We Really Meant "Do Very Little Evil"
Thu Jan 12 22:32:45 2006 :: Link

Is the year of the Rooster Google's last year of benevolence? Until now, Google has managed to be the darling of the caffeine-saturated Slashdot crowd, the scourge of Microsoft, and generally one step ahead of everyone else. Oh, the Google search engine isn't too bad either.

So what's up with Google as of late? In the past few months, Google has

  • Released GooglePack, an underwhelming Windows-centric software pack
  • Released, then pulled, Google Analytics, an ad-targeting system
  • Partnered with AOL, and agreed to give AOL advertising and content some sort of preferential treatment
  • Released Google Video, a proprietary, DRM-encumbered video store and client

Even if we ignore the first two as silliness and attribute the third as a hedge bet against Microsoft, that still leaves us with a company — who's by-line, incidentally, is "do no evil" — releasing yet another bloody DRM-crippled media player. Which means more vendor lock-in, and more media in a format which can't be easily — or, in some places, legally — transferred between programs.

Then again, maybe they're just having an off month. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Recent Ruby Patches
Thu Jan 12 21:32:04 2006 :: Link

I've submitted a couple of patches to Ruby in the last month or so. The first patch, which has been accepted for Ruby 1.9, and possibly 1.8, adds several missing HTTP headers to Ruby CGI, including the ever-important If-Modified-Since and If-None-Match headers.

The second patch, which (as of today) is still floating on ruby-core, improves the HTML output of RDoc by adding proper encoding and language declarations, closing dangling <img> and <br/> elements, and fixing a handful of other annoyances.

Without any further ado, each of the patches and their respective descriptions from ruby-core:

(Second post written using Markdown; I could get used to this...)

Update: Updated to reflect latest version of second patch.

Charming Ruby Compiler, Not So Charming
Thu Jan 12 21:10:33 2006 :: Link

Earlier this month on the ruby-core mailing list there was a post about the Charming Ruby Compiler (CRC), which looks promising. It's a preliminary Ruby to C-- compiler. Unfortunately, it's also got GNOME-style dependencies (i.e. from hell). You can grab a pre-compiled binary for CRC, but the C-- compiler itself depends on both Objective CAML and Lua.

For some reason, I just don't feel like installing the runtime and development libraries for three separate programming languages just to try out a preliminary compiler for one programming language.

The thread wasn't a total loss, however. I learned about both Neko and LLVM, and they both look interesting. Neko is a lightweight VM for dynamic languages (like Ruby and Python) written in ANSI C. Instead of targeting assembly, and compiling that to bytecode, Neko provides it's own low-level programming language with primitives for things like strings, numbers, and objects. Seems like Neko has a lower barrier to entry than Parrot, although the lack of an encoding attribute for string elements kind of bothers me -- maybe that's something higher-level languages are supposed to take care of?

On another note, I've generated the HTML for this post using BlueCloth, a Markdown processor for Ruby. If you can get over the funky bracket syntax for links, Markdown does seem to make writing posts a whole lot easier. All I need now is a decent post-processor for acronyms and I'd be set. Maybe I'll come up with something for my new page backend, if it ever gets completed.

Xara Doesn't Work, Tasty for Firefox
Wed Oct 12 06:27:25 2005 :: Link

So what's the deal with the Xara demo, anyway? Slashdot made a big stink about their demo, how it would revolutionize vector drawing programs for Linux, and all that jazz. I've been using Inkscape quite a bit lately, so I was anxious to see what the Xara demo had to offer. As far as I can tell, the demo is sourceforge-ware — it looks like about 2 hours of work in Glade, plus a page that promises all sorts of cool features, eventually.

I ported the awesome Delicious plugin for Firefox to work with Tasty. You can download the XPI here (most features seem to work okay, but my port consisted basically of a massive 's/', so caveat emptor).

Generating PDFs with Ruby
Wed Oct 12 04:41:45 2005 :: Link

One problem I've run across a couple of times at work is generating automated PDFs. While reading the Ruby section of Artima, I stumbled across "Creating Printable Documents with Ruby", which cover's Austin Ziegler's PDF library for Ruby, PDF::Writer. Besides having a great API, PDF::Writer also has an extensive manual (generated by PDF::Writer, of course), wrappers for common tasks such as generating tables, reference sheets, and brochures,

I'm wondering how long it'll take before someone writes a PDF target for RI, or, even better, RDoc. In the mean time, I have something that'll give me an excuse to use more Ruby at work.

Leo's Back
Sat Aug 27 17:01:19 2005 :: Link

Leo Laporte"The Screen Savers" has a new podcast titled "This Week in Tech" (or TWiT). I'm not usually a big fan of podcasts, but I listened to this one and really enjoyed it. All their episodes are available as torrents; check it out if you get a chance.

One Monitor to Bind Them!
Sat Aug 27 16:41:21 2005 :: Link

I stumbled across this eBay auction on Engadget. The computer isn't particularly interesting, but check out the monitor (click for the full-sized image):

lotsa monitors

Sometimes That's How I Feel About Debugging Too...
Fri Aug 19 05:34:10 2005 :: Link

I stumbled across this image while looking for some microcontroller documentation:


Hmm, something about that picture looks a little odd. Let's take a closer look:


Yeah, sometimes that's how I feel about debugging too.

New Version o' Raggle
Sun Aug 14 23:46:06 2005 :: Link

Just another new version of Raggle. No more 200-day old bugs on!

Sun Aug 14 23:14:40 2005 :: Link

It's a slow Sunday evening. I know, I think I'll find decent news site about embedded stuff. You know, Soekris boards, Gumstix-based systems, that sort of thing:

embedded news



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