September 2002 Archives


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iSync is Apple's newest iOffering, this one pulling together iPod, iCal, Address Book, and .mac so that you can sync your contact and calendar data with all your devices. Using my iTools account (soon to go away, if I don't get it converted to .mac soon), I was able to sync my two Macs together. Very cool. Change a contact or calendar once place, sync and have it show up the other place.

It also lets you sync some Bluetooth-enabled phones, and Palms. I have the latter, and so I backed up everything and then had it erase the data from my Palm and copy over my iCal and Address Book data. The sync got interrupted (because .mac was down), and the Palm only got partially updated. On a subsequent sync, the Address Book data was duplicated (yes, I followed Apple's instructions, this was a different problem), and the iCal data would not sync at all. iSync kept offering some Assert Failed error.

Eventually, I decided to start from scratch. I deleted all my iSync prefs, unregistered the computer from .mac, and did everything over. This time, it worked. That initial failed sync must've corrupted something. But now it is happy, and so am I. This makes my Palm far more useful. Now, if only I can get frelling AvantGo to work ...

Another Year Over

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The Boston Red Sox finished another season.

Only six pitchers in the league had ERAs of under 3.00; three of them -- Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, and Tim Wakefield -- play for the Sox. Martinez and Lowe finished first and second, Wakefield fourth.

Manny Ramirez finished first in the league in batting. Nomar Garciaparra finished eighth.

The Sox had the second best batting average (Anaheim first), and second best run production (Yankees first).

The Sox had the third best ERA.

The Sox finished the season with 93 wins, only the third time since 1986 they finished with more than 90.

And yet, it is the most wins they've earned without going to the playoffs since they finished one game out in 1978, with 99 wins.

Three of the top four pitchers. Best hitter. Top two in hitting, top three in pitching. Over 90 wins. And no playoffs.


Photo Paper

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We recently got a new printer for the home, and selected a Canon S820 photo printer. It has really nice output -- not top of the line for inkjets, but the next step down. You can't see the dots unless you know what to look for and have good eyes, which is good enoguh for the primary use (sending 4x6 photos to friends and family, and putting them on the refrigerator, etc.). Most people won't know they were printed at home, they are quite good.

But when we shopped for photo paper, we got some Kodak paper, that said it worked with all inkjet photo printers. And MAN it sucked. The ink just didn't take on the paper very well, or something, and the odd patterns on Jennifer's neck made her look like a Trill. Freaky.

Anyway, we went back to the Canon paper. Kodak had a guarantee, I might return the paper and get a refund.

Language Nazi

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On my alma mater's BBS, where I still keep in touch with old friends from college, an apparently new student posted a comment where s/you/u/g and questions didn't end in question marks, etc., and it was generally difficult to read.

I noted that if she had a point, it wasn't getting through, because reading her post gave me a headache, and I couldn't bear to get through it. I wrongly suspected the person might realize from this that communication is a two-way street, that to be understood, you need to be understandable.

She responded that I was overreacting, that there was nothing wrong with how she was writing. I tried to express the idea that most people won't bother to read her posts if she continued, and that they will mostly think of her as a careless, illiterate, sloppy person.

For this, some chastised me, saying all people make language errors, and we shouldn't judge people based on their cultural writing styles.

Flummery! I won't apologize for forming my impressions of people by how they present themselves. Why this is a difficult concept for people to grasp, I do not know.


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I hate having a lot of things on my plate. For example, getting MacPerl 5.6.1r2 released, working on MacPerl 5.8, and working on the port of the Mac:: modules. So what I've been doing lately is putting off work on the latter until the former is done.

What happens is that I end up more sane, but work happens more slowly.

To me, however, it is worth it. :-)

Tactical Advantage Surrendered

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I often don't take advantage of the fact that plates are round.

Rather than rotating a plate to more easily get to the food that isn't closest to me, I usually reach across the plate, sometimes contorting my wrists to get at the food.

