Dec. 23rd, 2014 06:26 pm
roadrunnertwice: DTWOF's Lois in drag. Dialogue: "Dude, just rub a little Castrol 30 weight into it. Works for me." (DTWOF.Lois - Castrol)

I finally switched from bash to zsh, and it was totally worth it.

I was paranoid about how much time it was going to take, but it turns out the trick is to do as little as possible, and most of your bash customizations will still work. It basically went like:

  • Refactor your dotfiles to just isolate any bash-specific stuff that's in there. .bash_profile should consist of source ~/.bashrc; .bashrc should have your little handful of bash-specific configurations followed by source ~/.profile; and .profile should have all the aliases and simple functions that will work in both.
  • Install oh-my-zsh and assemble a really simple .zshrc file. At the bottom, put source ~/.profile to catch all your old bash aliases and functions.
  • Look through the list of themes on the wiki and find something that looks familiar enough that you won't feel weird. I went with muse.
  • Maybe make one or two edits to that theme and save it as a custom one. I looked through lib/git.zsh and figured out how to add an indicator that my git branch is ahead or behind.

In the end, I got pretty much all I needed out of the box and only had to make about a four-line edit to the muse theme. Better tab completion, and I can spend about 90% less time running git status at work.

I realize this is of limited interest to this blog but oh well.

roadrunnertwice: Joe and bike, at top speed. (YehudaMoon.Joe - Liftoff)
I bought a new iPad! It finally finished syncing! I am totally amped about this. (I went for the regular size with schmancy display and cell phone radio. The mini is cute, but believe it or not, I actually type on these things, and mini seemed too mini for that. Also, apropos of nothing, I’m gonna cough up a lung on the next person who uses the word “consumption” to describe electronics. Stop doing that.)

Listen though, I kind of love the iPad. Contains too many words about gadgets. )
roadrunnertwice: Dialogue: "Craigslist is killing mothra." (CatAndGirl.Cat - Web 2.0)
@Skud: not sure how i feel about http://app.net. i'm all for paid services to avoid values mismatch b/w users/advertisers/service operators
@Skud: but the sites i know that do that best (eg. @dreamwidth, @Pinboard) also have a very human/community feel that i don't see here
@nfagerlund: @Skud I feel that. W/ DW, I was immediately like “seems legit; I can tell who these folk are & how big it can get.” A.n is like Diaspora.
@nfagerlund: @Skud …by which I mean their story is critically incomplete in some way I can’t yet put my finger on.
@Skud: @nfagerlund yeah, i get that feeling too. which is not necessarily an impediment to their platform taking off...
@Skud: @nfagerlund ... but does mean that my gut feeling about them is a bit nervous

Yeah, so [twitter.com profile] skud was doubting on app.net, and I am doubting on it too, and I don't have much more to say about said putative service at the moment. But I'm posting because I think I finally DID put my finger on what was wrong with Diaspora! And I am very proud of myself for it.

So Diaspora was meant to be Facebook without all the evil, right? Here's the problem with that: Facebook without the evil is NOTHING.

Because what the hell even IS Facebook? The answer changes significantly every nine or ten months. I joined it in January 2005 because it was a visual address book to my college, and I needed that when I was looking for a new sublet. Then it turned into a walled-garden email replacement. Then it turned into Flickr for spring break photos, then it finally managed to replace the .plan file, then it was also Livejournal for about a month, then it tried to be Craigslist for a summer, then it was Twitter with less focus, then it was a platform for shitty little games that you pay real money in order to not have to play. Now it's just sort of an undifferentiated mishmash, although it seems to be turning into Tumblr lately, mostly to accomodate George Takei.

Obviously there is no common thread. Facebook's soul is not in what it does for you or allows you to do. The product itself, the THING that Diaspora tried to copy, is frankly irrelevant. The one thing that has always made Facebook Facebook is that fucking practically everybody you know is on the goddamn thing, and they got there because Facebook was persistently and craftily evil.

