Archive for December, 2004


I never noticed this.

I’m working on my iBook with headphones on, and just dragged something to the trash. The little clicking sound it makes is in stereo! There’s a subtle echo. How very cool.


First Crack

A favorite recent addition to my blogroll is Garrick Van Buren’s First Crack, a podcast about coffee, technology, music, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He first caught my attention with a — what do I call it? show? episode? podcast? — about copyright issues and the Intellectual Property Protection Act, near and dear to my heart. His interview with The Winter Blanket introduced me to some great local music. Good stuff.

Garrick recently interviewed Greg Beale, a coffee roaster at Dunn Bros.. I brewed myself a pot of freshly roasted Guatemalan coffee, kicked back, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was just so damn cool to hear. I worked as a coffee roaster for a few years and am still in love with the process. So much of how I roasted was a sensory experience: I relied on sight, sound, smell to know how the beans were developing and how to nudge them along. Listening to the interview brought it all back: the green beans as they drop into the roaster and rhythmically churn around, the subtle shifts in the sound as the beans warm, the satisfying crackle and smoke of the second crack when the beans are released into the cooling tray.

I’ve got to start roasting at home again soon.


Version 2 will never come.

Rafe Colburn writes about how every one-off becomes an application. I have a related problem: I believe myself when I say that the quick one-offs that I write will be replaced by a full-blown application in a matter of days or weeks. I should have learned by now that it never happens. Years later, there they are, still plugging away, taunting me. I have to run my small projects past a coworker on a regular basis so she can stop me from saying, “this will work for now and the real app should be along shortly.” Because no, it won’t.


Seasons Greetings. Or, Let’s Get Some Perspective.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned the Committee to Save Merry Christmas. I did not have kind words but didn’t write much because I thought that if we ignored them they might go away. I mean seriously, people, get over yourselves. But no: conservative Christians have picked up the meme with a vengeance. In response, Saint Paul Pioneer Press columnist Laura Billings has been going to town. Her last two columns, “Partisan shoppers dreaming of a Red and Blue Christmas” and “‘Merry Christmas’ needs no help” are spot on. I am tempted to pull out quotations to entice you, but they’re worth reading in full. (They’ll probably end up behind a ridiculous subscription requirement, so keep BugMeNot close by.)

Steve Ross wrote something on The Gutless Pacifist, one of those thoughts that makes me get up and dance around because it speaks so clearly to what I’m thinking:

I have a few points of reference for these folks:

  • When store clerks say “happy holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas,” you are not being persecuted. When you are tossed into prison for saying “Merry Christmas,” you are.
  • When the government is barred from putting nativity scenes on government property, you are not being persecuted. When you are sentenced to hard labor for belonging to a house church not sanctioned by the government, you are.
  • When you are not allowed to say a Christian prayer over the loudspeaker at a public high school graduation, you are not being persecuted. When you are killed by an angry mob for leading someone in prayer to Jesus, you are.


Gmail invitations

I’ve got a few more Gmail invitations if anyone’s interested. Drop me a line at

Update: the invitations are gone.


Local Netflix

Crazy. On the way into work today, I dropped two DVDs in the mail to Netflix. The mailbox said that mail is picked up at 2:00. I just checked my Netflix RSS feed and see that they received the DVDs at 7:00.

It’s nice to have a local warehouse. It’s also nice that the post office isn’t too busy this time of year.


Perl Advent RSS Feeds

I don’t always remember to check the Perl Advent Calendar on a daily basis. That shouldn’t be a problem anymore, as I finally noticed the RSS feeds.


Quick Links

More things that have been in my bookmarks too long.


Santa Switches From Cocoa to Java

Noted Cocoa Programmer Contemplates Switch to Java. I’m delighted to see that Apple plays a prominent role. Although…

The only cloud that darkened the otherwise illuminating visit occurred when the topic of Java 5 and Mac OS X came up. Santa’s brows furrowed, and he reached for a rather imposing PDA. It was difficult to see clearly, but it appears he placed coal icons next to several names.

It’s funny, nowhere in that article do they mention how they use Perl. Depends on who you talk to, I guess. It shouldn’t be too surprising that upper management is all about the Java, while the software engineers admit that they also use Perl extensively to help get the job done. Santa’s workshop is no exception in its diversity of languages and platforms.


Practical mod_perl under Creative Commons license

Practical mod_perl is now available under a CreativeCommons Attribution Share-Alike License, which in appropriately practical terms means that it’s a free download and that under certain conditions you can distribute the book and even make derivative works.

I love Practical mod_perl. I bought it when I still thought there was a reasonable chance that we might expand our use of mod_perl at work and I needed solid guidance on how to configure and use mod_perl more effectively. I’d read, reread, and thoroughly enjoyed the mod_perl Developer’s Cookbook, which nicely filled major gaps in my knowledge but didn’t help enough with topics like server setup strategies. Practical mod_perl fits that bill. If you are a mod_perl developer, keep both these essential books nearby. Especially Practical mod_perl, because if you have to reach too far for it you’ll strain something: it’s huge!

If you are considering mod_perl, the release of the book as a free download should help you get a feel for what it’s like and what it can do for you. Try the book, then buy it.

Sadly, at one point I looked around and realized that I was the only mod_perl developer at work and that I probably always would be. With great reluctance, wailing and gnashing of teeth, I abandoned the platform. Bloody shame, too, since the alternative at the time was PHP. Don’t get me wrong, I like PHP for a certain class of problems, but at the time working with things like web services (be they SOAP, XML-RPC, or REST) was so much more pleasant in Perl than PHP. mod_perl’s tight integration with Apache opens up so many doors and is so exciting and fun it leaves me speechless.

Now, of course, I’m working with Java. Don’t even get me started.

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