I wonder how much time and energy I've wasted doing this, over my life. Who else has this problem? How much wasted time and energy goes into similar activities? How many people keep their mousepad too far away instead of just sliding it closer to the keyboard, just because they are too lazy or careless to move the coffee cup out of the way? Do we bend at the waist to tie our shoes instead of kneeling? Could we have stopped September 11 from happening if all of us were just a little more diligent?

use Perl, Thanks

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I've been very busy the last several months, and lately even moreso, and I've not been doing as much with my various "spare time" projects, which in large part includes this web site.

So, thanks to everyone for understanding when I can't get things done in a timely manner, or at all; and thanks to the editors who help pick up the slack, including gnat, hfb, rafael with the p5p summaries, and especially KM and ziggy, who have done a lot of managing incoming submissions.


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Tired: having a "journal" on use Perl.
Wired: having a "blog" somewhere that isn't use Perl.


iCal Update

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I took all of my appointments from my main calendar previous to 2002 and put them in a separate file. I don't use that file (for now). My main calendar file has shrunk from 568K to 264K to 20K. iCal is much faster now.

However, iCal did not like that I hand-modified the files. The indexes (~/Library/Caches/) were busted. I couldn't figure out how to recreate them, and iCal seemed uninterested in recreating them automatically. I exported the data, deleted the calendars, created new calendars, and imported the data again. Harumph.

I keep finding a lot more little problems (sometimes I can't Get Info for a subscribed calendar; sometimes I lose metadata [when to refresh, even that it is a subscribed calendar at all]), but it is to the point where iCal is quite usable.

And someone's put up NHL calendars, filling a horrific void left by Apple (apparently someone thinks there are more French soccer fans than NHL fans). Harumph!

set-ssh-agent for Mac OS X

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This is a little script to start an ssh-agent for use globally under Mac OS X. I had been using SSHAgentServices, a login plugin, but it stopped working in 10.2. I think perhaps Apple disabled third-part login plugins. Maybe not. Anyway, so I wanted a workaround, and here it is.

The caveat is that it needs to be run before your login session begins, so that the environment can propogate down to all your various apps. So what I do is log in first as user ">console", which gives me a console, where I log in as pudge and run the script. Then I log out, get the login window back, and log in normally.

Along with SSHPasKey, this is used to create an ssh-agent and add an ssh key that I can use universally with all my login sessions.

It uses Mac::PropertyList by brian d foy.

# set-ssh-agent.plx
# 2002.09.12
# Run this script before your login session begins, either by logging in via >console
# or logging in and logging back out normally.
# It is meant to be used in conjunction with SSHPassKey, and this little startup
# AppleScript, which executes SSHPassKey to add your ssh key to the agent:
# try
#    do shell script "/usr/bin/ssh-add"
# end try
# Note that I also add the environment to .bashenv, which is then source'd
# from .bash_profile, so that I can get the ssh-agent from all my login sessions.
use strict;
use File::Spec::Functions;
use Mac::PropertyList;
my $env = `/usr/bin/ssh-agent -s | grep -v echo`;
die "No ssh-agent: $?" unless $env;
my $file1 = catfile($ENV{HOME}, '.MacOSX', 'environment.plist');
my $file2 = catfile($ENV{HOME}, '.bashenv');
my $plist = Mac::PropertyList::parse_plist(do {
    local $/;
    open my $fh, $file1 or die "Can't read $file1: $!";
die "No plist at $file1" unless $plist;  # file must already exist
    $env =~ /^$_=([^;]+);/m;
    $plist->{value}{$_} = {
        value    => $1,
        type    => 'string'
open my $fh1, "> $file1" or die "Can't write to $file1: $!";
print $fh1 Mac::PropertyList::plist_as_string($plist);
close $fh1;
open my $fh2, "> $file2" or die "Can't write to $file2: $!";
print $fh2 $env;
close $fh2;
`ssh-agent -s` format:
SSH_AUTH_SOCK=/tmp/ssh-XBkE5WTV/agent.241 07; export SSH_AUTH_SOCK;

iCal's Faults

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Compiled from experience and reports by others.
  • You can't double-click URLs
  • You cannot drag entries from Address Book; you need to click the "add" icon which opens a new dialog containing the entries from Address Book, and drag from there
  • There is no way to select multiple items to delete/recategorize/etc.
  • It crashes
  • Somtimes when I restart it forgets the names of calendars, or that they were subscribed-to, and I need to re-subscribe
  • There's no apparent way to cancel updating a calendar; I had to quit iCal to get it to stop (at least I didn't have to force quit)
  • It apparently stores the data on disk in .ics files, which is nice because I can manipulate them by hand, but bad because they are miserable to parse live by computers; I think this is why when I make a change to a large-ish file, it takes so long
  • It sucks up a ton of CPU and memory: from 7% to 14% of my 512MB of RAM with about 300 kilobytes of calendar, compared with Palm Desktop, which takes less than half the RAM with twice the amount of calendar data (plus Address Book data), and is about 20 times faster