The original short-lived college-scope restrictions on the thing were brilliant, because they made people let their guards down, join up, and put their personal info in. That made it easier for peoples' friends in other colleges to find them, which anchored them further in. All the effort to make it difficult to add people to your normal email address book meant that you were signing in on a regular basis to get/send messages, and would be more likely to see new friend requests and other activity, which would keep you interested. Let's not even get into that Zynga Skinner box. Etc. etc. etc. The only reason you're on Facebook now is because they were evil, and although you'd leave if your friends left, they're all still on there because of the evil. The fact that everyone is there makes Facebook a horrible place most of the time, but it also makes it indispensable, and the fact that you can't properly export your information makes it non-disposable and non-replaceable.

I don't think the people behind Diaspora ever understood any of that. They thought people were on Facebook because Facebook was a good app, and people actually wanted some atrocity that was kind of like Tumblr/Flickr/Twitter/LJ/toilet-graffiti/emotionally-abusive-Gameboy except worse. That's manifestly not the case. People want everyone they know in one place, and the only way to give them that is to be evil. Which makes it impossible to replace Facebook with any less-evil alternative -- whatever eventually kills Facebook will win by being either MORE evil, or more SOPHISTICATEDLY evil. And since Diaspora was unable to compete with Facebook, it found itself competing with all the non-Facebook focussed-purpose services like Twitter and Flickr and DW and Tumblr, and it since it was built to be worse than all of them, you probably still aren't using it. Of course, you're probably not using Dreamwidth, either. You probably ARE using Twitter, and I'll be interested to hear app.net's plan for dealing with the fact that 80% of Twitter joined Twitter because all their friends were on Twitter.

Yes, this is depressing and annoying. Whatever, let me have my moment of explanatory triumph.
roadrunnertwice: Weedmaster P: "SON OF A DICK. BALL COCKS. NO. FUCKING." (Overcompensating.WeedmasterP - Shitbox)
The rest of the house is shoulder-deep in a computer-box, building a gaming PC for a friend of ours. I am staying out of that.

I think the last time I cracked open some compu-tower ribs was at the yarn shop back in 2009. We had these three mildly crappy Dell P4 towers for running the POS system and everything, but they were acting like they were the ultra crappy kind. Just slow as hell and unresponsive and bullshit. Stev and Hannah were all angsting about whether we could afford new ones and how to go about getting them, and I was like, "lemme take a look." Reader, these 3Ghz machines were choking along on a half-gig of RAM each. I got on Newegg, and was like "Gimme the credit card, I'll get you some rejuvenated computers for like $140."

Once the sticks arrived, I got the backroom and cafe computers beefed up and breathing easy in like 20 minutes. Then I upgraded the main counter PC, tried to power it back up, and got nuthin'. I cracked it open again to make sure I hadn't left anything loose, and we were all like "Uh, was that creepy amber light there the last time?" It was totally not.

I searched the internet for the manual again, and it turned out the amber light on the mobo meant "power fault," usually a bunk power supply. So I grabbed a screwdriver and tore the fucker out, tossed it in my backpack, got on my motorbike, and jetted up Milwaukie to Free Geek, where they confirmed it was toast and sold me a better one (for the $15 I had liberated from the petty cash drawer). Which totally solved the problem, and left me feeling like quite the techno-samurai moto-badass.

And then the whole shop folded explosively in August and we were all out of work, but at least the computers were non-bullshit for as long as the shop survived.


Feb. 12th, 2012 01:40 am
roadrunnertwice: Weedmaster P: "SON OF A DICK. BALL COCKS. NO. FUCKING." (Overcompensating.WeedmasterP - Shitbox)

I like using spoiler text! Spoiler text doesn't like iOS. Or vice-versa, whatever.

Anyway, I found a trick today that works great on both desktop and mobile, and which will work without Javascript, which means I can use it on my Dreamwidth! Unfortunately, you don't get the benefit unless you're viewing the entry in my style, and I don't get the benefit unless you write your spoiler tags such that they'll work the same way on my reading page. Frustrating. But it degrades gracefully to normal-acting spoiler text, so what the hell, I'll use it anyway.

