The Problem With Trying to Live Small

Move to Washington DC or Seattle a study on the best places to live in the small. It was a struggle for me when I lived in big-home and car-centric Los Angeles.

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Why do some people prefer Macs over PCs running Linux?

Years ago, when I worked in a PC only shop, people asked me what computer I used at home. I replied that I use a Mac. They were incredulous. When they asked why, I replied that when I go home, I didn't want to have to work. Based on this Quora reply, I'm not alone.

Answer by Ansel Halliburton:

I have built PCs and Linux boxes from parts. I built and ran a distributed Linux cluster. I had a few flavors of Linux on a laptop at a time when it was non-trivial to do that. I can handle running Linux just fine.

But now I choose not to. I have a Mac.

Why? I just don't have time for that stuff anymore. I am at a place in my life where I will gladly pay more money for a product of higher quality that saves me time because I am (1) really freaking busy and (2) not broke anymore. I need a low maintenance, high performance computing tool. Mac OS X and most of its major applications are well integrated, very high quality tools. Macs are also beautiful and shiny, and I like that as much as the next person, but it's secondary.

As for the question's premise that you can get as good a UI in Linux as you can on a Mac, that is just not true. Yes, there are some very shiny Linux distros and window managers out now. But the quality of third-party Linux applications' UIs is, generally, still poor—certainly not on par with the average UI quality of Mac applications. You have to look at that when considering an OS because without third-party applications, the OS isn't going to get you very far.

Why do some people prefer Macs over PCs running Linux?

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What is the most complex/significant program created by a single programmer?

While it's difficult to use, I think Donald Knuth's TeX is probably the best written piece of software created.

Answer by Victor Eijkhout:

Around 1978, Donald Knuth was getting dissatisfied with the quality of computer typesetting. He thought he could solve the problem on his sabbatical. Ok, it took him 8 years, but solve it he did. The typesetting system TeX produces beautiful output for ordinary text, and is unsurpassed when it comes to mathematics.

As a result, it is used by 99 percent of mathematicians, at least half of all computer scientists and physicists. It is even used by people with strange alphabets (apparently there is an Old-Icelandic dictionary done in it) or strange design demands (religious texts with commentary and commentary on the commentary).

Since TeX was written back when computers were smaller and slower, the code is actually pretty tricky to be as efficient as possible. And yet it is basically bug-free. Knuth writes you a cheque if you can find a bug in the code, which happens almost never.

What is the most complex/significant program created by a single programmer?

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Reading Slow and Fast

I’m learning to read more efficiently as I zip through my RSS feeds. That’s a lot to read every day, so I’m training myself to stop subaudiblizing. But even this doesn’t help when I encounter a lengthly article. …So much to read …So much I’d like to read.

Gracy Olmstead writes:

Efficiency is a means to a greater end, a greater virtue: that of wisdom. Wisdom is “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” To have wisdom, therefore, one must have basic knowledge of the pertinent. But “good judgment” doesn’t come from gulping down news in a frenzied fashion. Good judgment requires thoughtful, prolonged, and careful meditation. It requires outside opinions, secondary sources, and at least some research. It requires a depth of reading inspired by thoughtfulness, as well as inquisitiveness. In order to get wisdom, slow reading is necessary: a careful, deliberate inculcation of timeless truths.

From “The Art of Reading, Fast and Slow,” The American Conservative.

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It’s All About Context

If I read a paper book, they say, “So wonderful he is reading and making good use of his time.” If I read the same book on my iPhone, they say, “Such a shame he wastes his time with his electronic device!”

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James Fallows on Google Keep

What to trust and not trust to Google:

A Problem Google Has Created for Itself – Technology – The Atlantic.

HT: Boing Boing

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Wonder Why There Were So Many Videos of That Meteor in Russia?

There are so many Russian drivers with dash cams, some of which captured spectacular video of a meteor exploding over Russia. Wired’s Damon Lavrinc reports, “A combination of inexpensive cameras, flash memory and regulations passed by the Interior Ministry in 2009 that removed any legal hurdles for in-dash cameras has made it easy and cheap for drivers to install the equipment.”

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TED Talk: Everything is Remix

Kirby Ferguson talks about patent law and remix. “Remix may sound like common sense until you’re the one being remixed.”

