For people who like to make things

There and Back Again - A Hacker’s Switch from Emacs Back to Vi

When I first learned how to exist on UNIX, in 1988, I used vi as my primary editor. During the next nine years I taught myself how to become a power user - migrating from the simple motion and copy and paste to more complex skills like marks and named registers. When I started graduate school I saw many of the professors and grad students using emacs.  I tried it out a couple of times, but it was not until 1997 that I decided to take the time to stick with emacs and take the time to learn the right way to do things even when I could get the job done faster in vi. more ...

Taking Back My Relationships

I’m trying to formulate a sensible strategy to overhaul my net presence. The rough plan so far:

  • Change my 12-year-old email address that is on every spammer’s short list
  • Extract friends’ contact info from Facebook
  • Delete Facebook account.
  • Import FB contacts into Google & Mac
  • Redirect facebook friends to current tech blog ( and new personal blog.
  • Find out if FB friends can subscribe to an RSS feed of my blog somehow (doesn’t seem possible any more)
  • Pick up the phone and actually talk to friends more often.

The goal’s pretty obvious - I want to reclaim my data.  I think I own my relationships, not FB, not Twitter, and not Google+.  So far, G+ may be the most accommodating network out there - if I can export my G+ presence as easily as I can export my G+ contacts, we might have a good candidate here.

If you have any ideas or comments or experience with this, please let me know.

I’ll keep you posted.

Update 2012/06/30

Like so many of you, I’ve given up on Google+. Most of the people I wanted to communicate with never made the switch. In the end, having those lines of communication open with my friends was more important than the platform. G+ has been dismissively called a “Ghost Town,” and in my case, at least, that wasn’t too far from the truth.

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Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company

Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company
Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company

Fire marks were used in the 1700s to designate homes or buildings protected by the fire insurance companies. They were generally oval plates placed on the outside of a structure to let volunteer fire brigades know which buildings carried a “reward” if saved.

You can read more on this here.

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Implementing Inertial Scrolling in iOS

I hadn’t really given much thought to how the iPhone handles scrolling until I recently had to implement it myself. I needed to add vertical scrolling to a UIView that models a real-life metaphor. In my particular case I feel using a UIScrollView would break the metaphor - the user would “snap out” of the immersive app and realize they’re merely using an iPhone app with a pretty skin. So the natural solution was to implement scrolling myself. This is how it went from simple, unnatural scrolling to its current state of acceptable inertial scrolling. more ...

Hello, World” on the iPhone

Hello World on the iPhone
Hello World on the iPhone

Yesterday I started learning how to write applications for the iPad and the iPhone.  There are so many books that promise to teach you everything you need to know that picking one or two (or three) can be very difficult.  While I normally like to learn new skills by reading a good book, I think for iOS development a more dynamic source would be a better choice. more ...

In Search Of A Good Alarm Clock App

When I recently switched from the iPhone to HTC Evo running Android, I found the Evo’s Alarm Clock app surprisingly primitive.  When I had multiple alarms set, it wouldn’t sort them by the time of day.  Predictably, I started looking for alarm clock apps online, but the others were even more primitive.  One was so bad that once the alarm went off, there was no way to turn it off other than rebooting the phone. more ...

Processing A List Of Files In bash

When you’re working in Unix or Linux or even Mac OS X, there are often times when you need to apply the same command to a list of files.  In this post I’ll show you a couple of quick ways to do this using the bash shell. more ...

Backing Up Data With rsync

At the Agra Fort, on the way to the Public Hall
At the Agra Fort, on the way to the Public Hall

In a earlier post I wrote about how important it is to have your data backed up.  On my Macs, my main backup utility is Time Machine, which comes pre-installed with the Mac OS.  Time Machine can also back up external hard drives, even though it may not be obvious how to do it.  This article shows you how to change the default settings to do this. more ...

Firefox Search Shortcut

Wow.  This cool Firefox feature has been around since 2005, but I just found out about it a few months ago!  I swear I haven’t been living in a cave all this time.  So if you’re like me and don’t know about this yet, listen up:  In Firefox, you can bookmark a search with a keyword, and then use that keyword in your URL entry field.  As this article shows, you right-click on the input field and select “Add a Keyword for this Search.”  This will allow you to bookmark the search and add a keyword.  I usually use two letter keywords like ‘we’ for and ‘im’ for more ...