Monday, May 29, 2006

Where Wizards Stay Up Late

I just completed Where Wizards Stay Up Late, by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon. I found the book entertaining; interesting; a bit confusing and at times, a little insulting.

The book starts out a little slow, spending a lot of time explaining how budgets contracted and expanded over time in government agencies and I think it focused too much on the "big thinkers," in government upper management while relegating the engineers involved in the background until the book begins the BBN story.

Above all, the thing that irked me most about the book was its lack of attention to technical detail. Odd you'd say, in a book about the creation of the internet, but its true. The authors in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience made sacrifices in explaining the technology of the day leaving me confused when my (limited) understanding of the past conflicted with the terms and conventions Hafner used in writing the novel. There was at least one occasion where an acronym went unexplained that I understood because of my technical background, it would have left the reader in a dazed state. I was disappointed with this whole aspect of the book, but I suppose I can always look at the RFCs to see the things I had wanted to see in the book.

Another thing that irked me was the authors' frequent attempts to show that the wizards were eccentric and unique. Haffner frequently mentioned that there were members of the arpanet team that would do such drastic things warrenting multiple mentions like . . . wear sneakers.

I felt that I lost out on a lot of personal insight into the project by there being so little self-reflection from the teams involved in making the internet a reality. The author tried to create this feeling by elaborating on the behavioral ticks of the Wizards but without ample quotage I felt distant from the sitation.

In the end, if you're interested in the origins of the internet and are not very technical, I'd suggest you pick up this book. Learn about the great people who allow us to everyday communicate with, share with and help the multitudes of people all over the world connected to the internet.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Blogger in VIm!

Last summer I spent some time putting together a Python API for blogger utilizing their ATOM publishing support. Its sat dormant for the most part except for a small script I threw together to post entries I wrote.

The problem with this approach was that the writing-posting-editing-posting sequence looked like this:

  • Open VIm
  • Write post
  • Exit VIm
  • $ cmd_blog.py path/to/entry
  • "Shoot! Its wrong!"
  • Load Firefox
  • Go to blogger.com
  • Clickity Clickity
  • Load just posted article
  • Edit
  • Click submit.
As you can see, that was majorly lame so this week in my few spare cycles away from work, I started reading about VIm's python support. Within an hour I had a basic UI working. I could load up the entry list, and view each entry by double clicking on the line.

Much thanks goes to TagList for which I did much learning with.

Tonight I spent some more time on it and have the following working:

  • Entry List - When you first load up the script, it will connect to blogger.com and download the articles stored in your blogger account. The limit is about 100, per blogger.com's limitations.
  • Load Entries - Double Click on a line in the Entry List and a window on the right will open allowing you to see the xhtml contents of the entry, properly highlighted.
  • Edit Entries - After you double click on an entry, just edit it to your heart's content and then (figure out how to easily do this, keybinding?) go into command mode and type: :python UpdateEntry()
  • Post new entries. Open a new buffer, type away, then type: :python PostEntry()
  • Fame - Be the envy of your vim or blogger using friends!
It looks like this:

Not pretty, but who ever said vim was pretty looking?

Still haven't done anything else with this but to get it to load (a reminder):
  export PYTHONPATH=~/src/code:./:$PYTHONPATH;
  load vim
  :so vim_blogger.vim
  

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wayne Ma, Film Reporter

My friend Wayne Ma is at the Cannes Film Festival covering the event for his paper. Check it out! Wayne's World, but not really.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Read

  • Read: Candide, by Voltaire
  • Wrote Python: top secret
  • Ate Food: Mmmm Thai food in Taiwan. (please note, Thai == Thailand, not Taiwan) Chinese food, American food (pizza!), beer: Asahi!
  • Taipei! Went to the National Palace Museum, 3rd largest in the world, 1.5 hour tour.
  • Correspondence: Wrote people emails, I had bad response times, at least worthwhile things to say though

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ninja vs Pirate

Ninja vs Pirate, a Googly Answer Google's new "Trends" experiment allows people to put search terms up against eachother for dominance. It looks like for the past almost 2 years, pirates have been more *popular* than ninjas, but the aggregate difference in popularity between the two puts Ninjas in the true lead. Trends is really cool. I think you should go look!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

More feeds!

This is directly for you, my audience of four (if that).

If you are interested in what I write about, you might be interested in what I read. I've mentioned the "Reading" bar on the side there -> but I bet you didn't know that if you use Google Reader you can add those articles to your list via this link: Joe's Starred Items. If you don't use Google Reader but use some other sort of news aggregator, like MyYahoo or Bloglines, the ATOM feed for my reading list is available.

Additionally, I have another feed, my "Link Blog," also there -> that has articles that I've already read but found interesting for some reason or another. You can view that list or use the feed elsewhere

Snippets

At Google, each week people are expected to turn in a quick end of week report on the things they've done in the preceeding days. Its a great way to keep abreast of things going on outside your day to day interactions. It also serves as a great way to keep track of what you've personally worked on; things that were/are/is important but not gigantic enough to warrent remembering.

I've been ultra lax out here in doing these snippets, so in an effort to make sure I actually do this for work, I'm going to start doing it here too, but related to my free-time excusursions of the mind, body, soul and beer.

Batman is cool.

Remember that time you were wearing all your clothes backwards and were like "I missed the bus?"

That was wiggidy wiggidy wiggidy wack.