Archive for November, 2003


Remember dial-up? What a terrible thing to do to one’s self.

I’m away from home right now, visiting family and friends for Thanksgiving (for which I have a post rolling around in my head, need to do that). It’s wonderful, except I’m disconnected. No wi-fi, no high-speed internet, no sir. In fact, I don’t even have dial-up on my Powerbook at the moment… I’m blogging this from my wife’s Compaq Presario laptop.

You see, way back in the mists of time, our first home internet connection was a trial subscription to AOL. Because my wife does so much business online, with an AOL email address, we’ve never gotten rid of the service (a matter I hope to remedy one day). My cable internet provider, Comcast, does not provide dial-up (I think they have something hokey with a third party, but I’ve never managed to track it down), and so our AOL account is our emergency dial-up solution. Of course, when I installed Panther recently, I formatted and started from scratch, and forgot to stick AOL for Mac on it… so no dial-up for the Mac. Oops. At least until I venture out to any retail store in the known universe, where I can pick up an AOL CD at the checkout.

Meanwhile, I don’t have the patience for web-mail, so I’m disconnected from my mail as well. I’m semi-ambivalent about this, because I am on vacation, and I’m enjoying relaxing. But I do have a few projects I want to tinker with, and sooner or later I’ll miss my e-mail and aggregator.

There is a Panera Bread Co. store about 15 minutes from here. In case you’ve been living under a rock, this is the bakery/bread store chain that offers free (as in beer!) wi-fi access in many of their stores. They see it as a service to customers (like a bathroom), instead of as a revenue source (like a coin-op bathroom- remember those?), which I applaud. I’m dying to go check them out, spend some money, and use the wifi. I promise to blog an entry from there if I make it.

Meanwhile, I’m either disconnected, or at the best (dial-up on XP), misconnected.

Like Unix, only on Windows

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a Windows programmer by day. Yesterday, after typing “l” (my alias for ls -lF) and “cat” in a DOS windows for the 20th time in 2 minutes, I finally snapped. I went Googling for a Unix-on-windows solution. I’ve used Cygwin before, but it seemed a bit klunky and limited. Well, no more.

I didn’t find anything except reference to Cygwin. I finally decided to download it again and give it a whirl. I must say, it’s come a long way. There’s alot of good packages available now, including Python, Perl, Emacs, and XFree86… rootless, fullscreen, with external window manager, you name it. And the installer handles dependancies seemlessly.

One of my first complaints with the old cygwin was that the shell runs inside a DOS window, so you are limited to 80 columns. That still applies, but now I can run an X Server and used xterm instead. It works wonderfully… and since I can run DOS commands as well, I’ll probably retire CMD.EXE completely. I can also retire Exceed, the X server we use at work to connect to our Solaris machines. Once I got xhost configured, I can just rsh from my box to the remote system, set my DISPLAY, and go.

Like Terminal, Only Better

I’ve been lamenting the severe lack of tabs in Mac OS X‘s Terminal lately. I always seem to end up with a dozen separate Terminal windows… just like I used to always have a dozen browser windows open, in the days before I discovered Firebird and the joy of tabbed browsing.

So I did a bit of Googling this evening, in search of a Terminal replacement with tabs. Sure enough, someone is way ahead of me. I found iTerm at Sourceforge. Open source, tabs, transparency, background images, xterm compatibility, and more baked-in goodness. The configuration optioins are a bit confusing at first (and could use some work), but it’s already replaced on my Dock.

I also found some extra resources for iTerm, including some handy scripts for renaming iTerm tabs and windows.

Better Late than Never

I’m probably the last one to the party on this one, but today I read Structured Procrastination by John Perry (via Aaron Swartz). Suddenly my entire life makes sense. This is powerful juju.

Great Minds….

Lars is creating his blogroll by converting OPML to HTML via XSLT. I’ve been meaning to get my blogroll up on my site for a while now. I use NetNewsWire as my aggregator, which can export OPML. I toyed with the idea of writing a python script to parse it up, simply because I’ve been reading up on python and I need an excuse to write some python code.

But OPML is XML, and XSLT is designed for converting XML formats, and I do a lot of work with XSLT at work. I was giving some thought just a few days ago to using XSLT to convert it. I think that’s the way I’ll go at this point.

I do want to do some special processing, but I should be able to do it all via XSLT. For one thing, I sometimes subscribe to comments feeds on things I’ve commented on. I see no need to show these in a blogroll. As long as NNW‘s OPML exports the groups I’ve put my feeds into, it should be pretty straightforward.