There's some other things, but the general idea is that it is just way too slow if you have a lot of data. I am considering possibly spending some time taking old appointments out of iCal and moving them to another calendar file to speed it up, but there's no way to do that in iCal itself, even.

By the way, setting up mod_dav to share your calendars is easy. On Mac OS X, I just uncommented the two lines in httpd.conf to enable mod_dav; I made places for the lock file and the dav/ directory (making them writable by Apache); set up the permissions in Apache; and restarted Apache.

Technology Sucks; Ask a Technologist

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It is unbelievable to me that Florida relied solely on computer systems for their voting. You'd think some geek would have told them, "you can't rely on computers. Computers break down. Even if you are NASA. You need backup systems. Have paper ballots available just in case." But nooooo. They turned people away because the computers were broken. It's insane.

That's One Smart Lunatic

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One of my favorite quotes:

«Years ago, my mother used to say to me, "In this world, Elwood" -- she'd always call me Elwood -- "In this world, Elwood, you can be oh-so-smart or oh-so-pleasant." Well, for years, I was smart. I recommend pleasant.»

-- Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart), "Harvey" (1950)


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Most of Apple's iApps are dogs.

Well, sure, Mac OS X itself is pretty much a dog (in its UI). Mac OS runs circles around it in many respects.

But that doesn't excuse 600K of calendars taking up 40% of my RAM on a 512MB machine (according to Process Viewer) in iCal.

Nor does it excuse that it takes more than 30 seconds to start on a G4/667. And about 30 seconds to move something from one (~300K) calendar to another.

iChat isn't very slow (how could it be?), but it is pretty buggy. It crashes a lot. iCal has some significant bugs too, though it's not crashed on me yet.

September 11: Bah, Humbug

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I've been really put off by all this September 11 memorial stuff. Jon Stewart summed up my feelings nicely, as he often does:

I don't think that we're far enough away from this event to be doing this, quite frankly. Now, I understand, you may say, "Well, we do this for all events. In fact, the Civil War, hell, we have reenactments of that." But we didn't in 1865, is my point.

Shut Up, Dave

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The man's unbelievable. Over a year ago, Dave Winer got into one of his many hissy fits about RSS 1.0. See his idea was that his RSS, version 0.91, which was a descendent of RSS more in look than in purpose or function, should be the RSS. But others disagreed; they thought RSS should be based on RDF like RSS 0.9 was and RSS 0.91 was not, and that it should be logical, and extensible, and powerful. Dave just wanted it to be simple.

Oh, and he wanted to control it, but that's fairly self-evident, as you'll soon see.

So he jokingly proposed RSS 2.0 in June 2001. See, it was a joke, because he punctuated it with ;-> , and because leapfrogging versions was clearly stupid, to everyone, including Dave. What Dave proposed, which wasn't unreasonable, was a name change. The problem is that leaving "RSS" in the name of "RSS 1.0" was unacceptable to him. Rael Dornfest suggested RSS Simple and RSS Semantic. It was a great idea. Both kept the name RSS; both got a name representative of their purpose; both sounded good.

But Dave would have none of it, because he wanted RSS to himself, for his own purposes. You can't share -- despite the fact that RSS 1.0 has more of a claim to the RSS name than 0.91 did -- because sharing is anathema to Dave: "While sharing is a good thing in general, when it comes to naming things, well if they're different they should have different names. This is the source of the confusion." Um, yeah, sure. Even if that is a reasonable point of view to have, I can't fathom what kind of mind it would take to make this a dealbreaker. Both sides will not remove RSS from the name, so why not share the name and add a modifier?

