Hiding Dot Files

Dear Lazy Web,

Ever since upgrading to Ubuntu Edgy Eft (which I admittedly did before it hit official beta), the file selector in Gnome shows hidden files. How do I hide them?


UPDATE: Uh, never mind… I discovered right-clicking the file list displays a menu with a helpful option: Show hidden files. Sigh.

date:2006-10-24 10:31:46

Making Time

I ran across Timeline a few weeks ago, from the folks who brought you PiggyBank. Timeline is an [STRIKEOUT:AJAX] Javascript tool that allows you to create slick, draggable timeline representations of date-oriented data. This is pretty slick by itself, but then I ran across the WordPress Timeline plugin, which lets you auto-magically generate a timeline from any WordPress category. What I’d love to see is something that published a local stream of data showing what I worked on, browsed, created, editted, etc that was usable by Timeline. Sort of a dynamic window into slacking.

date:2006-10-16 10:27:24

Toronto Bound

So it looks like I’m going to be presenting at the Seneca Free Software and Open Source Symposium later this month. I’ll be presenting about our work on MozCC 2, with a talk titled Little s Semantic: Exploring Metadata About the Web. Who knows, maybe I’ll even work in something about this mythical MozCC for Songbird I’ve heard about ;).

date:2006-10-14 21:48:23

Get Out!

Today is National Coming Out Day. If you’re in the closet, I hope you’re trying on your mother’s shoes and lipstick. Since I’m already out (and have been for nearly 10 years now), I’ll celebrate by mentioning how amusing I find it that Wonkette is referring to the Foley-scandal-du-jour as the Cocktober Suprise Tee-hee.

date:2006-10-11 16:59:30
category:aside, my life

Office Plugin / Self-Examination / OOo follow-up

Tom posted an insightful comment to my post from last week regarding the iSummit report. His point was basically bringing me back from snarky-fun-land to reality-land: “OK, so Garton’s an idiot, but what if he makes legitimate points?” (my words, not his) My comments were the result of my initial read-through which pushed some buttons (regarding the paper throwing, accusations that we “helped” Microsoft, etc). I had sort of decided not to publicly complain about the whole “Oh my god! You helped Microsoft!” attitude, but after reading Garton’s report, well, the soap box doth beckon. So a few further thoughts spurred by Tom’s comment:

  • I don’t think I’m in a position to judge whether or not the event was “too” self-congratulatory. I think that recognizing and celebrating our successes is important given how easy it would be to think “wow, the ‘enemy’ has so much money, so much entrenched power, this is a fool’s errand!” Whether it was too much or not… others are in better places to judge.
  • I think your question about “Should Microsoft have sponsored…” is really asking “Should CC/iCommons have accepted their sponsorship?” And to that question, I answer “yes”; flying delegates around the globe isn’t cheap, and I don’t see any evidence that we’re somehow beholden to them now [I’m sure some will disagree; this, like the previous post, is just my personal opinion].
  • Should we have given the plugin such prominence? Well, I don’t know. I think it was a big deal for two reasons: the fact an incumbent player was supporting explicit content licensing, and the massive size of the installed user base which can now take advantage of license embedding. Ignoring questions of whether the software is evil v. not-evil (which frankly lots of end users don’t care about), the latter point (installed user base) makes the Office support a bigger deal than, say, Inkscape, by definition.
  • This does not mean that I think having open source applications support licensing is irrelevant. In fact, I think it’s a way to innovate currently ignored by lots of major players. Not just in the license selection field, but in the license interpretation/remix/reuse field. I think that the MS plugin is interesting in many ways (especially, as I said above, simply because it allows millions of users to tag works with license information). That said, I also think they blew a couple of good opportunities to do it “right”. See our stub page on a hypothetical OpenOffice.org plugin in the CC Wiki for some details. In particular, I think the absence of some sort of “auto-text” for revealing the license information is a huge let-down. Sure, you can re-select the license and it’ll re-insert the standard statement. but it won’t remove the old one, and if you’ve customized the statement in some way, you have to repeat whatever customization you did before.
  • Finally, in regards to implications of Microsoft not sponsoring the event, I honestly don’t know. People at Creative Commons far smarter and more qualified than I were the brains behind the iSummit. I just showed up, talked about CC software and was generally harangued by disgruntled OOo users. I kid. I also drank a lot of caiperinias. A lot.
date:2006-10-08 11:37:07

