status: been bed-ridden for the last 1.5 days and currently without voice and occasionally hallucinating.
being bed-ridden has really made me open my eyes. while stuck in my bed gasping for air and water, i haven't been able to go to sleep. so i've spent the last two days thinking about choices in life. and i've made a couple of big changes that i'd like to share with everyone
yes, i'm abandoning python for the safe clutches of type-heavy ocaml. i've finally seen the light and realised that ocaml is the way forward. goodbye python! i'm announcing that members of the LCE will now be able to code their new spirit apps using ocaml. i'll by releasing ubiml in the near future! i'm going to spend the next 6 months recoding all my scripts to use ocaml. fear the 1000% speed increase!
Powerbook go bye bye
i've returned to the pc world. after seeing the windows longhorn screen shots, i've immediately sold my powerbook and bought a good old plastic dell laptop. longhorn is going to kick mac os x 10.5's ass. so i better jump ship now! hello norton, goodbye finder! i get to run my favourite ad-aware and zonealarm programs as well! eat that apple!
Lab machine gone all Solaris
yes, i'm officially sick of linux now. i've switched over to OpenSolaris for my lab needs. especially since the original SPIRIT code actually runs on SUN Solaris. here i come CDE and JavaDesktop!
iPod Shuffle Officially Sucks
i finally got my hands on a creative rio, and i must say, i would never buy a music player with no screen. i mean if people didn't want to see their music, why would there be MTV? because if you play music, you want a screen. its just a fact of life. just like radio!
Switching to a different thesis
finally, i've decided to switch from my engineering thesis to a literature thesis. i'm going to study the role of science fiction in the 13th century. i believe it will be very easy to write (at least the science bit).
blah! you know that liar's day!
over easter monday, i decided that i would learn how to write quicksilver plugins and also solve my gripe with the existing keychain plugin for quicksilver. if this was open source, then it wouldn't of been so time consuming, but eventually i got there despite the scarcity of documentation on how the quicksilver plugin system works.
although the documentation is sparse, the system is actually quite clever, and quicksilver does alot of the heavy lifting for you so that you end up with some pretty concise code. very little error handling is required, but on the down side, you can't get any debugging messages anywhere, even in console.log.
check out the keychain plugin here. i'm planning to open source it after i write some docs to go with it. apart from the sherlock plugin from the quicksilver page, and the adium plugin, this will probably be the only other plugin that has source included. hrmm ...
just came across complexification (via cool hunting). it's an artist who uses programs (eg. code) to create his pieces of art work. coolest thing of all is that you get the source code if you buy the artwork. not a bad deal, so you can actually modify the program and create new pieces of artwork!
i've only really ever configured postfix for mail servers such as the one that used to serve liquidx.net and tse.id.au. so none of my configuration files for those servers would be suitable for my only primary gentoo workstation where i work.
our department doesn't allow workstations on the network to connect other SMTP servers directly (eg, port 25) to "protect" us from spam bots for those lucky souls who use windows. however, i still want to be able to send email out to my real-world internet email address rather than relying on my local mail on the workstation which i never read. i also don't need to receive any email from the outside world.
i use postfix because it is easier to understand than any of the other mail transport agents (known as MTAs) such as sendmail, qmail and exim. i think our department uses exim (since it is a cambridge piece of software), and it is very good, especially allowing users to define filters in their .forward file. none of the other MTAs i know support this out of the box.
back to postfix, there are only really four lines that you have to edit to get everything to work. gentoo installs postfix configurations in /etc/postfix, so we just have to edit /etc/postfix/main.cf:
myhostname = mymachine.somesubnet.biggersubnet.cam.ac.uk
mydomain = cam.ac.uk
myorigin = $mydomain
relayhost = <my university smtp server>
relayhost is the smtp server of that i can use to send mail out, it is one of the few hosts that the department allows us to connect to it's port 25 (btw, there is an increasing number of sysadmins opening port 2525 on their mail servers to get around these restrictions.) so we set that as our relay hosts. one other restriction is that the relay host verifies the user is from a valid domain (eg. if i send an email out from firstname.lastname@example.org, it will try to check whether there really is a user alastair at the mail server cam.ac.uk), so we have to force all email to claim it originates from cam.ac.uk -- which is the myorigin line. the other lines are self explanatory.
one final note, i was getting some weird output in my mail logs when i started postfix, turns out that i had my old exim .forward file in my home directory with my filters and it was just basically trying to forward my mail to every one of the lines in my filter file, not smart!
i store most of my passwords in apple's keychain program that gets bundled with macosx. its a convenient one stop to all my authentication needs. i just discovered today that you can use quicksilver to access the contents of the keychain. that means you can just copy a password out into your clipboard, or pasting it in the active application, without using your mouse.
so all you have to do is:
2. type "keychain"
4. navigate to your password (either in login, or if you are like me and have multiple keychains, choose the right one)
5. press enter/return to copy to clipboard
6. type in your macosx keychain password.
the only complaint is that it can't also access the username field or the comments field. hope they fix that in the later versions. consequently, it seems like the next version of quicksilver will require tiger. hrmm. i was planning to upgrade as soon as macosx 10.4 (tiger) comes out, but it is still a bit odd.
i stumbled across a new(-ish) mac app called butler (previously known as another launcher). it's kinda like quicksilver, but with a macosx tiger spotlight-ish feel to it. in short, it is another tool to quickly use your keyboard to get to things you'd otherwise have to drill thru menus and different interfaces. for example if you'd like to go get a number of someone in your address book without actually having to deal with the address book app.
it's much faster than quicksilver and although the UI isn't as pretty as quicksilver. it's actually more efficient, and it's donation-ware. i'm going to try it out for a while to see if i like it better than quicksilver. here's a quick screenshot of it in action:
so apple's new powerbooks have this new feature where you can use two fingers on the touchpad to emulate scrolling. all other laptops do it by defining the right most edge and the bottom edge of the touch pad as your scroll bars. sometimes that gets quite annoying when you touchpad is small.
Daniel Becker looked at the driver for this 2 finger scroll feature and found that older powerbooks (such as mine) also have the capability. so he modified the driver (which is open source!) to work on older powerbooks. so now i've gotten rid of sidetrack in favour of this. it even has a circular scroll feature which emulates the ipod scroll, but i can't get it to work properly for me. but the two finger scroll feature is awesome.