It goes a little like this:

Go here to add custom CSS to your style, and add the following:

a.spoiler, a.spoiler:link, a.spoiler:visited {color: #3a3a3a; background-color: #3a3a3a; text-decoration: none;}
a.spoiler:active, a.spoiler:hover {color: #000 !important; background-color: #e7e7e7 !important; text-decoration: none;}

Then, you can make spoiler text like this:

Normal text, <a href="##" class="spoiler" style="color: #3a3a3a; background-color: #3a3a3a">spoiler text</a>, normal text.

Normal text, spoiler text, normal text.

Honestly they should have put a <spoiler> tag in HTML 5, but this will do for now. Sorta. I guess. And no, I don't know how to make spoiler text work with both screenreaders and iPads. :(

roadrunnertwice: Highway sign indicating nearby spam and grey water disposal area. (BadGods - Spam tank)
Whoa hey, looks like Apple just released a new EVERYTHING. I'm kind of just waiting on all of it, though, which mostly comes down to making sure I don't miss a crypto window on upgrading my hacked iPhone -- that shit gets silly fast, by the way, remind me to tell you about it someday -- and trying to decide on a spreadsheet to replace the direly agèd copy of Excel that came with my old iBook.

Spreadsheet dorks: Numbers or the new Excel? I actually quite liked Excel '07 for Windows, and thought Numbers '09 felt kind of flimsy by comparison, but I'm still on the fence a bit, because it's $150 vs. a combined $30 for both Mac and iOS. Plus, I don't reeeeeally need that awesome bolt-on regex substitution function anymore, since it was mostly a workaround for being stranded on computers without proper text editors or language runtimes.
roadrunnertwice: A mermaid singing an unenchanting song. (Beaton - Doop doop)

So I grabbed a new iPad text editor to play with! It’s called iaWriter, and you might have heard of it, since apparently it’s the one Stephen Fry uses or something. I like it a lot. It can’t replace PlainText, because its syncing and organizing are kind of barely sufficient (verging on crappy); it’s completely unusable for making frequent updates to a blizzard of smallish documents, and appears to be meant for working diligently on four or five large files, which will occasionally be switched out. It’s a text drafter, I think, not a text editor. Anyway, the upshot is that I seem to be able to write fiction with it at speed, which is one hell of a feature and which I always found too frustrating to keep trying for on Simplenote and PlainText.

The two real standout touches are that it uses a big ugly font that’s very readable no matter how I’m holding the device, and it extends the iPad keyboard with a row of extra keys – things like always-on apostrophe and quote keys, and cursor keys that can navigate by letter or word. It sounds trivial, but it ends up making a pretty huge difference, and I’m inclined to attribute its surprising usefulness to the amount of friction that takes away. I realize most iPad apps can’t do that with the keyboard, because it makes it take up like 3/5 of the whole screen, but it’s damn nice if you need to type for an hour.

It also has two standout annoyances: there’s a big old scrolling dead zone on either edge of the page, and it doesn’t switch the keys back after you type an apostrophe with the normal punctuation keyboard. Yes, you have a built-in key for that, but that’s no reason to punish me for picking up a little muscle memory elsewhere, geez.

I think I paid like a buck for it? It’s definitely worth checking out, even if you already have a main text editor.

(Oh, and apropos of nothing, apparently it saves newly created files as Little-Endian UTF-16. Who in the world uses that for ANYTHING? Weird!)

