Preserving the programming craft

This post was originally published at sinewalker.wordpress.com on 1 May 2006.


I posted this reply to an Ask Slashdot:  Do Kids still program? I found myself commenting all over that thread… it must be close to my heart :-) Reproducing here, and exploring a little further.


Many of the observations made on Slashdot are right. I wonder what it is that drives me to hack, that is missing from what is covered? Why do I like to hack, and why would it be passed over by kids these days? Or would it?


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Mystical jargon

This post was originally published at sinewalker.wordpress.com on 4 April 2006.


I'm sure this observation has been made elsewhere, but I can't find reference to it online.


Have you ever noticed the prolific use of mystical/fantastical words in computer jargon? I'm sure there is a significance, or at least a tongue-in-cheek pointing to the wizardly ways of early and contemporary computer experts. It is funny I suppose, and when you look at how wide-spread it is, it may be revealing of the hacker psych.


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Dvorak keyboards

This post was originally published at sinewalker.blogspot.com.au on 27 March 2006.


I prefer Dvorak keyboards to QWERTY, which confounds my work colleagues no end :-)


I've been typing on Dvorak for about 3 years now [ed: That is, since 2003]. The main reason I use the Dvorak keyboard layout is because, after 15 years of six-finger typing on QWERTY, I decided to learn to touch-type, and Dvorak is very easy to learn (I learnt it in 2 weeks, back to my old typing speed after a month).


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Crashed Linux

This post was originally published at sinewalker.blogspot.com.au on 24 March 2006.


This is a pretty neat shot of the in-flight entertainment system on an Airbus A330 having a boot-up issue. Note, the kernel is Linux.


Crashed Linux

Originally uploaded by milliped.



This photo has a big rant in the flickr comments about whether or not it's a Linux crash. Well, what's a Linux crash? Most of the public Windows crashes do not involve the Windows kernel (except for blue-screens) but they get called Windows crashes. So, to be fair, this is a Linux crash, even if it appears that the kernel itself is fine.

Shifting Interfaces

This post was originally published at sinewalker.blogspot.com.au on 22 March 2006.


Once again, Microsoft have drastically changed their Office interface.


While the new interface is very nice eye-candy and probably has some new features that could help (arguably), it represents yet another need to re-train.


The old argument that OpenOffice is too different from MS-Office to be quickly useable has just vanished. OpenOffice is more like MS-Office 97 than MS-Office 2007 will be, and really, who has needed any of the features in Office XP or Office 2003? What were they, again…? Oh yeah, anoying interface changes, and removal of the stupid Paperclip.


I think I'll be distributing my work documents in PDF, created by OOo now, except where I must absolutely use MSO documents for work. Everthing else will be OOo. Now I just need to convince my wife that it's not worth continually purchasing MSO, or even having it on our home PC.

Using punctuation entity names in XHTML

This post was originally published at sinewalker.blogspot.com.au on 22 March 2006.


You can use the following XHTML entity names to put propper punctuation symbols into your web pages.


The W3C maintains a complete list, though finding what you need can be a bit tricky. I'm working on a complete list that actually displays the characters together with the other detail from W3C's table, a lot neater coding than this Blogger post too, I hope…


In the mean-time, here's a short-list of common characters that I use quite a lot:


Double quotes: “ ” ⇒ use “ and ”
Single quotes: ‘ ’ ⇒ use ‘ and ’
Ellipsis: ⇒ use …
En-dash: ⇒ use –
Em-dash: ⇒ use —
Minus sign: ⇒ use −
Multiplication: × ⇒ use ×
Division: ÷ ⇒ use ÷
Approximately equal: ⇒ use ≈
Trade Mark: ™ ⇒ use ™
Copyright: © ⇒ use ©
Registered: ® ⇒ use ®
Right-arrow: ⇒ use ⇒