU UI running on top of it.
  • The music at the end is built entirely out of commercial, royalty-free, but non-redistributable piano loops which are part of GarageBand (which is commercial software), and somehow the credits list it as being some song that was ostensibly composed by someone (apparently stringing loops together in more or less exactly the order they are provided is composition now?) but of course this is a long-running pet peeve of mine.
  • While it's nice that they used an Ogg video, they use a Java-bytecode-based player to play it, so it's not like it's end-to-end Free there either.
Also, his plumbing metaphor falls somewhat flat. Neither Microsoft nor Apple actively prevent people from exploring their OS or sharing what they've found to others, and plumbers and plumbing enthusiasts can't simply copy pipe fittings and fixtures and the like without paying for materials which are likely to be prefabricated (unless someone has their own smelting/molding/etc. equipment).