roadrunnertwice: Weedmaster P: "SON OF A DICK. BALL COCKS. NO. FUCKING." (Overcompensating.WeedmasterP - Shitbox)
So after using it on and off for a few months, I think I'm ready to call Firefox's "Panorama" feature a failure. It does interesting things, some of which are awesome, but it amounts to turning Firefox into a completely separate OS with its own window manager, running cordoned-off in its own little virtual machine. Cut for people who don't care about web browsers nearly as much as me. )
roadrunnertwice: Weedmaster P: "SON OF A DICK. BALL COCKS. NO. FUCKING." (Overcompensating.WeedmasterP - Shitbox)
Oh hey, what the fuck, Tweetie 2 I mean Twitter for Mac finally came out? That was unexpected. Well, if there's one thing I love, it's being kind of a bitch about Twitter clients, so let's ride:
  • It's got support for lists! I think it's the first Twitter app for Mac that does the list thing and yet doesn't seem misguided and broken on a totally fundamental level. (Nambu's probably the closest behind, but I really can't stand it.)
    • Unfortunately, it doesn't expose them flatly the way Twitterrific for iPad does, so you have to drill down every time to get to them. Bogus.
  • Not down with this slide-and-stack UI nonsense they've got going on. Honestly, what the hell is supposed to be happening in this metaphor? That this stack keeps getting taller and taller every time I change views makes me nervous, like I'm going to have to clean it all up someday when the pile tips over and gets all over the foyer. I am only 30% joking, here.
    • On the other hand, I thought the Twitter for iPad UI was godawful at first, but they improved it pretty dramatically in the minor updates. Maybe they'll make it more spatially coherent in a month or three.
  • I've gotten used to Itsy's inline images, which make TfM's popups seem rather outdated in comparison.
  • Ha—when I unplugged my monitor, the window stayed taller than my MacBook's screen; now it won't auto-shrink, and there's no way to grab the resize control. Enjoy the land beyond the bottom of the screen, little window! Go where no man has gone before!
  • Hmm, the keyboard shortcuts seem pretty rich. That's nice.
  • It's still got the ability to do multiple tweet windows, which was always nice to have when I needed it. Does any other app else do that, or is that still Tweetie-only?
  • But DO NOT WANT tweet windows that hover over the top of everything. Eew. I understand the problem they were trying to solve, but I disapprove. I'd prefer that they come to the fore whenever any Twitter window was active but act like normal windows the rest of the time.
  • It's still tough to tell whether the main window is active, but that's less annoying than it was when it looked like it should dim the way normal Leopard/Snow Leopard windows do.
  • Feels pretty fast!
  • I can't remember: Was there ever any actual apology for that debacle where MacHeist and Atebits sold vaporware sneak peeks of Tweetie 2 and basically never delivered? *checks* Hahaha—looks like there's this, and also that, for whatever those're worth.
Anyway, all told I'd say it's a pretty decent app. I'm using it for now. Still hoping Twitterrific for Mac ends up living up to the promise of the iPad version. (Man, come to think of it, that update's been pending for even longer than Tweetie 2, hasn't it?)
roadrunnertwice: Dialogue: "Craigslist is killing mothra." (CatAndGirl.Cat - Web 2.0)

It has officially been months since I've wasted everyone's time talking about computer bullshit up in here, so let's geek out for a second.

  • Git is the shit and I'm basically in love with it. That's pretty much all there is to say about that.
  • I'm out of love with Simplenote, alas. It was the first iPad writing app that made sense to me, but it started corrupting my text (while I was watching, even!), which is pretty much the one thing I just can't forgive in an app. After I lost a sentence in one of my Turkey diaries and couldn't remember what it'd been, I ditched Simplenote for good, got a Dropbox account, and started using PlainText instead. It's better in some ways (it plays very well with Garbage Book and FMP, for instance) and worse in a few (no search), but since it hasn't thrown away part of my brain as of yet, it currently wins by default.
    • By the way, Dropbox is the shit and I'm basically in love with it. Yes, I am late to the fucking party; what of it.
  • The developer of PlainText also has a to-do list app called TaskPaper, and after extensive consideration I have decided that—evidence of an unfortunate addiction to InterCaps aside—it rocks. The deal is that I've tried working with task managing apps before, and I apparently can't handle any of their interfaces; if it's more complicated than a piece of paper or a text editor buffer, it gets in my way and I eventually just stop using it. (Bonus Kill It W/ Fire points for any app that has a concept of calendar-tied due dates.) Which, fine: I've always just fallen back to using paper or a text editor buffer, and they're perfectly respectable tools.