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Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs ePub

Thanks to Calibre, I was able to convert Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman to ePub.

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RSpec test code extracted from Sinatra Ruby


In app/hello_world.rb

require 'sinatra'
get '/' do
  "Hello World #{params[:name]}".strip

In app/spec/app_spec.rb

require 'hello_world'require 'spec'
require 'rack/test'

set :environment, :test

describe 'The HelloWorldApp' do
  include Rack::Test::Methods

  def app

  it "says hello" do
    get '/'
    last_response.should be_ok
    last_response.body.should == 'Hello World'

To execute:

$ spec spec -c

Posted via email from nomadicoder’s posterous

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Quick RVM Rubinius 1.0.0 Install Recipe

Here are the quick and dirty commands I used to install Rubinius 1.0.0 with Rails, RSpec, and Sinatra in RVM on Mac OS X. So far I haven’t been able to get Cucumber to install.

The problem has been fixed with the 1.0.1 release. I have added commands to install Cucumber support.

rvm install rbx
rvm rbx
gem update --system --no-ri --no-rdoc
gem update --no-ri --no-rdoc
gem install rails --no-ri --no-rdoc
gem install sqlite3-ruby --no-ri --no-rdoc
gem install rspec --no-ri --no-rdoc
gem install rspec-rails --no-ri --no-rdoc
gem install cucumber --no-ri --no-rdoc
gem install cucumber-rails --no-ri --no-rdoc
gem install sinatra --no-ri --no-rdoc
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The App That Lets Me Leave the iPhone at Home

Though I had switched to a Motorola Droid, I kept carrying my iPhone with me. But now that I have Google Listen, Evernote and VIP Access for Android, I have duplicated all of my critical apps on my Droid. It’s nearly perfect. If only OmniFocus ran on the Android. But it’s not critical. Besides, I’m moving my GTD functions to Evernote.

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Too Many Apps

Monday I had to factory reset my Motorola Droid. I was unable to wake my phone. It was on, the green new mail light was flashing, but when I pressed the power button to wake it up, nothing happened. The night before, I inadvertently made a phone call as was unable to hang up the call. When I hit the power button, the screen would come on with the phone, but immediately go dark. I had to pull the battery to end the call. Verizon told me that it was possible that the onboard memory was corrupted by an app. I can think of two or three that may have done it. To correct the problem, I would have to do a factory reset. This would blow away all of my loaded apps and all of the data associated with those apps.

I had 40-50 apps installed on the phone. While the clean start was nice, reinstalling the “essential” apps and setting up their on-line accounts was a hassle. It took about 2-3 hours to restore the phone to where I had what I needed. In all, I now have 36 apps. Of these, I think I should pare down some more. It would be nice to get below 30. I’m still figuring out what I really need (like WordPlayer) and keeping a few that aren’t essential but really nice (like Pandora.) Some of the productivity items I seldom use an go, like GDocs. I’ve taken out many of the streaming apps like and Stitcher. But having a much lighter and reliable phone will be nice.

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Stupid Smilies!

It was a good idea to start blogging lessons learned as I code, but it took almost as long to post a correctly formatted entry when I ran into one problem. WordPress creates emoticons automagically. Even if the text is embedded in a <code> or <pre> block. My last posting contained a :order symbol, which WordPress converted into a laughing smiley. Thinking it was in my code, I manually retyped in the text, tried a code tag, and removed extraneous tags to no avail. WordPress has a setting that takes care of this. Emoticon conversion is turned on by default, a bad thing for Ruby bloggers. Problem fixed, after wasting too much time doing the right thing.

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iPhone Blogging

Ecto for the iPhone: iBlogger

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Lack of Blogging Activity

I blog infrequently, especially over the last few months. But I’ve been posting to Twitter quite a lot over the last year, mostly my adventures in podcasting. Much of it mundane — I’m working on show xyz, etc.

This is not a commitment, but let me see if I can start posting more frequently here.

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Los Angeles City Fire Department Gets It When it Comes to the Web

Brian Humphrey, from the Los Angeles City Fire Department’s Media and Public Relations, really understands the web and how a Fire Department can put it to use. First he started twittering major incidents. Lately, he’s been blogging complete reports, such as this dramatic rescue.

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