Critical Self-Examination

A recent message to the cc-icommons mailing list pointed readers to a self-described “slick” critical report of the iSummit held in Rio earlier this year. The reporter, Andrew Garton, takes Creative Commons to task for the “self-congratulatory” atmosphere, the acceptance of Microsoft as a sponsor and our apparently over-zealous promotion of Microsoft’s CC licensing plugin for Microsoft Office (among other things). Garton questions if the same response would have been equal had a similar plugin been developed for OpenOffice.org. I can’t speak for Creative Commons as an organization or any other staff member. What I can say is that I would personally have been even more enthusiastic about an OOo version, because that would mean I could actually use it.

I think that critical self-examination is a good thing, both at the personal and organizational level. But after an initial read, here’s the rub in my mind:

  • Implying that we would be less enthusiastic about an OOo plugin because we accepted sponsorship from Microsoft is at best the moral equivalent of an ad hominem argument.
  • The scholarships CC handed out to enable greater (broader) attendance of the iSummit weren’t free; they relied on, uh, sponsorship.
  • We can’t even debate how well we would promote an OOo plugin because no one has written one. It’s not like I took time out of my work schedule to write a Microsoft plugin or even to assist them with coding. They simply took advantage of our **publicly available** web services and built it.
  • The amount of crap I took at the iSummit as a CC employee for “helping Microsoft” was, well, ridiculous. If you want something different, maybe you should stop whining about it and start coding.
  • Red noses are dumb. Throwing paper wads at the presenter from Microsoft (which Garton fails to mention as another “protest” action) is not only disrespectful, but makes you look like a child. A spoiled, petulant brat of a child. [God, I’ve been wanting to say that for months!]

Document Properties

So those are my own initial thoughts. As I was reading the PDF in Evince, I happened to look at the document properties. Huh, that’s interesting. Written using Microsoft Word, generated used Distiller for Microsoft WIndows.

“Mmmm… that’s some good irony; with just a hint of hypocrisy.”

date:2006-10-06 11:20:07

Rope: A New Python IDE

I’m not sure how I found it, but over the weekend I ran across Rope, a Python IDE I hadn’t run into before. Rope sets itself apart from other tools I’ve used lately (including PyDev and Wing) by embracing a very functional approach to development. This approach is visible from the start when you visit their web page. There are no screenshots. Maybe they just haven’t had time to put them up, but after playing with Rope, I don’t think they should: it’s an editor with some advanced features, what do you need to see? Instead the web page lists some of the things Rope tries to do well: code-completion, type inference and refactoring. Especially refactoring.

When you start Rope, you immediately notice its austere, functional interface. Rope uses TkInter as its GUI toolkit. TkInter isn’t going to win any beauty pageants on any platform. But it does have an installed base as big as, well, Python’s. The editor is what you’d expect from a basic editor: it does syntax highlighting and uses Emacs-like key bindings for some tasks.

One difference that I noticed immediately is Rope’s idea of a Project. Tools like Wing have explicit project files. These files contain information about the project, and opening them restores your working environment. Rope, on the other hand, takes the view that a Project is just a directory that contains… stuff. This seems very “Python-ic” in some ways: a package, after-all, is just a directory with a bit of special sauce in the form of __init__.py, so why shouldn’t a Project (which might be thought of as a collection of packages and modules) be a directory as well? Opening a project simply means selecting a directory tree which contains your project’s files. From there you can browse the project tree, and pick files to open (or create new ones, of course).

So I really like Rope. I’m not sure it’ll replace Emacs as my tool of choice, but it doesn’t get in my way or gobble system resources, so I’ll keep it around. Is Rope a mature tool? No. To really call itself an IDE it needs some sort of debugging support, in my opinion. But it already makes one hell of an editor.

date:2006-10-02 08:17:45