    As far as I'm concerned, the following are the only problems with using paper and text for to-do lists:

    • They're hard to maintain. Eventually, a to-do list is going to get clogged up with finished tasks, and the only cure is to spend way too long on either re-writing it or deleting the dross.
    • They're not very introspectable. You can do a single-aspect hierarchy pretty easily, but it's a lot more annoying to, say, make an ad-hoc sub-view of tasks you've picked to do today or which have to happen when you're at home.
    • Also, and this is basically less important than anything but it gets on my nerves anyway? "Crossing out" an item in plaintext is kind of fiddly and abstract. Like, how do you even do that? Put an "x" in front of the line? Turn the - bullet into a +? Guh.

    TaskPaper solves all of those without actually making the interface any more complicated than paper or a text buffer, so it wins. I used up its 30-day trial and thought it wasn't really all that special, and then I proceded to get incredibly annoyed at its absence on an almost daily basis, so I ponied up. If you like to-do lists, you should give it a try too.

  • I think my favorite thing about that rubberized iPad folio Apple makes is how schmutzy and gross it gets. No, seriously, I mean it. It signals that its contents are for use and/or abuse, and for someone with a mild fear of Owning Nice Things, that's more useful than it sounds. Also, the unique patterns of filth make it easier to tell otherwise-identical iPads apart.
  • So in Vim, the D key generally indicates destruction, right? dd = delete the current line; D = delete to end of line? Except that ctrl-d means scroll down half a page. This is my Vim face: -_-
roadrunnertwice: A roadrunner *actually running on a road.* (Roadrunner - Going faster miles an hour)
I learned how to talk to Growl today! Hello, Growl.

Context here is that I'm trying to abandon ship on Quicksilver on account of its oldness, staleness, and general decrepitude, but since I used it for such a weird variety of stuff, I'm having to get a little creative on how to replace it. In this case, I'd rigged QS to throw a Growl alert describing the currently playing track in iTunes whenever I whacked a certain hotkey, and since I wasn't interested in running a whole extra app just for that, I figured I could probably roll my own thingamabob and trigger it with FastScripts.

I figured right! And here's the goods: )

For reasons that are somewhat complicated, you'll have to paste that into AppleScript Editor and save it, then uncomment that one line, run the script a single time, and close the file without saving. After that, it'll work just fine, and you can set the display options for the alert in Growl's preference pane; the name of the application will be "iTunes Track Alert."

(Yes, I could have just left that line uncommented and skipped that extra step, but that seemed to make it run slower when I was testing it, and it really does only have to happen once.)

Incidentally, my hacked-up-in-an-afternoon-bullshit-AppleScript replacement for this feature turns out to be better than Quicksilver's version, because it shows the artwork even when it's not embedded in the file and can display the track's rating. Take that!
roadrunnertwice: Dee perpetrates some Mess. (LittleDee.Dee - Hail Eris!)

I've been dicking around with all kinds of computer shit lately! It is way exciting, you don't even know. Well, you're about to know, I mean. You know.

Item one! I'm learning Perl! High time, I know, especially considering my living situation. Basically, I have a hard time learning a large system without a project, so my tactic was to let an (if we're being honest here) totally trivial and absurd potential project take up enough of my mental space that I would basically be forced to learn it. I am getting very close to wanting to share the result, because it basically works now, but it's got a silly dependency chain, it's hella slow, and there are one or two known bugs. I'm pretty sure I can fix all of these! So you'll see it eventually, and it'll make your life better, because it's the shit. Even if it is trivial and absurd.

Item two! If you have an iPad, stop what you're doing and immediately download Simplenote. After it's all set up and you've made an account, download Notational Velocity (assuming you use a Mac), set it up to sync with Simplenote, and change the storage schema to plain text files. The effect is AMAZING; basically, it's a single pile of notes that's always effortlessly in sync on all relevant devices.

