This is BrainLog, a blog by Dan Sanderson. Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained. See the front page and newer entries.

June 2004 Archives

June 30, 2004

Enriched Uranium: What Every Parent Should Know.

The last few dozen times I looked into Emacs for Mac OS X, I had settled on Enhanced Carbon Emacs, and had been using it for a while with great success. Recently, I started on a major project that required long editing sessions with several files open at a time (not many), and began to notice that it would crash once every couple of days. I can't tell if this is natural for EC-Emacs, or if I activated a buggy mode or something (I started using Subversion, automatically activating SVN mode).

So I made one more attempt to look for the current status on Emacs for OS X native—that is, an Emacs build for OS X 10.3 that doesn't require X11 be running. I had heard that the official GNU Emacs source distribution has included Mac OS X support for a while, but I assumed X11 would be required. I'm pleased to see that not only can you get the absolute latest Emacs built for OS X 10.3 from CVS, but it comes on a disk image, in a package, with an installer, and includes Andrew Choi's Carbon support, no X11 needed. Time will tell if it has any of the problems I experienced with the older EC-Emacs distribution.

Emacs Wiki on Mac OS X (and 9). Emacs Wiki: MacOSTweaks.

Between the time I noticed crashing problems in EC-Emacs and started using the GNU Emacs build, I gave BBEdit a whirl. It's nice, it's stable, it's OS X native, and does quite a bit, especially for editing HTML. But its features for programmers are weak compared to Emacs and other IDEs. Its plugin SDK requires CodeWarrior, which means fewer people are extending it than would be otherwise. At $179, it's way too expensive. If it were $79, I probably would have purchased it by now.

June 29, 2004

It was recently reported that the latest Beastie Boys album will install software on your computer without your permission if you put it in your Windows computer or your Mac. This report describes it as "copy protection software," but admits they're not sure what it does. They do say it provides an uninstaller for Windows, but they don't know how to get rid of the Mac version.

An official response has been posted to The Beastie Boys website: The US/UK releases will not have this on it. All EMI discs have this. It isn't spyware, and isn't installed to the hard drive: instead, it's Macrovision's CDS-200, which blocks ripping but allows for playing on a computer by running a special audio player that plays the disc directly. Not a Linux computer, of course, just a Windows or Mac computer.

An earlier post to their message board claims the Beastie Boys object to the practice but "weren't allowed to go against EMI policy in these territories." Supposedly the "bonus video" included on the US/UK version is the only reason they lack the copy protection.

I don't even have a CD player that isn't a computer any more.

Anyone with small kids who watch TV during the day probably watch Noggin [site has music], the commercial-free cable network of wholesome children's programming ("It's like preschool on TV!"). Instead of commercials, Noggin delimits their shows with songs and "interactive" "games." And because little kids supposedly love repetition, the bits are exactly the same every day.

Noggin interstitials feature the music of Laurie Berkner, and it's pretty good! Considering the huge amount of mediocre children's music in the world, it's worth blogging the good stuff. The hourly broadcasts of Laurie's music videos must be good for her career.

June 28, 2004

Now that Subversion, the new version control system destined to replace CVS, has a stable 1.0 release, it's time to start using it. Mac OS X users can install it with Fink, using the "svn"-related packages (svn and svn-client, or svn-ssl and svn-client-ssl). If Fink complains about the "system-java14-dev" package being missing, head on over to the Apple Developer Connection Site, register (free) or log in, and download and install the Java 1.4.2 Developer Package (50.6 MB). You may need to do this even if you believe you installed the Java SDK before: apparently a recent software update uninstalled the SDK for some reason.

After the Fink install, the quick-start instructions worked for me using a local repository in my home directory. It appears Enhanced Carbon Emacs already has an SVN mode. Neat! Now if only BBEdit supported it like it does CVS...

The Subversion O'Reilly book is available for pre-order, and is due out this month. View or download the latest draft.

A Tao of Regular Expressions. I'm not sure it qualifies as a tao, but it's a good short introduction and quick reference.

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is about to become a very popular way to prevent email with forged headers (most spam). SPF compares the sending IP address to the the IP of the domain of the return address on the message envelope, using a special SPF DNS record for the purpose. Major ISPs may start blocking mail from domains that don't publish SPF records as soon as this year.

