Monthly Archives: November 2010

Schneier on Security Theater

Bruce Schneier weighs in on security theater:

Exactly two things have made airplane travel safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door, and convincing passengers they need to fight back. Everything else has been a waste of money. Add screening of checked bags and airport workers and we’re done. Take all the rest of the money and spend it on investigation and intelligence.

Kudus: Gruber.

Google Docs on Mobile Devices

This is cool: you can now edit your Google docs on your mobile devices.

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I’ve become quite the fan of Google Docs. That whole cloud thing beats emailing a spreadsheet back and forth between me, the church secretary, and the clerk of session. To say nothing of automated offsite backups, and (now) mobile access. Also, the price is right.

irb with readline on mac using rvm – vi keystrokes

One last whack at this problem. I just got email from a reader of this blog. (Well, technically, a reader of Google, which reads everything, so I shouldn’t feel too impressed with myself.) Anyway, he found my blog post and emailed to tell me the problem with my .inputrc, which was that I needed these two lines:

set editing-mode vi
set keymap vi

I already had the former, but it’s probably been 5 years since I learned how to write a .inputrc file, and I must have missed learning then about the latter. So I added it, and it works like a champ!

Black Friday – Mac Office 2011

I’ve been trying to decide whether to upgrade my old copy of Office.

The problem with Office is that I only use Word. I’ve pretty much switched from Excel to Numbers, and Keynote is so good that it’s been years since I even thought about running Powerpoint.

So why upgrade? Well, I do use Word a great deal. And Word 2008 is so slow that I routinely type ahead of it (e.g., when applying different styles to two paragraphs) and get it confused. That’s when it’s running. But it’s so ridiculously slow to load, I always leave it running. Supposedly, it’s faster now, especially launching. (Opening .DOCX files is faster, but I never use those. I would, if the Antiword folks would support them, but I’m content to stick with .DOC until, well, forever.)

So should I upgrade? Probably. It’s not a slam dunk, but with these newly-announced Black Friday prices I can probably talk myself into it.

Palin piece in NY Times Magazine

I found the NY Times Magazine profile of Sarah Palin pretty interesting. Here’s one of the reasons:

In truth, few are underestimating Sarah Palin anymore. In that endearing manner of the Beltway echo chamber, the prevailing narrative of Palin in 2009 was that that she was an incompetent ditz. This year’s story line is that she is a social-media visionary who purposefully circumnavigated the power-alley gasbags and thereby constructed a new campaigning template for the ages.

I hate to say I told you so. Well, no, not really. In fact, I love to say I told you so.

Google Refine

A while ago, Google bought the company that made Freebase, a tool for making sense of messy data. Earlier this week, they released a 2.0 version of that software, now renamed Google Refine. Watch the videos to see what that does.

This looks pretty darned impressive. For great chunks of my career, I’ve been doing work like that the hard way. In the 1980s, I started my career by doing data reduction in Fortran, but quickly graduated to sed and awk, and in the 2000s I used perl and ruby. Of course, when I say “the hard way,” that is in hindsight. Each of those was an improvement over what I used before, and this looks like it could be a similar type of improvement.

(I still do some of that kind of work even now. It’s been a couple of years, but I probably spent at least a week, spread across too many evenings and weekends, massaging the church directory from a text format Word document into tabular spreadsheet data.)