It's basically obvious what to do from there, but I did have one trick I wanted to share, which is that if you want a shortcut to open a note in a different text editor from its representation in NV, you can highlight the note title with cmd-L, grab the text with a OS X Service, and use Applescript to turn that into a real file path and open it. Like this, more or less:

on process(inputText)
    set notefilename to ((path to application support folder from user domain) ¬
as string) & "Notational Data:" & inputText & ".txt"
    tell application "BBEdit"
        open notefilename
    end tell
end process

To be used with ThisService, natch. I think there'll be a more elegant way to do this in the next version of NV, but this works.

roadrunnertwice: Weedmaster P: "SON OF A DICK. BALL COCKS. NO. FUCKING." (Overcompensating.WeedmasterP - Shitbox)
HAH, take that! Finally got tricky webfont tricks working on my DW style! I gave up on the Google Font API (because DW's CSS security seemed fairly insurmountable) and ended up just loading the file from personal webspace (because the direct link to Google's copy of it had some insanely fragile-looking hash in it). Which didn't work, until I learnt that Gecko considers font face loading an XSS risk and corrals it with the access-control-allow-origin HTTP header. So then I made an .htaccess file to let roadrunnertwice.dreamwidth.org get in there, and now it works. Shutting up about that now.
roadrunnertwice: Rebecca on treadmill. (Text: "She's a ROCKET SCIENTIST from the SOUTH POLE with FIFTY EXES?") (BitterGirl.Rebecca - Rocket scientist)
Y'all seen this Google Font API shit? Crazy awesome, right? Anyway, I definitely can't get it to work with Dreamwidth. Anyone have any hints?

(I mean, I didn't expect putting the @import statements in the custom CSS box to work, because @imports have to happen before everything else, and I didn't figure the box would get pride of place like that. But linking to an outside sheet containing the imports didn't work either.

Surfing through the links in the source, it looks like linked stylesheets for DW get piped through cssproxy.dreamwidth.org. This is wise! It also completely defeats me here because it strips out @imports as "suspect CSS," which means I can't take advantage of Google's secret useragent-sniffing sauce. I guess I could skip the elegant API solution and re-implement the entire range of cross-browser hacktacularity from scratch! NOT.

Alternately, I could just handle Webkit and the bleeding edge of Gecko. *shrug.* Anyway, like I said, any thoughts?


Apr. 7th, 2010 10:45 pm
roadrunnertwice: DTWOF's Lois in drag. Dialogue: "Dude, just rub a little Castrol 30 weight into it. Works for me." (DTWOF.Lois - Castrol)
It's that time of year again! Here's what's going on with Firefox these days:

* Motherfucker is fast fast fast. I just did an undo-close-tab, and it was practically instant. Everything just feels speedier.
* I dig the on-tab progress pie. (Actually, I really want to turn Camifox back on, even though I suspect it will result in Teh Badness. Figured I'd savor what the default scheme had to offer before I tried, though.)
* Josh turned on out-of-process plugins! Mind you: the fact that Flash crashing doesn't kill the browser doesn't actually mean much if Flash crashing results in a fullscreen white turd that doesn't let you get to any of your windows until you kill the browser yourself. (Yiss yiss, I will file a bug, if I can figure out where the bastard lives and it isn't already filed.)
* You can't scroll the page with the mousewheel if the cursor is over a piece of Flash; they're like little dead zones where shit don't work right. So awesome. That's exactly how it worked when I was on Linux back in 2005, incidentally. (I think I may have already seen a bug for this one. Will have to check.)
* I'm also using the Flash 10.1 beta, because I am susceptible to peer pressure. Some things don't work very well! (e.g.) I think I'm noticing a general speedup, but it's hard to say. If so, it was going faster on Namoroka than it is on Minefield.
* I was about to open a page I open habitually, and it was already open, which was how I learnt that the awesomebar lets you switch tabs now. Neat! Granted, now that I found Tabs Menu, my use case for that is much much smaller.
* Again, shit's just faster.
roadrunnertwice: Dialogue: "Craigslist is killing mothra." (CatAndGirl.Cat - Web 2.0)
Oh, also. I motored to Limbo the other day just for the hell of it, and also for the fruit and coffee beans of it, and lord did it remind me how much I miss being in trivial range of that place.

Limbo, in case you don't know, is a small grocer in deepish Southeast (a short pedal from my old house, in fact) with the most ingenious business plan ever. To wit: "Hey, let's set up literally next door to a Trader Joe's—or no, actually, fuckit, let's set up in the same building as a Trader Joe's—and only traffic in stuff that Trader Joe's sucks at." Brilliant.