June 25, 2004

There appears to be a solution to the problem I complained about earlier with Powerbooks running with the lid closed, and I can't tell if this was a recent development (a Mac OS X patch) or if I completely missed this. It appears that today (Mac OS X 10.3.4), a Powerbook running with the lid closed (with external power, video and USB keyboard) will fall asleep gracefully if the power is unplugged first, and will stay asleep as other peripherals are unplugged. Going back from laptop to desktop mode is as easy as putting it to sleep, then plugging the power in last. I seem to recall an older behavior where plugging or unplugging peripherals with a sleeping laptop would cause a wake-up attempt—which would fail and crash the machine if the lid is still closed. From my old entry, it's possible I just never tried it this way, but it seems better behaved now.

The screenwriter for the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie interviews himself.

Futurama panoramas created from DVD stills. I'm tempted to try and print these out on photo paper. (Thanks Jerry.)

Linux One-Stanza Tips. Hundreds of short Linux/Unix tips (some appropriate for OS X as well). Available in "fortune" file format if you want to include random tips in your signature or something. (Does anyone still print fortune cookies in their shell start-up any more?)

June 24, 2004

Concerts at Marymoor Park is back this summer with Harry Connick, Jr., Prairie Home Companion, The Steve Miller Band, Natalie Merchant, Kenny Loggins, Huey Lewis and the News, Hootie & The Blowfish, and more.

ZooTunes at Woodland Park Zoo [warning: site plays music] includes They Might Be Giants, Aimee Mann, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and more.

Babies get in free at both venues; I recall babies were plentiful at ZooTunes especially. Both are general admission; Marymoor costs about twice as much as ZooTunes, and includes a reserved seating area for even more money. Both have hot food for sale (Marymoor has better food than the zoo) and allow outside food.

Set Theory, from the The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Wikipedia: Naive Set Theory.

Why Learning Assembly Language Is Still a Good Idea. Yes, but assembler for which processor? I would assume the intent of understanding what the computer is doing would imply that, yes, assembly for modern processors ought to be learned, with all the fancy features of the processor's instruction set. I'd bet you could get most of the intended benefits by learning a simpler, older processor. I learned a lot about computers from 6502 assembly, and I wouldn't expect learning newer opcodes for cache management or whatever they have now would be all that useful. Interesting in its own right, perhaps.

June 23, 2004

My name is ...

Shake Zula
The mic rula'
The old schoola'
You want to trip, I'll take it to ya'

Frylock and I'm on top
Rock you like a cop
Meatwad you're up next with your knock-knock

Meatwad make the money, see
Meatwad get the honeys, G
Drivin' in my car, livin' like a star
Ice on my fingers and my toes and I'm a Taurus

Uh! Check check it, yeah

'Cause we are the Aqua Teens
Make the homies say ho and the girlies wanna scream!
'Cause we are the Aqua Teens
Make the homies say ho and the girlies wanna scream!

Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Number one in the 'hood, G.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force

June 22, 2004

Kwiki 0.30, representing months of work on a major overhaul, is now available.

Achaea is a big, deep, text-based, commercial (!) MUD, with its own Java client if you just want to try it in a web browser.

Apple plugs Eclipse, the Java-based multi-lingual Open Source IDE, in its latest developer newsletter.

June 18, 2004

These past few weeks, I've done nothing but child care and working on an entry for the Movable Type developer contest. I had an idea for a plugin just for my own personal use, and the contest motivated me to run with it and extend it to its natural conclusion. I've concluded that, as much as I love my new kid, I need a little bit of this sort of stimulation each day, and will go to great lengths to find the time, even loss of sleep. Which is a little weird considering I'm not even using MovableType for my blog yet.

It looks like I can catch up on a few Z's this weekend, because the deadline for the contest, originally today, has been extended to July 6. It sounds like a bunch of folks are putting at least as much into this as I am, so even if I don't claim one of the six prizes, at least there will be six cooler plugins than mine, which is a sort of prize of its own.

My wife was hoping this would all be over today.

June 17, 2004

I have three Gmail invitations. And you can't have any of them! I'm using them to decorate my Trapper Keeper.