Although he, as usual, faked legitimacy to his point by pointing to an open web poll (heh heh), one which didn't even prove anything related to his point. First, the poll talked of sharing the RSS name, but not of creating two new names both containing "RSS". Even if it did, of 49 respondents, 28 said No, or Yes But With Further Qualification. For the latter group, if required to fit into one bit, it would have to be a 0, not a 1, as logic dictates that "Yes If $x" means "No if not $x", and the proposal didn't have $x, for whatever $x may have been for each polled user.

The only good news in all this was that at the same time as the rest of these happenings, Winer promised to get out of RSS work.

Unfortunately, he lied.

RSS 2.0 is back, and it is not a joke this time. No, it is very serious stuff. He created and made it official unilaterally, without any sort of standards body or discussion from others. He posted a draft, and then said "OK, it is official now." Nice. Even if you favored Winer's non-joke RSS 2.0, it has serious problems with it that would be addressed, should he go through a reasonable standards procedure.

He is a dictator, he is unconcerned with logic, reason, discourse, or anything else that might get in the way of how he thinks things should be done, as though he were qualified to determine these things in any way.

Maybe you think I am just a whiner myself, maybe you think I am mean-spirited, or wasting my time and breath. But I don't care. I am just trying to help spread the word that this man should be actively ignored. The only problem is that if you ignore him entirely, he spreads, so you have to come back to him every once in awhile and put the smack down. I think now is one of those times. He couldn't take his ball and go home, because other people would keep playing, so he is trying to steal everyone else's ball.

Next Summer

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I need to decide where to go next summer for conferences. TPC is July 7-11, and Perl Whirl is June 1-8. I don't know when YAPC is. I probably can't go to more than two of the events. I really should decide sooner, rather than later.
So now I am in a quandry of what to do with my various repositories, if I decide to stick with Mac OS X. I have a lot of checkouts with CVS and perforce using Mac OS newlines, and am thus forced to use Mac OS tools: p4 under MPW under Classic[*] instead of p4 under Mac OS X, and CVS under maccvs (Carbon, lsh) instead of maccvsX (Carbon, ssh) or cvs on the command line.

Now, the Mac OS newlines are most flexible, since I cannot use the Unix newlines if I do go back to Mac OS. However, it'd be nice to be able to take advantage of the Mac OS X tools. Further, some of the repositories -- specifically, the MacPerl-related ones -- *shouldn't* be checked out in Unix newlines, unless I have tools convert them to Mac newlines before doing builds, etc., which would be a bit annoying, but it might be the easiest way to go (if I can make sure that only text files are "fixed"!).

It's a bit overwhelming and I see no easy solutions, unless I can get cvs and perforce to be newline-agnostic ... maybe I'll look into that in the coming week, but it might not even fix the problems. I'll look into the cvs, maccvsX, and p4 docs.

[*] One nice thing about doing this under Classic instead of booting into Mac OS is that while before I needed to ssh tunnel through another host, now I can ssh tunnel from Classic through an ssh tunnel on the same box. Although, while with p4 under Mac OS X I can have P4PORT=localhost:1666 or somesuch, I can't get to localhost from Classic. P4PORT=$MYIP:1666 works; I just need to change it if my IP address changes.


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This morning I flopped around the radio, trying to avoid talk about the Red Sox and Iraq, and I heard a song I'd never heard before. In my mind's eye, I saw a picture of the chick who won on American Idol. Now, I've only seen part of the show once, and have only heard her sing once, and it wasn't this song. Yet, at the end of the song, the DJs identified her as the singer.

Did I recognize her voice? I suppose that's the most likely explanation, though it seems a bit far-fetched, since I had only heard her sing once, and her voice isn't very unique; then again, stranger things have happened.

But on the other hand, last week I heard this guy for the first time named John Mayer. I thought, he sounds like Dave Matthews. nvp recommended it this weekend, so I bought it today, and then I say on IRC how I like him, and I just heard of him last week. aevil reminds me that she told me in January about him, that I listened to him, and that I said he sounded like Dave Matthews. I now recall this incident, but at the time I bought and listened to the CD today, I did not.

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2002 listed from newest to oldest.

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