("Stuff that Trader Joe's sucks at" largely entails fresh fruits and veggies, bulk herbs and spices, and some locally-made stuff like miso and salsa and roasted coffee beans.)

The genius is twofold. Firstly, that sort of remora-ism nets you a steady flow of people in food-buying mode, an inevitable percentage of whom are gonna eventually get sick of TJ's overpriced saran-wrapped decorative wax veggies and stick their heads in. And secondly, you don't have to waste any resources doing anything you can't excel at. If you can't shelve flour and beans and snack food as well as or better than the Joneses, and if even doing so at the minimally-acceptable level would hurt your ability to do the shit you actually care about? Well, then fuck it! You don't even have to play; just tell people to walk thirty feet thataway once they've got their fruit and turmeric squared away.

And you can't argue with the results, 'cause shit's cheap as hell there and is almost universally delicious. (I heard something once about how the owners do tricky shit with the wholesale produce market in town, such that they can just swoop in and grab small lots of really good stuff for way cheaper than it should be on account of there's not enough of it left for the big guys to touch, or they'll grab a crate of good but slightly wilty broccoli for pennies and sawdust and anyone who rolls in in time can make seventy-five cent stirfry that night.) I'm usually a farmer's market guy, but Limbo is pretty much the next best thing.

And that's my post about the Apple iPad. (No, sorry, just kidding.)
roadrunnertwice: Silhouette of a person carrying a bike up a hill (Bikeluggin')
Dudes. For some reason, I checked back in on the alternative themes scene after Firefox 3.6 dropped, and it turns out that Camifox is where it is AT.

Firefox using the Camifox theme

I know, I know, why not just use Camino? Well, because I'm a Firefox guy, is what it comes down to. These things are complicated. But anyway, taking up less space + pretty colors + tab close buttons on the correct side (they're under the tab favicons, and appear on hover) + favicons for the bookmark toolbar + overall understated and classy sensibility = FTW. Forget that gaudy-ass Personas nonsense* and give this one a spin. (Works on Windows and Linux, too!)

One nit to pick: the default search bar look is only suitable for people who use one search engine all the time; if you use any search plugins, it doesn't scale at all. They considerately built in a workaround, though: just edit your userchrome.css file and add this line to the top of it, up above the @namespace directive:

/* Search Bar favicons */
@import url("chrome://browser/skin/customization/search-favicons.css");

Which'll change the theme to what you see above.

* Although some of those Amar Chitra Katha ones are pretty badass.
roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Default)
When I tried Chrome on Mac for the first time, it failed hard when I tried to read my Dreamwidth subscriptions, and since messing with that is just an absolute no-go, I gave up. BSing with Kip tonight got me antsy, though, and I started trying to figure out what was up. I think I finally tracked down the straight dope, albeit in a confused and forum-y form: It looks as though using any sort of professional font manager basically makes Chrome go apeshit. (Sometimes.)

I use (a slightly older version of) Linotype's FontExplorer X; not so much because I'm some big-shot graphic whossit, but because it's actually less confusing than Apple's Font Book for most things. FEX stores added fonts in its own Application Support folder and redirects font requests there in a way I don't entirely understand, and apparently Chrome doesn't understand it either, because whenever it's asked to use a font that exists but isn't stored in /Library/Fonts or ~/Library/Fonts, it'll go all AAAAAAAAA on you. Conversely, if you don't ever visit pages that ask for fonts under external management (or your manager just stores its shit in one of the usual font locations), I think it never complains. Just sucks for me that I went with Candara for my reading page.

