General technology.

The Perfect Name for a Pidgin Killer

I've come up for a perfect name for a Pidgin-killer: Peregrine.

Peregrine falcons are natural predators of pigeons. Plus, it doesn't appear that anyone has used this name for anything software-related.


More Pidgin Bashing

It's time for some More Pidgin Bashing after the original Pidgin bashing.

(Signed On) Logged In: 49710 days, 6 hours, 28 minutes

Those who are computer programmer types might notice that the time displayed comes out to 4,294,967,280 seconds, which is suspiciously close to 4,294,967,295 seconds. Even further, they might point out that Pidgin probably set the login time to -1, which when taken as an unsigned 32-bit number, comes out to 4,294,967,295 seconds.


Pidgin's UI Sucks

Update: Almost all the complaints in this post have been resolved in later Pidgin versions.

Apparently the Pidgin designers are retarded. The Pidgin UI has slowly been getting worse and worse as it tries to closely follow the GNOME philosophy of "our users are morons."

Let's take a look at the new Pidgin chat window. I've annotated it in red (craptastic text anti-aliasing by GIMP):

Pidgin's new chat window


Restoring Files From Subversion (or: Subversion is Retarded)

One of the great things about a version control system is that you can resurrect deleted files and revert changes. This is a fairly common task - well, not excessively common, but it definitely happens.

In this case, I want to resurrect a directory that, even though I reverted the delete, Subversion decided to commit anyway. (Apparently "svn revert" doesn't actually revert changes like deleting the file. It copies it back, and then deletes it on commit anyway. svn status offers no indication this is the case.)

So how do you resurrect a dead file? (And the term is "resurrect," not "restore" - looking up "restore" won't find you a damned thing, you must "resurrect" it.)


I'll Have an iPhone, Minus the Phone, Please

With the recent announcement that the iPhone will include a custom YouTube application, my interest in the phone has increased 100%. Or 400%. Or 25%. Or -30%. They all wind up with the same initial and final value.

That's not to say I wouldn't want something like the iPhone, I just don't want the iPhone itself. In fact, if you remove the phone part and just leave everything else, I'd love to have that gadget.

Think about it. Strip out the phone part, and make it into a "widescreen iPod." The current 5G iPods already play video. Add in Wi-Fi, keep the browser and other apps, and you've got a device that can surf the web, read email, play music and videos; all in one handy little package. And, what the hey, keep the camera too. The only thing it can't do is be a phone - which is fine.


Thoughts on Vista

I recently built myself a new computer, and slapped Windows Vista onto it.

The most noticeable thing about Vista is that it's shiny. Very shiny. Shiny, shiny, shiny. The icons have been "polished" to look gleaming, the various widgets are shiny, window borders are designed to look shiny, even the close button is shiny.

Of course, unless you're easily distracted by shiny things, this really doesn't mean anything. Being shiny doesn't make it more usable. (Which isn't to say that Vista doesn't have user interface enhancements - it does. They're much more subtle than Vista's shininess, though, and it's the shininess that stands out most when looking at Vista.)

Computer Woes...

Let's start with two weeks ago, when one of my hard drives on my main computer manages to crash. It starts making a "clicking" sound, and that's it - nothing can read it any more.

So I replace it and restore the latest backup I have. All that I've lost are newer versions of various installers and some downloaded movie trailers and whatnot. Not a massively big deal.

Last week I finally decide it's time to assemble a new computer. My existing computer is at least three years old and parts are starting to fail. (It's still got a dead DVD drive in it.) Order the parts, wait for them to ship, receive them, assemble them, discover the power supply I ordered won't work with the motherboard, visit local computer stores until I find one that does, and finally assemble and boot up the computer.


Please Don't Ask Me to Pick a Mirror

I'm sure other people have run into this, where they start to download something and are asked to pick a mirror site. Something like:

Please select a mirror:

  • (United States)
  • (United States)
  • (United States)
  • (United States)
  • (United States)
  • (United States)
  • (United States)
  • (United States)

Well, that's great. It even helpfully suggests I pick the one closest to me. How the hell am I supposed to know which is closest?


More WTF From the Daily WTF

I've complained about the Daily WTF before, but I've got a new one.

In Round and Round, the submitter can't figure out why attempting to round 39.995 to two significant digits results in 39.99 and not 40.00.

If you're not a programmer, the answer is a little complicated. If you are a programmer, as the story submitter should be, and you can't immediately figure out what the answer is going to be - well, you need to study up on floating point.

In short, the answer is simply "computers use binary and 39.995 is decimal." The more complicated answer involves learning how floating-point works, but the bottom line is that it works just like decimal except with base 2.


\a Must Die

For those of you who aren't programmers or nerd, "\a" is the string commonly used to represent the "alarm character" is C-style programming languages. It makes the computer beep.

Problem: Almost all computers don't use the sound card to beep, they use a special dedicated speaker. (Why? Diagnostic reasons, many computers will use special beep sequences to indicate an error that prevents them from displaying graphics. Such errors would also exclude the sound card.)

So why is this a problem? Well, because the beep is coming from a special speaker dedicated to making annoying beeps, it completely and totally ignores your volume settings.


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