Mar 312005

From the Xemacs user manual :

“Killing means erasing text and copying it into the kill ring, from which it can be retrieved by yanking it. Some other systems that have recently become popular use the terms “cutting” and “pasting” for these operations.”

 Posted by at 4:29 pm
Mar 302005

I used to think that Internet anonymizers were the purview of child porn aficionados. But these days, it seems that thinking and writing can be construed as a criminal activity, or at least indicative of the intent to commit a crime, at least to the degree of making you someone “of interest”, worthy of getting pulled out of the lineup at the Arrivals terminal in Miama while on your way to Disneyworld with your kids.

As seen on Newsforge: Securing your online privacy with Tor

 Posted by at 9:53 pm
Mar 232005

Element: wordasword


A lot of technical documentation contains words that have overloaded meanings. Sometimes it is useful to be able to use a word without invoking its technical meaning. The WordAsWord element identifies a word or phrase that might otherwise be interpreted in some specific way, and asserts that it should be interpreted simply as a word.

It is unlikely that the presentation of this element will be able to help readers understand the variation in meaning; good writing will have to achieve that goal. The real value of WordAsWord lies in the fact that full-text searching and indexing tools can use it to avoid false-positives.

 Posted by at 12:10 pm
Mar 222005

courtesy of Edwinek on flickr The Economist’s 2005 edition of The Pocket World in Figures lists Lebanon as the country with the highest per-capita car ownership (732 per 1,000).


But wait, it gets weirder – New Zealand ranks second, with 578 per 1,000. The U.S. ranks 12th, at 481 per 1,000, Canada 15th with 458 per 1000.

Why Lebanon? And why so many more than the other countries at the top of the car charts?

 Posted by at 7:44 am
Mar 212005

The CEO’s new Executive Assistant paused at my desk this morning and asked, in a jocular manner, “So, what exactly does everybody over here [in the engineering office] do?”

What an excellent question. Even better because M does not have a software development background – she’s not all wrapped up in the jargon and mystique and assumptions that filter everyone else’s vision. She’s the kid in the fairy tale “The Emperor Has No Clothes” – a bullshit detector. If the activities of the Engineering team and the general purpose of the company’s products and protocols cannot be explained in about ten minutes to an intelligent person who has no domain knowledge, our activities and products are probably bullshit. Or, more probably, our activities and products are so enmeshed in obfuscation and fogginess of purpose that the question is moot, because nothing effective is getting done anyway.

 Posted by at 9:43 pm
Mar 202005

I’m prepping a book for Project Gutenberg: Stephen Graham‘s 1922 Tramping with a Poet in the Rockies. Graham was a British journalist and travel writer; Vachel Lindsay was an American poet.

In one of their conversations, Graham teases Lindsay, a poet of the proletariat, on his membership in Oxford’s “Society for Pure English” and on his (contradictory) use of slang and vernacular. Lindsay remarks that he’d give up the slang “if I could get rid of ‘motivate’ and a man’s ‘implications’ and ‘the last analysis’ and ‘the twilight zone’ and ‘canned metaphor’ and the dollar adjectives, a ‘ten-million-dollar building’ and a ‘million-dollar bride.'”

 Posted by at 12:03 pm
Mar 172005

I re-read Stranger in a Strange Land recently. As I recall, it was much maligned by the space-hero crunch-head Heinlein fans as being insufficiently crunchy and space-heroic – how dare Heinlein mention a warp drive without providing a detailed explanation of its fuel system? Where’s the obligatory galactic Bogart?

Re-reading the book, I was reminded about the degree to which Heinlein (and me, and probably mostly everybody else) expected the future to be mechanical rather than digital. I was in my early teens when I first read Stranger in a Strange Land. It was the late seventies, I’d eaten a steady diet of Star Trek (I truly believed that Space Academy would be a post-secondary option), I’d watched the boys from Apollo 11 plant a flag on the moon while I sat on my dad’s lap – the future was all about doors that opened with a “whooosh” as I approached and vehicles with mechanical legs.

What a surprise.

 Posted by at 6:24 pm
Mar 172005

DocBook error:

[INFO] [147]
[ERROR] Areas pending, text probably lost in linecan now remove the process
table entry from thechild (currently in the zombie

 Posted by at 5:15 pm