Apparently this has to do with the way Chrome sandboxes itself to kingdom come, because messages like this get spat to the console:
1/10/10 Jan 10, 9:39PM sandboxd[27057] Google Chrome He(27058) deny file-read-data /Users/nick/Library/Application Support/FontExplorer X/Font Library/C/Candara/Candara.ttf

Now, I think Chrome's aggressive approach to sandboxing and self-distrust is actually fucking badass, and it's one of the things that's most exciting about the program; between that and separate processes for every tab, they leapfrogged over every existing browser in terms of dealing with the modern web, and everyone else is struggling to catch up. But they've got to fix this shit fast, because barfing mojibake whenever it's used on a machine owned by a graphic designer is maybe not the best way to gain whuffie. (And even though I don't technically need FEX, I'm certainly not going to learn how to use stupid Font Book just to try out a new web browser.)


Dec. 20th, 2009 03:36 pm
roadrunnertwice: Rodney the Second Grade T-Ball Jockey displays helpful infographics. (BF.Rodney - Ass increases w/ T-ball^2)

I played with Scrivener during November, and had decidedly mixed feelings about it. So I decided I should give the other main IDEs-for-prose a shot! My feelings about them were decidedly un-mixed.

Ulysses 2.0: I tried the first version back in '06 or so and loathed it, but my tastes have changed, and I figured its focus on markup-based* formatting might appeal more to me than Scrivener's NSTextView WYSIWYG. Yeah, no. God no. This program runs so counter to the way my brain works that I actually have a hard time imagining the existence of people who find it useful.** It has all the failings of an integrated writing environment, but it consciously rejects all of the benefits. I absolutely remember why I threw it aside last time and just went with BBEdit and a folder fulla text files.

StoryMill: Also no dice; even reading through the tutorial file made my head kind of spin. The dealkiller here was how much fidgeting and toggling and administrative nonsense you have to go through to do anything. Are you typing in the "Notes," or the "Text," or the "Chapter?" It's all the same text field, and you have to constantly fiddle with these controls at the top to make sure you're in the right place, which, NO, I have better things to do with my attention. (Also! It failed at importing some UTF8 text files and spat mojibake throughout. WTF? This is 2009, yo, I should not need to babysit charset conversion.)

In the meantime, it turned out that Scrivener'd made a good enough case for its utility during the trial period that I did, in fact, miss it. I have issues with it, but it's... actually a pretty good implementation of something that will make part of what I do a whole lot easier. And it fits with my current write-in-bits-on-the-train thing really really well. So, I bought it.

* Just for the record, what bugs me most about WYSIWYG composition is modal emphasis with no indicator. As in, you're looking at the screen and there is a blinking cursor: when you type something, is it going to be bold or italic? WHO KNOWS. Drives me bats. (Brief props: MS Word slants the cursor when you're in itals, which is cool. Everyone should do that, and make it blocky when you're in bold. That would solve the problem perfectly. But I seem to be the only person who's infuriated by the current situation, so whatever. Grumph.)

** Obviously they're around, and I am glad they enjoy it. Space aliens deserve good software too!

roadrunnertwice: Crow perched on a trail signpost. (Crow on signposts)
Man, I have been trying to love Scrivener, and just have not found the trick yet. I like the idea of it, I think. I mean, an IDE for prose! Down with file management! What a great idea! But I've been using the extended NaNoWriMo trial edition, and its theoretical charms continue to outweigh its day-to-day appeal.

For one thing, it's WYSIWYG, which I've been kind of down on ever since I discovered HTML; doing formatting inline tends to bite me on the ass later. (Which is to say, I understand why people used to get all het up about WordPerfect's "reveal codes" thingummy and everyone else's lack thereof.) The export functionality is pretty impressive, but still requires a bunch of cleanup before it's ready to hit the web. Also, it seems like there're too many fidgety places to enter text? Which of these am I supposed to treat like I'll ever read them again, and which are write-only?

Well, anyway: I actually really like the texture on the corkboard. And how easy it is to split and re-arrange files. (Like Fission for prose!) And the way it'll do what can only be called a "build." And that it has some metadata about each snippet. (Not sure whether it needs THAT much, but.) Basically, I think I like the idea of editing with it, but that part isn't quite where I want it to be yet, and I can't stand composing in it.

If anyone here uses it, I'd love to hear what you dig about it.


roadrunnertwice: Vesta Tilley, Victorian drag king (Default)
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